How Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation

human footprint

Create Connection

Though we live in an ever-connected, always-on world, we somehow seem less connected to actual, real people than ever before. Is it possible that the very technology that connects us is contributing to a sense of loneliness and isolation?

In Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation, Dan Schawbel answers that question. Based on research spanning thousands of managers and employees, Dan’s new book is a fascinating look at the impact technology is having at work and at home. Dan is a best-selling author, a partner and research director at Future Workplace and the founder of Millennial Branding and WorkplaceTrends.com.

I recently asked Dan to share a little more about his research.

 

“Our hyperconnectedness is the snake lurking in our digital Garden of Eden.” -Arianna Huffington

 

Workplace Loneliness

Tell us more about your research into workplace loneliness and its connection to technology.

There is a loneliness epidemic spreading across the entire world. An Aetna study shows that almost half of Americans are lonely. In the UK, nine million people are lonely and over 200,000 haven’t spoken to a close friend or relative in the past month. In Japan, 30,000 people die from loneliness each year. I’ve read about the impact of loneliness and have felt lonely myself as an only child and someone who lives alone in New York City. For my book Back to Human, I conducted a global study with Virgin Pulse of over 2,000 managers and employees from ten different countries. Overall, I found that 39 percent say they at least sometimes feel lonely at work. I spoke to the former U.S. Surgeon General, and he said that loneliness has the same health risk and reduction of life as smoking fifteen cigarettes each day. In the workplace, technology has created the illusion that we are all hyper connected, yet in reality we feel disconnected, isolated and lonely over the overuse and misuse of it.

 

“It is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.” -Ed Catmull

 

Share a little about personal fulfillment and how we can enhance it on the job. 

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, after we meet our physiological and safety needs, we need to focus on belongingness and love if we want to be self-actualized, reaching our full potential at work. We spend one-third of our lives working, so if we have weak relationships with our teammates, we feel unfulfilled. We are less productive, happy and committed to the team and organization’s long-term success as a result of not having close ties. In order to best serve the needs of our teammates, we have to first focus on our own fulfillment. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing the most, what do your past accomplishments say about your strengths, what your core values are, what brings out your positive emotions and where you envision yourself in the future. Once you’re fulfilled, it’s important to get to know your teammates on a personal level, understand their needs and then service those needs. You can do this through on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring and regular meetings where you show you’re committed to their success.

 

“Given how much time you’ll be spending in your life making a living, loving your work is a big part of loving your life.” -Michael Bloomberg

 

Create a Culture of Engagement

Quotes for World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day

November 13 is World Kindness Day

 

How many days have I found myself turning down the volume on the television? The news can be depressing. The shouting. The fighting. The lack of civility.

Did you know there was a day dedicated to world kindness?

Let’s find special ways to be extra kind. Turn up the volume of graciousness. Do something unexpected for someone. Encourage others in a way that fires them up.

Here are some quotes on kindness:

 

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” –Aesop

 

“Always find opportunities to make someone smile, and to offer random acts of kindness in everyday life.” –Roy Bennett

 

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” –Charles Dickens

 

“A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.” –John Ruskin

 

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.” –Harold Kushner

 

“There’s nothing so kingly as kindness, and nothing so royal as truth.” -Alice Cary

 

“But remember…that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” –Rick Riordan

 

“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” –Bob Kerrey

 

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” –William Ward

The Expertise Economy: How It Will Change the Way We Work

expert economy

How We Work

The world of work is going through a fundamental transition. In the age of digitization, automation, and acceleration, companies have a new imperative: to build workplaces in which employees are encouraged and given the opportunity to learn new skills as a regular part of their work lives. Workers of the future must be quick to evolve, constantly developing new skills. This is what Kelly Palmer and David Blake, two top officials at Degreed, argue in The Expertise Economy: How the Smartest Companies Use Learning to Engage, Compete, and Succeed.

The onus is on businesses to make this happen, they write. “While government can be a powerful force when it comes to launching skills initiatives, it’s companies and their leaders who need to lead the way.”

I interviewed Kelly about what businesses, employees and workers of the future — including today’s graduates — should know in order to come out on top.

 

“Expertise is any organization’s most crucial asset.” -Kelly Palmer

 

What is the “Expert Revolution”?

There have been previous major shifts in the world of work, such as the Industrial Revolution. Over the past couple of decades, there’s been a technological revolution. Now, we’re looking at an Expert Revolution, in which workplace skills are the most important currency. That’s why we call it the Expertise Economy — expertise is any organization’s most crucial asset.

With digital disruption constantly changing how business is done and offering new possibilities for how business can be done, we need a workforce full of agile learners who are passionate about developing new skills all the time.

This requires getting rid of the old ways of doing corporate L&D (Learning and Development). Top-down strategies in which bosses send employees to day-long lecture sessions in classrooms are no longer the answer. In our book, we explore the proven best practices for workers to develop real expertise, and for business leaders to inspire them to do so.

 

“It’s time to put learners in the driver’s seat. Businesses should let employees decide what they want to learn.” -Kelly Palmer

 

Shift to Skills from Credentials

Hiring managers think in terms of degrees and credentials more than skills. Will this shift over time? Why or why not?

It has to shift. We call for this to happen as quickly as possible. Already, some business leaders hire new graduates only to find that these new hires are wholly unprepared to succeed at their jobs or to navigate the real world of work, especially in this challenging and rapidly changing environment.

A university pedigree doesn’t tell a hiring manager what skills or knowledge the applicant has. The same goes for GPA, job titles, and logos on a resume — all factors that have in the past been seen as “credentials,” but in reality, don’t show you a candidate’s potential.

This is why at Degreed, we offer skill assessments and certifications. These show the kinds of expertise each candidate brings to the table. Most current resumes don’t provide a clear picture of the knowledge a candidate has learned, whether through school, in a learning program, or through years of experience.

It’s also time to fill the gap between what students learn in college and what they need to do practically to be successful in the workplace. Universities and corporations can build closer connections to help give students a better shot at developing relevant skills for the job market.

 

“One of the most important skills is being an agile learner. You want your workforce to have a desire and passion for continuous learning.”-Kelly Palmer

 

Become a Lifelong Learner

Being Decisive is Overrated

decision making
This is a guest post by Karen Martin, president of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc. Her latest book, Clarity First, outlines specific actions to dramatically improve organizational and individual performance.

The Problem with Quick Decision Making

Most leaders agree, it’s important to have clear ideas about the issues that matter to them and their organizations. Yet, leaders are praised far more often for making quick decisions than for thinking clearly.

In such a fast-paced, noisy world, leaders understandably feel the pressure to think and act fast—but this can be to their detriment. Today, more so than ever, it’s critical to give oneself the time needed to assess a situation fully, gather on-point information, and develop a thoughtful position.

Not convinced? Think of it this way: clear thought is a precursor to making good decisions, acting decisively, solving problems, and seizing opportunities in a way that consistently fulfills the organization’s goals.

But, as most leaders will attest, this is much easier said than done. You have to be patient and possess disciplined thinking habits.

Here are three ways to start:

Be mindful.

Mindfulness means paying attention purposefully, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. It’s a state of being that allows its practitioners to lead with greater clarity by developing a calmer and more focused mind. It introduces a pause between receipt of information and your reaction to it, and it slows thinking processes enough that they become observable.

Mindfulness and the practice of mindfulness meditation is a trending topic in leadership and management literature for good reason: there’s a growing body of scientific evidence showing that mindfulness meditation changes the brain in a powerful, performance-enhancing way. It develops areas of your brain responsible for self-regulation, allowing you to more effectively place your attention where you want it, regulate your mood, and manage your response to information.

Here’s another bonus of mindfulness: it helps create more healthful stress responses and more effective ways for the brain to process large volumes of inputs.

 

“Mindfulness helps create more healthful stress responses and more effective ways for the brain to process large volumes of inputs.” -Karen Martin

 

Ask questions.