What is a leader to do? Find the right questions.

by Patricia Lustig

If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
~Albert Einstein

It’s a big mess out there. In fact, it is probably several messes, all inextricably linked. How does a leader make sense of it all? How do you find a way to navigate through the mess and make reasonable, robust decisions?

We are in the UK, yet the world is so interconnected that things like Brexit and President-Elect Trump affect everyone, no matter where we live. I was with the Board of a social enterprise (a regional housing association) during the two days pre-and post the US election, working on their strategy for the future. With the realization that Trump had been elected, the team surfaced on the post U.S. election morning looking like an animal caught in the headlights. The unthinkable had happened. What do we do now? What does it mean?

They looked at the work we had done on the previous day with a different perspective and considered what all this might mean to their stakeholders. What did the results of Brexit and the U.S. election mean to their current environment? In the first minutes of the morning after Trump’s win was announced, they touched on helplessness in the face of the unthinkable. Then their brand-new leader asked a question: “How might we find opportunities in this space? How might we do things differently? What if we weren’t JUST a housing association – what could we do that might be win/win?”


Sustainable Motivation for New Year Resolutions

by Chris White

As this year winds down and the new year approaches, many of us are reflecting and setting new goals. Maybe we want to get a new job, or form closer relationships with partners, colleagues, or friends. Maybe we want to get more involved in helping our communities. Maybe we want to get fitter or healthier (this is mine, by the way… again…).

Our underlying motivation for these goals is crucially important in determining whether we will be stick with the pursuit of a goal or not. So often when setting goals, we focus on what we want to do and do not dig into why we want to do it. Yet it is this deeper self-reflection that drives sustained commitment to a new habit or behavior. Michelle Segar, a faculty associate at the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations, has called this process “finding the right why.”

So what is the right why? “People are more motivated by immediate rewards than they are by ones they have to wait to experience,” says Segar. In other words: when debating whether to lace up your running shoes, thinking about the endorphin rush coming your way in 30 minutes is often a more sustainable motivator than living a little longer in thirty years. This translates to organizational goals too. If you are considering organizing a team-building activity, focusing on how fun it will be may encourage better attendance than emphasizing that the group might experience less turnover or burnout next year.

Segar suggests four action steps to begin applying the Right Why to changes you want to make in 2017: