Great Leadership With Jacob Morgan

Oftentimes inside of our companies, we've been doing things for decades just because we've been doing them for decades. It's important for us to break away from that cycle and start thinking about creative new ways of doing things.

One thing you can do is write down all of your ideas, like a brain dump. Put all your ideas on paper and just see what comes out of your head. The reason this is crucial is because when you can write down your idea and conceptualize it, you really think through a lot of stuff. And you spend less time worrying about pretty pictures or making things look nice.

After your brain dump, you can look for common patterns. And once you clump these things together, turn it into a six-page document, flesh out all your ideas, and let other people take a look at it and give their feedback.

Direct download: Creative_Problem_Solving_MP3.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:34am PDT

After graduating from college with honors and a dual Bachelors degree in economics and psychology, I was excited to join the corporate world. I had dreams of one day becoming the CMO of a large organization. At my first job out of college I was promised that I would be working on amazing projects and traveling the country meeting with executives and entrepreneurs. Instead, I was stuck doing data entry, cold calling, and PowerPoint presentations. One day the CEO of the company asked me to go buy him a cup of coffee, that was the last job I ever had. Since then I have been passionate about the future of work and designing great employee experiences.

This happened to me, but I’m not special. There are millions of people who feel this same way about their managers and their organizations every single day. We have built our organizations on outdated processes, procedures, and ways of thinking about work for the past 100+ years. It’s no wonder that so many people around the world don’t like their jobs. 

Why we need to take control and shape our work (and how we can do that)

On average we will spend one-third of our lives at work, our lives and our work are integrated, and we cannot separate the two. So when we are miserable at work, chances are you’re feeling miserable about life in general. 

Over the past 10+ years, I have discovered three strategies that allowed me to shape my work. 

Be a perpetual learner

We cannot rely on educational institutions or organizations to teach us all we need to know. You have to learn how to learn and you have to constantly find ways to grow, develop, and expand your skills. And you need to be aware of how your skills and abilities can be applied, not just in your current role, but in other unique ways. 

You have to fake it ‘til you make it

What you believe and what you tell yourself matters. Because it will guide your behaviors, your actions, and how you feel about yourself. Most of us at some point in our lives will have imposter syndrome--where we feel inadequate, or we feel we don’t have the experience necessary, or we don’t feel qualified to make a decision. Whether you are dealing with imaginary voices in your head or real voices of people telling you you’re no good--you have to stay optimistic and you have to build yourself up. 

Don’t follow your passion

This may be controversial, but the saying “follow your passion” is wrong. We shouldn’t follow our passion, we should bring our passion with us. Your passion is not something outside of you that you have to go and chase and it’s not one static thing that you have to achieve or you will never be happy.  As you grow and as you experience different things, your passions will change. And most of us have a hard time even figuring out what our passion actually is before we have to choose what career we want to pursue. 

With these three strategies we can take more control over our work lives, and as result, we will build a life for ourselves that we truly want to live. 

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Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_TED_Talk.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:09am PDT

I've talked to a lot of executives and CEOs of companies around the world, and consistently the top trend they tell me that's going to impact and change the future of work is technology.

The reality is, technology is unavoidable. It’s all around us: in our home, in our office, in our cars, and even in our pocket. Which is why it's so important for us to be able to be friends with technology and not be scared of it.

As a leader, you shouldn’t shy away from technology. You have to learn the new technologies that can greatly impact your organization. You don’t have to be an expert in technology, you just have to recognize its potential. You can even hire people knowledgeable in technology. But the important thing is to embrace it and don’t ignore it.

Direct download: 4._CEOs-Say-This-is-The-1-Trend-Impacting-The-Future-of-Work.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:17am PDT

Sébastien Bazin is the Chairman and CEO of Accor, the largest hospitality company in Europe and the 6th largest worldwide with 5,100 locations in 110 countries. Sébastien leads a huge team of over 280,000 people, and they add around 80,000 new employees each year.

Sébastien says he never dreamed of being a CEO, it definitely wasn’t his original plan. All he knew was he didn’t want to go into the family business, which was a real estate company his family had owned for five generations. He wanted to do his own thing and carve his own path.

He spent some time studying in Paris and then he moved to New York to work on Wall Street as a financial analyst. He tried his hand at stock trading and investment banking in New York as well. He spent some time working in San Francisco until the market crash in 1991, then he moved to London.

Eventually, he became a board member of Accor, and as Sébastien describes himself at that time he was, “very vocal and long shareholder, probably nasty guy. I was, I hope I'm no longer, but I was rough. I was harsh…” And in the time he was a board member three CEOs were dismissed from the company. After the third one was let go, the board had to decide on a new CEO and Sébastien was on the nomination committee.

Leading a team of 280,000+
Most people would shy away from taking on a CEO role of a company as large as Accor. But Sébastien says he never includes comfort in his life decisions. He says, it doesn’t matter if you lead a team of 30,000, 100,000, or 280,000, “in the end you are just talking to individuals, you want to gain a small group next to you, and you trust that that small group will be able to replicate what they've been hearing from you. You just have to-- the one thing that I've learned through that exercise, to tell the truth.”

The most important part of leading any group of people, Sébastien says, is to remember that everything you do is critical--your words, your face, your presence, your body language. It is very important to always be truthful, don’t try to deceive people, it won’t work.

And while the decisions he made in his time as an investment banker and a private equity investor had no real human impact when he made a mistake, he realized that as a CEO every decision you make impacts your employees, their families, and the community as a whole. And that’s something that Sébastien takes seriously.

How Sébastien’s career path has taken shape
Sébastien has never been one to try to figure out where his career will be in 10-15 years. In fact, he says, “anybody who is a hostage of his own field, or where he wants to be 20 years from today is likely to be very disappointed, frustrated, and then in some kind of depression.”

So how has he moved in his own career? He says it’s always been based on people. He has moved jobs and towns throughout his life because of interesting, exceptional people he has met and liked and thought he could learn from.

“If you don't believe your boss, wherever you are in any organization, does not teach you or you don't respect him, or you don't accept his leadership, don't stay another minute. Life is too short to be under somebody for which you have either no respect, no admiration, or no learning from. And that's what I've actually conducted myself.”

How Sébastien deals with pressure and scrutiny
Leaders today are under a lot more pressure and scrutiny than ever before. Everything they do can be publicized in online articles, people can talk about them on social media, employees can rate them on Glassdoor. It’s definitely a tough time to lead an organization. But Sébastien’s response to how he handles the pressure was surprising.

He candidly told me he does not stress out about things he cannot control. Whenever something happens to him he asks himself a few questions, which are--Is it my fault? Could I have, should I have done something differently? Was I able to do something to prevent it?--If the answer to those things is no, then he lets it go and moves on.

Sébastien shares that his family played a huge role in how he handles the role of CEO. He was always taught that he doesn’t need to live according to how other people view him. What other people think of him is irrelevant. He knows what he is doing, whether it is good or bad, and that is what he needs to focus on, and not worry about other people judging him.

He also admits that he is not on social media at all, which protects him from seeing comments and stories posted there.

Arne Sorenson & Sébastien Bazin: How two fierce rivals became friends
Before he passed away earlier this year, Arne Sorenson was the CEO of Marriott, a competitor to Accor. You would think that the competition between these two leaders would cause them to dislike each other or try to tear each other down, but as Sébastien shares that is far from the truth.

Sébastien says Arne had a strong personality, but he was generous, helpful, and caring. And they stayed in close contact for several years.

The skills and qualities that have helped Sébastien get to this point in his career
Sébastien has obviously had a very successful career and there are probably a lot of people out there who would like to know what skills have allowed Sébastien to come this far. He says that one of the main words that comes to mind is authenticity. He doesn’t lie, he doesn’t come up with excuses, he doesn’t try to be defensive--reality is reality. Be clear and truthful as a leader.

Sébastien also believes that leaders should admit they don’t know things more often. He says it doesn’t make you a weak leader to say you don’t know, it actually shows your strength.

Three words that he used when he first started at Accor were--agility, clarity, and accountability. He wanted people to have the agility to be empowered to be autonomous and make decisions. Because they were making those decisions, people needed to be held accountable. And he wanted clarity, or transparency so that people would understand the context around the decisions they were making.

Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_Sebastian_Bazin_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:11am PDT

Consider some of the technologies you use in your personal life. Think about how easy it is for you to do things like communicating with people, share information, and stay on top of what's going on. Now think about what it would be like if you had similar technologies that you could use inside of your organization. How much easier would it be for you to get stuff done?

This is why many organizations that have strong technology initiatives involve employees in the process of figuring out the best technologies to use. Teams need the right technology to succeed. You can achieve this by getting feedback and perspectives of the employees inside your organization around the technologies that will benefit them the most.

Direct download: 3._How-to-Pick-the-Right-Technology-for-Your-Team.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:20am PDT

BJ Fogg is the bestselling author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything and the founder and director of The Stanford Design Lab, where he has directed research for over 20 years.

Back in 2002, BJ wrote a book called Persuasive Technology about how computers can be designed to influence attitudes and behaviors, which is still relevant nearly 20 years later. He was also named a “New Guru You Should Know” by Fortune Magazine.

A lot of times we resist change, especially when it comes to leadership because we believe it will take huge steps, big commitment, and a lot of willpower. But BJ’s Tiny Habits method proves that’s not true.

A different way to think about habits
Growing up BJ recalls how he was taught to make a change or improve in some way. It was all about setting a really high goal and using willpower and a lot of discipline to reach that goal. But as an adult, he found that it wasn’t working that way. And, as hacking things was something he had done since he was young--like hooking a string to his lightswitch so he could turn it off from his bed--he decided to hack the way he changed his habits.

He found that by scaling big goals back to smaller goals, adding it into his existing routine, and reinforcing it with positive emotion, he was able to quickly create habits that would have ripple effects in his life.

This formula works for anything health-related--nutrition, physical activities, mental well-being, it also works for productivity, creative activities, relationships, etc… The only area where BJ admits he doesn’t have expertise in and where his claims stop is with addictions. This formula may work for addictions, but BJ encourages people to get medical and professional help in that area.

As BJ shares, behavior change is a skill, and just like any other set of skills you can get better at it with practice and experience. But you wouldn’t put a brand new driver onto a highway and tell them to go 100 mph, and in the same way, we shouldn’t try to change our habits and behaviors in huge ways overnight. Start with the small things and as you succeed in those things and gain confidence then you can move up to bigger and more difficult things.

The Tiny Habits Method
There are three main elements of the Tiny Habits method, and it’s as easy as A-B-C.

A--Anchor your habit to something you do already. For example, if you want to start flossing your teeth, anchor it to brushing your teeth, something you already do every day.

B--This is the new behavior or the new habit you want to start. Remember to start small. If you want to floss your teeth, this can start with flossing one tooth a day.

C-Celebrate the behavior after you’ve done it. You want to associate the behavior with a positive emotion that will help you reinforce this behavior.

Another example of a behavior you may want to start is reading more. Using the formula you choose your behavior, which is to read more, and you keep it small. So to start out with you might want to begin by reading one paragraph each day. Then you anchor it to something you already do, maybe you drink coffee every morning and you choose to anchor it to that. So keep your book right next to your coffee machine and when you pour your cup, pick up your book and read your paragraph. And once you are done you will feel good about yourself and accomplished and you can close the book and put it back for the next day.

And you may even find that on some days you want to read more than a paragraph--if that’s the case do it. Read as much as you want. But if the next day you only want to read your one paragraph don’t force more, just do your daily goal and close the book.

“You will tend to read more and more, not just the paragraph. And you will also find other opportunities to read more. It’s like that habit will crop up in other parts of your life. And the key seems to be just to plant a seed somewhere and nurture it. And then that grows. But it also spawns other little habits like it elsewhere in your life, for that kind of thing like reading.”

How to know which habits to pursue
Just like with the reading example, when you start any new habit you should eventually find yourself spending more and more time working on it. Even though you start small--with reading one paragraph, or playing one scale with a new instrument, or playing one game of chess, or flossing one tooth--it should eventually get bigger and you should spend more time on it.

Because you are not going to get better at playing an instrument if you only play one scale per day. And you’re not going to read very many books if you only read one paragraph a day. That is a fine place to start, and it is important to start small, but you should feel so positive about the result of your new behavior that you should want to do more of it. Think of the tiny habit as the gateway to greater improvement and growth in an area of your life.

There may be days now and then that you don’t feel like spending 40 minutes playing your instrument or you don’t feel like spending an hour on chess lessons, and that’s okay. But if you notice that you are not enjoying a behavior and it feels like drudgery, then it’s probably not the behavior for you, and it’s okay to walk away from it and try something else.

As BJ says, “Now, let me just be really clear. If you are doing a habit and it feels like drudgery, Step back and question that and think is this a habit I really want? And if the answer's no, let it go and develop the habit you actually want.”

What are golden behaviors?
When it comes to tiny habits there are golden behaviors that meet three criteria, and those are the ones you want to focus on. The criteria are:

  1. The behavior is impactful.
  2. It is something you want to do.
  3. It is something you are able to do.

If you want to be healthier and you’re trying to figure out which type of exercise to implement, don’t try to walk on the treadmill every day if it’s not something you enjoy doing. Eventually, you’re going to stop doing it. If you decide you want to run with your dog every morning, but your dog can’t or won’t run, it’s not something that’s feasible, so don’t force it.

There are two main principles when it comes to tiny habits. The main one is to help yourself do what you already want to do. And the second is to help yourself feel successful. Keeping those two things in mind, BJ says, will keep you on the right path.

Why our perception of creating habits is wrong
One of the main perceptions that people tend to have about building habits is that we can create them with repetition. If you do just do something over and over and over again it will stick and you will have a habit. BJ says that is not at all correct, and not only is it very misleading it’s also unethical to push that idea.

There are some things that we can do for a very short period of time and they very quickly become a habit. While there are other things we may repeat over and over and they never become a true habit.

When working on tiny habits it is important to be consistent, but that’s not the same as repeating something and thinking it will stick just because you do it over and over. There is much more that goes into creating a long-term habit.

Direct download: Audio_-_FOW_Podcast_-_BJ_Fogg_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:11am PDT

The idea of a growth mindset was created by a professor named Carol Dweck. She defines it as a belief that there is always room for improvement. Unlike the fixed mindset where you think that your talent and intelligence are fixed and can’t be further improved.

If you're able to embrace the concepts of having a growth mindset, you’ll be much farther ahead than your peers and even than some of the people you work for. With things changing so quickly, it's important for us to be able to grow, to learn new things, to become better at certain things, and to not maintain that fixed mindset mentality.

Direct download: 2._Growth-Mindset-vs-Fixed-Mindset.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:23am PDT

Dr. Margaret Heffernan is the author of six books including Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious At Our Peril and Uncharted: How to Map the Future and Professor of Practice at the University of Bath. Margaret also has a TED Talk called The Human Skills We Need in an Unpredictable World which has been viewed over 3.6 million times.

Before getting involved in business Margaret produced programs for the BBC for 13 years. She is currently Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and she also mentors CEOs and senior executives at major global organizations around the world.

While Margaret was writing Willful Blindness and a short book for TED called Beyond Measure she noticed that she kept having weird conversations with people who were asking her a lot of questions about the future. What’s going to happen with Brexit? What’s going to happen with Trump? Will there be another banking crisis? And it was during this time that Margaret realized that most people do not know how to think about the future.

People tend to think that a select few lucky people are able to see into the future and give us all updates on what will happen next. But in reality, the future is unknowable, there aren’t any special keys to use or doors to look behind to find out what’s next. And in thinking about this she came across Philip Tetlock’s research on forecasting, which showed that if you are consistent with your study of the future if you read a very broad cross-section of impeccable sources, and if you keep up with each forecast perfectly the farthest out you can see accurately is 400 days.

But since most of us are not as consistent or rigorous as that, most of us can accurately forecast 150 days in the future. Which means the way most organizations plan with 3-year plans, 5-year plans, and even sometimes 30-year plans, is a very inaccurate and ludicrous way to go about it.

“This is madness, the way we've been--everything about the way we've been teaching, management does not work. If the first part of forecasts, plan, execute, doesn't work. And we're going around using a 20th century, maybe even 19th-century mindset in the 21st century, and no wonder things are going horribly wrong.” And that is why she wrote her book Uncharted.

Should we forget about forecasting altogether?
Since the way we are forecasting is completely wrong, should we still do it? Should we continue thinking about the future? Margaret believes that absolutely, we should be thinking about the future and forecasting, but we have to be humble about how accurate we are likely to be. And she says we have to start asking different questions.

We also have to realize that there is a difference between complicated and complex. Complicated things are things that can repeat and can be predicted. Complex things are unpredictable--even if they seem simple. That’s because there are a lot of different forces acting on these things which then causes constant change.

In complex environments, Margaret says you have to do two things. First, you have to forget about efficiency, because that will strip you of the capacity to respond. You have to think about preparation instead of planning. And second, you have to think about what high-impact events have a high likelihood of happening. What are some things that you can’t predict, but you can prepare for because there is a good chance it will happen.

Think about what things could really undo your business and do what you can to cushion yourself against that as best as you can.

What role does data play in decision-making?
Data is very useful to have, but only if you know how to use it and if you know the best questions to ask. Data in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand it can be dangerous. Margaret says that data is a powerful tool in scenario planning. It can help you to see all of the possible stories that could occur and it can help you plan for each one.

“The difficulty comes, I think, with a lot of executives who want certainty. And so they think they get to choose a narrative, right? But you don't get to choose, you only get the option of thinking about it ahead of time. So that they find it difficult, and many of them simply find it too hard to conjure up different narratives. So it's partly that their biases overwhelm them. But it's also that you can take any data set, and we have quite an optimistic and quite a pessimistic story. And so surprise, you know, they generally find the optimistic one. And they find all kinds of reasons why the really truly bad one couldn't possibly happen.”

One thing that Margaret truly believes executives need to work on is their lack of imagination. Leaders cannot look at the world in a two-dimensional way, we have to be able to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in order to properly navigate the future.

Leaders could have been planning for a big event like the pandemic, but a lot of them didn’t, and a lot of them, even now, are not preparing for other extreme possibilities. Leaders need imagination in order to think ahead to what kind of future they want to create.

“It dismays me that we have this fantastic opportunity now to reimagine work. And that makes most so-called leaders so anxious that they would rather cut, pop, go right past the creative part of that exercise and start thinking about how much square footage do we need? How many desks, how many chairs? But if you do that, and then later you decide I want this kind of future. You may not, you know, you've got the wrong furniture in the wrong offices, you know, you’ve really got to be able to lift your head out from the weeds and think long term about what is going to make our organization meaningful to the world long term. What kind of people are up for that? And how do they want to work? And when you've done that really well, then the desks and chairs will be the easy part.”

How can leaders think more creatively about the future?
As Margaret shares, most leaders have been trained in a 20th-century mindset, which is about cause and effect and it’s about complicated versus complex. Most leaders spend too much time looking at spreadsheets and figuring out 2%-3% adjustments when true foresight and planning takes a lot more creativity than that.

Planning for the future isn’t about sitting in your chair and looking at data. It’s about argument, debate, and discussions. It’s not something that can be done quickly, it takes a lot of time and effort.

In her book, Margaret uses the example of Cathedral projects, which is a phrase of Stephen Hawking’s. All of the cathedrals of the Western World were started by people who knew they would not live to see them finished. These buildings have evolved over generations and have constantly incorporated new technologies, materials, and aesthetics. The people working on them stop and ask themselves what does the world need from us right now. And a lot of leaders can learn from that type of mindset.

“There's a bank in the UK whose purpose statement is ‘To help Britain flourish’. Now, I don't know what that means. I mean, you could say they could be a gardening center. They could be a health care center. They could be pet breeders, they could be any darn thing. So this is, I mean, sadly, corporate comms just got the idea of purpose between its teeth and ran away with it. But I think this need to have a genuine soul-searching debate about what makes us meaningful to the world, what earns us our license to operate, is sorely needed in most organizations.”

What can leaders learn from artists?
Margaret has always been fascinated with how artists work because so many of them seem ahead of their time. So how do they seem to look into the future and create such relevant pieces? One of the biggest reasons they are so ahead of their time is because they take time to observe and take notice of things around them. They ask questions, they take things in, and they take risks. They also tend to change before anyone asks them to.

Leaders can learn a lot from artists. Take time to look around you. Ask things like what am I seeing and what does it mean to me? What patterns am I starting to see? What’s going on in the world right now? As Margaret says, generally we see what we’re looking for, and we miss everything else. We have to give ourselves time to let our minds wander, we have to be curious, we have to go in new directions, and allow ourselves to sit in silence and think.

Direct download: Audio_-_Margaret_Heffernan_-_Ready.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:22am PDT

Everyone must learn how to serve their leaders. Service to leaders essentially means helping make your boss look good. This doesn't mean sucking up--the goal is to help make your boss's job easier so you can progress together.

Serving your leaders starts with having a good relationship with them. If you don't have a good relationship with your leaders, it's difficult to serve them.

A lot of companies around the world are shifting in this direction, but you can also help initiate some of these things yourself as an employee who isn’t in a leadership position. You can ask your leaders to have regular check-ins, frequent discussions to share updates, and to help make sure that you are both progressing. Having a good relationship with your leader means you also understand their perspective.

Direct download: 1._What-it-Means-to-Be-Service-Oriented-Towards-Your-Leader.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:17am PDT