Harem management was a type of leadership that fostered a strong undercurrent of political influence. It is synonymous with the politicisation of some organisations, where various shadow individuals or groups compete fiercely for power. Harems were often directed behind the scenes by a sultan’s female relatives, particularly the all-powerful mother, known as the Valide Sultan. And then there were the eunuchs. They could be lowly servants, or rise to become third in command after the Sultan and the Grand Vizier; and often had the trust, and the ear, of the sultan.
Reflecting on his own predicament, Edward could see how his CEO obtained some benefits from this harem-oriented way of running Serail Corporation. Why should he get rid of a person if he or she had still some use? Why annoy them by taking them off the executive committee?
While the CEO paid lip service to the advantages of teamwork, he clearly preferred working with members bilaterally. They all liked to have a direct reporting relationship with their boss. By keeping the roles of the people reporting to him ambiguous, he was assured that the information he needed would flow up. In addition, by keeping his “harem” he had reserves at hand in case one of the harem members became fed up with the situation. In the meantime, everyone in the company would be at his beck and call, vying for his attention.
If you feel inadequate or that you are likely to be "found out" at work, you're probably not alone. It's part of a phenomenon called the "impostor syndrome" and it's very common, writes journalist Oliver Burkeman. "I have written 11 books but each time I think 'Uh-oh, they're going to find out now,'" the novelist Maya Angelou once said. "I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out." Angelou was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and won five Grammys for her spoken recordings, plus a myriad other awards. But the "impostor phenomenon" - sometimes known as impostor syndrome - had her firmly in its grip. Public acclaim didn't dent the feeling that, deep down, she was a fraud, who didn't have a clue what she was doing. You've probably felt the same. Most of us have. Yet a crucial element of the impostor phenomenon is the sense that you're the only person to suffer. So you may not find it reassuring to learn that Angelou felt it too. "Sure," you tell yourself, "she thought she was a fraud - but I really am one. And any day now, I'll be rumbled."
In my experience, though, most of today’s workers—and senior executives perhaps most of all—lack what they need, whether it’s meditation or a different approach, to balance and offset the demands of their “anywhere, everywhere” roles in today’s corporations. The famous hitter Ted Williams, at the conclusion of a long baseball season, used to go hunting and fishing to relax and recharge. Winston Churchill was an amateur painter who once said, “If it weren’t for painting, I couldn’t live. I couldn’t bear the strain of things.”
Most executives can’t disappear for long stretches to go fishing, and picking up painting sounds daunting. But they can use simple versions of proven meditation techniques to improve the quality of their lives, even if it’s only by increments. My purpose in this article isn’t to tell you whether, or how, to meditate; there are several flavors of meditation and I have only really ever tried the tradition of Vipassana.3 Instead, I will describe how it has helped me deal with three common challenges faced by leaders: email addiction, coping with disappointment, and becoming too insular.
German novelist and playwright Gustav Freytag wanted to understand how storytelling impacted the human psyche. He wondered, “What makes a story so engaging that it changes a person’s behavior?” After studying William Shakespeare’s work, Freytag designed a map of storytelling—a key that explained why the man considered ‘the greatest writer [...]
Some people have the gift of gab, and can talk to anyone about anything. And some people struggle to make small talk. What separates the two isn’t knowing what to talk about; it’s polishing up your communication skills so you can keep a good conversation going.
"Good conversations require a give and take, just like keeping a ball in the air during a game of catch," says Anne Green, president and CEO of CooperKatz & Company, a communications and media-training firm with clients that include Richard Branson. "When someone directs a question your way—when the ball is thrown to you—you should always respond with an answer that will continue the flow of dialogue, passing the ball back and never letting it drop."
Brian Tracy posed a pointed question: "Are you the kind of leader you would want to follow?" Amazingly, in many cases, the answer appears to be no. Dr. Nico Rose does a great job of curating interesting news from the world of positive psychology and came up with this gem: When [...]
News stories and social media posts inundate us every day with tips for greater happiness, health, and general well-being. But who has the time to fit them into our already packed schedules? Recently, though, my research has led me to believe that one simple prescription can have transformative effects: look for more daily experiences of awe. This doesn’t require a trek to the mountains. What the science of awe is suggesting is that opportunities for awe surround us, and their benefits are profound.
Only 11 percent of senior leaders are effective at displaying empathy and maintaining other’s esteem.
3. Empathy is the linchpin soft skill.
Of all the leadership soft skills, empathy is arguably the most critical. In his book “Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution” author Roman Krznaric said empathy “is not just about seeing things from another perspective. It’s the cornerstone of smart leadership. The real competitive advantage of the human worker will be their capacity to create relationships which means empathy will count more than experience.”
Using the DDI database on new frontline leaders, we correlated the effect of each interaction skill on overall assessment performance and each of four leadership tasks. Empathy was the most foundational soft skill, with the largest positive relationship across the board, followed by encouraging the involvement of others.
The mind is a powerful asset, and like any other organ it needs equal rest and stimulation. It's become obvious that our workplaces are increasingly stressful with longer work hours, high pressure deadlines and increased workloads.
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