Leon Festinger was an American social psychologist who suggested that human beings seek internal psychological consistency to mentally function in the real world. In the absence of this consistency, a person experiences a mental discomfort which is known as ‘cognitive dissonance.’
Can you think of any ways that this phenomenon can influence our professional performance?
Well, one of the many could be the discomfort a leader or a manager might experience having to change their management style, since until now, it has been working. It is what they were taught, what they were told is the best way to do things. As Christie Struckman mentions at a recent Gartner podcast, management style is one of the most underestimated barriers to a successful digital transformation.
The command and control management style might have been what got some people where they are today: a seat at the table, rewards, recognition, so they are very reluctant to change it. When confronted with new evidence that contradicts one’s personal views, one wants to resolve this contradiction to reduce the psychological stress, sometimes simply by ignoring the new facts and sticking to one’s old beliefs.
But it’s been proven that digital enterprises call for a more enabling management style. One with less strict guidelines on what to do, when and how to do it, but with a more justified direction that allows for flexibility and creativity.
If your organization has been trying to transform but it is not going as you were hoping for, think of the management style in place; could it be hindering the development of a digital culture?