Leadership

4 Valuable Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From the Transformers

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By Minda Zetlin of Inc.

Can toys and cartoon characters really make you a better leader? Surprisingly, the answer is yes.

That’s the word from Seth M. Spain, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University. He and his colleague Peter Harms have turned their analytic skills on the Transformers, the popular Japanese-American toys, comic books, animation, and movie characters that can turn themselves from robots into vehicles and other types of machines. Spain and Harms found that the lessons in their character descriptions are full of wisdom about what makes a great leader.

Why study the Transformers in the first place? For one thing, Spain explains, each toy comes with both a rank and a rating of the character’s abilities, which makes it easier to compare them to each other. Also, “Peter knew I was a general-purpose mid-30s nerd and the Transformers would be something I’d be interested in.”

The two put together a database of each Transformer characters using the toys’ rankings and “my painfully extensive knowledge of the cartoon series,” Spain says. They published their findings in a Psychology Today blog post titled “What Would Optimus Prime Do?” In it, they make the argument that emulating the leader of the Autobots (the good Transformers) really can improve your leadership skills.

“What was most surprising—given this is a toy and cartoon series for fairly small children—was how representative the findings were of what we know about leadership from regular academic study,” Spain says. Here’s a look at some of the wisdom you can glean from the Transformers:

1. Don’t Have Too Many Bosses

Leaderless, flat, and more democratic organization structures are getting lots of attention these days—mostly because they work surprisingly well and sometimes outpace the competition. That’s because removing management layers and the high salaries that go with them allows such companies to run leaner and more efficiently.

Same goes for Transformers. “The Autobots have a flatter, less hierarchical, more equal organization,” Spain says. “Whereas the Decepticons (evil Transformers) are more vertical, with a despot ruling by fiat.”

2. Be Very Smart

“The most important quality for Transformer leaders is intelligence,” Spain says. “We looked at good guys and bad guys separately and the best predictor of rank was a high rating in intelligence.”

That mirrors the real world. “The academic literature says that intellectual ability is a predictor of both leader emergence and leader effectiveness,” Spain notes. “We’re not necessarily talking book smarts or academic achievement,” he adds. “It could be what used to be called a shrewd business sense. There’s a certain swiftness of mind.”

3. Know Who You’re Leading

“One of the main things we did was look at followership in the cartoon show,” Spain says. “We broke it down into examples of both constructive and destructive followers. The Decepticons have really good examples of both excellent and really bad followers.”

One outstanding example of a really bad follower is Starscream, a lieutenant in the Decepticons. “He’s constantly plotting to overthrow the leader Megatron, but Megatron keeps him around for some reason, even though he often tells him he’s not smart enough to be a leader.” That strategy backfires in an early animated episode when the Decepticons are about to defeat the Autobots until Starscream mucks things up with an assassination attempt against Megatron.

“On the other hand, Megatron has other followers who are extremely loyal and dependable,” Spain notes. “One lesson from that is to be aware of your followers and what they’re all about.” That may be difficult for a leader such as Megatron, he adds. “Classic Dark Triad leader may not be paying a lot of attention to their followers and may miss a lot of information,” he says. “But even evil leaders need good followers if they’re going to succeed.” (Here’s more on the Dark Triad and how a small dose of evil qualities can benefit every leader.)

4. Care About Everyone

Caring for others may be the most important attribute that sets Optimus Prime apart from Megatron. “Optimus Prime is constantly trying to make sure his followers are OK, and that human beings aren’t harmed in the fights between robots,” Spain notes. Compassion and integrity are vital traits for a leader, he adds.

That’s really the central message of this research. “The sociological point we’re trying to make is that narratives of all kinds can communicate norms and expectations about leadership,” Spain says. “So holding up a popular example can be very useful.”

In other words, try asking yourself “What would Optimus Prime do?” It really can lead you to the best decision.

About The Author

Inc.com is where you can find everything you need to know to start and grow your business now. Inc.com is replete with small business ideas, information, and inspiration, as well as practical advice from those who have done it before.

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Advice for 20-Somethings From Warren Buffet & Bill Gates

TIME

If you’re young and your career is in its early days, you’ve likely been privy to plenty of career truisms and clichés.

But if “follow your passion,” “give 110%,” and “be true to yourself” just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, perhaps advice like, “don’t work too hard” and “relax” are more up your alley.

These successful people have offered some of the best — and oftentimes unconventional — advice for people in their 20s:

Warren Buffett: Exercise humility and restraint.

In a 2010 interview with Yahoo, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said the best advice he ever received was from Berkshire Hathaway board-of-directors member Thomas Murphy. He told Buffett:

“Never forget Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow.”

During…

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5 Steps For Building Trust And Credibility

In today’s hyper-connected and transparent marketplace, brands and products arrive and depart at hypersonic speeds.

According to the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, For the first time, trust and transparency are just as important to a company’s reputation as the quality of their products and services. In U.S.A., these two elements stand even higher than product quality.

Cautious of fraud, scams, and scheming marketing tactics, customers are beginning to perceive the world defined by genuine or contrived. More often than not, they’re basing their buying decisions on how authentic they judge an offer to be.

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Unfortunately though, many companies don’t practice trustworthiness and credibility. Alternatively, they attempt to grow their firms based what they believe customers want to hear.

But listening to prospects and customers and mindlessly responding back what they state isn’t going to earn trust or relationship capital from the customer. It is not about deceiving people with amazing commitments. Rather, it is about courageously proclaiming what you believe, and then withdrawing to observe who is attracted to your idea.

Credible brands are able to earn a loyal following; a social community, so to speak. Happy customers will share their experiences with peers and friends, and if the company stays true to its messaging and continues to deliver products and/or service that are in alignment with the customers’ hopes, it will be on the path toward building a relationship capital brand built for the long-run.

If you’re thinking of elevating your organizational culture, launching a startup or developing a brand, think of the 4 attributes of earning Relationship Capital (RC):

•Character
•Competence
•Good Intent
•Proactivity

Take the Free Relationship Capital (RC) Test. I welcome you to take this assessment in confidence as we never share this information outside Standard of Trust.

 5 Steps For Building Trust And Credibility

The following steps are by no means the only ways to build trust, credibility, and relationship capital, but they are the most important.

1. Define Your Purpose and Guiding Principles

The first step is to determine what your credibility is composed of. You will need to choose which guiding principles you are willing to commit to no matter what. If you commit to the open standard principles of Relationship Capital (RC), they are the following:
•Honesty
•Accountability
•Responsibility
•Support
•Respect
•Trustworthiness
•Emotional Boundaries

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Your ability to embed this relationship capital guiding principles into your company’s purpose will be an effective way in earning and building relationship capital with your stakeholders that will sustain long-term distinction.

For example, the Purpose of the Standard of Trust Group is:

To make a difference to business organizations and their stakeholder relationships through the capture, measurement, and utilization of open standards of relationship capital. To assist business leaders and their organizations to compete by out-behaving the competition.

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Let me “Warn” you. Do not make superficial commitments to the relationship capital guiding principles or other principles you may select. Inauthentic behavior will be found out by the social and digitally connected tribe and your reputation and credibility will be damaged

2. Determine How You Will Demonstrate Authenticity

Look for the moments to demonstrate your authenticity. Whether it’s online with social media or your LinkedIn blog, or in offline interactions with others, take the time to learn and understand your audience and permit to learn and understand you too.

3. Be Open

How far would you go to show your authenticity and credibility? Decide how you will demonstrate your guiding principles and how open you want to be. Then make a plan of action for showcasing this openness.

4. Be Consistent

Keep your communications consistent. The messages that you’re sending out through marketing, promotions and social media should be in alignment with the offline experience that you provide to customers.

5. Prepare For Resistance

Finally, get ready for the resistance. When you build a certain level of awareness, you’re going to get people who oppose. Don’t let this dishearten you or sidetrack you from your guiding principles and purpose. Stay committed to your principles, and you will earn respect (and relationship capital) from the people around you. Your loyal and customers, employees, partners, and brand ambassadors will defend and support you.

Conclusion

Whether a business leader, entrepreneur or startup, committing your authentic self is about being true to your guiding principles and fulfilling your stated commitments to your stakeholders (customers, employees, or partners).

Leading with authenticity is not for everyone, but those who decide to utilize this as the foundation for establishing or nurturing a relationship capital business or a relationship capital brand will learn that building a company based on purpose, performance, and relationship capital will provide sustainability despite the accelerating changes that may come in the future.

By Robert Peters

Sources: Standard of Trust: Leadership

10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your main idea

TED Blog

When your slides rock, your whole presentation pops to life. At TED2014, David Epstein created a clean, informative slide deck to support his talk on the changing bodies of athletes. Photo: James Duncan Davidson/TED

Aaron Weyenberg is the master of slide decks. Our UX Lead creates Keynote presentations that are both slick and charming—the kind that pull you in and keep you captivated, but in an understated way that helps you focus on what’s actually being said. He does this for his own presentations and for lots of other folks in the office. Yes, his coworkers ask him to design their slides, because he’s just that good.

We asked Aaron to bottle his Keynote mojo so that others could benefit from it. Here, 10 tips for making an effective slide deck, split into two parts: the big, overarching goals, and the little tips and tricks that make your presentation…

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Executive Presence: Proven Leadership Strategies for Corporate America

 

According to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, “Really great people make you feel that you too, can become great.” This well-kept secret is the key concept of effective leadership and team management. Bringing the best out of others through inspirational leadership, team building, and effective communication will catapult you to the ranks of history’s greatest leaders.

Invest in your team members and they will in turn invest in your company. Inspirational leadership is inspiring your team members through active engagement by helping them to connect the dots between the work they do and the mission of the organization or company for which you work for. By bridging the gap for employees, you help them understand where they fit in the company and how that company fits into the outside world. Helping employees understand where they fit into the company is only half of the battle. An inspirational leader must also lead by example, exemplifying high character, moral and ethics in both a professional and personal setting.

Teams are often a representative of their manager and building a team in your image is critical to the success of a group. Of course this concept only works when the manager is a positive representative for the team and leads by example. Team building is imperative and gives employees the opportunity to get to know their manager and vice versa. Team building activities should include the entire group and be led by a committee of team members chosen by the manager. The key to the team builder is to get your team involved in the planning and the implementation of the event. Putting individuals into leadership roles among the team through the delegation of activities empowers them and gives them the desire to perform at a higher level. Team builders are not only engaging for team members but it also improves communication among the group.

Effective communication can be summed up in two simple words- active listening. Often times leaders fail to listen to the needs of those that look up to them and as a result their employees eventually tune them out. Listening to the needs of your employees will help you to determine their needs and what motivates them to perform at a high level. The top Fortune 100 companies understand the importance of investing in their leaders and implore training tailored to the vision and values of the organization. The relationship is often reciprocal in that the company that invest in the leader will in turn invest in his staff that benefits the organization and the community in which they service.