Attitude vs. Aptitude

Which is more important to you – having people with the right attitude or people with the right aptitude?

Most people say both. But when we look to retain and attract people we do so on the basis of  the skills they have – their aptitude. But when we fire people we do so, in about 90% of all cases, for their attitude.  Is it me or is there a discrepancy here?

So what are the differences between aptitudes and attitudes?

  • Aptitudes are our potential to learn skills which we develop and hone through time. What works, you continue using. What does not, you strive to change. However, aptitudes alone cannot take you all the way through the path to success.
  • Attitudes determine what and how much you can do. It is like an engine – it can either slow you down or accelerate you forward.

The fundamental difference here, for managers and leaders, is that you can train people for weaknesses in aptitude – but you cannot train people out of an attitude weakness.  Attitude is internal to the individual, you cannot motivate a person to change themselves – they have to motivate themselves to change.

As leaders we have to deal with people who exhibit different aptitudes and attitudes, these are shown in the Aptitude-Attitude matrix below. This  tool highlights what you need to do with different people depending on where they sit in the matrix and is useful when assessing your team or direct reports.

Attitude-Aptitude Matrix

If attitude is internal to an individual, how can you can motivate them  to change themselves.  There are three ways you ca influence them:

  1. Using carrots and sticks – this only creates compliance, as soon as the pressure to conform is reduced the individual will revert to their original attitudes and behaviours;
  2. Peer pressure – creating the necessary peer pressure to get the individual to change their attitude to that which is wanted; this is dependent, however, on the peer pressure being aligned with that of the business;
  3. Alignment with Self-Interests – by aligning the interests of the individual with those of the business, the individual willingly changes their attitudes and behavior to those required by the organization.  This is the only sustainable way of engaging people and getting them to change their attitude and behaviors.

So What to Do?

You can only effectively influence people’s aptitude, not their attitude.  As managers and leaders we can train people to help them improve; we can manage performance, but we cannot, nor should we, manage behavior.

To help people improve their skills requires understanding their current skills and capabilities, what is needed for them to perform well, the current gap between the two and what the priorities are.

To improve people’s attitudes needs the individual to change.  We can help provide a suitably motivating environment to encourage people to change, but we cannot make them change.

Summary

Help people develop their skills, help them to change themselves.  But do not allow those with the wrong attitudes stay where they are, especially if they refuse to change.  In these cases you have three options – Train, Transfer or Terminate.

  • Train them in how they can change themselves;
  • Transfer them to another position where their attitudes and behavior may be a better fit; or
  • Terminate them – you are probably doing them a kindness, as well as yourself, by taking them out of a position where they are unhappy and giving them the opportunity to find somewhere else that suits them better.

Be clear on what attitudes and aptitudes you want in your business, and what you want your employees to exemplify in what they do and how they do it.  Mark up where you see your staff on the matrix and identify if they need to improve their attitude or their aptitude, the priorities, and focus on them.  Remember, it is your employees’ attitudes that are a predictor of their success – not their aptitude – and their success is a predictor of yours.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

 

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What Do You Think?

by Andrew Cooke, Blue Sky GPS

In an interview with the New York Times, Bill Marriott, chairman of the Marriott Hotel Group, shared this useful piece of advice.  He explained that as a young officer in the US Navy he was responsible for the stewards who served in the officers’ wardroom.  New to his role, and being in a military organization he told them what to do.  They ignored him.  He ordered them.  They ignored him still.  He came to realize that, even though he was in the military he could not command people to follow him as a leader, they had to want to follow him. For them to follow him he had to engage them.

So what was the lesson from this?  It was four simple words – “What do you think?”

As a leader, by asking this, you are getting your ego out of the way.  Leaders cannot and do not have all the answers, nor do they know everything.  By asking people for their ideas, their input and their insights several things will happen: firstly, your people will see that you care about them and are interested in their opinion; secondly, you will learn something you did not know before; thirdly, you can make better and more informed decisions which your people can buy-in to as they have participated in the process  By engaging with others they can engage with you, but it starts with you reaching out first.

What do you think?

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

Can Executives Really Change Their Behaviour?

Can Executives Really Change Their BehaviourMy mission is to help successful leaders achieve positive, long-term, measurable change in behaviour. The following process, developed by Marshall Goldsmith, is being used by coaches around the world for this same purpose. When these steps are followed, leaders almost always achieve positive, measurable results in changed behaviour — not as judged by themselves, but as judged by pre-selected, key co-workers. This process has been used with great success by both external coaches and internal coaches.

If the coach will follow these basic steps, clients almost always get better.

  1. Involve the leaders being coached in determining the desired behaviour in their leadership roles. Leaders cannot be expected to change behaviour if they don’t have a clear understanding of what desired behaviour looks like. The people that I coach (in agreement with their managers) work with me to determine desired leadership behaviour.
  2. Involve the leaders being coached in determining key stakeholders. Not only do clients need to be clear on desired behaviours, they need to be clear (again in agreement with their managers) on key stakeholders. There are two major reasons why people deny the validity of feedback – wrong items or wrong raters. Having clients and their managers agree on the desired behaviours and key stakeholders in advance helps ensure their “buy in” to the process.
  3. Collect feedback. In my coaching practice, I personally interview all key stakeholders. The people I coach are executives or aspiring executives, and the company is making a real investment in their development. However, at lower levels in the organization, traditional 360° feedback can work very well. In either case, feedback is critical. It is impossible to get evaluated on changed behaviour if there is not agreement on what behaviour to change.
  4. Reach agreement on key behaviours for change. My approach is simple and focused. I generally recommend picking only one to two key areas for behavioural change with each client. This helps ensure maximum attention to the most important behaviour. My clients and their managers (unless my client is the CEO) agree upon the desired behaviour for change. This ensures that I won’t spend a year working with my clients and have their managers determine that we have worked on the wrong thing!
  5. Have the coaching clients respond to key stakeholders.The person being reviewed should talk with each key stakeholder and collect additional “feedforward” suggestions on how to improve the key areas targeted for improvement. In responding, the person being coached should keep the conversation positive, simple, and focused. When mistakes have been made in the past, it is generally a good idea to apologize and ask for help in changing the future. I suggest that my clients listen to stakeholder suggestions and not judge the suggestions.
  6. Review what has been learned with clients and help them develop an action plan. As was stated earlier, my clients have to agree to the basic steps in our process. On the other hand, outside of the basic steps, all of the other ideas that I share with my clients are I just ask them to listen to my ideas in the same way they are listening to the ideas from their key stakeholders. I then ask them to come back with a plan of what they want to do. These plans need to come from them, not me. After reviewing their plans, I almost always encourage them to live up to their own commitments. I am much more of a facilitator than a judge. I usually just help my clients do what they know is the right thing to do.
  7. Develop an ongoing follow-up process.Ongoing follow-up should be very efficient and focused. Questions like, “Based upon my behaviour last month, what ideas do you have for me for next month?” can keep a focus on the future. Within six months conduct a two- to six-item mini survey with key stakeholders. They should be asked whether the person has become more or less effective in the areas targeted for improvement.
  8. Review results and start again.If the person being coached has taken the process seriously, stakeholders almost invariably report improvement. Build on that success by repeating the process for the next 12 to 18 months. This type of follow-up will assure continued progress on initial goals and uncover additional areas for improvement. Stakeholders will appreciate the follow-up. No one minds filling out a focused, two- to six-item questionnaire if they see positive results. The person being coached will benefit from ongoing, targeted steps to improve performance.

While behavioural coaching is only one branch in the coaching field, it is the most widely used type of coaching. Most requests for coaching involve behavioural change. While this process can be very meaningful and valuable for top executives, it can be even more useful for high-potential future leaders. These are the people who have great careers in front of them. Increasing effectiveness in leading people can have an even greater impact if it is a 20-year process, instead of a one-year program.

People often ask, “Can executives really change their behaviour?” The answer is definitely yes. At the top of major organizations even a small positive change in behaviour can have a big impact. From an organizational perspective, the fact that the executive is trying to change anything (and is being a role model for personal development) may be even more important than what the executive is trying to change. One key message that I have given every CEO that I coach is “To help others develop – start with yourself!”

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)

 

Your Boss – Seriously Successful or Downright Deluded?

Seriously Successful or Downright DeludedWhich answer do you think is most common? Strangely enough, the answer is probably both!

Marshall Goldsmith shares a story:

One night over dinner, I listened to a wise military leader share his experience with an eager, newly minted General, “Recently, have you started to notice that when you tell jokes, everyone erupts into laughter—and that when you say something ‘wise’ everyone nods their heads in solemn agreement?” The new General replied, “Why, yes, I have.” The older General laughed, “Let me help you. You aren’t that funny and you aren’t that smart! It’s only that star on your shoulder. Don’t ever let it go to your head.”

Marshall continues. We all want to hear what we want to hear. We want to believe those great things that the world is telling us about ourselves. Your boss is no different. It’s our belief in ourselves that helps us become successful and it can also make it very hard for us to change. As the wise older General noted – we aren’t really that funny, and we aren’t really that smart. We can all get better -if we are willing to take a hard look at ourselves. By understanding why changing behavior can be so difficult for our leaders, we can increase the likelihood of making the changes that we need to make in our quest to become even more successful.

In the video below Marshall shares his insight into “The Success Delusion”, a short but powerful video. When watching it remember, this not only applies to you but also to others – so remember that when you work with your team, your peers, your bosses and others.

Why We Resist Change

We all delude ourselves about our achievements, our status, and our contributions. We

  • Overestimate our contribution to a project;
  • Have an elevated opinion of our professional skills and standing among our peers;
  • Exaggerate our project’s impact on profitability by discounting real and hidden costs.

Many of our delusions come from our association with success, not failure. We get positive reinforcement from our successes and we think they are predictive of a great future.

The fact that successful people tend to be delusional isn’t all bad. Our belief in our wonderfulness gives us confidence. Even though we are not as good as we think we are, this confidence actually helps us be better than we would become if we did not believe in ourselves. The most realistic people in the world are not delusional—they are depressed!

Although our self-confident delusions can help us achieve, they can make it difficult for us to change. In fact, when others suggest that we need to change, we may respond with unadulterated bafflement.

It’s an interesting three-part response:

  1. First we are convinced that the other party is confused. They are misinformed, and they just don’t know what they are talking about. They must have us mixed up with someone who truly does need to change.
  2. Second, as it dawns upon us that the other party is not confused—maybe their information about our perceived shortcomings is accurate—we go into denial mode. This criticism may be correct, but it can’t be that important—or else we wouldn’t be so successful.
  3. Finally, when all else fails, we may attack the other party. We discredit the messenger. “Why is a winner like me,” we conclude, “listening to a loser like you?”

These are just a few of our initial responses to what we don’t want to hear. Couple this with the very positive interpretation that successful people assign to (a) their past performance, (b) their ability to influence their success (as opposed to just being lucky), (c) their optimistic belief that their success will continue in the future, and (d) their over-stated sense of control over their own destiny (as opposed to being controlled by external forces), and you have a volatile cocktail of resistance to change.

So, as you can see, while your boss’s positive beliefs about herself helped her become successful, these same beliefs can make it tough for her to change. The same beliefs that helped her get to her current level of success, can inhibit her from making the changes needed to stay there – or move forward. Don’t fall into this trap!

As the wise older General noted, as you move up the ranks and get that star – don’t let it go to your head. Realize that every promotion can make it harder to change. Always balance the confidence that got you here = where you are – with the humility required to get you there – where you have the potential to go.

I am passionate about helping executives and leaders become more successful and, in doing so, help others become more successful in turn.  As an accredited Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach (MGSCC) I partner with executives and leaders to help them achieve real tangible improvement in leadership effectiveness and organizational performance.

To find out more and discuss this and other ways to improve leadership effectiveness and organizational performance further contact Andrew Cooke (MGSCC), call Andrew Cooke on +61 (0)401 842 673 or andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

You can also find further insights and a wealth of material on business and leadership on Andrew’s other blog – Growth & Profit Solution Blog. There are also a large number of resources at his Blue Sky GPS Website, and these can be found Blue Sky GPS Resources.

About Andrew Cooke & Blue Sky GPS (Growth & Profit Solutions)