Motivating the Rest to Be Like the Best

What would it mean to you and your organization if everyone became as good as your star performers? Everyone would be aligned in working toward something important, a compelling collective purpose. Everyone would believe their teammates had the commitment and skills to achieve it. Organizations filled with this kind of energy are great places for their people and for the bottom line.

William Seidman and Richard Grbavac believe that this is possible and they point to Affirmative Leadership as the answer. Affirmative Leadership is a scientific, proven methodology for creating leadership programs that are based on each company’s own unique strengths and needs.

In The Star Factor, Seidman and Grbavac describe four phases to implement affirmative leadership in any company:

Phase 1: Discover – find out what your stars do that makes them successful.
Phase 2: Prepare – use what you learn from your stars to develop a training plan for everyone else.
Phase 3: Launch – start using this training program to instill the same passion that your stars possess in all employees.
Phase 4: Guided Practice – use the training for long-term internalization of these successful practices.

To learn more about affirmative leadership and how to make all of your employees stars, join us on February 26th, for our Soundview Live webinar with William Seidman and Richard Grbavac, Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently. Perhaps you can invite your stars to the meeting to bring them in on the concept from the start.

What Goes Wrong In Groupthink?

Two heads are better than one, according to the old saying. So why are groups with lots of “heads” known for making bad decisions? Why does “groupthink” immediately connote ineffectiveness and mistakes?

These questions are answered in a fascinating new book called Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter, written by Cass R. Sunstein, a former White House official, and Reid Hastie, an academic specialized in the psychology of decision making. Building on their combined experiences and research, Sunstein and Hastie dissect what goes wrong in group decision-making, then offer clear-cut solutions to overcome these problems.

Group decision-making involves discussions among members of a group, each with their own skills, experience, ideas and information. Unfortunately, as the authors explain, there are two types of influences on group members — informational signals and social pressures — which skew the deliberations. Informational signals cause people to keep information to themselves when it contradicts information from others, especially leaders. Social pressures cause people to keep information to themselves to avoid punishment, for example, the disapproval of leaders who are contradicted.

These influences lead to four problems, the authors write: Instead of correcting the errors of their members, groups actually amplify those errors (e.g., the leader’s mistaken conclusion is validated by the group); cascade effects take over when the group follows whomever spoke first or loudest; groups become more polarized, that is, more extreme in their sentiments, as the internal discussions reinforce their predisposed thoughts; and groups focus on shared information (what most people know) instead of unshared information — the information known only by a few individuals.

Having laid out the core problems, the authors offer solutions. They begin with a list of methods aimed at counteracting the four core problems, such as

Leaders have to keep quiet and convince group members that they sincerely want to hear all ideas.

Group success (not individual success) should be rewarded. Group members must understand that if the group is right, everyone benefits; this will encourage them to ensure that they find the right answer rather than pushing their own ideas.

Group members should be assigned specific roles (for example, one person is the medical expert, another the legal expert), thus ensuring that everyone contributes.

Either individuals or assigned teams (known as red teams) should be tasked with acting as devil’s advocates.

Groups also fail, the authors write, because they don’t distinguish between the “sloppy” early rounds of deliberations, in which all ideas must be allowed on the table, and the final rounds of deliberations, in which groups must be tight and analytical as they seek the precise solution. Successful groups will deliberately separate the two processes.

In another approach, the authors demonstrate that the wisdom of crowds (making decisions based on the average or majority of large crowds of people) will often lead to the right answer if a majority of crowd members know their material. Decision-makers often prefer to rely on one single expert, but “chasing the expert” significantly reduces the probability of getting the decision right.

Wiser is a quick, engaging and thoughtful read that compellingly argues that, with a few simple steps and open-minded leadership, group deliberations can, indeed, lead to wiser decisions.

The Conscious Business

I decided to use today’s blog to look at a trend we’ve been seeing in recent business books – Conscious Business. This is by no means a new trend, with some people crediting it’s origin to Anita Roddick of the Body Shop back in 1976. But there seems to be renewed interest in the subject lately.

“The term conscious business implies that a business will seek to be conscious of its impact on the world in various spheres, and continue this inquiry over time. It is concerned with both its impact on a human’s inner and outer world as well as animal and environmental well-being. Furthermore, a conscious business considers both short-term and long-term effects of its actions or inactions. A conscious business evolves as does the methods that a business can and chooses to be of benefit to the world and to function with awareness.” – Wikipedia

Among the books published recently that have caught our attention are:
Conscious Capitalism – with John Mackey CEO of Whole Foods
At once a bold defense and reimagining of capitalism and a blueprint for a new system for doing business, Conscious Capitalism is for anyone hoping to build a more cooperative, humane, and positive future.

Conscious Business with Fred Kofman (this is a new edition)
Conscious Business presents breakthrough techniques to help you and the people in your company create a workplace founded in unconditional responsibility and unflinching integrity, anchored by authentic communication and impeccable commitments, and guided by right leadership

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership with Jim Dethmer
These pages contain a comprehensive road map to guide you to shift from fear-based to trust-based leadership. Once you learn and start practicing conscious leadership you’ll get results in the form of more energy, clarity, focus and healthier relationships.

The Conscious Leader with Shelley Reciniello – we hosted a webinar with her in December.
The Conscious Leader describes the nine most fundamental but often neglected truths about human beings and their workplace behavior in jargon-free, accessible concepts and examples. With humor and inspiration, Dr. Reciniello provides you with the principles and practices necessary for conscious leadership which you can immediately apply in your organizations.

Uncontainable with Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store
In Uncontainable, Tindell reveals his approach for building a business where everyone associated with it thrives through embodying the tenets of Conscious Capitalism. Tindell’s seven Foundation Principles are the roadmap that drives everyone at The Container Store to achieve the goals of the company.

It would seem that the concept of being a conscious business is becoming integrated into companies of all sizes as a matter of survival. Consumers are voting for these types of companies with their purchases, so businesses are under pressure to get it right. What is your business doing in the area of conscious business practices?

Book Review: Game-Changer


by David McAdams

People and businesses are constantly playing games in order to win advantage in everything from gaining customers to controlling market share. However, if they are not careful, they may end up strategically out-played. Duke economics professor David McAdams transforms the concept of game theory to introduce what he calls the “game-theory approach to life.” McAdams presents the benefits of using game theory to plot business tactics and gain insights, in Game-Changer. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Game theory realizes its greatest business potential when leaders of a firm create the culture and organizational structures needed for everyone to thrive together. A game-aware management team can transform everything from how employees are motivated to how buyer and supplier relationships are nurtured, and much more. When used with wisdom and humility, game theory can be a powerful and positive transformative force,” writes McAdams. Outstrategize your rivals with McAdams’ six ways to change games: commitment, regulation, cartelization, retaliation, trust and relationships. He also introduces the idea of The Prisoners’ Dilemma. This dilemma presents the situation of two criminals that face the choice whether to confess or not, separately. Although confessing seems like the right choice, it will be the worst for both. McAdams explains how to recognize situations you are in to illustrate that self-interest is not always the best strategy.

By practicing game-awareness you will be able to recognize how to “change the game” to your advantage by learning to be a deeper strategic thinker. By being a deeper strategic thinker, you will increase the odds of winning all the games you play.

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions


by John C. Maxwell

Once leaders assume their positions, they tend to stop asking questions of themselves and others. However, John C. Maxwell believes that asking the right questions can be advantageous. In Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, Maxwell explains why questions are so important and what questions you should be asking yourself and your team. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

“Never forget: good questions inform; great questions transform! What questions have others asked of you that have made a positive difference in your life? What questions have you asked others that are helping you even today? Become intentional from this point on in being a questioner. You should even ask questions of yourself,” writes Maxwell. He invited people from around the world to ask him any leadership question and he answers 70 of them throughout the book. He shares leadership questions he has gathered from others and from his own experience that will inspire leaders to ask great questions that will improve their leadership skills and career in a simple and straightforward way. Executives may particularly benefit from “What Must I Do to Lead Myself Successfully?” and “How Do I Resolve Conflict and Lead Challenging People?”

Whether you are a seasoned leader or new to leadership wanting to take the first steps, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions will change the way you look at questions and improve your leadership life. You will know the key questions to ask and overcome poor leadership to develop your talent within your organization.