Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

On his first day as CEO of the Carlsberg Group, a global brewery and beverage company, Cees ‘t Hart was given a key card by his assistant. The card locked out all the other floors for the elevator so that he could go directly to his corner office on the 20th floor. And with its picture windows, his office offered a stunning view of Copenhagen. These were the perks of his new position, ones that spoke to his power and importance within the company.

Cees spent the next two months acclimating to his new responsibilities. But during those two months, he noticed that he saw very few people throughout the day. Since the elevator didn’t stop at other floors and only a select group of executives worked on the 20th floor, he rarely interacted with other Carlsberg employees. Cees decided to switch from his

Continue reading "Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership"

Assessment: Are You a Compassionate Leader?

may18_15_assessment
anbileru adaleru/noun project

Compassion has become increasingly recognized as a foundational aspect of leadership. One study from 2012 found that compassionate leaders appear stronger and have more engaged followers. Other studies have found that organizations with more compassionate leaders have better collaboration, lower turnover, and employees who are more trusting, more connected to each other, and more committed to the company. When we surveyed more than 1,000 leaders from 800 organizations, 91% of them said compassion is very important for their leadership and 80% said they would like to enhance their compassion but do not know how.

What do we mean by compassion? It is the intent to contribute to the happiness and well-being of others. A compassionate leader has a genuine interest in seeing their people not just perform and increase profits but thrive. But this doesn’t mean “being soft” or trying to please people by giving them

Continue reading "Assessment: Are You a Compassionate Leader?"

Senior Executives Get More Sleep Than Everyone Else

feb18_28_81268593
Mitsuaki Iwago/Minden Pictures/Getty Images

It’s no secret that most of us don’t get enough sleep and suffer for it. If you’re between the ages of 16 and 64, and don’t get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, your logical reasoning, executive function, attention, and mood can be impaired. Worse, severe sleep deprivation can lead to depression, anxiety, and symptoms of paranoia. In the long run, sleep deprivation is a main contributor to the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Surprisingly, one group that doesn’t need to heed these warnings is executives. In our assessment of 35,000 leaders and interviews with 250 more, we found that the more senior a person’s role is, the more sleep they get.

There are two possible explanations for this. Either senior executives, with the help of assistants and hard-working middle managers, do less and take more time for sleep. Or senior executives have had the wisdom and discipline

Continue reading "Senior Executives Get More Sleep Than Everyone Else"

Power Can Corrupt Leaders. Compassion Can Save Them

feb18-15-corrupt-nguyen2
Andrew Nguyen/HBR Staff

In 2016 John Stumpf, then the CEO of Wells Fargo, was called before Congress to explain a massive scandal. For more than four hours, Stumpf fielded a range of questions about why the bank, which had over $1.8 trillion in assets, had created 2 million false accounts, and, after the fraud was discovered, fired 5,300 employees as a way of redirecting the blame. The recordings of the hearing are a shocking but illustrative case study of how leaders are at risk of being corrupted by power.

Stumpf’s appearance before Congress shows a man who had made it to the top of one of the world’s most valuable banks — and who seems to show an utter lack of ability to have compassion for other people. Even though his actions caused 5,300 people to lose their jobs, he seemed incapable of acknowledging their pain. Yes, he apologized, but he

Continue reading "Power Can Corrupt Leaders. Compassion Can Save Them"

Why Do So Many Managers Forget They’re Human Beings?

jan18-29-563960551-H.-Armstrong-RobertsClassicStock
H. Armstrong/Roberts Classic Stock/Getty Images

In our assessments, surveys, and interviews of over a thousand leaders, many comments stood out, but one in particular was especially powerful and thought-provoking. “Leadership today,” Javier Pladevall, CEO of Audi Volkswagen, Spain, told us, “is about unlearning management and relearning being human.”

What Javier means is, the power of leadership lies in our abilities to form personal and meaningful bonds with the people whom we lead. This is truer now than ever, as millennials are becoming the majority population in most companies. Millennials are not satisfied with only a paycheck, bonus, and benefits. They want meaning, happiness, and connectedness, too.

The problem is about 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring and motivating – much in the same way as we all rate ourselves as great drivers. But this stands in stark contrast to how employees perceive their leaders. A survey published by Forbes found

Continue reading "Why Do So Many Managers Forget They’re Human Beings?"

Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can

jan18-12-737369077-Jessica-Durrant
Jessica Durrant/Getty Images

Vincent Siciliano, CEO of California-based New Resource Bank, was brought in to turn things around and restore the bank’s founding mission, which is to “serve values-driven businesses and nonprofits that are building a more sustainable world.” Within a few years, Vince had the bank back on track, but not everything was going as well as it seemed.

After the successful transition, the leadership team decided to take the pulse of the organization, and discovered low levels of engagement and displeasure with senior leaders. Vince was surprised, but he assumed the discord was left over from the many changes the organization had gone through, so he chose not to take action — time would heal all.

A year later, the bank sent out another employee survey. This time, the results were more specific: Morale was a significant issue, and the majority of people, including members of the senior

Continue reading "Self-Awareness Can Help Leaders More Than an MBA Can"

Are You Having Trouble Focusing? These Simple Strategies Will Help

dec17-25-740519405-Harry-Haysom
Harry Haysom/Getty Images

In today’s always-on, information-overloaded world, it can be hard to stay focused throughout the day. How often do you find yourself distracted by inner chatter during meetings? Or how often do you find that emails are pulling you away from more important work?

We’ve surveyed and assessed more than 35,000 leaders from thousands of companies across more than 100 countries, and found that 73% of leaders feel distracted from their current task either “some” or “most” of the time.

We also found that 67% of leaders describe their minds as cluttered, which means they have a lot of thoughts and a lack of clear priorities. As a result, 65% of respondents fail to complete their tasks. The biggest sources of distraction are: demands of other people (26%); competing priorities (25%); general distractions (13%); and too big of a workload (12%). Not surprisingly, 96% of leaders we surveyed said

W171218_HOUGAARD_HOWOUR
Continue reading "Are You Having Trouble Focusing? These Simple Strategies Will Help"

If You Aspire to Be a Great Leader, Be Present

dec17-13-589709561-Joed-Barallas-EyeEm
Joed Barallas/EyeEm/Getty Images

Some years ago, we worked with a director of a multinational pharma company who’d been receiving poor grades for engagement and leadership effectiveness. Although he tried to change, nothing seemed to work. As his frustration grew, he started tracking the time he spent with each of his direct reports — and every time he received bad feedback, he pulled out his data and exclaimed, ”But look how much time I spend with everyone!”

Things improved when he began a daily 10-minute mindfulness practice. After a couple of months, people found him more engaging, nicer to work with, and more inspiring. He was surprised and elated by the results. The real surprise? When he pulled out his time-tracking spreadsheet, he saw that he was spending, on average, 21% less time with his people.

The difference? He was actually there.

He came to understand that, even though he was in the same

Continue reading "If You Aspire to Be a Great Leader, Be Present"

Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything

jan17-17-105150383
Leaders across the globe feel that the unprecedented busyness of modern-day leadership makes them more reactive and less proactive. There is a solution to this hardwired, reactionary leadership approach: mindfulness. Having trained thousands of leaders in the techniques of this ancient practice, we’ve seen over and over again that a diligent approach to mindfulness can help people create a one-second mental space between an event or stimulus and their response to it. One second may not sound like a lot, but it can be the difference between making a rushed decision that leads to failure and reaching a thoughtful conclusion that leads to increased performance. It’s the difference between acting out of anger and applying due patience. It’s a one-second lead over your mind, your emotions, your world. Research has found that mindfulness training alters our brains and how we engage with ourselves, others, and our work. When practiced and applied, mindfulness fundamentally alters the
Continue reading "Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything"

How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day

mar16-04-feridun-akgungor-web-06-vert
feridun akgüngör
You probably know the feeling all too well: You arrive at the office with a clear plan for the day and then, in what feels like just a moment, you find yourself on your way back home. Nine or 10 hours have passed but you’ve accomplished only a few of your priorities. And, most likely, you can’t even remember exactly what you did all day. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Research shows that people spend almost 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot. Add to this that we have entered what many people are calling the “attention economy.” In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills. And because leaders need to absorb and synthesize a growing
Continue reading "How to Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Work Day"