Recently, social psychologists discovered a problem most of us have in preparing for the future: we think of our future selves as strangers — as different people altogether. Valuable insight into this problem is provided in research by two university educators — Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor in the marketing department of New York University’s Stern School of Business, and Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University and author of “The Willpower Instinct.”
In experiments with undergraduates, Hershfield discovered that students who were shown a digitally aged image of themselves allocated twice as much to their retirement accounts as those who didn’t see themselves as they aged. Hershfield says that “looking ahead in time and feeling a sense of connection to one’s future self can impact long-term financial decision-making, converting a consumer into a saver.” People with this “future self-continuity” also accumulate more assets than others, including owning their own homes and having bigger bank accounts. (read more…)
Diane is six months into her assignment as a midlevel manager in a large technology company. She was promoted to this position because of her previous “wild success” as a first-line manager, where she managed a team of engineers. She’s struggling in this new position, feeling ungrounded, overwhelmed and unable to lift herself up enough to see where her organization is heading.
She thought the transition to this midlevel position would be easy. But this is where the rubber meets the road in many companies. She will either find a way to become successful or she’ll fail. Unknowingly she’s being tested now to see if she has the mettle to get through the complexities she’s dealing with and manage a team of managers that will drive — in her words — “my organizational agendas forward.”
Wait a minute. What’s wrong with that last sentence?
Her organizational agendas! Nobody told her that she needed to have input from her team! (read more…)
There is an adage that goes, “Authority is the last resort of the inept and frustrated.” Parents who have found themselves relying on “…because I said so” to direct a reluctant child know the truth of the adage. When rank becomes the only means of insuring compliance, one has long lost the battle to effectively influence.
The art of influencing has challenged leaders for centuries. In autocratic settings, influencing is relatively simple to accomplish — you simply gave an order. In more democratic settings, leaders resorted to an array of more humanistic means. Some leaders influence by selling — focusing on the benefits of pursuing a goal. Some use colorful communication with a reliance on a charismatic style or a compelling message.
Role modeling is a popular approach to influencing with leaders — “walking the talk.” Then there is the incentives approach — affirming the “good subordinate” who acted in sync with a goal. (read more…)
“When we don’t give our people the space and freedom to take calculated risks, learn, apply, and iterate, we are risking our future. While there is a risk to improvising and spontaneity, there is a greater, more insidious risk to control.” When I wrote a version of this in a recent Harvard Business Review post, it prompted a great deal of discussion.
As humans, and business people (e.g., managers), we naively think we can control things, so we try to control things. We put constraints, sometimes real, sometimes artificial, on our people, our projects, and our world. In my own personal experience, when I’ve tried to control things the risks were higher — of it not working, of failing, or alienating others.
When I’ve let go and trusted those around me, the subsequent freedom resulted in powerful, profound and even disruptive discoveries (and solutions). Didn’t that mean I’d made myself vulnerable? (read more…)
This post is part of the series “Communication,” a weeklong effort co-hosted by SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Leadership and the folks at Switch & Shift. Keep track of the series here and check out our daily e-mail newsletter, SmartBrief on Leadership. Don’t subscribe? Sign up.
One of the fundamental challenges that sales leaders face today is managing performance and creating consistent accountability around performance targets. Addressing and coaching people through underperformance requires the willingness to have courageous conversations.
Having conversations about performance and expectations, and then holding people accountable to results, can cause tension. However, those conversations are a critical aspect of cultivating a high-performance culture. Managers who shy away from or ignore those hard conversations inhibit morale and limit the performance potential of the entire sales organization.
Here are four ways sales leaders can approach performance conversations courageously to coach people through performance challenges, create alignment and ultimately raise both accountability and sales performance. (read more…)