The Lead: Keeping New Year’s Resolutions, Ancient Mayan Megalopolis, Business Advice

The Lead, AchieveForum’s weekly brief of leadership news and insights, provides quick clarity into relevant headlines and straight-forward analysis for applying effective leadership tools and techniques.

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

B.J. Fogg, PhD, of Stanford University’s Behavior Design Lab is one of the world’s leading experts on behavioral psychology. Fogg’s research on behavior change shows the importance of small consistent steps towards progress and is the foundation for ahealthyme Rewards, a new program offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. The program is tailored to small- and medium-sized businesses that often can’t afford the turnkey wellness programs that larger businesses can provide due to economies of scale.

Our View: Improving your organization is not unlike improving yourself. Achieving a healthy lifestyle or a successful organization begins with small incremental behavior changes. Demonstrate leadership by regularly discussing what can be improved, sharing what you’re personally doing to change, and celebrating success as a team. Further Reading

Ancient Mayan “Megalopolis” Discovered in a Guatemalan Jungle

Researchers recently identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made structures using a technology called LiDAR (“Light Detection And Ranging”). This new discovery is being called a “major breakthrough” in Maya archaeology, and it shows that the civilization was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya experts had previously supposed.

Our View: There’s a lot to be learned from the history of human collaboration. The greatest collaborations of all time happened when great visionary leaders were paired with excellent engineers. Walter Isaacson, the author of the book The Innovators, said, “…the transistor was one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century. It came from the partnership of a theorist and an experimentalist working side by side, in a symbiotic relationship, bouncing theories and results back and forth in real time.” Further Reading

Business Advice from Peloton’s CEO

In a recent interview, Peloton’s co-founder and CEO John Foley shared advice on what helped him build a billion-dollar company. He has built a compassionate culture at Peloton where employees are encouraged to “fail fast” and are often told “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Foley recommends that leaders surround themselves with people that are better than them and divide and conquer to tackle the big challenges.

Our View: Leaders not only often have trouble articulating what “failing fast” really means, but they also have difficulty nurturing a culture of it. Failure can appear in many different forms and in everything from poor product-market fit to a faulty business model. It’s important to remember that failing fast is about the little issues. Create lots of little experiments with the understanding that some will work and flourish while others will fail and die. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover! Further Reading

Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles

The Philadelphia Eagles (and the team that many considered the underdog), beat the New England Patriots in a 41-33 victory at the Super Bowl last Sunday. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles taught a major lesson in leadership in his post-game interview when he said, “I think the big thing that helped me was knowing that I didn’t have to be Superman. I have amazing teammates, amazing coaches around me. And all I had to do was just go play as hard as I could, and play for one another, and play for those guys.”

Our View: One of the most important lessons a new leader can learn is, “I don’t have to have all the answers.” Leadership is about surrounding yourself with talent that compliments yours and achieving optimal teamwork through people with a variety of skills. One of the best ways leaders accomplish that is by being a good team player as well as a good leader. Further Reading

Soft Skills Recruiters Seek

The top five soft skills recruiters want most in 2018 are problem-solving, adaptability, time management, organization, and oral communication. “Candidates must also emphasize their ability to work well with others and should refrain from speaking poorly of a previous or current employer or company, as it will never reflect positively on them,” says Jodi Chavez, president of the staffing firm Randstad Professionals.

Our View: Share a concrete narrative about your work experience to demonstrate your soft skills in an interview by using prompts. Prompts like “that time something went wrong unexpectedly and I came up with a way to solve it…” and “that time my team’s marching orders changed, and I had to adapt by…” are two great examples. Further Reading

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