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The presidential farewell address used to be a big deal. George Washington started the trend in 1796.

For many decades it was considered the most famous speech in American history. Students had to read it and memorise portions from it until another speech displaced it - The Gettysburg Address.

Although the Broadway hit, Hamilton, recently brought Washington’s speech back to public attention, we don’t celebrate presidential speeches like we used to. I wish we would.

Words have the power to move us. Words have the power to inspire us. Words have the power to unite us. The great speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, once wrote, “When big, serious, thoughtful things must be said, then big, serious, thoughtful speeches must be given.”

When President Barack Obama left office he gave a big, thoughtful speech about serious things.

The Smile: Obama walks out with a brisk gait and an easy, wide smile. He makes eye contact with all parts of the room. Research shows that your audience will form an impression about you within seconds, before you say a word. Make your first few seconds count.

The Humour: After a long, sustained applause by fervent supporters in the audience, Obama had to get everyone settled. “We’re on live TV here, I’ve got to move,” he said with a smile. “You can tell that I’m a lame duck, because nobody is following instructions,” he said as the audience laughed before finally taking their seats. (more…)




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Email is integral to the way that many of us work. Yet there is no universally accepted standard for its use, which leaves many of us struggling to find strategies that will help us work effectively without also overstressing or causing email fatigue.

This article, originally published in  The Conversation explores how people feel about email and gives hints and tips on how to manage the ever-increasing number of emails we received while at work.

 

There is no shortage of self-help books and time management gurus who argue that email zen is possible. But with so much research being conducted in different fields there is a risk that populist volumes and consultants simply cherry-pick the data and findings to fit their point of view – that is, if their recommendations are even evidence-based at all.

We were commissioned by UK workplace experts ACAS to produce a systematic literature review across the fields of psychology, human-computer interaction and management of the strategies people use to try and deal with the torrent of work email. This approach examines published data in a rigorous way, and after excluding many papers that didn’t fit our sifting criteria, we settled on assessing 42 papers.

From these, we identified a number of themes relating to how email is used today, which were then matched against markers of productivity and well-being. Finally, these themes were sense-checked in a qualitative study with 12 representative participants.

What did we find? It became apparent that there is no one-size-fits-all set of strategies that improve both people’s productivity and well-being across job roles and industries. For example, a strategy such as catching up with email outside of work hours might help people feel more in control of their work, but it does not tangibly reduce work overload – and can create conflict in families where work is brought home.

But we were able to identify a number of strategies that research indicates are generally beneficial, and these can be used to dispel many of the popular myths about work email and how we “should” be using it. Here are the top five work email myths – busted by science. (more…)




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Learning styles were developed by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford, based upon the work of Kolb, and they identified four distinct learning styles or preferences:

Activist, Theorist; Pragmatist and Reflector.

These are the learning approaches that individuals naturally prefer and they recommend that in order to maximise one's own personal learning each learner ought to understand their learning style and seek out opportunities to learn using that style

To understand your particular learning style Honey and Mumford have developed a Learning Style Questionnaire [see Team Leadership Activities] and with this information, you will be in a far better position to do three really useful things [quoting P. Honey]:

  1. "Become smarter at getting a better fit between learning opportunities and the way you learn best. This makes your learning easier, more effective and more enjoyable. It saves you tackling your learning on a hit-and-miss basis. Equipped with information about your learning preferences, you'll have many more hits and fewer misses."
  2. "Expand the 'bandwidth' of experiences from which you derive benefit. Becoming an all-around learner, increases your versatility and helps you learn from a wide variety of different experiences - some formal, some informal, some planned and some spontaneous."
  3. "Improve your learning skills and processes. Increased awareness of how you learn, opens up the whole process to self-scrutiny and improvement. Learning to learn is your most important capability since it provides the gateway to everything else you want to develop."

However, to be an effective learner you should also develop the ability to learn in other styles too. (more…)




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Most of us are managed by someone. Whether you enjoy a good working relationship with your immediate superior, or you approach work in a completely different way, it’s important to find ways in which to influence your manager in order to progress.

These top tips give you some useful indicators on the subtle art of managing your boss and providing them feedback on how what they do impacts on you.

 

Take Control: Most of us can’t choose our boss. But this doesn’t mean we can’t influence the type of relationship we have with them.

Moaning to your colleagues about your manager won’t change anything. Making a conscious effort to get to know them and understand their needs, however, can determine how effective you are in your own role, and how well you progress at work.

Find Out What Makes Your Boss Tick: Consider what motivates your manager as well as what makes them frustrated, worried or feel under pressure. Observe how they
react in a variety of work situations. These observations will help you to start to effectively manage your boss, by identifying ways you can help them and creating development opportunities for yourself.

Useful insights can also be gleaned from casual conversations with others who have worked for or with your boss regarding what makes them tick.

(more…)




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This is what Amazon boasts about their Leadership - it may inspire you to consider how you have defined your own Leadership Principles!

Our Leadership Principles aren’t just a pretty inspirational wall hanging. These Principles work hard, just like we do. Amazonians use them, every day, whether they’re discussing ideas for new projects, deciding on the best solution for a customer’s problem, or interviewing candidates. It’s just one of the things that makes Amazon peculiar.

CUSTOMER OBSESSION - Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.

OWNERSHIP - Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job". 

INVENT AND SIMPLIFY - Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here". As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.

ARE RIGHT, A LOT - Leaders are right a lot. They have strong judgment and good instincts. They seek diverse perspectives and work to disconfirm their beliefs.

LEARN AND BE CURIOUS - Leaders are never done learning and always seek to improve themselves. They are curious about new possibilities and act to explore them.

(more…)




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In the quest to grow as a leader and as a person, you need others' help, you need to learn fast, and it won’t hurt to make your own luck.

Yves Morieux, senior partner at strategy consultancy Boston Consulting Group, has developed an index to show how business complexity has increased sixfold during the past 60 years alone. Organisational complexity — number of procedures, structures, processes, systems, vertical layers and decision approvals — increased by a factor of 35.

To learn fast, you must be interested in people and ideas, not just yourself.

“Be savvy, flexible, learn from mistakes and collaborate with well-connected people,”

wrote Shane Snow, the author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.”

Those who learn fast build diverse knowledge pools and tap into the wisdom of mentors to raise their game. They are fast learners for whom questioning, thinking and growing is the norm.

Here Are Five Ways to Learn More, Faster
(more…)




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Young people demand a career that will help others according to new research commissioned to launch Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.

The findings show 90% of 9-18 year olds want a career that tackles social issues with almost half wanting to help animals (47%), two-fifths want to save peoples lives (37%) and a third want to help tackle homelessness (29%).

While two-thirds (65%) of Generation Z claim money is the most important thing to look for in a career, 43% want to be part of something to be proud of and 37% want a career that offers excitement.

Dr. Thilo Pfau, Senior Lecturer in Bio-Engineering at The Royal Veterinary College, commented: "I believe it is important to think of engineering as an exciting area that extends into every area of life.

“For me personally, it has given me a career which allows me to combine my interest in computers, patterns and algorithms with my passion for animals. I use engineering to help veterinarians diagnose and treat problems that restrict the quality of life of many animals.”

Among the 9-18 year olds questioned by researchers, only a few (10%) were actively considering a career in engineering but two-thirds (67%) would consider a career in engineering if it allowed them to help the world, the environment or save peoples’ lives.

(more…)




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