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Captivating Leadership Links to Read Right Now

Today we dispatched the November 2020 edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated digest of the most captivating leadership links from around the web, sent at the end of each monthIn this month’s captivating leadership links to read right now: Manage emotions, find ‘joyful escape,’ be nimble but not chaotic, 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 here.

Reimagining the Org Chart

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc but has also “elevated a set of real heroes: the frontline workers who risk their lives every day,” writes former Medtronic CEO, Bill George, in this impassioned article on LinkedIn. George argues that now is the time to revalue these frontline workers with “skills training, new jobs, and increased wages and benefits.” It starts with rethinking the role of frontline workers and their place in the organization structure. He asks: why do org charts put executives on top and frontline workers on the bottom when it’s the frontline employees who are “directly serving customers, the most important constituency?” If we flip this structure on its head, the role of executives can become supporting the frontline, not controlling it. Explore the full argument here.

**For more on putting employees first, read ConantLeadership Founder Doug Conant’s advice for honoring people in Leaders Magazine

Women CEOs in America

Three organizations devoted to advancing women business leaders and increasing the amount of women in leadership positions—The Womens Business Collaborative (WBC), C200, and Catalyst—teamed up to create this groundbreaking report on women CEOs in America. The first of its kind report provides a comprehensive understanding of the current positioning of women CEO leadership, and tells a story highlighting the opportunities for continued advancement in both publicly and privately owned businesses. The report provides helpful information and issues a call-to-action to accelerate progress in a way that transcends the status quo. Explore the full report and view their proposed goals and metrics for success here.

The Power of ‘Joyful Escape’

Although some people may be doing light or essential travel during the holidays, the majority of us have had to cancel all of our vacation plans in 2020. Disappointment about canceled trips is expected, but many report a deep longing and sorrow about canceled plans that can be difficult to understand. As several psychologists explain in this fascinating Los Angeles Times coverage, the depth of the malaise over a lack of travel—even when it seems trite in the face of all the other problems people are facing—is because the human brain benefits from having things to look forward to. Anticipation of a trip can disrupt anxious and intrusive thoughts and gives the mind something “beautiful” to picture and focus on when things become stressful; the anticipation is a “joyful escape” that can be soothing and therapeutic. In a year with so much uncertainty, how can leaders recreate these positive feelings? One psychologist advises: “When we’re focused on day-to-day responsibilities and the latest tragedy in the news, it can be hard to be excited about the future. And yet, devoting attention to the future is key to receiving the benefits of anticipation,” so you have to do it intentionally; it won’t happen naturally. Plan a day trip or outdoor excursion, find small ways to create moments of “true joy,” and prioritize mental health. Read more about seeking the benefits of “joyful escape” here.

Be  Nimble, But Not Chaotic

The pandemic has revealed every company’s need to be agile and adaptable in the face of change. But there is a limit to the virtue of being nimble. “There’s a tipping point where ‘nimbleness’ becomes ‘chaos’,” writes one leader in this Fast Company post about letting go of some COVID-19 leadership tactics that served him earlier in the pandemic. One of those tactics is “over-indexing on ‘nimbleness’,” because a constant state of hyper-vigilant pivoting can leave employees without direction. “Uncertainty in the workplace causes stress, depression, and anxiety. So if there are any opportunities to provide certainty right now, we’re taking them.” Other tactics he urges leaders to let go of include, “knowing all the answers,” ‘and “trying to be the rock.” It’s a messy time and it’s OK to acknowledge the reality. “Acting like you’re immune to stress isn’t believable or helpful.” Read the full list of things to consider letting go of here.

For more on creating clear direction, read our post on how to choose goals that motivate and inspire your team.

Actually, Emotions Do Belong in the Workplace

“If we’ve learned anything from this year, it’s that this is a time when we’re most in need of our humanity,” writes Deloitte’s Chief Well-being Officer in this actionable Thrive Global post. Leaning into your humanity as a leader means “debunking the myth that emotions don’t belong in the workplace,” because the trait that most defines humans is their capacity to “feel and have emotions.”  In order to get results from your team (and from yourself), it’s important to learn how to manage emotions, to be able to “understand and recognize the emotions of those around you,” and to bring your whole selves to work and encourage others to do the same.  The author gives five lessons on managing emotions at work, including the evergreen tip to “practice compassion–for yourself and others.” Read all five tips here.

#Giving Tuesday

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, “a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” In 2020 the campaign has even deeper resonance, bookmarking a harrowing year that has transformed the world in unimaginable ways and forever changed how we work and live. Now, nonprofits are under unprecedented pressure as they struggle to meet increased demand for their charitable works and services, so it’s a great time to pitch in. But don’t worry if you feel called to participate but are facing your own hardships this year; there are many small ways to get involved that don’t require financial contribution.  “Philanthropy is not the exclusive province of people with millions or billions of dollars — generosity is a value that literally anyone, anywhere can express,” says this CNN post with three powerful ways to contribute, only one of which is making a financial donation. For more ideas, follow that up with this Giving Tuesday blog post with eleven ideas for how you can help — ideas that run the gamut from writing thank you messages to first responders, to fostering an animal, to promoting civil discourse online. Whatever you do tomorrow, remember this: “You have the power to transform your community by lending your voice to advocate for the causes and issues you care about.”

For a list of the charitable organizations with which ConantLeadership is currently engaged, go here.

Racism Hurts the Entire Economy

“New research shows that while the immediate targets of racism are unquestionably hurt the most, discrimination inflicts a staggering cost on the entire economy, reducing the wealth and income of millions of people, including many who do not customarily view themselves as victims,” writes Lisa D. Cook in this new data-backed piece in The New York Times. As scholarship is beginning to reveal the scope of the toll and economists are “increasingly considering the cost” of racism to everyone in the economy, research from multiple sources reveals how “hate-related violence” reduces the long-term growth of the U.S. economy — and predicts that “economic activity could be $5 trillion higher over the next five years if equal opportunity is achieved.” While the data show that “colossal sums of money” are being left on the table, Cook offers many suggested remedies and you can read them all in the full article here.

Recent Posts & Insights from ConantLeadership

From the Archives: 10 Powerful Ways to Give Thanks with Your Leadership

This 2017 post on bringing gratitude to life with your leadership behaviors is one of our most popular of all time and is a great resource to revisit this time of year. Doug Conant writes: “Giving thanks is about making people feel valued. And research shows the highest performing teams and organizations are comprised of people who feel valued. By giving thanks with our leadership, we can both feel more fulfilled as leaders and inspire better business results in the marketplace.” Read the 10 powerful ways to give thanks with your leadership to get better results year-round here.

Leadership Lessons from a Doctor on the Frontlines

In a recent virtual town hall on leadership lessons from the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Mark Pochapin of NYU Langone Health—in conversation with Doug Conant, Founder and CEO of ConantLeadership—shared illuminating insights that can help us all show up more fully for the people in our lives, no matter our vocation. Dr. Pochapin was on the frontlines of the pandemic, in a leadership role at a busy hospital in New York City at the peak of the crisis, and he has powerful wisdom to impart from that experience. If you’re working to rally a team and keep people energized, consider these four actionable leadership lessons for persevering through crises.

Growth Starts with You

In this excerpted passage from The Blueprint in Training Magazine, Doug shares a story from graduate school where a revered professor challenged him to do better after he showed up to class not having completed the required homework. In that moment, Doug understood the power of challenging yourself and others to continuously improve and to embody a growth mindset. And he held that lesson with him throughout his leadership journey. Learn how to spread an improvement mindset outwards from within in the full article here.

Honor People in Uncertain Times

In this recent interview in LEADERS Magazine, ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant, shares the key to leading in times of uncertainty. Doug writes, “The changes that have been swiftly implemented in response to the pandemic are going to enable workers to live more well-rounded lives,” adding that, “this is an exciting opportunity to reimagine what the workweek can and should look like to best meet the needs of the people we are leading.” Ultimately, “the companies of the 21st century must be more vigilant in paying attention to all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders.” Read Doug’s full advice for honoring people here.

October’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletter: Be an anti-hero, embrace the ‘virtual commute,’ battle bias, and more. Dig into the full link roundup here.

More from ConantLeadership:

How to Lead Change No Matter Your Job Title
Five Fundamentals of Effective Crisis Leadership

The Power of a Leadership Foundation
The Valuable Investment of Leadership Development

Enjoyed these links? Explore our suite of leadership resources here, sign up for one of our 2021 virtual BLUEPRINT Boot Camps here, or join our mailing list here.


An essential book on leadership.”

– DAN PINK, author of WHEN and DRIVE

Doug Conant’s new book, The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, is available now.

(Header photo by Alessandro Bianchi on Unsplash)

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
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Author of The Speed of Trust

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