Is it just me or does the bad news seem inescapable? You don’t need to answer that. I know it’s not just me. Sigh. That’s why we have to find good reasons to step away from the bad news. This list is my contribution to that cause.
Here’s what I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching lately:
On Leadership Skills
A few months ago, I came across this article: “Curiosity, Not Coding: 6 Skills Leaders Need in the Digital Age,” from Harvard Business School, and I’ve been re-reading bits and pieces ever since. It’s the third article in a series on Leading in the Digital Era – all three are worth checking out.
A survey of 1,500 executives in 90 countries highlighted in this article asked leaders to identify the leadership traits most critical to success. 71% said that adaptability was the most important trait. Respondents also ranked creativity (47%), curiosity (48%), and comfort with ambiguity (43%) as highly desirable traits. The article goes on to detail six recommendations based on the research.
My big takeaway here: So-called “soft skills” are the key to effective leadership, and these are the traits your people are talking about when they evaluate culture. Instead of worrying about having a regimented plan in place, ask how you can be more adaptable and comfortable with ambiguity. I’m a work-in-progress here.
How to Avoid Meeting Overload
As Audacia continues to grow, I’m struggling to find more time to GSD (get sh** done) – it’s easy to let the urgent overtake the important. I’m especially resonating with the idea of using meetings as commitment devices and encouraging better meeting hygiene with agendas, outcomes, and commitments and sharing those back after the meeting. But, sticking to the routine is hard when you’re in back-to-back meetings, so… this is all the more reason to get some of those meetings off the calendar!
Despite the fact that managers in one survey reported that 83% of the meetings on their calendars were unproductive, organizations seem to be addicted to endless check-ins, Zooms, and all-hands. This article does a brilliant job of digging into the psychological reasons behind meeting overload.
“How to Forget About Work When You’re Not Working”
Work-life balance seems to be outmoded now that most of us spend at least some time working from home. One thing I’ve been working on is disconnecting from work when I’m done working and setting good boundaries around both work and personal life.
I have a hard time shutting off my phone entirely (How do I take photos of my kids? What if my husband or parents or camp calls?), but I have set up a custom Do Not Disturb when I get home. It makes a difference.
I’m also going to try some of these small actions from this Harvard Business Review article:
- When work thoughts creep up during down time, have a plan. Read a novel, do a crossword puzzle (Wordle is fun), or phone a friend.
- If something is really bothering you, take 10 minutes to write down whatever it is. It’s often helpful to get whatever is bothering you out of your head.
- Turn your devices off – yes, all the way off!
- Set up one designated space at home where you will never do work. Use the space exclusively for non-work activities, e.g., yoga, reading.
- Notice that disaster doesn’t strike when you set healthy boundaries for yourself. Leave your email unchecked for a whole weekend (gasp!) and discover that others managed just fine without your response.
I’m late to the Glennon Doyle party, but if you also missed reading this NYT #1 bestseller when it came out, I recommend you circle back. Doyle offers a refreshing way of looking at the world. While I was frustrated by some seemingly revisionist history in the book, I am reflecting quite a bit on how much our children are watching us, how much language and actions matter, and how I show up for and around my girls.
Capital Allocators Podcast with Chris Voss
This podcast episode rocked me. I’ve listened to it twice now, and I’ll likely listen to it again on my next walk. The host interviews Chris Voss, former FBI agent and founder of the Black Swan Group. Their discussion covers techniques in listening and conversation that evolve from Voss’ deep understanding of human nature. They talk about setting the stage, mirroring, labeling, decision fatigue, “no” oriented questions, and overcoming fear. Then the conversation shifts to preparing for a negotiation, reconciling negatives, and positive demeanor.
The episode has given me great insight into managing myself, my team, and my clients. My next step is listening to Voss’s book, Never Split the Difference.
This docudrama on Apple TV+ is all about the rise and fall of WeWork and is based on the podcast WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork. Inspired by actual events, this series tells the story of how WeWork grew from a single coworking space into a global brand worth $47 billion in less than a decade before dropping to $40 billion in less than a year. It was hard to look away – lots of teaching moments here.
This is one of my favorite shows when I want to relax and wind down. The Lincoln Lawyer reminds me of late 90’s detective shows like NCIS. Watching it, I’m not prompted to analyze world events and there’s absolutely no existential angst. It’s just an interesting story with a diverse cast who knows how to play “regular people.” Also, it’s a good reminder that we’re more alike than we are different.
Only Murders in the Building
I finished season 1 of Only Murders in the Building just in time for the premiere of season 2. If you haven’t watched this delightful gem on Hulu, it’s a great weekend or vacation binge. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez have amazing on-screen chemistry. The story will keep you guessing, and if you’re a fan of true crime, it’s an opportunity to laugh at yourself, just a little.
I’m sending out all the good vibes for a respite – no matter how brief – over the next few weeks. Whether you’re heading off the grid or staying home, let’s all find a way to recharge so we can return with more energy and better ideas because we took some to relax or at least regroup.
Photo credit: Jacob Lund Photography from NounProject.com