By Steve Swavely, Ph. D.

The-BB&T-Leadership-Institute-logoA Definition of Leadership

Can you think of a concept with a definition so broad you envision 20 different answers? Success, wealth and leadership might all come to mind. It is critical that organizations interested in developing high performing leaders begin with a clear operational definition of leadership. To be effective, the definition must be comprehensive enough to encompass the critical functions of a leader, but it must be simple enough to produce a model of leadership that can be readily learned and applied.

Developing Great Leaders

While some individuals are naturally better leaders than others, we believe leaders are not born, but they can be trained and developed. These leaders can coach the most committed, effective, and results-oriented employees. They know how to grow their people and keep them engaged, while at the same time drive results and get difficult tasks accomplished. At the BB&T Leadership Institute, we help leaders achieve this objective using the following model.

How the Model Works

The primary concept of the model is a person’s beliefs drive their behavior, which in turn produces the desired results. Then, when those behaviors and results are positively reinforced, the beliefs are strengthened that created those behaviors and results. The basic premise is people behave on a long-term basis in a manner consistent with their beliefs. It is important that leaders help their followers develop the right beliefs to drive the right behaviors, which creates the best results. Results matter! In fact, the achievement of any organization’s vision and mission depends on the tangible and intangible results its people create through their behaviors.

Results are Key, But Behavior is Critical

While results are key, many leaders mistakenly believe the best way to improve results is to focus only on those results. The problem is most people are already doing the best they can, so their lack of results is due to ineffective behaviors. The most effective way to change results is to change their ineffective behaviors. While there are a variety of ways to do this, one of the most effective is to positively reinforce desired behaviors. In fact, research shows positive reinforcement is the most effective way to create lasting behavioral change and get commitment from people, not just compliance. Successful leaders consistently provide their followers with feedback and rewards, which positively reinforces desired behaviors.

Knowledge and Skill is Essential

While reinforcement of desired behaviors is critical, having the knowledge and skill to engage in those behaviors is essential. Consequently, leaders should include education to teach new behaviors as important keys to success. One of the most effective ways to do so is through practical coaching in which a leader demonstrates the desired behavior for the follower.

The Importance of Beliefs

In addition to teaching the mechanics of the new behaviors, leaders need to teach the associated beliefs that drive the behavior. To most effectively change the beliefs of another person, a leader must be viewed as a credible source who is invested in the success of the follower. Few leaders understand how important it is to teach new beliefs, and even fewer know the most effective strategies to do it. Teaching new beliefs involves understanding and being aware of what makes people tick at a deep level – their motivation – that is not readily apparent to the average leader.

Conscious Leadership

Helping leaders develop this deep awareness of motivations, especially their own, is what makes the BB&T Leadership Institute unique. It’s what we do best. We are guided by the adage, “Who you are is how you lead.” This work requires not just an exploration, but a dissection of one’s beliefs about themselves and what they believe they need to do to be successful. Once this self-knowledge is clear for the leader, the process expands to understanding others’ beliefs in these same areas. Leaders are then taught the skills to create behaviors adaptable to the needs of the team, aligned with the mission of the organization and accountable for the results obtained. We call this Conscious Leadership ™ and believe it is essential for leaders to engage in positive patterns of behavior that create desired results.

By Steve Swavely, Ph. D.

The-BB&T-Leadership-Institute-logo

A Definition of Leadership

Can you think of a concept with a definition so broad you envision 20 different answers? Success, wealth and leadership might all come to mind. It is critical that organizations interested in developing high performing leaders begin with a clear operational definition of leadership. To be effective, the definition must be comprehensive enough to encompass the critical functions of a leader, but it must be simple enough to produce a model of leadership that can be readily learned and applied.

Developing Great Leaders

While some individuals are naturally better leaders than others, we believe leaders are not born, but they can be trained and developed. These leaders can coach the most committed, effective, and results-oriented employees. They know how to grow their people and keep them engaged, while at the same time drive results and get difficult tasks accomplished. At the BB&T Leadership Institute, we help leaders achieve this objective using the following model.

How the Model Works

The primary concept of the model is a person’s beliefs drive their behavior, which in turn produces the desired results. Then, when those behaviors and results are positively reinforced, the beliefs are strengthened that created those behaviors and results. The basic premise is people behave on a long-term basis in a manner consistent with their beliefs. It is important that leaders help their followers develop the right beliefs to drive the right behaviors, which creates the best results. Results matter! In fact, the achievement of any organization’s vision and mission depends on the tangible and intangible results its people create through their behaviors.

Results are Key, But Behavior is Critical

While results are key, many leaders mistakenly believe the best way to improve results is to focus only on those results. The problem is most people are already doing the best they can, so their lack of results is due to ineffective behaviors. The most effective way to change results is to change their ineffective behaviors. While there are a variety of ways to do this, one of the most effective is to positively reinforce desired behaviors. In fact, research shows positive reinforcement is the most effective way to create lasting behavioral change and get commitment from people, not just compliance. Successful leaders consistently provide their followers with feedback and rewards, which positively reinforces desired behaviors.

Knowledge and Skill is Essential

While reinforcement of desired behaviors is critical, having the knowledge and skill to engage in those behaviors is essential. Consequently, leaders should include education to teach new behaviors as important keys to success. One of the most effective ways to do so is through practical coaching in which a leader demonstrates the desired behavior for the follower.

The Importance of Beliefs

In addition to teaching the mechanics of the new behaviors, leaders need to teach the associated beliefs that drive the behavior. To most effectively change the beliefs of another person, a leader must be viewed as a credible source who is invested in the success of the follower. Few leaders understand how important it is to teach new beliefs, and even fewer know the most effective strategies to do it. Teaching new beliefs involves understanding and being aware of what makes people tick at a deep level – their motivation – that is not readily apparent to the average leader.

Conscious Leadership

Helping leaders develop this deep awareness of motivations, especially their own, is what makes the BB&T Leadership Institute unique. It’s what we do best. We are guided by the adage, “Who you are is how you lead.” This work requires not just an exploration, but a dissection of one’s beliefs about themselves and what they believe they need to do to be successful. Once this self-knowledge is clear for the leader, the process expands to understanding others’ beliefs in these same areas. Leaders are then taught the skills to create behaviors adaptable to the needs of the team, aligned with the mission of the organization and accountable for the results obtained. We call this Conscious Leadership ™ and believe it is essential for leaders to engage in positive patterns of behavior that create desired results.

About the Author

Steve M. Swavely

Steve M. Swavely

Senior Vice President, Director of Leadership Development

Steve, a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 20 years of experience in clinical psychology, consulting, training and coaching, leads the development and delivery of leadership development consulting services for clients of The BB&T Leadership Institute. His unique background includes extensive training and experience in neuropsychology, applied behavioral assessment, business management, and business ownership. Steve earned his Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology from Georgia State University.