What do frogs have to do with leadership and goals? Here’s your final step to being a better leader …

by  Christina Haxton  |  Leadership Development

Why do you have so much resistance to setting “soft skill” goals? If I were to ask you “Do you have your goals to be a better leader (or communicator) clearly defined, written down and measurable?” I will probably hear your eyes roll into the back of your head. Because many of you have set goals in the past and not achieved lasting change.  Not because you lacked understanding or even desire to change, but because of failure to follow Steps #2 and #3 of the change process. (Click here to read Step #1 Ask   and Step #2: Announce in previous posts on What do Frogs Have To Do With Leadership?)

Change is simple, but not always easy, unless you follow all three steps. And repeat. Step #3: ACT 

Understanding alone is overrated. We’ve all decided taking action is a good idea. But we are still sitting on the log. Change requires ACTION. Understanding or having the awareness of why your sarcastic tone is caustic , or why you should quit smoking, drinking too much is a necessary first step, after you announce your intention to change to others, you must now jump off the log.

The key to making lasting behavioral change is simple: small actions over a period of time result in SIGNIFICANT LONG TERM CHANGE. You’re not perfect; you are going to slip up. When you do, ACKNOWLEDGE IT OUT LOUD and MOVE FORWARD.

Here’s how:

#1. Small change counts more than you think. While you may think you have a problem finishing something, I will propose you may actually have a STARTING problem instead. Here’s your challenge: Can you do anything for 5 minutes? Sure you can, so start there.

Here are a few idea starters: Walk, ride a bike, stretch, meditate, breathe, listen deeply, play with your kids, hang out with your partner with your cell phone off, plan a goal or project with paper and pencil, organize your desk. Try doing whatever “it” is for 5 minutes (because if you can’t do something for 5 minutes, trust me, you have bigger problems).

Make an appointment with yourself and put it in the calendar to do one or two times a week for the first week and build slowly. Exercise, quitting smoking, practice being a better listener all lend themselves to the “Do it for 5 minutes” strategy. Preparing your taxes is another. Yes, you have a few months, but what difference will it make if you start now with 5 minutes a week? April 14th might just be a more relaxing day! Like shampoo: Rinse, lather, repeat.

Then, repeat Step #1: Ask. Ask again by following up with the family, friends (and if you really want to be transparent include your staff) and ask “How am I doing?” Then LISTEN. Say “Thank you” in response to their answers. As Marshall Goldsmith says, we can’t go wrong if we respond with a genuine “Thank you” to any information, negative or positive, someone offers us.

Why should I ask again?  Two reasons.  Ask others with the intention of  to simply gather information, as if you are on your own personal recognizance mission.  Because you will use what you hear people say to accomplish two things:

#1. To adjust course. Like a pilot in an airplane, getting feedback from the instrument panel who is flying from New York to Los Angeles, simply adjust what you are doing, a little to the left, a little to the right, toward your destination. Just view it as information, not right or wrong, good or bad, no big deal. Adjust course as needed.

#2. To build trust. Remember how I said this step is critical? Here’s why … by announcing publicly you are human and are working on improving yourself and by following up and asking “How am I doing with ______?” and really listening to their response, you will build trust by showing you really care. That is as long as you do really care, because when you are genuine it is FELT. If you don’t really care, well, that’s palpable, too. If you really don’t care, don’t ask.

AAA: The key to becoming a Sustainable Leader and exceeding your personal development goals.

If you truly desire to be an exceptional leader of people, you will earn more trust by following up with this step exactly as written, than with anything else you ever have the guts to do, which is be human.

So if two frogs were sitting on a log, and you were one of the frogs, and you decide to jump off, what’s the answer now?

What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

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Articles By christina-haxton
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What People Are Saying

Philip Quintas  |  03 Mar 2012  |  Reply

Christina, I like that you have included announcing and asking others in your excellent plan for making change in our lives. Too often people act as if what they do does not really affect those around them. We plan and prepare ourselves for transformation but unless we share that plan, we can easily alienate those who might actually be most helpful to us in reaching our goals.

Shekhar Mehra  |  04 Mar 2012  |  Reply

While I agree with you that “the key to making lasting behavioral change is taking: small actions over a period of time which result in SIGNIFICANT LONG TERM CHANGE.”,and also that “You’re not perfect; you are going to slip up. When you do, ACKNOWLEDGE IT OUT LOUD and MOVE FORWARD.” to build trust.

But asking ” HOW AM I DOING ? “, though a laudable ideal of humility has not been seen…..

Corporate Leaders view this as a sign of lack of self-confidence = weakness. I have never seen a corporate leader ask “how am I doing” except when they are SURE of the adulation and flattering comments that would follow.NEVER to seek a genuine assessment.In most organisations the staff is scared of sticking out their neck and genuine response to such a question — because none is expected — and can be fatal to the BRAVE reviewer’s career !!

In the real world, the “How am I doing ?” feedback is asked only of peers, that too only trusted ones who would not leverage that “WEAKNESS” to their own advantage and the detriment of the questioner.

Sorry to disappoint Christina, we love Shangri-La, but are very far from it ….

Christina Haxton  |  15 Mar 2012  |  Reply


Thank you for your comment and the opportunity to clarify …

Yes, I agree we aren’t in Shangri-La, nor should we ignore the often cutthroat corporate culture if one exists. It’s a shame that a leader’s being authentic might be seen as “weakness” or lacking in confidence.

Asking “How am I doing?” would be done with the trusted few the leader originally asked the “What can I do better?” or “How can I improve?” question as a follow up and follow through.

Because of exactly what you point to, many leaders won’t take on their own “Leadership 720” exercise as I refer to it in my program because it goes beyond a traditional 360 Assessment.

Most executives prefer to hire a coach or consultant to interview 5 -10 people of the leader’s choice and offer who will as the questions I’ve summarized and offer the leader back the answers keeping the details of the responses confidential. The leader then chooses to regard (or disregard in some cases) the themes, or overall consensus, his chosen interviewees offer. I have not had an executive give me the name of a co-worker, friend, family member or boss who he felt would cut his throat given the chance. So far, the process works very well.

What are your thoughts about how this process would work from your perspective?

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