Are you a curious leader?

Natural curiosity is about a genuine drive to understand the unknown. Curiosity may also involve rethinking the status quo, reviewing and throwing away long-held assumptions proven false by the world we live and work in.

A curious leader is someone who does not accept everything at face value, but is driven to delve beneath the surface to gain a deep level of understanding. This trait should not be confused with skepticism. Being a curious leader implies that you don’t know the answers but is willing to explore with your followers. Many in leadership roles still perceive they must be seen as having all of the answers. Yet, possessing a healthy sense of curiosity can let a leader pursue new, different, or even previously-thought impossible initiatives. In the right business environment, this curiosity leads to experimentation which becomes the foundation of innovation.

Developing curiosity can always start with asking “Why…”, “How might…” and “What if…”.

SourceArt Pretty

 

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Learning to Inspire

Inspiring leaders are those who can use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on challenging goals.

Based on a survey designed by Bain & Company, an inspiring leader excel in one or more personal attributes that develop inner resources, connect with others, set the tone, and lead a team. Stress tolerance, self-regard, and optimism help leaders developing inner resources. Vitality, humility, and empathy help leaders connect. Openness, unselfishness, and responsibility help set the tone. Vision, focus, servanthood, and sponsorship help them lead.

That said, mindfulness is one universal trait that matters more than any other. This is perceived by followers to be a state of mindfulness that enables leaders to remain calm under stress, empathize, listen deeply, and remain present.

SourceHavard Business Review

 

 

Don’t ask a fish to climb a tree

Einstein famously made the expression to remind us that we can be great in our own way if we understand our strengths. It is often easy to be fixated on overcoming one’s weaknesses and easily ignore building up one’s strengths. In fact, focusing too much on correcting your weaknesses may actually hinder you from becoming what you can be great at.  The four rules of thumb to guide you to enhance your strengths: (1) accept your weaknesses; (2) recognize your specific strengths; (3) solve the right problem; and (4) double down on your strengths.

All of us — individuals, teams, and organizations — have weaknesses. These are weaknesses that are inherent deficiencies of capability that do not change even after aggressive efforts to improve them. As an individual, or as an enterprise, knowing the specific nature of your strengths is incredibly important. Because if you don’t know your specific strength, you can’t  develop it to full advantage. Also, consider whether the problem you are trying to solve is the right one to address, especially if it is a problem other people have diagnosed for you. Ultimately, strengths and weaknesses are often mirrors of each other; and once you recognize your strength, you can accentuate it through discipline and training.

SourceStrategy-Business

Why TED Talks are Compelling

A lot of people would agree that TED talks are compelling but why it is so is less obvious. The talks share a common narrative that can be easily used to structure presentations to good effect. Here are the five elements:

Pique their interest – Through opening with stories, you can get attention and appeal to emotional instincts because people are naturally drawn to stories. The stories should have vivid detail and invoke clear imagery, and most importantly leave the listener in suspense as to “What’s next”. At this early stage of the talk, the specific stories are external to the listener.

Satisfy their curiosity – Next pick out the pattern or generalise the lesson of the specific story or stories. The key is to create an “aha” moment for the listener. Saying “here’s what we learned” will begin to draw the audience to becoming in-tuned with the story teller.

Appeal to logic – This is where you can back your story with data, graphs or even more facts. After appealing to the audience’s emotional side, offering numerical evidence is a powerful way to further convince the logic-minded in the group.

Setting the vision – Invite the audience to imagine their world in a different way, where they apply the foregoing external, general rule to their circumstances. This step that asks the audience to “Imagine if you …” directs the focus on the listener’s internal world and paints the potential to change for the better.

Call to action – Tell the audience a concrete action they can take to achieve the objective. It is important to give the audience a sense that they are control over the action so that they believe that they can actually do it. By this closing stage of the presentation, the talk has turned attention to an internal specific action that the listener can carry out.

SourceForbes

Handling the four political barriers to strategy execution

Many CEOs or managers often find themselves up against organisational politics that impede strategy execution. Historical divisions and entrenched power structures can create barriers to desired change. Navigating these political domains in organisations require awareness of two important dimensions. First is the spectrum at which the political activity takes place between the individual or organisational level. The second dimension is the source of informal or formal power. Using these two dimensions, the four typical types of organisational politics can be described as “the weeds”, “the rocks”, “the high ground”, and “the woods”. Here’s how to approach these situations:

The weeds – The weeds, where individual influence and informal networks rule, can naturally form without any deliberate effort. To deal with the weeds, seek to understand the informal networks at play and identify the key influence brokers, so you can isolate them and increase your own influence.

The rocks – Navigating the terrain here, where individuals have formal sources of authority reign, consists of redirecting the energy of a dysfunctional leader, either through reasoned argument or by appealing to their interests.

The high ground – If you find yourself on the high ground, which combines formal authority embedded within organisational systems such as committees, you can suggest that a separate group or task force (e.g. Innovation Lab) needs to be set up to examine an issue or bridge silos. It can create an unconstrained ‘working space’ outside of the norms and routines of the organisation.

The woods – The woods are characterised by organisations with implicit norms, hidden assumptions and unspoken routines. The key here is to make the implicit explicit and bring those implicit routines and behaviours to the surface. Ask external stakeholders and specialist experts about their observations of the company or get information from benchmark surveys. Once the implicit assumptions are out in the open, ask your team to reflect on how those assumptions are helping or hindering the strategy.

SourceINSEAD

 

Four Errors of Change Management

No matter what specific changes a change management program is intending to bring, those aims necessarily involve a sustained changed in the employee’s behavior. Unfortunately, change programs of many firms usually fail to bring about those new behaviours due to four errors that undermine the change efforts. These errors take the forms of neglecting employee’s individual interests, under-engaging the extended leadership team, failure to sufficiently empower the Change Management Unit, and allocating ‘fire and forget’ targets. In order to minimise the occurrence of these errors, the management should strive to make participation in the program individually rewarding. The company should closely engage the extended leadership teams in encouraging change, and empower the Change Management Unit to drive the program. Lastly, the company should also define effective metrics to track progress.

SourceBCG

 

Forming the Culture Committee

50 years since its founding, Southwest Airlines is still flying high. Despite not being the best in terms of airline performance, the company is ranked second to last on customer complaints. For an airline that many believed would not have succeeded, the CEO credits the competitive advantage to its people. And the company is so zealous about its people that it has a Culture Committee.

The Culture Committee overseas the orientation for new employees. That’s not all of course, the Committee ensures that the right – in this case fun-loving – people get hired into the company in the first place. The belief goes that if the employees are having fun, they will have a happier time serving customers, and ultimately passengers are going to get a better flying experience. In reflecting its people-centric ethos, the company has also created multiple galleries where employees contribute pets photos or even military medals to make all feel at home.

The Culture Committee eventually morphed into the Culture Services Committee, which till today takes it role very seriously. A case in point is the handling of compliments about specific employees: they not only get highlighted to the employee’s manager, but also get highlighted to the manager’s manager. What’s fun if there are no parties? Lots in fact – career milestones with the company or even wedding anniversaries all get celebrated with pomp and fun. The company believes it ultimately pays off to invest in culture through budgeting, resources, and time. If the airline’s expansion plans are any indication, Southwest Airlines may well have a very profitable intangible asset that sustains its competitive advantage.

SourceDmagazine