5 ways to embed behaviour change after leadership programs

We have long been interested in the challenge of helping leaders make sustainable behaviour changes in the workplace.  In fact our Discovery in Action® (Leading People) program is fundamentally premised upon this intent.  We have written on this topic before through our posts Making those Personal Changes Stick and Daily Questions – A Template for Personal Change however we recently happened across a video post from Nick Petrie from the Centre for Creative Leadership who also has been fascinated by this issue.  Nick followed up a number of participants from CCL leadership programs in an attempt to discover what people did who were successful in making sustainable behaviour change and he found the following 5 practices were prevalent:

  1. They chose only one or two key goals to work on, often selecting one weakness to improve and one strength to build upon;
  2. They made public what they were working on by sharing with their staff or colleagues, building some personal accountability as well as enabling people to notice the changes;
  3. They used people around them to generate ‘feedforward‘ suggestions about how they could improve;
  4. They developed simple and concise action plans; and
  5. They made their goals/actions visible to themselves everyday – often by pinning up pictures, graphics or spreadsheets in their workspace to remind them of intentions.

Importantly these strategies were underpinned by two key principles:

  1. Turn behaviour change into a process, not an event, over time; and
  2. Involve people around you in helping you to make the change.

These findings are highly consistent with our experience and are actually embedded in our Discovery in Action® (Leading People) program (as opposed to being post-program actions) by participants working on their people leadership approach over a 6 month period; actively researching their own practice through seeking feedback/feedforward from their staff; developing simple action plans that they share with others, including their staff and manager; and asking their staff for observations on the changes they have put into practice.

Again, this demonstrates that a multifaceted approach is required to help meet the challenge of making sustainable behaviour change.  Of course, none of these strategies is rocket science, however the discipline is required to put these ‘struts’ in place that effectively force you to make the changes you want.  Strangely enough most behaviour change doesn’t happen through willpower alone – new habits require effective personal accountability mechanisms.


Click here to watch Nick’s video