To see the future more clearly, find your blind spots

by Eric J. McNulty

After being bombarded with disruption in 2020, executives can better prepare for the next crisis by considering new perspectives.

It was the year we saw it all. And 2020 was also the year we didn’t see it all coming. Wildfires. Floods. So many storms in the Atlantic that meteorologists had to resort to the Greek alphabet to name them. Global protests over racial and economic inequality. And, of course, the pandemic.

What is surprising is that we were surprised. In a recent PwC study, 69 percent of responding organizations had experienced a crisis in the past five years and 95 percent expected to face one. We all watched Australia aflame in the months before the pandemic. California, too. It was only three years ago that multiple storms rattled the Gulf Coast in the United States in rapid succession. And climate watchers had been predicting that there will be more of these severe weather events in the future.

And the pandemic? Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, H1N1 influenza in 2009–10, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), first reported in 2012, and the Ebola outbreak in 2014–16 foreshadowed that a deadly, global, infectious disease outbreak was overdue. I warned about MERS, and public health risks in general, in this publication in 2013. It was not the most shared article of that year. Not by a long shot.

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How Companies Will Stand Out Post-Pandemic

by Ulrik Juul Christensen

(Hint: It’s Not AI.)

In a post-pandemic world, companies undoubtedly will turn increasingly to advanced technologies — artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation — to accelerate growth and improve profit margins. Such an arms race, however, will not be sustainable as even the latest technology will eventually become commoditized. Instead, the true point of differentiation will be well-educated human capital deployed dynamically to tackle challenges so complex that AI and automation will come up short.

To be clear, technology will be the foundation of digital transformation. As two experts from the World Bank wrote in Harvard Business Review, “Increases in efficiency brought about by digital technology can help businesses expand. Digital platforms can create entirely new occupations and jobs.”  Yet that opportunity will not be realized unless people are well-educated, not only when it comes to job-specific technical competencies, but also in 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, as well as character traits of leadership, ethics, citizenship, and grit.

Based on conversations I’m having with business leaders across multiple industries, and even what I see in our own company, I believe the key to future success — through this decade and beyond — lies in learning engineering. Essentially, that means offering the right learning opportunities to build relevant skills and ensuring that people take advantage of learning and development (L&D). As a chief learning officer (CLO) told me recently, “The pandemic has exposed the fact that L&D is not a ‘nice to have’; it is a ‘need to have.’”

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5 leadership tactics that build trust

by Amy Stanton

“It’s really not about being seen as the person in charge. It’s about learning how to communicate in a way that other people trust.”

You never master the art of leadership.

This is something that seems to be missing from the public conversation around how to be an effective leader. In the workplace, in the world at large, and even at home with family and friends. Leadership isn’t a destination, it is a process: a never-ending practice that takes years to develop, and at any moment can feel like a massive fail.

We all, at some point or another, forget how to be great leaders.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about leadership over the course of my career, it’s that the soft skills are what matter most. It’s really not about being seen as the person in charge, or dressing a certain way, or reminding the people around you that you’re the final decision-maker.

It’s about learning how to communicate in a way that other people trust.

Here are five small ways you can start doing that right now.

1. Change up your feedback style, so people know you mean what you say

If you say, “Good job” to every person you work with, for every single thing they do, those words are going to lose their meaning.

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How to work with every damn Myers-Briggs personality type

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We got experts to weigh-in on how classic personality traits translate to remote work.

The shift to remote work has given many of us a new perspective on how we do our jobs. Without the context of a shared workspace or the rhythm of a typical office day, our own personalities are having far more of a say in our performance.

It follows, then, that the best way to maximize our output in a WFH environment is to better know our personalities – and those of our dispersed colleagues.

An efficient (and intriguing) way to manage this personality wrangling is via the tried-and-tested Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Generally regarded as one of the most accurate personality tests out there, the MBTI is widely applied within the business world, with 89 of the Fortune 100 companies utilising it.

“The MBTI is deceptively simple, but it’s also an extremely useful way to see how team members are inherently different, and how you can work together more successfully,” says occupational psychologist John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company. “It’s a means to boost productivity in people, increasing their engagement and making them generally happier in their work.”

In other words, the MBTI might just be the key to turning your remote team into a smooth autonomous unit.

The 16 personality types and their traits

Based on Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types, the MBTI is a self-reported personality survey that has been around in various shapes and forms since the 1940s. Respondents answer a series of simple questions about their feelings and preferences, eventually aligning with one of 16 personality types.

Each of these types is identified by four letters, starting with an E or an I (for extrovert/introvert) followed by S or N (sensibility/intuition), T or F (thinking/feeling), and finally a J or a P (judgment/perception). Each type also has a descriptor, e.g., “the analyst,” to further characterize the personality type in action.

Once you know your team members’ types, the thinking goes, you can better assign them to projects which match their preferences, proficiency, and proclivities. You can also communicate more effectively if you have a better idea of how people process information.

To get started, take the official Myers-Briggs test here (or try a similar free questionnaire, recommended by psychologists here), then check out our expert guidance below on how to work with each personality type. Continue reading

3 questions to ask a hiring manager to find out if a company really values its workers

By Stacy Bolger

Many companies brand themselves as “employee-first.” But it’s hard for a job candidate to know if their potential employer will deliver on that promise.

Employee-first means much more than just having high ratings on Glassdoor or photos of fun company events on Instagram. It means the organization appreciates that employees are human beings with diverse goals and needs, some of which they’re achieving in their professional careers and some of which they’re pursuing outside of work (think family time, hobbies, and fitness goals, for example).

An employee-first organization aims to help employees integrate and thrive in both work and life by always considering the whole person, rather than reflexively enforcing one-size-fits-all policies.

This attitude must start at the top, with leaders who include employee experience among their performance goals and invest in ongoing training for managers about the practical application of employee-first values in the workplace.

That’s a lot for a job candidate to suss out and you usually can’t tell how an organization treats its employees from a job listing. The job interview is likely your best opportunity to determine where a potential employer’s priorities really lie—if you ask the right questions.

Your first clue about the company’s priorities will come before the interview itself. An employee-first organization understands that applicants invest a great deal of time and energy in their applications and may be waiting on pins and needles for the company’s response. They’ll reply promptly to your application and set an interview time quickly—or alert you that they’re not choosing to advance you as a candidate.

The interview itself should be a two-way exchange, where you get to learn about the company as much as they learn about you. If and when you get an opportunity to ask the hiring manager some questions, be sure to ask:

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