Today we're talking about a common phenomenon that gets in the way of our influence and success more often than we'd like to admit: cognitive dissonance.
This is a term from psychology that describes how, in many cases, when reality does not match our expectations, we prefer to reinterpret reality rather than adjust our expectations.
This can sometimes be useful in the sense that we try everything to change reality according to our goals. But it can also often lead us to disconnect more and more from reality and our environment.
This phenomenon can creep in anywhere and often occurs - but not only - in the executive suites of larger companies.
Why there in particular? Because more personal ego is involved: the more I manifest my expectations and couple them to my personality, the more difficult it is to adjust these expectations. The way out: I choose to interpret reality differently.
Listening well to...
The amazing fact is that all teams can become more productive. Why is it, then, that most teams stay at their current levels, even if productivity gains could be relatively easy to achieve?
The simple answer: most people feel comfortable and safe in their current state.
This includes business leaders, teams, and entire organizations. Change is hard, even if this change means improvement. That’s why most obese people stay obese, smokers continue smoking, and people don’t become better leaders.
Unfortunately, at the moment we see once again a vivid (and very sad) example of how a leader can get "his" people behind him to carry out certain actions.
Of course, I mean - you guessed it - the example of Putin and the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine. The aim of this article is not to take a political stand (although I do, of course), but to point out the mechanisms that have their effect here in the negative, but which - and this is the crucial lesson - can also be used for good.
What actually happened in Putin's Russia?
Essentially, there are three crucial elements that come together to send people to war and death with their consent (I then explain how you can use these correlations in the positive sense for your team or company):
What if you do not only create great results in your life and business, but also make the road to these results the most joyful possible for yourself and your people in your team?
My point is this: there is no meaning in spending hours, days, weeks, months, or even years on topics we do not enjoy.
What is the meaning of results if your journey is a constant struggle?
To be clear, I am an advocate of the belief that we sometimes need to struggle to get to the next level, that we have to work hard and be relentless. But what I also suggest is not making the struggle the primary driving force.
Ask yourself, how much better could the performance, productivity, and quality of our work be if we were more joyful?
I don't know to what extent you are interested in football. Even if you're not, this blog post has some ideas that might be useful for you as a leader.
I'm using Jürgen Klopp as an example since it's always worth taking a closer look at outstanding leaders. Because you can learn from them in any case, no matter how good you already are at leadership yourself.
Jürgen Klopp is currently one of the most successful soccer coaches in the world (some say "THE best") and has just been to the Champions League final with his club Liverpool FC. He has some tremendous successes to his name - and manages to remain a very "normal" person in the process.
His specialty seems to be to form outstanding teams out of rather average ones, which sustainably achieve top performance while having fun (by the way, completely according to the idea of my book " Business Fitness: Get out of Mediocrity!", published by Springer Gabler, more info here, only in German).
Since I know that many of my...
The more I study the subject of success and why some businesses and people become much more successful much quicker than all the rest, the more it dawns on me that the key differentiators are pretty easy to understand.
And yet, most people try to figure out some techniques, methods, and processes that – if they would just optimize them – will lift them to higher success levels.
This is not entirely wrong, except for the fact that these improvements will never lift anyone to another level. Instead, they will do what all improvement activities do (if done the right way): they will – yes! – IMPROVE your situation. They will not transform your success, nor will they be a game changer.
Coming back to my opening statement, what are these “key differentiators” now? Well, simply put, it is the way people think that makes all the difference.
As this sounds a bit weird, I’d like to invite you to take a little test to see if you think...
You may be surprised at the headline: "I'm not an influencer after all!" you may think.
Wait, not so fast: what is leadership but influence? That's right: nothing. Leadership without influence doesn't work.
Therefore, if you are a leader, you are automatically an influencer.
This is true even if you don't have a managerial position. Because leadership doesn't depend on your position, but on ... That's right: influence.
If we internalize this fact, we can also be open to learning from the so-called "influencers," those people who have millions of followers on social media.
Because many of them seem to know quite well how to influence others.
Frequent and consistent communication.
Successful influencers are very good at sending very frequent messages to the community that they themselves embody. In doing so, they are consistent.
What does that accomplish? Well, you...
Yes, I risk offending you. Not the first time, though! Sometimes, I call myself a “tough love coach” and here we go: You are lazy! And if that helps you: I am too. So is everybody. Even the hardest worker is lazy.
What do I mean by this?
As you have heard a million times (at least from me), our brain is hardwired to keep us alive. Not to create great work or to be happy.
Not at all, we all prioritize the actions that most likely keep us alive. This instinct is controlled by our subconscious, by our lizard brain. We are not even aware of it.
Here comes my point: Science proves that all conscious thoughts and actual changes in our beliefs and routines require tremendous physical energy in our brain. That’s why a lazy brain is, in this sense, good for survival: it saves energy for more important stuff.
What I observe more often than not in organizations of all sizes is that people are remarkably tired when it comes to changing their beliefs about...
Wouldn't it be cool to know what issues you need to work on first and foremost as a leader to become even more effective and influential?
Well, after working with leaders of all kinds for some time (i.e., over a decade), patterns naturally emerge. At least, that's how I feel.
The important thing is not to be fooled too much by symptoms. Because top leadership is rarely characterized by improving very specific routines.
That's helpful, but it doesn't get to the heart of the matter.
What I'm talking about here are the big levers that have an impact on many other things. If you improve these levers, the positive effect is multiplied.
Lack of desire to learn.
My classic question on this is: "How many books on personal development have you read in the last three months?"
I see a clear correlation between the willingness to learn systematically, i.e. to work on oneself, and the quality of leadership.
Some weeks ago, I was writing about the compound effect and how little changes can make a huge difference over time. Click here to read the article.
Today, I want to cover another, deeper aspect of the compounding effect: behavioural compounding.
The thing is this: all substantial improvements of any situation come from basically two angles. Either something from the outside works in your favour, or you and your team changes things from the inside.
To rely on the former is quite a risky strategy (as things can also get worse instead of better). Hence, the only reliable strategy to improve any given situation comes from inside. And this means, in most cases, changing decisions and actions which are driven by beliefs and values.
The consequence: to sustainably change our decisions and actions, we need to change our beliefs which materialise in our daily behaviours.
I know it sounds a bit too much when you hear it the first time, but let me tell you this: this...
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