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5 Leadership Behaviors to Move Up on Your List

Many leaders drive others harder than they need to. What results is a constant push for their team to achieve those goals. Meetings consist of checking the lists of things to be fixed and get done now.

Recently I listened with awe as leaders described a change of heart following my Coaching for Breakthrough Performance workshop, where we spent significant time on skills that build relationships. Many described their newfound recognition of moving relationship-building with their stakeholders higher on their priority list.

One poignant example came from a retail leader who told how her days are filled with meetings with store managers. Her normal way of operating is to walk into each store and make lists of problems and then spend her time with the managers telling them what they needed to fix. After the workshop, she committed to spending time in the following week just listening to the store managers.

Many leaders need to move these relationship-building behaviors up to the top of their priority list:

Listening: When I ask a leader’s stakeholders (especially direct reports) about opportunities for the leader’s improvement, I often hear “I don’t feel heard” -- even (especially) about well-respected seasoned leaders. Many...

The Future of HR in Government

This is the first article in a two-part series on the future of human resources in government.

Much has been written recently about the future of HR, both inside and outside of government. One article went so far as to suggest splitting HR into administrative and organizational roles because of the general perception that HR is more of a transactional activity focused on compliance and paperwork and does not add significant value to the larger organization.

In government, this perception is exacerbated by the size of the workforce and the myriad laws, rules, regulations and oversight that require a high degree of record keeping. These factors, coupled with the many protections that often lead to complaints about selections, promotions, and disparate treatment, among other things, make compliance a must. The problem is that as long as government HR staff and activities focus primarily on transactions and compliance, managers will continue to see them as a necessary evil, rather than crucial partners who can help them achieve their goals and objectives.

While the perception of HR in government has never been strongly favorable, the federal environment has changed and the HR community has not kept pace. The issues include:

  • Government organizations...

Study: Rudeness Is Contagious

It’s certainly annoying to interact with a rude co-worker. But even worse: That person’s behavior can make you ruder, too.

Uncivil behavior is contagious, a new study found. The report, in the Journal of Applied Psychology, claims that your jerky tone of voice or snappy retort can actually negatively impact your fellow desk jockeys long after you leave the office.

Researchers from the University of Florida asked study participants to engage in 11 simulated negotiation exercises with partners over a seven-week period. They found that a subject who perceived rudeness in one interaction was subsequently perceived as rude by his next partner. The effects lasted for up to a week.

Study co-author Trevor Foulk explained on Gizmodo:

What is so scary about this effect is that it’s an automatic process—it takes place in a part of your brain that you are not aware of, can’t stop, and can’t control.

So what if your mean co-workers are rubbing off on you? Previous studiessuggest that witnessing rudeness is correlated with poorer performance on both creative and rote tasks. That means that witnessing—and internalizing—rude behavior could snag workplace productivity, in addition to making the...

Research Says Sarcasm Can Make Workers More Creative

Sarcasm is considered an anathema in some work places: counterproductive and toxic to the office culture, and supposedly a sign of insecurity.

Yet a new study on sarcasm claims that it can help boost creativity and abstract thinking—not just for the person speaking, but also for the listener. Yeah, right?

Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and her colleagues performed a series of experiments involving some 300 people. In groups of two, participants either made or listened to sarcastic, genuine, or neutral remarks. Then they performed tasks meant to test creative and abstract thinking, answering questions such as: “What one word can you relate to ‘gold,’ ‘stool,’ and ‘tender’? (The answer is “bar.”)

The researchers, who published their results in the journalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, found that after being exposed to sarcasm, participants increased their ability to solve problems creatively, compared with their non-sarcastic counterparts.

But that’s not to say that sarcasm always helps.

“The effectiveness of sarcasm may depend on the ability of the recipient to understand the sarcastic remark,” Ella Miron-Spektor, a psychologist at the Israel Institute of Technology who has previously worked on this subject, told Quartz. “Sarcasm increases [a] sense of...

Investing in Your Personal ROI Without Being Self-Centered

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. As long as, I’d argue, that attitude doesn’t end there—in pure selfishness.

When it comes to looking for training for your own personal development, you’ll get more out of the knowledge and self-empowerment you gain through training if you align your personal development goals with the goals of your team and your organization.

So invest in your education, and thereby increase your personal ROI. And, if you lead or manage others, invest in their education, and help to increase their personal ROI, too. While investing, though, just follow through on your responsibility to be a part of something bigger. Ensure that organizational and team goals are being advanced at the same time that you are advancing personal goals.

Often, the upfront investment in individual training (personal ROI) results in employee satisfaction and a willingness to stay on board with the organization. And satisfied and better trained employees contribute to an increase in corporate ROI.

First, Know the Business Needs

ROI = (Gain from Investment – Cost of Investment) / (Cost of Investment)

Measuring the ROI of a learning program can be tricky, as quantifying of...