Old Habits Die Hard: What does it take for leaders to transform?

Breaking old habits that no longer serve their purpose is hard for leaders.  Not only does the leader personally need to do something different but they also have an audience of followers watching their every move.  Modifying one’s own behaviour is hard enough without having to think about the impact this change has on others!  Anxiety from loss of authority and credibility can creep in so leaders need a circuit breaker to help them overcome the fear of failure that can stop them from breaking bad leadership habits.  That’s where narrative in all its forms – stories, dialogue, metaphors plays a key role.

Why is narrative important?

Narrative works differently than text, data and charts.  It forces leaders to pause and reflect on the meaning behind the narrative.  It acts as a catalyst for action and creates a generative, positive reinforcing and virtuous cycle for change.

The power of narrative to break old habits has been clearly documented by my colleagues Dr Peter Fuda and Professor Richard Badham.  Their recent Harvard Business Review article ‘Fire, Snowball, Mask, Movie: How Leaders Spark and Sustain Change’ used 7 metaphors to summarise the essence of the leadership change journey.  Their choice of narrative to describe the CEO journey to becoming transformational leaders showed the process in a way that numbers and charts could never do.    Badham and Fuda also identified the critical role that the 360 degree feedback process played as a catalyst for change.  The 360 helped the CEO’s find the insight they needed to break old habits faster and expedite their journey to become more effective leaders.

Are all 360’s the same?

That’s why I was so excited when I met Ron Warren and discovered the LMAP 360 degree assessment tool.  It uses a narrative process that really speaks to the individual leader in a way that no other 360 degree report that I’ve come across does.  The LMAP report forces leaders to pause, reflect and dig deep to find the resilience they need to sustain their effort to work through changing their poorly serving habitual behaviours.  And once this process starts, the energy unleashed from breaking these habits provides an ongoing cycle of positive reinforcement for the leader and their followers to hold the course and break old habits once and for all.

Behavioural change is hard but I honestly believe using a 360 degree feedback tool like the LMAP 360 will go a long way to speed up the process of becoming a more effective leader.

This blog post is written by Dr Richard Carter