all resources & insights

Future-Proof Your Mindset, Get Your Leadership Groove Back, & More – The Leadership That Works Newsletter

by | Feb 29, 2024

At ConantLeadership, we’re committed to lifelong learning and continuous improvement. In service to your leadership growth, each month we curate the Leadership That Works Newsletter, a digest of timely resources from around the web. We prepare this resource in order to:

  • Share actionable advice from top leadership luminaries
  • Celebrate a range of viewpoints (inclusion is not an endorsement)
  • Contextualize workplace trends through a leadership lens
  • Illuminate cultural recalibrations in the world of work
  • Support your personal development in life, leadership, and beyond

In this month’s Leadership That Works Newsletter: The top 3  predictors of employee satisfaction, how to live your values, future-proof your mindset, practice ‘growth-oriented’ accountability, and more. As alwayswe’re sharing the content from our newsletter here 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.

Today’s 3 Most Powerful Predictors of Employee Satisfaction

new report from Great Place to Work (GPW), which analyzed data from over 1.3 million employees working at thousands of U.S. companies, shows three powerful predictors of employee satisfaction and retention in today’s workplace. The GPW analysis found that “the top drivers of employee retention aren’t perks, promotions, or even pay,” but rather how workers feel about their company “and their place in it.” Digging into the data revealed three crucial factors that maximize employee retention “across industries, regions, and demographics.”
The 3 key factors are
1. Purpose: “My work is meaningful.”
2. Pride: “I’m proud to tell others where I work.”
3. Fun: “This is a fun place to work.”
These three factors also map to the collective values of the next generation of leaders; younger people in particular are sensitive to “the impact they have at work, the fun they have in the workplace, and their excitement” about their role. Learn more in the full report here. (Downloading the report requires a free email registration.)


Future-Proof Your Leadership Mindset

Your leadership mindsets are a powerful tool, especially for shaping the future of work,” says this Korn Ferry piece on the topic. Korn Ferry Senior Partner Margie Warrell says, “the right leadership mindsets are what makes it possible to simultaneously run and change a business,” and leaders with future-focused competencies are better prepared “to embrace ambiguity and confidently lead their teams.” Warrell shares three essentials for future-proofing your leadership mindset.
Mindset 1: Setting the tone. “Leaders must be the thermostat, not the thermometer. A thermostat sets the temperature; a thermometer just reads it.” Thermostat leaders are “proactively setting a bold vision and galvanizing teams around a shared purpose.”
Mindset 2: Embracing learning. “When the pace of change outside of an organization exceeds the pace of change within, that organization is not going to be able to maintain a competitive edge. ” Scaling “continuous learning across different functions,” is “about becoming an organization of learn-it-alls, not know-it-alls.”
Mindset 3: Practicing self-certainty. Leaders must be self-assured “about who we want to be, the values that define us, how we want to lead others, and how we show up.” This requires “operating from a place of grounded optimism,” which “helps people see that success is attainable, despite the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead.”
Get the full story on leadership mindsets here.


How to Live Your Values

Leaders who find themselves at a career crossroads, or who are re-evaluating their life’s journey, may often default to checking in with their goals in order to plan a path forward. But reflecting on goals alone only offers partial insight. In this Greater Good Magazine piece on how to pursue a more fulfilling trajectory, clinical psychologist Jennifer Belus emphasizes the importance of values versus goals: “Goals are things that go on your to-do list so that you can eventually cross them off,” whereas values are “never achieved” like a task, because they are instead embodied by your actions in perpetuity. Belus uses the metaphor of a compass; she says if you’re unsure about a particular course of action, “you can look to your values for guidance,” and then chart your course.  And she offers four simple steps “to help you uncover your values and put them into practice.”
  1. Identify the broad life domain(s) you want to focus on.
  2. Pinpoint what you value specifically within each life domain.
  3. Identify actions that are consistent with your values.
  4. Bring your values to life.
Belus advises leaders to make the exercise manageable: “Like with all behavior change, start small to build a sustainable new practice,” by picking just one or two values-aligned behaviors to fold into your life. Get the full story here.


To Persuade: Educate, Don’t Impress

A crucial role of leaders is to communicate a vision, set direction, and earn buy-in from stakeholders. In this Kellogg Insight piece on persuasion, Michael Foley, a Professor of Leadership Development and Communications, explains that, “for business leaders, great ideas are not that helpful if you can’t persuade those around you,” so it’s wise “to do everything you can to make it easy for the audience to grasp.” Foley recommends a variety of ways for leaders to communicate more effectively—including tailoring your message to the listener, and layering in both data and stories to presentations. But perhaps most importantly, he advises approaching leadership interactions with a foundational desire not to “impress,” but rather, to “educate.” Framing persuasion as an exercise in illumination, rather than selling your ideas, can calm nerves by shifting focus to the other person: “As a presenter, if my intention is to impress, perform, or entertain, I’m going to be nervous because my focus is on me,” but if the intention is to celebrate “a vision, idea, or insight that will bring real value to their lives,” it becomes easier to connect with their agenda. And, Foley says, that when communications are anchored in helping the other party, they become less transactional and more relaxed; the conversation becomes “an act of generosity” that facilitates mutual understanding. Get the full story here.


‘Growth-Oriented’ v. ‘Punitive’ Accountability

ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant, is famous for his quotable piece of advice that “leaders must be tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people.” Not either/orbut both. The quote speaks to a central tension that leaders face today, covered in this NeuroLeadership Institute (NLI) piece: The urgent need to “create a team where people are held accountable,” while also preserving “the team’s wellbeing and sense of psychological safety.” NLI observes that many leaders “feel they must choose one or anotheraccountability or psychological safety,” but research shows they “aren’t opposing forces,” and that “high-performing teams ought to rely on both.” The key to bridging the gap may be found in the type of accountability that leaders enforce. NLI explains, “there are two kinds of accountability,” and one is “punitive,” while the other is “growth-oriented.” Punitive accountability relies on command-and-control, and threats, to enforce standards e.g., “Get this done or else!” NLI Experts say the punitive approach “reflects a fixed mindset because it demands perfection rather than improvement.” It’s more effective to practice growth-oriented accountability because it “actually improves how teams operate,” and “focuses on the benefits of striving to reach an ambitious goal by adopting a growth mindset, valuing progress over perfection.” Get the full story here.


How Tired Leaders Can Get their Groove Back

The pace of change in the modern workplace can be dizzying and exhausting. Leaders sometimes feel like they’re playing whack-a-mole with a never-ending stream of deadlines, problems, and deliverables: They tackle one issue and another pops up in its place. In this Fast Company piece, Executive Coach Alisa Cohn offers weary managers four practical tips for falling back in love with leadership and getting their groove back.

Fall back in love with the problem. “If you no longer feel motivated, your first step should be to fall back in love with the problem you originally hoped to solve. Take yourself back in time,” and remember why you originally got involved with your company, which can “inject new enthusiasm into your leadership.”
Fall in love outside of work“One of the ways to get reinvested in work, counterintuitively, is to invest more time with people or causes you care about outside of work. Work should not be your only outlet.” Passions and hobbies “can provide you purpose, joy, and energy.”
Fall in love with your team. “If you’re not enjoying your job, then don’t make it about you. You may have tens, hundreds, or thousands of employees who look up to you. Sometimes the way to get over your own negativity is to focus on others.”
Fall in love with your competition. “Thinking about your competition is sure to light a fire under you—and may lead to some incredible results,” so make sure to “get acquainted with yours. Check out what your competitors are doing and let it inspire you.”

Get the full story here.

**For more on this, explore our practical advice to “take just one step” towards reinvigorating your leadership.


They Like You, They Really Like You

“People underestimate how much others like them, and this bias has important implications for how people work together,” write the authors of this Harvard Business Review article on a phenomenon they call the “liking gap.” The liking gap refers to “people’s overly pessimistic” and false beliefs about the way they are perceived. Over the course of a decade of research, the authors have observed this gap, not only “in initial interactions,” but long afterwards, permeating “a variety of relationships, including interactions with coworkers.” Overwhelmingly, studies show people are viewed more positively than they think they are and that this mismatch between reality and perception can hinder workplace productivity: “Having a larger liking gap was associated with being less willing to ask colleagues for help, less willing to provide colleagues with open and honest feedback, and less willing to work on another project together.” To “better align your beliefs with reality,” the authors suggest being a more attentive and curious conversationalist and to remember, in any interaction, “people will probably like you more than you think.” Get the full story here.


Live As You Can, Not As You Ought To

Madeleine Dore opens this recent edition of her On Things newsletter with a quote from Carl Jung: “If you do with conviction the next and most necessary thing, you are always doing something meaningful and intended by fate.” When she feels stuck, the grounding practice of boiling the enormity of what’s possible into the smallness of what’s necessary can be powerful, “In moments where I don’t know what to do with my life, I try to remember the only thing I know to be true: take the next, small step.” While Dore acknowledges this exercise “sounds like obvious advice,” she also observes how often it is ignored “in favor of something more complex,” but less effective. She cites Jung’s response to a person asking him for prescriptive life advice, “Your questions are unanswerable because you want to know how one ought to live. One lives as one can.” Jung’s response is a reminder to release rigid external expectations and look inward instead. Dore writes, “When we pursue the perfect system or routine, we think it will allow us to do more. But no matter how long and unruly the to-do list, how adept we get at multitasking, how elaborate our productivity systems may be—we can only ever take things step by step.” No matter the size of the challenge, she reminds us that the way to move forward is always the same: “trying one thing, and then another,” steadily doing “the best we can with what we deem important right now.” Get the full story here.

**For more on this, explore The Blueprint, a practical process for lifting your impact, which is anchored in small, incremental steps and the rallying cry, “Forget Perfection.”

Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership

Our celebrated, bi-annual meeting of the top leadership minds and luminaries returns April 22-26, 2024.
Join us daily on zoom from 12PM-1:15PM Eastern time for enlightening conversations with spirited Q&A.
This event is FREE but space is limited.


‘Take Just One Step’Debra Benton & Doug Conant on Leadership Courage

In this blog resource from ConantLeadership, two leadership experts impart advice for challenging your assumptions, leading with courage, and taking small steps that push you out of your comfort zone.

‘It’s a Voyage of Joy’Two Top CEOs Say Optimism & Courage Are Key to Shaping the Future

In this blog resource from ConantLeadership, hear from two top CEOs who say optimism and courage are the key leadership competencies for shaping the future.

January’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletter5 ways to get unstuck, understanding the ‘Introvert Economy,’ 9 workplace trends to watch this year, the power of ‘psychological contracts,’ an assessment for employee engagement, and more.

Amy FedermanAbout 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.

(Cover photo by Skye Studios on Unsplash)

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

The Blueprint

The Blueprint

6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights

By Douglas Conant with Amy Federman

Have Doug Speak at Your Event

Doug works collaboratively with event organizers to customize his material for each audience.