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The best leadership links to read right now
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A curated monthly digest of the best leadership links from around the web

By Amy Federman, ConantLeadership Editor in Chief & Director of Content

July 2022
In this edition of the Leadership That Works Newsletter: The 'fun mindset,' surviving a bad boss, mastering 'intellectual humility,' and more.
 
"When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none," says the introduction to this fascinating interview with Tim Ryan, PwC's US Chair, in Authority Magazine. Ryan says that in "10-15 years, workplaces won't be recognizable to what they are today." The business world is changing so rapidly that even "three years out, the companies that attract top talent," will differentiate themselves by offering a "customized employee experience" featuring "robust personalized options around things like health and well-being." In fact, personalized benefits will be so ubiquitous, they'll be mere "table stakes," and "the 9 to 5 model, 40-hour work week model will be less common."

Ryan says that while leaders must better understand all their stakeholders, "at the top of the stakeholder list is the employee, because even if the economy slows down, the need to prioritize people is here to stay." An employee-centric approach to future-proofing your business means understanding that you can't "simply throw money" at the issue, you have to listen to people and offer a wide array of benefits, empowering employees to make "customer-like choices," so they can build "personalized careers," with varying flexibility on "how they work, where they work, what they work on and when they do it — tailored to support their development, well-being, sense of purpose and ambitions."

Ryan sums it up neatly: "Ultimately our people want flexibility and choice." And, "as the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, we know our people thrive when their daily experience matches what they value and makes them happy—meaningful relationships, a balanced workload, support for flexibility, and a sense of purpose and belonging." Get the full story here.

"Life's too short to work for a jerk," says this smart Wall Street Journal piece, but sometimes it can't be avoided: "As long as there’s been work, there have been people who make it miserable for those underneath them." So, what do you do if you find yourself working for a micromanager, a bully, or perhaps even worse, an absentee boss who's checked out completely? The WSJ piece offers advice for each type of "bad boss." If you've got a micromanager hovering over you, first validate their anxiety (whether it's warranted or not): "Tell them you share their sense of urgency and understand exactly what needs to be done for the task to be considered a success—right down to the font they prefer." Then, "flood them with information before they even ask for it," and watch, "as you build trust, they'll loosen their grip." In the case of a "checked-out boss," assume they need you to take the lead and "be tenacious." Try booking a series of appointments on their calendar, "assuming they'll cancel half," and when you do get your face-to-face, "be succinct, be clear," and then, "be gone. Get the full story here. (Note: this piece may appear behind a paywall.)
"Historically many of the policies designed to increase fairness at work have revolved around the hiring process," write the authors of this Harvard Business Review article, "but in reality, most employees’ perception of fairness relates more to their day-to-day experiences—and these perceptions have a significant business impact." A survey of 3,500 employees worldwide found that "most employees don't feel like their work environment is fair," with only 18% indicating they felt they worked "in a high-fairness environment." Perceived fairness is crucial to organizational health and "will become even more important in the coming years," as "a more fair employee experience improves employee performance by up to 26% and employee retention by up to 27%." The authors' research reveals four key questions leaders should ask themselves to ensure they are delivering a "high-fairness work environment," including "Are your employees informed?"; "Are your employees supported?"; "Do all employees get a fair chance at internal opportunities?"; and "Do leaders and managers recognize employees' contributions?" The piece provides supporting tips and practices for each question. Get the full story here.

**For more on meeting the moment with transparency and fairness, explore our tips from top leadership experts for building trust post-pandemic.
In 2022, people are accustomed to non-stop mental stimulation from work, technology, TV, and the entertainment source that reigns supremethe smartphone. Rarely do we allow our brains a reprieve from sensory input, but we should try giving our cognitive center some "fresh air," as this Study Finds piece puts it, because we are underestimating how fascinating our own thoughts can be when we focus on them, free from auxiliary screens and stimulus. In an experiment with hundreds of volunteers, researchers found that participants "consistently underrated how much enjoyment they got from simply sitting in the company of their own thoughts for up to 20 minutes." Volunteers were instructed to "let their mind wander," without the intrusion of digital devices or distraction. Each group reported being surprised by how engaging their own thoughts were, and taken aback by how much they enjoyed the exercise. People tend to avoid "thinking activities" because of widespread assumptions that they will be boring, opting instead for distraction. But leaders should try to dedicate time to reflection and free-thinking because "allowing the mind to wander can help people solve problems, enhance their creativity, and even help them find meaning in their life." Get the full story here.

**For more on the power of looking inward, explore our 6-step Blueprint process, a model for unlocking greater joy, fulfillment, and impact in your leadership through a series of exercises and patented prompts for reflection.
According to this Greater Good piece on 'intellectual humility,' there are a host of benefits to possessing humility that are relevant to leaders, such as "showing more persistence in the face of failure, holding less polarized beliefs and attitudes, and being received as warm and friendly." In particular, "intellectual humility" refers to an awareness of "your intellectual limitations and the fallibility of your beliefs," and can extend to "how we view others’ ideas and how we express our beliefs." Often, this type of humility requires being open-minded about differing opinions and a willingness to admit our own viewpoint may be flawed or incomplete. Of course, self-assessing our own humility presents problems since humans are prone to innumerable "biases and blind spots" that interfere with an accurate self-image. But that doesn't mean we can't benefit from a greater understanding of the four types of intellectual humility: 1. "Internal and self-directed," which requires honest self-inquiry. 2. "Internal and other-directed," which requires recognizing "intellectual merit in opinions and beliefs that are different from your own." 3. "Expressed and self-directed," which requires behaving in way that is consistent with your own "beliefs and attitudes." 4. "Expressed and other-directed," which requires hearing other perspectives "in good faith." Get the full story here.

**For more on humility, read the "Humility" chapter in The Blueprint, which begins on page 273.

In last month's newsletter, we shared a Deloitte piece arguing that organizations should begin publicly measuring wellness metrics in order to attract and retain talent. As a follow-up, explore this Office Vibe how-to which guides you through executing on wellness-measurement through surveys, improved programming, benefits, and more. It's important for leaders to "keep a finger on the pulse of their team’s well-being, mental health, and internal relationships," because the more holistically happy an employee is, the better their performance, "by about 12%." Anonymous employee wellness surveys "can encourage your team to open up about their health, wellness, and workplace dynamics in a safe, judgment-free space," while also providing actionable data that can guide your talent strategy for years to come. An effective survey needs to be "simple, clear, and detailed," include "both open-ended and close-ended questions," and most importantly, "should focus on specific data that can help you get to the root of problems like high turnover." To get you started, the post provides 30 sample wellness survey questions such as, "What wellness-promoting initiatives would you like to see in the workplace?," "Is there a person within the organization you feel you can speak to about stress and other factors that influence your work performance?," and "On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?" Get the full story here.
"Many interviews are bureaucratic processes done only to satisfy the requirements of human resources departments," writes Tyler Cowen in this Next Big Idea Club piece that highlights insights from his new book, Talent, which offers practices for better interviews and hiring. Cowen says that if you're asking boilerplate, easy-to-anticipate questions in interviews, you'll get canned responses, which may demonstrate whether or not the candidate came prepared, but don't provide usable insight into how they'll mesh with the company. Instead, he advises leaders to "get into conversational mode as quickly as possible," and aim to "get the person talking about something they did not come prepared to discuss." This doesn't mean bombarding prospects with "gotcha" questions to knock them off-kilter, but rather means jumping into more personal territory like their interests or beliefs to "get a better sense of that individual’s personality, intellect, ability to relate to other people, and ability to explain things." Once you get a potential hire talking, "focus on what that candidate actually does," not only in their work life, but in their personal lifehow do they spend their free time, do they show enthusiasm in daily pursuits, are they oriented towards self-improvement, etc. Cowen says "intelligence is overrated, especially by smart people," and that it's more important to hire for things like "energy level," "durability," and whether or not a person works well with others, all of which you can get a stronger sense of with a more un-scripted, unexpected interview process. Get the full story here.
"We all know people who seem to attract fun," writes author Catherine Price in this TED piece on how to exude more warmth and playfulness in work and life. She explains that being one of those "fun" people is possible for anyone, "even if you think of yourself as shy or introverted," because being perceived as fun is not necessarily about how outgoing or bombastic you are, but more about how you make others feel in your presence, which is a crucial aspect to leadership, too. Price says fun people are non-judgmental, "make everyone feel included," are "considerate of others' feelings," easily get excited with and for you, and are keen to "create wonderful, shared memories," none of which requires extroversion or a preternatural disposition to being the life of the party. What really separates fun-loving people from their peers is their "attitude," and how they approach life with a "fun mindset," which refers "to the habit of intentionally approaching and reacting to your life in a way that is attractive to fun," and she defines fun itself as the "confluence of playfulness, connection, and flow." The secret to honing the mindset is to deliberately seek it out and she provides four suggestions for doing so. The first tip? "Be easy-to-laugh." Get the full story here.

**For more on fun, read the "Have Fun" chapter in The Blueprint, which begins on page 299.

Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership
In this new blog, ConantLeadership Founder Doug Conant shares his personal story from the pandemic era. Learn how he re-connected with the joy, fulfillment, and impact of leadership by learning, once again, to practice what he preaches.
‘Aha!’s are no accident. In our new blog, learn how to train your brain to internalize this leadership mindset that sparks miraculous ‘aha!’ moments and allows you to meet the world with wonder.
Leading with Humility
In this episode of the NASDAQ 'World Reimagined' podcast, host Gautam Mukunda speaks with founder of ConantLeadership and former CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant, and the CEO of Edelman U.S., Lisa Osborne Ross, about how leaders must orchestrate their organizations with integrity, empathy, and confidence. Listen here or read the transcript here.
At the third bi-annual BLUEPRINT Leadership Summit this spring, Doug Conant was joined in conversation by Susan Cain, world-renowned bestselling author of Bittersweet and QuietRead their tips for fostering deeper connections in today's workplace in this recent blog post.

**Registration is now open for our fall Summit which begins 9/19/2022. RSVP now.
At the third bi-annual BLUEPRINT Leadership Summit this spring, Doug Conant was joined in conversation by Brené Brown, beloved researcher and bestselling author. Read their smart tips for leading with empathy in this blog post.

**Registration is now open for our fall Summit which begins 9/19/2022. RSVP now.
In last month's newsletter: Get curious, find your purpose, measure well-being, let things go, and more.
Join us at the next BLUEPRINT Boot Camp by ConantLeadership, a 2-day leadership intensive which offers elite-level, highly interactive training with Doug Conant and a community of your peers.

This engaging and immersive leadership development experience is centered around a structured 6-step process for reflection and learning that empowers you to lead like only you can. You'll leave with your own personal leadership model, actionable practices for making a difference, VIP access to Doug Conant, and a new lease on living a fulfilling leadership life.

Registration is now open for our November 2022 program: conantleadership.com/bootcamp
Yours in leadership,

- Amy and the ConantLeadership Team

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