Tag Archive: society


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A chance to catch up on much-needed reading to refresh and recharge your standards and leadership style scoured this lists of books that helped to look at life and work in a whole new way. While these books are not your typical newest releases, they have timeless value and are best read together to rejuvenate yourself and, by extension, your team.

The review by Rebecca Talbot, Content Marketing & Research Manager & Leadership Story Lab sais:

Feeling comfortable in our workplace can have its downsides. It’s easy to fall into patterns and make assumptions about the people we spend our days with.”

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier offers a way to get beyond our assumptions about our coworkers’ behavior and learn their stories instead. Stanier’s short book explores seven questions managers can use to get people talking, and to train themselves to avoid thinking they “already know” what’s motivating people. His first question is simply:

What’s on your mind?

When we are willing to start our conversations with an open-ended question, the answers might surprise us!And that’s Stanier’s whole point-that we need to approach each other with far more curiosity.

The “what’s on your mind” question resonated with me because it is a question my dad used to ask me often when I was a teenager. The respect and curiosity implied in the question worked well to encourage a teenager to talk.

Likewise, family, friends and colleagues generally need an invitation before they will share what’s been important to them lately. Now that Stanier has reminded of that, I’ll be using this question more frequently.

 


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There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills. Character, writes Amitai Etzioni, the George Washington University, social theorist, is the

” Psychological muscle that moral conduct requires.”

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The bedrock of character is self-discipline, the virtuous life,  since Aristotel have observed, is based on self-control. A related keystone of character is being able to motivate and guide ourselves, whether in doing homework, finishing a job, or getting up in the morning. As we have seen the ability to channel one’s urges to act is a basic emotional skill, one that in a former day was called will.

“We need to be in control of ourselves – our appetites, our passions to do right by others”,

notes Tomas Lickona, writing about character education.


 “It takes will to keep emotion under the control of reason.”

Being able to put aside one’s self-centered focus and impulses has social benefits: it opens the way to empathy, to real listening. to another person’s perspective. Empathy as we have seen, leads to caring, altruism and compassion. Seeing things from another’s perspective breaks down biases stereotypes, and so breads tolerance and acceptance of differences. These capacities are ever more called  on in our increasingly pluralistic society, allowing people to live together in mutual respect and creating the possibility of productive public discourse. Theses are basic arts of democracy.

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The first big management idea to reach a mass audience it swept through corporate America in the early years of the 20th century and much management thinking since has been either a reaction to it or a development of it.

 

At the core of scientific management lie four principles:

Replace rule-of-thumb methods of doing work with ones based on scientific study of the tasks to be carried out.

Select and train individuals for specific tasks.

Give individuals clear instructions on what they have to do, then supervise them while they do it.

Divide work between managers and workers, so that the managers plan “scientifically” what is to be done, and the workers then do it.

 

Peter Drucker once wrote that:

Taylor was the first man in history who did not take work for granted, but looked at it and studied it. His approach to work is still the basic foundation”.

 

The trade union movement, however, always hated it. A union officer once said:

No tyrant or slave driver in the ecstasy of his most delirious dream ever sought to place upon abject slaves a condition more repugnant.

 

There is little space for Taylor’s ideas in today’s world of freewheeling teamwork. But the writings of people such as Michael Porter and Michael Hammer, with their emphasis on breaking business down into measurable (and controllable) activities, hold more than a faint echo of Taylor’s ideas.

 


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