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Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 3.12.14 PMYou have been waiting in line for a coffee and suddenly, you see a man coming aside you by the register telling the barista that his coffee is cold. Would you say this individual is narcissistic? You are driving in what seems to be moving traffic, and you notice in your rearview mirror a fast car approaching in racing speed, cutting in between cars and zig-zagging in a frightening way as if he’s going to cause chain accident. Would you say he is narcissistic? You notice a little boy at the playground who would not give a turn to any other child on the swings, no matter how many are standing there baffled and upset. Would this little boy be considered narcissistic in your eyes?

Most psychologists have said that a healthy sense of self is key to reaching life’s goals. However, overreaching for a level of self-confidence that crosses over into the realm of pathological is a personality flaw. Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including the general inability to maintain healthy long-term interpersonal relationships, low levels of commitment to romantic relationships, aggression in response to perceived threats to self-esteem and unethical and/or exploitative behaviors, such as academic dishonesty, white-collar crime and destructive workplace behaviors.

 

Some researchers, believe this personality trait occurs for both genetic and cultural reasons. Some societies encourage this quality more in men, as narcissism is often equated with masculinity. Narcissism vs. Hubris; two of the most commonly misunderstood and misused terminologies are not what most people believe to be conceptually. As a business coach and psychologist, whether working with executives, business owners or couples, and families, I am often intrigued by how commonplace hubris is. Hubris, the sin of overweening pride or arrogance, may be the most misunderstood but common infliction among all groups of the population regardless of education, socio-economic status etc. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung observed, “Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface … a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.”

This is when an executive has luckily or perhaps because of effective human resources strategies has accessed a very talented pool as his cadre of staff members and as a results is able to show growth in the bottom-line year after year but attributes it to his/her effective and visionary business acumen, and product capabilities rather than his people. In an interview he boasts about the wins over the years saying nothing will ever get in his company’s growth. Suddenly however, when the growth is marginalized by a competitor and numbers begin to plummet, his overconfidence turns to mere puff.   This is not just narcissism; it’s much more dangerous than that; This is Hubris.

The same applies to the couple where the main caretaker of the children has constantly been shut down by the breadwinner because he/she doesn’t contribute directly to their income and suddenly their child is ill and the same bolstering breadwinner is baffled at how he/she can take care of the sick child.

 

Remember the famous story of the Tortoise and the Hare? The Hare, in a circumstance where he technically should have outran the tortoise, falls to his defeat, after making his pompous remarks about what a joke this is going to be and that he doesn’t even need to try.   The Hare allowed his ego to get the best of him and his behavior and outcomes as a result.

 

By contrast, narcissism is a disorder, which usually begins to manifest in the teen years is not circumstance related, it is the operative formula and all the person knows. It is the result of a childhood, which is comprised of multiple memories, and episodes of being robbed of one’s sense of self-confidence, dignity and self-efficacy. The child was likely victim to being completely non-existent and nothing he/she ever did was good enough or even noticed. This child after a very angry adolescent life, forms a self-defense mechanism toward self-promotion, lack of empathy toward others and a dictator style of communication with others. To merely stay afloat psychologically, this individual needs to stick with this defense for as long as possible. In fact, they will make every attempt at self-preservation at the cost of turning everyone in to enemies.

 

Narcissism is certainly not limited to only one gender. However, new research shows that it is much more prevalent in males than in females.

At the University of Buffalo, NY, according to a new large-scale study which resulted from an analysis of 355 previously published studies, examining three decades worth of research involving more than 475,000 study participants, the researchers found that statistically, when taking personality tests, men scored higher on narcissism than women in every age group.

This may not come as a surprise to many because as a society, one of the early sociological norms that our children learn is that to be a lady means to be sociable and considerate of others’ needs and to be a man means being emotionally detached.   The norms may not be communicated to our children in that exact way, however, their overall message is exactly that.

In the corporate world, in general we constantly see men as more outspoken in how they interact with others, while women tend to be a little more soft-spoken. In fact, one of the issues facing women who aspire to be tapped for leadership positions is that, others may not necessarily perceive them as outspoken as they should be. Can one be a good leader if they are soft-spoken and considerate? In an article from Fortune magazine that is in fact what one of the readers had asked. The truth is, it is not Narcissism in and of itself that is tied to perceptions of leadership, but as always it is the perception of what those behaviors mean to different people. According to Ann-Marie Slaughter the former advisor to Hillary Clinton, there are certain miro-behaviors or status cues that are interpreted and hence handled differently by males vs. females that lead to assertive vs. passive behaviors. The video interview which was conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, goes to lengths to explain that women can in fact be great and even better leaders if they display their knowledge and charisma with confidence. In our practice specifically, through our Communication Training and our Emotional Intelligence Coaching Strategies, utilizing bio-feedback Dr. Namin is able to precisely measure the point in time at which the individual let’s say the female executive receives a status cue that makes her feel uncomfortable and hence wants to automatically fold or discontinue. Not to say this is not a common phenomenon in communication between males and males, because the dynamic of competition among male counterparts is even a higher culprit to narcissistic behavior. According to Dr. Namin, “some individuals simply gain their voice, because as effective as they are at work and in their everyday lives, in communicating with decision-makers in the workplace their communication needs to more clearly carry that confidence and assertive capability”.   These philosophies and findings are consistent with what we know when dealing with narcissism.

What we are talking about here is not even grandiose narcissism, which is an inflated view of yourself as being special and important, but just simple things such as “my time is very short today”, or “you have 5 minutes to tell me why I need this” or even a simple glance across the shoulder by someone when another walks into the room as you are talking to this individual.

 

In the study published in March of 2015 in the journal of Psychological Bulletin, researchers assessed gender differences in the scoring of Narcissistic Personality Inventory, which looked at three aspects of behavior: leadership/authority, grandiose/exhibitionism and entitlement. They found the widest gender gap in entitlement, which indicated that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges.

Interestingly, males also scored higher on the leadership/authority scale, meaning they were more likely to exhibit qualities or assertiveness and the desire for power.

            One component of the study that probably could be better described was that “Narcissism had a seemingly positive relationship with some indicators of psychological health such as self-esteem and emotional stability and evidence suggests that narcissists tend to emerge as leaders.” We would oppose this theory and say that in our experience, a majority of Narcissistic individuals whether male or female have a tendency to be very self righteous which could result in high emotional volatility and even destructive behaviors. In our practice in working with hundreds of executives, the narcissistic types were never self-referred for coaching because their impressions of themselves are very clouded by their egocentistic views. Furthermore, they are the least prone to change and that is for the same exact reason as well. Even when 360 assessments and unanimous interviews reveal a sense of entitlement, bullying or harsh treatment, which could potentially undermined their effectiveness as a leader, they still are stunned.

So the question is what kind of leaders do they emerge as? In a most recent study in the Netherlands it was found that as a culture apparently we are not the only people douped by narcissistic leaders. While narcissists may look like good leaders, according to this study by B. Navicka the University of Amsterdam , they’re actually really bad at leading. As published in the Journal of Psychological Science, “because narcissistic individuals are particularly skilled at radiating an image of a prototypically effective leader, they tend to emerge as leaders in group settings. But despite people’s positive perceptions of narcissists, when it comes to performance, narcissists actually inhibit information exchange between group members and thereby negatively affect group performance.” Whether in corporate settings, or in the legislative process, or just at home, no one wants to feel that their uniqueness or ideas don’t matter. You can dictate and force people to follow you, which they will but only temporarily, or you can influence them and you will transform them forever and they will you. This was a topic of one of the recent Speaking Engagements that Dr. Namin presented regarding Leadership and Emotional Intelligence, which stirred a lot of ‘emotions’ pun intended.

We would love to hear your reactions anytime. Call or write at info@centerforworklife.com.

images-4We know that using a one-size-fits-all approach will not create the kind of buy-in needed to get the total organization working together.  In addition we know that to be competitive, the offer has to be branded consistently but also to fit a need.  

 

So what separates between the need to standardize vs. the need to customize?  

Research conducted by Jaynie L. Smith for the book Creating Competitive Advantage, states that only two CEOs out of 1,000 surveyed could clearly define their company’s competitive advantage.  A new wave in customization is the use of data analytics. Where it would take years and years of research to create and market the next generation of a service or product, can now be obtained within a few seconds. Case in point, car manufacturers are gathering more data than ever to eliminate waste and improve efficiency as they try to create next-generation vehicles. In 2012, Mercedes-AMG began to deploy an in-memory platform across business functions to analyze large amounts of data in real time. The goal for Mercedes-AMG was not to quickly deliver data, it was to deliver information that can improve processes that lead to competitive advantage.

Another example is that of content advertising. Today, more people than ever are watching digital video on hand-held devices and laptops, meaning that each viewer can customize what they watch, and when. The amount of user-generated content has also exploded, fragmenting viewers among many markets and making it tricky at best for brand advertisers to get the biggest bang for their buck. This shift in viewer habits has caused huge disruptions to the traditional advertising model.

For many people, real luxury is about ordering bespoke items with heaps of customization. These are made either entirely for them or simply not available to anyone else because they are completely unique creations. In times of computer controlled production real craftsmanship has gone lost. The McDonalds of the world are now far and between.  Starbucksimages-3 is the McDonnalds of today.  Perfecting that Latte to the dot within a few minutes with a mass customization approach of adding the hazelnut, soy, or skim details.  Because of the downturn in the economy even with a limited budget, people are no longer willing to settle.  Whether using professional services, or products such as, food, luxury goods, travel or any other, there is virtually no competition, and size doesn’t matter if you are able to offer a product/service that is needed, and unique. The global economy calls for customization and only customization and only organizations that are able to deliver customization with a mass formula can do well.

Business leaders should not become overwhelmed by the amount of data. The key is to identity important information and gain insight to improve business operations. Finding your brand, defining it to the core, and delivering it uniquely to your unique customer is the overall value proposition.  Is it a coincidence that the word Customer is a derivative of the word Customization?

This Blog has been featured by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce. Sources such as HLN have also been home to publications by Dr. Farnaz Namin-Hedayati and she has been cited by the Orlando Business Journal

 

Happy-Thanksgiving
Here are some lovable quotes on thankfulness…

Thankful-Printable“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” 
~ Oprah Winfrey

When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others. 
~ Dalai Lama

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out my nose.
~ Woody Allen

“Rest and be thankful.” 
~ William Wordsworth

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.” 
~ Marcus AureliusMeditations

 

Sources: Goodreads and Brainy Quote

images

You are probbaly wondering what does Ebola have to do with your career, other than the fact that god forbid you somehow contracted the illness and had to be in quarentine, etc. etc. 

No, that is not where we are going with this.  Although the Ebola virus in our eyes as human being and victims of the disease is a deadly virus and it reality it is a very smart and calculated being.  Here is what we already know about the Ebola Virus:

1.  It knows it’s purpose and has done it successfully and consistently since the 70’s

2.  It thrives hosted within a familiar and trusted environment

3.  It is a national and  international sensation and it knows it

4.  It knows how to blend in and when to flare up

4.  It has great longevity (referring to its ability to sustain itself)

5.  It has has upward mobility (currently being the biggest epidemic in history)

Again what does this have to do with your career?  As a practicing industrial/organizational psychologist, a coach and a trusted advisor, I have had the pleasure of working with so many professionals and one of the chief complaints I have heard regardless of status, number of years of experience, education, or pay has been “I don’t know where my career is headed”.  Beyond the obvious human condition of not having a crystal ball and not being to unfortunately foretell the future, the truth of the matter is that you have more power and control over your career than you may think or willing to admit to.  Well, what if you considered your ambitions the Ebola Virus?  Not in a negative way, so this exercise takes a bit of reframing your original mind frame.  Rather, viewing your career goals as a push forward, “nay” resistant, calculated, has a life of its own creature?  Now look at the 5 items above and read them from the perspective of your job and career.

There is a “science” to herding your career and advancing your goals in the work arena.  It is true that with the world of globalization, technology and unprecedented layoffs, predictability is definitely not what it used to be.  However, risk management applies to money management and finances 10, 20, or even 30 years down the line, so why can’t your career follow suite?  But it can.  Between emotional intelligence, careful and planned training, and network building we have got you covered.  We counsel career professionals, executives and the c-suite on these matters daily, so take a comfortable seat and lend and ear.

1) Find a familiar host and/or trusted environment

It’s true. It’s who you know, not what you have accomplished. Many people do not want to believe this simple but unspoken rule about life and work because it means the hardest working, most creative, most dedicated people are not necessarily going to get the next promotion.

This means that unless you have  a good relationship with key people directly or at least indirectly,  you will not get ahead no matter how hard you work, no matter what your accomplishments are.

The person who will get the next big promotion or the next big job opportunity will be someone who knows the boss better than you do, someone who has more face time with the boss, and someone who the boss has better chemistry with.

People climb up the ladder and/or get recognized because the boss feels they can be trusted to do the job, to follow thoroughly, and to be a loyal supporter. You may be all of these, but unless you can communicate that clearly, no one will know.  Prior accomplishments are often not the main consideration.  I have often coached individuals who feel discouraged that they are getting passed on opportunities.  After further inquiry I have almost always gotten to know that there is always a counter part who gets recognition after recognition, and promotion after promotion.  When I inquire why they believe the other individual keeps getting ahead, their response is “I don’t know, to me it seems that all the person does is a lot of talking”.  My response “thank you, I am  Sure they are very articulate and very well spoken, but comparing their track record to you, you don’t see all the hoopla?  The trust upper management places on an individual is usually not necessarily correlational to the numbers.  Given today’s economical conditions, that is usually a requirement rather than a plus.  Upper management puts trust on the individual who toots the company’s horn, their team’s horn, and supports the boss’s agenda whether through an added skill(more on this below), or presentation, etc.

2) Be a national and an international sensation and know your worth

On the opposite side, I have worked with individuals who are constantly looking for the next opportunity and pushing the bar against their own self  What’s their secret? When I observed these individuals closely, I often notice that they never pass up an opportunity to market themselves. Yet they do it so subtlety, that most people either don’t notice, or are not turned off or annoyed by it.

Whenever there was a large meeting with both peers and superiors, this person would find a way to get everyone’s attention. Then, while discussing the current topic she would ever so slightly mention something what she and her team had just accomplished. However small, she would somehow show a connection between that accomplishment,  and the topic at hand.  In this way, every accomplishment was highlighted to management.

For further examples you may refer to the book How to Guerrilla Market Yourself and Get What You Deserve by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin. Once you get used to doing this, it becomes so natural and almost subliminal in it’s effect.

So the tip here is to make sure upper management, other branches, or locations know what your contributions and accomplishments are, and do it in a subtle way if possible.  Don’t rely on your boss to broadcast this, Be your Own Messanger.

3) Know your purpose and stick to it

If you have read any of the material on this web site you know by now how important it is to do the work you were cut out to do. It’s hard to be passionate and committed to doing work that does not utilize your natural talents and your personal competitive advantage. Spend 15 to 20 minutes everyday and take an inventory of your passions and talents and see which ones you are constantly nurturing.  A part of our Career Planning Program is the discover y of “what types of work you were truly meant to do”.

4) Know when to blend in and when to “flare up”

Disagreeing with upper management or anyone for a matter of fact in front of other people is simply not smart. Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends clearly states that “no one likes criticism”.  No matter how close you and the other individual are and how right you think you are, never disagree with them in public, even if they invite you to. Instead, learn to become a valuable advisor and yes to the boss especially. Here’s how…

If you disagree with the boss, wait until you two have a private moment and then explain your viewpoint. Then, at the end say “Thanks for listening to me. I really appreciate the opportunity to be heard. You are the boss, and I am a loyal soldier so I will do it your way. “

Why? Even the most confident boss will have doubts about himself. So while he / she does not need you undermining his/her credibility, there is an underlying achiever there that will appreciate “Constructive criticism”. Bosses want to see that everyone is in alignment and following them. So doing any  dissension is really a disservice to them but ultimately to your career.

If you really want to get ahead, anticipate future issues and possible disagreements and discuss them in private, ahead of time. In this way you become a trusted advisor to the boss. This will build trust and demonstrate loyalty.

I once had an employee who used this skill with me many times. He would come into my office and say something like this: “There is going to be a meeting later today and I expect this issue to come up. I just want to give you a heads up. Here is my perspective… and here is the opposing view…”

Eventually I learned to trust this person and I felt we made a great team. I would frequently seek out his opinion before making critical decisions. So I know first hand that this process does work.

5) Create upward mobility by filling a Gap In a Skill Set

Through observation, research and record keeping you can connect dots in others behaviors and learn how to connect with them .  One of the facets of Emotional Intelligence, and also the best way to get close to key people in the organization  and to make yourself truly valuable. If done well, this will truly benefit the organization.

All of us have Achilles, some that we recognize and others we might not be aware of. The key is to understand the strengths and challenges of those around us  and see if we can somehow fill the gap.  I observed this in one organization where the boss was not very strategic, and his position did require that he provide direction and vision to the organization. One astute direct report figured this out and made a point of regularly communicating with the boss and coming to him with strategic ideas, vision and direction. The executive adopted many of these ideas and they became his own and that of the entire organization.

Once you have fulfilled  a need missing within a superior and it is noticed, you are branded in their mind, and even the organization if you go about it smartly.  That goes beyond all other hard skills you possess.

To understand the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and others, all you need to do is pay attention and observe patterns.

 

 Many of the viruses and diseases of our past have been eradicated by measurement.  To eradicate the Ebola virus as well, careful assessment of its patterns of behavior will be key.  Through measurement, we will establish a pattern of behavior, and condition the infection to fall on its face.

 

 

imagesThe seven-book Harry Potter series, which recounts the early life of a downtrodden boy who finds out he’s a wizard, has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide.  Today, July 8th, JK Rowling published a new story called Pottermore, which although crashed the site, ignited the heartfelt love of the fans and drove them mad.  Not coincidently, today was also the opening of the new attraction at Universal Studios Orlando, called Diagon Alley.  

So why have  the Harry Potter Series  been so successful when it comes to appeal among the masses? Is it because the writing is above and beyond other authors’ works? The writing is very good.  But more so I believe Harry Potter has become the phenonmenon it has become because it spreads hope.  The hope of being someone above and beyond who you thought you would ever be.  This is in fact the premise of the story.  Harry being an orphaned boy and being raised penniless comes to find he possess special abilities and trains to become even stronger in the art of wizardry.  Ah, but it is the latter aspect that I especially like; the training aspect.  It is a powerful message to children as well as adults all across the world who grapple with the understanding that talent is an all encompassing ability that doesn’t require work.  Harry although is born a wizard, has to practice the art with great discipline everyday to be proficient at it.  Through the storyline we see his challenges and triumphs and his attributes that make him easy to relate to and similar to that of every individual out there.  

Of the many debatable issues in sports or in life, for that matter, few are as “unanswerable” as the issue of nature vs. nurture, the notion that people are born champions or made into champions through hours and years of hard work. This debate applies to just about anything;  your salary, your ability to play a musical instrument, to paint, to play sports.

Some of you  may have heard of the Matthew effect, and  the debate about work vs natural ability, born vs bred. There are many  good books on the subject. The initial discussion of the Matthew effect for me was stimulated by my reading of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, as he devotes a section of the book to this discussion. It’s called 10,000 hours, after the notion that this is the minimum amount of time it takes to become world class at anything.

Another good book, is Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.  We have all come across individuals who have a great sense of humor, although they are not very physically attractive.  Individuals that are amazing at their career in spite of difficulties they have experienced in life and adversities they have had to contend with.  Individuals who are role-model fathers and mothers although they didn’t experience a great childhood.  So what do these individual circumstances demonstrate?  For me they domonstrate that if you want, you can and you will.  However the question that remains is will the ability bred be equal or less than the individual born with it?  That is a different and difficult argument to make because most people we love and admire are not born in to success, champions, noble prize winners and executive CEOs that have made a difference of a lifetime;  they have worked to get there.  They trained and invested their lives in becoming that dream or vision they had imagined.  In other words, they were their own hope, their own wizard.  The media follows the bred rather than the born, because we love success stories as a species.  Those who were born with a talent are rarely emphasized these days, hence the demise of the IQ tests and others alike who predicted success.

So when we see Harry, or any hero for that matter be it Superman, Spiderman or for us girls an old favorite Cinderella who rises from the ashes, an imaginary victory or ability is just as soothing and remarkable because it creates hope.  The hope of being something and someone we aspire to be.  Although in real life training and education are the practical ways of gaining that hope and fulfilling that vision, in fantasy we look up to those who already possess the abilities.

 

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