Change is not a novelty for companies. For this there are proven problem solving strategies. But with the influence of the global digital transformation, the level of complexity is increasing to an extent that requires companies to rethink their approach. This kind of transformation also involves personal rethinking. This can be deemed as the engine of cultural change. Cultural transformation begins with a personal transformation!
We spend the majority of our time in life working, so shouldn’t we want our work to also make us happy? Finding meaning and purpose in our work seems to be ever more important. I am Fereshta Mostamandy, a dual Masters student at Global Learning Campus, creator of the Siemens Talent Network (Nachwuchskreis) with purpose-driven metrics and future value creation skills. I devoted my time during my Masters dissertation which focused on cultural change and resilience. Here’s an insight into my experiences.
In keeping with the Dalai Lama’s philosophy, “changing the world for the better” begins with individuals “creating inner peace within themselves”. In my world, acting out of inner conviction has become more and more important; only by doing so was I able to be successful and happy. For me, activity means this: performing my job by acting out of inner conviction and developing my creative side. But how can we act out of inner conviction? What conditions need to be met first?
Against the backdrop of digital transformation, there is an increasing focus on corporate culture. Despite being largely invisible, it is of considerable importance. Culture is embodied by the people inside the company. Ideally, it helps everyone to enjoy a sense of wellbeing and feel that they are making some contribution to a greater whole. This positive feeling allows people to be won over to the idea of change. Even more so if speed, innovativeness and informal processes prove to be resources and are no longer driven forward by management alone. Most hierarchical organizations lack the speed and creative power they need to remain capable of making decisions and functioning. This takes people who shoulder some of the responsibility, and are allowed to do so.
Culture eats strategy for breakfastPeter Drucker
The main aim: transformative cultural change
Achieving transformative cultural change requires a change of mindset. We must learn to change our own neural programming code. Routinely calling up the past behavioral patterns stored in the memory hinders the transformation process.
How do we manage to reprogram ourselves? Often, we are too strongly focused on the expectations of others and lose the focus on ourselves. Initially, I allowed myself to be greatly influenced by recognition from other people around me. I felt good when I received praise and bad if I did not. I performed tasks that held no appeal for the inner me without listening to an inner voice telling me to do otherwise. I thus moved further and further away from applying my creativity and passion.
As a result of this change, I felt that I was no longer an original, but merely a copy of myself. To quote the Swiss author Arno Grün: “We are born as originals and die as copies.” Only when we make ourselves aware of this, question it and solve it, do we find space for innovation and individuality. Personalities – in their original state – are every bit as diverse and unique as an individual’s fingerprints.
We are born as originals and die as copies.Arno Grün
Mindfulness sharpens our awareness
Each individual begins by journeying into themselves and finding out what it is that is really important to them. For cultural change to be truly transformative, each individual must be mindful in dealing with themselves and others. Why? Mindfulness sharpens our awareness. It enables more self-love and more self-determination. All we are able to control is our own thoughts and our view of events – our mindset.
If I learn to recognize what is important to me and always keep that in mind, then I can slowly let go of the things that are “unimportant”. This is not a process that happens from one day to the next. It is a process that requires a patient commitment to attach more importance to our inner voice.
In that vein, coaching is becoming an increasingly important part of a leader’s role. Managers should be able to alter their perspectives, exercise empathy and bring out the best in everyone. Modern leadership is therefore not that far removed from coaching.
The strength of fulfillment
Recognizing and encouraging individual qualities unleashes a strength: the strength of fulfillment, which is not susceptible to pressure.
Pressure gets in the way of our own potential. Anyone who feels appreciated is filled with energy and creativity. The aim is for team members to understand that they are “allowed to be originals”, as a result of which comparisons and competitive mindsets disappear. That, in turn, often brings psychological security and high performance within the teams.
If, in the process, we learn to work with and for one another, the pieces of the puzzle come together to form a wonderful, magnificent picture. That enables “inspired action”. We learn to understand interrelationships, and that we are all in some way dependent on one another, deriving strength from togetherness.
It is not easy to transform culture but, together, we gradually move closer to our goal. Culture shapes people and their actions, while at the same time people shape culture.