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The Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now

by | May 31, 2021

Today we dispatched the May 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: Forecasting the future, cutting out ‘noise,’ going deeper with D&I, 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.

Stand Up and Be Counted

Ron Williams, a former Fortune 500 CEO and current board member for many iconic American companies, writes in Fortune that business leaders can’t avoid speaking out on voting rights: “We sometimes hear that business executives or corporations should stay out of social issues. Voting is not a social issue, but a fundamental right for those who are affected.” His impassioned, well-reasoned post reminds leaders at all levels of the importance of standing up and being counted on the issues that matter to you most. Read the full post here.

Feedback Is the Key

As life hums back to (almost) normal, many organizations are navigating the conversation around in-person teams, remote teams, and hybrid teams. The Gallup organization, who has conducted the largest workplace study of its kind, interviewing over 40 million employees in 212 countries over 30 years, shares in this Blue Zones post that “fully remote teams can substantially outperform on-site teams when they are managed effectively.” How? The key is in “fully skilled” team leaders who give “meaningful feedback” at least once a week. “The combination of autonomy and meaningful feedback is the magic formula that produces the greatest benefit.” Read the full post here.

**For more on this, read our three guiding principles for leading remote teams.

Go Deeper with D&I

Many organizations who are working to improve diversity & inclusion (D&I) repeatedly make the same mistake: “They look at addressing the symptoms of discrimination, rather than the root causes,” writes Janice Burns, Chief Career Experience Officer at ‎Degreed, in this insightful Harvard Business Review post. To ensure lasting change, she urges organizations to go deeper than surface level adjustments, and to understand that “the root causes of a lack of diversity are often systemic and cultural — and therefore not a quick fix.” Burns offers six key elements leaders can examine, diagnose, and transform “to achieve sustainable improvement in D&I.” Read the full post here.


The ‘Creative-Cliff’ Illusion

Many people assume that their best ideas will come early in a brainstorming session, when minds are freshestand that creativity will decline as time progresses—but new research covered in this KelloggInsight post suggests the opposite is true. Actually, grappling with a problem longer, and over time, can yield much better results; findings showed “ideas that took longer to excavate were more likely to be truly innovative.” Researchers have dubbed the pervasive misconception that creativity declines over time the “creative-cliff illusion” and the belief is self-defeating: “The more people believe it in, the fewer creative ideas they generate.” Read the full post here to get more insights on how to use persistence to generate your best creative output.

Two renowned experts in cognitive biases and decision making are sounding the alarm on a lesser known impediment to good judgementwhat they call “noise”in this helpful McKinsey explainer. What’s “noise?” It’s defined as “the unwanted variability in professional judgments.” Whereas bias accounts for the “average error” in decision-making, noise occurs when you get different answers to a problem that ideally only has one correct solution—like with a doctor’s diagnosis: “If two doctors give you two different diagnoses, at least one of them must be wrong.” Performance reviews are also particularly “noisy” because different evaluators can draw vastly different conclusions about the person being evaluated. Luckily, there are ways to combat noise and you can explore them in the full post here.

Use Your Values to Plan for the Future

Although we are emerging from the darkest hours of the pandemic and leaping into the boundless possibilities of the coming months, uncertainty persists. Some people still feel wary of setting goals; many things are still up in the air. But now is the perfect moment to re-evaluate plans for the future says this smart coverage in Fast Company. The key is to ground yourself in your “values,” because that is a “powerful way to navigate uncertainty.” Rather than beginning your goal-setting by figuring out the end result, “a vision approach” is uniquely effective “because it first considers the personal values critical to an individual’s happiness, then gives guidance on visualizing a future that incorporates those values.” Read the full post here for reflection prompts, tips, and techniques for connecting with your values and re-imagining the future.

**For more on this, download your free excerpt of The Blueprint, a book which contains countless prompts for reflection including a values exercise, envisioning exercise, and more. Already have The Blueprint? Grab the free companion workbook to record all your thoughts and answers to our prompts.

How Has Business Changed 1 Year After George Floyd’s Death?

In this Corporate Board Member interview with Dr. Robert Livingston, a Harvard Professor who advises the nation’s top companies on how to turn difficult conversations about race into real change, he offers actionable observations on the past year—and illuminates how businesses can continue to evolve. Livingston explains his PRESS model for propelling people towards social change—P: Problem awareness; R: Root cause analysis; E: Empathy or concern; S: Strategy; S: Sacrifice. He says that George Floyd’s tragic murder helped people through the first step, “‘P’ or problem awareness.” Now, to continue the work, businesses and leaders should extend their focus to intervening on “structures” and “systems” rather than “individuals,” and should seek greater understanding of why working for “equity” is more important than merely seeking “equality.” Read all of Dr. Livingston’s insights and advice in the full post here.

Much has been written about the future of work in a post-pandemic world but this strategy+business post asks: “what are the changes that are less obvious?” and offers three predictions. Their top prognostication? They foresee organizations needing to strengthen their “social architecture.” People will no longer accept a flowery mission and values statement on its face. Stakeholders will increasingly want to know things like “What are the policies behind the mission? How are the outcomes measured?” and will push to understand how a company is taking action in support of their stated values. Leaders can expect a stronger spotlight to be “more specific about what the company stands for, and to make sure its actions support those words.” For all three predictions, read the full post here.

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(Cover photo by Karla Vidal on Unsplash)

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