Archive for Education

How Do You Retain and Grow Your Best Performers?

With the economy growing and the job market tightening, you have two choices as a manager: either bring high potentials along to succeed in higher-level positions or hire from outside. Many leaders like to bring tried and true employees into higher-level positions in the organization. They like to grow their own.

People are motivated when you let them know you want them to be successful. You can boost your stars and star-potential employees with a highly focused workshop coming up in December.

I’m slated to lead a workshop called Success Factors for Emerging Leaders through the Southern Oregon University Professional Development Series in December. (Yes, this is shameless self-promotion. Please forgive me.)

Scheduled on December 14 in Medford, OR, the half-day workshop is for new managers, emerging leaders and high-potential employees ready to move up in the organization.

We will cover topics such as:

  • How do you make a successful transition into management and avoid tripping over common first-time mistakes?
  • How do you develop as a new leader, making sure you have the right roadmap and directions for success?

This hands-on workshop will explain and demonstrate essential competencies for leading effectively with social and emotional intelligence. Attendees will acquire and put into practice the necessary tools to better understand how others perceive them while being increasingly attuned to the needs of their team, the management team and the organization. With this heightened understanding, participants will be equipped to develop the confidence, relationships and authority required to successfully transition into a new leadership role.

I’m curious—do you have any success (or horror) stories about transitioning to a new role within your organization? What and who helped you? Please share so I can use in the workshop and others can benefit from your experiences.


“Growing other leaders from the ranks isn’t just the duty of the leader, it’s an obligation.”
Warren Bennis


True Grit: The Secret to Long-Term Success

What’s the strongest predictor of success in school, on the field or in your career—IQ, EQ, socioeconomic background, leadership skills or talent? Actually, it’s none of those. It’s grit.

From spelling bee finalists to Westpoint cadets, athletes to rookie teachers, scholars to salespeople, MacArthur fellow and University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found two consistent predictors of achievement: grit and self-control.

Duckworth discusses the pioneering research on grit she and her colleagues have been conducting at the Duckworth Lab in the following TED talk.

What Seventh-Graders Taught Duckworth

Having left a lucrative job in management consulting to teach seventh-grade math, Duckworth started noticing something funny. The students with the sharpest IQs were sometimes the lowest achievers, and those with poorer IQ scores sometimes outshone their more talented peers.

None of the typically assumed factors for success accounted for the patterns she was seeing. What did those who excelled have in common?

After five years of teaching, Duckworth got a PhD in psychology to find out. She shares these discoveries in her forthcoming book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Already the #1 bestseller in Educational Certification & Development at Amazon, the book explores why focused persistence gets us further than raw ability.

It’s Not How You Succeed—It’s How You Fail

Those who glide through life don’t get a chance to develop the stamina and chutzpah that help them overcome obstacles when they do arise. Grit is not about skating by but rather about doggedly bouncing back every time you stumble.

Authentic Happiness author and positive psychology luminary Martin Seligman is part of the team heading up the Growth Initiative, which focuses on the subject of growth through adversity.

Seligman and his colleagues are interested in identifying how and why some people thrive following tragedy while others wither. Their goal is “to better understand the conditions under which people can experience positive behavioral changes after going through highly stressful adverse events.”

Japan: A Case Study in Post-Traumatic Growth

Just as a scar thickens the skin, trauma can build the resilience necessary to weather future calamities.

A case study in post-traumatic growth, the nation of Japan flourished following the physical and psychological devastation wrought by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Written following the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis, this New York Times article argues that it is Japan’s very history with trauma that would enable it to heal from the latest onslaught.

In the article, authors Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland outline the five necessary conditions to cultivate in the face of mass trauma:

  1. a sense of safety;
  2. calm;
  3. a sense of self and community efficacy;
  4. connectedness; and
  5. hope.

We can carry those lessons over into our individual lives as we learn to cope with—and grow through—adversity.

An Undercover FBI Agent Shares Her Secrets

Former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent LaRae Quy shares these five tips for building the confidence needed to succeed in a recent article:

  1. Don’t fear failure. Taking risks, challenging yourself and making mistakes gives us an opportunity to learn—and grow. In other words, it’s what Homer Simpson calls a “crisitunity.”
  2. Value feedback. Quy cites recent Leadership IQ research indicating that lack of coachability accounted for 26 percent of failed new hires. Those who seek out and embrace constructive feedback are more likely to evolve.
  3. Practice. It gets you to Carnegie Hall for a reason—the more familiar you are with a task, the more effortlessly you will be able to execute it. You will also recover from a misstep with more grace.
  4. “Only connect.” Having the support and mutual respect of colleagues will bolster your confidence and strengthen your sense of community.
  5. Build grit. We’ve already learned the value of grit from Duckworth. There is no pearl without the sand.

How Much Grit Have You Got?

Find out by completing the Grit Survey available at Authentic Happiness. Registration is free, and you’ll gain access to tons of goodies.

How have encounters with adversity led to your growth? Are you ready to up your game?

Chris Cook can help you develop the necessary grit to achieve your goals. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris today.

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Or Why I Love Positive Psychology

Sunshine Yellow Flower

My students in the Working with Emotional Intelligence class at Southern Oregon University recently presented on an emotional intelligence (EI) topic they wanted to know more about. I was delighted at the number who picked a positive psychology topic. That’s what I chose four years ago when I took an EI class as part of my Master in Management program. That got me thinking back …

Here’s how my thesis began: Previous business bestsellers (e.g., One Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) may have offered good advice, and while much of this advice is intuitive, it was not based on research.

PsyCap

Research has demonstrated that specific psychological states contribute to an organization’s success. Developed by Fred Luthans, the premise of Psychological Capital (or PsyCap) is that a company can enhance its leadership, employee development and performance by developing four psychological states in its employees: hope, confidence [efficacy], optimism and resiliency. PsyCap is something that can be cultivated and can have a profound effect on an organization’s bottom line (Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007).

PsyCap is an individual’s positive state of psychological development characterized by the four constructs of:

  1. Hope: persevering toward goals and making adjustments along the way to succeed
  2. Confidence [efficacy]: taking on and putting in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks
  3. Optimism: feeling positive about succeeding now and in the future
  4. Resiliency: the ability to sustain and bounce back from problems and adversity to attain success (Avey, Luthans, Smith & Palmer, 2010)

PsyCap is made up of the combination of all four states because together they can predict performance outcomes more accurately than any single one (Avey, et al., 2010).

Outcomes

Through his research, Luthans confirmed that these states can be learned and the outcomes measured. He worked with a well-known Silicon Valley high-tech firm, where 75 engineering managers participated in PsyCap training. After subtracting the cost of the training and the engineers’ time, the calculated return on investment was 270% (Hope, Optimism and Other Business Assets, 2007).

Increasing Your PsyCap

I appreciate my students pointing me back to my PsyCap roots, and I love that I am able to use this research to help people and organizations around the Rogue Valley and beyond. If your organization would benefit from greater PsyCap, give me a call at 541.601.0114. Let’s see how successful you can be!

References

Avey, J., Luthans, F., Smith, R., & Palmer, N. (2010). Impact of positive psychological capital on employee well-being over time. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(1), 17–28. doi:10.1037/a0016998.

Hope, optimism, and other business assets: Q&A with Fred Luthans. (2007, January 11). Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved from http://gmi.gallup.com.

Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J., Avey, J.B., & Norman, S.M. (2007, Autumn). Positive psychological capital: measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 60(3), 541–572. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00083.x.

What I Like About You

What I Like About You Notes


Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. —Voltaire


How important is it to let people around you know what you value about them? Why would you bother? Why take the time?

A quick Google search offers about 615,000 reasons.

My answer: It’s essential if you are looking to energize, motivate, develop or lead.

In my Working with Emotional Intelligence class at Southern Oregon University the other night, we did a little exercise called What I Like About You. Yes, it was performed to the music of The Romantics, and the students loved it.

Here’s how it worked: everyone had a piece of paper taped to their backs. Students made their way around the room and wrote a few words on each of their fellows’ backs. The messages focused on what they like or appreciate about each other (only one “kick me”—written in jest, of course, as these guys have great senses of humor and camaraderie).

Why this exercise? Self-awareness is a key component to emotional intelligence, and sometimes it helps to check in with others. We don’t always see what others see in us. Usually, we see our warts and feel slow and earthbound, while others see the glimmer in our eyes and notice our ability to come up with creative ideas.

And don’t forget that recognizing the good in someone only strengthens your own happiness.

Next time you have the chance to tell someone something you admire or appreciate about them, don’t be shy. You will both be better for it.

SOU’s Working with Emotional Intelligence class is part of an exciting new program called Innovation and Leadership. It’s a degree completion program for working adults.

What Tops the List of Lessons Learned by a Recent Master in Management Grad?

Mind Meld

Emotional Intelligence Deemed Critical for Success


“Success rests in having the courage and endurance, and above all, the will to become the person you are.” —George Sheehan


“Was it worth 20 months and $20,000?” This is the question posed in the October 26, 2014, article by Statesman Journal editorial page editor Dick Hughes. As an adjunct instructor who taught Working with Emotional Intelligence to Dick and his cohort, I am happy to report Dick’s answer was an unequivocal “Yes.”

Dick even gave a nod to emotional intelligence as he recounted the lessons he learned during the program: “Technical skills are over-rated in hiring. In most jobs, from teaching to bartending to scientific research to accounting, the typical applicant will have the technical skills required to perform the job functions. What will determine his or her success is work ethic and people skills. Emotional intelligence is at least as important, and often more important, than the technical skills. A corollary is that good leaders are smart, not necessarily brilliant. Leaders need a combination of skills beyond traditional IQ.”

Other high points in Dick’s learning were:

  • Treat others with respect
  • Stay in the moment—understand what is happening in the here and now
  • Understand your ability to motivate others
  • Embrace responsibility—don’t blame
  • Don’t shortcut the process—involve all affected parties
  • Encourage calculated risk taking

However, Dick ruminates, couldn’t he have learned all this and more at various seminars and by reading books and magazines?

“Yes,” he answers. “I did those things. The lessons faded.”

“That was the power of an accelerated, virtually full-time master’s program, even while working full time, being a spouse and parent, and volunteering in the community: The lessons stuck.

“And to make sure it sticks, the Sticky Note on my phone reminds me of one such lesson: MTBOI. Make the Best of It.”

And that’s just what he seems to have done.

Bravo to Dick Hughes and the others in his Southern Oregon University Master in Management cohort. You did it—you joined the 11 percent of the US population with a master’s degree. May your years ahead be enriched by the knowledge you gained and the lessons you learned.


“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” —Ray Kroc


Read the full Statesman Journal opinion piece here. To read Dick’s previous editorial on emotional intelligence, click here.

Bad for Business: Where Business Schools Went Wrong

MBA Student at Business School

The golden era of the business school has ended. We’ve gone from a time when MBA programs were regarded as prestigious, pragmatic and even more selective than typical graduate programs to one where they’re something of an embarrassment.

Why? Warren G. Bennis and James O’Toole (authors of the Harvard Business Review article “How Business Schools Lost Their Way”) believe it’s because MBA programs have made decisions that are bad for business—both their own and that of the larger world.

By myopically focusing on scientific research, business schools are neglecting the needs of their students and ultimately failing their alumni.

This primarily shows up in their choice of faculty. Instead of hiring professors with experience in the business world, they are hiring academics whose knowledge is limited to the theoretical realm. Worse, tenure-track professors pressured to publish and conduct research end up focusing more on their careers than their students.

What students miss in this equation is the real-world knowledge and insights that help them navigate the situations they will confront once graduated. Subsequently, MBA alumni are floundering when faced with the complexities inherent to real-life business situations.

Real business is messy, confusing and morally ambiguous at times. It’s impossible to replicate these nuances in a laboratory setting, and faculty whose only experience lies in reading financial analyses and erudite studies rarely grasp what day-to-day activities are like on the ground.

Not only do today’s MBA graduates lack the skills they need to succeed in the corporate world, but they are not exceling as leaders or even securing decent jobs. Furthermore, they possess little understanding of business ethics, causing them to make dubious decisions that put their organizations, people and society at risk.

McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg blames the irrelevant MBA curriculum. Bennis and O’Toole believe the curriculum is merely a symptom of the larger disease.

The authors fault what they call the scientific model for treating business like an academic discipline instead of a profession. Students get lost in a maze of multiple regressions and economic analyses, and they aren’t equipped with the skills to map theory into practice.

Business is also a multidisciplinary field, encompassing everything from mathematics and economics to psychology, sociology and philosophy. Treating it as a solitary major does a disservice to their students.

The recent tilt toward the scientific model of business education may be a well-intentioned but misguided overcorrection of the early 20th century emphasis on job training. More akin to trade schools, these institutions were poorly regarded by both academia and business.

In 1959, reports issued by the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Foundation exposed these business schools for the inept institutions they were. Motivated by the demand for strong leadership during the postwar boom, both foundations offered grants to beef up business school research programs and credentials.

Chasing grant funds and credibility, business schools forgot about the deeper wisdom that comes from practical experience. After first experiencing a rise in substance and prestige during the sixties and seventies, business schools began their decline in the mid-eighties.

Rather than integrating practica and internships in which students can gain on-the-job experience, contemporary MBA programs set up hypothetical lab simulations to gauge how students will react in those kinds of situations. This is pretty silly when you consider how easy it is to set up an internship at a local business and how valuable it is to the student, the business and the institution’s town and gown.

By overemphasizing research and hard facts, business schools are overlooking emotional intelligence, the humanities and ethics—all areas, it turns out, vital to wise decision making and leadership. Qualitative may actually be more valuable than quantitative when it comes to stepping foot in the office.

That’s not to say business schools should eschew scientific research altogether. It just needs to be counterbalanced by relevant real-world experience.

There are exceptions, of course. Flagship institutions like UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Harvard Business School integrate case studies as well as rigorous research into their curricula.

Former University of Dallas provost Thomas Lindsay astutely states, “[S]tudies showed that executives who fail—financially as well as morally—rarely do so from a lack of expertise. Rather, they fail because they lack interpersonal skills and practical wisdom; what Aristotle called prudence.”

Before Enron and other corporate scandals, business students spent only 5% of their time developing their moral capacities and the rest of their time on wealth maximization, says Lindsay. The Dallas business school attempted to reverse that formula by introducing a series of ethical exercises paired with liberal studies coursework.

As enlightenment spreads from business school to business school, perhaps the MBA will experience a renaissance, and we’ll enter a new golden era—one that deftly balances research, teaching, pragmatic experience and the humanities to graduate a more astute, empathetic and inspiring leader.