Today we dispatched the July 2020 edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter, a curated digest of of the best leadership links to read right now from around the web, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s best leadership links to read right now: Reimagining job interviews, a framework for making decisions, racism is bad for business, 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 find these links enriching, you can sign up to receive our newsletter here.
Since the entire world moved to remote work almost overnight in mid-March, the authors of this Harvard Business Review article have been surveying 680 U.S.-based white-collar employees every two weeks about their experiences and perceptions of working from home. The results are fascinating and provide a blueprint for what work might look like in the future that exists beyond COVID-19. While results are nuanced and reveal some areas for improvement, the overwhelming consensus is that virtual work is more of a success than most people expected, productivity has remained high, and employees are starting to relish some of the conveniences that working from home provides. Of course, there are some downsides too—like an absence of unplanned interactions, difficulty building relationships, and a diluted onboarding process for new hires—but the outlook is good overall and most leaders agree that remote work is here to stay indefinitely (in one form or another). For a comprehensive analysis of the survey results and implications, read the full piece here.
**For more on virtual work, explore our three guiding principles for leading remote teams.
In addition to the health risks posed by the pandemic, loneliness poses a clear and substantial threat to humanity, says this Eblin Group post. The tried-and-true cure for loneliness is relationships (even virtual ones). To ensure relationships continue to thrive and grow while working remotely, people should learn the art of “transformational listening.” Unlike listening styles that rate lower on the effectiveness hierarchy—like “transient listening” which is self-centered, or “‘transactional listening” which is solution oriented—transformational listening is all about connecting and it’s the key to maintaining the strong and healthy relationships that contribute to productivity and well-being. Explore the full framework here.
**For more on listening, check out our post on how to listen like a leader.
As global protests and fights for policy change in response to systemic racism remain in the forefront, “a heightened focus on everyday experiences is vital—and that includes what’s happening in business and the workplace” says this smart World Economic Forum article. While the business case for diversity has been long studied and known, now is the time for leaders to “put in the hard work that goes into building and maintaining an actively anti-racist work culture.” To start, this piece breaks down five key ways racism is bad for business and offers some tips for combating each example. What tops the list? Racism stifles creativity and interferes with “psychological safety” which is a crucial component for creating workplaces that foster learning, growth, and sustained excellence. Dive into the full article here for a deeper understanding of the many ways racism is bad for business.
Making leadership decisions under normal circumstances is complex, but in the new landscape created by the Coronavirus, daily decisions can be particularly fraught. How might a particular direction affect your employees, your family, your own health? It’s a minefield. Thankfully, according to this thoughtful Psychology Today post, there are reliable ways to use reason and critical thinking to manage our choices better. The author offers a mnemonic device as a helpful process: F.R.A.M.E your choices. Find the most reputable source of information; Review the facts from a variety of angles; Analyze your emotions; Make a choice by evaluating costs and benefits; Evaluate how your decision is working out. Read the full post here for a more detailed explanation of each step.
“The pandemic and its economic fallout are having a regressive effect on gender equality,” and “women’s jobs are 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s,” write the authors of this detailed and extensive McKinsey report on COVID-19 and gender equality. If no action is taken to counter these gender-regressive effects, they estimate global GDP growth could be $1 trillion lower in 2030. But if action is taken immediately to advance gender parity, $13 trillion could be added to global GDP in the same time period. There’s an abundance of research and insight to dig into in this comprehensive report but the resounding takeaway is “what is good for gender equality is also good for the economy and society as a whole,” and, “this is the time for policy makers and business leaders to step up and make it a reality.” Delve into the full report here.
The dreaded ritual of the job interview as it exists today—wherein candidates and prospective employers engage in a free-form interview with unstructured questions aimed at evaluating the job seeker’s “fit” for the company—is good at selecting charismatic people but is not necessarily effective at predicting actual competence or job performance explains this thought-provoking article from Farnam Street. Due to implicit bias and a variety of other factors, employers tend to simply choose the people they like best, “which often means those who are most similar to them.” This creates homogeneity which is a condition antagonistic to agility, innovation, and high performance in organizations. Luckily, there are some bold ways shared here to improve upon, or even completely reimagine, job interviews so that they deliver better results — both for employers and candidates. Suggestions include structured or standardized questions, blind “auditions,” and more.
Dr. Maya Angelou famously said “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Her celebrated advice anchors this Higher Ambition piece offering six near-term ways companies and leaders can start to combat racism. As global awareness in the corporate community transitions gradually from “knowing better” into a growing desire to “do better” leaders are seeking action items they can begin to implement immediately to “sustain momentum” and to be deliberate, intentional, and transparent. The Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, through direct conversations and research, arrived at a starting “menu” of six things—including revisiting recruiting and advancement policies, focusing on community engagement, influencing stakeholder behavior, and more. Engage with the full list of six actions here.
Recent Posts & Insights from ConantLeadership
In times of chaos and complexity, people naturally look to leaders to inspire action and chart the course forward. What if that leader—the person making a difference—could be you? It can (and should) be. You don’t need an official “leadership title” to lead change. And you don’t have to wait for someone else to point you in the right direction. You are empowered with the tools to make an impact right now—whoever you are, with whatever you have, wherever you are in life, in this exact moment. So—how to lead change no matter your job title? We have three guiding thoughts and a simple framework that will help you roll up your sleeves and get started here.
At ConantLeadership our mission is “championing leadership that works in the 21st century.” The recent killing of George Floyd, the outcry of pain and mourning in response to this senseless racism—and the countless similar injustices that preceded it in Kentucky, Georgia, and across the country—call us to reflect on the question, “leadership that works for who?” It’s clear that for too long, leaders and the systems they represent have worked disproportionately for some people at the expense of others, in this and many other cases at the deadly expense of the Black community and, more broadly, communities of color. That must change. Truly effective leadership must work for everybody. Read ConantLeadership’s full statement here.
Successful leadership requires many outstanding traits—but courage is the “mother” attribute. Without it, all else fails. In this excerpt, published in Chief Executive, from Doug Conant’s Wall Street Journal bestselling book, The Blueprint, courage is explored as a leadership skill that can be practiced, cultivated, and grown like any other competency. Explore the full excerpt here.
Enjoyed these links? Explore our suite of leadership resources here, register for our free virtual town on August 18th here, engage with posts about leading through crisis here, or join our mailing list here.
“The Blueprint is a rare offering with perfect timing.” –
Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School
Doug Conant’s new book, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, is available now.