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Character reigns supreme

by Rick Baker
On Mar 21, 2017

I heard today that assessments aimed at finding high-calibre personnel are no longer considering intelligence and talent but are now concentrating all attention on character.

While I expect this is an exaggeration of the current state of recruiting practices, I think it is wrong to underestimate the value of intelligence and talent. And, I believe the use of character assessment alone is a very troubling way to go about determining people’s wherewithal.  

Intelligence, Talents & Character: it seems to me all three of these things are critical to success. I can't imagine any meaningful achievement that does not contain portions of all of these attributes.  

Intelligence is multifaceted and can work in mysterious ways.  Regardless, it's hard to imagine anything being built without a significant level of intelligence. Intelligence correlates the success…in all endeavours.

Talents are the fundamental pieces required for mastery of task and the construction of all meaningful things. When people use their talents at work they take steps to fulfill their ultimate potential. The more they use their talents the greater their opportunity to succeed.

Character is the overriding quality that inspires thought, promotes trust, and influences action. Character is a construct of personal values, personal rules & morals, and a number of other facets, including self-control and power of will. Character is about authenticity and trueness, consistency and doing the right things. 

Clearly, character is an essential ingredient. It is easy to accept that character is the key ingredient. But, that should not confuse the facts around the importance of intelligence and talent

Removing some Confusion around Intuition

by Rick Baker
On Mar 9, 2017

Gut Feel: that's when you have a very strong feeling that isn't backed by logic...like an instinct...a special gift arriving as an insight or intuition

There's lots of advice about gut feel...

  • it's the true key to success
  • the gift of the creative and the entrepreneurial
  • an overrated and flawed phenomenon
  • something that's likely to get you into trouble
So, what should you do? Should you follow your gut feel? Should you be wary of it? Should you pick and choose when to follow and when to ignore your gut feel? If that's best then how do you go about doing that?

Some time ago, we spent time defining emotions

Emotions, the way we define them, provide a clue on how to deal with gut feel.

In summary, emotions are natural protective mechanisms - built-in genetic mechanisms. They are warning signals. They happen quickly and unconsciously. After they arrive, thoughts follow...either negative thoughts or positive thoughts...stronger rather than weaker thoughts. 

If a gut feel is flavoured with emotion then we need to step back and think about why this is happening before we follow the gut feel. Intuition and insight do not have to be flavoured by emotion. Intuition and insight can happen without emotion. So, when we have a special insight or intuition we need to consider whether or not it is coupled with emotion. 

If the gut feel is coupled with emotion then it could be:
  • A Hunger - simply put, it might only be something you crave. If your special insight or intuition is crave-based then you are likely to ignore facts, refuse intelligent input, and make decision errors.
  • Bad Habit - ask yourself if this gut feel is aligned with your long-term goals. If it is not then it is wrapped up in bad habit.
  • A Gift of Insight and Intuition - however, that will be a rarity.
On the other hand, if your gut feel is coupled with feeling rather than emotion then give it some quality attention. It may be true intuition or true insight. Then you will want to heed it and let it add to your life.
 

Tags:

Emotions & Feelings @ Work | Influencing

What matters is what you're going to do next.

by Rick Baker
On Mar 2, 2017

It doesn't matter what you've done or what you know or even who you know.

What matters is what you're going to do next and, of more importance, whether or not people are positively influenced by what you do next.

Sure, from time to time, it's fun to reminisce about the glory days. On the other hand, the glory days are not here again until you make it so. And as you make it so you may not be able to do it the same way it happened the last time.

As Dylan taught us - the times they are a-changin'.  

You will need to adapt and accommodate to the current situations.

As Darwin taught us - "Survival goes not to the strongest or the most intelligent but to the one who is most adaptable to change."  

Yes, it is true, what you know is important to a degree.

Better stated, what you know contains potential value. Specialized knowledge is of particular value. The extent of the value of your knowledge is determined by your ability to identify opportunities and do constructive things to convert those opportunities into positive changes [desired by other people].

Your future success boils down to how you intend to put your strengths - that is, how you intend to put your talents, knowledge, and skills - to good use in the future.

Your future success depends on whether or not you can positively influence other people to help you achieve the goals you envision.

Your future success depends on what you're going to do next: positive change happens one action-step at a time.

Don’t be Passionate about Shorthand Abstractions…they have no Integrity

by Rick Baker
On Jan 12, 2017

Over the last few years, I have written and talked about the communication problems that happen when business leaders use words like Passion and Integrity to lead/encourage/inspire people to be the best they can be at work. The words Passion and Integrity are laced with double entendre and have been overused and misused to the point of obfuscation. Put another way, these two words have been clichéed to the brink of uselessness. Their use has evolved and become mostly bad habit.

Like many of the words and phrases we exchange with one another, the words Passion and Integrity are shorthand abstractions. You can also think of these two words as troubled memes. The words Passion and Integrity have been passed down the generations and passed around the tables for so long and by so many that intent and meaning have been bastardized as happens in ‘telephone games’. 

Business leaders should exercise care when they communicate, especially when they use shorthand abstractions that are likely to touch sensitive territories including personal values, morals, emotions and powerful feelings. 

Why should leaders take greater care when we use shorthand abstractions?

Here’s some thoughts from Tor Norretranders’ –

“That is also the point with abstractions. We want them to be shorthand for a lot of information that was digested in the process leading to the use of the abstraction but not present when we use it. Such abstractions have depth. We love them. Other abstractions have no depth. They are shallow, just used to impress the other guy. They do not help us. We hate them.”

Article – ‘Depth’ by Tor Norretranders, Science Author. An excerpt from John Brockman’s edge.org inspired book ‘This Will Make You Smarter’, (2012)


PS: Yes - interesting use of the shorthand abstractions ‘love’ and ‘hate’ in the quote above. That goes right to the heart and brain of my message here.

PPS: Yes - much of what we communicate has the forms of both shorthand abstraction and bad habit. That's why we provide definitions of words and explanations: this is one way to help people understand what we are trying to communicate. 

 

Favouring a realistic approach to Values, Virtues & Rules

by Rick Baker
On Jan 4, 2017

Values are concepts covering things important and admirable to us (our minds). Values are our perceptions of intrinsically valuable or desirable ways of doing things.

Virtues are concepts about good behavior and character, reflecting how other people think of us…perceptions they carry in their minds about us.

Rules are concepts, which set boundaries on thoughts and action. Rules are determined by our values. Actions are things we do. Actions are governed by our rules.

***

When you have Integrity – I mean when you have Integrity as I define it - your actions are closely aligned with your values. You say what you mean and you mean what you say…and you do what you say. Put another way, when you have Integrity your perceptions of your values closely match other people’s perceptions of your virtues.

When your values and virtues are closely aligned people find it easier to trust you. Trust grows naturally…organically. You feel no need to advertise your Integrity and other people have no need to witness such advertising. They observe the ‘real thing’ when they see the consistency of your behaviour and that’s the way trust is built between people.

There’s a saying, “Rules are made to be broken.” That’s a fair and accurate statement considering the reality of human behavior. All rules get broken…by someone…sooner or later…(and often we don’t have to wait for later). 

Even rules based on our deepest and most-admirable values get broken. As one example – nearly everyone lies…even to the people who mean the most to them. People have their secrets and certain questions defy honest answers. While it is admirable to think people can behave like open-honest books, that expectation is inconsistent with reality. Those who seek perfection in others will find the human condition is laced with imperfections. So, when considering others virtues and drawing conclusions about their personal values and their character it is important to set the bar at a reasonable level.

When people slip up - when people who matter to you clearly illustrate they have broken their own values-rules - 

  • Fight the urge to question their virtues and write them off [as Covey described the reality of human behaviour] by quickly emptying their ‘trust account’,
  • Step back and consider the reality of your own values-rules breaches and try to counteract your natural attribution bias, and
  • Be open and candid with the people, but stop well short of dragging them through the coals or humbling them as if you are blessed to administer that right. 

15 Ways to Influence Thinking & Inspire Action

by Rick Baker
On Dec 22, 2016

Vision inspires

Leadership has a few essential ingredients. For example, the leader must possess a level of intelligence and the leader must possess a character that appeals to followers. Another essential ingredient is Vision. Good-to-great leaders hold a long-lasting, vivid image of what they want in their minds and they communicate that message to their followers. Some good-to-great leaders have an innate gift of communication. Other good-to-great leaders learn the art of communication.

Values fuel the right actions

Everyone lives by a set of personal Values, whether or not they are expressed verbally. The greatest of leaders naturally live by their Values in a most consistent manner. And they have a habit of painting verbal pictures around their Values. Good-to-great leaders' thoughts and actions and communications are consistent. This clarity around Values sends a consistent message to followers. The message energizes followers. In this way, the leaders' Values fuel everything.

Goals provide direction

Good-to-great leaders set long-term goals and they set short-term goals...they know the importance of little milestone steps that guide positive actions toward the long-term goal. Good-to-great leaders know the linkage between good habits and long-term goals. Good habits help people achieve their long-term goals whereas bad habits do not. Short-term goals provide the opportunity for testing, doing, failing, learning, and adjusting the next sets of short-term goals and actions. 

Intent doesn't go without saying

Good-to-great leaders, when compared to average people/leaders, somehow, do a better job of understanding other people. So, somehow, they do a better job of choosing people whose intentions are more aligned to fit on common ground...rallying around a cause. Some good-to-great leaders possess natural gifts of empathy. Other good-to-great leaders figure out how to read other people and they start the process by sharing discussion of Intentions. When in doubt, they ask.

Stories get remembered

Great leaders are great communicators. They are attuned to their life-experiences and how some of those life-experiences serve as excellent examples that can be shared with other people, followers and others who could be followers in the future. Great leaders create powerful, magnetic stories around these pertinent life-experiences. They practice delivering these stories. Then they use every opportunity to present and repeat the stories...to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Take Immediate Steps to Improve Communication

When communication gets off track, straying from the desired direction, good leaders work to improve communication so it returns to the right track. Good leaders do not let interpersonal conflicts fester. They know success relies on a level of harmony between followers. So, when dysfunction is evident they address it. Good leaders communicate to ensure their followers' harmony and focus.

Design Tools to Help People

Tools serve people...making their lives easier, making their lives more productive, adding quality to their lives...assisting them as they build. Good leaders know the power inherent in tools. Good leaders ensure their people have access to good tools. And, to maximize opportunities for performance good leaders ensure their people have customized tools...creative, customized tools.

Focus on Solutions

Leaders see solutions. Solutions and solution-thinking are around the essence of leadership. Good leaders connect with followers who are like minded about solutions. Some followers are naturally solution-oriented, others need to learn that problems are the routes to solutions, growth, and opportunities. Leaders do 2 things to promote solution-orientation: they lead by example...and...they teach.

Seek Simple 

When people go about business things can get complicated and that can happen quickly. Good leaders know the difference between simple, complicated, and complex. Good leaders conserve their energy, saving it for the complicated and complex things. One strategy that ensures energy is conserved so it can be put to best use is Seeking Simple...separating wheat from chaff...helping followers do the same.

Understand Business Contains Only 3 Things: People, Process, & Situations

"People, Processes, & Situations" is an example of seeking simple.  Good leaders know success is all about people...so good leaders invest time connecting with, serving, mentoring, and strengthening good people. Good leaders ensure processes [including tools] serve people, helping people convert actions into results. Good leaders know situations have a most-powerful effect on behaviour, so they plan for and construct situations.

Understand People Do Only 3 Things: Good Habits, Bad Habits, & New Things

Good Habits are things people think and do that help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Bad Habits are things that people think and do that do not help them achieve long-term desires and goals. Good leaders use these simple definitions to inject clarity into their lives. Then good leaders work at reducing their performance of Bad Habits and expanding their performance of Good Habits. And, good leaders test New Things...relentlessly seeking more Good Habits.

Take Talent To Task

Good leaders are fascinated by people's talents. When people's talents show a capability of aligning with the trust of the leader's goals, good leaders ensure the talented person has access to (1) opportunities to put the talent to productive use, (2) specialized knowledge to complement the talent, and (3) time to practice skills to hone the talent into a personal strength. Then good leaders don't leave things to chance - they help people connect personal strengths to important tasks. 

Don’t force change…construct it with comfort

Good leaders know change is constructive only when people are comfortable. And personal and business growth happens when people learn how to expand their comfort zones. Knowing these things, good leaders consider people's comfort/stress levels and design change in increments that help expand comfort zones without triggering the destructive consequences that naturally happen when people are forced into discomfort zones. Good leaders also know this correct approach to change 'dominoes' as confidence escalates.

Repeat clearly, "I do have time!"

Good leaders know the importance of leading by example. So, they know if they say "I don't have time" or "I'm too busy" their followers will pick up on that, think the same way, talk the same way, and act accordingly...spreading the lack-of-abundance mindset to one and all. Knowing this, good leaders remove the "I don't have time" & "I'm too busy" bad habit from their thoughts and words. They replace the bad habit with good habits: as examples, they apply the 80/20 Rule and they practice abundance thought and solution talk.

Change character for the better

All great leaders changed their character. Perhaps Abraham Lincoln performed one of the greatest self-transformations. When he was a young man he had the habit of openly criticizing other people. In 1842 Lincoln publicly criticized Illinois state employee James Shields. Shields took exception to the criticism and challenged Lincoln to a duel. The 2 men faced one another with weapons in hands. Fortunately their seconds intervened. Lincoln used the incident as a life-lesson and he chose to change his character for the better...rarely criticizing others. Lincoln's change of character took him from the dueling field to the White House. 

 

 

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