The One Leadership Mindset for Growth in Change

Mark Arnold
The One Leadership Mindset for Growth in Change


Growing Pains. Or...growing pains. Ah, now didn’t those two things bring two very different visceral responses?

The former was a beloved, if not a bit cheesy in retrospect, sitcom chronicling the exploits of the Seaver family, of Long Island, New York. There were the kids: Ben, your stereotypical wildchild third youngling; Carol, the middle kidlet trying her darndest to keep that perfect academic record intact; and of course Mike, the oldest offspring and the one most likely to be into mischief-making.

The parents, Maggie and Jason, were a reporter and a psychiatrist, respectively; with Jason working from home while Maggie went to work outside the home.

Growing Pains took us on a journey with the Seavers as they navigated the terrain of two parents and three kids all...well...growing together. And it wasn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it was downright painful.

There were choices different characters faced, jams they got themselves into (and usually, conveniently out of within their 30 minutes of allotted time, of course), and lessons they learned along the way.


No, that’s not a typo above. I’m saying that partially for you, Reader, and partially for my editing teammates; because they know fully well I’d be capable of inadvertently making a mistake like that. When you’ve blogged as long as I have, things happen.

By now, you’re wondering what Growing Pains has to do with anything. (That, or you’re trying to figure out where you can watch it.*) Well, I had a slightly different mental thing with that TV show.

*You can watch it for free with ads on the Roku channel, or you can purchase episodes on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, and iTunes.

You see, starting when I was around, oh say 12 or so probably, I began having horrific pain in my heel area every single time I ran and jumped and stepped and, well, pretty much did anything. And that was all the time for me.

Turned out I had something called — wait for it — Sever’s (yes, spelled without the A) Disease. Also known as growing pains. So when I encountered this show called Growing Pains with a Dr. Seaver? Well, let’s just say I tilted my head sideways for a moment.


Still not a typo.

Most organizations — and individuals, for that matter — find themselves in one of at least two situations: they’re either (1) going through a change situation or they’re (2) trying to figure out how to make a change they feel like they need to.

Either way, it can be difficult, even if the change itself is one that’s necessary, and even if the end result is one you know to be ultimately good.

But hang in there, because you can not just get through this, not just grow through this, but you can thrive through this. What I’m beginning to gather from some different material I’ve been working through for an upcoming project is that with an appropriate mental framework and a commitment to acting accordingly, you can set you and your organization up for sustainable success going forward.


There are at least four different discernible leadership mindsets, generally speaking, that we’ll use for the sake of easy discussion. Think along with me here, and we’ll use this as a self- and organizational-awareness tool.

leadership mindset and change

[bctt tweet="Great leaders understand that mindset matters, especially during change. #leadership #change #culture #futureofwork" username="mattmonge"]


These organizations are focused mostly on defensive strategies and tactics. They tend to cut, cut, cut. Headcount, marketing, training and development, product & services development, innovation — some or all of those things.

It’s cut and hunker.

And it’s a recipe for failure.

[bctt tweet="It's only short-sighted leaders that blindly cut, cut, cut during times of change. #leadership #change #culture #futureofwork" username="mattmonge"]


These leaders and organizations are focused largely on offensive strategies and tactics and essentially not reducing much of anything relative to their peers. They overspend relative to their peers.

It’s spend, spend, spend; and it’s doing so without a clear strategy or long-term vision.


These leaders and their organizations are focused on attempting to adopt an avoidance mindset strategy whereby they reduce certain areas — say, Cost of Goods or Employee Headcount, for example — while also adopting an aggressiveness mindset strategy in increasing other expenditures, such as sales, administrative spends, R&D, capital expenditures, and/or equipment & property.

It’s an attempt at pragmatism. And while it seems a measured approach, some research (and more in a future post on this) shows it to only incrementally increase an organization’s probability of market success above its aggressiveness-minded and avoidance-minded counterparts.


Some leaders and organizations take a different approach, and when they do, they get different results.

Sustainable results.

[bctt tweet="Leaders and organizations who want sustainable results have to take a holistic approach to strategy and leadership. #leadership #change #culture #futureofwork" username="mattmonge"]

They take a holistic approach that involves making measured, smart decisions around reducing where they could around things like Cost of Goods, while keeping things like Employee Headcount as close to even as possible. Additionally, they divert more resources than their peers to areas like product and service development, marketing, employee training and development, R&D, sales, general and administrative costs, capital expenditures, and property and equipment.

Those areas are areas that enable growth. They’re not extra; they’re necessary infrastructure for any organization wanting to actually survive, grow, and thrive in the coming years.

They don’t start slashing wildly, cutting costs left and right, lashing out at what they perceive to be “extra” expenditures like product and service development, marketing, employee training and development, and so on.

They wisely understand that doing so would be akin to “Cutting off the nose to spite the face” if you’ll allow the admittedly imperfect example.


Think about the past several weeks and months. The organizations that were equipped to handle this current situation well are the ones who had already:

Not only that, but when faced with the current situation, they:

  • Embraced the above mentioned ADVANCED approach to leading their organizations
  • Invested in future-minded things like product and service development, marketing, employee training and development, etc.
  • Resisted the urge to indulge in knee-jerk, reactionary measures
  • Took the long view of their organization, their strategy, and their mindset


What that means for you is that to be successful — to grow and thrive through change — you need to employ a very specific approach to change.

I’m working on some broader research related to this, and what I’m finding is both fascinating and fairly conclusive thus far. Almost across the board, organizations that have in the past been most successful, as well as organizations who are showing the most resilience currently both at navigating change and thriving on the other side, utilized and are currently employing a set of strategies and tactics that were and are holistic in nature.

Our clients are seeing some great successes, which is a credit to their hard work and awesome to see. What's working for you? Let us know in the comments!

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO