If what you are doing isn’t getting what you want then you have two choices: you can either settle for that which you do not want or, secondly, change what you’re doing to change what you get. To do this you need to know what you want (and what you don’t want), and how you are going to change to effect this.
Think of a time when how you acted in or reacted to a situation was not your finest hour. You handled it poorly, and the result you got was not what you wanted. Worse, you allowed the situation to escalate. We’ve all had occasion where this has happened. So why did we act as we did? I am sure there are many reasons, good and bad. But knowing why you act in a certain way does not change your behavior. You would think that it would. It should. But it doesn’t. Knowing does not mean understanding, and understanding does not mean taking action.
The real question is how do you change your behavior and respond in a better way? There are three steps:
- Identify the problem
- State what needs to happen
- Offer to help
Use these steps for any problem you face with someone at work. For example one of your reports has mishandled the drafting of a report. Normally, you would get angry and criticize her work. This does not help, nor does it build her confidence. Applying the three steps you can:
- Explain why and how the report has been drafted poorly.
- Clearly and explicitly explain what needs to happen, and coach them through what needs to happen. Do this by asking them what they think needs to be done, don’t tell them. Coaching them enables them to learn and not repeat their mistakes.
- Provide support and help to them, but don’t let them abdicate the work or responsibility back to you in doing so.
Making this change in your behavior is never easy. It doesn’t feel natural or ‘right’. It feels awkward. This is natural and to be expected. Remember when you learned to ride a bike, it was difficult. Eventually, after sufficient practice, you mastered the new behavior of riding a bike and it has now become second nature.
So, to change your behavior, you need to practice and keep at it until it feels natural and ‘right’. As a leader, you need to lead change, and to lead change you need to lead yourself, and to lead yourself you need to be willing and able to change your behavior.
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