Why Behavior Is Everything

Women on laptop wearing mask

If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that behavior is everything.

The impact of the stay-at-home policies shows in the decline in new cases. But like a virus, behavior within organizations can be healthy or detrimental. Not only for individuals but for the success of the organization itself. Many companies emphasize their focus on strategy, financials, or even products over organizational behavior. However, the behavior is actually the key to success in those areas. Here’s why.

1) All businesses are made up of people. There’s no getting around it. And no matter what your strategy, plan or product, you need people to develop and execute it.

2) People aren’t robots. While we may believe that people simply do what they’re told for a paycheck, it’s never that simple. People have good days, bad days, productive days and unproductive days.

3) Your job as a leader is not to create plans, but to lead and motivate people to accomplish an objective. Too many leaders spend an inordinate amount of time on planning, almost down to the letter, and then “hand-off” the plan to the team to execute. If your team isn’t bought into the objective and understands their role and impact on it, they’ll struggle to execute.

4) When people are all working towards a common objective in a uniform and aligned way, stuff gets done. We all know the challenge of trying to push an initiative forward when internally the organization or leadership thwarts forward progress (intentionally or unintentionally). Two steps forward, one step back. As a leader, it’s your job to clear the way – of obstacles, politics, and BS.

5) Stuff gets done faster, cheaper and more effectively when everyone’s truly aligned. Think about your organizational objectives. Are they overarching and apply to everyone in the organization? Or are they selective and narrow? Organizational alignment and ensuring the team are all moving in the same direction gets you more resources and momentum. Just like social distancing, if not everyone is fully participating, it just draws out the time, cost, pain, and negative outcomes.

6) It’s not about stating the objective, but empowering and helping teams to do so. While the United States recently stated a 30-day social distancing guideline, they also stated the why and the how. This is what you also need to articulate with your teams when establishing an objective – the why and the how.

As we reflect on this pandemic, we need to consider how it sets the example for how we lead and drive our organizations. It’s clear that no matter what the strategy or plan, or how good that plan is, it means little to nothing when the “team” doesn’t or can’t execute it. Following the COVID outbreak, it’s an opportunity for organizations to re-examine how they address the coupling of strategy and culture – and how a stronger and more effective focus on team alignment will ensure your organizational objectives actually get achieved.

About the Author

Andrea Belk Olson Andrea Belk Olson has a 20-year, field-tested background that provides unique, applicable approaches to creating more customer-centric organizations. A 4-time ADDY® award-winner, she began her career at a tech start-up and led the strategic marketing efforts at two global industrial manufacturers. In addition to writing, consulting and coaching, Andrea speaks to leaders and industry organizations around the world on how to craft effective customer-facing operational strategies to discover new sources of revenues and savings.

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