Good leadership, like losing weight, requires consistent effort

In an instant ‘on’ society, we don’t have time or patience for many things. We want change and results quickly. We want to take a pill to shed excess weight quickly. We want our leaders to attend a training course and change their behaviour over night as a result. But we all know the reality of life is very different. People don’t lose weight and remain slim with one weight loss treatment. Good leaders aren’t made with one leadership program. The key is about building routine and consistency.

As I find myself again looking for answers to assist people in organisations  become better leaders, I have been thinking more and more about how to integrate what a leader needs to learn and do, into their every day work.  There is plenty discussion at the moment about informal learning. In essecense most of what we learn occurs when we are working. The theory clearly makes sense and seems to be a no brainer. That’s until you try and put it into practical application, where old world learning values are still pre-dominant.

‘Learning and working, won’t that decrease my capacity?’

‘How are we going to measure what has been done – how many courses have been delivered?’

So if activity measurement is key, as we know ‘what get’s measured, gets done’, yet we still want to have the activity occur on the job – how can that happen? Well here is one idea stolen from the world of weight loss. Currently there is an initiative by the Australian Government to help reduce obesity, the Swap It, Don’t Stop It, campaign. The premise being, swap one less healthy activity / eating habit, for a more healthy activity or eating habit.

I downloaded the iPhone app and thought it was pretty nifty actually. It included alerts to remind you about different activities and gave you a way of checking things off. Maybe by offering a similar tool for leaders, I thought we could help leaders to help themselves to change their behaviour (see my example).

Improving leadership, like any behaviour change takes consistency and effort. Re-programming our brains into new patterns, requires us to continually repeat new behaviours, so they can become instinctual. Integrating a tools such as this sort of application, into a broader reinforcing system designed to change leaders behaviours (e.g. role modelling, mentoring, coaching, reinforcing of core values, ‘calling’ of behaviours) surely can offer us another way of helping our leaders adapt to new ways of working.

I would be keen to hear your thoughts and comments on this idea. Please comment on my blog below.