Only recently have researchers been able to use technology like functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) to look at the brain and see what actually happens when we're facing a major organizational change.
Change …stimulat[es] the prefrontal cortex, a section of the brain responsible for insight and impulse control. But the prefrontal cortex is also directly linked to the amygdala and that’s the brain’s fear circuitry, which in turn controls our freeze, fight or flight response. And when the prefrontal cortex is overwhelmed with complex and unfamiliar concepts, the amygdala connection gets knocked into high gear. The result is all those negative feelings of anxiety, fear, depression, sadness, fatigue or anger that change leaders observe in their teams (and often in themselves).
1. First of all, make the change familiar. ….It takes a lot of repetition to move a new or complex concept from the prefrontal cortex to the basal ganglia. Continually talking about change, focusing on key aspects will eventually allow the novel to become more familiar and less threatening.
2. Let people create change. …most people respond favorably to change they create and brain research shows why this is so. At the moment when someone chooses to change, their brain scan shows a tremendous amount of activity as insight develops, and the brain begins building new and complex connections.
9. Give people a stabilizing foundation. …The leader’s role here is to create stability through honoring the organization’s history, detailing current successes and challenges, and creating a powerful vision for the future. …a clearly articulated, emotionally charged, and encompassing picture of what the organization is trying to achieve.
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