An octopus has two large, complex eyes that are camera-like in structure and their vision is sharp. They learn very quickly by observing their surroundings.
In an experiment, octopuses were trained with food rewards to attack specific color balls. Another group of octopus observing from an adjacent tank were released. Those watching the activity with red balls attacked red balls and those which had seen white balls attacked those.
The response of the octopuses based on observation were faster than those which had been trained.
As leaders, we can learn from this study with octopuses.
People behave the same as the octopuses. What we see influences us. We learn more by watching the behaviors of others more than training.
Training is key to building a great organization, but those you lead will be influenced more by the way you behave.
As a leader, you are training others all the time.
- You are training others through your speech.
- You are training others through your actions.
- You are training others through your mood.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn
In organizations, we like to train people and offer rewards for the correct behavior, but like the octopuses that observed, those around you are always watching. Your team are octopuses not robots. You can train people to respond a certain way when there are rewards based on performance but in the long run they will mirror the behavior you model. Leaders must model the environment they expect from their organization.