Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Building Real Relationships

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Yesterday I met Adelaide recruiter Nicole Underwood. I met her because I’d read her blogs and had responded to an underlying sense of genuineness, humanity and enthusiasm that I recognized in her writing. Nicole came to visit us in our Adelaide rooms where we sat and looked over Rymill Park drinking coffee and talking about life, recruiting, HR, and starting over. The important thing though, is that we found that the intention to be genuine and authentic, and the medium of writing, can bring people together.

Nicole has recently left Entree Recruitment which she helped to found with Mark Hender over 10 years ago. She left a company thriving, and which she can feel satisfied that she built with her own vision, hard work and innovation. Her philosophy for work and life, which comes through strongly in her conversation, is that she cares about people, and believes that looking after them, either when they are her team or her clients is the way to build satisfaction, relationships and success.

In our industry, recruiters can sometimes have a reputation for being hard-nosed and abrupt, whether deservedly or not. Nicole’s attitude goes a long way to show that this isn’t always the case and doesn’t have to be. Especially since the GFC, recruitment is changing and recruiters seem to have found more and more that they are being asked to show evidence of the value of the services they provide.

Having an attitude of building good, firm, genuine relationships is an example of someone understanding the real value of service and care. You would want to employ the services of someone who you think means it, who’ll listen to you and your needs, who’ll make and retain good long-term relationships and who makes people feel good and secure in their company.

Whether in business, or life, people want to have relationships and feel connected to other people. It’s the way we are made. Our species is gregarious, and we thrive in groups. Recruitment, and every other business is no different. It takes time and effort to build strong, genuine relationships with people, but the effort pays off over the long term. It pays off in trust, respect and ultimately success.

It was a delight to meet Nicole yesterday, and it will be a pleasure to watch her build her next business. The fact that we connected via social networking and  Jo Knox’s idea to build an HR Daily Community of bloggers shows that in work and life, people recognize and respond to genuine connection. It’s what it means to be human. Thanks Jo, and thanks Nicole.

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on heading to leave a comment. More posts below.

Related Posts:

Art Imitates Lfe, Life Imitates LinkedIn: Online Citizenship

Leadership and Good Manners

Murder in the Village: Teamwork & Community

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

How to Spot an Original Thinker

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Original thinkers who drive innovation, adaptability and problem solving are highly valuable and sought-after, so if organisations were able to identify and encourage original thinkers they would have a huge advantage in the marketplace.

Can you spot an original thinker? Dr Mark Batey of Manchester University’s Manchester Business School believes you can.

In a recently produced MBS video interview, Original Thinkers, Dr Mark Batey, a world-leading psychology of creativity researcher, outlines the four dimensions he believes make up an original thinker and that organisations can look out for to identify original thinking in their current or potential employees:

Ideas generation

Original thinkers are highly fluent, which means they produce lots of ideas. Even though sometimes their ideas might not be practical, and it might be hard for other people to see how these solutions might be used, the key is the volume of ideas they are able to produce.

As well as the number of ideas they produce, original thinkers tend to produce different or unusual ideas.

In their approach to thinking, original thinkers often like to incubate, or let their thoughts percolate for while. This period will often be followed by a “eureka” experience, what Dr. Batey calls “Illuminative Moments”.

Personality traits

Original thinkers are inclined to be very curious. They ask lots of questions, and want to know how things work the way they do, and why.

The other personality trait that stands out in original thinkers is that they are comfortable with a high level of ambiguity and uncertainty. Original thinkers tend not to see things in black and white, and are quite happy with contradiction, competing evidence and shades of grey.

Motivation

Original thinkers tend to be motivated intrinsically. This means that they have a strong drive that comes from within them. They will be very self-motivated.

In addition, Dr. Batey believes these people are quite competitive, and they will quite likely want to “beat” other people with their ideas.  Although they may work well in a collaborative team environment and be willing to share their ideas with colleagues, they will want the team to do better than it’s competitors.

Confidence

Original thinkers tend to be very confident about their ideas. This applies to having ideas, believing in the quality of their ideas, sharing them, and being able to confidently implement them.

 

In September 2009, Olivier Serrat wrote in a paper for the Asian Development Bank, “Creativity plays a critical role in the innovation process, and innovation that markets value is a creator and sustainer of change. In organisations, stimulants and obstacles to creativity drive or impede enterprise.”

The ability to identify original thinkers would clearly provide huge advantages to organisations faced with the fast changing pace of a developing national and world economy.

As Mark Batey says, “It’s not just being an original thinker, it’s being an original applier as well”.

Watch Video: Original Thinkers: Dr. Mark Batey

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on heading to leave a comment. More posts below.

Related Posts:

The Creativity Imperative

King of the Manning River: Creativity & Problem Solving in the Workplace

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Psychopaths at Work

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

For all our recruitment tests and practices in HR, the problem of psychopaths in the workplace remains a problem that’s hard to solve.

Everyone has worked with a psychopath. I’m a lay-person, so I use the term in it’s popular sense, but I’m on their case. Sometimes they are the obvious bullies in the office, sometimes they are your boss, and sometimes they are someone not apparently in charge, but who has everyone running around after them and who manipulates and wreaks havoc on the whole group by subtle disempowerment.

I’ve known a few. The first one was my boss, and he nearly destroyed my health and my career.

Sometimes, psychopaths are so effective at getting their way and destroying everyone around them, that the only way you can detect them is by noticing the destruction around them. Like a Black Hole in the universe, which you can only detect from the glow around it as light gets sucked in, you can tell if there’s an office psychopath around because everything in the office will be going wrong somehow: team spirit will be low, team work and cooperation will have disintegrated, group optimism and company or department vision will have disappeared, everyone will be tense and guarded and resentful, and nobody will really know why. And most likely, the psychopath will be undetected, and worse, they might be the only person that everyone thinks they can trust.

It’s scary.

I’ve been reading the website of one of the more recent psychopaths in my life. Having totally destroyed the morale of the people he worked with, having repeatedly covered up monthly losses by making charismatic and extravagant promises to the people above him and blaming other people, having (in this day and age!) indulged in outrageous and blatant sexist, harassing and upsetting behaviour with his junior staff, having offended clients with his use of bad language and other inappropriate and crass behaviours, he is now the CEO of a company.

I can see how he got there. He got there through deceit, using other people and destroying lives, reputations and health.

His website looks pretty good. In fact, I recognize some of my own words and ideas there. According to his bio, at the company where he used to work, and where he was finally let go because they just couldn’t afford the losses he kept making, he now claims he made huge profits. Not only that, but the bio is misleadingly worded to give the impression he was much higher in the organization than he actually was. From the bio, you get the impression this guy was actually in charge of the whole Australasian operation. You’d think his former employer would make him change it. The website shows he’s even got some of his ex-victims working for him. How does he get away with it? Because it’s the way psychopaths work, that’s how.

Psychopaths have a way of charming people. Psychopaths tell us what they think we want to hear. Psychopaths have a sense of over-entitlement. They manipulate us and destroy our reputations behind our backs. They divide and rule.

The most powerful weapon a psychopath has though, is their total lack of shame, and this is what makes them different from everyone else. The rest of us care what other people think of us, most of us want to genuinely cooperate, and most of us would be embarrassed if we behaved outrageously in public. Not the psychopath. Because of this, they are able to lie and cheat to great effect.

In tandem with their lack of shame is their other secret weapon: they are really great actors. Though they have no remorse, they can pretend. They are very good at mimicking normal (and even empathetic) human behaviour. They don’t feel it, but they copy it. They are very convincing and can be very charming. While if you stand up to a psychopath they’ll eventually yell, scream and in extreme cases even kill you, they don’t usually need to because they’re so adept at manipulating through charming deceit.

The psych tests we apply in HR to job candidates and staff development are not clinical tools and should not be. They won’t pick up a psychopath. In any event, psychopathy, or sociopathy as it’s now called, is a Personality Disorder, not a mental illness as such, and is extremely hard to detect even in a clinical setting (they’re charming right, and they even know what a clinician wants to hear).

If you gave an Emotional Intelligence test to a psychopath, they’d probably blitz it. Some psychologists even argue that giving EI information to a psychopath is like giving them a loaded gun. It gives them more ammunition to use against the rest of us by teaching them how to be even more charming and apparently agreeable.

So what can you do about an office psychopath? Start to look for the human and organizational fall-out around them. And don’t kid yourself that you are immune to their charm and stories.

The only way to slay a psychopath is with rationality. Insist on evidence and measurable outcomes, not their promises and stories. If everything seems to be awry in your team, and you don’t know why, then you’ve most likely got a psychopath in your midst.

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on heading to leave a comment. More posts below.

* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. This is a lay-person’s view and the example in this post should not be construed to be a real person, and examples of behaviour cited here are illustrations of typical behaviour patterns. More posts below.

Related posts:

Murder in the Village: Team-work & Community

Leadership & Good Manners

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Slam Dunk

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

In the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany by Amercian novelist John Irving, famous for writing The World According to Garp, the central character Owen Meany spends his whole life preparing for one defining moment.

In Owen’s case, it’s achieving a perfect basketball slam-dunk in a way that no one, including the god-like Owen himself, could foresee. Owen’s slam-dunk was his pivotal and enduring achievement. It was the moment when everything he had worked for all his life came together.

I think that this slam-dunk moment must come in everyone’s career, and lately I’ve been thinking it’s come for me.

For Owen Meany, because his creator is a master of black humour, his pivotal and defining moment was his last moment. But for those of us in real life, a pivotal moment should be a beginning, not an end.

In my case, all my professional and personal areas of interest seem to have allied themselves seamlessly, in a way that makes me feel as though, like Owen, I’ve been practicing for this moment all my life. And I have.

Sportspeople know this feeling of recognition as being in the zone. Psychologists and artists know it as flow. Teachers, performers and public speakers feel it as being in unison with their audience. It’s the ordinary yet transcendent feeling of satisfaction, empathy, elation & connection we feel as part of a crowd at a football match when our team scores a goal. It’s the feeling of rightness, when everything falls into place. Slam-dunk.

Throughout the years I have treated my life and my career as though it was a painting. Two generations of  “creatives” before me taught me to lay down strong foundations, to build up layers, to balance the composition and colour, to have a careful observant eye and to go with the medium not against it. When you make any creative piece (whether it’s a painting or a life) you have to trust that your knowledge and technique will lead to a successful outcome.

So I’ve spent decades trusting that, just like in a painting, a successful outcome would be built from accumulating knowledge, steadfastly laying down foundations, exploring widely and observing closely. In painting, there’s a defining moment when everything suddenly comes together and you know it’s a finished piece. And at that point, instantly, the painting becomes greater than the sum of its parts and has an independent existence that you’ve created.

It’s the slam-dunk moment. The moment of revelation: the moment when action achieves a guaranteed outcome. That’s why slam-dunk has come to mean a sure thing. It’s the moment I hope everyone has in their career and life.

Lynette Jensen

Please click on the heading above to leave a comment or to share.

* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.

Related posts:

Work Life Balance (And How to Preserve Olives)

Staying Afloat: Boats & Analogies

A Room with a View

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Genesis Means Create: The Creativity & Innovation Imperative

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

The word “genesis” means create or come into being. Creating things is what human beings can’t help but do. We are driven to it.

Creativity is at the heart of what it means to be human. Creativity informs everything we do and as a species it’s our overwhelming imperative. We invent, produce, have ideas and think of solutions. And never stop.

Everything we do is based on our essential creativity and nothing would happen if we had no creativity.

In the modern world of business and organizations, innovation and adaptability are both highly praised and greatly desired. Especially in uncertain economic and fast changing times, the need for innovation and adaptability is becoming one of our highest priorities, because if we have access to and control of these then we can adapt quickly, stay afloat or ahead of the game and be ready for all challenges.

Creativity is the raw material of innovation. Innovation is simply creativity put into action. Creativity is necessary not only for innovation but also for critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, teamwork and almost every area of life we most highly value.

In business and the workplace, creativity is the most powerful tool an individual or organization can have and across the world there is a growing recognition that we must muster our individual and collective creativity and learn to innovate or perish. An IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs cited in the Newsweek article, The Creativity Crisis in July 2010, identified creativity as the number 1 “leadership compentency” of the future.

If we want to be lean and mean, if we want to continue to find successful and elegant solutions, if we want to continue and increase technological development, if we want to make good decisions and think clearly and well, if we want to re-define and re-invent the way we use natural resources, if we want to feed the world’s expanding population, then we need to recognise and apply our creativity as expediently, intentionally and intelligently as we can.

There is no more time to play silly games with our creativity: no more time to pretend that it only belongs in the arts, that it is not rational or scientific, that it’s what other people have and not us. Creativity has to be recognized, embraced and applied universally and well.

The organisations and individuals who have recognized this are already ahead of the game. There is nothing tricky or mysterious about creativity. It’s what’s inside us all.

We can all generate more good ideas and good decisions that invent the future.

Lynette Jensen

Please click on the heading above to leave a comment or to share.

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

Art Imitates Life, Life Imitates LinkedIn: Online Citizenship

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Most of us in business or other organisations belong to LinkedIn, and many of us participate in discussion groups related to our fields and areas of specialisation and interest. Furthermore, marketing and promotions professionals these days tell us that it is extremely important to have an online presence and profile, and though there are other alternatives like Brazen Careerist, LinkedIn is the professional social networking standard.

Accordingly, like most people I know, I belong to many LinkedIn groups, which in my case cover areas like organisational psychology, psychometrics, creativity, arts, advertising and HR. Like most people, I subscribe to a few good professional blogs, and through these come upon many links to other blogs and articles. It’s an expanding world, and I’m both personally and professionally grateful to be exposed daily to so much information and food for thought.

I have always been interested in many different areas, and so my professional interests and reading reflect this.  Lately, because I’ve started to notice some patterns in myself and others, I’ve begun to realise that my online life is very similar to my real life.

Online, the contacts I collect seem to be like my friends and associates in real life: they are interesting, varied, creative, mostly outspoken, confident, leaders and thought influencers, and from many walks of life and professional areas. The things they say to me are starting to be like things people in real life say to me.

More importantly though, I’ve started to realise that the virtual, online professional world needs to maintain standards and etiquette, just like in the real world. Just as I do in real life, I seem to spend a lot of my time being on guard for and smoothing over potential conflicts. The online world of professional social net-working is a place where all cultures come together and connect instantly, where the nuance of the written word is often difficult to understand and subtleties are sometimes misunderstood, and the different time zones across the world make the time of day an ingredient in the way we communicate and what we say.

Online, even in the professional sphere of LinkedIn (as opposed to Facebook for instance) there are bullies, cranks, show-offs, posers, extraverts, introverts, casual people, funny people, serious people, formal people and many, many others. Just like real life. In real life though, you can look someone in the eye and hear the tone in their voice and judge their body language.

So I’m beginning to think that we need to proactively think of ourselves as online citizens, with responsibilities to be civil and not too dominating in discussions but to have something to say and keep discussions going, aware and empathetic of differences like race and culture, and to be particularly careful to try to pick up verbal nuance and humour, and not to over-react to apparent slights but to publicly object to online dominance, bullying or impoliteness.

A year or so ago my sons made a short film called Art Imitates Life, Life Imitates Facebook for Kino, Sydney. It should come as no surprise to me to find that the same principle applies to LinkedIn.

Lynette Jensen

Lynette Jensen is a director and co-founder of Genesys Australia and is committed to helping people achieve work-life balance through good job fit. In addition to contributing to this blog, she also writes regularly for HR Daily Community and Dynamic Business Magazine. Her articles have been re-published in India & the United Kingdom.

Please click on the heading above to leave a comment or to share. More posts below.

NB: We are an independent workplace psychology practice. All views expressed here are our own and are the opinions of Stephen Kohl & his associates, which do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and developer of GeneSys assessments, Psytech International.

More Cheating on Psych Tests

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

There has been an interesting discussion lately on a Psychometrics Linked In Group. The discussion was begun by Prue Laurence, Director at Psylutions, a workplace psychology consultancy in Melbourne where they are currently conducting a survey about cheating in workplace psychometric tests and people’s attitudes to psych testing.

Cheating on psych tests is a subject that comes up a lot, and I have fairly recently written about it myself.

In general, I would say that there’s very little point in even attempting to cheat, not because I make a moral judgement, but because potential employees just don’t know what an employer might be looking for. There’s a common perception that every employer is looking for extravert personalities, and put simply, that’s just wrong. There’s also a perception that extraverts are somehow “better” than introverts and that’s just silly. (For an explanation, please read my previous post, link above).

But Prue’s call for subjects to do her survey has engendered a discussion that has begun to develop the idea of cheating in a much deeper way, and to consider the phenomenon of psych tests and the way they can be used and abused from a different perspective.

One of the commenters, a UK Director of a Human Resources and Business consultancy, related the story of a group of young graduates gathering together to complete online unsupervised ability tests for their friends. He says, “…There seems to be no shame in this (they see it) as a fair way of outwitting the tedious, repetitious and time-consuming automated selection processes so many businesses put in the way of bright graduates applying for jobs.”

I think this is really sad. Psychometric tests, or any other form of employee selection should never be used to get in the way of anyone applying for jobs, or getting them. All our staff selection processes, including psych tests, should be used to get the clearest picture possible of not only who will be the best person for the job, but also whether the job is the best fit for the applicant. It’s a two-way street, and all our selection processes should be applied well, carefully and humanely, in order to achieve the best decision possible, and the best outcome for everyone.

The idea of a conveyor belt, one-size-fits-all, psychometric testing (most especially ability testing!) also really concerns me. You would hope that ability tests would be carefully conducted, and the idea that we are becoming a society where we are so concerned with churning through processes for expedience, rather than doing things well and carefully, is frankly repugnant. If tests are conducted coldly and blithely, then can we be surprised that people might treat them blithely? Psych tests most certainly can be used for screening, but that doesn’t mean we should forget that candidates are people, or that we should do it cruelly, coldly, or cynically.

But another comment in the discussion is even more concerning. The Director of a Leadership and Human Resources and Development consultancy in the USA says, “Have you ever applied for a job online lately? … No feedback, no contact, no personal touch … No real opportunity to tell your story…”.

Further, he says that he has built and used tests for many years, but finds himself “…embarrassed by what passes for professional practice these days” And tellingly, he says, “ We say people are our most valuable resource but then treat them like cattle being led to the slaughter.”

I say it’s a call to arms! It doesn’t have to be this way, and shouldn’t be.

All of us who are involved in Human Resources, staff selection and development, recruiting, and test development and delivery need to be constantly aware that we are in the business of dealing with people’s lives. If we don’t treat people well and fairly, then we can’t expect them to treat our processes well and fairly.

You don’t need to cheat on psych tests. Lets make sure we deliver psych tests and our other processes so well, that we’re not cheating on candidates.

For all of us, our job and work life is one of the most important things we have in life. We need to keep remembering that.

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.

 

Leadership & Good Manners

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

 

An email I received out of the blue recently from a person I’ve never met left me reeling for a couple of days, and started me thinking about manners in the modern workplace. With all the promotion of leadership courses and discussions about leadership strategies and characteristics these days, I realised we never hear mention any more of manners. And yet, if there’s one thing I’ve always noticed about leaders, it’s that they are always polite and gracious.

Manners are the small social rules and conventions that hold us all together. They “oil the cogs” of all our relationships and keep things running smoothly in organisations, families and personal relationships. My recent experience got me thinking about the characteristics of leadership, like good manners, that we should all, and probably do, recognise, but that are not “sold” or commonly taught anymore, most certainly not as part of a quick-fix package or course on the internet. A leader, and anyone else, should know that good manners stop unpleasantness and misunderstanding from happening, and bad manners get in the way of things running smoothly, and are therefore costly, both in human and financial terms.

It seems to me that “Leadership” is a bit like “Emotional Intelligence” (or poetry or art or charisma) in that we all recognise it, but it’s very hard to define. And, like Emotional Intelligence, Leadership seems be subject to fashion. When I was a school student, teachers were always talking about whether we had “leadership qualities” or not, but when I was a teacher myself, the prevailing wisdom frowned on anything thought to be anti-egalitarian. Now, in the workplace at least, the pendulum has swung again, and “Leadership” seems to be a hot (and lucrative) topic. But even if, as human beings, we can all recognise leadership, can we really define it simply, or market it?

I think perhaps we should go back to our deeper, more personal, psychological understanding of how we recognise, and indeed follow, leaders, so that we can learn valuable lessons from them, rather than thinking we can package a simple formula and sell it (complete with coloured circular charts – I’ve googled!). Furthermore, it’s probably a good idea to learn to recognise a leader, rather than following some jumped up “wannabe” who yells loudest, and who’ll lead us over a cliff in a crisis.

Understanding leadership is like understanding anything, its complex, subtle, sometimes subjective, and requires good observation and thinking. Developing leadership requires time and wisdom. One of our clients recently said that she’s noticed that real leaders are always calm in a crisis. I have noticed that real leaders are unpretentious, gracious and polite. What else does a good leader really have? : usually charisma, charm, often patience, and they inspire confidence and respect (and there are lots of other characteristics).

The point is, that leaders, by definition, have to have characteristics that make people want to follow them. In other words, their characteristics and conduct give them influence. I’m very sure that none of us want to follow impolite people who make us angry, insulted and incensed. So on a personal, and a business level, it doesn’t make any sense to have bad manners.

I think the conclusion might be, if we want to get to first base as a leader, we’ll have to begin with good manners!

Lynette Jensen

*This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, beliefs or policy of the company