As leaders we are change agents. Full stop.
We have to:
1. Assess the situation.
2. See how we can make it better.
3. Align systems and people’s behaviour to the change.
4. Make sure the systems work and help people keep their commitment to their commitments.
We have literally hundreds of change models around. All really important, processes like Visioning, Process Improvement and Engagement Strategies and tactics. But at the heart of it, again it’s really simple.
IF PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR, THEN YOUR ORGANISATIONAL RESULTS WON’T CHANGE EITHER.
No matter how great your strategy, how many McKinsey consultants you’ve brought in or leadership retreats you’ve had; these behaviours, along with your systems, symbols and stories, become your culture.
As Pete Drucker says:
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
And now Jim Collins is saying:
“Culture IS strategy”.
SO THE KEY QUESTION ALL LEADERS SHOULD BE ADDRESSING IS HOW DO YOU CHANGE BEHAVIOUR?
I’m going to assume you or your team are ready, willing, and able to change.
Yet even with this readiness, gosh it’s hard to change behaviour. I mean you’re so busy, you’ve got so much on your plate, and there’s so many behavioural changes you could make.
So let me introduce you to a simple yet elegant way to change.
KEEP TABS ON YOURSELF!
You know, I love mnemonics don’t you? Well, here’s another one:
T.A.B. (Yes, you can bet on this one as well).
I recently became certified as a Marshall Goldsmith Coach (Marshall is considered the #1 Thinker on Leadership and author of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Triggers.
In Triggers, Goldsmith provides a great explanation of the importance of TRIGGERS on behavioural change and how to use them. As does Charles Duhigg in his brilliant book The Power of Habit.
My simple summary of both books comes down to KEEP T.A.B.S. ON YOURSELF.
It’s very similar to the Behaviour Therapy Model of Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence (ABC).
Apart from one little thing. The AWARENESS piece in between. This is the piece that makes us human. Today I’ll be mainly talking about the TRIGGER component.
HOW DO TRIGGERS WORK?
Fess up. You’ve promised yourself you’ll change and you haven’t. Your intentions are honourable but your follow though at times is very hollow.
Chill. It’s not your fault. It’s all the other triggers that you have that are competing for and gaining your attention.
A “trigger” can literally be anything. I used to drive past the Arnott’s bakery at Concord, and the smell would remind me of Port Macquarie on the north coast of NSW, Australia.
We used to go there as a whole family when I was a kid, and stay near the bakery. Of a morning, before a refreshing dip in the beautiful Port Macquarie surf at Flynns Beach, the delicious sweet smell of the bread being baked was the first thing I would wake up to of a morning.
Or I put on a Neil Sedaka song “This will be our last song together” and think about my girlfriend Deb (my soulmate of 37 years) leaving me to go to Europe and us both thinking it was all over.
I look at certain photos of my kids and I laugh or cry.
We all have them in our lives, they all work, but mostly at an unconscious level.
So time to get conscious. Time to get some intentionality about your exciting triggers, both at home and work. Here’s a couple of examples.
OUR “AWESOME” JAR
I can’t remember where I first heard about this but I just love it.
As brilliant as my life and Deb’s is, we get caught up in the same “life hiccups” and challenges that we all do. And with lots of demands on us for our time and energy, it’s just so easy to have a great experience and both consciously and unconsciously say “next”!
But this year it will different because of our “Awesome Jar”.
It’s a clear jar in our kitchen (so it can be seen daily) that helps as a trigger to remember how awesome our life really is, even with all its ups and downs. (THE TRIGGER)
Every time we have an “awesome experience”, define that how you will, we write it on a bright coloured post-it note and put it in the jar. (THE BEHAVIOUR)
Maybe try it as a family.
Not only can we see the post-its in the jar on a daily basis, our intention is to sit down together at the end of the year, pour the “experiences” all over the floor, reread them and randomly “relive” them.
SO RATHER THAN COLLECTING THINGS AND HAVING THEM GO STRAIGHT TO THE “POOL ROOM”, WE ARE COLLECTING EXPERIENCES AND HAVING THEM GO STRAIGHT TO THE AWESOME JAR (See the movie The Castle if you don’t get the “pool room” reference).
This way we get to “milk” as much joy out of life as we can as well as continuously living in a state of gratitude for just how grand life be. (THE AWARENESS)
THE SELF-ESTEEM TOKEN
Another of my favourite triggers is the “credit chip” token I carry in my wallet.
If you’ve been on any of our longer term leadership programmes or been through one of our coaching programmes, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s a plastic chip you carry in your wallet (THE TRIGGER) that reminds you to credit, to recognise and appreciate the efforts of those around you. (See my video on crediting here: Leading One on One: The Power of Crediting Through USSR)
The credit token brings back memories of the discussion and skills, practice we did at the workshop along with a heightened sensitivity to those around you who are credit candidates. (THE AWARENESS)
You then get to credit people using our 4 step crediting process which both recognises the task that people have completed and shows appreciation for who they are as a person. (THE BEHAVIOUR)
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
What behavioural change do you need to make? Do you need to go…
Whatever the behavioural change you set yourself as a goal this season, I want you to think as much about the triggers for the behaviour, as the behaviour itself.
With our one-on-one coaching we use a Behavioural Checklist, which leaders fill out on a daily basis to gain more awareness of their behaviour that day and the behaviours they need to focus on tomorrow.
SO HOW CAN YOU KEEP TABS ON YOURSELF?
Here are a number of easy steps to truly change your behaviour:
- Choose 1 or 2 behaviours max that you want to change or introduce as potential daily rituals. For example, I’m going with stretching for the next 90 days this year.
- Get clear on why you want to incorporate the behaviours with either (or both) pain or gain. The WHY is in many ways more important than the WHAT. (I’m getting too stiff and it’s hurting, I’d like to pick my golf balls out of the whole without bending my knees).
- Choose a situation trigger to cue or start the behaviour (As soon as my feet hit the floor after waking up).
- Develop some “situational sensitivity” as to the best way of doing the behaviour. That of course is easy if it’s just you, but when others are involved you have to tap into where others around you are at (I have a couple of different “homes” and depending where I’m at will depend where and how much stretching I do).
- Do the behaviour and try to make it consistent. Such as a professional golfer with their pre- shot routine. (I’ve decided to alternate between Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior routine and the Five Tibetans, a simple series of yoga stretches with brilliant historical links).
- Monitor your progress. Keep a visible record of how you are going. There’s nothing as powerful as self-monitoring to maintain your new ritual or behaviour (I’m using a simple checklist and ticking Yes or No. The Daily Behavioural Checklist, as mentioned, is “the” main document we use for monitoring change in our leaders. We help them “anchor it”, by having the trigger be linked to when they finish doing their daily plan for the next day or review the day ahead in the morning. A habit that is usually firmly in place).
- Make yourself accountable. Intentions are honourable but mean nothing without action. And one of the most powerful ways of maintaining any new behaviour is with an Accountability Buddy. Tell them to check in on your progress on a weekly basis (Deb, my wife, loves her yoga and is whole heartedly encouraging me with my daily stretches).
- Buy a copy of Marshall Goldsmith’s Triggers for more information.
Please let me know what new behaviours (remember 1 to 2 maximum every 90 days) you are putting in place.
In 5 years’ time, with 20 new positive behaviours in place (1 per quarter) you’ll hardly recognise yourself.
Until next time,
Find the passion.
Develop the skills.
Make the numbers.
Make a difference.
Paul “Mitch” Mitchell
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