Charisma, Group Dynamics And Workplace Cultural Change – Michael Grinder & Associates

Charisma, Group Dynamics and Workplace Cultural Change

Most people think when they assemble with their colleagues that “group dynamics” is taking place.

In fact, you have the people present, as well as all the “ghosts” from the past. Ghosts are all the habits, traditions, biases and prejudices that we have inherited.

Changing a culture is an exorcism of ghosts.

This video explores the ghosts that are invisibly present when trying to change a culture.

Modified Transcript

How frontline team members view middle management

The first frontline of any organization tends to be the most cooperative. They tend to be the one that wants to do their job and go home, and it’s perfectly okay. They want to enjoy their time; they want to make sure that they have the resources to be confident. That’s their framework in terms of how they think. They believe and see middle management as having freedom and latitude; they get to decide their day.

So when you have this person talking to middle management, there’s a tendency for this person to go into that meeting thinking do they like me or not. So person-to-person is the way frontline thinks of middle management.

How middle management thinks in a group environment

Middle management can’t think, “does this person like me or not.” Within three months of being promoted to middle management, you realize anything you say yes/no affects other people. So middle management is thinking about the domino effect, which is different from yes/no to whatever the person is saying.

If you did not say yes, this frontline person would walk out and go, “I’m confused. I thought you liked me. I thought we were mates.” From this side, the most significant shift is each level of an organization can have mateship. But not between levels.

How group culture dynamics have changed

In the last 35 years, it’s been wonderful to see changes occurring inside of the organizations. Example — 20 years ago, if I ran an “open to teachers” program, the teacher would not come unless the teacher came with other teachers on that grade level. Coming alone would indicate you’re too ambitious. You’d be ostracized. You certainly couldn’t go back to the school and say, “I went to a training over the weekend.” You just couldn’t say that 20 years ago.

Now people are saying, “tell me what you’re learning.” The culture of the country has shifted, which caused a shift inside organizational structures.

Now, what happens is, when you’re in middle management, you tend to think, “Since I don’t have the freedom I thought I was going to have, when I went from frontline to middle, it must be on the next level.” And that is a myth, be careful of it.

If this level cannot talk to that level, we’re in trouble. If you want to go from a hierarchical level to more flat, so we communicate, you’ve got to figure out how to get this person to be willing to listen. You’re used to because you don’t have any time the higher up you get. Not delegating, commanding.

And hat’s how we make the distinction, because of the particular population we have here in the room. When you’re in the field, go hierarchical. You say something, and they follow because of what you have in terms of your uniform. The color of the helmet that you are wearing. That has to be a meaning that cannot be questioned. The problem is when you get back into the office; you’ve got to change out of that mindset.

When you’re in the field, it’s fine. It makes sense. It’s effective to be positional. But when you’re in the office, you stay positional, it will never make the change, in terms of what is going on.

Now, if you want it to graphically show this – the people at the very top have buffers that filter information. So you don’t know what’s going on. It’s not that you don’t want to know what’s going on. People are filters, “he or she wouldn’t want that. Nah, she won’t accept it anyhow, he has a meeting going on, maybe we’ll catch her next week. I’ll handle that, and then you stuff it, you put it in the drawers section.”

So since we understand, the problem is how do you change a culture? And one of the things that’s tough to consider is you have to change the nonverbals associated with it. You can take an executive board. You can take to any member, or you can go off and have a retreat. “Good plans. We understand and we’re committed to you.” And when you come back, if you have not changed the actual nonverbals, you’ll go right back to the same habits.

And the same thing happens in our partnerships. We go off for the weekend, over a family. We say, “We have enough time now, we’re lying on the beach and this is nice. Wow. Surfer’s paradise. Go Sunshine Coast.” So you can say, okay, we need to change this. As soon as you go home, if you do not change your nonverbals, all the nonverbals reinforce what you used to do. You’ve got to figure out how to change them.

Go to Wikipedia, and if you poke around, you’ll go into what’s called personality profiles. And one of the things I say is, find two ideas, cross them, and you’ll have your own model. So Myers-Briggs was based on this. This is based on this, Catherine Dawkins is based on this. So let’s pull up here and say that you are issue-oriented and we’re going to make this high issue-oriented. This is low issue-oriented.

Now let’s pretend you’re relationship-oriented. Now I know if you have a math background, I’m doing this wrong, but I’m going to put the positive over here for a reason, no emails, but promise I know what I’m doing wrong. It will still irritate certain people here in the room. Can’t look at it, can’t look at it, zero might be another one. Now, if you take and have a different color and let’s go with this, this is what most people see as a promotion. It’s when you go from here to here, and keep moving up. So when you move in the direction of going from high relationship in towards being high issue, that’s who gets promoted. You are not at the end of your career when you are there. Your goal is this quadrant, not that one.

What is this called? It’s called charisma.

Now the question is, how do you get there? That’s where it gets tough. Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you’re closer. This person, if they want to be charismatic, oh, this is so hard to stomach, they need to go down and get all of these fields. Ooh, that’s painful.

That is the cultural change.

So if you want to say, what does the picture that we have now look like? And what does the picture we want to look like? It’s a balance. If you’re here, you know, no side door, you have to go up and get all these skills. Once you understand charisma, it has nothing to do with your writing. It’s your ability to understand how to move dog and cat. Cause it’s not you, it’s your style. And once we have that, I go, ” got it.”

Anyone can be charismatic, anyone.

“Cultural Change” is the first in a two-part series. Purchase part two, “Miss Communication” at

Want to take this to the next level? Get customized coaching with Michael!

Help your team master group dynamics, move from reactive to proactive, and make difficult conversations easier — learn more about Freedom Through Perception, my half-day training for groups of 10 or fewer. Available in-person or online.

Want to transform your professional development? Work with Michael one-on-one and Improve your communication with personalized nonverbal communication coaching. Available in-person or online.

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