Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Amelia Dunlop on elevating the human experience:

“Elevating the human experience is about acknowledging intrinsic worth as a human and nurturing growth through love. Sometimes the person we need to see most worthy of love is ourselves. Sometimes it is another person. Sometimes it is a group of people who have been unseen.”

Source: Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work

II.

John Parker Stewart and Daniel J. Stewart on understanding effective leadership is something you learn as you go along:

“One of our wonderful colleagues, John Zorbini, often said that if leadership were a car, you would think it must be a classic red Ferrari with the way we traditionally talk about it—or even the way we all think to ourselves about it. We sometimes put the idea of leadership on a pedestal and speak about it reverently. It’s the idea that when you become a leader, you are blessed with instant knowledge, judgment, and prestige.
“But, Zorbini pointed out, if leadership really were a car, it would be a beat-up old truck. It would have dents and dings. Maybe the side panels would be different colors and the interior worn out, but it would have four wheels, move, and get the job done. It’s functional, but not glamourous, and the messiness of learning to lead is visible.”

Source: LEAD NOW!: A Personal Leadership Coaching Guide for Results-Driven Leaders

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Leading Thoughts Whats New in Leadership Books

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

Geoff Tuff and Steven Goldbach on the need for flexible thinking:

“We must dispel the notion that strong leaders don’t change their positions … or, dare we say, learn. Flipflopping when you have new information – flexing your thinking in an explicable way – is absolutely a hallmark of effective leadership in the face of accelerating change.
“Good leaders have an intuitive sense of things that must be true for their organizations to be successful and consistently check whether these conditions remain true in the external environment. They are on the lookout for things that could destroy the business model they have created. And if something changes that gives them pause, they aren’t afraid to make adjustments. When your business model may be at risk of implosion, it’s a very good thing that leaders changed their tune.”

Source: Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws

II.

Historian Adrian Goldsworthy on concerns over the growth of organizations:

“It is only human nature to lose sight of the wider issues and focus on immediate concerns and personal issues.… All human institutions, from countries to businesses, risk creating a similarly short-sighted and selfish culture.
“Success produces growth and, in time, creates institutions so large that they are cushioned from mistakes and inefficiency.
“In most cases it takes a long time for serious problems or errors to be exposed. It is usually even harder to judge accurately the real competence of individuals and, in particular, their contributions to the overall purpose.
“For the vast majority of people, their work is less open to the public gaze but is similar in that the real consequences of what they do are not obvious.”

Source: How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower

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InnerPeace

COVID19 is a health crisis; an economic crisis; a social crisis; a political crisis; and a geopolitical crisis. It is a crisis dominated by unknowns and huge downsides. It is an existential crisis — life or death. It generates personal fears, insecurities, and stress, all of which can inhibit high-quality thinking, decision making, and effective collaboration, which is mission-critical in such times.

How does one lead on a daily basis in an environment which is volatile, uncertain, and constantly changing?

How does one lead in an environment where the trade-offs could be stark: human life or human financial survival versus organizational financial losses?

How does a leader keep his or her emotional balance in order to role model the desired behaviors needed to enable the highest levels of organizational — human cognitive, emotional, and behavioral performance?

Such an environment requires leaders to be the best thinker they can be, the best compassionate listener they can be, and the best collaborator that they can be. That requires leaders to manage their fears, insecurities, and ego in a way that enables Hyper-Learning — the continuous ability to learn, unlearn and relearn by adapting to the reality of the world as it evolves overcoming the natural human reflexive way of being that values efficiency, speed, confirmation of what one believes, the affirmation of one’s ego and cohesiveness of one’s mental models.

Leaders will need to bring their “Best Self” to work every day — to bring your Best Self into every meeting and into every conversation. Being your Best Self requires you to be more “selfless’’ and more “other” oriented.
That requires “Inner Peace, which is having a Quiet Ego, a Quiet Mind, a Quiet (calm) Body, and a Positive Emotional State.

How well one leads, thinks, and engages with others depends on how well one manages and optimizes what’s going on in one’s mind, brain, and body. Inner Peace is based on science and ancient philosophies and is a state of inner stillness and calmness that enables you to embrace the world with your most open, non-judgmental, fearless mind with a lack of self-absorption. Inner Peace helps you reduce internal noise and distraction and helps you align your mind, body, brain, and heart — so you can better engage with the outer world.

Inner Peace enables heightened awareness, reflective listening, and high emotional engagement with others and the highest levels of critical, innovative, and emergent thinking, all of which are needed to lead in disruptive times.

Inner Peace does not come easily. It requires the daily use of practices. It requires rigor and self-discipline and acceptance of the science which clearly states that we are suboptimal learners and thinkers who are “wired” for speedy efficient processing; seeking confirmation of what we believe; affirmation of our egos; and maintaining cohesiveness of our mental models — none of which enables the highest performance in volatile and uncertain situations which require Leaders to “be good at not knowing” and at enabling the highest levels of collective intelligence within their teams.

Personal Daily “Inner Peace” Practices

Achieving Inner Peace takes deliberate daily practice. Here are some practices that have worked well for leaders that I know well and for myself.

Start each day with a 3-5 minute Mindfulness Meditation Practice building up over months to 20 -30 minutes each morning. Then do a 5-7 minute Deep Breathing Practice (such as Coherent Breathing); then review your list of Daily Intentions (a short list which you need to create of how you intend to behave each day in each human engagement) and visualize yourself behaving in those ways.

For example, here are some of the behaviors in my Daily Intentions List: “Be Kind; Be Caring; Be a Positive Life Force, not a Negative One; Smile; Maintain Inner Calm via Deep Breathing; Be Really Present; Really Listen; Don’t Rush to Judge; “Yes, and” not “Yes, but”; “My hypothesis is”; Listen to learn not to confirm and “Slow Down” to be totally present. Mentally visualize yourself behaving in your desired ways. Visualize, for example, how you would behave to be kind.

During your day, be very aware of your heart rate, your body- feeling hurried or rushed or stressed so that you can take a couple of minutes to “Slow Down” via deep breathing to become calm before each meeting. Be disciplined and schedule four 10-minute breaks in your day to be alone and just to calm your mind and body — to re-center yourself. Get yourself into a positive emotional state where you can enable others appropriately. Do not go into a meeting carrying emotions or thinking leftover from your last meeting. Take 2-3 minutes and regain your calmness — your inner stillness — your Inner Peace before you start each meeting.

At the end of your day, reflect on your performance using a Journal. Where did you lose your Inner Peace? What triggered that? How can you prevent that happening again? What could you have done differently? Where did your behavior hinder the highest levels of team performance? How could you have behaved differently to enable others? Is there someone you need to make amends with?

And before you go to sleep every night, do a 3-5 minute Gratitude Meditation where you visualize people in your life that helped you along the way to become who you are, including your closest loved ones.

The Inner Peace Invitation

I invite you to embrace Inner Peace — the daily foundational Journey to becoming your Best Self. The Journey is not linear. The Journey is not one of perfection. The Journey is both hard and joyous. You will be amazed at the impact that it can have on you, your organization, and your home life.

* * *Leading ForumEdward D. Hess is Professor of Business Administration, Batten Fellow, and Batten Executive-in-Residence at the Darden Graduate School of Business and is a top authority on organizational and human high performance. His studies focus on growth, innovation and learning cultures, systems and processes, and servant leadership. He is the author of Hyper-Learning: How to Adapt to the Speed of Change,” which will be published by Berrett-Koehler in August 2020.

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Humility Is New Smart Learn or Die

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Leading Thoughts

IDEAS shared have the power to expand perspectives, change thinking, and move lives. Here are two ideas for the curious mind to engage with:

I.

A philosopher at Oxford University, Toby Ord explains the risks we are taking here on spaceship earth:

“We have done many things to exacerbate the risk: some that could make pandemics more likely to occur, and some that could increase their damage. Thus even “natural” pandemics should be seen as a partly anthropogenic risk. Our population now is a thousand times greater than over most of human history, so there are vastly more opportunities for new human diseases to originate. And our farming practices have created vast numbers of animals living in unhealthy
conditions within close proximity to humans. This increases the risk, as many major diseases originate in animals before crossing over to humans. Examples include HIV (chimpanzees), Ebola (bats), SARS (probably bats) and influenza (usually pigs or birds). Evidence suggests that diseases are crossing over into human populations from animals at an increasing rate.
“Modern civilization may also make it much easier for a pandemic to spread. The higher density of people living together in cities increases the number of people each of us may infect. Rapid long-distance transport greatly increases the distance pathogens can spread, reducing the degrees of separation between any two people. Moreover, we are no longer divided into isolated populations as we were for most of the last 10,000 years. Together these effects suggest that we might expect more new pandemics, for them to spread more quickly, and to reach a higher percentage of the world’s people.

Source: The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity

II.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt on fear in a time of crisis:

“This great Nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.”

Source: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1933

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Look for these ideas every Thursday on the Leading Blog. Find more ideas on the LeadingThoughts index.

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