Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Top 10 TED Talks for Insight on Curiosity

Curiosity has been linked in engagement, emotional intelligence, communication, motivation, creativity, innovation, productivity and more.  As part of research for Cracking the Curiosity Code, combing through TED talks was a fascinating way to review some important research into the area of curiosity.  The following includes some highlights from some of the most insightful talks that inspire and educate regarding the importance of curiosity.

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Curiosity: The Key to Improving Innovation, Engagement, Creativity, and Productivity

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious” – Albert Einstein

Everyone is born curious. So, what happens? Why do some people become less curious than others? For individuals, leaders, and companies to be successful, they must determine the things that hold curiosity hostage. Think of the most innovative companies, and you will notice they employ people who do not accept the status quo, they are not reluctant to change, they evolve with the times, they look for problems to solve, and focus on asking questions.

Billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates held a question and answer session at Columbia University. Just after the 5-minute mark, the moderator asked, “What is it that you two share?” They both answered with the same thing: curiosity. Buffett said, “Well, we both certainly share a curiosity about the world.” Gates said, “I think that curiosity that Warren mentioned, is an amazing thing.”

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What Holds Us Back? 4 Things Holding Our Curiosity Hostage

We are often told to follow our passion.  Even if we determine our passion, some things hold us back from pursuing our natural sense of curiosity.  Curiosity has been called a sort of mental itch.  There are surprisingly few studies about curiosity because it is difficult to study.  Some people are more naturally curious than others. It can be important to have curiosity hardwired into us because it helps us grow and develop.  There are factors like stress, aging, drugs, genetics, etc. that could impact our level of curiosity.  Outside of medical issues or lack of financial capabilities, I have found four major things that hold people’s curiosity hostage including fear, the way things have always been done, parental/family/peer influence, and technology.

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Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences

How do we know how others would like to be treated if we only look at things from our perspective?  Understanding personality and generational preferences is so important because we learn about opposing or differing perspectives.  To improve some of the key challenges in the workplace requires this understanding.  These challenges include poor soft skills, low emotional intelligence, lack of engagement, and a negative culture.  Many articles address how these problem stem from Boomer and Millennial conflict. Continue reading “Improving Workplace Conflict Requires Understanding Preferences”

How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work

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Job listings often describe the skills needed to perform in a position. However, many of the skills required for success fall under the category of soft skills.  Many employees may be hired for their knowledge and yet may end up being fired for their behavior or lack of social skills.  Forbes reported that 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months.  Mitchell Communications Group found that companies lose $37 billion a year in the United States due to miscommunication.  Research from Adecco Staffing considered what the C-suite thinks about the type of skills employees lack. They found that the C-suite believed 44% lacked soft skills including communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  This has led to missed growth opportunity, low productivity, and reduced profits. Continue reading “How to Develop Top Soft Skills Not Learned at School or Work”

The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It

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Many people misunderstand the meaning of engagement. It is important to note that engagement does not mean satisfaction. Engagement refers to an emotional commitment to an organization and its goals.  Engagement, generational conflict, emotional intelligence, and other communication issues are some of the most requested speech topics by organizations. This is not surprising because 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations stem from relationship-based issues.  Numerous studies have demonstrated a correlation between engagement and performance.  Leaders with high levels of engagement also were more transformational, had higher levels of interpersonal skills, and had a better sense of well-being. Continue reading “The Cost of Low Engagement and How to Improve It”

Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success

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Attend any leadership conference, and someone likely will bring up startling statistics regarding how employees and leaders lack something they refer to as soft skills. This term is used to describe many qualities that include interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and other personality-based issues. The problem that many organizations have experienced is that people are hired for their hard skills, or in other words, for what they know (knowledge). Then later, are often fired for their lack of soft skills, or what they do (behaviors). If employers recognize the importance of soft skills, they can avoid costly hiring and training mistakes, improve turnover, and boost productivity. Continue reading “Soft Skills: Critical to Employee Success”

Researchers Debate Importance of Introverts Acting like Extroverts

 

Several courses I teach include discussion regarding the importance of understanding personality preferences.  Students often take personality tests to determine their “type”.  Part of their type includes whether they are introverts or extraverts (Myers Briggs spells extravert with an “a” instead of an “o”).  In my training to become a qualified Myers Briggs MBTI trainer, I learned that people have preferences for how they like to receive and process information.  We were told it was similar to how people prefer to write with their right or left hand.  That is why I found the recent Wall Street Journal article titled How an Introvert Can Be Happier:  Act Like an Extrovert to be so interesting.  The title contradicts some of what I learned in my training.

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Genetics Impact on Intelligence

 

Was Einstein a genius because he inherited good genes?  That is just one of the questions some new research may be able to determine.  According to the article A Genetic Code for Genius in the Wall Street Journal, “In China, a research project aims to find the roots of intelligence in our DNA.”

There is no denying that emotional intelligence has become a buzz word in HR.  Employees’ emotional quotient or EQ may sometimes be more important than their IQ.  However, the roots of many personality and intelligence issues like IQ still remain a mystery.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Studies show that at less half of the variation of intelligence quotient, or IQ, is inherited. Truly important genetics that affect normal IQ variation have yet to be pinned down.”

The average person has an IQ of 100 and Nobel laureates have an average IQ of 145. In a study of intelligence in China, the researchers are looking at individuals who have an IQ of over 160.  To date, studies have not been large enough to give very useful information about IQ and genetics.  This latest study “will compare the genomes of 2,200 high-IQ individuals with the genomes of several thousand people drawn randomly from the general population.”  The problem is finding the people with such an extremely high IQ.  The researchers likened it to finding a bunch of people over 6-foot-9 inches tall.

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Einstein’s Brain Reveals New Clues to Intelligence

 

In an attempt to understand intelligence, researchers have once again focused their attention on Albert Einstein’s brain.  A study published in a recent issue in the Journal Brain disclosed some new insight as to what made Einstein so intelligent.  In the Red Orbit article Photos of Einstein’s Brain Reveal Areas That May Have Made Him A Genius, Anthropologist Dean Falk from the Florida State University explained, “The overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal. [But] the prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices were extraordinary. These may have provided the neurological underpinnings for some of his visuospatial and mathematical abilities, for instance.”

There have been 14 new photos found of Einstein’s brain that have been evaluated.  The USA Today article Einstein’s Brain: It Was Better Than Yours, explained, “After the photos were taken, the brain itself was cut into 240 separate blocks for analysis, most of which remain at the University Medical Center in Princeton, N.J., where Einstein’s brain was taken after he died.”

In 2009, Odyssey reported that the reason for Einstein’s intelligence may be due to an increase in glia cells.  “Glia help neurons by giving them nutrients and by cleaning up after the mess neurons make when they do their work. Neurons can make electrical signals because they are tiny batteries. Just as in a flashlight battery, the voltage in a neuron is generated by a special salt solution. When a neuron fires an electric pulse, sodium, which is the positively charged partner of the salt known as sodium chloride, flows into the neuron.”

Einstein died from a ruptured aneurism in 1955. He was 76.  An autopsy was performed in Princeton Hospital. According to the Einstein Quarterly article A Brief History of Einstein’s Brain, “Einstein’s brain weighed 1230 grams, well within the range of 1200-1600 grams that is normal for a human male.” Einstein never gave approval to study his brain. Permission came from his family once they were made aware that his brain had been removed and preserved.

The brain is often described in sections, referred to as Brodmann’s areas.  Einstein’s Brodmann area 39 (part of the parietal lobe) showed a statistically significant difference from the average brain.  The parietal lobe may be an important indicator of  intelligence. The latest research has discovered some differences in Einstein’s frontal lobe as well. To find out more about the importance of this lobe, check out the Nova video at the end of this article.

 

Some interesting things about Einstein include:  He had dyslexia as a child; he figured out the theory of relativity in his 20s, he played the violin, and  Einstein had an IQ of 160.

To find out what happened to Einstein’s brain, check out Nova’s video:  How Smart Can We Get

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