Mindfulness: A deeper approach to navigating organizational change

Thought Leadership on Authentic Change Leadership  ‘Shift Happens but you can lead it’ presented by Ally Solutions Group.

Being in the field of organizational change management for the past 15+ years, my team and I have been brought into some of the toughest business/change scenarios out there. We have been involved in major mergers and acquisitions where companies invested millions and millions of dollars to gain strength and stability in the marketplace, only to be met with strict regulations, inflating labor costs and executive clashing that resulted in the newly formed company failing. Many read about that type of situation in the news, but we deal with the real people fighting for their professional life in that scenario. What happens to leadership decorum and workplace relationships when people literally feel like the ground below them is falling away? Chaos and unplanned bad behavior becomes acceptable. Fear and insecurity take over.

The real question here is, as leaders, how do we balance our own reactions, responses and management of environments that are fraught with inconsistency and personal change? We need the tools and the ability to “stop time” for ourselves, to be able to gain the grace and the perspective to appropriately relate to our peers, our teams and our management in a thoughtful and kind manner.  Enter mindfulness.

In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts to bring a form of meditation known as mindfulness into the mainstream. Mindfulness is a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life that allows you a greater sense of connection inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness is also a practice, a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight and understanding. Both personally and professionally, mindfulness is a way to “pay attention on purpose” to your thoughts, your emotions and your physical reactions to life around you. By being present in every situation, you have the opportunity to fully engage in your relationships, your work, and in every aspect of your life.

The question remains: If we were to employ mindfulness in our communications and conversations related to the chaotic corporate initiatives mentioned above, how might the outcome be different?

Through organizational change management, we have not been going deep enough. We do a lot of organizational work to engage people at various levels through communications and learning, but when we are working on a project that impacts 140,000 people globally, we don’t have the opportunity to personally connect at a real level. We need to give people the tools to self-gauge their own feelings and responses to change in every scenario. Change agility can be encouraged through mindfulness practices.

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