The Power of Leadership

Executive Vitality™: Attitude Adjustment

Executive Vitality™: Attitude Adjustment“Attitude Adjustment” was formed as a crossover band (somewhere between hardcore punk and thrash metal) in 1985 in Oakland, CA. When the band was formed, the phrase that became its name may have had the sometime negative connotation of a threat (the name came from an incident a friend of the band had on the street with an inebriated person).
HOWEVER, attitude adjustments can be quite positive and healthy, and it is the latter meaning we are addressing here. In fact, attitude adjustment is one of the most important skills a leader or team can develop. What exactly do we mean?
Consider this scenario – let’s say that Sally is someone who used to get mad often, and she would lose her composure. Here’s an example of attitude adjustment:

Sally doesn’t take it personally anymore when Bob interrupts her in meetings. Everyone knows that Bob does this and that their boss is oblivious. In the past, Sally would raise her voice, roll her eyes, and sometimes confront Bob. The outcome would often be an escalated verbal “fist fight” that ended with poor decision-making and resentment. These days, she listens to Bob, she doesn’t take what he says personally, and she focuses on the content of what he is saying, not his delivery style. The truth is that, despite her frustration, she does recognize that Bob has intelligent things to say. Now that she can “hear” Bob without reacting and personalizing, their meetings are productive and creative…and without drama.

Here’s another scenario—Gerry used to think it was a complete waste of time to coach his direct reports. He figured, “If they don’t get it, they shouldn’t be in their position.”

Then one day he heard a lecture about effective leadership. He learned that the best leaders are also superior coaches. As he implemented what he learned and saw the changes in performance and morale, he understood first-hand the benefits of taking coaching seriously and improving his own skills doing it.

Third example—Angela always arrived at work frustrated about traffic. It often took her an hour to get there since traffic moved at an average speed of 15 miles an hour. She lives in Los Angeles—the options are: bike, walk, hitchhike, carpool, drive your own car, or take a bus, Uber, Lyft, or Taxi. She won’t consider any of the alternatives, so she keeps on driving. She used to arrive at work totally uptight every day, complaining about all the “dumb” drivers.

One day she turned on a talk radio station. She found it to be interesting but a bit depressing, given that day’s news. After that, she tried language lessons on tape, and that was the golden ticket. She had always wanted to learn Spanish. Now she looks forward to her commute and that amazes her.

Lastly—Fred was at the YMCA gym at the beginning of the year. The Y adjusted the time limit on the machines at the beginning of 2018 because they had become inundated with folks who made New Years’ resolutions. The machines used to go for 60 minutes but, as of now, they now only go for 30. Fred was so annoyed the first day, he just got off the machine without even completing his (limited) time—he was too angry at the Y for limiting his workout.

Today, having had an attitude adjustment, he realized that he is able to simply stop and restart the machine, as long as no one is waiting. Or he can do something else and come back. His anger at the Y was misplaced and now he gets the hour in that he needs for his health.

What do all of these examples have in common?

  1. A willingness to try a new behavior.
  2. A decision to get to a better place.
  3. A recognition that alternative positive actions can lead to better outcomes for everyone.

What is a situation that leads you to anger or other counter-productive feelings or behavior where you could practice adjusting your attitude? What is one alternative action you can take that will lead to more vitality in your life?
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