3 tips to make a visible change in your Leadership behavior

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As an executive Coach, I work with (already successful) Leaders that want to become (even) more successful. By changing their Leadership behavior. By skipping some of the Leadership don’ts. By adding some of the Leadership do’s. All leading to more success in their growth areas of choice. But no matter how hard you are trying to change your behavior, the people you work with tend to cling to their old image of you. Difficult you could say. It means you have to double your effort to have half the impact you desire.

An example.
Let’s say you want to delegate more effectively. Based on a 360° Feedback and stakeholder interviews at the start of your Coaching program, you have been told by numerous people you don’t. You are the type that prefers to do everything yourself. And on top of that, your boss has asked you more than once to leave the operational behind, get in your helicopter and think more strategic. And off course you want to, since your future career might be depending on your ability to contribute at a more strategic level. On the other hand, what happens when you do let go more of daily business? Will the future results of your department allow you to? Can your direct reports handle the extra pressure it will bring? And what happens if everything goes wrong?

As you can see, changing your own behavior won’t be easy. There might be a lot of reasons not to change. Even when you see that the benefits are outweighing the possible risks for yourself, your perception of the organizational needs may hold you back more than you realize. But you do. You make a change.

You work hard and start delegating more. Through trial and error. Three months later, we do a little review of how people experienced your new approach towards delegating. And although you have high expectations, nobody notices that you’ve changed. Terrible. Not? Let me tell you what happens here. People tend to look at you the way they always did. They have made up their mind about you long ago. And in this case, you are a bad delegator. Always have been. Always will. Every minor error you’ve made during the last three months only added to their existing perception of you. Confirming their reality.

So what to do when you really want to make a visible change? Here are 3 tips to get recognition for your growth efforts. After all, perception is reality.


1. Communicate
When you start consciously changing your Leadership or professional behavior, tell people. Tell the people around you that you are working to grow in this particular area. Let them know what they can expect from you. The more specific you are, the better.


2. Ask for forgiveness
Whether you have been a lousy delegator, too aggressive in your communication or failed at coaching your direct reports the way they’d want you to, ask for forgiveness. Tell them you’ll do better in the future and are willing to work on it. Ask them to give you a fair chance in making a change.


3. Ask for constructive feedback
Of course you won’t be succeeding 100% from the start. Don’t let it discourage you. Ask your stakeholders to be honest and open in their feedback. Build a relation where constructive feedback is appreciated. And don’t forget to thank them when they do.

Changing your behavior and making it visible for others is not easy. Are you yourself currently trying to make a change? How do you feel about the approach above? As always, I am looking forward to your thoughts.



The idea behind this blog originates from the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching program. One of the main principles Marshall talks about is the need for courage, humility and discipline. Guess I don’t need to explain why after you’ve read the above. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in knowing more about the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching program. It provides a structured approach with clear benefits for the Leader as well as for the stakeholders within the organization. The fact that Coaching efforts are made visible and by consequence measurable, combined with a “No growth, no pay” approach makes it very tangible for the sponsoring organization. A guaranteed Return on Investment.

About the author

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of and a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach. After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself