Behavioral Skills of a leader

In our last article on The Importance of Behavioural Skills for Leaders, we saw why we need to also work on developing our Behavioural Skills to become a successful leader. In this one, we are going to show you how…

Three Ways for Leaders to Develop Good Behavioural Skills

A person’s experiences, values, beliefs and life decisions shape who they become as a leader. It is their innate qualities and processes that govern how they act and behave on the outside. Therefore, the place to start from to develop good behavioural skills, is the Self. It is the seat of all change. And if one can go in deep enough, they can create everlasting changes in their life.  The type of changes that may even seem impossible!

Excited? Well, so are we. So, let’s get started…

  1. Self-Observation and Self-Awareness

First Behavioral Skill of Leader - Self Awareness

To change, one needs to know what to change in themselves. And for that, you need to reflect upon the Self. Now how do you do that? By slowing down and taking the time out for observing yourself.

In this jet-set world, with so much happening all the time, our focus tends to be more on the outside. On what others are doing or not doing in their lives, how they are behaving, what their accomplishments are, etc. While it’s good to learn from others, the comparison it can create is often a killer for many. And may take their morale down. Yes, it’s true. As humans, most of us do suffer from ‘The grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome! And it actually wastes a lot of our time and energy, besides slowing down our inner growth.

So, step number one, is change your focus. Start focusing and reflecting on yourself.

And what should you reflect upon in yourself?

Your strengths, weaknesses, values, limiting beliefs, attitudes, fears, motivations, desires, communication, intentions, etc. Effective leaders are mindful of their own internal processes and behaviours. They know exactly what they can do and what internal forces may stop them from doing it. Their ability to be self-aware enables them to make decisions that are congruent with both their personal and organizational goals. They are able to align their behaviours and actions to what is required, while keeping their motivating principles in mind at all times.

Some of the tools and methods that can be used for improving Self-Awareness are:

  1. Journaling our actions and behaviours on a daily basis
  2. Psychometric Assessments like 16 PF, MBTI, DISC, etc.
  3. SWOT Analysis
  4. Getting in touch with and identifying the emotions we experience at various times in a day
  5. Gathering Feedback about our behaviour from people we are close to, personally and professionally

Exercise Alert: Here’s a 30 Minute Exercise you can practice

Write down 3 good behaviours that you tend to exhibit often and 3 bad ones. Let these be those that you have observed in yourself rather than feedback given by others.  

For example, a good behaviour could be that you are great at Multitasking. A bad one could be that you tend to go late wherever you go.

Now reflect on these carefully and write down the thoughts and emotions that lead you to these behaviours and actions.

For example, a feeling that may be generated by Multitasking could be of greatness, fun or challenge. A thought that makes you Multitask could be, that if you don’t multitask you won’t be able to complete everything.

A thought for being late could be, its ok if I am late by a few minutes. Another one for Mutitasking could be, I have to finish everything today itself.

Now further ask yourself what values, beliefs and attitude you carry that shapes these thoughts and emotions.

For example, If I don’t complete all my tasks in the same day, I am not a good boy/ girl. Or, I have to complete all my tasks to keep everyone happy. For being late, it could be that its okay to be late in India, everyone does it.

Further ask yourself what has led you to having these values, beliefs and attitude. How did they shape up in the first place. Do they stand true in the current context. Are they still valid?

For example, I remember my parents saying that successful people do many things. Which led me to believe that I had to be working on multiple things at the same time to be successful. Now I need to ask myself, is this really true? Can focussing on one task not make me successful in that field?

I also always saw my mother being late to work. And it was accepted as she worked in a government organization. So, I concluded that being late to work was alright. But is that true? What impact does being late to work have on my performance, task management, professional image? Also, what impact does it have on those around me?

By questioning your beliefs, you will initiate the process of change…

  1. Setting Actionable Goals and Reviewing Progress

Second Behavioural Skill of Good Leader - SMART Goals Setting

Successful Leaders set clear goals. Yes, they use the SMART goal setting technique that we so often talk about. And not only do they set SMART goals, but also action their goals as per the timeline set. And how do they do this? By planning well, executing well and reviewing well!

Yes, they are master planners, executioners and reviewers, all rolled in one.

One example that comes to my mind, is of an earlier CEO of Prudential Process Management Services, an organisation that I previously work with. He had set a goal of making the organization profitable, reducing complaints and costs, removing complacency, enhancing quality and becoming more respectable like in their golden days. And that too all within 1000 days!

He envisioned what a successful organisation would look like and put a strategy in place to accomplish the same. Clear goals were set for all employees and fellow leaders. Actions to be taken were noted and even those that were to be discontinued were looked into. A process was also set up to review the progress every 90 days.

And what was the result? Could they achieve their goal at the end of 1000 days? Absolutely. In fact, the results were astounding. Performance standards improved, errors dropped significantly, the organization’s employee and customer satisfaction scores improved, profitability increased, costs reduced…And how did all of this happen? By their Leader’s dream, a solid execution plan and a strong review mechanism.

  1. Building New Habits

Third Behavioural Skills of Leader - Having Good Habits

Habits are formed when we repeat a series of actions over and over again. This repetition makes us reach a space, where by default, we start doing that action without making any effort.

It’s like how we can drive a car on an auto-mode after practicing driving for some time. So, by practising driving again and again, we are actually trying to create a habit. This habit makes driving easy for us in the future. It ensures we do not need to re-learn how to drive every time we pick up a car. And can perform the act without spending too much mental energy on the same.

Now to build good habits and make them an auto-mode, one must let go of their old, negative patterns. Its only when we let go of the old can we develop new, essential habits that will help us become good leaders.

But is it that simple? No, it’s not. In fact, it needs a lot of hard work and deliberate effort over time to establish and sustain.

Just imagine, you have been behaving in a particular manner right from childhood, repeating that behaviour again and again. And now you realise that its actually coming in your way to being a great leader and hence feel the need to change it. Just imagine how much consistent effort and dedication you are going to have to exhibit to successfully eradicate the old behaviour and replace it with the new one!

It is said, that if you want to build good habits start small. Start performing the desired action daily at the same time for at least 21 days. Why 21 Days? Because in 21 days the body changes its cellular memory.  And therefore, the old memory can get replaced by new memory.

So, if you choose to change your ‘being late to work’ habit by waking up early, ensure you do so every day for at least for 21 days. You will get into an auto-mode by then and it will form a part of your body’s cellular memory. And voila, you will start waking up at the new time every day even without an alarm!

So, be sure to practice these 3 powerful steps and pave the way for a strong and simply awesome Leader.

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