Who are the Real Influencers at Work?

Mel Greenberg was a key influencer. In the newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer during its heyday, however, Mel wasn't someone you would have initially identified as a person of influence.  He rarely met your eyes in conversation, rocked maddeningly from side-to-side as he talked--usually in a low mumble sprinkled with a lingo of his own making--and propelled himself on his rounds with an odd, head-first gait. Mel had a strange passion for the statistics of women's basketball at a time when no one else realized the sport existed. His title was "editorial assistant"--a fairly low spot on the totem pole. Yet Mel was the go-to guy at the Inquirer for forty years. He delivered the all-important Pulitzer Prize nominations to New York every year, created mix tapes (when they were still tapes, nothing electronic about them) for office parties. He was once dispatched to Paris, first class, on a moment’s notice to deliver a black velvet painting of John Wayne to an editor in hiding--all key contributions to the newsroom zeitgeist. Mel's passion for women's basketball elevated the sport to national importance and landed him in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as guru of … [Read more...]

It Doesn’t Pay To Be Stingy With Praise by Sue Caba

Do you praise your employees five times more often than you criticize them? If not, you’re missing one of the most cost-effective techniques for building employee engagement, increasing profits, improving safety records and lowering absenteeism. Praise, after all, is free. Employees who don’t get enough praise or feel their boss doesn’t listen are 30 percent more likely than other workers to suffer a heart attack and three times more likely to look for another job within a year, according to research by Harvard, Gallup and The Aberdeen Group. Positive feedback doesn’t have to be--in fact, shouldn’t be--excessive.  A simple “thank you,” or “Hey, loved the way you worded that letter,” is often appropriate, so long as it’s sincere. Why does it work? Because receiving an “atta-girl” gives your brain a little shot of dopamine--the body’s feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter. And that little burst of pleasure prompts you to repeat the behavior that prompted the rewarding feeling. Yet, very few managers practice the art of praise. The Gallup Organization has analyzed the responses of many thousands of employees, surveyed on job satisfaction in the past five decades. Only … [Read more...]

Lead Yourself First

Guest post by Susan Caba The ancient Greeks said it first: “Know Thyself.”  That timeless piece of advice was inscribed on the Temple of the Oracle at Delphi, and it’s been the basis of philosophical, psychological and self-help theories ever since. Most great leaders know themselves--their strengths, weaknesses and motivations--very well. Their self-awareness contributes to their effectiveness as leaders. Why? Because in order to lead others, you must be able to lead yourself. Self-leadership only comes with self-knowledge. It gives you insight into how others see and respond to you; it confers the ability to interact more successfully with others. This is as true for a relationship between two people as it is for the CEOs of enormous organizations. 4 Ingredients There are four basic ingredients in everyone’s personality or behavioral style. All four are present in every person, to different degrees. Just as the flavor and texture of a particular bread depends on its ratio of ingredients, spices and baking time, an individual’s personality depends on the varying ratios of all four traits. Nobody is all one style or another; no particular mix is better than the myriad … [Read more...]

As Leaders, Can We Handle The Truth?

The truth is rarely pure and never simple.—Oscar Wilde Since I saw my nephews perform in Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the truth. The play’s plot revolves around the legal defense of two Marines accused of murdering another soldier, a young man killed as a result of an informal disciplinary practice called a Code Red. In the movie by the same name, Jack Nicholson plays Colonel Nathan Jessup, the hard-edged leader of the U.S. military base at Guantanamo. Jessup defends his leadership in the iconic courtroom scene where he thunders from the witness stand, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” The question of whether we want – and can handle – the truth dogged me last week. You know how it is, once you’re paying attention to something you spot it everywhere. For instance, an email from The Representation Project let me know that the U.S. Truth in Advertising Act of 2014 has been introduced. The bill, if passed, would require the Federal Trade Commission to investigate how media is using pictures that “materially change the physical characteristics of the faces and bodies of the individuals” depicted to sell us things. Most … [Read more...]

Spring Free From Selective Perception

At the risk of setting off a Geek Alert:   I read Popular Science magazine. Back in June 2013, Erin Biba’s article, “Not Just the Facts,” really touched a nerve. Biba explains that we largely favor scientists whose conclusions match our own existing beliefs. Think the world is flat. Or perhaps today, think Global Warming/Climate Change. Otherwise rational people, it seems that “selective perception” rules us – if we let it. Walter Lippmann, a Pulitzer-winning journalist and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient in 1964 said, “We do not first see, then define, we define first and then see.” Since we may do more listening than reading today, Bibi sure makes me want to add 'hear' to Lippmann’s statement. Being Human Means Experiencing Selective Perception Selective perception is very human. We put facts through a personal lens that is so influenced by our own beliefs, our own worldview, that even in the face of incontrovertible evidence we’ll distort what we see and hear to conform to what we expect, what we already believe. Bias, stereotypes, or just plain mindlessness – selective perception can hurt us. It can limit how well we connect with others. Our … [Read more...]

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