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Captivating Leadership Links to Read Right Now

Today we dispatched the September 2020 edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated digest of 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: Life lessons from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a better approach to D&I, demystifying resilience, 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.

Decoding Resilience

The ADP Research Institute recently embarked on two field studies aimed at better understanding resilience—especially in the context of COVID-19. Their counterintuitive findings, which demystify an elusive character attribute, are summarized in this fascinating Harvard Business Review article. The lead researcher assumed that individuals in countries who had dealt most effectively with the pandemic, or people who had been spared its most detrimental effects, would evidence the highest levels of resilience. He was shocked to discover the opposite: It was the people who had been most exposed to the suffering and harsh realities, who had stared difficulties in the face and felt the consequences intimately, who had the highest levels of resilience. The research showed that the more change and adversity someone had experienced due to COVID-19, the higher their demonstrable amounts of resilience would be. One takeaway for leaders is to not sugarcoat or minimize tough truths. Staring down calamities directly, unflinchingly, is the path to success and faster recovery from setbacks. Read the full piece here.

**For more on this, read our post on how to build leadership grit.

Life Lessons from the Late, Great RBG

This month saw the passing of revered and iconic Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lauded in particular for her historic championing of equal rights for women. Aside from legal wisdom, there are many life and leadership lessons to be learned from her inspiring legacy.  In this contemplative The Everymom post, you can explore six powerful life lessons from Ginsburg. Although they are viewed through a motherhood lens, presented as insights the author hopes her children might internalize, every lesson holds immense value for leaders as well—in particular, lesson #3, which is, “Stand in your truth (even if you stand alone).” Explore all six lessons here.

**For more on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, explore this Entrepreneur post with more life lessons and this NPR celebration of her personal life, character, and altruism.

A Motivation Primer

“Motivation levels aren’t pre-determined,” begins this thorough OfficeVibe post on motivating employees through any circumstance—good, bad, or ugly. Leaders can impact and increase the motivation levels of their team by using their managerial skills and emotional intelligence. Even though engagement may be waning as people are juggling new complexity compounded by a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis, there are still timeless principles that apply to making people feel good about their contribution and propelling them towards productivity. One of the most reliable ways to inspire consistent action and performance on your team? “Inspire a sense of purpose.” To do this, people need to have a palpable sense of how their individual efforts help achieve the larger ideal. Read the entire slate of recommendations in the full post here including giving teams more autonomy and creating safe conditions for trying new things.

For more on motivating people in tough times, read ConantLeadership’s 5 fundamentals of effective crisis leadership.
And check out HBR’s recommendations for leading through an extended crisis.

Don’t Treat D&I Like Brussels Sprouts

“In too many cases, executives tackling diversity is akin to children eating their vegetables—they’ll do it, but with little enthusiasm and mainly just to stay out of trouble. We can do better,” writes Pamela Fuller in this practical how-to post in Chief Executive about moving the needle on diversity in your organization. When leaders approach diversity efforts begrudgingly, without enthusiasm, or mainly to avoid consequences, their lackluster approach results in mere “tolerance” and “tokenism” neither of which help businesses reap the benefits—or honor the moral imperative—of a more diverse workforce. Since companies in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity consistently outperform those in the bottom by 36%, leaders need to go beyond the bare minimum and take meaningful action to create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. Fuller offers three critical steps every organization can take in the full post here.  

Weak Connection

There are many positives to the mass transition to remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to considerable cost savings and increased flexibility for employees, a Korn Ferry survey found that 64% of workers feel more productive at home. But in this thought-provoking Fortune post, Geoff Colvin outlines the hidden costs that leaders shouldn’t ignore—the most severe being the loss of optimal conditions for creativity and innovation. Because a need for solidarity and togetherness is enmeshed in our genetic code, as a result of natural selection forcing us to be in groups to survive, there are irreplaceable physiological benefits to brainstorming, creating, and collaborating in-person with our fellow humans. And studies suggest there’s no sufficient substitute for real-world corporeal presence; we may be able to converse over Zoom but the physical response in the brain is simply not the same. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t continue to work from home and allow for flex schedules but as leaders plan for a post-vaccine world, they should consider engineering in opportunities for strong, real-life connection. Read the full post here (this post may appear behind Fortune‘s paywall for some users).

The Power of the ‘Eisenhower Matrix’

“Being busy is not the same as being productive,” begins this extremely useful Slab resource on how to prioritize tasks so you can actually reach your goals. Humans tend to default to over-focusing on time-sensitive tasks while neglecting to give requisite energy to projects with long-term payoffs. Popularized by Stephen Covey, The Eisenhower Matrix is a decision making tool that can help you distinguish between tasks that are, “important, not important, urgent, and not urgent,” by splitting tasks into four boxes with clear actions for each box: Do, Schedule, Delegate, and Delete. At the core of the matrix’s power is that it draws a distinction between urgent tasks and important tasks; people often assume that all urgent tasks are also important, but this isn’t always true and learning how to differentiate between them can unlock a whole new tier of productivity and fulfillment. Explore the full article and explanation here.

**For more on this, read our time management strategies for executives.


Recent Posts & Insights from ConantLeadership

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 organization 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.

How to Lead Change No Matter Your Job Title

In times of chaos and complexity, people naturally look to leaders to inspire action and chart the course forward. What if that leader—the person making a difference—could be you? It can (and should) be.  You don’t need an official “leadership title” to lead change. And you don’t have to wait for someone else to point you in the right direction. You are empowered with the tools to make an impact right now—whoever you are, with whatever you have, wherever you are in life, in this exact moment. So—how to lead change no matter your job title? We have three guiding thoughts and a simple framework that will help you roll up your sleeves and get started here.

August’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletter: Battling ‘ambiguous loss,’ learning from the world’s top CEOs, how to achieve racial equity, and more. Dig into the full link roundup here.

Enjoyed these links? Explore our suite of leadership resources here, register for our limited-run BLUEPRINT summer coaching series here, engage with posts about leading through crisis here, or join our mailing list here.


An essential book on leadership.” – DAN PINK, author of WHEN and DRIVE

The Bllueprint

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

(Header photo by Júnior Ferreira on Unsplash)

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