Bad news

April 20, 2015

By Amy Gallo via   Article

“Delivering bad news is tough. It’s even harder when you don’t agree with the message or decision you’re communicating. Maybe you have to tell your star performer that HR turned down her request for a raise or to inform your team that the company doesn’t want them working from home any longer. Should you toe the line and act like you agree with the decision or new policy? Or should you break ranks and explain how upset you are too?

What the Experts Say
‘In a managerial role, it’s natural to feel ambivalence’ when delivering disappointing news, says Joshua Margolis, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. This is because you always have two different parties’ interests at heart — that of your employees and that of upper management. Talent management expert writer Susan Heathfield agrees: ‘As a manager, you walk a fine line between being a company advocate and an employee advocate.’ Reconciling the two is no easy task and you often feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. Here’s how to navigate the situation. …

Putting it all together
To give you a sense of what this all sounds like, consider the following example. If you have to tell a direct report that he didn’t get the promotion he was hoping for you can say something like: We’re unable to give you the promotion (be direct). HR says that in order to be at a director level you need to have responsibility for a larger scope of the business (explain the rationale). It’s not necessarily how I’d approach itbut I understand why as an organization we do it that way (express procedural fairness).  What questions do you have for me? How are you feeling? (Allow for venting). Now let’s look at what you can do to get that promotion next year or the following one (focus on the future).”

Sorry, not sorry

April 20, 2015

By Jessica Hagy via   Image

Real leaders

April 20, 2015

By Dean Williams via   Article

Why Real Leaders Don’t Care About Titles or Formalities

“Traditional leadership that relies on prominence (‘look to me’), dominance (‘listen to me’), and tribalizing (‘follow me’) to get things done isn’t working anymore. Instead the best leaders are global change agents; they’re men and women who can act with or without formal positional authority to mobilize diverse factions to face reality, participate in interdependent problem solving, and contribute to innovative solutions with focus and speed.

The outdated leadership modal emphasizes operating within boundaries—these leaders protect and manage boundaries. But global change agents, true leaders, aren’t afraid to cross boundaries, bust boundaries, transcend boundaries, and build bridges. Here’s what that looks like:


Interdependent problems necessitate that multiple groups in a social system be mobilized since problems can’t be brought to resolution by one group acting alone or in isolation. True leaders, then, must cross the cultural, gender, geographic, structural, and professional boundaries that separate people and groups. …


True leaders must intervene to break up maladaptive practices and counterproductive boundaries that perpetuate silos and tribalism. Groups by nature are tribal and seek to preserve their prevailing boundaries, even at the expense of facing reality and adapting to changed conditions.

Boundaries play an important function in protecting groups and sustaining a group culture, but they become impediments when they reduce the flow of information and resources and keep people from facing changed conditions, dealing with threats, and taking advantage of unique and emerging opportunities.”

The power of not knowing

April 20, 2015

By Ray Dalio via   Article

Open-Mindedness And The Power of Not Knowing

“‘This episode taught me the importance of always fearing being wrong, no matter how confident I am that I’m right. As a result, I began seeking out the smartest people I could find who disagreed with me so that I could understand their reasoning. Only after I fully grasped their points of view could I decide to reject or accept them. By doing this again and again over the years, not only have I increased my chances of being right, but I have also learned a huge amount.

There’s an art to this process of seeking out thoughtful disagreement. People who are successful at it realize that there is always some probability they might be wrong and that it’s worth the effort to consider what others are saying — not simply the others’ conclusions, but the reasoning behind them — to be assured that they aren’t making a mistake themselves. They approach disagreement with curiosity, not antagonism, and are what I call “open-minded and assertive at the same time.” This means that they possess the ability to calmly take in what other people are thinking rather than block it out, and to clearly lay out the reasons why they haven’t reached the same conclusion. They are able to listen carefully and objectively to the reasoning behind differing opinions.

When most people hear me describe this approach, they typically say, “No problem, I’m open-minded!” But what they really mean is that they’re open to being wrong. True open-mindedness is an entirely different mind-set. It is a process of being intensely worried about being wrong and asking questions instead of defending a position. It demands that you get over your ego-driven desire to have whatever answer you happen to have in your head be right. Instead, you need to actively question all of your opinions and seek out the reasoning behind alternative points of view.”

You have seven seconds

April 13, 2015

By Vicky Castro via   Article

TED Talk Researcher Reveals the Top Secrets of the Best Public Speakers

“Behavioral researcher Vanessa Van Edwards has studied hundreds of TED talks in search of answers. While factors such as intelligence, credibility, and charisma are important, her research returned a few surprises too–namely, what you don’t say may be just as important as the contents of your speech.

‘We had different trials. Some participants got to watch the participants with sound and others without, and we asked them to rate charisma, intelligence, and credibility, and it was incredible that the ratings were the same’, says Van Edwards. ‘There was sort of this unspoken quality’.

So how do you say it without saying it? Here are four behavioral patterns pulled from the most popular TED Talks:

1. Bring Out the Jazz Hands

Clearly a speaker’s body language is extremely important for determining a talk’s success. By analyzing specific patterns, the study, which was conducted by Van Edwards’s company Science of People, found that the more hand gestures, the more successful the talk. Van Edwards says prior research has shown that we have an easier time trusting people when we can see their hands. In addition, when speakers use their hands to explain concepts, people have an easier time understanding them.

2. Don’t Be Tone Deaf

Study participants also rated TED speakers on vocal variety: for instance, fluctuation in voice tone, volume, and pitch. The more vocal variety speakers had, the more views they had. Vocal variety increased both the speaker’s charisma and credibility rating. Jamie Oliver, who even yelled at the audience during his talk, was one of the highest rated speakers, and his speech has nearly 6 million views. …

‘It’s more important to speak your pitch in a new way, not with the perfect words–it can get boring if you are memorizing. It’s more important to add vocal variety. People are more interested in the tonality and emotionality,’ says Van Edwards.

 3. Smile, You’re Looking Smarter

According to Van Edwards’s report, this finding is the only pattern that goes against current research, as other studies have found that leaders typically smile less. Nonetheless, her study reveals that the longer a TED speaker smiled, the higher his or her perceived intelligence ratings were. Even when speaking about serious topics–like Sheryl Sandberg’s talk on the scarcity of women in leadership positions–those who smiled for at least 14 seconds were perceived as having a higher intelligence than those who smiled for less.

4. You Have Seven Seconds

Van Edwards says smiling in the first seven seconds is extremely important. The ratings revealed that people had already made their first impression of, and decision on, the talk within the first seven seconds of the video. According to the report, ‘researcher Nalini Ambady calls this ‘thin-slicing.’ She says that for efficiency purposes, the brain makes very quick judgments of people within the first few seconds of meeting them.'”

Be digital

April 13, 2015

By Abhijit Bhaduri and Bill Fischer via   Article

Are You An Analog or Digital Leader?

“Be digital!



Big mind games

April 13, 2015

By Penelope Trunk via   Article

How to tell if it’s a good job or bad job

“Here are the three big mind games (scientists say ‘cognitive bias’) that get in the way of clear decision-making about careers (and all other decisions as well:  who to marry, whether or not to have kids, and so forth):

1. Anchoring
Anchoring describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the ‘anchor’) when making decisions. Once an anchor is set, we make other judgments by adjusting relative to that anchor. For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiation, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable, even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.

2. Empathy gap
The crux of this idea is that human understanding is ‘state dependent’. For example, when you are angry, it is difficult to remember what it is like to feel happy, and vice versa; when one is blindly in love with someone, it is difficult to understand what it is like for one not to be, (or to imagine the possibility of not being blindly in love in the future).

This is a frequent problem with startup founders. You should always negotiate a way to buy each other out if you start hating your co-founder. But at the beginning of a startup you are so enamored that you cannot imagine what you will want to do yourself or your partners when your electricity is cut off.

3. Misconstruals
People give more weight to the data they have about a given outcome and they either ignore or inaccurately create data to fill in for what’s missing in order to make predictions about how they’ll feel.  For example if all you know about being a startup founder is you don’t have a boss and you sell a company for millions of dollars, then you probably feel like you’ll be happy as a founder.

I really like the details in this job description from a reddit thread. While it seems like getting paid to maintain a Twitter feed would be a fun job, there are so many terrible parts to that job that you can’t really see until you’re in the thick of it. And in this short job vignette the writer describes all the minefields of trying to guess at what job you’d like to do.

It’s fun for a while. It feels creative, it feels important. Your friends think it’s cool. They follow your brand. And then a month passes and you’ve written 1000 tweets about hamburgers, even though the public will only see 100.”


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