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The Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now

by | Jul 31, 2021

Today we dispatched the July edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated digest of the best leadership links to read right now from around the web, sent at the end of each monthTopics covered in this month’s best leadership links to read right now include: Fix your ‘digital body language,’ oil your ‘squeaky wheels,’ put health on the CEO agenda, and more.  As alwayswe’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 right here.

Make Accountability a Cultural Norm

Creating an inclusive and equitable workplace requires “building a culture of accountability,” in order to “address racism and advance racial equity,” says this smart SSIR article. The first step towards activating this cultural norm with “integrity and care” is distinguishing “accountability from punishment.” There is a popular societal attitude that conflates accountability with “punishment, shame and/or retaliatory harm,” but this confusion belies an important distinction that is anchored in relationships: “Punishment breaks a relationship; it’s rooted in isolation, shame, and disconnection,” whereas “accountability” can preserve and deepen relationships because it “requires communication, negotiation of needs, the opportunity to repair harm, and the chance to prove that we can change and be worthy of trust again.” To learn more about this, explore the three types of accountability and seven implementation practices provided in the full article here.

**For more on accountability, explore our related article on why choosing to take responsibility is always the best leadership choice.

What is ‘Asynchronous Work?’

The 9-to-5 workday is shifting. The proliferation of remote work has “allowed for more flexible hours,” leading employees to increasingly work “asynchronously,” which means they complete tasks “on their own schedules, which may be different from those of their colleagues,” explains this illuminating Harvard Business Review post. This “asynchronous” work has become rapidly embedded in the rhythms of today’s organizations and is “now essential to being part of a modern digital economy, staying competitive in the war for talent, and building a globally distributed workforce.” Companies must adapt to this “new mindset” and “profoundly rethink what it means to be part of a modern work structure,” or they may find themselves “disadvantaged” in the competition to attract the best talent. To nudge your culture towards asynchrony, read the strategies provided in the full piece here

Get Prepped for the ‘Poaching Frenzy’

The “breakneck speed of economic recovery,” and a “severe talent shortage,” have unleashed a “poaching frenzy” that could rob you of your best talent, warn the authors of this premonitory piece in Chief Executive. And experts say that the more successful your company, the more likely it is that headhunters will zero in on luring your key people to other organizations with attractive offers. But all is not lost. If you “anticipate and act now,” you can be “preemptive” in both “acquiring and protecting talent,” and the authors provide four actionable tips that can help.

Harness the Power of Women

Indra Nooyi, former Chair and CEO of PepsiCo, is sounding the alarm that the “C-suite pipeline is broken,” according to this Fortune coverage of her comments at a recent conference.  “Despite the fact that 70% of high school valedictorians and more than 50% of college graduates are women,” only a meager “7% of CEOs” are women and only “2% of venture capital money goes to women.” Nooyi points out that we’re missing an opportunity to develop and promote a highly valuable talent pool: “One of the biggest emerging-market opportunities we have in the U.S. is women,” and she adds that all of us should be worried that the “pipeline is broken beyond the entry level.” Her rallying cry is clear: “This has got to be the decade that all of us sit down and say, ‘What do we need to do to harness the power of women?'” Explore the full coverage here.

**For more from Indra Nooyi, read our recent post “Indra Nooyi & Doug Conant on How to Be a Transformational Leader.”

Oil Your ‘Squeaky Wheels’

Looking to foster more innovation in your organization? Turn to your most “creative employees,” or “squeaky wheels,” who tend to be “more likely to take the kind of ‘good’ risks that lead to innovation,” advises this interesting strategy + business post. While it might be easy to dismiss your squeakiest employee as “the whistleblower, the skeptic, the constant questioner,” and view them as more of an impediment than an asset, they may also be your best bet at tapping “a reservoir of creativity.” Start “looking for the kind of constructive social risk-taking that goes hand in hand with creativity,” and you may just find the exact wellspring of fresh thinking that can catalyze innovation. Learn more in the full post here

5 Modern Strategies for Building Trust

Building trust isn’t a one-time activity,” and while it’s tempting to try to devise a way to simply check building trust off your leadership to-do list, it requires “ongoing maintenance,” and continuous improvement, says this Office Vibe piece on trust. Whether you want to “establish trust on a newly-formed team, rebuild broken trust, or strengthen the trust that already exists,” there are five modern strategies that can deliver success. The top strategy? Establish “healthy workplace communication practices” that “allow for open dialogue,” and “set the tone” with your own behavior encouraging your team to follow your lead. Read all five strategies in the full post here.

**For more on trust, read our tips from 3 top leadership experts for building trust post-pandemic.

Health has sometimes been too narrowly defined as the absence of disease,” but the pandemic exposed the “need for organizations to support individuals’ health in a broader and more integrated way,” and to expand the understanding of health to include “physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being,” says this comprehensive Deloitte explainer on the importance of leaders formalizing their commitment to employee well-being. There is a burgeoning expectation that the CEO become “health-savvy,” meaning that they explicitly place wellness on their agenda, and understand that doing so means “being fundamentally future-oriented,” and helps their company “adapt and pivot with resilience.” Investing in health can encompass a wide breadth of initiatives and might include “support for working parents, new norms for well-being and collaboration, enhanced tools for virtual work, more community engagement, new private-public sector partnerships, and more.” Explore the full slate of recommendations for enhancing the health of your team and your organization here.

**To further develop your ability to healthfully and holistically adapt to the changing world, download your free excerpt of The Blueprint, a book which contains countless prompts for thoughtful reflection including a values exercise, envisioning exercise, and more.

What’s Your ‘Digital Body Language’ Saying?

Most leaders are well accustomed to relying on traditional body language—e.g., physical cues, averted or attentive gaze, slumped or upright posture—to “gauge team morale,” and interpret the tone of a conversation, but now that hybrid and remote work has forced us to communicate primarily through our screens, an ability to use “digital cues” has emerged as a crucial leadership skill, explains this fascinating charter interview with digital body language expert, Erica Dhawan. Now, leaders must reimagine and devote more attention to the cues “we give off and receive, consciously or not, in each email, text, or Slack message.” Fortunately, understanding the power of “digital body language” offers fresh opportunities to transform the “new normal” into a “better normal,”—a normal in which leaders can “be more geographically inclusive, less visually biased, and more creative about who can be a part of a discussion,” allowing teams to maximize “collective expertise,” and drive engagement in innovative ways. Unlock all the insights for improving digital communications in the full interview here

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Performance & Purpose Are Self-Reinforcing’: Indra Nooyi & Doug Conant on How to Be a Transformational Leader

In this new ConantLeadership post, Indra Nooyi and Doug Conant share experience-backed wisdom and practical tips for becoming a highly effective transformational leader.

‘Leadership That Works’ Requires ‘Higher Ambition’

ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant, writes in this new ConantLeadership post that leaders must help create high-performing, human-centered workplaces that contribute to a more equitable society. This is a requirement of practicing “leadership that works” today—and meeting this urgent need requires a “higher ambition.”


The Only Way Out Is in: Bill George & Doug Conant on Leading Authentically

In this new ConantLeadership post, two revered leadership luminaries and former Fortune 500 CEOs offer expert tips for leading more authentically and finding ‘true north’ in times of tumult and crisis.


How to Build Trust Post-Pandemic

This recent ConantLeadership post compiles advice from three top leadership experts for building and strengthening trust with your stakeholders in a post-pandemic world—including telling your people how much you care, and then showing it tangibly and repeatedly.

June’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletter: Build your resilience, reskill the workforce, be an ‘upstander,’ and more.

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(Cover Photo by Daniele Franchi on Unsplash)

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