Tag Archives: Craig Ferguson

The Easiest Way to Change Behavior with Craig Ferguson

There is so much written about the ways a leader can enact behavior change. We can discuss the power of social norms, habit formation, change management, or any number of behavior modification techniques, but maybe that’s overthinking it. Maybe Craig Ferguson has found the simplest, more effective solution.

In a recent interview, television host, comedian, director, and author Craig Ferguson discussed one particular behavior that he’s worked to improve—being a good person—and how his “complex” methodology has helped:

I do not believe that thought makes behavior; I believe that behavior makes thought. So if you want to be a good person, job number one: Do something nice. Resist the temptation to be a dick. And then, very quickly, the universe will stop making you a dick. You’ll stop feeling like a dick because you’re not acting like a dick. If you don’t act like a dick, you’re not a dick. Sometimes I want to do some really awful shit, but I don’t do it, therefore, I’m not in jail.

I could write an essay on why this approach will work, but the lesson is clear—if you act a certain way, you are more likely to become that way. We can question sincerity or the problems associated with pretending, but the truth remains that change follows action, and nothing changes without action.

So if you want to enact behavior change, start making the change. You want to be considered a leader who empowers others? Start empowering them. You want to be considered ethical? Act ethically. If your goal is to be a better leader, don’t over analyze it; take action.

Craig Ferguson on Informed Deconstruction

Craig FergusonWhen I speak with newly hired leaders, I find myself advising them to avoid bashing their new company. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually quite common. The newbie was brought in to “fix” a problem so there’s a sense of empowerment that the current system is wrong and their way will be right. Craig Ferguson had a similar experience.

Craig Ferguson is a comedian, director, and author who hosts the game show Celebrity Name Game and History Channel’s Join or Die with Craig Ferguson. In his former role as host of the Peabody Award-winning The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Craig wanted it to be different, unlike the other late night talk shows. As discussed in a recent interview,

You realize that you can’t throw out things until you know why they’re there. So like the convention of a talk show, I kept as much as I thought was of any use. And there was some that they made me keep. They said, ‘You gotta do a monologue. You have to have that piece of you every night at that time.’ And then they give you reasons like, ‘We’ll fire you if you don’t.’

He relearned this when he started Celebrity Name Game:

You have to learn how to do the format. I thought I was going to be a wise ass. I went into it thinking, ‘I’m not going to do a traditional game show.’ And I watched the first episodes back and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt and I was like, ‘Who’s in charge?’ You couldn’t tell. There were a bunch of people moving around and they all looked the same.

What Craig and every leader must understand is that we must understand the structure before deconstructing it. Here are three ways to begin your deconstruction.

Start with data gathering. To make any substantial changes, we need to know why the process flows the way it does, how decisions were made, and who set the priorities. Then we can begin to draft informed, strategic solutions to correct or enhance the system.

Depersonalize the problem. When someone joins an organization with immediate critiques, they find out too late that their disparaging comments alienated the team and lost some much needed support. Find a way to deliver the negative comments in a softer, less disparaging manner. Justify why it needs to change with facts and make the team part of the solution.

No one care about your past job. I’ve told many leaders to avoid the phrase, “At my last company…” This brag does not impress anyone, nor does it validate your argument. Own the idea and sell it on merit. If you get pushback, maybe say, “I’ve seen this work before.”

Like Craig, we must understand why things are the ways they are before making changes. A wrecking ball approach may feel good, but processes, priorities, and programs were instituted for a reason. They are ingrained in the culture and some individuals feel personally accountable for developing and maintaining them. This may feel like it will slow you down, but cleaning up your botched efforts will take much longer.