Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Leadership in Selling, Selling Authenticity and Well-being Ideas from Davos 2015

“There are four ingredients in true leadership:  brains, soul, heart and good nerves “  
Klaus Schwab  founder and Chairman of World Economic Forum  Davos 

 21st January 2015

Here are some findings of research on leadership which readers may find interesting in view of this leadership theme at Davos this week

Tel Aviv University’s Yona Kifer  published  January 28, 2013 a study in Psychological Science.

The study concluded that :

employees were 26% more satisfied in their roles when they had positions of power.

The researchers also found that feelings of power also translated to more authenticity and feelings of well-being.

Power made the subjects feel more “true to themselves,” enabling them to engage in actions that authentically reflected values they hold dear.

This subjective sense of authenticity in turn created a higher sense of wellbeing and  happiness.

Drawing on personality and power research, Yona Kiferl and colleagues suggested that holding a position of authority might enhance subjective well-being through an increased feeling of authenticity. 
The researchers predicted that because the powerful are able to
“navigate their lives in congruence with their internal desires and inclinations,” they feel as if they are acting more authentically — more “themselves” — and thus are more content.

The findings were published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. 2013

In their first experiment, the researchers surveyed over 350 participants to determine if Internal  feelings of power are associated with subjective well-being in different contexts: 1.  at work,  2. with friends, or 3.  in romantic relationships.

The results indicated that people who feel powerful in any context tend to be more content.

The most powerful people surveyed felt 16% more satisfied with their lives than the least powerful people.

This effect was most pronounced in the workplace:

Powerful employees were 26% more satisfied with their jobs than their powerless colleagues.

The power-based discrepancy in happiness was smaller for friendships and romantic relationships.

The researchers suggest that this may be because friendships are associated with a sense of community rather than hierarchy, and therefore having power in this kind of relationship is less important.
Causal relationships  in power, authenticity and wellbeing
In the second and third experiments, Kifer and colleagues examined the causal relationship between

a. power,
b. feelings of authenticity,
c.  general well-being,

by manipulating each of the factors independently.

The results revealed that being in a position of power causes people to feel more authentic and “true to themselves” — that is, it allows their actions to more closely reflect their beliefs and desires.

Feelings of authenticity, in turn, enhance subjective feelings of well-being and happiness.

“By leading people to be true to their desires and inclinations — to be authentic — power lead individuals to experience greater happiness,” the researchers conclude.

Kifer and colleagues propose that future research into power dynamics, happiness, and authenticity should focus on specific kinds of power, both positive (such as charisma) and negative (such as punishment).

Together, these findings suggest that even the perception of having power can lead people to live more authentic lives, thereby increasing their happiness and well-being.

Co-authors on this research include Daniel Heller of Tel Aviv University, Wei Qi Elaine Perunovic of University of New Brunswick, and Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School.

The 'Feeling of Power' - productive, performing and pleased

Research has shown that helping others feel more powerful can boost productivity, improve performance, and leave employees feeling more satisfied on the job. A study conducted by Yona Kifer of Tel Aviv University and published in Psychological Science found that employees were 26% more satisfied in their roles when they had positions of power.

Feelings of power also translated to more authenticity and feelings of well-being, the Researchers found.

Power made the subjects feel more “true to themselves,” enabling them to engage in actions that authentically reflected values they hold dear. This subjective sense of authenticity in turn created a higher sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Yet Gallup research has found that typically 70% of American workers aren’t engaged or committed to their employers. Gallup estimates the cost of their apathy at between $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

I reckon those workers aren’t feeling all that powerful.

While it would be great to think we could just repeat a mantra each morning to facilitate these well being -enhancing feelings of power, another global study conducted by Gallup found that among some 600,000 workers across several industries,

  • leadership support,
  • recognition,
  • constant communication,
  • and trust

were essential to creating a thriving environment where front-line employees felt they had the autonomy to make a real difference in the organization. In other words, to instil a sense of power , people for sustained engagement you need the support of the entire system.

The Importance of Buy-In

By contrast, overly structured management-driven empowerment programmes that are coupled with continuous improvement initiatives don’t work, according to researchers from the University of Illinois, as employees tend to feel such programs are often ‘ forced upon them’ without their input on  the initiatives’ usefulness.

Instead, the researchers found that even the least powerful employees will commit to finding ways to make their organisation more efficient if given the autonomy to make decisions and execute the improvement measures they find most useful.

Sales Managers are advised to act more as coaches, giving direction and support, and trusting that front line salespeople, who are the experts on the ground, know better which improvements ultimately work in the best interest of the organisation.

The study, by Gopesh Anand, Dilip Chhajed, and Luis Delfin, shows that employees will be most committed to the organisation when they feel their day-to-day work environment is autonomous and when they trust leaders to have their back. 

 These feelings of power and the reciprocal trust in leadership in turn lead to proactive behaviours by front line salespeople, as they’re likely to take charge in continuously seeking ways to improve their day-to-day work practices that lead to organisational efficiency.

While a company-wide effort of making employees feel autonomous and trusted yields the greatest benefit in employee commitment, managers can start with their own team members.

Encouraging others to

  • share their unvarnished views on important issues,

  • delegating

  • and sharing leadership,

  • assigning managerial tasks,

  • communicating frequently,

  • and allowing for mistakes to serve as learning opportunities can all empower employees and develop them into independent thinkers who aren’t afraid to take risks and actively contribute in moving the organisation forward.

It isn’t necessary, or indeed possible, to elevate every member of the sales team  to a Leadership position.

But a good sales  manager can offer choices that lead to empowerment, no title required.
While we know that people instinctively crave higher status, M. Ena Inesi of London Business School discovered that agency is just as important.

She primed study participants to feel either powerful or powerless.

They then had to choose whether to shop at a nearby store with fewer options, or a store that was further away but which offered considerably more options. When participants felt powerless, they craved more choices. 

The participants who felt powerful, however, were content to have fewer choices.
“You can imagine a person at an organisation who’s in a low- level job,” Inesi said at the time.
You can make that seemingly powerless person feel better about their job and their duties by giving them some choice, in the way they do the work or what project they work on.”
The dangers of Learned Helplessness

People need to believe they have a sense of control over their situation, particularly in times of change and uncertainty, or they may adopt what psychologist Martin Seligman at the University of  Pennsylvania termed “learned helplessness,” where they basically stop trying.

In a similar vein, Harvard psychology professor Ellen Langer conducted research on mindfulness and ‘choice’ and found that giving people choices over their environment actually extended life by years, according to her studies conducted among the elderly in nursing homes.

Tom Peters once said, “Leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders.”

Giving Your employees real autonomy and helping them feel more powerful is not only your best chance to buck he trend of disengagement and apathy; it is at the heart of competitive strategy.

 Perhaps the good and the great at Davos this week would agree with not only the founder of the World Economic Forum but some wisdom from some two and a half thousand year ago
"A leader is best when people barely know (s)he exists, when their work is done, their aim fulfilled, the people will say: we did it ourselves." 
Lao Tzu    571 BCE

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