Today we dispatched the May edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of the most intriguing leadership links to read right now, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s edition: your smartphone is making you dumb, how to develop moral courage, 20 leadership questions, the power of great expectations, 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.
“By focusing too much on control and end goals, and not enough on their people, leaders are making it more difficult to achieve their own desired outcomes.” writes Dan Cable in this Harvard Business Review post. But the key to really driving better performance today is, “to help people feel purposeful, motivated, and energized so they can bring their best selves to work.” Mastering a humble, people-centric approach is the way to get better results.
**For more on a people-focused leadership approach, explore our posts on how to give people the energy to do their best work, how to give thanks with your leadership, and how to influence people with honor.
This Wall Street Journal article compiles a mountain of research from multiple studies which show that our unrelenting access to ubiquitous devices and information may actually be weakening our mental capacity. The author writes, “as strange as it might seem, people’s knowledge and understanding may actually dwindle as gadgets grant them easier access to online data stores.” What’s more, “as the brain grows dependent on the technology, the research suggests, the intellect weakens” even when we’re not actively using our phones. No, this doesn’t mean you’ve got to throw your iPhone in the river. But, “we need to give our minds more room to think. And that means putting some distance between ourselves and our phones.” It may be worth consciously finding ways to responsibly limit our use whenever possible.
“Moral courage is the behavioral expression of authenticity in the face of discomfort of dissension, disapproval, or rejection” writes Jon Mertz in this interesting Thin Difference post. Essentially, it’s doing what’s right, even when it’s hard. And Mertz provides a framework for assessing moral courage in leadership and three ways to better develop it.
**For more on this, read our post on leading with courage.
As a leader, how can you nudge people towards success? Surprisingly, the answer lies in upholding high standards and expectations. In fact, research suggests that the higher your expectations are for people, the higher their level of performance. The name of this phenomenon is The Pygmalion Effect and it’s explained thoroughly in this fascinating Farnam Street post. Understanding this effect, “is a powerful way to positively affect those around us, from our children and friends to employees and leaders.”
**For more on inspiring greatness, explore our post on what the best leaders have in common.
Many leaders feel resistance to getting better organized because they’ve experienced repeated failure in the past. Why? Often, in an attempt to reduce the complexity of their hectic lives, they over-correct, ending up with to-do lists that are too simple, according to this Getting Things Done post. The problem is that they’re trying to combine the five essential phases of organizing tasks into one; this post itemizes the five phases you need to understand to master your workflow and finally conquer your “to-dos.”
Before you can manifest your leadership future, you’ve got to get grounded in who and where you are now. That’s why it’s smart to take time to reflect on questions that will better connect you to the here and now. In this thought-provoking post, Mary Jo Asmus outlines twenty essential questions leaders can use to ground themselves and better prepare for the future.
**For more leadership questions and prompts, explore our first two questions of leadership, our three questions the best leaders ask, and test your leadership acumen with our competence and character checklists.
The best way to get better at leadership is to study real leaders, in real situations, “in the wild” says Wally Bock in this actionable post. Ideally, you will look at specific circumstances and carefully glean insights that you can use to do better on Monday morning. So, how should you get started, where should you look, and what should you focus on? Bock breaks it down in his guide here.
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