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50 Ways To Work Wiser - Excerpt


50 practical leadership, teamwork, and professional development tips, based on psychological evidence, presented in two minutes bites by five world class coaches to help you #workwiser now.


This book exists to help you work more wisely. We, at Minerva Work Solutions, recognize the investment we all make in our jobs (most of us spend at least a third of our adult life at work), and we know we can do more to help ourselves and our communities by promoting humane and effective work practices. We also know that most “effective work practices” are promoted and spread without any scientific evidence as to their benefits, and as scientists this distressed us. We have written this book to make some of the practical wisdom discovered via Industrial-Organizational Psychology, backed by scientific evidence, more accessible to all for the good of working humankind.

How to Use this Book

In the interest of putting something into your hands to use exactly when you need it, we’ve boiled down our experience and research into 50 practical tips. Each tip is presented on one to two pages. We’ve also categorized these tips as primarily relevant for leadership development, teamwork, or general professional development topics (e.g., career visioning). Please do NOT read these tips in the order we have presented them. We suggest that you use the table of contents to find which tip most appeals to you and most addresses your challenges right now. By reading no more than three tips at a time, you give yourself ample opportunity to try the behaviors advocated in each tip before challenging your busy mind to remember more than necessary to achieve your immediate goals. When you require another tip, they’re all right here for you to access as needed.


Section One: Leadership Development

Tip 1. Leadership is about effective leading behaviors

The reality is that it just isn’t enough to have good leadership characteristics. In fact, when you look at the last eighty years and thousands of pages of advice on what makes an ideal leader, you will see a host of conflicting characteristics. Why has so much research failed to articulate a consistent model of effective leadership? Because princely leaders can still exhibit poor leadership behaviors, while even a pauper of a leader can exhibit effective leadership behaviors in a critical and memorable situation.

While we are data rich (and probably because we are so data rich and must sift through and interpret so much information), our modern work world is full of situational complexity and ambiguity. Leaders who manage complex and ambiguous situations well are memorable and sought after. As a result, models of effective leadership that rely on specifying what behaviors enable leaders to manage complex and ambiguous situations well present a better answer today than lists of effective or admirable leadership characteristics.

The good news is that anyone, of any personality, can learn effective leadership behaviors. Sure, it is harder for some of us, who are more introverted for example, to learn some of these behaviors, but we still can learn to do them when we need to be an effective (and inspiring) leader. Here is a small taste of the behaviors that our research shows help leaders manage more effectively in complex situations across industries:

•          Proactively sets up the parameters of every meeting and formal conversation (e.g., “This is what we’re here to talk about, this is how long we have, and this is what we need by the end.”)

•          Repeatedly and explicitly invites input from others

•          Repeats primary priorities and concerns until acknowledged by others

•          Verbally offers recommendations and the rationale for those recommendations

•          Asks questions whenever any team member appears unsure or concerned

•          Directly invites others to question and add to rationale

•          Delegates authority for responsibilities (not tasks) to high performers and high-potential team members