Take Your Company to the Next Level

Our latest book summaries are out and include three titles meant to improve your company. Whether it’s delivering greater value to customers, achieving a higher level of performance, or improving time management, you’ll find it in this issue.

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The Hidden Leader by Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain

Hidden leaders are the under-utilized employees who demonstrate integrity, lead through authentic relationships, focus on results, work from customer purpose, and fulfill the value promise of the company. Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain show how managers can recognize and develop these talented employees in order to deliver even greater value to customers.

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Thirteeners by Daniel Prosser

The key to building a great company is executing its strategy consistently by employing connectedness. CEO mentor Dan Prosser shares how to transform an organization’s internal connectedness so it can achieve the next level of performance, creating a workplace environment that supports your vision and assures participation by every team member to produce breakthrough results.

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The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill & Leena Rinne

The authors combine research and insights from FranklinCovey to redefine time management in ways that will increase the productivity of individuals, teams and organizations. The 5 Choices will empower individuals to make more selective, high-impact choices about where to invest their valuable time, attention and energy.

If you would like to read each of these titles in 20 minutes or less, consider a subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries. These three titles will be place in your online library at check out so you can start reading them immediately.

 

 

All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want

SOLUTIONS TO FAMILIAR MISTAKES

At a party in Greenwich Village, author and consultant Peter Bregman hears a yelp as one of the guests steps on the host’s dog. The guest yells at the fleeing dog to “watch out!” Then, seeing Bregman looking at her, she explains that “he’s always in the way.” As Bregman writes in his new book, Four Seconds, “Really? You step on a dog, and then you blame the dog? Who does that? Actually, a lot of us do.” Four Seconds is filled with behaviors and actions that a lot of us do, and most of those actions, Bregman argues, are actually self-defeating. Blaming others instead of taking responsibility, for example, makes people appear weak and dishonest, hurts one’s self esteem and, perhaps most importantly, eliminates learning opportunities. “When something is your fault and you don’t admit it, in all probability, you’ll make the same mistake in the future, which will lead to more blame,” Bregman writes.

The Mistakes We Make

In 51 short, engaging chapters, Bregman offers a litany of the common mistakes and actions that most of us make, and then describes the solution. The first step in every case, however, is the same: take a breath. Take the four seconds you need to inhale and exhale, urges Bregman, which will give you the time to act or react appropriately and constructively.

“Don’t Blame the Dog: Take the Blame Instead” is a chapter in the book’s section on strengthening relationships (one of three sections; the others are entitled “Optimize Work Habits” and “Change Your Mental Defaults.”) Other chapters related to strengthening relationships include lessons on not writing people off (but remaining aware of their faults), changing your expectations when people consistently fail to meet your original expectations, and giving people the benefit of the doubt if they are suddenly unreasonable — because something else is going on. Chapters in the “optimize work habits” section include how to keep your cool, how to let people fail (or almost fail), and why to focus on outcome, not process. The “change your mental defaults” section covers topics such as committing to follow through and trusting yourself first.

Each chapter is packed with engaging personal stories. The chapter on putting outcome above process begins with the story of the author and his daughters trying to help people in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With all the distribution centers overfilled with donations, the author abandons the prescribed process and stops at a random devastated house to donate their goods.

Experience Adds Depth

Bregman uses his experience as a consultant to bolster the personal stories with real-world examples of the problem. In the chapter on blame, for example, he describes a meeting in which a V.P. of sales willingly shoulders the blame for his company’s poor results, thus inspiring the other functional leaders to stop playing the blame game and to take their share of the responsibility. “By taking the blame, Dave changed the course of that meeting and, as it turns out, the course of the company,” Bregman writes. “He also got promoted.”

The lessons here are sometimes counterintuitive (Bregman argues against setting goals), always entertaining, and most importantly, insightful and revealing. As readers of Four Seconds pore through these pages, they will laugh out loud, shake their heads at the gall of some people … and look around awkwardly as they read about familiar situations that they also badly mishandled.

A Revolutionary Approach to Success

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For generations we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion ,hard work, talent and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder, while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Praised by social scientists, business theorists and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups but entire organizations and communities.

Over the past three decades, in a series of groundbreaking studies, social scientists have discovered that people differ dramatically in their preferences for reciprocity –– their desired mix of taking and giving. The two kinds of people who fall on opposite ends of the spectrum are called takers and givers.

Takers have a distinctive signature: they like to get more than they give. They tilt reciprocity in their own favor, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs. Takers believe that the world is a competitive, dog-eat-dog place. They feel that to succeed, they need to be better than others. To prove their competence, they self-promote and make sure they get plenty of credit for their efforts.

The opposite of a taker is a giver. In the workplace, givers are a relatively rare breed. They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them. These preferences aren’t about money: givers and takers aren’t distinguished by how much they donate to charity or the compensation that they command from their employers. Rather, givers and takers differ in their attitudes and actions toward other people. If you’re a taker, you help others strategically when the benefits to you outweigh the personal costs. If you’re a giver, you might use a different cost-benefit analysis: you help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs. If you’re a giver at work, you simply strive to be generous in sharing your time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

In the workplace, give and take becomes quite complicated. Professionally, few of us act purely like givers or takers, adopting a third style instead. We become matchers, striving to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. Matchers operate on the principle of fairness: when they help others, they protect themselves by seeking reciprocity. If you’re a matcher, you believe in tit for tat, and your relationships are governed by even exchanges of favors.

Giving, taking and matching are three fundamental styles of social interaction, but the lines between them aren’t hard and fast. You might find that you shift from one reciprocity style to another as you travel across different work roles and relationships.

It’s clear that givers, takers and matchers all can –– and do –– achieve success. But there’s something distinctive that happens when givers succeed: it spreads and cascades. When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. People tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when givers win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them.

 

How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business

THE INS AND OUTS OF CONSTRAINTS

As marketing consultants Adam Morgan and Mark Barden, authors of a new book entitled A Beautiful Constraint, began their research into constraints (e.g., too little time, too little money) and how to overcome them, they divided the world into three kinds of people: victims, who lowered their ambitions when faced with constraints; neutralizers, who did not lower ambitions but instead found different ways to achieve them; and transformers, who saw constraints not as barriers but as something that could be used as opportunities. Transformers, according to the authors’ theory, even believed that constraints could be leveraged to achieve even greater ambitions. In fact, the authors identified two sub-types of transformers — the responsive transformers, who successfully responded to constraints, and the proactive transformers, who deliberately imposed constraints on themselves to spur greater creativity and ambition.

For the authors, world-class graphic designer Michael Beirut, whose clients include the New York Ties, Saks Fifth Avenue, Disney and The Clinton Foundation, represented the transformer type. However, when they interviewed Beirut, he disagreed slightly with their concept. Victims, neutralizers and transformers were not three distinct types of people, he told the authors, but three stages through which everyone goes through as they face constraints. “This was an important shift in our thinking,” the authors write. “If we have a tendency to initially react one way to the imposition of a constraint, we need not see this as fixed and final. We all have the potential to move from victim to neutralizer to transformer.”

In A Beautiful Constraint, the authors lay out a six-step methodology for progressing through the stages — a methodology that addresses mindset (do we believe it is possible?), method (do we know how to start to do it?) and motivation (how much do we really want to do it?). After discovering in the first step the potential of the transformer stage, that is, using rather than defeating constraints, step two (also focused on mindset) involves, in the authors’ terms, breaking path dependence. Most people, the authors write, eventually come to depend on certain well-trodden paths that they take to achieve their goals or commitments. Becoming a transformer requires understanding that we must break our dependence on these paths.

The next three steps deal with the method for breaking this dependence and discovering ways to use constraints. Step three is to ask propelling questions — questions that will propel us off the comfortable tried-and-true paths. Step four is to adopt a can-if mindset: instead of thinking, “we can’t because …” transformers consistently say, instead, “we can if …” Step five is to create abundance — to recognize that we inevitably have more resources than we think we have. After the three “method” steps, the authors close their methodology with the final step, linked to motivation: activating emotions, which explores the potent role that emotions — from fear to excitement — play in generating the passion and persistence required to transform constraints.

Each step is supported with multiple examples. For example, the creators of the FIFA 13 game faced the constraint of a long load time, which frustrated their gamers. A propelling question — “How can we make waiting a valued part of the experience?” led to a can-if solution: “We can turn loading time into one of the most rewarding parts of the game if we think of it as a chance to build skills and make better players.” The solution to the loading constraint was thus: skill-building games that gamers could play during the load.

This book highlights the full potential of print publishing: engaging graphics and illustrations and a clear design reinforce and support the insightful and inspiring lessons of A Beautiful Constraint.

What Is Self-Reliant Leadership

“Self-Reliant Leadership is synonymous with knowing which questions to ask yourself and having the courage to answer them and act.” Jan Rutherford

In Rutherford’s book The Littlest Green Beret, he tells the story of making it in Special Forces in spite of his young age (17) and small stature (5′ 4 1/2″). He teaches that self-reliant leadership requires three mutually supporting concepts:

1. Self-Awareness: Leaders understand their strengths and short-comings and how those traits affect their ability to create willing followers.

2. Selflessness: A leader needs to have a steadfast passion for serving others, and that requires putting others first.

3. Self-Reliance: Leading means being out front and there are more naysayers than supporters when trailblazing. Self-Reliant leaders believe in leading by example to develop followers who have initiative, persistence and determination.

If your goal is to become a self-reliant leader, then you’ll want to join us on April 9th to hear Jan Rutherford tell the stories of how he learned self-reliance as he moved up the ranks in Special Forces. Register for Self-Reliant Leadership: Embracing Adversity as the Crucible to Strengthen Character and Culture today.