Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 14th 2013 Contents BG16 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt NOVEMBER 2013 • WEEK TWO
Make the most of a
meeting with senior
A meeting of multiple time-starved exec-
utives is a massive commitment of resources.
Focusing on low-stakes issues like updates
or presentations often wastes valuable time.
Instead, meetings among senior leaders
should tackle the organisation s most critical
issues. Whether you re a top executive or
just meeting with fellow managers, con-
Fundamentals, not incrementals. Measure
importance by the number of zeros involved:
Is this a $5,000 decision or a $5 million
decision? If there aren t enough zeros, the
decision isn t strategic enough to absorb
Future leadership. Current leadership must
engage the organisation s up-and-comers
to grow the company. Develop succession
plans and include promising leaders in strate-
gic discussions to foster their high-level
Undiscussables. Whether it concerns a
division s performance, the CEO s leadership
style or a conflict among the senior team,
important topics not being discussed can
hold your organisation back. Broaching these
tough topics is a proven way to improve
(Source: "Four Areas Where Senior Leaders
Should Focus Their Attention" by Peter Breg-
Grow diversity with
Organisations that successfully increase
diversity provide leadership development
opportunities, particularly for employees at
the lower levels of the organisation. For
example, one company s two-year "CEO
Programme" offers candidates intensive
training and significant exposure to senior
The programme includes external can-
didates and young candidates from previ-
ously disadvantaged backgrounds already
in the company.
And, while it s a hefty financial commit-
ment, it s a significant investment in the
rapid advancement of promising members
of the organisation as well as recruitment.
You can also offer high-potential employees
opportunities for external education and
development, and pay attention to who s
embracing these benefits. Keep in mind that
diversity training cannot be hived off from
the rest of the operation. It has to be woven
into the culture.
(Source: "Great Leaders Who Make the
Mix Work" by Boris Groysberg and Katherine
Get to know
Being too emotional can create problems,
but it can be far less of a problem than
holding back all your feelings. You may hide
emotions in an attempt to stay in control
and look strong, but doing so diminishes
your control and weakens your capacity to
connect and communicate with others. If
you struggle with sharing your true feelings,
it might help to know that people often
don t show emotion because they re not
aware of what they re feeling.
You might suppress your anger or temper
your excitement without even realising it.
So pay attention to your emotions. At least
a couple of times a week, ask yourself, "What
am I feeling right now?" Write it down if
you can; keeping a regular journal can help
you understand your moods and what
changes them. Then let loose a little: Let
your emotions out, and let people in. Both
are critical to effective leadership.
(Source: "Good Leaders Get Emotional"
by Doug Sundheim.)
If you re like most team leaders, you prob-
ably make more statements than you ask
questions---and some of your "questions"
are in name only. When you are genuinely
curious, you want to learn what others are
thinking---but when you aren t, you ask
rhetorical questions; not for a real answer,
but to make a point.
For example: "You don t really think that
solution will work, do you?" This commu-
nication style leaves team members feeling
insulted or defensive.
They will trust you less, withdraw, and
withhold information that you need to make
good decisions. If you already know the
answer to your question or you could easily
tack the phrase "you idiot" to the end of it,
it s rhetorical. If this is the case, change your
inquiry to a transparent statement that
shares your view, including your reasoning
and feelings. Then add a genuine question
that helps you learn more about the situation
and boosts your team s curiosity to know
(Source: "Increase Your Team s Curiosity"
by Roger Schwarz.)
like a sports coach
As a manager, you play different roles at
different times but the job of a manager,
just like that of a coach or teacher, is to
inspire people to be better. Most people
respond better to encouragement than to
criticism, so give praise when you can.
According to Sir Alex Ferguson, one of
the most successful coaches in sports history,
nothing is better than hearing: "Well done."
He says, "Those are the two best words ever
invented. You don t need to use superlatives."
At the same time, giving clear criticism is
important when your team members don t
If you are too soft in your approach, you
won t be effective - but showing your anger
all the time doesn t work, either. There s no
point in harping on criticism; pick your
moment, do it right away and consider it
done. Your timing and tone matter.
(Source: "Ferguson s Formula" by Anita
Elberse with Sir Alex Ferguson.)
@2013 Harvard Business School
Publishing Corp. (Distributed by The
New York Times Syndicate.
Why you should make your
first price offer very specific
1,185: It's well known that you
get an advantage by mak-
ing the first move in a
price negotiation: If you're the seller, for exam-
ple, and you offer a price before the buyer does,
a higher quote from you will lead to a signifi-
cantly higher agreement price. But you can in-
crease that advantage by stating your offer as a
precise, rather than a round, number, says a
team led by David D Loschelder of Saarland Uni-
versity in Germany.
In an experiment involving customers in an
antique shop, when a 1910 oak writing desk
from the Jugendstil period was offered for 1,185
euros, the average agreement price was
1,046.19 euros; if the opening offer was 1,200
euros, the final price was just 929.50 euros (cus-
tomers didn't actually buy the secretaire; they
were simply asked to settle on a price).
(Source: Social Psychological and Personal-
The recession made American
teenagers less materialistic
3.15to 3.21: The Great Recession
partially reversed a decades-
long trend among US adoles-
cents toward greater materialism and less
concern for others, according to a study led by
Heejung Park of UCLA that analysed surveys
from thousands of high school seniors.
For example, results from the 2008-2010
downturn, in comparison with the 2004-2006
period, showed a decline in the importance of
owning expensive items such as new cars;
meanwhile, the average view of the importance
of having "a job that is worthwhile to society"
rose from 3.15 to 3.21 on a 1-to-4 scale, and
agreement with "I would be willing to eat less
meat and more grains and vegetables, if it
would help provide food for starving people"
rose from 3.51 to 3.59 on a 1-to-5 scale. Past re-
search has shown that a decline in economic
wealth promotes collectivism.
(Source: Social Psychological and
Who are your most
1.65: People who were momentar-
ily alarmed at what they be-
lieved were parking tickets on
their windshields were subsequently 1.65 times
more likely to comply with a street vendor's re-
quest to purchase aromatic Indian sticks. Simi-
larly, people were more likely to answer a
questionnaire if the surveyor first asked,
"Haven't you lost your wallet?" (nothing had
happened to the wallets).
These experiments, by Dariusz Dolinski and
Katarzyna Szczucka of Warsaw School of Social
Services and Humanities in Poland, demonstrate
that the "emotional disorganisation" following
apprehension and relief makes people more
likely to comply with a request.
(Journal of Applied Social Psychology.)
TIPS & TALKING POINTS
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