The Positive Leadership Blog has been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Blog by the number of pages indexed by Google and as one of the Top 100 Most Socially Shared Leadership Blogs of 2013.
Positive Leadership has also been recognised as a Top 50 Leadership Expert to Follow on Twitter.
Follow us on Twitter @posleadership
LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
The most effective encouragement for positive performance is positive feedback – it’s also the best way to reinforce that desired behaviour for the future.
Here are some guidelines for doing just that:
Be sincere. Giving positive feedback can backfire if it’s not perceived as genuine. Most people are experts, or at least think they are, at reading the sincerity of their manager. Faking positive feedback is risky. Be sincere … or wait until you can be.
Be quick. The sooner you give feedback after the behaviour you’re trying to reinforce, the better your results will be. If you only give positive feedback at performance review time or on other formal occasions, you miss a major leverage point for improving productivity.
Give feedback often. There’s a significant difference in the perceptions of managers and their followers as to how often positive feedback is given. Don’t be fooled into thinking you recognise positive behaviour too often. Do it twice as often as you think you should, and you’ll have a good chance of meeting your employees’ needs.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Here are four tips for finding (and keeping) a great mentor:
1. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. The search for a mentor should begin right away. Don't put it on your future to-do list for a year or two from now. Especially when starting a new job, strike while the iron is hot.
2. SECURE BOTH A MENTOR AND A SPONSOR. Look for support at varying levels of your company's hierarchy. Seek out a mentor to help navigate daily concerns and a sponsor willing to sing your praises when it comes time for a raise or promotion.
3. DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK. If you wait for a mentor to seek you out, you could wait a long time. Remember, the worst your prospective mentor can say is no. When you ask, be clear and up front with what's required in terms of time and commitment.
4. BE ASSERTIVE. If you want a strong and assertive mentor, start acting that way yourself. Stride into a room. Make eye contact. Use a firm handshake. Choose the best available seat. Stop apologising. And then, when the time comes, say thank you.
Monday, June 27, 2011
More women in leadership measurably helps companies succeed.
Here’s a summary of some of the data out there on women in leadership and the benefits they bring to the organisations they serve, starting with the hard line performance and profitability numbers.
•“…. Companies with three or more women in senior management functions score more highly on average (on nine dimensions of company excellence). It is notable that performance increases significantly once a certain critical mass is attained, namely, at least three women on management committees for an average membership of 10 people. “ (Women Matter, McKinsey 2007)
•“Fortune 500 companies with the highest representation of women board directors attained significantly higher financial performance, on average, than those with the lowest representation of women board directors.” (Catalyst, October 2007)
•“A selected group of companies with a high representation of diverse board seats (especially gender diversity) exceeded the average returns of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ Indices over a 5 year period.” (Virtcom Consulting)
•“An extensive 19-year study of 215 Fortune 500 firms shows a strong correlation between a strong record of promoting women into the executive suite and high profitability. Three measures of profitability were used to demonstrate that the 25 Fortune 500 firms with the best record of promoting women to high positions are between 18 and 69 per cent more profitable than the median Fortune 500 firms in their industries.” (European Project on Equal Pay)
There are many other studies about the softer benefits of female leadership.
•“The standard argument is that diversity is good and you should have both men and women in a group. But so far, the data show, the more women, the better.” (Harvard Business Review on of group intelligence, June 2011)
•“The status and role of women is a very good clue to a company’s growth potential. When women are at the table, the discussion is richer, the decision‐making process is better and the organisation is stronger. Integrating a gender lens into investment strategies can, in my view, improve long‐term investment performance. Investors need to start taking notice.” (Joe Keefe, President, Pax World Investments, February 2011)
•“Female managers – as rated by their bosses, themselves and the people who work for them – were rated significantly better than their male counterparts. This difference extends beyond the ‘softer’ skills such as communication, feedback and empowerment to such areas as decisiveness, planning and setting standards.” (Pfaff & Associates, September 2009)
•“Of particular interest is the fact that overall trust in female CEOs remains higher than trust in male CEOs, as was the case last year. And most of this increasing level of trust was experienced by non-managers, who registered an increase of a massive 11 index points in their trust for their female CEO between 2009 and 2010.” (Management Today September 2010).
•“Women leaders are more persuasive, assertive and more willing to take risks than male leaders. Women leaders were found to be more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts. These qualities combine to create a leadership style that is inclusive, open, consensus building, collaborative and collegial.” (Caliper Corp. 2005)
Despite the fact that these studies have been published across the last decade, little has changed in our business culture. The “30% solution” – identified by McKinsey (above) and coined by Linda Tarr-Whelan in her book, Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping Up to Leadership and Changing the World - now commonly references the point at which individual businesses and the business sector in general will benefit from women’s special talents and skills in their leadership ranks.
However, “(i)n (the last) 10 years the proportion of women board members on Fortune 500 companies has barely crept up from 12 to 15 per cent and 60 have no women.” (Linda Tarr-Whelan, Financial Times April, 2011).
So we’re barely half way to the tipping point and as Calvert Investments reports recently, there are still many all-white, all male boards who do not believe they have a diversity issue.
Women in the USA constitute:
•40% of the management workforce
•46.8% of the total workforce
•42% of MBAs
•59% of bachelor degrees
•61% of master degrees
•about 50% of of law and medical degrees.
So what do we do to get more women into leadership without overthinking? Some advice seems self-evident and very cheap.
•Men – put your irrational fears aside. Open yourselves up to a new way of doing business and invite this plentiful resource in to help you thrive.
•Women – you’re powerful no matter where you are or what you’re doing. The research says that your very presence in a group helps the group become more intelligent. Don’t hide your natural talents even though they look different than what the male-dominated culture around you says they should look like. It’s what they need from you even though they don’t know it. Step out and stop waiting for someone to give you permission and just shine. What are you waiting for?
Try it. See what happens.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
The journey toward values-based cultures — are you on the way?
Culture, values and leadership are critical priorities for business leaders. No matter how many resources your company deploys, how many experts you retain and no matter how many programmes you run, little matters if you’re not reaching your global workforce at heart, mind and gut level.
Companies are grasping this and embracing values-based corporate cultures, governance and leadership as new sources of advantage. In the USA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos and Google are leading the way, demonstrating the benefits of values-based behaviour.
What are some ways your company can advance its ethical journey?
Treat culture as a strategy: An ethical culture is not created by accident. It is deliberately crafted at many levels of the organisation under the guidance of leaders who hard-wire it into the processes and practices by which business gets done.
To make ethical considerations truly central to operations, ethics and compliance must expand beyond education and communications and encompass the wide variety of corporate practices, including performance appraisals, promotion and recruiting practices.
Seek better alignment and purpose: Ethics and compliance programmes serve a distinct purpose, but they cannot adequately fulfil that role unless they help reinforce corporate priorities. They fall short if they operate in isolation from rapidly shifting business needs and conditions.
Seek partners beyond your traditional domain: Ethics and compliance leaders can extend their influence and better fulfil their mandate by building deeper partnerships with business units, human resources, corporate communications, and environmental and social responsibility departments. Isolated compliance and ethics functions will never reach the hearts and minds of employees.
Culture as a strategy, fuelled by values that are translated into tangible behaviours and embedded in the gears of a business, can create a sustained competitive advantage in the marketplace. Ethical cultures are not created overnight. But ultimately, tomorrow’s winners will be those who invest in systems inspired by values-based culture.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Do you have a relentless commitment to your leadership development programme?
This is not necessarily a question for the training manager but rather you as a leader. As we introduce Positive Leadership to organisations we sometimes find that there is not really a strong commitment to leadership development. Here are some questions that can be answered in the positive by those who we find do have a strong commitment to leadership development.
How are you doing on these questions?
Do your emerging leaders know they are emerging leaders?
Do you discuss career development regularly with your emerging leaders?
Do you share stories of your development progress to this point and your next steps?
Do you hire emerging leaders or do you merely fill positions?
Do your emerging leaders work on the challenges of the company?
Do your emerging leaders teach each other?
Do your emerging leaders teach you?
Do your emerging leaders have access to the top executive?
Are career plans measured in your performance measurement?
Do your emerging leaders make cross-boundary staffing decisions?
Just a few questions to get you started.
Friday, June 24, 2011
According to Garret Kramer, the author of Stillpower: The Inner Source of Athletic Excellence, the four most overlooked attributes of successful coaches, as well as leaders of any kind are:
1. They look to the state of mind of the athlete or individual in question, not his or her behaviour.
Poor performances or behaviours are the result of an individual’s low mindset. Nothing more, nothing less. Rather than holding players or employees accountable to their actions (judging behaviour), the best leaders hold them—and themselves—accountable to recognising the thoughts and feelings that accompany high states of mind, and only acting from this mental state. This type of coach distrusts his own thoughts from low moods and encourages his players to do the same.
2. They understand that the spoken word is far less important than the level of psychological functioning from which the word is spoken.
Here’s a simple reminder. Words are merely an echo of a feeling. A coach might say to a player, “I was really proud of your effort tonight.” But if there is no feeling or passion behind the words, they might actually have a negative impact. Successful coaches take notice of their own level of functioning moment to moment. They know that positive words only originate from positive states of mind.
3. They keep goal setting in perspective.
Successful coaches know that the more athletes focus on the ‘prize,” the more they thwart their own awareness, shrink their perceptual field, and limit the imaginative possibilities. These coaches understand that achieving goals does not elevate self-worth or happiness. Instead, they relish the journey—the relationships and experiences—as the path toward creating exactly what they want becomes clear.
4. When in doubt—they turn to love.
Great coaches set guidelines and expectations based on one overriding principle: love for their players. They know, above all else, that love will always provide the answers to helping others—and to success.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
“If you are all alone at the top, you are not a leader. You are a hiker.” John Maxwell
No one creates success alone. To win in business, you must win with people. Running over people will only get you so far. To create true and lasting success you must nurture and invest in your people. Here are 3 essential ways to do this.
Care about them - The main question every employee in every organisation is asking is, “Do you care about me; can I trust you?” Employees want to know if you care about them. If you do, they will be more likely to stay on the bus and work with you. Employees are more engaged at work and will work at their highest potential when their manager cares about them.
Develop a relationship with them - Author Andy Stanley once said, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” Far too many managers and leaders share rules with their people, but they don’t have a relationship with them. So what happens? The people rebel and they disengage from their jobs and the mission of the team. To develop a relationship with your employees, you need to build trust, listen to them, make time for them, recognise them and mentor them.
Appreciate them - The main reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. For example, Doug Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup, has written more than 16,000 thank-you notes to employees in the past seven years and created a very positive business in the process. It’s as easy as saying (or writing) “Thank you.”
It’s a simple truth: When you care about your employees and the people you work with, they are more likely to stay with you and work harder, with more loyalty and greater positive energy. In turn, they are more likely to share their positive energy with your customers, thus enhancing service and the bottom line. The greatest customer-service strategy has nothing to do with customer service, but it has everything to do with how you treat your employees. If you model great service, they will provide great service.
Remember, leadership is not just about what you do, but what you can inspire, encourage and empower others to do. Instead of running over the people in your team/organisation, invite them along with you and engage them to help you create an amazing and successful ride.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
“When you see yourself doing something badly, and nobody’s bothering to tell you anymore, that’s a very bad place to be. Your critics are the ones telling you they still love you and care.” Randy Pausch
Criticism has become almost taboo within the workplace – often avoided at all costs or reserved for the most extreme situations. And yet, constructive criticism is one of the most meaningful gifts you can receive from another.
Ask yourself this; if an individual had a piece of information that would make you a better professional, manager, team contributor, or person in general, wouldn’t you want to know it? Of course you would! So why do we view criticism in such a negative light? Are we really that scared of learning that we are doing something wrong or that we could be more effective if we acted differently?
Leaders understand that they cannot and do not do everything well. Leaders understand that they can always be better – they can always grow. Individuals who are willing to point out areas to us where growth is needed and should be pursued should be held in high regard. These individuals are the ones who are looking out for your personal and professional development. These individuals care about you most.
The next time someone criticises you, your work product or your actions, stop and seek to understand what they are attempting to convey. Their criticism may just be the best gift you have ever been given.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
“Own your defeats and you will be defined by your victories!”
What a great statement on the Oakley homepage (http://uk.oakley.com/). Oakley celebrates their sponsored champion Rory McIlroy, who just won the US Open Golf Championship.
What a performance by young Rory, especially since a few months ago at the US Masters he blew a 6 shot lead in the final round. For the past few months he has been hounded by the media on why he ‘choked’. Every interview this past weekend he navigated the questions on “will you choke?” with utter maturity, wisdom and humility. Over and over Rory mentioned that Augusta prepared him for this weekend. That loss prepared him and launched him into his future. He became a wiser, more focused and maturer golfer from that failure. Rory also sought the counsel of Jack Nicklaus, a master of the game. Jack gave him counsel on dealing with the failure. At the end, Rory turned a failure into on of the greatest victories ever. He smashed 13 records on the weekend too.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Do happy workplaces perform better?
An analysis by Fortune magazine this year, based on the US Great Workplace surveys, gives very firm evidence that they do.
Fortune tracked the stock price of companies from 1998, the first year the Great Workplaces list was published, to 2010. Each year the investment was reset to match the latest list (ie, shares of companies dropping out of the list were sold and those of companies joining the list were bought). The result over the 12 years was clear:
The average annual return on the great workplace companies was 10.06%.
The average annual return on the US stock market (S&P 500) was just 3.83%
This means that if you had invested £10,000 in 1998 in the great workplace list you would have ended up with £31,590 by 2010. If you had simply tracked the stock market, you would have got only £15,700. So investing in great workplaces would have reaped a profit of £21,590, almost four times the £5,700 profit from following the stock market as a whole.
Companies frequently state that their aim is to maximise shareholder value. This analysis is a powerful statement that the best way to do that is to focus on creating a great workplace, where your people are trusted and valued. As the Great Place to Work Institute says, “our data shows that building workpace trust is the best investment your company can make.”
So: How would your workplace be different if the focus was on building trust and creating a great workplace? The evidence is, if you want financial success, that is where you need to put your attention.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
A CEO's schedule is especially important to a firm's financial success, which raises a few questions: What do they do all day? Can they be more efficient time managers?
HBS professor Raffaella Sadun and colleagues set out to find some answers. Key concepts include:
•On average, some 85% of a CEO's time was spent working with other people, with only 15% spent working alone.
•The time CEOs spent with outsiders had no measurable impact on firm performance. But time spent with other people inside the company was strongly correlated with positive increases in productivity.
•In companies with stronger governance, CEOs spent more time with insiders and less time with outsiders, and at the same time were more productive.
•The research could help CEOs learn to be more productive.
For more, see: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6665.html
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Liz Elting is president and C.E.O. of TransPerfect, a translation service. This interview was conducted by Adam Bryant of the New York Times:
‘Q. When you started the company with your partner, did you have discussions about the culture you wanted to create?
A. Meritocracy was always a big concept to us — making sure that the best people were promoted and rewarded, and that is very much how we run our company now. Virtually all of the senior people at our company were promoted from within. Most of them started at entry-level positions. And so it’s very much a meritocracy. We also believe in holding people accountable. We’re also big believers in being completely open and transparent.
Q. Make that real for me. How do you do that?
A. We share with our people what’s going on in the company. We’re open with our financials because it’s better if they understand what’s going on. We make sure they’re clear on the vision and that they understand it. We also let them know our accomplishments and our challenges as well as our shared goals.
Here’s another example of being open: If we have a manager who says one thing, and another employee who says something else, and they come to us independently, we’ll put them together in a room with one of us and have a three-way conversation. There’s no reason to have side conversations. We simply bring everyone together, we talk about the issue, and we resolve it.
And when we have other meetings, we really encourage people to talk and let us know what’s on their minds so we can address it. We don’t want meetings to be a couple of people talking and everyone else listening. I do think people need to contribute. Some people are more executers, some people are more innovators, and some people are a combination but we need ideas. People often have them, and they don’t share them, so we need to encourage them.’
Friday, June 17, 2011
Are you fit enough to lead?
Exercise is not only good for your health, it is also good for your leadership effectiveness.
For more, see: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/enewsletter/2011/MAYspotlight.aspx?sp_rid=&sp_mid=36650204
This book is also worth reading: The Corporate Athlete: How to Achieve Maximal Performance in Business and Life
Exercise is not only good for your health, it is also good for your leadership effectiveness.
For more, see: http://www.ccl.org/leadership/enewsletter/2011/MAYspotlight.aspx?sp_rid=&sp_mid=36650204
This book is also worth reading: The Corporate Athlete: How to Achieve Maximal Performance in Business and Life
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Among the reasons why Bob Lutz became the best-known auto executive of the last two decades are 1) his outsize public personality and cultivated personal style; 2) his continuing association with fast, sexy cars; and 3) his penchant for straight talk and honest answers.
This last trait has served him extremely well in writing what will become a milestone of his remarkable 47-year career. Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business is the best book written by an auto industry insider since Iacocca in 1984, and deserves to be shelved alongside Alfred P. Sloan's management classic, My Years with General Motors. Lutz wrote every word -- in longhand -- and every sentence bears his distinctive voice.
For more, see: http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/08/autos/bob_lutz_book_review.fortune/?section=money_latest
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
What to do when you have no time to think.
Unfocused focus. Sounds like a nice walk in a garden.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Here are some of our favourite public speaking tips:
Know your audience. Do your homework—understand the audience’s perspective, and think ahead about what that means to you, as the speaker.
Engage your listeners—make eye contact, and work the room to connect. Wherever possible and appropriate, take and follow their cues—watch the body language.
Be flexible and be prepared to change the flow of your remarks, length of presentation, and focus based on changing circumstances.
Own the material, even if team members helped you prepare. To connect with the audience, the content must be yours.
Be passionate about your topic – it is critical to not only know your topic but to also be passionate about it if you are to capture the attention of your audience.
Be yourself – authentic speakers connect.
Be careful with humour, risk usually exceeds the reward.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Today, we have a question for you: What is the difference between confidence and self-esteem? If you are not certain, read on. If you are certain, read on!
Confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing, you know. It is entirely possible to appear confident in front of others without having much in the way of self-esteem. Lots of people do it, and some of them are quite famous. You see, the confidence is just a front, a clever pose – an act. It’s like a cake that is made of nothing but icing. It looks solid, but when you cut into it, you find there is nothing of real substance inside.
People with a confident front but low self-esteem are plagued with self-doubt when they are alone. They know they are frauds and live in fear of being discovered. Often, they’ll turn to alcohol or drugs to help them maintain the illusion, or they’ll surround themselves with people whose only function is to make them look good.
On the other hand, when you have high self-esteem, genuine confidence just naturally follows. Nothing can make you insecure because your security comes from inside. You are not afraid to make a mistake because you believe in your overall competence, and you know that mistakes are just another way to learn.
When your self-esteem is high, you can deal with every situation honestly, and you can express your true feelings, including fear, sadness and anger, without worrying about how you look to others. Confidence is a great feeling, but if it’s the real thing you are after, you must build it from the inside out.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Some very interesting thoughts on talent development from Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
'If you distilled all the new science about talent development into two words of advice, they would be “practice better.”
That’s it. Practice. Better.
Forget everything else about your genes, your potential — it’s all just noise. The most basic truth is that if you practice better, you’ll develop your talent — and you won’t develop your talent unless you practice better. Period.
For most of us, that’s precisely where we bump into a common problem: how? Specifically, which practice method to choose? Do we focus on repeating a skill we’ve got, or do we work on new skills? What kinds of drills work best? What’s the best way to spend the limited time we’ve got?
When it comes to figuring out how to practice better, we often feel like we’re standing in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. There are lots of seemingly attractive choices. But how do we pick the ones that have the most nutrition, and avoid the ones that are empty calories?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’d like to use this blog as a test drive for a new gauge for comparing practice methods. I’m calling it the R.E.P.S. Gauge.
(Okay, acronyms are cheesy, I know. But they’ve been around for a long time because they work.)
R stands for Reaching/Repeating.
E stands for Engagment.
P stands for Purposefulness
S stands for Strong, Direct, Immediate Feedback.
The idea behind the gauge is simple: you should practice methods that contain these key elements, and avoid methods that don’t. Below, you’ll find a description of each element along with a sample choice to illustrate how it works.
Element 1: Reaching and Repeating. Does the practice have you operating on the edge of your ability, reaching and repeating? How many reaches are you making each minute? Each hour?
Scenario: a math teacher trying to teach multiplication tables to 30 students.
• Teacher A selects a single student to write the tables on the board.
• Teacher B creates a “game show” format where a math question is posed verbally to the entire class, then calls on a single student to answer.
Result: Teacher B chose the better option because it creates 30 reaches in the same amount of time. In Classroom A, only one student had to truly stretch — everybody else could lean back and observe. In Classroom B, however, every single member of the class has to stretch (picture the wires of their brains, reaching) in case their name is called. Not a small difference.
Element 2: Engagement. Is the practice immersive? Does it command your attention? Does it use emotion to propel you toward a goal?
Scenario: a violin student trying to perfect a short, tough passage in a song.
• Student A plays the passage 20 times.
• Student B tries to play the passage perfectly — with zero mistakes — five times in a row. If they make any mistake, the count goes back to zero and they start over.
Result: Student B made the better choice, because the method is more engaging. Playing a passage 20 times in a row is boring, a chore where you’re simply counting the reps until you’re done. But playing 5 perfectly, where any mistake sends you back to zero, is intensively engaging. It’s a juicy little game.
Element 3: Purposefulness. Does the task directly connect to the skill you want to build?
Scenario: a basketball team keeps losing games because they’re missing late free-throws.
• Team A practices free throws at the end of a practice, with each player shooting 50 free throws.
• Team B practices free throws during a scrimmage, so each player has to shoot them while exhausted, under pressure.
Result: Team B made the better choice, because their practice connects to the skill you want to build: the ability to make free throws under pressure, while exhausted. (No player ever gets to shoot 50 straight in a game.)
The fourth element: Strong, Direct, Immediate Feedback. In other words, the learner always knows how they’re doing — where they’re making mistakes, where they’re doing well — because the practice is telling them in real time. They don’t need anybody to explain that they need to do X or Y, because it’s clear as a bell.
Scenario: a high school student trying to improve her SAT score.
• Student A spends a Saturday taking a mock version of the entire SAT test, receiving results back one week later.
• Student B spends a Saturday taking a mini-version of each section, self-grading and reviewing each test in detail as soon as it’s completed.
Result: Student B made the better choice, because the feedback is direct and immediate. Learning immediately where she went wrong (and where she went right) will tend to stick, while learning about it in a week will have little effect.
The idea of this gauge is simple: practices that contain all four of these core elements (R.E.P.S.) are the ones you want to choose, because those are the ones that will produce the most progress in the shortest amount of time. Audit your practices and get rid of the methods that have fewer R.E.P.S. and replace them with methods that have lots.
The other takeaway here is that small, strategic changes in practice can produce huge benefits in learning. Making a little tweak to the learning space — for instance, teaching multiplication through a little juicy game that keeps 30 people on their toes — can have big effects on learning velocity. Spending time strategizing your practice is one of the most effective investments you can make in developing talent.'
But as I said at the start, this idea is still in the experimental phase. What other elements should we consider including? How do you achieve your best practices? What else should we add here?
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Despite long professing the benefits of understanding happiness, the father of the positive psychology movement now believes it’s overrated, the NYT reports.
According to Dr Martin Seligman’s new book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, happiness is just one of the components of true well-being. After watching hundreds of joyless bridge tournament participants persevere with few signs of joy (even when winning), Seligman realised that fulfilment in life is perhaps only one part happiness – and possibly up to four parts something else.
Accomplishment seemed to be what they craved. The ancient Greeks believed accomplishment contributes to eudaimonia, which translates roughly to ‘well-being’ or ‘flourishing’ and it is this concept that Flourish is based on. But flourishing is more than just accomplishment – it’s a combination of feeling good, operating in the zone (think flow) and having meaningful relationships as well.
Seligman has identified five crucial elements of well-being, which he describes using the acronym Perma:
P – Positive emotion
E – Engagement
R – Relationships
M – Meaning
A – Accomplishment
Based on this, Seligman suggests we need to be careful not to confuse the good vibes of the moment with flourishing. While positive psychology has inspired global efforts to survey the state of people’s happiness, Seligman argues that we need to be probing deeper.
This feels right. We often speak about inspiring people in their work by giving them responsibility, learning, recognition and joy – all of which contribute to, and derive from, accomplishment. Give people these things and they really do flourish.
Friday, June 10, 2011
This is a great speech about leadership, citing many of the Values of Positive Leadership™.
It is well worth reading in its entirety.
It is well worth reading in its entirety.
United States Naval Academy Commencement Speech, as delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Annapolis, Maryland, Friday, May 27, 2011 - http://1.usa.gov/kYZny4
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
We had to share this video. Attitude is everything! How many of us can maintain a positive attitude through difficult challenges and the irritations of life? It's not easy, but we can do it. Leaders of course have an important responsibility to maintain a positive outlook through difficult times. Sometimes it just requires a smile and a little humour.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Ever wonder what it takes to become a successful CEO? Adam Bryant has interviewed dozens of outstanding leaders for his New York Times column, "Corner Office." In his recently released book Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers (Business Plus), he distills the lessons he's learned from the best business people in the world. He has uncovered five essential qualities that determine who makes it to the top, all of which he says can be acquired by developing discipline, proper habits and a positive attitude.
The first trait possessed by top executives is that they have passionate curiosity. While they publicly project an air of authority and confidence, they have a different decorum when they are in their inner sanctum with their right-hand people. In that setting they encourage people to share their stories of success and failure. CEOs are intensely interested in finding out what works and why, as well as wanting people to learn lessons from their mistakes.
Chief executives want to understand the big picture and are constantly questioning how their organisation can improve. Through relentless questioning they spot new opportunities, see who's an outstanding performer, and gauge how well their team is working together. Rather than imagining that they have all the right answers, CEOs recognise that their greatest contribution comes from asking the right questions. By discovering what the employees in the organisation believe will lead to greater success, top-notch leaders are able to harness the collective energy of those people who will need to make it happen.
The second quality, says Bryant, is battle-hardened confidence, an inner resilience that CEOs develop by having learned how to deal with adversity. The best leaders embrace challenges, even relish them, and their track record shows that they always find ways to overcome the problems that they encounter. The defining characteristic of resilient leaders is that they take ownership of the issues they face rather than making excuses.
The battle-hardened component comes from the strong work ethic that CEOs develop as they're making their way up in an organisation. They develop the attitude that while there's always something they can do to overcome an adverse situation, they may not get it right on the first attempt. They learn that when they fall down, they can get up, dust themselves off, and continue forging ahead until they achieve their objective.
The third attribute of a chief executive is their uncanny ability to understand how teams work, which enables them to bring out the best in their people. It's typical that in their youth CEOs were active in sports, Boy Scouts and other group activities. In their professional development they learn to recognise whom they can rely on, who has the right reactions under pressure and who the star performers are.
In today's fast-paced business environment, organisations increasingly operate with ad hoc teams. The ability to put the right players on the right team to achieve a common goal is an essential leadership skill. CEOs recognise other managers in the organisation who are also able to recruit the right team and manage them well, and they promote those people into their inner circle.
A fourth element of extraordinary leadership is a simple mind-set. CEOs want people who present to them to be concise, stating the problem simply and offering a straightforward solution. They have little time to deal with subordinates who are unfocused or overthink problems, or worse, want to explain all of their research and analysis. Sometimes they'll ask someone to give them a 10-word summary of their idea. CEOs want people around them who can synthesise information, connect the dots and present practical action plans.
The fifth quality common to CEOs is fearlessness. They are comfortable being in uncertain situations where there is no map or compass to guide them. As soon as things get settled in their organisation, they want to shake it up and make the operation work even better. The best leaders understand that maintaining the status quo will enable their competitors to leave them in the dust, so they constantly want to keep their company on the cutting edge rather than allowing it to become complacent.
Chief executives look to hire people who not only have a track record of managing change, but an appetite for it. They love hearing stories of success involving an individual who sees an opportunity and goes for it based on the courage of his or her convictions. Like the other four factors, fearlessness is a characteristic people can develop.
Monday, June 06, 2011
- Effective goals are internalised. It does not matter who has set your goals, you have to own and commit to them.
- Effective goals are nurturing. They should include a developmental element so that significant learning occurs in addition to the targets being achieved.
- Effective goals are specific. They are clear and unambiguous so that it is obvious when they have been achieved.
- Effective goals are planned. You should break them down into aligned shorter-term goals, or sub goals, and form a plan for achieving them.
- Effective goals are in your control. Their achievement should be attainable through your own efforts.
- Effective goals are reviewed regularly. Regular reviews of progress toward them should be included in the planning process.
- Effective goals are energising. They should excite and energise you by being challenging in that they are just about achievable, but should also create a level of uncertainty that sustains your motivation, focus and effort.
- Effective goals are documents. Documenting them in some form and recording progress toward them provides a continual reminder of commitments that can be important when things are tough .
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Randy Pausch was, by all accounts, a happy man: attractive, charismatic and blessed with a good marriage and three kids. At Carnegie Mellon, he was a popular computer science professor known for developing courses that drew students from the arts, computer science and engineering. So when in 2007 Pausch was asked to give a talk for a lecture series called "journeys," no one was surprised that it was standing-room only.
The idea behind the series was for professors to speak to their students as if it were their last lecture. Except in Pausch's case, it really was. He began by showing the audience scans of his liver tumours and explaining his grim diagnosis.
"That is what it is, we can't change it, and we just have to decide how we are going to respond to it," he said. "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be ... sorry to disappoint you!"
Pausch went on to say he wasn't going to talk about his cancer. Instead, he wanted to celebrate his life and the lessons he had learned while growing up.
"You left that lecture hall just wanting to share this with everybody in the world," says Peter Lee, head of the university's computer science department, who was in the audience that night.
Wall Street Journal reporter Jeffrey Zaslow was also in the audience. He wrote a piece about the lecture and posted a video of it in on the newspaper's Web site.
"That spread so fast, with people saying they were so touched," says Zaslow. "I knew he was going to move the world."
Eventually, Zaslow collaborated on the book by Randy Pausch The Last Lecture [DECKLE EDGE] 1st edition. None of the lessons in the book is startlingly new, but Pausch had a way of taking a cliché — like "running into a brick wall" — and imbuing it with new life:
"The brick walls are there for a reason. Right? The brick walls are not there to keep us out, the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough," he said in his lecture.
In the end, Zaslow says Pausch's ability to embrace life even as he faced death was a lesson in itself:
"He lived with such bravado and such love of everybody in his life ... but he also showed ... that when our time comes, we should have a little bit of Randy inside of us."
Saturday, June 04, 2011
Derek Sivers is best known as the founder of CD Baby. A professional musician since 1987, he started CD Baby by accident in 1998 when he was selling his own CD on his website, and friends asked if he could sell theirs, too. CD Baby was the largest seller of independent music on the web.
Friday, June 03, 2011
If we see the exact same event from a different perspective we will see an entirely different event. We cannot control the wind... but we CAN control our sail as it catches the wind....Learn to set the sails of your perspective and use the winds to move you forward toward your goal..... You choose how to view the world....YOU ARE IN CONTROL!!
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Imagine where today could take you if you changed one routine – and hitched your wagon to a new star.
Your new approach to win, after some repetition, will replace stress and eliminate dangerous cortisol that keeps you back. Each act toward attaining the win you desire literally alters your brain cell connections. Every act in the opposite direction of worry, adds chemicals and electricity for a bold approach to work and life.
New goals for winning directions take root in the brain’s basal ganglia, that storehouse of your actions and responses, which lies beneath the prefrontal cortex. Focused on a novel goal, the basal ganglia shoots an enormous number of neural signals to guide the brain toward your winner focus. See why your new directions – against worry – come more easily and rapidly as they are lived?
Rather than look to past issues that worried you, or to events that worry others, the brain performs better when you concentrate on strengthening neural patterns for relaxing and for trusting your bold new steps toward what you want to attain. The brain tends to get you what you focus on and do, but does not distinguish well between should or should not. For instance, if you emphasise “not worrying,” it builds neuron pathways more to worrying, than to relaxing. Would you agree that is also a terrific reason for telling people more of what they do well, and emphasise less of what they do poorly?
Are you aware of how organisations and nations wire your brain for fear, bad choices and anxiety? The opposite of rewiring for calm – is to focus on bad news, get caught in negative workplace politics, or act in negative ways that start with groves in your brain and soon become the ruts that run your basal ganglia for worry and negativity. Your solution? Recognise the need for change, and then select one activity to do – in the opposite direction. While this first step is critical for leaders who desire change, it also starts with you and rewires your brain for setting a new pace. As you refocus your behaviour, others may not choose to emulate you at first. Over time, however, because of the brain’s built-in equipment to mimic others around you, some will refocus away from negativity, worry and naysaying, toward healthier habits for profitable growth.
Likely you are asking, but what about organisational change? The potential within tools from neuroplasticity – to rewire entire organisations for emphasising and attaining more positive targets, is huge, yet mostly unrealised.
Knowing that it starts within you rather than in others, look first look in opposite directions of anxiety that wires entire organisations for pessimism and loss. Then, focus today on one novel way of thinking, however unnatural at first, in order to rewire from anxious to calm.
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
Have you ever thought about what it takes to bounce back from life’s downturns? Today, let’s talk about how to handle those inevitable setbacks that occur from time to time.
No matter how hard we may try, life isn’t perfect. Every day cannot be sunny, our relationships with others cannot always be smooth – and let’s face it, sometimes work is more of a pain than a pleasure. However, it is how we react to those less-than-perfect situations that show us how far we’ve grown as human beings.
Since most of us spend a significant portion of our lives at some form of workplace, let’s use work as an example. Suppose something has gone drastically wrong, and the whole place looks like everyone is awaiting execution. No one looks up for fear of being called to account for the disaster. The talk around the water cooler is negative, and unless something is done, the entire organization begins down the slippery slope of the ‘Downward Spiral’.
What to do? First, a conscious effort must be made to ensure the organisational self-talk is positive and reaffirming. Your talents and expertise are valued by the organisation, and the work you do is important. Second, the organisation must get beyond the current “disaster” and begin focusing on the future, when the problem no longer exists. And third, forget trying to point fingers and assign blame. As the US Air Force Blue Angels say, “Fess up, fix it, and move on.”