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Don’t Call It ‘Quiet Quitting,’ Adopt a ‘Dual-Growth’ Mindset, and More in the Best Leadership Links to Read Right Now

by | Aug 31, 2022

Today we dispatched the August 2022 edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated digest of the best leadership links from around the web, sent at the end of each month. In this month’s best leadership links to read right now: Don’t call it ‘quiet quitting,’ adopt a ‘dual-growth mindset,’ neutralize ‘authority bias,’ and more. As alwayswe’re sharing the content from our newsletter on our blog 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.

Please Stop Calling Work-Life Boundaries ‘Quiet Quitting’

By now, you’ve likely been exposed to frenzied coverage of the phenomenon called “quiet quitting,” a phrase that began on Tik Tok and quickly spread throughout the media this month. The term has a negative connotation and conjures images of loafers lazily idling away their work hours. But a closer look reveals that the term is a misnomer: It doesn’t mean giving up on your work duties or shirking your responsibilities, it doesn’t mean “quitting” at all—it simply means delivering a satisfactory performance while exercising boundaries around going above and beyond the agreed upon scope of your job description. Because the term is deceptive and confusing, a backlash to its use has sprung up online.

Jo Constanz from Bloomberg News writes in this recent coverage, “Pushback against the latest workplace buzzword is mounting, and not just on Reddit. Commentary on Twitter has pointed out how quiet quitting is a confused, flawed expression.” Rahaf Harfoush, an anthropologist who studies work-life culture and is quoted in Constanz’s piece explains, “the ideals of sacrifice, giving it your all and exceeding expectations,” while they are widely accepted elements to hustle culture, “can result in illness, exhaustion and burnout.” So a rejection of these values is not surprising even as the misleading phraseology, “quiet quitting,” which is intended to describe a cultural recalibration, “exposes the internal conflict people face when it comes to setting work-life boundaries.” Get the full story here.

Go deeper on this topic:
Read National Post’s exploration of what the term ‘quiet quitting’ means

Check out NPR’s coverage of how the ‘quiet quitting’ trend nests into the current cultural moment in the wake of ‘The Great Resignation’

Find out in Forbes what the professor who coined the term ‘engagement’ thinks about the ‘quiet quitting’ trend

Explore Care.com’s coverage of the phrase ‘quiet quitting’ from the perspective of parents and caregivers

>Finally, see The Wall Street Journal’s recent coverage of the ‘quiet quitting’ debate (this may appear behind a paywall)

Stop Measuring ‘Engagement,’ Start Measuring ‘Thriving’

When thinking of a post-pandemic world, thriving might not be the first word that comes to mind. Yet that is exactly what Microsoft has defined as its new benchmark for measuring employee productivity and well-being,” explains this fascinating coverage in Inc. Microsoft changed its terminology based on new research that defines thriving as being “energized and empowered to do meaningful work.” The research revealed actionable data for helping employees thrive, starting with the insight that changing the culture requires a better “balance between collaboration and focused, autonomous work.” Workers who experienced “high work-life balance,” while also thriving in their careers reported having “five fewer hours in the workweek, five fewer collaboration hours, three more focus hours, and 17 fewer employees in internal network size.” To use this research to help foster a culture of thriving in your own organization, leaders can start by reducing the number of meetings, “prioritize deep work” and “measure outcomes, not hours.” Get the full story here.

**For more on helping people thrive, explore our recent post on the the power of asking “How can I help?”


OK, Fine, Work on Vacation, But Also Vacation at Work

If you’ve ever checked a work email while on vacation only to be admonished by your family for failing to enforce work-life boundaries, you’re not alone. Americans, explains Laura Vanderkam in this New York Times piece, are not great at disconnecting from our jobs, “especially in the past few years, as the rise in remote work during the pandemic has further blurred the separation between work and personal life.” Because being a “‘work martyr’ who doesn’t take time off or works through a vacation” has consequences for employee and employer alike, some companies are enforcing mandates that require people to fully disengage in their off-hours.
But Vanderkam argues “enforcing the binary between work and time off,” is not the only, or ideal, solution—and assures “those of us who enjoy our work” that it is OK to stay connected to your job while vacationing: “Work is no worse a way to spend vacation downtime than watching TV or perusing Instagram — and creative work can sometimes even be a welcome break from the chaos of a family vacation.” However, she urges that it is also OK “to take little vacations during working hours,” to do things like have lunch with a friend or go for a walk: “If you’re thoughtful and intentional about it, dispensing with strict boundaries between work and the rest of life can make a fuller, less burned-out life possible.”
Ultimately, being flexible and giving yourself grace whether you’re on vacation or at your desk requires understanding that “work is a collection of tasks, not a collection of hours in a certain place.” Time is a “finite resource” that can’t always be “neatly divided into ‘work time’ and ‘free time.'” The bottom line is: “Taking time for yourself during the work day doesn’t make you lazy, and working a bit on vacation doesn’t make you a workaholic.” Get the full story here.


Don’t Let ‘Authority Bias’ Impede Innovation

“Much of the know-how required for innovation comes from the bottom of the organization,” writes Timothy Clark in this Harvard Business Review article on the topic, but “many non-management employees consider innovation outside the scope of their jobs,” largely because “the organization’s tacit norms” discourage their input, which means lots of great ideas aren’t ever expressed or acted upon. Clark’s research with hundreds of teams has identified the “cultural barrier” behind employees’ reticence to speak up, and it’s called “authority bias.” He defines authority bias as “the tendency to overvalue opinions from the top of the hierarchy and undervalue opinions from the bottom, and it eventually turns into exaggerated deference to the chain of command.” When this bias is pervasive throughout a culture, it “chokes innovation” and the entire enterprise can be “hobbled in its creative output.” If leaders want to tap into the power of “bottom-up innovation,” they must “neutralize authority bias,” and embrace “cultural flatness,” which is a condition in which hierarchies do not “restrict collaboration or the flow of information.” Clark offers three practical steps for dismantling the pernicious effects of authority bias, the first of which is to “grant irrevocable participation rights” to both new and existing team members. Get the full story here.

Conversation Starters for the Conflict-Adverse

“Some conversations feel more manageable than others,” begins this Fast Company piece on self-advocacy. We tend to delay conversations “where we are concerned about rocking the boat, worried about hurting someone’s feelings, or not wanting to put a colleague in a difficult situation.” But postponing hard conversations doesn’t make life easier, it only prolongs anxiety. Ruminating on potential conflict occupies “valuable headspace,” and allows us to minimize or avoid worsening problems. Instead of letting issues fester, “we need some new mindsets and new language to help us step into a potentially uncomfortable conversation,” and the goal should be “achieving an outcome,” or strengthening a relationship. Some helpful mindsets to internalize include “If I don’t start the conversation, who will?,” and “Telling the truth is a brilliant way to create healthy relationships.” Once you’ve adopted more empowering beliefs, you’re ready to put some of the article’s sample conversation openers to use, starting with: “I’d like to talk about something that feels important to me. When would be a good time for a conversation?” Get the full story and more conversation openers here.

**For more on changing your mindset, read our recent post on the growth mindset, and then explored our piece on the gratitude mindset.


Is the Key to Happiness a ‘Dual-Growth’ Mindset?

You may be familiar with Stanford Professor, Carol Dweck, and her research into the “growth mindset” which finds that people who believe they can learn new skills often continuously improve and find success, while people who underestimate their capacity for growth tend to stagnate as their limiting beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now, new research covered in this interesting Stanford Graduate School of Business article, pushes Dweck’s foundational work further and reveals fresh insight into how to be happier at work (and beyond). Researchers found that while people who applied a growth mindset to their jobs “could boost their happiness at work,” they also observed that “one growth mindset” was insufficient in the workplace. The key to increased happiness lies in what researchers are calling a “dual growth-mindset,” which consists of people seeing both “flexibility in themselves and the tasks and relationships included in their jobs.” Although it may seem daunting, adopting a dual-growth mindset “may not require extreme changes,” as research participants started by making just “a few substantial, meaningful changes,” and then made “smaller tweaks,” with great results. Get the full story here.

**For more on happiness, read our recent post on how to find joy in your work

To Improve Your Work, Go Outside

“If nature is absent from your life, you are likely unhappier, more neurotic, and less productive than necessary,” writes Arthur Brooks in this recent edition of his “How to Build a Life” column in The Atlantic. Humans spend less time outside today than ever before: “Americans working outdoors fell from 90 percent at the beginning of the 19th century to less than 20 percent at the close of the 20th century,” and “85 percent of adults say they spent more time outside when they were kids than children do today.” Our overwhelmingly indoors lifestyle, spawned by technology and office work, is causing “stress and anxiety,” and is preventing us from experiencing the litany of benefits that the great outdoors has to offer—including better mood, enhanced memory, and greater confidence. Perhaps you’re already aware of the positive affect nature can have on your life “but think you can’t afford it in the context of your work.” Brooks warns, “In truth, you probably can’t afford not to: A lack of nature can lower the quality of your work.” To address the deficits caused by insufficient outdoor-time, he offers three practical ways to reconnect with mother nature, one of which is incorporating “contact with the outdoors into your daily schedule as much as you can.” Get the full story here.

How Gen Z Is Reshaping the Workplace

Gen Z is entering the workforce and re-shaping the culture, values, and priorities of the companies as a result,” says this piece in Chief which draws parallels between Gen Z and Gen X, two groups who have eschewed “get-ahead-at-all-costs culture in favor of searching for more meaningful work.” As young people enter the workplace and shake things up, leaders across generations can learn from Gen Z’s iconoclastic approach to “taking charge of their careers.” Some trends to notice and adopt include connecting “your passion with your purpose,” pushing for “more autonomy and flexibility,” shedding “the stigma around discussing mental health issues in the office,” and embracing technology “to accelerate change.” Get the full story here.

**For more on the future of work, explore our experts’ tips for building trust in the post-pandemic era

Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership

In this new blog, learn why the four simple words, ‘how can I help?’ can immediately kickstart a transformation in workplace dynamics
In this new blog, learn how to find joy in your work by taking care of yourself first, enjoying the journey, and modeling the behavior you want to see in the organization
In this recent blog, ConantLeadership Founder Doug Conant shares his personal story from the pandemic era. Learn how he re-connected with the joy, fulfillment, and impact of leadership.
‘Aha!’s are no accident. In our recent blog, learn how to train your brain to internalize this leadership mindset that sparks miraculous ‘aha!’ moments and allows you to meet the world with wonder.

July’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletter: Embrace the ‘fun mindset,’ survive a bad boss, let your mind wander, and more.

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About the Author: Amy Federman is ConantLeadership’s Director of Content and Editor in Chief, and co-author with Doug Conant of the WSJ bestseller, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights.

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