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When Understanding Isn’t Enough

Sample Client List

We all have frustrations when it comes to other people.

Or perhaps “frustrations” is too strong a word. Maybe you just hoped or planned that someone would do something you thought you had agreed on…and then they didn’t do it.

This happens at home and at work.

It is common to see executives frustrated when VPs compete and hoard information instead of working together on projects…even though the VPs have been reminded that working together is best for the business.

From a psychological perspective, in both cases, the disconnect is caused by our misunderstanding of human behavior.

…and this misunderstanding is so deeply programmed into our thinking that even experts in behavior fall victim to its trappings. 

The primary assumption that drives many of the disconnects that happen between people is the belief that telling someone what to do will get them to do it

This is not true. 

Understanding a request (or order) represents only part of the solution in most cases.

The manager who gives an employee a list of expectations only to find that the employee does something else gets frustrated. We see a similar result when workers 

…fail to follow procedures that are clearly documented, 

…click on spammy email links even after completing security training,

…fail to complete meeting action items even though they are clearly written down and reminders sent, 

…make the wrong product even though the right product is clearly listed on the orders, 

…use the wrong tool when the correct tool is available, 

…or don’t do part of their job even though it is clearly listed in their job description. 

I’m sure you have seen these and other examples in your own job many times, from leaders, coworkers, clients, and maybe yourself.

Developing an understanding of behavior tells us that the most powerful drivers of behavior are not your requests, stated company values, policies, or procedures.

The most powerful drivers of behavior are those things in the environment at the point of performance. That’s not to say we shouldn’t clarify expectations, explain why something is important to do, or have policies and procedures. 

…It just means that we shouldn’t forget that the strongest drivers of behavior are in our local environment…what’s around us right now.

My new book is out!

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If you want to help spread the word about my new book…you can:

  1. Leave an honest review on Amazon.
  2. Send a copy of the book to people you think will love and use it.

Scroll down to see some of the very generous endorsements I’ve already received for the book. I’m so grateful to know these amazing and supportive people.


John has been the driving force of our nationally acclaimed safety program for over a decade, and I can never thank him enough. If results matter to you, this is a must-read. 

Steve East
Chairman CSM Group
Proud recipient of ABC’s National Pinnacle Safety Award

Every leader at Revere goes through John’s course and applies the 5-step process. The result has been a massive change in culture focusing on relationships, the environment and achieving results.  John’s work is our “behavioral science bible” – it drives improvement in all areas.

Michael O’Shaughnessy
Revere Copper Products

Results – everyone wants them and now anyone can achieve them by following the roadmap provided by John Austin. His message is practical, understandable, and delivered through a series of relatable stories that reflect those common leadership conundrums that we encounter every day.

Dr. Linda LeBlanc, BCBA-D
Owner, LeBlanc Behavioral Consulting

I have known John for years now and he always motivates me to be the leader I aspire to be. The book is a great read, and I am now leaning into the 5 steps to address some of my areas for improvement.

Paul Hendry
Global Vice President – Health, Safety and Environment

These strategies are simple and immediately applicable to workplace settings. The stories, ideas, guidance, and practical activities result in repeated “ah-ha” and “it’s so simple, why did I not think of that?” moments. No matter if you are new to managing others, mid-career, or an experienced supervisor or manager, everyone will learn from this straightforward five-step process.

Dr. Tyra Sellers, JD, BCBA-D
Owner, TP Sellers, LLC

Oh, how I wish I had this book as I began and refined my leadership journey. In it, John doesn’t just tell you the what and the how. Through his practical 5 step process, he also gives you the why, the when, the where, the how much, and the how often through compelling stories that illustrate key concepts.

His entire approach, laid out in an easy-to-understand format, is grounded in the science of human behavior. This is a must-read for both emerging and veteran leaders.

Dr. Paul “Paulie” Gavoni
Wall Street Journal & USA Today Best-selling Author

Dr. John Austin has written a succinct, practical guide for leaders striving to ‘do better’. He combines his extensive experience, evidence-based practices, and engaging storytelling to teach leaders how to maximize results. This book is a must read for new leaders, those who wish to start a business, or are interested in improving workplace outcomes. Alignment amongst teams is critical and this book provides simple tools, activities, and tips to do just that!

Ivy Chong, PhD, BCBA-D
Senior Vice President, Children’s Services
May Institute

I have been using John’s approach for almost 15 years and I have seen it work hundreds of times at our Plant.  I still have these 5 steps on a white board in my office to remind me daily of this approach. Read the book and start a project – you’ll thank John!

Niall McConville
Site Director
SABIC Mt Vernon, IN

In this riveting, accessible read, Dr. Austin’s 5 step process helps you set the right environment for your team to succeed.  His advice is not an ephemeral “bag of tricks” … it’s the actionable work (backed by research and decades of experience) you need to build the organization and teams that you always wanted to lead

Jonathan Mueller
Host of “Building Better Businesses in ABA” Podcast, CEO of Element RCM, and co-founder of Ascend Behavior Partners

John Austin’s book adds much needed context that spans both organizational and behavioral aspects of work, and provides an evidence-based framework leaders can use to successfully navigate the day to day challenges in operating a business.

Brian Hanlon, CIH, CPE, CSP
Director of Environmental Health and Safety
Staples Connect

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