Counter Productive Behaviors

Most of us – or maybe all of us some of the time – have behaviors that get in the way of our effectiveness. Often, we are blind to them. And sometimes we walk around thinking our counter productive behaviors aren’t obvious, eclipsed by breakthrough performance we are producing. If you are lucky, they will be pointed out to you by people who are committed to your success. Even when it is a stranger, there is an opportunity to really listen and learn.

Bearing down

I was boarding a flight recently and had one of these blind spots revealed to me by a lady walking in front of me on the jet-way. Oblivious to my behavior, the lady pulled to the side with her roller bag and said: “You go ahead. The way you are bearing down on me, you must be in a big hurry or really important.” I was stunned. It would be easy to be angry with her comment, but I caught myself, and replied as politely as I could muster: “I’m very sorry. I didn’t realize that.” She stayed in her spot, resolved for me to move ahead of her and perhaps be rid of my uncomfortable presence. I made a decision to not be mad at the lady but to reflect on what I could learn from the message I had just been given.

What have you got to lose?

She called it “bearing down”. What I took from that message was that I was focused on my needs/wants, etc. to the detriment of a broader perspective, including how I was coming across to others. To behave this way is very much an individual performer’s world. Today’s business world, to a large extent, requires breaking out of being an individual performer. When we get too focused on some X result, not only can we alienate others and sacrifice teamwork, but we compromise productivity, effectiveness, safety and satisfaction and that is not breakthrough performance.

If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Be Doing It

We have all been there. It is not easy to be receptive to critical feedback even when you are committed to being a breakthrough performer. Part of what is difficult is that you often cannot see what the counter productive behavior is and the impact. My ‘airport coach’ was a gift to me. The only way you can see these things is through the eyes of others. Even if you watched yourself, you would not necessarily see what they see. Now, I see “bearing down” all the time, and am able to intervene and generate the behavior I need for the situation. It takes welcoming the input of others even when it is uncomfortable. And if you are truly committed to breakthrough performance, perhaps you’ll proactively seek such feedback.

Ashley Tappan co-founded and leads Fit to Lead, a program that helps businesswomen take on fitness, even doing triathlons, as a fulcrum for leadership development.

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