By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D
Founding Editor, bSci21.org
The vast majority of you lead others in one way or another — your behavioral technicians running your programs, your grad students carrying out research, the employees in your business, etc… But leading requires behavior, and not just any old behavior will do if you want to lead effectively.
Fastcompany.com recently wrote on “Three Habits of Motivational Leaders” that seemed particularly amenable to a behavior analytic worldview. Let’s take a look at their suggestions:
- Motivational leaders communicate frequently and openly. In other words, people should feel comfortable voicing their opinions to you. The quickest way to develop a toxic work environment is to punish communication and shut down the flow of information between team members. You will likely find that rumor, gossip, and a general mistrust of the leader begin to rear their heads shortly thereafter.
- Motivational leaders lay on the positive reinforcement. This should really be no surprise to this audience. However, to those of you in leadership positions, you have probably found that throwing out the praise sometimes isn’t as easy as it sounds. It is a slippery slope towards the management style of “manage by exception” unless you make a conscious effort to reinforce positive workplace performance.
- Motivational leaders lead by example. If you are doling out positive reinforcement to your team, yet contradicting said contingencies with your own behavior, all of that positive reinforcement will turn into meaningless verbiage over time. To be a leader, you must lead the way. Step out in front and show your team the way forward with your own behavior.
Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is President of bSci21 Media, LLC, which owns bSci21.org and BAQuarterly.com. Todd serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management and as an editorial board member for Behavior and Social Issues. He has worked as a behavior analyst in day centers, residential providers, homes, and schools, and served as the director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas. Todd’s areas of expertise include writing, entrepreneurship, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Instructional Design, Organizational Behavior Management, and ABA therapy. Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.