Why Bad Listening is One of the Worst Decisions Managers Can Make

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Powerful leaders are often mythologized as stubborn and bull-headed, and that ignoring the advice of others is a virtue.

But researchers at NYU’s Stern School of Business conducted a study on the influence of power in decision-making and they confirmed what many employees already know: people with more power listen less, take less advice, and are ultimately less accurate in final judgments.

The researchers gathered survey data from hundreds of working professionals, and they conducted controlled laboratory experiments where they primed participants to experience varying levels of power and then presented them with advice from others.

They found that greater power meant a reduced tendency to take advice from others. The reason was that the powerful had an elevated confidence in their snap judgments, and that meant that they didn’t listen to valuable advice of others that could’ve changed their mind.

That’s why to successful tech entrepreneurs Andy Grove and Jeff Bezos, bad listening is one of the worst decisions you can make as a manager—because it makes the quality of all of your manager decision making worse.

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9 Daily Mental Health Routines that Successful Founders Rely On

Whether it’s a nice cup of tea or coffee or reviewing your diary, regular routines and rituals help forge the discipline, energy, and mental space to consistently make progress.

We reached out to some productivity superstars to ask:

What is one routine or ritual that contributes to your happiness and success?

You may think that the best entrepreneurs that you know are machines.  They get stuff done, never seem to get tired and just crank it out regardless of how they’re feeling and what else is going on in their lives.

It turns out that that’s a myth, and the most productive entrepreneurs are the ones who actively manage their health, well being, and productivity by relying on personal mental health routines.

Routines and rituals are inherently very personal. What works for you won’t necessarily work for somebody else — but the main takeaway here is to prioritize aspects of your life to create balance.

Here’s what they had to say.

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How to Avoid Startup Premature Scaling

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Startups are at their sexiest when hundreds of millions of people around the world use something that a couple of guys and girls built in their garage.

But I’ve noticed how that perception lays a trap for many first-time entrepreneurs. With their sights set on serving the masses, first-time founders often conclude that they must build a product that will work for millions of customers — before they even have one.

This is such a major problem that Startup Genome identified “premature scaling” as the number one cause of startup failure. Surveying 3,200 startups in 2011, the startup-community hub Startup Genome found that a whopping 70 percent failed because they tried to scale too early — expending resources on add-ons like expensive marketing and hiring salespeople before they truly had a product to satisfy a sufficiently large market.

Here are three ways to avoid the trap of startup premature scaling and build a successful business the right way.

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How to Manage by Doing Nothing

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Mark Zuckerberg may be the poster child for entrepreneurial success as a young person, but he had to hire a CEO coach and learn how to lead.  Along his meteoric rise, he had to get an education on how to be a manager—simply being the founder and CEO of a hypergrowth company wasn’t enough.

No doubt, leadership is tough, even for the most naturally gifted business people. That’s because it feels unnatural.

You have to train yourself to overcome the innate responses that accompany regular social interaction and contend with the instinct to be liked while continually evaluating and providing feedback.  Plus, you also have to fight the inclination to always be producing.

Hard work likely got you this far, but once you take on the CEO reins, your job as a manager won’t resemble work as you know it. In fact, it may not resemble work at all, and that can be incredibly uncomfortable.

To Andy Grove, a management legend and former CEO of Intel, a manager’s fundamental job of information gathering can be one of the most unnatural and awkward. Yet dealing with that awkwardness, even inviting it, is also a fundamental part of being a good leader.

Grove tells us, that there’s an efficien —but underused because it’s uncomfortable—way to get and disseminate information: To be out in the open in your company, doing nothing.

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The Science Behind Why Slow Thinking Lowers Your Stress

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Jess Lee of Polyvore on why success doesn’t equal happiness

As an entrepreneur, you spend a lot of time psyching yourself out. You’re your own harshest critic.

However positive your intentions, however driven and wonderful your team, every day is not a good day. And because you’re the founder, overseeing the life of your business, those bad days can be terrifying.

Jess Lee, CEO and co-founder of style and social commerce platform, Polyvore, explains this familiar mental trap, where founders often fall into “moments of extreme unhappiness” and stress — even when your company is doing well.

Why does this clash happen? Lee explains: “Humans are terrible at understanding absolute values. We are best at understanding acceleration and deceleration, or rate of change.”

In other words, your state of mind pegs itself to whether your company is doing better or worse than yesterday, rather than overall. It’s easy to lose perspective.

The risk of being too hard on yourself and getting knocked around by rates of change is possibly making poor decisions and feeling miserable, which can also have serious implications for your mental and physical health. The counterintuitive solution that leads to better decisions, increased motivation and less unnecessary stress is not to work and push harder, but to slow down your thinking.

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Don’t Just Build Product, Build the Machine that Builds the Product

First-time entrepreneurs often think building a product is the same as building a company, but experienced entrepreneurs know better.

To 3 seasoned entrepreneurs, building product is just the first step in a long journey, and it’s not even the hard part.  Building product is hard, but building the machine that builds the product is even harder.

Dennis Crowley, Foursquare, on how to build product

“The hard part is building the machine that builds the product.”

Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder/CEO of Foursquare

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How to Work Quietly

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

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While teamwork is exciting and camaraderie a wonderful source of intrinsic motivation and purpose, getting stuff done also isn’t a matter of adding more people to the tasks at hand. In fact, collaboration can be too noisy.

What with all the open offices, unwelcome chit-chatters, dreadful meetings —not to mention the digital inundation of posts and pings of a never-ending stream of information — it can be near impossible to hear yourself think.

Ultimately, productivity requires producing, creativity creating — and while interaction is a key part of these processes, it isn’t everything. If you don’t actively think and process, if you don’t actually turn input and inspiration into something, if you don’t take time to reflect and analyze, then you’re shortchanging yourself.

It sounds so simple and obvious, but it’s easy to forget these days that we need solitude, quiet and time. 

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Don’t Manage Projects or Tasks, Manage People

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

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One of the biggest misconceptions of management is about what really drives people. In a survey of hundreds of managers by Amabile and Kramer, 95% failed to correctly identify the best motivator at work. This has huge consequences.

The most powerful motivator isn’t monetary incentives or even beneficial management techniques such as providing recognition or interpersonal support. The best motivator is simply making progress on meaningful work.

As a manager, understanding that you can have a large impact on people’s sense of progress can transform and clarify your focus on how your team gets stuff done. Your job isn’t so much to manage the tasks themselves or be “inspiring” or dictate turn-by-turn directions on what to do. Your job is to manage people and facilitate their progress by providing support, tools, resources, and feedback.

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How to Go Beyond Trust Falls to Strengthen Your Team’s Camaraderie

Here’s an excerpt from our fresh-of-the-presses eBook, What You Don’t Know About Management: How to Take Back Your Work Day. If you like what you read, download the 50+ page eBook for free!

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For the amount of our lives that we spend working, you’d think it would be more common to spend time tending to our coworker relationships. Yet, the default is to treat the social aspects of work as a given instead of managing them in any significant way.

Team-building goes way beyond trust falls. Successful people recognize the importance of establishing and cultivating meaningful connections.

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3 Practical Mindsets to Empower Introverts to Succeed at Networking

I’ve never been good at networking. I’m usually standing in the corner talking with a friend at parties, if I’m at a party at all. I get worn out from being around people and need my alone time to recharge.

There’s a certain efficiency in the glad-handing ways of a freshly-minted MBA because knowing the right people is in large part a numbers game. But to an introvert relating to people in that way isn’t just uncomfortable, it seems morally repugnant. The introvert aspires to treat people as ends themselves and not as a means to feed the ego or further our careers.

The problem is that not networking, bluntly, means stunting your career and financial prospects. Not networking may sound noble to you, but all that it amounts to is a litany of missed opportunities.

introvert networking mindset

Not to worry, networking doesn’t mean changing who you are, 95% of it is in your mindset and approach to it. Here are 3 practical mindsets that’ll empower you not just to network, but to make you successful at it.

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