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Monday, July 23, 2012

Importance of EQ

It turns out that a scientist can see the future by watching four-year-olds interact with a marshmallow. The researcher invites the children, one by one, into a plain room and begins the gentle torment. You can have this marshmallow right now, he says. But if you wait while I run an errand, you can have two marshmallows when I get back. And then he leaves.

Some children grab for the treat the minute he's out the door. Some last a few minutes before they give in. But others are determined to wait. They cover their eyes; they put their heads down; they sing to themselves; they try to play games or even fall asleep. When the researcher returns, he gives these children their hard-earned marshmallows. And then, science waits for them to grow up.

By the time the children reach high school, something remarkable has happened. A survey of the children's parents and teachers found that those who as four-year-olds had the fortitude to hold out for the second marshmallow generally grew up to be better adjusted, more popular, adventurous, confident and dependable teenagers. The children who gave in to temptation early on were more likely to be lonely, easily frustrated and stubborn. They buckled under stress and shied away from challenges. And when some of the students in the two groups took the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the kids who had held out longer scored an average of 210 points higher.

When we think of brilliance we see Einstein, deep-eyed, woolly haired, a thinking machine with skin and mismatched socks. High achievers, we imagine, were wired for greatness from birth. But then you have to wonder why, over time, natural talent seems to ignite in some people and dim in others. This is where the marshmallows come in. It seems that the ability to delay gratification is a master skill, a triumph of the reasoning brain over the impulsive one. It is a sign, in short, of emotional intelligence. And it doesn't show up on an IQ test.

EQ is not the opposite of IQ. Some people are blessed with a lot of both, some with little of either. What researchers have been trying to understand is how they complement each other; how one's ability to handle stress, for instance, affects the ability to concentrate and put intelligence to use. Among the ingredients for success, researchers now generally agree that IQ counts for about 20%; the rest depends on everything from class to luck to the neural pathways that have developed in the brain over millions of years of human evolution.

Without these emotional reflexes, rarely conscious but often terribly powerful, we would scarcely be able to function. "Most decisions we make have a vast number of possible outcomes, and any attempt to analyze all of them would never end," says University of Iowa neurologist Antonio Damasio, author of Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. "I'd ask you to lunch tomorrow, and when the appointed time arrived, you'd still be thinking about whether you should come." What tips the balance, Damasio contends, is our unconscious assigning of emotional values to some of those choices. 

Whether we experience a somatic response--a gut feeling of dread or a giddy sense of elation--emotions are helping to limit the field in any choice we have to make. If the prospect of lunch with a neurologist is unnerving or distasteful, Damasio suggests, the invitee will conveniently remember a previous engagement.

If there is a cornerstone to emotional intelligence on which most other emotional skills depend, it is a sense of self-awareness, of being smart about what we feel. A person whose day starts badly at home may be grouchy all day at work without quite knowing why. Once an emotional response comes into awareness--or, physiologically, is processed through the neocortex--the chances of handling it appropriately improve. Scientists refer to "metamood," the ability to pull back and recognize that "what I'm feeling is anger," or sorrow, or shame.

Metamood is a difficult skill because emotions so often appear in disguise. A person in mourning may know he is sad, but he may not recognize that he is also angry at the person for dying--because this seems somehow inappropriate. A parent who yells at the child who ran into the street is expressing anger at disobedience, but the degree of anger may owe more to the fear the parent feels at what could have happened.

In Goleman's analysis, self-awareness is perhaps the most crucial ability because it allows us to exercise some self-control. The idea is not to repress feeling (the reaction that has made psychoanalysts rich) but rather to do what Aristotle considered the hard work of the will. "Anyone can become angry--that is easy," he wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics. "But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way--this is not easy."

Some impulses seem to be easier to control than others. Anger, not surprisingly, is one of the hardest, perhaps because of its evolutionary value in priming people to action. Researchers believe anger usually arises out of a sense of being trespassed against--the belief that one is being robbed of what is rightfully his. The body's first response is a surge of energy, the release of a cascade of neurotransmitters called catecholamines. If a person is already aroused or under stress, the threshold for release is lower, which helps explain why people's tempers shorten during a hard day. Scientists are not only discovering where anger comes from; they are also exposing myths about how best to handle it. Popular wisdom argues for "letting it all hang out" and having a good cathartic rant. But Goleman cites studies showing that dwelling on anger actually increases its power; the body needs a chance to process the adrenaline through exercise, relaxation techniques, a well-timed intervention or even the old admonition to count to 10.

Anxiety serves a similar useful purpose, so long as it doesn't spin out of control. Worrying is a rehearsal for danger; the act of fretting focuses the mind on a problem so it can search efficiently for solutions. The danger comes when worrying blocks thinking, becoming an end in itself or a path to resignation instead of perseverance. Overworrying about failing increases the likelihood of failure; a salesman so concerned about his falling sales that he can't bring himself to pick up the phone guarantees that his sales will fall even further.

But why are some people better able to "snap out of it" and get on with the task at hand? Again, given sufficient self-awareness, people develop coping mechanisms. Sadness and discouragement, for instance, are "low arousal" states, and the dispirited salesman who goes out for a run is triggering a high arousal state that is incompatible with staying blue. Relaxation works better for high-energy moods like anger or anxiety. Either way, the idea is to shift to a state of arousal that breaks the destructive cycle of the dominant mood.

The idea of being able to predict which salesmen are most likely to prosper was not an abstraction for Metropolitan Life, which in the mid-'80s was hiring 5,000 salespeople a year and training them at a cost of more than $30,000 each. Half quit the first year, and four out of five within four years. The reason: selling life insurance involves having the door slammed in your face over and over again. Was it possible to identify which people would be better at handling frustration and take each refusal as a challenge rather than a setback?

Perhaps the most visible emotional skills, the ones we recognize most readily, are the "people skills" like empathy, graciousness, the ability to read a social situation. Researchers believe that about 90% of emotional communication is nonverbal. Harvard psychologist Robert Rosenthal developed the PONS test (Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity) to measure people's ability to read emotional cues. He shows subjects a film of a young woman expressing feelings--anger, love, jealousy, gratitude, seduction--edited so that one or another nonverbal cue is blanked out. In some instances the face is visible but not the body, or the woman's eyes are hidden, so that viewers have to judge the feeling by subtle cues. Once again, people with higher PONS scores tend to be more successful in their work and relationships; children who score well are more popular and successful in school, even when their IQs are quite average.

Like other emotional skills, empathy is an innate quality that can be shaped by experience. Infants as young as three months old exhibit empathy when they get upset at the sound of another baby crying. Even very young children learn by imitation; by watching how others act when they see someone in distress, these children acquire a repertoire of sensitive responses. If, on the other hand, the feelings they begin to express are not recognized and reinforced by the adults around them, they not only cease to express those feelings but they also become less able to recognize them in themselves or others.

It is easy to draw the obvious lesson from these test results. How much happier would we be, how much more successful as individuals and civil as a society, if we were more alert to the importance of emotional intelligence and more adept at teaching it? From kindergartens to business schools to corporations across the country, people are taking seriously the idea that a little more time spent on the "touchy-feely" skills so often derided may in fact pay rich dividends.

In the corporate world, according to personnel executives, IQ gets you hired, but EQ gets you promoted. Goleman likes to tell of a manager at AT&T's Bell Labs, a think tank for brilliant engineers in New Jersey, who was asked to rank his top performers. They weren't the ones with the highest IQs; they were the ones whose E-mail got answered. Those workers who were good collaborators and networkers and popular with colleagues were more likely to get the cooperation they needed to reach their goals than the socially awkward, lone-wolf geniuses.

When David Campbell and others at the Center for Creative Leadership studied "derailed executives," the rising stars who flamed out, the researchers found that these executives failed most often because of "an interpersonal flaw" rather than a technical inability. Interviews with top executives in the U.S. and Europe turned up nine so-called fatal flaws, many of them classic emotional failings, such as "poor working relations," being "authoritarian" or "too ambitious" and having "conflict with upper management."

At the center's executive-leadership seminars across the country, managers come to get emotionally retooled. "This isn't sensitivity training or Sunday-supplement stuff," says Campbell. "One thing they know when they get through is what other people think of them."
And the executives have an incentive to listen. Says Karen Boylston, director of the center's team-leadership group: "Customers are telling businesses, 'I don't care if every member of your staff graduated with honors from Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. I will take my business and go where I am understood and treated with respect.' "

The problem may be that there is an ingredient missing. Emotional skills, like intellectual ones, are morally neutral. Just as a genius could use his intellect either to cure cancer or engineer a deadly virus, someone with great empathic insight could use it to inspire colleagues or exploit them. Without a moral compass to guide people in how to employ their gifts, emotional intelligence can be used for good or evil. Columbia University psychologist Walter Mischel, who invented the marshmallow test and others like it, observes that the knack for delaying gratification that makes a child one marshmallow richer can help him become a better citizen or--just as easily--an even more brilliant criminal.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Capabilities Of a True Leader

“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.” Leading today is what prepares a leader for more and greater responsibility tomorrow.

  1. Humanness. Nobody wants to work with a perfect leader. Build collaboration and solidarity by revealing your weaknesses.
  2. Intuition. To be most effective, you need to know what’s going on without others spelling it out for you. Collect unspoken data from body language and looks given across rooms to help you intuit the underlying messages.
  3. Tough empathy. Care deeply about your employees, but accept nothing less than their very best.
  4. Uniqueness. Demonstrate that you are a singular leader by showing your unique qualities to those around you.
1. Great leaders recognize strengths in us that we don't always yet fully see in ourselves.
The leader should trust his judgment more than the subordinates. It's the Pygmalion effect: expectations become self-fulfilling. Both positive and negative emotions feed on themselves. Your subordinate would simply invested myself in getting better, day by day, step by step. Because we can achieve excellence in almost anything we practice with sufficient focus and intention, I did get better, which fed my own confidence and satisfaction, and my willingness to keep pushing myself.
2. Rather than simply trying to get more out of us, great leaders seek to understand and meet our needs, above all a compelling mission beyond our immediate self-interest, or theirs.
Great leaders understand that how they make people feel, day in and day out, has a profound influence on how they perform. We each have a range of core needs — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Great leaders focus on helping their employees meet each of these needs, recognizing that it helps them to perform better and more sustainably.
So if someone has family, I should empathize with their needs and make their work life adhere to their core needs. This way the leader can meet not just my emotional need to be valued, but also my spiritual need to be engaged in a mission bigger than my own success. Far too few leaders take the time to figure out what they truly stand for, beyond the bottom line, and why we should feel excited to work for them.
3. Great leaders take the time to clearly define what success looks like, and then empower and trust us to figure out the best way to achieve it.
One of our core needs is for self-expression. One of the most demoralizing and infantilizing experiences at work is to feel micromanaged. The job of leaders is not to do the work of those they lead, but to serve as Chief Energy Officer — to free and fuel us to bring the best of ourselves to work every day.
Part of that responsibility is defining, in the clearest possible way, what's expected of us — our concrete deliverables. This is a time-consuming and challenging process, and most leaders I've met do very little of it. When they do it effectively, the next step for leaders is to get out of the way.
That requires trusting that employees will figure out for themselves the best way to get their work done, and that even though they'll take wrong turns and make mistakes, they learn and grow stronger along the way.
4. The best of all leaders — a tiny fraction — have the capacity to embrace their own opposites, most notably vulnerability alongside strength, and confidence balanced by humility.
This capacity is uniquely powerful because all of us struggle, whether we're aware of it or not, with our self worth. We're each vulnerable to believing, at any given moment, that we're not good enough.
Great leaders don't feel the need to be right, or to be perfect, because they've learned to value themselves in spite of shortcomings they freely acknowledge. In turn, they bring this generous spirit to those they lead.
The more leaders make us feel valued, in spite of our imperfections, the less energy we will spend asserting, defending and restoring our value, and the more energy we have available to create value.
All four capacities are grounded in one overarching insight. Great leaders recognize that the best way to get the highest value is to give the highest value.
Let the subordinates get involved and get excited. No Involvement means No Commitment
Ask pointed questions which will elicit response from them. Make them answer their own questions.
Prepare in advance what I am going to discuss in meeting. This will avoid dilly dallying between topics.
Try not to speak more than 3 sentences at a time with out a response or without asking a question
None of us have a real understanding of where we are heading. I don't. I have senses about it. But decisions don't wait, investment decisions or personal decisions and prioritization don't wait, for that picture to be clarified. You have to make them when you have to make them. So you take your shots and clean up the bad ones later. I think it is very important for you to do two things: act on your temporary conviction as if it was a real conviction; and when you realize that you are wrong, correct course very quickly.
This balancing act between confidence and doubt is a hallmark of great bosses. The confidence inspires people to follow them and believe in them, but the doubt helps ensure they get things right. They are always listening and watching for evidence that they might be wrong, and inviting others to challenge their conclusions (albeit usually in private and in "backstage" conversations).
Many of the bosses that are admired around the world seem to have the ability to act confidently on what they know, while doubting their knowledge.
best leaders and the best organizations have strong opinions that are weakly held. Strong opinions reflect and instill confidence, and also provide clear guidance about the direction that people should try to go right now. But, since those opinions are weakly held, they don't stand as barriers to change when better information comes along. This ability to feel, express, and act on strong beliefs without clinging to them irrationally — the state of mind that Tom Petty captured in a well-sung line — is the common refrain in Bonny Simi's problem-solving, Andy Grove's decision-making, and Frank Hauser's sound advice to every kind of director: "Don't dither; you can always change your mind later."
CEO try to focus on the things
that I and only I can do. Those may include meeting with high-level regulators, or visiting with key clients. This may mean giving speeches to certain audiences or recruiting senior executives. But you really have to hold yourself back from taking on other functions or tasks even if you might excel at performing them. So even if it means there is a SQL problem and I feel i can solve, I might be better of have the team resolve it.
The key is to become messianic about the principle that everybody owns their own space. This is the human resources analogy to bottom-up investing. Under this approach, every employee is viewed as the owner of a small business — his or her division, or subdivision or working group; the performance of this unit is his or her responsibility. As the boss, my role is to provide my reports with resources, give them guidance and help them do battle with other people in the broader organization. But they own their own unit.
I can't emphasize this principle enough because at every level, employees need to feel they're in charge. An effective leader not only has to set priorities but also has to mobilize the organization to implement them. But this will happen only if the employees have a true sense of owning these functions in the broadest sense. I've seen quite a few organizations where employees say, "I didn't do X because it wasn't within my job description, or no one told me to do it." These are flagrant violations of the ownership principle.
How do you decide what to spend your time on when you're the boss?

Top executives usually say they set their priorities and then figure out how to implement them. But in this process many executives make a critical mistake. I've noticed this when I've mentored new CEOs. They say, "Here are the top five priorities for the company. Who would be the best at carrying out each priority?" Then they come up with themselves as the answer in all five areas. It might be the correct answer, but it's the wrong question.

The question is not who's best at performing high-priority functions, but which things can you and only you as the CEO get done? If you don't ask yourself that question, your time allocations are bound to be wrong. Lots of CEOs who have been great number twos flounder as number one because they are implicitly asking the wrong question. That happens because they usually rose to CEO by being very good at getting things done themselves.
I try to focus on the things that I and only I can do. Those may include meeting with high-level regulators, or visiting with key clients. This may mean giving speeches to certain audiences or recruiting senior executives. But you really have to hold yourself back from taking on other functions or tasks even if you might excel at performing them.

For example, when MFS CEO Rob Manning recruited me to join the firm as Chairman in 2004, we explicitly divided the high-priority functions. Although I had run the investment management group at Fidelity, Rob is a talented investment guy and natural leader and wanted to take charge of the investment group. He and I agreed that I wouldn't run the group, and that I wouldn't even show up on the investment floors. This agreement was necessary to avoid confusion about who was heading investments. Similarly, when there were very important meetings with regulators, Rob didn't attend.
What about those of us who aren't CEOs?

The key, I've found, is to become messianic about the principle that everybody owns their own space. This is the human resources analogy to bottom-up investing.

Under this approach, every employee is viewed as the owner of a small business — his or her division, or subdivision or working group; the performance of this unit is his or her responsibility. As the boss, my role is to provide my reports with resources, give them guidance and help them do battle with other people in the broader organization. But they own their own unit.

I can't emphasize this principle enough because at every level, employees need to feel they're in charge. An effective leader not only has to set priorities but also has to mobilize the organization to implement them. But this will happen only if the employees have a true sense of owning these functions in the broadest sense. I've seen quite a few organizations where employees say, "I didn't do X because it wasn't within my job description, or no one told me to do it." These are flagrant violations of the ownership principle.
So how do you instill this ownership principle?

You don't describe in detail the tasks that employees should be doing. Instead, you present a general set of priorities for the upcoming year, and let your employees formulate the specific ways to implement them. You also ask: "What are the metrics by which I should judge your success?"
Below are a few suggestions about how you can build your self-confidence as a leader.
1. Don't worry about being perfect. There are never right or wrong answers to complex business decisions. The best that you can do as a leader is to gather all of the information that you can (in a timely manner), do a cost-benefit analysis of potential options, use your best judgment — and then go for it.
2. Learn to live with failure. Great salespeople are the ones who get rejected the most often. They just ask for the order more than the other salespeople. You are going to make mistakes. You are human. Learn from these mistakes and move on.
3. After you make the final decision — commit! Don't continually second-guess yourself. Great leaders communicate with a sense of belief in what they are doing and with positive expectations toward the achievement of their vision.
4. Show courage on the outside — even if you don't always feel it on the inside. Everyone is afraid sometimes. If you are a leader, your direct reports will read your every expression. If you show a lack of courage, you will begin to damage your direct reports' self-confidence.
5. Find happiness and contentment in your work. Life is short. My extensive research indicates that we are all going to die anyway. Do your best. Follow your heart. When you win, celebrate. When you lose, just start over the next day.
High achievers don't turn into leaders, even if they seem to have the right skills, without the power that comes from going beyond the letter of the job and doing what I've come to call the Extras. Here are my top six.
1. Colleagueship. Being a good colleague means helping the entire group achieve results even when you're not in charge — for example, by filling in for an absent co-worker, showing up at a special event that's not required, or pitching in with ideas and information for someone else's project. This factor, intangible as it seems, is written into the formal standards for promotion at my own institution, Harvard Business School. Colleagueship is considered a sign of whether someone can take on bigger leadership responsibilities in a flat, decentralized organization.
2. Opening doors. Power to the connectors! Those who rise to leadership keep their virtual Rolodex rolling. They know enough about others to spot something of interest to them and pass it on, opening doors or making key introductions. In the new networked companies, connectors are the go-to people, the must-haves at meetings. The effects are viral. The more they connect, the more connections come to them.
3. Extra resources. Being a giver is powerful, especially when the gift is unexpected. Sprinkling small amounts of money or opportunities around the organization can build enormous goodwill. Please note that I certainly don't mean bribery or crossing any ethical lines — never! But anyone who has control over some resources can find legitimate, task-oriented ways to share them — for example, funding dinners for a hard-working project team or providing seed money for expenses for promising innovations. Using personal resources can matter even more, such as donations to co-workers' favorite charities.
4. Framing issues. Being the first to name an issue shows leadership. One big Extra in any endeavor is to identify new opportunities or unsolved problems, and then convene conversations around them. With self-organizing now a major operating mode, the people who set the agenda also set themselves up as potential leaders. It's not necessary to ask anyone's permission to lead; the self-organizers just do it.
5. Strong commitment. Some people falsely equate commitment with hours worked. But commitment is about quality, not quantity. This Extra involves the verve or passion which potential leaders convey about the mission and the singular focus they exhibit when doing each piece of work. Other people want to be led by committed leaders, not those whose eyes are always on another project or who make it clear that other parts of their lives matter more to them.
6. External diplomacy. Civic boards or non-profit causes can groom leaders, and even more so if one's own organization has an interest in the cause. Joining professional associations or industry networks and carrying information back and forth to and from the home team can also build internal power. Being a good ambassador externally reverberates internally.
Extras serve as signs of whether a person can be entrusted with major decisions or control over assets that requires doing what needs to be done regardless of formal requirements. They show that the leader will take care of others and the organization.
At the same time, Extras carry a tinge of unfairness. Extras can be tapped more readily from jobs with discretionary budgets, or that face outward, toward clients and customers. In contrast, people holding more routinized, internally-facing jobs have fewer automatic chances to show leadership. That group often includes women, who are disproportionately concentrated in staff jobs such as the Ps of personnel, public relations, and purchasing. Moreover, women who might be time-constrained by family obligations don't always have the time for Extras.
But not every Extra is out of the reach of determined potential leaders. Commitment and colleagueship are largely under individuals' control, and they build a better work community for everyone.
If the why and how of Extras can be discussed more openly, perhaps they can become more universally attainable. So consider this list both a How-To guide and a manifesto for change.
What still seems to be missing from leaders is the ability to reflect: to stand back and consider issues deeply - and to look honestly at themselves as leaders. It isn't surprising that leaders find this difficult, given the unparalleled changes businesses have faced in recent years. And as the pressures mount for the year, it is likely that time spent on such reflection will be regarded as a luxury that no-one can afford. This is a big mistake.
The leaders are failing themselves, their teams and their organizations if they do not discipline themselves to spend at least one hour (preferably two) each week in a meeting with themselves. They should use the time to reflect on what they have spent the week (month or year) doing, what they have learned from their actions and interactions, what they have not been doing and what more they could do in their role.
Of course, many leaders employ executive coaches like myself for this reflective time. Coaches are valuable, but meeting a professional is not the same as taking a regular honest looks at oneself. Most people only do this once a year - around now in fact! I suggest that leaders should make a meeting with themselves a regular practice - as important as regular meetings with the boss, managing work/life balance and time at the gym or exercising.
So, to start you off on the right foot, here are some guidelines:
  • Schedule the meeting during working hours: not on weekends, on the train or late on Friday afternoon just before you leave work. Your meeting with yourself is important enough to merit a regular slot, like any other business meeting.
  • Invest in a good quality notebook or open a file on your computer. During the week, make brief notes of 'critical incidents' (such as discussions, opportunities you had to contribute, clashes or conflict, feedback from others, observations of others' behavior) and then go back and reflect on them: what happened, how did you act/react, what did you do well/not so well, what might you have done differently? Learn from these incidents and think of new ways to act in future. Jot these points down and refer to them regularly.
  • Consider longer-term issues: your career, developing your skills or those of your team, the direction of your business, your challenges ahead and how you might tackle them. These are critical aspects of your role.
  • Reflect on your own successes and achievements. Savour them. This will build your confidence and give you the strength and resilience to carry on and perhaps even inspire others during tough times.
  • Never, never shift or cancel your meeting with yourself. It is one of the most important hours in your working week. Consider how many pointless meetings you have to attend and cancel one of those before you cancel your own. Put yourself first.

How are you doing as a boss?
How are you doing as a boss?

As a leader and manager, someone responsible for the results obtained by others, are you the boss you need to be? Are you getting the best from your people, and from those you need but don't control? Are you fully satisfying the ever-rising expectations of your firm and its customers?
Equally important, are you meeting your own expectations? How would you like to work to develop yourself? Are you good enough to achieve your own aspirations? Are you ready for increased responsibility?
These are critical questions all bosses must ask if they want to be fully effective. Why? The two of us have spent nearly 60 years in total studying and practicing management, and again and again we've made a troubling observation: Most managers grow and develop to a certain point, and then they stop. They reach the "Plateau of Good Enough." Perhaps they struggled at first as new managers, but they quickly learned how it's done in their organizations, how to cope with the challenges they typically face every day, and they've come to feel comfortable.

Unfortunately, they mistake comfort for real competence. They only ask, "Am I good enough?" when they should be asking, "Am I as good as I should be and want to be?"
If your answer to the second question is less than an unqualified "Yes!" we hope you'll follow us as we explore here what it means to be a great boss — the boss you want and need to be.
In particular, we're going to explore three critical areas:
What's required to become a great boss. It's a difficult journey that requires years, not weeks or months, of learning and steady personal growth. It's difficult because most of your learning will come from your own experience, and so it will at times be painful.

What effective bosses actually do. You cannot learn if you don't know where you need to go. You need benchmarks to measure yourself against. Here we will focus on what we call the "3 Imperatives": Manage yourself, Manage Your Network, and Manage Your Team. Those are not only the three areas in which we've seen managers again and again fall short, they are also the basic ways bosses do their most fundamental task of influencing others. The 3 Imperatives are the heart of management and leadership, an action-oriented framework that encompass everything essential to being a great boss.
How you can assess where you currently are. Understanding the journey and knowing what great bosses do aren't enough. The real question is this: how do you make progress on your own journey? The answer is simple in concept but difficult to do. All progress begins with a good understanding of where you currently stand. To assess yourself not once but continually, you must hone such personal skills and practices as regular reflection, honest self-assessment, the ability to admit and learn from mistakes, and the willingness to seek and absorb candid feedback.

All these areas present daunting challenges for managers at all levels who are determined to make progress on their journey to mastery.
Your Own Kind of Moneyball: The Metrics that Measure You
For middle managers, forward-thinking companies are finding ways to better measure and therefore further incentivize these key players. According to Stacey Petrey, Global Director of Compensation, HRIS, and Payroll at Perrigo, "there are additional categories/metrics by which to measure performance. Here are just three:
1) Talent Developer — tally the number of team members for whom a manager has brokered a move into other areas of the organization;
2) Innovator — did they create an environment that fosters innovation as evidenced by the number of ideas generated by their team;
3) Value Integrator (a manager who analyzes and synthesizes information and turns it into a competitive asset) — count, for example, how many cash management strategies came from their division? The number of M&A points of integration? Or, how many Lean or Six Sigma initiatives were successfully implemented?"
Because headline metrics rarely tell the whole story, you need to find the metrics that do, whether running a business or managing your career. That's what conflict negotiation and mediation teaches — whenever you walk into any negotiation you need to know how to value what you are bringing to the table, to put a price tag on it. Getting paid what you are worth is ultimately a negotiation. When you can identify your disruptive or best skills, and then present metrics that establish your value (creating them if need be), you can communicate your value. Are you ready to play some moneyball?
How leaders manage their time
They don't focus merely on managing their time better. They don't think about their work as comprising two different parts — handling unexpected, daily problems versus doing what they should do as bosses. They don't try to do their daily work and also the work of management. Instead, they use the chaos — unplanned events, crises, obligations — to do managerial work. To do this, they use an approach we call "Prep-Do-Review" in every activity they undertake.
In a nutshell, Prep-Do-Review calls on you to think of every activity not as one step — doing — but as three steps: preparing to act, acting, and then reviewing the outcome. It works this way:
  • Prep: Before you do anything, prepare. Ask yourself questions like these: What am I going to do? Why — what's my goal or purpose? How will I do it? Who else will be involved or affected?
  • Do: Do what you prepared to do.
  • Review: When you're done, think about what you did and what happened. What did you learn? How would you do it differently next time? (Don't assume the right lesson is obvious; it often is not.)
The wisdom of Prep-Do-Review may be simple and obvious, but how often do you just react to what's in front of you? In the name of time management, how often do you deal with something that's come up in the quickest way possible, just to resolve it and get it out of the way so you can go on to what you're supposed to do as a boss?
Great managers use Prep-Do-Review (whether they call it that or not) to convert every activity into a means of pursuing some management purpose — to make progress toward a goal, to develop someone, to reaffirm work standards, to strengthen bonds among members of their team, to model the behavior they want, and on and on. In their minds, every activity contains some seed of progress, and Prep-Do-Review is how they find that seed and nurture it .They use a crisis to reconnect with an important colleague in their network. They use a customer service problem to begin working through a broader issue with their boss. They use a "pointless" meeting as an opportunity to brief a colleague during the break about a change in plans. They use a production problem to develop the skills of a key employee.

If you don't Prep — spend a a minute or two, or even just a few seconds — before dealing with a problem, you won't see the possibilities in what you thought was some mundane activity. If you then don't carry out the action as planned, and if you don't step back afterwards to crystallize what you and others learned, you'll spend your days struggling to get to your work as a manager.
Make Prep-Do-Review a practice that you consistently, systematically, and routinely pursue. By using this simple but powerful approach, you can convert many of the activities that crowd your days into management tools for moving your people forward individually and as a group.

Creating First Impressions

The power of first impressions is so powerful and so lasting that it is imperative for you to think through your first encounters when entering a new job, a new role, or making new contacts.

I was reminded of this by Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer in his blog post, Shape Perceptions of Your Work, Early and Often. His general message is that other people can spread your praises better than you can, so be active in making that happen.

But he also reminds us that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and the stakes are incredibly high. Perceptions are also self-sustaining because, once people have formed an impression of another, they stop actively gathering new information. Once I know you are smart, I won’t attend as much to every little thing you do which means you can more easily get away with being not so brilliant and I won’t notice.

This says to me that it is critical to think through our initial encounters with people. Here are three things to help you shape your personal communications strategy.

1. Do your homework. You want the first meeting to be memorable, so find out an interesting fact or accomplishment about the person you want to impress. This shows you care enough about them to do a little pre-meeting research, and helps build a human bridge between you. Calculating, true. But effective.

When you ask a question, make sure it's a smart one. When you present an analysis, spend a few minutes thinking ahead about your key message, supporting details and follow-up or action items. Operate at 110% always, whether you're talking to your assistant or the CEO of the client.

If you're always "on" you'll show that you're smart and capable and competent and you'll find your supervisors far more willing to actually put you in front of a client. You'll also find that if you're default mode is "client mode" you'll naturally perform at a higher level over time — it's like the old saying goes — people live up to expectations.
A recent Delta advertising campaign stated: "Our customer service doesn't change with the price of oil." In other words, output is fixed — it doesn't change based on the cost of input. Your output, or the way you interact with and relate to others, should be fixed as well — without regard for status, title or even whether you're on or off the clock. This approach will provide opportunities to practice and hone your interpersonal skills. And while practice may not be necessary for people like Allen Iverson, it's a great way to sharpen your skillset, experiment with different communication strategies and prove to others that you're "client-ready" at a moment's notice.

2. What’s the outcome? Go into the meeting with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, whether it’s an invitation for another meeting, to gauge this person’s communication style or to send a message about how you can help them in their own goals. Ask yourself, What do I want this person to say about me when I’m not in the room?

3. Follow up. Always send a timely follow-up e-mail or call to reinforce whatever themes you were communicating face-to-face.

Don't assume that anyone — your boss, your peer, or your subordinate — knows the good work you are doing. They are all probably focused on their own jobs and concerns. Do things to let them know.
Yes, I know this smacks of self-promotion, and self-promoters are not only disliked for blowing their own horns but not particularly credible in doing so. But there is a way around the dilemma. Research by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, two doctoral students, and myself shows that when you get someone else to sing your praises — even if that individual is hired by you, under your control, and the audience knows these facts — you receive attributions of competence without being tarred by the brush of behaving inappropriately
When it comes to job performance, be it in politics or in a company, perception becomes reality. This implies that you ought to manage your image and reputation as well as your actual work.
It's important to get started early on this, because perceptions become self-sustaining. This happens, first, because people tend to assimilate new information in ways consistent with their initial perception. John Browne, the former CEO of BP, was smart and hard-working and made sure everyone knew that. He was also shy and ill at ease in social situations, characteristics that might have impeded his rise to the top. But given the image of intelligence he projected in meetings and his willingness to move all over the world and work long hours, social reticence became interpreted as a result of his brilliance and intense concentration.

Perceptions are also self-sustaining because, once people have formed an impression of another, they stop actively gathering new information. Once I know you are smart, I won't attend as much to every little thing you do — which means you can more easily get away with being not so brilliant and I won't notice.
The old saw, then, that first impressions are lasting has real psychological basis. And the implication is clear:
the most important time to focus on the image you are projecting is when you first enter an organization or a new job. That's when people are going to be forming their judgments. Get off on the right foot by doing a lot of good work early and also interacting with others in a style that conveys the sort of personal brand you are seeking to build — brilliant, sociable, humorous, serious or whatever image suits you.
And here's the corollary: if bosses and colleagues have formed some unfavorable impression of you in your current setting, then find another one. Many people want to "prove" that others are wrong about them — and they may be. But it's a waste of precious time to fight that uphill battle. Why make heroic efforts to dig out of a hole when the same energy spent elsewhere could make you a star?
I'll end with a last piece of advice: do consider having an intentional, strategic, public relations strategy. Cultivate the media, write stories and blogs, give speeches relevant to your industry and area of expertise — in short, become known. When Marcelo Miranda, now the CEO of Brazilian real estate and pre-fabricated housing manufacturer Precon, was named by one of the leading Brazilian business magazines one of the 10 CEOs of the future a few years ago, his future career success was assured. Miranda, a talented and hard working individual, ensured his media exposure — and continues to do so — by reaching out to the business press in numerous ways. As he so perceptively noted when I saw him in Sao Paulo recently, "I now run a private company. If I want people to appreciate how we are growing revenues by a factor of ten in one year, I have to let them know." That's good advice for everyone seeking to rise up the corporate ladder.