Suppose his long-term goal is simply to keep doing what he’s doing. Find out why. Reynolds says she coached one client whose boss complained she was an arrogant know-it-all team leader like yours. “When I asked her why she was so condescending toward everyone else on the team, she said that no one else cared about excellence as much as she did,” Reynolds says. “However, she also said that a big reason why she valued her role was that it was very important to her to be seen as a good team leader.”
Reynolds convinced her she wasn’t seen that way, because “good leaders listen. Once she started working on listening to other people, she realized they weren’t so dumb after all. But the change in her behavior came about only because it served her own purposes, not someone else’s.”
Ask enough of the right questions, and you could get a surprise. You might discover, for instance, that this person would rather not be leading a team at all. “Maybe he sees working with a team as just slowing him down. Maybe he’s impatient with others’ suggestions because it annoys him to have to consider them,” says Reynolds. “If so, it could make a lot more sense to let him work alone, and let other people implement his great ideas.”
But you’ll never know unless you ask. “People don’t change unless they really want to, and achieving their own goals—not yours—is always the best reason,” Reynolds says. So finding out what those goals are is “common sense,” she adds. “But it isn’t common practice.” Good luck.
Talkback: Have you ever persuaded a colleague to change his or behavior? What worked (or didn’t)? Leave a comment below.