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Understanding Behavior: A Critical Leadership Function


by Bret L. Simmons
I published my first blog post on March 29, 2009. It was butt ugly, but in it I expressed my foundational belief that observed behavior is always a function of both person and environment factors. Our explanation for the behavior we observe in ourselves and others is critical, because that attribution drives our subsequent behavioral response.

Too many leaders are habitual victims of the fundamental attribution error – blaming others and thereby truncating the learning process about the real systemic drivers of behavior. When these same leaders look in the mirror at their own behavior, the delusion is provided by the self-serving bias.

One of the most important functions of leadership is to help others interpret the meaning of events. Events don’t occur in a vacuum; they are the result of behavioral choices or decisions that people make. I think W.E. Deming appreciated this when he identified psychology as one of the four pillars of his System of Profound Knowledge.

The video above is a small part of a larger training session I gave on understanding and changing employee behavior at work. It’s not the best job I’ve ever done explaining this concept to a group, but if you take the time to watch it I believe you will find it helpful. I learned my core belief systems about employee behavior from others, but it’s a unique perspective that you will not often find in the conversation about leadership.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Related Posts:

Attributions: The Fundamental Attribution Error And The Self-Serving Bias

The Easy Way Out Usually Leads Back In

The World’s Most Underdeveloped Nation



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