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Why Do People Behave the Way They Do?

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During a leadership coaching or consulting relationship, coaches and consultants will often ponder why their clients behave the way they do, and more importantly, coaches or consultant may struggle with how to shape these behaviors to help clients be more successful. It may appear an obvious and easily answered question, but how many of us deeply understand the factors that drive behavior in an individual (or in ourselves for that matter)? What are the elements that can be influenced to help individuals change their behaviors? There are literally thousands of published articles on this topic, making it one of the most researched of topics in psychology (Bechler et al, APS 2021). Despite this, few coaches and consultants that I have worked with have a sound understanding of these elements, how they influence behavior and how they can be influenced.

The model that I have used most often (for example, in a project to limit what is called “Insider threats” in organizations under threat from employees/workers stealing information assets or doing other damage to the company), is the Ajzen and Fishbein Reasoned Action Model (RA). I have used a simplified version of this model with clients to identify the kinds of interventions that are likely to be most effective in influencing employee behavior. I will briefly describe this model and use a business consulting example to demonstrate how it may be used.

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