ATD Blog

Positive Change Management Starts With Yourself

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How easy is it for you to maintain a positive attitude in a stressful situation? Do you naturally look for ways such circumstances will benefit your learning and development?

Cultivating this positivity can help us manage the emotions that come along with change. Change is inevitable, but suffering with the change is self-induced. By cultivating a positive mindset, we can train our minds to see the change as something we can cope with, adapt to, and make the best of—even if that means simply learning from it.

Prevent a Spiral

Daniela works 60 to 70 hours a week and barely can stay on top of her work. She thinks her team meetings are so useless that she tries to catch up on her email during them.

As her coach, I suggested to Daniela that she try looking for what works in those meetings rather than what doesn’t. If she had a more positive approach, she might train herself to be active and engaged at these meetings. This would offer her an opportunity to shift the agenda of the meeting to topics that actually required a team meeting’s attention.

Daniela’s efforts improved the quality of staff meetings for all involved; teammates followed her lead and stuck to the most important issues from their respective projects. This change had a ripple effect. Daniela began to notice that the situation at work was not as bleak as she thought.

Gain Perspective

Teddy finds that when he gets home from a long day, he has at least three drinks to relax. He cannot settle down from all the worry and anxiety he has over whether he can get an important promotion. He also told me that too many meetings with too many underachieving teams are a big part of why he must unwind with several drinks at the end of day.


I asked Teddy if his drinking was making things better at work, and he said that it actually made him more tired and frustrated about his predicament. I proposed that he narrow the scope of what he sought to influence at work. Teddy then brought a positive mental attitude to this pared-down agenda, and found himself feeling less personally overwhelmed by bad news at work. Mentally, he was able to leave work at work, and as a result felt a decreased sense of worry in his personal time.

Tips for Cultivating Your Own Positive Inclination

Whether personal or professional, it is crucial to learn how to keep a positive mental attitude. Here are four tips.

  1. Remember that life offers opportunities to learn and become adaptable. Being adaptable does not mean you lack principles or values. Having a sense of what is important to you and what you will and won’t do are critical to creating a solid foundation of ethical and moral behavior. Not getting what you want teaches patience, while getting what you want teaches you to hold on lightly to the desired role, job, or team, knowing that everything changes.

  2. The mind tends to follow our intentions. Develop a clear intention. For example, you might develop a clear intention to become adaptable.

  3. Consider the importance of well-being. Compassion can be healthy not just for the other person but for the giver as well. Practice this: Every day, wish others well and remind yourself that others are just like you. They have ups and downs. They experience stress and have hopes and dreams just like you.

  4. Learn to laugh in the face of trouble. A sense of humor about the tough times we experience can be uplifting and remind us that nothing is so bad that a little perspective couldn’t help. Don’t be a spectator to happiness; be engaged with fun, playful people and activities.

Willingness Is Contagious

It’s important to remember that anyone on a team can promote a positive mood. Sometimes the best way to manage change in an organization is to start with yourself. We don’t need to only rely on leaders for this!

Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Elad Levinson’s article on the LinkedIn Pulse Blog, “How Teams Successful Manage Change.”

About the Author

Elad Levinson is an expert in applying neuroscience and cognitive sciences to leadership effectiveness, and has more than 40 years’ experience in leadership roles in various organizations. He held several senior management positions at Agilent Technologies, ICANN, and Stanford University. Elad is currently a senior adviser at 4128 Associates, and the head instructor for Praxis You’s Thriving on Change. Be sure to check out Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader's Toolkit. This is a great resource created by Elad for today's leaders.


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