TED TALKS: Why we do what we do

I recently watched a great seminar by Tony Robbins that explored why people act the way they do. Many points were found that pertained to leadership today. Tony talks about the three questions we ask ourselves when making a decision. They are what am I going to focus on?, what does it mean?, and what are you going to do?. He also talks about the two “invisible forces” that go into our decision making. These include the “in the moment” force which focuses on your current state of mind, and also the “long-term” force that focuses on your model of the world and how it shapes your emotions, meaning, and actions. This is crucial to the decision-making process for leaders. Every leader needs to step back, ask these questions, and figure out why it is they are doing this. And then decide if this is the right decision. Does it help out your followers? Are you in a different mind state than usual? How do your perception of the world play into this. This is critical because good leaders need to take these questions into consideration, while keeping followers in mind. Everyone has different beliefs and motives, and leaders need to find a way to realize those and make decisions that benefit the group.

Robbins also mentions the six needs that every human has. They are certainty, uncertainty, significance, connection, growth, and contributing beyond ourselves. Now, he states the first four will be met by all humans no matter what. However, he says that not everyone reaches the fifth and sixth needs. In order to be a successful leader, it is necessary to experience all needs. However, to do this, one must understand his followers and what they are striving for. Some might have certainty as their top need, some might have significance. It comes down to getting to know your followers and understanding how they act. Only then can the group reach those last two needs that are hardest to come by. All in all, a good leader not only recognizes their emotions and desires, but understands the needs and motives of his or her followers.

Below is a link to the talk.

Greg Smith and Goldman Sachs

Recently, I came across an article by Chris MacDonald that analyzed a resignation letter written by a longtime Goldman Sachs employee, Greg Smith. There were many interesting aspects of this article that pertained to leadership. Greg had worked at Goldman for almost 12 years, and had quite a great amount of success. However, as the years went by, he started seeing a changing culture in his company that he did not approve of. 

Smith was a recruiter and mentor for the company. He put applicants through interviews and helped mentor those hired. He said that he knew it was time for him to go when he “could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.” This is quite a bold statement coming from an employee with years of experience and success with one of the most influential investment banks in the world. So what is it about the changes in culture that made him leave? Let’s look in more detail.

When Smith started, he felt he was in a place of teamwork and looking out for clients. The company had many great years and many people coming back to them. However, Greg said that eventually thoughts about leadership changed for the worse. Instead of focusing on clients, the firm was only in it for the profits. He would attend sales meetings where “not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help customers.” Also, he said that in a years time, he heard five different directors at the firm use words such as “muppets” to describe their clients. That’s not exactly my definition of a perfect company culture.

Poor leadership again contributed to many problems within Goldman Sachs. Upper level management trained employees to focus on profits, not customers. Good leaders look out for their followers. They help them achieve goals. They listen to their requests. They keep their interests in mind at all times. They absolutely do not ignore them for hopes of only their sole benefit. On the positive side, it was nice to see Greg step up and take leadership. He was making a lot of money and had great success with the company, but it was changing for the worse. He led by showing that the only way to achieve success was by satisfying client needs’ and always keeping their interests in mind. That’s what a company should strive for culture-wise.

I understand this is coming from just one employee in the company. But what he is saying and claiming still needs to be taken into consideration. If these things weren’t going on, why would Greg leave a company that he had great success at? The full letter can be read on the following link from a NY Times article.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Kirk Weisler

I had the great opportunity to hear Kirk speak this past week at a leadership conference for CSR 309. The insight he brought was great and informative, and I want to share some of my favorite points from his presentation.

1. “Time is the most important currency.” Weisler shared how valuable time was to him. Time is money, and how you spend it will determine how you turn out. Are you wasting it, or taking the time to learn?

2. You determine how you behave, but you must be committed to the foundation of rules that you set. Say what you believe in, and then follow through.

3. Life will provide you with opportunities to have stories, but how we act will determine how our stories end.

4. “We become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with’ Loved this quote! Are the people you are hanging out with bringing out the best in you? Or are they holding you back?

5. “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Another awesome thought! Once you have the desire to learn, those that see that desire will want to help you achieve that goal. But it starts with you!

6. The best students never stop learning. They don’t get by just to get by. They take the time to learn new things each day. Learning is something that should never stop.

7. Act the way you want to be, and eventually you will become that way. If you want to be successful, display behavior that will lead you there.

8. Looking at your notes everyday will help you retain a lot more information. So take advantage of your enhanced ability to learn and grow!

9. Don’t be afraid just because people are afraid to see you succeed. Welcome it and thrive off of it. Don’t let others determine your success.

10. Carry a leadership journal around, and see how much you grow as a leader. It will surprise you.

These were the top 10 things I took away from the conference, although I learned a lot more. Thanks to Dr. Feinberg for giving us this great opportunity. Also, thanks for live tweeting the conference. It was nice to follow along and listen to another person’s thoughts, and also to be able to go back and review those thoughts.