Social Sources of Influence

“Great things in business are never done by one person.

They’re done by a team of People.”

-Steve Jobs

 

We are continuing a series focused on getting leverage on yourself to make personal changes. This week, we will focus on the third and fourth of the sources of influence that Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) identifed in Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Change anything

 

The Six Sources of Influence

The six sources of influence are listed below. I will describe each of them in some detail over the next few weeks, but for now, here is a list:

Source 1 – Personal motivation (What do you need to do to “love what you hate?”)

Source 2 – Personal ability (How will you “do what you can’t?”)

Sources 3 & 4– Social motivation & social ability (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 5 – Structural motivation (How will you “invert the economy?”)

Source 6 – Structural ability (What will you do to “control your space?”)

This week, we will talk about Source 3 and Source 4.

 

Sources 3 & 4– Social Motivation & Social Ability

The authors talk about these sources of influence as turning “accomplices” into “friends.” Friends are those who support you as you pursue your objective. Accomplices, on the other hand, are the people who conspire with you in making poor choices. They are the loved ones who urge you to have a small piece of cake when they know that you are watching your weight. They urge you to go shopping when they know you are trying to save money. As the authors explained, “Bad habits are almost always a social disease—if those around us model and encourage them, we’ll almost always fall prey. Turn ‘accomplices’ into ‘friends’ and you can be two-thirds more likely to succeed.”[i]

The good news is that you can often convert accomplices into friends. A loved one who stops eating cake in front of you and regularly asks about your weight loss becomes a powerful force in your change effort. Converting accomplices into friends is like removing an adversaries from the battlefield by converting them into allies who fight on your side. Now, these friends enable us to accomplish our goals.

You convert accomplices to friends by having a conversation with them. Tell them what you need from them. Ask them to help you as you pursue your goal.

You can gain extra leverage on yourself by making your goal public. Then everyone knows that your goal what your goal is. When you put your reputation on the line, you feel more compelled to complete your goal. I did this as I pursued my goal. I told my class that I would learn 7th grade Latin while they were conducting their change projects and I gained additional leverage with the following announcement.

I made myself publicly accountable to the entire class. I did this to give myself social motivation. I do not want to tell my students to do something and look like a hypocrite if I cannot do it myself. In the process, I have converted a number of students into friends. You can also ask me about my progress over the next three months (new friends). That is additional accountability.

 

That is how you get by with a little help from your friends.

 

What About You?

What is your goal this year? How can you put these two social sources of influence to work for you?

References

[i] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (p. 17).

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Change, Effectiveness, Motivation, Success

The First Two Sources of Influence

“Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
…. Refrain to-night,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence: the next more easy.”
-Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV

We are continuing a series focused on making personal changes. Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) identified six sources of influence in Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Change anything

The Six Sources of Influence

The six sources of influence are listed below:

Source 1 – Personal motivation (What do you need to do to “love what you hate?”)

Source 2 – Personal ability (How will you “do what you can’t?”)

Sources 3 & 4– Social motivation & social ability (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 5 – Structural motivation (How will you “invert the economy?”)

Source 6 – Structural ability (What will you do to “control your space?”)

In this lesson, we will talk about source1 and source 2.

 

Source 1 – Personal Motivation

The authors sum up personal motivation as the ability to learn to “love what you hate.”[1] If you are trying to lose weight, but you hate green vegetables, what would happen if you learned to love kale? Did you know that it takes more calories to eat celery than are contained in the celery?[2] What if you learned to like eating celery and hummus instead of nacho chips and cheese sauce?

If you hated school but you need certifications to advance, what if you could learn to love learning? Would that increase your odds of success?

 

Source 2 – Personal Ability

Sometimes the issue is not motivation but ability. As the authors explained,

Every time you try to do what you know is right and you fail, there’s a good chance that your failure can be traced in part to a gap in knowledge or a missing skill. Knowledge and skill can be just as important as will in any personal change program. (p. 67)

The authors call this “doing what you can’t.” It might be better to say that you can’t do it yet, but with training or practice, you will be able to do it.

You may need to develop particular skills in order to be successful. Take an inventory to determine if you have the skills or if you need to develop new skills that will help you achieve your goal.

Perhaps you have not had the willpower to keep from snacking. Are there steps you can take to prevent it (or alter your approach so that you snack on celery and hummus)?

As you practice, you will get better. Perhaps you need to break your efforts down to smaller, manageable pieces. Alcoholics anonymous has adopted the slogan “one day at a time.” The idea is to focus on being successful now instead of being overwhelmed by the idea of a lifetime without alcohol.

Quantify your efforts. Measure yourself against a standard. If the goal is to not eat sugar, check the box every day you avoid sweets, and expect disappointments. They are part of the process. You are not perfect and you have probably been doing things the same way for a long time. You will not course correct overnight, but you will change over time if you learn how to make a series of new choices.

 

What About You?

What is your goal this year? How can you put the first two sources of influence to work for you?

Source 1 – Personal motivation (What do you need to do to “love what you hate?”)

Source 2 – Personal ability (How will you “do what you can’t?”)

 

References

[1] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (p. 47).

[2] Hughes, T. (2016, June 10). Eating celery really does burn more calories than it contains. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3636165/Eating-celery-really-DOES-burn-calories-contains.html

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Change, Effectiveness, Motivation, Success

Willpower is Not Enough

“Pessimism never won any battle.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

 

In our last lesson, I talked about making personal changes this year and the success my students have had when they followed Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success.

Change anything

In my business networking group, I offered to work with anyone who was interested in the change process. If you are interested in taking on a personal change project, you need to find at least one other person who is interested in making a change. You don’t need me. There is nothing magical about my presence, but I will do my best to guide you through the change process through each lesson over the next month.

 

Willpower

Let’s begin with the concept of willpower. Willpower is a good starting point. As Eisenhower said, “Pessimism never won any battle.” Nevertheless, willpower isn’t a magic bullet. It is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for change.

The authors argue that the reason you fail is that you do not realize how much the odds of change are stacked against you. Many people rely on willpower only to be outmatched as the other sources of influence conspire to overwhelm them. They wrote:

The willpower trap keeps them in a depressing cycle that begins with heroic commitment to change, which is followed by eroding motivation and terminated inevitably by relapse into old habits. Then, when the built-up pain of their bad habits becomes intolerable, they muster up another heroic but doomed attempt at change. We feel as if we are ascending a summit when in fact we’re simply walking a treadmill: Lots of effort; no progress. That’s the willpower trap.[1]

Ego scire Latine

I am not sure that my translation is correct, but it should read: “I will learn Latin.” I am just learning.

Since students in my Organizational Behavior class are taking on a change project, I decided that this year I would learn 7th grade Latin so that I could help my daughter when she gets into it next year. We homeschool, and our curriculum will have her translating large sections of the Iliad by her senior year. I need to be able to help her. I realized that, despite my best intentions, I have not learned any Latin last year. I had the Latin books sitting on my desk for the better part of a year, and I told myself that I would do it every day, but despite my desire, I have not learned Latin. Over the last year, I read the first three pages of the book. And this is the point: Willpower is not enough.

Now, I have fully embraced the change process and I have gained leverage on myself using the six sources of influence. As I write this lesson, I have completed 2 & ½ of 15 lessons covering 39 exercises and 42 pages of the First Year Latin book. I have completed this in 16 days.

How did I do it? It wasn’t a fresh burst of willpower; I did it by harnessing the six sources of influence outlined below. If we can get these sources on our side, we significantly increase the odds that we will be successful.

 

The Six Sources of Influence

The six sources of influence are listed below. Over the next three weeks, I will describe each of them in greater detail, but for now, here is a list:

Source 1 – Personal motivation (What do you need to do to “love what you hate?”)

Source 2 – Personal ability (How will you “do what you can’t?”)

Source 3 – Social motivation (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 4 – Social Ability (What must you do to “turn accomplices into friends?”)

Source 5 – Structural motivation (How will you “invert the economy?”)

Source 6 – Structural ability (What will you do to “control your space?”)

Three months from now, we will look back and see how much we have changed.

 

What About You?

Are you ready to commit to a personal change? Join us. Get the book. Find at least one other person in your group that will be an accountability partner, and choose a goal. Make sure that you can quantify that goal. Let’s get started.

 

References

[1] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 5-6).

References

[i] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 10-11).
-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Change, Effectiveness, Motivation, Success

Isn’t It Time to Make A Change?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

-Leo Tolstoy

 

Every other spring, I teach an advanced organizational behavior class. Beyond the regular textbook, I require my students to read Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler’s (2011) Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success. I also require them to work through a semester-long change project following the book’s principles.

Change anything

I require students to take on a change project that will last for about 3 months. It should be important enough to merit their time, difficult enough to stretch them, and manageable enough to be completed in three months. Most of them choose personal goal like losing weight or increasing savings. In my last class, students achieved some impressive results:

Eating right and losing weight:

    • One student lost 8 pounds by eating right.
    • Another student lost 10 pounds by eating right and playing more basketball.
    • Another lost 17 pounds by eating right and exercising.
    • Another lost 18.5 pounds by eating right and exercising.
    • Another student lost 11 pounds by focusing on running more.
  • Other health gains:
    • One student lost three inches from his waistline.
    • Another sedentary student walked 168 miles over the course of the semester.
    • Another student lowered cholesterol from 233 mg/dl the first week to 120mg/dl at the end of the semester (it was measured by a doctor).
  • Finances:
    • One student wanted to double her savings from $2,000 to $4,000. She failed in her stated goal, but she had $3,700 in savings by the end of the semester. I consider that success.
    • Another student was a compulsive shopper. She aggressively paid off much of her debt over the course of the semester. She created a budget, stopped all unnecessary spending, said “no” to every expenditure that was not necessary, renegotiated debt, cancelled credit card accounts, unsubscribed from all email marketing, and tracked every penny of every expenditure). By following this austere regimen, she paid off more than $10,000 during this class.
  • Other activities:
    • One student focused on being a better spouse (quantifying time and things done for her spouse).
    • Another focused on improving study habits (quantifying grades including standardized test grades for a national exam).
    • Another replaced television time with reading and exercise
    • Others focused on taking on more activities at work and avoiding negativity at work (this is more difficult to track, but still possible)

A few key elements were involved in successful change efforts. First, my students had to have a clear plan for change. They could not say that they, “wanted to be healthy.” They could say, “I will forgo fast food and exercise 5 days a week for at least 45 minutes each day.”

Second, they had a support group. They were grouped in teams and they were required to check in regularly with their teams to update them about their progress. This was powerful and you can create a group that will support you every week at GBN. You will see the same people every week. Surely some of them want to change too. Why not support each other?

Finally, they tapped into all six sources of influence. I will talk about them next week, but if you want to know why you have failed at making changes in the past, consider the following. The authors wrote:

To see how your typical change effort takes form, consider the following metaphor. You’re rather large SUV runs out of gas a half block from a gas station—just over a gently cresting hill. You decide to push the beast to the nearest pump, but this isn’t your old, tinfoil based VW bug that you could easily push by yourself; it’s the Sherman tank of soccer moms. So you wave down a half dozen rather large and muscular strangers to help you. Each put in a full effort. Each grunts and strains and pushes against the massive bulk—one person at a time. In response, your SUV just sits there with a smug look on its grille.

Now, as hopeless as this sounds, it’s about to get worse. Imagine that in addition to the fact that the people assisting you are working in isolation rather than in combination, there are six hefty strangers all pushing together to propel your truck back down the hill. Now you have an accurate image of why your change attempt feels so overwhelming. Our problem is not just that we’re only using one source of influence at the time; it’s also that those who aren’t pushing for us are usually pushing against us. This is precisely why we fail in our attempts at personal change.[i]

What About You?

Are you interested in learning how to make a personal change?

In our next lesson, I will tell you how these gains were accomplished. I will cover each of the six sources of influence, and this will give you some time to think of what you want to change, find a few friends who also want to make changes, and get the book before the next lesson.

 

References

[i] Patterson, K., (2011). Change anything: The new science of personal success. New York: Business Plus. (pp. 10-11).
-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Change, Effectiveness, Success, Uncategorized

Progress Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

“Progress isn’t made by early risers.

It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

-Robert A. Heinlein

 

Last week I talked about eating your more metaphorical chick peas. The point was that if you add more good to what you are doing, less room is left for that which is bad or unhealthy. The concept was borrowed from How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D.

How not to Die

 

This advice might have left you with the impression that you have to pick your poison—either delicious food with ill-health or a lifetime of flavorless rabbit food. These are false alternatives. Gregor explained that, while he preferred that his patients eliminate bad food, he was wise enough to recognize that simply reducing bad food was a healthy step the right direction. In short, good nutrition is not an either/or, but a continuum. The same holds true for taste. Few of us want to give up delicious deserts, but we feel that we have to in order to eat right. Yet, taste and health are not necessarily enemies. Gregor won my admiration with this passage:

The favored dessert in our home is soft-serve ‘ice-cream’ made by blending frozen fruit. You whip up frozen fruit in a blender, food processor, or juicer, and viola! Instant All-fruit ice cream…..My Favorite is chocolate. To make it, blend dark, sweet cherries, or strawberries mixed with a tablespoon of cocoa power, a splash of milk of your choice (more if you want to make a milkshake), a capful of vanilla extract, and some pitted dates. If you didn’t get your nuts for the day, you can add some almond butter. Either way, you get an instant, decadent, chocolate desert so nutritious that the more you eat, the healthier you are. Let me repeat that: The more you eat, the healthier you are. That’s my kind of ice cream![i]

I tried it. It is delicious. But that is not the point of the lesson. That last line grabbed me: “The more you eat it, the healthier you are.”

This passage was interesting because, as with last week’s lesson, the concept can be applied in ways that extend beyond diet. It is like turning lemons into lemonade, but a healthy version that makes you feel better.

  • Are you overloaded at work? Take on more projects that will help you get where you want to go. Make yourself an expert in a particular area, and you will have more control over your future as you become more valuable to management.
  • Are you a salesman who needs to develop a thick skin? Make more sales calls. That sounds like eating your chick-peas, but it is not if you make it a game and reward yourself not for the sales you make. All other things being equal, increased appointments should lead to increased sales. By making it a game, you have traded the chick-peas for all natural, delicious ice cream.
  • Do you hate traffic? Listen to audiobooks that will build your skill-set. I have an Audible Account. You can get a free 30-day trial to Audible and two free downloadable audiobooks here. Don’t know what to listen to? Here are my top picks for books on management and leadership.

What About You?

“The more you eat, the healthier you are.” What is your equivalent of frozen-fruit, chocolate ice cream? Time spent identifying these alternatives will pay big dividends in your health and happiness.

Full disclosure: If you download a free trial, I will get $5 of credit, so you we will both get to read more just because you started a free trial. So, thanks in advance if you start a free trial. You can cancel within 30 days and it will not cost you a thing. Happy reading.

References

[i] Gregor, M., & Stone, G. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York: Flatiron Books. (p. 292).

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Change, Success, Uncategorized

Progress Can Be Counterintuitive


“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

– Hippocrates

I love the New Year. I appreciate the promise of a fresh start and a brighter future. Many of us have set New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most common resolutions is losing weight by eating right, exercise, or a combination of both.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 8.34.12 AM

Losing weight is not rocket science, but many of us carry around excess insulation even though we know what we should do. We know that we need to consume fewer calories than we burn and we know that not all food is equal (the nutrition in a potato chip or candy bar is far different than the nutrition in broccoli). So we make our resolutions that we will forgo the junk food or we count calories and reduce our calorie intake by 500 calories a day. It may work for a while, but it usually does not work in the long term.

What Works

Over the Christmas break I had some free time to read. I picked up a book entitled How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D.. I don’t want to die, so I thought I’d read the book. The entire title is How not to die: The Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. The book had a 4.8 of 5 stars with nearly 2,500 ratings, so I thought I would see what Dr. Gregor had to say.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 8.44.55 AM

As I read, I found that Dr. Gregor is a vegan; I am clearly not, but one passage really intrigued me. Gregor explained:

Though calorie cutting has been the cornerstone of most weight loss strategies, evidence suggests that the majority of individuals who lose weight by portion control eventually regain it. Starving ourselves almost never works long term. So wouldn’t it be great if instead we could find a way to eat more food to get the same weight loss benefit?

The researchers divided overweight subjects into two groups. The first group was asked to eat five cups a week of lentils, chickpeas, split peas, or navy beans—but not to change their diets in any other way. The second group was asked to simply cut out five hundred calories a day from their diets. Guess who got healthier? The group directed to eat more food. Eating legumes was shown to be just as effective at slimming waistlines and improving blood sugar control as calorie cutting. The legume group also gained additional benefits in the form of improved cholesterol and insulin regulation.[i]

 

Chickpeas Kichererbsen

How it Works

I am not the kind of doctor that should be dispensing medical advice (and for all legal purposes, I AM NOT), but there is a certain beauty in this approach. Rather than counting calories and feeling deprived, simply add a little more good food to the equation. Ideally you would increase the percentage over time which would decrease the percentage of the bad foods you consume.

I found this passage so intriguing for two reasons. First, I experienced this last year. I went on a temporary elimination diet in order to determine if I had any food sensitivities. To do this, I had to not eat any of the major foods that cause reactions: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, and sugar and sugar substitutes for a couple of weeks. When you do this, you are not left with much to eat other than healthy vegetables, and I accidentally lost 12 pounds. I unwittingly did what Dr. Gregor recommended.

Second, I was intrigued because the idea reaches far beyond diet. When I first started studying leadership and management, the goal in my mind was to not make mistakes. That is impracticable; all leaders will make mistakes. But what if the goal for a leader was to be extra-focused on taking care of his people and instilling commitment to the organization. The good (the metaphorical chick peas) would offset the occasional mistakes.

The same holds true for the salesman who makes more calls, the office manager who really gets to know her people, and the contractor who instills a culture of safe and excellent work. Everything improves for those who eat the metaphorical chick peas. Add enough good and the bad is naturally reduced. Progress is counterintuitive.

 

What About You?

What are your metaphorical Chick Peas? How can you squeeze a few more servings of these in to replace the fast-food in your work life?

 

References:

[i] Gregor, M., & Stone, G. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York: Flatiron Books. (pp. 1-8-109).

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

______________

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Change, Current Events, Success, Uncategorized

There’s Plenty of Room in this Market

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”

-Charles Dickens

Last Thursday, I spoke as part of a panel discussion at the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) conference. I spoke about the role of leadership in management and my colleague, Dr. Maxwell Rollins, spoke about Servant Leadership. After we spoke, someone in the audience asked us to identify well-known servant leaders that everyone would recognize. That was tough. We could offer very few examples of well-known servant leaders. This question got me thinking.

On Saturday, I took my kids to church. They spent the morning making Christmas ornaments out of popsicle sticks and glitter. Then they put on a Christmas play for the senior citizens of the church. The play was exactly what you would expect from children. The acting was bad, the costumes were makeshift, and the sound was terrible, but the senior citizens in the audience loved it.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 12.29.32 PM

After the Christmas play, we went caroling to shut-ins who could not get out to the Christmas luncheon to see the performance. All of the seniors, at Church or at their homes, received Christmas ornaments that the children created that morning.

It was Covey’s Win/Win scenario. The kids learned to serve; the seniors enjoyed the performance. More importantly, to the kids, service was enjoyable. They made crafts, they got to perform, and many talked about what a good feeling they had when they served others. My oldest daughter said that it felt like she got to be a missionary for a day.

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 12.31.08 PM

My Daughter’s Place of Service

Everyone could find a way to serve. My 5-year old was the youngest child in attendance. She was not the best ornament maker, and she did not have a speaking part in the play, but she found her place of service. Before I describe her place of service, let me describe her. If she was a movie character, she would be a minion. If she were a song, she would be Happy by Pharrell. If she was a color, she would be yellow. If she was made of food, she would be popcorn. If she were a puppy, she would be a Chihuahua. You get the picture.

She couldn’t do some of the jobs the older kids could do, but she was stationed as the first child to greet the senior citizens when they arrived at the Christmas Luncheon. Her job was to shout: “Welcome to the Christmas Party!” or “Merry Christmas!” when the seniors arrived. I don’t believe that any of the other children could do that job as effectively as she did. In spite of being the shortest child with the worst hand-eye coordination for crafts, she found a place where she could shine.

My Place of Service

I hate arts and crafts. I recognize that some people like them, and that is fine, but I could feel my batteries drain every time I stepped into the room where 22 kids were painting ornaments. So, I did my best to avoid the arts and crafts room, not by running away, but by serving every other need that was imaginable. I got more chairs when more kids unexpectedly showed up. I got glue from the supply cabinet when it was needed. I washed paint out of paint brushes, much to the relief of the instructor. I helped set up for the Christmas play. It was great. I completely avoided what I didn’t want to do by self-deploying into service.

It made me think about Jimmy Collins, the former president of Chick-Fil-A who succeeded the founder, Truett Cathy. In his book, Creative Followership, Collins explained:

My initial strategy when I went to work for Truett Cathy went something like this: ‘If I do the things Truett does not like to do, there might not be a limit to what he would be willing to pay me!’ Getting ahead means doing what the boss does not like to do.[i]

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 12.32.53 PM

That was it. I was doing things that needed to be done. In my context, there were people who were interested in working on arts and crafts (and God bless those people). I don’t care to compete with them. I struck out on my own to stake out a place where I could serve on my own terms.

Your Place of Service

And herein lies the lesson. While others are jockeying for position, elbowing each other for the plum assignments, the field of service is not crowded. There is plenty of room for those who make it their ambition to serve. In addition, you can often customize your service, focusing on your natural strengths. You can write your own ticket, serving in a way that suits you. And, in a ironic way, those who truly focus on service are often noticed for their willingness to step into the breach.

What About You?

It does not matter if we are talking about servant-leadership, servant-marketing, servant-customer service, servant-selling, or servant-shouting: “Welcome to the Christmas Party!” What is important is that you focus yourself on serving others. How can you serve others in ways not yet imagined?

References

[i] Collins, J. L. S. (2013). Creative followership: In the shadow of greatness. Decatur, GA: Looking Glass Books, Inc. (pp. 16-17).

 

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

______________

Leave a Comment

Filed under Books, Current Events, Influence, Success, Teamwork, Uncategorized

How to Become a Prosthetic Spine

“That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call white black is a matter of concern.” -Solomon Asch

In the last lesson we talked about Garrison Keillor’s Dilemma. As you know, Garrison Keillor recently lost his job after sexual harassment allegations came to light. Since then, Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. John Conyers (D-M), and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) have all resigned from congress over similar accusations.

Sexual harassment is not new; public accusations are. What has changed?

Sex scandals have come and gone, but it seems that the dam burst after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The Weinstein scandal broke on October 5, 2015. By Thanksgiving, more than one hundred similar allegations were leveled against powerful men in Hollywood, Washington, and New York.

How did social stigma morph into a social movement? On October 15th, Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ As a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” This was followed by a deluge of #Metoo posts on Twitter and Facebook. Women who felt that they were alone—that they had been shamed—were suddenly aware that many others have been affected, and those who spoke out made it safe for others to speak out.

 

Alyssa

 

The Power of Conformity

In 1951, Solomon Asch, a professor at Swarthmore College, began a series of experiments to understand the nature of conformity. Participants in the study were asked to engage in an experiment in “visual discrimination” or “visual judgment.” Students were gathered in a small group. They were asked to judge the length of a line as opposed to one of three choices. One line was correct. The other two were clearly incorrect. The experiment consisted of 18 rounds of this simple procedure. Unbeknownst to each participant, everyone else in the group was working for the experimenter. The goal was to see how the participants would handle a conflict between the pressure of the group and their own observations.

In the first two rounds, the professor’s confederates gave the correct answer. Then, the experiment began. The first confederate would choose a line that was clearly incorrect. Then the rest would agree. The participant would answer last. It might have appeared to him that the first line was correct, but he would find that giving that answer was much more challenging when everyone else answered that the second line was correct.

Asch

 

Ultimately, Asch found that social pressure changed participant’s answers a shocking 37% of the time.[i] This is what most people regard as the major result of the Asch experiments.

Yet, Asch also ran variations on his experiment. He subsequently found that if only two people were involved in the experiment and the confederate first chose the wrong line, the confederate’s view had little effect on the participant. When social pressure was brought to bear, however, things changed. When the experiment was run with three people (the participant and two confederates) and the two confederates first answered incorrectly, the participant also selected the wrong line 13.6% of the time. When three or more confederates unanimously chose the wrong answer, participants were swayed 31.8% of the time.[ii] Ultimately, more than one of every three participants denied their own senses, bowing to group pressure in a group of a half-dozen or more.[iii] This was all the more striking because a control group found that participants chose the wrong line less than one percent of the time when no group pressure was involved.[iv]

 

The Power of the Consensus Breaker

However, Asch found that the introduction of another person who told the truth strengthened the resolve of the participant. In one variation of the experiment, one of the confederates was instructed to answer truthfully, disagreeing with the majority. The results were striking. Asch wrote:

The presence of a supporting partner depleted the majority of much of its power. Its pressure on the dissenting individual was reduced to one fourth: that is, subjects answered incorrectly only one fourth as often under the pressure of a unanimous majority.[v]

In short, if one other person told the truth, that person freed the participant from the grip of social pressure. This was as important as Asch’s original findings, but it is often overlooked.

In a follow-up study twenty years later, two Dartmouth College professors conducted a similar study. They found that when a confederate who told the truth was introduced to the group, participants succumbed to the pressure only 5% of the time.[vi] As the researchers explained, “the consensus breaker may serve as a role model for resisting social pressure. The real subject may, as a result, be disinhibited and therefore not succumb to group influence”[vii]

Put another way, in the face of unanimous opposition, if just one person is willing to break the consensus, the probability that others will conform is radically altered. The odds of conformity fall from one in three to one in twenty.

Perhaps this is why we are now seeing this outbreak of women speaking out about sexual harassment and sexual assault. The men held their victims captive as long as the victims felt shame, but when the first victims spoke out, they released the others in the process, and this allowed more and more victims to come forward.

Time magazine just named the person of the year. They chose “the silence breakers”—the people who first spoke out, who freed other victims to speak, and sparked a movement.

Source: http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/?xid=homepage

Source: http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/?xid=homepage

 

What About You?

The implications are enormous. When you do the right thing, you stiffen the spine of others. You may not know it. They might not recognize it. Yet, the reality is that you may become a prosthetic spine for those who have become paralyzed by fear.

 

References

[i] Robbins, S. P., & Judge, T. O. (2015). Organizational behavior. New York: Pearson.

[ii] Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5), 31-35.

[iii] Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs: General And Applied, 70(9), 1-70. doi:10.1037/h0093718.

[iv] Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5), 31-35.

[v] Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193(5), 31-35.

[vi] Morris, W. N., & Miller, R. S. (1975). The effects of consensus-breaking and consensus-preempting partners on reduction of conformity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11(3), 215-223. doi:10.1016/S0022-1031(75)80023-0

[vii] Morris, W. N., & Miller, R. S. (1975). The effects of consensus-breaking and consensus-preempting partners on reduction of conformity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11(3), 215-223. doi:10.1016/S0022-1031(75)80023-0. (p. 216).

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

______________

Leave a Comment

Filed under Change, Current Events, Ethics, Organizational Behavior, Uncategorized

Garrison Keillor’s Dilemma

“You may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

-Moses to the Israelites (Numbers 32:23)

 Some lessons are planned. Other lessons just sort of emerge as I consider current events. As I was driving home on Wednesday I was mulling over the recent news that Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor have both been fired for sexual harassment. As I thought through the implications, I realized that there is a powerful lesson worth sharing here.

Twenty years ago, President Clinton was impeached for his affair with an intern. Even if the acts were consensual, no one could deny that the power imbalance between the President of the United States—the most powerful man on Earth—and a 22-year old intern who worked for him was enormous. This is important for two reasons. First, sexual harassment is as much about power as it is about sex. Second, at the time that the scandal broke, the nation was well aware of his previous predatory behavior toward female campaign volunteers and state employees, but the media turned a blind eye. Moveon.org was founded to urge the country to move on from the impeachment and focus on other causes.

More recently, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), the powerful ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, were also accused of sexual harassment. Franken was first accused of taking advantage of an actress while she slept; photographic evidence proved it. Seven additional accusers eventually came forward, demonstrating a pattern of behavior that continued after he became a United States Senator. John Conyers took advantage of women who worked in his office. He then paid them off with taxpayer dollars from his congressional office budget. Notice the power imbalance at play in each scenario.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is one of the few things in Washington that is non-partisan. 93-year old President George H. W. Bush issued a formal apology for having “patted women’s rears.”[i] Alabama’s Republican Senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, was recently accused of similar actions. Though Moore has consistently denied the accusations, the power dynamics at play are similar. Anyone following the case will note the power imbalance between a 30-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl.

In 2016, Fox News was shaken by sexual harassment scandals. Gretchen Carlson sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and Carlson won a $20 million settlement and Roger Ailes, the founder of the network was fired as a consequence. In 2017, Lisa Wiehl won a $32 million settlement from Bill O’Reilly for sexual harassment, and O’Reilly, the station’s biggest name, was fired. Eric Bolling was later fired for sexual harassment too.

Now, the powerful in Hollywood and Washington are terrified at their actions may come to light. For years, they carried on with their behavior as if everything was okay. Apparently everyone knew what they were doing, but no one was willing to say anything about it. It was an “open secret.”

Last Wednesday, accusations were levied at Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame. Minnesota Public Radio fired him within 24 hours. After Keillor’s immediate dismissal, he tweeted: “It’s astonishing that fifty years of hard work can be trashed in a morning by an accusation. I always believed in hard work and now it feels sort of meaningless.”[ii]

For now, let’s call this Keillor’s dilemma.

Keillor

Keillor’s dilemma is interesting. It is an open question whether the perpetrators have ever considered the lifetime of emotional and psychological consequences that they inflicted on others, but now they are experiencing similar pain as they reap what they have sewn.

Keillor apparently never thought that anything would happen to him. But the rules have changed. Now a lifetime of hard work is being discarded because the culture unexpectedly shifted and bad behavior is being exposed (and rightly condemned).

This lesson is not about sexual harassment. Let’s widen the lens a little bit and just focus on how we think about treating other people.

What if culture shifts again and we refuse to tolerate bullies who come to power by climbing on the backs of their subordinates? Or, what if legally sound but ethically questionable deals are the target of the new cultural banishment? Would you be ousted by your employees or your clients? It sounds improbable, but years ago, the victims of sexual harassment hid in fear and shame. No longer. In the current zeitgeist, women are applauded for having the courage to come forward and accuse their perpetrator.
Steven Covey offered a reasonable solution to Keillor’s dilemma but it only works when it is applied preventatively. In The 7 habits of Highly Effective People, he described the superiority of Win/Win thinking over Win/Lose thinking. He was talking about negotiation, but his solution could just as easily apply to management. He explained, “Win/Lose is the authoritarian approach: ‘I get my way; you don’t get yours.’ Win/Lose people are prone to use position, power, credentials, possessions, or personality to get their way.” This was true of the powerful in each of the sexual harassment scandals that have recently broke. It is just as true when bad bosses bully employees and when salesmen take advantage of customers. He continued:

In contrast, Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win/Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying. With a Win/Win solution, all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan. Win/Win sees life as a cooperative, not a competitive arena. Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed. Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others.[iii]

Whether we’re talking about sexual harassment, schoolyard bullies, power-plays in the office, The boss taking credit for others’ work, or writing one-sided contracts, they are all win-lose arrangements. One day, these behaviors may be subject to the same type of cultural allergic reaction that we are experiencing now. The key that unshackles Garrison Keillor’s dilemma is to recognize and respect others’ humanity. The evidence of that respect is found in win-win behavior.

What About You?

Even if you believe that Win/Lose behavior is acceptable by today’s standards, there’s no guarantee that any behavior that takes advantage of another person will be acceptable tomorrow. Strive for Win/Win solutions in all your dealings and you won’t have to worry about how you’ll be viewed ten, twenty, or fifty years from now.

References

[i] Jackson, D. (2017, October 25). President George H. W. Bush apologized for sometimes patting women on the rear. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/10/25/president-george-h-w-bush-apologizes-actress-who-alleged-improper-touching/797846001/

[ii] Justin, N. (2017, November 30). ‘I think I have to leave the country,’ Garrison Keillor says after firing. StarTribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/garrison-keillor-fired-for-improper-behavior/460802703/#1

[iii] Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon and Schuster. (p. 207).

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

______________

Leave a Comment

Filed under Current Events, Ethics, Interdisciplinary, Poltics, Uncategorized

What Will They Say About You?

“If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

-Dwight L. Moody

I have pneumonia and the doctor told me to rest. I thought this advice was a bit silly until I became winded while changing a light bulb. After that, I decided to rest aggressively. So, I decided to pass the time by binge-watching every episode of The Office—all nine seasons. I justified it by telling myself I would search for useful clips I could show in class or during academic presentations. After all, the lead character, Michael Scott, was a walking hostile work environment and his management philosophy was worse than his execution. I found a dozen or so good clips, and I distracted myself while I rested.

Michael Scott

Photo Credit: https://cleanmemecentral.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-office-and-steve-carrell-memes.html

As I was watching, my wife and I were talking about what the actors were like in real life. I was reminded of a passage in Mindy Kaling’s book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy played Kelly Kapoor on the office. She wrote:

People are always asking me what my castmates on The Office are really like: Is Steve Carell [Michael Scott] really as nice as he seems? Is John Krasinski as cool as Jim in real life. What about Rainn Wilson; is he as big an egomaniac as Dwight? The answers are: yes, yes, and much, much worse.[i]

Steve Carell, the bumbling, egoistic manager was actually a really nice guy. Mindy described how they tried to get Steve to badmouth others, and he simply would not do it. She wrote:

[This] was one of the most difficult seven-year challenges, but I was determined to do it. A circle of actors could be in a fun, excoriating conversation about, say, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and you’d shoot Steve an encouraging look that said, ‘Hey, come over here; We’ve made a space for you! We’re trashing Dominique Strauss-Kahn to build cast rapport!’ and the best he might offer is ‘Wow. If all they say about him is true, that is nuts,’ and then politely excuse himself to go to his trailer. That’s it. That’s all you’d get. Can you believe that? He just would not engage. That is some willpower there. I, on the other hand, hear someone briefly mentioning Rainn, and I’ll immediately launch into ‘Oh my god, Rainn’s so horrible.” But Carell is just one of those infuriating, classy Jane Austen guys.[ii]

The first episode of The Office aired on March 24, 2005. Mindy published this review of her co-workers in 2011. When they began working together, they had no idea that Mindy would write about them in her memoir or what she would write. She just reported her observations.

In class, I call this the Washington Post test (It is sometimes called the New York Times or Wall Street Journal test). The concept is simple. If someone were to report your actions on the front page of the newspaper, would you be happy about what you read? If not, don’t do that thing.

What About You?

Would you be happy about what others would write about you in their memoir if they suddenly became successful? You cannot change the past, but you can write your future.

References

[i] Kaling, M. (2011). Is everyone hanging out without me (And other concerns). New York: Crown Publishing. (p. 104).

[ii] Kaling, M. (2011). Is everyone hanging out without me (And other concerns). New York: Crown Publishing. (p. 117).

-Darin Gerdes

______________

gerdes

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

______________

Leave a Comment

Filed under Current Events, Ethics, Influence, Success