Reduce the number of decisions

Through LinkedIn I came across an interesting article, The Genius of Wearing the Same Outfit Every Day. It gives two different reasons. One is to cut down on the number of decisions, the other is to create a brand (think Steve Jobs).

President Barack Obama gave this reason for wearing a blue or gray suit all the time all the time.

I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.

Cutting down on the number of ordinary decisions makes a lot of sense.

Two college professors who have studied decision-making, Kathleen Vohs and Barry Schwartz, both found that a person has a limited amount of brain power in a day, so the more decisions they have to make, the weaker their decision-making process becomes.

Which ordinary decisions can you simplify?

The Boring Trait Google Looks For in Its Leaders

A really interesting article about leadership turned up in my Facebook stream. It’s The Boring Trait Google Looks For in Its Leaders.

The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops, and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that’s how leaders are portrayed. but that’s not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities.

At Google, they’re obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful and what they found in the numbers was surprising. The most important character trait of a leader is one that you’re more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability

The article says “Autonomy is the key to employee happiness and outsized performance” which is interesting. Autonomy is one of the factors that Dan Pink mentions as essential in modern motivation (see links below).

I like the summary:

Great leadership is never about being a dramatic hero. It’s just not about you. Instead it’s about providing support to your team by being willing to be seen as boring and predictable.

Provide information they need, work from their perspective, cultivate their performance by offering them the oxygen to succeed. Then they’ll have the breathing room and self-determination to shine.

Read about motivation:
Motivation, Drive and Dan Pink
Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

Motivation, Drive and Dan Pink

Dan pink talks about three kinds of motivation:
1.0 biological (thirst, hunger).
2.0 external (carrot and stick).
3.0 internal (engagement).

Daniel Pink then focuses on Motivation 3.0 and explains more about what it is, when it works and why it works.

Video: RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

This is an imated video that nicely summarizes the book and concept.

If you can’t see the video above then go to RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.

Video: Daniel Pink: What Really Motivates Workers (CBS interview

This is an interview on CBS about intrinsic motivation, motivation 3.0.

If you can’t see the video above then go to Daniel Pink: What Really Motivates Workers.

Video: Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation – TED Talk

This video is a presentation Daniel Pink did on TED.

If you can’t see the video above then go to Daniel Pink on the surprising science of motivation.

Book:

The book is Drive – The surprising thruth about what motivates us which contains more information about the concept in the videos above. I’ve read the book and like it.

The book at The Book Depository: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Paperback)

The Book Depository has free delivery worldwide on all their books.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Through The Power of Why I found How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek. It’s a great presentation about the power of starting from “why”, to define your purpose and why you do what you do. Having a clear purpose, the “Why”, makes you stand out in the crowd and gives people a reason why they shall connect with you.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers

At Presentation Zen is The importance of starting from Why about the presentation above. Garr Reynolds brings up questions like:

We rarely spend time thinking deeply about the why.
Why are we doing this?
Why does it matter?
Why is it important (or not)?
What is the meaning in the whole scheme of things?

This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.

Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation

I started reading Drive – The surprising thruth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink today and that brought this TED-video to my mind: Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation.

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

There’s more to motivation than just carrots and sticks.

This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.

7 Mistakes Seth Has Made Managing People

In the spirit of looking back and learning from past mistakes, @sethsimonds posts about 7 Mistakes I’ve Made Managing People. It’s a great post and we can all learn something from his list. Here is an overview of the seven mistakes that Seth made, for details visit his blog post.
• I failed to verbally acknowledge stressful moments
• I maintained pet peeves
• I neglected consistent contributors
• I overlooked individual goals in pursuit of business targets
• I failed to show the people working for me that I cared about them as individuals
• I failed to take proper care of myself
• I spent more time optimizing machines for pennies than I did investing in people for dollars

Seth has a very simplistic blog design, using the K2 theme. I like his description in the About-page:

I’m a writer, avid reader, tea-enthusiast, and know how to put just the right amount of lime in a gin-and-tonic.

This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.

The Tao of Coaching

The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg is an excellent book about coaching as a leader. The tagline on the book says Boost your effectiveness at work by inspiring and developing those around you which sums up coaching from the leaders perspective.

The books is described like this:

This book offers information on how to unlock the potential of people by applying the techniques of coaching. Coaching is the key to realising the potential of your employees, your organisation and yourself.

This book provides the techniques and tools of coaching that are vital for those who want to develop a team of people who will perform effectively and who will relish working with them.

The techniques and tools of coaching are integrated in the story about Alex and his career as manager. That makes it easier since you see them used in context.

The book lists these reasons why a manager shall use coaching:
• Create more time for yourself
• Achieve better results
• Build your interpersonal skills

If you want a great introduction to coaching as a leader, and a book you later can use as manual, I suggest that you buy The Tao of Coaching.

This was originally posted at Bengt’s Notes, another blog of mine.

Using SWOT analysis for personal purposes

The image below comes from Wikipedia’s article about SWOT analysis. The article starts like this:

SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in a project or in a business venture.

SWOT

I have used SWOT for business purposes but it turns out that SWOT can be used on a personal level too. Mary Jaksch at Goodlife Zen has a very interesting post about how to Optimize Your Life with the SWOT Matrix. The second part was posted on December 3rd, 10 Questions That Will Change Your Life: SWOT Analysis Part #2.

Do not get too hang up on your weaknesses. When it comes to weaknesses we shall think wider than about what we can improve. Do we need to improve in that area or can we team with someone else that balances our weakness?

Keep in mind that what shows up as weakness in one situation can be a strength in another situation, and vice versa.

When searching for more information about SWOT I came across this one, Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning. There is an example that helps you get started on your own career assessment.

Update November 30, 2009.
There is a new post on Good Life Zen, How to Reboot Your Life With the SWOT Matrix

Read more:
SWOT analysis method and examples, with free SWOT template
SWOT Analysis Discover New Opportunities. Manage and Eliminate Threats.
A Business Owner’s Secret Weapon: Swot Analysis
SWOT Analysis Mistakes to Avoid

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.