Tag: Community

Reading notes (2021, week 23): On pluralities of people, mindsets of a leader, and why it pays to notice emotions in the workplace

Pluralities of people come in three kinds

I read this on Alan Jacobs’ blog:

One of the most fundamental ideas that Auden held in the 1950s — the period of his career that I’m working on right now — was that “pluralities” of people come in three kinds. From an essay called “Nature, History, and Poetry” (published in Thought in 1950), with bold type added by me:

  1. “A crowd consists of n members where n > 1, whose sole characteristic in common is togetherness. A crowd loves neither itself nor anything other than itself. It can only be counted; its existence is chimerical.”

  2. “A society consists of x members, i.e. a certain finite number, united in a specific manner into a whole with a characteristic mode of behavior which is different from the behavior of its several members in isolation (e.g. a molecule of water or a string quartet). A society has a definite size, a specific structure and an actual existence.”

  3. “A community consists of n members, all of them rational beings united by a common love for something other than themselves.”

The tragedy of social media is this: Each given social-media platform consists of a crowd pretending to be either a society or a community.

To which I add – The tragedy of the modern corporation is this:  Each given company consists of a society pretending to be a community (“here at ABC Inc., we’re a family“).

==
source: Alan Jacobs, pluralities (accessed 210601)


Six mindsets of a leader

  1. Transcender: Seeks benefits for the whole ecosystem
  2. Builder: Zeroes in on building the organization
  3. Dynamo: Focuses on clear strategy or set of goals
  4. Chameleon: Adapts to surroundings and will serve anyone
  5. Egoist: Tries to maximize benefit to himself or herself
  6. Sociopath: Serves no one and believes the rules don’t apply

Questions: Which one are you? Which one is your manager?

==
source: Modesto A. Maidique and Nathan J. Hiller, “The Mindsets of a Leader” in MIT Sloan Management Review (accessed 210601)


Why it pays to notice emotions in the workplace

Emotional acknowledgment is the simple act of noticing a nonverbal emotional cue — like a frown or grin — and mentioning it. This mention can be a question or a statement such as “You look upset,” or “You seem excited.” (…) this small act can have a powerful effect because it is read as a sign of genuine intentions.

in a work environment, a supervisor who shows concern for others’ emotional state is signaling a willingness to get involved in a potentially messy situation. “A leader could very easily see someone in distress and choose to ignore it,” Yu says. “But only a leader who truly is benevolent and cares about employees would risk getting involved by voluntarily acknowledging the distressed employee. Thus, employees might take this as a signal that this leader is someone who can be trusted with their well-being.”

in  research across six studies, (…) participants reported higher levels of trust in people who engaged in emotional acknowledgment than those who did not.

This result aligned with the theory

Asking someone who seems unhappy about their emotional state engenders higher levels of trust because it is riskier and involves a greater investment of attention, time, and effort than asking someone who seems happy.

There was, in addition, an unexpected finding:

acknowledging an employee’s emotional state is more powerful than only acknowledging the situation that produced the emotions. “It turns out that saying something like, ‘You looked upset after that meeting. How are you feeling about it?’ lands better than saying something like, ‘It looked like the meeting went poorly. How are you thinking about it?’ Yu explains.
“People trust the person who acknowledges the emotion directly more than the person who acknowledges the situation. There’s just something special and unique about emotions — they are really core to a person’s inner experience and sense of self. So when we acknowledge emotions, we humanize and validate the person being acknowledged.”

And another unexpected finding: you don’t even have to get it right

the trust-building effect of emotional acknowledgment is not always dependent on correctly interpreting emotions, particularly when positive feelings are misread.

But emotional support is not part of my formal job expectations as a manager!

If leaders want to signal care and build trust, they need to meet people where they are. The worst thing leaders can do when employees are feeling badly is to do nothing. Our research suggests one way to do that is by proactively engaging in emotional acknowledgment because it grants employees the space and license to share their emotions.

==
The paper: Alisa Yu, Justin M. Berg, Julian J. Zlatev, “Emotional acknowledgment: How verbalizing others’ emotions fosters interpersonal trust”, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Volume 164, 2021, Pages 116-135. The report:  Theodore Kinni, “All the Feels: Why It Pays to Notice Emotions in the Workplace”, Insights, Stanford Business, May 13, 2021.

A subtler, more intangible, but vital kind of moral consensus: Comity

[It] exists in a society to the degree that those enlisted in its contending interests have a basic minimal regard for each other: one party or interest seeks the defeat of an opposing interest on matters of policy, but at the same time seeks to avoid crushing the opposition, denying the legitimacy of its existence or its values, or inflicting upon it extreme and gratuitous humiliations beyond the substance of the gains that are being sought.

The basic humanity of the opposition is not forgotten; civility is not abandoned; the sense that a community life must be carried on after the acerbic issues of the moment have been fought over and won is seldom very far out of mind; an awareness that the opposition will someday be the government is always present

(source)

Mintzberg: time to think of organizations as communities of cooperation

Our obsession with leadership, of any kind, causes us to build organisations that are utterly dependent on individual initiative. We do not allow them to function as communities. So when they fail, we blame the leader, and seek a better one. Like drug addicts, each time we need a bigger hit.

Consider that ubiquitous organisation chart, with its silly boxes of “top”, and “middle”, and bottom managers. How come we never say “bottom managers”? This is no more than a distorted metaphor. It tells us that we are fixated on who has authority over what and whom. The painting may not be the pipe, but to most of us, the chart has become the organisation.

Isn’t it time to think of our organisations as communities of cooperation, and in so doing put leadership in its place: not gone, but alongside other important social processes.

[O]bsession with leadership is the cause of many of the world’s problems. [L]et us get rid of the cult of leadership, striking at least one blow at our increasing obsession with individuality. Not to create a new cult around distributed leadership, but to recognize that the very use of the word leadership tilts thinking toward the individual and away from the community. We don’t only need better leadership, we also need less leadership.

via FT.com.

 

Parting words to graduating students

my advice to you is simple:

find out what you are meant to do and do it,

and find out who you really are, under all the junk that has been attached to you by those who would make you everybody else, and be that.

(…)

what you are meant to do and who you really are are not the same thing:

what you’re meant to do is learned, discovered,

but who you really are has always been there — it is a matter of unlearning who you have been told to be, or told you are, or should be,

until all that is left is the knowledge of who you are and always were: nobody but yourself.

via How to Save the World.

The girl effect

A presentation with written words only. Self-standing and brilliant.

Watch it… and do something!

thanks Rowan.

UNICEF

(thanks Rowan)

Six degrees of Jeff

Lois is a type — a particularly rare and extraordinary type, but a type nonetheless. She’s the type of person who seems to know everybody, and this type can be found in every walk of life. Someone I met at a wedding (actually, the wedding of the daughter of Lois’s neighbors, the Newbergers) told me that if I ever went to Massapequa I should look up a woman named Marsha, because Marsha was the type of person who knew everybody. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the word is that a tailor named Charlie Davidson knows everybody. In Houston, I’m told, there is an attorney named Harry Reasoner who knows everybody. There are probably Lois Weisbergs in Akron and Tucson and Paris and in some little town in the Yukon Territory, up by the Arctic Circle.

We’ve all met someone like Lois Weisberg. Yet, although we all know a Lois Weisberg type, we don’t know much about the Lois Weisberg type. Why is it, for example, that these few, select people seem to know everyone and the rest of us don’t? And how important are the people who know everyone?

My Lois is a guy called Jeff. Read this New Yorker piece for more on six degrees of separation

Passive violence leads to seven blunders: Gandhi

Mohandas K. Gandhi was convinced much of the violence in society and in our personal lives stems from the passive violence that we commit against each other. He described these acts of passive violence as the “Seven Blunders”. Grandfather gave me the list in 1947 just before we left India to return to South Africa where my father, Manilal, Gandhi’s second son, and my mother, Sushila, worked for nonviolent change. In the Indian tradition of adding one’s knowledge to the ancient wisdom being passed on, and in keeping with what Grandfather said and wrote about responsibility, I have added an eighth item to the list of blunders. – Arun Gandhi

  • Wealth Without Work
  • Pleasure Without Conscience
  • Knowledge Without Character
  • Commerce Without Morality
  • Science Without Humanity
  • Worship Without Sacrifice
  • Politics Without Principles
  • Rights Without Responsibilities

(source: M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence)