The science of “health psychology” has a unique perspective on how people make behavioral changes toward healthier habits. One model has been used successfully to overcome bad habits, beat addiction and instill new healthy behaviors.
Is it possible to apply this knowledge to our bad leadership habits? (You know who you are so don’t act surprised!) Do you recognize going through any of these stages when you have made changes in the past?
If you were a particularly negative person you may think like this:
Pre-contemplation: I am unaware of anything. There is nothing wrong with me! I have a realistic perspective and everyone else is just too optimistic! I have absolutely no intention of changing my attitude OR my behavior!
Contemplation: I am thinking about it. It has been brought to my attention that I can be a downer when it comes to teamwork and collaboration. I have been thinking that maybe I shouldn’t always butt in with my opinion and explanations of why things won’t work.
Preparation: I am doing some research on the situation. I have decided that I shouldn’t be so negative. I have started observing people I admire, read some books on positive thinking and watched some webinars on how to deliver feedback in a more positive way.
Action: I AM making it happen! The other day I stopped myself from interrupting a coworker’s idea. I’m a long way from making this a habit, but putting those suggestions I’ve studied into practice is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Maintenance: I am focusing on my success. I have changed the pattern of negativity. I now know HOW to acknowledge ideas in a more empathetic manner.
Relapse: Oops, I slipped up! I thought I was doing so well but then a co-worker brought up a touchy subject and I blew it with my unsolicited opinion.
Termination: I am a changed person and it’s definitely noticeable! I am starting to strike a good balance. I know how to give constructive feedback!
As leaders the challenge will be to to show you have the courage to let your employees know that personal and professional growth can happen. We just need to open up and see that change is not scarey and lead the way for others to make changes in their lives as well.