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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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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 August edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most engrossing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: pursue your passion, improve  your self-talk, boost your body language, 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.

Is Your Body Language Helping or Hurting Your Leadership?

Leadership is the art and science of influencing others, and you need both competence and character to do it well. But did you know there is a third component that may be equally important to your leadership success? In this fascinating Forbes post, Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D, explains, “your use of personal space, physical gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact can enhance, support, weaken, or even sabotage your impact as a leader.” Your ability to master your body language, and what it subliminally telegraphs about you as a person, can materially impact your leadership. To help you improve, Gorman identifies five crucial things to consider in this comprehensive and highly practical post.

Decision Precision

A recent study profiled in this NPR post suggests that people who end up in leadership roles, “make decisions for a group in the same way that they make decisions for themselves.” What does that mean? Those who tend to become leaders, “don’t change their decision-making behavior, even when other people’s welfare is at stake.” There’s an egalitarianism in play. The study suggests that leaders weigh a decision that affects only themselves in the exact same manner they weigh a decision that affects multitudes. It’s an interesting discovery that can potentially offer new insight into what makes a leader. Explore the research more here.

The Secret to ‘Learning Agility’

PwC’s Jesse Sostrin explains in this smart post that “learning agility is the ability to learn when you least expect it.” This is a unique competency which means you are always poised to transform, learn, and grow whenever you need to (and you will often need to). Your ‘learning agility’ is something like a positive pre-existing condition. Sostrin emphasizes, “if you want to weather disruption with greater resilience, you can increase your transformation readiness with more dynamic learning.” To help, he identifies six behaviors that inform this skill — three that accelerate your growth and three that block it. Explore the full post here to self-assess where you stand within his six-pronged framework.
**For more on learning and growth explore our post on why the best leaders must grow or die here.

Shift Your Self-Talk

Many leaders are intentional about improving their communication with stakeholders but often neglect the way they talk to themselves. But managing internal conversations better can produce profoundly positive outcomes. This useful interview with author and leader, Erika Anderson, stresses how improving your self-talk “allows you to have much more control over how you respond to what happens within you and around you.” To get started, there are four steps: Recognize, Record, Rethink, Repeat. Delve more deeply into the four steps here.

The Difference between Transformation and Change

Vip Vyas, CEO of Distinctive Performance, writes in INSEAD Knowledge, “in a disruptive world, corporate survival will increasingly depend on the ability of firms to transform themselves.” One thing that persistently stands in the way is that leaders fundamentally misunderstand the difference between transformation and change. Says Vyas, “I have found that companies often mistakenly work on change when the real unarticulated need is for transformation.” What’s the primary difference between the two? Transformation is focused on building a better future while change is oriented in fixing the mistakes of the past. Both are valuable but it’s necessary to understand which of the two is needed in a particular situation. Learn more about the important distinction here.
**For more on this topic, explore our post about leading change here and our 25 quotes about managing change here

Say Yes to That Side Hustle

In a growing company, side projects are often frowned upon. But passion projects, “can be useful as an outlet for creative energy, as a way to develop employees, and even as a tool to bring in new clients” argues this Thrive Global post. While “90% of your time should be focused on your core business and its requirements”  leaders can actually reap benefits from encouraging employees to pursue their passions. Employees will become more engaged in their work and may often develop new and better ideas as a result. Read more about the benefits here.
** For more on employee engagement, read our 10 tips for valuing people here

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from MayJune, 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. 

The post 6 Engrossing Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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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. In my over 45 years of leadership experience, including C-Suite tenures as President of Nabisco Foods and CEO of Campbell Soup Company, I’ve learned a few ways to manage my time better so I can be more helpful, to more people, in a more efficient way. I’d like to share them with you.

Rest assured, these time management strategies for executives 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.

Manage Meetings Better

Many people in the modern workplace have a love/hate relationship with meetings. On the one hand, we recognize their potential. After all, when run properly, they can be immensely productive – even energizing. Theoretically, meetings are essential to getting things done. But in the harsh reality of the 21st century, they often end up being slogs and time-wasters. Why? Because they start late, go on too long, are disorganized, or suffer from poor preparation either from the participants or the leader of the meeting. It doesn’t have to be this way. All you need to transform meetings from a perturbing time-suck into a structured opportunity to move things forward is a clear process for managing them properly.

First, make guidelines. Once you’ve got guidelines, enforce them with discipline to show respect for your own time – and everybody else’s. (Even if you are a more junior employee, you can still use these tips with higher-ups and teammates to collaboratively create best practices around meetings.)

I develop these in greater detail in my meetings manifesto here, but at a high level, the rules I’ve created to manage meetings (and thusly time) better are below. To be clear, I hold myself to these rules as stringently as I do anyone else.

Be reasonable. Plan meetings that occur between 9AM-5PM. Everybody’s time is valuable; we all have competing priorities in every area of our life, and have other things to do outside work hours.

Be on time. Punctuality is a must. If the meeting starts late, I guarantee it will still end on time so we can all honor our commitments to our next appointments.

Be succinct. If you’re properly prepared, you should be able to adequately discuss any topic – including world peace – in half an hour. Of course, there are exceptions, but I like to set this as the gold standard.

Be clear. My mantra is “clarity is next to godliness.” To add structure to this expectation, I use a simple framework to ensure we can cover everything in the allotted time. Tell people that you expect them be able to clearly convey the answer to three simple questions in the course of the discussion:

  • What’s working?
  • What’s not?
  • What’s next?

Try using these guidelines as inspiration for your own meeting guidelines. Whatever meeting practices you develop, make sure to leverage them with unwavering consistency; the more people know what to expect, the smoother things will go! And you’ll be surprised how much more time everybody has when group discussions are conducted with efficiency.

Protect What’s “Sacred”

You may have heard some variation of the aphorism, “What matters most must never be at the mercy of what matters least.” attributed both to German writer, Goethe, and to dear-to-me leadership thinker, Stephen Covey. It’s a simple notion but of the utmost importance to time management. To have the most impact, it is essential to identify what matters most to your leadership. Obviously, this is deeply personal and can vary. But whatever you identify as mission critical, that should be considered “sacred” and you should engineer your schedule in a way that protects and elevates it.

For me, at Campbell Soup Company in particular, what mattered most what raising employee engagement levels to world-class (which was key to achieving top-tier financial performance). To do that, I knew a top priority would be connecting with people. If I wanted people to engage with my vision for the company, I couldn’t stay sequestered in my executive office away from the action. I had to find a way to interact personally with all the employees who would bring that vision to life. And, I needed to roll up my sleeves and get my finger on the pulse of the organization.

On paper, I had a punishing schedule and it might seem like I couldn’t find the time. But if something is truly imperative, you learn to make the time in a creative way. So, my assistant gave me a pedometer and blocked out an hour on my calendar every day to walk all throughout the building of our corporate headquarters in Camden, NJ. Daily, I put on my sneakers and briskly walked through every nook and cranny until I had reached 10,000 steps (the daily number of steps recommended by the American Heart Association).

This had a dual effect. It allowed me to work towards my top priority of connecting with people — and it helped me champion a health initiative company-wide as the pedometer gave me cause to celebrate that I was getting my heart-healthy steps. On my travels through each department, I got to have valuable face time with people at every level of the organization. Employees had an opportunity to celebrate wins, bring me concerns, or just connect with me about highlights in their personal lives. Most importantly they got to see that I cared about them, was paying attention, and was “all in.” It may seem gratuitous to devote an entire hour to this each day. But this practice accelerated the pace of change in our organization. By protecting that time as sacred, we were actually able to get things done faster as an enterprise because these walkabouts deepened my relationship with employees in a productive way.

Take some time to identify the top 1-3 things you need to do to achieve success in your leadership. What actions can you take in service to those top 3 things? Choose some that are “sacred”, protect them at all costs, and make time for them in your schedule. To enhance your process even more and increase your odds of success, I recommend enlisting partners in this initiative. My partners were often my Executive Assistants but you can collaborate with colleagues or employee groups to identify what’s important to your team and protect your top priorities together. Trust me, you will save time and energy in the long run.

 Power Up Your Commute

It’s common to think of time spent in transit as “down” time. Travel time can feel unconducive to crossing things of your to-do list. Understandably so. In a plane, train, or automobile there are often untold stimuli from traffic, noise, and other passengers that can interfere with the type of work that requires deep focus. But that doesn’t mean we should write it off altogether. Yes, travelling is perhaps not ideal for certain types of tasks (although this varies person-to-person). But a commute can also offer a welcome respite from the bustle of an office environment. You just have to identify the kinds of things you can get done during your travel time and smartly manage your time around that knowledge.

For me, at Nabisco and Campbell, I was devoted to a practice of writing handwritten notes of appreciation to employees all over the globe. They weren’t empty notes of thanks. These notes recognized substantial accomplishments and contributions. And they meant a lot – both to me and the recipients. It was important to me to carve out time to get them done. I found that the best way for me to ensure they got written was to allocate my time spent commuting home from the office to write them. Every day in the car I dutifully wrote the notes. I even enjoyed the ritual; it was inspiring to celebrate all the noteworthy accomplishments of employees worldwide.  This endeavor only became manageable because I was committed to using my time in the car to do something I knew was worthwhile.

Granted, I was privileged to be riding as a passenger with a driver during these commutes. It’s likely your situation is different in one way or another. (You can’t write notes too well on a bumpy subway car for example.) But no matter what your commute looks like, you shouldn’t rule out finding creative ways to power up your commute.

Illustratively, let’s say one of your leadership goals is pursuing personal development. This is often one of the first things that falls by the wayside when leaders’ workloads get hefty. But a commute opens up a whole new window of time in your day. Maybe you find a leadership book on tape, a podcast about management effectiveness, or an online course that you can listen to. Whether you drive, or take the bus or train, now all you need to explore your development initiative is some speakers in your car or a pair of earbuds.  That’s just one way to take advantage of what might seem like “down time.” With a little brainstorming, you can probably find something to do that saves you time and keeps you motoring towards progress, regardless of how you get from point A to point B.

There you have it. Three of my top time management strategies for executives. They have served me well throughout my career and I hope they are helpful to you too. But I don’t have all the answers. I love hearing from other leaders too. I’m curious: what strategies have you used to manage time and energy? I invite you to join the leadership conversation and share with me in the comments.

Interested in learning more about advancing your leadership competence and maximizing your time? Join me at one of my upcoming leadership boot camps in Philadelphia, PA. I teach this program personally to empower leaders to serve with greater impact. The 2-day in-person program leaves you with practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And, it kicks off a transformational full year of additional coaching and mentorship with me. This is an exclusive opportunity and space is limited. Apply today. 

The post Time Management Strategies for Executives appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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Today we dispatched the July edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most enthralling leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: learn to tell your story, create a caring culture, build a team of champions, 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.

Dare to Care

“While cut-throat cultures may succeed in the short term, caring creates long-term success” writes EI pioneer, Daniel Goleman, in this insightful Korn Ferry post. Many leaders believe toughness alone is the key to cultivating high performance, but it’s simply not true says Goleman. In fact, creating a caring culture through positive practices like, “empathic support, a respectful environment, and meaningful work” have been shown to create desired results both in productivity and organizational outcomes.
**For more on creating a positive culture that delivers high performance, explore our posts on influencing people with honorgiving thanks with your leadership, and valuing people

The 4 Kinds of Leadership ‘Maker

“In the industrial age, leaders provided guidance for workers on what to do” writes Eric J. McNulty in this fascinating Strategy+Business piece on the leadership maker movement. Now, “the challenge is for leaders to create the conditions for self-organizing teams, decentralized decision making, and independent problem solving.” To do this effectively, leaders must become ‘makers’ in four distinct domains — Sense-maker, Meaning-maker, Place-maker, and Space-maker. Explore these four domains fully here.

How Do You Build a Team of Champions?

If you’re a sports fan, you may recall that Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach, Doug Pederson, coached his team to Superbowl victory earlier this year despite their being pinned as ‘underdogs’ and overcoming a string of challenges. How’d he do it? Pederson shares his winning leadership tips with Forbes in this interesting post. Pederson says, “I demand excellence, so often, I’ll take the coach hat off and put the dad hat on to let them know that I care about them. They’re going to give me everything they’ve got because they know I care.” This is notably aligned with our belief at ConantLeadership that they key to success is being tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Read all his tips here.  (Full disclosure: we’re headquartered in Philly so we have to add — Go Birds!)
**For more on being both tough and tender, check out our post on the importance of the word ‘AND’ here

The Path to Gender Parity

Currently, women make up less than 20% of corporate board members. “Without greater female representation on their boards, companies are losing out on not only an important segment of talent, but on a critical marketplace perspective.” writes Victoria Medvec in this KelloggInsight post. How do we pave the path to gender parity in the boardroom? Medvec outlines four crucial actions for both women and companies to proactively take.

Just Write That ‘Thank You’ Note Already

A new study covered in this interesting New York Times article reveals that ‘thank-you’ notes have a far more positive effect than most people imagine. Researchers found that receiving an authentic expression of gratitude could even evoke an “ecstatic” feeling. So why don’t more people send them? People misjudge how much their writing will be scrutinized, that the recipient will feel awkward, or fear it really won’t be that appreciated. But studies show they are a bigger deal than you think, and that recipients don’t even care about how the note is phrased, they really only notice the level of “warmth.” So, get to writing those notes. They’re much more meaningful than you suspect.
**Read about our Founder, Doug Conant’s practice of sending handwritten thank-you notes here.  

What’s Your Story?

“Great leaders are storytellers.” writes Chip Bell in this instructive post. He explains, “stories of promise instill conviction and bolster confidence. They can inspire, instruct, and invite.” Clearly, effective storytelling can be a powerful leadership communication tool. But some leaders are a bit uncomfortable with the form; it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. To help you become a better storyteller in your leadership, regardless of your current level of comfort, Bell provides an actionable three-part structure for framing your message. Explore his framework here.

Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from AprilMay, and June. 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. 

(Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

The post 6 Enthralling Leadership Links to Read Right Now appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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The best leaders I’ve worked with, studied, or observed have possessed an unmistakable appetite for growth. They’re usually forward thinking. Often, they have a palpable “itch” for knowledge and advancement. Sometimes, they’re even a bit on the restless side (even when they are very measured, patient, and personable); there’s an urgency to the way they approach their work and walk in the world. They always want to know: what’s next?

More often than not, these top leaders read, question, probe, explore, and search endlessly for the next big idea or innovation. Certainly, that’s a good thing. A thirst for fresh ideas is what advances organizations and propels companies towards bold initiatives that can make the world better. But as we look to emulate these leaders in our quest for the visionary and exciting, it’s important to not lose sight of the basics — our leadership bedrock. That’s why it’s worth noting that most leaders at the top of their game are able to improvise and gallop towards the horizon with seeming abandon only because they are deeply rooted in everlasting principles of effective leadership.

Learn the rules to break them

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 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.

I mention all this because if you yearn to advance your leadership in a transformational way, 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. To truly create an evolved leadership approach, leaders must first learn how they can leverage enduring leadership principles.

Of course, there are many such core principles which I discuss throughout my suite of leadership resources and explain in my high-impact leadership model, The ConantLeadership Flywheel. But for the purpose of this post, I’d like to narrow the frame to the most fundamental building block of all, the sole attribute upon which every other leadership trait rests and relies: competence.

What is leadership 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 discussion about what, exactly, competence looks like. It can feel, at times, mysterious. How do we measure ourselves on something that is so fundamental yet somewhat elusive in its exact definition? Sure, there are metrics to measure job and financial performance – and those are helpful. But what, at a really basic level, is leadership competence? Structurally, what are its internal workings? In my 45 years of experience leading and carefully studying the craft of leadership, I’ve determined 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.

Here is the anatomy of leadership competence as I see it:
  1. Intellectual Intelligence (IQ) – or a leader’s ability to logically process information and advance decision making. This area is key to quickly synthesizing and applying information on-demand; there is no substitute for this piece of the Competence puzzle.
  2. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – or a leader’s ability to handle interpersonal relationships with compassion and good judgement while also being able to sense and assess the overall emotional “pulse” of the core team and the broader organization. This area is crucial to invigorating employee engagement, earning trust, and building a thriving enterprise.
  3. Functional Intelligence (FQ) – or a leader’s ability to cultivate sufficient expertise and skill in their field or sector. While you may be able to grow into this area, relying on the other two components at first in a new leadership role, ultimately you will need to develop this deep knowledge in your specific business area. If you don’t eventually gather sufficient expertise in your field, you will fail. For example, if you’re going to lead a sales organization, you’ve eventually got to possess a deep understanding of sales. If you want to manage an editorial team, you better know writing and publishing. Imagine if Steve Jobs hadn’t known anything about computers or tech. Apple probably wouldn’t be a household name today.
Using the framework

Looking at these crucial components of competence, you’ll likely note that you are stronger in one or two than you are in the others. Don’t be discouraged. You do not have to be equally strong in each part to succeed and improve. In fact, it is in the blending of these three components that an ever-increasing level of leadership competence will emerge over time; the sum of the whole together is more powerful than the individual parts.  

Say, for instance, a leader does not initially have the requisite FQ in the field they are leading. It does not mean they are incompetent or not up to the task. Smartly, they can leverage their IQ and their EQ to add value while they are developing a solid understanding of the business. I had to find my footing through this exact scenario earlier in my career when I was asked to lead the sales organization (despite my ardent protestations) at Nabisco. I knew nothing about sales at the outset and was worried that lack of FQ would undermine my ability to lead. But, ultimately, I was able to muddle through on the strength of my emotional and intellectual intelligence while I found my footing in the functional intelligence that the job demanded.

You do not have to be equally strong in each part to succeed and improve.

Using this anatomy framework can work in a number of ways to help you measure your competence on three dimensions and self-assess the areas where you need to develop. Maybe you have a deep level of expertise in your field (FQ) but, upon reflecting on the three components, you realize you need to further develop your capacity to understand the emotional landscape of the organization (EQ) in order keep the team fully engaged in the work. No matter in what measure you have the core competence components — just keep at it. The more you merge the three elements and apply them together, with intention, the more powerful your platform for lifting your leadership competence will become. So, as long as you are sufficiently working towards continuously honing and perfecting all three, you’ll find you will begin to hit stride in your leadership competence.

Hopefully, dissecting competence with this level of precision will reveal insights to you that are helpful as you work towards getting better anchored in your leadership fundamentals. Armed with this info, you can now develop your competence with a view towards one day deftly breaking the rules with confidence as you march towards progress.

Interested in learning more about advancing your leadership competence and creating your own leadership model? Join me at one of my upcoming leadership boot camps in Philadelphia, PA. I teach this program personally to empower leaders to serve with greater impact. The 2-day in-person program leaves you with practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And, it kicks off a transformational full year of additional coaching and mentorship. This is an exclusive opportunity and space is limited. Apply today. 

The post The Anatomy of Leadership Competence appeared first on ConantLeadership.

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