Attitudes, Behaviours and Habits Drive Leadership Competencies by Mike Orlov

To be a competent-leader, you need great management-capabilities as well as outstanding attitudes and consistent-behaviours.

There are those who believe it just is not possible to change someone’s attitudes and behaviours. If someone has bad attitudes, then this is something they are going to live with all their life. And bad attitudes will mean poor behaviours and terrible habits.

So the question is; can people-focused leaders help others change attitudes, aid in shifting behaviours and be a catalyst for new habits? The answer is a confident, definite, positive and resounding yes it is possible.

To help us understand how leaders can help people change their attitudes, behaviours and habits it is worthwhile exploring the differences between attitudes and behaviours.

An attitude is a psychological construct based on a mental and emotional entity characterising a person. Attitudes are our value-stance towards other individuals, issues, events or objects. Acquired through experiences, attitudes are complex: a way of thinking or feeling about something; point of view; viewpoint; vantage-point; frame of mind; way of thinking; way of looking at things; personal outlook; opinions; ideas; convictions; perceptions and interpretations.

Given attitudes are moulded by those we admire, respect and wish to emulate, they are not only formed from past experiences, but also from the present. And attitudes can change dramatically given what is occurring in the present around us. Our attitudes are also shaped by those we fear or loathe; ‘I don’t want to act like THAT person’.

Attitudes are unstable, open to be changed.

With positive influences, attitudes can be changed for the better. Conversely, with negative influences, attitudes can change for the worse. Imagine you had a supportive leader, a people-focused supervisor who was suddenly removed from post and replaced by a narcissist bully who took all the credit for themselves, did not work hard, was a poor time-keeper and did not know how to recognise good work, appreciate others and never praised anyone. Your attitudes towards you work would change for the worst almost immediately. And this shift would influence your behaviours - from your own time-keeping, how much you showed initiative and just how positive you were about the organisation.

Behaviours, therefore, are the ways in which we act or conduct ourselves based on our attitudes; our deportment, bearing and etiquette. How we behave is manifestation of our attitudes towards the other person, issues, events or objects. People judge us on our behaviours, not on our attitudes. They may say ‘…you have a bad attitude…’ but what they mean is your behaviours indicate you have a bad attitude.

Others cannot see your knowledge. Nor can they see your experiences. Others may have a sense of your skills and capabilities but can only judge you on your behaviours, which are projections of your attitudes.

If attitudes can be changed, then behaviours can also be changed.

Imagine your new narcissist boss begins to keep better time. You are suddenly praised for all your innovative efforts by the narcissist bully’s superior because she realises what you have historically been doing. And the narcissist joins in to protect themselves with their immediate line manager.

These positive behaviours continue and the narcissist begins to change behaviours. You are likely to change your attitudes towards this narcissist and to the organisation overall which will affect your behaviours.

If your behaviours begin to change, so will your consistent habits; those behaviours you do not have to think about because they are so ingrained, settled and regular - new behaviours and habits which will then become harder to give up - until the next change to your attitudes.


Mike Orlov is passionate about interactions between people, facilitating the release of an individual’s potential and propositions between teams, divisions and companies; the key focus is creating alignment among individuals and developing value-driving operations

Having completed an MBA in 2004, achieving a Distinction and invited to study for an executive PhD, I underpin my extensive commercial experience in Europe and the GCC with a robust business academic foundation and am committed to building partnerships and continuous learning. I am also a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (FInstLM)

Balancing intellectual rigour with an experienced and practical approach, I have been a publisher of magazines, ran a national newspaper advertisement sales team in the UK, held a board directorship at the London Evening Standard and been a director of one of Northern & Shell's businesses

Before becoming a partner at SSG, I launched media brands in Dubai, was Chief Performance Officer for News Group International and was the Chief Executive at Primedia International, with offices across the GCC

I am a leadership and management transformation and change agent, facilitator, mentor, business coach, trainer, public speaker, presenter, story-teller and a published business author with a weekly column in a daily newspaper and a regular business magazine slot.