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Backward on Behavior

C: Welcome to Slingshot25 Shotcast, a series of bite-sized podcasts that’ll feel like an expressive shot to your brain. I’m Courtney. 

J: And I’m Jackie. 

C: And something we’ve been thinking about is behaviors and team norms and expectations of behaviors. 

J: We think about that kind of thing a lot. 

C: Oh, we’ve been thinking we get it wrong and we got it upside down. Not in a good hourglass kind of way, because an upside-down hourglass is a good thing. Like behaviors coming first is kind of upside down. 

J: Wait, an upside-down hourglass, isn’t that really just the same thing as a right-side-up hourglass? 

C: Moving along, moving along. So yes, you’re right again. So What we want to talk about is how we have a prevalence to talk about behaviors, and behaviors are how we set expectations for performance. And it’s important that we tell people what we expect of them. And we talk to people about how we want them to behave and we hold them accountable when their behaviors don’t match what’s needed in the organization. But most of the time we stop there and we don’t get under what comes before a behavior.

J: That’s right. That’s right. And what comes before a behavior is thinking. It’s a mindset for most people, except for maybe teenagers. Good example. So what comes before behavior is thinking. It’s all of the story that you’re telling yourself and the emotions then that thinking creates for you, which we call those two things together, mindset, thinking and emotions that becomes your mindset. And it’s actually that which drives your behaviors. And so when we just say to somebody, “Change your behavior”. 

And we do this in ways like we put a poster on the wall and say we expect these kinds of behaviors or we set some team norms and we say we expect these kinds of behaviors. All great. By the way, we’re not saying to don’t do that.

But we are also now saying as leaders of organizations, you need to be thinking about if you want to get those kinds of behaviors or get that kind of performance out of people, you need to pay attention to mindset because, as we just stated, that is what drives ultimately permanently changed behaviors. 

C: And from a leader perspective, you are creating an environment that sets…that allows people to decide how they’re going to think about things based on what it feels like to work in your team, to work in the environment.

So I’ll give you an example. I often see a behavior like a team norm or an expectation or something on a poster of a great example is speak up more. Speak up. We want to hear your ideas. We want to create. We want to innovate. Everyone should speak up. And in and of itself, that’s a fantastic behavior.

It’s a good expectation to set, but sometimes we notice people not speaking up and then we want to question, well, why aren’t they? They should just speak up. Well, if people aren’t speaking up and you’ve set an expectation to do that, maybe pause and ask yourself, why aren’t they? And maybe they’re not speaking up because they don’t feel safe.

Maybe they watch someone speak up and not have a positive experience with it. Maybe they they’re fearing embarrassment and they’re whatever, right? So, the mindset actually stops them from behaving in the way that you want. And that mindset is like, they’re looking around the environment, they’re looking around the team and they’re deciding, is it safe for me to do that behavior that’s expected.

J: That’s right. So, they’re carrying around this mindset of all of these bad things can happen even though I know it’s expected of me. They can’t bring themselves to the behavior. And then unfortunately it creates a downward spiral because then it doesn’t feel safe. So they don’t speak up. 

C: And now they’re not meeting expectations because they’re not speaking up, but they don’t feel safe. That’s right. They’re stuck. 

J: Yeah. So, then the question becomes, so how do you help someone think differently? How do you help someone change their mindset? What thoughts do you have on that, Courtney? Like, where do we start on thinking about that? 

C: I think there’s two things for leaders. One is to really examine when you’ve set an expectation for behavior and people aren’t doing it, we should be asking ourselves what’s going on in the environment that is making this either possible or not possible?

What is this person thinking and feeling that’s holding them back? And what am I responsible to change? How do I have an influence of fixing that or making it safer. Like you can’t just tell people speak up if they’re not doing it. It’s probably something you, the leader, can do to shift that. 

The second thing is you will have people who just actually, because of their history, because of their career path, because of other experiences, they’re having a hard time shifting their mindset because of their own beliefs and their own blocks. And I really encourage you, shameless plug, get a coach. Coaching is about shifting mindsets. You should work with us, call us. That’s all we do is help people examine, “Why do I believe that? What do I think that? What do I really want? What am I afraid of? And how can I adopt a new way of thinking so that I can behave in ways that are more helpful to me?” 

J: That’s right. And it’s also, honestly, the reason why in all of our leadership development programming and everything we say about our leadership development programming is, “although we’ll cover a few things around like tactics and performance and behaviors”, those kinds of things, you know, a 1-2-3 step process to something, we cover a little bit of that. But most of our leadership development programming is designed to get leaders to think differently. We get different thinking, we get different leadership behavior. 

C: That’s right. I think that is a BOOM mic drop. I think we’re going to wrap it up right here, folks. Okay. So that is all for this episode of our ShotCast, but we always have much more to say.

If you want more, drop us a line at until next time.

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