It is that time of the year when health club attendance increases. Frustrating as it is for those who are there throughout the year, it happens every New Year. People make resolutions that involve healthy living as evidenced by a new workout regimen. If you are one of the frustrated few, never fear because the numbers will decline to very near where they were in December within a couple of months. This is an annual dynamic I have lived through for several years. It has been said that we humans are creatures of habit. For that reason new workout routines don’t last long. We live in patterns of behavior that, while can be changed, usually are not. That makes observation and awareness of behavioral patterns a critical skill for a leader.
Your team, if it has been together for any length of time, has established patterns of behavior. You participate in these patterns, which you usually experience as an unexamined, unconscious part of your day. The ones you notice are probably creating pain for you, but the fact that it is a pattern suggests you have not done anything that really changes it. You may have inherited behavioral patterns another leader set in motion and you are not sure what can be done about them. The importance of identifying your team’s patterns becomes clear when you consider that short term productivity and long term direction will both be determined by them.
As a leader there is another important reason to pay attention to the patterns of behavior in your team. You are creating them. The patterns that exist in your team, if you have been leading it for a period of time, are there because of your action or inaction. The leader is responsible to develop a team whose behavioral patterns support individual and group success. As you observe your team, including you, determine which patterns support individual and group productivity and success. Alternatively, define the negative behavioral patterns that undermine the group. What do you think will happen if you proactively move your team from unproductive to productive behavioral patterns?