I recently finished 2 books by Dan Coyle, the popular psychologist. The Talent Code, about how to develop talent, and The Culture Code, about to get the most out of that talent in an organisational setting. I recommend them both and if you don’t have the time to read the whole books I found these synopses:
The whole premise of The Talent Code revolves around building the myelin sheaths around neural pathways through “chunked” repetitive “deep practice”. So, to reinforce the learnings from the book and fatten my myelin, I”m writing this. Practicing what I read.
The whole premise of The Culture Code revolves around being vulnerable and building an environment where vulnerability is accepted, “safe”, and rewarded. Though the subject is getting more and more press – such as this piece in the FT last month (subscription required): Esther Perel: ‘Emotions used to be the scourge of the business world’, and this post from Stanford Business School; Narcissistic CEO article – we are still at day 1 of this movement in the business world.
The two concepts are intimately linked, since in order to build your talent through deep practice you need to be open about what you don’t know, open to making mistakes on the journey and option to accepting advice and coaching from those who do and keep working at it. Instead of being “British” and pretending to know everything and not needing any help.
As executives rise in the ranks of their organisations I think there is generally a view that they aren’t allowed to show gaps in their knowledge or vulnerability. This will stop or slow development. This needs to be changed for people and organisations to unleash their full potential.
Imagine going into a meeting of subordinates in your organisation, a tough strategic questions being raised and you telling the room – “I have no idea what the answer is. I have some ideas, but I definitively do not know the answer. What do you all think?” If you work in a great organisation you will have mostly hired great people, perhaps even some who are better than you at plenty of tasks. So, that answer must be the right answer – to get multiple, highly qualified minds, to help you answer the question without being given the excuse not to really think about the question deeply by your giving them your answer first. You give your views first and suddenly, as “the boss”, they become the boundaries of their thinking.
And the beauty of being vulnerable with colleagues is that they will feel more able to be open about their vulnerabilities in return, and a “vulnerability loop” opens us. This creates an environment where all feel accepted for, basically, who they are and that, according to Coyle’s research, creates an environment which is far more productive. Even if it makes the older generation wince.
For anyone who wants to personally develop, wants to help their kids or employees develop, and who wants to create an optimal working environment, I recommend the books.