Describing Essential Behaviors

tape measure

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:

  1. Instruction.
  2. Focus.
  3. Progress.
  4. Measurement.

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:

  1. Support each other?
  2. Behave when solving problems?
  3. Engage with customers?
  4. 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.

An example:

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?

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