Blog

Now showing items tagged Leadership

The human being is a tribal creature. We operate as a ‘we’ far more reliably than we operate as an ‘I’, and our compulsion for conformity is consistently stronger than our impulse towards individuality. This revelation has been key to the last century of psychological findings, and offers vital insight to the social and trends of our day – and how we might influence them.

Intuitively, we all know we operate as a group. Anyone who has been caught up in the energy of a sports match or immersed in the atmosphere of a concert has witnessed firsthand the striking power of the herd. The group’s influence on the individual has been proved over and over in psychological studies, often to rather comical effects.

Good news: human beings are better than we think. Finding ways to motivate people has bewildered leaders for centuries. Long gone are the days of motivating people by the ‘stick’, with the psychological findings surrounding the effects of punishment expelling it from the dominant paradigm. Leaders for the last few decades have relied heavily on the dangled ‘carrot’ as a motivator, or in other words, rewards and incentives offered to people who perform in the desired way. However, research increasingly suggests that the psychology of the incentive is more counterproductive than we think.

Despite our protestations otherwise, we all have a conformity compulsion. If we sense that the herd is going in a particular direction, we instinctively fear being left behind or stranded. Part of this is likely a hangover from our tribal past as humans.

The compulsion to mimic and copy others is deeply rooted in our need to belong. By complying with social norms and collectivist views, we gain the acceptance of the tribe. Breaking social norms or dissenting is dangerous as it can see us expelled from the group. Or at the very least, shamed and embarrassed.[1]

Hybrid work is underway. Incentivising the return to workplaces has been a struggle for leaders as, for many workers, the freedom and flexibility offered by remote work makes it a high priority. The set of challenges that faces leaders, however, is not simply finding the right incentive to get workers back to the office. Rather, the hybrid work world has created a new set of priorities in employees regarding both their teams and their leaders.

Microsoft recently released a trends report, highlighting the statistics and numbers that emerged from research into workplace relations within hybrid work models[1].

Here are 3 key insights from their findings.

There are few things more frustrating than an opponent who won’t budge. We’ve all experienced those conversations with a voter on the other side of politics or a friend who is endlessly stubborn, in which any amount of evidence is insufficient in moving their position. Our natural impulse is to do just this: begin big in our persuasive efforts, believing that a barrage of information and evidence will knock someone from their position instantly. But, contrary to our aim the result of this approach is usually the other’s deeper entrenchment in their beliefs and a defensiveness that inhibits any further dialogue.

Far from being the rationally operating, pragmatic agents we like to believe we are, more often than not our decisions arise from the seat of our emotions. Our sense of certainty in reaching conclusions and making choices is far more connected to our impulses, emotional reactions and bodily sensations than we think. Rather than being quickly overridden by rational analysis, our emotions are a driving force in our behaviour, and are often the surest guarantee of our response.

In a world of seemingly unlimited options, it has become necessary for nearly all successful businesses and brands to personalise products according to the customer. Personalisation is now widely recognised as a powerful tool for selling and engaging customers. However, there is a range of contexts in which this same strategy of personalisation can serve just as powerfully.

More than any other point in history, our era idolises the individual. Especially in the West, our ideals, advertising and algorithms place the individual at centre stage of their own lives. Laws, instructions and requests that once would have been seen as serving the greater good are now likely to be interpreted as fundamental threats to freedom and autonomy.

“It is trust, more than money, that makes the world go around.”[1]

This statement of Columbia University economics professor Joseph Stiglitz finds new relevance in today’s circumstances. With the past year presenting unprecedented threats and challenges to society, recent measures have seen public trust in major institutions plummet to all-time lows.

The need for environmentally sustainable moves in business has been common knowledge for years. However, while many businesses have implemented changes and strategies to address this, many others have been held back by the need to maintain profits and ROI.

Page 1 of 2