What are the consciousness-transforming mechanisms of leaders that increase the effectiveness of their own and the organization’s leadership?

I have talked about the overall picture and background of the theme “ISHIKI(Consciousness) Management for the Social Implementation of Subjective Truth”. If we position the contents so far as the first chapter as an introduction, I would like to talk about “transformation of leaders and organizations” as the second chapter.

If you haven’t read the first chapter yet, please check out this article as well.

Unchangeable leaders

Can a person in a leadership position change?

In fact, this is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked in my career in human resource development. When I am asked this question, I always ask, “Why did you have that thought or question? I try to ask them about their background, such as

▼They are caught up in past successes and are unwilling to accept new ideas and values.
▼They are so convinced that their own way of thinking is correct that they don’t want to listen to the opinions of others. They may pretend to be listening, but deep down they have no intention of accepting it.
▼The gap with the reality at the site is getting bigger and bigger, because people around them only say what the leaders prefer.
▼Many of the team members have given up because they don’t feel the mindset of the leaders will change.

When I ask you about this background, I respond as follows. “It is not easy for a leader who is perceived as such by those around him or her to change quickly. However, if the leader truly wants to change, he or she can make a change.”

There are many organizations with these challenges. While the challenges manifest themselves in different ways in different organizations, they seem to be very similar in structure. The structure is that the quality of the required change/growth is different and is either unaware of it or has been misunderstood.

When you are young, you can grow and improve your work performance by acquiring skills and knowledge. However, as a leader, skills and knowledge are often not enough to achieve the required change and growth.

What kind of change is needed is growth that involves a transformation of values. Values are fundamental belief systems, such as the perception of right and wrong, causal perceptions, and the scope and framework of perceptions, which are the preconditions for making judgments and having feelings.

The structure in which the above problems occur is that people who have grown and achieved success through the acquisition of skills and knowledge are unable to cope with situations that require growth and change that involves a change in values.

Unchangeable organizations

▼I am too busy with the task at hand and don’t have time to tackle new things.
▼Everything we do requires interdepartmental coordination and we’re stuck in the middle of it.
▼It is difficult to adopt something that requires significant change or has no precedent.
▼Management team is not aligned and has no direction in mind.
▼Many people in the organization think they can somehow survive as they are and have not been able to keep up with changing customer needs and technology.

We see this situation in every organization to varying degrees. Because of the inertia of an organization, it can be seen as inevitable that the larger the organization, the more difficult it is to change, just as a big truck cannot stop immediately. However, if the entire organization fails to change in the midst of a major environmental change, it will be on the road to elimination.

What is the difference between an organization that can change and one that cannot change?

From my experience in human resource development and organizational development in many companies, and from my experience with our organizational transition, I feel that there is a structure that separates the organizations that can change from those that cannot.

That is, whether or not there is a link between “tangible” such as business models, organizational structure and personnel systems, and “intangible” such as individual thoughts, wishes and ideals.

When this connection is broken, what is “in form” becomes a skeleton, causing all sorts of problems. On the other hand, if this connection is maintained, it may not be easy, but eventually it can be changed in the desired direction.

The interior and exterior aspects of this figure correspond to the “values” and “skills and knowledge” of a leader’s growth. Both leader growth and organizational transformation are fundamentally linked and depend on the ability to achieve inner, or value-level, transformation, both as individuals and as an organization.

The relationship between individuals and organizations is changing.

Here is one example, which requires a transformation of the values of individuals and organizations.

Nowadays, the relationship between individuals and organizations is changing dramatically.

From the Showa to the first half of the Heisei era, the mainstream view was that the individual belongs to the organization. However, amidst the changing attitudes towards lifetime employment in large corporations and the diversification of the individual’s values towards work, there is a shift towards a relationship between the individual and the organization as equals, i.e., a relationship in which the individual and the organization agree to work together based on their own independent truths and aspirations.

Can we adapt to this change simply by changing our organization’s HR system? Will we be able to cope with just honing our personal skills?

Of course, it is important to change our organization’s HR system and also to hone our personal skills. However, it is clear that this alone is not enough to cope with such a large trend. This is because it requires a change in the value level of the relationship between the individual and the organization.

To put it a little bit further, it requires a change in the value level, like the way we think about what a company is and what a job is. It also involves personal career perspectives, like the way we think about what we want to accomplish at work and what we want to be.

Transformation at the value level doesn’t happen overnight, nor should it happen overnight. However, in the midst of such a major change, it is necessary for the organization and the individual to be in a state of readiness for transformation, or to be in the middle of the journey of that transformation.

We have talked about the need for value-level transformation as a fundamental structure for leadership growth and organizational change. So what is the process for this kind of value-level transformation?

The big picture of a leader’s consciousness-transformation mechanism

Before I present the overall picture of the mechanism of leader consciousness transformation, let me review a few assumptions.

▼ The focus is on leader transformation as something that requires a change in values, not something that can be addressed through the acquisition of skills and knowledge.
▼The cornerstone of a leader’s growth is not competence growth, but mental maturity. It can be said to be oriented toward the image of a leader with humanity, not a skilled leader (though that does not mean that skills are to be underestimated).
▼For organizational transformation, there are different aspects of leadership transformation, but it is almost a similar structure (I will write about the organizational transformation process in another article)

The point of this whole picture is that it expresses the relationship between the macro (integral) stages of adult development and the micro (differential) mechanisms of mental model (belief and value systems) transformation.

In other words, it shows the transformation process of a leader at multiple perspectives. The macroscopic big picture helps us understand where we are at the moment, and the microscopic mechanisms help us to put it into practice on a daily basis. Conversely, without the macroscopic big picture, we won’t know where we are and where we want to go, and without the micro-mechanism, we won’t know how to put it into practice on a daily basis.

For the astute reader, some of you may have felt a similar structure to the relationship between the macroscopic big picture and the microscopic 3+1 consciousness model in the first article “What is the paradigm of integrating contradictions in management?” That’s right! In the same way, the structure consists of a macroscopic (integral) and a microscopic (differential) one.

Whether in the case of integrating contradictions in an organization or in the case of integrating contradictions as a leader, I believe that having both perspectives will help us to clarify where we stand and where we want to go, while connecting them to our daily practice.

Let me now break this big picture down into three components.

1)Mental maturity is the cornerstone of a leader’s transformation

Mental maturity, considered as the cornerstone of a leader’s development, can be defined as “a gradual transformation toward integrating the contradictions of one’s true self and harmony with one’s surroundings and society.”

In order to understand mental maturity from a bird’s eye view, the Constructive Developmental Theory is useful. Here are the four stages of mental maturity described in the theory.

If you look at this, you’ll notice that the image of a so-called “big-hearted leader” or “people-oriented leader” is verbalized.

It’s important to note, however, that advancing in mental maturity is not necessarily “good” or “something to aspire to”. In the first place, it should not be thought of in terms of external criteria of “good” or “should be”.

In order to live in the subjective truth, when we try to integrate what is incompatible with the current stage of consciousness, our consciousness shifts to the next stage of development (i.e., our mental maturity advances one stage).

The stages of mental maturity described in the Constructive Developmental Theory are very helpful in understanding one’s current position, but it does not tell us how to integrate the contradiction between living in subjective truth and living in harmony with society and the world around us.

So what is the process of integrating the contradiction?

2) The “breaking-out-of-one’s-shell experience” necessary for leader growth (the Hero’s Journey)

It is said that 70% of a leader’s growth is due to experience. And the experiences that bring about a leader’s transformation have been described as “breaking-out-of-one’s-shell experiences”. The essence of the experience is the process of integrating and sublimating contradictions by confronting the tensions caused by subjective truth (what we want to be) and reality.

When we confront the contradiction and decide to make adjustments and corrections to our mental models (values and belief systems) to better live in the subjective truth, the Hero’s Journey, in which we become the hero, begins.

The Hero’s Journey was created by Joseph Campbell, a mythologist who, in studying myths from around the world, discovered that they share a common pattern. In essence, it describes the inner conflict of a person and the process of overcoming that conflict.

As you look at the process of this Hero’s Journey and chew on what kind of “journey” you are on and what phase you are in now, you can get a different perspective on what you are facing now and the significance of the various contradictions and conflicts from a different perspective than what you usually feel.

It also allows you to reinterpret not only your ongoing experiences, but also the experiences you have had in the past. It may be difficult to have a positive view of all the contradictions and conflicts you have faced in the past, but from the perspective of the hero’s journey, you may be able to take a bird’s eye view and say, “That experience was a necessary process for me, too.”

In this way, the Hero’s Journey can be viewed as a process of integrating contradictions, confronting the tensions caused by subjective truths (what we want to be) and reality, which are called “breaking-out-of-one’s-shell experiences” that are necessary for the growth of a leader.

So what are the keys to get over such a hero’s journey?

3) The key to getting over the Hero’s Journey is “ISHIKI(Consciousness) Management”

In conclusion, the key to getting over the Hero’s Journey lies in “ISHIKI(Consciousness) Management.”

The experience of getting through the Hero’s Journey requires the adjustment or modification of one’s mental model (values and belief systems). In order to adjust or modify our mental models, we need to become aware of our mental models.

We also need energy to get through the Hero’s Journey. What is the best source of that energy? It is the energy of “I want to be” that comes from subjective truth.

The Hero’s Journey can be described as a process of making adjustments and corrections to the mental model by connecting to the subjective truth and making it conscious. In order to do this, it is necessary to make ISHIKI(consciousness) conscious.

To make ISHIKI(consciousness) conscious, the 3+1 consciousness model is helpful.

The subjective truth (the source of what you want to be) belongs to the intuitive consciousness and the mental model belongs to the thinking consciousness. By utilizing the 3+1 Consciousness Model, it becomes easier to become conscious of adjusting the mental model while connecting to the subjective truth.

We build mental models (belief systems and value systems) within ourselves as a regulating valve to balance living in subjective truth and harmony with society. This mental model has two sides: one side is formed from the subjective truth and the other side is formed from past experiences.

The aspect formed from past experiences has the property of being already formed and difficult to change, but the fact that it is also formed from subjective truth means that we are able to consciously choose the mental model that is desirable for us. We can choose our own glasses.

Leaders are not in the role, but in the way they are

So far, I have introduced the whole picture with the theme of the transformation mechanism of leaders’ consciousness. Finally, let me talk about what kind of person I want to read the second chapter, which starts with this theme.

What kind of person is a leader?

The person in charge of a team or organization is generally called a leader, but I believe that the essence of a leader is not the role. I believe that a person who is willing to make a positive impact on those around him or her by his or her own will is a person who demonstrates leadership and is a leader.

▼ A leader is a person who is exercising leadership.
▼ Leadership is about trying to have a positive impact on the people around us through our own will.

Viewed in this way, a leader is not a role. A leader is a way of being and has nothing to do with a role. In other words, any person can be a leader.

Even a new employee is a great leader if he or she is willing to work for the betterment of the workplace. Even a manager is not a leader if he or she does not want to improve the organization.

Therefore, in this second chapter, which begins with the theme of the mechanism of a leader’s consciousness transformation, I want to share with all those who are willing to influence others, not just those who are in leadership roles.

In my next and subsequent articles, I will talk more specifically about what I’m talking about today.

Here are the quests of the day. (If you’d like, please share your thoughts in the comments.)

▼ When you look at the big picture of the mechanism of a leader’s consciousness transformation, where do you find the most interesting part? Why is it?

▼ What are the benefits of having both the macro and micro perspectives of the overall mechanism of changing leaders’ consciousness?

Bunshiro Ochiai

Founder and CEO of a training company, Alue | MS in Particle Physics. | BCG | Questing “What is the paradigm for integrating contradictions in management?”