In one of my previous leadership roles, I had feelings of unease and discomfort for quite a long period of time from acting in a fashion that is inconsistent with my beliefs and attitude. Each time I think about that period of time, I wonder how many leaders and managers out there who are going through the same situation and feeling discomfort from acting in a way that is inconsistent with their attitudes.
During that time when I felt discomfort, I wasn’t aware of the root cause of feeling that way. A few months later, I had a course in my eMBA program about Organizational behavior. Professor Bret Simmons has taught me a lot about behavior and attitude. I also learned later that when our behavior is conflicting with our attitude, we will experience the feeling of discomfort of what is called “cognitive dissonance”. Apparently, this can happen to any person, especially in professional life. For example, an employee who doesn’t like his/her job (attitude) but he/she is required to work long hours (behavior). This type of conflict between the employee’s attitude and behavior will most likely cause a feeling of discomfort. The question is what to do to avoid such conflict? Is it possible to avoid that in all cases?
Just to be clear, I am not pretending to be an expert in this subject by any means. But because I have suffered from this situation, I wanted to share my experience and thoughts about it.
Back to the question of avoiding such conflict between attitude and behavior and if it is possible or not. I think any conflict can be resolved by introducing a change to one or both of the conflicting parties. But is it really possible and easy to change our attitude or behavior? Which one is easier to change? Please share your thoughts in the comments field.
I can only say from my experience that failure to change either our attitude or behavior in such situations will more than likely lead to increased stress and withdrawal from the job situation.