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The Leader's Voice

Ideas, research, and comments about leadership and communication.

Updated: 2010-09-15T00:32:00-07:00


Is Leadership A Profession?


Rather than write about it, I was part of a live blog radio program that discussed the topic. Loads of other good topics at this site as well. Check it out at Robert Thompson's Thought Grenades.

How WEIRD Are You?


Many of you have probably read about how different cultural norms produce different theories concerning behavior, psychology, and the underpinnings of human relationships. Or your travels may have exposed you to different norms concerning perception, ways of problem-solving, or modes of thought. For instance, take this familiar test - which of the two horizontal lines is longer? You know the answer, but can you really see the answer, even when you know it? A very interesting new paper suggests Westerners have difficulty with this and may be weirder, compared with the many other large populations, than we thought. Heinrich, Heine,...

Effective Criticism


Clifford Nass is a Professor of Communication at Stanford University. He was recently interviewed by Ira Flatow on NPR's Science Friday broadcast. Nass has been exploring communication in a unique and very interesting manner. He creates experiments to understand communication fundamentals by watching how people talk to their computers. From mobile phones, to GPS systems, to laptops, he is fascinated by what we can learn about how we interact with each other by watching how we interact with technology, especially certain kinds of devices. His most recent book, The Man Who Lied To His Computer, relates a number of his...

Trust and Lie Detection


Do you consider yourself a person who trusts others more than others? Or are you a low-trusting person, who needs to see evidence of trust before and even then remain a little skeptical? Regardless of which type you feel you are - which one, the high or low truster, do you believe spots liars more easily? Some recent research demonstrates a perhaps surprising answer. According to Nancy Carter and Mark Weber of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, "Although people seem to believe that low trusters are better lie detectors and less gullible than high trusters,...

Delayed Gratification Redux


I was one of the early admirers of the results of the famous delayed gratification studies. It pays to read the original research and not just parrot the hype surrounding research headlines. I strongly urge all of you who are interested in this subject material to review the following post by Mike the Mad Biologist. He refers to a PDF article that is worth the reading for those of you who like to dive deeper into the data, but his conclusions may likely satisfy most.

The Power of Time


RSA Animate is a terrific site - one worth checking out. Animates talks and provides an interesting method of remaining engaged in a talk (although in some cases the original talk is pretty interesting all on its own). Below is a sample of a talk given by Philip Zimbardo on the power of time perspective on individuals and cultures.

Deep Conversation


For at least thirty years or so I have always added to one of Socrates' dictums that, "the OVER-examined life isn't worth living either." Must have been during my therapy years. It appears Daniel Dennentt wrote something similar back in 1984. Seems I keep good company. But perhaps, like the Goldilocks lesson, somewhere between the unexamined and the over-examined there lies a region that helps promote well-being. A short article in the February issue of Psychological Science posts an interesting study by Matthias Mehl. His work concerns the connection between deeper conversations versus more shallow or social conversations and well-being....



The avalanche of books concerning "happiness" that slid upon us the past few years perhaps obscured the subject's intimate cousin "pleasure." Paul Bloom, a Yale psychologist, has recently written a book on the topic. I like it because, like my work in communication, it plumbs interior depths rather than observing surface features and concluding we understand a subject. For those who attend to this subject matter, I recommend you listen to the New York Times Book Reviews interview with Bloom in its entirety. Below I have excerpted about five minutes of this interview and added a couple of short clips...

Basic Emotions


For years my late partner, Boyd Clarke, and I would ask participants in our leadership workshops to complete a simple matrix. A replica appears below. The question is simple. If having a high performing work team is important, what must leaders give up to achieve this and what do they get in return. The same question applies for constituents. As you might predict, participants suggested the number one thing leaders had to give up was control. And the number one thing constituents had to give up was safety (or constituents had to show more initiative). In a new study just...

Public Speaking


For a great, rambling piece on extreme speaking apprehension, check out this article by Jesse Bering.