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Want to change your organizational culture? Great leaders rewire brains

Source | Smart CEO

Stuck in the past

Organizational culture includes values and beliefs that are deeply embedded in an organization’s psyche. Although culture provides a stabilizing effect in organizational life, it has a powerful influence on perpetuating the status quo. Layered throughout the organization, culture pushes back against the disruption associated with change you want to see. Shifting it requires changing long-entrenched habits. As a leader, you hire people to make your job easier. You take risks and confront issues. If you want to change the culture of your team or organization, you need to put attention on creating new habits. This allows you to focus on the success of those big-picture projects that take your leadership and your company to the next level.

Most people think of habits as everyday behaviors you can see. This is true. But, habits also include ways of thinking, emotional responses to people and situations, and belief systems. These are all hardwired in the brain at a neurobiological level and running on autopilot most of the time throughout the day. For you to be successful as a leader, you want to be in control of the habits that are running in the background for you. You also want to ensure that the habits running in the background of the people on your team are in line with the vision.

Neuroscientific discoveries highlight that many of our conventional leadership approaches to changing these habits are actually keeping us stuck in old habitual patterns. Some of these approaches include incentives and threats, advice giving, and telling people what to do. Perhaps this has something to do with the frustration associated with trying to change organizational culture. Part of the problem lies in our efforts to try to break these habits. Breaking habits doesn’t work too well. On the contrary, trying to break habits often further embeds the behaviors you want to get rid of. On the other hand, creating a new habit is not that difficult for the human brain to do.

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