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

 

 

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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

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

Six Ways to Make the Right Hire

Using the interview strategies outlined below may help improve your chances of making the right hire:

(1) Tour the office.  You can have a better sense of the candidates by watching how they behave when touring the office. As you’re sizing up the candidates, there are two key qualities to look out for: Is the person interested or curious in the work of the organization? Do they treat everyone they meet with respect regardless of their title?

(2) Interview over lunch.  The key part is to observe whether the candidate is considerate towards other colleagues — an essential quality of effective team players. Pay attention to behaviours such as: Do they charge into the restaurant, or let others go first; can they keep a dialogue going, or do they dominate the conversation?

(3) Ask personality questions.  Unusual questions will get candidates to open up and provide insights into what makes them tick. Do they know how they come across to others? Their answers to a question such as “What is the biggest misconception people have about you” can reveal candidates’ level of self-awareness.

(4) Discuss actual problems.  See your candidates in action by discussing an actual problem or issue you’re working on. Ask how they would tackle or break down the problem. Are they engaged in exploring the problem? Are they able to generate solutions? Walking through a short problem with the candidate will reveal how it would be like to work with this person.

(5) Get them asking questions.  Leave some time to allow candidates to ask their questions at the end of the interview. Do they ask penetrating questions about the direction of the company? Or do they want answers to questions about vacation? Or maybe they have no questions at all? The questions candidates ask will indicate their interest and whether they done any homework about the company.

(6) Seek another opinion.  As we’re often biased, it is important to get different perspectives on candidates by asking a number of potential colleagues to meet with them. After all, the person you hire is going to interact with many people in your company, so they all have an interest in ensuring the person is a someone they can work with.

SourceThe New York Times

Being the One in the Middle

Compared to employees at either end of a firm’s management spectrum, the middle managers have a relatively complicated relationship with power. They are expected to play very different roles when interacting with different groups, frequently alternating between high and low power interaction styles. This imposes a psychological burden because humans are inefficient when it comes to task switching: It is psychologically challenging to disengage from a task that requires one mindset and engage in another task that requires a very different mindset. There are however some steps that could be taken to reduce such a burden on middle managers, namely simplifying the reporting structure to reduce unnecessary upward and downward interactions, not micromanaging the middle managers, and putting in place a more egalitarian organizational structure.

SourceHavard Business Review

High-trust companies treat staff like responsible adults

High-trust companies typically hold people accountable without micromanaging them. With a high-trust environment in place, employees are more motivated to perform better.

Using trust as a foundation, management should seek to improves how employees treat one another and themselves. Companies in promoting trust share their mission objectives clearly and regularly with employees to reduce confusion about where they are headed and why. Once employees have been trained and given a clearly defined job scope, allow them to execute projects in their own way. At the individual level, investing in the whole person and not only the technical skills has a powerful effect on staff engagement. Assessing personal growth at regular appraisals should include discussions about work-life integration, family, and recreation.

Being trusted to figure things out can be a big motivator. When companies trust employees to choose which projects they work on best, people focus their energies on what they care about most. And when given the autonomy, it also promotes innovation, because different people try different approaches. Newer, younger or less experienced employees become the company’s innovators, because they’re less constrained by what works.

SourceHavard Business Review