Being Likable

If you bring together two of my current favourite writers for a discussion, you’re going to have my immediate attention.

Adam Grant, Wharton Professor, came to my attention first for articles and a subsequent book on the personal benefits of being a ‘go-giver’. He’s followed up with work related to creativity, success and most recently has published a book with Sheryl Sandberg about how to bounce back when things go wrong. She, of course, was uniquely placed to co-write that particular book having lost her husband very suddenly and publicly, leaving her with young children and a high pressure silicon valley career to manage. That book sits on my shelf as a recent acquisition waiting to be read.

Like many people, I first came across Simon Sinek because of his famous TED talk (still well worth a view, whether you’ve seen it before or not). Then I followed his work talking about millennials, especially how best to lead them, manage them in the workplace and even inspire them to be engaged, committed and passionate employees who do meaningful work. As far as his books, I’ve gone the wrong way round. I’ve recently finished reading ‘Leaders Eat last’ – his most recent book and have waiting on the shelf still to be read his earlier – Start With Why.

The discussion went on for about an hour, led by Katie Couric, the international journalist. It took place at the Aspen Ideas Festival – and it’s a real gem. You could just read the article, but i’d really recommend the video embedded on the page as worth an hour of anyone’s time.

During the discussion there are some interesting insights in to types of popularity and the risks of ‘the wrong type’. They talk about the perils of device and social media addiction and the need for occasional detoxes. There’s an interesting discussion of the skills needed to be likable and the risks in society because people are not getting as many opportunities to practice those skills. The comments about how willpower is an inadequate tool to overcome addiction, or addictive behaviour was a useful reminder.

So, here’s the link:

Heleo – Conversation – How to be likable – no Facebook Required

If you open the page, you’ll see the video some way down the page. I really recommend that it’s worth the time to listen to the whole thing. For educators, or parents, there’s much to ponder on here about how we work most effectively with young people today.

When Smart People Speak ……

Simon Sinek first crossed my radar a couple of years ago with an excellent and very popular TED talk. Since then i've followed his work with a lot of interest, because i feel he's one really smart guy and we should be taking note of the things he says.

So, I was delighted when a friend shared this video of an interview he gave recently. In it, i believe he sums up so well some critical aspects of the world we're living in today, and particularly the life experiences of so many 'millennials'.

The video has struck such a chord with so many, that Sinek has produced a further short video in which he elaborates a little more about how he came to take an interest in these issues. He also responds to some of the feedback that came his way after the initial interview.

Sinek’s work has predominantly been about leadership and organisations. As he points out, how to manage and lead millennials is now a significant issue in leadership. It does no good to simply condemn how they are, to criticize or to belittle. Millennials, as much as any generation before them are a product of the culture and environment they’ve grown up in.

I believe this is of way more than mere curious interest to us as educators. Firstly, there’s now a fair proportion of the teachers in our schools who are millennials. We need to understand how to lead them, motivate them, keep them and ensure that they are engaged and passionately committed to their work.

Secondly, I was especially struck by Sinek’s comment about how leaders cannot shrug off their responsibility to deal with the challenges associated with millennials. It’s no good to simply blame parents, earlier educators or the millennials themselves. So, we have to understand that if lack of quality parenting, or over-protective cossetting parenting is still influencing the lives of the children in our schools, then we have to figure out how to work with them. We need to help them to develop the skills pertaining to relationships, empathy for others, determining and recognising the importance of life meaning and purpose. Sinek’s arguments are valid, important and we need to be discussing our responses in schools.

Finally, here, I share the link to Simon Sinek’s website that carries more articles, resources and links to his other work:
Simon Sinek – Start With Why

What Great leaders Do

Today, I wanted to share one of my all time favourite TEd talks. Given over six years ago by Simon Sinek I believed right from when I first saw it that it has some enormously powerful thoughts for those of us who choose to lead in the education field.

The focus on ‘why’ we do what we do, the ‘why’ of our schools isn’t always easy or comfortable. When we bring this question out in to the open for full examination we can quickly find that there are conflicts. Some have visions that are about developing children holistically, regardless of background so that each cn fulfil their potential. Others believe the why is simply to have students pass exams, get in to ‘good’ colleges, etc. Others believe the primary reason they work in education is children won’t challenge them in the way adults will! others want to make a profit from something ‘solid and safe’. Still others want a job that fits conveniently with their home, family and what they perceive to be more important aspects of their life.

Not surfacing these conflicts will never be the answer. this leads to mediocre schools, leaders who have to micro manage instead of lead and end outcomes that will never live up to the potential.

As Sinek highlights, only when the leaders are open, transparent and clear (in other words they’ve worked out and enunciated) the ‘why’ of their school/ organisation then they can recruit for attracting those people who share that common vision. The more you can do that, the greater the synergistic strengths that will see the school really deliver on that vision.

Belief in a common, shared ‘why’ motivates teachers and staff, students and parents. Conflicts and difficulties, when they arise, can be dealt with better as there is common understanding of what are the end goals. People are inspired, motivated and willingly give of their best, to the benefit and growth of all.

Once we have a clearly articulated ‘why’, we have to be ready to root out any ‘what’ that is inconsistent or not congruent. Working from the inside out in this way makes that possible and shapes future decision making as all actions must be congruent and people are not inclined to do things that go against that why.

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