In Venezuelan folklore there is a story of a wealthy man who takes his family on vacation to a tropical island. Once they arrive, they make their way down to the beach and are met by a smiling sunburnt local holding a guitar. The man with the guitar asks the wealthy out of towner: “What do you do?” “I work in business in the city,” the foreigner replies. Unmoved, the man on the beach continues, “and why do you do what you do?” Confused for a moment, the businessman tells him honestly, “well, so I can make a lot of money.” “And why do you want to make a lot of money?” asks the man with the guitar. “So I can sit on the beach with my family,” responds the businessman. Smiling, the man on the beach then looks back at the man from out of town and says, “well that’s what I do.”
US companies spend over $70 billion annually on training and development expenses, ranging from in-person seminars to online programs. Only a small percentage of individuals, however, have access to the customized services of an executive leadership coach. The costs of individual coaching are so high (up to $3,500 hourly) that only a select few can access and benefit from the service for their leadership development and career growth.
During a recent dinner I had the good fortune of sitting across from a successful Founder/CEO in the biotech space. The company, less than a decade old, was enjoying its second round of funding and growing at an exponential rate. Despite this overwhelming success, the CEO seemed a bit flustered having just come from a meeting with prospective investors. “I know what we do, what we make,” he said, “but I’m not sure what I do; I don’t know what my role is.”
Twenty-first century leadership training can benefit from a comprehensive framework rooted in emerging scientific knowledge. The Human Quotient (HQ) is an overarching model with three interwoven components. The “quotient” can be defined as “proactive” divided by “reactive,” as manifested in three key areas of human experience and performance: cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal...
Leadership training programs aim to foster a broad range of cognitive, behavioral and interpersonal skills that executives and managers must master to help their companies thrive and grow. The list of skills that managers and leaders must develop can be daunting and overwhelming. Among others, they include strategic thinking, priority-setting, delegation, executive presence, nonverbal communication and collaboration.
The Human Quotient (HQ) is a metric for workplace success that is useful in executive coaching and leadership development programs. HQ is an evidence based model for leadership development that is defined as “proactive” divided by “reactive.” The numerator and denominator both have critical cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal components. Leaders with high HQ are far more proactive than reactive in all three domains.
There is little evidence that corporate mindfulness training improves business results.The outsize growth of mindfulness training in workplace settings over the past few years is perturbing and unjustified, given the dearth of clear and convincing evidence that such programs propel business growth. In fact, in many instances, applying mindfulness strategies at work may be counterproductive—even if credentialed experts deliver the training.
Globalization and technology have changed the way the world works, as jobs are increasingly consolidated or digitized. Despite improved technologies and efficiency enhancements, more work is not getting done. Of the myriad of data points from Deloitte’s 2017 Bersin Report, which analyzes global business trends and makes predictions for the future, one passage perfectly summarizes the lengthy document for HR professionals. The strategy for the future, according to Deloitte, should be to “move HR from a ‘personnel department’ to a new role as the ‘consultant in human performance.’”
As we near the end of Black History Month, I would like to share a recent experience I had while visiting the District. After a December business meeting, I decided to walk over to the National Gallery to visit a favorite exhibit. On the way over, I passed the newly constructed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was still under construction when I moved from the D.C. area to Boston...
My first day working in financial services began in a familiar fashion: impostor syndrome. I didn’t belong there, and by the end of the day somebody would surely figure out that I in fact knew nothing (something my philosophy degree continually reinforced). I remember walking into my very first meeting and perfectly articulating in my mind why I was most certainly in over my head...
When individual contributors are tapped to manage large-scale projects, oversee direct reports, or participate in strategic planning, they need to develop new skill sets on the fly — skills such as interpersonal dexterity, emotional agility, and communication savvy. As important as these leadership skills are, just as important to the leadership transition is learning to let go of old ways of thinking, and relaxing into the role.
A daunting challenge facing many workers is developing the skills necessary to function as effective managers and strategic leaders. Success at task-oriented work in nearly any kind of company may lead to promotion into a leadership position, where the skills needed for success are very different. Hard work and mastery of technical skills no longer suffice and, in fact, may impede success in leadership roles that depend on social intelligence, collaboration, trustworthiness, persuasive communication, and a capacity to present oneself as confident, poised, and relaxed.
My long and winding road to a career in executive coaching almost never happened.
College at Yale was beyond the means of my family. Having grown up in a Jewish family on Long Island, assumptions were that money was not an issue for someone like me. In my senior year of high school, after my acceptance to Yale, I dragged my mother (who at the same age had lost the opportunity for a college education after her parents died) to New Haven to meet with the head of financial aid about a better package of scholarships and loans. I knew that I'd have to enter that meeting with confidence, clarity, and poise...
Of the many words used to describe Brunello Cucinelli - business person, entrepreneur, philanthropist, designer - the term philosopher is probably most appropriate...
A popular article defined a thought leader as an individual who is “one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization” and who “significantly profits from being recognized as such.” These individuals, recognized and rewarded for their technical expertise, are asked to make pronouncements about the current and future state of their line of work...
When I was in graduate school studying philosophy, our university bookstore moved locations. Amidst the chaos of the move, the store set up makeshift sections and stacked books like Jenga pieces between partially constructed wooden shelves. After carefully navigating toward the philosophy section (usually easy to identify due to the absence of living souls), I was immediately presented with one of the most profound sentences I had ever read. Undoubtedly penned by a store clerk to bring order to the chaos, two signs simply read: Mathematics ends and Philosophy begins.
There is an increasingly nuanced understanding of the potential benefits and risks of mindfulness strategies (including meditation and yoga) in the workplace. A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled "How Meditation Benefits CEOs"discusses the empirical research that has established the effectiveness of mindfulness strategies for enhancement of resilience, emotional intelligence, empathy, creativity, and mental focus.
The benefits of mindfulness meditation for business leaders are increasingly appreciated and confirmed by empirical research. Executives and high performing professionals increasingly use meditation to manage stress, maintain strategic focus, enhance cognitive performance, promote emotional intelligence, and improve interpersonal relationships. Meditation programs are increasingly offered in the workplace to promote these benefits. Potential risks of mindfulness programs can be avoided and advantages enhanced when workers engage voluntarily and proactively in the process.
Professional success and leadership development depend on one's capacity for empathy and curiosity. Up to now, little has been understood about how to hone these essential skills. But that is changing with emerging research and the growing recognition that reading great works in the humanities can promote one's ability to imagine and understand things from someone else's perspective and, in turn, to grow in one's career and personal life.
Mindfulness is close to taking on cult status in the business world. But as with any rapidly growing movement—regardless of its potential benefits—there is good reason here for caution.