How Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performance

FROM SCHOOLS TO BEER AND MUCH MORE

Emotional and spiritual uplift, write authors Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris in Uplifting Leadership, is at the heart of effective leadership. “It raises people’s hopes, stirs up their passions, and stimulates their intellect and imagination,” they write. But there’s also a social and community component to uplifting people – helping people to rise above difficult circumstances, to raise their prospects, the authors write. And combining all this emotional, spiritual and social power, uplifting leaders can help people improve their performance and results, inspiring them to do better than ever before and outperform their opponents.

Both Soft and Hard

According to the authors, the process of uplifting leadership involves six interrelated factors. “Each of these factors,” the authors explain, “also exhibits some inner tensions between what people conventionally consider to be “soft” and “hard” parts of leadership and management.”

Dreaming with Determination. The uplifting journey begins by defining a dream, but that depends on determination to overcome the inevitable setbacks.

Creativity and Counterflow. Uplifting leadership inspires creativity that often goes against the mainstream.

Collaboration with Competition. Part of the counterintuitive approach of uplifting leadership is the willingness to collaborate with actual and potential competitors.

Pushing and Pulling. Team members are going to push each to accomplish more, to meet above-normal expectations. But they will also support each other, helping those who have fallen down or behind, as they are all united by a common purpose.

Measuring with Meaning. As the authors write, “Uplifting leadership makes extensive use of data to manage and monitor progress but also uses data intelligently in ways that fit the values of the organization – and that are meaningful to and genuinely owned by the people who work there.”

Sustainable Success. Uplifting leaders are focused on success, but at the same time they want that success to be sustainable.

The authors are academics and consultants in the field of education policy, and several examples involve the amazing turnaround of school districts and education systems in the U.S., U.K. and Finland. For example, the school district of Hackney, a northeast London borough and one of the most disadvantaged communities in England, makes a compelling case for the power of collaboration with competitors. Taken over by a nonprofit company, the district is divided into the U.K. equivalent of charter schools. The charter schools are not independent islands, however, but work closely together so that students in all schools succeed. The authors detail how the experience of one successful principal taking over a second school that was failing evolved into a system of school-to-school networks called federations.

The authors move beyond education for most of the detailed case studies that pack their chapters. One example is of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of the most successful craft breweries in the U.S. Dogfish exemplifies counterintuitive creativity through its decision to put ingredients in its ales that, write the authors, “were inconceivable in mainstream beers.” The brewery also collaborated with one of its major competitors to create an alternative beer. Finally, Dogfish illustrates the foresight of sustainable success, having refused venture capital to avoid too much debt.

The authors present an inspiring picture of leadership. It all starts with a dream, but success is built on hard work, determination and the courage to do the unexpected.

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Harvest the Low-Hanging Fruit

This is the time of the year when the apples are ripe at the orchard near us. I always like to get there early in the season because there are still plenty of apples down low on the branches that are easy to reach and pick. That is so much easier than later in the season when you have to climb a ladder or pick less than the best fruit that others have skipped over.

This is of course where the business term “low-hanging fruit” came from. Most companies have customers and markets that are easy to exploit without a lot of effort, if you know where to look. That’s where Jeremy Eden and Terri Long come in.

Eden and Long have made a business out of helping companies find and harvest their low-hanging fruit, and they recently published a book by this name. We’ve invited the authors to join us for our Soundview Live webinar Eye-Opening Ways to Improve Productivity & Profits, where they will reveal some of their 77 ways to boost productivity and profits. Among the ways they will explain are:

• Put a price tag on everything to stop the waste.
• Value engineer your products to eliminate what your customers won’t pay for.
• Ask, “But do we know that is true?”
• Brainstorm in a new way, to find problems not solutions.
• Stop ignoring your introverts.
• Push work down to the lowest-paid person capable of doing it.
• Take simple and low-tech over sexy and high-tech.
• If you want the money, spend the time.

Join us to hear more about these harvesting methods and many more, and bring your questions for Eden and Long to answer during the webinar. As always, our weekly Soundview Live webinars are free for subscribers. If you subscribe for $99 you’ll have your money back after just two webinars.

Book Review: Elevate

elevate

by Rich Horwath

Every leader and manager in business wants to be known as strategic and be able to execute good strategy. However, more than half of all companies say that strategic thinking is the skill their senior leaders most need to improve. In Elevate, strategy expert Rich Horwath provides leaders and managers an approach that will drive results for both the short- and long-term. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

As Horwath writes, “Using the lens of new value on the ideas, projects, initiatives and tactics proposed each day provides a powerful filter for eliminating meaningless activities. It forces you to more closely examine why things are being proposed and pursued instead of just what is to be done.” Horwath shares with leaders a powerful framework called the Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking. His three-discipline approach breaks strategy down into its fundamentals: Coalesce, Compete and Champion. The first discipline coalesce means leaders must have the ability to blend together strategic insights into meaningful differentiated value. The second discipline, compete, which helps leaders gain motivation to try harder. Champion, the third discipline, means leaders have managed time, influenced others, and continually developed new skills, all critical to success. With this approach, you will gain a new way to strategic thinking that will elevate you from your competition.

You will also learn how to use a concrete framework to keep your career vital through innovation and inspiration. Most leaders think strategy and innovation are separate ideas, but when you combine them together you have a powerful tool to conquer any challenge. Your career depends on being strategic. With Elevate, executives will be able to practice strategic thinking daily to guide their business.

Nine Principles and Practices to Create a Wide-Awake and Productive Workplace

BRINGING FREUD BACK INTO THE WORKPLACE

The pendulum, according to Freudian psychologist Shelley Reciniello, has swung too far. So much emphasis is based on behavioral psychology – solving problems by changing behavior – that we have forgotten the impact that our subconscious can have on the world of work. In The Conscious Leader, Reciniello describes in detail that impact – and how leaders can overcome the damage that the subconscious can sometimes wreak when we least expect it.

Sabotage from the Subconscious

Why do the best-laid plans sometimes go unexpectedly wrong? Reciniello describes an investment bank that convinced a competitors’ leading trader to join its ranks. Unfortunately, the former ace was not just a failure at bringing in new business, but also proved to be a divisive influence.

What happened? For the head of the sales and trading division in the first example, she writes, “his unacknowledged fantasy was to relive his own younger, glory days through the ace.” Not satisfied with the caution and judgment of his team, he brings in a narcissistic and reckless individual who creates havoc instead of success.

Psychological Principles

To combat the insidious destruction of hidden feelings and motivations, Reciniello identifies in The Conscious Leader nine psychological phenomena, presented as psychological principles, that, like termites in the foundation of a home, can quietly undermine the best intentioned people, projects and actions and send everything suddenly crashing to the ground.

The first principle is that, Reciniello writes, “human beings are not rational, and every day their illogical unconscious minds are walking into offices with hidden agendas.” People have hidden agendas and secret motivations. This is the first and overarching phenomenon in the workplace: the subconscious exists and will create problems. The antidote to the negative impact of the “unconscious life of your company,” in Reciniello’s terms, is to “make the unconscious conscious, and build a culture of conscious awareness” by looking behind the curtain (what you see is not what you get); listening deeply; becoming comfortable with not knowing; asking “why” even if it makes you feel vulnerable; and letting other people ask “why” without retribution.

After looking at the organization as a whole, Reciniello then focuses on the leader. Her second psychological principle is, “Self-delusion is the single biggest trap for a leader.” While leaders may be willing to believe that others in the organization are probably dealing with psychological issues that are impeding their success, Reciniello has found that these same leaders are blind to their own Achilles heels.

Another important principle is summarized as, “Everyone has preconceived notions of others, and these are largely unconscious.” Be aware of prejudices – and not only your own but also, as Reciniello demonstrates through stunning stories of prejudice and sabotage, the people in your organization charged with promoting diversity. A woman tasked with increasing the presence of women in a company’s executive ranks had actually, she writes, “made a career of being ‘the only woman’ and wanted to keep it that way.” While the other women in her company soon realized that she would do everything to stop their careers, the executives, all men, had no inkling of what was going on.

Among the other nine principles explored in this book are principles related to group thinking and gang rule; the family baggage that is brought to the workplace; the importance of dealing with conflict, anger and power; the recognition of defense mechanisms, the psychological impact of change; and the hard work and unrelenting focus needed to prevent bad habits from taking over again.

Don’t Forget Freud

Reciniello does not discount the contributions of behavioral psychology. Nor does she expect leaders to become psychoanalysts. “I am not asking you to psychoanalyze your employees,” she writes in a chapter on defense mechanisms. “You shouldn’t. But hopefully, you will begin to recognize defense mechanisms and target issues in yourself and in others, and how they may interact.” The greatest contribution of The Conscious Leader is this call to awareness, to become emotionally intelligent but on two the subconscious.

Be Bold and Win the Sale

Jeff Shore thinks we’re addicted to comfort. When it comes to selling, we avoid the uncomfortableness of the situation and this leads to less sales. Jeff’s answer – be bold!

“My goal is to help you develop a skill of boldness, knowing that boldness takes us to places that an addiction to comfort forbids us to travel. The challenge is yours if you are up to it, but in won’t be easy. Get it right, and it will change your world and the world of those around you. Be bold . . . and we’ll journey together to the height of your potential.” Jeff Shore

So how what does Jeff provide that can take you from comfort to boldness? Here is what he promises in his book Be Bold and Win the Sale:

•How to figure out exactly what inhibits you
•Why you make certain decisions in moments of discomfort
•How to train your brain to prepare for uncomfortable moments
•How your customer’s own discomforts affect his or her purchase decisions

If you would like to learn how to be bold in sales and in other areas of your life, join us on September 16th for our webinar by the same name, Be Bold and Win the Sale. Jeff will take you through the steps from comfort to boldness, including self-assessment tools, hands-on exercises, and case studies showing his methods in action.