Coach Matt · Leadership

Do You Know Why You Do What You Do?

Leadership Behavior?
Leadership Behavior?

Do you see yourself as a leader or one striving to become a leader?  Or are you a follower?

Day in and day out we are put into situations where we either lead or follow.  As a coach, parent, or athlete we have to make a decision as to which avenue we are going to take.  This post is going to focus toward taking the leadership option when faced with a choice.

As a leader or one who strives to fill the leadership role, the first question you need to ask yourself is who am I?  Self-awareness is one of the key principles of leadership. Too often we see many people in the leadership role that are blind to change and growth.  This results in a failure to develop as a person which ultimately results in failure as a leader.  If you answer the question of who am I, you begin to see where change and growth are eminent in your development. You are no longer blind to these qualities that are crucial for successful leaders.

A few years ago I was sitting in a conference and the presenter began his presentation in a way I have never seen before with a research article on Rhesus Monkeys.  At first glance, this article has absolutely nothing to do with leadership, however when analyzed in greater detail, it has everything to do with self-awareness.  The article is titled “Cultural acquisitions of a specific learned response among rhesus monkeys” written by G. Stephenson in 1967.  In the research, a rhesus monkey was put into a room with an object.  When the monkey touched the object a blast of air (negative action) was released. This blast of air would occur every time the monkey touched the object.  As the behavior was learned, the monkey stopped going after the object because it would result in a negative outcome.  At this time a second monkey was introduced into the room.  Immediately this new monkey would go after the object yet would be thwarted by the first monkey.  Over time the 2nd monkey began to learn not to go after the object and he too would never attempt it again.  Now the original monkey was removed from the room only leaving the 2nd monkey in that area.  Never once did this monkey touch the object. Nobody was there to stop him, this was the learned behavior.  The question then is why?  The second monkey never knew there was a negative consequence to touching the object.  What this monkey did learn is that you leave the object alone because that’s the way it is. He was blinded by the learned behavior.  Who knows, there may not have been a consequence if he touched the object.

Now how does this relate back to self-awareness? What we do is a direct result of who we are.  If we do not know who we are and are afraid of change/development, we never lead, only follow.

The positive leader must embrace change, make adjustments, and overcome fears.  In future posts I will continue to expand on this leadership topic, eventually demonstrating the type of leadership that is appropriate for an Educated Coach.

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