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Gifts of Leaders: Stewardship, Vitality and Culture

As our approach to work has shifted, so too has the role of managers as well as what it means to successfully lead in today’s workplace. Managers are expected to leverage the power of our digitized environments to innovate, transform and strategically execute. Service oriented, team centered and coaching focused, today’s managers are required to exude agility, inspire discretionary effort and facilitate deliberate and sustained shifts in power, skills and structure.

And yet, many of the best-intentioned managers are not meeting, let alone exceeding, these expectations. They continue to struggle with the multiplicity of demands placed on themselves and their teams. We are at a significant inflection point where there is a need to assist managers in cultivating new skills, enhancing support structures and systems and, potentially, recasting the entirety of the role and responsibilities of what constitutes a modern manager.

This edition’s featured article from Harvard Business Review, Managers Can’t Do It All, looks at three companies—Standard Chartered, IBM, and Telstra—redefining what it means to be a manager and what constitutes effective support so managers can “…meet the new priorities of the era.” Ultimately, “as the stewards of culture, managers are the lifeblood of organizations.” We need to treat them as such. In addition, this edition’s collection reflects an eclectic range of reading and listening. Diverse in content and sourcing, these pieces all resonated with me and the work I am doing with clients and colleagues.

As always, happy reading and listening! I will be publishing throughout the summer though likely at a reduced rate to enjoy time with our family before we embark on some great changes.

Be well, take good care of your families and community.

Articles

Psychology Today: Why We’re Imperfect Judges. “Judgments that should, in theory, be identical are often wildly different. This is why, and what we can do to fix it.”

Harvard Business Review: The Secret of Adaptable Organizations Is Trust. “…The idea is that management should stick to defining what they want to achieve and let the organization focus on how to achieve it. Four design principles, inspired by the scientific concept of ’emergence,’ can help leaders write adaptability into their organization’s DNA.”

Harvard Business Review: How to Stop Overthinking Everything. “…To stop the cycle of thinking too much and drive towards better, faster decisions you can: put aside perfectionism, right-size the problem, leverage the underestimated power of intuition, limit the drain of decision fatigue, and construct creative constraints.”

KPMG People and Culture: KPMG study finds 75% of female executives across industries have experienced imposter syndrome in their careers. “A majority of executive women across a range of industries identified having experienced feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, or imposter syndrome, at certain points in their careers and say they believe it is commonly experienced by women in corporate America.”

Vox: The Great Resignation is becoming a ‘great midlife crisis.“Older, more tenured people are increasingly quitting their jobs.”

Worklife: Why workers are leaving Big Tech for more purposeful career, and life, paths. “In a working world where so many people across so many sectors say they are unhappy with their jobs, tech workers seem to be uniquely dissatisfied. A survey of 18,000 tech workers last fall by Gartner found that some two-thirds were open to or already seeking jobs in other industries…Meanwhile, a survey of 1,200 tech workers last year from TalentLMS and Workable found that more than seven in 10 were considering quitting because of reasons ranging from limited career opportunities and feeling unappreciated to working in a toxic environment.”

Psyche: Empathy is, at heart, an aesthetic appreciation of the other. Empathy as an aesthetic practice challenges our inclination to control and change, and instead asks us to open up a space for appreciation, a space that can be radically transformative.”

Blog Posts & Opinions

The New York Times: Why Did We Stop Believing That People Can Change? “This belief in the fixity rather than the fluidity of human nature or maybe in guilt without redemption shows up everywhere — not just in the formal legal system that decides questions of innocence, guilt and responsibility but also in the social sphere, in which we render verdicts replete with both unexamined assumptions about human nature and prejudices for and against particular kinds of people and acts.”

Irrational Exuberance: Hard To Work With. “…Success is finding a path forward among the options that actually exist. Grinding yourself down in frustration about paths not existing doesn’t solve anything.”

Farnam Street: The Laws of Simplicity.Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”

Podcasts

TED Radio Hour: WorkLife with Adam Grant: A Glimpse Into The Future.Futurist Amy Webb guides us through innovations that give a glimpse into the future of transportation, wellness, tech, commerce, and travel … and the impacts they’ll have on our lives.”

Farnam Street’s The Knowledge Project Podcast: Diana Chapman: Trusting Your Instincts. “Acclaimed leadership advisor Diana Chapman offers a masterclass in changing the way you respond to challenges, understanding where you are in the drama triangle so you can eliminate drama, and the power of the whole body yes. You’ll walk away from this episode a better leader, partner, and parent.”

The Ezra Klein Show: Learning to Listen to the Voices Only You Hear. “The world has gotten louder, even when we’re alone…Objects have also gotten louder: through the advertisements that follow us around the web, the endless scroll of merchandise available on internet shopping sites and in the plentiful aisles of superstores. What happens when you really start listening to all these voices? What happens when you can’t stop hearing them?

Ruth Ozeki is a Zen Buddhist priest and the author of novels including ‘The Book of Form and Emptiness.’ [It is a novel] about Benny, a teenager who starts hearing objects speak to him right after his father’s death, and it’s about his mother, Annabelle, who can’t let go of anything she owns, and can’t seem to help her son or herself. And then it’s about so much more than that: mental illnesses and materialism and consumerism and creative inspiration and information overload and the power of stories and the role of libraries and unshared mental experiences and on and on. It’s a book thick with ideas but written with a deceptively light, gentle pen.”

Arts, Music, Culture, Literature & Humor Corner

The Guardian: Connecticut mechanic finds art worth millions in dumpster at abandoned barn. “Work by Francis Hines, who wrapped buildings and paintings and died at 96 in 2016, found in dumpster and now destined for sale.”

The New Yorker: Arcade Fire Goes Back to an Old Sound for Its New Record. “On ‘WE,’ the band returns to the exhilarating anthems that once made its live shows resemble tent revivals.”

The New Yorker: The Dennis Hopper Photograph That Caught Los Angeles. “The actor stopped at an intersection, took out his Nikon, and made history.”

The New Yorker Fiction: “The Pub with No Beer.”

McSweeney’s Short Imagined Monologues: “I’m Vincent Van Gogh, and I painted that way because I knew it would look really sweet on a mousepad.”

Reflections

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

For Equilibrium, a Blessing
by John O’Donohue

Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.

As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.

Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.

As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.

As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.

As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.

May your prayer of listening deepen enough
to hear in the depths the laughter of god.

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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