Have you noticed that change doesn’t start until someone changes his or her behaviour? There can be many pronouncements about the need for change and how things will be better when they do, but if no one does anything differently, nothing will change.
This is why leaders’ behaviour is so important. They need to demonstrate the new ways of working. People are watching to assess their personal commitment to the change. They must prove their words by their actions. If the organization must be more fiscally responsible, so must they. If a culture of collaboration is needed then they must be collaborative. Leaders set direction.
Although leaders’ behaviour is a ‘must-have’ success factor, they don’t have to be the first people to do things differently to start a change. It is best if they do, but change can begin by the behaviours of others.
This recently happened in our family. Our son Sam announced that he was no longer eating junk food. I know, what? He also started working out daily. Barb and I were supportive of his good habits. We complimented his good eating choices and his ever growing muscular physique. We are proud parents.
Almost immediately, Sam’s behaviour affected ours. We cut down on buying sweets and sugary drinks – Charlie was still enjoying them (“Thanks Sam, more for me.”) but was eating less. We were also upping our protein intake (a muscle builder’s friend) and eating more fresh food. Sam’s behaviour was changing what we ate.
|Daily Arm Dips|
Sam’s fitness regimen was also affecting mine. My daily exercises became easier to start after I heard his weights hit the floor over my office. It has become a trigger for my work out.
Fitness has become a family activity too. Sam and I have started a daily arm dip exercise in our kitchen. We can’t go to sleep without doing our set, which is fun to do and talk about. In fact, every change our family has made has been fun to talk about. Change doesn’t have to be miserable.
This experience has reinforced that although leader support and behaviour modeling is essential to successful change, it doesn’t have to come first. Others’ examples may even help them to learn what they need to do. Just like Sam did for us.