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  • Writer's pictureEdward Grey

Want better results? Choose your 'state'!

Hello again.

In this last of three short articles on role modelling in business, I'm going to outline just a few of the many factors that appear to be important with role modelling. I am therefore making some assumptions, namely: (i) business leaders know which behaviours are optimal for within their own organisations; (ii) leaders want teams that are harmonious, not acrimonious; they believe that well-bonded, mutually-supportive teams are more likely to be productive; (iii) leaders accept the importance of 'walking the talk'; they recognise that their own behaviours need to be authentic, sincere and embody the values of the organisation because as figure heads, their behaviours are influential; (iv) that leaders understand the importance of having a 'critical mass' of employees that behave in ways that reflect the core values of the business and, in addition, that some individuals within that critical mass are being intentionally utilised as role models for desired behaviours.

I'm also addressing the final questions posed in the last article: What does it take for leaders to be the ultimate role model for their people? And, what do great role models actually do - and what enables them to do that consistently?

Let's start with a seemingly simple observation about human behaviour: it's contextual. In other words, whilst we can accept that each of us tends to default to certain patterns ('traits', perhaps, or learned preferences), each situation in each moment provides a dynamic context in which our responses to that context are nuanced and complex. The exact same context one day can evoke a different behavioural response than the day before. Why? Because all behaviours are driven by our state (the word NLP uses to mean the in-the-moment neurobiological and interpersonal conditions, be they conscious or not).

The simple truth is: we behave according to the state we are in at that moment.

Therefore, in service of producing optimal results, the behaviours that precipitate those results need to originate from the most appropriate, generative state. It's important to point out that, as humans, our state is always a combination of states, ebbing and flowing all day; we never just have one state (e.g. "curiosity") at any given time. We can be curious and excited, apprehensive, distracted all at the same time.

The domain of human emotions and states is complex. But business leaders have to recognise that their behaviours are: (1) observable and influential and (2) a product of their state in any given moment. It is therefore incumbent upon leaders and managers to remain vigilant about their own states! This means:

  • being aware of what external or internal factors trigger you from one state to another

  • being able to notice in what specific ways your behaviours affects certain people

  • being intentionally in 'the' right state for the context or task at hand

  • being practised in returning quickly to more appropriate/useful states when necessary

  • being practised in the essential leadership qualities of humility, openness and courage

The good news is that, whilst these 'rules of thumb' may be challenging to deploy consistently throughout the day, we can all practise them and strengthen the neural pathways that produce more reliable and consistent self-awareness. Just as you might go regularly to the gym or commit to exercise routines to improve your physical health, so too can you take your mind to the 'gym' to develop ever-greater levels of 'awarenessing', the prerequisite to choosing the right state.

Assuming you are all on the same page as me - namely, that optimal results arise from contextually appropriate behaviours which, in turn, arise from a conscious choosing to be in 'the' right state - the question now is: How?

There are a huge number of answers to this important question; a fuller answer requires a deep dive into all things social, interpersonal, philosophical, biological, anthropological..... But for now, here are FIVE practical tips for leaders and managers to become more self-aware, consistent in demonstrating role model behaviours and choosing contextually appropriate states.

  • NOTICE YOUR SELF, WITHOUT JUDGEMENT: access a state of "kind curiosity" several times each day; set aside moments where this "kind curiosity" is activated in service of noticing/non-judgmental self-awareness. In these set-aside moments, ask yourself: What state am I experiencing right now? What is my mind and body experiencing at the moment? What words/labels or metaphors can I select that summarises this state? What, if anything, do I need to change in terms of this state? And remember: be KIND to yourself!

  • BECOME FAMILIAR WITH YOUR PATTERNS: over time, keep a record of any particular or regular experiences that you have that you notice changes your state. State changes can be rapid or gradual; some move from 'negative' to 'positive' and others in the opposite direction; some state changes are because of something internal (e.g. hunger or tension in the body) and others are a reaction to something outside of self (e.g. the weather or an interruption at work). When you notice what causes positive shifts in your mood or energy, plan for those triggers and actively seek them out during the day. Similarly, for those less than helpful triggers, design your day to limit them. (This can include a more rigorous contracting with certain members of staff or organising your diary in ways that mitigate negativity).

  • GET REGULAR FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS: ask people you trust (and even some you don't!) to give you feedback on your behaviours. For many, this requires an intentional state of "courageous curiosity". Given that we only ever truly have our subjective experience, intentionally bringing in other people's opinions widens and deepens our understanding of how our behaviours impact. Remember: great leaders accept that mistakes happen; they too are vulnerable to poor judgement and moments of poor behaviour. Being humble and open in these moments are vital role modelling behaviours for leaders and managers.

  • ENGAGE AN EXTERNAL COACH: as an extension to the last point, an independent, professional coach can help shine a light on those places in our minds that are outside of our self-awareness. External coaches are ideal for business leaders and managers because they provide a neutral, safe space where behaviours can be explored and intentional states can be practised.

  • RAISE THE PROFILE OF BEHAVIOUR: actively facilitate, initiate and encourage conversations about behaviour in your organisation. Create a narrative that constantly references the link between behaviour and results. Importantly, within this narrative, reference your Behaviour Framework, highlighting the link between behaviours and company values. Integrate this approach into all elements of your performance management processes and recruitment strategies.

Behaviour is the inevitable prior step to results. If behaviour is state-driven, get practising choosing THE right state!

For advice and support on behavioural competency frameworks and the integration with performance management tools, contact Ed

or call

01983 840830 / 079600 12475

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