The Politics of PromotionMastering politics is essential for advancement in the workplace, particularly at the management or executive level. In The Politics of Promotion, executive coach Bonnie Marcus explains that talent and hard work are not enough; to get promoted the way men do, women must learn the unwritten rules of the game, gather insider information, manage their images, and build influence with key stakeholders and decision makers. By acknowledging and understanding the need for politics and using Marcus’ Political Toolkit, women can effectively navigate their organizations’ political landscapes to rapidly move ahead.

The author believes that:

  • Many women mistakenly believe that hard work and talent will eventually lead to promotion, and they ignore the importance of workplace politics. Their failure to establish and manage strategic professional relationships often leads to them being passed over for promotions or even asked to step down.
  • High-achieving women face obstacles their male counterparts do not, including subtle gender bias and self-limiting attitudes and behaviors. Factors that keep women from getting ahead include lack of confidence, fear of being seen as unlikable or aggressive, failure to delegate, having a negative view of office politics, and being excluded from informal networks.
  • Career advancement requires political savvy. By demonstrating their value proposition, understanding workplace culture and dynamics, forming strategic alliances, seeking mentorship and sponsorship, and committing to executive coaching, women can remove roadblocks and achieve their career goals.
  • To get ahead and stay ahead, women must master Marcus’ Political Toolkit. This toolkit contains five metaphorical tools–the Mirror, Magnifying Glass, Pass Go and Collect $200 Card, Get Out of Jail Free Card, and GPS–that can help women put abstract political concepts into practice.
  • Continued career advancement demands dedication, ongoing self-evaluation, and being aware of ever-changing workplace dynamics. Highly developed political skills become even more critical at the senior level. Women must continue to use the tools that got them to the top to stay on top, but with a slightly different focus.

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You Said WhatAs Kim Zoller and Kerry Preston explain in You Said What?!, effective communication is vital in the workplace. Building relationships with others means making them feel valued, respected, and, above all, heard. But even the most well-intentioned professionals make common communication blunders. Because professional communication skills are not intuitive, they must be learned and perfected over time.

The author believes that:

  • People are always communicating whether they know it or not, but few people know how to communicate effectively.
  • Communication is not only about the words people speak; it is about the actions people take and how they are understood by others.
  • Everyone has different communication styles and preferences, but in business it is vital to communicate with and be understood by a diverse range of personality types.
  • In today’s business environment, individuals must communicate over a wide range of mediums, including through social media, over email, and in face-to-face meetings.

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9780749471354In People Risk Management, Keith Blacker and Patrick McConnell provide insight and practical suggestions about how to manage people-related risks at large commercial firms. Due to their size and complexity, large companies are more prone to disastrous outcomes, such as those experienced by BP, Enron, and Lehman Brothers. The authors offer practical tools, real-world examples, and best-practice guidance about how to implement effective people risk management across an organization and thereby improve decision-making processes.

From bad business decisions to illegal activity, people risk — the risk that people will deviate from an organization’s rules and procedures in a way that damages profits and reputations — presents a growing threat to increasingly complex and global businesses. Leaders should be aware of the following aspects of people risk:

  • Individuals and groups make bad decisions when they fail to consider all of the facts. A bad decision can benefit a firm, and a good decision can be morally dubious.
  • Rather than using rational analyses to make decisions, people are subject to cognitive biases or blind spots, such as overconfidence or groupthink.
  • A company’s culture has a significant effect on people risk management. The culture is influenced from the top down.
  • A company can use a decision checklist as well as pre- and post-mortems to help improve decision-making throughout the organization.
  • Organizations should create personalized codes of conduct to help individuals take personal responsibility and improve decision-making processes.

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The Serving LeaderThe Serving Leader by Kenneth R. Jennings and John Stahl-Wert showcases the powerful yet paradoxical method of achieving greatness by serving others. They intertwine tales of an estranged son and his dying father within the lessons to provide insight into the five actions anyone can take to transform his or her organization or community. Serving Leadership has power and value in many different types of environments, including industries, nonprofits, schools, homes, and churches. The best Serving Leaders turn everything the world knows about traditional leadership upside down and achieve amazing results by doing so.

Serving Leaders must follow five specific and powerful actions if they want to totally transform their businesses, communities, or teams. While these five actions seem paradoxical, they have been proven to yield extraordinary outcomes:

  1. Run to great purpose. Every person, team, organization, or community needs a purpose to help fuel their work. Serving Leaders are people in pursuit of a great purpose. They articulate this purpose in a way that is so compelling that people are willing to run toward it. The leaders set the pace, and this spirit gets transferred to the people they serve.
  2. Upend the pyramid. In a traditional leadership environment, the leader is at the top of the pyramid looking down on all his or her workers, team members, and community citizens. But in a Serving Leadership environment, the pyramid is flipped upside down. In this scenario, the leaders put other people first. They give credit to others before themselves. In doing this, the people they build up will do the same for those they work with. The cycle continues.
  3. Raise the bar. While on the surface Serving Leadership seems soft, it is the opposite. In Serving Leadership environments, standards are very high. No one can join the team unless they meet very rigid criteria. Once they are there, high expectations for performance are placed on them. Mistakes may happen and can be forgiven, but training and corrections are immediately put into place. Those who cannot perform even after extensive coaching are let go.
  4. Blaze the trail. There are often very tough barriers for people to get through on the road to success. Serving Leaders move those barriers and eliminate obstacles to make success easier for those they are leading.
  5. Build on strength. While it may be common for people to think they need to work on their weaknesses, in a Serving Leadership environment, people focus on their strengths. They know their weaknesses but instead of trying to fix them, they find other people who are strong in that area and bring them onto the team.

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On PurposePurpose is important to customers and employees alike. In today’s market, three reasons account for the rise of purpose as a defining aspect of marketing and sales: changing consumer values, technological innovations, and a shift in the value base of many developed economies. In On Purpose, Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan offer a guide for creating a brand experience that increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. Their step-by-step analysis illustrates how a business should define, design, and deliver brand identity and purpose across diverse platforms.

The authors believe that:

  • Successful branding requires companies to establish a clear sense of purpose that inspires both employees and consumers. Brands that design a unique customer experience in line with their core purpose create a culture of profitable sustainability.
  • Purposeful leadership requires making decisions that are in line with an organization’s purpose and values.
  • Successful organizations show that they believe in something, and they deliver value based on those beliefs. Having a customer-centric perspective is the best way for any organization to define its purpose.
  • To keep an edge on the competition, organizations must deliver a unique customer experience that spans across multiple channels.
  • Long-term planning is important for the success of any organization-sustainable delivery of branded services or products depends on creating the right culture for customers and employees.

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smallBIG_Demycoveruk.jpgSuccessfully persuading others to take particular actions is an essential skill in both business and in daily life. In The Small BIG, Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein, and Robert B. Cialdini identify over 50 small ways to influence people in effective, yet ethical, ways.

In The Small BIG, Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein, and Robert B. Cialdini share proven techniques to influence people based on Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion:

1. Reciprocity: Individuals feel a duty to return favors that are done for them.

2. Authority: People rely on experts to demonstrate the correct ways to do things.

3. Scarcity: When resources are hard to find, people tend to want them more.

4. Liking: The more likeable people are, the more others will want to say “yes” to them.

5. Consistency: Individuals typically strive to act in ways that are consistent with their commitments and values.

6. Social proof: People turn to others’ actions as they look for ways to guide their own behaviors.

With these principles in mind, researchers have found that small changes in both the workplace and daily life can generate big results. In the business world, small changes can have positive effects for marketing, managing teams, and negotiating. Small changes can also help people interview more effectively, make personal improvements, and encourage others to keep their commitments. In the public policy and non-profit arenas, small changes can influence citizens and donors to behave in desirable ways.

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The Healthy WorkplaceCountless workers express a desire to lose weight, reduce stress, and increase their productivity, but their jobs hinder their efforts. In fact, most work environments foster unhealthy habits. They take only reactive, not proactive, roles when it comes to the health of their employees. In The Healthy Workplace, researcher and workplace wellness expert Leigh Stringer presents strategies to help organizations create healthy environments that actually improve employees’ well-being. Drawing on history, current research, and real-world examples, Stringer challenges business leaders to make creating a culture of wellness not just a perk but an imperative.

Today’s work is becoming more and more sedentary, putting workers at risk for poor health. To improve both productivity and return on investment (ROI), employers must take the health of their workers seriously. Neglecting to do so means passing up a competitive advantage–and failing to nurture workers’ creative potential. Business leaders can create healthy workplaces by:

  • Supporting individual preferences as well as innovation districts for group work, thereby allowing for employees to reach a state of flow.
  • Encouraging movement and exercise to counteract fatigue and produce energy.
  • Reducing employees’ stress and improving their focus by emphasizing mindfulness and introducing stress management programs.
  • Encouraging healthy sleep habits by implementing consistent work schedules, providing natural lighting, setting aside napping or wellness rooms, and modeling good habits like “unplugging” from work at the end of the day.
  • Designing healthy work environments with ergonomic furniture, proper air quality, and a connection with nature.
  • Creating healthy workplace cultures by offering incentives, instituting a “buddy” system, gamifying healthy habits, and providing classes and coaching.
  • Formulating business cases for workplace health, which includes a wellness plan, a charter, and an expected ROI.

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20 Minute Manager Leading Virtual TeamsThe Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation title 20 Minute Manager: Leading Virtual Teams aims to help managers of remote groups succeed from afar. Virtual teams can present a unique set of challenges, including maintaining accountability from a distance and depending on technological means of communication, but these challenges can be overcome. Leaders of virtual teams can achieve success by ensuring that their teams have the right mix of skills and abilities for remote work, the right technological tools are in place, goals and processes are clearly defined and understood, and their employees remain engaged and accountable.

Leaders of virtual teams can overcome the unique challenges of remote workforces by employing six basic strategies:

1. Ensuring that their teams contain the right mix of skills and abilities. Team members must be able to communicate and collaborate effectively, be open to the use of technology, and possess the skills that are needed for success.

2. Assessing and fulfilling their teams’ technological needs. The success of virtual teams depends largely on the technology that they are given. Virtual team leaders must assess and implement the right tools to enable communication and the creation and sharing of content.

3. Clarifying goals, processes, and norms. Leaders of virtual teams must define common expectations, goals, processes, and norms to align the priorities of their teams.

4. Regulating the messages and communication channels that enable effective collaboration. Leaders must find ways to effectively share information through the appropriate channels. They must find the right balance of communication to avoid overburdening team members with information and undercommunicating their visions and objectives.

5. Keeping team members motivated, engaged, and accountable. Virtual team leaders must build rapport and trust among their teams and mobilize the social bonds that keep people engaged in and motivated about their work. They must also hold people to their commitments to prevent missed deadlines, poor results, and interpersonal conflicts.

6. Resolving conflict from afar. Leaders must manage conflict before it damages work relationships and creates toxic work environments. This can be achieved by practicing active listening, mediating, and encouraging transparency.

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Young MoneyIn recent years, the financial industry has undergone a transformation. Changes, such as tighter regulations, have resulted in smaller financial payouts for young financiers, but many of the most talented and ambitious students continue to be drawn to careers in finance. In Young Money, Kevin Roose seeks to understand what attracts people to Wall Street, which people find the most success, and what the future of Wall Street holds in light of these changes. To achieve this, Roose shadowed eight college graduates as they embarked on careers as analysts at some of Wall Street’s top firms. He documented their journeys as they faced challenges, doubts, and questions about the value, morality, and fit of their work to their strengths. Ultimately, Roose discovered what it takes to succeed on Wall Street and the sacrifices that must be made to gain the long-term power and prestige that these types of firms offer.

Each year, Wall Street firms attract many of the most talented graduates from top-tier universities. While some individuals succeed and pursue long-term careers on Wall Street, many choose other paths for the following reasons:

  • The workload is too burdensome. Many analysts complain of spending too much time in the office. First-year analysts are typically required to work long nights and weekends, often totaling more than 100 hours each week.
  • The workload is too challenging. Some underperforming analysts are not asked to return to their programs for a second or third year because they make too many mistakes or fail to meet expectations.
  • The managers may make the workplace miserable. Many of the managers referenced in Young Money were demanding, volatile, and demeaning. Their tempers caused many of the analysts to dislike their work environments, and in some cases, adopt negative personalities of their own.
  • The work does not align with some analysts’ skill sets. Many college graduates set aside their ambitions for the promise of high salaries and the opportunity to put prestigious institutions on their résumés. They often do this without understanding or possessing the skills that are required to succeed as an analyst in these roles.
  • Other ventures seem more exciting and fulfilling. Many technology companies and startups attempt to woo first-year analysts away from Wall Street with the promise of more excitement and autonomy and a better work-life balance.

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High-Profit ProspectingIn High-Profit Prospecting, Mark Hunter provides strategies for generating high-profit prospects and turning them into valuable customers. The book discusses the role of prospecting in today’s ever-changing world and provides advice for three different prospecting methods: Internet, email, and cold calls. Hunter dismantles common myths that keep salespeople from prospecting, offers an overall strategic prospecting plan, gives practical guidance for day-to-day prospecting, and outlines steps for landing leads who will ultimately turn into customers.

The author believes that:

  • The most important factor in prospecting success is the prospect’s confidence and trust in the salesperson.
  • Salespeople use common myths as excuses to not prospect.
  • A motivated attitude is as important as any prospecting method.
  • Prospecting success occurs when salespeople follow well-planned strategies every day.
  • Prospecting should be split evenly with the rest of salespeople’s work duties.
  • High-profit prospecting separates suspects from prospects and finds good leads at the top of the sales funnel. In these situations, the buyers are typically strategic minded rather than tactical minded.
  • Instead of focusing on one prospecting method, salespeople should use them all equally.

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