Archive for the ‘ Behavior ’ Category
“Proceed with caution in the direction of your hopes, and live safely, the life have.” —Hank Dave Locke
Mediocre is a good. Moderate quality is ok. “Average is the norm,” as Yogi Berra might say.
Today’s world is complicated—every segment of society is continually changing and very little seems to be certain anymore, like it was two hundred years ago. No amount strategy, planning, or consulting can change this reality.
The great challenge for today’s leader at work, in sports, at home, or in academia, is to help everyone just hold on through the chaos and hope that things turn out for the good. We need to lower our expectations on what “greatness” really is. Our primary focus as leaders today is to maintain the status quo and not allow innovation, excellence, or a utopian idea of high-performance disrupt people from allowing people to get their job done the way they always have—for the most part.
The following are a host (who really counts how many points there are in articles like this anymore?) of ideas, or habits, or secrets, that will help leaders around the world avoid the stress caused by the quest for “higher levels” of performance and help maintain the status quo within your spheres of influence—if you have any.
Don’t Have a Vision
Visions are nothing more than “pie in the sky” dreams about the way things should be, not the way things really are. Having a vision for your organization only stresses people out and puts too high of expectations on them—expectations that are impossible to live up to in the end. And besides everybody forgets the vision after the town hall meeting anyway. So leaders need to save everyone the stress—don’t create a vision.
Don’t Set Goals
Like vision, goals are a big stress in any area of life. People don’t need really need goals; it only sets you up for failure and disappointment. People come to work and know what they’re supposed to do and should be left alone to get it done—they don’t need a goal to tell them what they need to do. Without the stress of goals we don’t have to plan our week or take time every day to think about our activities we need to do. Without the burden of goals, people are free to just get straight to working—on something!
Don’t Give Feedback—And Never Ever Ask for Feedback
Feedback is just an illusion. It’s just someone else’s perception. By offering feedback you’re suggesting that something could be actually done a certain way—that’s pretty judgmental if you think about it. The reality is that everybody has their own way about going about doing things. By giving feedback to someone you’re know judging them, you’re insinuating that things could be done even better, and this is very disruptive to an organization—especially when you give feedback to someone that’s been leading people for 20 or more years. By asking for feedback you’re insinuating that someone knows how to do it better than you. That’s a no-no. You’ll look like a fool and people may begin to think that you don’t know how to do your job if you ask for feedback
There’s only so much time in a day that you can sit around and listen to people’s complaints and problems. A leader that wants to maintain the
status quo and promote mediocrity, keep things flowing, should have no part of listening to somebody else’s challenges concerns or feedback. Time is of the
essence so don’t waste time listening to people’s concerns, and they’ll figure it out on their own—probably.
Don’t Solve Problems—Today
Like listening, problem-solving is another big waste of time. Problems exist, they always will, so what’s the point of trying to solve a problem when the reality is there will be 10 more, at least, that will spring up the next day. And if you really must try to solve a problem, sometimes you do, than the best strategy is to put it off until tomorrow. An average leader instinctively knows that today is all we have, and today’s troubles will take care of themselves; tomorrow.
Don’t Measure Performance
Our society is beginning to understand this at a youth sports level—it’s time to understand this at a corporate level. If you hand out trophies and reward people for a “excellent” performance, what does that say to the rest of the organization? Measuring performance is just another way to discourage those who want to show up and work and just collect a paycheck. It’s another way to create distrust of the executives. Remember, your mission is to help your people survive, it’s not up to you to help them thrive—making the “scoreboard” irrelevant.
Feed Them Coffee and Donuts
This is a no brainer. Pavlov proved long ago that food, and now today, coffee, is a real good way to keep people satisfied. As long as people can come to work and know that donuts and coffee will be available, they will keep showing up. Sure it didn’t really work out with the orca whales at that Entertainment Park, but then again people aren’t really whales—food defiantly will satisfy humans. It’s not that complicated.
Which brings us full circle. Today’s leaders need to provide a safe environment with moderate expectations. The primary purpose of leadership is to help people survive and get through life in one piece—and enjoy the weekend. Leaders who follow these simple guiding principles will more than likely produce a culture of mediocrity and maintain a steady balance and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.
Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He works with Fortune 500 Companies, Small Business, and Start Ups developing Performance Intelligence strategies that are linked to research based, leadership development curriculums and cutting edge application software.
As I stepped up to the podium to give my Keynote at a recent leadership conference, I begin to second guess my whole topic of conversation. My topic, How Millennials may be the Catalyst for Change, was a very provocative approach to letting the majority of the audience know that Sam Cooke said it best when he said “Change is gonna come”. Millennials have a different take on work and truthfully, they have a big crush on work life balance. They talk about it, they breathe it, they live it, and they just want it really bad. Truthfully, they are just too big to ignore anymore. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce and as of first quarter this year, make up the largest segment of general workers.
Newly minted Millennials leaders are also in a really precarious situation — they have to be more flexible, agile, and willing to adjust to change than ever before. They have to lead their peers, lead older generations and even deal with this current climate of pushing for more work life balance. Currently, there is a dichotomy in researching human interactions: the research on the workplace is studied separately from an individual’s personal life or home life. As a result, research has yet to focus on the individual as a whole but often view him/her separately as if he/she is somehow neatly segmented into two different worlds. What Millennials are calling for is a fusion of the two. Life isn’t arbitrarily and artificially segmented, so they believe their work life and personal life shouldn’t be either. When asked in a recent focus group, 90% of Ken Blanchard Millennial employees desired a working life that was more in tune with the realities of life. Recently, General Electric (GE) announced it will forego PTO and vacation hours and make the vacations unlimited to the majority of its employees. Roughly, 2% of all employers have this option but GE is the largest. This number will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years, as the shift is currently being made to a flexible workplace.
And that’s not even the scary part. The scary part is that, currently, 51% of Millennials are in formal leadership positions and the majority hasn’t received the proper training to become a leader. Organizations are setting up their new up-and-coming millennial leaders for failure! I spoke with a friend of mine in San Diego who mentioned that her VP of Sales left the company and they were replacing him with the top sales rep in the company. When the change was announced, they threw a huge party on Friday and everyone congratulated him for the promotion. On Monday, he submitted his resignation. He realized over the weekend that he didn’t want to do it. In fact, he said he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t trained to become a leader, didn’t know the skill set needed to transition from a high performing individual contributor to now a leader of his peers, and frankly had no desire to do it. He said, “I’m good at selling, that’s what I do; that’s my strength. Why would you think just because I’m good at selling I can become a high performing leader?” It makes no sense, and employers do it all the time. If you want to keep your young, millennial talent you need to set them up for success by equipping and training them for their next role.
So, I’ve begun to really analyze this question around aspiring leaders to determine the best way to capture how Millennials are transitioning into become leaders in their organization. How do they feel? Do they feel equipped? Are they excited or nervous? If you’d like to contribute to this area of research, you may take this short survey linked here. I will share my findings in a follow up post after the data is analyzed.
The Mindfulness revolution is here!
Even if you don’t practice Mindfulness or haven’t been on a Mindfulness course the chances are you have heard of the term.
It is now being taught in some schools, workplaces are using it to de-stress employees and it’s even being ‘prescribed’ by health authorities to reduce anxiety and relieve symptoms of depression.
For about a year and a half I have practiced mindfulness – it is part of my daily life and I get so much out of it. It is not for everyone – a colleague lately mentioned my interest in things that were a bit different and called it ‘fluffy’. That may be some people’s thoughts, but I have reaped the benefits of using various practices that work for me and discarded others that don’t. That’s the great thing about mindfulness, it is different things to different people and you take the pieces you like and leave the ones you don’t.
I have adapted this article from a post I wrote on the Silver Lining blog site.
What is Mindfulness and what is it not?
It is not daydreaming or thinking about the past or future. It’s definitely not hocus pocus and you don’t have to become a hippy to practice it.
Although scientists need to do more research into the benefits of Mindfulness, it is recognised by some neuroscientists and health providers as a way of reducing anxiety and stress. You can even do a Masters in Mindfulness now!
Mindfulness is about being in the present, being mindful of what you are doing here and now; this includes how your body feels, what emotions are you experiencing and just letting yourself ‘be’.
It can involve meditating as part of the practice of mindfulness, but the meditations are very much about shutting off distractions and focusing solely on ourselves.
Auto-Pilot – If you have ever driven or walked to work and seeming got there in ‘autopilot’, you are well aware of not being present. We can feel like our days slip away from us and we don’t fully enjoy the time we have. We also have stresses and commitments that keep us busy and don’t make time to think about our own health and wellbeing.
Taking time to be in the ‘here and now’ and examine how we are feeling is part of Mindfulness. It’s actually very simple!
When looking at the brain, scans have shown that the metabolic activity changes when we meditate. The active parts of the brain (shown in red on a scan) increase during meditation. This shows not only that meditation affects our minds, but it also affects how our brain works.
Dr. Michael Baim from the University of Pennsylvania says in his paper called ‘This Is Your Brain on Mindfulness’:
‘Several neuroscientists have shown that some of the brain regions activated during meditation are actually different in people who meditate regularly, and the most recent evidence suggests that the changes can occur in as little as eight weeks. This finding is at odds with what we think we know about brain structure in adults…’
‘ We used to believe that sometime shortly after twenty-five or thirty years of age the brain was finished with growth and development. From then on, the brain became progressively impaired by age and injury, and it was all downhill from there. But recent meditation research suggests that this glum outcome may not be inevitable.’
Using mindfulness meditation can be compared to going to the gym – the more you work out your muscles (in this case brain muscle) the stronger you get.
Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar, a researcher in the psychiatry department at Massachusetts General Hospital, looked at the brain’s cortex (the outermost surface of the brain). She found that when brain images of two groups were compared, meditators and non-meditators, some cortical areas in the brains of the meditators were significantly thicker than the same areas in non-meditators.
The cortex wastes away with age; but in Lazar’s meditating subjects, these enlarged areas were the same thickness as what was measured in non-meditators twenty years younger.
Areas of the brain that are important within this region of the brain are the prefrontal cortex which manages higher cognitive “executive” functions like planning, decision making, and judgment, and keeps us out of trouble by facilitating socially appropriate behavior. Also, the insula which controls sensation and emotion, and processes social emotions such as empathy and love. It is thought to be essential for the capacity for self-awareness.
Mindfulness practice, also referred to as Mindfulness meditation, takes time to master. Here’s a few ways you can practice…
We all eat without thinking. Get a piece of chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate because of its health benefits and greate range of flavours!) and put it on your tongue. Spend a few minutes letting it melt – think about the texture and all the flavours you experience.
I use this regularly; when I feel stressed or need to take the emotion out of a situation. I also used in recently when I had to take 6 flights within a space of 2 weeks – for those who know me well, you know I passionately dislike flying!
If you have ever studied Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) you will understand that thoughts lead to emotions and potentially negative actions. This is a great way to break that cycle.
Breath in slowly and whilst doing so say (in your head) ‘breathing in’. Then, on your slow out-breath say ‘breathing out’. Repeat just focusing on the breath.
This noting will help you avoid distractions and get in tune with your breath. It will give you a great sense of calm.
With all the stresses and strains of daily life, we forget about what makes us happy and what we are grateful for. Take 10-15mins to write down what makes you happy and what you are grateful for.
A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.
So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.
So what do you need to know to become a great leader?