The Library

We’ve pulled together a collection of reading materials you need on your path to becoming a truly great leader. Learn and get inspired.

Insights

Get practical insights that you can apply today, based on our 20+ years of experience consulting with top leaders, along with the best thought leadership from others. It’s all here for the taking.

Insight

Insight: Elevate All Voices

Unhappy reality: When working in a team, the perceived status of some members can cancel out the voices of others. Authors of a study on this effect, Bryan L. Bonner and Alexander R. Bolinger, point out that “the louder more assertive ones get the most airtime, even if they aren’t the most expert.” Sometimes that airtime, or lack of it, is based on someone’s status, experience, age, gender or race. This comes at the expense of knowledge, team potential, direction, and creativity. A leader who is focused on achieving the best will create ways for each person to share their knowledge and perspectives. One way to do this, the study suggests, is to ask your team to pool and evaluate the relevant information each team member has to contribute before taking action. The process of collecting and analyzing the information itself can be enough to jump start new understanding, bypass the pitfalls of social influences, and surface new insights that lead to breakthrough ideas. Dig into this strategy with “Bring out the best In Your Team” by Bryan L. Bonner & Alexander R. Bolinger.

Insight

Ditch the sports metaphors

Sports coach metaphors, with their drills and locker room speeches, fail to translate to organizational coaching, which is more about long-term growth. The authoritarian approach, for all its assertive bravado, can snuff out honest dialogues and crush creativity. Samuel Bacharach, author and head of Cornell’s Institute for Workplace Studies, puts it this way: “Proactive leaders understand that coaching creates a learning environment where individual and collective challenges are the first priorities.” In sports: Iconic coaches, like Tom Coughlin, are usually depicted as champion motivators, powering their team forward with relentless repetition and strength training. In organizations: Coaches stand beside their people, listening and encouraging each step of the way. By developing only the strengths that will win you the game, you risk missing the bigger picture. Victories are won with more than just know-how. “You want your protégés to possess the necessary skills to accomplish their goals, but you also want them to be cognizant of the dynamics of the organization,” says Bacharach. In sports: The relationship between coaches and their players is usually constrained to a single season. In organizations: Coaching talent has a more amorphous time frame. No shot clocks. It’s a process where people are encouraged to “personally discover

Insight

Move from “no” to “yes and…”

Critical thinking — our ability to dissect and analyze problems — is what got many of us to where we are. It’s often, however, what shuts down ideas before they see the light of day. It’s because somewhere along the way, we learned to love saying “no.” Before we could even walk, we sought ways to wield no’s almighty power. As adults, particularly in meetings or team dynamics, we often use no to exert control and establish our own importance. But great ideas never come from a place of no. They come from a place of what if. As a leader, it’s essential that you set conditions for ideas to surface, flourish, and thrive. Rather than identifying why things won’t work, try practicing additive feedback, or what is often referred to in improv as “Yes, and…”. This can help you and the team build on each others’ ideas. Scott McDowelI at 99U recounts the “slightly thrilling, slightly terrifying experience” of improv on stage and the lessons it taught him about creativity and team building, namely, less ego, more openness, more possibility. Here’s how it works: You and a partner are writing a story aloud, one sentence at a time. “Yes, and…”

Insight

Grant autonomy and watch the team thrive

We all remember what it was like the first time someone gave us ownership of a piece of work. The sense of pride sparked by that autonomy made us more engaged, more accountable. It’s an almost universal principle, though often under utilized: Autonomy is what inspires people to step up. Why? According to Cameron Doody, co-founder of Bellhop, a start-up which contracts local college students for small-scale moving help on demand, “Fulfillment at work comes with the freedom to make decisions and own your position.” The “autonomy-principle” is true in every organization and on every team. When we give people the latitude to problem solve using their own experiences, instincts and creativity, they often do so in innovative and highly efficient ways — ways that would never have been possible had the reins been held too tight. As a result, people become more self-reliant and more capable. Doody lays out some valuable principles for granting autonomy in “5 Ways to Give More Autonomy at Work” on Inc. Here’s our take on a few of our favorites: Set the what, give room for others to define the how. As a leader, your role is to set the goals. By the letting

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Perspectives

Don’t just take our word on the skills necessary for 21st century leadership. Some leaders we admire share their perspectives.

Melvin Galloway on humanity
Perspective
On Humanity

Melvin Galloway

EVP and COO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Bavidra Mohan on leading with humanity - Leadfully
Perspective
On Humanity

Bavidra Mohan

Head of Leadership and Strategic Partnerships, India, Acumen

JB Osbourne
Perspective
on Optimism

JB Osborne

Partner, Red Antler

Alex Castellarnau
Perspective
on Optimism

Alex Castellarnau

VP of UX/UI, NextEV

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Blog Posts

Get the latest news, quick tips, and more.

2017 leadership intentions
Blog Post
January 10, 2017
It’s a new year. What will you do with it?

The best leaders are fueled by a sense of purpose and clear intention that keeps them going — even when things seem fuzzy. It’s not just about what you will do, but why and how. To help you lead fully in 2017, we’ve put together a quick exercise to help you get you started and build some momentum: 1. Explore these twelve ideas and next steps to change your leadership behavior for the better. 2. Use the tips below to keep yourself on track and revisit your leadership intentions on a more regular basis: Write it down and put it where you can see it. Calendar events, computer desktops, sticky notes in places you can’t avoid — give yourself a visible reminder wherever works for you. Create rituals and habits that work with your life, not against it. Odds are you’re a busy person. Think about when you tend to have energy during the day, where you might find extra pockets of time, what could be done more efficiently or more thoroughly, etc. — and take it all into account as you find ways to follow through on your intention. Outsmart your inner cheater and find an accountability partner. When it comes to changing our behavior, sometimes the most effective

the business case for authenticity
Blog Post
December 27, 2016
The business case for authenticity

I was fortunate enough to attend PopTech last fall, and doubly fortunate to get to hear Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino’s talk about authenticity. In it, she shared research showing that being more authentic at work isn’t just about feeling good; it actually boosts performance. As she summarizes in Harvard Business Review, In one study Dan Cable, of London Business School, and Virginia Kay, then of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, surveyed 154 recent MBA graduates who were four months into their jobs. Those who felt they could express their authentic selves at work were, on average, 16% more engaged and more committed to their organizations than those who felt they had to hide their authentic selves. In another study, Cable and Kay surveyed 2,700 teachers who had been working for a year and reviewed the performance ratings given by their supervisors. Teachers who said they could express their authentic selves received higher ratings than teachers who did not feel they could do so. Gino defines authenticity as the opposite of conformity: Conforming often conflicts with our true preferences and beliefs and therefore makes us feel inauthentic. In fact, research I conducted with Maryam Kouchaki, of

steal this end-of-year performance review template
Blog Post
December 16, 2016
Steal this: A template for end-of-year reviews

For most companies, the end of the year signals a time to reflect — and set new intentions for the upcoming year. As people-leaders, the end-of-year conversation is an opportunity to gather input on those we manage and give them the feedback they need, helping set them up for success in the year to come. Back in the day, when I managed the strategy team at SYPartners’ New York office, I created a simple template to help frame my end-of-year conversations with the people on my team. Recently I’ve found myself sharing this template with friends and colleagues at different organizations to help them have more meaningful conversations — and I wanted to share this tool with you. Steal this template Here are some additional tips on how to gather and synthesize the feedback you’ll need to fill out the template and prepare for a great end-of-year review. 1. Collect feedback. Pick at least three people who work with each person you manage. These people should ideally represent a mix of disciplines and levels (e.g., someone they report to, a peer, and someone who reports to them on the team). I find it works best to ask for feedback using

Leadfully Book Club: The Shallows — a thought on neuroplasticity and leading by example
Blog Post
November 21, 2016
Leadfully Book Club: The Shallows

From time to time, we check in with members of the Leadfully community for book recommendations and leadership-relevant takeaways based on their recent reading. This week, Leadfully Advisor Jordan Hirsch shares an insight from his reading of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. From The Shallows, chapter 3: Our new knowledge of neuroplasticity untangles this conundrum. Between the intellectual and behavioral guardrails set by our genetic code, the road is wide, and we hold the steering wheel. Through what we do and how we do it — moment by moment, day by day, consciously or unconsciously — we alter the chemical flows in our synapses and change our brains. And when we hand down our habits of thought to our children, through the examples we set, the schooling we provide, and the media we use, we hand down as well the modifications in the structure of our brains. The concept of neuroplasticity was a big eye-opener for me — the idea that we’re not stuck with the brain patterns that we’re used to. The idea that we can actually reshape our brains by reinforcing certain patterns means that we have the power to literally

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