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Monday, April 30, 2012

How of Happiness: Post#4--Gratitude

Express Gratitude: An antidote to negative emotions.
a.    Gratitude—promotes savoring a good life, bolsters self worth, helps cope with stress, encourages moral behavior, builds social bonds, diminishes negative emotions, fights hedonic (entitlement) activity.
b.    How of Gratitude:
i.    Keep a gratitude journal. Make a list every day of things you’re grateful for. Keep it in a place easy to remember. [I keep a small notebook in my medicine cabinet…next to my toothbrush!]
ii.    Vary your techniques to keep it fresh, not routine. Try different approaches, locations, etc.
iii.    Express your gratitude directly. Write a letter to someone who’s made a difference in your life. Or, make a visit (Martin Seligman’s fav way), read your gratitude letter to them and express what they have meant to you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How of Happines: Post#3--Why This Book?

Why this book?
a.    The book is based on the considerable research of the author and experts like Gottman, Seligman and others in the science of happiness and positivity and their effects.
b.    Why bother about happiness? Simple. Happy people live longer, have happier marriages, make more money, are better leaders, and are more sociable, energetic, successful and fun to be around than their peers. In short, whether in business or in their personal lives, they do far better than their less happy compatriots.

Make happiness strategies fit you.
a.    The science shows that activities that fit the person tend to stick.
b.    Making happiness stick:
i.    Fit with your style.  Pessimists might benefit by practicing optimism. Hedonists can gain strength by savoring what they have.
ii.    Fit with your strengths—for example, stressing gratitude and thanks through writing or painting, if they are strengths.
iii.    Fit with your lifestyle: If you already meditate, you can skip that one. Try to try new things, like a simple listing of gratitudes, that don’t take much time.

The Oxford Happiness Questionnaire
a.    I suggest you take this before proceeding in the book. Take the 29-question instrument on p. 84.
b.    Take it several times throughout a month to get your baseline.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How of Happiness: Post#2--Happiness Fornula

The Happiness Equation: One of the BIG contributions that Lyubomirsky makes to the science of happiness is her formula for what determines happiness. It’s simple and impactful:
a.    50% of all our happiness is heritable…we get it from our parents. You’ve got no control over this slice of the pie. It’s called a set point. It’s like a fixed or known quantity. You cannot change it
b.    10% of your happiness gets formed by your life’s circumstances. So, getting married, divorced, fired or hired seems to have only a 10% overall effect on moving your personal happiness needle.
c.    40% of our happiness IS changeable—by intentional behavior. And that’s a LOT to play with in terms of getting us happier or not.  The author then spends much of the book telling us how to get more intentional about happiness.

How of Happiness: Post #1--Overview

Overview: In The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky we learn that happiness is a full contact sport! Getting happy is not for the lazy or undisciplined. Oddly, happiness takes will, practice, attention, and intention. But the payoff is a life worth living—one full of people, family, friends, and meaning.  We’re all born with a set point for inherited happiness which accounts for 50% of our happiness. All other life events (hurt, divorce, good and bad jobs, ups and downs, etc.) only account for another 10%. But fully 40% of our happiness is up to us and what we intend to do. This is a powerful equation of hope that Lyubomirsky’s research has revealed.  And her equation compels the reader to digest the “hows” of happiness, such as: practicing gratitude; cultivating optimism; avoiding over thinking and social comparison; practicing kindness; nurturing social relationships; developing coping strategies; learning to forgive; increasing flow in your life; savoring joys; committing to goals; practicing religion and spirituality; and taking care of your body. This book is a must read for anyone seriously wanting to move toward a happier, healthier life.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post #7--Final Words

Final Words: This book is a treasure trove for any leader (or executive coach) who wants to be the kind of person people named when asked: Who is the best leader you ever worked for?  The authors sum it up for me on p. 212:  “The best leaders move people.”


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post#6--Exercises

Exercises: This book is loaded with about a hundred exercises that can help you move toward your own Intentional Change. For example:
a.    Who Helped Me: List people who helped you along the way. Also make another list of people who tried to “manage,” even “fix” you along the way. What was your emotional reaction to both camps? How would you contrast them?
b.    The Best Leaders in My Life: Make a list of the people (leaders) in your life who brought out the best in you. Next to their names, write out the qualities, characteristics, and attitudes that they demonstrated.
c.    The Sacrifice Syndrome: Based on Boyatzis and McKee’s previous book (Resonant Leadership), the authors outline a diagnostic checklist (p. 58) to help you determine if you’re going down a dead-end, “dissonant” path.
d.    Others: I particularly like the exercises around the Ideal Self. My Noble Purpose, My Life in 10 Years, My Dreams, My Calling, My Passion, What People Will Say About Me at my Funeral.
e.    Peer Feedback and Individual Commitments: Getting feedback. On a flip chart, team members paste up 4 sticky notes—two strengths and two challenges. This is done for each person on the team. Each person makes a commitment to change based on the feedback. Also, each person can both reflect back to the group what s/he sees and can ask for clarification.
f.    Am I a Resonant Leader?  This inventory ends the book on the main criteria for resonant leadership: Am I inspirational? Do I create a positive tone—based on a sense of hope? Am I in touch with the hearts and minds of my team? Do I regularly show compassion? Am I in tune (mindful) with myself and others?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post #5--Teams

Igniting Resonance: Creating Effectiveness in Teams, Organizations, and Communities. Building a team requires leaders to know all team members well—what motivates them and what is their personal vision and how can that tie to the team’s vision. How does this work?
a.    Start with yourself: It’s impossible to get others resonant and headed in the same direction with enthusiasm if you, as the leader, are not. So start figuring out your Ideal Self and working toward it. Enlist team members and others to help you do that.
b.    Build Resonance with those around you: Recognize how each person is part of the social system and develop resonance with each other to accomplish both personal and team goals.
c.    Attend to all levels of the social system: Trying to fix one or several people will not change the system. It’s more complicated than that. Sustainable and resonant change only happens when several levels are affected.
i.    Interdependence between people, teams, organizations and communities—and the dynamics they offer—is the key to change.
ii.    My Social System (see pp. 183-188). The authors look at the various interdependent levels (me, my partners, my team, my organization, and my community) and then ask a range of questions about values, shared purpose, challenges, aspirations, and conflict across the social system to determine patterns across levels that might help us resonate across levels.
d.    Explore the Power of Subjectivity: Leaders often focus on objective measurable behaviors, which are easier to spot than more subjective sensations and experiences like motivation, values, philosophy, language, conflicts and influencers. However, these subjective elements can make the difference between resonance and dissonance (see the charts on pp. 190-192).
e.    Discover your system’s “Real Self.”
i.     What are the shared principles, beliefs, values, myths, and experiences of the group? What are the thoughts, feelings, meanings and culture of the group? What is the group’s emotional reality (resilient and optimistic vs. hopeless and depressed)?
ii.    See heading #2 (The Real Self) above. Explore the group’s lifeline, especially transitions that were good and not so good. Explore the group’s social identity (beliefs, habits, culture), strengths (what the team’s good at and not), and social relationships (friends, family, etc.).
iii.    Interviewing people in confidence to elicit their genuine feelings gets the best results. Questions: What do I need to be successful? What does the group need to be successful? What do different levels of the system need to be successful?
f.    Engage their hearts and minds: Engage the group’s Positive Emotional Attractor. Get them out of their habitat to someplace very different—like a lodge, not simply a hotel.
i.    Select activities that progress from light and safe activities (tell a funny story about your life) to more risky ones (what’s something you fear about your business) to help people get to know each other.  Consider individual self revelation exercises around Ideal Self, Personal Learning, and Learning Plan.
ii.    Sharing them and connecting them can lead a team to a collective view of the future.
g.    Collective Visioning—Getting to Resonance
i.    Using “Creating a Shared Community Vision” (see pp. 200-204), the group works through individuals, teams and then organizations to come up with a common path of a shared vision for the organization in the future.
ii.    The process involves the following steps looking 10 years into the future: Step #1—My Dream for the Organization (the most exciting aspiration you have for the organization); Step #2— Small Groups Build the Vision (each person presents his/her dream of the community and the small groups look at trends); Step #3—Build One Vision:  All the small groups get together to coalesce around exciting ideas for the future. The larger group creates a path toward the shared vision of the future; Step #4—Commitment to Change: Small groups discuss and argue for their point of view. In some cases, the representative has to negotiate how and why certain ideas made it and others did not; Step #5—Implementation: each team and person must articulate what s/he will do to implement the vision.
h.    Express Personal Accountabilities and Commitments: To make the team/organizational vision happen, leaders and their followers have to commit to accountable actions. It all starts with the leader stepping up and out—putting a stake in the ground to hold the company and himself or herself personally accountable.                    

Monday, April 16, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post #4--The Learning Agenda

Becoming a Resonant Leader (Getting from Real to Ideal Self—the Learning Agenda and Experimentation and Practice).
a.    Organizational performance and personal dreams and goals are rarely linked and thus fall flat. We all want to learn and grow (and be engaged in that process), but that’s rarely connected to what we do at work. In essence, personal development and change is all about YOU and not about performance improvement at work. So, your Learning Agenda/Plan is not a performance-improvement plan. Planning to learn and develop ourselves activates the positive emotional attractor state (hormones and neurology that lead us to positivity—give us hope, compassion and mindfulness). However, performance improvement (for work or for what others want of us) often moves us to the negative emotional attractor state (negativity and dissonance).
b.    Planning Style: People approach the future in three different ways: Goal-orientation, Direction-orientation and Action-orientation (see My Planning Style indicator on pp. 157-8).
i.    Goal-oriented people like to pursue goals which may not be necessarily tied to a dream. For them, accomplishing the goal is the brass ring. And setting new goals moves them forward. About 50% of subjects in a study conducted by Annie McKee on planning styles were goal-oriented people.
ii.    Direction-oriented people have a dream and a good idea about how to get there but are less driven by goals, more so by the dream/vision. Less than 33% of McKee’s study were direction oriented.
iii.    Action-oriented people are in it for the moment—living task by task. For them each task leads to the next—their form of planning is linear and task-oriented and living in the present.
c.    Learning Style: David Kolb’s learning theory.
i.    Comprehending & Apprehending: Comprehending—trying to grasp aspects of an experience. Apprehending—understanding what you’ve comprehended.
ii.    Reflective Observation (focused internally) & Active Experimentation—externally focused on how the environment responds when you try something.
iii.    Resonant Relationships: Develop a personal board of advisors— people who you trust to act as a sounding board. Alternatively, a coach works well.
iv.    Continuous Improvement and Refinement: Experiment and practice to deepen and make new neural pathways in your brain. Change comes from rehearsal and practice.
d.    Learning Plan: Look at your Personal Vision (Ideal Self) and then at your Real Self and note any gaps that exist between the two. The difference with this model is that you’re working toward the positive emotional attractor not trying to stop something (the negative emotional attractor).  The cascade in planning is Personal Vision (5-10 years)  ► Learning Goals (1-5 years) ► Milestones (6-12 months) ► Action Steps (present to 6 months). See charts from p. 166-173.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post #3--The Real Self

The Real Self: Get a grip on where you are now—your starting place.
a.    My Lifeline—This exercise is revealing (see p. 114). Basically, you chronicle your life’s significant events and emotions, highs and lows— like getting a job, graduating, getting fired or divorced—and where you felt at significant points (happiest and saddest). Pay attention to where you struggled and triumphed, as well as to transitions.
b.    The authors have you do several new exercises that look back at your lifeline for critical transitions, noting what helped or hindered your progress through those transitions.
c.    My Social Identity and Role: Start by describing yourself as if you were a sociologist. What’s your race, language, ethnicity, hobby, political affiliation, birth order and so on. Which social roles do you play—father, brother, sister, mother, social leader, business leader? How have your job, social roles, certain jobs, clubs, organizations affected your social identity?
d.    Social Web: The authors suggest a flurry of social identity exercises to better understand yourself [creating a social web of friends, family, social acquaintances, peers, direct reports and bosses; assessing their impacts on your emotions (positive and negative)—which are stressful, are enjoyable, are energy giving or energy draining, and which ones need your attention]. Finally, write a letter “from your heart” to someone special in your life who has helped you and shaped your life—you may or may not send it to them.
e.    My Strengths: The authors suggest starting by focusing on what you think your strengths are by completing a simple prompt—“I am a person who….” Now inventory your top strengths and how they make you feel (proud, awkward, etc.). List your top (perhaps 5) strengths that you like and enjoy and that positively energize you. What do others say you’re good at at home and at work and as a leader in all your relationships? What situations do you avoid (whether at home, at work, or in other relationships)? A leadership self study involves basically choosing an array of folks (family and colleagues) and doing a self study 360 (see pages 139-140). As an alternative they suggest going for long walks and earnestly and non-judgmentally asking for feedback from people particularly close to you; inventory your environment for clues about who you are.  Finally, prepare your “Personal Balance Sheet.” What are your assets (Distinctive Strengths, Potential Weaknesses and Enduring Dispositions that Support Me) and your Liabilities (Weaknesses—Things you want to Change, Enduring Dispositions that get in your Way)?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leader: Post #2--The Ideal Self

The Ideal Self: Using a series of exercises (see “Exercises” toward the end of this review for examples), the authors suggest that you write a Personal Vision, much like a personal strategic plan.
a.    Where will you be in 5, 10, or even 20 years? You pick the horizon.
b.    Address things like your health, your work, family, and all the elements of a balanced life [in fact, the well known “Balance Wheel” might be the best guide for this].
c.    Write an overview in a paragraph or two and then expand to several pages with sufficient details to show clearly what your hopes and dreams look like for all major aspects of your life.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming a Resonant Leaderer: Post #1: Overview

 Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness by Annie McKee, Richard Boyatzis, and Francis Johnston
 (Harvard Business Press, 2008), reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

 This is a book I will be recommending to my coaching clients and their teams for a long time!
Guided by Richard Boyatzis' and Annie McKee's previous research on resonant leadership (and book by that title [[ASIN:1591395631 Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion]]) and coaching to the Positive Emotional Attractor, this workbook-like text provides an excellent hands-on guide, with dozens of useful exercises, to help leaders make intentional change--focused on being emotionally open and receptive.  Called the Intentional Change model, here's an overview:
a. Ideal Self: If I were the best me possible, what would that look like in the future?
b. Real Self: Who am I today--my strengths, weaknesses, and influence on others?
c. Learning Agenda: How do I move from the real to the ideal state? What interesting, challenging and enjoyable activities will get me there?
d. Experiment and Practice: How can new behaviors and habits lead to the change I wish to become?
e. Resonant Relationships: Change only happens in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment. Surrounding myself with those kinds of people is as vital as anything to me in the process. 

Put this book on your list of important reads.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

One Page Talent Management: Final Words

Final Words: Sustaining Talent Management
a.    Need the support of CEO and key executives. Any sustained, important initiative needs leadership support from the top. This can be done by asking them all to stay personally invested in the process, to encourage their subordinate leaders—even if competitively.
b.    Avoid Complexity Creep: the longer a system is in place, the more complex it becomes until it gets back to the very situation you departed from originally to make things better.
c.    Have the Right Talent for Talent Management: The folks who should drive this process should know and love the business, have a production mindset, and possess courage because things get tough when you evaluate anything, especially people.
d.    Finally, study, embrace and enjoy the process.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Page Talent Mangement: Competencies

Competencies: Over the past several decades, competency-based evaluation has ruled the roost, and yet, there is significant debate about their efficacy.
a.    Start with the Science
i.    Most companies (90%) have competency models for managers. Unfortunately, they have become the tail wagging the dog.
ii.    The level of detail and complexity of many complexity models, while theoretically understandable, can create more fog than clarity to help managers improve.
iii.    Creating “bundles” of significant behaviors should be what companies focus on. Keep it simple and direct. Such common behaviors define corporate culture.
b.    Eliminate Complexity, Add Value
i.    Eliminate Complexity: While numerous models exist on the market, most converge on key issues. Better to use a simple model, completely integrate it, and have relentless execution on the few important fundamentals. Here’s one example from a motto Cisco developed: “Grow the Business, Grow Our Team, Grow Yourself.”
ii.    Develop a simple, succinct, integrated competency model. Ask executives questions like: What are the characteristics of an effective leader in your company? Can you describe specific behaviors? Prioritize your results, cluster them to identify themes, and come up with an inspirational description like Cisco’s. Or GE’s simple Growth Values: Imagination, Expertise, Inclusiveness, Clear Thinking, and External Focus. When you’ve done that, then integrate those behaviors throughout all levels and all talent practices like 360s, performance reviews, leadership coaching, engagement survey, external selection, annual bonus, and long-term incentives.
iii.    The authors also offer an OPTM matrix to experiment with. A two by two matrix ranging from Stable to Unstable and Efficiency to Innovation. They suggest aligning new executives along the paths that will “fit” well with where the company needs to go—especially in a competitive market (starts on p. 145).
c.    Create Transparency and Accountability
i.    Measure in Talent Reviews: Use 360s shared with manager and employee as a way to assess not only future development but also assignments. Of course, the employee needs to know about the process up front.
ii.    Measure as part of Performance Appraisal: Consider whether you hold performance and talent reviews together or separately. Whichever way you do them, be sure to integrate critical behaviors into them. Some research argues to hold performance and talent reviews separately.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One Page Talent Management: Engagement Surveys

Engagement and Surveys: Based on Gallup’s Q-12 (the 12 research questions that validly and reliably determine employee engagement) and research conducted  by Sears (1998 HBR article) on Employee-Customer-Profit Chain. we know that there is a scientific, definable link between an employee’s attitude toward his/her company and job that directly affects customer retention and profitability.
a.    Start with the Science: Engaged employees go “above and beyond” at their jobs. Key issues—
i.    Work Environment: Herzberg’s two-factor analysis research: separate factors drive satisfaction (motivation) and dissatisfaction (hygiene factors). In essence, people need basic needs covered to come to a company or organization, but higher needs must be addressed to stay around.
ii.    The Job: Theory of job design (Hackman and Oldham)—higher employee engagement happens when their work is meaningful, they have autonomy, and get feedback.
iii.    Type of Leadership: When followers feel that leaders “care” about them, inspire them to noble visions, and effectively communicate, their motivation is increased and strong engagement ensues.
iv.    Engagement and profitability—Gallup’s research has shown a causal relationship between engagement and profitability.
b.    Eliminate Complexity and Add Value: Keep it simple.
i.    Ask as few questions as you can. Conference Board reviewed a number of major engagement studies and came up with the eight (8) key areas and questions around engagement (see p. 113).
1.    Do I believe the leaders in the organization will do the right things? (Trust and Integrity)
2.    Does my work excite me? (Nature of the job)
3.    Does what I do make a difference to the company? (Line of sight to performance)
4.    Can I grow my career here? (Career development)
5.    Do I feel good about being associated with this company? (Pride)
6.    Do I like those I work with? (Coworkers and team members)
7.    Am I being developed? (Employee development)
8.    Do I value my manager? (Relationship with manager).
ii.    Pick a valued engagement model and employ it. There are MANY engagement models out there that are valid and reliable. Just pick one and get started.
iii.    Focus on data, rather than opinion. When developing or reporting, focus on data first and opinion second, if at all. Negative respondents tend to disproportionately add detail to the ratings, which can be debilitating to the employee.
c.    Create Transparency and Accountability
i.    Share your results openly. The more transparency, the better. Shows honesty, trustworthiness, and courage.
ii.    Give regular feedback—focus  on feed-forward comments:  You told me to do this, and here’s what I did….
iii.    Make accountability for engagement central in your performance appraisal.
iv.    Post results: Posting team engagement scores can prod people to become more competitive, especially as a team.

Monday, April 2, 2012

One Page Talent Management: Talent Reviews & Succession Planning

Talent Reviews and Succession Planning: 50-75% of firms have both a talent review and succession planning process; however, only half have a formal one. Talent reviews every 6 months can put you well ahead of the competition.
a.    Start with the Science: Goal of talent review is to accurately predict future employee success.
i.    Smart wins: Smart people will outperform their less smart peers—every time. General intelligence is strongest predictor of future performance.
ii.    Personality doesn’t matter as much as we think.
iii.    Organizational and personal fit. The extent that employee and corporate goals “fit” will help determine employee success in the future.
b.    Eliminate Complexity and Add Value: Keep a performance/potential grid for each employee. Supervisors can use the grid in a meeting with peers to determine group opinion of employee…eliminates high or low graders and allows outside input.
i.    P x P Grid: Develop a Performance (low to high)/Potential (low to high) talent grid (see p. 81).
ii.    Teach managers how to formulate an accurate grid.
iii.    Conduct a calibration meeting. Executive or manager pulls together all supervisors to present the ratings of all employees. Each rating is discussed and ranked into the appropriate box.
iv.    The group agrees on two development activities for each person.
v.    The evaluated employees are placed in an overall grid for final calibration against all reports. Provides a useful comparison across departments.
vi.    Record and track development: HR leader should coordinate these meetings. Perhaps hold these twice a year.
vii.    Use a basic succession planning model…ready now, ready in 1-2 years, etc. (see  p. 90).
c.    Create Transparency and Accountability:
i.    The authors advocate maximum transparency to produce high trust.
ii.    Tell everyone about their ratings.
iii.    Talk to high-potentials about how much you’re willing to invest in them, but balance your comments to let them know their responsibility as well.
iv.    Follow up on talent development at team supervisors meetings coordinated by HR. This keeps all supervisors accountable for talent follow up.

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