People can and will change their behavior when and only when they convince themselves that the change will benefit them. Change must take place where it counts—deep in the structure of the brain, where biology has made a habit of the current behavior.
Brain researchers explain why old habits die hard. Habits, good or bad, create neural pathways in the brain. Like deep ocean currents, these pathways determine where the waters of behavior will flow. Breaking a habit is like rerouting a current. Only the owner of the brain has access to this domain.
To effect change in themselves, leaders must address the way they Feel. Think. Act. Talk. That is, how they first manage their own emotion, cognition, behavior, and communication. Once they understand from experience how this works, they can address the below-the-surface currents in others to effect deep and lasting transformation.
In Why leadership-development programs fail, authors Pierre Gurdjian, Thomas Halbeisen, and Kevin Lane describe this kind of deep transformation as changing mindsets. When leaders attempt to change organizational behavior, they confront mindsets.
Identifying some of the deepest, “below the surface” thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioral change—one too often shirked in development programs.
Take a few minutes to enjoy a scene from The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Notice both the deeply entrenched mindset of CW Briggs played by Woody Allen and the utter failure of Miss Fitzgerald, played by Helen Hunt, to address it.
Resistance to change costs organizations time and money. It prevents companies from getting out ahead of their competitors. But even more destructive are shallow and ineffective attempts to address resistance.
For more about addressing your own behavior as a leader, see Cap Bad Habits with CHAP. To address organizational behavior change, I strongly recommend our CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Program. There you will learn and practice the leadership skills you need to address alongside leaders like you from other organizations with many of the same challenges. Learn more about CoachQuest.