5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of February 27, 2017
This week Karin and I had the opportunity to share Winning Well on a Fox News Affiliate in Baltimore. Click the image above to watch the video.
Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
Organizational Distrust is Rampant: Why Leaders Should Be Worried by Christine Comaford at Forbes.com
Distrust is rampant. It’s worldwide. It’s pervasive across all types of organizations in the business world. Even though the trust of CEOs is at an all-time low, we can help heal the distrust that may exist in your organization and boost your trust factor among your tribe.
Are you ready?
As humans, we are wired to trust, we want to trust and have a connection with our tribe. Organizations can’t “buy” the trust of their team, but they can create and foster it through increasing engagement and avoiding common pitfalls.
A tribe that continuously activates the reward network — smart tribe — is more productive and effective.
My Comment: Recently I was discussing the research on which this article is based with a client, a middle level manager. One of the interesting trust-related findings is that 63% of people don’t trust their CEO. That’s an astounding number – 2/3 of people don’t trust the leader at the top of their organization.
My client remarked, “That’s sad – most of those people have probably never even met the CEO, how can they distrust them?” His comment reveals a common problem leaders face. I might reverse his statement and say that of course they don’t trust someone they’ve never met and who, based on the limited evidence they receive, doesn’t seem to have their best interests in mind.
As a leader, you judge yourself by your intentions – which, we’ll assume for now, are good – but intentions are invisible. What do your people see you do? Do you know them? Do they know you? People crave connection, understanding, and trust, and it takes more than good intentions to build these things. Comaford takes a look at several common management mistakes that will quickly destroy your people’s trust.
Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is Counting on Culture Shock to Drive Growth by Marco della Cava at USA Today
Last March, Microsoft unveiled Tay.ai, a Twitter bot that promised to usher in a new era of human-to-artificial-intelligence conversation.
Within hours, hackers turned Tay into a venom-spewing racist, and the project was quickly shuttered with a public apology.
In the old days of Microsoft, heads surely would have rolled.
But Satya Nadella, 49, a one-time company engineer who took the reins of the $500 billion tech giant three years ago this month, instead sent the Tay team a note of encouragement.
“Keep pushing, and know that I am with you,” he wrote in an e-mail, urging staffers to take the criticism in the right spirit while exercising “deep empathy for anyone hurt by Tay. (The) key is to keep learning and improving.”
The group responded with Zo, a new AI chatbot that debuted in December. So far, no issues.
Nadella says Microsoft must display ‘enduring values’
“It’s so critical for leaders not to freak people out, but to give them air cover to solve the real problem,” Nadella says
My Comment: This is a fantastic interview and a look at how a top executive understands his job to be the “curation of culture.” His approach to innovation takes into account the conditions in which real people thrive and that taking risks means some things won’t work. I love the combined Winning Well values of confidence and humility on display in his encouragement to his AI team: “Keep pushing…I am with you.” (Confidence) “Exercise ‘deep empathy for anyone hurt’” (Humility)
Why You Should Speak Less and Listen More by Susan Mazza
When I was growing up, I remember feeling more uneasy when my parents got very quiet than when they were speaking loudly about their displeasure with something I or my brother had done. As a proponent of speaking up as an act of leadership, it is perhaps ironic that I learned at a very young age how silence can sometimes speak loudly.
Consider that when it comes to leadership, though, there are times when it is more effective to choose silence over speaking up with your words. The silence I am referring to is not to be confused, however, with the silence used for the purpose of actively ignoring someone or as a way to shun or silence them. Using silence as an act of leadership is always for the purpose of making a difference.
My Comment: People who feel heard and understood are much more likely to feel good about their work and embrace decisions – even when they don’t go the way they wanted. Mazza’s invitation to intentional silence, that is, the silence that comes from deeply and actively listening, is a powerful tool to build trust, get the information you need to make good decisions, and give others a chance to lead.
More extroverted leaders often ask me how they can improve their listening. One suggestion that helps them is to take notes. Simply focus on getting an accurate impression of what the other person is saying will help you focus on them, rather than on what you’re wanting to say next.
All Business is Personal: Employees Need Connections At Work by Harry West at Entrepreneur
Everyone wants to be treated with respect, whether that’s in a professional context or within the realm of personal relationships. So it should come as no surprise that workers — contract, freelance, full-time, part-time — want to feel appreciated for the skills they bring to the job. They also are more productive when they hear phrases such as “thank you,” “you’re an important part of the team” and “we couldn’t have done it without you!” It’s such a simple thing, yet too many companies neglect these easy-to-implement interactions between managers and employees.
According to a recent survey conducted by Appirio, 47 percent of workers are less than fully engaged in their current jobs. The same survey reveals that bonuses and extravagant compensations aren’t enough to keep your workforce productive. As it turns out, top talent is looking for more: a human connection with employers and colleagues.
My Comment: Here’s the bottom line: you know you have people (whether employees or contracted) working with you. You know they are human beings who will benefit from human connection, encouragement, opportunities to grow, and a sense of growth. You know these things, but the question is will you be intentional about incorporating this knowledge and intentionally helping build this kind of culture? It’s not enough to ‘not get in the way’. Humanity and connection don’t tolerate neutrality – if you’re not helping foster it, you’re probably eroding it.
All You Need is Love: Why Workplaces Need Some Compassion by Chad Brooks at Business News Daily
Having a company culture with a little love and compassion can go a long way toward making a better workplace, new research finds.
A study recently published in the Academy of Management Journal suggests that businesses need to strike a balance between a lighthearted and fun workplace and one that is compassionate and caring.
While the researchers looked specifically at the life of firefighters and the culture inside fire stations, the study’s authors believe their findings are also relevant to less male-dominated workplaces.
My Comment: This is a fascinating research-based look at the exact blends of culture that produce the best results. While the findings were specific firehouses, the presence of compassionate looking out for one another, recognizing individual strengths, and creating a culture in which the team pulls together while individuals also flourish is something every leader can aspire to create for their team.
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