Harness the Wisdom of Your Five Brains

By Judith E. Glaser

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this: You are trying to navigate through a business meeting. You want to be helpful. It’s confusing to keep track of what’s going on. When you hear an idea you like, or see an opening to something new, you jump in and share it at the moment it occurs to you. Then someone closes that door and says, “that’s a stupid idea—we’ve tried that before and it failed.”Woman.Generations.Races.franky242

When you hear the words “stupid” and “failed”, you have an emotional reaction to the situation and person. You tune out of the meeting and ruminate. On the outside, people think you are still there. Your body is present, and your face may show signs of listening, yet a big part of you has left the meeting.

Your attention is now turned inside to your silent conversation with yourself about being stupid, and failing. You remember other times when your boss or colleague said you were stupid. You get angry and find yourself in a movie clip of you and your boss yelling about something. You are getting emotional and feeling bad about yourself. You recall a conversation you had with Jason, one of your teammates in the room; you faced-off with Jason and lost.

When you return to the conversation, the team is on to something else. You feel lost and strange about asking for a recap, so you shut up. Later, someone comes and asks why you were angry in the meeting and then shut up. They made assumptions and projected interpretations because all they saw was your angry face and then your silence.

What you didn’t realize is that while you were recalling old angry memories of failing and being stupid your face became angry, and that is what others saw. While your “movie” only lasted 12 seconds, it had a huge impact on the meeting and the mood. But you couldn’t see what others saw.

Our research conducted during the writing of our newest book, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results, is demonstrating that our brains disconnect during conversations every 12 to 18 seconds, as we get hooked on key words that send us back to emotional memories. Our movie-making mind brings up these old memories and edits them into a draft of the current situation, changing the meaning, from your perspective, of the meeting you are experiencing in the now.

As neuroscientific research is also demonstrating, bringing emotion-laden memories into the present only amplifies the present. If the memories are “feel bad,” you bring more pain and feel bad into your interpretation of the present. If the memories are “feel good” you bring more pleasure into the present.

Our Five-Brains

Behind the Neuroscience of Conversations is a model for seeing our brains not as one brain, but as five brains—each hard-wired to help us sort out and sort through our interactions with others.

Reptilian Brain informs about threats (physical and psychological) to our safety.

Limbic Brain informs us who is our friend or foe and how we can fit in—relationships;

Neocortex sorts through data from our senses, memories, and experiences, and helps us make sense of our reality—understanding.

The other two brains work in concert to influence what it means to be human.

Heart Brain our oldest brain, reads the biochemistry of our bodies and enables us to translate the energetic and hormonal messages that arise as we interact—sensitivity.

Prefrontal cortex or Executive Brain engages us with the outer world and the future, helping us grasp inner and outer Truths. By translating current information, impulses, and biochemistry, it helps us make judgment calls, have empathy, anticipate the future—what I call “Futuresight” and Foresight.

Our brains are made to be social so when we aren’t paying attention to the work at hand, we are connecting with others—that is what our brain wants. Next time you are in a conversation, let the power of your five brains give you insight into how to respond.

Image courtesy of franky242 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Judith GlaserJudith E. Glaser is CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc. and Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is an Organizational Anthropologist, and consults to Fortune 500 Companies. Judith is the author of four best selling business books, including her newest, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion, 2013) Visit www.conversationalingelligence.com; www.creatingwe.com; jeglaser@creatingwe.com or call 212-307-4386.

Posted in communication, HR, teams | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Danger of Mirrortocracy in Silicon Valley and Beyond

by Helen Whelan

“We’ve created a make-believe cult of objective meritocracy, a pseudo-scientific mythos to obscure and reinforce the belief that only people who look and talk like us are worth noticing. After making such a show of burning down the bad old rules of business, the new ones we’ve created seem pretty similar.” Carlos Bueno, programmer

Carlos Bueno wrote  “The next thing Silicon Valley needs to disrupt bigtime: its own culture , which takes aim at the hiring practices of Silicon Valley firms.  Ironically, these firms claim to have a talent shortage. The caveat should be a talent shortage of white young men, followed by young Asian men. Bueno says often these folks don’t even realize they’re hiring based on a bias. Instead, they actually think they’re being smart and objective.

Take Google. It recently announced the makeup of its workforce. The numbers tell it all. Google says it’s being transparent. That’s great but what do these companies do to create a workforce that mirrors their customers? That mines the brains and hearts of women, minorities, of all different ages?

GoogleWorkforce

This isn’t new. It’s just more stark with Silicon Valley companies because they’re in the limelight and they claim to be objective data decision-makers. If we’re not careful, we all can be accused of hiring people just like ourselves. This goes all the way up the food chain to the executive suite and who we listen to and bring into our confidence.  Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith calls it “Avoiding favoritism” and how powerful people can surround themselves with “Yes Wo/men”.  Most people will deny they’re doing this but Goldsmith provides a great way to  test yourself on whether you’re doing it. 

Continue reading

Posted in Diversity, HR, Innovation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Customer Service Social Media Ratings and Business Performance

by Helen Whelan

I recently went online to book a vacation in San Francisco. The first thing I did was look at the reviews.   I might have liked the pictures or even the neighborhood but I wasn’t going to trust my gut alone. I wanted to see the reviews. The more reviews that were positive, the more I’d trust my purchasing decision.

I’m not doing anything different from any other consumer that is deciding where to dine, what appliance or car to buy or, basically, where to spend their money. Reviews take a lot of the risk out of the equation. Wouldn’t you rather stay somewhere that has 4 or 5 stars than a 1 star?

Social Media Reviews and Business Performance

Who needs the most customer service help?

So, what impact does shoddy customer service have on a business?  Seems the answer is quantifiable. In fact, Cornell, recently did a study of The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance:

First, the percentage of consumers consulting reviews at TripAdvisor prior to booking a hotel room has steadily increased over time, as has the number of reviews they are reading prior to making their hotel choice. Second, transactional data from Travelocity illustrate that if a hotel increases its review scores by 1 point on a 5-point scale (e.g., from 3.3 to 4.3), the hotel can increase its price by 11.2 percent and still maintain the same occupancy or market share.

So, all that effort to train employees and build positive attitude — is it worth it?  Think hospitality, service, retail, health care, you name it! If it can be bought and people can chat, text, take pictures/videos and review it, training in customer service makes a big difference.  What’s the alternative?

Posted in customer service, HR, management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Having Courage in Career-Defining Moments

by Sandra Ford Walston

Every obstacle you face at work represents a potential career-defining moment. Your character may be tested. You can choose to step up to the next rung on the ladder or,courage when facing workplace obstacles
lacking sufficient courage, slip back down. By simply recognizing these workplace obstacles as defining moments (things like failing to get an overdue promotion, or enduring verbal intimidation) you begin to rely on your personal, courage-based assets.

Unfortunately, many people miss the opportunity of overcoming workplace obstacles by responding consciously or unconsciously with self-defeat. They may perceive these potentially defining moments as just “part of the job,” or they may feel that in some way they deserve unfair treatment. If they take on the role of martyr or victim in order to “keep the peace,” their true heart-and-spirit Self is further stifled.

Continue reading

Posted in communication, HR | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Power of Language to Shape the Workplace

Conversational Intelligence + The Neuroscience of Conversations

For the past 20 years, new discoveries at neuroscience research centers have been revealing new and healthy ways to handle negative emotions. Since conventional wisdom suggests that it’s better to not to discuss these emotions, we turn to alternative strategies—such as suppressing negative emotions, controlling them, managing them or sharing inappropriately (gossip/triangulation) just to get them out. Anger Management programs abound, as do Emotional Intelligence exercises to take control of those negative unsocial emotions.Power of Language to Reshape Workplace

However, our new insights and wisdom from the world of Conversational Intelligence, takes us down another path. Rather than suppressing emotions (damaging internal healthy functioning), we need to express them in healthy ways. Learning how to label emotions constructively has a big impact emotionally—both for the speaker and the listener.

Continue reading

Posted in communication, HR | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Emotions – Navigating Pleasure or Pain in the Workplace

by Judith E. Glaser

Truth Be Told—About Our Brains and Relationships

The Creating WE Institute has discovered that we have two types of reactions in Emotions - Navigating Pleasure or Pain in the Workplaceconversations—one causes us pleasure – and opens our brain, and one causes us pain and closes our brain. Appreciation is pleasure and opens the brain; negative judgment is pain and closes the brain. That’s according to our 3 decades of research with organizations of all sizes.

So, which message are you sending:“You can trust me to have your best interest at heart” or “I want to persuade you to think about things my way?”  Think of how you can create the conversational space that affords deeper understanding and engagement rather than fear and avoidance. Be mindful of your conversations and their emotional content—either pain or pleasure.

Continue reading

Posted in communication, HR, teams | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Four Tips for Effective Succession Planning

by Peter Thies

A CEO blows out because of a scandal. Or, s/he becomes ill. The company is facing stiff competition and it’s not growing.  There are plenty of reasons why the expiration date on a CEO is often sooner than expected.

Surprisingly, many companies are caught off guard. They haven’t prepared  by targeting what skills are needed in a CEO or leader to take the company to the next level. Nor have they groomed executives so they can gain the key experience needed to lead.

Here are a few companies that have done this well by effectively planning their leadership transition.

Value-CreatingCEO Succession

Value-Creating CEO Successions

Effective CEO succession is less about rocket science and more about due diligence. Based on our experience with clients and lessons learned from successes and failures, the following practices will help Boards effectively prepare for their next CEO.

1. Build to last. Create a CEO profile built on what the company needs in the future so you can assess and develop internals now against that spec. Don’t just ask, “Who’s ready to succeed the incumbent?” Ask, “What does the company need in future CEOs, and how do our first, second and third generation internal candidates compare to that profile?” This is important because the bar is rising in terms of CEO skill set. Companies are bigger and more global in an environment of accelerating competition, even in emerging markets. Executives must also adapt to quicker technological changes such as mobility and social media. Succession happens in the future, so be ready now.

2. Put your executive development programs on steroids. Don’t just ask, “How long until they are ready?” Ask, “What specific experiences are internal candidates being given to prepare them for a job they’ve never done before?” At the level of C-Suite candidates, most executives require intensive development experiences to break through old habits and transform into more enterprise-level leaders. Plain vanilla assessments and canned programs won’t cut it. CEO candidates frequently need to “crack the code “ on development challenges they’ve been avoiding for years, such as conflict aversion, rocky peer relationships, or lack of self-awareness. This isn’t easy. They also need exposure to tough constituents and will benefit from real-world experience presenting to analysts, investors, the Board, unions, etc.

3. Know the external market. Don’t just ask, “Which Executive Search firm would we use if we went outside?” Also ask, “ Which executives in other companies/industries fit best with our future CEO profile, and how likely would they be to come on board?” Convergence in many industries means that the Board should be tracking executives in other industries, not just their own. Market knowledge is at a premium. Boards can engage executive search firms in a process known as “market mapping”, where external targets are identified but not approached.

4. Know your own. First hand knowledge of the “heirs apparent” beats talent reports every time. Boards shouldn’t just ask for names of internal candidates; they should get to know them formally and informally, beyond presentations. One interview in a search process is insufficient at best. Ajay Banga, CEO of MasterCard, proactively sets up formal and informal interactions between the company’s top talent and the Board on a regular basis.

Summary – the CEO Succession Strength Meter Succession planning

Like the strength meter of your password on a website, you can test the strength of your CEO Succession Process using this scale. The closer to green, the closer your company is to being adequately prepared for all scenarios of CEO Succession.

Peter ThiesPeter Thies, Ph.D. is President of the River Group, LLC a management consulting firm that offers advice and solutions to executives leading transformational change.

 

Posted in change, HR, Leadership Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Four Fundamental Leadership Traits to Gain Competitive Advantage

By Lee Ellis

In Patrick Lencioni’s latest book,  The Advantage, he points out that in today’s competitive world a healthy organization is likely to be the greatest competitive advantage you can have. 4 leadership traits for competitive advantageHe’s right, so what exactly does that look like?

Well, let’s take a closer look at an unhealthy organization. To outsiders like Pat and me, three strong indicators are:

A lack of trust leading to poor teamwork and alignment.

A lack of clarity about mission, vision, and values.

A fear of conflict. People are not allowed to say what they really think.

With these symptoms, you can predict a lack of accountability on team goals which results in sloppy execution, inadequate results, and ultimately, a poor reputation in your industry. However you, the smart business leader, want the best results and a great place to work (they typically go together), so let’s consider the four fundamentals that can achieve both goals.

1. Build Trust

Trust is the hallmark of cohesive teams. Without it, people have doubts, fears, and uncertainty making alignment and unity impossible. Remember that we’re not talking about baseline trust such as “Do I trust you not to steal my wallet?”

Trust in this context means that I understand and accept you because you’re willing to be vulnerable and genuine. There are no hidden agendas, so I know you won’t take advantage of me if I’m not at the meeting with the boss. This kind of trust takes time, and leaders must go first with this virtue.

2. Clarify and Over-Communicate

Leading a business means facing many crucial issues and decisions every day, but a good leader has the ability to synthesize large amounts of information into something simple. Too often leaders assume that their staff see and understand what they do, and this causes many problems with execution. Imagine the quarterback having a complex play in mind, yet he only calls a short version of it in the huddle. Ten teammates must execute precisely to make the next play a success; but if they don’t have the same picture as the quarterback, mistakes will likely result in a setback. It’s the same in business.

Leaders have to continually clarify and over-communicate the message all the way to the bottom of the organization to make sure the team understands what plays the leader is calling.

3. Create a Safe Environment and Encourage Debate

In healthy organizations there’s an absence of fear, and courage is rewarded. Do your people have to walk on eggshells, or do they feel safe with you? Can they disagree with you and have a fair hearing, or do your reactions equate disagreement with disloyalty? Healthy leaders invite creative conflict prior to making key decisions to get team buy in and to make sure that other reasonable ideas are evaluated. They’re more interested in being effective than being “right.”

One of the greatest desires of all people is to be understood, so show courage by listening and learning from your people. Your courage, vulnerability, and authenticity will be seen as strengths.

4. Be Courageous

Leading isn’t easy. Every day you face tough issues, and your people are watching to see if you will walk the talk of your stated values. It will take all the courage you have and the support of your team and confidants to consistently lead with honor.

Lean into the pain of your fears to do what you know is right, and you will send a message of healthy courage throughout your organization. Remember that positive emotions are contagious and powerful, and leaders go first.

Image courtesy of kraifreedom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

LE

Lee EllisLee Ellis is president of Leadership Freedom® LLC, a leadership and team development consulting company, Lee Ellis consults with Fortune 500 senior executives in the areas of hiring, team building, leadership and human performance development, and succession planning.

His latest book about his Vietnam POW experience is entitled Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton. Learn more at www.leadingwithhonor.com.

Posted in HR | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Leadership Turnover, Faulty Planning & Value Destruction

By Peter Thies

There are a lot of CEOs without jobs.

Companies are turning over their CEOs at the fastest clip since the recession, according to executive search firm Spencer Stuart.  CEO tenure has dropped to 4.8 years, according to a recent Harvard Study. This trend is likely to continue as Boards look to their leaders to quickly revive corporate growth and compete in a sluggish economy.

Directors and activist investors are increasingly wielding the power to demand and create change at the top. They see a post Baby Boom generation of market savvy, technology friendly executives in their late 40s to early 50s  who are ready to take over the helm.

Examples of failed CEO successions

Value Destruction by the Unprepared

Given the increased CEO turnover and bumper crop of successors, Boards can capitalize on an up market.

If they’re ready.

Yet, most Boards remain unprepared for the crucial fiduciary responsibility of ensuring an effective CEO succession. For every positive story of a seamless transition, 1-2 companies grapple with succession surprises, from health or scandal-related turnover to rising investor impatience over lackluster corporate performance, easily catalyzed by activist shareholders.

The cost of complacency is rising

Dramatic stories of bumpy or failed CEO transitions make for riveting front-page copy, but they are not usually good for business. When unprepared, Boards are more likely to hire a CEO from the outside. While this may be the best or only answer in a particular situation, the ROI of this option isn’t favorable to shareholders over the long-term. According to a 2013 study by Booz & Co., the median shareholder return over the period 2002-2013 by insider CEOs was 3.9%, compared with 0.65% by outsiders.

Whether it involves hiring an external CEO or not, lack of preparation for an effective CEO transition continues to destroy value across a wide range of companies. There were several unfortunately all-too-familiar scenarios in recent months (see the graphic “Value Destruction by the Unprepared”).

Successful CEO Succession is neither glamorous nor rocket science. It just takes time and hard work. For example, the Board and incumbent CEO can jointly develop an explicit statement of the future job requirements of the CEO position. Developmental assignments and Board exposure can be created for the potential candidates to allow the Board and the incumbent CEO to evaluate each candidates’ ability and ambition to be a viable successor.

The candidates themselves can actively pursue their own leadership development, owning the changes they need to make. As a result, Boards and management alike create value through seamless CEO transitions where the successor has the skills necessary to take the company into the future.

Rigorous preparation is not sexy, but it works.

Next: A Better Way:Preparation is the Key to Value-Creating CEO Succession

Peter ThiesPeter Thies, Ph.D. is President of the River Group, LLC a management consulting firm that offers advice and solutions to executives leading transformational change.

 

Posted in change, HR, leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Workplace Change Management Video Sale

25% off our popular change management videos. Use this coupon code when you’re checking out: “Spring25off” to save on these positive attitude and change management video training DVD courses.

Change management video training sale

25% off change management video DVDs

This discount cannot be combined with any industry discount.

Please contact us at:                 (888) 380-5491 for further discounts when you purchase multiples of these DVD trainings.

 

Posted in change, HR | Tagged , , , | Comments Off