Over the past 10 years, I’ve been interested in how we perceive our world through the lens of our personal life journey and through our experience in organizations where we have worked. Both of these are a source for the mindset we find ourselves most comfortable in adopting. In addition our experience of what helps us succeed as leaders shapes and fixes our mindsets and these intuitively drive our behavior and approach. This can be helpful, providing us with quick solutions to what is facing us. Unfortunately as changes happen around us, these shortcuts can be our downfall

In 1997 Larry Greiner’s seminal work “Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow” was reproduced in the Harvard Business Review. He re-affirmed that major phases of growth can be seen in organizations. Organizations evolve in stages and change through revolution in the form of crises. He defines the consecutive phases and crises as follows:

  1. Creativity – leadership
  2. Direction – autonomy
  3. Delegation – control
  4. Coordination – red tape
  5. Collaboration – in 1997 he proposed that the crisis following this phase is one of growth and requires a networked organization solution.

He observes that leaders in each phase develop approaches that are adaptive for the organizational form. We hold these approaches as pictures in our minds eye of how organizations ‘should’ work.
What picture do you hold in your mind about how your organization should work? In the graphic below you can see what look like organization structures, but actually represent commonly held perceptions of how we relate to each other.

Now, go ahead and use the table below to assess where you are more comfortable. Once you’ve identified where you are, think about how this might affect how you approach your leadership challenges – does your mindset help or get in the way.

Mindset Attributes Indicators Impact
Idiosyncratic Improvisational Unstructured;
focused on the present;
reactive; prefers to be
an individual contributor
Will focus on own
goals to the detriment of others.
Will resist process.
Autocratic Controlling Protective. Directive Will not delegate or
expect others to engage thoughtfully,
resulting in a lack of learning and
development and people feeling accountable.
Bureaucratic Hierarchical Order – everybody has to
know his or her place.
Process and data-driven
Things will work slowly.
Democratic Consensual Inclusive. Unbiased.
This approach engages and
empowers, but can err towards consensus
to an extent that decisions are
delayed or not made.
Integrator Synthesizer Adaptive. Collaborative.
Proactive, Co-accountable
Trust-based, engaging,
creates an environment in which
all feel accountable, empowered and
networked. Culture of creativity.

My research studies with many hundreds of leaders over the last 10 years suggests that results achieved by leaders who develop an integrator mindset are demonstrably better in achieving and exceeding organization goals. This is the only mindset that enables us to see there are many different ways to achieve success, we just need to understand the context and ensure that our approach is adapted to this.

Here are some steps successful leaders took to change their behavior that you can practice to become an integrator:

  1. Lead with an Integrator Mindset by developing good self-awareness; actively listening to and empathizing with others; seeking cooperation and reaching out to help others succeed; promote trust by acting transparently and modeling accountability. Remember that for others to be accountable, they need you to be a good delegator and coach.
  2. Encourage peer-to-peer relationships recognizing differential roles and responsibilities and relating without pulling rank.
  3. Form a supportive network to connect the organization.
  4. Foster a learning organization, providing broad developmental opportunities, so that the organization remains motivated and adaptive – ready for the next stage.

If you want to learn more about how you can change your mindset, Percepi can help you do this. Our workshops are based on how to develop this mindset. Tell us what you think on our Twitter or Facebook page, and feel free to share this post.

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