Make Behavioral Changes Last

What’s the most significant change in behavior you’ve made as an adult? For some, it’s quitting smoking or drinking, or making healthy changes in eating and exercising. For others, it’s becoming a better listener, a more effective manager, or a nicer partner or spouse. No matter what changes you’ve made, whether physical, social, or work-related, almost everyone agrees that lasting change is hard. It requires determination, motivation, vigilance, persistence, and long-term commitment. Most would agree that asking for help from a trusted friend, mentor, or professional coach helps. Yet even with high motivation, support, and ideal conditions, it’s still hard to break bad habits. For example, two-thirds of smokers who say they’d like to quit never even try. Those who do usually need six attempts before they succeed. Six Seconds to Set Up Change Here’s a six-second tool you can apply at any time to assist you make any behavioral change: take a long, deep breath. This allows you to step back from reactive habits and initiate a new, healthier response to any situation. A six second breath is a way to pause, gain awareness, gather energy, and make a preferred choice of action. Knowing Isn’t Doing The guidelines for changing habits are pretty simple: If you want to lose weight, eat fewer calories than you burn up, and do it over a length of time until you reach your goal weight. If you want to quit smoking, pick a quit date, get rid of cigarettes and smoking triggers, and don’t smoke no matter what, until the urges stop and the chemicals are out of your system. Same with...

Strength-based Leadership

Which leadership style will prevail in the future? If you want to improve employee engagement and productivity while reducing turnover, your organization must build on individual and team strengths. Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a 30-year research project on leadership strengths. More than 3 million people have since taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several noteworthy books: Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton (Free Press, 2001) StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (Gallup Press, 2007) Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham (Free Press, 2007) In Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow, New York Times-bestselling author Tom Rath and leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of extensive Gallup research. Based on their analyses, three keys to effective leadership emerge: Know your strengths – and invest in others – strengths. Hire people with the right strengths for your team. Understand and meet your followers’ four basic needs: trust, compassion, stability and hope. 3 Keys to Effective Leadership 1. The most effective leaders continuously invest in strengths. When leaders fail to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of employee engagement drop to a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when leaders focus on employees’ strengths, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). That translates to an eightfold increase in the odds of engaging individuals in their work, leading to greatly increased organizational and personal gains. Employees enjoy greater self-confidence when they learn about their strengths (as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses). Emphasizing what people...