Bonnie Flatt is an executive coach who works with individuals and teams to understand and align on their purpose and values and develop goals and outcomes that deliver meaningful results. Follow her on twitter @BonnieFlatt or visit her website. The original post appeared here.
This last article in the series looks at how you get into action and live your vision, from the core of who you are as a leader. Change is complex and it takes time. It means identifying those habits that get in the way, stepping outside your comfort zone and replacing old habits with new, more resonant ones. Here are 5 steps to support you in making this change.
1. Get clear and prioritize
In Part 2 you were given a tool for identifying the behavioral and attitudinal changes that you will be making to achieve your vision. Revisit them and make the behaviors crystal clear. Then prioritize them using this 2 x 2 matrix:
|Level of Difficulty in Making the Change||High|
|Impact of Behavioral Change|
Behaviors that fall within the bottom right quadrant will generate the greatest success as they are easy to accomplish and have a high impact on what you are looking to accomplish. Conversely, behaviors in the bottom left quadrant should be left alone.
I was working with Andrea, a high potential director at a consumer goods company, and one of her coaching goals was to be a better listener. She identified three behaviors that she would focus on to support this goal:
- not be the first to speak in a meeting,
- ask open ended questions, and
- stop giving solutions.
Andrea noted that not going into solution mode was the most difficult behavior for her to change and one that would have the highest impact on improving her listening skills. Andrea prided herself on being the expert, the go to person for answers. She needed to let go of being the expert and having the answers. She needed to redefine how she could add value.
2. Focus on one behavior each day until it becomes a new habit
Once you have populated the above matrix, pick one behavior and focus on that one behavior. Start noticing when the behavior occurs and what you need to do to change the behavior. Notice your underlying attitude and explore what needs to change to support your new behavior. And practice the new behavior each day until it becomes a new habit.
It generally takes at least 4 months of disciplined practice every day to replace one behavior with a new one. As you practice new ways of being, get feedback from others so that you can understand the impact you are having on them. And see what is working and not working.
In Andrea’s case, she first developed a deep understanding of how often she gave answers and under what situations. She then consciously stopped herself from giving answers and focused on asking questions. Her attitude shift went from “I am the expert and know how to do this” to “I don’t have all the answers and I am curious about other ways we can look at this issue”. Andrea was promoted to a Vice President in the organization about 4 months after she stopped giving answers.
3. Saying yes and no
As you experiment with your new behaviors there will be an opportunity to consciously notice what you are saying “yes” to and “no” to. There are only 24 hours in each day and so what tasks do you want to focus on to advance your leadership growth? In the case of Andrea, she started saying “yes” to more opportunities that were outside her knowledge and comfort zone. This resulted in her saying “no” to those tasks where she was doing the work and not leading the project.
4. Celebrating successes
As you experience growth, celebrate the success. Change is complex and it takes time to integrate new behaviors into your way of being. Find ways to celebrate and acknowledge your growth. For Andrea, this meant having a glass of wine at dinner and sharing her stories with her husband.
5. Building your network
As you change and grow, it will be critical for you to find a supportive network. People who see what you are doing, understand the importance of it for your growth and who will support you no matter what. Nurture that group and lean on them. Make them your board of directors and invite them to give you feedback. Enroll them in sharing what they are seeing and the impact you are having.
Enjoy your journey. And please share your thoughts and experiences along the way!
This is the final segment of a 4 part series which explores how women can step into their greatness and “bring their whole selves to work”. Parts 1 and 2 offered a series of actions to develop leadership vision and begin your leadership journey. Part 3 looked at your internal resistors that get in the way.
Category: Career Girl