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‘Good Enough’ Is Better Than Perfect, Lead Through ‘Change Fatigue’ & More – The Leadership That Works Newsletter

by | May 31, 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: Build a better learning culture, lead through ‘change fatigue,’ the power of rituals, ‘maximizers’ versus ‘satisficers,’ bullish on blue-collar, small goals create big wins, the future of technology is human, 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.

Build Your Learning Culture Like a Neighborhood

When “building out the learning landscape,” learning and development leaders “must admit that we cannot do it all on our own,” writes Anne Marie DeCarolis in this Chief Learning Officer piece that champions a collaborative approach to L&D. She observes that some leaders operate under the flawed assumption that if they simply create a learning environment, engagement will follow. But a purely top-down approach is often alienating. Instead, DeCarolis says, try to involve more stakeholders as if you’re building a community together: “Creating a picturesque and effective learning environment entails starting right where one is, rallying a team, and building from there.” She suggests that L&D leaders should act as urban planners, designing an ideal learning neighborhood by “knowing the community, understanding its needs,” and then building “an encompassing strategy that allows for agility and customization,” while establishing “laws (policies), transportation systems (career paths) and a power grid (tech stack) that everyone utilizes.” Once “the strategic vision and tactical groundwork have been established,” she recommends creating “bespoke landmarks” for the learning neighborhood.
A few examples of “landmarks”
  • ‘Scenic bridges’: A means to close gaps and span divides.
  • ‘University’: A place for intellectual debate and civil discourse alongside core tracks of study.
  • ‘Theater’: A place to experience big ideas, improv solutions, and vicariously live and learn through others’ stories.
  • ‘Library and archives’: A place to learn about the past, study timeless wisdom and seek institutional answers.
  • ‘Nature trail leading to a reflection pool’: A passage for personal growth and contemplation.
Overall, DeCarolis says that “building an ideal learning landscape must put its citizens—your learners—at the forefront.” Get the full story and more examples here.


Leading Through ‘Change Fatigue’

The pace of change has accelerated rapidly in recent history and shows no signs of slowing down. From Generative AI, to hybrid workplaces, to an ever-evolving marketplace, the world of work can be as volatile as the weather. It’s no surprise then that “the phrase ‘change fatigue’ has become so common” today, writes David Grossman in this The Grossman Group article on how to lead your team through the ups and downs. Research shows that “constant change” is a “primary contributor to mounting burnout levels,” yet “the pace of change doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming,” says Grossman. With these eight leadership essentials, which are focused on “coaching, communication, and employee well-being,” managers can sail more smoothly through bumpy waters.
  1. Emphasize relationship building.
  2. Build alignment.  
  3. Create a compelling case for change.
  4. Establish a clear vision and course of action.
  5. Prioritize transparent and consistent communication.
  6. Commit to listening and responding to employee needs.
  7. Recognize and celebrate successes, large and small.
  8. Be patient and understanding.
Get the full story including more tips and strategies for battling “change fatigue” here.


The Power of Rituals

In this Greater Good Magazine interview with Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School Professor and author of the new book, The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness the Surprising Power of Everyday Actions, the power of rituals in our everyday lives takes center stage. First Norton is careful to distinguish the heightened experience of rituals from the more mundane practice of habits: If you perform an action without much thought, “like a robot,” then it’s probably a habit. But when you exalt an action with “more emotion and meaning,” and find fulfillment from “how you do it and how you feel about it,” then you’re in the territory of ritual. Norton says that rituals can help elevate “contexts that are supposed to be rational and financial,” and sees a great benefit to work teams. He uses the example of the New York Stock Exchange’s daily “ringing of the bell,” which unites the effort and takes on “ceremonial” importance. And his research shows that teams who report having unique activities and rituals “find their work more meaningful.” To reap the rewards of rituals on your team, Norton recommends giving employees the space to create their own activities because then “it’s more fun” and also “it’s less mandated” because it comes from within “instead of from management.” Get the full story here.

Are You a ‘Maximizer’ or a ‘Satisficer’?

Each day, we are inundated with choices,” writes Jamie Friedlander Serrano in this Washington Post coverage of how to make better decisions amidst a sea of limitless possibilities. Often, the assumption is that all “the best decisions come from thorough, detailed analysis,” but “decades worth of psychological research” shows the opposite: “People who make ‘good enough’ decisions, instead of ‘perfect’ ones, are often happier,” and more effective in work and life. Experts say that most people fall into one of two decision-making camps: Maximizers, who place an outsized emphasis on arriving at the best possible course of action, and “satisficers” (a portmanteau of “satisfy” and “suffice”) who strive to make a “good enough” choice given the information available. At first glance, it may seem that the maximizers have the upper hand, but it’s the satisficers who tend to prevail. While the maximizers often get mired in “analysis paralysis,” it’s the satisficers who can “pull the trigger,” and then move on to the next task. The quest for perfection also keeps maximizers in a cycle of misery: They “tend to be less optimistic and more depressed,” and they “ruminate more, savor positive events less,” and are “more prone to regret.” Ultimately, when faced with the two decision-making styles, it’s better to err on the side of “good enough.” Get the full story here.  

**For more on this, learn why “Forget Perfection” is the central rallying cry of our six-step BLUEPRINT process.

Small Goals, Big Results

It’s a rule of thumb that breaking large projects into smaller goals can make desired outcomes more attainable. Now, a growing body of research covered by the authors of this strategy+business piece backs up our collective common sense: An analysis of over 1.5 million goals across 12,000 employees at different companies shows that the road to lofty achievement is paved with smaller, micro-achievements along the way. Therefore, it’s an effective practice to weave the act of setting small goals into the fabric of our weekly routine. The authors’ research shows that “goals clarify objectives and have a positive psychological effect, giving people a series of small wins” to keep them energized. And no increment is too miniscule: “When employees set small goals regularly (daily or even hourly), not only are they more likely than other employees to hit company performance targets, but they report higher morale as well.” Studies show that “people who set at least four daily goals per week” were “34% more likely to hit their KPI targets than those who didn’t.” Given the proven benefits, how can leaders make goal-setting a part of their company culture? The authors say there are four key steps.

1. Help people understand—and experience—the benefits themselves. Don’t mandate goal-setting; earn buy-in.
2. Celebrate the small wins. Mood matters and celebrating benchmarks elevates morale.
3. Use the right language in setting goals. Make goals “highly specific and actionable” for the best results.
4. Don’t forget the prerequisites. Create enough psychological safety to allow people to “share goals and achievements without fear of personal judgement.”

Get the full story here.

**For more on this, explore our recent blog resource explaining why taking “one small step” is the key to courageous leadership.

The Future of Technology Is Human

“There are lots of things machines will never do,” writes Greg Satell matter-of-factly in this DigitalTonto post. He continues: “Machines will never strike out at a Little League game, have their hearts broken in a summer romance or see their children born. These things may seem incredibly prosaic, but they’re actually deeply consequential and far reaching.” In a world that is increasingly fascinated by AI, Satell contends that leaning into our humanity is the key to maintaining a competitive advantage in the technology sector and beyond.
Although AI can “churn out an almost infinite amount of content,” much of which is “gibberish,” there are still two ever-present dilemmas: The first is curation e.g., “we can ask our machines to produce 100 versions of an email, but ultimately we have to choose which version we want.” And the second is intent e.g., “we have to decide what we want to produce and why.” These are human problems; they are questions of choice. And the answer is found in rethinking the purpose of AI.

Satell writes, “once we stop imagining AI to be a super genius in a box,” then, “something much more valuable begins to emerge—a tool to create dialogues for ourselves.” He continues, “rather than using AI as a machine to spit out canned answers, we can use it as a tool to help us to explore possibilities,” and, “we can use these simulated conversations to enrich our real ones, bouncing ideas that we can sharpen as we collaborate and serve other humans, to seek out purpose and meaning that machines can not provide.” Using machines as a tool of support in exploring deep questions rather than as a replacement for human thinking is the key. Ultimately, says Satell, “the key to winning in the era of AI is not to try to compete with machines, but to become more human, to be a better listener,” and to work tirelessly “not to learn more about machines, but to learn more about ourselves.” Get the full story here.

**For more on this, keep an eye out for our upcoming limited monthly series, “EQ Answers to AI Questions” in which ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant, will provide thoughtful, human answers to pressing leadership questions generated by AI. Make sure you’re on our list to receive the first edition.

Conduct Interviews Like a CEO

Over the past 15 years, Adam Bryant has interviewed over a thousand leaders and CEOs and asked them their secrets for hiring top talent. In this MITSloan Management Review piece, Bryant sorts through “a large data set of questions” gleaned from his conversations with leaders and sorts them into eight overarching “essential questions” that drive at the key information. Then, because the essential questions are easy to answer disingenuously or vaguely, Bryant offers supporting “bank-shot” questions which are designed to circumvent “the polished facades that people present in interviews” and drill down to the real information. Notably, the bank-shot questions “require meaningful and authentic answers that candidates can’t take from a cookie-cutter script.” He offers eight essential questions and supporting bank-shot questions in the full piece and you can find the first five below.
1. Essential Question: Do You Really Want to Work Here?
Sample bank-shot question: What have you learned about our company beyond what you’ve read on the website?
2. Essential Question: What Makes You Tick?
Sample bank-shot question: What were important early influences that shaped who you are as a leader and colleague?
3. Essential Question: Do You Have a High Level of Personal Accountability and Determination?
Sample bank-shot question: 
What leadership muscles did you build or strengthen during the intense period of disruption caused by the pandemic?
4. Essential Question: Are You Hungry to Learn and Build New Skills?
Sample bank-shot question: If your core expertise is your “major,” what is your professional “minor”? What interests you and why?
5Essential Question: Are You a Team Player?
Sample bank-shot question: What is your playbook for influencing people who don’t report to you?

Get the full story including many additional sample questions here.


Bullish on ‘Blue-Collar’

“Blue-collar work—officially defined as jobs that handle or move material goods, and colloquially thought of as jobs that don’t require sitting in front of a screen—has once again assumed a competitive position within the American labor market,” writes Juliana Kaplan in this Business Insider coverage of a burgeoning blue-collar boom. In the long shadow of a pandemic that rendered many traditionally “white-collar” jobs expendable and elevated service and trade jobs to “essential,” blue-collar work now has a newfound “social cachet,” especially among young people who are increasingly disillusioned with pricey college degrees. As physical labor becomes more appealing to a wider swath of workers, the market is reflecting the shift in perception: “Demand is high, opportunities abound, and companies like Walmart and UPS offer six-figure salaries and lucrative benefits,” writes Kaplan. And, she notes, “the economy is adding blue-collar jobs at a rapid clip. Since April 2020, industries like construction, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing have added 4.5 million jobs, compared with 4.1 million jobs in the professional services and information sectors.” Amidst tech sector layoffs and the looming presence of AI, all available data points to the trend continuing upwards. Get the full story here.

Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership



Our celebrated, bi-annual meeting of top leadership minds and luminaries returned earlier this spring featuring lively, daily discussions about the most thorny conundrums facing today’s workplaces.
If you missed it, no worries. You can now find replays of all five sessions on-demand in our video library along with a repository of conversations from all of our past summits.


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In this new blog resource, Doug Conant speaks with Jane Hyun, the world’s premiere expert on cultural fluency, about how to embrace cross-cultural effectiveness and lead a multicultural workforce.

‘Build a Courage Ladder’2 Top Leaders on How to Be Competently Courageous

In this blog resource, Doug Conant and Jim Detert, two top leadership experts, give practical leadership advice for learning how to be competently courageous in a chaotic world.

Doug Conant on The Warren Bennis Leadership Institute Podcast

Doug Conant shares personal stories on this podcast about how he works to carry the leadership legacy of Warren Bennis with him every day.

52 Quotes about Trust and Leadership

Given the importance of trust, especially today, it comes as no surprise that this roundup of trust quotes has been one of our most popular posts of all time. So we’ve updated the piece as an “encore” with five new bonus quotes from ConantLeadership Founder, Doug Conant.

April’s Leadership That Works Newsletter

In last month’s newsletterClose the workplace well-being gap, CEO tips for thriving in chaos, how to normalize and manage conflict, a practical guide to ‘happierness,’ 4 thinking traps to avoid in stressful situations, and much 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 Alex Vámos 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

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