(Transcript of the talk that I gave on the 21st Oct, though I posted it on 20th Oct)
Good afternoon, today our topic of discussion is change management and leadership in a growing organisation. I’ll share three or four concepts with you that you can practice and refine as you go forward. Change Management
Firstly, it is my belief that we don’t manage change. We manage ourselves. Change is not some distant, strange and mysterious thing as it is made out to be. It is happening all the time. It is the way of the world. In the past five minutes so many things have already changed here right under our noses. So when we say change management, I think we are trying to find out what’s constant in this change and we are trying to map that so we don’t get lost, some goalposts, milestones that we can hold on to.
There are two aspects to change as I look at it – one where we lead change proactively. And second, where we prepare so we react to unforeseen changes best. Both are leadership issues.
Let me introduce leadership as I understand it.
1) At its most basic form, leadership is how we influence others by the way we lead our lives. We influence people all around us - family, colleagues, subordinated, seniors, customers - with the way we are leading ourselves. Which means all of us are already leading. Some lead well and some do not.
2) The great leaders bring in a greater vision and motivate people to achieve great things together. They come with a vision and the energy to convince, motivate people to invest in their own common good.
3) In doing so great leaders grow everyone, treat everyone equally, fairly, justly, make people believe in things they never believed were possible.
4) Leadership is an attitude, not a position.
5) It is responsibility.
6) It is about holding group energies like a vessel.
Two questions that come up - does leadership make a difference? Yes, more than 50%. Can leadership be learned? Yes, like any skill, it can be learned. But the thing with leadership is less about learning and more about practicing.
Concept 1 - Fixed and Growth or Learning Mindset
So let’s begin with the first concept of the day. It’s a powerful concept by Dr Carol Dweck who wrote the book 'Mindset'. It can be the difference between succeeding and failing, between you and the topper of the batch. This is the reason why I never played test cricket.
Everyone has these two mindsets – fixed and growth or learning mindset.
Fixed mindset believes - intelligence, potential, talent is fixed and therefore our growth is fixed. Growth or learning mindset believes that intelligence, talent and potential can be learned and therefore our growth is unlimited. The more we use our intelligence, talent, the better we get. Here are some characteristics of both fixed and growth mindset told through a story of let's say two cricketers.
Let’s take the fixed mindset person. I made it to first-class level thanks to my earlier preparation. But deep inside I believed that my talent, intelligence was fixed and cannot be improved. But I did not want the world to know my limitations so I tried hard to hide it. When I got to the first-class level which is tougher than junior levels and needed more preparation I did not prepare harder because I believed that effort was fruitless - smart people do not work hard, only stupid people work hard. So in spite of knowing that i was not bowling well, I did not go and ask for help from a coach. Instead, I gave up giving excuses that the selection was biased etc or that i wanted to study engineering. Fact is, I got stuck in a corner only because of my mindset which said that smart people cannot work hard, ask for help etc. When people asked me why I was not performing as well, I would get defensive and angry. I ignored feedback and felt threatened by others successes. Naturally, my career stopped after 7 games despite having talent and all the raw material to make it to the top. I was maybe in the top 20 bowlers then. i could not do justice to my potential simply because of a mindset.
Now look at a learning mindset person, my friend Venkatapathi Raju. His only desire was to learn, not to show he was smart. To learn, he would be curious, ask questions, be ok with saying ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t understand’ when senior players were around. For him, the way to grow or learn was by testing himself out constantly which meant he would want to take tougher tests and challenges. if he was dropped he would practice harder, play more games and perform. He would embrace challenges. Once he gets a challenge he would not give up and would persist because it was an opportunity to learn, not to show about how smart or foolish he is. He sought help, saw effort as the path to mastery. Learnt from criticism. Found lessons and inspiration from others success and he reached even higher levels of achievement as a result and did justice to potential.
Fixed Mindset Characteristics
Growth Mindset Characteristics
Desire to look smart
Desire to learn
Give up easily
Persist in the face of setback
Seek help to find ways to improve
See effort as fruitless
See effort as the path to mastery
Ignore useful negative feedback
Learn from criticism
Feel threatened by others
Find lessons and inspiration from others
Plateau early and achieve less
than their full potential
Reach even higher levels of
achievement as a result and get closer to potential
The greatest leaders have a learning mindset. The greatest organizations are leaning organizations. So, what is the single most thing that stops most of us from being a learning mindset person? Our ego. Our insecurity.
What are the practices you can take to your life from this concept? It is good to say ‘I don’t know'. The moment we say it, we move into the learning mindset, into a secure space. The whole world opens up for you. When a 100 of you are ok with being a learner, incredible change happens in your organisation.
2. The second concept we will look at is the Evolution of leaders (related to Mindsets)
Insecure leadership - We start as insecure leaders mostly because we have no training and are thrust into positions of responsibility and authority. Most of us feel insecure about leading others, many of them as good as ourselves, some better than us.
This insecurity makes us behave aggressively. My way or highway!
- We do not accept that we may not have all answers (I know, I know people)
- We don’t ask for help
- Take credit for success, blame others for failure
- Feel threatened and will not let others grow
- Won’t share information
- Won’t support, Want others to fail
- Criticise, blame, discourage
- Snub new ideas
- Do not encourage feedback
- Fears change
- Cannot delegate or give up control
– Result –team performance goes south
Personal leadership – We find a personal spark and want to excel.
Don’t know how but will find a way and change
We expand our role and go beyond our role
We model excellence in the team and help the team and others
Take full responsibility for own role
Open to new ideas and feedback to improve role
Self-motivated and contribute to team
Wants to change status quo
– Result – helps team through star performances, individual grows, team benefits, 2x result possible
Secure leadership –
Has a greater vision
Ok with not knowing everything but will find ways to use all resources best to find answers
Allows people to grow by trusting, delegating, supporting, coaching, grows leaders
Driven passionately to achieve results
Takes responsibility to achieve task and grow everyone in the process
Actively supports others
Gives helpful, growth oriented feedback
Gives up control
Allows others to take responsibility and make mistakes
Grows leaders in team
- Result - team wins, everyone grows much more as organisation wins and gets 10x results
How are you placed here? Have you moved from insecure leadership to personal leadership? Explore this part deeply, have you expanded your role? Personal leadership and then get into secure leadership. We need personal leaders who will then become secure leaders.
It ties in with the Fixed and Learning Mindset. Insecure leaders will not grow nor will let anyone else grow. Secure leaders actively look to grow others. It is a matter of which mindset they subscribe to.
3. Change management case
A company came to me with a problem. It is not growing, something had to be done to shake it up. 400 crore. 600 crore. 1000 crore.
Simon Sinek – Start with why
– What’s your purpose? Your greatest vision for your organisation or team. What are you driven by?
An audacious idea, a 10x idea, freedom for India.
Sulabh Intl – Bindeshwar Pathak, 1970, Gandhian who went about setting up toilets, now created 35000 jobs, 300 crore, 240 towns scavenging free
Building Culture – Values, what we value, (Honesty, hard work, customer satisfaction etc) our way of doing things, what we practice as a team, shown through our behavior, we live those values (example of CEO who was not balancing his time), your subordinates follow you
- Keep customers happy – Disney story, Mahindra story
- Customer is king – Taj story, guest is god philosophy (26/11 terror attack, 1200 guests, 600 employees, no employee left, 34 died, 17 employees, case study in Harvard)
- OKRs (how to achieve 10x results through execution)
20 year goal
10 year goal
5 year goal
2 year goal
In two years the company achieved a 1000 crore target when they had set a 500 crore target.
Leadership blackbox – why, how, what
Whom - People management, energy management, Phook theory, love them like your children
4. Project Aristotle
. Google. Millions of dollars, 4 years. 180 teams. Who, IQ etc didn’t matter. The best teams are psychologically safe. Best teams had these.
1. Psychological safety – being able to take a risk without feeling insecure, ability to speak up, trust
2. Dependable – Can others deliver, can we depend on them
3. Structure and Clarity – Goals, roles, execution plan
4. Meaning – Do we find the work personally meaningful
5. Impact – What impact is my work doing
Practicing Psychological Safety
- All talk equally, be aware of how others are feeling tone and body language, Ostentatious listening
- Treat work problems as learning problems and not execution problems, Model curiosity – ask questions
- Share a risk taken last week, share and welcome ideas
When change happens like it did in Taj, it is the values that guide us. Values are best exemplified through stories.
To be secure, to create psychologically safe places, to practice values - WE must change. As people we must be secure people. We must adopt the learning mindset. We must practice the values we profess.
'Good to Great' The Level 5 leaders - build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will, all about the company/team and not about them, result-oriented, humble, self-effacing, modest, understated, shy, gracious, window and mirror approach (eg. MSD)