What Makes Millennials Good Leaders

It’s dangerous to paint entire generations with the same brush; some tendencies or narratives can quickly become exaggerated. On the subject of Millennials and leadership, two conflicting stories often emerge: the first, that Millennials want a fast track to leadership roles without being willing to pay their dues; the second, that Millennials are not willing to accept the sacrifices — working long hours at the expense of family — expected of leaders.

A recent global study by France’s INSEAD shows that some of these narratives are misleading. According to the study, based on interviews with thousands of Millennials in 43 countries, 70 percent of the Millennials considered becoming a leader “important” or “very important,” and nearly 64 percent said they were willing to work longer hours and have more stress for the opportunities to be leaders. While past studies and books might focus on Millennials in their role as future leaders, a new book declares that the future has arrived. Millennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader, by Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart, is written for and not about Millennial leaders and managers. Step by step, the authors lay out the challenges and best practices for Millennial managers already in leadership positions or preparing for the next step. The authors use their own surveys and research as sources for their prescriptions.

Because of their youth, Millennial managers immediately face unique challenges…

 

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One Businessman’s Secret to Success

Although known mostly for his conservative political activism, Charles Koch is also the CEO and chairman of a privately owned company that he has grown from a $21 million valuation in 1961 to $100 billion today. In his new book, Good Profit, Koch introduces a management framework called Market-Based Management, or MBM, which consists of five elements:

Vision. Create products and services that profit the consumer and society as a whole. The title of his book, Koch writes, comes from this viewpoint; good profit is good for all.

Virtue and Talents. Hire people that adhere to the values of the company first and foremost, before focusing on specific skills or knowledge.

Knowledge Processes. These are processes that enable the sharing of knowledge. Organizational structures that encourage collaboration, both internally and with external partners, are vital. Measurement processes, such as benchmarking, are also key. Finally, knowledge-sharing also depends on open two-way communication between employees and supervisors — specifically in allowing employees to “challenge their bosses respectfully if they think they have a better answer.”

Decision Rights. This is the business equivalent of the economic concept of “property rights” — in other words, ownership. The importance of ownership is another familiar but important component of good management. The more employees feel an ownership stake in what they are doing, the more care and conscientiousness they will apply to the task.

Incentives. Motivate employees to “maximize their contribution.” Koch uses Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, specifically the culminating need of “self-actualization,” as inspiration. Employees must feel that when the company benefits, they benefit. For Koch, there is no self-actualization motivation in automatic raises, including COLA raises.

The unfettered free-market politics of Koch, which is detailed in the first part of the book….

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Our Declining Abilities as Humans

In the early years of cellphones, the younger generation’s affinity for texting might have been seen as another generation-gap marker. Almost surreptitiously, however, the cellphone has become much more than just the new way of doing things for a new generation. As eloquently documented in psychoanalyst Sharon Turkle’s new book, Reclaiming Conversation, the cellphone — and, more specifically, the smartphone — has dramatically shifted the core element at the heart of human society: human relationships. The havoc wreaked by the cellphone is not generation-specific because all generations are guilty.

Turkle encapsulates the problem as one of losing both the desire and even the ability of conversation. We avoid face-to-face conversations, or even phone conversations, in favor of texting or email.

Granted, texting or email can, in the right circumstances, be more efficient. And indeed, the efficiency argument is one that underpins much of the enthusiasm for the smartphone. As revealed through the many interviews Turkle conducted in her research for the book, the generation that grew up with cellphones is perplexed as to why anyone would prefer a live conversation that one cannot edit or control (you must respond immediately). This apparent efficiency, however, is insidious, because “Human relationships,” she writes, “are rich, messy and demanding. When we clean them up with technology, we move from conversation to the efficiencies of mere connection (author’s emphasis). I fear we forget the difference. And we forget that children who grow up in a world of digital devices don’t know that there’s a difference.”

Pilots in a Cockpit

In her disturbing book, Turkle details the negative impact of moving from conversation to “mere connection.” It ranges from the end of imaginative and creative daydreaming — with a phone always handy, any spare second is filled with trolling through apps or checking Facebook — to the inability of being empathetic to others — which requires eye contact, listening and attending to someone — to even the inability of being true to one’s self. Today, unfettered journal entries have been replaced by carefully constructed positive posts on Facebook.

The damage of the age of the cellphone impacts everything we do. In the workplace, for example, employees turn on their screens and put on large earphones to block out the rest of the world — resembling pilots in a cockpit, according to one manager. It is not that the employees want privacy or solitude. In fact, the fear of solitude is one of the major changes wrought by the smartphone; people are never alone and never want to be alone. As a result, even the simple assignment of working on a project is unfathomable to younger employees; they need to work in groups.

Turkle is not anti-technology. She does not pine for a past that has disappeared. Instead, she compellingly describes how we are becoming unnecessarily diminished in our abilities as humans. The answer is not to reject technology but to use it properly. “We can become different kinds of consumers of technology, just as we have become different kinds of consumers of food,” she writes. Reclaiming Conversation is an important book, one that hopefully will be read and talked about — or at least posted about extensively on social media so that its vital message can break into the millions of cockpits that now make up our society.

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Get a sneak peek at February’s reviews

Take a look at the selections Soundview has chosen for February’s reviews.


RECLAIMING CONVERSATION

The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
by Sherry Turkle

In her disturbing book, Turkle details the negative impact of moving from conversation to “mere connec-tion.” It ranges from the end of imaginative and creative daydreaming — with a phone always handy, any spare second is filled with trolling through apps or checking Facebook — to the inability of being empathetic to others — which requires eye contact, listening and attending to someone — to even the inability of being true to one’s self.

 

GOOD PROFIT

How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World’s Most Successful Companies
by Charles G. Koch

In his new book, Good Profit, Koch introduces a management frame-work called Market-Based Management, or MBM, which consists of five elements: Vision, Virtue and Talents, Knowledge Processes, Decision Rights, and Incentives.

 

 

 

MILLENNIALS WHO MANAGE

How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader
by Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart

While past studies and books might focus on Millennials in their role as future leaders, a new book declares that the future has arrived. Millennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader, by Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart, is written for and not about Millennial leaders and managers.

 

 

 
SERIAL WINNER
5 Actions to Create Your Cycle of Success
by Larry Weidel

In his book, Serial Winner, Weidel argues that anyone can be a winner — and not just a winner but a serial winner, the type of person who wins over and over.

 

 

 

 

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Balancing Competition and Cooperation

For some people, the key to success is competition — always looking after their self-interest and fighting to be better than others. Others believe that success comes to those who are best at cooperation — who know how to collaborate with others. Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky and Wharton professor Maurice Schweitzer argue that this dichotomy is false.

In their new book, Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete and How to Succeed at Both, Galinsky and Schweitzer build on research from across the social sciences as well as advances in neuroscience to explain how the most successful people and successful relationships are those in which we find the right balance of both competition and cooperation.

We are always toggling between the two, although it is not easy. According to the authors, three fundamental forces — resources are scarce, humans are social beings and the social world is unstable and dynamic — give rise to an ongoing tension between competition and cooperation. These three fundamental forces are the underlying threads that run throughout the book.

Why We Compare Ourselves to Others

A chapter that explores the role that social comparisons play in our lives illustrates how these forces impact cooperation and competition. We are social beings, the authors write, and one way we figure our place in our dynamic world is by comparing ourselves with others. Such social comparisons can be motivating. When the Soviets became the first country to fly a man in orbit, the United States felt it must do better; the result was the successful first mission to the moon. Social comparisons, however, can also be destructive, as the attack of Olympic skater Tonya Harding on rival Nancy Kerrigan demonstrates.

Social comparisons help put our achievements in context, notably when scarce resources are involved. The authors cite one academic study that showed that people who graduate during a recession are happier with their first jobs than people who get their first jobs during an economic expansion. The reason? During an economic downturn, graduates who get a job compare themselves to most other graduates, who aren’t able to get a job at all.

The authors offer three principles that help harness the power of social comparisons and make them work for us rather than bring us down. The first is to recognize the natural order of things in which most of us instinctively believe. One example of this natural order is that older siblings should be successful first. The Williams sisters (and in another domain, John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy) worked well together, as the older sibling was the first to reach the heights of their profession. The second principle is to recognize or create new opportunities to compete. Turn disappointment into motivation to do better next time. The third principle is to allow others to have some schadenfreude — some joy in someone’s misery. After your incredible vacation to Fiji, the authors suggest, don’t forget to focus on the negatives as well (the rainy days, the lost luggage).

The core lesson of social comparisons, write the authors, is to seek favorable comparisons to make yourself happy, unfavorable comparisons to push yourself harder.

The chapter on social comparisons is the opening salvo of a fascinating exploration into how humans both collaborate and compete and how it’s possible to find that perfect balance between the two. The authors cover a surprisingly wide range of issues, such as the role of “psychological safety” (the permission to speak up), that enable hierarchies to be productive rather than destructive; how to use both competence and warmth to build trust; and how women can compete without facing the unfair gender-stereotypical backlash of being too “hard” or “tough” — to name just three examples. Filled with unforgettable stories, this is the ultimate guide for learning when to cooperate as a friend and when to compete as a foe.

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The Art and Science of Prediction

Between 1984 and 2004, Wharton professor Philip Tetlock conducted one of the most in-depth experiments in forecasting in history. Thousands of forecasts were collected and then analyzed over time for accuracy. The results of the experiment, called the Good Judgment Project (GJP), were published in a book called Expert Political Judgment in 2005. The conclusions of the book would be popularized in a simple, colorful phrase: The accuracy of expert predictions is about equal to predictions based on a chimpanzee throwing darts at a dartboard.

At first, Tetlock owned the metaphor that, he admits, he had used himself. But over time, the joke grew tired because it oversimplified the results. His experiment was being used as proof that expert predictions were useless — which is not, Tetlock argues, what the results showed. He eloquently describes in his new book, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, that predictions can be made more accurate if experts adopt certain mindsets and behaviors.

Superforecasting, co-authored with journalist Dan Gardner, is based on empirical evidence drawn from what Tetlock calls phase 2 of the GJP. This phase was actually part of a larger experiment sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, a government agency tasked with sponsoring research that improves the effectiveness of American intelligence.

IARPA launched a multi-year forecasting competition among five research teams, including Tetlock’s team. Each of the project teams could conduct their research in any way they wanted. The only requirement was to make predictions to a certain set of questions every day. Tetlock set about winning the tournament by recruiting ordinary people who made a hobby of forecasting. Eventually, he would attract, in total, 20,000 intellectually curious amateur forecasters to his team — people such as Bill Flack, a retired Department of Agriculture manager, or Devyn Duffy, unemployed from a closed-down factory (he is currently employed with the state).

The tournament was scheduled to last from 2011 to 2015, but after two years, Tetlock’s forecasters and “superforecasters” — a sub-category of the volunteers with significantly better-than-average results — were dominating to such an extent that IARPA dropped the other tems, including research teams from the University of Michigan and MIT.

 

From Active Open-Mindedness to Teams

How was Tetlock’s team of forecasters able to dominate the tournament? The answers to this question are detailed in a fascinating book that is filled with historic examples and often-surprising insights into the mistakes and assumptions that undermine even the best of minds.

One important and seemingly obvious (and yet so elusive) element required for accurate predictions is active open-mindedness — in other words, not building the answers based on one’s assumptions and biases. “For superforecasters,” Tetlock and Gardner explain, “beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.”

Another element required for superior predictions is a tendency toward probability. Many of us ignore probability more than we might realize. When the weatherman says that there is an 80 percent chance of rain the next day and the next day is sunny, the weatherman was wrong — or so we think. In truth, there was a 20 percent probability of a sunny day. The next day fell into that probability. Superforecasters think in terms of percentages, not yes, no or maybe.

Two other lessons drawn from the experiment are that superforecasters constantly update their information and adjust their predictions (and their beliefs) accordingly and that they work better in teams. The chapter on teams includes a fascinating account of the team around President John Kennedy whose advice prompted him to order the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, but who were also instrumental in guiding Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Leaders across the spectrum — from world leaders in the capitals of nations to business leaders at all levels of their organizations — are making decisions every day based on what they believe is going to happen. Given the dramatic consequences that can result from the wrong predictions, Superforecasting is perhaps one of the few books this year that should be required reading for all of us — and especially for our leaders.

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Getting the Right People in the Right Seats

In his mega-seller Good to Great, Jim Collins famously talked about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. In Misplaced Talent, human-resources consultant Joe Ungemah offers HR practitioners a thorough overview of the tools, techniques and frameworks required to achieve this important goal.

According to Ungemah, most of these tools and techniques have not changed dramatically. “What has changed,” he writes, “is the desire and ability for organizations to question the return on investment that their people practices have on improved business efficiency, staff engagement and performance.” In other words, through the new capability to accumulate vast amounts of data, organizational leaders can determine quite accurately whether the right people are in the right seats.

This puts the pressure on the HR staff and HR consultants, who are not only tasked with hiring employees who bring in the required skills, capabilities and temperament for the jobs but also with developing employees to achieve their greatest potential. The ultimate goal, writes Ungemah, is a strong employment relationship, and requires leaders to make the right HR decisions related to recruitment, responsibility assignments, staff recognition and discipline, if required, among other considerations.

The Person-Environment Fit

The first step in achieving the optimal employer relationship is to set the right criteria for the talent the organization wants to attract.

Once that criterion is set, the organization must then develop the right strategies and tactics to attract the right talent. For Ungemah, that means developing a clearcut employer-value proposition (EVP), which is then conveyed to potential candidates through an effective employer brand. Based on quantitative and qualitative data drawn in large part from interviews with current employees, the EVP details the employer promise related to a positive employment experience. The employment brand must reflect those promises through a credible, aspirational and consistent message.

As important as job criteria and employer brand are to the process, the rubber really hits the road when the new employees are hired. Specifically, Ungemah writes, human resources must immediately work to develop an employment relationship that reflects a high person-environment fit. The person-environment fit is, in essence, the technical term for “right people in the right seats.”

A high person-environment fit is achieved if, according to Ungemah, the organization has effectively applied the knowledge, skills and ability of the employees to accomplish the job tasks; the organization fulfills the tangible and intangible needs of its employees; and employees feel that the work they do is coordinated and is contributing to a common purpose.

Ungemah explores the tools and techniques required to achieve each of these three tenets of high person-environment fit. For example, organizations will use a variety of ability tests, interviews and job simulations to assess the capabilities of their employees, and thus be able to apply their knowledge, skills and ability effectively.

Fulfilling the needs of employees is accomplished through psychometric tests that help identify the personality characteristics, motivators and values of the organization’s employees. Ungemah warns, however, that organizations must not misuse the results from psychometrics. The last element of the person-environment fit reflects the feeling that the employees and the organization are moving in the same direction. To achieve this feeling, Ungemah writes, organizations and their employees must engage in a psychological contract, which is carefully built through the time, effort and resources that the organization invests in developing the employee.

Ungemah is the opposite of Jim Collins, who has sold millions of books by building metaphors and simple yet poignant concepts that, he argues, lead to broad business success. Misplaced Talent, in contrast, is a review of human-resources tools and techniques that, for the most part, are not new or revolutionary. However, Ungemah, supported by real-world examples from the many expert practitioners he interviewed, has written a valuable manual that helps leaders transform the flash of a Collins metaphor into workplace reality.

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How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy

The Catholic Church felt, early in its history, that too many people were being designated as saints. To bring some order to the process of conferring sainthood, the Church designated someone to argue against the individual being considered. The Devil’s Advocate, as the position was officially known, would list all the reasons that the individual did not deserve to become a saint. Today, the Church has abandoned the practice, but the concept of a Devil’s Advocate, through a process known as “red teaming,” is a vital component of crisis preparation in both the private and government sectors. As with the Church’s Devil’s Advocate, the mandate of the red team is to discredit the opinions or action steps of their employers — in short, to prove them wrong.

In Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, a gripping, deeply informed overview of red teaming, author and security expert Micah Zenko describes how red teams are used by corporations and countries to prevent untested assumptions and blind spots from undermining efforts to identify potential threats. For example, Zenko describes the heroic pre-9/11 work of two leaders of the Federal Aviation Administration’s red team, which was formed in the wake of the tragic December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 109 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The suitcase that contained the bomb had not been checked in by a passenger.

Subsequently, new procedures were put in place to match all luggage to passengers on the plane. Steve Elson was, according to Zenko, one of the original members of the FAA red team, which was launched in March 1991 and officially called the FAA Special Assessments team. Its goal: to conduct covert vulnerability probes in order to identify airline and airport security shortcomings (e.g., how luggage unattached to a passenger can be loaded onto a plane).

Unfortunately, shortcomings were easy to find. Elson described to author Zenko how members of the undercover red team, including Elson, were able to smuggle aboard planes crude and poorly disguised fake bombs, fake guns that gave off the same x-ray images as real guns, and hunting knives. Security failures continued to be documented during Bogdan Dzakovic’s tenure as FAA red-team leader from 1995 to 2001. (During some tests, Dzakovic could clearly see the team’s fake bomb components displayed on the x-ray screen… but nobody was watching the screen.) If the FAA red team was so successful in identifying shortcomings, how was 9/11 allowed to happen? Because, according to Zenko, the red-team reports would get lost in the bureaucracy of the FAA and the CAS (Civil Aviation Security, which received the reports and were supposed to share them with all appropriate field units). In 1999 and 2000, Elson and Dzakovic teamed up to warn the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, Government Accountability Office investigators and senior Congressional staffers of the potential terrorist threats through the nation’s airspace… to no avail.

Red Team is filled with harrowing stories of red-team failures but also successes (e.g., the assassination of Osama Bin Laden) in the domains of both national security and the private sector, where companies, for example, red team against hackers. These stories reinforce the crucially important strategies (e.g., red teams should inform, not decide) and best practices (e.g., red teams should be semi-independent but sensitive to the constraints of the organization) proposed by Zenko to help the world avoid another catastrophe such as 9/11.

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Get a sneak peak at this month’s reviews

Take a look at the selections Soundview has chosen for January’s reviews.

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RED TEAM41VrCUyHOFL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_

How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy
by Micah Zenko

Trusting in the New Devil’s Advocate

In Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, a gripping, deeply informed overview of red teaming, author and security expert Micah Zenko describes how red teams are used by corporations and countries to prevent untested assumptions and blind spots from undermining efforts to identify potential threats.

 

 

41mP1gHdQCL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_MISPLACED TALENT
A Guide to Better People Decisions
by Joe Ungemah

Getting the Right People in the Right Seats

In his mega-seller Good to Great, Jim Collins famously talked about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. In Misplaced Talent, human-resources consultant Joe Ungemah offers HR practitioners a thorough overview of the tools, techniques and frameworks required to achieve this important goal.

 

 

 

51q71sE7c5L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_SUPERFORECASTING
The Art and Science of Prediction
by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

Rethinking Expert Predictions

Superforecasting, co-authored with journalist Dan Gardner, is based on empirical evidence drawn from what Tetlock calls phase 2 of the GJP. This phase was actually part of a larger experiment sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, a government agency tasked with sponsoring research that improves the effectiveness of American intelligence.

 

 

41jPAmR5dFL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_FRIEND & FOE
When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both
by Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer

Balancing Competition and Cooperation

Galinsky and Schweitzer build on research from across the social sciences as well as advances in neuroscience to explain how the most successful people and successful relationships are those in which we find the right balance of both competition and cooperation.

 

 

Full-length reviews are posted here throughout each month. Check back often for these and other upcoming selections.

 

How the Digital Economy Really Works

Where have all the DVD/record stores gone? They have been vaporized, according to digital pioneer Robert Tercek in his book Vaporized: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World. “Vaporize” is the term that Tercek uses to describe the impact of the mobile technology that drives our world today. His term captures the essence of what is happening around us: The physical manifestations of what was once thought eternal elements of our world are disappearing. Airbnb provides the same core service as traditional hotels: offering temporary accommodations to visitors.

It just does so without the buildings and without the people to staff those buildings. iTunes provides the same service as the old records stores, but again, without the building and the people to staff those buildings. It is not just the service that is vaporized but the product as well. The music from iTunes is digital. Airbnb is vaporizing its industry, as Tercek explains, through peer-to-peer economics in which digital communication enables a physical product (a room or house in a city) to be shared.

In Vaporized, Tercek explains what is happening and why. In a chapter on information-age infrastructure, for example, Tercek describes how every digital business is both a switchboard and a market.

As with the old telephone switchboards that technologically connected callers to each other, the information age switchboards digitally connect buyers to sellers. The switchboard operator, Tercek explains, can see every transaction and can harvest data from every one of those transactions. Knowing who is shopping, what they seek, which items are selling and so forth allows the company that manages the switchboard to build its competitive advantage in what becomes “vaporized markets.” The keys to success in these markets are speed (buyers want to buy quickly; sellers want to sell quickly) and scale (buyers want access to a maximum of products; sellers want access to a maximum of buyers).

A number of digital companies are not simply large-scale businesses connecting buyers to sellers; instead, Tercek explains, they are “platforms” that enable scores of different businesses to operate. Amazon is the prototypical platform, supporting just about every type of business serving every type of customer.

On top of the switchboards, markets and platforms, according to Tercek, is an even more vast and complex level of infrastructure: the ecosystem. The mobile app ecosystem, which includes content providers, app developers, marketers and retailers all feeding off the various platforms for apps, is one example.

Vaporized is not simply intended to be a descriptive book, however. In chapters on issues such as infrastructure, big data, platform bullies, decentralization, robotics, disintermediation or education, Tercek’s in-depth descriptions lay the groundwork for action steps, which are summarized at the end of each chapter with a set of “Ask Yourself” questions. For example, when dealing with the “big bullies in the app dictatorship,” as he calls them, companies should sell a digital service in addition to the product, have a presence on every platform, offer an app for free and study the platform with care.

Tercek, a pioneer in the creation of interactive content and a former executive at large media companies including Sony Pictures Entertainment and MTV, offers a brilliant, detailed and entertaining owner’s manual for the digital era.

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