A Review of “Social Captial, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage”

A Review of 
Social Captial, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage
By J. Nahapiet & S. Ghoshal


This article considers the value of social capital in providing an organizational advantage, which is rooted in the idea of “the significance of relationships as a resource for social action” (p. 242).  Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) define social capital as:

“the sum of the actual and potential resources embedded within, available through, and derived from the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit.  Social capital thus comprises both the network and the assets that may be mobilized through that network.”
(p. 243)

Nahapiet & Ghoshal broke social capital into 3 clusters:

  • Structural embeddedness – the overall structure of the network; the connections between people. (p.244)
  • Relational embeddedness – the actual relationships that connect the different people; how the relationships affect their actions; who you know and how you know them; they are behavioural (p. 244).
    • Key aspects also include trust, trustworthiness, norms, sanctions, obligations, expectations, identity and identification (p.244).
  • Cognitive dimension – the symbols, systems of meaning and how we interpret things is common to a group (p. 244).  It includes the shared language that Daniel, McCalla & Schwier (2002) referenced.

Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998), along with Daniel, McCalla & Schwier (2002), all noted that “social capital is owned jointly by the parties in a relationship” (p. 244).  No one person has all the social capital.  To add to it’s complexity social capital is something that the individual invests in and builds up within the network.  “It has value in use” (p.244) but it can’t be traded or exchanged.

It reminds me of my transition from a high school teacher and differentiated instruction facilitator within one building to my role as a learning consultant within the school division. Within my home school, I had build up 13 years of credit with both staff and students.  My interactions with the larger network of people was relatively limited. As you grow and change networks you have to reinvest in building your social capital.  It’s obvious in a building when a teacher has social capital.  They can look at a student and the behaviour will stop, when you don’t have the ‘street cred’ in that building, the students just look at you and wonder why you’re looking at them funny.

Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998) also noted that social capital makes it possible to achieve goals that would not have been possible as an individual.  A strong community of practice with high social capital will produce better results at lower costs (p. 244-245), which is very similar to Covey’s (2006) motto that when trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down.

Social capital has been shown to encourage cooperative behaviours, which has the potential to lead to new associations between group members along with increased innovation (Nahpapiet & Ghoshal, 1998, p. 245).  As Daniel, McCalla & Schwier (2002) noted, so to did Nahapiet & Ghoshal, social capital is a balancing act. It has the potential to be very positive within an organization; however, if the group becomes so strong that it’s hard for new members to access or integrate into then it can begin to have detrimental effects.   If the group takes on a mind of it’s own then the group becomes more prone to blindly following along rather than building on the strengths and diversity of it’s team (p. 245).

Intellectual capitalrepresents a valuable resource and a capability for action based in knowledge and knowing” (Nahapiet & Ghosal, 1998, p. 245).  This includes four aspects:

  • Individual explicit knowledge – the facts and concepts that are available to us in our personal memory framework
  • Individual tacit knowledge – it’s what becomes automatic to us based on our knowledge and skills.  It’s the knowledge in our heads that we have processed, made connections with and organized according to our experiences.
  • Social Explicit knowledge – the objective knowledge that is known to the people in the group
  • Social Tacit knowledge – the understanding embedded into what happens in that community.  It’s the unwritten knowledge and connections that bind teams together and make institutions unique.
    (p. 247).

Knowledge creation often involves the exchange of information between people or people learning new information (p. 248).  First, there must be an opportunity for knowledge to be exchanged, then people must anticipate the value that will come from it and be motivated by this prospect. Lastly, Nahapiet & Ghoshal referred to the absorptive capacity.  You have to be ready to recognize, incorporate and use the new information to move forward (p. 249-250).

Intellectual capital grows when there are opportunities for information to flow within the network.  This flow is dependent upon your connections and your ability to receive valuable information and know who to share it with in a timely fashion.  Gladwell (2006) illustrated this concept when he retold the story of Paul Revere’s famous ride and the other guy’s less effective attempt.  The more referral ties within a network the more opportunities for quality exchanges (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998, p. 252).  When the authors discussed network configuration and the importance of  having “a player with a network rich in information benefits [along with one who] has contacts established in places where useful bits of information are likely to air and who will provide a reliable flow of information” (p. 252), it reminds me of Gladwell’s (2006) connectors, mavens and persuaders.  These people are important in distributing and ensuring the flow of information.  Nahapiet & Ghoshal also noted the importance of bringing together diverse people within the network because significant creation of intellectual capital happens within those diverse connections (p.252).  Similarly, Gladwell explained the importance of connectors in bringing together people from different social circles.

“Intellectual capital is a social artifact and …knowledge and meaning are always embedded in a social context” (p.253) created and sustained through the relationships of the community. A shared language helps us connect and understand, while shared codes help us organize information.  Language helps us make sense of the world around us.  Shared narratives also play a significant role in facilitating transfer of knowledge often with tacit knowledge embedded into the stories (p. 254).

Trust is the belief that the “results of somebody’s intended action will be appropriate from our point of view” (as noted by Misztal – Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998, p. 254).  To trust includes becoming vulnerable, believing in the other person’s good intent, their competence, capabilities, reliability, and openness (p. 254). Trust in turn builds cooperation and cooperation builds trust.  The more trusting a relationship the more people are willing to risk in the knowledge that they share (p. 255), which leads to more opportunities to grow the intellectual capital.  Positive group norms, clear obligations and expectations facilitate people identifying with the group.  When people choose to become one of the group their identity changes, which in turn makes them more likely to exchange information and support the goals of the team (p. 256).

The authors reminded that social capital takes time to grow and requires that people are connected to each other in meaningful ways.  Interdependence will promote more interactions, which increases social capital.  Clear social, legal and financial boundaries will also create a sense of closure.  A defined group will grow more social and intellectual capital than an open group.

While social capital fosters the development of intellectual capital, the same can be said for knowledge supporting the development of social interactions. Nahapiet & Ghoshal explained that the cooveolution of social and intellectual capital lead to a strong organizational advantage.  Fostering the development of both types will build a stronger team.  Both are enhanced by the formal and informal interactions that happen during the day and the development of a shared identity.  Opportunities to interact and create shared stories strengthens the ties between individuals.  Nahapiet & Ghoshal asserted that the true organizational advantage comes when organizations commit to strengthening and continuing to maintain the the interrelationships of their teams(p. 259-260).

Step back for a moment and think about the communities and teams in which you participate. There is a constant ebb and flow of people coming into and leaving the group.  While some maybe more stable in membership than others the importance of developing strong interrelationships is essential in increasing the social and intellectual capital of the group. The more a person connects to the group, the longer they stay involved and add to the shared capital.


Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital, and the organizational advantage. The Academy of Management Review, 23(2), 242–266. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/259373

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Leaders have to lead or the change won’t stick

Life would be much easier if things stayed the same and you didn’t have to change, but it seems these days the only thing constant is change.

Alvin Toffler said, “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those you cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”

toffler

So how do you, as a leader, help your followers navigate the ongoing changes?  How do you keep your team focused on a goal that moves toward the greater vision, while inhibiting the negative distractions and enabling them to “remember and build on relevant information” ( Boundaries for Leaders- Cloud, 2013, p. 27) which in turn creates a pattern in their working memory.  Dr. Henry Cloud (2013) explained “you always get what you create and what you allow” (p.xvi) so the person that has to help with the change is you.

It makes sense, you are the leader.  It would be nice if you could stand on your soap box and proclaim that we are now on the path to xyz and the change would ripple out virtually seamless.  But let’s remember, we live in the real world and change is hard.  How do you get change to reach the tipping point and then stick?

Here are a few of the most memorable suggestions that I have come across during my research. My two favorite reads were Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath (2010) along with The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (2006).  Both are filled with real life examples of how change happens.

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Pixabay – Clker

So it’s Chip and Dan Heath’s (2010) image of a rider on an elephant that has stuck with me.  (Borrowed from psychologist Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis.)  As all of the writers have shared, in order for change to happen someone has to act differently.  Okay, so by someone, I mean us.  We are in control of ourselves – the behaviour change has to come from within.

It’s the connection between your behaviours and your brain.  The Heath brothers (2010) suggested we think of each person as a rider on an elephant.  We are composed of the rational thinking part of our brain – the rider and the emotional elephant.  Yes there’s a significant size difference.  As a rider you will only be able to force the elephant to do want you want for so long and then you’ll be over-powered by the emotional side.  In order to succeed, you have to get them both going in the same direction (p. 7).

Here’s a very quick overview of Chip and Dan Heath’s 3 key suggestions on how to make change happen. (This summary is based on the 2010 book and the resources provided to compliment the book – available on their website.  Included in the overview are my personal thoughts and wonders). 

First you have to Direct the Rider:

  • Following a strategy similar to Wiggins & McTighe’s Understanding by Design, you have to understand where you are going and why it’s of value in order to direct the rider.  The Heath’s call it pointing to the destination (Switch, p. 73), begin with the end in mind.  On the way there, you have to focus on the bright spots.  All to often we tend to look for what’s not working and try to fix it, Chip and Dan Heath (2010) suggested focusing on what is working will lead to better long term performance than looking at what doesn’t work.
  • The rider has a tendency to analyze big problems which often causes the him to be obsessed with finding a solution to the same scale as the original problem.  The brain wants to match the big problem to a big solution.  The Heath’s reminded that big problems take time and are more effectively solved by a series of smaller solutions (p. 44).
  • Lastly, you have to script the critical moves (p. 49-72).  They explained that a group wanted people to eat healthier, so they advertised just that.  Everyone needs to eat healthier.  The problem: it was to vague.  People for the most part, do want to eat healthier but translating that general goal into an actionable behaviour is hard.  You have to be specific.  Switching the campaign to buy 1% milk lead to a documentable change (p. 15-17).

As leaders, we need to build on the positive, identify the specific behaviours that will get us there and build on the bright spots.

Next you need to Motivate the Elephant:

  • Just because you know we need to look after the planet doesn’t mean we will make better choices.  Aristotle’s explanation of rhetoric referred to ethos, pathos and logos as key aspects to persuading an audience. The rider would be similar to the logos appeal, but the elephant is moved by pathos.  For a change to start, there needs to be an emotional connection. The Heath’s (2010) noted Kotter and Cohen’s observations

    “that, in almost all successful change efforts, the sequence of change is not ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE, but rather SEE-FEEL-CHANGE” (p. 106).

  • Then you have to “Shrink the Change” (p. 124-148). Turn the change into small manageable pieces that are doable rather than intimidating.
  • Here again the Heath’s mention culture.  You have to grow your people (p. 149-178) and you can only do that by creating a growth mindset that builds an identity.

Lastly, you need to Shape the Path:

  • It’s all about the environment you create.  Cloud (2013), Covey (2006), Gladwell (2006), Driscoll (2005) and the Heath’s (2010) all noted the environment you work and learn in shapes your behaviours.  So “tweak the environment” (p. 179-202) and you will shape the path.
  • The next time a minor change isn’t working think about how you play it out in your mind?  Is it the product you created or the people refusing to change that you are frustrated with?  Turns out all of us have a propensity to turn to incentives and consequences to force a change (p. 185).  Rather, we tend toward the fundamental attribution error.  We instinctively tend to “attribute people’s behaviour to the way they are rather than to the situation they are in” (as noted by Heath’s reference to Lee Ross, p. 180).
  • It’s where usability testing in the instructional design process followed by evaluation makes a significant difference to the end quality of the product. Feedback matters. Have you stopped to ask why people aren’t using it the way you expected?  Have you stopped to observe what they are doing instead?
  • Build Habits (p. 203-224) When you lead in a way that creates positive habits or relevant patterns in their working memory (Cloud, 2013), you free up the brain.  It’s energy can be spent on other processes.  The Heath’s (2010)explained when you change the environment, people’s habits change (p. 206-207).  It’s as Malcom Gladwell (2006) explained in The Tipping Point.  People’s behaviours tend toward the environment in which they live.  It’s the broken window’s effect.
  • Finally, you must rally the herd (p. 225-249). What can we learn from the herd?   It’s the first place you look, when you don’t know what to do.  Not sure when to stand up to show appreciation for a speaker, if you see others doing it you will too. The Heath’s explained that behaviour is contagious, just as Dr. Cloud noted that mood is also contagious.  We infect others with our feelings and energy (Boundaries for Leaders – Cloud, 2013, p. 57).  It connects back to Eric Worre’s assertion that you are like the 5 people you spend the most time with.

    In fact, Chip and Dan Heath (2010) noted, “you might not find a single statement that is so rigorously supported by empirical research as this one: You are doing things because you see your peers do them…Behaviour is contagious” (p. 227).

  • In unfamiliar situations, the Heath’s reminded, we are more prone to watching what our peers do.  It’s simple the elephant is going to follow the herd (p. 228).  So help spread the behaviours that are going to facilitate your change.

 


 

Other Resources:

Who’s going to help you tip the change?

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Pixabay – Open Clipart-Vectors 

In the Switch, Chip and Dan Heath (2010) explained the value of growing your people.  In particular, they noted the value of identity and a growth mindset. I was struck by their question, “How can you make your change a matter of identity rather than a matter of consequence?” (p. 154).  After all, they shared that a change which violates a person’s identity is likely doomed to fail and mere incentives will not change people’s behaviour (p. 154).

We see it in education… most students don’t change just because there’s a consequence and in business team’s don’t just increase their numbers because there’s a bonus.  It’s deeper than a simple exchange of service.  Each person is motivated by a different set of experiences, when you can unite your team toward a common goal that they truly believe in – that’s when you will see the most growth.

As a leader, how often do you stop to think about the identity or mindset that you are fostering?  James March identified two models of decision making.  People either make a rational decision based on an analysis of the pros and cons or they decide based on the identity they’ve adopted.   March suggested people using the identity model decide based on three questions,

“Who am I?
What kind of situation is this?
What would someone like me do in this situation?”
(Heath, 2010, p. 153).

Rational doesn’t always win and identities aren’t written in stone.

As a leader with ethos and logos, you may convince the rational rider of the value and cost effectiveness of your plan, but if the emotional elephant (pathos) isn’t moved by the numbers they won’t travel very far down the path with you. It goes back to knowing your students and your people.  What matters to them?  Have you listened first and spoke last?

Take for instance the fascinating example of Brasilata.  It illustrated how identities can be adopted and shaped over the course of people’s lives.  The Heath’s wrote of how Brasilata  chose to create an inventor identity.  Everyone in the company was considered an inventor and it was their job to share their ideas.  The company, in turn, built on the ideas suggested and in time became one of the top leaders in steel can manufacturing (p. 156-157).  As an educator, the story of how one principal changed the identity of a down and out inner city school to a one of striving for excellence was heart warming.  It’s certainly not easy, but there are bright spots.

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Pixabay – Geralt 

It also turns out that there are 3 key types of people you want involved in your change efforts.  In fact as Malcolm Gladwell (2006) wrote, they will tip the change.  Have you heard of connectors, mavens and salesmen?

First, you need to find your connectors.  These are the people who know lots of people in a diverse variety of social circles.  They also make it a habit to introduce people from different circles.  They are the connectors. Think about who you know and who introduced you to those people….often, Gladwell noted, those connectors show up over and over in how you met your friends.

As an introvert, connectors are very helpful.  Finding people who genuinely care about connecting you with other people of similar interests decreases the energy it costs to meet new people. When I’m connected with a person who has similar interests, you can get right to the issues rather than the preliminary small talk. Less stressing about meeting people means more time investing in real learning.

You’ve likely identified the connectors, but have you thought about the mavens?  They are the “people we rely upon to connect us with new information” (p. 19). They are the curators of knowledge about very specific topics.  We all know them.  They are the people you go to when you have a question about something specific; moreover, you trust them and what they say because they have a great track record. People buy or go places because these people recommended it.

Lastly, you have your persuaders sometimes known as salesmen. Not the stereotypical used car salesman, but rather people with well developed rhetoric skill.  They have ethos (you trust them), they know their stuff (logos) and they can sell (pathos – emotion). Even their body language cues your brain to buy in.  We’ve all heard them.  They are the TED speakers that Carmine Gallo (2014) wrote about.  They are the people you would follow to places you’ve never wanted to go.  Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

To this day, I still remember attending my first Sciematics conference as a young biology teacher and listening to Brian Keating speak.  By the end of the session I wanted to travel to Antarctica and camp on the ice just to learn more about the penguins.  (I didn’t really but in that moment it sure felt like I did)  Just a few weeks ago I listened to Color By Amber Executive Chairman and Founder, Talley Goodson.  As he shared his passion for design and innovation in a way that not only gives back to the artisans but makes the planet a better place, his positive energy was contagious.  He not only wants to make the world a better place, he’s committed to making it happen.  Who doesn’t want to be part of that.

So we need all kinds of people to sustain change.  Gladwell (2006), Gallo (2014) and the Heath’s (2010) emphasized the fact the your message has to be sticky.  People have to remember the change to actually share it.  In fact in today’s social media world, Gallo (2014) reminded us that you need to be able to share your message in 140 characters or less.

Finally, remember the power of context.  Gladwell (2006) asked readers to think about the broken windows effect.  That is… our behaviour changes to fit the context of the environment in which we function.  If you walk down a dirty street with garbage strewn all around and broken windows surrounded by graffiti filled storefronts, the petty crime rate goes up.  An increase in small crimes is the gateway to more violent crimes.  So when people talk about cleaning up the streets, it does actually make a difference.  Start with the small changes and the bigger ones will follow.

As a leader, how are you empowering your team to shape the path to sustainable change?  Will it happen in the climate and culture you currently exist in?  Like Cloud (2013) said, “you always get what you create and what you allow” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. xvi).

Where do you want to be?


Resources

 

Afraid to try? What a toxic culture does to your brain…

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Pixabay – intographics

As a leader, you have the opportunity and responsibility to shape the culture and environment in which your team functions. From experience, I know first hand the joys of working for a leader that values your effort and encourages innovation.  It’s energizing and fun.  It’s where you want to be and you’ll give more effort toward reaching the goal than money can buy. You are a part of the story that’s making a difference for others. You are inspired to make the vision a reality because you know what you do matters and you believe in the vision.

On the other hand, when the leader changes and connections diminish.  You lose the passion for the career you chose and it simply becomes a job.  You only stay because you’re not sure what else is out there and you hope if you just keep your head down and don’t make eye contact that it will get better.  It often doesn’t and those leaders don’t tend to move on quickly. Not only does trust fail, but the damage that working environment or relationship does to your mental and physical health is disturbing.

What happens when fear becomes toxic?

As Simon Sinek (2014) discussed in “Why Leaders Eat Last, “we are hardwired to ensure our survival.  Our primitive brains haven’t caught up to cultures that we live in.  Our legacy survival systems, as Sinek, pointed out continue to ensure that whether something is life threatening or just stressful our bodies respond in the same way.   The problem is that stress at work isn’t life or death, but our body releases cortisol regardless of the difference.  So when our Circle of Safety begins to fail and we begin to fear what’s happening, our body releases more cortisol (p.55-56).  In turn, cortisol inhibits oxytocin, the trust and empathy hormone. So we devote even more energy towards being suspicious of those around us at the very time we need more support from the group.  It make us more vulnerable to outside threats, less productive and startlingly less healthy.

Sinek (2014) recounted that cortisol isn’t meant to be released on an ongoing basis.  It’s meant for a short release to help you survive a dangerous time and then the system is meant to reset.  Unfortunately, work stress continues and as a result prolonged cortisol works against us.  Sinek explained that cortisol:

  • affects glucose release
  • increases blood pressure and inflammatory response
  • impairs cognitive ability
  • increases aggression
  • suppresses sex drive
  • it prepares us for fight or flight and in doing so it shuts down digestion, growth and the immune system.  It makes sure all energy is redirected toward only essential fight or flight systems.
    (p. 56)

Guess what that does to your long term health… It’s not good.

So does the culture and environment of your workplace matter?

YES

Workplaces that foster connections and increased trust decrease cortisol release and let oxytocin and serotonin work to foster cooperation (p. 58).

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it…

Knowing that our brain is impacted by our primal instinct for survival means that we not only pick up on what is said, we notice how the body says it.   Over the past year, I’ve attended sessions and worked 1:1 with Carla Gradin, body language trainer.  She referred to the fact that our primal brain is designed to ensure our survival.  As a result, how our brain reads body language also impacts our response. She explained that the first part of the body our brains notice is our hands.  Where you put your hands tells us if you are a friend or foe. If the palms of my hands aren’t visible during an interaction, your brain is questioning my motives.  If I reach to shake your hand palm down, your brain is considering whether or not I’m concealing a weapon.  If you want to build positive connections with people, your body language needs to say the same thing you are (Speak up and Stand Out, Carla Gradin, p. 8).

Cloud (2013) noted “research suggests, people don’t leave jobs — they leave bosses” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 56).  He too drew the connection to our primal brain and stressed that it’s not just what a leader says, it’s how a leader communicates that causes our brains to revert back to fight or flight (p. 56).

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Pixabay – Counselling

Covey (2006) cited John Gardner, “One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure” (Speed of Trust, p. 178).  So what’s one reason we fear failure?  To be honest, failure – trial and error, is how we learn.  We try it one way and when it doesn’t work we learn from what we did and try again.  Why is it that some teams become stagnant and stall out rather than take a chance?

Cloud (2013) explained that it’s all about the right kind of fear.  There’s positive stress that helps you get your taxes in on time.  The stress that helps you meet the deadline, yet in the process you never lose sight of the goal.  It helps us focus on closing the gap (p. 65).  If you cross over into the realm of toxic stress as Sinek (2014) and Covey (2006) also mentioned, then your primitive brain takes over and productivity decreases (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 67).

People can’t learn from mistakes if they are too “afraid of what you might do to [them]” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 74).  People need to know that their leader is there for them during times of success, but more importantly, a true leader stands by them and helps them learn from their mistakes (p. 71).

It’s a fine line between healthy, motivating stress and debilitating, toxic fear.  The first step as a leader is reflecting on the culture you have created and realizing that a team united on the same path with healthy brains will always out perform a team paralyzed in fear.

To fail is to begin again knowing one more way that doesn’t work.  It’s a culture shift worth pursuing because the resilience of our students and teams depends on their ability to learn from their experiences rather than being derailed by them.  And that begins with you!


Resources Referenced: 

Other articles:

Behave yourself into trust – Covey’s Suggested Behaviours Part 2

In this post, we continue with a brief overview of Stephen M. R. Covey’s 13 trust building behaviours.  Again these are a very brief summary of those explained in Covey’s book, The Speed Of Trust – The One Thing that Changes Everything (2006).  All to often we talk about the need to build connections and Covey offers concrete strategies that you can implement to increase trust.  Like he said you can’t buy your way out of something you behaved yourself into, but you can behave yourself back into a trusting relationship.

Let’s pick up with #8.

8.  Confront Reality (p. 185- 191)
– What’s the cost of not addressing the elephant in the room?  Covey (2006) asked if you’ve ever been part of the meeting after or before the actual meeting?  What could you accomplish if you addressed what he called the “undiscussables?” (p. 185).  As uncomfortable as it may be to face the issues head on, it will in the long run create stronger relationships.

old-1130743_960_720Pixabay – DariuszSankowski

9. Clarify Expectations (p. 192-199)
– This one will cost you the most if you don’t deal with it up front.  It means that we all need to be on the same page.  We need a shared vision (p.193).  Make the time with your team and your family to clarify what you expect and the standard to which you expect it to be done. How many times, for example, have you asked a family member to do something?  Clean your room…. only to find out it’s not done the way you wanted it or to the same standard….perhaps the results really say more about my instructions than the results say about my daughter’s attempt to clean her room.  She’s 7.  We have different standards of what it means to clean your room.  I really need to work on clarifying my expectations in a pro-active rather reactive way.

– Educators often talk about the importance of before, during and after strategies.  If people aren’t producing a product your are happy with, it may not be because they are purposefully choosing to do poorly.  They may simply have not spent enough time in the before stage.  Clarifying expectations and knowing where you are going before you start is important in ensuring that everyone successfully ends up at the same end point.  Plus it saves time and money.

10.  Practice Accountability (p. 200-207)
– Covey (2006) reminded that there are two key parts.  First, you must hold yourself accountable.  Using Jim Collin’s metaphor, Covey explained that we must close the window and look in the mirror. As a leader, you are part of the success and the failure.  Second, you will have to hold others accountable. If you don’t, other members of the team will become frustrated (p. 204).  What this means is that you must have clear expectations and have provided feedback, so that you can have a conversation about being accountable.

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Pixabay – Clker-Free-Vector-Images

11.  Listen first (p. 208-214)
– Are you really listening?  Are you actively seeking to understand a different perspective before you add your response?  Or are you just waiting and thinking about your reply while the other person is talking?  (p. 209).
– Through a number of challenging personal experiences including a health scare of my own, I’ve been reminded several times that life is all about perspective.  Our experiences shape our stories and impact how we see those around us.  We all have insights to offer based on our life experiences.  Learning to listen … to truly actively listen, will open up a new world of perspective, insight and innovation.

  • Covey offered these key insights:
    • You have to actively listen with your whole body and your brain.  When people feel that they are heard, you they become more willing to listen to your ideas. (FYI, your body language tells people if you are listening or not)
    • Listen before your make up your mind.  If you don’t it will show in how you listen.
    • Listen to understand what matters most to your people, you don’t know everything (and just because you are a leader doesn’t mean that you do need to know everything.  Some of the best leaders I’ve worked for simply said that’s a great question let’s figure it out together.)
    • Remember once you’ve listened others, you also have to listen to yourself.
      (p. 212-214)

Cloud (2013) noted listening as the “glue that makes of the rest of this work” (Boundaries for Leaders, p. 97).  Nothing replaces active listening, “people’s deepest need is to be know and understood before they can join someone or be led by them.  They want to know that you get it” (p. 96).

Lastly, Covey (2006) included one of Peter Drucker’s Eight Practices of Effective Executives.

Listen first, speak last.

(Speed of Trust, p. 210)
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Pixabay – kimheimbuch0

12. Keep Commitments (p. 215-221)
– Covey explained that this is the “Big Kahuna” of behaviors.  The quickest way to build trust or lose it. Roger Merrill explained, “when you make a commitment, you build hope; when you keep it, you build trust” (The Speed of Trust, 2006, p. 215).
–  Building trust is simple.  Think carefully about the commitments you make, keep them and repeat the behavior.  Nothing builds trust faster than following through on what you say you will do (p. 221).

Covey also included a poignant reminder, “family members are often the most important commitments of all” (p.220).  I’m thankful to be surrounded by role models that don’t hesitate to remind me of the ne

13. Extend Trust (p. 222-229)
– Covey explained that this behaviour is different.  Now you actually have to extend trust to others (p. 223).  He advised us not to be foolish in how we trust others but to extend a smart trust based on the situation and the people involved (p. 229). Trust in the end will take you farther.

So how do you build connections within your team?

Have you created a culture where people choose to go above and beyond because they know you value what they do and trust them to make it happen?

It’s always a work in progress. Learning how to be a leader is never done.  What matters is that each day you have an opportunity to practice and build better connections.  As Talley Goodson said at the Color By Amber Summit 2016 conference,

“the only competition you truly have is the person looking back at you in the mirror.”


 Resources Referenced:

Covey’s Recommended Trust Building Behaviours – Part 1

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Pixabay – Geralt

In The Speed of Trust The One Thing That Changes Everything, Stephen M. R. Covey (2006) shared 13 behavioural strategies to increase trust dividends because your behavior will either increase or decrease your connections.  Here’s the very brief descriptions of the 13 key behaviours with my perspective added in.  For a more detailed explanation of the behaviours I highly recommend reading or listening to The Speed of Trust.

Why take the time to review these behaviours?  There’s lots of theories on how to be a good leader, but there isn’t always specific, tangible examples of how to grow as a leader.  Covey’s 13 behaviors offered specific examples that you can practice to become a more trusted leader. I’ve noted the pages in the Speed of Trust that apply to each section, so you can choose to dig into those that matter most to you.

  1. Talk Straight (p. 127-143)
    – Just like it sounds.  “Be honest. Tell the truth” (p. 143). Covey (2006) recommended getting to your point as quickly as possible using simple language. “Recognize that in most cases, “less” is “more.”  In the legal world vernacular, ‘If you’re explaining you’re losing.'” (p. 142).  It’s not always easy and as with most things it will take practice, but do your best to be straightforward in a respectful way.

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    Pixabay – Maiconfz

    – In part one of our series on building connections, we referenced the significance of a shared language.  Shared language and codes enable people to access and share information with other people.  Without a common understanding of the language, communication falters and connections are lost (Daniel, Schwier & McCalla, 2003, p. 6).

  2. Demonstrate Respect (p. 144-151)
    – It shows in your interactions with everyone from your superiors to your cleaning staff.  Be genuine and treat others with dignity.  Kindness is in the little things. Try to do or say something each day that makes someone else smile (p. 150-151).  It’s evident in nonverbal communication, so make sure it shows in a genuine way.
  3. Create Transparency (p. 152-157)
    – It’s a balancing act.  Not all that you know needs or should be shared because people have trusted you with that information, but on the other hand does failing to share information make it seem like you have something to hide?  Covey (2006) suggested being open and authentic.  A what you see is what you get demeanor (p. 157).
  4. Right Wrongs (p. 158-164)
    – Covey asked a simple yet telling question, when you make a mistake how do you respond?
    – Do you own it and take responsibility for it and attempt to make it right by apologizing and making restitution?
    –  Or do you try to rationalize, down play or deny it? (p.160 & 164).Who do you want to be associated with?
    We’re not perfect all the time so make a choice to do better next time and behave yourself into the trust dividends rather than paying higher trust taxes (p. 160).
  5. Show Loyalty (p. 165-171)
    – How you talk about other people when they aren’t there says more about you.  As Stephen R. Covey said, “To retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent” (p. 169).
    – Another point that resonated with me is give credit where credit is due.  Acknowledge the contributions of your team members, as Robert Townsend said, “A leaders doesn’t need any credit . . . He’s getting more credit than he deserves anyway” (p. 165).  Your team, your followers are what is going to make the goal possible.  Value what they do and they will do more for you.
  6. Deliver Results (p. 172 – 176)
    – Results build credibility. “It’s how you establish trust…it’s how you gain flexibility and choices . . . it’s how you can restore trust quickly” (p. 174).  Show that you can do what you say and your credibility will grow.
    – Something I’ve seen happen in both education and business is as Covey explained if you over promise and under deliver you’ll make a withdrawal in the trust account every time (p. 176).  It’s so frustrating when people don’t do what they say.  I can’t build a business on what you might do.  Always under promise and over delivery.
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Pixabay – johnhain

7. Get Better (p. 177-184)
– This was a behaviour that hits close to home for me.  As a grad student and new entrepreneur, the last two years of my life have been about getting better.  I’m an avid learner.  I love learning.  It’s energizing.   Yet the ongoing challenge is how do you take what you’ve learned and step out of your comfort zone.

How do you actually make a change?

This independent study on leadership has enabled me to study a topic I’ve always found interesting, but the challenge is to create a product that will be of value to someone other than me.  And so I’ve struggled with how to share what I’ve learned in a way that won’t overwhelm, yet will make sense others.

– Covey opened this section with one of my all time favourite quotations:toffler

Life is about learning and Covey reminded that continuous improvement builds trust and confidence (p. 178). He also shared John Gardner’s comment, “One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” And to that I would add the reason people stop taking those risks is a double edged sword. For one, it’s easy to stick with what you know.  It’s comfortable and, lets be honest, it means I’m less likely to get hurt or fail publicly.

Second, in what climate or culture am I working?  If I’m constantly afraid of what might happen to me if I fail, I’m certainly not going to risk doing something different. In fact, as Sinek  (2014) and Cloud (2013) reminded us, our brain chemistry is going to take over to ensure our survival.  Fear, however, is another blog post.

Covey explained there are two ways to get better at getting better. First, it’s being confident enough to ask for feedback.  That’s not always easy and sometimes feedback says more about the person giving it than you; however, listening to it gives you ways to get better.  Plus, “what differentiates the best from the good companies is not whether they ask the questions, it’s how they respond to the answers” (p. 181). We all like to be heard, but if nothing every happens…. were you really listening in the first place?

Second, Covey (2006) noted we must learn from our mistakes.  First, we have to be brave enough to risk a mistake because without trying we will never get better. He said, we do what’s comfortable because we are afraid to fail or we just want to look good.

Dee Hock, Founder and Former CEO, Visa International said:

“You learn nothing from your successes except to think too much of yourself.  It is from failure that all growth comes, provided you can recognize it, admit it, learn from it, rise above it, and then try again.” p. 182

Here’s something you could try….

Covey (2006) suggested a Continue/Stop/Start feedback system...

Simply ask:

  1. What is one thing we are now doing that you think we should continue doing?
  2. What is one thing we are now doing that you think we should stop doing?
  3. What is one thing we are not now doing that you think we should start doing?
    (p. 183)

How are you getting better?

Curious about the rest of Covey’s Strategies – Check out Part 2.


 Resources Referenced:

 

Connections – United we stand…

Connections build a united culture… (Connections Part 2)

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United we stand, divided we fall … the leadership choices that you make today shape the culture you live in tomorrow.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your team and achieve goals you thought were out of reach, it begins by creating a culture in which people not only feel safe, they feel valued.

In “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek (2014) introduced us to the Circle of Safety.   Knowing that you are part of the circle of safety frees up people’s minds to focus on the team’s goals.  When a leader creates a culture where you “trust that the people to the left…[and] to the right of us have our backs, the better equipped we are to face the constant threats from outside together” (p. 22). Sinek wrote that you can feel it.  You can feel when you are surrounded by the circle of safety.  We feel valued and cared for by our colleagues and superiors.  We feel like we belong and our confidence grows along with our connections.  All of the group’s energy is directed towards the greater good (p. 24).

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When the circle begins to falter, we become suspicious of those around us and our brains go into survival mode. Our energy is redirected into watching for the dangers all around us instead of trusting our team (Leaders Eat Last, p. 22).  When trust goes down, speed goes down and costs go up (Speed of Trust, 2006, p. 13).  Trust, as Covey (2006) pointed out, is one of the most highly valued competencies of the new global economy (p. 21).

Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) pointed out that “in almost every discussion of social capital, trust is treated as a central variable” (p. 6). While the development of social capital isn’t as simple as a direct cause and effect relationship with trust, Daniel et. al. noted that opportunities for positive social interactions do build trust.  Over time, increased trust is an integral part of growing social capital within a community (p. 6).

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In recent body language and confidence workshops and coaching sessions, Carla Gradin (2015-16) shared building connections is all about building on your know, like and trust factors.  As soon as you meet someone their brain automatically starts to process their first impression of you. Keep in mind first impressions happen in 2-3 seconds, likely before you’ve actually said anything (Gradin, 2015, p. 9). She reminded that our primitive brains immediately sort people into 4 categories:

  1. Friend
  2. Foe
  3. Sexual Partner
  4. Indifferent
    (page 8)

So if you want to build positive connections with people not only does what you say matter, how you say it has more impact than you think. Gradin reinforced Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk comment

“that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”
(minute 4:00).

In order to believe your why, people need to make a connection with you.  Gradin noted that people first notice your hands.  If I can’t see your hands or more specifically the palms of your hands, my primitive brain becomes quite concerned with what you are hiding and if you are a threat (p. 8).  Even palms facing down tells my brain that you could be hiding a weapon and I need to be on alert.  The story people’s body language tells is often more honest than what people actually say.

So how can you help build connections?

Touch, builds connection.  As Sinek (2014) explained in Leaders Eat Last, it’s all about the hormones.  Oxytocin in the right balance can enhance positive, trusting connections. Gradin (2015) explained that when we touch people, it has the potential to release oxytocin, “which can evoke the same feeling of connection equal to 3 hours of talk time” (p.10).  In Super Better, Jane McGonigal (2015) explained “touch and gratitude are two of the most effective” (p. 17) ways to increase your social resilience.  In particular, McGonigal noted that 6 seconds of holding hands or touching someone not only increased your oxytocin level but theirs as well.  The more oxytocin you release the more likely you are to help and protect that person which deepens your connection (p. 18).  Gradin added that when shaking someone’s hand making eye contact also enhances oxytocin release (p. 10).

Interestingly, McGonigal highlighted research by Dr. Robert Emmons & Cheryl A. Crumpler along with Sara B. Algoe, Jonathan Haidt and Shelly L. Gable when she wrote:

“gratitude is the single most important relationship-strengthening emotion because, as researchers explain, ‘it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people'” (p. 18).

It turns out that expressing your appreciation is one of the best ways to build positive connections with others (McGonigal, p. 18), which is why Gradin highlighted the significance of the handshake.  When done well, it’s a socially accepted greeting that can enhance how people see your agreeableness (you appear more extroverted), your open mindedness and your emotional stability (p. 10).  Wonder what a great handshake is – check out our video on the handshake.

Interested in learning specific behaviours that can increase your trust factor?  Check out our next post on Covey’s Recommended Trust Building Behaviours.

 


 Resources Referenced: