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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harvard Business Review FINAL Post:: ROI on Fitness

“What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?” (by Leonard Berry, Ann Mirabito, and William Baun, p. 104). Employee wellness programs have been around for decades. I actually wrote one for the FBI. These programs aim to change employee habits to reduce health risks and to adopt a lifestyle that will improve the quality of life. Now we have some hard data: a 6 to 1 return on investment. Such wellness programs are no longer merely nice to have (a kind of cosmetic sales benefit for working at the company), rather a solid return on investment—prevention oriented. The authors list six pillars of such programs. Read the article to find out what they are and how they could apply to your company. Are you getting a 6:1 ROI somewhere else in your company?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post # 8: Communication

Defend Your Research… “I Can Make Your Brain Look Like Mine” (by Uri Hasson, p. 32). Hasson, a professor at Princeton, studied how brains couple—when one person speaks what happens to the listener. In highly resonant (my word) or attuned communication, the brain activity of both speaker and listener are eerily in sync. In fact, in highly resonant conversations where active listening is afoot, the listener’s brain activity actually anticipates what the speaker will say next. If you’ve ever finished a colleague’s or a mate’s sentence, you’ve experienced this.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post # 7: Professional Boards

“The Case for Professional Boards” (by Robert Pozen, p.51). Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Business School, argues that despite having star-studded board members for oversight, many financial institutions went down the chute in 2008-9 and had to be rescued from insolvency. He advocates for professional board members who do board governance for a living. He argues for a typical board size to be 7 directors and wants members to have real-world expertise in the company’s business space. Finally, he strongly contends that all boards meet regularly in executive session without management present. In such meetings, board members tend to talk more candidly about what bothers them. This is critical for the organization whether a for-profit or non-profit.

Harvard Business Review Post #6: New Media & Best Buy CEO

How I Did It Column…”Best Buy’s CEO on Learning to Love Social Media” (by Brian Dunn, CEO of Best Buy). Tweeting regularly and vigorously, Dunn himself is an avid user of social media. And despite having had his Twitter account hacked, sending out an embarrassing tweet to many and much of the heartburn that social media can cause—Dunn is an avid, if not rabid, fan of new media. A couple of stats: Best Buy’s website influences 50% of their in-store sales, and 30% of their online customers actually come into the store to pick up purchases. I found this a great read for any CEO who’s starting to think about social media (and if you’re not…why not?). Of particular interest is an excerpt (on p. 48) from Best Buy’s social media policy. This is worth checking out if you’re considering writing your company’s policy—and I’d say that’s a smart idea.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #5: New Media Ringmaster

“Why You Need a New Media Ringmaster” (by Patrick Spenner, p 78). From the Corporate Executive Board, Spenner advocates a more integrated marketing communications approach to brand management. Up to now, marketing, corporate communications, and customer service all act in many companies a bit like the blind men holding different parts of the elephant—each thinking he has a different animal. Spenner advocates for a super integrator, much like a ringmaster at the circus—especially people with social media skills. The three skills he sees as necessary are integrative thinking (can combine old and new on the fly); lean collaboration skills (be able to beg, borrow across the organization); and high speed responsiveness (detect early opportunities or threats and react fast with social media).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #4: Brand Building

“The One Thing You Must Get Right When Building a Brand” (by Patrick Barwise and Sean Meehan, p. 80). Barwise (London Business School) and Meehan (IMD) recommend paying attention to four key potentials offered by social media. Examples: Building trust (with the customer) by delivering on your promise and innovating beyond the familiar. The authors use Virgin Atlantic’s social media tactics as an example—like travel tips from its flight crews and much more. They also highlight one of my favorite YouTube stars, Tom Dickson of Blendtec, whose videos, called Will it Blend, show Tom blending IPads, leaf rakes, and cell phones. These videos are hysterical, AND they have gotten Blendtec over 100 million views on the Tube and sales have increased by 700%! Not a bad ROI.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #3: Reputation

“Reputation Warfare” (by Leslie Gaines-Ross, p. 70) A reputation strategist at Webber Shandwick (a global PR firm), Leslie Gaines-Ross addresses a growing concern for many companies—how to protect their image when they come under fire from anyone with a computer, Facebook page, or Twitter account. Because this actually happened to a friend of mine, I paid close attention to the author’s six pieces of advice. Here are three—read the entire article for the rest: Avoid a disproportionate show of force (or you’ll look like a corporate bully); respond fast…if bureaucracy gets in the way, you’re sunk; and, empower your own team of social media folks to tell your story. Be sure to see the sidebar on p.75 about how a single employee using YouTube can tank a major corporation’s profits.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Harvard Business Review Post #2: Digital Branding

“Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in All the Wrong Places” (by David Edleman, p. 62). Edleman, a leader in McKinsey’s Global Marketing Strategy practice, has some definite opinions that marketing directors should listen to. Specifically, today’s consumers are bypassing the typical marketing funneling process in favor of what he calls a consumer decision process: 1) Selecting brands; 2) evaluating by getting peer and reviewer opinions; 3) buying the brand; and 4) enjoying and advocating the brand. And if the consumers’ bonds get strong enough, they skip steps 1 and 2 and go straight to buying and advocating. That describes my relationship with Hondas, for sure!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reviewing Dec. Harvard Business Review

This week I’ll be reviewing the December 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review—focused on Social Media...VERY important for any business.

First off, kudos to Adi Ignatius, the editor in chief at the Harvard Business Review (HBR). If you’ve been reading the HBR for any length of time, you’ll know the impact Ari has had since coming from TIME (as Deputy Managing Editor) to become the editor of the HBR. As a result of Ari’s hand, the HBR has a hipper feeling, is a quicker read, is better designed and is a much more digitalized (blogged, podcast, etc.) publication. In short, it’s useful, up to date, and a great value proposition for any leader. So, thanks, Adi.

Stay tuned this week for the review that I think you'll find directly applicable to your company's bottom line. .

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #7 (Final)- Intentional Change

Intentional Change: Boyatzis has developed what he calls intentional change, particularly useful when making positive change. The model is: 1) Determine your ideal self (who you want to be at your very best—your vision for your best future); 2) Inventory your “real self” (who you are right now); 3) Know your strengths and weaknesses and establish a learning agenda to address them; 4) Experiment with new behaviors that work on strengths (and manage weaknesses); 5) Develop resonant and close relationships to help you in each stage of the process.

Final Words: As leaders, we all fall prey to the ups and downs that go with the territory. As you see yourself or others begin to tailspin, via the Sacrifice Syndrome, toward negative attractors and ultimately toward dissonance, consider Resonant Leadership by Boyatzis and McKee to be a leadership parachute!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post # 6- Compassion

Compassion: The authors have a great definition for compassion—empathy in action. They make the distinction between compassion and sympathy: Compassion is a positive action. They use the compelling example of Lechesa Tsenoli, who was a prisoner in South Africa during apartheid. He reached out in compassion to his own jailers, one in particular. By seeing him as a person and talking about their families, Tsenoli changed the way he was treated. But the compassion started with his changing his view of his own captors. And the simple technique to start this process of compassion toward others is simply by listening to them. The authors offer three components of compassion: 1) empathy for others; 2) caring for others; and, 3) a willingness to act on those feelings. The authors talk about creating a culture of compassion and use an example of a vision statement from Summa Healthcare Systems that is as good a one as I have ever read (p. 189-90). A final section that I particularly liked was how to become a more resonant executive coach—my chosen field. And I think this section might well become a guidebook for internal coaches and mentors alike.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #5- Hope

Hope: While mindfulness prepares us to interact with ourselves and others, it’s not enough to protect us from the dissonance default. However, hope is a powerful reset button for us all. Hope can help a leader focus on his or her vision for the future. And vision becomes a very powerful positive attractor and takes us down a path of renewal, not negative emotion and dissonance. The authors cite examples of how positive visioning has helped great athletes win under the most stressful of situations—principally by visioning themselves winning, often in great detail. The neural paths created by such envisioning are very similar to those who have practiced such skills for a long period of time. As a positive attractor, hope becomes like an umbrella of positive protection that draws from your strengths and visions of the future. The result is slower breathing, better memory, and in general a healthy prognosis, whereas negative attractors like hate, jealousy, and envy take leaders down a very different path—one of emotional, physical and spiritual isolation and dissonance. Not fun. The authors offer three key components of hope: 1) the leader needs a vision and to be in touch with people around him/her; 2) the leader must be optimistic; and 3) the leader must see the future as feasible. In fact, their description of optimists vs. pessimists is worth the read.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #4- Mindfulness

Mindfulness: The first of the three sources for renewal is mindfulness, according to Boyatzis and McKee. Mindfulness relates to being self aware and emotionally controlled (emotional intelligence) as well as aware of others and able to manage multiple relationships (social intelligence). The authors talk about being “awake, aware, and attending— to our ourselves and the world around us “(p. 73). And while we’re often told to focus on the rational mind, the authors caution leaders to attend to the emotions of others—the seat of all action and reaction. Oftentimes, we can slip into a mindless state when we overfocus on a problem. Actually our physical vision is greatly reduced (from 180 degrees to 30 degrees of peripheral vision) when we are under stress. In essence, as leaders, we become blind to outside data that might prove quite valuable to solve the problem. Another state that pulls us unaware into mindlessness is the “lock-step life.” That is, we begin to live out someone else’s vision for ourselves. Perhaps it’s a parent who wanted us to be a doctor or lawyer. So, we go to med school or law school and find ourselves years later bored, burned out in the midst of The Sacrifice Syndrome, and toxic to be around—even to ourselves. The authors offer some solutions. For example, reflection and renewal can take the form of meditating, writing in a journal, taking walks—anything that disturbs the spiral into a negative attractor. Supportive relationships and attending to those around us helps us climb out of the negative hole of dissonance to be more aware and attentive to those closest to us at home, work and play. At the end of all the chapters, the authors offer some effective, easy exercises that reinforce the chapter’s lessons.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #3- Renewal Cycle

The Renewal Cycle: Just as The Sacrifice Syndrome can infect anyone, especially leaders, with negative attractors, causing dissonance that can be their eventual undoing and a source of individual and corporate cultural rejection, the Renewal Cycle has the opposite effect. In the Sacrifice Syndrome, the negative stimulus (dropping revenues, a difficult boss or employee) enters the right part of the brain and gets transmitted through the Sympathetic Nervous System. This stimulates the release of hormones (adrenaline and cortical) which is really good when you’re really in trouble…not so great when released several times a day. On the other hand, positive attractors, things that happen that are pleasant, even gratifying (being loved, praised, honored) trigger the opposite side of the brain, and the lucky person secretes either oxytocin (women) or vasopressin (men)—both of which reduce blood pressure and make us calmer, more relaxed, and more able to solve problems more quickly and easily. Such a cycle basically reboots our brain and resets the positive balance, especially when we’re out of balance because of The Sacrifice Syndrome. And, like the negative attractors, such positive attractors are very infectious. In fact, the quickest way to attract someone to your positive wavelength is through smiling or music—both of which are hard wired into our limbic, primordial brains. The authors offer three types of positive attractors to get this Renewal Cycle started: Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #2-Sacrifice Syndrome

The Sacrifice Syndrome: You’ve seen this dozens of times in the workplace. The company has a crisis or hits a rough patch. The manager or leader or even CEO begins to bear down, actually sacrificing herself or himself for the cause—works harder, eats poorly, stays longer hours to “fix” the problem. S/he has everyone focused on the problem with what I would call a “do not” focus—do not screw this up, do not let your guard down, do not let things slip. Whatever the “do not” thing is, when a leader approaches this negative stressor (or negative attractor), s/he begins a stress cycle not unlike the early days when we hunted wild game to survive. In the best of circumstances, there is a long period of recovery between stressors. The problem is that today that recovery cycle between stressors is so short as to almost be indiscernible—sending loads of stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, and other nasty hormones coursing through our bodies. Such negative stressors can turn an otherwise decent person into a toxic, dissonant victim who can spread the disease at epidemic speeds, especially if that person is a leader. And what’s the worst part of it? Those infected with the Sacrifice Syndrome cannot see their slip into the abyss, instead often seeing others as incompetent, lazy, and useless. Unfortunately, dissonance is the default human setting, to protect us from that which would harm us. While that worked well when we had long recovery periods in our earlier evolutionary stages, it does not work well in today’s high-speed culture. Negative attractors come to us in batches of emails, texts, or tweets that overstimulate and push us into a destructive dissonant downward spiral that’s unfortunately invisible to us. In short, we need relief and renewal or are destined to crash, by default.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Resonant Leaderhip: Post #1 (Overview)

Resonant Leadership by David Boyatzis and Annie McKee (Harvard Business School Press, 2005). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. December 2010

The bottom line of this book is found in its subtitle: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion. This might well be one of the most important leadership books I’ve read. Boyatzis and McKee—well respected researchers, professors and authors—use the physics concept of “resonance” (being in tune) to explain a simple biologic principle that rules our lives: We’re creatures whose behaviors and motivations are fueled by our emotions and stimulated by our leaders. And if those leaders are negative in thought, word or deed, they will produce a negative climate and culture, with a negative impact on employee performance. On the other hand, if they approach leadership with a positive vision, they create a culture of employees who succeed and who are renewed, creative, hopeful and compassionate. The authors describe The Sacrifice Syndrome that produces negative attractors and eventually a default state of dissonance. They also describe how such dissonant, even depressed, workers can learn how to climb out of such a negative syndrome by learning and employing The Cycle of Renewal that produces positive attractors—and makes people want to be around you, as a person and as a leader. This week I will be reviewing this book in some detail. I might add that I now recommend it without reservation to every executive client—it’s that big a deal.

Authentic Happiness: Final Post

The Good Life and The Meaningful Life: The last paragraph in the book sums up Seligman’s findings and philosophy. It sounds simple, though it’s not always easy to do, but we can always work toward it to find meaning and purpose in our lives: “The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living [work, play, love]. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power, or goodness (p. 260).”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #5

Flow is a term (coined by Mihaly Csikzentmihaly) that refers to being ‘in the zone’ at work or play. That is, being so engaged that time flies and your highest and best use of strengths are in play. Seligman’s advice: Get a job or recraft your job to meet your strengths or bad things—like burnout and fatigue—can happen. We had a saying in the Marine Corps: Never try to teach a pig how to sing. You can’t do it, and you’ll just piss off the pig.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Post #4

Signature Strengths: Seligman details 24 strengths distributed among each of the 6 core virtues (Wisdom, Courage, Love, Justice, Temperance, and Spirituality). See p. 159 for a succinct summary.

He then invites readers to take the strengths test to find out their 5 signature strengths. Take the test either in the book or online at When you start using such signature strengths at work, you’re more likely to be happy, productive, engaged and able to find work as a calling, not just a job.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #3

Even More Authentic Happiness Findings
--Thinking and Emotion: Our thoughts generate emotions, not the other way around (as Freud argued). So cognitive psychology helps people change their thoughts, thus their emotions, and moves them toward happiness.
--Forgiveness: Negative emotions tend to override positive ones. But forgiving and forgetting allows us to rewrite the past in a way that helps us become more positive by reframing. Psychologist Everett Worthington’s R-E-A-C-H process can help anyone who’s been through a trauma (p. 79).
--Core Virtues (and Strengths): Seligman argues that a set of 24 strengths, derived from a wide cross-cultural swath and numerous venerable thinkers, falls into 6 critical core virtues: 1) Wisdom and knowledge; 2) Courage; 3) Love and humanity; 4) Justice; 5) Temperance; and 6) Spirituality and transcendence.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Post #2

More Authentic Happiness Findings
--Pleasure vs. Gratification: Pleasure is fleeting and we can get it from the senses (chocolate, sex, drugs)…it’s a quick fix. Gratification (the use of our strengths to meet a challenge) lasts longer and makes us happy and far more positive.
--Resilience: Within a few months of being fired, promoted, divorced or injured, we recover from the impact they have had on us. In fact, we all have a happiness set point that we revert to whether winning the lottery or getting dumped in a romantic relationship!
--Optimists vs. Pessimists: Optimism concerning the future consists of things like faith, trust and hope. I particularly like the following definitions/distinctions between optimists and pessimists. “Optimistic people tend to interpret their troubles as transient, controllable and specific to one situation. Pessimistic people, in contrast, believe that their troubles last forever, undermine everything they do, and are uncontrollable (p. 12).”

Monday, December 6, 2010

Authentic Happiness: Post #1

Interesting Authentic Happiness Findings
--Smiling: Just the way you smile can predict your future happiness. Seligman describes the Duchenne smile (both lips and eyes are engaged) vs. the Pan Am (airline steward/stewardess perfunctory smile).
--Good Endings: Creating a happy ending to any endeavor leaves a long-lingering “…memory of the entire relationship and your willingness to re-enter it.” Seligman details a study of colonoscopies that had me roaring as he made his point about happy endings to this procedure!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Authetic Happiness: Overview

Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. (Free Press, 2002)
Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D. (December 2010)

If you think money, attractiveness, a buff body, education, or even a sunny climate make you happy—think again. You’re statistically much better off being married, having a rich social network, living in an economically strong democracy (and not an impoverished dictatorship), and having religion. When Martin Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association, he embarked on the pursuit of positive psychology as a counter to the way we had always looked at psychology—through the lens of negative aberrations from the norm. We study what’s wrong with people, rather than how they can be right—more positive. In his landmark book, Authentic Happiness, Seligman not only points out some fascinating, often humorous revelations that take the reader on a journey from polite skepticism to positive awareness. I think everyone should read this book and then reread it every January when starting a new year.

So, best wishes for a joyous holiday and a very happy new year from Survival Leadership. This week I’ll be reviewing sections of the book that I think might make all of us more positive in the year ahead.

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