Seducing Leaders in Five Steps

By Mike Lehr
Sycophants are very good at seducing leaders. This often brings leaders down.

Some are very good at seducing leaders with praise. This can move leaders from reality and bring them down.

The power of leadership makes leaders more exposed to certain types of influences. They allow those with less power to protect themselves. They can use leaders for their own ends. The path to seducing leaders is flattery.

Research Behind Seducing Leaders

The Network Effect” (The Economist, January 17, 2015 edition) cites “academic research has found that people’s susceptibility to flattery is without limit and beyond satire.” B.J. Fogg and Clifford Nass found that praise from computers works just as well as that from humans.

Andrew O’Connell (“Why Flattery is Effective” [Harvard Business Review, March 2010] cites works that show this works even when they know it is insincere. The praise from computers worked even though people knew it was only a canned response.

Five Steps to Seducing Leaders

Seducing leaders has five basic steps:

  1. Be happy and positive.
  2. State commonalities.
  3. Praise lavishly.
  4. Give in to their points.
  5. Ask for their help.

Open with happy and positive remarks. People are very swayed by things they have in common with others. There is no end to praise. As O’Connell writes, it works even though they might think it is insincere. Since leaders tend to be confident, they will see praise as the truth.

To avoid detection though, feign an opposing view. Come around to their side slowly. Tap into that expertise by asking for their help. People like to help those who praise them. It feeds the source of their identity.

Expert Seducers of Leaders

In common terms, we refer to people who are good at this as “brown nosers,” “yes-men,” “suck ups,” and many others. The real name is sycophant. Its origin is Greek. They were those who brought lame suits against powerful people.

There is a key point behind this word. Sycophants bring down leaders. They move leaders away from reality. Leaders make worse decisions as a result. They exert their power less well. Since leaders have more power, they cannot be overpowered. Praise is a Trojan horse.

Safe Leaders

Some leaders are safer than others are. They are those who are humbler, more realistic and less confident. They are often more competent. We do not like them though. They are too nutritious. We like the fatty, sugary ones better.

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Introverted and extroverted car drivers will differ in why they like to drive.

Introverted and extroverted car drivers will differ in what they expect driving to do for them.

In discussing my series on introverts and extroverts with a colleague, I talked briefly about the difference between introverted and extroverted car drivers. She said it would make a good post. Everyone could relate to it.

Later I ran searches, “extroverts and introverts as car drivers”, “car drivers extroverts and introverts” and a few more. All I could find was “Driving Tips for Introverts and Extroverts”. I could find nothing on this.

Difference between Introverted and Extroverted Car Drivers

Here is the main difference between introverted and extroverted car drivers. E’s like to exert themselves on their surroundings. I’s like to take them in. A related difference is that E’s are more about the destination. I’s are more about the drive.

Let us go to the park. E’s will enjoy that the car allowed them to visit and see the park. It allowed them to bring what they needed to set up their world in the park. For example, E’s will say, “The wildness of this park is not going to prevent me from enjoying music. My car helps me here.”

I’s will enjoy that the car allowed them to appreciate the park more. It allowed them to bring what they needed to enjoy the park’s world. I’s will say, “Music allows me to appreciate the park more. My car helps do that.”

World of Difference

What makes this difference huge is this. It is important to E’s that they present themselves in the right way to the world, in this case the park. Even though few people might be around, they know how they are presenting themselves. I’s will not care as long as they have the right things to take in the park’s world.

For example, let us say the music does not work and that it is important to both. E’s will be upset because a key part of their world is not there. I’s will be upset because music is not there to inspire how they will appreciate the world of the park.

Finishing the Drive

Again, none of us are pure introverts or extroverts. One is too impractical. The other is too superficial. Blending in various ways give us the diversity we need to enjoy life and our drives.

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Thank you for your encouragement and motivation at 500

Thank you for your encouragement and motivation at my 500th post.

I am not surprised that I am here at Post 500. I am surprised though by how hard this last hundred was. I was almost always at a deadline. My business and this blog took more time. I thank you for your encouragement and motivation. They carried me.

My 400th post summarizes the past years. This hundred was about trying to figure out what I wanted to do with this blog. I did that. Again, I thank you for your encouragement and motivation to do that. Changes will be coming soon.

I get most of my ideas and inspiration from my interactions with you. Seeing the world, ideas and people through another pair of eyes makes my sight better. It has been better for me than any classroom.

If I were to thank everyone individually, it would take the next hundred posts. Here are those whom I wish to say publicly made my life exceptionally better over these last hundred posts. Some cannot be mentioned. Some live in places that do not take kindly to speaking out. Adding them to your lives will make your life better too. Thank you for your encouragement and motivation in making this blog a success.

Thank you for your encouragement and motivation at Post 500


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Is Collaboration Groupthink?

By Mike Lehr

Groups get people to conform. They cannot exist if people do whatever they want. Those who do not conform leave. If not they do not share as much in rewards. There are many ways groups do this. Is collaboration one of them? It helps groups come up with ideas. It then helps them agree on action. Is collaboration groupthink though?

For example, collaboration has a coercive aspect. Dosed out in large amounts it stops us from doing our jobs. It benefits us then to agree quickly so we can do our jobs.


Is collaboration groupthink? It can be if it is left to its own devices.

Is collaboration groupthink? It can be.


Hype Around “Is Collaboration Groupthink?”

Susan Cain made hay when she answered the question, “Is collaboration groupthink?” by saying, “yes,” in The New York Times in early 2012. Later that year, Vijay Govindarajan and Jay Terwilliger responded in Harvard Business Review with, “Yes, You Can Brainstorm Without Groupthink.”

They gave three caveats though. Our team must be diverse. We need a facilitator. We need to “encourage passionate champions” of ideas. These will thwart problematic personalities who tend to move collaboration to groupthink. It is not a democratic process though.

Leading Collaboration

The reason for this is simple: again, groups get people to conform. It is the way of nature. Unless there is a leader guiding the collaboration, it will be groupthink.

The key is how to do this. Govindarajan and Terwilliger endorse different styles. That means each collaboration could have a different look, different steps.

For instance, J. Michael Fox had told me that their group’s research found that extroverts and introverts brainstorm differently. Extroverts tend to come up with long lists of ideas. Introverts tend to think about ideas first then give what they think are the best they have to offer. People also differ on their like for structure.

Is Collaboration Groupthink?

So, is collaboration groupthink? It seems it depends on how it goes. What is certain is that it requires work to make sure it is not. That work is leadership.

That means those who manage collaborative efforts must be skilled at it. This means knowing how to manage diverse teams. Otherwise, collaboration is just talk. It is dangerous talk too. Left to its own devices, collaboration is groupthink. It needs leaders to work.

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Familiarity Meets Failure Often

By Mike Lehr
Since we do not test the familiar as rigorously as the unfamiliar, often familiarity meets failure in the end.

Familiarity meets failure because we go easier on the familiar than on the unfamiliar.

When it comes to music, we lean to the tunes we know. When it comes to solutions, we lean to the ones we know too. As Wray Herbert writes, often familiarity meets failure. It is because these solutions are mental shortcuts.

In our daily work, we hear them as “rules of thumb.” In psychology it is called the familiarity heuristic. It is one of the signs that we are likely creating more problems than we are solving.

Why Familiarity Meets Failure

It is easy to slough off. In fact, sloth is one of seven deadly sins in Catholicism. Sloths favor mental shortcuts. Work makes us and our lives better. Better means change. Familiarity means the same. It triggers our need for security, safety. As Herbert writes, “we are more apt to rely on these automatic judgments when we’re under pressure.”

Going with familiarity means we will find ourselves in a rut someday. When life is ever changing this is not good. It is neither good for our business nor us. Another key need for our happiness is newness. If we feel good, we do well. We are good leaders. Our businesses do well. Familiarity meets failure because it takes all of this from us.

Avoiding Familiarity

Since a sloth seeks familiarity, avoiding it is effort then. For example, did we define a problem so it would fit a familiar solution? These tips will keep our lives and businesses successful:

Sloths do not do any of these. That is why familiarity meets failure where sloths lounge.

Here is a test. Listen to new music. Try a new type. Try a new artist from a rarely heard genre. Go to a different music station. Stay away from your favorite, your familiar. The longer this takes to do, the more likely we are to look up from the bottom of a rut one day. Warning, it is hard to do.

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Solving the Danger of Humbleness

By Mike Lehr
The danger of humbleness means we do not see how bright our sun is.

The danger of humbleness means we do not see how bright our sun is. We think everyone should be able to do what we do.

A while back I wrote about the danger of humbleness. I did so at the request of Michelle Held (Twitter). After that post she asked, “What do we do about this?” This post is the answer.

The danger of humbleness shows when we discount our talents too much. We then believe it is easy to do what we do. When people do not, we look at them negatively. We end up wronging our relationships, communications and leadership. When one business owner complained about his people not seeing some things, I reminded him, “Doug, if they could, they would start their own business.”

Approach to the Danger of Humbleness

When people do not do what we think they should do, we best to see it in one of two ways:

  1. They cannot do it.
  2. They do not want to do it.

Too often though we claim they are lazy. In this approach, laziness does not exist. This wrongs them and us. We miss their true talents, and we make bad choices. We wrong our leadership.

Implementing the Approach

To implement this approach and avoid the danger of humbleness, we do one or both of the following. If they cannot do something, we train them. If they do want to do it, we influence them.

With training we keep two thoughts in mind. First, most times fear stands in the way of learning: fear of failure or of humiliation. Second, we fit the training to their learning style. The main mistake we make is not breaking down the task or idea into small enough parts. If we are good at something, we often see many steps as one.

Influencing so people want to do something also has two parts. First, we change the way they look at the situation. This may mean educating them or changing their assumptions. Second, as this might not be enough, we improve and leverage our relationships with them. We remember that simply asking folks to help us can be a very powerful motivator.

The danger of humbleness makes our self-view seem very simple, the default. Thus, we push it on others without knowing it. In the end though, we devalue their talents and ours.


Read more about Michelle: Michelle Held in “Yes Woman”

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Introverts and extroverts as speakers can both like and dislike the role.

Introverts and extroverts as speakers differ in their sources of energy. Introverts derive it from the content, extroverts from the event.

Introversion and extroversion describe sources of energy. Too often though we only talk about these two types in terms of how they relate to people. Public speaking is a good example of this. Introverts fear it, and extroverts relish it. So it goes anyway.

In reality, introverts can like speaking, and extroverts can dislike it. Introverts can be good at it, and extroverts bad. We can see this if we apply the source of energy model to this. This is more in line with Carl Jung’s view, the originator of this way to look at people.

Difference between Introverts and Extroverts as Speakers

The major difference between introverts and extroverts as speakers is their source of energy to speak. With introverts it comes from inside. It is about the content of the talk. With extroverts the energy comes from outside. It is about the event.

For example, a very extroverted speaker once said to me, “Ever since I was a little girl, I liked to be in front of people.” To an introvert, it does matter why she is in front of people. She will not like to talk about something that is not her.

Since extroverts get their energy from outside, the size and grandeur of the event matters much. The bigger the stage the better it is for them. Since introverts get their energy from inside, the importance of the topic matters much to them.

Sabotaging Introverts and Extroverts as Speakers

Public speaking can give anxiety to both introverts and extroverts as speakers. About 75% of the population suffers from speech anxiety. A fifth fears it. For introverts it is, “Can I really talk about this?” For extroverts it is, “Can I really fit here?”

Introverts might fear that they do not know the subject well or there is little interest in the content of their talk. Extroverts fear that the people or conditions are not right for them. For both these fears sabotage their source of energy.

Still, we need to remember that pure extroverts and introverts do not exist. We are all a blend. That means introverts and extroverts as speakers can be enjoyable for all of us.

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Emotionally intelligent computers will challenge what we think it means to be us.

Emotionally intelligent computers are already changing how we see ourselves as humans.

As we make computers more human, we learn more about us. This has already changed how we see our skills, talents and intelligence. How we see emotional intelligence, personalities and leadership will change too.

Computers can now read our emotions by reading our faces. The tool is facial recognition software. These three articles cover this well. They cite research and programs:

  1. The Technology that Unmasks Your Hidden Emotions” (Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2015 2:13 pm ET) by Elizabeth Dwoskin and Evelyn M. Rusli
  2. Emotionally Intelligent Machines Are Closer Than Ever” (Motherboard, July 2, 2013 9:45 am) by Meghan Neal
  3. We Know How You Feel” (The New Yorker, January 19, 2015 edition) by Raffi Khatchadourian

Dwoskin and Rusli give an overview. Neal gives in-depth technical background. Khatchadourian deals with the human aspect.

Emotionally Intelligent Firms

Right now, advertisers are the main users of this emotionally intelligent software. They cannot rely on customers to say what they like. This gives a much better read.

Internet firms track our surfing habits with cookies. They use freebies, clickbait and many other triggers to plant them. They will do the same to turn on our cameras. They will give our reactions to their content. We will become numb to these just as we have the cookies.

As Dwoskin and Rusli point out, one retailer is already testing emotionally intelligent software in its cameras. It seeks to learn how people feel when they walk their stores. Neal does a great job laying the ground for how firms will use this software in other ways.

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Khatchadourian writes how we are testing emotionally intelligent computers in the help of autistic people. They allow them to read other people’s emotions. This is hard for them to do now.

If this can help the autistic, it can help all of us. This means leaders too. At meetings and other group functions, cameras could scan faces while leaders announce new plans. This could even be done while workers are working and moving through their work spaces.

This would give leaders a good sense of reactions to their plans and of their work cultures. It would be a way to quantify morale. This would be a sounder approach on a wide scale than anything in use now. The training uses are many.

Emotionally intelligent computers will change how we see emotional intelligence, leaders and each other. They are moving in on what we think it means to be us. We will learn though there is more to being us than what we think.

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People dumping their garbage on us often appears as constructive criticism.

People dumping their garbage on us often appears as constructive criticism and hypocrisy.

Constructive criticism is often nothing more than people dumping their garbage on us. It says more about them than it does about us. In psychology, it is a projection. In everyday life, we often see it as hypocrisy. Unless we are aware of this, such garbage can lead us on pointless paths and to bad decisions.

Why Are People Dumping Their Garbage on Us?

People often talk to release pressure. Secrets, fear and joy are examples of this pressure. Psychology knows this as the talking cure. Venting is a form of this cure. It also tells us why people have a hard time keeping secrets. We see people cannot “contain their excitement.”

Many things can trigger this pressure in people. Advertisers do it with their ads. We can do it with our words and actions.

Examples of People Dumping Their Garbage on Us

People who talk a lot will often complain about those who do. This is a very simple example of people dumping their garbage on us. As another those who are disorganized will often complain about how disorganized others are.

Thus, by criticizing us they position themselves in their own minds as an authority. By default then they are not disorganized. They do not see the hypocrisy. They release the pressure.

This can also appear as shame and guilt. We might do something extra for a meeting. It unnerves them. They will not see it this way. They might say we are “going over the top,” “providing too much detail” or “explaining too much.”

Our personal qualities also strike nerves in people. Let us say that they are organized. Let us also say they see that trait as critical to success. If we then succeed without being organized, this will unnerve them. We have other traits that they do not have. These traits more than compensate for any disorganization they think we have.

The Harm of People Dumping Their Garbage on Us

People dumping their garbage on us can cause us to change the way that is natural for us. Many times our worse choices come when others talk us out of them. We end up leading in a way that is not right for us. Besides, if constructive criticism was really that good, they would offer it as advice.

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Extreme decision making is when we overreact to bad events and overinvest in good ones.

Extreme decision making is common and natural. We often see bad events as worse than they are and good as better.

At its root, extreme decision making is about how we assess possibilities in events. The adage, “Things are never as good nor as bad as they seem,” is a common remedy for it. It is very common in decision making unless we protect ourselves. It is not limited to pessimists and optimists.

Extreme Decision Making Outcomes

“Safe at Any Speed” (Harvard Business Review, September 2014 edition) tells of Mary Riddel’s (University of Las Vegas) and Sonja Kolstoe’s (University of Oregon) research into this “possibility bias” as it is called. They found “amateur auto racers are actually more rational about risk than most of us.”

Outcomes of extreme decision making tend to be of two types. Our fears will encourage over investing in protection and our expectations over investing in opportunities. Experience can help but it could also make it worse.

Negative stories in our lives will deter change and innovation. They make us less open to new ideas and ways. Positive stories, our successes, are less likely to have taught us much. They raise testosterone levels though. This means bigger bets.

Protection Through Reflection and Diversity

To protect ourselves from extreme decision making, at some point we need to remove ourselves from more influence and information. This means taking time to reflect quietly and refer to prior plans. They help us revisit prior views.

This means putting an end to more review of research and data. We tend to see what we want to see anyway. Too much information only increases indecision. Data restricts creativity.

Moods greatly impact our decisions. We should avoid pressure and fear. We need to look for times when we feel good about ourselves. Overconfidence though hinders reflection.

When we work with our teams, focus them on the costs and risks. This prevents rosy forecasts. We ensure teams are diverse. This creates options especially in tough times. We must not be afraid to manage the team through conflicts that will arise. Playing out scenarios in gaming exercises helps to test ideas.

A body grows best with balanced nutrition. Our decision making does too with balanced views. Reviewing plans and reflecting quietly upon the views of diverse people are the best protection from extreme decision making.

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Power of Being First

By Mike Lehr
Power of being first causes us to think inside the box.

The power of being first can help us spot problems and achieve our goals.

The power of being first triggers our need for security. This power exerts itself in all parts of our lives, from laws to wrong info. It can warn us of future problems and help us reach our goals. It can cause us to think inside the box and to stop thinking.

Identifying the Power

In law, the power of being first is called precedent. “Fear and Loathing” (The Economist, September 22, 2012 edition) shows how it even constrains those who seem to have total control. Whenever we “justify the present by calling up the past” (“The Uses of History, [The Economist, December 20, 2014 edition]), we are using the power of being first. “We have always done it this way,” is a routine work example.


In job interviews, it is best to be the first one (“A Question of Judgment, [The Economist, June 16, 2012 edition]). Agenda setting in politics and in business taps power of being first. It is the first thing to state the limits of discussion. People stating their views first is an informal use of agenda setting.

In all these examples, the power of being first sets the sides of the box. It is inside this box where we will think and discuss. We judge what follows according to this box. We judge the success of meetings by how closely they follow the agenda. We judge the second job candidate in terms of the first.

Using the Power of Being First

The power of being first anchors thoughts in people’s minds. It can be as simple as a keyword. It can set a mood. A fallen child who bruises a knee is a common example. If we say something cheery before the first tears hit, the child moves on without crying. The same happens when we are first to frame a negative event in a good light.

In conversation people focus on the idea just said. We can use this power to keep it going or to change it. We can also use it to set prices for new products, services or relationships. This power is at play with price when someone says, “You can always come down. You cannot go up.”

Knowing how this power works protects us from thinking inside the box, and helps us spot problems early and achieve our goals.

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With More Power Less Thinking

By Mike Lehr
With more power less thinking the risk of poor decisions increases.

With more power less thinking occurs about new information on known topics.

Life gives all forces good and bad aspects. Breathing gives life. It also causes aging. Gravity prevents us from flying. It allows us to walk and use other modes of traveling. The same holds true for power. With more power less thinking comes.

Research on More Power Less Thinking

As power increases, a study shows we think less (PDF of complete study). Another is blunter. Power makes us stupid. If we know a topic well, the more power we have the less likely we are to think about new information on that topic.

Power though also expands what we believe we know. The confidence power gives convinces us and others that we are more competent than we are. Since we think we know more, we also think we have more control than we do. This opens the door to more and more risky decisions and antisocial behaviors.

Implications of More Power Less Thinking

In simple terms, it means that with more power less thinking we:

  • Think we know more than we do
  • Question what we think we know less
  • Believe we have more control than we do

Moreover, leadership comes with more power. Since power can corrupt thinking, leadership can corrupt leaders. With more power less thinking means their decisions become worse. Thinking they know more, they think less. They question less. Unless advice attacks current beliefs, they do not think much about it.

With more power less empathy comes too. It is easy to look at the loss of thinking and empathy as negatives. It is nature’s way of weeding out weak leaders. They will lose their positions, their influence or both.

This does not mean they will not prosper personally. It does not mean many will not suffer. It does mean though a change in leaders will come.

Remedying More Power Less Thinking

With more power less thinking, the simple, practical remedy is preparing leaders for the dark side of leadership. Too many leadership programs paint a Pollyanna picture. They do not prepare people for these personal challenges.

One study though gave another way. It said the problem went away “when the powerful were made to feel incompetent.” Is there better career-ending advice to give employees?

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Getting introverts and extroverts working together is about integrating value and money.

Getting introverts and extroverts working together is about balancing these personality types in our teams.

How do we get introverts and extroverts working together? Researchers often share how to identify them. Few share how to lead them. Few have had to do that.

When they do share, it is simplistic. Extroverts should handle the people aspects of a project. This means collaboration and coordination. Introverts should deal with the more task-intensive aspects. This means research and documentation.

How would each look at a project? Their sources of energy tell us. Extroverts receive their energy from the world around them. They will see projects as ways of making their mark in the world. Introverts receive their energy from inside. They will see projects as ways to express themselves.

In business, extroverts will care less about the essence of the project as long as it works and makes money. Introverts will care less about these as long as the project shows the best of who they are. Extroverts will move with conditions. Introverts will hold the course. Extroverts look at now. Introverts look at long term.

Introverts and extroverts working together do better than pairs of extroverts or pairs of introverts. Extroverts tend to produce things that make money but don’t have value. Introverts tend to produce things that have value but don’t make money. Getting them to work together is about integrating value and money.

When it comes to new ideas, extroverts will tend to brainstorm out loud with others. They will create a long list. Introverts will tend to think about many ideas, come together and share their best few. Their list will be short but good.

Introverts and extroverts working together is about balancing all these extremes. It is knowing that personality types are relative. Take any two extroverts. One will be more introverted than the other is. Take any two introverts. One will be more extroverted.

No one is 100% pure extrovert or introvert at all times in all situations. Every extrovert has an introvert inside balancing him. Every introvert has an extrovert inside doing the same. Thus, getting introverts and extroverts working together is about balancing these personality types in our teams. It is not about choosing one over the other.

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Always in a Hurry

By Mike Lehr
How we feel about time influences whether we feel always in a hurry.

Sometimes, we are always in a hurry because of the need to feel important.

Time is relative. Einstein told us so. If we are always in a hurry, it might be more than just not having enough time. It could be how we view time.

Bad times seem to linger and good times fly. Twenty years sounds like a long time. That is until we wake up one morning and wonder where those years went. Is being always in a hurry just our imagination? It is that same imagination that demands us to be busy. We feel more important when we are.

There are huge implications for productivity. Needing to feel busy is like binge eating. We continue eating even when it is no longer satisfying hunger. We continue working even when it is no longer productive. Busy work fills our time.

The article “Why is Everyone So Busy?” (The Economist, December 20, 2014 edition) details how about people’s attitudes towards time shape their feelings about how much they have. Money encourages us to worry about time. The more we make the more we tend to worry.

Talking and thinking about money increases our unhappiness too. We are always in a hurry and are always unhappy about it. “A fast pace leaves most people feeling rushed.” We who are always in a hurry infect the rest.

The vast array of goods and services encourages us to feel short on time. We want more. From the sales side, they tell us we need more, should have more. We can fill our wants quicker too. We become impatient when we cannot. We end up always in a hurry to fill them.

We receive more communications. It is easier to connect and do things with colleagues, friends and families. “When there are so many ways to fill one’s time, it is only natural to crave more of it.”

Cassie Mogilner (Wharton University of Pennsylvania) found that “You’ll Feel Less Rushed If You Give Time Away” (Harvard Business Review, September 2012 edition). Why, if this was only about time? We feel better about time when we freely use it to help others. We feel like we have more of it.

Do we have time to think differently about our time though?

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Problems with Freedom of Choice

By Mike Lehr
Problems with freedom of choice are easily seen in our music choices.

The problems with freedom of choice create bubbles around us that protect us from what requires work and thought.

Leaders rely on advice. Much of it comes from employees. It is common fare today to tell leaders to set direction, delegate, empower and get out of the way. All of this gives much freedom to employees to choose what advice they will give. There are problems with the freedom of choice though.

Our technologically dynamic market demands change. Change means adapting. Advice must suit that. It is vital then that leaders know the forces influencing what advice employees choose to give. A swarm of such forces relate to problems with freedom of choice. A directed leadership approach could be better.

These are few areas that quantify better the problems with freedom of choice than music does. Much is related to the fact that people do not want to think. It is work. It is hard. Given the choice of two paths, one thoughtful and one thoughtless, people will tend to choose the latter when free to choose.

Derek Thompson writes in “The Shazam Effect” (The Atlantic, December 2014 issue) that music listeners will tend to:

  • Avoid new music
  • Spend 90% of their time listening to songs they have already heard
  • Seek out new music that is popular
  • Like new music once they have heard it three or four times

This is called fluency. When music fits what we expect, it fills us with comfort, confidence, certainty and celebration. The vital point to leaders: the same holds true for information and ideas. The problems with freedom of choice are that they restrict options. It is ironic but true. We create and stay in our freedom bubbles. Thus, when listening to employees’ advice, leaders will do well to remember that employees will tend to:

  • Avoid new ideas
  • Spend most of their time researching and developing ideas they have already heard
  • Seek out ideas that everyone else is using including competitors
  • Explore new ideas if leaders relentlessly encourage them to do so

Leaders also need to realize that these problems with freedom of choice are normal. Our brains process the familiar more easily. It is easier to ponder and package well-used ideas as new. They do not require thought. They are the junk food to a diet of change and adaptability.

What are your people feeding you?


Here’s a short video about the cited article. It gives some funny and good statistics about the music we choose:

Why Pop Music is so Repetitive

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