Leverage Diversity for Greater Success

From http://thefutureleadershipinitiative.wordpress.com

As Adam Vaccaro points out, diverse workplace might ultimately create better results, as some new studies suggest.

“The study, detailed by NPR, looks at the work of scientific researchers and finds that papers written by multicultural teams were cited in other research more often than those written by homogenous groups. In the world of research, citations are seen as a metric of quality.

Ethnic diversity wasn’t the only harbinger of success. The same study also found that groups with members from geographic areas-perhaps three cities in the same country-also created better papers than those with members from the same place.

“It’s a matter of looking at individual teams and making sure they’re different perspectives, different points of view, different backgrounds,” NPR’s David Greene says.

The principle isn’t an entirely new one. The idea that different perspectives result in better work has been explored from a more macro-economic perspective, as research shows that diverse cities experience more economic growth. The idea is also at play in research showing that companies with females on their boards financially outperform those that don’t (have females on their boards).

From http://www.meritor.com

People tend to think of diversity as simply demographic, a matter of color, gender, or age. However, groups can be disparate in many ways. Diversity is also based on informational differences, reflecting a person’s education and experience, as well as on values or goals that can influence what one perceives to be the mission of something as small as a single meeting or as large as a whole company.

Diversity among employees can create better performance when it comes to out-of-the-ordinary creative tasks such as product development or cracking new markets… The researchers found that informational diversity stirred constructive conflict, or debate, around the task at hand. That is, people deliberate about the best course of action.

Diversity is the crucial element for group creativity. Innovation teams tasked with creating new products or technologies or iterating existing ones need tension to produce breakthroughs, and tension comes from diverse points of view. This is the opposite of groupthink, the creativity-killing phenomenon of too much agreement and too similar perspectives that often paralyzes otherwise great teams.

From http://www.nissan-global.com

 According to McKinsey Quarterly, between 2008 and 2010, companies with more diverse top teams were also top financial performers. That’s probably no coincidence. There are many reasons companies with more diverse executive teams should outperform their peers: fielding a team of top executives with varied cultural backgrounds and life experiences can broaden a company’s strategic perspective, for example. And relentless competition for the best people should reward organizations that cast their nets beyond traditional talent pools for leadership.

Leverage Diversity for Greater Success

😉

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Authentic Communication

From http://hr.toolbox.com

 Authentic communication is not always easy, but it is the basis of successful relationships at home and real effectiveness at work. Yet people constantly back away from honesty to protect themselves and others.

As Sheryl Sandberg points out, this reticence causes and perpetuates all kinds of problems: uncomfortable issues that never get addressed, resentment that builds, unfit managers who get promoted rather than fired, and on and on. Often these situations don’t improve because no one tells anyone what is really happening. We are so rarely brave enough to tell the truth…

From The Grumpy Poet

However, authentic communication is not simply about saying what we think at all costs. Communication works best when we combine appropriateness with authenticity, finding the sweet spot where opinions are not brutally honest but delicately honest. Speaking truth fully without hurting feelings comes naturally to some and is an acquired skill for others.

 From http://vinylzart.com

Communicaid identifies the following key elements of authentic communication:

  • Take responsibility for your communication and this means not only for what you say but also ensuring it has been fully understood.  You need to have ownership of the message and be responsible for any fall-out or negative response.
  • Be clear in your use of language so that you are not misinterpreted.  Avoid ambiguous language and technical or specialist jargon that may not be understood.
  • Tell the truth – make sure your facts are accurate and don’t make false promises or leave people to make assumptions that are misplaced.  Also be wary of not making promises that you will not be able to deliver on.
  • Don’t over-generalise or make sweeping statements such as, ‘Nobody thinks it’s a good idea’ or ‘This always happens’.
  • Work with the facts and be aware of the difference between your subjective opinions and the objective facts.  Avoid second guessing and making assumptions about what others are feeling, thinking or meaning.  If in doubt, ask for clarification.
  • Build a connection with the people you are communicating with.  Show them that you care and are interested in them.
  • Be consistent both in what you say but also how you follow up.  Your words should match your actions and you should always endeavour to do what you say you will do within the timeframe you have promised
  • Create mutual understanding by being prepared to share a little bit about yourself and by being curious about others.  Empathise with other perspectives and always try to imagine yourself in the others’ shoes.
  • Build your self-awareness and keep learning about yourself.  Be aware of your own judgements and prejudices and the obstacles that prevent you from communicating authentically.  Monitor your own negative responses and learn to manage your reactions to certain triggers.

From http://www.webbstar.net

In addition to creating better relationships, building trust, managing conflict more effectively and improving team spirit, authenticity helps to create happier, more self-confident and open individuals.

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Greatness is not measured by Money or Stature. It is measured by Courage and Heart.

Leo The Lion, "...measured not by money and stature, but courage and heart."

From http://www.pinterest.com

“You remember the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz don’t you?  He was supposed to be the king of the jungle but he had no courage.

Sadly, I see this missing in much leadership today. Let’s face it.  Leading others is hard. There is often loneliness to leadership.  Leadership takes great courage.

Here are some characteristics of cowardly leadership:

1. Says “I’ll think about it” rather than “No”…even when no is already the decided answer…

2. Avoids conflict…even when it is necessary for the good of relationships and the organization…

3. Never willing to make the hard decisions…

4. Pretends everything is okay…even when it’s not…

5. Bails on the team when things become difficult…”

By Ron Edmondson

 

headinsand
From Unconventional Leadership

What would you add to this list?

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The power of storytelling in the world obsessed with data

“Stories tell us of what we already knew and forgot, and remind us of what we haven’t yet imagined.”

Anne Watson


Story
From Emotive Storytelling

For thousands years telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. The rise of big data however shifted focus on metrics undercutting the power of storytelling and leaving off the agenda those things that can not be measured. Is storytelling a dying art form then?

To answer that question, lets have a deeper look at data-driven decision making. Decision making is lying across a broad spectrum. At one end of that spectrum are operational decisions, which are generally highly structured, routine, short-term oriented and increasingly embodied in sophisticated software applications. At the other end of the spectrum are strategic decisions. These are usually taken by high levels of management as they set the long-term directions and policies of a business, government or other organizations. They tend to be complex, and unstructured because of the uncertainty and risks that generally accompany longer term decisions. In between are many kinds of decisions, including non-routine ones in response to new or unforeseen circumstances beyond the scope of operational processes, and tactical decisions dealing with the necessary adjustments required to implement longer term strategies.

Given their structured nature, data analysis have long been applied to automate routine, day-to-day operational decisions, such as logistics and inventory management, personalized marketing offers and recommendations, and fraud detection in financial transactions. Beyond automated operational decisions, however, there are many situations where data alone might not be enough. As an example, strategic decisions aimed at shaping the future by setting the long term directions and policies of an organization, often cannot be ferreted out from the available data. In complex matters, what begins to matter more than mere data is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. When dealing with complexity, “narrative imagining” or storytelling can become a powerful instrument of thought as well as a key communication tool.

As cognitive scientist Mark Turner points out, “most of our experiences, our knowledge and our thinking is organized as stories”. Narrative helps us make sense of a world that is rapidly changing as it can be focused on the next generation of change, not just an extrapolation of the present. Stories fuel innovation. They hold the power to transform listeners; to take listeners on a journey that changes how they think, feel or act. Stories can elicit emotional connections that make them a very powerful persuasion tool. Studies also show that we are wired to remember stories much more than mere data, facts, and figures. While mere numbers and graphs often kill a presentation’s soul turning into an insomnia relief for the listeners, stories have the power of transforming presented data into knowledge eagerly absorbed by the audience.

Not surprisingly,  legendary vizier‘s daughter Scheherazade has chosen the power of storytelling  in an effort to save the lives of thousands of women. After 1,001 nights, having been made a wiser and kinder man by Scheherazade and her 1,000 tales, the king not only spared her life, but made her his queen.

scheherazadeFrom Scheherazade 

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Taming paradoxical creativity for business success


Creative_mind__by_Uribaani
From DeviantArt

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical and full of contradictions.

Eminent psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered that creative people ‘contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.’

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people. In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

 1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.
 They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

 2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.
“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

 3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.
Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.
We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.
It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.
It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility.

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.
It’s impossible to be creative without having a deep understanding of an area of culture, but a creative person has to be rebellious and iconoclastic to break away from the safety of tradition and make something different.

Although a creative person’s contradictions are perplexing and frustrating to others, they are the source of their creativity. They can see the world in all its complexity. There is pressure in our culture to be clear what you stand for, make a decision and stick to it. It’s practically a criminal offence to change your mind. The result is rigid thinking. The creative mind has to contain multiple perspectives simultaneously. Contradicting yourself is a sign that you are thinking creatively.

CreativityFrom Creativity at Work

What is Creativity in Business?

Creativity is a crucial part of the innovation equation. Creativity requires whole-brain thinking; roght-brain imagination, artistry and intuition, plus left-brain logic and planning.

Creativity is a core competency for leaders and managers and one of the best ways to set a company apart from the competition.

Corporate Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions. Generating fresh solutions to problems, and the ability to create new products, processes or services for a changing market, are part of the intellectual capital that give a company its competitive edge.

EmployeesFrom 6 Ways to Cultivate Creativity in Your Company

Are you looking to hire creative employees at your company?

As Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner points out, “if you want to find and hire exceptionally creative people, you need to find people with diversity in their backgrounds. This is not only a sign of creativity, but it also indicates a potential employee with more diversity of experience, knowledge and thought than a person who has followed a clearly defined career path.” He suggests to look for the following:

  1. Diversity and International Experience
    “The most important thing you should look for is international living experience. Not international travel, but living and working (or studying) experience. Research has demonstrated that living overseas permanently boosts an individual’s creativity. Indeed, to the best of my knowledge, it is the only proven way to boost permanently creativity. So, look for foreigners living in your country as well as nationals who have lived and worked overseas. Presumably, though it has not been tested, doing multiple international stints and living in very different cultures further enhance creativity.The second best characteristic to international experience is diversity of experience. Rather than look for people who have followed a very narrow career path, look for people who have had more varied experience. Look for people who have done work significantly different from that of the position you are seeking to fulfill. If you want an IT manager, someone who has spent two years selling furniture or a year teaching skiing and has additional IT experience is likely to be more creative than someone who has only had IT experience. Moreover, she will bring diversity of thought to the IT department — and that boosts collaborative creativity.Aside from work experience, look for evidence of diversity and unusual points in education, hobbies and elsewhere. A marketing manager who has a degree in philosophy followed up by an MBA will probably be more creative than the marketing manager who has a business administration degree and an MBA. She will certainly bring new perspectives to the marketing department.”
  2. Humour
    “Having an original sense of humour — that is, being able to make jokes or be funny on your own, rather than repeating well known jokes — is an indicator of creativity. Humour is about seeing things in unusual ways that are unexpected. To be able to do that requires creativity. This does not mean that every creative person has a sense of humour. Many do not. But anyone with an original sense of humour is almost certainly very creative.Having a sense of humour will probably not be apparent in an applicant’s CV and most people believe they have a sense of humour. But if the applicant keeps a blog, is active on Twitter or participates publicly in other social media where she demonstrates an original sense of humour, she is probably more creative than most.”
  3. Rebelliousness
    “Highly creative people tend to be rebellious. They think differently from averagely creative people, they tend to do things in unconventional ways and they are not afraid to provoke others, including senior management. This is not usually because they choose to be rebellious. Rather, highly creative people think differently and make decisions differently than do averagely creative people. Often, highly creative people are blind to the relevant conventions. They are likely to believe their ideas are better than more conventional ideas.”

“That pretty much sums up highly creative people: they are different. They will have different backgrounds from averagely creative people — and that background may very well include international living and working experience. They will behave differently from averagely creative people and they will offer different results: creative results. If you keep this in mind, it will not be hard to find and hire creative people. The challenge will be challenging them sufficiently to keep them!”

Employee
From Forbes

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