We have heard it before. “You can’t change people.” Yet we persist with the idea that if we just use the right words at the right time, the other person will “get it.”
In “Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host” Margaret Wheatley (no relation to Humanergy’s co-founder, David Wheatley) talks about the myth of the heroic leader. One thing the heroic leader believes is that people will do what they are told, if they are given good enough instructions.
The problem here is the illusion that leaders control what they cannot, like what others do, think or feel. What you can control is your own actions.
Rather than jumping in to correct what’s wrong with their people, leaders can be a positive influence and provide support. They can:
Articulate a vision for the future
Be specific about expectations
Ask great questions
Give feedback on behaviors
Protect people from bureaucracy, politics and other distractions
When you feel the urge to jump in and fix a person, say, “I want to help. How can I best do that?”
Want to help your people navigate choppy waters? Contact Humanergy.
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Or as Chainsaw Jack Dunlap once said, “Sometimes it’s easier to change people than to change people.”
Of course there is no simple answer to this age-old question but one generic answer is “If the person is willing to be fixed and/or is looking for help to be fixed, then they probably will”. I have seen a great many people change their behaviour and peformance because they had the willingness and/or motivatation (promotion, greater fulfilment). On the other hand, some just find they can’t change, or don’t want to. The elusive element is “What influences an individual’s perspective on change”; if each of us could know what our mental blockers or enablers were within us to being fixed, then maybe we could allow ourselves to be fixed.