Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The focused leader

My highlights of: The focused leader. By Daniel Goleman. Harvard Business Review, December 2013

A focused leader directs attention simultaneously to others and to the wider world, driving organizational effectiveness and a successful strategy.

Become self aware of a broad range of emotions and gut feelings. Look for internal signals all the time, so called somatic marks.
Combining your experiences across time into a coherent view of your authentic self. Authentic means being the same inside and outside. Needs high levels of perception on how others see us. 
Good cognitive control leads to be calm in crisis, tame agitation and can recover from debacle or defeat. The marshmallow test in kids predicts financial success and law abiding.
3 subvarieties of willpower against self-gratification: 1- ability to voluntarily disengage focus from an object of desire; 2- ability to resist distraction so not to gravitate back to that object; 3- ability to concentrate on an alternative goal and how well you will feel when achieving it.

Empathy and building social relationships are the 2nd and 3rd pillars of emotional intelligence.
The empathy triad: 
Cognitive empathy: enables leaders to explain themselves, need to think more than feel. Very inquisitive, trying to find what drives others, based on what we know about us.
Emotional empathy: important for effective mentoring, reading group dynamics. Springs from ancient parts of the brain beneath the cortex: amigdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus and orbitofrontal cortex. They tune us to sense emotional status of others.
Empathic concern: an intuition-deliberation mix, you sense what the other person needs from you and decide how you can help. Related to the release of oxytocin, the chemical for caring. Must find a balance to avoid being callous or have compassion fatigue. 

Need social sensitivity, understand context, implicit norms and mental models. Universal algorithm of etiquette, good manners. Understanding organization influencers and personal connections helps focus on persuading key people.
Higher ranked people tend to interrupt or monopolize the conversation. Mapping response times across an organization shows power networks. 

Leaders focusing outward are good listeners and questioners, visionaries that sense far-flung consequences of choices today. Eg Bill Gates deep dive into fertilizers and the way it saved lives.

Focusing on strategy: 
The 2 pillars are: exploitation of current advantage and exploration of new ones. Innovation requires reflection.

The wellsprings of innovation:
Not anymore about having data or info, value arises from putting ideas together in novel ways and asking smart questions, creating new associations. It happens by a mix of focus and free wandering. 

Best emotional leaders are in touch with their inner feelings, control their impulses, aware of how others perceive them, understand what others need from them, can weed out distractions and allow their minds to roam widely, free on preconceptions.
This types of focus require diligence to pay attention to the right circuits of the brain. Attention is the basis for emotional, organizational, and strategic intelligence. Beware that the wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. Master your attention and you will be in command.

Attention is a mental muscle. When your mind wanders, bring it back. Meditation and breathing helps focus.
Exercise to let go of control: not offer own views, not judge others.
Think positive, because pessimism narrows out focus.

Monday, September 15, 2014

the connected CD player

Introducing... the connected CD player, the smart approach to tackle your professional life. It seems impossible to compete with the latest connectivity gadgets. No worries, this one does not take any space, battery life is infinite, and can be very very cool.
The CD player is the individual player at work. The C is Chaos, the daily whirlwind of urgency and overload of information, activities, meetings,...  The D is the Discipline you need to master your reality, both Discipline of Thought and Discipline of Action.
The connected CD player is the team player. You must interact, communicate, give and receive inspiration and energy. You have to thrive in chaos, be disciplined and connect.
Let me show you how this mental gadget works. First, list all activities relevant to your job. Second, categorize them in the following five essential disciplines:
Know. As a knowledge worker, you need to learn continuously and be knowledgeable on a product or products and a market or markets. Find out what you need to know to be an expert in your field. You can learn through training, online or traveling in the field. Find the time, everyday, to learn, get out of the office, take the pulse of your customers and your colleagues.
Communicate. This is a two-way road. You can show and tell what you know, but, more importantly: you must listen. This is the discipline of understanding the frame of mind, drivers and concerns of others.
Serve. Service is what your company, your boss, expect from you. You have to do this, it is important for them, but many urgent or bureaucratic activities may not provide value. Watch out carefully this discipline, don't let it consume most of your time and energy.
Execute. This is about being proactive, leading and adding value. This is about creating a product that will be associated to you or your team. This product can be a program, a report, an idea, a tangible product that is specific and can be measured.
Connect. Let’s move now from being a superb CD player to a phenomenal team player. The key is connecting strategy, priorities and metrics, encouraging candid and robust dialogue, being transparent and accountable. This discipline should be embraced by senior and team leaders, but also by individual contributors, who can lead themselves or others in their sphere of influence.
If you thrive in chaos, know, communicate, serve, execute and connect, facilitating collective decision making and strategic planning, you have become the ideal team player, a connected CD player.