Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Celebrate Your Incremental ProgressPosted on November 17, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

By nature, most leaders are impatient. This longing for immediate gratification is a barrier successful leaders must face and overcome. No leader looks forward to the inevitable setbacks, mistakes, and failures that mark the path to eventual success. When the going is tough and progress stalls, it is easy to become discouraged and quit. Many do.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

By celebrating your small accomplishments, you can sustain your efforts despite the disappointments that would incline less hearty leaders to hoist a white flag.

How can you do it?

  1. Take nothing for granted. It is easy to overlook the little things such as a frontline staff member reporting a bigwig’s disruptive behavior, or a net-negative staff members’ decision to leave the organization instead of waiting to be forced out.
  2. Make a big deal of it. When an angry physician apologizes for this behavior, call this out as evidence that the organizational culture is evidently improving. And compliment the regretful physician. Positive reinforcement works a lot better than negative reinforcement anyway.
  3. Use incremental progress to teach persistence. People who are determined to lose 50 pounds and keep it off, celebrate every pound lost and every pound they have not regained. They understand their quest will demand a lifetime commitment to permanent changes to their lifestyle. And they understand they will have to slog through many relapses. The best leaders teach these critical lessons to their struggling colleagues.

How have you celebrated incremental progress on your leadership journey?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Keep a Leadership JournalPosted on November 10, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

To be frank, most leaders don’t see the need to use such a tool. These average leaders are comfortable meeting the minimum requirements of their jobs, which they view as the way to finance their real lives outside work. Using a leadership journal consumes some time most leaders would rather use binge-watching TV or being emotionally aroused by social media. And this tool requires leaders to pursue uncomfortable reflection, a strenuous mental activity avoided by those whose mission in life is to not do what they don’t feel like doing.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

If you are one of those lucky leaders who view your opportunity to lead others as more than just a job, you will immediately see the value such a journal will add to your leadership journey. Recording your leadership reflections and insights will not be a chore, but an exciting opportunity to learn. Your journal will help you recognize and replace your flawed beliefs, and execute more effective behaviors. And it will serve as a repository for your research and as a rich source of material for sharing what you have learned about leadership with others.

How can you do it?

  1. View every uncomfortable leadership challenge as an opportunity to learn. Before the emotions of the moment disappear, make a brief note in your journal about what happened, how you felt, what you did, and what beliefs might have fueled your responses. Then, note what, with the value of hindsight, you might have done differently.
  2. Participate in a leadership learning group. You can learn a great deal on your own, but you will learn much more as a member of a group of passionate leaders who are determined to improve by sharing what they are learning with each other.
  3. Leverage technology to maximize your learning. Some will prefer paper and pen, but the advantages of a digital notebook such as OneNote are significant. Because your journal is stored in the cloud, your reflections are immediately available on any personal digital device within reach. And using this technology will help you stay on the digital learning curve. As a lifelong learner, you cannot afford to fall behind on the technology learning curve.

How have you used a leadership journal effectively?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Conduct Your Own ResearchPosted on November 3, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Most leaders insist they are too busy to spend time on research activities. They focus exclusively on their task lists instead. They check their boxes and move on while giving little or no consideration of the possibility that they may be checking the wrong boxes or that there might be a better way to check off their tasks. Sadly, such leaders limit themselves to what they must do and what they feel like doing. This is not a personal growth strategy. Instead, it produces stagnation and decay.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

If you don’t change what you are currently doing, you cannot reasonably expect to produce better results than you are achieving today. And finding a better way is deeply satisfying—not to mention the most effective strategy for preventing professional burnout.

How can you do it?

  1. Conduct a simple internet search. Never has so much practical insight been so readily available to curious leaders for so little investment of time and energy. Just type your leadership question into the search box and click.
  2. Join a process improvement team. In every organization, there are a few groups of leaders who are passionate about improving their daily processes. These teams are always looking for fellow zealots to join them. Research is an integral part of the magic elixir they use to find better ways.
  3. Find best practices. Reach out to colleagues in other industries and organizations to learn how they are dealing with similar problems. In most cases, leaders are eager to share their secrets if they can depend on you to do the same.

How have you improved your beliefs and behaviors by conducting your own research?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Consult with Emotionally Intelligent ColleaguesPosted on October 27, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Because of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, most deeply flawed leaders delude themselves that they are much better leaders than they really are. These are the leaders who poo-poo this touchy-feely leadership learning nonsense, explaining that they don’t have time for this. They have “real” work to do.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

The best leaders are modest and humble. They recognize they still have a lot to learn about leadership. They find joy in their endless quest to improve instead of mistakenly reassuring themselves about how good they are. And those lifelong learners understand that they will learn best from the real leadership challenges in their everyday lives and from colleagues with the same passion for the pursuit of leadership excellence.

How can you do it?

  1. Join a group that is passionate about becoming better leaders. If such a group does not already exist in your organization, create one. Do not expect large numbers of leaders to apply. Only the top ten percent of leaders will push themselves to learn and improve throughout their careers. But those who do are precious organizational treasures, possessors of intellectual capital they will be eager to invest in you.
  2. Present leadership case studies. Be open about what happened, how you felt, and what you did. Identify and examine your underlying beliefs. Reflect on and invite counsel about what you might have done differently.
  3. Pay careful attention to those leaders with a high degree of emotional intelligence. These are your colleagues who manage their emotions effectively, remain thoughtful and positive when others have allowed their feelings to hijack their brains.

How have you consulted successfully with your fellow leadership zealots?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Create a Checklist for Modifying Your BeliefsPosted on October 20, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Leaders’ brains begin embracing certain beliefs about leadership at an early age. Some of the leader’s strongly-held beliefs are the result of experiences, including how they see other leaders behave. Some leadership instincts are genetically determined as part of the leader’s temperament. However they are acquired, the leader’s beliefs are the reasons why leaders feel and behave the way they do. But all humans, including leaders, are often unaware of the beliefs that guide their lives. And they are particularly reluctant to question what they believe. Brains just believe. They don’t like to be grilled.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

There is no other way to successfully reprogram your brain. Changing your underlying leadership beliefs is hard, but you must find a way to replace your destructive beliefs with more effective, constructive beliefs if you want to lead others more successfully. You must persist in following a complicated and uncomfortable process to achieve this. The following list of strategies will assist you in creating your own checklist for reprogramming your brain.

How can you do it?

  1. Recognize the impact your beliefs have on your leadership behaviors. If, for example, you pout, refuse to speak and shun others when you are annoyed, you do so because you likely believe you are entitled to punish and bully others with your anger because you are special.
  2. Acknowledge the need to change. You may already realize that your emotional immaturity is not a helpful leadership trait, but it takes a minimum level of emotional intelligence to admit the need to improve that many leaders do not possess. If you don’t believe and admit that you need to improve, then you won’t.
  3. Begin keeping a leadership journal. It is unreasonable to expect that you will change your deeply ingrained beliefs overnight. There will be small victories and large failures on your reprogramming journey. Carefully making regular journal entries about what helped and what didn’t will be essential to your achieving your goal.
  4. View conflict and emotional distress as opportunities to discover your underlying beliefs. The way you manage your temper when things don’t go your way will reveal both the progress you’ve made and how much further you have to go.
  5. Work backward from your feelings and behaviors to your beliefs. That you felt angry and then pouted and refused to speak to those colleagues who irritated you is obvious. What you must figure out is what beliefs inclined you to choose to become angry and behave so foolishly.
  6. Embrace the discomfort of unflinching self-analysis. If you were not so defensive and insensitive, you would not have behaved this way. This means that squarely facing your own mistaken beliefs and their related behavioral shortcomings will be hard for you. Leader up, and do it anyway.
  7. Identify your current beliefs. It is essential that you specify and clarify those beliefs that contribute to your pattern of petulance and pouting. If you don’t fully expose those misleading beliefs, you will not be able to root them out and, despite your good intentions, you will fall back into your old rut of being a petty tyrant when things don’t go your way.
  8. Accept your current beliefs–even if they are embarrassing. Your first obligation as a leader is to own your beliefs, behaviors, and feelings and stop defending them or blaming others for them. This belief that others are to blame for how you feel is one of the most pernicious leadership delusions. You and you alone are to blame for what you believe, and how you feel and behave. It’s more comfortable to blame others, but real leaders refuse to do that.
  9. Write your flawed beliefs down. This is where it starts to get real. After you have gone on the record with yourself and others, you are now accountable. Weak leaders say all kinds of reassuring things in private with no real intent to go on the record or actually follow through. With your destructive beliefs staring you in the face, you will be forced to hold yourself accountable and make some changes–or leave your leadership position–since your failure to change will destroy what little credibility you have left.
  10. Make the case for and against what you believe. Once you see your immature leadership beliefs in writing, it will be impossible to make a compelling case for holding onto them. And the case against them will be just as obvious. This is the easiest step in the leader’s brain reprogramming project.
  11. Invite others to help you identify and challenge your beliefs. You have grown so accustomed to becoming angry and venting your spleen in the workplace that you may have a hard time seeing what you are doing wrong or why you are doing it. Your colleagues will see right through your defensive blindness. They can help you face the reality that is still eluding you.
  12. Work backward from more mature feelings and leadership behaviors to healthier underlying beliefs. When you face your destructive beliefs honestly, more constructive options will be obvious for each of them. What must the leader who chooses to not become angry and talk behind others’ backs in similar situations believe? What must a more mature leader who is unfailingly gracious, even to her enemies, believe?
  13. Write down more evidenced-based, alternative beliefs. Now you will start to see a way out of the impairing leadership rut you have created for yourself. The light will begin to dawn. If you choose to believe what healthier leaders believe in the situations that lead to your repeated leadership failures, you will begin to behave (and eventually feel) the way they do. And it will become clear to you that those changes would change your leadership ability (and your life) for the better.
  14. Admit you were wrong. The best leaders admit their mistakes quickly and publicly. There are several reasons you will want to embrace this effective leadership strategy. First, you were wrong. Second, you will enhance your credibility as a leader by admitting it. Third, your public admission will make it harder for you to make the same mistake again. Fourth, you will model the kind of accountability you want to see in others. Finally, making mistakes is how you learn. Everyone makes mistakes every day. Great leaders admit theirs more readily and learn from them more quickly.
  15. Make a public commitment to change. Just saying you are sorry is not enough. You must make a sincere commitment to change and then follow through on your promises. Be sure to include the consequences you will suffer if you fail. “If I continue this emotional bullying behavior, I will not continue in my leadership role.”
  16. Study and learn with fellow leaders who are pursuing greater emotional intelligence. The best leaders are always trying to get better. Join a group of leaders in your organization that is determined to push its members through the discomfort of their leadership failures to acquire more effective control of their feelings and behaviors.
  17. Begin to change and persist despite how you feel. If you are going to succeed in your quest to become a more emotionally-intelligent leader, you will have to pursue this goal while feeling very uncomfortable. If, like most leaders on the wrong side of the leadership bell curve, you wait to change until you feel like it, you never will. The best such leaders can hope for is to be dragged along by their more motivated fellow leaders.
  18. Wait for your feelings to change. If you persist in following an arduous brain-reprogramming project like the one outlined in this practical checklist, you will eventually start to feel better. Be patient. Feeling better is just the icing on the cake.

How have you designed and implemented a personal belief-replacement process?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Create a Checklist for Changing Your BehaviorPosted on October 13, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Changing one’s instinctive behavioral patterns is difficult and requires persistent effort. Leaders are often unwilling to pay the price—particularly if they can get away with behaving in ways that feel natural to them. Moreover, many leaders keep longing for others to change, never recognizing they are the ones who need to change. Many leaders spend their professional lives feeling frustrated that people don’t meet their expectations instead of recognizing that they cannot reasonably expect that until they have made their expectations clear.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

If some of your patterns of leadership behavior are diminishing your effectiveness, you must own those behaviors and invest the time and energy to change them. Good intentions will not cut it. You will need a list of evidence-based strategies to follow.

How can you do it?

If you wish to accomplish any goal, you must consistently follow a process that will produce the result you desire. This is especially true if you intend to achieve a lasting behavioral change. The following steps that have been successfully used by leaders who have succeeded in changing their disabling leadership behaviors can help you design your own successful behavioral change process.

  1. Identify a recurring behavior you need to change. For example, let’s assume that you have decided you must stop crying at work.
  2. List the reasons you need to change. If you cannot make a compelling case to yourself that crying at work is widely viewed as weak and unprofessional, you are not likely to succeed.
  3. Explain how you will motivate yourself to persist. If you intend to succeed, you must prepare yourself for the long haul–the rest of your life. You can learn to resist the urge to cry in the workplace, but the urge will persist.
  4. Make a public commitment to change. A public commitment to stop crying won’t make your quest easier, but the social pressure will make it harder for you to not follow through on your commitment.
  5. Consult with leaders who have successfully changed their flawed leadership behaviors. You will need every helpful hint you can find. And you can find plenty of leaders who have successfully stopped crying at work. Ask them how they did it. Some of their strategies will work for you, too.
  6. List the barriers you must overcome. It helps to be optimistic, but denial, ignorance, and failure to plan are not. Identify the circumstances at work in which you find it hard not to cry. You cannot avoid stressful circumstances entirely, but you can at least be prepared.
  7. Describe the new behavior you will use to replace the destructive leadership behavior. It’s a lot easier to replace a bad habit with a good one than to just stop the bad habit. Taking a bathroom break or excusing yourself to make a phantom call might be better alternatives than dissolving into a puddle in an important meeting.
  8. Ask your colleagues to hold you accountable. Augment your willpower with a team that won’t let you off the hook. A knowing look from a colleague at the moment may be enough to bolster your strength to maintain your emotional composure.
  9. List helpful mental distractions to employ when your brain undermines your intent. In the war with your brain, you must find ways to trick your brain into fighting with itself. For example, when you feel your emotions welling up, you might choose to begin writing down the parts of your brain that are creating these feelings.
  10. Write down the destructive beliefs that cause your brain to urge bad leadership behavior. If you have chosen to believe that, “crying publicly means that I care,” you will want to reconsider whether that belief is true.
  11. Describe contrasting, constructive beliefs for each of your destructive beliefs. You may choose to the above destructive belief with, “When I cry at work, it is evidence that I am not managing my feelings as a wise leader should.”
  12. Write down your new (replacement) constructive beliefs daily for 30 days. Investing the time to write out the replacement beliefs supporting improved emotional control will help you reprogram your brain and increase your willpower.
  1. Post your new constructive beliefs at home and in your office. You can increase your emotional intelligence by reminding yourself of your new beliefs and intentions several times during the day.
  2. Measure and display your target behavioral results daily with a trend line for an extended period. Just by recording the times you cry at work over time, you will likely notice a decreasing trend right away.
  3. Anticipate failure and learn from it. Your brain’s flawed programming can never be entirely erased, but you can partially replace it with more mature instructions. Slipping back into your mental ruts will remind you how you have improved and provided an opportunity to grow further.
  4. Reward yourself for any progress. Changing bad leadership habits is hard. When you make it through some situation that would have previously reduced you to tears, give yourself a big high five afterward. You deserve it.
  5. Be patient with yourself and others. Remember, it will take a long time to change your reputation; people will think of you as that leader who contaminated the workplace with your emotions long after you have stopped doing so.
  6. Teach others how to change their bad leadership habits. Helping other leaders change will help to solidify your own changed behavior.

How have you used a checklist to change your behavior?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Create a Checklist for Managing Your FeelingsPosted on October 6, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Feelings are so integrated into how leaders perceive themselves that they rarely see the need to manage them. These complacent leaders view their feelings as, “just the way I am.” And because they have achieved a position of leadership, they are even more strongly positioned to view themselves as exceptional already. There is no need to fix what is not broken. Every human brain is a legend in its own mind.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Leaders shoulder two primary responsibilities—to manage feelings and tasks. Obviously, you cannot successfully hold others accountable for completing their tasks unless you complete yours on time. Likewise, it is not possible for you to help others manage their feelings until you have learned to master your own. Managing your feelings is the foundation of emotional intelligence, and is one of the essential skills every successful leader must master.

How can you do it?

  1. Recognize when you are emotionally aroused. Your breathing and heart rate are reliable indicators.
  2. Take your feelings seriously. Your feelings, even when you don’t recognize them, drive most of your leadership behaviors.
  3. Don’t take your feelings too seriously. While powerful and compelling, your feelings will often mislead you.
  4. Identify your feelings. You can’t manage your feelings until you know what they are. And they are usually complicated and mixed.
  5. Remind yourself that your feelings are contagious. The people you lead are looking to you to be the calm one in every emotional storm.
  6. Document your feelings. If you don’t write them down, you will forget them and neglect to manage them.
  7. Accept your feelings. Your feelings are just what they are; face them and manage them first. Understanding and modifying them comes later.
  8. Don’t allow your feelings to call the shots by themselves. The best leaders use both emotion and reason to motivate themselves and others.
  9. Don’t try to change your feelings directly. It just won’t work. Ordinarily, you can only change your feelings by changing the beliefs that triggered them.
  10. Identify the beliefs behind your feelings. This can be a real challenge, but the payoff is worth the effort.
  11. Give your feelings time to change. Arousal-driven impulsivity often gives way to regret after the leader has cooled off.
  12. Ignore some of your feelings. This is essential when something needs to be done, but you don’t feel like doing it.
  13. Minimize disabling feelings by replacing their underlying beliefs. Changing what you believe is required if you intend to permanently change how you feel and behave.
  14. Leverage your feelings to motivate yourself and others. Never let an emotional firestorm go to waste; harness that energy to find a better way and make the change stick.
  15. Consult colleagues with excellent feelings-management skills. Some leaders are just naturally more emotionally intelligent; learn from them.
  16. Learn to predict your feelings. If you predict how you are likely to react, you can manage your reactions more successfully.
  17. Grow a thick emotional skin by embracing emotional detachment. Leadership is a tough business; leader up.
  18. Do not vent your unpleasant feelings. A lot of leaders still believe this helps. It does not. It only makes things worse.
  19. Minimize your rumination about your feelings. If you are wired to ruminate, you probably cannot stop it altogether, but you can definitely decrease the time and energy you invest in this destructive mental activity.
  20. Milk good feelings for all they are worth. And they are worth a lot!
  21. Do what needs to be done despite how you feel. Leadership is about doing things that need to be done even when you don’t feel like doing them—and persuading others to do the same.

How have you used a checklist to manage your feelings successfully?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Recognize and Manage Your Emotional ArousalPosted on September 29, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

The human brain generates thousands of emotions of varying intensity every day. While our brains allow us to reflect—and to modify to some extent—what we are thinking and feeling, most leaders just accept the feelings their brains have triggered and act on them without recognizing or second-guessing their emotional arousal. When the leader’s brain creates any strong emotion, it generates an explanation for doing so. Intriguingly, the leader’s brain almost never takes credit for the feeling it has invented. Instead, the leader’s brain blames something or someone else. Because most leaders accept this mistaken attribution without question, aroused leaders don’t even realize what their brains have done to them. This is not surprising. After all, questioning one’s brain is trying, and the guilty brain is not eager to cooperate.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Your feelings drive your behavior. The less you know about which feelings are calling the shots at any given moment, the less control you have over how you behave. And you have probably already discovered that impulsive behavior usually gets leaders into trouble. Building the emotional intelligence that will permit you to recognize your arousal and do what needs to be done despite your brain’s goading will set you apart. Most people accept their feelings and their brains’ explanations for them without question and leave the driving to the urges their minds have unleashed. This is why people need leaders—to manage the feelings they are unwilling to manage themselves.

How can you do it?

  1. Monitor your breathing and pulse. These neurological signals are among the first signs that your reptilian brain networks are preparing to override your prefrontal cortex, that part of our brain that sets us apart from other living organisms.
  2. Recognize your erupting feelings. Anger is the most common intruder. Fear and hurt are also frequent visitors to the leader’s mind. Resist your natural tendency to deny or minimize your feelings. It’s true that all destructive feelings exist on a continuum; anger ranges from mild annoyance to murderous rage. But no matter their intensity, destructive feelings are still destructive and must be contained quickly.
  3. Restrain your urges. This is easier said than done, but the best leaders get it done. If you feel the urge to speak impulsively, speak deliberately or not at all. If you feel the need to opine, keep your opinions to yourself. If you feel the urge to decide on the spot, sleep on it instead. Recognizing your urges is necessary but insufficient. You must learn to automatically resist them, too.

How have you recognized and managed your emotional arousal in leadership crises?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Draft Your New Constructive BeliefsPosted on September 22, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

Examining one’s beliefs, challenging them, and then replacing those settled beliefs with more accurate attitudes is hard work. It demands time and a significant amount of mental energy. The human brain prefers easy over hard, the status quo over change, and superstition over science. That leaders wouldn’t line up to do this difficult—and sometimes threatening—brain work is not surprising.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

There is simply no other way to make a permanent change in your flawed leadership behaviors. Unless you replace your destructive beliefs with more constructive attitudes, the next time you find yourself in a similarly-challenging leadership situation, your brain will undermine your best intentions to behave differently, and you will find yourself repeating the same old mistakes.

How can you do it?

  1. 1. Carefully examine the destructive beliefs you have discovered. Ask yourself whether those beliefs are accurate and whether they are the best guides for how a leader in this circumstance should behave. You will likely be able to describe a more accurate, more constructive belief. Be sure to document this better option in your leadership journal—right beside the destructive version you intend to replace it with.
  2. Reinforce the new belief you intend to program into your brain. Brains don’t give up easily. You will find it helpful to post your new beliefs on the wall in your office or, in a throwback to your childhood, to write the new beliefs 25 times each. When it comes to replacing beliefs, you must beat your brain into submission.
  3. Ask your colleagues to explain how they have succeeded in reprogramming their brains. In “Stuck in a Rut,” the Leadership Case Study (LCS) I introduced earlier in this blog series, I managed to replace several destructive beliefs with more constructive beliefs by creating a presentation and giving that presentation many times. I am further reinforcing my new learning by writing this blog series. Instead of choosing to believe that listening to a lecture from an expert is the most effective way to learn, I have chosen to believe that listening to a lecture may be easier, but is not the best way to learn. Instead of choosing to believe that attending a conference is the best way to find the experts I need, I have chosen to believe that the experts I need may be just down the hall.

How have you replaced some of your destructive beliefs with more constructive, accurate beliefs?


Cognitive Behavioral Leadership (CBL): Identify Your Old Destructive BeliefsPosted on September 15, 2019

Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

This step is usually the most challenging for leaders. There are many reasons for this. First, leaders are never fully aware of the beliefs their brains have embraced. Much of what we believe is unconscious. Second, few leaders clearly understand that their unrecognized beliefs are what their brains use to create their feelings. All humans are evolutionarily wired to feel and then act without thinking much about it. Third, leaders are at war with their brains, which have minds of their own. Asking themselves, “Why did I just do that?” is not a question most leaders normally ask themselves. Like most other humans, leaders usually let their instincts call the shots in their lives. And leaders’ instincts often lead them astray.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

If you don’t invest the time and energy to figure out what you believe and how those beliefs are generating your destructive leadership behaviors, you will just keep right on behaving the way you do now, and getting the same results you are getting now.

How can you do it?

  1. Write down the contributing beliefs you recognize. Some of your destructive beliefs will be obvious if you spend a little time reflecting on them. For example, most leaders mistakenly believe that “I expect people to see what needs to be done and do it without my having to tell them.” You may believe that, but that leadership belief is badly flawed. That belief, if not replaced with a more accurate belief such as, “I have no right to feel frustrated when others fail to read my mind,” will create unceasing frustration in your professional life.
  2. Ask yourself, “What belief would explain how I felt and behaved?” This question will help you identify beliefs that you would not otherwise recognize. What you discover will surprise and embarrass you—and prime your brain to learn and remember something important. We all learn much more effectively—for good and ill—when we are emotionally aroused.
  3. Learn from your colleagues who have identified some of their destructive leadership beliefs. In “Stuck in a Rut,” the Leadership Case Study (LCS) I introduced earlier in this blog series, I identified several destructive, mistaken beliefs that clearly contributed to my leadership failure. Here is one of them. I chose to believe that listening to a lecture from an expert is the best way to learn. If I had not believed that, I would not have recommended this learning model. When I examined this widely-held belief objectively, I immediately realized this belief is not evidence-based. Research has repeatedly confirmed that action-based learning is much more effective than passively listening to a lecture. Perhaps we all hold onto this misguided belief because passive listening is so much easier.

How have you identified some of the maladaptive beliefs that are triggering your disruptive feelings and ineffective leadership behaviors?


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