If Scrooge Can Change, Why Can’t You or Your Team?

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Leadership | Comments Off on If Scrooge Can Change, Why Can’t You or Your Team?

Can People Change or Not? 
I was having a conversation with an old friend, who also happens to be a C-Suite executive in a large global corporation.  He expressed how important staff development was to him and the desire to have a higher functioning executive team.  After lamenting about some dysfunctional behaviors on his executive team, he said “People don’t change; they are fundamentally who they are.” After thinking more about his comment, I asked myself “What makes sense about his view?” I administer leadership assessments, and there is validity that someone’s personality does not change. However, personality profiles predict leadership behaviors, and while we have a tendency to behave in a certain way, we can choose to behave differently given the right motivation, courage and sufficient practice.

imagesNOCVG9EFIf Scrooge Can Change,
Why Can’t You?  

According to one of my mentors, cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien, there are 2 things that ignite breakthroughs in behaviors: “A brush with death, or to be seized by destiny.” There is nothing like a near death experience or the threat of loss to ignite you into action to make necessary behavior changes.  It can be the potential loss of a relationship, your marriage, your health or your job. To be seized by destiny is when you are motivated by a compelling vision, purpose or mission. This is perfectly illustrated by Charles Dickens, in his book “A Christmas Carol.”  I am sure you have seen one of the many movie adaptations where Scrooge has a brush with death and is seized by destiny.  Scrooge has a wake-up call, a dramatized cost/benefit analysis and you know the rest of the story.

It Takes Motivation, Courage and Practice to Change a Behavior    
I recently coached a senior level executive at a large global corporation.  She was recently promoted and at the beginning of our engagement I performed a 360 degree performance evaluation and a Hogan Leadership Assessment.  There is a scale on the Hogan called Interpersonal Sensitivity on which she scored very high and which was consistent with the feedback she received on the 360. She was very diplomatic, excellent at building relationships and caring towards her staff. Other behaviors that were not so helpful given her score were being conflict avoidant and not setting boundaries.  She was perceived by others as not advocating important issues or holding her ground with her peers and boss. After exploring what was really important to her and the cost and benefits of changing her behavior, she was able to start with low risk opportunities to make a shift and then move onto higher stakes situations.  There were several initiatives that were very important to her, one specifically regarding staff retention that required her to step into her power and advocate her position in the face of opposition. These initiatives provided the motivation to make the necessary behavior changes to achieve her goals. After a year, these changes were positively noted by her staff, boss and peers.

If you are looking to take your leadership to the next level you might consider starting with the Hogan Leadership Assessment and a 360° Performance Appraisal.  This will create awareness about your values, strengths and behaviors that are holding you back from being your best self. Coaching is a perfect gift to support your growth and propel you toward your goals, purpose and vision.  After all, New Year’s is right around the corner.