Guess the Value

This short team-based activity is designed to enable delegates to understand and describe how a person’s behaviour supports ‘corporate values’.

It gives the opportunity for the team members to discuss:



  • What things they do in their day to day work that are driven by the corporate values?
  • Do the things that they do really support the corporate values?
  • What 3 things could they all do differently in their day-to-day working lives that would improve the overall performance as a group?


High-Performing Teams and The Case For Self-Selection

“…having the right to choose group features fosters co-operation”

Previous research has shown that how well team members get on and connect with one another can lead to higher levels of performance. However, with traditional team set-ups, where people are recruited in, it can take a long time to get to a point where team members gel and build trust. Which is why some new research sparked my curiosity.

Roy Chen and Jie Gong explored whether how a team is formed determines productivity and performance levels.

Their research, published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, examined the extent to which social connections play a part in helping communication, co-ordination and managing any negative behaviours.

This builds on the work of Barton Hamilton, Jack Nickerson and Hideo Owan who found that diverse teams were more productive than homogenous teams; and Sander Hoogendoorn, Simon Parker and Miriam van Praag who found that diverse ability was linked to increased productivity.

The research

Chen and Gong conducted an experiment run between subjects in a randomised controlled trial. Participants were randomly placed into one of three conditions – (1) randomly assigned into a team; (2) self-selection into a team; and (3) algorithm assigned based on complementary skills.

The researchers gathered data on participants’ pre-existing social networks; performance on the team project itself; and how much time each person in each team contributed to the project.Continue reading

Values and Beliefs

In this short pamphlet, Mike Munro Turner explores the importance of values in our lives.

Values describe and provide a means of talking about, what is important to us.

They are ideals we hold that give significance and meaning to our lives and hence they underpin our beliefs, influencing the decisions we make, the actions we take, and the life we lead.

Understanding values helps us to understand how we create our own reality and gives us insight into the personal realities of others.


How CEOs Should Handle Criticism

Corporate leaders have always been targets of criticism, both from inside and outside the firms they lead.

But these days leaders are getting it from an increasing number of sources, thanks to a bevvy of internet platforms designed to bring more transparency to work, as well as a social media ecosystem capable of spreading word rapidly. 

“The opportunities for negative comments about CEOs to emerge are through the roof,” said Brian Kropp, of CEB, a research firm based in Stamford, Connecticut.

Just ask Oscar Munoz. The boss of United Airlines is the latest example of the perils of CEO critique. Not only did Munoz feel the heat when a video in April emerged on social media showing a United passenger being dragged off a flight by authorities after refusing to give up his seat to make room for United crew members needing to get to a job in another city, but his leaked internal response to his employees regarding the incident quickly drew ire from company review websites, social media and cable news.

While United’s incident is extreme, it shows just how important it is for leaders to be prepared to face such circumstances. Whether it’s a full-blown national scandal or an internal spat about direct reports, CEOs would be wise to develop the skills necessary to take criticism constructively.     

First and foremost, CEOs need to take any criticism thrown their way head on, Kropp said. In most cases, leaders who try to ignore or deflect negative feedback are likely digging themselves a deeper hole, one that could potentially come with serious consequences for the companies they lead.  

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The Dangers of Recruiting for Cultural Fit

All buzzwords in business are followed by a bandwagon. And this is certainly true of the current trend in HR circles to ‘recruit for cultural fit’.

No doubt inspired by tech giants like Google, who have declared their desire to cultivate intangibles such as ‘Googliness’, many other organisations are now proclaiming the power of prioritising personality over technical capabilities.

The result: one in five (17%) employers say they wouldn’t hire a candidate if they were not the right cultural fit for them, according to a survey by totaljobs. Indeed, there is a commercial argument in favour of this approach, with a growing body of research showing that culture can help recruit and retain top talent. A Society for Human Resource Management study finds, for example, that poor cultural fit due to staff turnover can cost an organisation between 50% and 60% of the person’s annual salary.

However, HRDs need to tread very carefully when considering ‘cultural fit’ and ensure that by prioritising fit they don’t let bias and discrimination creep in. “Cultural fit is often used in a lazy way, by reference to some nebulous criteria about shared values, unsupported by evidence of what the culture is like in practice across any given organisation,” says Safia Boot, director of Respect At Work, who has worked as a mediator/investigator on many discrimination cases. “In the wrong, untrained hands ‘cultural fit’ is like a lethal weapon. Anyone who does not appear to ‘fit in’ based on superficial, implicit bias and stereotypical assumptions will be a risk.”

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Gain a Leadership Edge by Becoming Your Own Life Coach

From Fortune 500 CEOs to Hollywood starlets to Oprah, people are performing better, making smarter decisions and reaching new heights in areas such as work, finance, relationships and health, all thanks to coaches.

Executive coaching is defined by the International Coach Federation as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” But it can be pricey—as much as $3,500 an hour, with a median hourly fee of $500, according to Harvard Business Review’s “What Can Coaches Do for You?” research report.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have the money to work with a life coach. A 2013 study by Stanford University and The Miles Group shows that two-thirds of CEOs are not receiving coaching from sources outside their companies, and 100 percent of participants wish they were.

What’s the average hardworking American to do? Consider this: Many people want to work with a personal trainer but, unable to afford one, they take matters into their own hands. And if it’s possible to move training out of the gym and under your own roof, does that mean it’s possible to bring other coaching in-house, so to speak, and go it alone?

Many experts say yes. Self-coaching, by applying professional coaching techniques to your own goals and experiences, is not only viable but the ultimate goal that coaches help clients achieve. It takes discipline and dedication, but it can be done.Continue reading

Value Propositions that Work

Most people can’t explain what their company does its value proposition.

The best way to start getting employees and management aligned is to understand the benefit the company is trying to deliver to its customers.

Consider that there are only four types of consumer benefits that matter and by extension only four categories of value propositions that work.

Best Quality. Richard Branson once said that being the best at something is a pretty good business model, and I agree. Think of brands that set a standard, like Louisville baseball bats, Benjamin Moore paints, and Stradivarius violins. You don’t have to be a sports nut to have heard of the 125-year history of the Louisville Slugger, nor do you have to be a classical music aficionado to have heard of the legendary Stradivarius violins.

Brands that set standards are sometimes luxury brands, but not necessarily. You don’t need luxury to set a best-in-class standard. Brands like Benjamin Moore define quality in their categories. That’s an enviable position and a value proposition that works.

Best Bang For The Buck. Recessionary woes have amplified the fact that some consumers will always buy on price. Best-in-class value doesn’t always mean lowest price, however, but rather the best quality-to-price ratio.

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