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Change Leader, Change Thyself
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 06/02/2014

Changeup “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

Using this idiom would be a great starting point for this article as it hits on the fact that a leader must change within themselves, as an individual, before he or she can engage in an organizational change. Changing cultures or the way you do business takes self-understanding and then requires putting the values into an organizational context. Most of the time, we rarely see organizations change drastically, but their people do. It is the right move to change performance strategies and inner structures to accomplish their revised goals with new policies and procedures.

Change takes time and in order to make successful change there must be sufficient time allotted for the process to work. One needs to assess when something fails, it must also address the mindsets and skill sets of those that executed the change. It is suggested that 50 percent of change fails because of senior staff failing to adjust their own behaviors to meet the organizational needs.

Many resort to a passive status quo that hampers or sabotages the attempts for change thus there must be change in people to make the change happen. It has been suggested that this will create a success rate four times more likely to succeed due to having the right people in the right places.

A common mistake, made even by companies that recognize the need for new learning, is to focus too much on developing skills. Training that only emphasizes new behavior rarely translates into profoundly different performance outside the sterile career developing seminars.

Individuals have their own inner lives, populated by their beliefs, priorities, aspirations, values, and fears. These interior elements vary from one person to the next, directing people to take different actions. This profile is a combination of his or her habits of thought, emotions, hopes, and behavior in various circumstances.

Profile awareness is therefore a recognition of these common tendencies or traits and the impact they have on others. Therefore, a careful selection of those that meet the criteria for change must be given a chance to become change leaders from the start of the project and endure the entire journey with consistency.

Organizational awareness involves the real-time perception of a wide range of inner experiences and their impact on your behavior. These include your current mind-set and beliefs, fears and hopes, desires and defenses, and impulses to take action.

This type of awareness is harder to master than profile awareness. While many senior executives recognize their tendency to exhibit negative behavior under pressure, they often don’t realize they’re exhibiting that behavior until well after they’ve started to do so. At that point, the damage is already done.

Therefore the message is to simply balance the change between people and the organizational awareness around them. Having the right people in the right places enhances success and is instrumental in changing organizational cultures made up of mindsets, beliefs, fears and hopes as well as desires and naturally spent energies to take the right kind of action as the development of a new journey takes its course.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

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