Morris Shechtman, author of Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier (Facts on Demand Press, 2003) makes interesting observations about today's workplace. Many of them are not significantly new. However, his ideas on conflict are provocative, and he reminds us that success requires that we look inside ourselves for solutions.
In many professional service firms it's been difficult to get those autonomy loving lawyers or accountants, etc. to collaborate. The frequent expression is like "herding cats." So we are surprised and pleased to see that a group of researchers based at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia found that when a woman is involved in a situation where she is cooperating with someone else, she experiences activation in brain areas that are also activated by "rewards" such as food, money and drugs. This indicates that our bodies may have been somehow programmed to "tag cooperation as rewarding," study author Dr. Gregory S. Berns told Reuters Health.
As we predicted would occur when the situation changed from a buyers' to a sellers' market in the pursuit of talent, the professions are experiencing a renewed interest in professional development at many levels. Not only are firms and their clients seeing an increase in work with a better economy, but also the change in the demographic picture as the large cohort of baby boomer senior professionals start to transition out is significantly influencing the demand and requirements for professional development – training, coaching and mentoring. While more is happening on the training front, important gaps between what is being offered and what “knowledge workers” need in terms of skill and fulfilling of client needs are still evident.
by Phyllis Weiss Haserot
Whether or not we like to acknowledge it, "politics" are a workplace fact of life for people at all levels and a possibility whenever more than one (or two) persons gather in a firm, team, group - whether temporarily or longer term. "Internal politics" is both a term that makes some people uncomfortable (it was suggested by one partner that I remove it from a brochure on "preparing new partners") and a subject of much angst and attention on the part of even senior professionals. Too often the issues are kept under the surface rather than brought out into the sun to be addressed and resolved. They must be talked about because they greatly hinder productivity and motivation.
Who exercises influence, even without direct authority?
I have often presented on “building your influence quotient (IQ)” and the use of the 6 principles of persuasion popularized by Prof. Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: Science and Practice” (Allyn & Bacon, 2001). Those principles are: scarcity, social proof, authority, reciprocity, commitment, and empathy or liking. Here is another list of ways to exert influence or authority across the generations. Most of these techniques don’t depend on seniority.
by Phyllis Weiss Haserot
If power is measured by "power of the purse" authority, marketing, recruiting, professional development. human resources, information technology professionals , or associates and managers don't have much of it. Likewise, they lack the authority to vote at partner (or shareholder) meetings or implement their ideas without partner/owner approval. Often they are put in the most frustrating position: having responsibility without authority.
Why care about unwritten rules?
Whether your firm functions in a relatively ad hoc manner or it has more centralized management with many formal rules, as any organization, it is also run by unwritten rules. While these can be helpful, they can also be a serious obstacle to achieving stated objectives. An organization must identify them and take them seriously because they frequently conflict with written rules and policies for change and improvement.