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Author: Andrew Beveridge

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Weekly research-based tips and advice to tackle today's biggest leadership challenges, all in under eight minutes. Hosted by leadership development specialist and psychologist Andrew Beveridge. Go to leadership.today for more information.
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Summary Great teams manage task, process and relationships. They ask key questions to ensure clarity is built and conflict is addressed in all three areas. This week we look at some key questions you can use to audit your teams and build their effectiveness.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 60 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. Episode 60 is quite the milestone, so a big thanks to everyone who has shared the podcast with others. I love reading your reviews and hearing stories about how the content has been helpful. This week we’re exploring how great teams manage task, process and relationships. Research demonstrates that there are three main things teams need to manage - the task (what outcome needs to be achieved), the process (how we’re going to achieve the outcome), and the people (how we’re going to work together as human beings). Failing to manage each of these three elements almost inevitably leads to conflict and reduced performance. There are three common traps that teams fall into: 1. The most common trap is a tendency to focus immediately on the task, neglecting the process and relationships. This results in a flurry of activity but it may well be the wrong activity. We fail to think about the relationships between the people in the room which can result in interpersonal issues and complaints. I often see this trap during leadership programs. You can teach all the theory and techniques in the world, but it all goes out the window once there’s a time-sensitive task to complete. People move straight to the task and ignore process and relationships. 2. The second most common trap is to become caught up with interpersonal issues, and lose sight of the task and process. People end up avoiding the team, progress stalls, and the team often falls apart as people question what the purpose is of meeting in the first place. 3. The third common trap is to focus so much on the process that we neglect the task and relationships. I see this regularly in projects where there’s a huge amount of upfront consultation with little consideration of how to make decisions or deal with differing perspectives. We gather lots of data but don’t know what to do with it. The impact of conflict in task, process and relationships in teams has varied between different theories, with some frameworks encouraging conflict in these areas. However research into over 6000 teams suggests that task conflict, process conflict and relationship conflict all negatively impact on team performance. The only exception is for decision-making teams, where task conflict can sometimes have a small positive impact. Contrary to earlier theories, none of the three types of conflict reliably lead to innovation. I’ve previously shared research about the team stages model by Tuckman. In the model he outlined teams get together and are polite during the Forming stage. We descend into disagreements and conflict during the Storming stage as people seek clarity that isn’t there yet. By agreeing standards and ways of working we reach Norming. And that as we combine the strengths of individuals with the strengths of process and relationships we reach Performing. Teams do indeed seem to follow these stages of development, except that storming can occur more frequently and at any point as the team is impacted by outside forces. Conflict about task, process and relationships doesn’t get solved in one neat stage, but rather needs to be continuously monitored and managed. So the research suggests we need to actively recognise, manage and reduce task, process and relationship conflict. We can’t afford to ignore it or to leave it unmanaged. Conflict is effectively a symptom that something needs to be addressed in one of these three. Here are some questions that might help for both new and established teams: - Task - What is our purpose as a team? What is the task we’ve been asked to achieve? What’s the problem we’re needing to solve? What can we uniquely contribute to the organisation? - Process - How are we going to get there? What’s the plan and order of activity? What’s the division of workload and responsibilities? How are we going to make decisions? How are we going to measure our performance? How will we hold each other accountable? How are we going to monitor and respond to changing needs and circumstances? - Relationships - What does each person bring to the team? What are the individual strengths and weaknesses? What experiences have we had that might be helpful? What commitments are we making to each other? How will we provide feedback to each other? How will we manage disagreements? Actively managing task, process and relationships is a key part of any team’s success. Why not undertake a quick audit of all three with the teams you lead? Reference Thomas A. O'Neill , Natalie J. Allen & Stephanie E. Hastings (2013) Examining the “Pros” and “Cons” of Team Conflict: A Team-Level Meta-Analysis of Task, Relationship, and Process Conflict, Human Performance, 26:3, 236-260, DOI: 10.1080/08959285.2013.795573
Summary A big part of our role as leaders is setting the emotional tone and culture for our teams. Whether consciously or not, we communicate our own bias towards the upside potential and action, or the bias towards risk and fear. This week we’re looking at approach and avoidance motivation, and what we can do to foster a more positive mindset for ourselves and others.   Transcript Hey there. Welcome to episode 59 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we’re looking at approach and avoidance motivation, and what we can do to foster a more positive mindset for ourselves and others. Motivation can be divided into two main categories - avoidance and approach. This isn’t a new idea. In fact, Greek philosophers spoke about these two forms of motivation as far back as 400 BC. But research has demonstrated that our preference for one type of motivation over another may come down to our personality. Avoidance motivation, as the name suggests, is about trying to avoid a negative outcome. Avoidance goals relating to health might include not eating unhealthy food or giving up smoking. These avoidance actions may indeed make me less unhealthy, but they probably won’t make me healthy. As numerous people have expressed it, the absence of disease is not health. In contrast, approach motivation is about pursuing something positive - working towards a positive outcome or possibility. Approach goals relating to health could include adding healthy foods to our diet or undertaking regular exercise. These goals don’t just move us away from being unhealthy, but actively increase our health. The primary function of our brain is to keep us alive - to survive. That makes avoidance motivation pretty attractive as a default position for most people. It aligns with the base level need to avoid things that have potentially negative consequences for our survival. But our brains are also about reward. We seek out opportunities to experience pleasure and positive outcomes. Researchers have found that the balance between avoidance and approach motivation can be linked to our personality - that some people have an approach temperament while others have an avoidance temperament - that we either lean towards self-protection or towards self-enhancement. Those with an approach temperament tend to be more extraverted, have positive emotionality, and a bias towards action. In contrast, those with an avoidance temperament tend to be less emotionally stable, experience negative emotionality, and have a bias towards restraint (or not acting). This bias flows through to the types of goals we set. Those with an approach temperament tend to set mastery goals. For example, “I want to master the material in this class”. A mastery goal is about me - I’m the benchmark of success and progress. In contrast, those with an avoidance temperament tend to set goals related to others. For example, “I just want to avoid doing badly in this class” or “I just want to do as well as most people”. A big part of our role as leaders is setting the emotional tone and culture for our teams. Whether consciously or not, we communicate our own bias towards the upside potential and action, or the bias towards risk and fear. Like almost every aspect of leadership, it starts with the way we think, feel and act. And we can always change the way we think, feel and act, even if it takes some effort. Here are four ideas to move you towards an approach temperament: 1. Connect with people. Meeting our basic human need for connection to others helps to build a more positive mindset. 2. Note down experiences that provide you with positive emotions and build these experiences into your routine. Going for a run each morning makes me feel positive, so I’ve built that into my daily routine. 3. Anthropomorphise negative emotions. What the heck is this one about. You might be familiar with the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. In the movie the various emotions the young girl experienced were represented by characters inside her head. Researchers have found there may be some benefits to thinking about negative emotions in this way. For example, they found conceptualising sadness as a person, for example as a girl walking slowly with her head down, helped people to feel more detached from their sadness and actually made them feel less sad. It sounds bizarre, but give it a go. I now have Barry, who is my go to character when I’m feeling discouraged. Importantly, you want to only use this approach with negative emotions. The researchers found that thinking of happiness as a person also made people feel less happy. 4. Run your own race and stop comparing. Aim to become better at things that matter to you and track your progress against yourself, instead of comparing your capability to others. This week I encourage you to focus on approach goals and building a positive bias for action in your team. As always, if you’re interested in the research check out the show notes at the leadership.today website. I look forward to speaking with you again next week.   References Andrew J. Elliot and Todd M. Thrash. Approach–Avoidance Motivation in Personality: Approach and Avoidance Temperaments and Goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 82, No. 5, 804–818 http://qglw.personality-project.org/revelle/syllabi/classreadings/psp825804.pdf Fangyuan Chen, Rocky Peng Chen, Li Yang. When Sadness Comes Alive, Will It Be Less Painful? The Effects of Anthropomorphic Thinking on Sadness Regulation and Consumption. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2019; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191003103515.htm
Summary Curiosity is rarely encouraged at work. In fact, leaders and organisations often actively discourage being inquisitive. This week we explore the benefits of curiosity, and four ways to encourage it in your team. Transcript Welcome to episode 58 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we’re looking at the benefits of curiosity, and how to encourage it in your team. The word “curiosity” often conjures up negative connotations. If I asked you to tell me a popular saying about curiosity, it would most likely be “curiosity killed the cat”. This fear of being inquisitive translates into our organisations. Surely if people become curious at work they’re going to neglect their day jobs and start venturing into distraction. And won’t this lead to conflict, reduced productivity and a lack of clarity? However, research on curiosity demonstrates that these concerns are unfounded, and that curiosity provides a range of benefits for individuals and organisations. Here’s just a sample of what the research tells us about the benefits of curiosity: Curiosity helps us to become more accurate in our decision making. When we are curious, we seek out more alternatives. This helps us to avoid stereotyping people and selectively choosing information that supports our viewpoint. When people are encouraged to be curious, they share information with others more readily and listen more attentively to their perspectives. This helps us to build empathy and insight. Curiosity actually reduces conflict. It encourages people to consider alternative perspectives and what it would be like to be in the other person’s shoes. For a great summary of the research, check out the Why Curiosity Matters spotlight series in Harvard Business Review. I’ve provided a link in the show notes - https://hbr.org/2018/09/curiosity It appears we’re hardwired as humans to be curious, but our education systems and organisations often don’t reward this natural and helpful drive to explore and discover. However, as leaders, there are simple steps we can take to encourage curiosity amongst our people. Here are four ideas to start with: Encourage questions. I’ve worked with organisations where asking a question is equated with being negative and stepping beyond your role. It was debilitating for the organisation and for the people, taking away initiative and discretionary effort. Make it safe to ask questions. Role model the inquisitive use of questions with your team. Build alternatives. Always go beyond the first and most obvious option to explore other alternatives. So often we stop at option one, when the best idea might be a combination of option two and option three. Provide time for exploration. Curiosity takes time, and that time needs to be pressure-free and self-directed. This podcast is driven by the questions I ask myself, combined with the time to explore the answers. When I was working in management consulting there was very little time to be curious which, ironically, was often what clients valued the most. Pursue learning. Ongoing learning builds the capability of the individual and the capacity of the organisation. Encourage and fund your people to undertake additional learning they’re interested in, even if it isn’t obviously linked to the work. Sometimes the connections people can draw between what they’ve learned and the organisation’s needs will surprise you. So this week I encourage you to invest time in being curious, and allow the same for your people as well. You might be surprised at the benefits that result.
Welcome to Midweek Motivate. The middle of the week can be challenging for leaders. The goal of midweek motivate is to give you one practical idea that you can try for yourself or with your team right away. This week we’re looking at positive relationships and self-esteem.   Researchers recently looked at 52 studies from around the world to clarify the relationship between self-esteem and the quality of relationships.   Their analysis found that having close relationships helps to boost our self-esteem. That is, our friendships can help us to feel better about ourselves and more confident. But they also found that the connection runs the other way as well. Having a strong sense of self-esteem enhances the quality of our friendships.   So what does that all mean for me as a leader? A key role of any leader is to help build connections, both within the team that you manage, and also across the organisation. Becoming a broker of relationships and connections will help your people to feel better about themselves and boost their confidence. And the effect is contagious - those positive relationships also help those outside your team to feel more confident and positive at work.   So this week, think about some people in your network that you can connect with people in your team. It could be someone to take on an informal mentoring role, or just an opportunity to learn more about another aspect of the organisation. Setup an introduction and then leave them to connect.   And why not use this midweek motivate as a prompt to reconnect with someone. The connections we have had in the past can sometimes fade with time, but take a deep breath and give them a call. It will help you and it will help them as well.   I hope you’re finding these midweek motivates helpful. Drop me an email to info@leadership.today if you have any areas you would like covered. And checkout the leadership.today website for a full archive of all of our Leadership Today podcast episodes. Have a great week.   Michelle A. Harris and Ulrich Orth. The Link Between Self-Esteem and Social Relationships: A Meta-Analysis of Longitudinal Studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2019 DOI: 10.1037/pspp0000265
Summary Chances are that you will suffer from impostor syndrome at some point in your life. In this episode we explore what impostor syndrome is, why it occurs, and nine ways we can avoid feeling like a fraud.   Transcript Welcome to episode 57 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we’re looking at impostor syndrome - what it is, why it occurs, and nine ways we can avoid feeling like a fraud.   What is impostor syndrome? Put simply, impostor syndrome is the fear of being exposed as a fraud - that we lack the capability necessary for the challenges we face, and are only avoiding being found out through hard work and luck. Bryan Stewart says “The root of impostorism is thinking that people don't see you as you really are. We think people like us for something that isn't real and that they won't like us if they find out who we really are." We’ll look at Stewart’s research later. Importantly, it’s not a disorder. No psychologist is ever going to give you a mental diagnosis of impostor syndrome. Rather it’s a reaction or response that falls in the normal range of human experience. Studies vary, however impostor syndrome is thought to impact 70% of people across their life. That is, the majority of people at some point feel like a fraud. In Stewart’s study 20% of university students felt very strong feelings of impostorism at any one point in time.   How does impostor syndrome work? The researcher Clance outlines what she calls an impostor cycle. The cycle starts with an achievement-based task. It might be a project, assignment or new responsibility. This is followed by feelings of anxiety, worry and doubt. The individual with impostor syndrome then typically takes one of two possible paths. The first is the ‘hard work’ path - this is a period of over-preparation and frantic work. The second potential path is a period of procrastination and avoidance. There’s a sense of relief once the challenge is completed. Those who took the hard work path will then put any positive outcome down to over-preparation rather than ability. Those who took the procrastination path will put any positive outcome is down to luck. In both cases, even a positive outcome and feedback is seen as further evidence of a lack of personal ability, and so the cycle continues.   What’s the impact on the person and performance of impostor syndrome? Well, there’s the anxiety, fear and self-doubt that accompany new challenges and opportunities. And there’s often a reluctance to put your hand up for even greater challenges and opportunities. After all, those challenges heighten the risk of being discovered as a fraud.   So what can you do to avoid impostor syndrome? Here are 9 ideas: Reframe challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than as chances to be tested and ‘found out’. Bringing a growth mindset to challenges will help reduce anxiety and increase motivation. Establish an appropriate standard for your work. Perfectionism and impostor syndrome often co-exist. If your work is never good enough in your own eyes, then no wonder you feel like a fraud. Reach outside of the group where you feel a fraud. Research by Bryan Stewart and colleagues has demonstrated that seeking support from within the group where you feel like a fraud is generally negative and reinforces the sense of being a fraud, while reaching outside the group to family, friends and others is generally positive. Reaching outside where you feel like a fraud recalibrates your abilities. Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s tempting to select people at the top of their game as comparison points. Look to them as inspiration rather than as a benchmark of where you should be. After all, everyone’s journey is different, and you will have your own strengths that even your idols lack. Keep a note of all the positive feedback you receive. When you receive positive feedback just say ‘thank you’. Don’t question it, just transfer it to a note or folder where you can review it when you face a future challenge. Name it to tame it. Most people have impostor syndrome at some point. It’s a normal part of human experience, and it’s harmful not helpful. Calling it out for what it is can help you to be proactive in reframing your thoughts and approach. Seek feedback on your approach and performance. Find some trusted people who can give you balanced feedback on your performance. We all need a cheer squad in life, but it needs to be a cheer squad that we trust to provide both positive and constructive feedback. Be kind to yourself. There’s a classic piece of research that demonstrated people are more compliant when administering medication to their dogs than they are at being compliant with their own medication. We’re often not kind and compassionate to ourselves. Give yourself a bit of a break and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend. Celebrate development and progress. We often don’t take the chance to reflect on just how far we’ve come. Ask yourself “What can I do now that I couldn’t do a year ago?”. Write out a list of strengths and achievements from the past year.   Is impostor syndrome something you’ve struggled with? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact me via the leadership.today website, and use the connect link.   References Clance, P.R. (1985). The impostor phenomenon: Overcoming the fear that haunts your success (p. 25). Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers. Richard G. Gardner, Jeffrey S. Bednar, Bryan W. Stewart, James B. Oldroyd, Joseph Moore. “I must have slipped through the cracks somehow”: An examination of coping with perceived impostorism and the role of social support. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 2019; 115: 103337 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2019.103337
This week's podcast is a replay of our 2nd December 2018 episode on Optimism and Resilience. We will be back next week with a brand new episode.   Summary This week we explore the links between optimism and resilience, using the example of a terrifying real life hang gliding experience.   Transcript Welcome to episode 21 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we address some of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we are looking at optimism and resilience. Have you ever had a travel experience that didn’t quite go to plan. Chris Gursky certainly has. Chris recently travelled from his home in Florida to Switzerland. He was particularly keen to have a tandem hang gliding experience over the picturesque Swiss countryside, so he booked that in for the first day of his holiday. The YouTube video of his first flight (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLBJA8SlH2w&t=9s) shows an excited Chris and his pilot running towards their take off from high on a mountainside. As soon as they took off though Chris and the pilot realise something has gone horribly wrong - the harness Chris is wearing is not actually clipped on to the hang glider, leaving Chris to hang on for dear life. Chris has one hand on the steering bar and one hand on the pilot for most of the flight, not sure of how long he could hold on. The pilot tries for an early landing, but is unable to control the steering while also trying to hold on to Chris, leaving the hang glider to travel over an even greater drop - some 4,000 feet from the ground. After an excruciating two minutes, the hang glider finally nears the ground travelling around 45 miles per hour, with Chris letting go just before it lands. Chris walked away with a broken wrist from the landing and a torn bicep muscle from holding on so hard. Amazingly, despite the ordeal, Chris said “I will go hang gliding again as I did not get to enjoy my first flight.”   Chris’ story demonstrates the two main elements of resilience - holding on and bouncing back. On the one hand, resilience is about your ability to withstand difficult circumstances - to hold on despite the odds - which Chris literally demonstrated during his hang gliding experience. And resilience is also about your ability to quickly bounce back from setbacks - much like Chris’ desire to go hang gliding again, despite his near death experience.   So much of our experience of life is shaped by the lens through which we view events, rather than the events themselves. Shawn Achor in his book “The Happiness Advantage” says that if researchers knew everything about your situation, they can only predict 10% of your happiness levels. Around 50% of our happiness is determined by a so-called genetic set point, with the remaining 40% being determined by our thoughts and actions which, of course, we can alter.   Our resilience links closely to our level of optimism. Martin Seligman describes this in his book “Learned Optimism”. As the title suggests, Seligman has long argued that optimism can be learned, just as early behavioural experiments with animals demonstrated that helplessness and pessimism can also be learned. Seligman outlines three ways in which optimists and pessimists differ when seeking to explain the causes and impacts of events - personalisation, permanence and pervasiveness - the three P’s.   Let’s look at these three P’s using an example of a setback. Alan is reversing his car into a tight spot in the city when he hears breaking glass and the hiss of a tyre going flat. It turns out he has backed over a glass bottle, badly puncturing a tyre on his car.   Consider the three P’s if Alan took a pessimistic view of this situation: Personalisation - Alan immediately blames himself - he should have noticed the bottle and been more careful while parking the car - it’s all his fault. Permanence - these kinds of things always happen to him - this flat tyre is going to take ages to change and then repair - it’s ruined his whole week. Pervasiveness - now he’s going to be late for the show tonight, which means his girlfriend is going to be unhappy with him - he’ll be grumpy at work all week, and he just can’t be bothered going to the gym in the morning now. What about if Alan took an optimistic view of the same situation: Personalisation - this could have happened to anyone, and whoever left the bottle there was pretty careless - it’s not really Alan’s fault at all Permanence - Alan will be able to change the tyre quickly after the show - it’s a 15 minute job at the most, and doesn’t really impact his evening or week Pervasiveness - it’s just a flat tyre - things in his relationship and at work are going well and the rest of his life is pretty positive - it’s no big deal   You can see how an optimistic mindset would make Alan more resilient, both in the moment with the punctured tyre, but also in bouncing back from a potentially negative situation.    Interestingly, when positive things happen, the thinking styles are reversed. The optimist will be more likely to take credit for the positive outcome, to see it as another sign of things to be grateful for, and will let the positive experience flow into other areas of their life. The pessimist, in contrast, will tend to put the positive outcome down to luck or the efforts of others, limit its impact in time, and see it as a small and contained part of their life.    You can learn to be more optimistic in the moment. Just understanding these differences in thinking styles will make you more aware of your own thought patterns in both positive and negative situations. You can then treat your initial thoughts as opinions rather than facts. For example, if something goes wrong, you might tell yourself “you’re an idiot - you can never get anything right”. Instead of just accepting this negative thought, treat it as an opinion which can be challenged. Is it really your fault? Do you always get things wrong, or are there examples of things you do well? What are some other explanations or ways of viewing the situation? Train yourself to look at alternative explanations rather than just accepting the first negative thought that comes into your head.   There’s also the ‘boring but important’ aspects of a healthy life that help to build resilience and optimism, namely diet, sleep and exercise. Connections with friends and family also matter. As does taking the time to slow down and be grateful for all the positive things in our lives - noting down three new things each day to be grateful for is a simple and effective practice that helps us to focus on the positives in life.   This week, think of Chris Gursky and his terrifying hang gliding flight. By holding on and then quickly deciding to give hang gliding another try, Chris provides a powerful demonstration of resilience in action.   References Martin Seligman - Learned Optimism Shawn Achor - The Happiness Advantage      
This week's podcast is a replay of our 14th October 2018 episode on Leadership First Impressions   Research demonstrates that 90% of the initial impression we form about people is based on two factors - warmth and competence. It also turns out these two factors are difficult to combine. So how do we demonstrate both warmth and competence as leaders?    TRANSCRIPT Welcome to episode fourteen of the Leadership Today podcast. Each week we provide practical advice to address some of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we are looking at leadership first impressions. It turns out that 90% of the initial impression we form about a person is around two things - their warmth and their competence. In other words - do I connect with you, and do you know what you’re doing? It’s important to note that warmth isn’t primarily about being liked - it’s about making a real connection. That you are a real human being that people can relate to on an emotional level. Competence is about knowing what you’re doing. That you are a leader who is skilled and capable - someone others can respect. These factors produce two stereotypes of leaders that perhaps you can identify with: The first is the competent but cold leader - they’re all business, great at what they do, but they just seem to struggle to connect with people. People respect them, but they may not put in an extra effort for them. Then there’s the warm and friendly but not-so-competent leader - they are great at bringing people around them, but those people gradually drift away when they figure out the leader isn’t up to the task. These stereotypes assume that competence and warmth sit at opposite ends of a spectrum. That a leader can only be all about results, or all about people, but not both. And many leaders assume that this is indeed the case. So if they’re forced to choose between the two, it’s perhaps not surprising that many leaders go for the “respected but not connected” version of competence without warmth. That flows into how they communicate and interact with people. Indeed, they have to guard their image of competence, so letting people into who they are as a human being is a risk - and a risk they see as not worth taking. How does that come across to others? People who take on this competent but cold combination often try to present themselves as an expert. And there’s no shortage of experts - LinkedIn has nearly 6 million people who list themselves as experts in various fields. In fact, LinkedIn lists so many people with “keynote speaker” in their title, that to give each of them just five gigs a year would require there to be over 3,000 keynote speeches every single day. Some people really latch on to the need to lead with their expertise. The good news is that you can combine the two - it is possible to be seen as both warm and competent. The research suggests that it is tricky, but also possible. And the research also suggests that you should lead with warmth. That making a connection with people matters, and provides a foundation to then demonstrate your competence. I worked alongside a leader who embodied exactly this combination. He was a lovely guy to work with, but also filled you with confidence that he knew exactly what he was doing. He was incredibly calm in a crisis - his body language and tone of voice even made him seem relaxed. Even when things were going horribly wrong, he was interested in others’ views, and keen to resolve the issue. He didn’t just remain calm himself, but he helped others to calm down. This allowed people to focus on the problem and work towards a positive outcome. They weren’t worried about the leader and his response - they trusted him, they felt connected to him, and they knew he valued maintaining and building connections with his team, even when they made a mistake. As Amy Cuddy and her fellow researchers put it - “Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.” So here are some ideas of how you can combine both warmth and competence in the way that you present. Be yourself. Be a real human being that turns up to work with strengths, weaknesses, interests and concerns. Don’t try to be perfect, but do try to become better. Be interested in others. Take the time to understand where they are coming from - their interests, even their hopes and dreams. Let people into your head. Share your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes the calm person can appear as if they don’t care enough. Sometimes trying to be friendly can appear flighty. Don’t let people have to guess where you’re coming from and what’s driving your behaviour - let them into your head. Be prepared to present your capabilities with confidence. Try to capture in one or two sentences what you bring and what makes you unique. Then think about how you present that authentic image of you to others. And lastly - get feedback. Ask people about how approachable you are, and what you might do to improve this. Ask for feedback about what makes you appear more and less competent. I hope you find these ideas helpful as you continue to improve the way you lead. As always, if you’re interested in the research, the references are listed in the transcript at our website - leadership.today And thanks again for those who have taken the time to rate, review and share the podcast with others. It’s great to hear your feedback and to see the hundreds of people who are downloading the podcast each week. We’ll see you next week.   Research used for this episode: A model of (often mixed) stereotype content: Competence and warmth respectively follow from perceived status and competition. Fiske, Susan T; Cuddy, Amy J C; Glick, Peter; Xu, Jun.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; Washington Vol. 82, Iss. 6,  (Jun 2002): 878-902. Connect, Then Lead. To exert influence, you must balance competence with warmth. by Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffing. Harvard Business Review July–August 2013.      
Welcome to Midweek Motivate. The middle of the week can be tough for leaders. The goal of midweek motivate is to give you one practical idea that you can try for yourself or with your team right away. And this week we’re looking at making the first day at a new job great. The first day in a new job can feel quite overwhelming, but there are some simple things we can do as leaders to make the first day great. Here are some quick tips to try with new people joining your organisation: Make contact before the first day. Give the person a call the week before they start to let them know how excited you are that they are joining. Buddy new people up. Introduce the new person to someone within the organisation before they start. This allows them to ask the ‘stupid’ questions - what people tend to wear, what time people typically turn up - all of those questions can be answered before they start. Have everything ready. Technology, stationery, and any other resources they may need. I once started a new job and arrive to find an assortment of random boxes on my desk and no computer. I was told there were some delays with the technology and I would get a laptop the next week. I spent a whole week working on a Blackberry. Having everything ready communicates that you really care. Build connections. Set up some meetings to help the person get to know the organisation and key people. Be there. As a leader, show up. Make sure you’re physically there on their first day. This makes a real difference. Leave a small gift on their desk. Think about something you learned about the person during the selection process and give them a small gift that reflects that interest. That’s what people talk about with their friends. What are your tips for making the first day great? Send them to info@leadership.today
Summary Entrance interviews beat exit interviews any day of the week. In this Leadership Today podcast we cover some questions to draw on the experiences and observations of new starters to improve our organisations.   Transcript Welcome to episode 56 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we’re looking at the power of entrance interviews - drawing on the experiences and observations of new starters to improve our organisations. Last week we explored ways to improve exit interviews. However, it’s important not just to focus on those leaving our organisation - after all, they’ve already decided to move on. We need to also capitalise on those who are newer to our organisation and the fresh perspectives they bring. Think back to the last time you joined a new organisation. In those first few weeks you were hyper aware of what was different or unusual about the organisation - the positives, the negatives, and the just plain weird. The security access seems really tight, but people hold the door open for others all the time. People make an effort to introduce themselves and make others feel welcome. Meetings always start 10 minutes late. Most people setup their laptop and work on emails during meetings. There’s a buzz of excitement around the office. Or, it’s like a dentist waiting room in here - all I can hear is typing. Wouldn’t it be great to capitalise on these unique perspectives as people join your organisation? Like exit interviews, entrance interviews are a great opportunity to learn. But they’re even better than exit interviews because you can still course correct. You might even pick up some frustrations and reduce unwanted staff turnover along the way. I suggest undertaking entrance interviews at two points in time - 30 days and 90 days after joining. 30 days gives enough time to process what’s unique about the organisation before becoming fully entrenched. And 90 days provides additional time to experience some things for the first time. I think the two-up manager, the leader two levels above the person, is in a great position to undertake these interviews. It helps that leader to remain close to the experience of new people, while also building relationships and connections. They’re also a step further away from the day-to-day which may bring a different perspective to the discussion. The person’s direct manager could also be well suited to undertake the entrance interview. It’s important to frame the entrance interview as not being a test. You’re not putting the individual on trial here, and there aren’t right or wrong answers. This is genuinely an exercise to learn from their experiences and fresh perspective, and to make the organisation an even better place to work. Here are some questions I suggest for the entrance interview: What is unusual about this organisation? Here we’re trying to get at the unique attributes, both positive and negative. What’s exciting about working here? These are the aspects that could motivate and engage our people. What’s frustrating about working here? This allows us to identify potential impediments to performance. What surprised you about the role? Surprises aren’t always bad, so we want to draw out both the positive and the negative. How would you describe the culture? What does it feel like to work here? Listen carefully to the words used and the extent to which they align with your desired culture. What does it take to succeed here? What is rewarded? You might be surprised at what people see. You might think hard work is rewarded, but the new person sees friendships and connections as the way to get ahead. I think entrance interviews are a fantastic learning opportunity for leaders and organisations. They signal your interest in listening and improvement. Why not trial an entrance interview this week and let me know how you go. As a reminder, I’ve recently launched my three week Boost Your Assertiveness course. I’m offering the course to podcast listeners for 30% off. Check the show notes for the link - https://leadership-today.teachable.com/p/boost-your-assertiveness/?product_id=1340666&coupon_code=30OFFPODCAST
Welcome to our fourth Midweek Motivate. The middle of the week can be tough for leaders. The goal of midweek motivate is to give you one practical idea that you can try for yourself or with your team right away. And this week we’re looking at doing less with less, but more of the right things. It’s a common expression - we need to do more with less. But I think it’s time to challenge that. Instead of doing more with less, maybe we need to do less with less, but more of the right things. The focus then shifts from activity and productivity, to importance and impact. Here are some things you can try this week: Look at your purpose. What really matters for you and for your role? And then apply that importance lens over the work you do. If there’s work that’s not important, then challenge whether you need to keep doing it. Be prepared to say ‘no’, or at least ‘let me think about it’. A key to doing less with less is to carefully consider any additional work being passed your way. For every new initiative, kill off an old initiative. The same goes for meetings. That’s a great way of testing just how important the new initiative or meeting is in the context of what you’re already committed to. Trial some new artificial constraints. How would we do this with fewer people? How would we do this in half the time? Innovation often requires constraints. Having all the time and resources in the world can actually reduce innovation. So this week, focus on doing less with less, but more of the right things. Look at your purpose, be prepared to say no, be prepared to kill off old initiatives, and trial some artificial constraints. Let me know how you go, and you can get in contact via the Leadership Today website - just go to the connect page - or you can email me directly info@leadership.today Let me know how you go and have a great week.
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