In The Leader193 Way, Guidelines for Behavior are the equivalent to “Core Values” or whatever other term is used to essentially frame how you, your team, organization, or family will behave. These established behaviors will guide and create the culture you are trying to build.
One thing is true of all great organizations: Great organizations establish Guidelines for Behavior because they make clear what behaviors everyone will be accountable for irrespective of your organization’s “widget”. These guardrails will create a safe and predictable environment which is the basis for all organizational greatness.
Your Guidelines for Behavior don’t have to be the same as anyone else’s, but you must have them to be successful.
Given that establishing these are a requirement for any great organization, the question and challenge many leaders face is determining which behavioral guidelines should be enacted. How do we decide?
Behaviors You Want vs Behaviors You Need
There are two competing elements you will face when identifying the right Guidelines of Behavior for your team: The behaviors you want to establish vs. the behaviors you need to establish.
If you are a leader new to an established organization, you will likely have a set of values that you think are important and will want to implement with your new team. That is great and you should move forward with the behaviors you want to establish. There could be a problem with this, though. What if there are established behaviors that are working to the detriment of the team currently? No newly established behaviors will mitigate a negative or toxic behavior until that negative or toxic behavior is addressed and mitigated.
This is what I mean when I say the challenge lies in establishing the behaviors you want vs. establishing the behaviors you need based on current circumstances.
For example, you want to establish a culture based around behaviors of taking aggressive action and strict prioritization. These are great behaviors that anyone can agree will make your organization better when put in the proper context. However, you notice that your new team spends a lot of time complaining, gossiping, and generally bad-mouthing other members of the team.
Believe me, no positive behavior, like taking aggressive action and strict prioritization, will ever overcome an established culture based in complaining, gossip, and bad mouthing.
So, you have the behaviors you want to establish clearly in mind (aggressive action and prioritization) but you realize you need to establish new behaviors relevant to the current circumstances or else nothing will really change no matter what you try to do.
How do we do this?
As leaders, you must be aware of the current behavioral situation so you can make the appropriate and targeted adjustments. This awareness begins with two critical areas:
- Recognizing the general emotional state of the team
- Recognizing how they generally act on those emotions
Recognizing the emotional state of your team will provide great insight into why they are behaving the way they are. Angst, frustration, despair, apathy: all these negative emotions have no choice but to create negative behaviors. Recognizing the general emotional state of the team is crucial to enacting positive change and establishing the behavioral guidelines your team needs.
Next, be aware of how your team acts based on the observed emotions. This is what makes up your team’s culture, for better or worse. If you only look at the way the team acts without being aware of the underlying emotions that drive those actions then you may be missing a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to establishing new, positive behaviors.
3. Identify the behaviors your team needs based on what you have observed.
If you have observed complaining, gossip, and bad mouthing you are obviously going to want to implement behaviors that are the opposite of these negative and toxic behaviors. The key is not necessarily what you call the new behaviors you are going to hold people accountable for, the key is that when you present the new behaviors you will be able to put them into context for your team based on what you have observed (see steps 1 and 2).
“Team, over the last couple of weeks I have observed some behaviors that I believe limit our ability to generate our goal of $5 Million in revenue this year. For example…”
Then you cite examples of what you have seen and describe how those behaviors negatively affect productivity. You do not have to call people out by name when you cite the examples of poor behavior, they will recognize your examples.
Then, “Based on what I’ve seen I’d like to establish some behavioral guidelines that, if we commit to, will make us not only better as a team and organization, but exponentially better. The best in the country.”
Now you lay out the behaviors you will hold people accountable for based on your observations,
“First, we will express problems in a professional manner, always trying to bring a solution to the table. If there is a problem and you cannot come up with a solution you will lay out your thought process on what you tried to come up with. We will not simply complain.”
And so it goes.
What If Individuals on My Team Don’t Like the New Behavioral Guidelines?
The reactions you get will vary. Some will not like it. Others will be thinking it is about time someone did something about this. But, if you keep the behaviors you will hold people accountable for, based on your observations, in context then they will all understand.
You have now begun the very difficult process of establishing the culture you want.
Over time, if you are consistent with holding your team or organization accountable, they will stick or the people who refuse to abide will eventually leave.
At this point you can begin focusing on some of the behaviors that you wanted to implement from the start.
As a leader, it is your responsibility to establish the behaviors that will make up your culture. Use these three simple steps to do just that and watch the results in overall performance and moral go to levels you never expected.
This simple process will be difficult, but worth it.
Welcome to leadership!
Errol Doebler is the founder of Leader 193, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Leader 193 to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coaching, keynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.
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