The lack of confidence in the institutions that define our collective culture is threatening the civility, economic prosperity, and standing of the United States as a world leader. Let’s start with the government. The President’s [...]
The 1971 Oscar in the Short Film, Cartoon category went to a piece titled “Is It Always Right To Be Right.” It was directed by Lee Mishkin, narrated by Orson Welles, and written by Warren Schmidt. The opening words of the film are: There once was a land where people were always right. They knew they were right and they were proud of it. It was a land where people stated with confidence, "I am right and you are wrong." These were words of conviction, courage, strength, and moral certainty. In this fictional land, any attempt at cooperation and understanding were viewed as cowardice and weakness. Everyone was so convinced of their rightness that no one dared to utter words such as, “You may be right” or “I may be wrong.”
This would have been the message if the speaker at your last business meeting presented in nursery rhymes: Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over The candle stick. You feel better, right? You now know what is expected of you and the definition of success. And, you have no real context for why it is important or idea about how to move forward.
We taught mice and pigeons to do all sorts of interesting things during my graduate school class in behavioral psychology. The principle is simple: provide a stimulus and elicit a response. The stimulus-response cycle still plays an important role in animal training today. And, it is evident in virtually every routine action we take. You don’t think about your response; you just make it. And at some point, it becomes automatic. On most days, those automatic responses are benign routines that allow you to effectively navigate. Unfortunately, they can also become anchors that prevent you from making a change that will transform your business and your life.
These days it seems that we’re all so busy, overcommitted, and information-obsessed. Our never-ending to-do lists are long and we run around trying to “keep up” or “be important,” and in the process stress ourselves out. Unfortunately, it often takes something bad to happen to slow us down, wake us up, and force us to focus on what truly matters most in life.
The willingness and urgency to change are based on emotional readiness not intellectual understanding. If intellectual understanding – knowing what we should do – was all it took to change, the gap between realizing we need to do something different and the work of implementing that change would be non-existent. But that’s not how it works.
The government we want is nimble, flexible, and responsive. The government we experience, in many cases, is slow, cumbersome, and totally unresponsive. Let’s put this another way: We want our government to operate like our favorite business. We believe, in contrast, that our government is the poster child for lumbering bureaucratic inefficiency and employees who are out of touch with the realities of the marketplace. Twenty plus years of working with private and public sector organizations has taught me that the truth is actually somewhere between the two extremes.
Leaders distinguish themselves in times of great risk and great reward. Whether it is the political leader who bolsters our confidence in times of crisis or the business leader who follows her instincts to seize an opportunity, we respect and admire the leader who is out front when the stakes are high.
Most of the talk about New Year’s Resolutions is just that – talk. Despite all of our good intentions, most of us won’t achieve our goals for the year. Research released by the University of Scranton Psychology Department reports that only 8 percent of Americans are regularly successful in achieving their resolution. 49 percent achieve occasional success, and 24 percent are never successful. So in other words, the odds are stacked against you even if you set a goal for the New Year
There has to be something we can learn from Washington’s failure to address the debt limit, right? There are three very important lessons about leading change you can take from the chaos over approving the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling.
This week we feature a guest blog by New York Times best-selling author, Larry Winget. It is based on his new book, Grow a Pair. I can't recommend this book enough. Buy it now, and then buy another copy for that person you know needs to grow a pair.
Scott Keller and Carolyn Aiken, consultants at McKinsey & Company, suggest that 80 percent of what leaders care about and talk about when trying to enlist support for change does not matter to 80 percent of the workforce. To gain the commitment for the change that you want, you must connect with people where they are. You do that by making the change relevant and real.
The old-fashioned view of mentoring is someone outside a learner’s chain of command who equips that learner with new skills and knowledge. It is an archaic expert to novice or smart to unwise philosophy. The goal is the transfer of information or expertise, much like pouring knowledge into the head of a passive learner. It is the model that antiquated teachers used to teach facts students only recalled long enough to score favorably on the test.
Liars – we've all seen them, fallen victim to them, and if we are truthful, joined their ranks from time to time. Some do it for malicious reasons. Others do so out of a sense of kindness or benign indifference. But, we all do it. There are times when that article of clothing makes us look fat. There are times when we feel like crap, and there are times when we feel the pressure to say what is untrue to cover for our lack of performance. And that is why you need to read The Truth About Lies in the Workplace.
Do you have a favorite employee? Just thinking about admitting it causes us to cringe at the possibility of the negative backlash from those who are the not-so favorites, should they ever learn our true feelings. But that’s the point. They already know.