“In order to carry a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision.” – Dalai Lama
Today, the world is becoming global and volatile witnessing tremendous shifts in paradigms at all levels. Digitalization shortened the distances between cultures and made it an international workplace on a daily basis. Recruiters and headhunters are emphasizing more on positive mindset managers or leaders able to fit easily in and be part of a new vision.
Interpersonal competencies, soft skills, the quality of contacts, the capacity to lead and inspire teams have become a great debate and the FOCUS of many institutions, organizations and even universities. It is why they all need more leaders and better leaders who are able to play a determinant role and can leave their footprints all based on a positive attitude contributingto a positive management.
There is a great correlation between a positive attitude in the workplace and a positive management. Let’s first define what positive management is all about. In the “100 golden rules of positive management” by Magali Mounier and Solenne Roland, positive management is defined as a performing management based on the Human. Positive and happy management involve the team in everything to be able to develop the feeling of belonging and the spirit of collaboration, so that each of your collaborators asks the question “how can I contribute? Rather than “what do I gain”.
Positive management is based on mutual respect, cares about the team, builds trust and long lasting relationships. It does not avoid difficult situations or complex subjects as it knows exactly how to handle them based on encouragements and team support. Positive management does not fear great talents as it aims to empower and provide them with the tools to achieve their goals.
There are many other ways to achieve a positive management and the results proved to be very rewarding, but the basic element to start with is to embrace a positive attitude on a daily basis independently of the challenges. Embracing a positive attitude is not enough unless it is visible and beneficial to the team working with you. Being positive is nothing to do with external factors to your life as it should come from INSIDE. Once reached from inside, we don’t need to spread it as everyone will be able to feel it; it will be enough to inspire, motivate people around you. In the same book, according to neuroscience studies, a brain in positive mode is more productive by 31% than in neutral or stressed mode and sales of positive and optimistic managers can increase by 37%.
This “new approach” has been inspired from education and positive psychology and underlines quality of work, team respect, involvement, and optimism. It focuses more on encouragement that lead to great realizations than on failures and professional sanctions.
Some of you may be thinking already that this approach is like a cock-and-bull story especially nowadays; others may think that it will remain a dream that will never come true despite the efforts going on to implement this new vision.
To me there is nothing new and exceptional about positive management as it is simply an AWAKENING of Human rights and values. This is how we need to treat people if we would like to be treated equally. But the challenge is not to review the concept of leadership or to set up new vision of key principles of positive management, but to find people who embrace already such values and feel able to adhere easily. In this case, we simply need to hire Humans before searching for leadership qualities and traits.
Today there are a variety of tests of qualifications during the hiring process; we may need to add a new test relevant to spot the Humans from the non humans. The issue sometimes is with the recruiters, decision makers and stakeholders’ themselves as they expect such attributes in the workplace while they are unable to adopt them. They are searching for positive leaders while their strategies lack transparency and credibility. They would like to hire committed people when their sole focus is getting profit and great results. They are adopting horizontal structures that aim initially empowerment and professional evolvement while the only motivation behind is economic and marketing short cuts.
The best act of management is when there is coherence between our beliefs and acts; our words and actions independently of the terminology used. This is the only way we can build trust around us. If trust is built, respect and loyalty are returned.
With a positive management or Human based management, there are absolutely great benefits when embracing them.
Three main aspects to consider:
1. Create a happy work place
Obviously, any happy act and word will generate happy interactions and then great results, is not that simple? According to a research by the university Harvard: a happy employee is two times less ill, six times less absent, nine times more loyal and 55% more creative. By promoting happiness at work, spontaneous applications have increased by 500% per year, voluntary departures have decreased by 75%, and economic indicators have improved.
To create a positive environment, you have to be positive first and lead by example. To be positive does not mean that you have to be zero challenges and constraints; it is simply the ability to use these challenges to learn and evolve.
“A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.” – Joyce Meyer
2. Contribute to a healthy environment
We all witnessed cases of unhealthy workplaces that lead to stress, anxiety and even suicide in a very well established corporations. In such environments, we often favor sanctions on open communication and constructive feedbacks. Many neurosciences studies proved that by understanding situations positively, you influence the quality of work and quality of hormones released by your brain that have a direct impact on your immune defenses and your health. This optimistic management protects you more from the harmful effects of stress and makes you more efficient.
How many of you are able to keep calm when your objectives or bonuses are threatened? How many of you are able to create a healthy environment? If you do, make sure to know how to maintain it, this is what positive management is also about.
3. More engagement from the team
To attain more engagement from the team, we need to empower and develop the existing talents for long lasting collaborations. The Boston consulting group in a report published in March 2016 for the world economic forum, emphasizes the supremacy of socio-emotional skills on technical skills. It is for this reason; many companies and institutions will have to develop talents and new competencies if they seek to handle the challenges of tomorrow specifically in such global digitalized world. The ten key competencies agreed on are: critical thinking and the capacity to handle complex problems, creativity, the capacity to communicate effectively, the capacity to collaborate, curiosity, new initiatives, perseverance, adaptability, leadership and social and cultural openness.
To go through this new vision, make sure to water the right flowers, not the ones that consider themselves mature enough and shining already as they may not know the value of being hungry and humble.
“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.” William Arthur Ward
Positive management is not a magic solution in the workplace; it is not a myth neither but a reality that we need to work hard on it and make it happen depending on our motivations. I believed in positive management before reading about it. The reason is simple is that we are all Humans and we all expect human considerations based on HUMAN values. Whatever the terminology you believe in or apply, understanding of the very most basic human values and rights are the cornerstone of any successful management; without awareness, we will be like a playing thing of the winds, or a vision without a direction.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principal that holds all relationships.” – Stephen Covey
Today, we are all witnessing a great crisis regarding Trust. This variation impacts all of us at work, family, with friends, within governmental institutions and across cultures. Many corporations, companies, associations and universities are working on elaborated strategies and execution plans attempting to achieve great outcomes. Often these strategies, despite the considerable efforts and resources behind, turn into failures or insufficient results. Additional efforts are again engaged to search for deviations while the only deviation in most cases is the lack of TRUST.
Unfortunately, it’s not our behavior that affects TRUST but mainly the way it is interpreted by others. We can have control on our behaviors and our intentions but we cannot control people’s misunderstanding and then bad interpretations. When you trust someone-friend, colleague, or a boss, he does not need further explanations even when the message is not clear. However, when you don’t trust the person, despite the clarity of the message, there are great chances of misinterpretations and doubt. There is nothing that functions without TRUST. Try to name one single relationship that functions without trust-friendship, partnership, marriage and so on. Many researches and studies proved that our level of trust is very low compared to other countries.
The African continent has a level of 18% of trust compared to 60% in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Is it a coincidence? An error in their evaluations? We are getting more and more insurance companies, regulations, forms, sanctions. Do you think they all have a correlation with trust?
I always wondered why we tend to focus more on strategies, pre-defined plans rather than building TRUST. We spend a lot of money on market research, marketing campaigns, corporate social activities for brand image and not on new means of building or restructuring trust within organizations. Here remains the big challenge!
I always considered trust as something invisible; something either we feel or not. I did not know that we can MEASURE trust until I read the book “The Power of Trust” by Stephen M.R. Covey. Trust, according to him, can be measured and quantified; trust can affects speed and cost. When trust is low, the speed of getting things decreases and the cost increases. When trust is high, the speed increases and the cost decreases. Think about the aspect of cheating in universities or in institutions; when trust is affected, the speed of getting the students into their classes may be low and the cost increases as they need more teachers to supervise. When trust is dominant, in some cases, the speed will increase tremendously with no cost involved.
I worked in the telecom industry for many years; it was obvious to define an annual budget for all our marketing campaigns and related expenses for an enhanced visibility and cost control. In another context, this exercise did not look that simple. I had to define a budget for every single campaign or event, wait for an approval from the stakeholders, and then execute. The process of approval was long, and then the cost was higher as I had to negotiate for single units with no annual consideration.
We always end up spending more money for fewer activities because of trust across cultures and long distance communication.
Who is responsible in this case? The stakeholders or the marketing manager? This reconfirms the approach of Stephen Covey. Trust is the parameter that changes everything. It is a great source of motivation and inspiration that many decision makers still ignore. It is the best way to build great relations and tangible results. What about you? Who do you trust? Why do you trust them?
There is nothing faster than then the speed of trust. There is nothing more fulfilling than a trustful relationship. There is nothing more inspiring than the trust granted by others. There is nothing more attractive than a reliable reputation.
High or low, trust is the hidden variable that can contribute to the success of the company. When strategy is multiplied by execution, then it equals results but trust is not considered in this equation. You can have a great strategy and well planned execution, but we can always get bad results because of a low level of trust.
In many cases, TRUST depends on two main aspects: personality traits and competencies. The first aspect encompasses integrity, motivation, and the intention. Competencies cover the person’s capacities, expertise, and the results. You can be convinced that one of your team is honest and sincere but if he does not generate the expected results, then TRUST is affected. All our relations are based on trust and can be destroyed by a biased trust.
In this case can we rebuild trust when everything goes wrong? Can we restructure relations when betrayal has taken place? Are we able to give new chances to others to create a new identity and a new brand?
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
I always believe that in order to get new chances from others to rebuild trust from personal or professional perspectives, we need also to give others the same chances. It’s better to trust and be deceived than to trust no one as it may costly too. Trust can be recovered and even increased but here I personally will add a new variable related to the country and the culture. In order to restore trust in any relationship, we need to understand how trust has been lost. Violations related to integrity are more difficult to restore than other violations like insufficient results.
Trust is the essence of a successful relation or collaboration. It is the basic element we need to rely on before jumping into strategies and execution plans. It is hard to build and very easy to lose. Rebuilding trust may take time or it may remain a myth as we will never be able to control other intentions and interpretations despite a great personal goodwill. But it always deserves a new try!
Standardization or adaption? Have you ever answered this question from a personal perspective?
The main challenge a business may face in internationalization is the degree of standardization or adaptation regarding its operations. Going global implies a clear and definite strategy that will fit both the organization and the local culture. The purpose is to attain both business profitability and customer satisfaction.
What about handling this question at the personal level? Which strategy are you lined up with? The key is to be aware of it before answering this question.
Let me first explain the differences between these two concepts from a strategic marketing point of view. Supporters of standardization adopt this strategy for the global market to provide the same quality of product, achieve consistency, and lower costs. It is an excellent way to monitor communication, but it can create negative reaction from neglecting local needs. On the contrary, the international adaptation approach, like the case of McDonald’s, emphasizes on customizing the product depending on different factors such as the culture, language, race, taste, different laws.
You may be wondering what these two concepts have to do with our own personal life journey and strategies. How many of you are embracing the standardization approach to fit easily in your own personal or professional environment? Are you in “everything is done this way” to ensure a comfortable, less risky life denying your own values, thoughts and attitude? Are you setting them apart for social or organizational recognition? People applying this approach may benefit from a global brand image, an easy way to fit everywhere to facilitate their social integration, but may lack a unique personal identity, inner values and high self-esteem.
“Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are.” – Jennifer Crusie
What about people considering adaptation of standards, thoughts, and style of management depending on the audience. People in this case are continuously challenged to revamp their attitude, language, style of work, and ethical codes to adapt to all situations searching for acceptance and success. Some people will call it hypocrisy; others may look at it as diplomacy… Where are you within these two approaches?
Are you in between or brave enough to DARE your own brand identity however the environment and the culture? Are you a person of SUCCESS or a person of VALUE?
My goal is far behind setting a judgment on one of these approaches as we may all be forced one day to adopt one of them for lack of alternatives and solutions. Suppose you take an exam in a thunderstorm and another person in a silent proof room. Once we get the test scores, are we allowed to say who was better in the exam? As long as we don’t live the same conditions, and the same challenges, we cannot afford to put judgment on the manner each one of us may handle his life journey.
“Every decision in your life is controlled by your beliefs and values. You may not realize it, but you have the power to choose what you believe about your life, people, money and health… The key is to be aware of them because what you value determines what you focus on.” – Tony Robbins
Standardization may appear to be the easiest and “less risky” strategy to embrace as it does not involve much creativity except denying your inner thoughts, values and cultural attributes. For example, Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist, defined and analyzed for many years six cultural dimensions that categorize each culture, but these dimensions are now in a process of becoming obsolete, because of the SHIFT of our attitudes and beliefs.
“Modernity: we created youth without heroism, age without wisdom, and life without grandeur.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
It’s true that adaptation requires more effort and adjustment from the person. It can also be perceived as an easy going mode to adopt, but it may create confusion and double identity. Many people find it inevitable in some cases because after all the purpose is to adapt to the environment without ignoring the core principles.
The most challenging approach to me, is neither standardization not adaptation, but to live a life in total alignment with your own values, beliefs, style of work, attitude, and to be able to express your inner thoughts without doubt, and fear however the circumstances. People like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela did not only live a life in accordance with their ethical values, but they were a symbol of global peacemaking. They even devoted their whole life to defend the values they cherished regarding peace and human rights. Despite the rejection and the social exposure they were faced with, the reward was at all levels: personal, social, political, and professional.
We don’t need to be like Martin Luther King or others to live with dignity, respect to our set of values and thoughts, but we simply need to be who we really are. The key is to be aware of our own beliefs and goals, and strongly believe and work on them.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Interviews have become a burden on both the employer and the candidate at all levels. The interviewer is searching for a quick and concrete way that can accelerate the “decision making”; and the candidate whatever his status, has to handle a series of questions keeping a smooth and clear communication. It may not be always the case for some people as they are often dispersed by details and have to handle stress equally.
SMART interview may be confused with the SMART method often used in defining goals and objectives that should be–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time based. The S.M.A.R.T. format in this article stands for Situation, Mission, Actions, Results, and Thoughts. This method can pen a SMART story for each of your accomplishments, project you worked on to avoid getting drowned in useless information that can be of no value to the interviewer. The story should be set up briefly in a very clear way, with an emphasis on the actions undertaken, and wrap it with the results and the key learnings. Each story should reflect one of your achievements or projects in your background, but select the story that is most relevant to the job applied for, reflecting your competencies and skills.
The SMART format can involve even professionals, corporate managers or simply people that need to handle speeches, reports or presentations seeking consistency and reliability based on tangible facts and outputs.
A SMART Interview is the ability to respond to each one of these elements in a very Clair and Concise way picking up the key elements of each achievement. One or two sentences at each level will be sufficient.
This part should explain the situation or the driving forces that lead to the initiation of the project, the creation of the position you represented or simply the general context that contributed to such launch or decision. Here an example: your position right now may be a new creation for the company. It may be interesting to describe the reasons behind this creation, or the facts, conditions and events that contributed to such project. Many launches or projects can also be the results of a market research or a sudden issue to overcome.
Your Mission is what you stood for to respond to such context or situation described earlier. As a mission, you may have to enhance the organization’s brand awareness as a result of a market research. Your mission can also be an increase of sales of 20% or a decrease of the churn of 10%.
Whatever your mission is, it should be in line with the situation. It should be short, clear, and useful.
What actions did you take? If your mission was to enhance brand awareness, what were the actions you went through to increase this rate. It may be interesting to describe the events or channels of communication used to respond to the strategy pre-defined.
What were the results of those actions? Your realizations should be quantified and compared to the objective fixed in the beginning. This can allow you to explain if there were any deviations and how you managed these deviations or gaps. The way you handled this gap may be more appealing to the employer than the actions themselves as it may mirror your added value.
This part is the most neglected item in the story. It should describe the key learning we got from each experience and project. It does not matter if your realizations were great or not, what matters most is your ability to learn from past mistakes and failures and use them for future orientations. The more you embrace failures and learn from them, the more you will have chances to evolve.
You can also include your emotions and feelings, things that most people attempt to hide. Emotions create all the difference because it can describe how you felt about this experience and how you managed to handle it.
The SMART format is an excellent way to describe your achievements in a very clear and concise manner but Attitude is the determining factor of its success as it can either reflect a doubt about your arguments or mirror a great sense of determination
Beyond the scope of your achievements, we all need to change certain perceptions about Interviews:
A SMART Interview is also about a smart way of assessing the company strengths and weaknesses before applying as it may be a lost of time and energy for you;
A SMART Interview is to be aware of your own values and objectives to be able to check if they are lined up with the organization’s as it may give you a big jump forward or a hit in your career;
A SMART interview is to be clear about your own questions so that you can assess the employer’s credibility. Not all headhunters and employers are reliable. Some of them may have no clue of the hiring etiquettes and norms, with all my respect to those who excel in this role;
A SMART Interview is to be conscious that not all rejections from employers has to do with your competencies as sometimes they themselves lack these competencies and skills;
A SMART Interview is know about your exact value and search for a job-not any job- that reflects your potential and not a position to fill in a specific company;
A SMART Interview is the confidence you put on when talking about your achievements and not the achievements themselves. It is about your attitude and not about facts and events;
A SMART Interview is simply to be yourself and not someone else. Being honest and authentic is not about pleasing others, but being in harmony with yourself. So “Be so good, they can’t ignore you,” Steve Martin. If they do, keep looking, don’t settle, and keep faith. Sometimes, it can be a great piece of luck not getting that job.
Today, we are all experiencing big transformations at all levels due to an ecosystem hyper connected, digitalization, entrepreneurial revolution, emergence of horizontal enterprises, and difficulty in economic growth…The big challenge for organizations and leaders is to balance between these transformations handling meantime their personal and professional constraints. To meet this challenge, leaders must reinvent the way they manage organizations integrating a new model of leadership based on Mindfulness.
Beyond the critical thinking, courage, and creativity discussed in the world forum of 2016, Mindfulness has become part of the fundamentals for leaders to embrace in order to be able to handle successfully this transformation.
Let’s first define what Mindfulness is all about and how it can impact leadership and decision making in professional environment. Mindfulness as defined by its founder Jon Kabat-Zinn: is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally. It’s about knowing what is in your mind.” Mindfulness is part of meditation but there is a slight difference to consider. Mindfulness is not about to switch off the mind but developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to reality; it is developing the skill of being in the present moment. It is about self-consciousness without any additional thought or judgment. You may be wondering how?
Embarking on the journey of mindfulness can be difficult in the beginning but once embraced on a daily basis, it becomes even natural- take at least ten minutes out of each day to remain mindful when drinking coffee, walking, during a break at work, or before sleep. How many of you when eating or walking, they are not aware and conscious about what they are eating as their minds are focused on other issues? Being mindful is the ability to focus on walking in this case and observe your steps, your breath and nothing else.
My favorite experience in Being Mindful is when I write. I am focused only on my thoughts, ideas, on my breath; I am completely aware of my feelings and simply enjoying the moment I am writing that can turn into great moments of concentration, joy and well-being.
Mindfulness will enable you to be aware and repair our minds in an environment that has become extremely stressful. Think about yourself, observe yourself, your emotions or simply become aware of what you are doing. When you are stressed, anxious, sad, or lonely, try to observe your emotions, try to be mindful to be able to develop self-consciousness. But don’t judge if your thoughts are good or bad, just watch them. Why do you think we need to be self-conscious?
The Aim of Mindfulness is to develop mastery, self control and self-regulation, enhance our focus, and listening skills, increase wisdom which will lead to profound realizations. Mindfulness has become one of the first skills to develop nowadays. It is something that we need to integrate at schools from early age, within organizations, to ensure a productive, positive new generation. Mindfulness is part of the pillars of the well being at work or from personal perspectives. It can also enhance our relations and develop more focus especially in an environment often bombarded by email, messages, and texts. According to Gloria Mark, a researcher at Irvine University of California who studies digital distraction, we are interrupted on average every 3 minutes! Once distracted, it can take up to 23 minutes to move back to the initial task, even if the distraction lasts only few seconds.
There are tremendous benefits when adopting mindfulness. There are 4 main things to consider that can impact positively Leadership and decision making, discussed by Yves le Bihan in his book, “The Positive Leader.”
To fit in a world shifting very fast, leadership has been reviewed. The new debate today is based on how to integrate mindfulness among other aspects such as the cognitive neuroscience and the science of positive psychology. The combination of the three approaches will enable leaders new revolutionary tools for handling big transformations and reinventing leadership as they all prioritize the Human well-being, positive thinking, optimism, and personal growth.
My aim is not to talk about the three disciplines but to emphasize on the importance of Mindfulness and its major role in improving decision making and efficiency at work. With mindfulness, self-conciseness is enhanced tremendously. It has proved also to have a direct impact on memorization, on the learning process, and adaption to changes.
Cognition has to do with how a person understands the world and how he acts in it. Cognitive abilities are more related to memory skills and concentration. Mindfulness has proved a positive impact on focus, flexibility at work, and hence a better creativity and sensitivity towards the environment. The focus on the present moment creates a better well-being and more optimism because we are more likely to concentrate on the present rather than on the regrets of the past or the fear about the future.
By focusing on the present moment and creating positive impact, you influence the quality of hormones released by your brain that have a direct impact on your immune defenses and your health. This management by optimism protects you from the harmful effects of stress and makes you more productive and focused.
Enhanced emotional intelligence enable leaders more self-consciousness and self-control of their emotions and of the others. When this basic aspect is mastered, it makes communication more fluid and smoother for leaders. It will allow them a better conflict management, constructive cooperation and interactions with the team.
Professional relations are mainly about Human interactions, respect, understanding, and not only about work, objectives and realizations as it is already the case for many corporations.
On our Health
All the benefits are interrelated. When a deeper self-consciousness is achieved, then this will lead to better self-esteem. Beyond the benefits discussed above, Mindfulness has been also associated with improved sleep quality and lowered anxiety and depression.
Success today is no longer dependent on technical skills and competencies but on our emotional intelligence and our ability to master and embrace other qualities. A Mindful leader tend to be more effective in understanding others, focused, non reactive and efficient under pressure.
According to Ray Kurzweil at Google, in 2030, artificial intelligence predicts that machines will be capable of being emotional intelligent, funny, understanding jokes, loving and understanding the human emotion. If machines will be able to develop emotional intelligence, what are doing right now to enhance yours? Maybe if you don’t take initiatives for your own personal growth, you will be simply be replaced by a machine. Period.