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3 Pitfalls to Avoid as You Rise Through the Ranks

arrogant boss

Avoid Groupthink

The higher up the ranks you climb in an organization, the less honest feedback you receive from peers. Your team becomes “yes men and women.” Daniel Goleman and Bill George discuss why leaders need to surround themselves with diverse opinions and outlooks.

Find Your Blind Spots

Leaders need to how they’re coming across to others. Blind spots can impact our ability to interact with peers, or be fully aware of a situation.

Stop Chasing Admiration

We all make mistakes on the job. The best leaders are humble enough to recognize that they messed up, learn what not to do in the future, and develop resilience.

Put these principles into practice with Daniel Goleman’s Leadership: A Master Class video series and training guide. Enter discount code LMC250 at checkout to save $250 on the training guide.

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

 

A Mindful Workplace: Shifting from Difficulty to Opportunity

difficulty opportunity

Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and long-time mindfulness coach for organizations, has noticed the positive impact mindfulness techniques can have on employees throughout her 40+ year career. Below is an excerpt of her conversation with Elad Levinson, creator and facilitator of the upcoming Praxis You course, Thriving on Change.

Benefits of a Mindful Workplace

“When I began introducing mindfulness methods to co-workers or clients, the most noticeable shift was that people became more present with difficulty. They didn’t repress it or push it away. They were better able to say, “Okay, here’s a difficult situation. What are our options? What are the possibilities? What can we do with it?” I began to see a calmness and acceptance in difficult moments.

People also started to accept change with more ease. As you may know, when we practice mindfulness, we learn to see that everything is changing all the time. We watch our mind and our body. We notice thoughts and physical sensations rise and fall away. Sensations are changing. Ideas are changing. We become much more comfortable with change.

When I first started working with Google, I was intrigued by a real-time projection of what people were Googling. The whole wall was a projection of all these questions, phrases and fragments going up the wall, and then disappearing. I thought, “This is the global mind at work.” Just the way you watch your own mind in meditation, you’re getting to watch what the global mind is thinking and letting go of.

Back to coping with change. When I worked with a large chemical company in the mid-‘90s, there was always a possibility they were going to be bought by somebody else. It was that period of mergers and acquisitions. The employees were always really worried about job security. I would focus our mindfulness practice retreats on dealing with change.

We discovered that the more comfortable we become with change, the more we can just be with whatever arises. Including a job loss. And that’s not to minimize that such a change could cause suffering. But we’d be able to be there with that suffering. That presence and awareness was huge in terms of developing leaders.”

Praxis You

Sign up for More Than Sound’s free newsletter to learn how and when to register for my Praxis You course, Thriving on Change. Email mike@morethansound.net to sign up.

Take a Survey

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to complete a very short survey. As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to module one of our first course, Thriving on Change. Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.

Podcasts

Mirabai Bush on founding The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

Mirabai Bush and Daniel Goleman on the importance of self-awareness and self-regulation

Coping with Change guided exercise

Practice Emotional Intelligence

Additional Resources

Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations

Working with Mindfulness Guided Audio Exercises (CD or digital download)

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Distraction: How Americans Manage Stress

distraction

Image: Rubén Chase/Flickr

Avoiding Stress Doesn’t Help You Manage Stress

Effective Leadership and Strategic Storytelling

storytelling

Good storytelling is a hallmark of effective leadership. It’s a medium that allows leaders to move others. It also lets people know how the leader thinks and feels. Psychologist Howard Gardner examined how a leader can create an effective storytelling framework to move people in the right direction.

Levers of Storytelling

Innovative stories are crucial when:

That begs the question: What kinds of strategic storytelling levers does a leader use to motivate people in a desired direction?

First, it depends on your audience. If you are working with people who are highly sophisticated in what you’re doing – let’s say you’re running a hedge fund and you’re dealing with your partners who understand finance as well as you do – then the more academic levers of research and of reason are very important.

If you’re running for political office, chances are voters are not going to look at your syllogisms, and they’re not going to know enough to evaluate your data. That’s when things like resonance come into play. Whether you feel on the same wave length with the leader, and he or she manages to convey that “I’m one of you.”

If you are dealing with people who aren’t familiar with a subject, you would go for the redescription lever. Redescription is presenting the same ideas in many different ways. Some people aren’t going to be convinced by a linguistic narrative. Then a cartoon, a comic, wit, dramatization, games – those are other vehicles where you can bring about a different way of doing things.

Another lever is real world events. These are events you have no control over, but the effective leader uses them to change the conversation. Say for example the stock market tanked. A leader knows his team wants to understand how the event effects their job or industry.

Dealing with resistances is a common approach. When you tell a story, everybody has many other stories in their mind. Those stories are often quite resistant to the story you want to tell. Leaders often spend too much time convincing, and not enough time thinking of all the reasons why someone might be embracing a very different kind of story. The shrewdest mind-changers spend a lot of time trying to understand what the resistances are and how to deal with them.

Ultimately, a leader needs multiple strategies to employ during a crisis. They must understand their audience, and know which levers worked in the past and which ones ought to be pulled out for the occasion.

For a quick review, go to the SlideShare deck.

Strategic Storytelling

Watch a conversation between Daniel Goleman and Howard Gardner about ways to employ levers of storytelling.

Theory into Practice

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

Apply these concepts into your training program with our Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. The collection offers more than nine hours of research findings, case studies and valuable industry expertise through in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, leadership development, organizational research, workplace psychology, innovation, negotiation and senior hiring. We developed an extensive, detailed training guide around the video content for human resources professionals, senior managers and executive coaches. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led or self-study opportunities.

Email mike@morethansound.net for a sample guide and limited-time discount code.

What Makes For a Good Work Day?

good work day

Teresa Amabile, the Director of Research in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School, spoke with CBC Radio’s The Current about the components needed for a good work day. According to her research, small wins can give workers the emotional boosts they need.

Small Wins

Teresa’s research showed that if people are experiencing progress in their work, they’re much more likely to feel emotionally positive about themselves and about what they’re doing. Under those conditions, they’re more likely to come up with a creative idea.

In her research, they didn’t ask workers to recall something creative they did on a particular day. They asked them to report one event that stood out in their mind from the day. If they happened to mention that they solved a problem, in a way that was not routine, or they came up with a new idea, they counted that as evidence that they’ve been creative and productive that day.

They study also found that on those days that people were having more positive emotional experiences, they were more likely to come up with a creative idea. What was also interesting is that small wins prime creative insights or breakthroughs not just one day but for the next day, too. There’s some kind of a carry-over effect that when people are in this positive state of good inner work life, they’re more likely to make new connections between ideas that can carry over even into the next day.

The effect of small wins is so powerful because people need to feel effective in their work. They need to have that sense of self-efficacy, that they’re competent, they’re getting somewhere, and that they’re doing something meaningful.

Learn how to apply Dr. Amabile’s findings in your workplace with Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide. [For a limited time, save $250 on the guide. Enter LMC250 at checkout.]

Leadership A Master Class Training Guide

[Image source: Inc.com]

 

 

Online Learning Just for You

Praxis You

This Spring, More Than Sound will launch Praxis You, our new online learning platform for personal and professional development.

To help us develop useful, practical courses for you, please take a few moments to take a very short survey.

As a thank you, we’ll give you free access to module one of our first course, Thriving on Change.

Be sure to provide your email address when you’re done with the survey.

How Praxis You Works

Our one-of-a-kind learning sessions are designed to help you harness the knowledge necessary to achieve your full potential. The content includes the latest research, real-life experiences, relevant guidance, and proven-effective tools.

Praxis You is designed to enlist all of your learning faculties. Each course offers a balance of:

  • video
  • audio
  • animation
  • self-assessments
  • discussion forums
  • downloadable practices
  • reading on your own time.

Praxis You also encourages relationship building with your peers and instructor through interactive dialogue during the course, and post-course follow-ups and evaluations.

Thought Leaders

Daniel Goleman, internationally renowned psychologist and author of What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Joseph Grenny, bestselling author of Crucial Conversations

Elad Levinson, leadership coach and business adviser. Read Elad’s LinkedIn series, Learn to Dance on Jell-O: Part 1 and Part 2.

Mirabai Bush, co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and author of Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations

Sylvia Boorstein, founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Monica Worline, co-founder and President of organizational development firm Vervago

Theresa Glomb, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Minnesota

Jane Dutton, Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan

Jutta Tobias, lecturer on Business Performance Management

Juliet Adams, Director of A Head for Work, a firm specializing in leadership and workplace productivity

Learn More

Sign up for our free email newsletter to find out when and how to register for future courses. Email mike@morethansound.net.

4 Tips for Introducing Young People to Mindfulness

Holistic Life Foundation

Introducing mindfulness to at-risk youth poses special challenges.

Ali and Atman Smith, and Andy Gonzalez of Holistic Life Foundation help children in one of Baltimore’s toughest neighborhoods find calm and confidence through yoga and meditation. Sam Himelstein, Behavioral Health Clinician at the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center incorporates mindfulness with his young patients’ therapy.

All four men participated in last years Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference. They offered 4 practical tips to help educators, counselors and parents effectively introduce young people to mindfulness practices.

1. Meet them where they are. They may not be ready to sit upright, or even close their eyes. Start with simple steps, such as focus on your breathing.

2. Make it practical. Let them know that they can return to their breath, or focus on their thoughts no matter where they are or what they’re doing. This will help them practice more often.

 

3. Clarify the session. For instance, tell them, “We’re going to focus on our breath and notice whatever comes in.” It helps set expectations.

4. Don’t be attached to formality. Setting strict conditions is unrealistic. It may prevent people from wanting to practice.

HLF at TedX

Holistic Life Foundation

If you’re having trouble connecting with the young people you work with, fear not. There’s hope. It works. Holistic Life Foundation gave a TedX Talk about the effectiveness of their work in the community. HLF started in 2001 with 20 fifth-grade boys. The foundation’s after-school program introduced yoga, mindfulness, urban gardening, and teamwork. In a city where the dropout rate for high school students is routinely higher than 50%, 19 of those first 20 boys graduated and the other got his GED.

Watch the 2012 and 2013 Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conferences for more insights behind the research and practice of mindful techniques in educational settings.

Source: HLF’s TedX Talk video from Mindful.org.

It’s Time to Demystify Meditation

meditation research

[Image Source: Know Your Images]

Meditation’s Unlikely Champion

Dan Harris, co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline, had a panic attack on air several years ago. As he recounts in his latest NPR interview, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

“My heart started racing. My mind was racing. My palms were sweating. My mouth dried up. My lungs seized up. I just couldn’t breathe,” he remembered.

After the ordeal, Dan discussed ways to address his panic attacks and stress with friends and health providers. Meditation was frequently suggested. But Harris remained a skeptic. “That’s only for people who are into crystals and Cat Stevens, use the word namaste un-ironically, and live in a yurt.”

Meditation still has a “bad rap” as too weird or difficult. But fortunately that’s changing. What helped changed Dan’s mind was the growing neuroscience research on the real benefits of the ancient practice.

Talk About the Research

Mirabai Bush and Daniel Goleman spoke about their experience of introducing mindfulness techniques to secular audiences – including the US Army. Here’s an excerpt from their discussion in the new print edition of Working with Mindfulness: Research and Practice of Mindful Techniques in Organizations.

Mirabai Bush: For a long time there was a lot of resistance to introducing mindful techniques in some of the organizations I worked with. But as soon as people agree to try it, the benefits become very obvious. Participants become more calm, more clear. They begin to have better insight into what’s happening, and they begin to get along better with the people they’re working with. So once people agree to try it, there’s really no problem. But there is still resistance to trying it, although much less
since the publication of the neuroscientific research on mindfulness. All the work that’s come from Richard Davidson and others has really helped people get past a certain level of resistance and skepticism.

Daniel Goleman: I can give you a little background on that change. You mentioned Davidson. He is now a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Richard and I were fellow graduate students at Harvard. He was the other one who was interested in meditation. He did his dissertation on attention and so on, and he has gone on to develop a field called Contemplative Neuroscience, which has upgraded the quality of the research on mindfulness and meditation.

Until Richard’s work, frankly, some was great, and some was terrible. Now this research is using fMRIs and state-of-the-art brain imaging. What it’s showing is what we knew intuitively when we were in India, which is that these practices can be quite transformative. And if you practice them a lot, it’s really transformative. If you practice a little, it’s still transformative.

What we found in the research on relaxation was that one of the byproducts of focusing your mind is that your body lets go and relaxes. And the reason it lets go is that one of the things that keeps us stressed is these tight loops of thoughts and ruminations—what’s on my mind, what’s upsetting me—which are hard to let go. Meditation training, whether it’s mindfulness or any other kind of meditation, teaches you how to drop those upsetting thoughts. Our understanding is that it’s the letting go of those thoughts, putting your mind in a neutral or present place and keeping it there, that causes the body to be able to drop the tension, let go of the stress, and then get deeply relaxed.

10% Happier

Harris’ positive experience with meditation led him to write a book: 10% Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found self-help That Actually Works – A True Story.  The somewhat tongue-in-cheek title says it all. The hard-nosed reporter is still grappling with his new “identity” as a meditator. But the benefits aren’t lost on him, and he wants to encourage others – especially the chronically stressed, highly driven professional like him – to think twice before scoffing at the idea of sitting still to notice your breath.

He talks more about the book’s mission in the interview. “I honestly believe meditation is the next big public health revolution. The big problem is that there’s this PR issue around meditation. People think it’s either too weird or too difficult. And so my goal is to dispel both myths and to say, A, if a skeptic like me is doing it, you can do it. And, B, if somebody with the attention span of a kitten, like me, is doing it, you can, too.”

Resources

Articles:

Meditation: Breathing New Life into an Ancient Practice

What Mindfulness Is – and Isn’t

What Makes a Good Mindfulness Coach?

Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

Videos:

What is Meditation? It’s Not What You Think

Bringing Mindfulness to the Mainstream

Mindfulness at Google

Podcasts:

Guided Exercise: Sensory Focus

Focus and Leadership

Finding Time for Mindfulness

Books, Audio, Video:

Working with Mindfulness (CD and download)

Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence

Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth

Relax: 6 Techniques to Lower Your Stress

 

Our 14 Favorite Podcasts in 2014

2014 podcasts

This year we reached a record number of downloads of our podcasts. Thank you! We’re glad you find the content useful. We went back to re-listen to some of our most popular posts. It looks like the concept of focus and attention training were of most interest to listeners. Here’s a recap of the 14 Favorite More Than Sound Podcasts of 2014.

#14 Daniel Goleman talks about Focus on Bloomberg.edu

Dr. Goleman spoke with Jane Williams about the importance of teaching kids cognitive control, the pros and cons of mind wandering, and how to effectively manage distractions.

Listen to the podcast or the complete interview here.

#13 George Kohlrieser’s TedTalk on Negotiation

In this episode, we heard an excerpt from a TEDx talk given by hostage negotiator and IMD professor of leadership George Kohlrieser. As he tells it, successful negotiation, no matter how high the stakes, comes down to bonding. And it’s not only others who have the ability to take us hostage – sometimes we can do that to ourselves.

Listen to the podcast or the complete presentation here.

#12 Common Hiring Mistakes

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz spoke with Daniel Goleman for the video series Leadership: A Master Class. This excerpt of the conversation focuses on some common mistakes employers make while searching for the right candidate.

Listen to the podcast or watch the full discussion here.

#11 The Teenaged Brain

This is an excerpt from Dr. Daniel Siegel’s appearance on Iowa Public Radio’s River to River. He spoke with host Ben Kieffer about the misinformation around “bizarre teenage behavior.”

Listen to the podcast or the complete interview here.

#10 Why The Rich Care Less

Daniel Goleman spoke with Michael Brooks from the Majority Report on why inequality hurts empathy, the emotional impact of wealth and poverty and what we can do to create a more attentive and empathic society.

Listen to the podcast or the full discussion here.

#9 Teach Systems Awareness in Schools

Daniel Goleman spoke with Peter Senge, who pioneered bringing systems thinking into organizations, about its introduction to schools. You can read more about this concept in their book The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education.

Listen to the podcast.

#8 Failure is Essential for Success

Many of these episodes explore concepts and tools that are important ingredients of success. So you might be surprised to hear that this one is devoted almost entirely to failure. But to Bill George, failure is an essential ingredient itself, as you’ll hear in this excerpt from Daniel Goleman‘s series Leadership: A Master Class.

Listen to the podcast or watch the full discussion here.

#7 Master the Leadership Styles

Daniel Goleman has introduced 6 different leadership styles that can be used to get results. In this episode, he talks about how leaders can’t rely on just one or even two, but must become proficient in as many as they can. Together, the styles become a set of tools the most effective leaders can use in any situation.

Listen to the podcast.

#6 Creativity in the Workplace

Daniel Goleman and Teresa Amabile discuss some aspects of work life that are necessities for a company that depends on creativity.

Listen to the podcast or watch their entire discussion here.

#5 High Performance Leadership

Daniel Goleman spoke with George Kohlrieser for IMD’s Wednesday Webcast. The two discussed the role of attention in high performance leadership.

Listen to the excerpt or the complete discussion here.

#4 Don’t Write Off the Coaching Leadership Style

The coaching leadership style is the least used out of the six approaches. Yet it’s a style that can have a very positive impact on employee performance and bottom-line results.

Listen to the podcast.

#3 The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

Daniel Goleman and Peter Senge discuss the three types of focus that should be included in classrooms: self awareness, empathy, and an understanding of our relationship with the world around us.

Listen to the podcast.

#2 Daniel Goleman Talks about Focus with Diane Rehm

Dr. Goleman spoke with Diane Rehm on what the latest science tells us and how we can sharpen our focus and thrive.

Listen to an excerpt or the full interview.

#1 Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Daniel Goleman spoke in-depth with KQED about why the ability to focus is the key factor in achieving success – more than IQ or social background. He also discussed how we can cultivate different types of attentiveness, from a narrow focus that shuts out the world to the “open awareness” that is receptive to seemingly unrelated ideas.

Listen to an excerpt or the full interview.

What is Mindfulness?

Stay tuned for details about our new podcast series launching in 2015: What is Mindfulness? More Than Sound’s Hanuman Goleman talks with a variety of mindfulness practitioners, teachers and scholars about the definition of mindfulness.

 

 

Round-Up: How to Help Kids Focus

How to Help Kids Focus

What if there was a way to teach our children skills that could help them achieve better academic performance, enhance personal development, and improve relationship skills?

This past Sunday, Daniel Goleman gave a special presentation at JCC Manahattan about his latest book with Peter Senge, The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education.

More Than Sound was at the talk. We live tweeted some key points throughout the talk. Below are some highlights from the #triplefocus feed, with excerpts from a few of Daniel’s articles for supplemental reading.

A wealth of information means a poverty of attention.

Key takeaway from Pay Attention to Attention:

“…a constant stream of distraction draws attention away from what’s immediately at hand; those seemingly urgent rings and alerts may not be crucial. Working to maintain clear focus on a task – despite intrusions – consistently occupies the brain’s circuitry for attention. “Cognitive effort” is the technical expression for the mental attention demanded to process our information load. Just like the muscles in our bodies, attention can become fatigued. Common symptoms of attention fatigue are lowered effectiveness, increased distractedness, and irritability. These symptoms also indicate depletion in the energy required to sustain neural functioning.”

Read the full article

We need to take back choice when it comes to our attention.

Key takeaway from Think About the Benefits of Unplugging:

“We can be more skillful at not being hijacked by distractions. We may notice them, but there’s a big difference between noticing that something may be occurring, being aware of it, and being hijacked by it, being pulled away from one’s central focus.”

Read the full article

Concentration predicts performance.

Key takeaway from The Benefits of a Productive Cocoon

“We all need a productive cocoon, a time we protect our focus from the multitude of distractions: emails, tweets, updates, and the rest of the onslaught. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, psychologists at Harvard Business School, studied 238 members of teams engaged in creative projects, from designing new kitchen gear to complex information technology systems. The team members kept daily diaries of their work days, including how productive and satisfying they found each day. The most productive and satisfying days, hands down, came when they were able to have unbroken time to focus on their project. These productive cocoons are where they came up with small wins, like innovations, problem solving, and taking concrete steps toward their goal.”

Read the full article

The leader of a group sets the emotional mood of the group.

Key takeaway from Be Mindful of the Emotions You Leave Behind:

“Not all emotional partners are equal. A power dynamic operates in emotional contagion, determining which person’s brain will more forcefully draw the other into its emotional orbit. Mirror neurons are leadership tools: Emotions flow with special strength from the more socially dominant person to the less. Another powerful reason for leaders to be mindful of what they say to employees: people recall negative interactions with a boss with more intensity, in more detail, and more often than they do positive ones. The ease with which demotivation can be spread by a boss makes it all the more imperative for him to act in ways that make the emotions left behind uplifting ones.”

Read the full article

Emotions are contagious.

Key takeaway from How Moods Impact Results:

“While mild anxiety (such as over a looming deadline) can focus attention and energy, prolonged distress can sabotage a leader’s relationships and also hamper work performance by diminishing the brain’s ability to process information and respond effectively. A good laugh or an upbeat mood, on the other hand, more often enhances the neural abilities crucial for doing good work.”

Read the full article

Additional resources:

Raising Students Emotional IQs

PODCAST: Daniel Goleman on The Triple Focus: A New Approach to Education

VIDEO: Peter Senge on Teaching Systems Thinking in Schools

 

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