How much of what you’ve done over the past 24 hours was purposeful and intentional?
Due to the huge amount of writing I’m doing for my MSc, I’m not blogging as much as I should. However, yesterday I came across an article I felt I must plagiarise – it’s about being a mindful leader.
Mindful Leader – three tips to become one (Yeganeh, 2012) defines mindfulness as a state in which a person is intentially aware of momentary experience. Practising mindfulness enhances mental and physical health, creativity and contextual learning. Being mindless, on the other hand, is being unaware, focused on the future or the past, being on auto pilot and results in tunnel vision, stress, low creativity and poor physical health.
Being a mindful leader involves 3 core practices:
1. Intentionally anchoring your mind to the present moment – through breathing and becoming aware of all your five senses.
2. Noticing what is happening without judging it – let go of the belief that we must overthink everything in order to control it. Acknowledge what and how you are thinking throughout the day without necessarily engaging in knee jerk responses.
3. Analyse your environment mindfully – pay attention to the context in which you are operating. Seek out new sources of information and place value on doubt – it’s the opposite of thinking in terms of black and white.
All easier said than done. Practicing mindfulness in manageable chunks of time (10 minutes during a meeting, for instance), with a credible source and/or through the various on line programmes available is a start.
I have come across the feedforward interview (FFI) as an exciting add on to strengths based interviewing. FFI is based on the appreciative interview component of appreciative inquiry.
The FFI protocol was developed by Kluger and Nir (2010) and seeks to build awareness of strengths by asking interviewees to talk through a success story, and through that discover a personal success ‘code’, highly specific to that individual’s experience and aimed at sparking new insights. Different to typical competency based interviews, the interviewee is asked to state whether their current actions, priorities and plans for the future incorporate the same conditions as those experienced when acting out their personal success code for reaching happiness, optimal performance, outstanding leadership (whatever means success for the individual). This last step is critical as it creates a juxtaposition – from when things were going well to now… are things the same or different. If they’re different, how likely is it that they will repeat that success.
For instance, a bank branch manager interviewed a clerk who had received the bank’s “outstanding worker” award every year for the previous 10 years. In response to a request to tell a story about an event during which the clerk felt good and was full of life at work, the clerk responded “but I’ve never felt like that at work!” While the branch manager was stunned and still considering her response, the clerk added, “Actually, I did feel great, once, when I was filling in for a first-level manager in the branch while he was sick”. In light of the new information, the branch manager decided to promote this excellent clerk to a first-level management position. In this case, the FFI enabled a clerk labeled by her superiors as “excellent”, but who was frustrated and unfulfilled, to be promoted and in turn to further promote the operations of the branch. (Kluger & Nir, 2010).
Millennials expect to manage their own careers but they want a road map to success and expect their companies to provide it. Coaching and providing feedback to millennials could end up being a full time job for their managers.
As an alternative, organisations could try reverse mentoring. Reserve mentoring shifts the responsbility for organisational mentoring from executives to individuals who learn from executives through the mentoring process. A millennial is matched to an executive and assigned to teach him or her how to, for instance, use social media to connect with customers. This gives millennials exposure and an insight into the higher levels of the organisation. And senior executives get to undertand hash tags and emoticons.
I’m about to embark on some research for my MSc – the impact of mentoring on one’s meaning (at work or more broadly). With the billions of £/$ spent on coaching each year, mentoring is an underexploited resource. And, unlike using external coaches, mentoring builds skills for the organisational mentor and their mentee. In research undertaken by BT, 78% of employees prefer to learn from their peers and yet very little money or effort is put into this.
In a Harvard Business Review article (May 2010), the criticality of mentoring and coaching to millennials is highlighted. The five top characteristics millenials are looking for in a boss are:
- help navigating my career
- will give me straight feedback
- will mentor and coach me
- will sponsor me for formal development
- is comfortable with flexibility
Obviously formal development still has its’ place but coaching, mentoring and giving feedback are what’s most critical to them.
Microfeedback - feedback of 140 characters or less – is a great way to provide focused instantaneous feedback. All too often we bombard people with too much feedback which is too wordy and lost in translation. 140 characters forces individuals to think about one clear message.
Wasn’t it Churchill who wrote “apologies for the two page letter, I didn’t have time to write a one page letter.”
This is a powerful video about the power of being authentic. As the speaker says, ‘when you have the courage to get real, amazing things can happen.’ More team building events should take the format of the one he outlines towards the end of the video but that necessitates a brave facilitation style.
I have become very interested in the all too often ignored concept of self efficacy and it’s impact on work performance.
Self efficacy refers to an individual’s conviction (or confidence) about his or her ability to execute a specific task within a given context. It is often confused with self esteem and self confidence. Self efficacy has a direct impact on performance as the more confident the individual:
- The more likely they will take up a challenge;
- The more effort and motivation will be given to successfully accomplish a task; and
- The more persistence he or she will be when obstacles are encountered or even when there is initial failure.
A meta alanlysis of 114 studies found a stronger relationship between efficacy and work related performance than other popular organisational behaviour concepts such as goal setting; job satisfaction; the Big Five personality traits, including conscientiousness.
What’s more, self efficacy can be developed through mastery experiences, feedback, modelling. Whilst this appears straightforward, the modelling examples need to be context specific with critical feedback to help understand succes and failure. For example, it is obvious that previous success builds one’s confidence. However, success should not just be equated with future confidence. Instead, the key to subsequent confidence is how the individual interprets and processes the previous success (e.g.,hard-earned through one’s own efforts versus being easily handed the success). For example, I can build confidence in my own golf game by observing one of my similar ability level colleagues but watching Tiger Woods win another Master’s, I’m afraid does nothing for the confidence of my game.
Can leaders impact upon another individual’s experience of meaning (in the workplace)?
This is the question I am currently grappling with as part of my MSc research. Whilst much research has been undertaken into positive psychology, happiness and the conditions which enable individuals to flourish including ‘meaning’; alot of the writing around organisational dynamics lacks empirical research, is negative (focused on raising underperformance and so on) or focuses upon organisations creating values and vision for others to work towards. Therefore, it might be valuable to facilitate, through research, an opportunity to identify how positive psychology can impact, in a positive way, an individual’s experience of work. One of the questions I’m curious about is what impact leader’s have on their followers around creating meaning.
People who feel their work is meaningful report greater well-being, view their work as more central and important, place higher value on work and report greater satisfaction. People who feel their work serves a higher purpose also report greater job satisfaction and work unit cohesion (in Steger, Dik and Duffy, 2012). In Steger’s research, he found that meaning was the only reliable predictor of absenteeism – not even job satisfaction was a better predictor.
But are we solely responsible for finding and creating meaning in our lives – or is that something our leaders can (or even should) help us with? For example, do leaders who have a sense of meaning in their work inspire better followership? Do people engaged in meaningful work respond more effectively to leadership? What is the imapct of transformational or charismatic leadership on individuals who place high importance on meaningful work?
These are just some of the many questions to ponder over, the first of which must be to clearly define meaning and meaning at work and how they differ.
“Styles change, times change, customs change, and tastes change – but human nature, never” G. Lynn Sumner 1957
His book “How I learned the secrets of success in advertising” is full of lessons as relevant today as when they were written.
Drayton Bird always attributes his success to study and growing up in a pub where he saw all of human nature from behind the bar.
David Ogilvy famously improved the Pearce Motor cars advertisment to create a brilliant advert for Rolls Royce.
Here is an example of one of the best direct mail letters ever and could this be the advert that they got the idea from written about 50 years before (approx 1915).
Drayton Bird writes that this sales letter for the Wall St Journal ran for 20 years pulling over 2million subscribers. The words are different, but the idea is the same.
And the lesson – keep learning and studying what has worked previously. Chances are it will work again.
Very pleased that my work with Cornerstone Barrristers is now award winning in the category of Best Rebrand of a Professional Services Firm at the Transform Awards last night.
Cornerstone Barristers news story here in full.
Last night, 19th March, Cornerstone Barristers’ excellence in rebranding was honoured at Communicate magazine’s Transform Awards 2013 held at The Brewery, London.
Cornerstone won a Bronze award in the category of “Best Rebrand in Professional Services” for its work with Thinkfarm Strategic Consultants and interim marketing director Crispin White. A category which had a record number of applicants this year.
Crispin White identified the need to review the positioning and branding of Cornerstone Barristers in order to support marketing to boost awareness of their capabilities, experience and areas of focus.Thinkfarm was asked to develop strategic positioning, messaging and refresh the brand identity to ensure it supported the brand story.