Archive | April, 2011

Another Take on Leadership

27 Apr

The New York Times Sunday Business section often has interesting articles on leadership.  On April 17, 2011 they reviewed a set of five CEO characteristics based on intensive interviews.  These are interesting and worthy of reflection:

• Passionate Curiosity

• Battle-Hardened Confidence

• Team Smarts

• Fearlessness

• A Simple Mind-Set

“Most senior executives want people to be concise, get to the point, make it simple.”

Research on how people organize, store, retrieve and act on information goes back to 1956.  It shows that if we organize information into CHUNKs it greatly facilitates communication and action.  Such CHUNKs should not exceed 7 ± 2 and fewer is better.  People who can do this very effectively are said to be cognitively efficient.  Good news, cognitive efficiency is learned.

To review the original article, one of the most often cited in the psychology research literature go to

https://langhorne.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/comm-series-8-persecuted-by-an-integer/

Space only allows review of one of the five and you can read the full article at NY Times.


BIG NEWS:  Beyond Luck is now an e-book on Amazon.  At $6.95 it’s a great deal and it looks marvelous on an iPad.

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To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

20 Apr

Some time ago a group of managers were about to hire a candidate.  The Admin came in and asked ‘”who?”  When she heard the answer her face fell, she said “really?” and so we asked for her input.  Apparently the person treated her with condescension and distain.  We were bewildered and she suggested we “sleep on it.”

Two lessons from this event:

First, we learned and were surprised by the fact that there are some people, fortunately not many, who seem to have two sets of behavior. One set for their managers and peers and another set for those below them in the pecking order.

Second, we learned that events and decisions often look very different the next morning. Doris intuitively knew if we caught some ZZZs, we would make the right decision.

Scientists have been studying sleep for several decades, and much is known about normal and abnormal sleep. The most important fact is that sleep deprivation has many negative cognitive, emotional and physical effects. In fact, research on animals shows that if completely deprived of sleep, some will die. What is most important to know is that sleep goes through a series of 90- to 110-minute cycles, and in one of these of these cycles, where rapid eye movement, loss of muscle tonus and dreaming occur, the brain appears to be actively processing. No one is sure what the brain is processing but this stage, called REM, seems to be the critical element of sleep. For more on sleep see Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.

Over the years, I have learned never to be pushed into decisions without sleeping on them. A wondrous thing, the human mind working for us even when we are sleeping.

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Book Talk #2

13 Apr

Recently at a book talk at the Richmond Heights Chamber of Commerce an interesting and informative story came up.  One member asked how to deal with a difficult co-worker.

Someone noted that they once worked with a person who took a “cheapshot” every time she saw him, always a nasty, disrespectful one-liner.  This was very upsetting, especially when it was in the morning.

The person decided to change the nature of the interaction with this difficult person.  Every day on the way to work he thought of some pleasant, respectful comment to use and he wisely moved into the interaction fast, made the comment and departed.  Over several weeks the person’s behavior toward him began to change and others in the workplace noticed it.  Eventually the two became working colleagues and when the former “difficult person” left for another job she wrote him a two page letter about how fine it was to work with him.

Think about this:  What you give is what you get.  She lived in a world where everyone she knew either responded in kind or they avoided or fled from her.  He modeled a new and more effective way to interact with others.  All it took was a plan, some effort and patience.  The benefit was that he immediately felt better because he knew he was doing the right thing.

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Book Talks (1)

6 Apr

I have been doing book talks around the Midwest and having some interesting experiences.  Last week I visited three Caribou Coffee locations in the Twin Cities and did book chats.

At one store the manager and I visited about Beyond Luck.

She noted that what really helped her was the explicit, practical advice as well as the “unbook” organization.  She could go to any topic anywhere and find a useful idea to help her solve people problems.

I asked her what was the most useful information she had learned from the book so far.  She mentioned the first article in the book, Some basics of an effective management style. A really boring title – it should be called the “Manager from Hell”.  She was fascinated by the list of 11 management practices that employees find disrespectful and incompetent.  I compiled this list over many years from employee surveys, interviews as well as from observations in the workplaces.

#1 Sarcasm (“tearing flesh” in Latin),

and

#11 E-mail offenses too many to enumerate.

For an example of lousy e-mail etiquette go to: Reply All: The Button Everyone Loves to Hate.

To see the other nine, go to Beyond Luck, click on “Preview the Book” and scroll to The Basics of an Effective Management Style.

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