Notes to “The Psychology of Leadership” [Part 4]

Dec 26, 2016 · Leadership

It’s been a while! The four lectures I summarized this time focus on how to cultivate leadership and how to build a thriving culture. For me, there were a lot of golden nuggets in there.

9. From Vision to Goals I

What do you do with people who have (serious) weaknesses (like learning disabilities)? Also, focus on what someone’s good at.

He shows the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fw1CcxCUgg

It is not about how smart someone is, but more where he is smart at. The intersection between his passions and his strengths – that’s the zone of great leadership.

The action of the coach actually changed the life of the kid. These are situations that great leaders enforce their team/group to experience.

A great vision has four characteristics:

1. Mission statement

A mission statement is important. It is the underlying reason for living.

2. Long term goals

Long term goals are ambitious, concrete, and meaningful goals for 1-30 years down the line.

Ambitious means a 50% chance of actually achieving it.

He shows a clip of Kennedy’s We choose to go to the moon speech.

What Kennedy mentioned: A goal will bring our efforts together, it organizes them. This is what a good goal does: it brings people together. A shared belief in something to achieve.

A vision means seeing a seed that has the potential to become a tree.

To be idealistic is to be impractical. – according to him, this is not true. The complete opposite is true: Being idealistic is the most practical thing in the world. It is a human need to have a meaningful goal and mission.

Example missions: Henry Ford – Democratize the automobile. Boeing – Becoming the dominant player in commercial aircraft and bring the world into the jet age.

3. Core Values

An organization’s or person’s most fundamental and inviolable codes of actions.

4. A vivid description

Bringing the vision to life using words that create images.

Think of it as translating the vision from words into pictures, or creating and image that people can carry around in their heads.Colllins & Porras

Henry Ford’s vision is a good example: Although he was unrealistically optimistic, he realized, that having a lofty vision is the most practical thing a leader can do.

10. Mary Follett

This lecture was held by Dafna Eylon.

Empowerment is a state as well as a process.

Attribution bias: systematic errors made when people evaluate or try to find reasons for their own and others’ behaviors.

Self-monitoring is a key skill: we need to know how others view us, not how we want them to view us, but how they really see us and how our words get interpreted by them.

Empowered people frequently report: taking risks, trusting, looking inwards for improvement, looking forward to going to work, speaking well of the organization, acknowledging the work of others

Empowered people also feel: recognized, energized, secure, capable, creative, supported by others

Mary Parker Follett: popular lecturer in the 1920s; believed all individuals wish to self-govern; believed that the role of business is to develop individuals.

Fear of empowerment: losing control over others; others will be recognized and appreciated while they won’t; not being viewed as powerful might lead to Job loss

Fears of empowering oneself: others will expect too much; need to work harder; no rewards for acting empowered; punishment may occur from changing the system.

Impart information, responsibility and active belief in order to enable self-esteem and self-efficacy, which then leads to satisfaction and unique performance outcomes.

If you want to empower people, tell them exactly what to focus on.

Empowerment paradox: Conditions that allow one individual to empower others undermine the essence of empowerment i.e., one party is superior to another allowing judgment, providing or limiting resources, or withholding information. This results in a lack of true redistribution.

Follett recommends:

  • Continuous interactive influence on all levels
  • Constantly seek and adapt the law of the situation and functional Unity
  • Remove impediments
  • Power with and not over
  • Expect and create the dynamic and dialectic
  • Norms of respectful reciprocity

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start
with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best
leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will
say ‘We have done this ourselves.’” – Lao Tzu

11. From Vision to Goals II

Why create a vision? It statistically leads to more success, happiness, resilience.

He recommends: Built to Last by James C. Collins.

In the book, they took visionary companies, which were the premier institutions in their industries, are widely admired, and which made a significant contribution to the world and compared them to more “normal companies”. E.g. Sony to Kenwood, HP to Texas Instruments, Boing to McDonnel Douglas…

This is what they found: “The fundamental distinguishing characteristic of the most enduring and successful corporations is that they preserve a cherished core ideology while simultaneously stimulating progress and change in everything that is not party of their core ideology and which were founded before 1950.”

For these companies, making money is important, but primarily guided by their core values and a sense of purpose. Being more successful is a byproduct of strengthening their values.

Is a random vision enough? No, some visions are greater than others. O’Reilly (1989) discovered that good visions have high-performance standards, a caring attitude and a sense of uniqueness and pride.

Having a positive vision is key. The vision needs to follow the concept of Appreciative Inquiry.

A vision is a force. This can lead to something good or bad, you need to be careful with it and not misuse it.

“Few, if any, forces in human affairs are as powerful as shared visions.” Peter Senge

[Reminds me of a book I just finished reading called “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. The author argues, that a common belief is the one thing that differentiates us from other species. This is why we can live and work together in big groups and other species cannot…]

Communicating the vision: simplicity and repetition, images, metaphors, stories, action follows words.

Clarity and consistency is key for a vision. It can be achieved by simplicity and repetition. A vision needs to be reviewed often in order to make it as simple and clear as possible.

This also applies to politics, teaching, parenting… a simple and clear message, communicated over and over again.

People remember stories. A vision needs to be a good story. E.g. if a vision is about authenticity, then come up with a good story which is about authenticity.

The power of stories: Stories humanize.

12. Leaders Create Their Environment

Lead by example.

“What you do speaks so loudly, that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

This lecture is about building an environment as a leader. Actions are influencing the environment and form it.

“I think the ideal leader for 21st century will be one who creates an environment that encourages everyone in the organization to stretch their capabilities and achieve a shared vision, who give people the confidence to run farther and faster than they ever have before, and who establishes the conditions for people to be more productive, more innovative, more creative and feel more in charge in their own lives than they ever dreamed possible.” – Robert Crandall

There are two types of assumptions about managing people – we call them Theory X and Theory Y.

Theory X Management Assumptions: Most people hate work. Most people want to avoid responsibility. Most people have little ambition for themselves. Most people prefer to be led. Most people have little ability to solve problems…

Theory Y Management Assumptions: Work can be enjoyable as play. Most people want to accept reasonable levels of responsibility. Most people have strong goals for themselves and seek organizations that will help to fulfill those goals. Most people like to lead occasionally…

The hard question: Which one is right? They are both right because our expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies. You get what you expect as a leader. It’s the environment you create. If you create an environment where people get responsibility and a chance to lead, then they will grow and become leaders as well. If every failure will get punished, then nobody will like to go to work…

Leaders create their environment: Leaders have assumptions/expectations –> leads to specific behavior of the leader –> leads to an organizational environment –> leads to the employee’s environment –> and this then leads back to the assumptions/expectations of the leader.

Task: Think about yourself under a good manager/leader vs. a bad one. What where you like?

Whatever you want to be key in your environment – create that environment by yourself. You will mostly get what you expect.