Lessons from the Super Nanny: Courage and Consequences

My daughter was watching Super Nanny, a reality TV show about parents struggling with their children’s behaviour. Featuring professional nanny Jo Frost, each episode is centered around her work to help parents bring greater order into their households.

Despite my best efforts to focus on the work I was doing, I couldn’t help but stop and watch the techniques Jo teaches.  Witnessing the profound impact she has made me reflect on how applicable her approach is to the corporate world.  The dramatic shift in behavior was fundamentally due to the consistent application of consequences.

Setting expectations are pointless and words are empty when we fail as parents or leaders to follow through with promised consequences for outcomes.  Absence of consequences seriously undermines a leader’s credibility and ultimately their ability to build trust and respect.

Applying real consequences is vital to enable a leader to positively influence behavior.  Recognizing and rewarding people for their achievements as well as taking corrective action to address poor performance or unacceptable behavior are both crucial. To build successful cultures leaders must reinforce desirable behaviors as well as eradicate and avoid unacceptable behaviors.

Super Nanny coaches parents to approach the difficult job of shifting their children’s behavior with focus, courage and discipline. These are equally important drivers of success for leaders wanting to shift the culture of their team or organization.  Here are the 10 things that matter the most:

Focus, on

1. What you are trying to achieve

  • What does the end goal look like?
  • Create a clear vision of what’s possible and intended

2. Influencing what others perceive to be successful and unsuccessful behaviours
3. Performance objectives that value what people achieve as well as how they go about it

Courage, to

4. Face reality and take action including applying consequences
5. Be honest with yourself and others
6. Confront challenge
7. Work through conflict

Discipline, to

8. Be consist and reinforce messages
9. Maintain frequency of engagement through the process
10. Focus on sustainable change


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