Atomic Habits are small habits that are essential to your overall improvement and that seem insignificant at first sight but that can create powerful outcomes if practiced regularly…
Atomic Habits help you grow in confidence, overcome setbacks and fulfill your potential.
Habits create freedom by removing the need to make decisions about simple tasks and by allowing your mind to focus on other challenges.
1. Improvements & Atomic Habits
There is tremendous value in improving incrementally thanks to the power of small habits.
Truthfully, incremental improvements are not noticeable right away but become meaningful and make a difference in the long run.
That’s because, small good habits compound themselves into big results and bad habits into toxic results. However, these habits will place you on the path to success.
The only thing, to see the results of your habits, to track your progress, you need to implement these habits long enough in order to cross what James Clear calls the Plateau of Latent Potential.
To get over the Plateau of Latent Potential, you need to avoid setting goals. Instead, you may have to set up a system to make actionable progress and to create better habits.
2. Building & Changing Habits
Changing habits is difficult because we try to change the wrong thing or we try to change the wrong way.
Furthermore, change is especially difficult when your identity is in direct conflict with the habit you want to develop, if you are too attached to your identity or believe that your identity is set in stone.
To change the right way, you need to make a shift in your identity, rework your system of belief and make this habit become an intrinsic part of your identity.
In turn, your identity will gradually be molded by your habits and the belief that you have the power to change whichever habit you want.
3. The Four Laws of Behavior Change
Before trying to change, we must be aware of the old habits that have held you back and have most likely become automatic and unconscious.
You can make a list of your habits and ask yourself objectively whether or not these habits help you become the person you want to be. You don’t need to evaluate, congratulate or criticize yourself while doing so.
To create better habits, you can follow the Four Laws of Behavior Change:
Make the habit obvious
Make the habit attractive
Make the habit easy
Make the habit satisfying
1. Make the habit obvious
You can make it obvious by clarifying the habits you want to acquire.
You have to make it clear when, where and how you want this new habit to take place.
You can set your habits at a particular time and location, you can group them with other habits or you can set up your environment to stimulate the said habit and to encourage self-discipline.
2. Make the habit attractive
Habits become more attractive if you can associate them with things you already enjoy, if you surround yourself with people who already have that attractive habit or if you shift your perspective and change the way you talk to yourself.
Making your habits attractive motivates you to act because you definitively expect a reward.
3. Make the habit easy
To build up a habit, it is important to practice. To make practicing effective, you must make it easy because it is human nature to preserve energy, reduce the amount of work and follow the Law of Least Effort.
Therefore, to make a habit easy, you canu must make it easy because it is human nature to preserve energy, reduce the amount of work and follow the Law of Least Effort.
Therefore, to make a habit easy, you can remove any element of friction associated with the habit, set up your environment to ease yourself into the habit or practice a small habit for at least 2 minutes that will progressively grow into the habit that you desire.
4. Make the habit satisfying
People are more likely to repeat a habit if the experience was satisfying.
However, people often look for immediate satisfaction even if most satisfactions in society are delayed and even if a fundamental truth for success states that delayed gratification leads to greater rewards.
So to build a successful habit, you need to ensure to receive immediate gratification once in a while.
Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones, James Clear shares his traumatic story of how he recovered in his youth from an accident and how he realized, through this experience, that small good habits can help you overcome setbacks and fulfill your potential.
Moreover, it shows you that if the reason for building a habit is strong enough then you can bear anything to succeed.
Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones should be called “How to develop the best habits the best way possible”. Every single sentence made for a great quote.
This book has been eye opening in understanding my habits and their in the affirmation of my identity.
Very insightful, it makes you analyze your present, think about the meaning and the impact of your actions on your future life. To develop new habits is very much a self-awareness exercise.
In addition, James Clear provides fundamental principles that you can rely on. He teaches you how to provoke good habits and destroy bad ones, to shift your focus from your goals towards building a structure, system and habits to achieve said goals.
I recommend it for anyone who is struggling to get it together and don’t know where to start. For anyone seeking to rework their habits, it is imperative to get an accountability partner, track your habits and measure your progress.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.
Time magnifies the margin between success and failure. It will multiply whatever you feed it. Good habits make time your ally. Bad habits make time your enemy.
All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny
decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots
entrench themselves and branches grow.
A habit is a behavior that has been repeated enough times to become automatic.
Our preference for instant gratification reveals an important truth about success:
because of how we are wired, most people will spend all day chasing quick hits of
satisfaction. The road less traveled is the road of delayed gratification. If you’re willing to wait for the rewards, you’ll face less competition and often get a bigger payoff. As the saying goes, the last mile is always the least crowded.
On one hand, alpha women are all we see in the media world today. Alpha women are presumably in control, career driven and are not as lovable as beta women. They are either difficult, evil or unhappy.
On the other hand, beta women are supposedly not career-driven. They would use their job to fill a void until a man comes along to improve their lives.
In reality, beta women are not necessarily timid or introverted. They just don’t push their own agenda, intend to fit in at work and bypass their own ego. They also tend to reserve their opinion for themselves, give constructive criticism, and take time to make decisions. In addition, they are emotionally intelligent, flexible, pragmatic and are able to work with different personality types.
Most of the time, if the male counterparts watch these movies or conform to popular beliefs and if women don’t exhibit leadership traits as seen on TV, then they don’t believe that women possess any leadership traits.
Furthermore, according to recent studies, alpha women who participate in meetings are seen as dominating when being dominating is a key component in alpha men leadership style. Beta men who are relaxed leaders are seen positively whereas beta women who exhibit the same trait are not even seen as leaders.
To overcome these biases, popular culture needs to be updated.
2. Success for women in the workplace
As hard as it is to quantify success, both women and men generally get confused about what success really looks like.
Often, a job and the level of success are directly related to a personality even though the personality doesn’t do the job.
Women generally set the bar too high for themselves and are unable to emulate the standard of perfection. For instance, successful women are expected to be in charge of the room, of the conversation and meetings.
Moreover, the only two women in the workplace are usually pitted against each other because men decided that there can only be one successful woman in the room.
Understand what success actually looks like and take steps towards success.
Watch their presentation, protect their identity and don’t let their workplace define them.
Check the standards set by employers, themselves and others.
Beat to the sound of their own drum.
Stay authentic. Authenticity allows you to retain a sense of self. Authenticity has allowed many people to achieve success and connect with others.
Take time to do nothing and don’t spread themselves thin.
Quiet Girls Can Run the World : Owning Your Power When You’re Not the “Alpha” in the Room by Rebecca Holman is exploring the various ways that women can deal with different types of environments without compromising their sense of self.
The roles of women in the workplace lack so much nuance. Rebecca Holman is attempting to figure out if beta women can be as successful as alpha women in the workplace by comparing the traits of alpha and beta women without placing one above the other.
Quiet Girls Can Run the World : Owning Your Power When You’re Not the “Alpha” in the Room is also a hilarious guide on how to embrace who you are, how to find out what works for you without faking it, how to navigate office politics, various bosses without suppressing your identity, ambitions, needs and wants.
Being an alpha or beta leaders does not matter. What really matters is that you get to know yourself and what works for you.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Success at work only looks one way. And a successful woman? She’s shouting louder than everyone else in the room. She’s stubborn and argumentative because these are signs that she’s passionate about the project at hand and cares about its success above all else. Ergo, she’s good at her job.
“the media is selling the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality and not in their capacity as leaders. Boys learn that their success is tied to dominance, power, and aggression. We must value people as whole human beings, not gendered stereotypes.”
It matters because women’s voices simply aren’t being heard on their own terms. Numerous studies have shown that women are interrupted far more often in meetings than men, as well as in the classroom—as a 2004 study from Harvard Law School demonstrated. And, according to a study by Princeton and Brigham Young University, if women talk 25–50 percent of the time in a professional meeting, they are seen as “dominating the conversation.
Similarly, studies show that while men in leadership positions are seen in a positive light when they demonstrate traditionally Alpha leadership traits (such as being decisive, dominating the conversation, being dogged and dogmatic in the pursuit of goals), women who demonstrate traditional Alpha leadership traits are viewed negatively by both men and women. And while men who have a more relaxed or Beta style of management are still seen in a positive light, female Beta managers aren’t considered at all—because Beta women can’t be managers. But why are we so unwilling to compare the relative merits of different personality types in female managers?
[…] our view of what a good leader looks like is limited, which can leave women feeling boxed in.
“Because, actually, if you’re looking at this volatile, complex, ambiguous world, where everything is so unpredictable, the only thing you can do is work on yourself and your own resilience to be able to cope and keep up and roll with the punches.”
How do you show the world how Alpha you are? You talk a lot and criticize everyone else. It’s a ruse as old as time (probably) and, often, it works. Most people are busy dealing with their own stuff, so they tend to assume that if people are busy dealing with their own stuff, so they tend to assume that if someone is vocal, self-assured, and sounds knowledgeable (read: has a loud voice), they must know what they’re talking about.
It’s hard to realize when you’re in an office environment that has a steep, sometimes toxic hierarchy how much time people spend trying to shore up their own positions, rather than focusing on the task at hand. When you grasp that the vast majority of office interactions are nothing to do with you, it can feel incredibly freeing.
And always remember the golden rule of office politics, which will stand you in good stead through most work crises: it’s not you, it’s them.
You just know as a black girl that you’re not allowed to be outspoken, you just know. When I had my first job, I worked for a magazine and I learned very quickly that the girls that were my age who were white were allowed to speak out. But when I did the same, there would be a throwaway comment like, ‘You don’t need to have that attitude.’ That was when I was twenty-one and I just learned very quickly that I’m not allowed to have the same sort of opinion as my white female counterparts.”
In addition, they teach people how to be successful and how to take risks.
12. Rally everyone around a common goal
13. Embrace change and use it to your benefit
14. Infuse your vision into the culture
15. Be quick to recognize opportunities and challenges
16. Have a greater sense of purpose
17. Learn to make sound and ethical decisions
18. Avoid following conventional wisdom
19. Always plan and focus on the most important priorities
20. Be passionate about what you do and have fun when you do it
21. Learn continually
Leaders continually ask questions. Most leaders learn to be good learners by working for good leaders.
22. Practice, practice, practice
Leaders can be trained and find ways to practice their skills on a daily.
23. Be open to feedback
Leaders stay on the brink of innovation and know how to articulate their ideas.
25. Rely on core values
Leaders have strong sets of core values that are the organization mission statement, set the standard, set the premise for all processes and sip into the culture.
Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs by Eric Yaverbaum is a self-help book that gathers the experience of successful CEOs and that shares invaluable leadership lessons.
There are many characteristics that make leaders be great such as authenticity, honesty and kindness. In Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs, Eric Yaverbaum essentially states that great leaders can be trained.
According to him, leaders are people who generally have a multitude of skills but who are mostly service-oriented and people-oriented.
Indeed, every advice and leadership strategy is aimed to develop the steadiest and most effective leader. Every advice and leadership startegy is geared towards employee well-being and relationship building.
Leaders are not self-centered. They must always be focused on how they make other people feel and how they can move them towards a unique and common goal.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
There’s an old saying: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”.
There are so many characteristics that make a person a good leader: a leader should be authentic, a listener, stand for values, lead by example, be honest, provide direction, and—most important—be daring, take risks, and develop and empower others. This combination of techniques is what makes a true leader.
If you are not a “born leader”, you can develop your leadership abilities through training and experience
The Obstacle is the Way : The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph is a motivational book that encourages people to withstand adversity and to take action despite adversity. Ryan Holiday shares a philosophical approach, rooted in stoicism, that will help you confront obstacles and turn them upside down.
The Obstacle is the Way : The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph is destined for leaders and entrepreneurs who:
Face challenges on a daily basis,
Need to make pragmatic decisions and take calculated risks,
Want to take their career or business to the next level.
Holiday‘s entire book is based on classical references, historical figures and war leaders, who have distinguished themselves in life and who have adopted stoicism as a life strategy.
Finally, Ryan Holiday also incorporates reputable leaders and entrepreneurs as examples of resilience and will power. If you want to stay motivated and push through your challenges, this book is for you.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Our perceptions can be a source of strength or of great weakness. If we are emotional, subjective and shortsighted, we only add to our troubles.
Obstacles make us emotional, but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those emotions in check—if we can keep steady no matter what happens, no matter how much external events may fluctuate.
Focusing exclusively on what is in our power magnifies and enhances our power.
But every ounce of energy directed at things we can’t actually influence is wasted—self-indulgent and self-destructive. So much power—ours, and other people’s—is frittered away in this manner.
If you mean it when you say you’re at the end of your rope and would rather quit, you actually have a unique chance to grow and improve yourself. A unique opportunity to experiment with different solutions, to try different tactics, or to take on new projects to add to your skill set.
Leadership requires determination and energy. And certain situations, at times, call on leaders to marshal that determined energy simply to endure.
For Simon Sinek, in order to be successful, leaders have to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the team and create a healthy company culture.
A healthy company culture is an environment where trust is central, where employees can collaborate, develop their knowledge, are able to conquer anything, become leaders themselves and do remarkable things.
4. Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell
Your Best Self is unique, positive, evolved and aligned with your truth.
When you are being your best self, you are being your most authentic and at your core.
1. How to connect with your Best Self?
Connecting with your Best Self takes time and requires patience. To get in touch with your Best Self:
Express gratitude frequently to get out of a negative space. Make a gratitude list of everything that puts you in a good mood or elevates you in any kind of way.
Embrace change. Everybody can change if they want to, they just have to apply the right motivations.
Identify your fears. Once you have identified your fears, put them to the test to see if your assumptions are true, if they are rational, if they help you succeed, or if they serve your best interests.
Recognize any signs of egotistical behavior. Once you have acknowledge your behavior, assess the origins of it and get your ego in check.
2. Assessing your Best Self
“SPHERES stands for Social life, Personal life, Health, Education, Relationships, Employment, and Spiritual life”.
The SPHERES tool, create by Mike Bayer, is a screening tool used to assess your Best Self in all areas of your life.
Your social life
In the SPHERES tool, your social situation determines how well you project your Best Self to the world.
It then becomes imperative to analyze how you interact with people. You can also assess your ability to send clear messages, to listen to others, to embrace human emotions, to handle highly charged situations, to give and receive feedback.
Your personal life
Your personal life contains your self-image, your self-talk, the level of compassion and respect you have for yourself.
To create the personal life that you want, you will have to:
Rewire your brain to think positively by challenging your internal dialogue.
Get familiar with what you are constantly telling yourself.
Identify the messages you tell yourself when you are under pressure.
Log your thoughts and your self-talk, identify the common themes and tones.
Be compassionate with yourself. Take care of yourself and monitor your stress levels before they snowball. If you take care of yourself, you will definitely be able to take care of others.
Connect with your passions. Your passions will vary throughout your life. Your passions will allow you to express yourself, to strengthen your bond with your Best Self and vibrate at a higher frequency. To find your passions, explore new things, challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.
Prioritizing your well-being allows you to be present, keep a clear mind and achieve your Best Self.
Remaining in a “lifetime learning mode” will help you evolve into your Best Self and become more self-aware.
Once you find your passions, you will take pleasure in acquiring knowledge in that field.
Your Best Self will gauge who you want to be around, judge the health of a relationship and help you make the tough decisions.
In order to stay connected to your Best Self in all relationships, you must define your core values, exercise them and identify the people who live up to them.
We spend most of our days at work.
So, when we are not able to fully be ourselves, our work life tends to become draining.
It somehow becomes important to nurture our Best Selves at work or create a career path that allows us to maximize our potential at work.
In Best Self: Be You, Only Better, Mike Bayer encourages people to be their Best Self.
In addition, Mike Bayer shares tips and tools to help you achieve your Best Self. He helps you make a diagnostic of all the aspects of your life and provides practical solutions to your problems.
Furthermore, Best Self: Be You, Only Better is a workbook that teaches you how to fix what’s inside to fix outside. It is on point when it comes to assessing people’s behavior and can conveniently be revisited several time in your life.
Best Self: Be You, Only Better is ideal for leaders who want to improve their leadership skills and bring their best selves at work. It becomes clear that if you are your best self, you can create the best teams, take care of others and create the best organization.
With this workbook:
Get in touch with your Best Self.
Reach your highest potential.
Find more balance in your life.
Evolve, change, reinvent yourself and improve your life.
Many of society’s “rules” simply don’t apply to us as individuals, and if we spend all our energy on trying to be, do, say, and act like society wants us to, we are simply wasting time we could be spending on discovering and connecting with our Best Self.
Self-care is foundational to living your ideal life.
Your First Leadership Job: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others acknowledges the hardship of a first-time leadership position plus strives to guide and assist new leaders in:
Becoming “Catalyst Leaders”. “Catalyst leaders represent the gold standard—energetic, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in others”.
Coping with the transition from contributor to leader, dealing with the uncertainty of the new position
Building or improving leadership skills,
Communicating effectively with your team and your bosses,
Working with members of your team, coaching them, engaging with them and motivating them in order to obtain results,
Navigating organizational politics.
Several self-assessment tests, quizzes and diagnostics are implemented in the book to make light of a challenging situation, to evaluate and enhance your leadership skills.
According to YourFirst LeadershipJob, the catalyst leader should follow the following steps to ensure success:
Learn your organization’s culture and get to know your team and your bosses toget a better understanding of your role, your priorities, the expectations from your team and from upper management, the current reputation of your team, their preferred communication methods and finally, their good and bad habits.
Make a first good impression themomentyou step into your new role. Judgement by your team will instantly be formed about your capabilities to lead.
Develop a leadership brand. In order to develop a leadership brand, be authentic (show your integrity through your actions), bring out the best in people (understand and improve your team skills, encourage, motivate and coach them), be receptive to feedback.
Address and meet your team personal needs. To do so, use the five KeyPrinciples: Maintain or enhance self-esteem motivate the team. Listen and respond with empathy to diffuse negative energy and create a positive environment.Ask for help and encourage involvement to show that you respect and value your team’s opinion, knowledge and skills.Share thoughts, feelings, and rationale to build trust. (to build trust)Provide support without removing responsibility. (to build ownership)
Implement or improve your common leadership interaction styles.
Start seeking performance results and meeting the company’s requirements/needs by developing an execution strategy (focus on the three major priorities at a time, manage time accordingly and measure task progress with indicators, create milestone for the team, by holding your team accountable for their own results)
Learn how to hire new candidates for a job by asking the right questions during the interview.
Develop a good working relationship with your boss.
Master meetings and make them meaningful. Your ability to lead will be estimated by your ability to organize and run a meeting.
Give positive or developmental feedback.
Learn to handle difficult employees.
Delegate tasks and the authority associated to the task accordingly to achieve results faster and more effectively. Delegating also helps to save upyour time for higher priorities a tasks.
YourFirst LeadershipJob: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others by Tacy M. Byham and Richard S. Wellins is a self-help book destined to potential, first-time or frontline leaders.
YourFirst LeadershipJob: How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others is a clear and methodical how-to book that does not only define leadership but also shares tips on how to become a “Catalyst Leader” and how to withstand challenging situations that most first-time leaders encounter.
I largely recommend it to introverted, shy, unexpected leaders who don’t always know how to navigate office politics along to women who are ambitious but not confident in their leadership skills.
For my part, as an introvert and a woman, I have been in three unofficial leadership positions that started successfully but ended in failure. Before reading this book, I was not able to pinpoint my weaknesses nor able to fix my situation.
YourFirst LeadershipJob has been resourceful, reassuring and has given me hope that I can still pursue my journey towards leadership. I now have a positive perspective on my experiences.
As a result, I am currently learning how to earn my team’s trust, convey a message and share a vision with my team.
“Catalyst leaders represent the gold standard—energetic, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in others”.
Earlier in this book we pointed out that what makes you a successful leader may have nothing to do with what made you successful in the past. The challenges you face as a leader are much different—and they can be extra tough.
Ask for clarifications rather than making assumptions.
Remember that it is OK to ask questions.
Collect the right data about people and situations first.
Don’t assume that people can read your mind.
Ask for what you want, expect yes or no. Understand that you can say yes or no as well.
The Fourth Agreement
This fourth agreement encourages you to always “do you best” and consolidates all previous three agreements.
Purpose of the agreement
Forming the habit of always doing your best will:
Save you from harsh self-judgement.
Increase your production.
Mature your self-love.
Implementing the agreement
Keep in mind that:
Your best will fluctuate all the time. It will depend on your mood, on your energy level, on your health and on your situation.
You must take action without expecting any rewards. This way, you will be able to enjoy your actions better.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz provides a very powerful perspective on life. It encourages self-transformation, self-awareness, self acceptance, and the understanding of others.
I found out briefly that The Four Agreements, yet short, is thoughtful and goes straight to the point. It calls out society’s hypocrisy, fear and domestication.
Everyone I know who have read this book has felt elevated. It was therefore hard to resist reading it and I have to say that I did not regret it.
As you read, you will find that you already had the knowledge and the wisdom within you but have been holding it back. You will learn to trust yourself and set yourself free.
The word is not just a sound or a written symbol. The word is a force; it is the power you have to express and communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life.
Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personally.
Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.
All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.
Action is about living fully. Inaction is the way that we deny life. Inaction is sitting in front of the television every day for years because you are afraid to be alive and to take the risk of expressing what you are.
The new transparency, by Warren Bennis, is the third and last essay of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. This essay defines digital transparency, focuses on the effects of the “digital revolution” and how it has made transparency quasi inevitable in modern day organizations.
What is the upside of the new transparency?
Transparency notoriously drives success, effectiveness and trust between members of an organization.
The emergence of internet has been able to fill the cultural need for transparency, to break down old rules and traditions, to erase borders and social status barriers.
In particular, the rise of blogs has transformed the mainstream media. Blogs shape the public opinion. Moreover, mainstream media now rely upon them to exchange and to create loyalty amongst their viewers.
Furthermore, the rise of blogs has transformed politics (for the better?).
Indeed, blogs have increased transparency over the years: in many countries, the government and politicians can no longer hold secrets, maintain exclusive power and absolute control over citizens.
Blogs have become a political and diplomatic tool to fight corruption and power abuse. They were able to:
Expose insiders “secrets to outsiders” in corporations: most bloggers whistleblow freely, safely and anonymously.
Change the societal game. Protests happen in the streets as well in the cyberspace.
Evenly distribute information and knowledge. Seeing that knowledge is power, blogs have created a new power that have made leaders “lose their monopoly on leadership”. Blogs have given a digital platform for people from different nationalities, social categories and spheres of influence to express their opinions.
What is the downside of the new transparency?
First of all, the digital transparency incites a lack of privacy. Most individuals’ confidential information (credit card number, personal records,…) transits openly on internet, which makes them vulnerable to hacking and allows misuse of information and illegal tracking of their information.
Also, the “digital realm is wild and minimally policed”. Some users take advantage of the anonymity of internet to dishonestly compete, to openly attack an institution, organization or another individual under false pretenses.
Digital transparency has devalued, through the mainstream media, “authentic expertise by treating ordinary viewers and readers as the equals of those with genuine insight and experience” to enhance their viewers’ loyalty.
Unfortunately, it also impedes their viewers from comprehending or appropriately analyzing complex facts and events.
Warren Bennis denotes that blogs, acquiring greater influence and outreach than news paper, will substitute the latter if the content “commit to high standards of accuracy, fairness, and conduct”.
On the internet, where there are no secrets, where information persists for several lifetimes and where truth is relative, users are able to decide the perimeters of transparency, to fabricate the truth and to create the persona they want.
However, users are unable to vet and verify the actual truth.
The new transparency by Warren Bennis is a proper conclusion to the book Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor that delivers impartial views on the internet and the blogosphere.
While reading his book, several contemporaneous examples came to mind such as the Black Lives Matter Movement that started in summer 2013, in the United States and has since then spread itself to different countries, to different nationalities and cultures.
Social Media and blogs have definitely given the Movement the tools that it needed to speak up about police brutality on African-Americans, to show proof of police misconduct, to syndicate and organize itself and finally, to resist oppression.
One example of the misuse of the internet platform is cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is the bullying of an individual over the internet, through blogs or social media. Many victims of cyberbullying have spoken publicly over this issue but due to the anonymity and the lack of regulation of the internet, the government has not yet found a way to penalize the abusers.
Transparency would not be a problem in a world in which everyone is decent and fair-minded.
Speaking truth to power, by James O’Toole, is the second essay from Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.
Speaking truth to power has been a long-standing issue throughout History. It is a very common and complex matter that has direct repercussions on an individual’s life, career and health.
In this essay, in order to illustrate the concerns raised by a lack of transparency, many examples have been extracted from literature, from 2500 years of History and from James O’Toole‘s personal experience during his research in corporations.
Why speak truth to power?
Speaking truth to power creates a healthy and successful company culture in any given organization.
What makes speaking truth to power so convoluted?
Speaking truth to power can be perceived as disloyalty, dissidence, insubordination or non-conformism because it challenges old assumptions, systems that are already in place, defies group-thinking and questions the authority, decisions and ego of the person in power.
Speaking the truth also implies having to make the person in power admit their mistake.
James O’Toole blames this impugning perception on the stubbornness, the stupidity and the hubris (arrogance of power) of leaders who reject good advice and are incapable of hearing the truth.
That is why, leaders must openly listen to their employees, understand their working conditions, rethink old assumptions and avoid group-thinking at all cost.
Speaking truth to power does not go without risks: most employees are not willing to report any misconduct or unethical behavior by fear of retaliation, by fear of being reprimanded, by belief that no action will be taken by management or by Human Resources (HR).
How to create transparency and trust within an organization?
According to James O’Toole, corporations should hire at leisure a “corporate fool”, term quoted by Verne Morland, an executive at NCR in the 1980s.
A “corporate fool” is a modern day jester that is capable and licensed to speak truth to power and create controversy.
The role of the “corporate fool” can be associated to the role of women in modern day organizations.
Indeed, women are unafraid to challenge the system and to speak truth to power in corporations as they have only recently been evolving in the male-dominating corporations and as a result have not learnt any ethical misbehavior. Not to mention, women have throughout History stood up courageously to authority at the peril of their lives.
The 7 characteristics of a transparent leader
Below are the characteristics that a leader must abide by to enforce transparency within their organization:
Leaders must consistently tell the truth to their followers.
Leaders must be comfortable with the truth.
Leaders must practice integrity.
Leaders must demonstrate appropriate respect towards their followers by sharing relevant information and actually including them in the flow of information.
Leaders must gather the necessary information before making any type of decision.
Leaders must value openness, empower those who tell the truth and must not reward those who do otherwise.
Leaders at the top should not reward other leaders for their ability to compete nor congratulate leader’s misconduct.
Moreover, followers must be willing to put themselves on the line to be able to correct their bosses. “In sum, before speaking truth to power can be considered virtuous, the act must meet several criteria:
It must be truthful.
It must do no harm to innocents.
It must not be self-interested (the benefits must go to others, or to the organization).
It must be the product of moral reflection.
It must come from a messenger who is willing to pay the price.
It must have at least a chance of bringing about positive change (there is no virtue in tilting at windmills).
It must not be done out of spite or anger.”
Throughout History, organizations have punished those that speak truth to power, have challenged their loyalty, have put their sanity to the test, have labelled them as crazy or angry people.
So why blow the whistle?
Whistleblowers are loyal to their organization and not assumably to their leaders. When the leaders betray the values and the integrity of the organization, whistleblowers come forth and are ready to denounce publicly any signs of foul-play.
Is there an appropriate time for whistleblowing or for speaking truth to power?
The time is right when one is mature enough to objectively analyze the situation at hand and is virtuous enough to be able to temper his or her anger.
Speaking truth to power is perfect for leaders who are looking to understand what transparency is all about and are starting to implement it in their organization.
In Speaking truth to power, James O’Toole makes us realize how far this issue goes back, how much human nature is to blame for a lack of transparency and why a step has not been taken to generally encourage transparency, even though success, effectiveness and trust should be incentives for corporations.
In reality, speaking from personal experience, most candid, virtuous and conscientious people do not climb the career ladder in corporations and sojourn at the bottom until they learn to moderate their opinion.
Otherwise, they are perceived by team members and leaders as being weak, insubordinate, insolent and disloyal.
I’ve seen many straightforward people being exemplary managed out of corporations while leaders kept asking their employees to be transparent and while those who did the leader’s dirty deed were promoted.
As a result, it created a toxic and unsafe environment where no one would speak up (not even HR) to the wrongdoings of management.
If candid people are not able to sugarcoat their opinion, they end up whistleblowing or leaving the organization. And so, I did.
In a recent scientific survey of a cross-section of American workers, over two-thirds report having personally witnessed unethical behavior on the job, but only about a third of those say they reported what they observed to their supervisors. The reasons given for their reticence range from fear of retaliation to the belief that management would not act on the information appropriately.
In essence, trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and, once lost, nearly impossible to regain.