Today we dispatched the most recent edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the best leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s 7 best leadership links to read right now: self-awareness is the key to better teams, a deep dive on small talk, the importance of ethical leadership, and more. As always, we’re sharing the articles from our newsletter here in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you like what you see, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.
Ethics All the Time
“To be an ethical leader, you must demonstrate ethical behavior — not just when others are looking, but all the time and over time,” writes leadership coach, Janine Schindler, in this Forbes post. She continues, “Consistently doing what’s right, even when it’s difficult, should be an integral part of a leader’s makeup.” The benefits of such an approach are widely documented, with ethical leaders earning respect and setting a positive example throughout their organizations. And, the alternative can be devastating, with a lack of ethical leadership costing companies millions in financial losses and immeasurably more in reputation damage (the author uses Wells Fargo’s recent high-profile imbroglio as a perfect example). Learn more about the benefits of ethical leadership in the full post here.
**To test your own capacity for ethical leadership, explore our leadership character checklist here and read our post about ‘walking your talk’ here.
Learn from the Greats
4 CEOs who recently concluded their tenures have created a new, higher standard of leadership that we can all learn from, writes Bill George in this illuminating LinkedIn post. These 4 exemplary leaders are: PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, Unilever’s Paul Polman, Mayo Clinic’s John Noseworthy, and US Bancorp’s Richard Davis. What is the unifying thread that connects them? Chiefly, their belief that business must, “contribute to society in meaningful ways, not just profit from it.” Learn more about how each of these leaders refined their missions and created enduring success here.
Improve, Don’t Prove
“Leaders can get the most out of growth mindset by staying true to its definition: a focus on improving–rather than proving–themselves,” write two directors from the NeuroLeadership Institute in this interesting Fast Company post. As the growth mindset idea enters the popular business lexicon, there are some misconceptions observed by the authors, including the mistaken belief that the mindset extends, “only to a focus on profits” or that it means employees’ plates can, “endlessly expand to take on more tasks.” In reality, the mindset refers largely to a leaders belief that they can continuously improve. It’s helpful for leaders to get clarity on the growth mindset so they communicate an accurate definition and model it in their behavior for better results. Read more here.
** For more on the growth mindset, explore our recent on the topic here.
Gender Parity Is Good Business
Shivani Sopory writes for KMPG that, “For too long, gender diversity was viewed solely through the lens of social responsibility,” inciting a somewhat tepid effort to recruit more women to corporate boards. But, the benefits extend far beyond the realm of mere social responsibility. Says Sopory, “Two things can be true: it’s both the right thing to do and good business.” The latest research backs up this assertion showing, “Fortune 500 companies with the most number of women on their boards outperformed those with the least number of women, achieving a 66 percent higher yield on invested capital and a 42 percent higher return on sales and 53 percent higher return on equity.” Ready to champion gender parity on your board? Sopory chronicles some actionable steps you can take here.
Self-Awareness Is the Key to Better Teams
Many leaders describe their teams as “dysfunctional” but when pressed on the cause, deflect blame or point fingers outwardly. But it’s rarely the case that blame lies with a single person. Each individual may be contributing in known or unknown ways to the larger problem, including the leader. Writes Jennifer Porter in this Harvard Business Review post, “Teams are complex systems of individuals with different preferences, skills, experiences, perspectives, and habits.” You can improve the odds of meaningfully improving that system by learning to look inward. In fact, there are 3 foundational capabilities that leaders should master, “internal self-awareness, external self-awareness, and personal accountability.” Learn more about these crucial capabilities here.
**For more on self-awareness, explore our post on leading by example here.
A Deep Dive on Small Talk
In a recent edition of Quartz Obsession, “a daily deep dive for curious minds”, they tackle the subject of small talk, an art it would serve leaders well to cultivate because leadership requires connecting with different groups of people daily. Have fun exploring this rundown of all things small talk related including why we do it (“it establishes connections without crossing boundaries”), how to do it better (try observing Emily Post’s “three-tiered approach”), and various historical facts and statistics about the act of small talk through the ages (did you know the phrase small talk was coined in 1650?). Who knows, this compendium of small talk information might just help you make a more personal connection in your very next interaction.
If You Think You Can, You Will
The growth mindset, referenced earlier in this newsletter, is a term coined by researcher and esteemed psychologist, Carol Dweck. In simple terms, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed and improved. It’s a fundamental belief in the ability to get better. It stands in sharp contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the limiting belief that intelligence is static and cannot grow or progress. What Dweck’s research shows is that people with a growth mindset, because they believe in their ability to improve, tend to put in more effort; they understand intuitively that their effort will result in positive change. So, they naturally tend to achieve more. People who think they can better, often do. Learn more about this powerful idea in our most recent article here.
Enjoyed these links? Check out our recent link roundups from December, November, and October. Explore our suite of leadership resources here. Or, join our mailing list here.
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