Leader, avoid the Grapperhaus-effect!

Doesn’t your leadership have the impact you want it to have? Doesn’t it yield the results you’re looking for,  while your backpack is filled with plenty of know-how? Then it’s time for more show-how.  You don’t have to know more; you have to start acting on what you already know.


Leadership growth is behavioral change

It doesn’t matter how much you know about leadership. It doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. Leadership growth is behavioral change. If you want to have a different result, a different impact, then you have to show different behavior.

Growing as a leader requires us to give up on things we know and to take new steps. Change and growth is in your actions.

That sounds simple, but it’s not easy. It requires awareness of your impact, insight into your behavior and a good approach to be able to do things differently.

“The major challenge of most executives is not understanding the practice of leadership – it is practicing their understanding of leadership.” – Marshall Goldsmith

The impact of your  behavior; the  Grapperhaus  effect

Minister Grapperhaus has made it very clear that “Do as I say, not as I do” really does not work. That your visible behavior has so much more impact.

The immediate impact of his behavior (not adhering to the Corona rules on his weddingday)  in a  nutshell; a reduced understanding by citizens for Corona fines, reluctance of the enforcers (BOA’s) in the execution of their task, less handed out fines, a dent in the credibility of  Grapperhaus and the enforcers,  and a lot of time, energy and money wasted on resolving this ‘little mistake’.

And it actually doesn’t matter anymore, whether we understand how it happened. That we know that he is actually human, with emotions and all…

Because as a leader, you’re not  paid to act out of emotions. As a leader, you are supposed  to have a positive impact on the people you lead. And that’s an impact you have with your behavior, and not with your good intentions.

Behavioral change; do and don’t

Change and growth is in actions, but also in the deliberate abandoning of actions.

In his book “What got you here won’t get you there“, Marshall Goldsmith lists 20 ineffective habits of successful leaders (more on this in a later blog).

One of those habits is about ‘justifying’ your bad habits, assuming that other people will forgive you for this behavior, without you bothering to change it. Entering late at a meeting with a big smile on your face, while saying, “I’ve forgotten all about being in time again, guys!”

Often the need to change behavior like this is not felt, because “it’s all going well, right?” and you’re successful, right?

But ask yourself: “Are you successful because of, or despite this behavior? ” And how much more effective could you be if you stopped doing this?

“We spend a lot of time helping leaders learn what to do. We do not spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop. Half of the leaders I have met don’t need to learn what to do. They need to learn what to stop.”  – Peter Drucker

Behavioral change is simple, but not easy

By nature, we prefer not to change our own behavior. Even if we think we are motivated to show different behavior.

August 2020: Although 84%  of Dutch people say they support the Corona measures, it appears that only a small proportion of these people actually comply with them.   It turns out that of the group of people who had Corona-like symptoms,  only 32%  got themselves tested and only 10%  stayed away from the supermarket  (https://www.rivm.nl/gedragsonderzoek/maatregelen-welbevinden/naleven-gedragsregels).

Is that about motivation? Don’t we really want to, or do we not really see the need?

Or is it about being able to? Not having the skills to (in this case) make a test appointment or have groceries delivered at home?

Or is it about the (always underestimated factor) context? Our assumption that if we really want this, we’ll make it on willpower and discipline? Unfortunately, we’re not going to make it just on that.

As Jim Loehr describes in his bestselling book “The power of Full engagement”, we have not as much less willpower and discipline than we think.

To what extent do you count on your willpower and discipline to change your behavior?

“Change is difficult. Most of what we do is automatic and nonconscious. What we did yesterday is what we are likely to do today. The problem with most efforts at change is that conscious effort can’t be sustained over the long haul. Will and discipline are far more limited resources than most of us realize. If you have to think about something each time you do it, the likelihood is that you won’t keep doing it for very long.” – Jim Loehr

On your way to more effective leadership

Are you serious about wanting to grow as a leader, and do you recognize that your growth is more in your show-how than in your know-how?

Then a trajectory according to Marshall Goldsmith’s approach would suit you better than yet another leadership training.

This stakeholder centered approach starts with a 360o assessment to determine where your main growth opportunity lies. The approach then ensures that,

✔ your desired behavior is really going to wear off,

✔ you grow in the leadership area where you want to grow,

✔ your key stakeholders are actually going to see that growth and

✔ your leadership becomes significantly more effective.

In a way that easily integrates into your  daily work, effectively and efficiently.


This blog is one of a series of blogs in which I share my 10 key insights from the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching approach. Insights that can help you become a more effective leader.  Read all 10 insights here

Like to discuss further or ready for action? Feel free to schedule a call straight into the agenda of Sandra Geelink.

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