I have just submitted a membership application on behalf of my daughter to join Ramsbottom Running Club and will happily stump up the £20 fee – isn’t it funny what you will willingly pay for and on what things you attempt to impose the ‘take accountability for money’ lessons on your children 🙂 Anyway – it got me thinking about the impact I have as a role model in my family and through Kili Consulting and consequently the challenge we all share personally and professionally.
I work a lot with organisations who need help embedding and making behavioural change stick and I find myself repeating with regular monotony ‘the importance of leadership role modelling as probably the single biggest lever to change behaviour’. Probably because it is true – but it is not the only lever and the fact that you need to take a holistic approach and tweak, cajole and pull all of the levers available to you is a really important message in its own right*.
The old adage “do as I say not as I do” is clearly wrong, because in reality, if the actions don’t match the words then people see incongruence and are reluctant to follow the lead. I have countless examples of senior leaders I have coached in organisations who are trying to promote effective work life balance in their teams. I hear them espouse the need for ‘family time’ and ‘making sure you re-charge at the weekend’ only to have their team tell me about the 5am or 11pm emails. Now I know that this is a simplistic (albeit very real example) but we have to be so careful that if we want to effect change then we must first be the change that we want to effect. I am sure that Ghandi wasn’t thinking about emails and work life balance when he uttered words to that effect, but he absolutely knew the power, the value and embraced his accountability as a role model for the people that he lead.
Most people do not resist the principle of change. Would you like to improve the way you work? Would you like to deliver better service to your customers? Would you like to be fitter? Of course……. OK – well that means you need to sit in a different office, with new colleagues and use a new system, start running 4 times a week……… mmmm ok maybe not then 🙂 That is human nature, we do tend to resist the realities of change. So if you want to help your team, friends, family members to change their behaviours then it starts with you!
I have wanted to get my girls running for a while, have urged and encouraged and extolled the need to get out and have a go – have offered to run, have suggested they all start together – but seen very little action. Then by actually taking the step to go with my eldest daughter Alice to running club, encouraging her and giving her the confidence by running alongside her, allowing her to dictate the pace and take charge of how it panned out – halleluiah!! Now I am not saying that she is addicted lol – but she went whilst on hols and has returned to the club night with some enthusiasm, so I think we have turned the corner. For a while I thought that watching me train to climb mountains, run, ride unicycles, do Tough Mudder events and the like was ‘acting as a role model’ – but I realise that it wasn’t! I was leading by example but not helping to role model the change she wanted to see in her. I know that I now need to help her and encourage her by running with her several times a week – going off for long runs on my own is not effectively role modelling behaviours she is trying to emulate.
If you have people you are trying to help change, in your team or at home, it is worth reflecting that whilst we can be good role models, that doesn’t mean we are always effective. If we want to be more effective we need to recognise the change in their terms not ours and role model the appropriate behaviours as a result… in my humble experience anyway. Good luck!
* Email to find out more about the Kili Consulting 9 Levers for Change