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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most engaging leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 engaging leadership links to read right now: read to lead, wield your power responsibly, make inclusion real, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

What Do Employees Want? 

Research from PwC shows that employees want “careers that fit their values, are enjoyable, and contribute to society.” How can leaders answer the call? According to this comprehensive guide in strategy+business, to attract and retain top talent, there are five specific areas organizations must understand if they are committed to helping people do good work in a place makes them proud. Leaders must: “tackle burnout and boost vitality, build social resilience, encourage agility and adaptability, support ‘intrapreneurship,’ and provide autonomy.” Discover in-depth insights on how to bring these five competencies to life in the long-form article here, or explore the short video explaining the principles here.
**For more insights on engaging talent, explore our resources on inspiring trust and building vitality

Make Inclusion Real

Many leaders publicly tout the importance of diversity and inclusion but upon closer inspection there are gaps “between rhetoric and action,” says this timely KelloggInsights article that draws on the insights of leadership professor Ellen Taaffe. Even those companies that do succeed in building diverse organizations often fall short in the inclusion piece of the puzzle. The article explains, “having employees with a wide array of backgrounds does not ensure that everyone feels equally welcome and valued.” That’s why it’s crucial for leaders to devote energy to truly “welcoming, developing, and advancing a diverse mix of individuals,” rather than merely centering diversity alone.  To make inclusion real and successfully create an environment where all people have equal opportunity to thrive, there are four key elements leaders must keep in mind; learn all about these four elements here.

Read to Lead

What’s the one thing great leaders have in common? They read. A lot. According to this John C. Maxwell post, the average CEO reads four to five books a month. Compare that with the average American at large, who reads about one book a year, and it becomes clear how differentiating an avid reading habit can be. If you’re still not convinced, consider that “active readers are likely to have annual incomes more than five times greater” than those who read only a little or not at all. Dig in to more of the leadership benefits of reading here.
**Looking for a book recommendation? Check out Doug’s reading list of “Foundational Favorites” here.

Match Your Character to Your Image

Many leaders hope to see their company featured on a “Most Admired” or “Best Place to Work” list; they want their image to be prestigious and positive. But it’s important for leaders to understand that they can’t chase awards while eschewing the necessary effort to develop their company’s character in kind, writes Stephen M.R. Covey in this smart post in Inc. Covey says, “companies, at least in the short term, are often able to create a perception that may or may not match the reality.” But, “any attempt to build a positive corporate reputation while lacking the character to back it up won’t be sustainable.” The larger goal should be “actually improving the company, rather than just its image.” The best way to do this, and rightfully earn a high ranking on industry lists, is to develop a high-trust culture; start with these three key steps from Covey.

Learning Is Not Enough

“Leadership is a doing discipline. You must turn your learning and insights into action.” writes Wally Bock in this post on how to mine your experiences to develop actionable insights. Leaders can leverage their experiences most effectively by developing habits for reflection that can help them change their behavior and grow. Bock recommends three practical (and minimally time-consuming) habits that leaders can start practicing right away here.
**Looking for more reflection exercises? Explore our five essential questions of leadership.

The ‘Us’ Mindset: A Checklist

“Early in your career . . . it’s natural to focus on your functional agenda” and neglect a more holistic focus on the agenda of others in your organization, says this Eblin Group post. However, as you take on more responsibility and “grow as a leader, your mindset needs to shift from ‘me’ to ‘us’.” This more enlightened mindset helps leaders better understand and meet the needs of the entire enterprise. To discover areas for improvement and identify opportunities to more fully embrace the ‘us’ mindset Eblin Group has developed a handy checklist which you can fill out here.
**For more self-assessments, explore our character and competence checklists. 

Wield Your Power Responsibly

“Most leaders are positive people who want to use their power and influence for good,” writes Skip Prichard in this post on humble leadership. But some leaders find themselves corrupted by their power, leading ineffectively and with arrogance; abuse of power is common enough that we can read about it in the papers with some regularity. How can well-intentioned leaders stay grounded while delivering extraordinary results? The key lies in developing humility and avoiding arrogance in equal measure. Find practical tips for doing both — six tips for practicing humility and three tips for avoiding arrogance — here, adapted by Prichard from the book The Leadership Killer.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from JanuaryDecember, and November. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level this year? For a practical and transformational leadership experience that fits perfectly into your busy life, apply to attend one of our upcoming 2-day leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. It’s 2 days of in-person training, a lifetime of results.

(Photo by Tanner Van Dera on Unsplash)

The post 7 Engaging Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the best leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 best leadership links to read right now: self-awareness is the key to better teams, a deep dive on small talk, the importance of ethical leadership, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Ethics All the Time

“To be an ethical leader, you must demonstrate ethical behavior — not just when others are looking, but all the time and over time,” writes leadership coach, Janine Schindler, in this Forbes post. She continues, “Consistently doing what’s right, even when it’s difficult, should be an integral part of a leader’s makeup.” The benefits of such an approach are widely documented, with ethical leaders earning respect and setting a positive example throughout their organizations. And, the alternative can be devastating, with a lack of ethical leadership costing companies millions in financial losses and immeasurably more in reputation damage (the author uses Wells Fargo’s recent high-profile imbroglio as a perfect example). Learn more about the benefits of ethical leadership in the full post here.
**To test your own capacity for ethical leadership, explore our leadership character checklist here and read our post about ‘walking your talk’ here

Learn from the Greats

4 CEOs who recently concluded their tenures have created a new, higher standard of leadership that we can all learn from, writes Bill George in this illuminating LinkedIn post. These 4 exemplary leaders are: PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, Unilever’s Paul Polman, Mayo Clinic’s John Noseworthy, and US Bancorp’s Richard Davis. What is the unifying thread that connects them? Chiefly, their belief that business must, “contribute to society in meaningful ways, not just profit from it.” Learn more about how each of these leaders refined their missions and created enduring success here.

Improve, Don’t Prove 

“Leaders can get the most out of growth mindset by staying true to its definition: a focus on improving–rather than proving–themselves,” write two directors from the NeuroLeadership Institute in this interesting Fast Company post. As the growth mindset idea enters the popular business lexicon, there are some misconceptions observed by the authors, including the mistaken belief that the mindset extends, “only to a focus on profits” or that it means employees’ plates can, “endlessly expand to take on more tasks.” In reality, the mindset refers largely to a leaders belief that they can continuously improve.  It’s helpful for leaders to get clarity on the growth mindset so they communicate an accurate definition and model it in their behavior for better results. Read more here.
** For more on the growth mindset, explore our recent on the topic here.

Gender Parity Is Good Business

Shivani Sopory writes for KMPG that, “For too long, gender diversity was viewed solely through the lens of social responsibility,” inciting a somewhat tepid effort to recruit more women to corporate boards. But, the benefits extend far beyond the realm of mere social responsibility. Says Sopory, “Two things can be true: it’s both the right thing to do and good business.” The latest research backs up this assertion showing, “Fortune 500 companies with the most number of women on their boards outperformed those with the least number of women, achieving a 66 percent higher yield on invested capital and a 42 percent higher return on sales and 53 percent higher return on equity.” Ready to champion gender parity on your board? Sopory chronicles some actionable steps you can take here.

Self-Awareness Is the Key to Better Teams

Many leaders describe their teams as “dysfunctional” but when pressed on the cause, deflect blame or point fingers outwardly. But it’s rarely the case that blame lies with a single person. Each individual may be contributing in known or unknown ways to the larger problem, including the leader. Writes Jennifer Porter in this Harvard Business Review post, “Teams are complex systems of individuals with different preferences, skills, experiences, perspectives, and habits.” You can improve the odds of meaningfully improving that system by learning to look inward. In fact, there are 3 foundational capabilities that leaders should master, “internal self-awareness, external self-awareness, and personal accountability.” Learn more about these crucial capabilities here.
**For more on self-awareness, explore our post on leading by example here

A Deep Dive on Small Talk

In a recent edition of Quartz Obsession, “a daily deep dive for curious minds”, they tackle the subject of small talk, an art it would serve leaders well to cultivate because leadership requires connecting with different groups of people daily. Have fun exploring this rundown of all things small talk related including why we do it (“it establishes connections without crossing boundaries”), how to do it better (try observing Emily Post’s “three-tiered approach”), and various historical facts and statistics about the act of small talk through the ages (did you know the phrase small talk was coined in 1650?). Who knows, this compendium of small talk information might just help you make a more personal connection in your very next interaction.

If You Think You Can, You Will

The growth mindset, referenced earlier in this newsletter, is a term coined by researcher and esteemed psychologist, Carol Dweck. In simple terms, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed and improved. It’s a fundamental belief in the ability to get better. It stands in sharp contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the limiting belief that intelligence is static and cannot grow or progress. What Dweck’s research shows is that people with a growth mindset, because they believe in their ability to improve, tend to put in more effort; they understand intuitively that their effort will result in positive change. So, they naturally tend to achieve more. People who think they can better, often do. Learn more about this powerful idea in our most recent article here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from DecemberNovember,  and October.  Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level this year? For a practical and transformational leadership experience that fits perfectly into your busy life, apply to attend one of our upcoming 2-day leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World.

(Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash)

The post The 7 Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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The leaders I talk to almost daily overwhelmingly report a sensation of feeling a little bit stuck. They know there’s room to improve in their leadership, and they generally want to get better, but it can become a daunting proposition. When, and how, will they ever find the time to pursue growth amidst their impossibly long to-do list, a list that grows longer each day, weighing them down in both their work and personal lives?

Based on my over 40 years of leadership experience, I have a lot of thoughts about small steps busy leaders can take to get unstuck and maximize their impact (in fact, I’m currently writing an entire book to help leaders with this very problem) but there is one concept I’ve found can instantly help lighten the mental load. Once you understand it, it can offer relief – and often hope – no matter how unforgiving your schedule or responsibilities. The concept is the growth mindset and internalizing it will allow you to improve, and increasingly thrive, in perpetuity.

What is a growth mindset?

The growth mindset is a term coined by researcher and esteemed psychologist, Carol Dweck. In simple terms, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed and improved. It’s a fundamental belief in the ability to get better. It stands in sharp contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the limiting belief that intelligence is static and cannot grow or progress. What Dweck’s research shows is that people with a growth mindset, because they believe in their ability to improve, tend to put in more effort; they understand intuitively that their effort will result in positive change. So, they naturally tend to achieve more. In contrast, people with a fixed mindset do not see the point in putting in effort, because they believe their abilities will remain the same either way – so they avoid challenges and achieve less.

What’s the takeaway? The belief alone in your ability to improve usually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who think they can get better, often do. So just by acknowledging that progress is possible, you are already one step ahead.

Let me share with you a perfect example of the tangible benefits a growth mindset can bestow.

A Star Student

In addition to teaching leaders at my signature Executive Development course, The ConantLeadership Boot Camp, I also co-teach a leadership development program with Mette Norgaard (my co-author on our book TouchPoints) at the Higher Ambition Leadership Institute (HALI). One of our best students ever at HALI was Renee Zaugg, who was VP of Enterprise Infrastructure and Cloud Services at Aetna at the time she attended. She never went to college and has no formal training, but she’s a remarkably effective technology leader in charge of a billion dollar budget and a flexible team of 4,000 employees under her purview. She’s been with Aetna for over 37 years, starting at the very bottom of the ladder working night shifts in their data center. Tirelessly, she worked her way up to a senior leadership role where she was constantly searching for opportunities to learn and grow. On her journey to VP, she was always alert to ways she could improve, absorbing lessons like a sponge, taking risks, and benefiting from the guidance of mentors and advocates.

When Renee’s boss wrote her a glowing write-up recommending her for the HALI program, she was ecstatic. Never having received a formal education but possessing a growth disposition, she innately understood the value of any opportunity to get better. But when she arrived, her excitement about the program turned into anxiety; faced with the pedigree of some of the other attendees, a nagging voice within her started to tell her she was out of her depth.

At HALI, and at the ConantLeadership Boot Camp, we partner participants with one other smartly so they can collaboratively advance their skillset and create their leadership models. There is a method to our madness. Taking in to careful account each person’s unique experience, skill set, and temperament, we match people up based on how helpful we think they will be to the other leaders in their group. Strategically, to maximize the growth for everyone who attends, we profile and pair people so that their feedback will be most valuable to their teammates. But, of course, Renee didn’t know that.

The best leaders are always learning.

When Renee arrived at her table, she was surprised (and a bit dismayed) to find who she’d been partnered with, not because they weren’t perfectly nice people, but because of their bevy of titles and qualifications. In sharp contrast to her zero degrees, her tablemates were, if anything, over-educated. One gentleman had not one, but two, PhDs from MIT. The other was a highly trained surgeon with many advanced degrees who sat on several boards. She felt self-conscious. Often her own worst critic, Renee began to be discouraged by the little voice in her head telling her she wasn’t good enough and didn’t belong there (the same little voice that I suspect visits most leaders from time to time, no matter how successful they are).

I could see something was bothering Renee. In one of our walk-and-talks, away from the rest of the group, she confided in me, “Doug, I’m tapping out. I’m outgunned here.” Confused, I asked her why she would think that. She was a successful senior leader who had come to us highly recommended. “Well,” she said, “I never went to college.” Surprised, I said, “Renee, have you seen the results you get at your organization? Who cares if you went to college? You could teach college.” As she absorbed those words, her eyes began to well up with tears. She’d never heard it put quite like that before. I continued, explaining, “We didn’t pair you with these highly educated guys because you need to learn from them; we put you together because they need to learn from you.”

Reflecting back on that moment now, Renee reports it was a real turning point for her. This wasn’t a case of me merely telling her what she needed or wanted to hear at the time. It was all completely true. We knew from reviewing her profile that she had an improvement orientation that had served her well throughout her career. Whereas the  academic participants, in my experience, despite all their schooling and degrees, can tend to be a bit more set in their ways (as counterintuitive as that may be). “Just give it a try,” I urged her, “I know you can do this.”

After our impromptu pep talk, Renee took to our improvement process like a duck to water. She embraced the reflection exercises with open arms, developed a suite of high-impact practices, designed and honed her leadership model, and continues to leverage all the learnings to great effect in her company. Eventually, she went on to present her leadership model to a group of 130 managers in her company (and Mette and I were proud to be in the audience that day). What’s more, she champions the importance of a learning process, and teaches the reflection and improvement exercises to her team. She also brings in speakers to train her employees and always imparts the value of pushing your thinking and exposing yourself to new ideas.

Inspired by the challenge of HALI, she sought to gain additional new and different experiences, so she now serves on Advisory Boards at Microsoft and Verizon. The icing on the cake? She has since taught a class at MIT (I knew she had it in her). And, in the wake of Aetna’s recent merger with CVS, Renee has been promoted yet again. Now, she’s SVP in charge of running both CVS and Aetna’s IT infrastructure, an advancement that is richly deserved.

What’s the big takeaway? The best leaders, like Renee, are always learning, improving, growing, and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. Putting the growth mindset to work, they believe they can get better, so they do. Understanding this is the most reliable way to improve and advance your career.  It’s secret to becoming the leader you want to be and the surest way to unlock your vast potential.

You Are Worthy

Always remember: just because somebody has an advanced degree or has reached a certain milestone in their career, it does not mean they have a growth mindset or a predisposition to learning. It does not mean they are more equipped or more deserving than you of opportunities. You are just as deserving. If you think you can do something, if you really believe it, and take steps towards achieving it, chances are, you will.

No matter what your background, schooling, or journey looks like — if you are willing to remain alert to possibilities and always push yourself, the world is more likely to reward you with a glorious journey of perpetual ‘becoming’ and infinite forward motion. Just remember, some people think they’ve got nothing left to learn. Those people remain stagnant. But other people know they’re never done learning. They’re the ones who get unstuck, thrive, and transform continuously throughout their life, just like Renee.

Want to apply your growth mindset this year to achieve extraordinary results? Join me at one of my upcoming ConantLeadership Boot Camps. I teach this course, based on my over 40 years of leadership experience, for real leaders, facing real problems, in the real world. Get unstuck, maximize your impact, transform your career. Space is limited. Apply today: https://conantleadership.com/bootcamp/

The post If You Think You Can, You Will appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most intriguing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 inspiring leadership links for a happy new year: change is possible, reclaiming your time, presence is a present, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Science Says People Can Change

Ever heard one of your skeptic pals or colleagues dismissively snort that, “people simply don’t change” in response to your new year’s resolutions? Well, now you’ve got science on your side. According to this post from HBS Working Knowledge, “social science research not only confirms change is possible, but outlines ways to make new behaviors stick.” To prove it, they’ve compiled the latest behavioral research from Harvard Business School to help you explore why people change, how you can get started on new habits, and what you can do to make improved behaviors last. Check it out here.

Improvement Economics

“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them,” writes author James Clear as quoted in this smart Farnam Street post. Small choices may seem inconsequential in the moment, but it is the cumulative effect of those seemingly miniscule moments that makes the difference. Just as small deposits into a bank account may seem imperceptible to the balance day-to-day but yield large rewards over time, tiny differences in our own behavior may, “seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous.” Learn more about how you can harness the power of habits in the full post here.
** For some additional habit inspiration, read about our 8 high-impact leadership habits anyone can master, or muster some motivation from our 32 quotes about the power of habits

Presence Is a Present

As a leader, are you being careful to honor people with your attention? Mary Jo Asmus writes in this thoughtful post, “Being present to others is a gift that costs nothing but your time and focus, and it’s a gift that will pay you back tenfold.” The alternative, if you become inattentive in a negligent way, is that people can feel rejected and like their efforts do not matter. So why not try just a little harder to be a bit more present every day; it costs very little and reaps immeasurable rewards. If you need more convincing, Asmus nicely summarizes some of the benefits here.
**For more on the gift of presence, explore our posts on how to influence people with honor, and 10 powerful ways to give thanks with your leadership.

Your Personal Year-End Review

Some leaders struggle to connect the value of reflection to their goals; they can view time spent looking inward as unproductive or self-indulgent. But that’s not the case. John C Maxwell, who does his own “year-end review” annually, writes in this motivating post, “The seven days I spend reviewing my year are the most productive days I’ll have in any 12 months. They help me focus on what I’ve accomplished and have yet to do. They help me identify habits or patterns that need attention. They help me refine my daily schedule so I can continue my journey of personal growth. Nothing else I do compares to the return on investment my year-end review brings me.” Does that sound good but 7 days seems like too much of an investment? No worries. Maxwell has prompts and suggestions to help you kickstart your own year-end review with a much smaller time commitment, about the length of one single morning. Explore his insights here and begin working towards your best year yet.
**Searching for more prompts for reflection and self-assessment tools? We’ve got you covered with our Leadership Character Checklist, our Leadership Competence Checklist, and our 5 Essential Leadership Questions.

Reclaiming Your Time

Recent research reveals that leaders don’t actually spend their time doing the things they think are most important. How can leaders better understand where they’re using their energy and work to reinvest their time in the things that matter most? Lisa Bodell shares a helpful tool in this actionable Forbes article, that she calls the “Leadership Task Log.” When Bodell tested the log with leaders at Merck, they found that, “getting an accurate snapshot of how they spent their workdays enabled them to prioritize their goals and make new commitments.” To gain similar insight to propel you towards success in 2019, explore Bodell’s step-by-step instructions here.
**For more tips on using your time effectively, explore our time management strategies for executives

Transparency Leads to Trust

65% of CEOs globally are worried about trust declining. Many leaders are aware of the importance of building trust but may not be charting a clear path towards cultivating it within their organization. This insightful Strategy+Business post focuses squarely on the importance of transparency to any trust-building effort. Transparency is just one piece of the puzzle but it is a very important component. Leaders can start to improve transparency by addressing four key questions outlined here.

Leadership Resolutions for 2019

Continuous improvement is at the heart of leadership that works and at the center of a fulfilling life. To help with the transition to a new year filled with fresh challenges and opportunities for growth, we’ve compiled our annual list of leadership resolutions. We hope these leadership resolutions for 2019 will empower you to lift your leadership to new heights and lead your most productive, meaningful, and fulfilling year yet. Each resolution links to an article or two we’ve posted in the past year that helps bring the lesson to life. Enjoy them here!

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from NovemberOctober, and September, and  August.  Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level in the new year? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

(Photo by meagan paddock on Unsplash)

The post 7 Inspiring Leadership Links for a Happy New Year appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Continuous improvement is at the heart of leadership that works and at the center of a fulfilling life. To help with the transition to a new year filled with fresh challenges and opportunities for growth, we’ve compiled our annual list of leadership resolutions. We hope these leadership resolutions for 2019 will empower you to lift your leadership to new heights and lead your most productive, meaningful, and fulfilling year yet. Each resolution links to an article or two we’ve posted in the past year that helps bring the lesson to life. Enjoy! (For further inspiration, check out our list of resolutions for 20182017 and 2016).

Lead with Gratitude

Our top goal for the new year is to lead with gratitude through thick and thin — in the good times and the bad. It is easy to be grateful when things are going well.  But it’s much more challenging to remain in a state of gratitude when we are plunged into the depths of turmoil or difficulty. Practicing the ability to do so, to remain thankful even when the weather in our life gets stormy, makes all the difference. Learning how to hold on to gratitude, no matter what life throws our way, requires a deeper and more nuanced understanding of what gratitude truly is and can be.

In truth, gratitude extends far beyond our utterances of thanks and written expressions of appreciation. To truly lead with gratitude and reap all the abundance it can bring, you have to change your way of thinking. To unlock a life of learning, joy, and influencing others effectively, it’s helpful to understand that leading with gratitude is not a single action or set of practices, it’s a mindset; it’s a spirit that helps you to recover from setbacks, to reframe challenges as opportunities, to seek more creative resolutions to problems, and to value people more fully. No, you can’t cultivate a gratitude mindset overnight. Like anything worthwhile, leading with gratitude takes practice. But you can get better quickly using the tips and practices outlined here.

Set a Better Example

In Doug‘s experience leading people over the last several decades, he has seen time and again that any change or improvement – to a team, to a culture, to a behavior, or to an entire company – must start with leaders “being the change” they’d like to see. To get the results that are needed to move things forward, we have to start with our own actions. When we model the necessary positive behaviors first, those positive choices radiate outwards throughout the entire organization exponentially. This lesson holds true outside the workplace and in every area of life: in your family, in your community, in your place of worship, and beyond.

Setting a better example does not have to be an enormous undertaking. You can start small. By finding manageable ways to champion change with your own behavior, you can begin to transform results and maximize your impact. While one could easily fill a book with advice on this topic, here are two easily digestible and practical tips on leading by example at your organization based on Doug’s 45 years of leadership experience including C-Suite tenures as President of Nabisco Foods and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. Explore these tips and embark on your journey to becoming a better beacon to others in the new year.

Enforce Tough Standards By Showing You Care

When David White became Global VP of Supply Chain at Campbell Soup Company in 2004, the company had a shocking lost-time injury rate of 1.24%. This meant that of the 24,000 people working in the company at the time, one person per day was getting seriously hurt somewhere around the world.

David thought that Campbell should do better. The injury rate was showing that there was a problem with the workplace culture. After all, safety isn’t just about a number in a report; human lives and livelihoods are at risk. A company simply cannot claim to value people if it does not put keeping them safe at the forefront.

David pledged to turn things around even though he knew it would mean enforcing really tough standards. And he did. Over the course of his decade at Campbell, lost-time injuries went down by 90%. By the time he left in 2014, there were an average of about two lost-time injuries a month, down from the staggering 30 per month they were experiencing when he began. And the improvement has held steady in the years since his departure. How did he do it? He was both tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. You can enforce even the toughest of standards by applying the same principle. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the key to being tough is showing people how much you care. Explore the four key ways David improved safety here to find practical ways you too can get results by showing you care.

Manage Your Time

When you’re the leader, time is at a premium. Many different stakeholder groups are relying on you to make decisions and advance the company agenda in a timely way. If you don’t develop smart ways to manage your time and energy, your calendar can quickly become bloated with appointments and calls, and your days can become a study in chaos. But there are strategies you can use to manage your time more effectively and get more done without burning out.

In Doug’s over 45 years of leadership experience, he learned a few ways to manage his time better so he can be more helpful, to more people, in a more efficient way, and he shares them here. To be your best self in 2019, use these actionable tips for managing meetings better, protecting what’s “sacred”, and powering up your commute. Rest assured, these time management strategies are helpful to leaders at any level of their career. Even if you haven’t ascended to the executive level or c-suite, try these out to free up your time and make a bigger impact in your organization, no matter your job title.

Hone Your Skills

Just as the great innovators in art, literature, and business had to first understand the rules of their craft in order to break or evolve them, so is the same with leadership. The leaders you may look up to likely had to first dutifully learn their craft and become anchored in the basics before they could become the almost larger-than-life “change agents” they may appear to be today.

If you yearn to transform your leadership in the new year, it is helpful to understand the parts of it that are steadfast and un-changing no matter the era, situation, or person involved – even as the world progresses at an unprecedented and exponential pace all around us. Of course, there are many core leadership principles which we discuss throughout our suite of leadership resources and in our high-impact leadership model, The ConantLeadership Flywheel. But the most fundamental building block of all, the sole attribute upon which every other leadership trait rests and relies, is competence

Competence, while it may seem obvious, is so vital it must be explicitly called out in any serious discussion of leadership. Because it is so obvious and indispensable, there is not a lot of talk about what, exactly, competence looks like. It can feel, at times, mysterious. But if you really want to hone your skills and get better in the new year, it’s helpful to understand the inner workings of competence so you can self-assess and hone your skills. Doug has observed that competence, while complex, can be broken down into three essential components. When these three parts are leveraged together in harmony, overall leadership competence is elevated. Explore the anatomy of leadership competence here and get ready for your most skillful year yet.

Improve Your Habits 

We always have the best of intentions heading into the new year. But too often, by February, many of us begin to experience a waning in the momentum we had towards reaching our goals.  To ensure you keep moving forward towards your goals, no matter the time of year, it is always helpful to be mindful of the power of habits. Setting intentions and goals is essential to leadership (and life) success. But goals are only one part of the change equation. How do you actually bring your best intentions to fruition? You do it through small actions, repeated faithfully, until they become hardwired habits. It’s good habits that transform dreams into reality. (And, conversely, it can sometimes be a misguided adherence to bad habits that holds us back.) To help you keep moving towards your loftiest aspirations with gusto, we compiled 32 quotes about the power of habits. Bookmark these to revisit when you feel your motivation dwindling come February or March. You’re welcome.

What are your leadership resolutions for 2019? 

Our Founder, Doug Conant, can personally help you reach your goals in the new year. Doug is the only former fortune 500 CEO who is a New York Times bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. He designed the ConantLeadership Boot Camp for real leaders, facing real problems, in the real world. The powerful process imparted at Boot Camp will empower you to win in the workplace and in the marketplace. You’ll learn practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And, you’ll discover new, actionable insights about your unique temperament, strengths, beliefs, and skill set. Committed to maximizing your impact next year? Get started on your Boot Camp journey todayApply now. 

(Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash) 

The post Leadership Resolutions for 2019 appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most intriguing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 fascinating leadership links: kindness is contagious, understanding psychological safety, Jim Collins on purpose, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

To Many, Meaning Is More Valuable Than Money

A new report, nicely summarized by BigThink here, reveals that a majority of workers value meaningful work more than money. Of the people surveyed, 9 out of 10 were willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for more meaningful employment. Leaders can unlock the power of this research by creating more meaning, and more opportunities for meaning-making, in the workplace. Prioritizing meaning can yield very positive results in employee retention and productivity as the report also shows that, “employees who work meaningful jobs also seem to work harder and stay with organizations longer.” Dig deeper here.

Kindness Is Contagious

Most leaders, according to this interesting Harvard Business Review post, want employees who, “go above and beyond normal standards of service, to impress customers with their kindness.” Kindness, not surprisingly, is a desired trait in companies and workplace cultures. Many leaders think the way to bring this about is through policies, procedures, and kindness “directives.” But studies show that kindness is contagious and that “positive conformity” is a real phenomenon. Therefore, the best way to, “unleash kindness in your organization is to treat it like a contagion, and to create the conditions under which everybody catches it.”  Explore the full article here.
**Want more on kindness? Explore our post, “Work Hard, Be Kind.” 

Mindfulness Matters

Most leaders are acutely aware of the impact the daily grind can have on peace of mind; stress can cause physiological detriments and harm productivity. But there is a low or no cost solution at all of our fingertips: practicing mindfulness. According to this helpful guide from the New York Times, research shows that mindfulness is a reliable way to reduce stress and train the mind. Even more significant, a mindfulness practice helps leaders, “stay honest, make tough choices empathically and inspire confidence.” And eventually, the more you do it, the easier it gets; it becomes self-reinforcing. To learn how to practice, explore the full guide here.

Psychological Safety Is about Candor

As ‘psychological safety’ creeps into the workplace lexicon and more consultants, coaches, and leaders are becoming curious about its benefits, some misconceptions have begun to take root in the conversation according to this fascinating post by Amy C. Edmonson in Quartz. Chief among these misconceptions is that psychological safety mostly constitutes being “nice.” But that’s very far from the truth. Writes Edmonson, “working in a psychologically safe environment does not mean that people always agree with one another” or that, “people offer unequivocal praise or unconditional support.” In fact, it’s the opposite; psychological safety, “is about candor, about making it possible for productive disagreement and free exchange of ideas.” Creating the right conditions also helps with resolving conflict, allowing people on different sides of an issue to, “speak candidly about what’s bothering them.” To learn more about what psychological safety is — and isn’t — explore the full post here.

Jim Collins on Purpose

In this engaging interview with Think:Act Magazine, esteemed leadership thinker and author, Jim Collins, opens up about his evolving view of purpose in the workplace.  He warns that great companies are at risk when they, “pursue undisciplined growth – growth that doesn’t fit with the purpose of the company, that doesn’t fit with why it could be best in the world” ultimately leading to, “the undisciplined pursuit of more.” That’s why, he expounds, “having a purpose and a drive far beyond the purpose of making money is so important.” If your purpose is purely financial, when you meet financial goals, you run out of purpose. But if your higher purpose is, “to do amazing things or create things, you’ll never run out of purpose because you’re never done.” Read the full interview here.
**For more on purpose, explore our resources on the topic here

Practice ‘Enlightened Self-Interest’ 

Serving others is a proven strategy for adding clarity to your life and elevating your career. People mistakenly think this requires becoming 100% selfless. But in this Forbes article, the author shows how practicing ‘enlightened self-interest’ can shift your mindset; if you consistently help others, you’ll begin to see how these acts of service can also be beneficial to your own growth and quality of life. Wondering where to start? The article provides 3 simple ways to begin practicing ‘enlightened self-interest’ into your daily routine here.
**Looking for more resources on serving others? Check out our 8 high-impact habits for leading better and helping others here

Lead with Gratitude

“It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well,” writes our Founder, Doug Conant, in this new post on leading with gratitude. But, he continues, “it’s much more difficult to remain in a state of gratitude when we are plunged into the depths of turmoil or difficulty.” For maximum leadership effectiveness and fulfillment, learning how to, “remain thankful even when the weather in our life gets stormy, makes all the difference.” What’s the secret? “To unlock a life of learning, joy, and influencing others,” you have to change your way of thinking. Doug explains, “leading with gratitude is not a single action or set of practices, it’s a mindset – it’s a spirit that helps you to recover from setbacks, to reframe challenges as opportunities, to seek more creative resolutions to problems, and to value people more fully.” Learn how to shift your mindset and lead with gratitude in the full post here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from OctoberSeptember, and  August.  Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

The post 7 Fascinating Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Almost 35 years ago I was unexpectedly fired from a job I thought I was performing well in and quite enjoyed. At the time, it left me crushed. But I’m grateful for it because it led to me meeting an outplacement councilor, Neil MacKenna, who would become a valued mentor to me. Neil taught me many lessons including the power of kindness and the practice of always asking, “how can I help?” I’ve carried this lesson with me in every moment since.

Over 40 years ago, on my first performance report at my first job, my boss’ boss wrote one damning sentence, “you should look for another job.” It stung. But I’m grateful for it because it taught me about the complicated and tough demands of the workplace and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity. Thankfully, I was able to recover, remain at the job, and improve my performance.

Nearly 45 years ago, overwhelmed with my school and job workload, I came unprepared to class at business school at the Kellogg School at Northwestern. I got called on by the professor, who I admired (Ram Charan), and stumbled through a bumbling answer in front of everyone. Wasn’t my finest moment but I’m grateful for it because, after class, it led to that same professor giving me some much needed straight talk that stuck with me for the rest of my life, “You can do better.”

Almost ten years ago while I was still CEO of Campbell Soup Company, I was in a life-threatening car accident that ruptured my torso. When I awoke after hours and hours of surgery, my wife was with me holding my hand, saying, “I’m right here.” Although I had been unconscious for what had seemed like an eternity, she never once left my side. The experience was harrowing and created physical complications that last to this day — but I’m grateful for it because it showed me how lucky I am to have the undying support and love of my wife, reaffirmed important lessons about leadership to me, and reinvigorated my zest for life; it’s so short and so precious.

The Gratitude Mindset

I share all of these challenging experiences with you now for a reason. I could have shared a list of my triumphs and fondest memories and talked about how thankful I am for the many blessings I’ve received on my journey. And I am grateful. But that would not help illustrate my point. It is easy to be grateful when things are going well, when we’re on top of the world, when we’re marching unimpeded towards our goals. I have found it’s much more difficult to remain in a state of gratitude when we are plunged into the depths of turmoil or difficulty. But practicing the ability to do so, to remain thankful even when the weather in our life gets stormy, makes all the difference.

We so often think of gratitude within the narrow framework of merely giving and/or saying thanks. (And, of course, that straightforward understanding of gratitude is essential to leading effectively. People need to hear the sentiment of “thank you” and feel it from their leaders. It does not go without saying. As I often say to anyone who will listen, you can’t expect extraordinary effort and performance without creating an environment where people are extraordinarily valued. But that’s a topic for a different post.)

In my experience, gratitude extends far beyond our utterances of thanks and written expressions of appreciation. To truly lead with gratitude and reap all the abundance it can bring, you have to change your way of thinking. To unlock a life of learning, joy, and influencing others effectively, it’s helpful to understand that leading with gratitude is not a single action or set of practices, it’s a mindset – it’s a spirit that helps you to recover from setbacks, to reframe challenges as opportunities, to seek more creative resolutions to problems, and to value people more fully.

Showing Up for Others

Maya Angelou famously said that we need courage first before we can practice any other virtue, that without courage we can’t be, “kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.” In a similar spirit, gratitude is the parent to many of the leadership virtues we need to leave a legacy of positive contribution and succeed in a fiercely complex world and. We can’t show up for others, build trust, innovate, or create organizational vitality without it. Without gratitude, we are impeded and operating from a place of scarcity that inhibits our abilities.

Similarly, I’ve often heard the aphorism that, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” It means that to give your best to the people around you, you have to take care of yourself first. But it also has implications for leadership because it means that you are most alert, able to solve problems, and be present for others when you approach situations from a place of feeling full and grateful rather than feeling limited, depleted,  or “empty.”

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Think of the difference in impact in these two scenarios: Somebody comes to your door with a problem and you, harried and rushed, shoo them away because you just don’t have enough hours in the day. You’re stressed and it shows. They leave feeling dismissed and grouchy. In their next interaction, they mimic your energy, not giving fully of themselves, their insight, or their skill. Productivity is stunted and morale is dampened.

OR, somebody comes to your door with an issue, and you, coming from a place of generosity and bountiful ability to contribute (even if you’re stressed), say something welcoming like, “I always have time for you” and wave them in. Even if you have to set parameters like a hard stop in 15 or that you have to jump on a call in 5 minutes, because you are pouring from a full and grateful cup — they feel heard. And you, approaching the interaction from a place of plentitude, quickly help them advance the agenda and get on with your day. That person then carries that generosity of spirit with them to their next interaction and things get done more quickly, more efficiently.

The more you repeat this behavior, the better it gets. Exponentially, the way you show up from a place of being full rather than empty trickles throughout the organization. People begin to see possibilities as opposed to obstacles. The place pulses with energy and vitality. Everything feels alive and performance improves. Powerful stuff.

Of course, you won’t be able to do give fully of yourself in every instance. Sometimes it’s just not possible. Or, at first, you might not have practiced enough to build the gratitude mindset into your behavior. But it’s worth it to try. Building up a baseline temperament of being aware of your capacity to share your gifts and insight, grateful for your ability to leverage your skills to make a difference, and fortified by all the lessons you’ve learned in your life thus far can help you to be the best leader you can be. This is all essential to what I consider a “gratitude mindset.”

Practice Makes Progress

You can’t cultivate a gratitude mindset overnight. Like anything worthwhile, leading with gratitude takes practice. But you can get better quickly. The next time you’re faced with murky waters, a sizeable obstacle, or a hairy conundrum – rather than defaulting to limiting thinking about how hard it is, how you don’t have the resources to address it or thinking of all the barriers to resolving it – instead, take a breath.

Think of all the abilities you do have, take stock of the resources that are at your disposal, reflect on the other times in your life when things seemed insurmountable and you did persevere. Pause. Ask yourself, what lesson can you learn from the hurdle in front of you? Suddenly, you might find it feels that you are awash in possibility rather than restrictions. Why? Because, with intention, you’ve made yourself alert to the abundance of potential, growth, and ability at your disposal. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the quicker you can learn to default to a gratitude mindset when times get tough (as they inevitably will). Eventually, you will train yourself to remember that no matter what tumult is thrown in your path, you always have a choice in how you respond.

Another helpful practice can be keeping a gratitude journal. Each day, or each week, if that’s more manageable with your busy schedule, simply write three things you are thankful for. It can be as basic as having running water, or as monumental as your relationship with your family or the great team you can rely on at work. The more you do this, the fuller your “cup” gets, and the more you can “pour” out a positive impact on those around you and leave a legacy of service and success.

Leading with gratitude takes practice.

Remember, a limiting mindset thinks it knows best, struggles to see opportunities, is risk averse, and focused on reasons why things can’t be done.  A gratitude mindset believes in what’s possible, is thankful for the opportunity, honors other people’s viewpoint and input, and seeks the best, most abundant, and creative solutions. This week is a perfect starting point to begin anew on your leadership journey, armed with a gratitude mindset. Just imagine – what might you be able to accomplish when you’re anchored in a full and resplendent foundation of gratitude? What difference can you make? Whose life can you touch, what colleague can you inspire? What goals can you surpass? The possibilities are limitless and gratitude is contagious. I’m here with you, rooting for you – I know you can do it.

In the spirit of the season, if you feel so inclined to get a jumpstart on your gratitude practice, share 1-3 things you’re grateful for this week in the comments. I’ll go first: 1) the opportunity to spend time with my family, 2) the continued engagement of the ConantLeadership community, 3) the hardworking team in our Philadelphia offices. What about you?

Looking for more posts on Gratitude? Check out 4 Powerful Ways to Value People Beyond Saying Thank You and 10 Powerful Ways to Give Thanks with Your Leadership

(Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash) 

The post Lead with Gratitude appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most intriguing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 intriguing leadership links: your brain is tricking you, humility is greater than charisma, write your own obituary, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Humility > Charisma

Research neatly summarized in the Wall Street Journal here shows that, “companies with humble chief executives are more likely to have upper-management teams that work smoothly together, help each other and share decision-making.” And studies show, “humility is a core quality of leaders who inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams.” Yet the myth persists that charm and charisma are more favorable leadership traits because humble people tend to fly under the radar. As research about the importance of humility becomes increasingly compelling, more companies are trying to find ways to measure it and incorporate it into their hiring decisions. Learn more about this and take a humility self-assessment here.

Got Courage? Even If You Don’t, You Can

In a complex world, fear is inevitable and therefore courage is highly valuable. Many people try to get rid of, avoid, or dismiss fear but author Kate Swoboda writes in this interesting article that, “we can choose to accept fear as part of the process of change and instead practice courage.”  Some leaders think that you either have courage or you don’t. But that’s not the case argues Swoboda. In fact, courage is not an inborn trait but “a way of being and a practice that can be learned  . . . courage can become a habit.” Helpfully, she shares four actionable strategies for cultivating courage here.
**Want to learn more about strengthening your courage muscle? Read our post about leading with courage here, or explore our collection of quotes about bravery here

Play Hard . . . At Work

We don’t often consider ‘play’ to be part of a productive business plan. But that may be partially because we are mistakenly pigeonholing play as something meant only for leisure time argues this Boston Consulting Group brief on the topic. The fact that “innovation productivity” is declining while “workplace disengagement” is rising suggests we might need to become more “productively playful.” The authors define play for this purpose as having three essential components, “improvisation, imagination, and inspiration” and they show how these are ingredients for success in an uncertain and complex marketplace. Explore their full slate of recommended actions for inspiring more “productive play” in your organization here.

Your Brain Is Tricking You

Here’s a spooky thought for leaders: science presented in The Atlantic suggests we’re hardwired to delude ourselves with cognitive biases. While most people think of some kind of prejudice when they hear the word “bias”, there are many types of cognitive biases that inform our behavior and negatively affect our decision making — like the “sunk cost fallacy” that tricks us into thinking we should stick with a bad investment because of the money we have already lost on it, or the even more pervasive “confirmation bias” which leads us to only seek evidence confirming what already think or suspect while ignoring evidence that supports a different point of view. Years of research suggest biases like these are entrenched and difficult to overcome. But some encouraging new approaches offer a glimmer of hope. Explore this fascinating article for an overview of the many types of innate biases that can trip us up and a primer on some of the newer methods for avoiding these pitfalls.

To Lead Is Human

It can be tempting to delineate between who we are as leaders and who we are as overall human beings. But the key to becoming a better leader is by being the best human you can be says Mary Jo Asmus in this short post. To stimulate your thinking on the matter and self-assess, she compiled 13 interesting questions to ask yourself. These questions will help you take a closer look at how you’re doing in leadership and life.
**For more provocative questions and self-assessments, explore our leadership competence checklist, our leadership character checklist, and check out our questions of the head and questions of the heart

Write Your Own Obituary

It may seem a tad macabre (appropriate for the end of October) but Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani, CEO and Chairman of Rakuten, Inc., recommends writing your own obituary as a helpful exercise for designing the life and career you want. “Envisioning your own death is a good way to generate a successful plan.” he says, pointing out that it forces us to think differently. We’re used to thinking in forward motion and planning next steps rather than reverse-engineering our future. Says Mikitani, “when we take the time to reverse our conventional thinking, we can achieve new clarity about our path to success.” Read the full post here.

How to Lead By Example

“To get the results that are needed to move things forward, we have to start with our own actions” writes our Founder, Doug Conant, in this new post on leading by example. Getting started does not have to be overwhelming.  Says Doug, “by finding manageable ways to champion change with your own behavior, you can begin to transform results and maximize your team’s impact.” Read his two easily digestible and practical tips on leading by example here; these strategies were gleaned from his 45 years of leadership experience including C-Suite tenures as President of Nabisco Foods and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from September, August, and July.  Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

(Header photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash)

The post 7 Intriguing Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Need to make some changes, big or small, at your organization? Or perhaps your team is already performing well but you are looking for ways to kick it up a notch and deliver even stronger results, and you need some new tools to get there. The advice for meeting your goal is the same in both cases: it’s best to lead by example.

In my experience leading people over the last several decades, I’ve seen time and again that change or improvement – to a team, to a culture, to a behavior, or to an entire company – must start with leaders “being the change” they’d like to see. To get the results that are needed to move things forward, we have to start with our own actions. When we model the necessary positive behaviors first, those positive choices radiate outwards throughout the entire organization exponentially.

This does not have to be an enormous undertaking. You can start small. By finding manageable ways to champion change with your own behavior, you can begin to transform results and maximize your team’s impact.

While one could easily fill a book with advice on this topic, here are two easily digestible and practical tips on leading by example at your organization based on my 45 years of leadership experience including C-Suite tenures as President of Nabisco Foods and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. Hope they are helpful.

Push and Pull

There is a principle I like to keep in mind when leading change or transformation and it is widely applicable to whatever behavior you are endeavoring to lead by example. I call it the “push and pull” principle.

As an example, let’s say you want your leadership team to work harder to provide learning and growth opportunities for their employees. (I like this example in particular because if we want our organizations to grow and prosper, we must create a culture where our people can also learn, grow, and prosper.)

To push: you would make the expectation clear to the entire team, holding them accountable to it and explaining how their adherence will be measured. Be explicit. Perhaps you would include this expectation in the way they are evaluated or you might add it to the company scorecard. Maybe you establish specific training and development benchmarks. Whatever the criteria, this part is a “push” because it challenges people to change their behavior.

Of course, important in this step is explaining why learning and growth (or whatever change initiative your are stewarding) is important. This creates visibility around the what and the why.

To pull: you would entice people to want to champion learning and growth by creating positive consequences for success and celebrating those who do it right. This step is where your modeling of the behavior is essential.

Using the learning and growth initiative as an example, a leader might announce that she will be teaching a course and invite members of her own leadership team to participate. Or he might pledge to create room in the budget for members of his leadership team to create and spearhead their own learning and growth opportunities. Or, you might share your own positive experience with learning by distributing a favorite book list or sharing a personal story about the power of growth on your leadership journey.

Important in this step is to first show the positive value of the desired behavior with your own actions and next to celebrate and recognize others who are experiencing success with the initiative. This all amounts to a “pull” because it beckons people towards the desired behavior with positive reinforcement, leading by example, and recognition.

Learning and growth is only one example. Any tweak you’d like to make can be accomplished using the same principle. In harmonious tandem, you can challenge and entice people towards change. It all starts with you.

Be a Helper

Throughout my career, I’ve discovered that the more I offer to help the people with whom I work, and the more I give them the energy to fight the good fight for our company, the more they do the same for me — and the more productive and fulfilling our relationship becomes. That’s why I advocate anchoring your leadership interactions in the spirit of the phrase, “How Can I Help?” It’s a small change to your behavior that can yield monumental results with far-reaching effects throughout your organization.

Too often people feel their conversations with their leaders are highly transactional or beleaguered by a subtext of impatience or remove. Many people feel devalued, overwhelmed, or even isolated. They don’t want to ask for help because of fear it may make them seem weak, vulnerable, or not up to the task at hand.  And when they do, they often don’t feel heard. It doesn’t have to be this way.

As a leader, you will be shocked at how powerful it can be to simply ask the next employee you speak to, “How can I help?” instead of the other pleasantries or openers you would normally use. These four words proact to their need for support, rather than waiting to react.

Usually, associates are bracing to report what they’ve been doing to help you as the leader, not the other way around.  That’s why using this phrase is disarming — in a good way. It immediately takes the focus off you as the leader and puts it squarely on the other person, thereby valuing them and making them feel heard and respected; it’s also a concise way of telegraphing that you are right there with them, that you’re in this together.  Finally, it sends the message that this is an organization that cares about people, from top to bottom.

Something as small as four little words, “how can I help?”, can metamorphosize the entire energy of your workplace. The more you do it, the more other people will do it. Slowly but surely, you’ll have created an army of helpers all uniting to collaborate and produce extraordinary results, taking your enterprise from a “me” culture to a “we” culture. Try it. And tell me what you think.

What works for you?

Hopefully, you will find these two tips and principles on leading by example in your organization actionable and highly effective. I have found them immensely useful throughout my career. Of course, I’m always eager to hear about other approaches, too. Tell me — are there additional tips and tools you’ve tried that have worked for you? I encourage you to share them in the comments so we can all learn, grow, and lead better by example.

Interested in learning more about leading by example and delivering better results? Join me at one of my upcoming leadership Boot Camps in Philadelphia, PA. I teach this class personally to empower leaders to serve with greater impact. The 2-day in-person program imparts practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And it kicks off a transformational full year of additional coaching and mentorship with me. Apply today.

The post Tips on Leading by Example at Your Organization appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most engrossing leadership links to read right now, sent at or near the end of each month. In this month’s edition: micromanaging is making workers sick, be more persuasive, give better feedback, and more.  As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.

Unfocus for Better Ideas

Most of us are aware of the power of intense focus. It helps us accomplish tasks and move things forward. But this interesting Time article celebrates the importance of being idle and unfocused. Turns out, “while focusing makes us more productive, unfocusing makes us more creative.” Studies show our best creative insights come when our minds are at rest — like when we’re taking a leisurely stroll or sipping our morning cup of joe.  Interestingly, there are 3 reasons epiphanies often strike when our minds are idle and you can explore them all here.

Engagement Is Up!

The percentage of engaged workers is at its highest level since Gallup began measuring this metric in 2000. Although, “the percentage of engaged U.S. workers is still quite low, the 6-percentage-point improvement in the trend over the past decade represents approximately 8 million more workers who are engaged.” Why is it important for leaders to understand and pay attention to employee engagement? Because engaged employees are inextricably linked to enterprise success. According to this Gallup article, “organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors.” Gallup has discovered 4 crucial trends that have contributed to the rise in employee engagement and you can learn about them in the full post here.

**Want more on this topic? Read our post on the 4 human needs you must meet to engage employees, check out our post on listening like a leader, and explore our leadership words to live by.   Micromanaging Is Making Workers Sick

More leaders today are aware of the need to increase employees’ health and well-being. To do this, they must increasingly understand the importance of “job control and social support” says organizational behavior expert, Jeffrey Pfeffer, in this comprehensive McKinsey article. “Studies going back decades have shown that job control—the amount of discretion employees have to determine what they do and how they do it—has a major impact on their physical health.” Research indicates the less empowered employees feel, the more dangerous the effects on their health. What’s more, “limited job control has ill effects that extend beyond the physical, imposing a burden on employees’ mental health, too.” The best way to stave off these maladies is to create roles with more autonomy and erect “barriers to micromanagement.” Dig into the full argument, and supporting research, here.

A Detailed Guide to Giving Feedback

The ability to give effective, actionable feedback is at the heart of leadership that works. But it can be challenging to strike the right tone and deliver the message in a way that advances the agenda. In this helpful and hyper specific Officevibe post, they cover 10 real-world instances where feedback is necessary and provide a detailed how-to on what to say. Of course, you’ll probably want to customize their examples to fit your own personality and leadership style. But these 10 examples can serve as an extremely helpful starting point for your next feedback conversation.

**For more on feedback, read our post on why leaders can’t give feedback only to their direct reports. You Have More Time Than You Think

There is a tendency among high achievers to worship at the altar of “busy-ness.” Many of today’s leaders feel a pressure to fill their every waking moment — but then lament that they are overwhelmed and hard-pressed to find “free” time. It doesn’t have to be this way. You can reclaim your life says time management and productivity expert, Laura Vanderkam, in this Fast Company post. Vanderkam has learned that, “much of how busy we feel comes from how we think about our time, and what we choose to focus on and remember.” Where do you start if you want to battle overwhelm and feel less busy? Vanderkam offers plenty of tactics and tips in the short podcast found here.

**For more on this, read our post on time management strategies for executives. To Be Persuasive, Lose the Jargon

Do you have a big work presentation on the horizon? If you don’t currently, it’s likely you will be charged with persuading a group of people using data and story at some point in the future. It’s important — not only to prepare — but to prepare in the right way, says this helpful KelloggInsight post. There are 4 key steps you can take to ensure your message resonates, is persuasive, and helps you reach your goals. One of the most important? “Keep your language simple and relatable.” You may be tempted to fill your speech with jargon and big words to demonstrate how smart you are, but it will likely backfire. In fact, the smaller your words, the more credible your messaging. Explore all 4 key preparation steps here.

To Enforce Tough Standards, Show You Care

“A company simply cannot claim to value people if it does not put keeping them safe at the forefront” writes our Founder, Doug Conant, in this thoughtful Harvard Business Review post. Reflecting on his time as CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Doug shares the story of how one exemplary leader, David White, reduced the injury rate there by 90%. How did this intrepid leader do it? He was both tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Enjoy the full story here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from June, July, and August. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? For an immersive and transformational leadership experience, apply to attend one of our upcoming leadership Boot Camps, taught personally by our Founder,  Doug Conant, the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a NYT bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and a Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. 

(Header photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

The post 7 Captivating Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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