Self Leadership Blog
by Andrew Bryant

Freedom, Free Will, and the Paradox of Choice

Americans celebrate their freedom on July 4th, whereas Indians celebrate their freedom from British Rule with an August 15th independence day. A quick web search of National Independence Day reveals a long list of countries that celebrate their freedom from some form of prior government or oppression. 

The dictionary defines freedom as, The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, but it is also:

The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants.

How Free are You?

Reflect, for a moment, on your own freedom to act, speak or think as you want.

You were not free to choose the time and place of your birth. You were not free to choose your parents, their economic status, religious leanings, political affiliation, or educational background. You had little or no freedom in where you went go to school and the ideology of your teachers.

We all imagine we have free will, but so many of our choices and decisions are influenced by things we have no freedom over and are unaware...

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Leadership and the Power of ‘AND’

Nigel is sitting in his manager’s office for his annual performance review. It had been a tough year, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had decimated his plans for Q1 and Q2, but Nigel had put in a superhuman effort and hit targets in Q3. Nigel was expecting nothing but praise for his efforts, so imagine his surprise when he heard the following,

“You have met your Q3 quota, Nigel, but I have some concerns about how you got there”.

All Nigel heard was, “But we have some concerns.”

The word, ‘but’ has the effect of negating everything that proceeds it.

Imagine you and I met, and I said, “I really like you but…”

You would be on the defensive for criticism, even though I prefaced with, “I really like you.”

‘But’; is judgmental and is generally perceived as negative. For example, “I want to do this, but I can’t.”

‘But’ often creates the frame of limited choice. For...

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Diversity is Difficult but Doable

How to be a Diversity and Inclusion Game Changer

I recently shared, on Social Media, that I would be giving a keynote speech at a large online event. Unfortunately, the best image that showcased 'yours truly' included two other white men. The optics were not great considering that I am an advocate for women's leadership and have signed a pledge to not appear on all-male panels.

There were some women and other ethnicities speaking at the conference and the panel was diverse, but not diverse enough. I called the organizer, a former mentee of mine, and he shared his frustration that he had asked many women, but they refused to speak.

I have faced this same issue before when I have organized physical and virtual events. It can lead to weird conversations like, "We are missing a Black Woman or an Asian man, and we have nobody representing LGBTQ".

In a perfect world, we would have the best person for the job, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, age, ableness, or sexual orientation. But...

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Inclusive Leadership means Diversity of Thought

I was once working with a CEO to help get his senior leaders to be more open to input from multiple sources, including younger employees.

“Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas”, he said.

“Wow!”, I thought. What a great mantra for diversity, inclusion, leadership, management and just common sense.

But as Winston Churchill once remarked, “Nothing is as uncommon as common sense”.

Why is Inclusive Leadership and Diversity of Thought not more common?

Well, the human mind is hard-wired to consider ideas and perspectives from our own tribe as superior to those from outside. This human tendency leads to political partisanship, regardless of the facts, and can lead to a senior leadership team that looks the same and thinks the same. The dangers of this ‘we are right, everybody else is wrong’ mindset are obvious; especially in times of rapid change, when past ways of doing things are losing or have lost their relevancy. Read more on unconscious...

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Global leadership 5 Cs

Global leadership is the new standard. When companies were just national, you could make it to senior-level or even the top with a mix of competence and confidence (of course a few good connections could also help).

Today, successful companies are international or global and to be a leader requires something extra. Just doing a good job on your home turf is no longer enough, you have to be visible and you have to have impact.

For example, a senior manager in India or Indonesia could be successfully managing thousands of people, meeting targets, but have no visibility in a global organization. On the flip side, an American or European manager may fail to lead in Asia or South America, because they just don’t understand how to get things done in those cultures.

I was recently having a conversation with a US-based, charismatic, ‘C-level’ executive of a global company, about the direct reports of his peer who worked in Asia. He expressed his frustration that these...

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Unconscious Bias, Diversity & Decision Making – A Self-Leadership Approach

culture self-leadership Jan 15, 2020

Unconscious Bias

You are smart, really smart, your amazing brain can make judgments and decisions in milliseconds – unfortunately, you and the rest of us, are often WRONG!

What’s worse, is we don’t know we are wrong, and if it’s pointed out to us we are quick to ‘justify’ our decisions.

Your ability to achieve ‘lightning-fast’ decisions is achieved by your brain taking short-cuts and using pattern recognition. For our ancestors to survive, in a hostile environment, they needed to make quick judgments about friend or foe, food source or fatal, predator or pet. They made these judgments using, what Daniel Kahneman, author of the book Thinking Fast and Slow, calls System 1 Thinking. System 1 Thinking is fast, instinctive and emotional as opposed to System 2 Thinking which is slower, more deliberative, analytical and more logical.

Our brain has not had a ‘firmware upgrade’ to help it operate in a modern, multicultural and...

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