Human- Biases- In- Organisations.

20 10 2017

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.   Kirsten Gillibrand

“The more people can see what is happening – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things”. (Ray Dalio)

Let’s take a look at one of many definitions of the meaning of bias; “A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazines bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favour of the idea”.

Bridgewater Associates founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio’s philosophy consists of radical transparency into the company.

Dalio, got reactions from three of his top confidants that he was hurting the company by being too honest. His action to resolve this problem was to meet employees individually and find a solution through discussions on how to treat one another. His goal was to create a culture of sharing ideas without creating lasting conflict, as well as engaging employees in thoughtful disagreements.  From this article in Harvard Business Review; “Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias – but Only If It’s Done Right, Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School, she gives us some examples through Dalio’s ideas and believes in openness and transparency.

Francesca refers to Dalio where he says; “I think the greatest tragedy of mankind is that people have ideas and opinions in their heads but don’t have a process for properly examining these ideas to find out what’s true. That creates a world of distortions. That’s relevant to what we do, and I think it’s relevant to all decision making. So when I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide and we put them on the the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don’t hide them.”

Here another interesting article; Outsmart Your Own Biases (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne, Harvard Business Review). The authors gives us theirs view on biases and it’s challenges. “We are all susceptible to such biases, especially when we’re fatigued, stressed, or multitasking. Just think of a CEO who’s negotiating a merger while also under pressure from lawyers to decide on a plant closing from colleagues to manage layoffs. In situations like this, we’re mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. We cope by relying even more heavily on intuitive, system 1 judgements and less on careful reasoning. Decision making becomes faster and simpler, but quality often suffers”.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 thinking; are associated with automatic judgements which stem from associations stored in our memories, you can choose to work logically with the information available. The authors makes us aware of the importance of system 1 thinking in critical situations and for surviving- “It’s what makes you swerve to avoid a car accident”. Authors; “But as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, it’s also a common source of bias that can result in poor decision making, because our intuitions frequently lead us astray”.

System 2 thinking; “essentially, deliberate reasoning gone awry. Here the authors are talking about cognitive limitations, and an example of limitations can be laziness, and people may focus on the wrong things as well as failing to seek out relevant information”.

In Francesca’s article where she say that scientific evidence confirms Dalio’s belief ; “as human beings, we tend to evaluate information in a biased manner. For instance, we often fall prey to what psychologists and decision researchers call-confirmation bias: “the tendency to focus on evidence that confirms our beliefs and assumptions rather than looking for data that contradicts it”.

Francesca, says that such biases weakens our judgements as well as decisions.

When confronted with our biases, we have difficulties to listen to peoples feedback and learning from it, especially when it’s inconsistent with the way we view ourselves at work. Francesca; “We tend to strengthen bonds only with people who see our positive qualities. Why ? When others provide evidence that is inconsistent with how we view ourselves or our ideas, we find that information threatening. Our natural reaction is to remove the threat-which can mean dislocating from the source of the information”.

In the other article the authors talk about risk taking and says; “Because most of us tend to be highly overconfident in our estimates, it’s important to ‘nudge’ ourselves to allow for risk and uncertainty”.

Further on Jack. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne suggests three methods that are especially useful; Make three estimates, use premortems and take on outside view:

The three methods in short.

The problem; Cognitive biases muddy our decision making. We rely too heavily on intuitive, automatic judgements, and even when we try to use reason, our logic is often lazy or flawed”.

The causes; “Instead of explaining risks and uncertainties, we seek closure-it’s much easier. This narrows our thinking about what could happen in the future, what our goals are, and how we might achieve them”.

The solution; “By knowing which biases tend to trip us up and using certain tricks and tools to outsmart them, we can broaden our thinking and make better choices”.

These three methods are useful and keeps you going in the right direction if wisely used.

Francesca says; “Through radical transparency, Dalio has encouraged a culture where people know it’s important to challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank, and do so regularly”. Here the author tells us that this approach will work if people discuss their ideas openly, even if you have to tell someone about their mistakes. Francesca; ” When transparency unveils our universal human biases, we are more likely to benefit as individuals. Our organisations will benefit as well”.

Both of these interesting articles illustrates how to handle biases as well as giving great advice on how to handle challenging  situations.

“Even the smartest people exhibit biases in their judgements and choices. It’s foolhardy to think we can overcome them through sheer will. But we can anticipate and outsmart them by nudging ourselves in the right direction when it’s time to make a call”. (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman and John P. Payne)

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other     Benjamin E. Mays

Source; Harvard Business Review

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

 

 





Strategic Challenges.

1 06 2016

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different.        Michael Porter

In todays organizations change is necessary if you want to succeed in a tough world. However, we don’t like to change things and feel most comfortable when we are staying in the comfort zone. Leaders are aware of this problem and are prepared to cope with these challenges.

“Habits keep us doing what we always do. We resist being pushed in new directions that make no sense to us. We cling tenaciously to what we value and fear might be lost. To behave otherwise is somehow less than human”. (John P. Kotter)

From his book; ‘Accelerate’, John P. Kotter reveals how the best companies focus and align their people’s energy and urgency around what Kotter calls the Big Opportunity.

An organizations strategy is important for the business. A company’s strategy describes what to do to reach their goal and what choices to be made on it’s way.

Kotter; “Strategy is a term used loosely to mean high-level policies designed to help you successfully achieve your most important goals, or, in a competitive context, to help you win”.

Hierarchies is a challenge in organizations and if used wrong, creativity and innovation will be a challenge. Kotter; “Hierarchies with great management processes and good leaders on top are not built for leaping into a creative future. Innovation requires risks, people who are willing to think outside their boxes, perspectives from multiple silos, and more. Management-driven hierarchies are built to minimize risk and keep people in their boxes and silos. To change this more than incrementally is to fight a losing battle”.

Kotter present the dual operating system. The basic structure is self-explanatory with hierarchy on one side and network on the other side. Kotter explain; “The hierarchy part of the dual operating system differs from almost every other hierarchy today in one very important way. Much of the work ordinarily assigned to it that demands innovation, agility, difficult change, and big strategic initiatives executed quickly – challenges dumped on work streams, tiger teams, or strategy departments – has been shifted over to the network part”.

Here the author makes us aware that this system losen up and is better able to perform what it is meant to be and designed for. Because of the losing up effect you will be doing your job great as well as making incremental changes to then improve further efficiency, and because of this you are handling the strategic initiatives which also helps the company dealing with predictable adjustments like routine IT uppgrades.

The principles of a dual operating system:

-Many people driving important change, and from everywhere, not just the usual  few appointees. Kotter makes us aware that it all starts here. For more speed and agility to occure, a fundamentally different way of gathering information and decision making is needed as well as implementing decisions which have some strategic significance. Kotter; “You need more eyes to see, more brains to think, and more legs to act in order to accelerate. You need additional people with open mind and new eyes and additional good working relationships with others in order to be creative and innovate, from the insiders”.

-A “get-to” mindset, not a “have-to” one. Force is not an option if you want to achieve change. Inspiration is a better solution, and by giving people a choice where they feel they truly have permission to step forward and act is a better way. Kotter; “The desire to work with others for an important and exciting shared purpose, and the realistic possibility of doing so, are the key”.

-Action that is head and heart driven, not just head driven. People have feelings. Kotter; “You must also appeal to how people feel. As have all the great leaders throughout history, you must speak to the genuine and fundamental human desire to contribute to some bigger cause, to take a community or an organization into a better future”.

-Much more leadership, not just more management. In this system, the author talks about competent management. Leadership is needed as well as the guts of the engine are managerial processes. Kotter; “Yet in order to capitalize on unpredictable windows of opportunity which might open and close quickly, and to somehow spot and avoid unpredictable threats, the name of the game is leadership, and not from one larger-than -life executive”. The game is about vision, creativity, passion, inspiration, innovation, agility, opportunity, celebration, relationships, compensation and accountability to a plan.

-An inseparable partnership between the hierarchy and the network, not just an enhanced hierarchy. Kotter; “The two systems, network and hierarchy, work as one, with constant flow of information and activity between them-an approach that succeeds in part because the people essentially volunteering to work in the network already have jobs within the hierarchy”. Kotter, shows us that based on these principles, a dual system is different from that on the hierarchy side when it comes to the action. Kotter; “Because action within networks accelerates activity, especially strategically relevant activity, I call it’s basic processes the Accelerators“.

Kotter’s eight accelerators: 1) Create a sense of urgency around a big opportunity, 2) Build and evolve a guiding coallition, 3) Form a change vision and strategic initiatives, 4) Enlist a volunteer army, 5) Enable action by removing barriers, 6) Generate (and celebrate) short-term wins, 7) Sustain acceleration and number, 8) Institute change.

Let us take a closer look at Kotter’s accelerators:

1- Create a sense of urgency around a big opportunity. This accelerator is focused on creating as well as maintaining a strong sense of urgency among as many people as possible around a Big Opportunity an organization is facing. Kotter; “This is, in many ways, the secret sauce which allows behaviour to happen that many who have grown up in mature organizations would think impossible”.

2- Build and evolve a guiding coalition. In this accelerator, the urgency is to build the core of the network structure, which will evolve to take form into a stronger network later. People are eager and motivated from across the organization and they feel the urgency. Kotter; “These are individuals from all silos and levels who want to help you take on strategic challenges, deal with hyper-competitiveness, and win the Big Opportunity”. In this situation we can see people who want to lead as well as to be change agents. People are eager to work together in team and learn how to work effectively. People from different levels of silos gives effort to work well together. Kotter; “But under the right conditions – with urgency around a Big Opportunity as a crucial component – they will learn how to work together in a totally new way”.

3- Form a change vision and strategic initiatives. Here the guiding coalition clarifies the vision which fits a big strategic opportunity together with selecting strategic initiatives which moves you in the right direction toward the companies vision. Kotter; “When you first form a dual system, much of this, especially the initiatives, may already exist, created by the hierarchy’s leadership team. But the initiatives the nascent network side attacks first will be those that individuals in the guiding coalition have great passion to work on”.

4- Enlist a volunteer army. In the fourth accelerator, the author makes us aware that the guiding coalition together with others who wish to help and communicate information about the change vision and the strategic initiatives to the company, may lead to large numbers of people who are interested in buying into the whole flow of action.

5- Enable action by removing barriers. Kotter; “Much of the action here has to do with identifying and removing barriers which slow or stop strategically important activity”.

6- Generate (and celebrate) short-term wins. Kotter; “The sixth accelerator is about everyone on the network side helping to create an ongoing flow of strategically relevant wins, both big and very small”. The author say that the wins are possible for all the people in the entire organization and the importance of celebrating even if it is in small ways. Kotter; “These wins, and their celebration, can carry great psychological power and play a crucial role in building and sustaining a dual system”.

7- Sustain acceleration. In this stage, accelerator 7 keeps the entire system moving. All the energy is focused on new opportunities and challenges and the people find a motor to help all the other. Kotter; “Accelerators keep going, as needed, like spark plugs and cylinders in a car’s engine. It is the opposite of a one-and-done approach and mindset”.

8- Institute change. Accelerator 8 helps institutionalize the wins as well as integrating the wins into the hierarchy’s processes, procedures, systems, and behavior- in effect, here you are also helping to infuse the changes into the culture of the organization. Kotter; “When this happens with more and more changes, there is a cumulative effect. After a few years, such action drives the whole dual system approach into an organization’s very DNA”.

From this article; The Greatest Barriers to Growth, According to Executives (Harvard Business Review, by Chris Zook) the author tells us that the greatest barriers in organizations lies inside their own four walls. Zook; “It’s a common story in business today. Eighty-five percent of executives say that the greatest barriers to achieving their growth objectives lie inside their own four walls, according to research by Bain & Company. In the largest companies, this rises to 94 percent of executives who believe that their most difficult challenges are internal, not external”.

Zook describes five ways that bureaucracy distorts behavior in your organization; The first one is, distortion of speed:  Zook; “Young, founder-led companies often set the speed in their competitive arenas-speed to recognize the need to change, interpret how, decide on what, and react. Young insurgents whose speed allows them to get ‘inside’ of the decision cycle of a large, slow incumbent competitor can reap an enormous advantage”.

Distortion of motive: Tells us that young organizations has no place to hide and in this situation the founder knows everything. Zook makes us aware that the meritocracy may flourish when things are transparent. Zook; “Yet, as companies grow, promotions fall in line with corporate processes, complex ‘balanced’ scorecards of performance, and regression to the mean”.

Distortion of time: The author is in this case talking about the executives self-awareness. Here the management teams need to look into the use of their time as well as the use of their money which they have to be very careful about. In this case you can start with three questions: How much time do they spend with top customers?  How much time do they spend with high potential employees?  How much time do they spend on solving the firm’s top five challenges? Zook say that if they honestly ask these questions themselves, you will soon see the first step to take.

Distortion of decisions: The author suggests to start your assault on the decision distortions of bureaucracy with your five or ten most important types of decisions. Zook; “Map out how they are really made and how many people are involved. Then attack what will emerge clearly as obvious root causes of distortion: decisions that should be pushed to the front line with a few vital guiding principles, decisions that should have many fewer people involved, and decisions where it’s unclear who actually decides”.

Distortion of information: Zook illustrates that the information is better remembered in small companies as well as the intimacy and ground knowledge are second nature. “Yet, as companies grow this becomes increasingly difficult”. More thoughts from Zook; “But there are other, simpler ways to renew this aspect of a founder’s mentality and its connection to the front line. We have seen management teams benefit greatly from setting up ways for them to ‘drop in’ on customer calls, or call-centre service discussions.

Difficulties mastered are opportunities won       Winston Churchill

Strategic challenges are important for companies to succeed.

Author, Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 

 





Leader’s Courage To Be Vulnerable

7 08 2015

””We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…..we must do that which we think we cannot”  –  Eleanor Roosevelt

There are two main ways in which leaders wear masks. Some conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws behind the polished facade we have come to expect of ‘great’ leaders, a bit like the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic musical The Phantom of the Opera. Others take on a new persona at work that they feel is necessary for success, much like Jim Carrey’s character Stanley Ipkiss in the movie The Mask who transforms into a flamboyant green superhero. Both types of mask undermine trust and effectiveness. They also create inner conflict, as leaders struggle to align their work and home lives.(Harvard Business Review, 2013, Leaders, Drop Your Mask’s)

‘Daring Greatly'(Brené Brown, 2012) is an interesting book and a warning about the danger of pursuing certainty and control above all. Dr. Brené Brown, makes us aware of and dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage. Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. Brown; “It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt”.

An important management’s task is according the writers of the book; The Drucker Difference, to develop people in a way that make them able to perform in an extraordinary way. “In Concept of the Corporation, Drucker wrote that ‘the most successful and the most durable institutions employ managers who induce  in their members an intellectual and moral growth beyond a man’s original capacities”. This end is embodied in Drucker’s very definition of leadership; “leadership is the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, and the building of a person’s personality beyond its normal limitations”. (The Drucker Difference, what the World’s Greatest Management Thinker Means to Today’s Business Leaders,2010)

Going back to Brown and Daring Greatly. The author informs us that vulnerability isn’t good or bad, nor a dark emotion, nor is it always a light or positive experience. Brown; “Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness”.

Brown say that vulnerability is the core , the heart, the centre, of meaningful human experiences. Experiencing vulnerability is not a choice, we can choose how we would like to respond when confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

“When you fail, make sure that you don’t dwell on it. Fail fast, learn everything you can, and move on”. From her book ; The Mountain Within, Herta Von Stiegel has some interesting thoughts and makes us aware that it’s tempting to suffer and get too involved in the mire of failure. Stiegel; “Give failure it’s proper role in your mind, a place to dwell briefly, learn and reflect, and move on”. Uncertainties is always a challenge , either we like it or not. Stiegel; “The future is all about surprises. Expecting them is half the battle. Being ready for the unexpected is the other half. But how can you be ready for something that you don’t or can’t see coming ?” Stiegel shows us the importance of releasing yesterdays or even an hour ago’s attachment. (Berta Von Stiegel, The Mountain Within)( from my Blog)

Back to Brown and where she makes us aware of some very persuasive leadership research which supports the idea of asking for support is critical, as well as that vulnerability and courage are contagious. The author refers to an article (Harvard Business Review, 2011) Authors of this article (Peter Fuda and Richard Badham) is using series of metaphors to explore how leaders spark and sustain change. ” One of the metaphors is the snowball. The snowball starts rolling when a leader is willing to be vulnerable with his or her subordinates. Their research shows that this act of vulnerability is predictably perceived as courageous by team members and inspires others to follow suit”.

Shame is a painful feeling. Brown; “A sense of worthiness inspires us to be vulnerable, share openly, and preserve. Shame keeps us small, resentful, and afraid. In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favouritism, and a total death of creativity and innovation”.

To be open and honest includes among other things; the painful truth and standing up for what’s right, where keeping promises is of huge importance and proves that we can be trusted to uphold commitments and lead as a good example. From their book (Moral Intelligence, Doug Lennic/Fred Kiel)  say; “When leaders betray confidences, they lose more than respect of their work associates. They also dry up valuable sources of information because their employees and colleagues learn to withhold sensitive information from a loose-lipped leader.” (Ingerleg’s blog)

When Brown talks about shame resilience, she explains that it is a strategy for protecting our connection with both ourselves and our connections with the people we care about.

Brown’s four elements of shame resilience:

1) Recognizing Shame and Understanding Its Triggers. Here it is important to physically recognize and feel your way through it when you are in the grips of shame. You can ask yourselves questions like; what is the triggers ? What are my feelings physically ? Are there a way through it ?

2) Practicing Critical Awareness. Here it is important to be aware of the signs that are driving you to shame, and are the messages realistic or attainable ? Are you in pressure of what other people want from you, or is it what you want to be ?

3) Reaching out. Brown;” Are you owning and sharing your story ? We can’t experience empathy if we’re not connecting.”

4) Speaking Shame. Brown; “Are you talking about how you feel and asking for what you need when you feel shame ?”

These four steps can be used in different order and they will always ultimately lead to empathy and healing.

Leaders need to re-humanize education and work in order to reignite creativity, innovation and learning. Brown; “This means understanding how scarcity is affecting the way we lead and work, learning how to engage with vulnerability, and recognizing and combating shame”.

Shame and blame are disruptive in organizations. Showing respect and dignity of individuals should be of the highest values. Brown; “There is no leading by fear”. In an organizational culture where respect is of high value, there is no room for shame and blame and it won’t work as management style. Brown; “We can’t control the behavior of individuals, however, we can cultivate organizational cultures where behaviors are not tolerated and people are held accountable for protecting what matters most: human beings”.

Organizations need creativity and innovation as well as engaged learning to solve complex issues. Brown; “We can’t afford to let our discomfort with the topic of shame get in the way of recognizing and combating it in our schools and workplaces”.

Browns four best strategies for building shame resilient organizations:

1) Leaders who are supportive and willing to arrange honest conversations about shame as well as cultivating shame resilient cultures.

2) Brown; “Facilitating a conscientious effort to see where shame might be functioning in the organization and how it might even be creeping into the way we engage with our co-workers and students”.

3) Normalizing is according to Brown a critical shame resilience strategy where leaders and managers are helping their people to know what to expect. You can ask these questions; What is the common struggles and how to deal with them and what you have experienced ?

4) Brown; “Training all employees on the differences between shame and guilt, and teaching them how to give and receive feedback in a way that fosters growth and engagement”.

Giving feedback is everything, without feedback there can’t be any transformative change. Brown; “A daring greatly culture is a culture of honest, constructive, and engaged feedback”.

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.”   – Winston Churchill

Author, Inger Lise E Greger MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/





Transparency and Leaders Will to Create a Culture of Candor

23 01 2015

There is no diplomacy like candor.     E.V.Lucas

A culture of transparency and candor is a must for every organisation.

From their vital book; “Transparency” —Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and Jim O’Toole addresses us with the vital question whether organizations have the courage to be open, honest and most of all, transparent.

The writers make us aware that claiming to be transparent is not the same as actually being transparent. You may believe in transparency without practicing it.

Warren Bennis gives us this definition of being transparent; “It means, in addition to the literal ‘capable of being seen through’, without guile or concealment; open, frank, candid”.

When companies cover up their mistakes instead of learning from them, they will probably do the same another time. Author’s; “But any time an organization makes a seriously wrong decision, its leader should call for an intensive postmortem. Such learning opportunities are too often overlooked”.

The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership, is a book written by, M.A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas. The book implements thought-provoking ideas from Aristotle, Heraclitus, Sophocles, Hesiod and others.

I have chosen rule 5; Always Embrace the Truth  —–Antisthenes. Authors; “Wise leaders, the men and women who possess genuine insight about administrative life, understand that honest assessment is an essential requirement of effective leadership. However, there seems to be an inverse correlation between level of authority and level of truth. In other words, the higher up the corporate ladder an executive ascends, the less likely it is that person will receive complete and accurate evaluation”

When climbing the corporate ladder, leaders makes the distance to the subordinates to evaluate them harder. They often have their own agenda and is not always sharing their information with their colleagues. “Encouraging to whatever degree such submissiveness on the part of subordinates jeopardizes the welfare of both the organization and the leader”.

Going back to the book on transparency, and let us see what Bennis, Goleman and O’Toole have to say on this important subject. The author’s are signalizing that wise leaders are engaged and close to the actions. “There’s a compelling reason to become more open to information from people at every level; those close to the action usually know more about what’s actually going on with clients, with production or customer service, than those on the floors. ( There’s truth to the maxim, “None of us is as smart as all of us” )

Leaders who cares about a good culture in their organizations, develop a culture of candor. Author’s; “Before an organization can develop a culture of candor, it must examine the cultural rules that currently govern it. Such cultural rules run deep and they typically resist change”.

Leaders need to take action if they want information to flow freely in the organization and in that case be the one who set good examples. “If leaders regularly demonstrate that they want to hear more than incessant happy talk, and praise those with the courage to articulate unpleasant truths, then the norm will begin to shift toward transparency”.

Lead with Humility, written by Jeffrey Krames, translates the pope’s key ideas and practices into practical tactics that anyone can emulate. Krames, emphasize’s Pope Francis great leadership style as a good example for anyone who wants to connect in a meaningful way with employees, teammates and customers for their organization. “He believes that authentic humility empowers leaders like no other leadership quality. “If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world”, wrote Bergoglio before becoming pope. And he misses no opportunity to show that a person can never be too humble and that people can learn to be more humble. In doing so, he has altered the standards by which we measure our leaders”.

Here are the Pope’s key ideas;

Remove the walls-literally-between yourself and your employees.

-Enlist your executives to join you each year at the front desk or in the delivery truck.

-Consider all points of view, and make decisions in consultation-not as snap judgements.

-Focus on enhancing people’s strengths, not fixing their weaknesses.

-Break the habit of doing things the same old way, and reinvent ineffective process.

-Communicate with everyone, at every level of the organization.

-Surround yourself with truth-tellers-no matter how painful it is to hear.

-Shake up the status quo and get out of your comfort zone.

 Hope is the only good that is common to all men, those who have nothing else possess hope still  —–Thales

Writer,

Inger Lise E Greger/MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/





Leaders Mental Challenges

18 09 2014

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”    —   John Quincy Adams

From one of his books, Richard L Daft, speaks of every leaders six mental mistakes; reacting too quickly, inflexible thinking, wanting control, emotional avoidance and attention, exaggerating the future and chasing the wrong gratifications.

“Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives have control over thousands of people and endless resources, but often do not have mastery over themselves. From a distance, larger-than-life leaders may look firmly in control of their business and their personal behavior ? What about up close ? Personal mastery is a difficult thing.”   (Daft, 2010)

Leadership is all about ‘people stuff’. A key element of a leader is to set goals and create performance indicators. The employees should be empowered to solve problems and achieve results. This will enable innovation and create trust. A prerequisite of a leader’s, is an open dialogue with their employees to clarify what goals are, and equally important, what they are not. Open communication will help visualize the expectancy the leader has of the employees and avoid misunderstandings.

Life can be challenging, in all of its aspects. The question is how we choose to face these challenges in order to reach our goals.

When Daft speaks of every leader’s six mental mistakes, he use metaphors. The metaphor Daft use for our two selves or parts are the executive and the elephant. He illustrates this by referring to as the inner executive and the inner elephant. “The inner executive is our higher consciousness, our own CEO so to speak. Visualize an executive riding on a large elephant, attending to control it, with legs dangling on either side of the elephant’s neck. The inner elephant symbolizes the strength of unconscious systems and habits”.

Daft makes us aware of the importance of being able to lead yourself first, which may lead you to become a great leader of your people. By leading yourself means seeing, understanding, mastering and leading your unconscious but powerful inner elephant. “You can appreciate that bringing your two selves into alignment and learning to be the master of your own behavior would have a terrific leadership payoff in satisfaction, inner peace, impact, and productivity”.  (Daft, 2010)

Let us take a closer look at; the six mental mistakes.

Reacting too quickly.

Patience, is a key word here, and be able to hold back instant reactions. “You have to be patient enough and make sure that you always remain calm”.  (Daft, 2010) Sometimes leaders have a tendency to overreact because their point seemed urgent, which can easily lead to interruption of someone. “Instant reactions often feel urgent, which makes the impulse hard to control. If you feel that urgency, when you were a child your inner elephant probably wanted to eat the marshmallow”.

By slowing down your reaction, it will lead to produce a better response. Daft mentions Robert Iger, who is CEO of Disney, he makes us aware of an important leadership lesson he learned, which was to “manage reaction time better. What I mean by that is not overreacting to things that are said to me because sometimes it’s easy to do”.

Inflexible thinking.

Our gut feelings is difficult to change. If we are convinced of something, good or bad, yes or no, we have a tendency to stick with our beliefs. “Once the inner elephant jumps to a conclusion about something, it typically does not like to change its mind. Your inner magician and attorney will fill in any needed details and defend against competing views. Why? To maintain your sense of well-being, prevent or reduce psychological pain, and let you feel good about yourself. Once your inner elephant settles on a viewpoint or belief, it resists, it resists letting go”   (Daft, 2010)

Wanting control.

People tend to have a desire for control. Managers don’t like to give away control. Daft tells us that many managers need to learn to give away control, managers think it is more efficient for them to keep their control. “If your inner elephant micromanages other people, your satisfaction will be at their expense” (Daft, 2010)

The author tells us that everyone’s inner elephant wants to be in control and is happier when in control. The key is to activate their inner executive to give control to others.

Emotional avoidance and attraction.

Avoidance.

Our emotions plays with us. In times we are aware of tasks we have to perform, or deadlines coming up, but can not fulfill the task. This is procrastination. To procrastinate means to; “delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off delay. You do not want to delay, but do it anyway, because your inner elephant resists more strongly than your intention”.

Daft, makes us aware that the resistance to the task symbolizes something from your past which triggers modest anxiety even when your inner elephant wants to avoid it.

Attraction.

We all have dreams and desires, which is important for having a good life. However, strong attractions, such as the need for perfection, may lead to problems for managers. Managers may also feel the need to act on their unthinking desire always to be right rather than let other people shine, to perpetually find fault with other people’s ideas, to win every disagreement, to blame others when something goes wrong despite being culpable, or to speak harshly when upset”.  (Daft, 2010)

Exaggerating the future.

Why do we have a tendency to exaggerate the future ?

Simply put, when we are attracted to a task, we are optimistically to the results, and doesn’t see any problems. “When the inner elephant is attracted to a future outcome, it overoptimistically anticipates good results and underestimates potential difficulties, so it fails to see the problems ahead”.  (Daft, 2010)

The same is happening when everything looks hopeless. “When the inner elephant dislikes or wants to avoid an outcome, it will pessimistically see more difficulties and problems than will actually occur”. (Daft, 2010)

However, when you start working with the ‘terrible task’, it wasn’t that bad at all.

Chasing the wrong gratifications.

Sometimes we are going in the wrong direction. If your work is only about money and fame, then you are chasing the wrong gratification. “The inner elephant loves the temporary good feeling that goes with external rewards, whether in the form of a trip, plaque, promotion or more money.

If you are passionate about your work, the work will feel easier and happier. ” The inner elephant can chase money into infinity, acquire luxury goods beyond imagination, and never experience the joy of performing a task just for pleasure. That is why the adage ‘Love what you do and the money will follow’.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.   —  Charles Spurgeon

Written by

Inger Lise E Greger, Master of Science in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 





Find Your Own Voice

12 08 2013

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.     Peter Drucker

Communication of all sorts means mastering the two conversations, the verbal and the nonverbal.

Nick Morgan, founder of Public Words Inc…., is one of America‘s top communication and speech coaches. Through his book, Trust Me, he outlines the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.

The purpose of this book  is to show how to structure the verbal conversations and make leaders aware of their nonverbal conversations of others. Morgan; “Once you’ve become a conscious master of the nonverbal conversation, you can learn to control it effectively by dealing with it in the realm of intent”.

In the author’s mind, nonverbal communication needs more attention and the reason is that it has been ignored by leaders too long, or treated as an accompaniment to speech. Instead, leaders are spending a huge amount of time and effort in getting their words right. Morgan; “Lawyers are paid millions to make sure that the words are not actionable. And yet the real conversation is happening all the time around them and it’s a conversation that they’re only dimly aware off”. Morgan is trying to make us aware that every communication is two conversations. If leaders speak with diffidence, ambivalence or confusion and their nonverbal conversation reveals their uncertainty, that will spread quickly to people around them, which means that leaders can’t afford this.

In connection with other people, we express ourselves by shaking our heads, we nod, roll our eyes. This is all expressions by our reactions, which show more than words can tell. Morgan; “The list goes on: duration, time, movement, action, spatial relationships, and pointing are all based in gesture”.

I just read an interesting Forbes article; Back To The Future With Face – To Face Technologywritten by, Carol Kinsey Goman, she say; “In Face -to-Face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-Face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We, get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language. And we rely on immediate feedback the instantaneous responses of others-to help us gauge how well our ideas are being accepted”.

Let us take a closer look at the four steps to communication success: openness, connection, passion and listening.

Being Open.

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there where only walls.    Joseph Campbell

To conduct an orchestra you need to know your people. But first the conductor has to be aware about his own reaction’s before he/she can learn about others. It will then get easier to gain understanding and insight in people’s need’s and wishes. (My blog; Emotions)

What we show of our feelings, our emotional performance, is heavily influenced by social conventions and the impressions we wish to convey to others. It is socially constructed. (My blog; Emotions)

Morgan; ” A communicator who is transparent about her intent almost always gets more respect and tolerance from listeners than someone who isn’t. But to achieve that kind of openness and to make it real, you have to be transparent about your values, not just your opinions”.

Nonverbal conversation depends upon trust and is even more important to openness in some ways than the verbal. Morgan;”Trust is the essential goal of an open nonverbal conversation. And it is the basis of communication”. It is therefore well worth saying more about.

Cognitive behavior and approaches is all about our thoughts, often we are caught in a pattern we have difficulties changing. We need to be open-minded toward people’s views, ideas and thoughts. (My blog; Organizational Culture )

Morgan; “The essence of trust is believing that the other party will do what he or she says and that there are no nasty surprises coming. Trust is difficult to create and almost impossible to reestablish once it has been lost”.

Our body language speaks for itself. We connect and get closer to people whom we are open with and make distance from people we are not.  The face is capable of many expressions and the variation is big. However these four open eyes, raised eyebrows, nodding, and smiling are signs to openness.

The author makes us aware that our unconscious expertise at reading others gives us that much, but not much more. Most of us are poor at reading body language if we are asked to do it consciously.

Morgan; “Openness in communication especially in nonverbal communication, is the first step toward creating authenticity and charisma as a leader. Without it, you can’t begin to connect with audiences. With openness, the rest of the steps are possible, and you can become an effective communicator”.

Connection.

Communication-the human connection-is the key to personal and career success.     Paul J. Meyer

In conversation with people we need to remember that connected communication is reciprocal. Morgan; “For the most part, people feel obligated to listen if you’ve listened to them. Some self-absorbed people never reciprocate, the golden rule is deeply baked into our psyches”.

We tend to connect more easy with people who are like us. Also we connect better with ideas, communications, and with people we perceive to be different and unusual, scarce or rare. Morgan; “we are perverse creatures and can one day ignore and the next day embrace an idea, a communication, or a person who is unusual to us”.

Not surprisingly we all unconsciously measure the distance between ourselves and other people for obvious reasons of self-protection first, and interest second in nonverbal connection.

The author makes us aware that the culture differs and has an influence on the personal space, as in Mediterranean and Asian cultures where they tend to shrink the distances, and Western cultures preserve them.

Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking. (My blog; The Art of Persuasion)

Being Passionate.

Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.    Phil Jackson

Conversations become interesting when you show real interest, openness and passion. Then you create trust and connection. You show your heart. Morgan; “Showing your heart to someone is neither trivial nor easy. Trust must be firmly established, and the way to do that is through openness and connection”.

Here, the author makes us aware that the nonverbal expressions of emotion are stronger than the verbal expression, and if the two are at odds, the person you’re communicating with will believe the nonverbal always.

If we take a closer look on how to be passionate nonverbally, your emotionally state plays a role. Your emotional mood has a big impact on people in your environment, whether you are in a good or bad mood. Morgan; “Sincerity of emotion shows up in nonverbal conversation through, perhaps surprisingly, stillness and openness. While the strong passions anger; joy, excitement of various kinds-can all be signaled with energetic body movements, sometimes extreme stillness can be just as effective. Think of it like the voice; the point is to establish a baseline and then vary that to exhibit the emotions”.

Listening.

When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.     Stephen Covey

As a leader you need to be able to listen to your colleagues, and understand their point of view. Morgan; “People need to be heard to be validated as human. We’re a social species”.

You can look at the organization like a big team, inside the team there are people with different kinds of expertise, experience, knowledge, interests and perspectives. They all depend up on each other to achieve their best. You have to cooperate, talk and discuss issues of importance within your team. Give each other room to grow  and share views and ideas, and make sure to give support and motivation to each other. (My blog; Listen more)

In emphatic listening you need to hear, see, and reflect the deeper, emotional meanings of the dialogue. Morgan; “Here you identify the emotion underneath the words and respond in kind: I understand how painful this is for you, Joseph. I too had a project go bad early in my career. It really hurts.

If you can listen emphatically to your colleagues, you are giving them signals that you are genuinely interested in what they are trying to tell you. Being a good listener is a challenge for most of us, some are good at it and others are poor at it. Without any doubt, listening skills are of huge importance if you want to build good relations. (My blog; The Art of Persuasion)

How well do we listen nonverbally and charismatically. Morgan; “People know unconsciously the moment you begin to move on in terms of listening.  They may not realize it consciously at first, but unconsciously its immediate. You’ll see responses like moving nearer, grabbing an arm, raising the voice-all the activities that people use when they want to connect or reconnect”.

The author makes us aware of the importance to listen with your whole body. “Followers who are not listened to will not follow forever”.

Written by; Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

More blog posts by Inger Lise E Greger





What has the “Renewed Darwinian Theory” and “The Four Drive Theory” to do with leadership ?

12 06 2012

“The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts”.  Charles Darwin

Harvard Professor, Paul Lawrence has written the book: “Driven to Lead”. Through his book, Lawrence makes us aware of how to apply his four – drive theory of human behavior as well as how leaders behave.

Before explaining his drives, Lawrence has also digged into Darwin’s insights about humans. Through Darwin’s second epic book, “The Descent of Man”, Darwin observed that the difference between humans and lower species is our innate moral sense, our conscience.

Lawrence explains “The Renewed Darwinian (RD) Theory” : ” that this name acknowledges that its major elements are built upon insights of Darwin’s, drawn from his Descent of Man. The big question is how the leadership brain could have evolved by Darwinian mechanism.”

Leadership is of huge importance and can be practised in good or bad ways. The leadership brain has many aspects and need to be studied to gain understanding. Lawrence explain’s us his view and makes us aware of Darwin’s amazing and interesting theory.

What is leadership ? Lawrence: “It is a particular kind of decision-making – decisions a leader makes in guiding and motivating a group of people in responding to a particular set of circumstances. The circumstances may be immediate or they may be something the leader foresees in the future, but in either cases, there are choices to be made”.

“The measure of a man is what he does with power”.  Plato

The four drives illustrates which buttons to push. Lawrence:”It happens because our brains have evolved a way to let all four drives “have their say” and then to use our knowledge and experience to arrive at a solution that is acceptable to all four”.

How living things react in their environment is depending on their needs. Animals have their basic need for food and defending themselves, which means they have two basic needs. Included these two basic needs, human have two more, Lawrence:”It is because we have four drives – four buttons to be pushed – rather than two that we are so much more responsive to our environment”.

Many people are sceptical to leadership improvement, many studies has been done relating to this topic. Improvements in our material well-being brought about science, engineering and medicine still makes people sceptical. Lawrence however is positive to leadership improvement where his statement is; “yes, but the advancements are too easily reversed”. “But we have not been able to nail down our advancements in leadership so that they stay put”.

Lawrence gives us his comment on his view on bad leadership and that it is an inescapable part of the human condition; “my response is that once we understand what makes for good leadership, we can see that the potential for bad leadership is indeed part of the human condition, but not the necessity of enduring it”. He gives us a good example on the sickness of pneumonia which was a deadly illness, but because of science we understand it and know what to do about it. Lawrence;” I think we are now on the verge of understanding bad leadership and what to do about it”.

The four drives.

– “The drive to acquire what one needs for one’s survival at the conception and survival of one’s offspring”;

– “The drive to defend oneself and, as needed, one’s offspring from threats”.

– “The drive to bond; that is, to form long-term, mutually caring and trusting relationships with other people;

– “The drive to comprehend; that is, to learn, to create, to innovate, and make sense of the world and of oneself”.

These four drives are a good measure on how people choose to lead themselves and good leaders lead others. Lawrence; “This means that good leadership is rooted in the inherent workings of a very successful survival mechanism”. The writer emphasize that the drive to bond and comprehend makes all the difference between human and nonhuman. As species we were not the strongest or fastest, but could work together effectively under different circumstances than any other species, according to Darwin.

The drive to bond and comprehend used in the right direction gives positive signals.

The drive to acquire goes far beyond the drive to acquire food, water, warmth and a mate. Lawrence; “For example, we have a drive to acquire things which interest us or which give us a sense of who we are or which would please other people whom we care about – even in future generations”.

The drive to defend also goes far beyond the drive to remain alive and well. Among many areas, we have a drive to defend ideas, groups which we belong, our pride and hope and self – image as well as our physical well – being.

These four drives opens up for enormous possibilities. However we need to be aware that these four drives can conflict with each other. Lawrence: “Indeed, the observant among us have always known that humans are a mysterious bundle of drives which often conflict with each other inside our heads”.

According to Lawrence when talking of the evidence of the decision – making process, he makes us aware of the human behavior described with having an imaginary “as if” quality. “No one has ever been able to hold up an X-ray or an MRI scan and print to guilt, pride, patriotism, or a soul, but we often behave as if we had what is meant by those words”. The author point’s out research findings which indicates that the four drives and the decision – making process they set in motion are imaginary “as if” concepts; they are what is actually happening in the brain. Lawrence; ” This is why I think we are finally on the verge of putting leadership on a scientific basis, as we have already done with healing”. Our behavior is governed by a survival mechanism and is obscured by the fact that we have long been capable of so much more than survival. In that case, what survival drive could be responsible for playing tennis, eating ice cream, keeping a scrapbook and so on.

Did the brain evolve leadership capabilities ? Lawrence answer is a positive yes. “Every step of the evolutionary path we have been tracing involved a change in the human brain that has enhanced our capacity to adapt to contemporary changing environment”. First we mutated to enable our brains to grow larger, second we evolved an expanded memory where we could store our knowledge and experiences from our evolving cultures. Further on we evolved more sophisticated skill sets. Then we developed new drives in our limbic systems – to bond and comprehend. “How all this development happened we don’t know, just that it did. What we know is that all of this enhanced our capacity to adapt to changes in our circumstances which is to say, our capacity for leadership”.

Let us have a closer look of the process in the brain according to the four drives. Lawrence explains the drive to acquire: “Humans, in common with all animals, have a fundamental drive to get what they need to stay alive and have progeny: food, water, warmth, sex, and so on”. This basic drive lies behind work to make a living and is the easiest drive to understand. ” Put another way, bees have evolved to make honey together but humans have evolved to “make do” together. Making honey together can be done by instinct; “making do” together requires leadership”.

The drive to acquire and the drive to defend are both located in the limbic area. What happens with people and animals when experience pleasurable sensations from objects they acquire, this part of the brain lights up with increased blood flow. The drive to bond : “Without this fundamental human behavior, there could be no such thing as companies or any other kinds of organization”. Lawrence makes us aware that the drive to bond forces us to address an important characteristic of the four drives: they are independent. The drives can however assist each other. ” A drive cannot be satisfied by the satisfaction of one or even all three, of the other drives”. It determines how the brain’s decision – making process finally decides and is therefore a key to good leadership. The four drives seem to have their own biochemical reward systems in the brain. The drive to bond has also its own biochemical reward system. The drive to comprehend is needed to understand environment and ourselves including to know how things work. Lawrence; “The drive to comprehend is often in the service of the drive to bond because cooperating – or just getting along – with others can be quite complicated”. In leadership the drive to comprehend is of huge importance and in a group and how to lead it the leader must impart or maintain shared understanding.

As soon as the important faculties of the imagination, wonder, and curiosity, together with some power of reasoning, had become partially developed, man would naturally crave to understand what was passing around him, and could have vaguely speculated on his own existence”  Charles Darwin.

Emotions and it’s role in leadership is worth mentioning, Lawrence: “The emotions seem to be the way our four unconscious drives – that is, basic components of our well – established survival mechanism – do their lobbying”. Depending on circumstances the four drives each evaluate, “according to their own criteria”, whether the situation is threatening or gives opportunities.

When moving on to morality and leadership, Lawrence quote Darwin: “I fully subscribe to the judgement of those writers who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower animals, the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important”.


University of Michigan has done research on “positive psychology”, where they look at good leadership from a different direction. They found abundant empirical evidence that showed when positive factors ( such as; friendship, pride, safety, or appreciation ) people are more inclined to engage in positive change like innovation or teamwork. When given negative factors such as ( disapproval, insecurity, or disappointment ) they are less engaged. Lawrence; “Our four-drive model of the brain tells us that what is universally “positive” for human beings is the balanced satisfying of our four innate drives”.

If people in leadership positions at all levels can see what they are doing and have learned in these four-drive and impulse/check/balance terms, improvement in leadership can be enjoyable.

Leaders without conscience exist all over the world and need a closer look. In Renewed Darwinian Theory terms, it looks that we are gradually evolving from a world of misguided, bad, or downright evil leaders toward a world of good/moral leaders-“good/moral” in the technical RD Theory sense and that they try to address all the four drives for all citizens. Leaders without conscience do not hesitate to manipulate and exploit the drives of the majority in order to gratify their own insatiable drives to acquire wealth and power. Lawrence;”In a way, then, the biologists were right: under certain social or technical conditions, people w/o-conscience can indeed out-compete ordinary four-drive people. Extinction, however, is not an option. The tyrant who kills all his subjects must go back to picking berries and throwing rocks at squirrels”.

Machiavelli wrote his treatise, The Prince, which was dedicated to Florence’s new head of state, Lorenzo de Medici, where he offered him practical advise on how to achieve his goals. This happened after his mentor, Piero Soderini was ousted from power by the return of the Medici in 1512, Machiavelli was tortured, imprisoned and forced into retirement. Lawrence; “Machiavelli took it for granted that “great man” were ruled by an insatiable desire for material gain and driven by the principle of self-interest. In RD Theory terms, Machiavelli assumed that ambitious leaders were leaders-w/o-conscience”.

Lincoln was a man with good and moral leadership qualities. He used all the four drives in an amazing and balanced way. Lawrence;” Humans will probably always need the help of especially gifted moral leaders in order to extend the bonds of caring and trust beyond the easy range of the family and the face-to-face community. Such bonds have become essential to the future of humanity. Lincoln has shown us the way”.

People w/o-conscience working his or her way towards a top leadership position of a major corporation can change its entire business culture. In such a case, employees at lower levels have no choice but to go along with their leader’s tactics or quit their jobs. In situations like this, a four-drive leader of a competitive firm is put on the defensive and is pressed to imitate the leader w/o-conscience. Lawrence;” Top-level executives who are people w/o-conscience can exercise power on a scale that is far beyond face-to-face social controls. For now, the nightmare can end only when normal people catch on it and, armed with this knowledge, find humane ways to keep people w/o-conscience out of positions of power”.

Darwin has made us aware and cautioned us that we still have to cross the hurdles of distance and difference for people around the globe to recognize that we are all the same type of creatures, and we all have the same four drives to keep us moving together, wholeheartedly and whole-mindedly, on a sustainable track forward.

I fully subscribe to those writers who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower animals, the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important.   Charles Darwin Quoted from Lawrence book; Driven to lead.

Let us remind ourselves of the importance of the people in organizations and try to lead with conscience.

Written by Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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