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Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Nano Tools for Leaders VI

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

For Better Results, Emotional Contagion Matters

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: Sigal Barsade, PhD, Joseph Frank Bernstein Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


The Goal:

Create an environment that enhances employee engagement and performance by paying attention to the emotional contagion occurring in your team.

Nano Tool:

Employees are not emotional islands. Rather, they continuously spread their own moods and receive and are influenced by others’ moods. When they work in groups, they literally can catch each others’ emotions like viruses, a phenomenon known as emotional contagion. These effects become even more powerful in stable workgroups where there is greater work interdependence.

Executives can use their knowledge of the impact of mood contagion to create more positive team dynamics, increase performance, and decrease turnover by consciously managing their own emotions and the emotions they want to spread in their teams. As positive emotions have most often been found to lead to better employee attitudes, creativity, and job performance, leaders will likely want to elicit positive emotional contagion within the team environment. Negative mood contagion may be sometimes necessary to achieve a specific team goal, but should be relegated to short-term situations. For example, team leaders may want to elicit shared feelings of frustration or anger in cases where teams have lost to a competitor or have not met their goals; or they may want to induce feelings of legitimate fear when getting teams to understand organizational realities and accept why a change effort is important. Because employees pay great attention to their leaders’ emotions, leaders can strongly influence the mood, and thus attitudes and performance, of their teams through emotional contagion.

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Nano Tools for Leaders V

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 6, 2011 at 11:20 am

Customer Insights: Go Direct

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: George Day, PhD, The Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor, Professor of Marketing; Co-Director, Mack Center for Technological Innovation; Director, Emerging Technologies Management Research Program, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


The Goal:

Gain a deeper understanding of your customers, your market, and your competitors by making direct contact.

Nano Tool:

The importance of deep customer and market insights can’t be overstated. They are the foundation on which companies create customer value and capture superior profits. And yet despite the compelling benefits, most firms are ineffective at consistently gathering market intelligence. 

Firms shouldn’t count on insights emerging organically. Instead, they need to develop a disciplined process that connects them directly with their customers. To acquire relevant and actionable information that lets you anticipate your customers’ needs (and and fill those needs before your competitors do), you need to collect customer data in new ways. Rather than outsourcing your data collection, keep it in house.  And get as close to the customer — and the customer experience — as possible.

How It Works:

  • Create online tools to collect customer data. P&G recently opened up its own online store to learn directly from customers. They don’t expect the eStore to provide a significant or quick boost to revenue or profit, but rather are more interested in the customer data it will produce. They learn about the effectiveness of efforts such as product pairings, social media links, environmentally friendly pitches, packaging options, and banner ads. Other companies use online forums or newsgroups to stay in contact with customers.
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Nano Tools for Leaders IV

In Executive Education, Leadership, Nano Tools, Wharton on January 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

Being There

Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.

Contributor: Thomas Donaldson, PhD, The Mark O. Winkelman Professor, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


The Goal:

Improve communication with employees to ensure that you’re in the loop, hearing bad (and good) news before it’s too late.

Nano Tool:

Disastrous organizational public revelations make headlines, and often bring corporations to the brink of destruction. For those hit by a “corporate Watergate,” two things are true:

  1. Top level executives did not know about it in time;
  2. Scores of people inside the organization did know about it — and knew for a long time.

The key issue is why critical information fails to flow upward to executives. Research clearly shows that an employee’s feeling of pressure to commit unethical acts is strongly correlated with his or her conception of the ethics of top leadership. In turn, an employee’s conception of those ethics is often formed more by personal impressions than by ethical “pronouncements” from the top. It is those personal impressions that can and should be directed by top executives themselves.
 
The most effective way to create a positive impression — and to avoid critical communication lapses – is to make a habit of engaging in casual, unplanned moments with employees (known also as “being there”). How an executive treats employees in the elevator or the parking lot can make all the difference between hearing (and having the time to act), and not hearing. Leaders should seize opportunities to “be there.”

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