Model the Change You Want to See

In my collaboration with women in leadership, I find that we wrestle with our own tough expectations, and projecting those expectations on others.  We often ask the rhetorical question – why can’t this person just change?  It could be an attitude tweak, an adjustment in initiative, or improving communication skills.  It doesn’t matter.  But the change needs to start with us.

Change is hard.  People do not change for us.  We can only change ourselves.  We cannot want it for the other person, even if we see that just a few small tweaks would improve their happiness and job performance significantly.  Instead of asking or expecting someone to miraculously change – improve their attitude, take more initiative, or listen more to our ideas.  Instead, ask “what could I do differently?”  As leaders, we have to show the team what good looks like.

It Starts With the Leader

Instead of demanding others change for use, we need to be the change we want to see.  That means, modeling those positive behaviors for those around you.  As humans, we naturally mirror the behaviors we see from others  We want to blend in with our environment and team, and act like those we spend most of our time with.  Ever notice how you share the same jokes, vocabulary, and body language as those you are around most?  It’s our natural ability to mirror one another.  Research has provent that we are highly influenced by the top five people we spend the majority of our time with.

So, if you want to change someone, try changing yourself, and they will usually pick up on the subconscious cues and behave in a similar way.  If you want someone to listen to you more, listen to them attentively – ask questions, use visual cues to signal affirmation, playback what you heard them say.  When they see what you are doing, they are far more likely to behave in similar way.  If they do not pick it up naturally, coach them to success.  Explain what you are doing and why you do it.  Explain the why behind it and what is in it for them (i.e. the WIIFM).  People sometimes have to experience pain to want to change.  They need to know what they will gain from trying something different.

The Platinum Rule:  Treat Others As They Want to Be Treated

Rather than the old school golden rule, “treat others as you want to be treated,” instead, try treating others as they want to be treated.  People do not want the same things we want.  By flexing to their needs, and by speaking to them in their own language, they are far more likely to pick up on what we are saying, and take note.  Everyone is driven by a different set of motivators – know what makes the person tick – rewards, recognition, quality time, etc. – and find ways to give them what they need to feel valued.  They will often reciprocate this with us, picking up on what we want, and finding ways to adopt small changes to behave in a way congruent to ours.

“Say What You Mean Without Being Mean”

This is one of my favorite quotes from a leader.  We can be clear and intentional without being mean and making personal attacks.  If showing the person what good looks like and the platinum rule do not work, be clear and direct with what behaviors need to change without being personal.  I encourage you to use powerful “I” statements and avoid exaggerating language like “always” and “never.”  Find a safe place for a quality chat, and clearly outline what behaviors need to change, why they need to change, and how it impacts the team and the individual when they change.  Done in a fact-based format, with positive intent, and your message will land on the person successfully.

If you enjoyed this blog, please register for our complimentary online workshop “Women’s Wellness Strategies” June 1 @ 11am ET.  We’ll elaborate on our proven practices, and share stories of women that have implemented these techniques.  You will walk away having all of the tools to improve your personal wellness.

Remember, leaders that inspire positive change, model it for the team.  It starts with the leader.  How will you model the change you want to see?