Do Your Leaders Have the Mindset to Succeed at Transformation?

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Dean Anderson
Linda Ackerman Anderson

During a four day leadership retreat, the CEO of a large client of ours spontaneously blurted out, “I get it! We have based our entire business strategy on the assumption that we need to take a defensive posture in our market. What would our strategy look like if we assumed instead that we could aggressively grow our market rather than have to deal with it shrinking?” That “aha” was the beginning of a five year change effort that produced over 100 million dollars of net income from new business ventures. Quite the opposite of a shrinking market!

The turning point for that company was the CEO’s shift of mindset. When he and the other executives altered the way they perceived their circumstances, they found the road to success. It was in front of them all along; they just couldn’t see it.

Most transformational change efforts fail because the leaders do not have the mindset required to see what is necessary to succeed. Their beliefs, worldviews and assumptions about people, organizations and change keep them from accurately perceiving and understanding the dynamics they face. Consequently, they respond with strategies and tactics that do not match the transformational reality that challenges them. They make poor decisions, rush headlong into the unknown, skip necessary change tasks, or trigger resistance in employees without ever knowing they are doing so. When their change efforts flounder, and they cannot figure out how to right the ship because they do not understand the storm they are in.

Many traditional leadership beliefs and assumptions limit success in change. The belief that “speed is paramount” causes leaders to push change faster than employees can assimilate it, thereby making it actually go slower. The belief that “there are not enough resources” causes leaders to skimp on change, or overlay the change on top of people’s overflowing plates, which impairs their ROI. The assumption that they must “control the change at all costs” often causes leaders to request and rigidly follow a predetermined project plan, when success requires frequent course correcting of the plan as circumstances shift. The belief that “my primary responsibility is to ensure that my part (department, region, process) excels” causes turf battles and competition across boundaries that hurt the overall enterprise. This orientation to the “part over the whole” also keeps leaders from integrating their change initiatives, causing redundancies and chaos that waste enterprise resources and slow the change. Does any of this sound familiar?

The CEO in the example above made assumptions about his changing market and his organization’s skills to deal with it. When he became conscious of the beliefs and assumptions he used to formulate his conclusion, e.g., to take a defensive market strategy, he realized that they were not founded on truth, but rather on fear. With this awareness, he was able to move beyond his fear and do what his organization needed to succeed.

This example is a powerful illustration of one of the most fundamental change leadership skills: introspection. Leaders must have the ability—and willingness—to look in the mirror at their own mindsets to discover why they see things the way they do. Only then can they assess whether their perceptions accurately portray reality and what is needed to transform their organizations successfully.

Jim Kouzes, friend and author of the Leadership Challenge, and one of the foremost researchers on leadership issues, recently told us that among the lowest scoring dimensions in his leadership assessment are “self-reflection” and “requests for feedback from others.” In other words, leaders don’t look inward very often. They are too busy looking outward.

The problem lies in the fact that leaders, like all people, process the concrete information they acquire about their external world through the “invisible” lenses of their values, beliefs and worldviews. Their internal world, or mindset, determines what they see in their external world, and how they respond to it.

Most of this internal “processing” occurs unconsciously, behind the scenes of one’s own mind. Consequently, most people are not aware of these internal filters or the profound impact they have on how they perceive and evaluate the changes they face.

Quite frankly, however, misguided assumptions are never the real problem. Being unconscious of them is the true culprit. And because leaders possess such power and authority, their “unconsciousness” can have far reaching negative impacts.

Human resource executives can play a critical role in assisting leaders to develop the necessary self awareness. Make self mastery and personal change a center stone in all your executive and change leadership development programs. Formally help your leaders become conscious of their mindsets so they, and your organization, do not get blind-sided by their unconscious assumptions.

What new level of success could your organization achieve if your leaders were more skilled at self awareness, and open to addressing their mindsets to produce breakthrough results from change? The leverage for transforming your organization, and its performance, just might hinge on the leadership mindset factor.

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With this extensively upgraded second edition, Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson solidify their status as the leading authorities on change leadership and organizational transformation. This is without question the most comprehensive approach for leaders who are serious about making change a strategic discipline. Beyond Change Management is an intelligent book by two of the most knowledgeable and accomplished masters of their craft, and it’s one that every conscious change leader should adopt as their guide to creating more meaningful organizations.

Jim Kouzes
Coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and The Truth About Leadership

Read this great book by Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson and learn how to use their multi-dimensional approach to lead transformation masterfully and consciously!

Marshall Goldsmith
World-renowned executive coach
Author of the New York Times best-sellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

An important move toward a more integral business consulting approach, very much recommended for those interested in the topic and ways to actually apply it. 

Ken Wilber
Author, The Integral Vision, A Brief History of Everything, and over a dozen other best-sellers

Dean and Linda are core to the field of conscious change leadership, and continue to stretch and push its boundaries in this rich and deep compendium. This is a must read from two consummate thought leaders who have devoted their careers to developing highly successful change leaders. Read it and immediately improve your change leadership or consulting success.

Bev Kaye
CEO, Career Systems International
Author of Love 'em or Lose 'em: Getting Good People to Stay

This book is about mastery of leading the transformational change process written by masters of the craft.  For corporate leaders and consultants who consider themselves committed students of the process of organizational change.

Daryl Conner
Chairman, Conner Partners
Author of Managing at the Speed of Change and Leading at the Edge of Chaos

Beyond Change Management is a timely how-to guide for leading change in the 21st century. It provides both a conceptual roadmap, and practical tools and techniques for successfully transforming organizations.

Noel Tichy
Professor, University of Michigan
Co-author with Warren Bennis of JUDGMENT: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls

Once again, Dean and Linda have nailed it! Beyond Change Management is an extraordinary book examining the shifts in change management that have occurred over the years. This book offers real, practical solutions for change practitioners to become extraordinary conscious change leaders.

Darlene Meister
Director, Unified Change Management
United States House of Representatives

Powerful business solutions to the current chaos facing many organizations today. Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson get to the heart of change, the human touch, by using timeless techniques and tools.
Ken Blanchard
Co-Author of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level

Having applied this methodology for two years to manage change inside Microsoft, it has been instrumental in our ability to land change effectively, engage employees and deliver results quickly. The Change Leader’s Roadmap allows us to lead change with precision and minimal outside consulting, while at the same time growing change leadership capability internally. This is the most complete change methodology we have found anywhere.

Pete Fox
General Manager, Corporate Accounts
Microsoft US

This newest edition of The Change of Leader’s Roadmap is an invaluable, comprehensive and practical guide for envisioning an organization’s desired future, designing the structures and practices necessary to make it happen, and implementing them effectively. The book describes the change process in nine distinct phases and outlines the activities and tasks that need to occur in each phase. It provides change leaders with an essential map for successfully traversing the complex and uncertain terrain of transformational change.   

Thomas G. Cummings
Professor and Chair, Department of Management & Organization
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California

This is the next best thing to having Dean, Linda and the Being First team riding alongside your complex change initiative. The Change Leader’s Roadmap breeds confidence in senior executive “Champions” to guide not just a successful transformational change, but most importantly, to develop the mission critical organizational CULTURE that will ensure unparalleled return on investment. Nothing I have seen in my 32 years of leading change comes close.

Jeff Mulligan
Former CEO, Common Wealth Credit Union
Mayor, City of Lloydminster

After implementing more than 2000 business strategy and operational excellence initiatives, we set out to find the best change methodology and toolbox in the world. The methodology this book describes is it! Study it thoroughly, because the thinking, process approach and pragmatic tools really work!

Thomas Fischer
Director COO
Valcon Management Consultants A/S

A practical, step-by-step guide for change leaders, managers and consultants. The book provides conceptually grounded, real world, time tested tools and guidance that will prove invaluable to those faced with navigating the challenges of leading organizational change in today's turbulent times.

Robert J. Marshak, Ph.D.
Senior Scholar in Residence
MSOD Program, American University
Organizational Change Consultant