Describing Essential Behaviors
You can’t pursue what you can’t describe.
If it can be achieved, it can be seen.
If it can be seen, it can be described.
If can be described, it can be measured.
Description enables leadership.
If you can’t describe it, you can’t lead toward it.
Outcomes or behaviors:
Outcomes may be uncertain, but behaviors can be described. Behavioral outcomes are difficult to predict. Describe behaviors anyway.
How will we:
- Support each other?
- Behave when solving problems?
- Engage with customers?
- Respond to failure?
Love is the most powerful force in the world. As a concept it can’t be measured But..
Love as a behavior can be described.
Description enables measurement.
Poets have been describing the behaviors of love for centuries.
A first century leader wrote a letter to solve critical problems in an organization he had established in ancient Corinth. In the process, he penned some of the most powerful words in human literature. He said things like:
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
He went on to describe love in behavioral terms. Love is patient, kind, and optimistic. Love is not rude or boastful.
You can’t lead toward emotional love. But, you can lead toward behavioral love.
Does distilling love into behaviors cheapen it? Actually he enables us to pursue it. He enriches us even today.
Description enlightens and enables.
Loving behavior is optimistic. Describe optimism as speaking three positives for every negative, for example.
Successful leaders describe behaviors that move organizations toward agreed upon goals.
(The portion of the letter I quoted: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8)
What behaviors are essential for your organization’s success?
If you can not see..then imagine it and describe .
Well as we are in the time of shifting into the 4th Dimension the only essential behavior is service to others.
Really, google it!!!!!!
I like simple root causes. The branch springs from the root, right.
Just love each other in everything you do, we are all Gods kids. We all need each other.
Pretty simple isn’t it?
SP back to loving and serving others now!
Can you give us three simple behaviors that express serving others?
Listening, giving, receiving
Can you describe these in behavioral terms?
“Loving behavior is optimistic. Describe optimism as speaking three positives for every negative, for example.” ==> this is a great operational definition of optimism. It’s not perfect, and its a bit mechanical, but a great start never the less
Thank you for this beautiful post!
Sometimes it is as if you are observing my life and write just for me. Thank you for sharing your craft with so many!
Thanks David, your words encourage me.
And in education (and perhaps the business world too) I would add that developing essential questions for units or lessons leads to deeper, more thought-provoking understanding because if you can “Google it” it’s not essential. And as you pointed out when developing essential behaviors, essential questions provide direction, focus, and the ability to measure the degree of understanding. Great post and I love the reference to Corinthians!
I believe we can lead by asking questions. Sometimes we “tell” too much and “ask” too little.
Love this post! It fits so well with what we teach in our training, and what I teach at Baker – when developing essential questions! vb
Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2013 12:23:38 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I agree that behavior can be described. It can be analyzed against consequences of such behavior. And this is how behavior can be measured. But, it is perhaps difficult to measure behavior by means of quantification.
I think, organization success is mainly depend on leadership initiatives. Such initiative determine people behavior at workplace. For example when leaders behave in a way that reflect the message that they are concerned about their position, then people at lower level try to behave in the same way. On the contrary, when leaders are concerned about others growth, people at lower level also take care of their colleagues and juniors. So, it makes a cycle that could be either virtuous or venomous.
However, essential behavior that create successful organization is related with clear focus, behaving in authentic way, doing what is said, and encouraging behavior that is right. It means fairness and transparency is taken in right manner.
Modeling behavior is more powerful than explaining behavior. Explaining and modeling is even more powerful. 🙂
Love the little word play “virtuous or venomous.”
Your closing line on leadership says it all! I would however take the liberty of adding the following aspects of leadership which I believe are equally critical for achieving performance breakthroughs.
1.Inclusion of diverse stakeholders to create a future can lead to perspective shifts about each other, the organization and possibilities of a new future different from the default future people are living into. The shift is from a defensive, ‘protecting one’s turf’ mindset to one of authorship, ownership and commitment.
2.As a leader we cannot control or determine how situations occur for others but we can have a say by exploring the following:
(a)How can I interact with others so that situations occur more empowering for them?
(b)What processes, dialogues or meetings can I arrange so that people can feel like coauthors of a new future, not merely recipients tasked to carry out someone else’s vision or agenda?
I’m glad you took liberty to expand the ideas in the post.
It makes perfect sense that those who are expected to follow behavioral guidelines should participate in determining what those behaviors are…
I don’t believe the specific behavior is the most important thing. Just having one is enough. There is behavioral spill over.
When setting up a meeting, hiring a new staff person, or developing a new product, I always try to make sure we answer this question FIRST: “What, exactly, are we trying to accomplish?” So simple a question, yet so often forgotten (how many meetings have we attended where we have no idea what the real purpose of the meeting is!).
Interesting to think about that piece and the next steps in terms of behavior. Thanks for the post, Dan.
I think my favorite question is “What’s the win?” It’s amazing how frequently we can’t answer. If we can determine the win, then perhaps, with work, we can identify behaviors that get us there. At least you would hope so.
Listening: repeating your interpretations of what’s been said.
Giving: bring a coffee to your cooworkers cube.
Receiving: say thank you and act on feedback.
Listening: Ask the second question before making statements.
Giving: Writing a weekly thank you note to someone in the office.
Receiving: Explain how generosity makes you feel.
I had an employee who I had to push hard out of his comfort zone to save his job. He was bitterly resentful. Sometimes growth is painful, but as leaders we need to encourage it.
Thanks billgncs. 🙂
Dan, you are right on track!
Seeing is the easy part. Describing gets harder, but measuring is the most difficult of all.
It is most difficult because even though we can envision what we want to accomplish and describe it, measuring it to get the desired results is often botched. Here is why.
If we measure the wrong thing we get the wrong results. Here is an example.
I went over and read your post on measuring the wrong things. I appreciate that you extended the conversation.
I respect your insights and experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Love is so much more than what we see it as today. And like faith, it can move mountains when used in it’s truest form. Thank you for the thoughts.
Thank you Sarah. We are always in pursuit.
“How will we behave.. When solving problems? ”
This is a thought provoking question, and one that reaches beyond techniques and into heart/motive.
I like the questions this post creates in me / for me.
One of the most useful things we do is bring up these issues with an open mind. Here’s another one, “How will express disagreements?” Or, “How do you want me to disagree with you?”
I heard a mom say on Mother’s day that there are 3 powerful, life=giving behaviors\things we can do for our kids (daily) as moms (parents). Let them know by your words and behaviors that they are always (1) seen ( I see you!); (2) heard (I hear you!); and (3) loved (I love you!). We all need/want to be seen, heard, and loved by some one.
I wonder if letting ourselves be seen is central to your tree points??? Cheers
Love love love this! Addition… if it’s hard for you, you don’t have to REALLY love… fake it till you make it. 😀
This article really spoke to me. I believe in leading staff with loving kindness. That still involves conversations about expectations and opportunites for growth. I believe one of the kindess things you can do is be clear and provide boundaries and expecatations for staff orthe majority will flounder in the vague unknown.