Attitude Adjustments: Don’t Change People, Inspire Them!
By: Ethan Schutz
In part 6 in our series on corporate culture and attitudes, we established that coping with our fears allows us to form continuous positive attitudes. But how do we get everyone to master their fears and change their attitudes? Not everybody is going to do this, right? Maybe not. But, maybe more will than you think. The more the each one of us cultivates this attitude, the more it may spread among other people. Even when others do not do this, there are advantages to adopting this attitude individually. And, the power of the team or organization that does this completely is very high.
What can we do to inspire them down this path?
Just like the safety instructions on the airlines say, “put on your own mask first before helping others.” Attitude change starts with the self. We do not change other people, we inspire them. If we want to change attitudes in our organizations, we must first question and shift our own attitudes. We must notice when we are being critical of others, acting like victims of other people’s actions, or denying our own roles in creating our situations and realize instead that we can become joyously and consciously accountable. This changes everything—our own sense of freedom and possibility, our relations with and capacity to interact with people, and our ability to handle conflict and solve problems. The whole world looks different when we truly shift to a Continuous Positive Attitude.
On the team and organizational level, this shift changes the culture of the organization and the way we work together. Distraction, drama, gossip, sabotage, conflict, fear, and self-protection decrease dramatically. Accountability improves, boundaries between roles and people are clarified, problem-solving and innovation increase, and the organization becomes more efficient and energetic.
This is no less than disruption of the usual way of doing business.
To see this concept in action, let’s return to our health care team. After a time, the staff stopped complaining and begin to help each other out more rather than simply ratting on each other. Blame nearly vanished and the amount of drama went way down. They still talked to each other about things that they didn’t like, but it was now in the spirit of making their relationships and the team better. They became more authentic. They started offering ideas and solutions and volunteered and took responsibility for getting things done.
In short, their attitudes changed in response to leadership’s attitude changing.
In my experience, real behavioral and corporate culture change only comes by being courageous and working hard to do things that can be scary, like having difficult conversations, admitting to being wrong, risking failure in front of others, and learning new behaviors publicly. And on the other side of all of this, the results can be amazing. For the courageous, the passionate, and the people who want to make a difference, for motivated teams who want to be excellent, the difference is transformative.