Why Intentional Behaviour Will Lead To Your Marginal Gains


by Kevin Watson



For over twelve years, I’ve been helping leaders reflect and adopt intentional behaviour, identifying the small changes that will have the biggest impact on their success.

It’s still something that does not come easily to many people, as we all get caught up in the pace of work and rarely stop to consider if our behaviour was in line with our aims, let alone be intentional with it!

Yet we know that when we do, it can pay huge rewards.

You only have to look at great sporting examples, such as Team SKY (now Team Ineos) to know that this is true.

The practice of seeking marginal gains, instilled by their coach Dave Brailsford, makes sure that the team remain the best in the world.

We are always striving for improvement, for those 1% gains, in absolutely every single thing we do.Dave Brailsford

In most organisations, appraisals and performance reviews have been introduced primarily to reflect on past behaviour and to identify individual performance and development goals.

The fact that these are called appraisals and performance reviews tends to suggest that most of the energy is directed towards reflection and the person’s past behaviour, which of course is useful to gain insights.

However, as valuable as this practice is, it is only a small part of the story. The real treasure is in being aware of how you are behaving…right now…in this very moment.

I’m often asked to work with organisations seeking to develop and embed specific behaviours. In the main, I choose to do this through a series of cafe conversation type events, where people are given the opportunity to share how they do, what they do, with their colleagues across the business.

At one of these events, it became clear that most people were resisting whilst some were even dissenting! They firmly thought that they were having to prove or justify their past behaviour in future performance reviews.

So, I invited the group to explore the question “why is it important for you to have a set of exemplar behaviours to follow?” and they came up with really good examples. Even though they accepted that these were important, many still held onto the frame of having to rather than wanting to adopt the new behaviours.

This only changed once they had been inspired by the idea that each day is important, and if having a set of exemplar behaviours is important too, then why use them only once every six months!

For, if each day is important, and having a set of exemplar behaviours is important too, then surely you’d want to be more aware in the moment, by keeping them front of mind, discussing them with colleagues each day and behaving intentionally rather than simply reflecting on the past.

Call to Action

If the treasure is in shifting your focus to become more aware of how you are BEHAVING, and to be intentional in how you BEHAVE, how will YOU raise your awareness to be intentional with your behaviour?

Leave a comment below or drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.


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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.



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