Pygmalion and the Leadership Value Chain

I´m still tremendously inspired by my time at the Ross School of Business in December 2017. Today, I´d like to share with you one of the teachings of Professor Bob Quinn (I´ve posted about his fabulous book Lift before). At one point during the training, Bob introduced us to what he calls the Leadership Value Chain. It´s a model of how (top) management´s mindsets, belief systems and values influence their behavior, which in turn influences organizational values and climate, which ultimately shape peoples´ engagement, and, at the end (and beginning) of the day, their behavior:

Leader Value Chain | Robert Quinn | Mappalicious

One of the framework´s assumptions is that change at higher levels can be blocked or at least diluted by stagnation at the deeper levels. Thus, any (hierachical) organization will fundamentally change if, and only if there´s a change at the level of leadership values and behaviors.

This got me thinking again about self-fulfilling prophecies and the Pygmalion Effect, whereby performance (e.g., of employees and students) can be positively influenced by the expectations of others. It does make a difference if leaders believe their people:

When leaders´ mindsets are shaped by the ideas on the left, they will act accordingly. When they adhere to the conceptions on the right, they will also act accordingly. Yet, the results will be different.

The left side will lead to optimistic, trusting and, thus, empowering leadership behavior, the right side to pessimistic, mistrusting and thus, controlling leadership behavior. People will adjust accordingly, either by being engaged, inquisitive, and entrepreneurial – or disengaged, unwilling to learn, and small-minded. This, in turn, will fortify their leaders´idea of men, either way. Thus, the self-fulfilling prophecy is fulfilled.

Now, here´s a funny thing about the Pygmalion Effect: Research has demonstrated it can (by and large) not be faked. Either you believe “people are good” – or you don´t. You cannot “believe that you believe”. Which leaves us with the following conclusion:

If you want people to change for the better, you better become a better version of yourself first.

Meaninglessness at Work: The 7 Deadly Sins [Infographic]

Yesterday, I shared some insights from a fantastic article on the antecedents of meaning in work that has recently been published in the MIT Sloan Management Review

One of the central insights of that piece is the notion that managers can only “prepare the soil” , but they cannot create or grow meaning at work for their employees.

Yet, researchers Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden found that bosses do play a big part in destroying the experience of meaningfulness at work. 

They interviewed 135 people from very different walks of life. From that material they distilled “seven deadly sins” that bosses frequently commit – and thereby diminish or outright devastate their peoples’ sense of meaning at work.

Here are the key takeaways by way of an infographic. Share and enjoy!

Meaning at Work - Seven Sins

Listen to the Founders of Self-Determination Theory, Edward Deci & Richard Ryan

If you are a regular visitor of Mappalicious, you know by now that I´m a big fan of Self-Determination Theory and adjacent frameworks such as Self-Concordance Theory. These concepts have been developed roughly at the same time as central tenets of Positive Psychology – without necessarily being regarded as “part of” Positive Psychology (don´t ask me why, I guess it´s just a consequence of different research agendas/”brand building”).

Recently, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk given by Edward Deci where he explains the foundations of SDT. In addition, there´s a nice intro to the framework by Richard Ryan given at a SDT conference. Listening to the two SDT co-founders will give you a great and lively overview of the core concepts and some of its applications. Enjoy!