During a recent stay at the Oyster Box Hotel I met a fellow trainer and coach from the UK. I was delighted to be invited to observe one of his excellent training sessions during which he asked participants the question: ‘What is more important, attitude or behaviour?’ This generated healthy discussion. Pondering their responses, I thought of the work of Dr John Adair who in one of his books entitled, ‘Action Centred Leadership’ draws attention to the fact that a person can have all the characteristics of a good leader, but if that person doesn’t put them into action (behaviour) they remain dormant characteristics.
The question of the importance of attitude and/or behaviour linked to my experiences as a presenter of interactive workshops. During the sessions, wherever possible, I get participants to practise using their own examples from their work, home and community lives. And as the day progresses, they become more and more proficient. However, no matter how enthusiastic participants might appear during the session and how much they show the right attitude, I receive little feedback, especially after short courses. I want to know how they have applied the new techniques and other learnings during the days, weeks and months following the workshop.
So I was delighted when Bradley Bissessar, Senior Security Supervisor at the Oyster Box Hotel, a few weeks after attending ‘How to get your point across’ proudly showed me how he carries the formulae cards with him in his wallet as a reminder to apply the principles (Please see the photo). He spontaneously and enthusiastically told me exactly how he is applying the simple formulae he mastered during the workshop. He gave me an example of how in his work situation he has used the PREP formula for safety briefings to groups of guests. This enables him to easily structure his information into a coherent talk which is logical and easy to follow. Bradley says: ‘the course gave me a lot of confidence in myself. It helps me to get my point across effectively’. He also added ‘knowledge is power. And this is a priceless gift that cannot be taken away even with the essence of time. Use it wisely.’
He is also constantly applying the formulae in his private life. An example is where he used the PREP and assertiveness formulae to structure a personal letter and this helped him to crystallise his feelings and resolve an issue amicably. Well done, Bradley! So he has applied the learnings and made them part of his way of functioning. It becomes so easy when you know how!
Yes, it is important to have the right attitude. In the case of training sessions, people might be eager (attitude) to improve the way they do things (behaviour). And they might participate effectively on the day (attitude and behaviour). However, the way the person actively and consistently applies and practises afterwards will determine ongoing success. New neural pathways need to be built.
Let’s move away from the training perspective and look at the question of ‘attitude or behaviour’ from an integral coaching approach. Attitude shows a ‘way of being’ and in coaching terms this links to ‘heart’. Behaviour links to ‘action’. So a missing component is ‘head’. The next question is how do we bring ‘head’ into the equation? By helping our clients to ‘self-observe’ they become aware of what they are or aren’t doing, feeling and experiencing. They might notice their ‘blind spots’. By practising the right behaviours over and over we build new neural pathways. Through an Integral or Executive Coaching approach clients can thus more easily ‘self-correct’ and ‘self-generate’ and thus shift their ‘way of being’.
Going back to the original question regarding ‘attitude or behaviour’ being more important, while I believe that a combination of attitude and behaviour is important, there are many other aspects in achieving sustainable success. What is your opinion?
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