Here are some extra things to think about, and resources to download, to help you Stick with Your Flipped Script.
1) Believe in Yourself, You Can Flip your Script
As we flip our script, we should all know that we are not broken, helpless, or hopeless. We were promoted into leadership for a reason; we are good at what we do, we have strengths, and we take on what’s in front of us. We’ve overcome so many obstacles and challenges in our careers. This one is just a very new, different, and complex challenge that we can overcome. The challenge is in front of us, we can do this together.
Remember from Chapter 2 about your mindset. The new managers in my study who were the most effective were the ones wanted to learn because it is fun and engaging. The least effective new managers wanted to learn because it would bring them recognition, made people aware of how good they were, and impressed others. It’s the “It’s not you. It’s me.” line. They never flipped their script. You can flip your script with the right mindset. And don’t forget about the right mindchatter either and how you can talk to yourself and believe in yourself to do it.
Finally, don’t think that it is impossible to change, that you can’t flip your script. We published a study of 489 leaders attending a leadership development program. Compared to how they were before the program, their approachability, integrity, and mentoring all changed for the better, three months after it. They flipped their script. So can you.
No doubt about it, this is your time. Flipping your script is your leadership development initiative. And if leaders have done it before, you can too.
2) Accept that Imperfection is Acceptable
I have said several times throughout this book, no one is perfect. It’s OK that you aren’t either. Flipping your script is difficult, so give yourself some leeway because you probably won’t get it right the first time. Hardly anything that you have attempted before, you got right the first time. Why should this be any different? Stick with it.
3) Focus on One Area, Not Everything
Because it is so daunting to flip six things, start with one. Peter Scisco and others from CCL in their great workbook for leaders, Change Now!, highly recommend choosing just one area to flip. That area should be one that (1) you have a lot of energy or passion around, (2) you know will lead to positive outcomes, and (3) is somewhat difficult, yet attainable. Though it’s really your choice, I believe (and Peter and his cowriters would reiterate) asking your boss, trusted advisor, coach, mentor, or someone with a vested interest in you what they think you should do, is helpful.
4) Make a Goal for That One Area, and Write it Down
When I knew that I wanted to improve in that one specific area, I made a specific, difficult, yet attainable goal (like the ones Locke and Latham recommended in Chapter 5).
But setting that goal isn’t enough. You must write it down. According to Locke and Latham’s research, the likelihood of achieving a goal is only about 6-8 percent if all we did is set it. The likelihood increases as much as four-or-fivefold if we write it down. So, write your goal down as well!
5) Plan for Small Wins
Game like PokemonGo, Angry Birds, Candy Crush, and those farther back in time like Tetris, Sonic, Super Mario Brothers, or Pac-Man, can be very addictive. Why? It’s the small wins. Finishing off a foe or trying to complete a level to move on to the next are strong motivational factors to keep playing. That idea will work for you in flipping your script too. It’s what psychologists Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer discuss in their book, The Progress Principle. Just like the opportunity to go on to the next level in any of these games will build momentum to keep playing, accomplishing even the smallest of tasks related to your goal can keep you motivated to achieve it. Analyzing around 12,000 daily surveys from 238 employees, Amabile and Kramer discovered that small wins increased motivation and satisfaction at work. So the next time you pull the slingshot to let a bird fly, match the candies, or try to rescue Princess Daisy, think of how these small wins are inherently important to stick to the script.
- Break down the entire goal into several mini-milestones.
- Like the employees in Amabile and Kramer’s study, keep a daily diary and write down what you did, both positive and negative.
- Purposefully plan on hitting mini-milestones to make positive progress towards flipping your script and accomplishing your goal, and celebrate those achievements when you do.
6) It Won’t Happen Overnight, It Will Take at Least 66 Days (and Maybe 254)
Many of us will have a high expectation that we can flip our script and be the boss everyone wants to work for overnight. But it’s very rare to accomplish any goal and make something a habit that quickly. So, don’t expect to flip your script overnight, it will take time. In fact, it’s likely to take at least 66 days.
In their work, Phillippa Lally and colleagues investigated how long it took people to form a habit. Specifically, it was a health habit or goal that each participant was not already doing, and could do each and every day based on a cue – something like, “running for 30 minutes when I get home” or “eating a piece of fruit after supper” or “drinking 24 ounces of water at lunch.” The participants took part in this study every day for 84 days, logging into a website each day to say whether or not they performed the behavior or goal they set.
After running the statistics, the most likely amount of time it took to form behaviors into a habit and accomplish their goal, was 66 days. For some, it was as little as 18 days. For others, they couldn’t complete their goal, and so the projected time based on statistical analysis came out to 254 days.
The amount of time it will take you to accomplish your goal and make a habit of something you want to flip will vary. Regardless, it will take time. Allow yourself at least 66 days to form a habit and accomplish the goal around flipping your script.
Now I realize, eating a piece of fruit after a meal, exercising at a specific time, or drinking a bottle of water may sound easy. You may say, “That doesn’t even compare to any of the six aspects I want to flip.” I hear you. But think about this: Even something as easy as drinking a bottle of water at lunch or eating a piece of fruit took close to 9.5 weeks – 66 days – to become a habit. If it takes something that easy, that long to become a habit, wouldn’t it take just as long, if not longer to flip your script?
The big take-away: Changing a behavior will take time. Allow yourself a 66-day grace period to accomplish that one specific, difficult, yet attainable goal in flipping your script.
7) Realize the Learning Curve is More of a Dip First, Curve Second
When you decide on that one goal, we all hope that accomplishing it will be a smooth, ever-increasing joyride. Sorry to wreck your hopes and dreams on that one – it won’t be. It may be two-steps-forward-one-step-back at times. It may be all out failure at times. In fact, in our work with leaders at CCL, when someone wants to improve in something, we notice their performance will actually suffer a little. It’s almost guaranteed your performance will dip. Why? Well, for starters, just look at these potential obstacles Scisco and his colleagues bring up.
- Are you putting in enough time, and making the time, to work on your goals?
- Are people reacting positively or negatively to the changes you are making? Are people supporting you in achieving your goals?
- Do you have an internal fear or lack of confidence that goes along with the change you are trying to make? That sharing your goals will make you look weak? That the inability to flip your script will make you look like a failure?
All of those things can be obstacles for you to achieve your goals. No wonder your performance will dip a little – it’s supposed to when you are working on something new. But stick with it, because one day, it will click. When it does, the learning curve greatly increases, and you’ll be so much better than you were before.
Put in the time and get support from people who care about you and your success. And more importantly I think, remind yourself in the down times that you have achieved goals before. You can flip your script. Also realize, in your attempt to achieve your goal, you can be an example to so many others who aspire to achieve their own goals and flip their own scripts when they become leaders.
8) Do it Early and Often
Here’s another piece of advice from Lally and her colleagues. They discovered that if you consistently and repeatedly performed what you needed to do to fulfill your goal early on, your behaviors are more likely to become automatic than if you waited or procrastinated.
Just like Lally’s research suggested, the more I was able to repeat a behavior early on, the more likely it would become automatic. So, with your own goal, don’t wait. Start now, and try it out as often as possible, early on.
9) Involve Others in Your Goals
When I work with first-time managers and new leaders, I tell them that if they are 100% committed to working on their goals and improving themselves, they must involve others from the beginning.
Say you want to listen more at meetings. You’ve noticed that you tend to talk more than anybody. So, you want to take a step back, listen more, and let others have some air time. If that’s the case, involve others in your goal.
First, involve others by letting your team and coworkers know what your goal is. If you let people know what you are trying to improve upon, you become vulnerable. As I covered in the introduction from Brené Brown’s work, vulnerability is an important aspect of who you are as a leader. And from Chapter 7, vulnerability is part of building trust and flipping your focus, something extremely important to you as a leader. Letting people know your goals sets the example that you aren’t perfect (and they shouldn’t be either). It informs them that you intend to improve and gives them clarity around how you want to better yourself. As a result, they’ll be particularly attuned to what you need.
Secondly, involve others by asking them to give you feedback on how well you are attaining those goals. Why is that important? Asking for feedback holds you accountable. It lets others know that you are open to feedback and that your goal really is to improve. It also emphasizes that feedback is important in your managerial role. You set an example and show how valuable feedback is to improve yourself. You exemplify the power of the positive outcomes that come from feedback. You’ll start to create a feedback-rich environment, one where feedback is openly given and received. In the end, your staff or team may even be open to hear more feedback from you.
Scisco and his coauthors highly recommend telling others of your goals too. It helps others understand your own motivations and intentions, and gets you the support and encouragement you need. Importantly, it will also increase your likelihood of achieving your goal. Remember, according to Locke and Latham, if you only set a goal you’ll be 6-8% likely of achieving it. If you write it down, your chances grow to 25-30%. But that’s still pretty small. However, their research suggests that if you share your goal with others, your chances of achieving your goal will double to 55-60%. And, if you ask for feedback and have an accountability partner, you are 85% likely to achieve your goal. That’s why it’s so important to involve others.
10) Leverage Your Strengths
No question, you have strengths. So use them to your advantage to improve your weaknesses. Let one part of your script help you with another. For instance, being transparent and bringing clarity is a strength you may have. Transparency and clarity are so much a part of what you need to flip. Think about how you can leverage your strengths to help you in other areas that need enhancing.
11) Work-Life Harmony, Not Balance
So many leaders are struggling with balancing their work responsibilities and their life responsibilities. It’s like a scale that must have equal amounts of weight on either side, or else everything will fall over. Now, if you define “balance” in that way, as having an equal amount of time at work and away from work, and if you count sleep, that should be 8 hours at work, 8 hours at home, and 8 hours asleep. And you know that type of “balance” is pretty unattainable. Just look at the work of my friend and colleague, Jennifer Deal. Some of us are lucky enough (I write sarcastically) to have smart-phones that our work gave us. And as Deal discovered, we stay connected to our work through them, on average at least 13.5 hours a day during the work week, and at least five hours on the weekends. That’s about 72 hours a week connected to work.
Balance is not only tough, it may damn near be unrealistic.
So instead of balance, think about harmony. Can your work and life be in harmony together? How can the aspects of your work help you in your personal life? How can things that happen in your personal life enrich your work experience? How can the two coexist together? You aren’t perfect. All you can be is your best. Be your best at work. Be your best at home. Even if you can’t spend the time you want in one domain of your life, be your best at it when you are in it, and be satisfied with that. It’s not about having a state of equilibrium. Be in harmony.
If you want to understand more about your identities, behaviors, and how to gain control of your work and nonwork domains, I recommend reading a free resource (Making your Life Work). Or, read books like Managing Your Whole Life by Dr. Marian Ruderman and her colleagues, or CEO of Me by Dr. Ellen Kossek and her coauthors. You could also take an assessment like the WorkLife Indicator that helps you understand your own approach for managing the boundaries between work and nonwork. Both Marian and Ellen and several other colleagues developed the assessment from their rigorous research.