Why Role Modeling New Behaviors Is So Challenging
Are you working to become a better leader by changing your behavior? Are you role modeling new behaviors hoping it will rub off on others? Have you experienced resistance, suspicion, defensiveness, or any other negative backlash?
You aren’t alone. This is one of the most common concerns we hear from our clients who are learning and applying more healthy leadership behaviors. Instead of being grateful and following your lead, your people treat you like a stranger. What’s the deal?!
Why people don’t jump on board with new leadership behaviors
- They are confused because they don’t know what to expect from you now.
- It appears that the “rules of engagement” have changed, and they don’t fully understand them yet.
- Your behavior is new and different, so why would they trust your intentions right away?
- Your behavior might leave them more accountable and feeling exposed. That’s uncomfortable and scary.
- Your new behavior might interrupt patterns of justification they’ve relied on for a long time. Taking away a person’s excuses is dangerous without giving them better, more dignified way to step up.
- You are inconsistent in role-modeling the new behavior, so they don’t know if you are just learning and growing or a hypocrite who can’t walk the talk.
- Change threatens their world in so many ways that you might not appreciate. Some people will resist, hoping that it’s just a passing fad. Some will actively sabotage to undermine it. That’s normal.
Seven Success Tips for Implementing New Behaviors
- Be transparent. Tell your people exactly what you are learning, why you are trying to change, and what they can expect from you.
- Be vulnerable. Change is hard for you too. It’s OK to share your anxiety and struggle. You are human too.
- Show empathy. Recognize and validate how others are experiencing your new behaviors. You’ve been there before so you know what it feels like.
- Don’t try to be an expert role-model. You can’t and won’t do it perfectly. Not only is that OK, but it’s a lot less threatening to your people. Coping role-models inspire confidence and change in others much better than experts.
- Ask for help. Your people are the key to your success. Asking them for help turns them into allies instead of adversaries. It also makes them part of the solution.
- Be patient. Recognize the legitimate reasons people don’t immediately jump on board, and be patient as you develop your own confidence and gain their trust.
- Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Only time, consistency, and repetition will transform your new behaviors into lasting habits. This too will give your people the evidence that your new behavior is here to stay.