Dan Schawbel: Why “Back To Human” Is The Most Powerful Leadership Strategy

Back to Human: It’s the title of Dan Schawbel’s new book, and the phrase itself implies that we’ve departed from being human toward one another in significant ways. That’s the assumption behind Dan’s work. He has devoted his life to studying human interactions and has compiled much of what he’s learned into his new book. He has tremendous insight into how we can be intentional about our human interactions so that they can be optimized for our health as individuals and our success in the workplace.

You won’t want to miss this insightful episode. Dan shares why emotional intelligence is more important than skill competence, what social media and digital communication have done to us as humans in spite of their obvious benefits, and how we can turn things around to benefit ourselves and those on our teams in incredible ways.

Getting “back to human” means understanding that emotional intelligence is more important than technical skill

Think about what is typically looked for when resumes or CVs for open positions are submitted at your company. Typically, the focus is on education and experience. In other words – What has the person accomplished? What skills do they bring to the role for which they are being considered? But is that the right place to look for maximum fit and effectiveness on your team?

Dan Schawbel says that it’s becoming more and more evident that the soft skills we’ve come to describe as “emotional intelligence” have a much greater impact on a person’s fit and effectiveness on a team than do their job-related skills. Why is that? It’s because the relationships within the team underly everything that the team does. If there is tension between team members, the outcomes the team produces will be impacted. That’s a relational issue, not a skill issue. Listen to hear Dan share why leaders should focus more on emotional intelligence in themselves and their team members if they really want to move “back to human” in their leadership style.

We are failing to understand and be understood when we only use digital communication

Digital communication has been a great blessing to the world. We now have the ability to connect with others who are across the globe with the click of a button or a few minor keystrokes. But the ease of digital communication has taken some of the humanity out of the WAY we communicate with each other. Statistics are showing that though people are communicating with others more often digitally, the experiences of loneliness and isolation are growing exponentially.

Why is that? It’s because there is something missing in the way we are interacting, and Dan Schawbel says it’s the human component of the relationship. He suggests we do everything we can to increase face to face communication with each other, whether we are connected through a work-related team, as family members, or in a service provider-client relationship. Listen to glean incredible practical advice from what Dan has to share.

How do we express more empathy when we are unable to meet face to face?

Though the ideal way to move back to more human interactions in our digital age is to get face to face with each other as often as possible, it’s not always possible. What can we do to express empathy and care for others when digital means of communication are all we have available?

A simple first step is to take the needed time to sweeten up our email and text interactions. A few moments used to strategically add complimentary or appreciative words can go a long way toward creating connection with the person on the other end of the correspondence and add value to the interaction.

Leaders can enlist and empower remote workers to lead remote meetings. Not only does it communicate trust, it also engages various team members in becoming known by the team and helps them develop confidence and skill – an opportunity most modern workers are looking for.

For larger companies, Dan suggests that leadership creates a budget that enables leaders to travel to remote sites. It’s that important for leaders to stay engaged with the people on their teams by meeting them in person. Another approach would be to use that budget to host a group gathering annually where everyone across the team can come together in one place.

People will work for your company longer if you care for them in a “back to human” way

During our conversation, Dan Schawbel shares the story of a woman who took on a new role at a large corporation when she was young. The transition to the company location was daunting because she was moving from a rural area to a large, metropolitan city. Her manager took her under his wing like one would do for a beloved nephew or friend. The impact was powerful.

The company was IBM, and the young woman has been a part of the team for 10 years so far. She now serves as an executive on the team. Her manager met her human needs before meeting her work-related needs, and the impact was tremendous. People will work for a company longer when leaders express that kind of support, empathy, and care in a variety of ways.

Don’t miss this episode. Dan shares amazing insights that are practical and beneficial to teams and leaders alike.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Who is Dan, and what does leadership mean to him?
  • [3:20] Why should we apply the “back to human” philosophy?
  • [11:33] How do we foster better empathy when we can’t meet face to face?
  • [15:03] What differences in application are there across genders, countries, etc.?
  • [19:42] What can “C level” execs do to introduce a “back to human” culture?
  • [23:39] How to handle a boss who has a hard time getting back to human?
  • [26:04] Dan’s biggest pieces of advice for those who desire to be masters of leadership

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Tasha Eurich: Increase Self Awareness To Maximize Your Leadership

If you are a leader, the data is in: As you increase self awareness your leadership will improve. Self Awareness is a very simple concept, but quite difficult in practice. That’s because we don’t always see ourselves the same way that we come across to those we interact with. On this episode, my guest Tasha Eurich shares her findings regarding the quality of self awareness and drives home how important it is for leaders to increase in self awareness for the sake of their teams. Be sure you listen to learn how simple it is to improve in self awareness and how to establish daily habits that help.

Ask the question,

“How much time do I spend focused on knowing myself?”

To begin an assessment of how self aware you really are, Tasha suggests you start by asking a simple question, “How much time do I spend focused on knowing myself?” She says it doesn’t take extraordinary amounts of time to get to know yourself but it does require a concerted effort.

On this episode, Tasha shares a few simple but powerful routines you can add to your daily schedule that will help you discover who you really are and then apply that knowledge to your role as a leader. She also shares a free self awareness quiz she’s developed to help anyone quickly ascertain how self aware they really are. Get the details on this episode.

Grow your self awareness by establishing the habit of a daily check-in

One of the most highly consistent data points Tasha discovered that was common to people who were highly self aware but weren’t previously was a daily habit of checking in with themselves about how they are relating to others. The daily check-in she recommends consists of 3 questions:

  1. What went well today?
  2. What didn’t go so well today?
  3. How can I be smarter tomorrow?

What Tasha loves about those questions is two-fold: First, it enables you to stay out of “overthinking mode,” which is counterproductive when it comes to increasing self awareness. Secondly, these simple questions can give you micro insights you can use to be more aware of your interactions with others. This can reveal big aspects of yourself that you haven’t been aware of before.

Awareness is at the heart of being successful as a leader – and a human

High profile leaders who are self-aware are a rare sight these days. Tasha points out that one of the best models of self awareness she’s met is Alan Mulally, a business leader who turned around two iconic American companies that were in big trouble – Boeing Commercial and Ford Motor Company. What enabled him to turn Ford from a $17 billion loss to a $20 billion profit just 6 years later?

Surely, there were many things he did to enable that kind of turn-around, but he says that at the heart of any success – and something he focuses on personally – is the issue of awareness. When you have that value at your core, you are able to see the gems about yourself or your situation that enable you to make adjustments to what you’re doing. Don’t underestimate the power of awareness.

People in positions of power tend to be less self aware: Find loving critics

Leaders are high power, high energy individuals for the most part. But they don’t always have the greatest sense of self awareness. These people must go out of their way to get quality feedback. Tasha calls those who give this vital feedback “loving critics,” people who care enough to tell the truth about how the leader is coming across to those they lead.

This insight alone is a gem that you can use to increase self awareness in a way that empowers your leadership, equips your team to be more productive and creative, and to become better at empowering and equipping others to become leaders themselves.

Don’t miss this great conversation.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:22] Tasha’s working definition of leadership: Bringing out the best in others
  • [2:01] The power of improving self awareness
  • [3:57] What does it mean to be self aware and how do we grow in self awareness?
  • [6:06] How to apply a “daily check in” to enable your self awareness
  • [7:42] Leaders Tasha holds up as great examples of leaders who are self aware
  • [10:30] How to improve in self awareness in a society that works remotely?
  • [14:01] Tasha’s biggest piece of advice for leaders
  • [16:21] How to connect with Tasha

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Rahaf Harfoush: Transforming Modern Work To Help Productive Creatives Thrive

The world of modern work is transforming before our very eyes. Remote working teams, new tools that provide faster communication, and a focus on team culture and environment are melding with traditional beliefs about work to create a complicated and often unhealthy place in which today’s workers must perform.

My guest on this episode, Rahaf Harfoush is a digital anthropologist who has devoted herself to studying the many intersections between emerging technology, innovation, and digital culture. Her third book, entitled “Hustle & Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work,” reveals the data and practices behind companies and organizations that are adapting to the needs of modern workers effectively and creating teams that are more productive and healthier, all at the same time. Don’t miss this conversation.

“Productive Creatives” is a moniker that describes most people working today

Most roles within companies and organizations these days fall into the category of knowledge work, and in those roles, a growing amount of creativity is needed to truly be productive. It’s an approach to work and performance that is relatively new but is quickly becoming the norm because of the digitally integrated age we live in. Rahaf’s belief is that we need to rethink the systems and approaches to work that have governed the way we work and live so that we can adapt to the needs of the modern worker – the ones she has dubbed “Productive Creatives.” Listen to this episode to hear how she suggests we go about addressing the very real needs that touch most people in the modern workforce.

Does your team need more perks or a better behavioral environment?

Policies that leaders often put in place to attract and retain team members are many times nothing more than band-aids – things that don’t truly address the needs of the very people they hope to benefit. In this conversation, Rahaf gives the example of how the leadership at Netflix created an “unlimited paid vacation” policy in an effort to attract and retain team members. What they discovered was that very few people actually made use of the benefit.

What was the reason? It turns out most people felt that taking “too much time off” would cast them in a negative light among their peers on the team. So the desire leaders had to provide a helpful and appreciated benefit wasn’t fulfilled. Their final solution was to create mandatory time off for everyone. This removed the “peer pressure” aspect of the paid time off and gave everyone the permission to rest, decompress, and take much-deserved breaks. Listen to hear how fascinating examples like this inform us as to how companies and organizations are adapting to the modern worker’s needs.

Where do we get our ideas about work? How is modern work being impacted?

There is a strange fusion of ideologies that go into the way each of us thinks about and approaches our work. Our personal history of work, the enduring idea of the Puritan work ethic, media influence and commentary regarding work, and the way we talk about modern work heroes create a cultural narrative about the ideal or standard of what successful work looks like.

The problem is this: the modern workplace is full of “productive creatives” – people who need a different environment in which to thrive. Creative work requires unstructured time, pauses, rest, breaks, and other somewhat unconventional approaches that fuel effective work actually being done. That’s one of the reasons Rahaf has titled her book “Hustle AND Float” – it’s both hard work AND the “float” time that empowers us to do our best work.

The constant urgency inherent in virtual working teams could be dangerous

Rahaf is thrilled that remote work is becoming more and more accepted and encouraged in the modern workplace. But she is concerned that the tools adopted to facilitate remote work have many of the characteristics inherent to social media. Notifications are a great thing, but when they are constantly chiming, they can communicate an expectation that quick responses are “normal” or expected. When this happens, productive creatives begin to miss the “float” time they need to get things done.

What’s the solution? Many organizations are taking proactive steps to allow for more creative work. Some communicate clearly about expected response times. Others block out days when no meetings are allowed. Listen to hear the science behind these types of decisions and how Rahaf suggests organizations optimize workflows and policies for the health of their teams.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:24] Why leadership is about courage to execute on values
  • [1:55] The reasons behind Rahaf writing her book, “Hustle + Float
  • [3:10] Who are “Productive Creatives” and what kind of work do they do?
  • [9:15] Where do we get our ideas about work?
  • [11:40] How does the digital, virtual workplace impact this issue?
  • [17:10] Advice for those wanting to learn how to “float” more alongside their hustle

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic: Removing Incompetent Leaders And Finding Better Ones

If you do a quick Google search starting with “My boss is…” you’ll find all kinds of evidence for the existence of incompetent leaders in business, politics, civic groups, and more. Dr. Tomas Charmorro-Premuzic has made it his mission to help organizations bring together tech and science to predict human performance. His latest book, “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders And How To Fix It” is a sorely needed wake-up call for our culture.

Tomas points out that much of what passes as thorough vetting of leadership candidates is not thorough in the areas that matter – the data-driven results of past leadership performance, relational skills, and the feedback of former team members. In this conversation Tomas shares how we’ve gotten into our current leadership mess, explains the ways we can turn the ship around, and gives advice to those who aspire to be leaders.

We need to become better at spotting true measures of competence

Tomas suggests that much of the reason we’ve wound up with incompetent leaders is that we’ve mistakenly assumed that the characteristics that make a person more likely to put themselves forward as a leadership candidate – assertiveness, confidence, even narcissism – are also the characteristics that will make them good leaders. The data shows this is not the case at all. Tomas says we need to become better at spotting true competence. Listen to this episode to hear how he suggests we do that.

If we want to upgrade our leaders we need to give more than lip service

Nobody would say they want a pompous, egotistical person to be their next leader. But when we go with the way leadership selection has always been done, that’s what we get. Tomas suggests three things we should pay attention to if we want our desires for good leaders to become reality.

  1. Focus on the right traits – it sounds obvious but it’s rarely done. Look for the qualities and attributes that make people better leaders. Humility, self-awareness, integrity. We focus too much on charisma, confidence, and self-promotion.
  2. Look for reliable data that can help us predict how leaders will perform in the future. You may have to dig to find it, but it’s worth it in the end.
  3. We should not lower the standards when searching for female leaders but raise the standards for male leaders.

Companies that hire better leaders use performance data well

Most of the companies that are getting leadership hiring and assessment right are well-established brands. Pepsico, CocaCola, Shell, Merck – and they all have one thing in common: they use data really well. They have a habit of measuring the performance of their leaders which gives them a data set from which they can establish benchmarks as to what the most effective leaders have in common. They also seek 360 feedback – especially how a leader’s subordinates or direct reports rate them – and then combine it with good scientifically defensible psychometric assessments. Doing this on a consistent basis pays off, with fewer incompetent leaders making the cut.

Advice for those working for incompetent leaders

If you find yourself stuck, working for a leader who is incompetent or difficult, Tomas says you need to learn the “soft skills” of getting inside the skin of your leader to discover what drives them and to learn how you can best negotiate with them.

He says first, don’t assume that changing departments or companies will make the situation better. Bad leadership is pervasive and the leader you inherit could be worse than the one you left.

Make yourself useful. Even bad leaders learn to appreciate those who make their role/job easier. Find ways to benefit your leader and you will have a better experience yourself.

Find ways in which your performance and achievements can be recognized by your bosses boss. You may need to get creative but it pays big if you can become an asset to those higher up the chain of leadership.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] Tomas’ definition of leadership
  • [2:22] Why Tomas wrote his book about incompetent men being in leadership
  • [4:23] How do we fix the problem of incompetent men in leadership?
  • [6:30] Tools we can use to do better interviews and remove our standard biases
  • [9:35] Recommendations for those working under incompetent bosses
  • [12:27] Tomas’ top three pieces of advice for being an effective leader
  • [14:52] Who are the competent leaders that inspire Tomas?

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Caroline Webb: Tips For Applying Behavioral Science In Management

Thankfully, the days are gone when leaders are prone to ignore the best ways to apply behavioral science in management. That’s because more and more often, the discoveries of science and the practices of leadership and management are converging. The two go hand in glove in the most successful organizations. For that reason, I wanted to invite Caroline Webb to be on the podcast.

Caroline is many things – a management consultant, economist, author, and leadership coach. She specializes in helping people understand the powerful lessons behavioral science brings to management and leadership, which results in a transformed way of living and working. During this conversation we speak about the insights from her book, “How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life”.

It’s vital for leaders to apply the findings of behavioral science in management

Behavioral science is a treasure trove of relevant information for leaders. Through its discoveries, we are able to understand exactly what is going on in the brains of people as various situations are happening. Do you see the impact of that kind of knowledge? As leaders, we can learn better ways to relate to and help those we work with when we understand better what’s going on in their minds.

Caroline is a very well-spoken, clear communicator about these issues, bringing the subject matter down to a level we can all understand and apply. Listen to this episode to discover real, science-based tips for becoming a better leader.

People get dumber when they get defensive

We’ve all seen the characterizations of old-style, bad leadership. Demands. Criticism. Berating diatribes. All of these are the kind of behavior none of us wants to have to endure from our leaders. Interestingly, behavioral science explains why – those approaches spark defensiveness, which in turn does specific things in the brain, actually making us less able to respond.

In Caroline’s Webb’s words, “We actually get dumber when we get defensive.” Can you imagine the difference it would make if those in management and leadership positions understood the ramifications of this kind of information? We could intentionally adjust our approach to confrontations, meetings, annual reviews – all to increase the likelihood of productive, helpful responses.

Putting yourself at a distance from the problem makes for clearer thinking

Every leader knows the difficulty of dealing with a crisis situation and leading a team through it. Stress can dominate – which makes for muddled thinking at best. Caroline recommends a very simple tactic which actually helps to clear the brain for better thinking. It’s called “distancing.”

She tells the story of one leader who was speaking to his team during a stressful situation. He asked them, “2 years from now, what will we wish we had done in this situation?” Do you see what he did? He was leading them all to distance themselves from the problem, to step outside the emotions of the moment to look at things from a fresh, wise perspective. Caroline says that distancing is a practice rooted in the findings of behavioral science, and those in management would do well to employ it.

Tips for developing empathy and understanding within remote teams

Even in the context of remote teams, there are powerful ways we can apply the lessons of behavioral science in management. One of the principles that has proven to yield great fruit is the practice of face to face meetings via video. Research shows that individuals are able to have greater degrees of empathy for others when visual cues are present. That means they need to actually SEE each other in order to pick up on things that are going on in the other person. A simple solution for digital teams is video. Caroline suggests that leaders of digital teams use video any chance they get to build more empathy and team connection.

Listen to this episode to hear the great insights Caroline has to share!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Who is Caroline Webb?
  • [1:37] The way Caroline defines leadership.
  • [3:04] Why Caroline focused her book on using behavioral science to address practical issues in life and work
  • [5:36] The simple practical steps we can all take based on behavioral science
  • [8:31] Caroline’s favorite examples of how people are using her principles well
  • [11:47] Actions we can take to stay balanced during the tough times
  • [13:49] Challenges to making good connections when we work digitally at a distance
  • [17:41] Generational differences don’t appear to be as much a reality as we thought
  • [22:01] Emotional contagion is a real thing that impacts teams broadly

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

David Peterson: Long Term Leadership Requires Leadership Development Through Coaching

My guest on this episode loves to think of leadership through a long-term lens. He believes that the way a leader approaches today’s decisions must be informed by looking toward tomorrow. David Peterson is the Director of Leadership and Coaching at Google where he provides coaching to senior leaders, oversees internal and external coaching programs, and supports a executive development and organizational learning programs. He is the author of two best-selling books, “Leader As Coach” and “Development FIRST: Strategies for Self-Development.”

During this conversation, it became immediately apparent that David’s view of what it takes to optimize an organization for the future is a bit counter-intuitive to the average leader. He says leaders must sub-optimize current performance in order to optimize future performance. Listen to this episode to hear David explain.

In our volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world (VUCO), leaders must hold up a clear vision of long-term values and mission

There is so much coming at us these days – and the pace seems to be picking up all the time. Leaders often find their heads spinning as more data, more innovation, and bigger opportunities present themselves every day. If the leaders are feeling the impact of such things, what are those they lead feeling?

David rightly says that the best antidote to overwhelm in light of VUCA is to maintain a clear view of long-term values and mission. It’s how leaders empower their teams to stay on track, assess opportunities as they arise, and stay focused on end-goals that matter.

When quick decisions are required, should you trust your gut or depend on data?

Competition and innovation are two of the reasons game-changing decisions feel more urgent all the time. When those moments come, how should leaders make decisions when they haven’t had time to consider all the data?

Some would say you should trust your gut intuition – and David says trusting your gut works well when a situation is similar to things you’ve dealt with in the past. But research shows that even better decisions are made when the leader is able to take 5 minutes to step back and look at the flaws in their model and solicit input.

David’s rule of thumb is to make a decision when 60% to 70% of the data you prefer to have is available – instead of waiting for all the information you’d prefer to have. If you wait longer, someone else (a competitor) will make the decision before you do. For best results, act on the data you have and adapt as new data comes in.

Leaders need to learn and teach deep empathy

Organizations thrive when healthy relationships exist throughout the organization. Research is proving it to be the case. Leaders have to be out front when it comes to developing that type of culture. When they do, amazing things are possible.

David suggests leaders work to grow in what he calls, “deep empathy.” It has four components:

  • The ability to see things from other perspectives
  • The ability to appreciate things from other perspectives
  • The ability to anticipate the reactions of various audiences
  • The ability to foster a sense of inclusion (to ensure people feel understood and welcome to share their perspectives).

Leaders who employ coaching use it to empower their teams in deep empathy skills, which benefits everyone.

Long-term leadership requires an understanding of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level consequences of leadership development

Every leader needs to be developing the Jr. Leaders around them. David cites a few examples of companies who make leadership development part of their culture – some to the point that promotions and raises are dependent on a person’s ability to develop others.

Part of being a mature developer of others is an understanding of what he refers to as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level consequences of investing in people.

The 1st order consequences of leadership development are that it takes time and you don’t get results right away. That’s because the Jr. person is in learning mode, taking in a lot of information and coaching at once.

The 2nd order consequences are where things begin to get better because the mentee is learning how to apply their newfound knowledge and skills, they appreciate the learning, and they can do things that free up the leader for more important tasks.

The 3rd order consequences have both a downside and an upside. Oftentimes, people who a leader has invested in leave the organization to take positions in other organizations. But positively, the leader becomes known as a talent-builder and as such, begins to attract others who want to come work for them.

David shared many insights about long term leadership that have me thinking. Your perspective on leadership will be challenged too, so I invite you to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:39] David’s definition of leadership: The ability to inspire people to collaborate and pursue goals
  • [3:23] What is leadership development? Why David does what he does
  • [5:13] Examples of the tradeoffs leaders have to make between today and tomorrow
  • [7:27] What is VUCA? Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity
  • [9:27] Making decisions faster in today’s data-driven world
  • [12:28] How leaders can use coaching to build more empathic teams
  • [16:21] How can managers better deal with low-empathy leaders?
  • [18:41] C-suite leaders: practices to demonstrate empathy from the top down
  • [22:57] 3 things to enable leaders to be better coaches
  • [26:10] Making the link for leaders about how soft skills translate into hard value

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Hal Gregersen: How Leaders Can Use Catalytic Questions To Create Vibrant Work Environments

Hal Gregersen has coined the phrase, “catalytic questions” to refer to the type of questions that reframe a situation and make it possible for a person or a team to move forward in new, more effective ways. It’s a concept that is incredibly intriguing and one I wanted to dive into during this conversation with Hal.

Hal is the creator of “Leadership and the Lens: Learning at the Intersection of Innovation and Image-Making,” a course which uses photography as a tool to teach students how to ask radically better questions – questions that can change their impact as leaders. Hal is one of the world’s most influential management thinkers (Thinkers50) and he is a keynote speaker, seminar leader, and transformational coach. He’s worked alongside leadership teams at Chanel, IBM, and the World Economic Forum, to name a few.

Join me for this fascinating conversation with Hal, on this episode of Masters of Leadership.

“Great leadership creates an environment where Inquiry leads to insight which leads to impact.” ~ Hal Gregersen

Hal believes that questions are often the answer to the challenges and obstacles that individuals and organizations face. His diverse experience as a consultant and leader himself have convinced him that when leaders can pave the way by asking better questions, their teams will uncover new ways to innovate, create, and make big things happen.

Notice the progression Hal emphasizes:

  • Inquiry (questions) lead to insight
  • Insight leads to impact

In this conversation Hal provides example after example of how this progression happens, telling anecdotes from his own experience that illustrate the truly life-changing power of catalytic questions.

Leaders need to be actively seeking passive data

We live in a time when AI and machine learning are able to capture and crunch data at a pace that is nothing short of overwhelming. When it comes to making use of the data available, leaders can easily find themselves staring at pages of information or a screen full of characters and not have a clue about where to begin to make effective use of it.

While Hal believes in using all the data at our disposal to make our organizations more effective, he’s also keenly interested in teaching leaders to search out passive data. What IS passive data? It’s the information that exists in our organizations, customer experiences, and other places that isn’t screaming for attention. Most importantly, it’s the data that provides insights that truly matter and oftentimes cut to the heart of problems or needs.

In this recorded conversation, Hal shares a handful of stories about how the leaders he’s worked with have gone on their own personal hunt for passive data and have benefited tremendously from the pursuit. You’ll hear stories involving Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff, Walt Bettinger, and more.

Catalytic questions are not only for leaders. Teams need the skill as well

Naturally, the more a best practice can be applied in a wider range of situations, the more effective that practice will become. I was interested in Hal’s observations regarding the use of catalytic questions among teams, so I asked him how leaders can teach their teams about catalytic questions and encourage them to use them.

Naturally, leading by example is one of the huge ways leaders can help their teams see the power of asking the right questions. But Hal also shared some very practical approaches to implementing the use of questions in team environments. Listen to learn how you can build a powerful question-asking culture in your organization.

The reality of remote teams makes question asking even more challenging

The quick, choppy rhythm of digital communication has become the norm for many businesses. Emails, texts, Slack messages, and more contribute to lots of information exchange but often don’t effectively cut to the heart of more complicated or emotionally charged issues. Catalytic questions are indeed the answer to this issue. But how can we implement them effectively in remote teams?

Hal suggests that leaders strive to build a team culture where everyone understands the limits of digital communication when it comes to a deeper understanding of issues. He suggests leaders teach their teams to get eye to eye as often as possible, whether that’s via video or in-person meetings. Not only does this practice create an environment where catalytic questions can be asked, but it also enables those participating in the conversation to pick up on relevant pieces of data communicated through facial expression and body language that digital communication simply can’t provide.

Hal is a fount of wisdom when it comes to this issue of questions. I encourage you not only to listen to this conversation but also get your own copy of his new book, “Questions Are The Answer.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:43] Hal Gregersen: A true leadership expert and guru, especially regarding questions
  • [1:44] How Hal views leadership after 30 years of research
  • [3:13] Advice for how leaders can make great use of overwhelming amounts of data
  • [6:33] Why Hal wanted to write a book about catalytic questioning
  • [11:37] How can leaders cultivate good questioning in their teams?
  • [16:30] What does it really mean to listen?
  • [20:45] The link between good questions and empathy and candor
  • [27:13] How do we ask catalytic questions in a remote work environment?

Resources & People Mention ed

Connect with Erica

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Annie McKee: Empathy In The Workplace Is Up To Us

Empathy is something we all want but may not be so good at giving – and sadly, empathy in the workplace is often non-existent as a result. My guest today is Annie McKee, an amazing woman who has studied and written on the subject of empathy extensively. Her new book, “How To Be Happy At Work” is a wonderful contribution to the body of work on the subject because it points out the importance of healthy, happy relationships in the workplace, and gives practical advice about how to foster them.

I’m delighted to have Annie on the show as my first guest for the new season. She’s a true Master of Leadership, so I invite you to listen, learn, and apply what she shares.

A true leader influences others in a positive direction that they want and that benefits others

Annie’s definition of leadership is one I resonate with. Her emphasis on leadership being “influence in a positive direction” ties directly to the issue of Emotional Intelligence. Leaders need to evaluate whether they are influencing those they lead with positive emotions (empathy) or negative emotion. That’s because in Annie’s words…

Emotional Intelligence (empathy) is the skill set necessary for organizational success.

Annie and I invite you to listen to our conversation, where she shares how empathy in the workplace can improve both the experience of the workers and the productivity of the organization. But she goes beyond theory and provides practical examples of how every person in an organization can contribute to the level of empathy the team expresses and experiences. It’s a valuable interaction you’ll find very helpful.

Leaders can set up structures that cultivate empathy within their teams

Annie believes that most people want to treat others with consideration and kindness and that one of the main reasons they don’t is directly tied to the busyness of life in the modern world. When asked what can be done to increase empathy in the workplace, Annie had great advice to share.

She suggests that leaders should think through how to create structures that remind and enable their entire team to slow down. This simple act causes the hurry and pace of business take a backseat to the health of the relationships on the team.

One way this can be done is by structuring meetings with a short but specific time for simple connections. When people are able to interact with each other in a non-hurried, authentic way, it makes for a more enjoyable workplace and increases productivity and creativity dramatically. We could all use that sort of boost in our organizations, couldn’t we?

Simple ways to communicate with better “tone” using digital tools

We’ve all received that email or Slack message that comes across negatively – the person seems rude, angry, condescending, or patronizing. Because the communication in question is digital, it’s easy to do because there’s no body language or voice tone to complement the black and white text of the message. On the receiving end, it’s both easy and natural to respond badly in response to that kind of communication. Annie describes a better way…

  • Stay in the place of reason – don’t get emotionally hijacked
  • Think through a reasoned response – or don’t answer until you can
  • Give the person the benefit of the doubt – get into their shoes. Ask, “Why might they have made a mistake like this?”
  • Think of ways you can create an environment that provides the opportunity for better connection and clarity. Maybe suggest a phone call or video chat to get to deal with the issues.

These simple examples demonstrate why Annie is the leader she is. She’s able to cut through the noise and hurry and address issues on a human level. You’ll enjoy hearing her insights on this episode.

You can encourage empathy in your organization without being the top leader

Most of the leaders out there who listen to this show are in middle management positions or below. They don’t possess the needed leverage to make organization-wide changes to the culture of their workplace. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing they can do to amplify empathy in the workplace. Annie provides these powerful suggestions regarding how you can increase the level of empathy in your workplace.

Becoming a change-agent starts by making yourself aware of your sphere of influence. Who are the people you interact with regularly, within your team and across departments? Once you see the broader group of people who are within your orbit, ask this vital question…

“What can I DO to create an environment around me where the values and norms that will help the entire time succeed can happen?”

Then take action. If you’re a team leader or are responsible for the outcomes of a group, establish norms in your area of competence with the help of your team. You’ll be surprised at how much buy-in you get.

If every single person in your workplace took these simple steps 10% more than they do now the entire organization would improve dramatically. As I like to say, “Don’t look up, look around.”

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Who is Annie McKee?
  • [2:00] What leadership means to Annie
  • [2:59] How are emotional intelligence and empathy different – and the same?
  • [5:17] Ways we can build better structures to cultivate empathy on our teams
  • [9:15] Making virtual work a place where empathy can be cultivated
  • [18:27] When it comes to empathy, is there a difference between types of people?
  • [23:00] The phenomenon of “covering” – in order to conform and fit in
  • [26:12] How you can change your culture when you’re not the top leader
  • [29:33] What’s the business impact of stronger emotional intelligence skills?
  • [32:33] Annie’s top 3 pieces of advice to become a Master of Leadership

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

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Rita McGrath: Why The Sustainable Competitive Advantage Model is Vanishing, Episode #30

For years the idea of maintaining a competitive advantage has dominated the way we do business. The theory is that if we can figure out how to keep our company ahead of the competition and continue to employ the best-practices that got us there, we’ll stay on top. But my guest on this episode, Rita McGrath says that model is no longer viable because of the speed at which change and innovation are happening. In our conversation we discuss why sticking to a competitive advantage model doesn’t work anymore, what questions leaders should be asking themselves to fuel success in their organizations, how stepping stone ideas can lead to more effective innovation, and much more. You’ll be encouraged and equipped by what Rita shares, so be sure to listen.

Why sticking to a competitive advantage model doesn’t work

Trying to out-think and out-gun your competition used to be the way to stay ahead in business. But Rita McGrath points out that it’s no longer a viable model, primarily because the competition businesses are up against is no longer isolated to their own industry. There are many organizations and high-powered companies (Amazon, etc.) that are able to dive into a new product or service offering quickly, taking a significant share of your industry’s market share. Instead of sticking to the sustainable competitive advantage model, Rita suggests a strategy more fitting to the digital age we live in. Her work as a professor at Columbia and her thought-provoking research and case studies show that she’s got the insight needed to help us make this transition. Listen to find out more about Rita’s ideas and learn how to get her new book, “The End of the Competitive Advantage.”

Leaders: Are you truly attuned to your customers?

One of the questions I love to ask my guests is about the types of things today’s leaders should be asking themselves in order to thrive and succeed. Rita’s response echoes an idea I’ve heard from many of my guests. She suggests that leaders need to be very attentive to the true needs of the people they serve – customers and team members. The only way to provide the kind of leadership that is truly needed is to stay in touch with the real needs you’re looking to address. Rita suggests a handful of questions and approaches leaders can use to truly know what their customers are experiencing, which you can hear by listening to this episode.

Information flow within teams is harder than ever before

With the advent of digital forms of communication, organizations and businesses have leveraged technology to make use of contractors, freelancers, and remote team members – cutting costs and allowing team members to live a lifestyle of freedom never before possible. But with those advantages come some problems, one of the most significant being the difficulty of information flow. No longer are team members meeting casually around the copier or coffee pot to discuss projects or issues. Dedicated attention has to be given to making sure proper information and effective collaboration is happening among distributed/remote teams – and it’s the leader’s job to ensure it does. Find out more about how to make it happen, on this episode.

Stepping stone ideas are the key to effective innovation

Rita loves the technological advances being made these days. She believes there are great things on the horizon. But much of the mad rush to develop new technologies is skipping what she calls “stepping stone ideas” – to their own detriment. In this conversation, she uses the example of self-driving cars to show how problems we face could be addressed more effectively and more quickly by rethinking problems from square one rather than building on what has already been done (much along the line of her thinking regarding the competitive advantage model). As you listen you’ll understand a modern-day example of how innovation can happen at a faster pace and in a more effective way. Don’t miss it.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:41] Who is Rita McGrath?
  • [1:47] What is leadership and how does it connect with strategy?
  • [2:20] The reason Rita wrote her most recent book
  • [4:50] Questions leaders should be asking themselves heading forward
  • [8:39] Why absolute candor is vital for companies
  • [9:57] How has strategy been impacted by remote work and teams?
  • [14:50] Advice for middle managers regarding how to thrive and succeed
  • [19:20] How the MOJO model for meetings can improve team effectiveness
  • [22:07] Using stepping-stone ideas to innovate and improve

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

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On this episode of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan, @RGMcGrath explains why sticking to a competitive advantage model doesn’t work. Listen to learn how to pivot. #GetBigThingsDone #collaboration

Chester Elton: How Caring Leadership Creates Teams That Win, Episode #29

The old-style leadership approach most of us have experienced is not sensitive to caring for the individuals on the team. Chester Elton says those who don’t practice caring leadership are missing the boat in the modern world. In this conversation, you’ll hear my great and entirely practical conversation with Chester as we discuss how leaders can and should create teams that thrive in environments of encouragement, support, and emotional safety. It’s not as hard to pull off as you might think. It’s a matter of proving to team members that they matter and are a vital part of what the organization is doing. You’ll glean an incredible amount of practical advice from Chester on this episode.

Caring for your team is the most important aspect of effective leadership

Leaders who build thriving and effective teams are the ones who know how to care for the members of their teams on an individual level. In this conversation, Chester tells an “out of this world” story about one team of astronauts who were amazingly more productive than set of astronaughts that ever served on the International Space Station. The reason? Their leader took the time to know each of them individually and invest in them in unique ways. That effort multiplied itself as all the team members bought-in to caring for each other in extraordinary ways. Learn a handful of simple things you can do to care for your team and bring out their best work, on this episode.

Leaders must take the time to have aspirational conversations with their teams

Do you know what is meant by the term “aspirational conversation?” Chester Elton says that good leaders learn how to converse with their team members about the things they dream about, the things they hope for, and the goals they have for their lives and careers. It’s a way the leader can express interest in their team members and do their part to set them on the road to achieving their personal and professional goals. One result is that team members bring their best effort to work because they know someone in leadership is rooting for them. Listen to this episode to learn how to support and encourage your team toward their life goals and increase productivity at the same time, on this episode of Masters of Leadership.

“Managing to the one” and “speed to productivity” are key skills for leaders to learn

Chester Elton often refers to two practices he’s discovered that are essential for leaders: managing to the one – and speed to productivity. The first has to do with knowing team members individually and leading them in light of that knowledge. It’s a position of caring concern that has earned the right to lead. Speed to productivity refers to the need to get team members plugged in and operating as a productive part of the team as soon as possible. When that practice is coupled with positive feedback, team members thrive.

Teams where it is safe to challenge everything are the teams that win

We’ve all been part of an organizational culture where we felt beaten down, unappreciated, or taken advantage of. In those environments, nobody is willing to speak up when things are wrong or broken for fear of being marginalized. Chester Elton says that teams where there is safety to challenge everything, are much more productive and actually accomplish their organizational goals faster. If you’re in a position of leadership you need to know how to create that kind of environment. Chester has practical advice for you, so listen to this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:40] Why the best leaders have the best soft skills
  • [2:42] The story behind Chester’s new book, “The Best Team Wins”
  • [5:00] The differences in leading teams in a digital workplace
  • [6:45] An out-of-this-world story to illustrate what makes for the best teams
  • [10:01] How to cultivate a caring, engaged climate among your team
  • [12:12] Great ways to speed up the trust-building process
  • [16:18] The customer experience will never exceed the employee experience
  • [19:40] We celebrate what we value – so we must celebrate our people
  • [22:45] The positive to negative ratio in positive workplaces is 5 to 1
  • [24:01] Immediate advice for those managing teams

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Erica Dhawan