When you look closely, you will find three kinds of passengers in a car:

  • The ones who want to be in the car so they can be driven.
  • The ones who want to drive the car – that is their sole agenda.
  • The ones who drive the car, but also wonder if it is the most fruitful thing for them to do.

Why are we talking about this? Because the same three groups of people are found in organizations. According to the authors of the book ‘Immunity to Change’, these passengers represent three types of mindsets and how each type receives/ processes information, has different perspectives, and hence makes varied choices. Let’s explore further:

  1. Socialized mind. People with this mindset are the quintessential team-players, and make for faithful, loyal followers. In the car example, these are people who want to be driven, because their mind seeks direction from external sources, and wants to stay aligned with that direction.

This group is motivated by the need to feel safe/ belong in a group and maintain healthy relationships. Thus, they will not take any step to disturb the equilibrium of teams, even if they have information or ideas which could be beneficial but contradictory. They don’t deal well with conflict or change. If their basic needs of pay, safety, friendship, recognition, and rewards are met, they offer reliability in return.

  1. Selfauthoring mind. This describes the people who have their own set of beliefs, values, and worldview. They self-direct, take a stand, and influence people to follow their agenda. In the car, this is the person who wants to drive – an independent, problem-solving leader who isn’t influenced by the external world. It is their way or the highway.

This group is motivated by long-term goals, growth, freedom, and fresh challenges. They thrive in change and can lead people into change as well. Single-focused is the word to describe them. In our current workforce, a large number of leaders fall into this category.

  1. Self-transforming mind. While people here have a given lens, worldview, or belief system like the self-authoring mind, they are not married to it. They can look through their lens, and also evaluate if there is a more effective lens out there. If yes, they seek to change theirs, because they are aware of the limitations of a single-focused agenda.

This group is the third kind of car passenger, motivated by the desire to make a difference. They need purpose and are interdependent leaders who are truly in service of others. They seek change so they can grow to fulfill their mission. The need of the hour, today, is to nurture such leaders.

Note, that people’s mindsets are not always fixed or rigid. By adopting a growth mindset we can learn to ask questions, evaluate our lens, and make different choices. It enables us to imagine a different version of ourselves. And if you’re keen on taking up leadership positions, building self-transforming capabilities can help. What’s the first step you’ll take in that direction?

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