Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath

Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath, introduces people to new strategies to increase their productivity and overall well-being at work and in their lives.

Are you Fully Charged_ The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life by Tom Rath

STRATEGY #1: Find meaning in helping people

Through his research, Tom Rath found that bringing meaning is detrimental to organizations and to self. Deriving meaningfulness from money and power is the fastest way to sabotage yourself, is not sustainable because it opens up door to comparison, damages your well-being and relationships.

In order to create meaningfulness, to strengthen your relationships and increase your performance at work:

  • Stop seeking happiness and stop putting your well-being first all the time. Sometimes, put people’s need before your own.
  • Create meaningful interactions to protect yourself from negative thoughts, depressions.
  • Contribute to a collective good to make a difference.
  • Dedicate extra hours to meaningful activities.
  • Avoid doing what people expect of you but explore different areas of interests.
  • Focus on the impact of your work, on internal motives rather than external motives. Find ways to remind yourself of your internal motivators daily.
  • Understand your contribution to your organization, your efforts to work. Your efforts can be attached to a larger purpose afterwards.
  • Identify the right work to that it is not only a monetary transaction and that you are emotionally engaged, have better interactions with your colleagues, be more productive. Financial security contribute to happiness.
  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses and apply them to the organization, fill a specific need. Work on your talents to grow and be great at something
  • Say no to distractions. Being busy is not synonymous to importance or progress.

STRATEGY #2: Create positive interactions

To thrive in the workplace and to better your work performance, it is important to intentionally create positive interactions:

  • Assume the best of a situation and of an interaction and learn to convert a negative into a positive.
  • In performance review, spend more time discussing strengths than weaknesses.
  • Use positive words to build on relationships. Creating strong bonds with coworkers fosters creativity and increase effectiveness at work, takes a year to solidify. When confronting or in a difficult situation, preface with positive words.
  • Take small steps and appreciate small wins. For example, make someone smile before making them laugh.
  • Pay attention to people so that they don’t assume the worst about you.
  • Ask questions to initiate a conversation, to engage a debate, to build influence, to negotiate.
  • Share embarrassing moments and mistakes to instill trust and to remain humble.
  • Mirror someone else’s behavior to better the conversation.
  • Don’t use your phone when spending time with people, show that you value the conversation, their time and openness.
  • Create enjoyable experiences with loved ones to create long-lasting positive memories. We tend to forget the purchase of material goods over time even though we felt good while buying it.  Create experiences instead and treasure the memory.
  • Spend money on people you care about. Seeing them happy will instantly make you happy.
  • Plan experiences ahead and share the details with people around you so you can look forward to something and increase your well-being.
  • To motivate people to work for you, have them do something for someone else or for the benefit of the team.
  • Be sincere, help someone see their potential and develop their self-confidence.

STRATEGY #3: Take care of yourself

Leaders are the first to arrive early at work and leave late, to sleep less hours. they claim they are busy but their lifestyle is unsustainable and will lead to burnout.

  • Watch what you eat. Acquiring the right food has nothing to do with calories count but everything with quality. Therefore, eat healthy, avoid fried foods, carbohydrates, sugar and eat more vegetables to boost your energy and to positively influence your mood.
  • The human body isn’t built for a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise, avoid sitting down and add as much exercise and movements a day as possible, especially in the morning.
  • Sleep 20 minutes through the day and sleep longer at night to increase your ability to think, your productivity, health and well-being. Lack of sleep reduces alertness and awareness.
  • Don’t work on a same activity for too long, it will diminish your performance. Take multiple breaks.
  • To improve sleep quality, close the light of your electronic devices, cancel out noises with white noise or noise cancelling devices.
  • Good lifestyle habits create a buffer against stressful situations and slow down the aging process.
  • Take a minute before responding to a negative situation.
  • View stressful situations as challenges.

Review

Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys To Energizing Your Work And Life, by Tom Rath, is an easy to read self-help book, a practical guide to life and social interactions. It teaches us how to increase our well-being and make the mots of a bad experience.

Tom Rath has been battling an illness his whole life and as a consequence has the ability to put a positive spin on any situation.

Favorite quote(s)

I have discovered that creating meaning is central not just to my existence but to that of every organization in society today. Businesses, schools, governments, families, and faith-based groups are being challenged more than ever to show how they make a meaningful contribution to society. The essential thing people want in a job today is work that will allow them to create meaning for others.

Work should be more than a necessary means to an end.

The best experiences create memories and well-being that last for years to come.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Tom Rath

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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the five dysfunctions of a team to avoid in order to be successful. He teaches us how to build a team as a leader and how to effectively be part of one.

What is a team?

For Lencioni, a team is a “relatively small number of people (anywhere from three to twelve) that shares common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them. Team members readily set aside their individual or personal needs for the greater good of the group.”

Why build a team?

Patrick Lencioni believes in team work and that it is the ultimate competitive advantage in a company. Effective team work being easy to attain but hard to measure, he judges effective team work by measuring its performance, its results, by its capacity to overcome obstacles and the five dysfunctions model (seen below).

Five dysfunctions of a team Patrick Lencioni.

Overcoming Dysfunction #1

Trust is an uncommon trait in life, is the most important factor in team survivals, is rare and is generally hard to instill. Being a trustful and trustworthy designates a person unafraid to be open, candid, transparent, willing to expose their weaknesses, and admit their failures.

Because of human preservation instincts, because people wear masks to protect themselves and their true feelings, being vulnerable is uncommon and unnatural. People don’t find rewarding to take such risks, to put themselves in harm’s way for other people, for an organization.

Furthermore, lack of trust is a destroyer of team work, multiplies hypocrisy, causes the team to watch their every move, monitor their every word. To overcome this dysfunction, Lencioni suggests that:

  • Building trust takes time but is not impossible.
  • Team members take various personality assessment tests, like the Myers Briggs test, before sharing their story.
  • Team members open up so that everyone can judge them fairer, understand the person that they are today, not expecting that they reveal their darkest secrets or that they get emotional.
  • Leaders create a safe space for their team to speak. Team members generally look to their leaders to show them how to build trust. Leaders have to first put themselves out there without knowing that their behavior will be reciprocated, respected or rewarded.
  • Maintain the bounding experience and pursue the relationships built.

Overcoming Dysfunction #2

In addition to overcoming trust issues, teams must learn to handle conflicts. Conflicts don’t necessarily have to be feuds, quarrels or arguments. Conflicts can also be healthy debates that lead the team to a solution, discussions where people are listening and seriously considering other people points of view. Needless to say, without trust, the debate will easily become a contest.

Conflict is inevitable but must not be avoided. It is either constructive or destructive, and anywhere along that spectrum. It has the benefit to push people out of their emotional comfort zone.

To overcome dysfunction #2, Lencioni proposes to:

  • Assess each and everyone conflict profile before hand. Indeed, everybody handles conflict differently. Therefore, it is essential that everybody knows the way they react and interact during conflict, in order to adjust their behavior in the future.
  • Establish a conflict norm for the team. Conflict norming requires laying down rules of engagement, depicting how to team members should engage with one another, and which behaviors are acceptable.
  • The leader that sets the tone by applying the rules, adapting them to the team members and holding them accountable to the rules.
  • The leader has to moderate conflict, especially in meetings, push the quiet ones out of their comfort zone and temper the aggressive ones. Lack of conflict leads to boring meetings, bad decisions, lack of clarity.

Overcoming Dysfunction #3

A lack of commitment is the third dysfunction to be overcome by teams. Commitment lies in fact that the team buys in a decision whether or not they agree with it. To create clarity and alignment, to avoid assumptions:

  • Leaders must extract every unapologetic ideas from their team. Knowing that all aspects of a situation have been studied, that all opinions have been expressed and considered, team members are more likely to commit to the leader’s decision.
  • Leaders must share their principles, missions, values, goals, purpose and their behavioral expectations, generate consistent business policies.

Overcoming Dysfunction #4

All members of the team, including the team leader, must remain accountable for their actions. They must remind each other of their respectful responsibility, of their behaviors, standards, results and performance. Otherwise, they gradually lose respect for each other, lose morale.

Leaders have to be able to receive critical feedback around their behavior and performance in order to give feedback. To encourage a culture of peer-to-peer accountability, Lencioni suggests that teams must openly:

  • identify the most important behavioral characteristics that contributes to the strength of the team and the ones that weakens it of everyone.
  • know everyone’s area of expertise.
  • in meetings, everyone should verbalize their list of priorities and measure their progress.

Overcoming Dysfunction #5

Self-orientated distractions, individualization are also destroyers of teams. To address this last dysfunction, there is no need to have completely overcome the four previous dysfunctions.

Focusing on collective results implies that team members are not self-interested and not only looking out for number one.

Results are what measure team success and keeps people focused on the priorities. Teams must commit early and openly to their expected results, keep a scoreboard and measure the progress at all times.

Reviews

In Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shows leaders how to build and optimize their team through practical examples, gradual exercises and valid  assessments such as the Myers Briggs assessment tests.

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is very insightful and dedicated to toxic environments, to self-disciplined, thoughtful leaders. In order for them to be successful, Lencioni recommends that team members become:

  • More vulnerable with each other, without being touchy-feely or emotional, in order to be successful and to understand each other. It is always difficult to share information about yourself in the workplace because there is always room for manipulation and personal attacks. However, if the exercise succeeds the team is fit to understand the decisions made and actions taken.
  • Masterful at conflicts. This requires that team members assess their strengths and weaknesses, be disciplined enough to control their emotions, be active listeners and seek understanding of others.
  • Committed to the task and to the organization. Creating employee alignment and engagement depends on the leader’s vision and mission statement.
  • Accountable for their actions and behaviors.
  • Focused on results.

Each characteristic can be worked on simultaneously. Of course, the leader has to be the facilitator as well and all expected behaviors have to be modeled on the leader.

After analyzing the 5 different dysfunctions that destroys teams, Lencioni answers additional questions that he received from clients, consultants and executives, replies to the objections of some participants, demonstrates the obstacles to avoid, the ways to convince skeptical leaders, engage uncomfortable people.

At last, Lencioni provides us with tools, questionnaires, team building exercises, road maps, steps to take in order to start and maintain the team building process.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Patrick Lencioni

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Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown

In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less, Greg Mckeown teaches us to hone our decisions making and time management skills in order to achieve more to do less and to do better, to filter out the noise and distractions, to find out what we really want out of life and pursue our dreams the most effective and disciplined way possible.

The essence of Essentialism

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown“Less but better” embodies the ethic of Essentialism. Essentialism is a way of thinking that drives success, that replaces false assumptions that we can do it all, that being busy means being productive, that we must accept every single opportunity that comes our way. Essentialists understand that:

  • They have the ability to choose before they feel helpless and let someone else make decisions for them.
  • Hard work does not necessarily pay off or lead to great results. Essentialists therefore learn to distinguish among all opportunities the best and most appropriate, most essential.
  • Decisions are made by design and not by default. They focus their energy and time on a small portion of activities, and refuse those that achieve their goals.

The exploration and selection process

Essentialists give themselves the liberty to explore everything and anything before making a decisions on what to focus their energy, before committing to one option. To do so, they:

  • Set aside time to think, to focus on different possibilities, to create space for intense concentration, to read, to meditate.
  • Visualize the bigger picture and notice the larger issues that matter.
  • Listen deliberately and observe intensely.
  • Write a journal, with restraint, until it becomes a habit to keep track of the small changes implemented and to memorize the important events and information.
  • Take time to play. In the workplace and in adulthood, playing has become trivial and undermined. However, playing sparks creativity, opens people up to see more possibilities, “challenges old assumptions and makes us more receptive to untested ideas”, alleviates stress, improve overall corporate skills.
  • Make sleep a priority to counter-intuitively remain productive, to increase creativity and sustain a healthy mind.
  • Apply the 90 percent rule, if unsure of a decision, to avoid committing to too many options in our personal and professional lives. “think about the single most important criterion for that decision, and then simply give the option a score between 0 and 100. If you rate it any lower than 90 percent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject”. For example, the 90 percent rule is useful to hire the right people and make sure that they are fit from the start.
  • Say no to the unwanted opportunities that come your way.
  • Fight the fear of missing out.

The elimination process

Furthermore, Essentialists find the courage, strength and conviction to firmly and resolutely say no to external pressure when they believe it is right and eliminate the nonessentials.

They clarify their goals, their personal and professional mission statements, make them concrete, measurable, meaningful and memorable, identify the activities that align themselves with their mission statements.

Clarifying their goals and missions improves their relationships, their motivation, sense of cooperation, sense of purpose, their jobs, roles. It also helps them focus their energy and time in one direction and therefore increase productivity. In the workplace, employees without a clear mission or values tend to play politics.

Often Nonessentialists are afraid of missing out on an opportunity or are afraid of conflict, of not being conform to expectations, to social norms, but saying no will increase your effectiveness and the respect level. Nonessentialists would be better off if they:

  • Separated the person from their decisions.
  • Found different ways to say no politely but firmly. It is critical to be prepared for reactions of annoyance, disappointment or anger from the other party. However, respect usually replaces those emotions in the long run.
  • Traded the denied nonessential opportunities for better ones.
  • Realized that respect is more valuable than popularity.
  • Exercised discipline to remove distractions, cut their losses and stopped investing time, money and energy in nonessentials, dead-end activities.
  • Broke free from a false sense of ownership to a project and object.
  • Avoided staying somewhere just because they are afraid of wasting time, losing their investment and ownership.
  • Admitted their mistakes.
  • Avoided trying too hard to fit in.
  • Challenged the status quo.
  • Took a break before responding to someone and taking on a new commitment.
  • Set boundaries and viewed them as liberating. Essentialists write down their red flags, deal breakers, lay down their priorities and take heed of negative people.

The execution process

It is critical to come up with a system to execute your essential activities, the right things the right way.

To prepare for wet days or to allocate time to respond to the unexpected, Essentialists create a buffer. The buffer is a contingency plan for difficult circumstances, works as a risk management strategy, ensures some wiggle room to execute their activities. To create a buffer, Essentialists:

  • Accurately estimate the time of the activity by adding half the time that is expected to accomplish your tasks.
  • Identify early all obstacles in their plan and remove them beforehand.
  • Take small steps, increase positive interactions and congratulate themselves and their team for small wins.
  • Design a routine to improve their ability to execute the essentials, to render the process easy and unconscious, to remove obstacles, to save their energy in the long run, to enhance their creativity and innovation.
  • Stay in the present, avoid doing too many thing at once as opposed to doing many things and focusing on one thing at a time.

Favorite quote(s)

the pursuit of success can be a catalyst for failure. Put another way, success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place.

Discerning what is essential to explore requires us to be disciplined in how we scan and filter all the competing and conflicting facts, options, and opinions constantly vying for our attention.

By definition, applying highly selective criteria is a trade-off; sometimes you will have to turn down a seemingly very good option and have faith that the perfect option will soon come along.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

Review

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg MckeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less by Greg Mckeown is destined to overachievers, to ambitious people, and to those who feel like they are spread thin in their personal and professional lives.

Indeed, when we want to be successful, we have a tendency of accepting every opportunity that comes to us, we fear that we will be missing out and we worry about everything. Greg Mckeown shows us that we have the power to choose, that it is OK to turn down a mediocre option, with the faith that a better option comes around.

Also, this book administers practical advice, applicable to leaders, illustrated with great examples, and made me realize the number of things that hinder my productivity and my time management.

At last, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less cannot be compared with New Years resolutions but provides a new way of thinking, a new way of life.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Greg Mckeown

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No One Understands You and What To Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson

No One Understands You AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT ITWe seldom are perceived the way we see ourselves or the way we want to be perceived. Contrary to popular belief, our facial expressions are not always readable, our emotions are not that obvious and we don’t communicate as much as we think we do.

In No One Understands You and What To Do About ItHeidi Grant Halvorson explains how perceptions are born, describes a set of stereotypes and assumptions that affect how people perceive you, the different ways for correcting bad impressions and for overcoming misunderstandings.

Guided Perceptions

Halvorson considers that there are many heuristics and assumptions that guide our perceptions and therefore create inaccurate interpretations of people:

  1. Assumption #1: The confirmation bias. Some people look at you and see what they expect to see, taking into account the stereotypes of the groups to which you belong, your culture and their past experiences with you.
  2. Assumption #2: The primary effect. Other people forme their perceptions of you using their initial impression of you. With this assumption, first impressions are lasting impressions.
  3. Assumption #3: Stereotypes. Stereotypes are the beliefs about categories of people to “better understand” them.
  4. Assumption #4: The halo effect. The halo effect is the belief that someone, with one powerful positive trait, has a lot more positive traits.
  5. Assumption #5: The false-consensus effect. The false-consensus effect is the belief that others think and feel the same way that we do.

The Two Phases of Perception

Heidi Grant Halvorson has identified two phases of perception that exist in every interactions:

  1. Phase 1 or System 1 is the automatic and effortless ability to recognize strong emotions in someone’s facial expression and voice, to identify, categorize and interpret a given behavior, to attach that given behavior to “some aspect of your personality, character or abilities”. First impressions are made in Phase 1. Perception often stops at Phase 1 and people, being busy, tend to rely heavily on heuristics and assumptions.
  2. Phase 2 or System 2 is the ability, through complex and effortful mental operations to get a complete and accurate understanding of someone, by taking into account additional factors about you. This effort has to purposefully be motivated by an attention-grabbing circumstance.

Distortion of The Phases of Perception

The level of trust, the possession of power and the size of the ego tend have an impact on these phases of perception. However, these distortions can be averted by understanding the circumstances and the wanted results of each interaction.

The level of trust

Most of the time, people are not just trying to make assumptions about you but are trying to find out unconsciously if they can trust you, especially in the workplace: are you a friend or a foe? The decision to trust is made unconsciously in Phase 1 of perception, and depends on the way that you project warmth and competence.

To increase trust to the people around you:

  • Convey warmth indirectly by giving subtle but genuine complements, by providing assistance whenever you can, by showing interest in others feelings and thoughts.
  • Demonstrate empathy by acknowledging someone else’s perspective.
  • Manifest your trust in people first by being cooperative, talking about your vulnerabilities and challenges.
  • Transmit competence by making eye contact while speaking.
  • Show will power by showing self-control.
  • Avoid overconfidence by showing modesty and restraint.
  • Adopt a power pose in order to take up most of the space, to signal your competence.
  • Emphasize your potential for greatness and for success.

The possession of power

Having more or less power changes the impressions that we form about one another.

Powerful people tend to be overwhelmed with responsibilities and have no time to spare, are focused on their goals, rely heavily on stereotypes to categorize people, stay stuck in Phase 1 of perception. Also, the sad truth is that powerful people don’t pay much attention to less powerful people.

To get noticed by powerful people and to increase your influence:

  • Be instrumental to their success.
  • Find out how you can align your objectives with those of the powerful.
  • Ease their burden.
  • Anticipate their needs and challenges.
  • Avoid complementing them because they don’t care.

The size of the ego

Perception is distorted by the size of the ego in such ways that you must come out on top, feeling good about yourself.

Your ego has the purpose of protecting and enhancing your self-esteem. To control the way people perceive you through their ego, you will need to:

  • Help people enhance their self-esteem.
  • Evaluate the threat that you and your abilities pose to your colleagues.
  • Be humble about your accomplishments, past and current difficulties. Avoid tooting your own horn, playing dumb or acting like someone else.
  • Affirm other people by praising them and their achievements.
  • Avoid stereotyping other people.

The eager reward seekers and the vigilant risk mitigators

The safety and security of our personal situations also poses a threat to our perceptions of people, of our colleagues and of our career.

On one hand, the eager reward seeker looks for opportunities everywhere, are effective, risk takers, rule breakers, adventurers, optimistic, motivated, innovative and often creative. Unfortunately, eager reward seekers are prone to fail and to underestimate problems.

On the other, the vigilant risk mitigators see danger everywhere they go, are vigilant, risk averse, reliable, thorough and deliberate, prone to analytical thinking and self-doubt.

To get the best of both types of people, simply adapt your language to each of them by making one see a potential for gain and the other a cautionary plan.

The clingy, anxious and the aloof, avoidant 

The need for closeness shapes our relationship with others.

The clingy and anxious people tend to have low self-esteem, need validation, constantly seek closeness and are worried that the people that they have built a relationship with will leave them, see injuries and slights where there aren’t, fear rejection. To accommodate them, practise empathy, don’t take it personally, clarify your speech, stay reliable to this person.

The aloof and avoidant people don’t foster close relationships but instead maintain emotional distance. To accommodate them, don’t take their behavior personally, restraint your own warmth, give them time to open up.

Correcting bad impressions and fighting misunderstandings

Finally, to correct bad impressions and start over on the right track:

  • Expose everyone with attention-getting evidence of the contrary evidence of you so they can notice and cannot deny reality.
  • Force people to revisit their opinion of you by making them feel that their judgement is unfair or unequal.
  • Make people depend on you and need you to reach their goals.

Review

No One Understands You and What To Do About It by Heidi Grant Halvorson is a great self-development book that explores the prominent reasons why we are often misunderstood and gives useful advice on how to clean up our reputation, to clarify a difficult situation. Every single conclusion that Halvorson draws is scientifically researched and illustrated with probing examples.

This book is intended for people who have made past mistakes with people and want to correct them. It was absolutely hard to read because Halvorson revealed hard truths, reminded me of the stereotypes that pursue me on a daily basis and that keep interfering with my goals, forces me to question myself and my behavior. In addition, this book made me more self-conscious about my presentation to the world and my decisions, more aware that first impressions are critical, that most people don’t think the same way I do, react the same I do, or perceive me the same way I do.

Furthermore, No One Understands You and What To Do About It was also cathartic and purging, helped me become a better judge of others, understand that the way people treated me in the past was not my full responsibility.

Favorite quote(s)

Studies show that while very strong, basic emotions—surprise, fear, disgust, and anger—are fairly easy to read, the more subtle emotions we experience on a daily basis are not.
You are never really starting from scratch with another person, even when you are meeting him or her for the first time. The perceiver’s brain is rapidly filling in details about you—many before you have even spoken a word. Knowing this gives you a sense of what you’ve got going for you and what you might be up against. And the more you can know in advance about your perceiver’s likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses, the better equipped you will be to anticipate what’s being projected onto you.

 

The benefits of projecting trustworthiness (and the costs of failing to do so) are Enormous, particularly in the workplace. Studies show, for instance, that the willingness to share knowledge with colleagues—a sticking point in most large organizations—is strongly predicted by feelings of trust among employees.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Heidi Grant Halvorson

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H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick

H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle.According to Brad Lomenick, in H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle., there comes a time in a leader’s life where he or she has to transform, renew and rediscover himself or herself.

Intentionally or not, leaders develop habits throughout their lives, that dictate their approach to work and to the tasks that they accomplish daily, that take their ideas and turn them into concrete results. Habits also shape leaders core values and personalities, behaviors and daily actions. This is why leaders must look at their old leadership habits, invest the time to break bad ones, sustain the good ones, create new ones, and seek to reboot themselves.

It is therefore necessary for leaders to take a decision to implement change within them and within their organization, and for them to be committed to the task.

According to Brad Lomenick, it is foundational for leaders to revisit the motto Humble, Hungry and Hustle. This mantra categorizes 20 core leadership habits and conveys the right philosophy in order to become a catalyst leader and contemporaneous influencer. By being humble, leaders are able to discover who they really are. By staying hungry, leaders are able to figure out their destination. By hustling, leaders search for the best way to reach their destination and goals.

BE HUMBLE: “Who am I?”

Leaders, at the beginning of their transformation, have to develop habits of self-discovery, of openness, meekness, conviction, faith and assignment.

  1. A Habit of Self-Discovery: Know who you are. Creating a habit of self discovery signifies that the leader has to purposefully and continually observe, listen, understand and define who he or she is. Self discovery is a never-ending process. Most leaders identify deeply with their organization and tend to lose their sense of self. However, they must learn to connect with the organization without merging with it or without changing themself into something else, without creating an illusion of self that will crumble at the first obstacle. They must know their strengths, weaknesses and values in order to succeed. Their scale of influence will reflect their level of self assessment. Furthermore, it takes courage to present the true self to the world and bravery to resist the factors that shape us and impose themselves on us.
  2. A Habit of Openness: Share the real you with others. Leaders must learn to be open and vulnerable with their followers and with those closest to them even though the higher they are on the “ladder of influence and power, the more difficult it is to be open”. Leaders must keep it real and be authentic: they show who they really are with they followers, they don’t hide their weaknesses nor their emotions, and they know what to do with what they have discovered about themselves. Leaders evaluate their value of connectedness, create deep relationships, are skilled communicators, answer dreaded and difficult questions if they can trust their interlocutor, know how to apologize to those that they have wronged or hurt, have a confidant outside of work that they can rely on and lean on for tough decision. Leaders are also transparent and can admit when they make a mistake. Of course not everything should be disclosed and not with everyone and less should be discussed the more the circle of influence increases.
  3. A Habit of Meekness: Remember it’s not about you. Developing a habit of meekness leads to quiet confidence, avoid leaders from becoming arrogant and from turning inward while on the path of self discovery. Indeed, the company culture should not revolve around the leaders, should not seek the leaders approval and should not suffer from their absence.
  4. A Habit of Conviction: Know your principles, stick to them and live out your convictions. Leaders must have conviction, integrity, strong values, strong moral compass, protect their reputation, and stand up for what they believe in, for what us right and against what is wrong.
  5. A Habit of Faith: Prioritize your day so God is first. Taking the habit of putting God first allows to visualize the bigger picture, to stop worrying about the future, to ignore what people are saying, to fulfill a higher purpose, to remain grateful towards God. Leaders are able to gain spiritual discipline and grow spirituality by speaking and mostly listening to God on a daily basis.
  6. A Habit of Assignment. Pursue your purpose. Leaders must learn to their innate proclivities to accomplish their assignments and live out a higher calling.

STAY HUNGRY: “Where do I want to go?”

  1. A Habit of Ambition: Develop an appetite for what’s next. Ambition is mist often seen in a negative light and is always associated to a negative adjective. However, ambition is what pushes leaders forward and gives them the will to do better. Leaders have to be careful of how they feed their ambition appetite in order to cultivate healthy work relationships and to fuel other healthy habits.
  2. A Habit of Curiosity: Keep learning. Leaders have to listen more than they speak and ask probing questions.
  3. A Habit of Passion: Love what you do. Passions bond people together, create memories, sustain long-term enthusiasm and zeal. It is up to the leader to fuel his or her engaged and feed his or her enthusiasm to the organization.
  4. A Habit of Innovation: Stay current, creative, and engaged. Leadership requires innovation, pushes for change and doesn’t need a title nor an official position to initiate change. Rather it necessitates courage, steadfastness through failures, stamina and an environment for change. Leaders must challenge the status quo, refuse to coast and build habits of exploring new ideas.
  5. A Habit of Inspiration: Nurture a vision for a better tomorrow. Leaders look to the future and hope for a better tomorrow, have a vision for the future that makes work life more enjoyable, motivational, learn to communicate their vision and persuade the crowd.
  6. A Habit of Bravery: Take calculated risks. Leaders confront their fears and push through them, get out their comfort zone and are never comfortable in one position.

HUSTLE: “How will I get there?”

  1. A Habit of Excellence: Set standards that scare you. Leaders must thrive to be the best at what they do and to produce the best effort in order to succeed.
  2. A Habit of Stick-with-it-ness: Take the long view. Success in life requires preparation. Leaders have to resist current movements of instant and uncommon success stories, the pressure to innovate and continually create better and innovative products. Instead, they have to discipline themselves, learn to be faithful, learn to be grateful and to discern what is important in order to build their legacy.
  3. A Habit of Execution: Commit to completion. Leaders translate their ideas into action, enjoy bringing their actions to fruition, make an effort to deliver the best product without slacking off or slowing down.
  4. A Habit of Team Building: Create an environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest. Leaders must invest in their employees, motivate and stimulate them, show appreciation and help them create good relationships with one another. In addition, because culture building cannot be delegated, leaders must take it upon themselves to create a pleasant work environment for their team, generate positive memories and experiences with their team.
  5. A Habit of Partnership: Collaborate with colleagues and competitors to generate a higher revenue or to pursue a higher purpose. Partners bring new perspectives, new improvements to your organization, a new set of skills and competencies. Forging alliances requires strategy, intention, thoughtfulness, time and energy. However, forming relationships with other leaders and partnerships with other organizations is essential, especially when climbing up the ladder.
  6. A Habit of Margin: Nurture healthier rhythms. Leaders must learn to manage their time effectively, to unwind and reset their batteries in order to be more effective.
  7. A Habit of Generosity: Leave the world a better place. Leaders are generous with their time and energy and not only their money. They help others become successful and give without expecting anything in return.
  8. A Habit of Succession: Find power in passing the baton. Leaders have to learn his to let go and continue their legacy by finding their succession.

Review

H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle., by Brad Lomenick, is a compelling and insightful self-development book where Brad Lomenick recaps his professional experiences at Catalyst, draw conclusions from his leadership style and allies spirituality with leadership.

Throughout his entire book, Lomenick shares numerous tips on how to become a better leader. He also references several of his peers such as John Maxwell, Stephen Coven and Laura Vanderkam, and divulges alternate leadership tips.

In my opinion, there are two major take-aways from this book:

  • firstly, in order to lead others you have to figure out who you are first. Indeed, people tend to follow you, your personality, your values instead of following your job. Furthermore, you cannot tell others how to behave in certain situations and which route to take if you don’t know which one you would take yourself. Some would say to lead others, first lead yourself.
  • Secondly, in the morning, before checking your emails or drinking coffee, develop a habit of seeking God first.

Favorite quote(s)

But leadership is more than hard work; its habitual work.

In my experience too few leaders recognize the importance of habits in life. One researcher at Duke University, for example, found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.1 When you rise in the morning, nearly half of your day will be determined by the patterns you’ve either intentionally created or passively allowed.

Your sense of identity will help determine your scale of influence. Ignore it at your own peril.

Know your own strengths, limitations, and values. Have relational transparency and genuineness. This involves being honest and straightforward, and not playing games or having a hidden agenda. Be fair-minded and do the right thing. Effective leaders solicit opposing viewpoints and consider all options before choosing a course of action. They’re open to the fact that they “may be wrong” and someone else may have the best idea. A true leader has an ethical core and knows the right thing to do.

Leaders must make honesty and trust the standard for their organizational culture.

Never satisfied, but always content is the posture of a properly ambitious leader.

The best leaders are people of integrity and principle who know the difference between principles and preferences. They are willing to stand up for the right things and stand against the wrong things. These leaders value their reputations, their consciences, and their values.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Brad Lomenick

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The Key To Success by Russell H. Conwell

The key to successThe Key To Success, by Russell H. Conwell is an essay to encourage people to seek their own success by observing the events around them. Russell H. Conwell seeks to find the intelligent and the “leading men and women” of tomorrow.

An  intelligent person recognizes their abilities and limits, understand that they have to hire someone with more insights, knowledge and competencies to do what she or he is not able to do so.

Furthermore, in life, having a leading man or woman is necessary. It is evident that very few are fit to lead or to know what to do under difficult or important circumstances: only wise and good men are fit to be leaders.

The story of the Silver Crown

In Ackba, there was a beautiful palace and in the palace, next to the throne, there was a pedestal with a Silver Crown, which the emperor wore when he passed a law and without which the emperor was a regular citizen. After many years of ruling, the emperor died and left the throne without an heir or anyone to claim the Silver Crown.

After twelve years of searching for a successor, when the country started to sink, the astrologers, who worshipped the stars, asked the stars where to find a successor. The stars answered:

Look up and look down your country, and when you find a man whom the animals follow, the sun serves, the waters obey, and mankind love, you need not to ask who his ancestors were. This man will be one of the royal line entitle to the throne of gold and the Crown of Silver.

The astrologers searched the country, asked the people but were met with ridicule. Until one night, an old astrologer got lost in the Himalaya Mountains and took refuge in a cottage to find an intelligent leader, worthy of the throne.

Through the story of the Silver Crown, Russell H. Conwell illustrates four characteristics that he deems are necessary to subsist in modern civilization.

How to find the intelligent leaders of tomorrow?

Russell H. Conwell uses the four characteristics of the Silver Crown story to determine the leaders of tomorrow: a man or woman whom the animals follow, a man or woman whom the sun serves, a man or woman whom the waters obey, and a man or woman who possesses mankind love.

Characteristic 1: Animals will follow the leader

Conwell considers that, alike universities, animals ought to instruct and encourage us. He takes a scientifical approach to demonstrate the knowledge and power embodied in animals.

Studying the animals and taking notice of their instinctive knowledge on a daily basis will allow us to comprehend life better. For example:

  • The horse is much more useful than a human being. The horse “has within its body so much galvanic and electric force continually generated by the activities of life, that if that electricity could be concentrated and held to a certain point, a horse could stand still and run a forty-horse power electric engine.” Whereas, a human being, standing still, can run a ten-power horse engine.
  • A hen and her egg are filled with mystery and more knowledge than an intelligent professor with degrees from prestigious schools are willing to admit or to spend time studying. Conwell believes, contrary to science, that hens or chickens possess their own language, the “egg is the greatest scientific problem with which the world has ever grappled — the beginning of life and the God-given design”.

Characteristics 2 & 3: the sun will serve the leader and the waters will obey the leader

Through the story of the locomotive and the milkman, Conwell shows how a leader is being served by both sun and water, the importance of getting educated on a daily basis and noticing the events around us and noticing the unnoticed.

The locomotive, using steam to move and driven by Man, is used to illustrate these 2 characteristics. A milkman took a locomotive every day to distribute his milk. On the train, he consistently asked questions about the functioning of the train to the engineers. One day, while the fireman and the engineer were absent, the train rolled down the mountain. Fortunately, the milkman was on the train, knew how to drive it and saved everyone, including a stakeholder in the railroad company. The milkman happened to get rich of his knowledge and his curiosity.

Characteristic 4: mankind will love the leader

A leader gains the love of mankind by being great benefactors: while they are going after their own success, they bless humanity, they hear the call of humanity and respond to it.

The university from which they have graduated from does not matter in real life. University can make you unlearn the real values and useful knowledge, needed in real life. An uneducated person will know more instinctively than anyone who has been to school by using their everyday observations, even though they have a degree from a university or not.

Review

key to successThe Key To Success by Russell H. Conwell is a great book that takes approximately one hour to read. It is filled with picturesque stories and fictional dialogues to illustrate and to get us to remember his point. It is dedicated to those who wish to become leaders and strengthens their core values, for those who are eager for success. It emphasizes the idea that every man is his own university, that every man should take notice of his surroundings and learn from everything.

In The Key To Success, Russell H. Conwell is very controversial, progressist, scientifically curious and forward for his time. He is continually questioning the limits of science and of human knowledge, is answering the questions that science cannot answer with the knowledge of God.

After reading this book, all I could think is “I like this guy” for his opinion. Conwell does not hesitate to denounce academics, with diplomas from prestigious schools, who have no time to study “lesser” things in life, who belive that their studied education trumps their natural and instinctive education. Hence, for him, science does not explain everything but we should seek explanation from God.

Favorite quote(s)

There is danger that a man will get so much education that he won’t know anything of real value because his useless education has driven the useful out of his mind.

The great scientific men—and we need more—often are not given the full credit that is due them because they have not “graduated” from somewhere. It seems to me there is a feeling in these later days for creating an aristocracy among the men who have graduated from some rich university. But that does not determine a man’s life. It may be a foolish tyranny for a little while, but nevertheless every man and woman must finally take the place where he and she are best fitted to be, and do the things that he and she can do best, and the things about which he and she really know. Where they graduated, or when, will not long count in the race of practical life.

Do you know that the humblest man, whatever his occupation, really knows instinctively certain things better for not having been to school much? It is so easy to bias the mind.

No man ever gives himself for others’ good in the right spirit without receiving “a hundredfold more in this present time.”

Many of us spend our lives searching for success when it is usually so close that we can reach out and touch it

Ratings 3,5/5

Author

Russell Herman Conwell

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How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton

How Full is Your BucketIn How Full is Your Bucket?, Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath have partnered up in the hopes of helping people focus on the positive and not the negative. In his previous research and in his life experiences, Donald O. Clifton noticed that every interaction in life made a difference and profoundly shaped his perceptions.

The theory of the dipper and the bucket

To Donald O. Clifton and to Tom Rath, everyone possesses an invisible bucket and an invisible dipper. Filling your bucket would be synonymous to “boosting your well-being” and feeling engaged in your work.

An invisible bucket that can be emptied or filled depending on our interactions with others. When the bucket is full, we feel great, optimistic, energetic, renewed and strong.

An invisible dipper that can empty of fill someone else’s bucket. When the dipper is used to fill someone else’s bucket, we simultaneous fill our own bucket. When we use our dipper to empty someone else’s bucket, we empty our own bucket.

The power of Negativity

The Power of NegativityNegativity has the power to kill an individual. For most of us, negativity is common and harmless, but erodes our well-being and productivity. Negativity is also contagious and pushes us to start dipping in someone else’s bucket in the hopes of fulling ours.

In the workplace, daily multiple micro aggressions or the accumulation of negative interactions can cause people invisible and individual bucket to be emptied. An empty bucket has consequences on your well-being, on the well-being of your friends and family members, on your work performance, on your team’s productivity.

The disengagement and the negativity of employees are conveyed by “glazed looks”, counter productivity, a tendency to “stirring up trouble with whining, complaining, and even paranoia.

Fortunately, positivity is much more impactful than negativity.

As a leader or manager, how to make sure that employees individual bucket is full? How to get them to stay engaged?

Employees often lack recognition for their good work and “praise is rare in most organization”.

It takes a little initiative to create inexpensive and meaningful bucket filling experiences. For example, a short, motivating, positive conversation from leaders to increase employees productivity, alignment and engagement would suffice.

Leaders and managers have to:

  • switch the focus on their employees strengths only,
  • daily and positively interact with their team members.

Where is Negativity Rooted?

Our predisposition for either positivity or negativity is similar to our metabolism and our or disposition for weight gain. No matter how much someone eats, they will always remain thin.

Filling someone bucket should be unique, specific to the individual, appropriate to the work environment. Generic one size fits all approaches often backfire.

The american culture is to blame for the development and inclination toward negativity. In the American culture, we focus on what we do wrong instead of what we do right, on fixing weaknesses and dismissing strengths. “This focus is particularly evident in our school experiences” or at work where our natural talents and our skills don’t fit our roles. Also, we expect our employees to change their personality to fit the role.

According to John Gottman’s research on marriage, there is a magic ratio to respect in order to maintain positivity and to fill your bucket. The magic ratio is 5:1 which means that there must be 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction.

This magic ratio is critical for the workplace. For instance, teams with having more than 3 positive interactions for every negative interaction (3:1 ratio) gain in productivity and engagement. However, teams having more than a 13:1 ratio lose in productivity.

That is why, Rath and Clifton recommend grounding positivity in reality, but also acknowledging negativity and weaknesses and correcting mistakes.

The Benefits of Positivity

Positive or negative encounters are highly memorable and can change your life forever. Positivity creates a mindset that:

  • becomes a buffer against adversity, depression, health issues,
  • enables recovery from traumatic, painful experiences,
  • improves mental physical well-being,
  • stands as a coping and defense mechanisms,
  • transforms and breaks down social barriers,
  • generates optimal functioning in organizations and in individuals,
  • Induced by leader, improves productivity and group performance in the workplace.

How to Increase Positive Emotions?

To increase positive emotions and positive encounters, apply the following five strategies:

  1. Prevent any type of bucking dipping

    • Stop poking fun at someone, focusing in their insecurities, chronically criticizing others.
    • Encourage this change among people around you.
    • Start pressing pause consciously eliminating unwarranted negativity.
    • Keep track of your progress by scoring your interactions.
  1. Focus on what is right instead of what is wrong

To know if your focus us centered around what is right or if you have some impact on your environment, take the Positive Impact Test from Gallup. The Positive Impact Test provides 15 statements to measure your impact and your progress. Don’t hesitate to print them, read them and encourage your friends to take the test.

  1. Develop several good relationships

    • These relationships have to be best friends quality with coworkers in order to increase your job satisfaction and productively and subsequently increase theirs.
    • Actively listen to your coworkers.
    • Acknowledge when someone is doing a great job.
  2. Give unexpectedly

  3. Reverse the Golden Rule

    • The Golden Rule signifies “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Clifton and Rath introduced the reverted golden rule: “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”.
    • Personalize your interactions and the way you praise and recognize others.

Review

How Full is Your Bucket? by Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath is a brief, easy to read, encouraging and compelling book that gives tools to spread positivity in life or at work, to become a better leader, to develop values and character.

Furthermore, I found interesting that both authors share their personal adversities and explain how they have ingrained positivity in their lives and thoughts to overcome their health obstacles.

On a personal level, I wanted to read a positive book, that can stimulate everyone’s mind, inspire leaders to work on themselves and their leadership skills, to provide some tools to dilute the toxicity and the negativity in the workplace, to break the cycle of negativity in your life.

I believe that most of us can handle positive situations and encounters, but not everyone can handle difficult situations, that preparation is key and it is better to be safe then sorry, that it is better to be warned about toxicity than to be blindsided by it, and finally that knowledge is power.

In addition, Donald O. Clifton and Tom Rath are right when they claim that negativity stems from your culture and has become the norm. They are also right when they state that emptying someone else’s bucket will not make you feel better but only make you feel less then. So, you have to wonder: are you a bucket filler or a bucket dipper?

Favorite quote(s)

Most of us want more positive emotions in our lives. We want to feel like Tammy did in her brief meeting with Karen more often – and like she did after her performance review less often. Unfortunately, wanting a more positive environment isn’t enough. Most of us have grown up in a culture in which it’s much easier to tell people what they did wrong instead of praising them when they succeed. Although this negativity-based approach might have evolved unintentionally, it nevertheless permeates our society at all levels.

Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific, and deserved.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Donald O. Clifton

Tom Rath

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

the seven habits of highly effective people - book coverIn The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey distinguishes two major social paradigms that have embodied the search for success and the “fundamental principles of human effectiveness” since 1776: the Character Ethic and the Personality Ethic.

According to Stephen R. Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, in the United States, from 1776 to WWI, leadership culture was based around building character. It was said that Character Ethic was the foundation of long-term success: leaders were thought values and habits to develop their basic character.

However, from World War I to Today, leadership and success teachings have been promoting Personality Ethic. Personality Ethic provides quick fixes to help an individual deceive their way to the top, to success and to leadership positions. Personality Ethic teachings work short-term, don’t fix issues but just disguise them.

Moreover, Covey claims that we possess several paradigms or maps of how we see things and a map of how things should be which comes from our values. These maps are the basis of our attitudes and behaviors. Paradigms, which are our frame of reference or assumptions, are affected by our conditioning through life, by the influences of our friends and family, of our institutions, our culture, of our historical backgrounds, systems of beliefs, life experiences.

As a result, our attitudes and behaviours are congruent of our paradigms. So therefore, attempting to change only our attitudes and behaviors, as instilled by the Personality Ethic movement, is completely useless and is short-termed. In order to implement change in our character or a “paradigm shift“, it is then necessary to directly assess our paradigms, to examine them, to test them against reality, to listen to others and to be open to their perception.

The term “paradigm shift” is coined from the Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. It means breaking with tradition, old beliefs, old assumptions, old paradigms. Paradigms shift can be toward a positive or negative direction, “instantaneous or developmental” and “create a powerful change”.

Throughout The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests that we shift our paradigms back to the Character Ethic, that we start shifting our thinking from the inside and introduces seven habits to enhance personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

The Character Ethic is a general and fundamental truth, universally applicable, unchangeable and unarguable laws and “principles that govern human effectiveness”, that are “bigger than people or circumstances”, that innately exist in all human beings, are common to all civilization and that triumph time and time again.

Acquiring Character Ethic is the basis of high level of trust in companies, is a long process that should be natural ad cannot be a shortcut. First step to the process is admitting your ignorance or lack of knowledge.

What is a habit?

Character is the composite of embedded habit, and it is necessary to solve the problems we face from the inside out because private victories exceed public victories.

A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire and is a natural force like gravity. Breaking a habit can be a painful process, demands effort and technique, should be motivated by a higher purpose, a willingness to sacrifice our current desire for a future and unseen desire.

What are the seven habits?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People moves us on the maturity continuum. It brings us from a state of dependence where we need others to accomplish something for us, to a state of independence where we are self-reliant, self-motivated, derive our self-worth from within and are freed from external dependence, to a state of interdependence where we are self-reliant and competent in our own right but able to work with others, and believe that together we accomplish more.

In addition, the seven habits are habits of effectiveness, a balance between the production of a desired result and the investment in the ability to produce or in the physical, financial and human, asset that produces. Covey believes that to achieve effectiveness , we must strike the P/PC balance, where P stands for Production and PC for Production Capability.

The 3 following habits are the habits of Private Victory. These habits are used to become more confident, to know yourself deeper and to acknowledge your contribution capacity, to define yourself from within instead of using society’s point of view to define yourself. Stephen R. Covey encourages us to develop the habits of being proactive, keeping our future goals in mind and of creating our vision.

HABIT #1: Be proactive

In management literature, being proactive means taking initiative. Here, it also means being responsible for our lives and our decisions, being able to choose a response when faced with a stimulus.

Proactive people, unlike reactive people:

  • Are unaffected by their physical environment and are value driven. Their performance and attitudes remain constant whether it rains or shines.
  • Are unaffected by their social environment. they don’t build their emotional lives around people weaknesses and don’t allow those weaknesses to control their lives and decisions.  Instead they surrender their emotions to their values and don’t allow reactive language to affect them.
  • Take the initiative. Act before being acted upon, provide solution to a problem and enable growth and opportunity.
  • Look to focus their time and energy on areas that they can control or influence. Indeed, they don’t focus on others weaknesses and problems and uncontrollable events.
  • Constantly work on their habits, change from the inside-out.
  • Take full responsibility for their short-comings.
  • Are free to choose their actions but understand that they cannot control the consequences of these actions.
  • Govern their behaviors with principles, acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them and correct them immediately.
  • Have integrity: they make and keep their commitments and promises.
  • Monitor their language and the language of the people around them.
  • Identify past and potential experiences to which they have behaved reactively and play out scenarios towards a solution.

HABIT #2: Begin with the end in mind

For Stephen R. Covey, beginning with the end in mind means using the “end of your life as your frame of reference or criterion by which everything else is examined”, starting with “a clear understanding of your destination” to “know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right destination”. To begin with the end in mind:

  • Use habit #1 to be proactive to change preexisting thought, shift your paradigm, examine your deepest values.
  • Be aware and conscious of your limitless potential, of your uniqueness.
  • Be imaginative enough to visualize the unseen.
  • Be responsible and response-able.
  • Do not violate the criteria that you have set for yourself.
  • Lead yourself daily in order to execute what really matters.
  • Develop a “personal mission statement or philosophy or creed” describing your aspiring character, achievements, contributions, values and principles. The personal mission statement becomes your guide and standard, provides you with a sense of mission, helps define your short-termed and long-termed goals and allows change because your core has now become changeless. Basically, developing a personal mission statement makes you much more effective because your energy, time and strengths are dedicated to areas that matter to you. Personal mission statements are not to be written overnight but might take several weeks because they require deep introspection. Also, they have to be written alone and reviewed many times before producing a final form.

HABIT #3: Put first things first

Stephen R. Covey believes that all things are created twice, by design or by default. The first creation starts in the mind where you envision the future and you plan for a destination. The second creation is physical: you bring what you visualize into reality and you take the best route towards your planned destination.

For Covey, leadership is the first creation and management is the second. Indeed, leadership creates the way, opens the pathway, provides direction and a destination. On the other hand, management clears the pathway by “writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies and setting up working schedules and contributions programs”.

To be able to physically create and implement your vision into reality, you have to:

  • be proactive, understand that you are in control and are able to change your paradigm,
  • envision your potential and your destination and be self-ware,
  • have discipline to effectively carry out your plans, to stick to your values and to manage your time and life,
  • prioritize, schedule, select goals and leave space for unanticipated events,
  • delegate responsibility to skilled and trained individuals to focus their energy on high-leverage activities.

“Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others”.

On one hand, Habits #1, #2 and #3 are habits of Private Victory and are about developing your inner self, your character and your core values.

on the other hand, Habits #4, #5, #6 are habits of Public Victory, help in improving your relationship with others and working successfully with others.

Using the Personality Ethic, we might have a superficial and duplicitous relationship with others. Difficulty in relationships translates into tolerable chronic emotional pain  that can turn into psychosomatic diseases. The symptoms of these emotional pains cannot be treated with quick fixes and techniques from the Personality Ethic.

Nevertheless, the Character Ethic provides a foundation for effective interdependence. The interdependence paradigm teaches us to:

  • seek to understand others and stimulate their deep interest or needs,
  • attend to kindness and courtesies,
  • keep commitments and promises to people in order to build trust,
  • clarify expectations from the start to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts,
  • manifest integrity by being honest, loyal to those who are not present, by treating everyone with the same set of principles,
  • help others “feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity and integrity”,
  • handle problems and see them as opportunities.

HABIT #4: Think Win/Win

Stephen R. Covey identifies 6 paradigms of human interaction:

  1. The Win/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm seek mutual benefits in all human interactions, believe that life is a cooperation and not a competition, that a “person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others”.
  2. The Win/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm don’t create synergy or cooperation, use the authoritarian or commanding leadership style and are accustomed to low trust and competitive environments.
  3. The Lose/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm have no standard, no demands, no expectation, no vision, search for popularity and acceptance, are quick to please and appease, repress their emotions and feelings, and are easily intimidated by ego strengths of others.
  4. The Lose/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm live by the “philosophy of the highly dependent person without inner direction”, who is miserable and thinks everyone else should be too.
  5. The Win paradigm. People with this mentality seek to win not necessarily wanting the other party to lose or win.
  6. The Win/Win or No Deal paradigm. If no synergistic solution is brought to the table that could satisfy both parties, then there is no deal. This paradigm provides emotional freedom.

Stephen R. Covey promotes the Win/Win paradigm and establishes that a Win/Win person possesses specific character traits: they have integrity, they have maturity which means that they are able to express their views with consideration to others, and they have the abundance mentality which means that they believe that there is enough for everyone.

Of course, not all decisions are Win/Win, but to know when to apply the Win/Win paradigm, you must understand the problem from another perspective, identify the other person’s issues and concerns, other acceptable results, and new possible outcomes for the situation.

HABIT #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood

To be able to influence and to develop effective interpersonal communication skills, it is better to diagnose a situation before prescribing or proving advice.

To understand another person’s emotional and intellectual paradigm, Covey instructs us to listen empathetically, without making assumptions, and warns us to not listen to reply, manipulate, control or sympathize.

Empathic listening takes time initially but saves time afterwards, is risky because you become vulnerable to influence. That is why we must develop a changeless core of principles, erected in Habits #1, #2, #3.

Furthermore, seeking to be understood requires maturity, an ability to present your ideas clearly, specifically, visually and contextually and an ability to consider all the facts and perceptions. To take preventive measures, schedules one-on-one before issues arise.

HABIT #6: Synergize

Synergy means that “the whole is greater than the sums of its parts”, and is used to create cooperation in our social interaction. To create synergy on a daily basis:

  • value and respect social, mental and emotional differences to nurture people self-esteem and self-worth. Effective people acknowledge the limits if their perceptions, appreciate diverse interactions because they had to this person’s knowledge and understanding of reality, increase their awareness,
  • build on strengths and compensate weaknesses,
  • be open to new possibilities, alternatives and options,
  • be open to learning and to other’s influence.

HABIT #7: Sharpen the Saw

Finally, Habit #7 sums up the entire book. Habit #7 is about investing, preserving and enhancing your preexisting assets and means exercising sound motivation and organisation in four different dimensions:

  • The physical dimension is about caring for the health of our body by eating right and exercising.
  • The “spiritual dimension provides leadership in your life”, is your core and your commitment to your value system.
  • The mental dimension come from formal eduction, expansion of the mind.
  • The social/emotional dimension that is centered on developing interpersonal leadership, empathic communication and creative cooperation.

Review

the seven habits of highly effective people - book coverThe Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book that has been on my shelf for longest while. It was written in 1989 but is still contemporaneous and can very much serve as guide to life, for personal and professional growth.

I avidly took notes in the perspective of actively applying every single tip and read it twice in order to capture the very essence of the book.

I recommend it to all leaders that are trying to integrate core values and to ingrain “good” habits into their character in order to experience success, to increase their effectiveness at work and to become the best leader that they can be.

I like that each paragraph are interconnected and that the author is personally implicated, is genuine with his approach and his drive to see us succeed and become more effective.

Covey calls out the books since World War I, promoting Personality Ethic, that provide quick fixes and band aids to deep-rooted problems. These books suggest techniques and principles to encourage leaders to put up a front and act like a leader would and not actually be a leader. Covey is also being very transparent about the dysfunction of the society these days, willing to manipulate and deceive their way to the top.

Finally, he reminds us that it is not all that shines that is glitter: the deception does not last very long and the leadership tower crashes because it has no basis and because the leadership house was built on sand.

Favorite Quote(s)

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other — while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity — then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do — even using so-called good human relations techniques — will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.

You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.

Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.

Ratings 3,75/5

Author

Stephen R. Covey

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The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value by Andrew Kakabadse

The Success Formula: How Outstanding Leaders Create ValueIn The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value, Andrew Kakabadse acknowledges the complexities of leadership and researches the factors for leadership success, in the fast-paced and complex global marketplace. The skills needed to succeed in the past are today insufficient.

Andrew Kakabadse suggests that creating value is the origin of success, the definition of success depending on the type of value the organization wants to create and on the way they want to create value.

What is value?

Creating value should be the “primary purpose of leadership”.

The notion of value stretches itself from going public to the number of stakeholders, from not losing money to making profit, from creating quality products to retaining customers, from contributing to society to connecting stakeholders, customers, suppliers, others individuals to the activity of the organization.

What is success?

“[…] success is the creation of value — economic and social benefits and outcomes that serve a purpose for the people they are intended to help, in accordance with a set of values that the organization subscribes to”.

What is considered failure?

Failure is the destruction of value or the unsuccessful delivery of value due to bad management.

Organizations propose value by holding on to their client and audience, and by explaining how they do well uniquely. Several scenarios can be played out regarding the value proposition:

  • If there isn’t any value proposition clearly defined, leaders are easily derailed and pursue purposeless strategies.
  • If the value proposition isn’t readjusted to fit the context, leaders are blindsided by the event and lack flexibility.
  • If the value proposition is known to be used and a strategy has been implemented around it, but the value proposition has never been tested, then the value proposition of the organization is doomed to fail.
  • Only if the value proposition of the company is continually being tested, interrogated and evidence pursued, that the organization can be successful.

How to create value? How to create sustainable value?

Leaders approach value creation differently by:

Approach #1: Replicating a previous strategy. This approach is the most commonly applied in organizations. However, this approach is flawed if the leader constantly employs the same strategy to different situations, without being allowed to evolve and adapt to new situations.

Approach #2: Intuitively formulating an unproven strategy. This approach is flawed if the leader doesn’t challenge the facts and doesn’t test his strategy. 

Approach #3: Interrogating and proving a hypothetical strategy with evidence. This third approach is the most accurate because leaders need to gather evidence, data, engage with people within their context to be able to make decisions accordingly. This approach requires a combination of “diversity of thinking”, strategy, engagement and alignment to create value.

Subsequently, two leadership models derive from the three approaches for value creation:

Model #1: The creation of “perceived value”

This is an old leadership model, driven by the belief of the leader. Leaders who create perceived value tend to visualize the bigger picture and to put strategy first.

perceived value
Model #1: The creation of “perceived value”

Model #2: The creation of “delivered value”

This is a new and current leadership model, driven by evidence. In this model, leaders maintain close relationships with the society of the organization (stakeholders, customers, …), gather evidence from them about the advancement of value creation and about the implementation of the strategy.

delivered value
Model #2: The creation of “delivered value”

 

What is the success formula?

To make sense of value creation in organization that are either evidence-led or strategy-led, Andrew Kakabadse came up with three formulas:

Formula #1

STRATEGY x (ENGAGEMENT + ALIGNMENT) = VALUE PROPOSITION

Formula #1 makes sense of value creation in organizations driven by strategy and disengaged with their contextual reality.

Formula #2

(STRATEGY x ALIGNMENT) + ENGAGEMENT = VALUE PROPOSITION

The formula above represents a situation in which leaders implement a strategy, with which everyone is on board, at a human and cultural cost.

Formula #3 — The Success Formula

STRATEGY + (ENGAGEMENT x ALIGNMENT) = VALUE DELIVERY

The success formula represents an organizations where consensus is first achieved before formulating a strategy that will continually be tested.

What are the other factors for success?

Value delivery is the starting point of success. It is also necessary to seek out different point of views, different perspectives to build a composite understanding of the organization and to sustain success. “Diversity of thinking and engagement are the two sides of the same coin”. Diversity of thinking does not include gender, age, nationality but means “diverse in mind”.

Leaders who want to promote diversity of thinking within their organization must:

  • have a “passion for diversity of thinking”. Leaders should be curious, enjoy learning about themselves and the world, should be “open to new experiences and perspectives”.
  • have international exposure. Leaders are compelled to welcome and search for international exposures for organizational and personal growth.
  • advocate for open communication to instill trust and to encourage positive attitude towards challenges. Open communication comes from exposure to different cultures, which teaches the leaders how to adapt to different environments and to work with different cultures.
  • engage with the organization. Leaders can start promoting the culture of diversity of thinking within the corporation, be active listeners and respond to people accordingly.
  • build their team. Leaders are obliged to select the right people to make the right decisions and to avoid group-thinking.

Diversity of thinking is at the center of the success formula. Leaders must encourage “diversity of thinking” by listening and showing respect.

How to create a culture of diversity of thinking?

In The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value, Andrew Kakabadse put together seven “disciplines” to help create a culture of diversity of thinking, and therefore to fulfill the success formula.

Discipline #1: Evidence Collection

Evidence creates alignment and engagement and allow leaders to reach a balance of opinions. Gathering evidence is part of a transparent process, gives a realistic overview of the market and the position of the company or the market, and allows leaders to gain knowledge in their respective fields.

Evidence-oriented leader:

  • deeply believe that the evidence gathering process can move towards success.
  • start gathering evidence from day one.
  • assemble hard evidence as well as soft evidence, and are comfortable with constructive criticism.
  • emphasize on the quality of the evidence.
  • actively listen and engage with divergent thinking.
  • use evidence to back up their strategies and to debate.
  • make time for debates even if evidence is a slow process and delays decision.
  • seek evidence in a structured manner.

Discipline #2: Mission Delimitation

Defining a mission for the organization means defining a clear purpose for the organization in order to promulgate their core values.

Needless to say that the nature of these core values is critical: successful organizations promote “inclusiveness and an environment suitable for innovation, the building of trust, and the spotting of new opportunities”.

Discipline #3: Alignment Enhancement

Alignment, “the logic and structure to execute strategy”, is a vital element in fulfillment of the success formula. There are 3 types of alignment:

  • “Alignment of thinking between the key players” in order to execute strategy. This type of alignment starts with the hiring process.
  • Alignment of structure to gain in efficiency.
  • Alignment of operational system, protocols, processes to facilitate the execution of strategy.

Discipline #4: Engagement Enhancement

Engagement, “the desire, willingness, motivation (or demotivation) to make the structures and the processes work”, is difficult to achieve because it is impossible to control people.

Corporations with the highest level of engagement are not led by charismatic nor visionary leaders but are led by humble leaders, with listening skills that treat people fairly, that are open-minded and that reward people for their effort.

Discipline #5: Leadership Style Improvement

In addition to being driven by evidence, to leading with purpose, leaders display 3 main qualities:

  • a high level of IQ to respond to the challenges that the organization faces and build “pathways through demanding circumstances”.
  • “a profound moral consciousness” which requires integrity and an accurate and sensitive understanding of the context.
  • a “persuasive advocacy” which is an ability to “walk the talk and talk the walk”.

Discipline #6: Governance Balance

Governance has two vital dimensions: monitoring and mentoring that are linked to the performance of the organization.

“Monitoring is all about the controls, protocols, and procedures that provide early warning signals and enable the board to take action to prevent wrongdoing or bad decisions”. “It is mentoring that makes the governance difference. This stewardship requires time, commitment, and consideration of how and with whom to engage”.

Discipline #7: Wisdom Development

Wisdom allows the increase of alignment and engagement. Wisdom is “earned through years of experience”, “comes from reflection and a willingness to keep on learning”.

Wise leaders learn to conveniently engage with people, patiently work through issues and dilemmas, accurately solve problems instead of rushing through them.

Review

The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value is a robust academic research publication, with simple theories. These theories are illustrated with several real life, relatable, contemporaneous case studies from which leaders can grab inspiration.

Through one simple formula, Kakabadse was able to represent the complexities of todays organizations and highlight the difficulties of putting this formula into practise.

Furthermore, I believe this book is ideal for leaders:

  • starting a business or company and are wondering how to create value and a competitive advantage within their company,
  • looking to ensure a healthy workplace,
  • looking to evaluate their organizations and detect potential issues,
  • who have been derailed by a strategy-led organization,
  • who are in organizations that are restructuring and want to promote an evidence-led culture in their organization.

Finally, I enjoyed the fact that Andrew Kakabadse stressed that evidence-led leadership does not happen overnight, that the leader’s job is not easy and every decisions have to be thought through, analyze and tested beforehand, and that the organization’s success is not only due to the leader but also to the contribution of the team, and that leaders have to showcase strong core values.

Favorite quote(s)

“[…] success is the creation of value — economic and social benefits and outcomes that serve a purpose for the people they are intended to help, in accordance with a set of values that the organization subscribes to”.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Andrew Kakabadse

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Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter by Robert Bruce Shaw

leadership blindspotsAccording to Robert Bruce Shaw, in Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, great leadership emanates from an ability to make great decisions which comes from making bad decisions and learning from them. The sooner in your career that those bad decisions are made, the better.

Of course, you make fewer mistakes as you progress in your career and as you experience the outcomes of the mistakes, but you never stop making them. In addition, mistakes are more costly as you move up the ladder in a company and can potentially derail your career.

In light of this issue, in Leadership Blindspots, Robert Bruce Shaw investigates the existence of leadership blindspot, an “unrecognized weakness or threat that has the potential to undermine a leader’s success” and that becomes evident in the way your team, organizations and markets are perceived.

How to characterize leadership blindspots?

First of all, leadership blindspots  are often associated to leadership strengths. They appear whenever the leader is utilizing his or her strengths at work. Second of all, blindspots don’t disappear, even if you are fully aware of them. Thirdly, blindspots are situational, adaptive and can be helpful. And finally, blindspots are able to impact other people and followers.

Advice for understanding and dealing with leadership blindspots?

Furthermore, blindspots come with a price and has to be recognized by the leader in order for him or her to find a balance. To do so, leaders have to weigh two conflicting needs:

  1. their need for acting with confidence, believing strongly in their vision, and having faith in themselves, their abilities.
  2. their need for assessing their limitations in order to avoid overconfidence or excessive optimism.

The complex balance between self-confidence and self-doubt is unnatural, contradictory but necessary, depends on each individual and each situation.

If there are too many blindspots, the leader can be overly confident and arrogant. If there are too few blindspots, the leader is somewhat realistic about the obstacles to face, is aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses.

Are there different levels of blindness?

There are three levels of blindness that a leader could experience:

  1. Lack of awareness level. This is the “most extreme form of a blindspot”. At this level, leaders are constantly surprised or blindsided by events.
  2. Faulty assessment level. At this level, leaders are in denial: they refuse to acknowledge risks, to analyze known weaknesses, and to understand the causes and consequences of their blindspots.
  3. Failure to act level. At this level, leaders know the risks, threats and weaknesses that lay ahead but fail to act on them for lack of skills and resolve. Those leaders are adept to the rule “when in doubt, do nothing” or rather remain in their comfort zones.

How to identify your leadership blindspots? 

In order to identify your blindspots:

  1. review your past and present mistakes. Mistakes are indicative of blindspots, areas of lack of self-awareness, and areas of faulty patterns of thinking and behavior. It is advised  to identify the most significant mistakes, their causes, patterns of behavior and thinking associated to these mistakes and the actions to be taken on the behalf of the leader to prevent those mistakes from reoccurring.
  2. Consider honest and useful feedback from your trusted advisors.
  3. Gain additional insight by taking the blindspot assessment survey.

Then, question the relative importance of your blindspots in your career and its impacts on yourself, the organization to  distinguish which blindspot requires your immediate attention.

What are the different types of leadership blindspots?

Robert Bruce Shaw has classified leadership blindspots in 20 categories:

  1. “Overestimating your strategic capabilities”
  2. “Valuing being right over being effective”
  3. “Failing to balance the what with the how”
  4. “Not seeing your impact on others”
  5. “Believing the rules don’t apply to you”
  6. “Thinking the present is the past”
  7. “Failing to focus on the vital few”
  8. “Taking for granted your team model”
  9. “Overrating the talent on your team”
  10. “Avoiding the tough conversations”
  11. “Trusting the wrong individuals”
  12. “Not developing real successors”
  13. “Failing to capture hearts and minds”
  14. “Losing touch with your shop floor”
  15. “Treating information and opinion as fact”
  16. “Misreading the political landscape”
  17. “Putting personal ambition before the company”
  18. “Clinging to the status quo”
  19. “Underestimating your competitors”
  20. “Being overly optimistic”

Which factors trigger blindspots?

Blindspots often go hand in hand with the leader’s strengths and reappear unexpectedly when the leader does what he or she does best. There are few factors that lead to blindspots areas:

  1. Experience gaps“. The blindspot stems from a lack of experience or from a habit of using past experiences to extrapolate a present situation.
  2. Information overload” describes an inability to pay attention to everything that is happening when engaged in a complex and challenging task.
  3. Emotional bias” corresponds to an emotional involvement in a particular situation or outcome that clouds judgement.
  4. Cognitive dissonance” is a psychology term associated to a state in which leaders hold two conflicting views of their self-image. The “conflict is resolved through rationalizing one’s belief or actions in a manner that sustains one’s positive self-image” which reinforces the blindspot.
  5. “Misaligned incentives” are compensation systems that are “designed to focus attention and effort within an organization, with the result being that people focus more on some areas than on others”.
  6. Hierarchical distortion”. The information transmitted to hierarchy becomes distorted, false, incomplete because:
    • high-ranking leaders are sometimes detached from the lower levels of the organization.
    • subordinates tend to sugarcoat information by deference or by fear of retaliation.
    • high-ranking leaders pay less attention to less powerful people.
  7. Overconfidence“. Leaders overestimates their own capabilities, skills and knowledge.

How to overcome blindspots?

According to Robert Bruce Shaw, it is not possible to completely suppress blindspots but it is important to recognize them and find ways to work with them?

To handle blindspot:

  1. Make an assessment of the problem on your own, stay on contact with frontliners, customers, markets and high potential individuals.
  2. Invest in metrics, processes and data that challenge the leader’s beliefs and basic assumptions.
  3. Develop an ability to recognize, prioritize blindspot warning signs.
  4. Consider feedback from trusted advisors.
  5. “Leaders need to test their ideas and discuss emerging threats with a diverse team of individuals who respect each other’s experience and abilities but are also willing to push each other to reach the best outcomes on the truly critical issues”.

In conclusion, leaders are flawed individuals with strengths, weaknesses and blindspots that are to be acknowledged. Blindspots often show up when the leader is using his or her strengths or reverts to their comfort zone, and cannot be completely resolved.

It is up to the leader to stay on the lookout for blindspots, to strike up a balance between self-confidence and self-doubt.
indexIn Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, Robert Bruce Shaw analyses leadership behaviors when it comes to blindspots and weaknesses. He illustrates every single one of his thoughts on blindspots with great and renown leadership examples and concludes each example with an analysis and lessons to take away. Furthermore, not only this book contains realistic and applicable examples, each paragraph of this book can be read on standalone.

In addition, Robert Bruce Shaw provides us with a tool —the blindspot assessment survey— for us to identify whether or not we possess blindspots and to what degree we have incubated them. I recommend this book to employees who are failing to lead and to boost their careers.

It has come to my knowledge that because of my belief system, I am an adept of the rule “when in doubt, stand still” which has not bothered my career but has increased my serenity. After taking the blindspot assessment test, I have received a low probability of blindspots as I am self-aware of my strengths and of my weaknesses.

Finally, Leadership Blindspots was intriguing to me because there are so many books about leadership strengths and developing them. I appreciated the fact that he mentioned the need for transparency (better visibility of mistakes thanks to the media) which put leaders are under a lot of pressure, all while trying to overcome their blindspots.

Favorite quote(s)

People who are smart and self-assured are often very skillful at justifying their thinking and behavior—to the point of being in denial about their weaknesses and the threats they face. Their intelligence can work against them when they convince themselves, and often others, that they are right even when they are wrong.

Successful individuals who sometimes stumble often do so because they have no one who can protect them from themselves.

The best leaders develop a range of compensating mechanisms that fit their personalities and the company cultures in which they work. In many cases these leaders don’t fundamentally change the way they think, but instead develop warning systems that surface important weaknesses and threats.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Robert Bruce Shaw

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