I recently spent two days certifying consultants in one of Being First’s training programs, Leading the Human Dynamics of Change. On one of the days, we spent almost four hours role playing, practicing and debriefing a five minute experiential exercise. That is alot of training time for a five minute exercise! And these consultants were brilliant, so why did it take so long?
It is simple. This exercise uncovers one of the core, universal, human dynamics – the difference between ego and higher self, or Being. Every human being has both, but very few of us understand the difference, especially when it comes to how each manifests in our lives. Being able to navigate the territory of ego and Being is important for leaders because they not only deal with these two different sets of dynamics in themselves, but also on a daily basis in the people they lead. For change leaders and consultants, ego and Being becomes profoundly central because the ego / Being dynamic manifests in everything they interface with in their change efforts. Certainly, every human issue, like stakeholder resistance and commitment, is a product of these two different aspects of our inner dynamic, but equally so, all systems, structures, business processes, and technology are built as reflections of our worldviews, mindsets and values. This means that the ego / Being dynamic manifests in everything humans have created in the external world as well.
OMG, this is getting rather large in scope and impact, isn’t it?
Most people (change leaders and consultants, too!) and I really mean – most people – live out of their ego’s conditioned beliefs and mindsets without being aware of what they are, their impact, or that there is another alternative. Their consciousness expresses out of and through those worldviews, shaping their behaviors, actions, and therefore, results. Those mindsets, living in the their egos, means that their thinking, behavior and reactions are “governed” by ego dynamics. This causes basic human dynamics like fighting or flighting what we fear, and moving toward what we find plearsurable or positive. It means contracting againsts things we don’t like, and opening up to what we do.
These are fundamental aspects of human functioning, but what happens when contracting against what we don’t like does not work to give us the results we want? For example, when your children resist, does fighting against that resistance help it resolve and them to grow? Usually not. Likewise, if you deny or suppress (fight against) a contracted emotion in yourself, like fear or doubt, it doesn’t go away and lead to growth, but rather, stays stuck in your body and can lead to dis-ease.
As a change leader or consultant, how do you respond to resistance in your stakeholder groups? Probably like most of us: you automatically and unconsciously try to contain it. You “contract” against it. The problem is, this does not work to resolve it and build commitment in your stakeholders. Instead, they take their resistance underground, to the water cooler, and incite others to resist as well, often all the while making it look like they are on board with the change.
In order to respond more effectively, we need to become consciously aware of what our ego dynamics are in these moments and shift into our Being so we can open to what we don’t like. As change leaders interfacing with stakeholder groups, this means we invite the resistance out rather than contain or squash it, which will allow it to express and resolve. The net outcome: the resistance will diminish as a result and our stakeholders will have a healthy place inside them where their commitment to the change can grow.
There is much more to this story, and much more about how to help commitment to a change initiative grow in stakeholders, but the point is simple: the more we really understand ego and Being dynamics, the more we can navigate them in ourselves, others, and in our change efforts.
This is one key place where Conscious Change Leadership goes far beyond change management. In change management, we use tools and techniques to do things like deliver better communications or foster greater stakeholder engagement. This is very useful, but not near as effective as also deepening our understanding of core human dynamics. When we really understand how the engines of human expression work, we can then really impact the quality of performance and results, in ourselves and others. Conscious Change Leadership makes these deep and profound internal human dynamics overt, and builds its tools and methods to promote people to step outside their unconscious and less effective ego dynamics so they can operate from their higher selves and deliver truly breakthrough results.
How important is this deeper understanding of human dynamics to you in your role as a change leader or consultant?