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

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

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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

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

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

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

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

Shane Snow: How Leaders Can Build Dream Teams, Episode #28

Every leader faces the challenge of putting diverse people into the same room to work on a project together. It can be a very exhilarating and enriching experience or it can be a situation that sucks the life out of everyone. In his new book, “Dream Teams” Shane Snow reveals his discoveries about what makes teams work, what keeps them from becoming cohesive and cooperative, and what leaders need to do in order to increase the odds of creating a dream team in their own organization. Some of the things Shane shares are a bit counterintuitive, so be sure you listen to get the full story.

The things that make us great as humans also threaten us the most

Human beings are creative, intelligent, and innovative, each one of us bringing special skills, abilities, and perspectives to the table. But those very things are exactly what causes us to fight amongst ourselves and disrupt cooperation. Shane Snow has discovered that at the heart of most failures at teambuilding is lack of cultural fit. He sees leaders as the ones who are primarily tasked with being aware of cultural issues, addressing issues as they arise, and facilitating the best environment for everyone on a team to thrive and contribute. On this episode of Masters of Leadership, you’ll hear Shane describe what his research has taught him about building dream teams and how leaders can take proactive steps to enhance the culture in their organization and get better results from their teams.

What is it that makes a dream team, a dream team?

One of the things I was eager to ask Shane is this: What is it that makes dream teams so effective? His answer is a little bit surprising. First, he says dream teams need an element of cognitive diversity, meaning there needs to be a variety of perspectives and approaches to problem solving and creativity. That makes sense. But next, he says that each dream team also has an element of cognitive friction, where the ideas being proposed become at odds with each other and the individuals on each side of the debate have to learn how to work together to overcome the tensions that exist so they can create something better. Finally, every person on the team needs to possess intellectual humility, the ability to allow their ideas and perspectives to be criticized and enhanced by others. As you can see, Shane has a wealth of knowledge about these things, and you’ll hear him share them, on this episode.

What questions should leaders be asking as they create dream teams?

When it comes to assembling the individuals who will make up your dream team, what are the things you should be considering? Naturally, one of the first things to consider is who you are placing on the team. Are they individuals who are not only competent in their area(s) of expertise but also able to handle the tension that will come from a highly charged creative environment? Will they be able to handle the cognitive friction necessary to collaborate and come up with new ideas? Finally, can YOU as a leader, provide an environment where that friction can happen in relational safety? Find out more about how to create your own dream team, on this episode of Masters of Leadership.

Two solutions to help struggling teams become outstanding: play and storytelling

When a team is struggling, there are many factors that contribute to the issues they are experiencing. Shane Snow believes there are two things leaders can integrate into their teams that will help dispel unhelpful tension and get the team back on track. First, he recommends play as a regular part of the team’s interaction. When people can do fun, non-threatening things together they are better able to see each other as human beings rather than competitors or rivals. That fosters a sense of teamwork and mutual enthusiasm. He also suggests that leaders provide contexts where individuals are encouraged to tell their own stories – on both a personal level and in regard to situations they have faced that were similar to the one the team is facing. This enables everyone to get behind the facades and see the real people involved.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:35] Shane’s definition of leadership: Helping others unleash their potential
  • [4:08] The reasons behind Shane’s writing of his new book, “Dream Teams”
  • [8:45] What it is that makes some teams work and others self-destruct
  • [13:23] Shane’s dive into hip-hop as an exploration of dream teams
  • [20:51] Key questions leaders should be asking when trying to build dream teams
  • [28:00] Tips for shifting struggling teams into dream teams
  • [34:22] Sign up for Shane’s newsletter – learn about lateral thinking

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Whitney Johnson: Using Personal Disruption to Build an A-Team, Episode #27

The phrase “personal disruption” doesn’t sound very pleasant, but Whitney Johnson insists that it’s the only way we grow as individuals. We have to be placed outside the normal context of our existence in order to take on new challenges and grow as a person. She also says that disruption is a great tool to help managers and leaders assess potential team members and enable their personal growth and long-term loyalty to the company. I was so pleased with the conversation I had with Whitney on this episode. We dove into the reasons why personal disruption is so powerful, how managers can discover and encourage a “personal learning curve” for each team member, and the wonderful results of doing so – both for the company and for the employee.

Find a problem to solve in your organization instead of chasing the next promotion

The typical way to chart a career path is to apply for promotion after promotion, climbing the ladder in a not-so-pleasant competition with other team members. Whitney Johnson says that instead of chasing the next promotion, team members should get busy solving problems in their organizations. The kind of innovation, initiative, and creative skills that come to the surface in the attempt are exactly what managers are looking for, and will cause the person to stand out like a diamond against a dark backdrop. You can learn more about how personal disruption can be used as a catalyst for personal growth and career advancement by listening to this episode.

Managers: Use personal disruption to give your people Goldilocks assignments

You remember the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” right? The unforgettable line Goldilocks said over and over is, “It’s just right!” Whitney recommends that leaders find what she calls, “Goldilocks assignments” for team members – tasks or challenges that are not too hard and not too easy, but just right to challenge that particular team member toward growth and innovation. The company and the team member both win when a scenario like that plays out successfully. Discover how your team can grow through the utilization of disruptive practices like this, by listening to my conversation with Whitney Johnson.

The idea of a static job description is archaic. Team members need a learning curve plan

We’ve all been handed a job description upon applying for a new position – and it’s good to have an idea of the tasks and responsibilities expected in a particular role. But the idea that jobs remain static is one that needs to die. Instead of holding team members to static job descriptions, today’s leaders need to benchmark the abilities of team members, then in light of the team’s “why” and the team member’s reasons for choosing to work there, set expectations based on that particular team member’s projected learning curve and provide incentives of new opportunities when the current challenges are overcome. It’s an amazing way of challenging team members and moving the company forward that you’ll hear about on this episode.

Hire for potential not for proficiency

Too often leaders are looking to fill positions with the person who has everything in hand, completely buttoned-down and ready to go. But when we do that we are missing diamonds in the rough, people who are able to take on the challenges set before us with help, time, and opportunity. Whitney Johnson says that managers and leaders need to hire for potential, looking for the character traits, attitudes, and basic skills that might allow a person to grow into a role rather than looking only for those who appear able to master it from the outset. Doing so enables teams to grow together, building relationships with each other as they build individual competence. It’s an approach that uses personal disruption to provide job satisfaction for team members and long-term stability for the organization. You won’t want to miss Whitney’s insights into the power of personal disruption, so set aside the time to listen to this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:30] Leaders are willing to walk their talk and engender trust. They enable others to be their best self
  • [2:44] The essence of Whitney’s new book, “Build An A-Team”
  • [4:17] Would you take the job? A scenario from Whitney about the importance of disruption
  • [6:50] The 7 step learning curve: What do employees need to learn to grow?
  • [11:17] Designing jobs to maximize engagement and learning
  • [17:12] Is it possible that we do a better job with team members who are virtual?
  • [18:12] Whitney’s tips for building an A-team

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Roger Martin: How Leaders Facilitate Great Choices, Episode #26

One of the roles great leaders play is the facilitation of great choices across their organizations. That means it’s not just about the leader themselves being skilled at making choices, but also about their ability to transfer that skill to the members of their team. Roger Martin is a pioneer in the realm of integrative thinking, an approach to problem-solving that uses opposing ideas as the basis for innovation. In this conversation, Roger and I speak about his new book, “Creating Great Choices” and how leaders and managers can build amazing teams of people who make the very best choices every time.

We Can Now Code Our Knowledge To Apply It More Efficiently. But Should We?

With so much talk about A.I (artificial intelligence) and the reality of it growing almost daily, it’s easy to think that the day will come when human contributions will be marginalized in favor of more precise, computer learning alternatives. But Roger Martin makes the point that just because some choices can be turned into algorithms, doesn’t mean they should be. There is and will always be a need for a human touch in a number of contexts where the savvy and intuition needed to make great choices simply can’t be applied via computer code. Join me to learn how Roger sees A.I. benefiting mankind and to hear where he has concerns, on this episode.

Modern digital narcissism is of great concern to Roger Martin

In making the point that not all problems should be solved via code or algorithm, Roger points to instances where the implementation of technology that allows for self-driving cars has cost the lives of people. His concern is that in our zeal to make solutions of that kind we will continue to put individuals at risk instead of recognizing that the solutions as they are currently being applied are unacceptable. He calls it modern digital narcissism and cautions against it. Listen to my conversation with Roger to hear what he recommends as a better way forward, on this episode of Masters of Leadership.

There Are No Natural-Born Managers. Greatness Comes Over Time

When it comes to those who are managing people in the workplace, Roger suggests that in order to grow, today’s leaders have to avoid the two pitfalls common to most leaders: #1 – Don’t be so perfectionistic as to think that you can’t try something you don’t know how to do yet. If you fail, that’s not on you, that’s on life. #2 – Use the opportunity to grow by asking key questions: What did you think was going to happen? What really happened? What caused it to happen? Was there bias or preconceived assumptions involved in producing the outcome? Learning to try new things and grow from those attempts is the best way to develop greatness in decision making.

Anybody Can Have Something Unbelievably Expert About Them

It’s important to realize that the contributions needed in order to overcome unacceptable or seemingly insurmountable obstacles hardly ever come through the ingenuity of one person. Collaboration is how great things are accomplished. Roger cautions: Never dismiss someone because of A, B, and C, because D may be spectacular. If you write them off before discovering the areas where they have unbelievable knowledge or expertise, you are robbing the entire collaborative effort of its power. Roger’s insights are valuable for leaders at any level, so be sure you take the time to listen.

Anybody can have something unbelievably expert about them. Don’t overlook them. @RogerLMartin explains how #collaboration and #leadership utilize the gifts of a team, on episode 26 of #MastersOfLeadership with @EDhawan. ##getbigthingsdone

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:29] Leadership defined from Roger’s perspective
  • [3:15] The most important elements of Roger’s newest book, “Creating Great Choices”
  • [7:12] Why models shape what we see in the world
  • [11:58] How the digital/virtual workplace impacts the questions leaders need to ask
  • [19:11] Actions today’s leaders should be taking

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Stew Friedman: Living An Integrated Life Through Total Leadership, Episode #25

An integrated life sounds like an impossible dream in our fast-paced digital age. But there are outstanding leaders in the field of management and personal development who are helping us navigate the confusing path we face. One of those pioneers and guides is Stewart Friedman. Stew was one of my professors when I attended the Wharton School and he continues to astound me with the relevant and impacting work he’s doing to help us understand what goes into being a true master of leadership. In this episode, we discuss the concepts in his most recent books and get a taste of the tremendous difference the principles of Total Leadership he’s discovered are making in the lives of real leaders in real business environments – and in the lives of those who they lead.

What can you do that creates value for our business, your family, your community, and yourself?

One of the primary questions Stew has learned to ask all of his students – and that he teaches leaders of companies to ask their team members is this: “What can you do that creates value for the business, your family, your community, and yourself?” It may sound like a strange question for business leaders to be asking but Stew has discovered that every person is able to come up with an answer that fulfills all 4 aspects of the question – and when they clearly define their answer and begin applying it, everyone involved benefits in amazing ways. Listen to this episode of Masters of Leadership to hear some of the stories Stew tells, and learn how you can do your own self-assessments related to these areas.

3 principles of an integrated life: be real, be whole, be innovative

Whether you consider yourself a leader or not, it’s important that you learn what it means to live in an integrated way. Stew Friedman has pioneered work that redefines what it means to be a leader in the modern era and is helping leaders and team members all over the world learn to be real, whole, and innovative – all at the same time. In this conversation, Stew and I discuss how those three elements make up an integrated life, the kinds of results that come from doing so, and why he believes that leaders across the globe need to learn how to live out these three qualities more successfully.

MYTH: You have to sacrifice important things to be successful

It’s become a common belief among career-minded individuals that in order to be truly successful there are important things that have to be sacrificed, at least for short periods of time. But Stew Friedman is progressively demonstrating that those kinds of beliefs are more myth than reality. Those who are careful to focus on three primary areas – authenticity, wholeness (body, mind, soul) and innovation actually do better at accomplishing their professional goals than others and are happier in the process. Find out what Stew has seen by listening to this episode, or grab a copy of his latest book, “Total Leadership.”

If a leader lives an integrated life, she builds incredible trust with her team

One of the most powerful aspects of living an integrated life is that it’s done in a transparent way, for everyone to see. That means that leaders of this kind not only talk about living and working in a certain manner, they demonstrate it to those they lead. This builds incredible trust for the leader and enables the team to maintain a level of synergy and collaboration that isn’t typical for business teams – and it all beings with the leader. Stew Friedman has pioneered the work in this area so be sure you listen to my conversation with him and find out how you can do your own self-assessment, both for your personal life and for your leadership, on this episode.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Who is Stewart Friedman?
  • [2:50] Leadership: Mobilizing people toward a better place
  • [3:45] The importance of creating harmony between the different parts of your life
  • [5:28] The primary lessons from Stew’s most recent books: life integration & success
  • [12:51] What are the new questions leaders must ask in the new digital world?
  • [17:27] How to enable a culture of total leadership in a team?
  • [23:08] One action you can take to build a more integrated life

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Dr. Karen Sobel Lojeski: What is Virtual Distance and How to Reduce it in the Workplace, Episode # 24

Are you familiar with the term “virtual distance?” On this episode of Masters of Leadership I interview special guest Dr. Karen Sovel Lejesky. Together we explore this common challenge of the modern workplace that you’re likely very aware of, but don’t know by that name. With a quarter century of leadership experience at companies such as Chase Manhattan and many more, she now leads her own company, Virtual Distance International. She has written two books on the subject, “Leading the Virtual Workforce” and “Uniting the Virtual Workforce”. In this episode she shares how she discovered virtual distance, its effects on the modern workforce, and her recommendations for how to become a master at reducing virtual distance.

What is Virtual Distance and how it is Affecting Your Team

Karen was working in corporate America as technology made its way into the work place in the early 2000’s. She recognized that this shift came with unintended consequences that were causing social disfunction between those working together on teams. She left corporate America to Study this phenomenon and discovered the measurable effects of Virtual Distance. You’re going to hear her experience and expertise shine through as she shares what Virtual Distance is, the impact it has, and how we can combat it, on this episode.

Virtual Distance: What is lost when human beings communicate through machines

Virtual Distance effects can show up in any workplace whether a team is physically in the same space or working together from remote locations around the globe. The resulting disunity effects financial performance, innovation, problem solving, and team productivity. In one example, Karen shares how her company Virtual Distance International helped to increase the overall stock value of a merger company by decreasing virtual distance in one specific department. The process was simple and has immediate value for how to improve the productivity of your team.

How Virtual Distance Applies to Your Cross Cultural and International Teams

Research is being done to look at how virtual distance uniquely effects genders, generations and cultures. However right now much of that research contradicts itself. In our conversation, Karen shares how she is hesitant to look too much into cultural groups because it increases our reliance on stereotypes. Instead she recommends putting everyone into the same category: human beings. She says…

“We are all human beings who spend most of our days at work we need to understand each other as human beings first.”

Practical Tips for Reducing Virtual Distance and Increasing Your Teams Productivity

During this conversation, I asked Karen for her key recommendations for you and your teams. Her answers were surprisingly counterintuitive. She covers in detail these tips and many more – as well as very practical steps for implementation.

  1. Make extra effort to create shared context
  2. Practice techno-dexterity to keep communication clear
  3. As a leader, regularly share about yourself

What’s the main idea behind solving virtual distance to maximize top and bottom line impact? Again, Karen shares…

“If there is one thing to walk away with it is that people are not just brains on a stick. They are a full human being just like you.”

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:40] Karen’s surprising definition of leadership
  • [3:44] When Karen become interested in and discovered virtual distance
  • [8:30] What one company did to increased stock value by decreasing virtual distance
  • [12:00] How to reduce virtual distance by restoring shared context
  • [15:48] The effects of virtual distance on gender, generations, and cultural groups
  • [21:10] Tips on how to become a master of reducing virtual distance

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets

Rachel Botsman: Building Trust In An Age of Distrust, Episode #23

The ability to build trust is a vital skill in our day in age. Institutions are viewed with skepticism and mistrust by the majority of people, and that is not only talking about banks and educational establishments. Facebook, Google, and many other large corporations are viewed with the same kind of pessimism. My guest today is Rachel Botsman, an accomplished author who has studied the issue of trust in depth and has some incredibly valuable advice for those who are seeking to build trust in an age of distrust. Listen to this episode to hear what she has to share. You will find that trust is at the bottom of every good or successful relationship.

Is technology helping us to place our trust in worthy places and people?

A casual look at the way people sign up for social media platforms and software packages these days might convince you that people are very trusting. For example, when is the last time you read every word of the terms of service on one of those websites? Probably never. But does that mean that you inherently trust those who own and operate the website? Rachel Botsman says that much more is going on than simple trust and distrust. There is a myriad of complicated emotion and thought that governs the way we give and receive trust. On this episode, she unpacks some of the detail behind those things to help us understand how those of us who are leading companies and organizations can build trust instead of destroying it.

Building trust is a skill every leader must have

Leadership is built on trust. It’s hard to be at the forefront of any movement or cause and expect people to follow you without it. Rachel Botsman says that leaders especially need to learn how to foster trust within their organizations or companies. A company culture that is powerful is a company culture where individuals have learned how to trust each other. Listen to this conversation as Rachel explains practical steps leaders can take to improve their ability to build trust with those they lead and those they serve alongside. These are powerful principles every leader must know.

Is there a difference between building trust internally within a company and externally with customers?

One of the things about trust that I was fascinated by as I spoke with Rachel is that trust in various contexts is built in different ways. For example, I asked her if there is any difference between how a leader would build trust with those internally, within their institution or company, and with those external to the company, such as customers. She says there is definitely a difference and those differences depend on things too numerous to mention in a short paragraph like this. Be sure you listen to this episode to find out how you can increase your leadership and trustworthiness with those you lead and with those you serve.

A trust crisis is occurring and you can be part of the solution

It is ironic when you think about the realities of the world we live in. Millions have lost faith in institutions and leaders but countless other millions of people rent their homes to total strangers, exchange currencies digitally, and even trust artificial intelligence in the form of messenger Bots. It’s what is often called “distributed trust” and is becoming more and more prevalent as technologies increase. By understanding exactly how trust is built, how you can better manage trust, and how trust is broken and repaired in the digital age, you will be better equipped to be part of the solution rather than more of the problem. Listen to this episode to find out more.

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:03] Leadership is when people have the ability to mobilize others
  • [4:24] Rachel’s fascination with “trust” and why she wrote her book
  • [9:08] How the trust shift is impacting institutions and what they should do about it
  • [12:10] Advice for leaders in an age when trust is hard to come by
  • [14:57] Building trust internally in a company VS externally
  • [17:23] Advice for those who are looking for trustworthy people for their team
  • [19:10] Rachel’s definition of trust

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Erica

Erica@cotentialgroup.com

Linkedin.com/in/ericadhawan

Twitter.com/edhawan

Facebook.com/ericadhawan

Tweets