Let’s face it—if everyone had a coach that shadowed them every hour of the day, giving us real, just-in-time suggestions for immediate improvement, we would all get better. But that kind of luxury is not practical or affordable. Why not try something that really addresses the heart of the matter regarding your leadership—your behavior. You know—you. And you don’t need a coach to do this, just a process.
First, what is a process anyway? A process requires steps to complete. That means you have to do as instructed. There is a big difference between telling someone what to do and actually providing a process to solve the problem at hand. Unfortunately, many so-called leaders mistakenly believe telling a direct report or someone they supervise what to do is leadership. It is not. In other words, you can be a boss but not a leader. And that is commonplace.
Fact is, anyone can improve leadership by identifying specific behaviors and skills that address behaviors that need improvement. We call those behavioral competencies, but you don’t need any fancy word for it—we suggest creating a tool that will provide self-directed coaching. You can do it at your desk too—or anywhere you choose.
Here is how it works: first identify what it is that you are doing as a leader that needs to be changed. How about a leader who barks first and listens later? Next, make a list of behaviors (not situations, actual behaviors) that are recognizable when you bark at someone before engaging your brain. Now that you have your list, take a pad of Post-Its and identify key words or phrases that remind you of how you should change your behavior regarding barking at employees. Write as many words as possible. Here are some examples: Wait. Take a Breath. Slow Down. Think First.
Now, take those Post-Its—you should have a stack of them if you have done this correctly—and put a rubber band around them, placing them on your desk where you can easily see them. Each day—at the same time—look at the next Post-It. With time, you will find that you can adjust your behavior and become a better leader.
We have tons of these. And they work. Want to be a better leader? Look at your own behavior first.
By Diane Dudley