Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mandela's Way

Stengel’s book Mandela’s Way is a pleasant and quick read that clearly illustrates 15 principles of life and leadership as modeled throughout Nelson Mandela’s life. Stengel describes how the Mandela after prison was a patient leader that empowered others, deliberately thought about the long-term outcomes, adjusted his own behavior to appeal to his rivals and gain followers and always acted with integrity. Mandela’s Way is an inspiration book that will inspire genius, integrity and humility in leaders today.

Some of my favorite lessons include Courage Is Not the Absence of Fear (i.e., confront your fears don’t hide from them), Know Your Enemy (i.e., understand their needs, wants, culture) and Lead From the Back (i.e., empower others)…This really is a quick read so I encourage you to go get it or download it today.

#12 Love Makes the Difference
Do what is best for others…
When you love you don’t see faults but focus on assets…
#13 Quitting is Leading Too
You don’t have to comment on everything…
When faced with evidence back down…
Accept others decisions when you have included them in the decision making process…
#14 It’s Always Both
Answers and situations are not always black or white but shades of gray…
Sometimes you need to see many different perspectives to help all sides win and see solutions that were not always apparent.
#15 Find Your Own Garden
Find something away from the world that gives you pleasure
The Gift
Realize that you are a part of a brotherhood of human beings. You do not operate, lead or succeed as an individual. You are a piece of a puzzle where “me” is always subordinate to “we”.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Conforming to the Green Movement

Keeping up with the Joneses, changes as readily as the times. In the 1960’s suburban neighborhoods and Sear’s products was all the rage. If you live on the Upper East Side on Manhattan, Dolce and Gabbana is a must and if you are an American in 2010 GREEN is in.

A recent series of studies conducted at the University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 98, No. 3) illustrated just how fake people can become to keep up with the Joneses of their time. In one experiment, participants were asked to select from 2 equally priced items which they would purchase (eco friendly or not cars, household cleaners). Participants were more likely to purchase the GREEN options because they were more desirable and status-evoking. However a second study illustrated that participants were more likely to select non-green and more indulgent products in private but would select GREEN products in public.

I found this study intriguing for a couple of reasons. First of all my husband often asks me why I respond to the compliment “I like that sweater, shirt, etc.” with “Oh, I got it on sale.” After thinking about the answer for awhile I came to the conclusion that if I do find it on sale I am not as ashamed of purchasing an expensive item for myself. You would never hear me say ‘Oh thank you, I got this Burberry bag at full price.” I guess a NORMAL response would all depend on your environment and what is acceptable. Secondly, the entire green movement is great. I like it and try to implement many green practices into my life. That said I hate that I may be conforming to a popular trend. In this case I think conforming may be good for the ego and the environment.

What do you find yourself doing that conforms to social standard even if you do not nessessarily believe in it or understand why you are behaving in such a way?

Also see
Novotney, A. Envy, it seems, really can turn us green. Monitor on Psychology, 41 (5). 10.
Griskevicius, V. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98 (3).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Leading with the Brain in Mind

Businesses everywhere are faced with change. Innovation, creativity and success aren’t possible without change. So, how do we make it work and why does it fail so often. Recent research in neuroscience integrated with organizational psychology theory may show us the way. In general people resist change. In many studies of patients who have undergone coronary bypass surgery, only one in nine people, on average, adopt healthier day-to-day habits. Leaders that take into account the complexities of the human brain may have a leg up in the race on change. They understand that change is pain and expectations shape reality.

Change is Pain: People resist change because it is actually painful to their brains. Familiar information and actions activate the basal ganglia involving a minimum amount of energy whereas new and unfamiliar information activates the prefrontal cortex, an energy-intensity area of the brain. Furthermore, changes from routine to non-routine activate amygdale creating the feelings of fear and anger.

Expectations Shape Reality: Cognitive scientists have illustrated that individual’s attitudes play a more central role in human perception that was previously understood. Think of the placebo effect. Research participants actually feel differences because they believe they are receiving a drug when really it is a sugar pill. Similarly, employees can change their perceptions of a change process simply by changing their mental idea or how it will turn out. When looking at attitudes concerning racism research indicated that racists individuals whom experience a life changing event that counters their original attitude toward another ethnic group will drastically alter their perceptions. Organizations that can create a moment of insight can create complex new connections for employees thus, increasing the likelihood of lasting change.

So whether you are at work or going out with new friends try to maximize the aspects you are familiar with (such as bringing along a friend you like as support) and focus on your attitude before you go (tell yourself “I am going to meet interesting people tonight”).

Rock, D. (2009). Managing with the brain in mind. Strategy & Business, 56.
Rock, D., & Schwartx, J. (2006). The Neuroscience of Leadership. Strategy & Business. 43.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Experiences Make Us Happier

Do you feel more satisfaction from that great shirt you purchased last year or the family vacation to Europe or the Grand Canyon? Travis Carter, PhD and Thomas Gilovich, PhD recently published research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggesting that your satisfaction with your trip will get better over time, while buying a shirt, painting or TV will ultimately leave you disappointed. They illustrated that experiential items provide a greater long term happiness than material items because experiences are more subjective in nature and can’t be compared where as material items can be compared to what others buy.

So take that trip or get a massage the next time you are looking for a happy pill and men take those ladies on a vacation instead of buying them cloths or jewelry. Just say there is research behind your choice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Yes, Intelligence Matters

Recent research on the recognition of ethical issues indicates the general mental ability (GMA) is the most significant predictor of recognition correlating r = .24. Recognition of emotions in others (a factor of emotional intelligence) was a close second, significantly correlating with recognition of ethical issues by r =.23. Book smarts vs. people smarts. Interestingly enough we found that individuals with low GMA were still able to accurately recognize ethical issues when they had high emotional intelligence scores!

For organizations accessing for ethics and/or integrity the key may be in the books. Look at those Thurston and Watson scores to help predict employee’s ability to recognize ethical issues.
** This research is unpublished but under review.