I've been disagreeable for as long as I can remember.  Case in point: when in the first grade I was forced to wear a gypsy costume for Halloween when I really wanted to wear the Hawaiian Girl costume, I refused to smile in any pictures. I used to worry about that scowl, but new research shows that my disagreeable streak might actually be a virtue.

A new study published in the Journal of Personality shows that in an experiment involving delivering electric shocks "nice" people were more likely to follow orders while "unfriendly" or disagreeable people were less likely to hurt others.

There you go.



Confidence and Competence

Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? That is the crucial question tackled by HBR.

The answer in a nutshell: an "inability to discern between confidence and competence."

But what of the followers?

"Freud argued that the psychological process of leadership occurs because a group of people — the followers — have replaced their own narcissistic tendencies with those of the leader, such that their love for the leader is a disguised form of self-love, or a substitute for their inability to love themselves."

And unfortunately,

"Most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management."


Yertle the Turtle

... But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand And started to order and give the command, That plain little turtle below in the stack, That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack, Decided he'd taken enough. And he had. And that plain little lad got a bit mad. And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing. He burped! And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees, The king of the air and the birds and the bees, The king of a house and a cow and a mule... Well, that was the end of the Turtle King's rule! For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond, Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!

And tosay the great Yertle, that Marvelous he, Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see. And the turtles, of course... all the turtles are free As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

~ Dr. Seuss



"It has always involved sending smart outsiders into organizations for a finite period of time and asking them to recommend solutions for the most difficult problems confronting their clients."

But today the consulting industry is undergoing tremendous change.  It's a disruption that other professional services should heed - namely, management and leadership training, and professional development.

What does the disruption look like?  Technology

"One of the most intriguing of these is McKinsey Solutions, software and technology-based analytics and tools that can be embedded at a client, providing ongoing engagement outside the traditional project-based model."

Don't believe me?  See what Clay Christensen has to say about it over at the HBR.

Succeeding in Business for Women

This advice really resonated with me.  From Amy Schulman, executive at Pfizer  

"Q. You touched on the point of confidence earlier. Can you elaborate?

A. For many guys, this is simpler because they’re not as over-invested in the question of “Do I belong?” Everything is not a test. If you’re not viewing interactions as a litmus test for whether you belong, you’re going to act better. On the other hand, if you’re looking all the time for that kind of validation, you’re either going to be self-conscious or insecure, and neither of those is a recipe for success. What you want is the kind of inherent confidence that leads to grace. You want to be around people who are having fun and enjoying what they’re doing"

Start-up Thinking

Start-ups often think they are inventing something new - kind of like teenagers. Latest case in point: new management styles and jargon. Encapsulated in "we do organization without organization" or "we have no managers" manifestos. They can be bowled over by a new way to run a meeting - anything with an acronym is especially compelling. Why? Because most start-up founders and many of their employees have never been around great management or frankly, a well run meeting.

You don't need jargon or need to adopt a whole new organizational paradigm to figure out meetings and eliminate their problems.

All you need to do is learn how to communicate effectively. Unfortunately, there isn't a fancy fun term or a program you can license for it. Worse, it requires a lot of self-awareness. Which requires hard, ongoing work.

Kind of makes boring meetings seem worth it.

Mindful Leaders

"The practice of mindful leadership gives you tools to measure and manage your life as you're living it. It teaches you to pay attention to the present moment, recognizing your feelings and emotions and keeping them under control, especially when faced with highly stressful situations. When you are mindful, you're aware of your presence and the ways you impact other people. You're able to both observe and participate in each moment, while recognizing the implications of your actions for the longer term. And that prevents you from slipping into a life that pulls you away from your values."  

~ Bill George in HBR

On Leadership

Professor Gruenfeld at Stanford's Graduate School of Business is an authority on leadership and power. Some leadership pointers gleaned from her teachings:

• Leadership is about bringing your personal truth to a “professional” role.

• It’s not what you say, but how you say it that affects how others perceive you.

• Be present in the moment, not in the past or future.

• Get off of yourself, make it about the other person.

Why Nice Guys Finish Last

New organizational behavior research out of Northwestern and Carnegie Mellon reveals that "taking care of others in your group and even taking care of outsiders may reduce a nice guy's chance of becoming a leader." Context, it turns out, matters: "Nice guys don't make it to the top when their group needs a dominant leader to lead them at a time of conflict."

So what does this mean for women leaders? Like all leaders, one style won't work all the time.

What's Your Leadership Style?

I'll admit it, when I first started as an entrepreneur I didn't give leadership much thought, much less what style I used. But I am a wiser woman today. Unsure of your leadership style? I took an interesting quiz (no longer online) by Entrepreneur.com. My results?

Your Score Is... 152 Your leadership type is: The Enlightened Warrior (Score: 123-200) Whether they've worked hard to develop their leadership qualities or they're one of the lucky ones to be born that way, Enlightened Warriors have what it takes to lead a team towards success. People who fall into this category possess excellent people skills and a knack for inspiring both enthusiasm and loyalty from others.

With their strong drive to succeed and their eyes constantly on the horizon, Enlightened Warriors are always on top of the latest business trends, ready to seize upon good opportunities. Individuals with this leadership type don't wait for things to happen - they make them happen. Always willing to go out on a limb when necessary, they can easily adapt to the often unpredictable changes in the business world.

Enlightened Warriors take their responsibility as leader very seriously and do their best to set an example for those that follow them. They command respect from others by offering the same degree of respect in return.

Draw an E

Social scientists devised a way to determine if bosses are empathetic. You can use it, too. Here's how you do it: Ask your boss (or anybody really) to use her forefinger to draw an E on her forehead. Give it a try yourself now.

Done? The way a person draws the E - either facing herself or another, tells you all you need to know about the perspective taking of the finger's owner. If the E faces out so another can read it as an E, the finger owner is taking the perspective of another and therefore demonstrating more empathy.

To understand why empathy counts in leadership, read Daniel Pink's take here.