Part 8: The Uneven Playing Field in South African Business

It Takes Courage to Change and Sustain Behaviors

Coach Asanda

Following my last article, “You Can Only Change When You Have Structure” I’ve had a number of questions about what it takes to be honest on the areas that you need to develop and making those changes.

I have a friend, call her Noluthando, who knows what she needs to work on. Her boss has also pinpointed the areas that she has to improve to become the leader she knows she can be. In terms of a Stakeholder Centered Coaching approach, Noluthando also needs to involve her peers, subordinates and some strategic clients she works with closely in order to achieve her leadership development goals. She has people in her department and throughout the organisation that are on the receiving end of her leadership behavior, so it makes sense that they too are included in the process so that they are able to support her and hold her accountable for achieving her behavioral change goals. Accountability also means applauding her when she exhibits change behavior that mirrors that of her goals.

Stakeholder Centered Coaching is premised on enabling successful individuals to be more successful by leading them to positive behavioral change that is sustained, recognised and acknowledged by stakeholders. Noluthando understands that this is not something that can happen overnight and that she will need all the support of her colleagues to succeed. Her colleagues are ideally placed to support her, as they understand her work pressures and the overall company objectives. But before she is able to ask for their support, she needs to include them from the onset. The way in which she can do this is by involving them in identifying the areas she needs to work on.

For example, Noluthando’s challenge is communication. Even though her boss agrees with her identified area of improvement, it is equally important that she solicits the views of her peers, subordinates and strategic clients. This will give her a fuller picture of what she is good at and what she needs to improve on from others’ point of view. In a way, this provides her with a 360-degree assessment from all critical stakeholders, which will help her achieve meaningful and impactful change.

So, what does it take to be honest about the change you need to achieve? I would say your own assessment is key, so is your superiors, and that of the people you deal with on a day to day basis. They, more than your boss know what makes you tick.

Involving all the listed stakeholders requires you have the following traits:

Courage

For any meaningful change to take place, you need to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone. If you are unable to challenge yourself to think differently and improve yourself, then no one else can do it for you.

Humility

When you open yourself up to receive from others, you do so with the knowledge that you might not like what they say. However, it is important to remember that this is not about you. If you want to build trust with people you work with, you must admit you are not perfect and demonstrate that you can and will grow. Nothing is as refreshing as being led by someone who is authentic in every way.

Discipline

The most challenging thing about change is sustaining it. For some it is easier to commit to do something but the real test is in the doing. For most of us, it is far easier to identify the need for change. Changing and actually staying changed can be different kettle of fish altogether. It helps when your change process is not yours alone, as people will always have a better appreciation of the changes you are making and support you in sustaining the change.

Thus, changing is likely to be a difficult process for Noluthando. However, with a team of individuals who will not only admire and respect her for admitting and accepting full responsibility for her imperfections, Noluthando will know that she is not alone. And as she goes through the changes, she will not be the only one who changes for the better!