Nonsense At Work

#111: September 2016 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


September 2016

Yawning Bravados Dislike Competent Economies

Yawning is a compliment in the face of danger

Picture this. You’re leading an important meeting when someone yawns. How do you react? Do you get angry because you think the person is bored and rude? Or do you continue, knowing that you have just been paid a compliment?

Excuse me? Yawning is a compliment? Yes it can be. After conducting experiments, researchers at the University of Albany in New York concluded that yawning actually helps the brain to stay alert.

We believe that people yawn because they crave sleep.  Instead, people yawn when their brain needs cool blood for optimal mental functioning.

What if others join in the yawning?  Well, it appears that team yawning is a mechanism to help a group stay alert in the face of danger.

So, if your team yawns, take it as a compliment that they understand the need to stay alert in the presence of the alpha dog.


Why we the insecure are led by bravados on display

emotional-intelligenceTalking about alpha dogs and/or alpha b . . . , I mean females, what do we value in a leader? Surely, we want a leader who presents himself like a leader, who makes it clear who is in charge, who makes her voice heard, who has energy and drive.

However, if you analyze those characteristics carefully, you will realize how similar ‘presents like a leader’ is to ‘ego on a pedestal’, how similar ‘in charge’ is to ‘need for control’, how similar ‘making voice heard’ is to ‘poor listener’, and how similar ‘energy and drive’ is to ‘impatience with others’.

There is a fine line between what we think a leader should be and what is mere bravado on display. The line is so fine that I am no longer surprised by how often we are led by the obviously insecure.

After all, we are attracted to leaders who reflect what we unconsciously are. And it is thus that we create leaders in our own image.


Failure comes from delegating what you dislike

president-precedentWhat part of your job do you dislike? And what part do you delegate? How much overlap is there between what you dislike and what you delegate?

I once consulted to a CEO brought in to manage a turnaround. We had to be careful about what we could delegate and what we had to do ourselves. Unavoidably, a number of people had to go. The CEO would not delegate this task. He disliked doing it, which is why he would not ask anyone else to do it.

Often the parts of your job that you dislike are the pieces you should not delegate because they matter to your role, they determine your success, or because others know that it is cowardly to delegate that which you dislike doing.

Collective success is more likely if you have the discipline to delegate not what you dislike, but what others can do better than you.


When the time is right, demand the possible from the competent

mirror-betterThere are two basic ways to motivate followers – make them stretch or make them reach.

Most proffered wisdom seems to favor stretch. Make goals big and hairy, make followers sweat and worry, so that they will be motivated to deliver their best. Indeed, but they will be worn out nervous wrecks.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery offers a different approach. In his book “The Little Prince”, a king explains that he has a right to expect obedience because his orders are reasonable and because he requires “from each one the duty which each one can perform.” His other trick is to give instructions only when they can actually be obeyed and executed.

Some leaders do succeed by setting impossible stretch goals. But they tend to be one-hit leaders. Consistently successful leaders enable followers to reach sensible goals by demanding, when the time is right, the possible from the competent.


Fragile economies happen when we buy share of a company, without sharing an interest in the company

PartBeingPaidIf a portion of the cost of my lottery ticket goes to schools, then I can say that I invest in education. After the drawing, win or lose, my share is back to zero.

That’s how stock markets now function, or so it seems. We buy shares to be sold if the price is up and to be sold when it is down.

Shareholding no longer reflects our interest in a company and its affairs. It reflects our short-term interest in its short-term share price.

Time was when shareholders went to the harbor to see their ship sail and to see if it came in. Not so long ago we funded a venture because we were interested in the business. Our share was actually called an “interest.”

Our economy will remain fragile as long as we buy shares of a company, without sharing an interest in the company.



Would you like me to make you yawn?



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