Whether you’re a business owner or a leader of any kind, these 5 TED talks will inspire you to break free of old expectations and lead from a wiser, more informed perspective. Watch each talk at the links below for a fresh set of ideas on leadership and problem solving in the workplace.
1. Productivity doesn’t happen when you think.
Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work, by Jason Fried, unravels a surprising trend in the workplace – not getting work done. Fried asked several professionals where they went when they needed to get some work done. The responses he received included places like the kitchen, the bedroom, the train, and the coffee shop. But not one person said “the office.” This led Fried to the assertion that “M&Ms” (managers and meetings) are screwing with workers’ productivity. He cautions against pointless meetings, insisting that if everyone had a little more alone time at work, we’d all get a lot more done.
“Businesses are spending all this money on this place called the office, and they’re making people go to it all the time – yet people don’t do work in the office. What’s that about?”
2. Money isn’t always the best motivator.
The Puzzle of Motivation, by Dan Pink, breaks down a scientific experiment that showed the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. While you’d think that money and other extrinsic motivators spur workers to achieve more, this is not always the case. According to the research, these incentives work well for basic tasks that require narrow focus. But when it comes to complex problems, the rules totally reverse.
“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”
3. Companies are investing in leaders, but not producing them.
What it Takes to be a Great Leader, by Roselinde Torres, delves into what we can call a “leadership gap.” The puzzling fact is that companies are investing in leadership more than ever, but not seeing the results. Torres claims this is happening because companies are not growing a diverse enough network, or changing strategy when they need to.
“Prepare yourself, not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday, but for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow.”
4. It’s not all about you.
Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, by Simon Sinek, covers a rarely discussed aspect of leadership: safety. Sinek discusses how great military leaders put themselves second, sacrificing their comfort zone to support and instill confidence in their troops. For business leaders, It’s not just about utilizing the best startup resources, grabbing the right talent, or working within the perfect budget. Rather, it’s about gaining the trust of your subordinates, so that they, in turn, feel empowered to do their best work.
“This is the reason so many people have a visceral hatred for banking CEOs with disproportionate salaries…It’s not the numbers. It’s that they allowed their people to be sacrificed to protect their own interests.”
5. Nurture your first followers
How to Start a Movement, by Derek Sivers, dissects a hilarious YouTube video of a spontaneous dance party that grows from one individual to dozens. The takeaway of this talk is the importance of early followers. As a lone leader, you must recognize that the only true way to gain credibility is to gain your first follower. This person or group of persons sets the stage for others to feel comfortable joining your movement. It grants you credibility. By treating your early followers as equals, you show them (and others) that joining you is a safe decision.
“it’s the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.”
Featured photo credit: urban_data via flickr.com