In recent months, largely driven by the massive information assault on our lives due to the pandemic, social unrest and politicizing nearly everything under the sun due to the upcoming election, we’ve focused our writing around critical thinking. We’ve challenged readers to ask themselves why they think the way they do and digging deeper into how they think versus what they think.
We know our thinking is a function of our beliefs and values and that our attitudes reflect our habitual thinking. With that in mind, let’s explore the five key questions leaders need to ask themselves as they change the way they think and act to stay relevant as 21st Century Leaders. These questions stem from multiple research sources and are conveniently summarized in “Leadership, Enhancing the Lessons of Experience” by Richard Hughes, Robert Ginnett and Gordy Curphy.
- How does a leader know what attitudes and behaviors to change? ~ One of the best developmental tools a leader can exercise is reflection, looking introspectively at what attitudes and behaviors are serving them well and which are not. A great way to begin the reflection process is through feedback, either from formal assessment debriefs, the 360-Feedback process or simply direct ongoing feedback from others. Every successful journey begins with a known starting point!
- What is the leader’s motivation to change their attitudes and behaviors? ~ One of the key elements of the goal planning process we use with our clients overtly addresses the rewards and consequences of achieving a specific goal. Collectively, they represent the motivation to put in the effort to achieve that goal. If the rewards are minimal and/or the consequences less significant, the motivation to achieve the goal will not be enough to avoid the scrap heap of unachieved goals and new year’s resolutions!
- What plans does the leader have to change the targeted attitudes and behaviors? ~ If it’s not written, it’s not real! Our clients and MBA students have heard us regularly emphasize this point. In short, if there is no written plan to change attitudes and behaviors, the odds of success are minimal to zero. It correlates well to the axiom, “Leaders Read” in that a written plan not only includes actions to improve, it also includes documented resources to enable the leader to learn from existing research and other’s experiences. A well-designed leadership development plan promotes success by design!
- What opportunities exist for the leader to practice new behavioral skills and attitudes? ~ While learning new attitudes and behaviors is great, they are not fully developed until they are applied and practiced in the context of the leader’s environment. We would argue there is no shortage of opportunities in today’s business environment to practice these new leadership attitudes and behaviors. The pandemic and social unrest have both provided a bit of truth serum to leaders across all industries and markets to walk the talk. Practice makes perfect!
- How are leaders held accountable to changing the targeted attitudes and behaviors? ~ One of the key roles we play as leadership and business coaches is supporting the accountability of our clients to practice new attitudes and behaviors until they become habitual. Because nearly 90% of what we do is a function of our subconscious, accountability is crucial to locking in the new attitudes and behaviors and avoid reverting back to old habits of thought!
Changing any habit requires a conscious desire and motivation to change. When leadership attitudes no longer serve the organization and society as a whole, the attitudes must change, or the leader becomes irrelevant. With attitudes being habits of thought, it stands to reason the new attitude must come from a place of want and motivation to change. Failure to do so puts leaders into the situation of doing the same thinking and expecting different outcomes. Insanity!
What is your process to develop new leadership attitudes and habits? If you don’t know, we can help.