It Takes an Army

OK, maybe a platoon.

If you really want to change your behavior, don’t do it solo.

I’ve coached executives for a long time and was one myself. The number of talented, disciplined people who can significantly improve their behavior by themselves is extremely small.

If you were alone on a desert island and decided you wanted to start doing yoga, I guarantee that two weeks later you’d be lounging on the beach drinking coconut milk, your yoga pants lost in the brush.

Good intentions are often wasted because we don’t enlist others’ help and support. Whether it’s communicating more effectively with your staff, spending more time thinking about the future, enhancing relationships with your board, or reducing the amount of time you spend beating yourself up, going it alone is ineffective.

Getting your team to help you is the best way to change your behavior. Do you need a coach to help guide the process? Yes, that’s a good idea. However, if you’ve fostered healthy relationships with your team (e.g., those who report to you, your peers and your boss, if you have one), your best chance for lasting change is to get their help.

The process is simple, but it requires hard work and a good dose of vulnerability. Once you identify what you need to change (this is where a coach can be helpful), gather your team and say, “I need your help. I’d like to change my behavior in the following way, and I realize I’m not good enough to do it without your support. During our one-on-ones in the following months, please let me know how I’m doing.”  If your team doesn’t trust you, work on that first.

Don’t do this if you aren’t serious. Go back to your beach chair and drink coconut milk. You’ll completely lose credibility if you go through the process but make little or no effort to change or don’t let them give you feedback.

You might be the exception. And if you’re motivated enough (which usually means you’ve gotten your ass kicked in some fashion), you might be able to change on your own. But if you can increase your odds significantly and enhance your standing with the team simultaneously, why wouldn’t you?