Archives for November 2020

Soul Searching

By Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry and the author of Leadership U: Accelerating Through the Crisis Curve.  Originally posted to Korn Ferry Institute

Another year has passed me by…
And I’m still in the dark
‘Cause I can’t seem to find the light alone

– “Man in the Wilderness,” by Styx

We’re at the 11th hour of the 11th month of a year like no other. From time to time, the sentiment for all of us has been, “What else could 2020 possibly bring?” During those times, we are like that person in the wilderness—wandering along, never quite knowing why—trying to make sense of it all.

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Election Wrap: 5 Takeaways for Leaders

Originally posted to Korn Ferry Institute

Help show workers how to overcome instead being overwhelmed. Find areas where there are connections, not division. And do what leaders always should do: inspire.

In the wake of a week that has shown how divided the country remains in the political arena, business chiefs find themselves looking for ways to focus all the energy Americans put into the election back into the workplace. Reviving the troops, so to speak, is never easy in years when the Oval Office is at stake. But it’s even more of a challenge amid the unprecedented events of 2020.

It is possible, though. At least, that’s what leadership books and studies have been saying for decades. Looking for ideas relevant to the current times, we spoke with some Korn Ferry experts after Tuesday’s historic vote, discussing leadership, engagement, and inclusion. Here are five actions they suggested.

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How to Listen More Effectively

The election shouting may end this week—hopefully—but the feeling that no one is listening to us is likely going to linger. And not only in the political arena but at work too.

Indeed, experts say the US presidential election season, which has lasted two years, only mirrored a growing feeling among workers that their leaders talk at them, not with them. That feeling only magnified at work when video calls and masks became routine during the pandemic. “Leaders and employees are stuck in a communication cycle of giving information and providing updates instead of really connecting,” says Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solutions leader for leadership development.

It doesn’t help that many people, according to years of research, aren’t great listeners in the first place. That’s particularly true when the topic involves something distressing or uncomfortable, as has been much of the conversation between employees and leaders this year.

With that in mind, Korn Ferry searched for a few ways to help managers at all levels—not to mention one colleague to another—become more effective listeners.

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The Power of Being Authentic

By Gary Burnison, originally posted to Korn Ferry Institute

Basketball practice was over. As the other kids waited outside the gym doors for their parents to pick them up, I started walking in the other direction—telling my teammates I had someplace else to be.

The truth, though, was I always asked my dad to meet me a few blocks away. It was the early 1970s, and I didn’t want anyone at school to see my dad’s car—a 1956 Buick with a rusted bumper that belched blue clouds of exhaust.

My dad had gone bankrupt a couple of years before and we had no money. I hated going to the grocery store and always tried to pick the checkout line with the fewest people so no one would see us using food stamps.

The car, though, was just as bad for a teenager trying desperately to fit in and not stand out for the wrong reasons. As I slunk low in the seat of that old Buick, my dad knew what was going on—and I knew that he knew. But we never talked about it. He just let me be.

Today, of course, I’d love to have that old Buick to restore. Even more important, I wish I could have one more chance to open that car door and sit up tall and proud beside my dad. But that was beyond what this 13-year-old could do. I was too embarrassed to know who I truly was.

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