Implementing organizational change has been a part of leadership textbooks and conferences for a long time. Best practices for organization change have risen to an all time high because of COVID and the cascading shifts throughout the work world. Many leaders are frustrated because they “keep pulling the levers for change but nothing really ever happens.” With that being said, leaders are seeking ways to create less painful change in everything from motivating teams to changing culture.
In today’s podcast episode, we interview Mike Mears, retired CIA HR Chief and CEO of Mears Consulting. Mike explores a new approach to overcoming innate employee risk aversion. It stimulates organizational change by using a “magic brain visualization formula” –a process that utilizes “insight prompts” to foster “aha” moments for team members as theyTeam Anywhere.
What Surprised Mike Over the Last 2 Years
Mike mentioned that he might be one of the oldest guests on the Team Anywhere podcast, but explained that he is a continuous learner and is more than willing to pick up new techniques and leadership tools of success. Ever since COVID hit, Mike thought about how leaders can run virtual organizations.
As Mike read articles and talked to gurus, he met Raj Choudhury, a Professor at Harvard Business school. They engaged in several discussions and agreed that face-to-face interactions fuel human linkages in hybrid-virtual work environments. Therefore, they believe that in-person events and environments should not be completely neglected in future work structures.
A Leader’s Magic Formula to Stimulate Organizational Change
According to Mike, the human brain is innately risk averse in which clinging to the status quo is the safest path. Leaders can use more visualization to get around this risk aversion. This visualization can involve everything from displayed data, videos, stories, case study scenarios, and creative imagination.
Further work in neuroscience has led to the discovery of an even greater capacity of the brain to create a sense of certainty when an aha! Moment occurs. . This brain phenomena emerged through the discovery of two (2) neuroscientists, John Kounios and Mark Beeman. Their exciting work has shown that insights do not come from the prefrontal cortex (analytical portion of the brain), but from a tiny portion of the brain slightly above the right ear. This appears as flashes of tiny light which represents the aha moments that give a sense of certainty to leaders and team members alike.
An Approach in Building Leaders in a Hybrid-Virtual Environment
Mike discussed the difficulty in trying to build and guide leaders totally within a virtual environment. This is because there are human bonds that can only be built through face-to-face interactions. Mike explained that leadership development and growth happens on the sophisticated spectrum of learning, and requires self-improvement, self-understanding, and direct interactions with people. Therefore, Mike recommends that organizations should strive for 25%-40%- face-to-face interaction and training.
How Leaders Bring About Organizational Change
Mike discussed in the podcast that Leon Panetta was a role model leader in the CIA organization. Why? Because he pushed team members to become more involved in the organization’s planning and problem solving processes. He was a leader who gave team members mental homework assignments which led to mental and insight “sparks”–a generative reflection process that led to creative problem solving.
Who is Mike Mears?
Mike Mears retired as the CIA’s Chief of Human Capital. Before that, he founded and headed the CIA Leadership Academy. Prior to CIA, Mike was senior vice president at GE investments and a Six Sigma Black Belt. Before that, he launched eleven small business start-ups.
He earned his undergraduate degree at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his MBA from Harvard Business School. Mike teaches and lectures on leadership at the Department of Defense, and at Georgetown University.
To learn more about the magic formula to stimulate organizational change, download this episode now.
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