Leader, Did You Notice The Culture Changing In Finance?

This article is co-written by Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

The finance function is changing. We did this to the function by keeping it in constant transformation for the past two decades. We worked with the systems, the processes, and the people. Everything has changed because of what we did.

However, something also changed because of what we did but not because we were trying to drive this change. The very culture and deeply rooted behaviours of the finance function also changed. Or at least they ought to if we want to realize the full potential of the transformation. When cultures, beliefs, habits and actions don’t support a transformation, there can be no resultant change.

If culture and behaviours are not changing, the transformation that we’ve inflicted upon the function will feel like an organism from an alien planet. One that cannot live or breathe in the finance function around us. It will not be welcomed, and it will not thrive. All our transformation efforts will be lost. This is an unacceptable scenario, so we must work actively to change the culture and behaviours of the function to drive a real change. First, let’s look closer at culture and how it’s governing the likelihood of the success of the finance transformation.

How culture eats everything else for breakfast

What is Culture?

Many refer to culture as the glue that holds an organisation together, or a type of immune system that repels everything that does not fit, or the sum of values and rituals that are jointly shared from within. Some also refer to it as a type of social unconscious – which helps to create the belief that culture is intangible and soft. This is something to watch out for, as culture affects everything we do in an organisation. Culture should always be consciously worked at, as it encapsulates the behaviours, values and attitudes that manifest in interactions with employees and all other stakeholders.

Another way to view culture is that we, as finance leaders, create experiences for our teams and the people that work for us. These experiences create certain beliefs in their minds. These beliefs, in turn, create habits, and then these habits drive their actions, and in turn, actions are what drive the results of the organisation. This is the approach from the book ‘Change the culture change the game’ by Roger Connors and Tom Smith.

As an example, if you join a new organisation and you notice that the way to get ahead is at the cost of your peers and colleagues, you might start to withhold information and only share what is absolutely necessary. A belief manifests that if you want to get ahead, information is power and should only be revealed when you can look good from it, there is something in it for you, or it can improve your positional power.

In this type of organization, each leader will have a very silo orientated mentality and collaboration will be at a very low level; impacting the overall results of this organization very negatively.

In this type of organization, each leader will have a very silo orientated mentality and collaboration will be at a very low level; impacting the overall results of this organization very negatively.

Culture
Source: Image interpreted from ‘ Change the culture, change the game’ by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

The best thought out strategy or transformation will fail if we can’t get people to change their beliefs, habits and actions.

But how can we impact culture?

  1. Role modelling
  2. Make conscious choices about what habits and beliefs will drive the new culture
  3. Hold people accountable for driving the change and disincentivise old ways of working
  4. Internalise the change so that it lasts beyond the first few town halls

We must realise that people don’t buy what we say, they buy what we do through the behaviours we demonstrate, as finance leaders, each and every day. That is why role-modelling is such a powerful thing.

We can always complain about what other departments are doing or are not doing. However, the best way is to start with ourselves to actively demonstrate the change. The finance leader actively engages with the business to understand the results, provides the insights and helps the business to drive success.

The next crucial component to impact culture is to decide which habits and actions (behaviours) support the old ways of doing things and which new habits and actions (behaviours) support the transformation. We want to move away from old behaviours and incentivise innovative ways of doing things.

If we stay with the business partnering example – we want to move away from Finance telling the business they got the forecast wrong, Finance should be working with the business to provide insights that inform the forecast. It is a joint process to get to the most reliable figures for the future plan.

We see many companies that run workshops to define the old and new habits and actions that would support a transformation, but then they spend no efforts on making sure that old behaviours are disincentivised and new behaviours are recognised, rewarded and that everyone is held accountable for the (new) way they are doing things.

This is the third piece in the puzzle of changing cultures. We want to move away from the behaviours that label us as the controllers, holders of the purse strings or the risk-averse group that does not understand the bigger picture of the business or what drives business success. There is no point to control at the back end of the business if there is no front end because the business failed.

The final piece in changing culture is to ensure that the new behaviours and actions are internalised way beyond the implementation date. This is when change is really adopted as a new way of doing things and becomes part of everyday life.

We find that many companies focus on the go-live date, especially in technical system implementations or outsourcing. At the go-live date, there is still a lot of resistance to the change, and the behaviours have not yet been internalised and adopted. This can be expressed as encouraging adoption and integration vs. managing resistance.

We would be remiss if we write about culture and don’t mention what drives high performing cultures. Without high-performance cultures, there are no high performing teams. Google’s Project Aristotle research [insert source] proved that phycological safety is a critical ingredient for a high performing sales team. Psychological safety means that the individuals in the team feel safe to take interpersonal risks, e.g. to say what they really think without the fear of being ridiculed, reprimanded or unexpected consequences.

We want our Finance teams and business partners to tell us why they believe the strategy will fail so that we can take early corrective action and avoid failure.

Finance leader, you must own culture for your people to be successful

We can only be true business partners if we start role modelling the right behaviours within Finance and recognize and incentivize our teams accordingly. We can’t expect the business to follow if we don’t start first and demonstrate that we want to be true advisors to the business. Our analytics will only lead to insights if we inspire people to behave differently. We need to be advisors, analyse insights and provide better solutions to the challenges facing the business.

What can you do right now? You can brainstorm with your team, which behaviours and actions serve the old ways and need to be stopped and which new behaviours will ensure success. Hold each other accountable to these new behaviours and start role-modelling in Finance today. Invest in helping people to adopt and internalise change way beyond a go-live date. Determine how much of your project investments and budgets are focussed on this piece that is crucial to success.

It might not be possible for you and your team alone to drive the culture change. However, if you start role modelling and show the benefits of the new ways of working others will follow. So the question is: are you ready to drive the much-needed culture change in Finance and step up to the plate as a leader?

This was the fifth article in the series about leadership transformation in the finance function. You can read previous and other articles on my blog site here

@ Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

All Leadership Starts With Self-Awareness, Even In Finance

This article is co-written by Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

Why are you a leader? Why do you want to become a leader? Do you know what it takes to lead? Are you enjoying being a leader? If yes, why do you enjoy it?

Are these tough questions to answer or do you find the answers with ease? We bet you that most leaders haven’t reflected deeply about the answers to these questions. Instead, they saw leadership as the best and maybe the only way to climb the corporate ladder. They saw it as an opportunity to get ahead and have a fulfilling career. But really, why did you become a leader?

Still struggling or starting to struggle to answer the question? Granted this is not an easy one but if we don’t have well thought through answers, rooted deeply in our purpose and passions then why are we doing it? It’s time. No more beating around the bush. Can you answer why you are a leader? 

The answer starts with self-awareness 

When we compare IQ (intelligence quotient) and EI or EQ (emotional intelligence), we can compare it to an iceberg with IQ being the tip sticking out above the waterline and EQ the far larger piece below the surface.

EQ is a lot more complex, and there are many more variables that affect emotional intelligence. However, one of the four core elements of EQ is self-awareness. The other elements are self-management or regulation, social awareness and social skills or relationship management. In our opinion self-awareness is the gateway to greater emotional intelligence. If you would like to understand more about EQ, read the book ‘Emotional intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman. 

Self-awareness is the state of a deep understanding of ourselves. It is having the ability to observe our behaviours, motivations, thoughts, habits feelings and emotions and to understand what drives and motivates us.

A deeper understanding of our beliefs, values, limiting self-beliefs, emotions and the thought patterns that we have. Many of our limiting self-beliefs stem from our childhood, e.g. feelings of not being good enough or feeling like you don’t belong.

Gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves is like shining a very powerful light within ourselves, gaining greater insights and then shining that light outside ourselves to lead others.

When we start to recognise patterns of behaviours in ourselves, we can spot those patterns in the people around us that we lead and interact with; creating a greater understanding and allowing us to connect with others at a deeper level to drive more effective and successful business relationships.

Often leaders are not aware of the impact that they are having on others. Sometimes it is not what they say, but how they say it, or how they come across. Having this deeper understanding will unlock your greater leadership potential and increase trust with your business partners and employees. As you reveal and share more of your true self, others will trust you more and be willing to speak up about topics that they don’t agree with or when they see things heading in the wrong direction.

No alt text provided for this image

Source: ‘The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®’ by Talita Ferreira

But how can I practically increase my self-awareness? 

The following are tools that can be used to gain this deeper understanding of self:

  • 360-degree feedback,
  • Keep a daily diary of thoughts, feelings, emotional triggers and self-reflection,
  • Ask a trusted colleague or employee (that will be honest with you) for feedback using three simple questions,
  • Take a personality or psychometric test,
  • Identify your strengths,
  • Identify your three to five core values
  • Identify your passions and your deeper purpose
  • Answer a series of self-reflective questions from ‘The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®.’  

Let’s look closer at each of these elements and how you put them into use.

360-degree feedback: Do a full 360-degree feedback review with your peers, employees, boss or line-manager and clients or other leaders – or just ask the three simple questions. A 360 is a multi-source assessment used to gather insights about you as a leader and very often includes a self-assessment. The answers from various sources are then compared to provide the individual with a rounded picture of how other people view them. This provides valuable insights regarding your behaviours and how others see you as a leader. 

Keep a diary: Recording your thoughts and feelings daily, can provide very useful insights. Repeated emotional triggers and self-reflection on your behaviours can unlock patterns and give more meaningful insight into what is holding you back from your greater potential as a leader. 

Ask a colleague: Ask a colleague you trust and respect to share what they think you do well in the working environment and what you can improve on. There is always a difference between how we view ourselves as leaders and how others view us. Use these three simple questions:

  • What should I do more of?
  • What should I do less of and
  • What should I keep doing in the same manner? 

Personality tests: Personality and psychometric tests provide valuable insights about our preferences, styles and behaviours. These are a few DISC0 profiling, Myers- Briggs, SDI, 

Core strengths: Identifying your core strengths can help you to find out more about yourself. Take the Strengthfinder 2.0 test to find out what your five core strengths are.  

Core values: Identify your three to five core values. Assess the behaviours that you live these values through and determine if you are leading and working in congruence with these values. 

Purpose and passion: Obtain a greater understanding of what you are passionate about and how this aligns to your greater purpose. Our purpose is not merely doing a job, but rather what motivates and drives us and gives us a feeling of immense pleasure as we are adding value and making a difference. It is doing the things we love that unlock our passion. Think back to your childhood and when you lost track of time because you loved something so much. If you would like to know more about building a career that is a passion and aligns with your values and purpose, read the new book ’The Compass and the Radar’ by Paolo Gallo. 

Self-reflection: Answer the following self-reflective questions:

  • Who am I today and what has shaped me to be this person?
  • What shaped me at a deeper level?
  • What are my negative drivers/triggers?
  • What are my positive drivers?
  • What are my limiting self-beliefs?
  • Which repeat patterns of behaviour do I display?
  • Which unconscious biases do I possibly have?

Think about the following questions and ask yourself how they apply to you and your life and highlight your qualities, feelings and emotions that are unlocked by asking these questions. In the book ‘The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®’ Talita Ferreira answers these questions from her own experience. 

All these tools help you to get a better understanding of yourself and will increase your awareness over time. 

Why is this particularly important to Finance now? 

Because we must now lead people to realise their full potential as business partners as opposed to optimising processes or (only) replacing people with tech.

Partnering effectively with the business is about a change in mindset and a behavioural change. The behavioural change is about forging deeper relationships with others to increase trust and leading people differently.

The mindset change is about committing to do things differently; to learn and adapt with our team as we go on a journey of moving away from certain behaviours and adapting our behaviours to embrace the change.

We must move away from being just a controller to more of a business advisor, moving from a silo orientated finance view focused on short term targets and results to collectively being responsible for the organisation’s long term achievements. Balancing risk and finance with what is good for the company overall and having an increased customer-centric approach with both internal and external customers.

 Finance leaders must develop a far deeper understanding of strategy and business models and adapt from cost control to a focus on how value is created for the organisation as a whole.

It is crucial to commit to this mindset, have the self-awareness to notice when we stray or go off track, holding ourselves accountable when we stray and inspiring others to follow us on this journey of change.

What should finance leaders do now to start developing more self-awareness? Commit yourself to the mindset of a true business partner, hire people with the capabilities to deliver on the new behaviors needed, use some of the tools that we have suggested to gain a greater understanding of what is holding you back from your highest potential, hold yourself accountable and recommit when you see yourself going off track.

Does all of this resonate with you? If not, why not? If yes, are you ready to get started? If not, what’s holding you back? This is a crucial step in the transformation to create a bright future for the finance function. We know it’s hard to change how you lead, but it’s a must to succeed in the future!

Finance Inspired 4 Success powered by Authentic Change Solutions

@ Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

Here’s How Finance Leaders Must Lead In The Future

This article is co-written by Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

Over the past weeks, we’ve uncovered that a new leadership model is needed in Finance. That’s because the function has been transformed over the past two decades and look vastly different. Finance is now a people business as opposed to systems and processes. That requires a completely different leadership style.

Last week we discussed how the current way of leading quickly gets leaders into trouble, sends engagement towards the bottom, and your employees flying out of your company. We might even say that this is a burning platform.

This week we’ll start to address the burning platform by showing you a new way to lead. A new leadership style that requires you to adopt a growth mindset and see your people as the most important asset to deliver company value creation. Are you ready to challenge your inner-most self and start leading in a new way?

Without a growth mindset, you will get stuck and doomed to failure

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck spent years researching achievement and success. Her research shows that people with a growth mindset, approach problems in a ‘can do’ way, learn from their mistakes and are willing to adapt.

People with a fixed mindset believe when they have failed, they will be doomed to failure in the future; they are far less likely to try new things, they believe in the power of natural talent and abilities, tend to blame others when things go wrong and have a desire to look smart.

To be effective as Finance business partners we need to adopt this can-do mindset where we are willing to try new things, experiment, adapt and learn with our teams and find what is right for the business overall. If we have a fixed mindset, we might believe that we can’t grow, change and move forward.

In contrast, people with a growth mindset see problems as a challenge and an opportunity to learn. With all the challenges facing us in business partnering, BI & analytics, finance operations and outsourcing, etc. we need to embrace the growth mindset that will allow us to learn and adapt as fast as we can. Here’s a look at the new you — the new leader in the finance function.

Introducing the Authenticity POWER Model®

Source: ‘The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®’ by Talita Ferreira

Authenticity = Consciousness + Connectedness; to unlock intuition and purpose

Consciousness (emotional intelligence) = self-awareness + connecting to our inner core

Connectedness (social intelligence) = connected relationships + purpose-driven collaboration

Self-awareness is the state of a deep understanding of ourselves. It is the ability to observe our behaviours, motivations, thoughts, habits, feelings and emotions. For example, when someone is pushing our buttons in the work environment, it is to try and understand why and which limiting self-belief this is activating for us. Or when we have a repeated emotional response, it is being able to trace it back to the underlying value being crossed.

For instance, if you get very angry when you present numbers to the leadership team and they challenge the numbers continuously, you might have values of transparency and openness that are being crossed. The leadership probably don’t like what has been presented, as they want better results. You feel you have been true to your values, did the best job you could, but was still triggered by the whole event.

Understanding yourself better will mean that you can see the situation a bit more at a distance. The ego is the underlying state that might be holding us back from a greater self-awareness.

Connecting to the core is having a deeper understanding of our core values, biases, ethics, passions and purpose. Our purpose is not merely doing a job, but rather what motivates and drives us and gives us a feeling of immense pleasure as we are adding value and making a difference.

It is doing the things we love that unlock our passion. It is about not only being interested in targets and objectives within the finance department but rather providing our finance teams with a greater ’why’ of how we are making a difference to the organization overall and how we are adding value.

Simon Sinek always says people don’t buy what we do; they buy why we do it. A greater purpose for finance is, for instance, that we empower the business to make better financial decisions aligned to the long-term strategy. We empower them by providing insights that lead to greater decisions.

Fears and limiting self-beliefs can hold us back from unlocking our greatest purpose. Before we connect with other people or engage with social intelligence effectively, a deep understanding of ourselves is crucial. Without self-awareness, we cannot start the journey of connected relationships or purpose-driven collaboration with other people.

Connected relationships are rooted in trust with unconditional respect for differences. The ability to be brave, not being afraid to carefully show vulnerability – after all, it is a sign of strength – and to have more empathy for our counterparts and to learn to suspend judgement of other people.

For example, putting ourselves in the shoes of Sales or Marketing and trying to understand their motivations and behaviours, instead of judging them when they do not think exactly as finance professionals do. Our innate human competitiveness and the desire to be right can hold us back from having a deeper connection with other people, fostering trust and emotional safety.

Purpose-driven collaboration is when we create new purpose-driven relationships and partnerships. It is only possible once we have done away with ego-driven, competitive behaviour based on fear and limiting self-beliefs, and when we stop trying to control every situation.

Once we achieve this, we will be co-creating in a way where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is when we are more conscious of ourselves and more connected to other people and acting as true business partners.

When we can truly unlock our inner Authentic POWER, this will lead us to be phenomenal finance leaders, creating cultures of trust and focusing on developing individuals to become amazing leaders themselves.

Our Authentic POWER shines through all the following aspects of our lives:

  • Presence;theconfidence of knowing who we are;
  • Overcoming fear;and our limiting self-beliefs, which help us to discover the potential behind our greatest fear and creates a;
  • Whole Integrated Being; which allows;
  • Effortless flow; between all the various aspects of our lives;and creates
  • Resonance with purpose.

This new model will help us as finance leaders, to embrace this new mindset, to drive change more effectively and understand ourselves better. Leaders, who foster creativity and use the diversity of opinions in their teams to unlock innovative ways of doing things.

Leaders, who coach and develop people instead of telling them what to do, moving away from the traditional command and control behaviours. Finance leaders who cultivate trust and are direct, open, honest and bring out the best in other people. We want you to take the first step and realize that it is all about your mindset as a business partner and as a leader that wants to be more connected and conscious and lead more effectively. Our next article will be about gaining a greater self-awareness; in our opinion, after the right mindset, self-awareness is a critical piece in the puzzle to unlock how we need to lead for the future. How is that for a start to leading differently? Do you agree that something must change and what that change is? Tell us your story, and we’ll help you bring this model to life!

Finance Inspired 4 Success powered by Authentic Change Solutions

@ Talita Ferreira and Anders Liu-Lindberg

Inauthenticity Causes Stress and Discord

Do you sometimes wonder where stress comes from? Does it build up over time and like a dam wall, suddenly bursts after a long rain? Unexpectedly, out of nowhere, with the tiniest most insignificant trigger which makes you lose it, or tips you over the edge, so to speak.

It is no wonder that stress is increasing in our lives. There are so many demands on us as humans; digital technology; political events; changes in our external world; all on top of what we are already coping with in our lives. We all lead busy lives; managing demands from family; keeping good friendships going; our work life; being great parents; and being great leaders for other people at work. Whatever it is for you; I genuinely understand it. I recently left my safe well-paid, secure corporate life to follow my greatest passion and purpose. I had strategically planned this for a number of years but nothing prepared me for the unexpected stress and pressures of going it alone.

Sometimes, these stresses push us to regulate or compromise who we are at a very deep level. We might sometimes keep quiet because we know if we are truthful and speak our mind, we might rock the boat. This can be with a friend, our partner or in our working life. We might do it once and it works. It doesn’t feel good, but we accept it because we did gain something by doing it. We might have avoided conflict or upheaval, although the conflict played itself out in our minds. Actually, we all want to move through life without too many disruptions and sometimes it is not worth voicing our opinions. It is better to choose our battles.

If this becomes normal for us, over time we compromise a tiny bit of ourselves every time we act this way, preferring to say nothing. In a worst case, we do this so often that it becomes our coping mechanism and we become pretenders; not really knowing who we are any more. We live from one holiday to the next, looking forward to the escape; where we can simply be, without doing all the time. Or we live for getting to the next destination, not really knowing how we got there when we arrive. It can also be living from promotion to promotion; until we realise that it is very lonely, empty, lacking purpose and meaning at the top. We start to have different personas in the various aspects of our lives; making changes for different interactions; and in a worst case, starting to wear a mask at work or for certain relationships.

Once we start living in this way, we forsake a deeper connection with other people and with ourselves. We live without a deep appreciation for the different people in our lives; we might even start to judge the differences between us. This discord between who we are at a deeper level and how we behave can become greater and greater. We compete to protect our vulnerabilities and to control situations, to ensure that our deeper fears and limiting self-beliefs are not exposed to other people. We lock ourselves in a state of doing; driven by ego, fear and our deepest limiting self-beliefs.

The opposite state is the state of being. This is where we become more conscious of these behaviours, thoughts and feelings. We actively want to: understand ourselves better; connect more with who we truly are, our values and purpose; know why we are here; and live our greatest potential and passion every day. We connect at a deeper level with other people when we understand ourselves better and we move to co-creating and forming partnerships that were unheard of before. Through this process of connecting with our true authenticity we gain POWER. This means we have: Presence or confidence; we Overcome our fears, we are a Whole integrated being – deeply connected to body, mind, heart and our intuition; we Effortlessly flow between the various aspects of our lives; and we Resonate with who we are and with other people in a very deep and meaningful way.

© Talita Ferreira author, “The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®”

Am I authentically me? Why should I be?

If, a few years ago, you had said to me, I am not really authentic, I think several expletives would have come to mind. With more years of experience, more maturity and a curiosity about what makes me tick, instead, I would now take adeep breath, steel myself and dive in to understand what exactly is meant by this word and what the intention is behind wanting to be more authentic. The age-old adage ‘If I need to change, what is in it for me?’ comes to mind. Therefore, an exploration into how exactly I define being authentic and my intention is necessary, before we react with an instantaneous ‘Leave me alone, I am who I am and quite happy as I am.’

The world is changing faster than we can imagine and the extreme pressure on us as humans is underestimated. I believe sometimes, we don’t want to own up to the effect this pressure is having on us, and our health. We don’t want to admit we are stressed and sometimes overwhelmed by the daily demands facing us. There are growing pressures arising from increased connectivity, the internet of things, changes in the political landscape in Britain and the USA, on top of our normal family and job challenges. I truly believe being more connected to who we are at a deeper level can provide us with escape from the mania of the everyday pressures and demands of always being switched on to our technology.

I like to refer to the current state we are in as the state of ‘doing’. This is where we are trying to protect ourselves from exposure and therefore control situations, not wanting to look bad, and being fearful of being exposed as a fraud or not knowing all the answers. Also, it is when we compete with other people because this has always been the way to success or getting ahead, right from those early school or university days.

I define authenticity as a state of ‘being’. Where we are, firstly, more conscious about who we are; what the drivers of our behaviour are; and what are our values and beliefs. It is when we can clearly differentiate who we are from our minds and the head noise we so easily wrap ourselves in every day. Secondly, we desire to connect with other people in a different way. We forge deeper connections with other people, giving us the ability to suspend judgement, unconditionally accept differences and be less afraid to show our vulnerabilities. We are more inclined to rely on each other’s strengths, to accept each other unconditionally and to create partnerships we had not dreamed possible before. It is when we willingly engage in purpose-driven collaboration with a desire to add to the social economy and make the world a better place. I refer to this as the sweet spot, where consciousness and connectedness collide in “The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®my first book.

Real authenticity starts with taking small steps to understanding ourselves better and making incremental gains to achieve a deeper knowledge of who we are and what is at our core, as well as our values, purpose, ethics and unconscious biases. Only when we understand ourselves better can we connect more meaningfully with other people in a business context and in our personal lives. In this new state of ‘being’ we can avoid people pressing our buttons continuously distancing ourselves from the emotion of it and consciously choosing the reaction we want to display instead. In this state, we can live in true congruence with our intention and purpose, connect more deeply with other people and suspend the judgements we have built up through years of conditioning.

My intention for us all in being more authentic is to: live happier lives; be less stressed and under less pressure; living and enjoying time spent with other people; and making the most of every day in the here and now.

© Talita Ferreira author, “The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®

If this article resonated with you, you can take your “Authenticity Pulse®  here:

https://www.authenticityresolved.com/index.php/authenticity_pulse

The Authentic Change Journey – purpose and people led, with authenticity at its heart to unlock success

The Current Dilemma

Generally, when we think about organisational change, we think about a process, even if subconsciously and mostly, we think about a change process led from the top down. This is normally either a change process initiated by a new company strategy or a new leadership team, or a necessity due to a tactical response to external influences. Often, as leaders, we don’t stop to think of the inherent change challenge facing us as human beings, who are naturally resistant to change. Of course, we need to have a purpose driving the change because a change without a purpose makes absolutely no sense, like a football team without a coach. From my experience, as a Chief Financial Officer leading Human Resources, Strategy and Cultural Change, I know how challenging it is to introduce a new modern working environment, including the launch of new corporate values, creating an integrative culture and relocating three diverse businesses to a new campus, all within one large project. However, at the time, I thought it would be easy to convince the leaders of the benefits of this project. I did not anticipate the surprising response that followed.

The Inherent Change Challenge

Many people do not like change. Even the most adaptable of the species sometimes have negative reactions to change. Even if the outcomes are positive for some people, they simply don’t embrace the process of change. In this situation, we can only move forward with everyone’s buy in for a successful change journey when we analyse these negative reactions to find their source. In my earlier example, it took me six months to reach inside what I now term ‘the can of worms’ to find the core issue. Although we made articulate arguments for the change, conducted numerous briefings and communicated in different ways; several leaders were still reticent. The process of convincing them of the benefits of a new modern working environment was extremely slow. This was despite pointing out the various positive aspects for them as individuals and their teams. I was surprised to realise that many of the leaders didn’t embrace the change because they were scared of losing control or looking bad. I learnt that it is best to tip out ‘the can of worms’ to clearly understand the underlying fears and negative thoughts in the minds of leaders.

We can challenge the traditional thinking process and create a new paradigm, where authenticity at the core of a change journey, can be the differentiator; putting people and the human elements at the heart of the change to unlock its success. Discussing the fears around the change with enough emotional safety, which allows people to openly share, can effectively accelerate the change journey through a softer approach. We can be more effective by showing a bit of humanity and recognising people’s fears as fact, instead of simply burying it or getting impatient with the people who don’t get it fast enough. Or instead, in a worst-case scenario we can leave them behind and by so doing, drive them to become disengaged, disgruntled employees who, in time will impact the bottom line for instance, through mistakes, poor attitude or increased sick days. Then adversely we blame them, when in fact, we never spent the time focusing on the human aspect because it is too soft, or we don’t really understand, or we are afraid of it.

Unfortunately, many strategic or organisational change processes fail, costing organisations wasted profit and time by ignoring or not acknowledging the fears that might exist around the change. However, some fears may be helpful and can point to an adjustment required in the journey of change or an adaptation of the strategy. Traditionally, we are driving these processes top down and therefore, it might be too late in the process to amend or adjust, setting the course for failure from the start. .

Prerequisite for Authentic Change Leading Authentically

People need a basis of trust and emotional safety to be able to openly discuss their fears. This requires an organisational culture that celebrates authenticity and diversity. It also requires leaders who live and lead authentically: people who are real; can be trusted; and unconditionally respect difference. This is a place where fears can be acknowledged without judgement, where true diversity of thought is cultivated and appreciated, allowing true inclusion to follow.

Authentic Change: People, Purpose, Connectedness and Collaboration

The authentic change journey is about two dimensions, consciousness or awareness and connectedness. It focuses on the individual and their context within a team. Authentic change always starts by clarifying the ‘Why’ and ‘What’ questions. Why are we doing it and what is the purpose? However, the focus of authentic change is, more importantly, on the human dimension of purpose and dealing with any underlying fears. It is about creating an awareness and sense of purpose for individuals and must include clarity about their role in the change journey. For example, how they/their teams contribute to the success (reaching the destination); where they fit in; and what is in it for them, including what future opportunities are created or which risks are averted?

A deep assessment of why the change might be perceived negatively is invaluable at an early stage of the journey. This includes finding the reasons for any underlying fears, e.g. a loss of control, a strategic direction not fully understood or a leader who no longer knows what is expected of him or her. In a worst case, it can be a leader not believing in the strategy, but being too afraid to share this opinion for fear of damaging their career progression. Helping individuals to understand and respect these fears, acknowledging that they are not alone, will be helpful to the change process. Common fears experienced during organisational change can be:

  • losing control;
  • not knowing how to lead in a new environment;
  • the unknown and what will be expected of an individual;
  • or that a new strategy will fail and inadvertently cause individual exposure.

To be truly authentic the change journey must also focus on connectedness; a collective and collaborative approach with the shared motto, ‘we are all in it together’. Individual leaders move away from controlling the process, competing and minimising individual exposure and instead form a deeper connection with other people, understanding that everyone is part of the same journey. Leaders give more attention to all the different perspectives on an individual level and thus build a culture of authentic change at an organisational level. Instead of convincing everyone about the change from the top down, leaders engage with people and get them to feel that they are at the heart of the journey. Connectedness also has the ability to bond the leaders, building on each other’s strengths (early adopters) and complementing each other’s weaknesses (laggers) throughout the journey.

‘You and I are in the change process together. We might feel differently about it. However, what can we achieve together?’

This is a powerful way to create authentic advocates and change champions for successful change; people who are able to convince other people. This journey highlights the opportunities to be gained from peer-to-peer learning from the outset. Focusing on collaboration around the challenges to be faced by the individuals involved can help to overcome their underlying fears and enthuse and inspire other people in the team, creating purpose and meaning for everyone. On the flip-side, fearful leaders subconsciously transport negativity about the change to their teams.

The authentic change journey is not simply a change programme about the elements or facts of the change but is about the human beings involved. It focuses on how they are feeling and uses this knowledge to positively impact the change and drive it more efficiently in an engaging and empowering way for all involved.

POWER Emerges Through Authentic Change

The Authenticity POWER Model© as defined in “The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®” provides the guiding elements for an individual’s personal authentic change process. Authenticity is gained through self-awareness, understanding the core, connected relationships and purpose driven collaboration. POWER is an acronym for Presence, Overcoming fear, Whole integrated being, Effortless flow and Resonance. The valuable benefits created by using this model are listed below.

Leaders have more Presence or confidence – through a better understanding of the purpose behind the change and how they relate to and feel about it.

Overcoming fear – leaders have the opportunity to learn from other people, overcoming their own fears and embracing the positivity of the frontrunners in the process.

The Whole integrated approach focusses on the human being in the process, the elements of change and the overall purpose; both individually and collectively.

Effortless flow – individuals flow through the various elements of the change curve with greater clarity and ease because they understand their feelings and fears and know they are not alone.

Leaders Resonate with what the organisation needs to achieve, their purpose and where they fit into the change journey, allowing them to positively impact and influence other people in the organisation.

Conclusion

Authentic change is a journey, not a sprint. When we can deal with change in a more humane way, allowing people to be their authentic selves, to share their fears and help alleviate fears in a more constructive way, it will lead to more efficient organisational change and provide new meaning to true partnership between organisations and their people. Then, perhaps more strategies can be implemented successfully as opposed to being ‘eaten by culture for breakfast’ as Peter Drucker states.

Copyright ® Talita Ferreira Authentic Change Solutions Limited

Is Donald Trump Authentic?

If you were to ask Mr Trump if he thinks he is authentic you would probably receive an overbearing response, such as; ‘Of course, I am authentic.’

But to answer this question properly, we need to define what we actually mean by authentic.

This question completely captured my attention a few years ago, when authenticity was launched as one of the new company values at the organisation where I was working as the Chief Financial Officer. It was a global multi-national organisation, where I spent more than 16 years of my life, mostly as a senior executive board director. I was captivated and inspired by this new quest and the subsequent research into the topic, which I wrote a book about to define clearly for myself and other people interested in the topic about what authenticity truly meant. The result was an unexpected journey to the birth of the Authenticity Power Model® and my first published book, The Authenticity Dilemma Resolved®.

The definition I concluded with was as follows. Authenticity equals consciousness plus connectedness (emotional and social intelligence) where consciousness and connectedness collide, and intuition and purpose-driven collaboration permeates what we do, everywhere, with everyone, all the time.

But what is consciousness? Consciousness is a deep understanding and awareness of ourselves; what drives us; what motivates us; and an understanding of our behaviours, thoughts, values and what is at our core. In other words, it is what defines us as a person. A part of understanding what is at our core is to understand our purpose and what makes our hearts sing. It appears that Mr Trump is doing what makes his heart sing. One example is his passion for dismantling Obamacare and making a difference to the US medical system.

Core to self-awareness and the understanding of our behaviours is to know when we are being triggered; meaning when we experience an emotional response to an external factor in our lives. For example, it appears that often Mr Trump is triggered by the media. The question is whether he recognises and identifies this trigger as his emotional response.

After many years in corporate life, I recognised that when we have repeated emotional responses to something or someone, it normally indicates that a personal value is being crossed or one of our limiting self-beliefs is showing up. We might not be aware of this happening. But if we trace the emotion back to the value or the limiting belief, it becomes more understandable. The question is, whether Mr Trump is self-aware enough to recognise when his buttons are being pushed?

The next part of the definition is connectedness, which is even more interesting in regard to Mr Trump. A prerequisite for connecting to other people, is to have a deep understanding of ourselves first. Without self-awareness, we cannot start the journey to have connected relationships or purpose-driven collaboration with other people. For deeper, meaningful relationships to occur several crucial ingredients need to be in place, including:

  • trust fostered through an unconditional respect for difference;
  • not being afraid to show vulnerability (after all, it is a sign of strength); and
  • learning to suspend judgement of other people.

I am not quite sure that an unconditional respect for difference is being demonstrated by building a wall between the US and Mexico and using every opportunity possible to discredit the former US president in social media. I am on thin ice here, because I truly believe that deeper connected relationships are only forged when we learn to suspend judgement.

The last element of connectedness is purpose-driven collaboration. We are only able to create new purpose-driven relationships and partnerships once we are able to do away with ego-driven, competitive behaviour based on fear and limiting self-beliefs.

When we live a more connected and conscious life, we are able to unlock our authentic POWER, anacronym for:

  • Presence;
  • Overcoming fears;
  • Whole integrated being;
  • Effortless flow; and
  • Resonance.

I walk my talk and therefore, I suggest leaving the final assessment to answer this question to you, the reader. I have an opinion. However, I will focus on my own authentic growth journey, learning to suspend judgement and unconditionally respecting difference, when I believe there is injustice, unfairness or mistreatment involved.

f you are interested in taking your Authenticity Pulse®, please visit the link below.

https://www.authenticityresolved.com/index.php/authenticity_pulse