I am often engaged by leaders of organizations seeking to ignite a transformation. In my leadership and organizational development programs around the country and the world, I have encountered questions about transformational thinking and how to move hearts and minds.
In this blog, my team takes a Q and A approach to addressing training formats and the best way to achieve transformation to reach better outcomes in a leadership team and an entire organization.
Q: Explain your approach to transformational thinking.
Joe Caruso: The templates on which our thoughts are formed typically live in the past: past myths, old driving truths, and past self-definitions. Transformational thinking is different from the way an individual or organization normally thinks in that it doesn’t rely on these three things. When we don’t use past myths, old driving-truths and past self-definitions, we are more likely to think differently enough or change our approach enough to create a vastly different outcome. In other words, to change the behavior, we must first change the thinking that drives the behavior. This is necessary to experience transformational thinking.
Q: What types of corporate training are typically offered to ignite a transformation?
Joe Caruso: I classify most training into two formats: congruency training and what I call “list training.”
List training provides people with a list of things they should and shouldn’t do, explains why they should and shouldn’t do them, and expects that they’ll change their behavior accordingly.
Congruency training helps individuals and organizations learn how to identify and change myths (stories about themselves) and reigning truths that are driving the behavior and outcomes that need to be changed.
Like many good diet and exercise programs, the majority of people that attend list training end up abandoning it, as it does not address the necessary change in behavior and habit. Because congruency training addresses the stories and thinking of an organization (identified by the organization with the help of an effective trainer), the realizations and awareness ignites a new self-awareness and ownership of the old myths and what needs to change.
Q: If list training doesn’t work, why is it the basis of most training in this country?
Joe Caruso: Good question. First, it’s not that it doesn’t ever work. Sometimes it does, with some people. However, by and large, it is nearly impossible to help people dramatically change their behavior in any lasting way just by telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. It may be great for job-specific training, but it’s much less effective in behavior-related areas like customer service, leadership development, communication and team building.
Most people have very little understanding as to why they behave the way they do, and even less understanding about how to change it. I’ve found that most people who talk about “paradigm shifts” have never even experienced one themselves.
Q: How does congruency training work?
Joe Caruso: Well, it’s based on the mechanics of our human psychology in that it’s nearly impossible for us to behave for any length of time, or with any consistency, in a way that is contrary or incongruent with our driving myths. Once trainees accept this, they are shown how to let go of these negative myths, or self-identifying stories, and how to uncover more edifying self-truths. These new truths will serve to free them from the boundaries of their old thinking and allow them to think transformationally, embracing a new more positive context and story.
I have yet to encounter a business, organization or leadership team where congruency training does not work – not just at first – but over the long haul.
Q: How does a transformation in the workplace translate to our our personal lives?
Joe Caruso: As the number of leaders I work with grows year after year, the more undeniably I can endorse the notion that our personal and professional lives are inextricably linked. This means that the work you do for transformation in the workplace can also benefit relationships you have with your spouse, family, and friends.
The outcomes in your life are largely the result of the way you see yourself in the context of your world. This determines what you think you should do, what you will do and how you’ll approach it. It’s nearly impossible for you to experience a transformation of your outcomes until you first transform the way you see yourself in the context of your world. Leaders that acknowledge this and undergo this type of work often experience rapid growth and success in their personal lives as well.