Kill Will: Part II

The responses to Kill Will: Part I suggest it hit a chord in the tribe.

The words we use matter. Last week I focused on one little word: “will.” This past week I worked to eliminate “will” in my own communications, and there were some interesting experiences.

The first experience, unexpectedly so, came from a member of the CultureSync tribe who wrote to share that he was shocked to read the subject line on our Sync More, Suck Less enewsletter  “Why I Killed Will and Why You Should Too.” As we crafted the subject line, our goal was to grab the attention of those on our email list in a way that resulted in the email being opened up. Our subject line worked too well for this particular tribe member whose young son is named Will. Once again, words matter.

One of the next challenges was in the daily Leader PowerUp calls I delivered as part of the Tribal Leadership Intensive . For those of you unfamiliar with them, Leader PowerUp calls consist of a daily call designed to focus you on your values, actions, and intended outcomes for the day. Its five questions are filled with opportunities for “will.” For example, question two asks about the values the listener intends to honor that day. The easiest way to ask that question is with “will.” Several times during the week, I found myself stumbling as I remembered to re-craft the questions.

In our Tribal Leadership Approval Program call on Thursday night I made a commitment to the leaders in the program that began with “I will…” They caught it before I did and the sentence came to a halt amidst good-natured teasing.

So, what’s the leadership lesson in “will?”

Changing ingrained patterns in speech, in behavior, in thoughts isn’t automatic. In order to be successful, we all need a little support. Developing a tribe, being a tribal leader and supporting others make your individual changes more sustainable.

We are unlikely to take “will,” or “can’t,” or “should-a, would-a, could-a” out of our collective language overnight. Recognizing the impact that language has on actions, making changes, and seeing the impact in results takes time. Our tendency is to give up too quickly. A few “will’s” later and it’s easier to forget all about the change.

It happens in every new practice we take on – and the new practices our tribe members take on around us.

Countless strategic plans sit on shelves untouched, fitness programs are begun then abandoned, leadership teams begin book clubs without ever finishing their first book, and even 21-day Leadership Challenges are abandoned as quickly as they’ve been begun.

As leaders – executives, coaches, and consultants – our challenge is to support our tribes as they undertake change.

Last week, a corporate team working on CultureSync’s 21-day Leadership Challenge reached out for support. This group is doing the challenge one week at a time. Even with slowing down the pace, completing each challenge is proving, well, challenging.

I spent 30-minutes via Skype with the team. They’ve implemented brilliant support structures. The first is that they are doing the challenge as a group. The second is that they are bringing the challenge into their weekly meetings. The third is that they take time together to write quietly in their individual journals. The fourth is that they asked for support when they encountered road blocks.

Their progress has everything to do with the leadership lessons of “will.” The study cited in last week’s blog presents plenty of data. It’s easy to envision that removing “will” from our language brings a tremendous impact on our behaviors and results. Leadership is providing support when the tribe falters with a new behavior, asking for support when it is needed, and always centering the tribe values.

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