Monthly Archives: October 2014

Strong Personality2

Is Your Strong Personality Hurting The Team?

It’s no secret that businesses in today’s environment must be agile. “Business agility” is defined as the ability to make quick changes as customer demands and the business environment change.

It is also known that many successful management teams are made up of individuals with strong personalities.

What happens when these two dynamics clash?

In a word: trouble.

In real life they do often clash.

What happens when they do clash? A recent study* found that people with strong personalities are less able to adapt to rapid changes in the business environment.

What Makes A Strong Personality?

Many see strong personality traits as being the same as “talent” or just being good at something. This is, obviously, a good thing and a great asset in certain cases.

What makes it a liability is that talent and strong ability in an area tends to make people rely on that strength too much. The strong personality becomes inflexible.

For example, an extroverted person has trouble sitting back and letting others talk in a meeting even when she is not being helpful to the discussion, while the introvert prefers to be quiet in a meeting, even when he has a great and helpful idea.

Also, when we have a strong personality (talent) in an area, we want to use that talent to solve every problem, even though many times there may be better ways to tackle the issue.

Why This Is a Problem

The study found that as we might guess, teams with stronger personalities were more rigid and less able to adjust to changing environments. As one of the researchers said, “Teams that had markedly strong personality traits were more inflexible than teams with less markedly strong traits.”

How Can We Solve This Problem?

There are two things that will help us out of this situation.

1. Knowledge. Usually, personality traits are the strongest when people are unaware of them and just work and interact on “autopilot.” Understanding yourself and your team will help reduce this risk.

2. Teamwork Training. If a team can learn to work together instead of being dominated by a few members who have stronger personalities, they will usually be more flexible and able to change more rapidly. Teams can be trained to function at a high level.

At Professional Gulf Consulting, we can offer the tools your team needs to understand themselves better, work together better, and function at a higher level. We are passionate about helping teams achieve their best performance.

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*Jan Ketil Arnulf. Organizational change capacity and composition of management teams: A
visualization of how personality traits may restrain team adaptability. Team Performance Management, 2012; 18 (7): 433

Urgent

How Can You Do the Really Important Stuff?

Today’s post is about how to get the really important stuff done. It is especially important for people who are involved in creative jobs.

Think over your day yesterday and what you did. Probably you finished a lot of tasks. The real question is: How many of those tasks were vitally important? The truth is, if you are like most people, you will have to admit not so many were actually that important.

Yet, we really do want to accomplish important things that really do matter.

But how?

By understanding the difference between the urgent and the important. One thing to remember: the urgent is rarely important and the important is rarely urgent.

The problem is that the urgent is almost always what grabs our attention. (For an in-depth look at this problem, please read Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.

Definitions

The urgent tasks: short-term, functional items, arise daily, don’t take deep thought, quick to do. Examples include answering email, problems that pop up in daily work, daily questions from clients and co-workers, and paying bills.

The important tasks: long-term, almost never pressing, need deep thought, on your plate for a long time, take a long time to finish. Examples include strategic planning, goal-setting, and solving major problems.

Part of the problem is that it feels good to get things done and check them off our To-Do List, but that good feeling comes at the price of getting the really important things finished. It is impossible to solve a long-term goal when you are answering email.

How Do You Get The Really Important Stuff Done?

  • First, understand the problem and decide to defeat it.
  • Second, two lists. One list will be the important things and the other list will be the urgent things.
  • When urgent things come up each day, add them to your urgent list and forget about them until the proper time.
  • Figure out when your best time to work is, whether that is morning, noon, or in the afternoon. For me, it is the morning from about 7:00 until 10:00. I call this my “prime time.”
  • Set a side a nice block of time (maybe 2-4 hours, if possible) during your prime time. Make it a time of non-stimulation where you cannot be distracted by email or colleagues. If an urgent item pops into your mind (and it will!) just add it to the urgent list and forget it for a while. Spend this time in deep thought about things that are truly important.
Kidding Ourselves

Do You Want to Receive Free Books?

Believe it or not, there are people who want to give you free books. It’s true!

All you have to do is sign up at a website called “Blogging For Books” and promise to write at least a 3-paragraph review of the book, and they will send you a free book or ebook. The topics include fiction; non-fiction; cooking & food; business; entertainment; faith; crafts, home, & hobbies; and better living.

I requested the book “Fooling Ourselves—The Hidden Power of Self-Deception” by Joseph T. Hallinan. I think you will enjoy some of the great insights from the book.

The review is below.

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“Fooling Ourselves—The Hidden Power of Self-Deception” by Joseph T. Hallinan.

I had heard a lot of very positive things about this book before I read it, so I was greatly looking forward to the read. Unfortunately, I was mildly disappointed. Already having a familiarity with the subject, I expected Hallinan to make a scientific case for several points and then back these points up with stories and illustrations. Instead, the book mostly seemed to be stories with little scientific basis and few points drawn.

That said, I do think the book will be helpful to me in my consulting business and I will refer to it again for illustrations and lecture topics. The main point of the book is that every day, in many ways, we lie to ourselves. That is the reason why many people don’t wear seat belts despite the risk of a car accident and why they know that other human beings have heart attacks, get cancer, and get divorced, but they believe they never will. It is also why smokers who smoked 40 cigarettes a day believed that they were at no increased risk of lung cancer.

Superstitions Can Be Helpful

One of the unexpected and most interesting ideas in the book was the fact that this self-deception is not alway wrong. Take the example of superstitions. We tend to think superstitions are always harmful, but sometimes they are helpful. To cite one example, consider athletes. It is no secret that athletes exhibit some of  the most superstitious behavior in the Western world. Michael Jordan wore a pair of shorts from his college days every game he played in the NBA because he thought it would give him good luck. Coaches and players often have a ritual they will follow before every game to get an “edge.”

That doesn’t mean that good luck charms don’t work. Superstitions often are beneficial. They increase the feeling of control and self-efficacy—both of which increase outcomes. So, if the athlete believes that his or her ritual will help his of her performance, chances are that it actually will. Ad Hallinan says,“So why would superstition be good for us? In a word, it works. Not always and not for everything: it won’t make you tall if you are short, and it won’t stop speeding bullets or runaway trains. But when what we seek to accomplish lies within the realm of our abilities—when it is, in other words, doable—superstitious beliefs can tip the scales in our favor.”

Two laughable insights

  • In almost all elevators built after 1990, the “close door” button doesn’t actually do anything. It simply gives us a feeling of control.
  • At most busy intersections, the button we push to cross the street also is not functional. Again, we have more of a sense of control and are willing to wait for the crossing signal if we push a button.

In summary, if you are willing to wade through a long stream of stories to find a few actionable insights, you will like Fooling Ourselves.

Deceiving ourselves is often beneficial, and Hallinan helps us understand that. As he says, “My goal here has been simply to point out that self-deception, for all its obvious downsides, is an inherent human trait. It has been around a long time, and it endures for a reason: under limited but crucial circumstances, it helps us persevere. It does this, chiefly, by affording us that key piece of psychological scaffolding: a sense of control. This sense may ultimately prove to be a mirage, but the results it yields are very real. People with a high sense of control tend to live happier, healthier, longer lives. Viewed from this vantage, a little self-deception is not only helpful, it’s essential.”

Motorcycle

Can 20 Seconds Change Your Life?

My wife and I got some tragic news yesterday. Our brother-in-law was stopped at a light while riding his motorcycle and was hit by a car. The injuries are not life-threatening, but he has 6 broken ribs, a punctured lung, and had some internal bleeding. I’m sure he’ll make a full recovery, but his life for the next few months was certainly changed in 20 seconds.

As it turns out, you also can change your life daily for the better in just 20 seconds. We’ve talked about how to make positive changes in your private and work life before. We mentioned that it is important to have the correct time perspective and a whole series on multitasking. (Blog- 14-07-01-Multitasking Part 1-“Multitasking Part 1-Are You Really As Good As You Think You Are?”)

Today is about a very simple strategy to increase your “willpower.”

All of us have areas where we want to do less of one bad thing and start doing more of a good thing. It can be in the area of online distractions (to increase productivity) or health (to eat more heathy food and less junk food) or safety (stop talking on the phone while driving). I wish the person who hit my brother-in-law would have done that one!

Shawn Achor, in his book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work has a great idea of how to do those things. We should lower the cost of doing the right thing and raise the cost of doing the “bad” thing.

For example, if you have a weight problem because you are snacking too much, put the snacks in a locked drawer and put the key for the drawer in a difficult to reach location. Do you want to read more books and watch less TV? Unplug the TV each time after you are done, wind up and tie up the power cord, and put it behind the TV where it is hard to reach.

How Much “Cost” Do You Need To Add?
The exciting part about following this  technique is that research shows that for most people, only 20 seconds is the “Cost barrier” that makes the difference between good habits and bad ones. Only 20 seconds! You really can change your life in 20 seconds.

How Can You Do it?
There are two simple steps to changing bad habits this way.

1. Decide what you want to change

2. Put a 20-second barrier in your way to doing the bad habit and make it easier to do the good habit.

Do you want to read 20 books this year?

Do you want to learn how to play the piano?

Do you want to complete some big project that you have not finished in several months or years.

Take 20 seconds and get it done!

Motorcycle

Can 20 Seconds Change Your Life?

My wife and I got some tragic news yesterday. Our brother-in-law was stopped at a light while riding his motorcycle and was hit by a car. The injuries are not life-threatening, but he has 6 broken ribs, a punctured lung, and had some internal bleeding. I’m sure he’ll make a full recovery, but his life for the next few months was certainly changed in 20 seconds.

As it turns out, you also can change your life daily for the better in just 20 seconds. We’ve talked about how to make positive changes in your private and work life before. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it is important to have the correct time perspective  and I did a whole a whole series on multitasking.

Today is about a very simple strategy to increase your “willpower.”

All of us have areas where we want to do less of one bad thing and start doing more of another good thing. It can be in the area of online distractions (to increase productivity) or health (to eat more heathy food and less junk food) or safety (stop texting while driving). I wish the person who hit my brother-in-law would have done the last one!

Shawn Achor, in his book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, has a great idea of how to do those things. We should lower the cost of doing the right thing and raise the cost of doing the “bad” thing.

For example, if you have a weight problem because you are snacking too much, put the snacks in a locked drawer and put the key for the drawer in a difficult to reach location. Do you want to read more books and watch less TV? Unplug the TV each time after you are done, wind up and tie up the power cord, and put it behind the TV where it is hard to reach.

How Much “Cost” Do You Need To Add?

The exciting part about following this exciting technique is that research shows that for most people, only 20 seconds is the “cost barrier” that makes the difference between good habits and bad ones. Only 20 seconds! You really can change your life in 20 seconds.

How Can You Do it?

There are two simple steps to changing bad habits this way.

1. Decide what you want to change

2. Put a 20-second barrier in your way to doing the bad habit and make it easier to do the good habit.

Do you want to read 20 books this year?

Do you want to learn how to play the piano?

Do you want to complete some big project that you have not finished in several months or years.

Take 20 seconds and get it done!