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Captivating Leadership Links to Read Right Now

by | Oct 31, 2021

Today we dispatched the October edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated digest of the most captivating leadership links to read right now from around the web, sent at the end of each monthTopics covered in this month’s captivating leadership links to read right now include: ‘Tend-and-Befriend,’ the six ‘C’s of purpose, how to push back at work, and more. As alwayswe’re sharing the content 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.

Leadership Is a Choice

In many large organizations, the career trajectory for individuals is predictable: If you do well, you are rewarded with promotion into management positions with increasing leadership responsibility—but this thoughtful strategy+business article asks: Is that really what everyone wants? There is often “an assumption that all high-performers want to move higher,” but we are at the epicenter of a cultural moment marked by “profound shifts in our perception of the role of organizations in society, the nature of work itself,” and the qualities that define a good leader. As many people are re-evaluating their relationships to their jobs and what they find fulfilling, now is a good time for professionals on an upward trajectory to consider that leadership is a choice, not a compulsory next step, and not a default: “The reward systems we have in place are structured to create a powerful upward pull. But once the thrill of the new title and pay bump wears off, a lot of people find themselves in roles they may not like or be suited for.” It’s OK to ask, “Do you really want that job?” If individuals and organizations are more careful and reflective about who ascends into leadership positions, then society will benefit from more leaders who have actively chosen to pursue the craft of people management, and the more likely it is for everyone to thrive. Learn more in the full post here.

**If you’re wrestling with this, explore Step 1 in The BLUEPRINT process, “Envision,” which helps you work through the question “Why Do I Choose Leadership?” with thoughtful exercises and prompts for reflection.

Have you ever felt detached from your biggest accomplishments or found it anti-climactic to achieve a career milestone? You’re not alone says this relatable Refinery29 article which coins a new phrase, “productivity dysmorphia,” defined by the writer Anna Codrea-Rado as “an inability to see my own success.” This phenomenon “sits at the intersection of burnout, impostor syndrome and anxiety,” and “is not only stopping us from enjoying the fruits of our labor but is causing us to diminish them to the point of nonexistence.” While this dysmorphic view of our output may not be solvable, it can act as a messenger alerting us to things in our workplaces, and in society, that may be causing feelings of inadequacy and require a closer look (e.g., racism, sexism, classism). Learn more in the full post here.
**For more on this, explore the post on ‘hedonic adaptation’ in last month’s newsletter here.

How to Push Back at Work

“Good bosses don’t want ‘yes’ people to lazily agree with all of their decisions,” says this smart Debra Benton post on pushing back at work. In fact, while everyone “likes to feel validated and hear that their ideas are wonderful,” savvy leaders tend to regard “suck-ups,” with suspicion because they know that success often requires varying viewpoints and diverse perspectives; effective leaders need to trust that they can count on you to speak up when it matters. If you are very senior in your organization, you can likely relate to this from both sides—as a leader reporting to your CEO or division head (with whom you sometimes have to disagree) and as a boss to your team (with whom you want to create a safe environment for them to express their honest viewpoints). In either case, the name of the game is being polite and “choosing your words carefully.” To persuade, be prepared with “valid reasons for your recommendations,” and demonstrable “knowledge and information” about the topic at hand. And if you get a “no,” re-strategize and try again. Explore all the tips for pushing back in the full post here.

Many organizations are aware of the negative impact of “large events that happen infrequently and can be easily attributed to a single actor—for example, overt sexual harassment by a manager,” but are less equipped to comprehend and combat the effect of “many small, even unintentional biases happening frequently over a long period of time,” argues this interesting piece in The New York Times. In a variety of ways, seemingly small penalties and indignities can add up, often forcing women out of the workforce or slowing their path to promotion, making their “career path longer and more demanding.” The aggregate effect of the bias over time is complex to analyze and essential to understand because “women’s progress is hindered even without one egregious incident,” but still results in “large organizational disparities.” Learn more in the full post here.

Make the Most of Your 4,000 Weeks

In honor of Halloween, here’s a spooky thought, courtesy of this practical Greater Good Magazine post on productivity: If you live to 80 years old, “you will have lived about four thousand weeks.” Rather than getting squeamish about the finite scope of the human lifespan, we can use this realization to get serious about how “we want to spend our limited time on this earth,” and focus on getting better at time management so we can experience as much “wonder” as possible. In the post, there are ten actionable tips for making your time matter but perhaps the swiftest one to implement is the “done list.” Instead of lamenting how many items remain on your to-do list, a “counter-strategy is to keep a ‘done list,’ which starts empty first thing in the morning,” and gets filled up gradually throughout the day giving you several little dopamine hits from quick wins. Explore all the tips in the full post here.

**For more on productivity, check out our time management strategies for executives here.

The pandemic has ignited a desire in many professionals to reconnect withor perhaps to clarify for the first timetheir purpose. This fascinating Harvard Business Review article gleans lessons from the past to help us look to the future and pivot towards “richer, more meaningful lives—full of sustained personal success, excellence and happiness.” The key is in “paying attention to and aligning six critical dimensions,” known as the six Cs: Capability, Connectivity, Credibility, Contemplation, Compassion, and Companions. Learn how to cultivate the six Cs to dig into your purpose in the full post here.

**For more advice on clarifying your purpose, explore the incremental six-step Blueprint process which walks you through writing a first draft of your Purpose with step-by-step instructions and prompts.

Harry Kraemer, a clinical professor of leadership, has an uplifting message for leaders in this Kellogg Insight post: “You’ve got this.” No matter what tumult swirls around you, “good leadership still looks a lot like it did pre-pandemic,” and the tenets have remained “pretty constant,” requiring diligence in “leading yourself, leading others, communicating like crazy, listening carefully,” and “demonstrating you care.” So, rather than scrambling to drastically change your style, what can really help is “turning up the volume” on your pre-existing leadership skills and behaviors. To start, “double down” on self-reflection and communication so you know yourself and others better and are positioned to make decisions that honor everyone’s situation (including your own). Explore the full post here.

**For more empowering advice on rising to today’s leadership challenges, read our post on how to build trust post-pandemic here.

“When we’re in a stressful situation, our brains resort to fight-flight-or-freeze,” often turning “the fight on ourselves,” and “harshly scrutinizing our own behavior,” explains this interesting Forbes post on practicing “self-compassion” as a leadership competency. But when someone we care about faces tough circumstances, “we launch into tend-and-befriend,” mode, acknowledging their distress and supporting them in finding a solution. Leaders can unlock better results by turning that same compassionate instinct they might have for a treasured friend or colleague in on themselves. Showing yourself “benevolence,” rather than beating yourself up may actually help you accept “mistakes as learning opportunities,” and recover more quickly from setbacks. Explore the full post here.

Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership


Did you miss last month’s event, The BLUEPRINT Leadership Summit?

If you couldn’t attend this bi-annual FREE meeting of the top leadership minds and luminaries in the business space, no worries. We’ve included links to all the recordings below.

Links to Summit Session Recordings

Access the video recordings of Doug Conant in conversation with Jane HyunDan PinkHubert JolyAmy Edmondson, and The BLUEPRINT Power Panel

Celebrating 10 Years of ConantLeadership

This month marked our ten year anniversary! In this post, we celebrated a decade of “Championing Leadership That Works” through resources, training, philanthropy, and more.

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

In this recent ConantLeadership post, Indra Nooyi and Doug Conant share experience-backed wisdom and practical tips for becoming a highly effective transformational leader. You can check out Indra’s new book, My Life in Fullhere

In last month’s newsletter: Lower your guard, go slow to go fast, understand ‘hedonic adaptation,’ and more.

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This engaging and immersive leadership development experience is centered around a structured 6-step process for reflection and learning that empowers you to lead like only you can.

Apply now: conantleadership.com/bootcamp

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.

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