Why A Liar Will Never Make A Good Leader

While some people may be natural born leaders, new evidence suggests that leadership is a skill that can be learned. In a 15-week course, college students reported significant gains in three key components of leadership:

1. Ability to lead

2. Skills to lead

3. Motivation to lead

The course directors believe the most effective way to build leadership is to recognize that leadership does not occur in a vacuum and that cultivating connections to others matters most:The definition we use in the course is that leadership is an individual influencing a group of people toward a common goal. So how do you influence people? You can lead through your interactions, your relationships, your communication, the way you express thanks, your ethics.Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, of Columbia Business School and the Neuroleadership Institute, researches how to build leadership skills. While she recognizes the importance of confidence and emotional intelligence, she argues that trustworthiness is the most important skill of all:

When your team trusts you as a leader, it increases commitment to team goals. Communication improves, and ideas flow more freely, increasing creativity and productivity. Perhaps most important, in the hands of a trusted leader, employees are more comfortable with change and more willing to embrace a new vision. When your team doesn’t trust you, you don’t get their best effort. You’ll then find yourself unable to inspire, influence, and create real change—an ineffective leader.

Whether you are on the playing field or in the boardroom, acting with your team’s best interest in mind is at the core of trustworthiness. The following three strategies can help build your trust quotient:

Pay Attention:

Listen, look and genuinely connect with your team. Show interest, express curiosity, and ask people questions. Be outwardly focused. Leaders overly occupied with their own brilliance miss out on the free and creative exchange of information and ideas. As highlighted in How Google Works, Google is a democracy and employees at all strata have a significant voice that is heard.

Trust in Return:

Trust is predicated on reciprocity. For someone to trust you, you must trust them. There is a reason that people love working at Google. The core of their method is the empowering of employees. Google employees have a great degree of autonomy and significant control over their time. Google believes in and invests in them.

Embrace Empathy and Humility:

It’s not just about putting yourself in your team’s shoes. Rather, ask yourself, “How does it feel to be them in their shoes?” Admitting mistakes, spotlighting other’s strengths, and being open to new ideas builds credibility and trust.An article in the Economist suggests an unconventional way to build leadership skills: study great writers. Instead of going on “outward bound” style bonding retreats, Schumpeter recommends “inward bound” courses. He writes:

The only way to become a real thought leader is to ignore all this noise and listen to a few great thinkers. You will learn far more about leadership from reading Thucydides’s hymn to Pericles than you will from a thousand leadership experts. You will learn far more about doing business in China from reading Confucius than by listening to “culture consultants”. Peter Drucker remained top dog among management gurus for 50 years not because he attended more conferences but because he marinated his mind in great books: for example, he wrote about business alliances with reference to marriage alliances in Jane Austen.

Any mention of Jane Austen is enough to convince me.Bottom Line:

Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others. - John Maxwell

There Is A Miracle Cure for Stress

“We have found the miracle cure for depression, anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, ADHD, and more. It works instantly and effectively. Even in small doses… The one hitch? It only works if you take it two hours after exercise.”Of course, the miracle cure is exercise itself.Exercise has been shown to have an immediate and positive effect on mood. Even a single dose of exercise—30 minutes of walking on a treadmill—has been shown to lift the mood of a patient suffering from major depression. To put this in perspective, it can take up to 8 weeks to feel the full positive effects of an antidepressant while a walk in the park works immediately.Think of exercise as a way to inoculate oneself against the inevitable stresses of daily life. It has been shown to be as effective as medication in treating depression and to also have longer lasting results. Research shows that physical activity can be preventative, too.There are benefits for patients with anxiety and ADHD, too. Physical activity optimizes learning by improving impulse control, attention, arousal and reducing learned helplessness. Exercise affects more than 20 chemicals in the brain in a positive way and may stimulate the release of endorphins and nerve growth factors which are like fertilizers for the brain. It potentially protects the brain against age-related memory loss, and new information emerges every day reinforcing its benefits.In summary, the benefits of exercise are immeasurable. It’s not just about going to the gym an hour a day; the key is to build more activity into your day. Take the stairs. Get off the subway before your regular stop. Leave your house a little earlier so you can walk to work or school. It’s good for your body and your mind.

“Walking is man’s best medicine.” — Hippocrates

Bevy Smith

Bevy Smith

The Page Six TV host cuts to the chase in signature style — work hard, look forward, be kind and don’t underestimate the power of six inch heels.

Take Heart: Try This if There is A Narcissist In Your Life

There is some good news about narcissists.One of the main reasons people come to see me is because of difficulties they are having with someone else. A selfish spouse, a bragging colleague, a manipulative friend, or an arrogant boss is making their life hell. Oftentimes, the problem turns out to be that they are dealing with a narcissist. In the past, I would do my best to educate them about what narcissism is and how they could best protect themselves from this toxic person. By definition, narcissists are self-centered, entitled and exploitive. If the narcissist didn’t express interest in changing their behavior, there wasn’t much else I could do. A 2014 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin changed the way I think about narcissists. When I was training to become a psychiatrist, I had learned that narcissists lack empathy—the ability to vicariously experience another person’s emotions or perspective. This study by researchers at the University of Surrey and University of Southampton suggests otherwise. Participants with narcissistic traits were asked to watch a video about a woman’s experience with domestic violence. Some were asked to put themselves in the woman’s shoes. The instructions were: “imagine how Susan feels. Try to take her perspective in the video, imagining how she is feeling about what is happening...” Others were just told to watch the clip. Those who were asked to take the woman’s perspective reported significantly more empathy for the woman. To test whether narcissists could actually be moved by someone else’s suffering and were not faking empathy, the researchers tested the narcissists for physical changes. Previous research has shown that an increase in heart rate indicates an empathetic response to someone else’s distress. In this case, they were asked to listen to a five minute recording of a heartbroken woman named Jenny who talks about a recent painful breakup. She is tearful as she describes the upheaval in her life and feeling lost. Those who were not asked to take Jenny’s perspective seemed unmoved by her suffering. Their heart rate did not increase. But those who were asked to take Jenny’s perspective showed an increase in heart rate similar to people low in narcissism. These findings suggest that narcissists do, in fact, have the capacity to empathize.   "If we encourage narcissists to consider the situation from their teammate or friend's point of view, they are likely to respond in a much more considerate or sympathetic way," says lead researcher Dr. Erica Hepper. For anyone who lives or works with a narcissist, this is good news. This insight has been helpful for my patients have a narcissist in their life. A young woman with a narcissistic father recently shared a heartening story: “We were sitting in a restaurant and a waiter spilled a tiny amount of water on his sleeve. He berated him loudly and told him he was an idiot. The poor guy was mortified. I was too. But then I remembered what you said about perspective-taking. So instead of getting mad at him, in a calm voice, I asked him to think about how he would feel if he were the waiter and I reminded him how he used to work bussing tables in college. My dad was silent for a moment and then did the unthinkable. He actually called the young man over to apologize. I have never seen him apologize in his life.”

What Happened to that Cool Kid In High School?

The cool kids in school don’t necessarily turn out to be the winners in life. If you have ever attended a high school reunion—or seen the wonderfully silly Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion—you already know this and new research explores why. An article based on a study in The New York Times, entitled "Cool at 13, Adrift at 23" captures the “pseudomature” behavior of fast-track kids:
“At 13 they were viewed by classmates with envy, admiration and awe. The girls wore make-up, had boyfriends, and went to parties held by older students. The boys boasted about sneaking beers on a Saturday night and swiping condoms from the local convenience store. They were cool. They were good-looking…”
You know the type. They were the ones smoking behind the gym at recess, holding court in the cafeteria and sneaking out at night. They reigned socially. Over time, however, their popularity and success didn’t endure. In a study, entitled What Ever Happened to the “Cool” Kids? Long-Term Sequelae of Early Adolescent Pseudomature Behavior, researchers followed a sample of 184 adolescents from ages 13 to 23 and found that the cool kids didn’t turn out so well. In fact, early pseudomature behavior predicted long-term difficulties in close relationships and significant problems with alcohol and substance abuse. Particularly at risk were those who highly valued being popular and for whom status among peers was most important.Parents take note. All too often parents push for their children to be popular. Hoping to be thought of as cool by their child, trying to save their child from their own “uncool” adolescence, mistakenly believing that being cool is a predictor of future success, whatever the reason, parents sometimes go out of their way to make their children part of the “in crowd.”As the research shows, this isn’t a good idea.  A New Yorker blog post offers a hilarious take on what happens to those who peak early in Eloise: An Update. This is how it begins:

I am Eloise


I am forty-six

I am a city girl


I live at the Crowne Plaza

There is a lobby with purple lights and silver-and-gold confetti things hanging from the ceiling


You can find videos of the elevators on YouTube

The absolute first thing I do in the morning is make coffee in the bathroom and check to see what’s on pay-per-view

Relax if your son or daughter prefers reading a book or watching a movie at home on a Friday night. As Bill Gates famously said:

“Be nice to the nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”

What Is The Single Most Important Skill for the 21st Century?

You may be able to chew gum and walk at the same time but this doesn’t mean you can multitask. In fact, multitasking—the ability to pay attention to multiple things at once—is a myth. Studies show we are biologically incapable of it. So instead of multitasking, a term that implies a simultaneous attention to the tasks at hand, what our brains actually do is switch tasks rapidly. Each time you “quickly” check email during a meeting or Facebook in a class or Instagram at dinner, you are removing focus from the present moment (the meeting, the lecture, the conversation) and shifting your focus to something else. It’s a stop/start cycle. This sequential task switching is time consuming and effortful.As John Medina, author of Brain Rules, writes:That’s why people find themselves losing track of previous progress and needing to start over, perhaps muttering things like “Where was I?” each time they switch tasks.Multi-tasking undermines productivity, creativity and our ability to get things done, not to mention the toll it takes on relationships and the accidents that it causes. Many believe that it is creating permanent changes in our brain, especially in the vulnerable brains of young people. As Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You and professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, writes:
…according to the Stanford consensus, the longer students have spent working in a semi-distracted state, the harder it becomes to rebuild an ability to concentrate on something hard, like a knotty chapter from a philosophy text, or a tricky calculus problem set.
Many are incapable of concentrating for more than a few minutes at a time. Email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook beckon. So what can we do? One effective strategy is to Time Chunk. Block out periods of time where we do one thing at one time.One of my favorite time chunking approaches is the Pomodoro Technique. It is a simple time management philosophy that maximizes focus using a simple kitchen timer shaped like a tomato, hence the name “pomodoro.”  The idea is to set the timer to work in intense 25 minute spurts on a specific task—doing bills, writing a paper, reading—and then take a refreshing 5 minute break. After four “pomodoros,” (100 minutes of intense focus plus 15 minutes of break time) you take a 15 to 20 minute break.Lifehacker praises it for its distraction-fighting brain-training benefits:The Pomodoro Technique can help you power through distractions, hyper-focus, and get things done in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air and relax. Best of all, it’s easy. If you have a busy job where you’re expected to produce, it’s a great way to get through your tasks.Focusing on hard work for uninterrupted periods of time is challenging but necessary to get anything worth doing done. The Pomodoro Technique is one of many actionable ways to train yourself to complete tasks faster, better and with less energy.Bottom Line: The ability to focus is an essential 21st century skill that can be learned, even in the face of tempting distractions. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. Stay focused!

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Bevy Smith

Bevy Smith


The Page Six TV host cuts to the chase in signature style — work hard, look forward, be kind and don’t underestimate the power of six inch heels.

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