How to Manage the Unexpected

manage change

As the levels of stress, difficulty, and pressure increase in the workplace, it’s even easier to make the wrong decision. This puts leaders and other decision-makers in a fight-or-flight mode. That mindset does not allow them to use the executive functions of their brains well. The result is inefficiency – for them, colleagues and clients.

The Harvard Business Review published an article called, “What VUCA Really Means For You.” V-U-C-A is an acronym representing the environment of today’s working world. It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Here’s how to use these four letters to better manage the unexpected.

Volatility

A volatile situation is the best-case scenario you could have for a challenge. You are best able to predict the results of your action, and you have a lot of knowledge about the situation. It most likely arises unexpectedly and leaves you on unstable ground for an unknown duration. It’s not hard to understand, but hard to deal with.

The best response:

  1. Prepare for these situations.
  2. Make sure you’ll have the proper resources and talent to deal with these events.
  3. Be wary of expenses, however. Your investment should match the risk.

Uncertainty

An uncertain situation arises when you have no information about a challenge, but the likely cause and effect are known. The situation is not permanent and could change quickly.

The best response:

  1. Find out all the information you can, and do not keep it to yourself.
  2. This method works best when the structural integrity of organizations is shifting to help reduce uncertainty.

Complexity

A complex challenge involves multiple interconnected moving parts and variables. Your knowledge of the situation is most likely limited (although probably predictable), and it can be hard to know which actions will solve the problem without gathering knowledge. However, the volume or nature of this challenge is overwhelming, making the process of gaining knowledge about it difficult.

The best response:

  1. Approach a complex situation by restructuring and bringing in specialists.
  2. If you don’t have any specialists, develop some of your employees and train them to become specialists.
  3. Develop resources that can help you deal with these problems in the future.

Ambiguity

An ambiguous challenge is intimidating because no precedents exist. You have little knowledge of the situation and how your actions will impact your organization.

The best response:

  1. Use an ambiguous problem as an opportunity to experiment.
  2. Understand your environment, the competition in other fields, and experiences similar organizations used to change their course.
  3. Cater your experiments and decisions so that they can be broadly applied, and help you in the long run.

thriving on change

Stress. Distraction. Indifference.

These are common ailments brought on by a rapidly changing global business environment. If untreated, they negatively impact your team’s performance – and the bottom line.

How Will You Adapt?

Thriving on Change is an online course that teaches the proven-effective methods that will ensure your team can expertly respond to uncertainty, conflict, and inevitable distraction.

The material is delivered incrementally to align with busy schedules. It’s designed for individual participation or group training sessions.

Register today!

Ep 154: Surya Das – What is Mindfulness?

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. 

Lama Surya Das Offers an Invocation + His definition of Mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

Hanuman Goleman asked leaders who are shaping the mindfulness movement to offer a more nuanced survey of the mindfulness landscape.

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost meditation teachers and scholars of Western Buddhism, and one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. He’s the author of 13 books, including Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Modern World, and most recently Buddha Standard Time.

For Surya Das, mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. In this first conversation, he explains a mix of non-judgemental present awareness and insightfulness that he calls “meditation with benefits.”

What is Mindfulness podcast

The What is Mindfulness podcast series features new and exclusive interviews from individuals with decades of experience in teaching and studying mindfulness. The goal is to offer answers to questions about the practice from an array of perspectives and backgrounds.

About What is Mindfulness podcast

Contributors to the podcast series include:

 

The Executive Edge Excerpt: Leading Through Change

executive edge

The following is an excerpt from The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership.

Leading Through Change

Daniel Goleman: The main task of so many leaders today is leading change. And there’s a saying—which I’m not sure is true—that people resist change. But how can this insight about the mind’s eye and so on help a leader make the change that they’re trying to make?

George Kohlrieser: Well, this is one of the very destructive myths around—that people naturally resist change. They do not naturally resist change. They resist the pain of the change. They resist the fear of the unknown. Now, the brain naturally is going to seek—be curious, explore, do new things—and it actually creates new neurons. It’s how the brain thrives. But to do that, you have to feel safe. You have to be able to have your survival needs taken care of. So when you’re defensive, you can’t change. When you feel safe enough, then you go out and you want to explore. That’s what a leader has to do. A leader has to be able to give that trust, that sense of security, and then explosions of creativity will occur.

The failure for many leaders is that they are creating negative states in other people because they’re in a negative state. They cannot hold on to the positive energy, the positive focus, and change is painful. We’re not denying that, but with the flashlight—the mind’s eye—you have to seek beyond the pain, beyond the frustration, to what the opportunity is. And you know the great stories of people in life who had catastrophes—personally, professionally—who have been able to overcome it by seeing opportunity. They can live with what they have and be able to get beyond setbacks, so that in the end they come back to the joy of life.

Goleman: It seems what you’re saying that if a leader is held hostage by his or her emotions, it really limits that leader’s potential. How can you tell if you are being held hostage, and what can you do about it?

Kohlrieser: Well, you can tell when you’re playing life defensively as opposed to playing offensively. Playing to win is a special attitude. This does not mean competition. It means that you take the right risks at the right time. You focus the mind’s eye on possibilities and opportunities—not on regrets and fears. Anytime you’re speaking about yourself—or people, or life—with a sense of regret, a sense of complaining, a sense of you are not able to do what you want, then the possibility is very strong that you are held hostage. So you can be hostage to a person, to a place, to an event, to an experience, to a memory.

And a highly performing leader who isn’t held hostage is always thinking of talent development. For instance, how can I learn something new? How can I expand what I already know? And using Ericsson’s research, we know that you need 10,000 hours of practice. But to be able to do that, you can’t be held hostage by frustration, by failure, by all the things that stop you. You need to be able to practice correctly—”deliberate practice,” he calls it—and do that over and over again, without complaining. Enjoying learning a musical instrument, learning a language, or learning something new regarding how you deal with people. And emotional intelligence provides the greatest learning there is: discovery of people. People are really wonderful! But they’re also complex.

Then lastly, having somebody to help teach you—a mentor or coach—who is emotionally intelligent and can help develop your talent. Then you can stop feeling like a victim. I think when people haven’t gotten over something, when they feel like victims, there’s something wrong in the way they’re looking at life. It’s in the mindset, and the most powerful thing that we have is our mindset: having that be clear and focused, and being adaptable and being flexible, and always being willing to learn.

About The Executive Edge

The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership examines the best practices of top-performing executives. It offers practical guidance for developing the distinguishing competencies that make a leader outstanding.

Every leader needs threshold abilities to get by at work. But in today’s complex business landscape, getting by isn’t enough. It’s the distinguishing competencies that are crucial for success. You need elements that will give you “the executive edge.”

As a collection of Daniel Goleman‘s in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, organizational research, workplace psychology, negotiation, and senior hiring; The Executive Edge contains the necessary research findings, case studies, and shared industry expertise every motivated leader needs.

Available in print and on Kindle, iTunes and nook.

You might also be interested in:

Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit

Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide

The Coaching Program

The C-Suite Toolkit

Expand Your Leadership Style Repertoire

leadership style

There are six leadership styles that are vastly underused: affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, coaching, coercive, and authoritative. Employing the right approach at the right time could make all the difference when it comes to closing a big deal, improving production quality and speed, or managing conflicts. Even though most leaders would say they only use two or three of the styles, it is important to understand that all of them can be mastered and used to your advantage.

Short-Term Solution

A simple solution to making up for the leadership skills you currently lack is to surround yourself with people who possess the style you need. For example, let’s say you’re the vice president of a food distribution corporation. You successfully did business in your home state of New York and expanded up into New England and down along the coast to the Carolinas using the affiliative style. You traveled frequently between the states, met with restaurant owners and eased their concerns, and made sure the customers felt like your company had a personal touch.

However, you know your tech knowledge is lacking, and technology is needed to distribute the food as quickly as possible. Efficiency is the most important appeal to your customers. Therefore, you informed a trusted colleague about the performance standards and let them delegate the strategy using their authoritative approach. You also told this person to appoint a second-in-command to bring along on visits to make sure you don’t spend too much time at each restaurant.

Long-Term Solution

While surrounding yourself with people who possess the skills you lack, it’s also a good idea to work on your limitations. The first step is to acknowledge your gaps in emotional intelligence so that you can work with yourself or a coach to develop them. Take an authoritative leader, for example, who may want to add some democracy to their workplace. They need to work on collaborative and effective communication skills.

They’ll want to master the affiliative leader’s strengths:

  • Empathy: Sensing how people are feeling in the moment allows the affiliative leader to respond to people’s emotions immediately, which helps build trust.
  • Building Relationships: Meeting new people and cultivating a bond comes easily.
  • Interpersonal Communication: Say just the right thing at just the right time.

Enhance your leadership styles

Gain practical insights from the following resources:

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. This often-cited, proven-effective material has become essential reading for leaders, coaches and educators committed to fostering stellar management, increasing performance, and driving innovation. This collection reflects the evolution of Dr. Goleman’s thinking about emotional intelligence, tracking the latest neuroscientific research on the dynamics of relationships, and the latest data on the impact emotional intelligence has on an organization’s bottom-line.

What Makes a Leader is also part of the C-Suite Toolkit.

The Coaching Program is an online streaming learning series for executives, highlighting methods for enhancing any leader or manager’s effectiveness, creativity, and ability to connect with their teams.

Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide 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. Included is 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.

Happy Employees, Happy Customers

customer service

Happy employees tend to go the extra mile with their customer service when they feel encouraged and supported. The relationship between workers, their environment, and customer service has actually been proved by a logarithm; customer service climate and revenue are directly proportional. In fact, a positive atmosphere doubles revenue.

Throughout his studies at the University of Maryland and his observations in a multitude of industries, Professor Benjamin Schneider has found that when employees responded more positively to their work environment, customer satisfaction and business results increased. Inversely, a negative work environment led to unhappy workers, poor customer service, and declining revenues.

The service industry is among the most stressful of all occupations. Workers have to deal with everything from insufferable customers, disagreeable managers, challenging working conditions, long hours and, more often than not, low pay. Not much to smile about.

Emotional Contagion

Bad moods spread faster than wildfire. Rudeness can transfer from the employee to the customer, in turn making them angry or dissatisfied, regardless of how well the actual service was executed. Furthermore, disgruntled workers who aren’t thorough can create a wake of trauma in their path. Cardiac care units, for example, where nurses’ described their outlook as “depressed” had a patient death rate four times higher than comparable units.

Great service, in contrast, can make a world of difference for both the consumer and the employee. If consumers enjoyed their experience, they are likely to return, and share good reviews to their friends and colleagues, or online. If the employees feel upbeat and cared for, they are also more likely to work harder to appease the customer. Jennifer George and Kenneth Bettenhausen concluded in their study, Understanding Prosocial Behavior, that stores with positive salespeople had the best sales results.

A Good Leader Can Make a Difference

The manager is often the person who sets the mood. If a leader is confident, optimistic, and shows genuine compassion toward their workers, both the overall atmosphere and the sales will be lifted in the right direction. There are three factors that make or break a job: working conditions, salary, and leadership. Resonant leaders are perhaps the most important of the three.

How leaders carry themselves and their relationships with their employees directly impact their emotions and performances. Between 20-30% of an organization’s profit can be traced back to how employees feel about their place of employment, and 50-70% of this view traces back to one factor: their leader. A leader’s ability to understand their emotional intelligence and act rationally – not impulsively – becomes a major factor in the overall performance of the business.

Resources to develop a positive work environment

The HR and EI Collection

Leading with Emotional Intelligence [online course]

Resonant Leadership: Inspiring Others Through Emotional Intelligence

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

High Performance Leadership

 

How would you define mindfulness?

How would you define mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness?

by More Than Sound Staff

Have you heard anything about mindfulness lately? Chances are you have… Chances are you’ve heard a lot about mindfulness lately. You’ve probably been hearing about mindfuless in the media, at work, in casual conversation, maybe even at the dinner table from your kids. Perhaps you’ve read about it online a few times.

But even with the media spotlight on mindfulness, do you feel like you understand it? Is it clear to you how mindfulness works? How would you define mindfulness?

How would you define mindfulness?

Can you explain mindfulness? Credit: laprogressive.com

There’s so much buzz about what mindfulness is or is not, and sometimes coming from people who have minimal experience in the practice. So in an effort to both simplify and deepen the mindfulness conversation, we have released a series of podcasts featuring noted mindfulness scholars, including Rick Hanson, Juliet Adams, and Joseph Goldstein. Upcoming contributors will include Daniel Goleman, Mirabai Bush, and Surya Das.

Common Questions, Thoughtful Insights

Designed as an interview series to maintain consistency across subject matter, the podcast contributors are all asked the same questions. Some examples are:

  • How can mindfulness be put into action?
  • What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
  • How does mindfulness training work?

Through these questions and others, our featured guests and their decades of experience will help provide clarity and add to the conversation surrounding mindfulness. This will allow you to formulate your own opinions about how mindfulness might apply to you.

Listen to some interviews now:

Rick Hanson: What is Mindfulness?

Juliet Adams: The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Meditation

Joseph Goldstein: Hidden Dangers in Popularity of Mindfulness

The Dangers of Groupthink

groupthink

Everyone one of us has blind spots. But we often don’t see them until someone points them out. As leaders rise through the ranks, the less honest feedback they receive from peers.

A high-level executive can become isolated. They surround themselves with people who won’t report negative information. They’re afraid to deliver bad news for fear of repercussions. Not knowing the reality of a situation means you can get into a distorted bubble. A lack of information can lead to poor decisions. You go down a path that’s a mistake from the get-go, but nobody tells you.

When Daniel Goleman spoke with Bill George for Leadership: A Master Class, they discussed what Bill learned from a first-hand experience with the dangers of groupthink.

“Early in my life, I worked in the U.S. Department of Defense as a civilian in the year of Robert McNamara and the Vietnam War. Some of the most brilliant people I’ve met in my life were at the high levels of the Pentagon. But toward the end they were walking off the cliff together. They suffered from groupthink. McNamara was so powerful. His team simply reinforced what he was saying. They didn’t take different perspectives.

Any good leader needs to have a reliable team who will ask tough questions, or poke holes in logic.

Another time one of my co-workers asked, “Do you think everyone agreed with that decision in the meeting?” I said, “Yeah, they all said yes, and at the end. We even voted.”

His response was an eye-opener. “Well, there were three people backing their managers that were so angry, they could hardly speak to you because you  blew over them, and forced them to say yes.”

After some thought I knew he was right. I had to go back, tail between my legs, and say, “I’m really sorry. I guess I didn’t hear what you were really saying.” That allowed me to be open to honest conversation.

I also learned that it’s not just looking for and appreciating feedback from that special trusted group, but bringing the attitude with you to the office. I now try to surround myself with people who have diverse viewpoints.”

Fine tune your executive management skills with Daniel Goleman’s video series, Leadership: A Master Class.

Additional resources

The Coaching Program is an online streaming learning series for executives, highlighting methods for enhancing any leader or manager’s effectiveness, creativity, and ability to connect with their teams.

The C-Suite Toolkit is designed for senior management (or those new to senior management positions) seeking a comprehensive reference library from the most respected business and leadership experts of our time.

The Competency Builder program was created to assist workers at all levels learn how to work more mindfully, improve focus, handle daily stresses better, and use these skills to increase their effectiveness. A great resource for any HR library.

The EI Overview provides easy-to-understand insights into proven-effective ways managers can best employ leadership styles, as well as develop the areas where they lack.

 

Bee a Force for Good

bee a force for good

by Victoria Palmatier, More Than Sound

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.” Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations Report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

More Than Sound’s collaborative photo series on Instagram, #MindfulFilter, is back from hiatus just in time to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday! The Dalai Lama only had one birthday wish – be a force for good.

But what does that mean?

According to the Join a Force for Good website,

“A force for good is not simply a phrase or a book, but a vision for the world…a world where transforming ourselves makes us better at helping others…a world where small actions can add up to a big impact…a world where #RealGood – actions that are motivated by genuine concern for others – are everywhere.”

Good deeds come in all shapes and sizes, and no act is too small. Our latest Instagram post concerns the decline of the honeybees, which would fall under embodying compassion, choosing human economics, and healing the earth. A compilation of different forces for good can be found here.

bee a force for good

Business Insider tells us, “A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.” One third of the world’s produce – from apples, limes, and mangos to zucchini and squash to celery and leeks to broccoli and kale – would disappear from the shelves should the honeybees decline continue at its current pace. A Rhode Island Whole Foods grocer imagined what the world would look like without bees, and took 237 of 453 products off their shelves. Over half of their produce department was empty! BBC also has a fantastic page loaded with infographics about bees.

Chensheng Lu, Kenneth Warchol, and Richard Callahan at Harvard’s School of Public Health have all but closed all debates about the reason for the decline of the honeybees. Unsurprisingly, sub-lethal exposure of pesticides (specifically neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, and clothianidin) and the general state of contemporary mass agriculture caused the colony collapse disorder (CCD), starting around 2005. These insecticides exist in high levels in planter exhaust materials when plants are treated.

Honeybees in both the control and neonicotinoid-treated groups functioned normally in the summer and fall, but half of the neonicotinoid-treated groups abandoned their hives and died by the end of the winter. The control colonies, in contrast, thrived and re-populated after the winter, with the exception of one that died due to infection. Their article was published in last month’s Bulletin of Insectology. In addition to pesticides, bees are also declining due to diseases, parasites, habitat loss, weather, and the stress that comes with constant transportation between orchards to pollinate.

The collapse of honeybees is apparent and impending, and we have few prevention measures set up. The Farm Bill passed in 2013 and only allocated less than $2 million a year for emergency assistance. Don’t fall into despair, though. There are plenty of things you can do in your own backyard to help.

How to Bee a Force for Good

  • Plant bee friendly flowers and herbs. Spring – lilacs, lavender, sage, verbena, wisteria. Summer – mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – fuchsia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, toadflax.
  • If you’re financially capable, buy local, organic food from farms in your area. Shop at farmer’s market and local grocery stores. Get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.
  • Buy local, raw honey.
  • Learn how to become a beekeeper and look up local bee associations that offer classes with natural approaches. Morgan Freeman’s doing it, and you can too!
  • Don’t use chemicals and pesticides in your lawn or garden.
  • Understand the differences between wasps and honeybees. Wasps are carnivorous. They want to steal your turkey sandwich and sodas. They will sting you without hesitation because they know they won’t die. Honeybees are vegetarians, so as long as you aren’t eating pollen for lunch, chances are they aren’t interested in you. They will only sting you if they feel threatened, and will die soon after.
bee a force for good

Image Credit: farmtina.com

  • They don’t want to sting you! Stay still if one is near you. If it lands on you, chances are you smell sweet or remind them of a flower! That’s sweet, if you think about. Imagine them as a weird, flying dog and let them sniff you out until they realize you’re not a flower. Then they’ll be on their way!
  • If you see a bee on the ground, chances are it isn’t dead but will be soon. Gently transport it to a small saucer with sugar water so it can regain strength and continue on its way.
  • Put a small basin of water outside your home with little stones and marbles to crawl on so they can drink.
  • Spread this information far and wide!

It’s not just honeybees, either. Thousands upon thousands of butterflies, moths, and other types of pollinating bees are in peril. If everyone stands in solidarity with the honeybees, the powers that be will be forced to take notice and do something about CCD and the insecticides poisoning the only home we have.

Available now: Daniel Goleman’s audiobook, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World.

A Force for Good audiobook