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Culture Really Does Matter

Change Management Lesson: The Butterfly Effect: A Story of Organisational Change: Episode 4 Show up and Speak Up

23 April 2022


In our animated fable about organisational change The Butterfly Effect   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCIa0eQw3mc&t=1s we introduce a management team based on the characters of Beavers.

In this series of short reviews we shall analyse each episode in the fable and pinpoint the key change management lessons.

In episode 1 (Times are changing) posted 3rd January 2022 we reviewed the dramatic change in the fortunes of the Beaver team driven my powerful change drivers.

 In episode 2 , we investigated how the Beaver leadership team initially reacted to the change crises and some key decisions they took to manage this challenge successfully.

In episode 3 we explored the change tactic the Beavers adopted of developing their change champion identities to support the overall change project.

In this episode 4 we shall look closely at the importance of developing soft skills as change leaders that help enhance feelings of psychological safety in change teams.


Habits are made to be broken

The Beavers had over time developed their own ways of protecting themselves from embarrassment or from appearing ignorant. They spoke freely about their own specific areas of responsibility and they protected their technical turfs passionately. It was understood tacitly that what had worked in the past should be respected and that what was important was a focus on day to day operations.

The Beavers, like many other teams were suspicious of ‘jargon’ and valued practical organisational skills over soft leadership skills. The latter they felt were expected and ‘learned on the job’ they were not skills that one could learn or improve upon in a training course.

The Butterfly worked with each member of the Beavers leadership team as a personal coach to help them acknowledge the limiting nature of these beliefs.  This one to one coaching was important to prepare the Beavers when they met as a team to both Show up and to Speak up.

 Show Up



It is the common cold of cultural change projects that leaders when they attend soft skills training often are their physically though do not show up emotionally and intellectually.  They can bring into the training sessions distracted mindsets that are focused in on operational issues rather than being present and attentive for the trainings.

This mindset, lack of presence and attentiveness, can and does leak out into the broader organisational landscape. When meeting with members of their own change teams the Beavers can behave with distraction and this will impact on the level of positive engagement with the change project experienced by their team members.  

Thus mastering the ability to manage ones internal states and be fully present, focused and attentive so that one really ‘see’s ‘ones team members and really ‘hears’ them and ‘feel's’ what is important to them are not unimportant change leadership competencies. They are crucial. 

The Butterfly as conscious leadership coach worked on both a one to one basis and on a group basis to introduce the Beavers to state management techniques which enhanced their ability to show up fully present and with attentiveness when dealing with change leadership interactions with team members.


Speak Up


We all know what it is like to speak up in a meeting or in a training room and give voice to ones lack of understanding or to ones concerns in-front of one’s peers. It can be an uncomfortable experience. The Beavers were no different in this regard. The Butterfly recognised that the ability to establish psychological safety within the team was critical if the Beavers were to build a successful cultural change intervention. If they and their team felt psychologically unsafe for interpersonal risk taking, then this would dramatically reduce their potential for speaking up and build a team dialogue.




To speak with freedom and with passion about the kind of organisation they wanted to belong to and to also identify what had worked well in the past yet may now be proving to be dysfunctional  and therefore what was required in its place was mission critical to the change project.


The Butterfly as conscious leadership coach used story telling circles to build the psychological safety required for generating a group dialogue that encouraged critical reflection and group learning. The Beavers learned to be fully present for each other, to show up and to listen with attentiveness suppressing the instinct to reload their own thoughts ready for their chance to talk. They acknowledged each member of tee tams right to speak up and to be truly listened to and acknowledged. This personal nd group development not only enriched the Beavers experience of work it also transformed their internal team dynamics and change leadership skills.


Change Management Lessons

  1. There is an unfortunate over reliance on traditional hard change management tools such as analytical models and guiding change management models. This is largely due to the attractiveness of these techniques to managers as rational planning and analytical applications. However, it is critical that cultural change leaders master not only the hard tools, that they balance these competencies with mastery of both conceptual tools and soft skills. It is this approach that signifies the presence of a growth mindset


  1. The ability to be open to personal development techniques starts with a willingness to critically self-reflect as a leader and to question ones inter and intrapersonal skills and the impact these skills when operationalised have on one’s peers and team members.


  1. Being fully present and feeling psychologically safe to speak up freely in group settings are highly valued change leadership competencies these are earned competencies and thus can be nurtured and developed to be core competencies that can and will have a transformational impact on team and inter team dynamics.



Our approach draws on techniques taught at many business schools on MBA programmes as well as innovative personal development methods rooted in the personal development movement. We harness analytical tools with reflexive learning tools to enhance the soft leadership skills that underpin our favoured model of conscious leadership. The aim of this approach is to make sure that our clients can maintain their focus on the present whilst leaning into their future and preparing themselves to keep leading their teams with conscious awareness. If you would like to learn more about our approach please contact myself at [email protected] and visit our website at www.culturalchange.co.uk