Posture can be immediately corrected by awareness. By seeing someone with good posture or through a simple reminder from a loved one, we can instantly stand or sit up the way we are supposed to. But although awareness can provoke immediate change, those changes can be ephemeral. Long-term posture change also requires that we strengthen key muscles. By activating and working muscles in our back and abdomen, we can make new posture habits stick.

What does this posture principle mean for leaders?

It means that realizations (awareness) can provoke immediate positive change, but leaders have to keep strengthening those muscles actively to get the lasting benefit.

For example, a leader (perhaps with some outside perspective or through self-reflection) can see the need for more clarity in communications and take some steps to fix it, immediately. However, making clear communications an unconscious habit would take further practice. The same can be said of other habits and behaviors like assertiveness, self-trust, appropriate delegation, inclusive decision-making, speaking up around senior leaders, or expressing a healthy impatience.

Awareness is a great place to start, but it cannot be the destination. How should leaders apply the second part of the principle?

  1. Enlist outside accountability. Goals that are not just kept to ourselves are much more likely to be acted on.
  2. Keep a grade book of your efforts. At the end of each day, evaluate yourself on how well you did in the area in which you want to improve.
  3. Sprint to your goals. The best improvement results come from intensive activity over a predetermined time. Give yourself 30 days to focus on one specific area and work as hard as you can within that time frame.

Many areas that a leader wants to improve are things they already know how to do. The trick is usually just getting them to do it more regularly or in high-value contexts. So, apply the posture principle. You will be standing tall soon.