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Humans Aren’t Computers: Effective Management Strategies for IT Leaders
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Humans Aren’t Computers: Effective Management Strategies for IT Leaders

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IT leaders are expected to break down silos between different technology teams, get end users to understand and embrace policies, and forge productive relationships with their counterparts on the …

IT leaders are expected to break down silos between different technology teams, get end users to understand and embrace policies, and forge productive relationships with their counterparts on the business side of the organization. This is harder than it sounds, because while people can behave rationally, they can also be governed by emotions such as frustration and fear of change. They can be driven by ego, a bad attitude, or simple ignorance. They can cause conflict that can disrupt professional relationships, drag down a team or even poison an entire department. Unfortunately for technical-minded leaders, there’s no Python script to program company-wide collaboration and harmony and get everyone to sing Kumbaya. We have to learn how to build healthy relationships with employees, drive engagement, and understand how to resolve conflicts using practical, effective strategies.

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  • 1. Humans Aren’t Computers Effective Management Strategies for IT Leaders
  • 2. Who Are We? •  Michele Chubirka, aka "Mrs. Y.,” host of Healthy Paranoia Podcast, information security feed of Packetpushers and official nerd stalker. www.healthyparanoia.net chubirka@postmodernsecurity.com @MrsYisWhy •  Joe Weston, workshop facilitator, consultant, and author of the book Mastering Respectful Confrontation. Also founder of the Heartwalker Peace Project. heartwalker@joeweston.com http://www.respectfulconfrontation.com/
  • 3. Who We Aren’t
  • 4. How engaged can you be today?
  • 5. •  How many of you started out as engineers or technical staff? •  Are you happy and energized by this choice? •  Would you like to improve the quality of your professional environment? •  Why did you accept a leadership role?
  • 6. What’s the SLA with Our Staff? •  Employees Are the Most Valuable Asset. •  Why is the relationship so challenging? •  Do we treat them better or worse than our hardware assets?
  • 7. “Leadership is not a rank, it’s a decision.” -Simon Sinek
  • 8. State of the Workplace
  • 9. According to Wikipedia: An "engaged employee" is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and so takes positive action to further the organization's reputation and interests.
  • 10. Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace •  Engagement brings higher productivity, profits, customer ratings and employee retention •  Disengagement costs U.S. $450 to $550 billion per year. •  70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” •  Those with college degree are less likely to be engaged.
  • 11. 2012 Global Workforce Study by Towers Watson •  Out of 32,000 full-time workers, only 35% were highly engaged. •  Employee retention depends on relationship with management, trust in senior leadership and ability to manage work-related stress. •  Less than half surveyed believed that supervisors have time to address interpersonal issues.
  • 12. Drivers of Engagement •  Leadership •  Stress, balance and workload •  Goals and objectives •  Supervisors •  Organization’s image
  • 13. Motivation and Engagement Study sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank found three main factors motivate people in their work. –  Autonomy –  Mastery –  Purpose
  • 14. What Can You Do About It?
  • 15. Power and Leadership in the 21st century
  • 16. Key Areas to Balance for Successful Leadership •  Productivity •  Relationship •  Self Care
  • 17. “Human beings have discretionary energy, and they would give it to you if you treat them with dignity and respect.” -Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary of US under George W. Bush
  • 18. When one moves into their vulnerability, then their true power is revealed.
  • 19. Brain RTFM
  • 20. "The human brain hasn't had a hardware upgrade in about 100,000 years." Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence
  • 21. Neuroscience 101 Limbic System: The interior of the cortex, includes the hippocampus and amygdala. Supports emotion and long-term memory. Prefrontal Cortex: Region responsible for planning, decision making and moderating behavior. Think  of  the  limbic  system  to  the  prefrontal  cortex  as  a  horse  is  to  a  rider.  
  • 22. Demonstration: A Brain In the Palm of Your Hand •  Hold up your hand and make a fist. •  This is a good representation of the brain and spinal column. •  The brain stem, limbic system and neocortex. * These two slides are oversimplifications of a very complex system.
  • 23. The Threat Response: Step 1 Cortex receives input (externally or internally) from the thalamus, a component of the limbic system.
  • 24. The Threat Response: Step 2 Limbic system and prefrontal cortex (the executive or evaluator of the brain) take in data. Limbic system processes faster.
  • 25. The Threat Response: Step 3 Amygdala, responsible for emotional response and memory, acts as an alarm activating the fight/flight hormonal response if threat is perceived.
  • 26. The Threat Response: 4 The sympathetic nervous system sets up organs and muscles for fight/flight response, inhibiting digestion and the hypothalamus prompts the release of stress hormones.
  • 27. Emotional Contagion •  The limbic system is an “open loop,” influenced by other people’s emotions, aka mirror neurons. •  Mirror neurons activate when an animal performs an action or when an animal observes the same action of another animal. •  They are thought to be the basis of empathy. •  Also called emotional contagion.
  • 28. The Power of Mirror Neurons Marie Dasborough observed two groups: •  One group was given negative feedback accompanied by positive emotional signs, nods and smiles. •  Another was provided positive feedback that was delivered using negative emotional cues, frowns and narrowed eyes.
  • 29. Entrainment •  Those receiving positive feedback with negative emotional signs reportedly felt worse than participants receiving negative feedback given with positive emotional cues. •  Your emotions and actions are mirrored by those around you.
  • 30. Negativity •  The brain has a negativity bias because the limbic system is quicker than the prefrontal cortex at perceiving and analyzing potential threats. •  Traumatic experiences are “stickier” than positive, happy experiences, i.e. harder to un-map.
  • 31. No Escape From Threat •  Most are in a permanent state of cortisol overload due to the constant stressors of modern life. •  Stress hormones stay in the body for hours. •  Decreases intellectual capacity, memory capacity and lowers impulse control. •  Stress makes you stupid.
  • 32. Amygdala Hijack? An intense and immediate emotional reaction, followed by the understanding that it was inappropriate. •  I thought that stick on the ground was a snake! •  I don’t like you or I’m bored, so I won’t cooperate or listen to what you have to say. •  That guy who cut me off in traffic was trying to kill me! •  Why were you so insulting to me in that email yesterday? (studies show there’s a negativity bias in email.) •  Other examples?
  • 33. Thin Slicing •  Human beings make quick decisions based on intuition. •  This is called “Thin Slicing” or “Fast Thinking.”
  • 34. Thin Slicing: Bedside Manner •  The likelihood of a doctor being sued doesn’t correlate with the number of errors made. •  Psychologists are able to predict which doctors will be sued by analyzing the amount of time spent with patients and if the tone of their voices sounded “concerned.”
  • 35. There’s No Mr. Spock •  Neurologist, Dr. Antonio Damasio, had a patient who had been a successful corporate lawyer. •  A tumor was discovered in his prefrontal lobes and the surgeon who removed it inadvertently severed the circuit between this area and his amygdala.
  • 36. Somatic Marker •  No damage to his cognitive abilities, but his life fell apart. •  He couldn’t make decisions when presented with simple choices. •  He no longer had any feelings regarding options, no preferences. •  Case is basis for the Somatic Marker Hypothesis, a theory that emotions assist with decision-making.
  • 37. It is a gross misconception that reason can be completely separated from emotion. Bounded Emotionality
  • 38. “Connections” matter
  • 39. How To Engage a Terrorist Interrogator, Matthew Alexander discovered that building rapport with prisoners in Iraq was the most effective interrogation method, not torture.
  • 40. “The quickest way to get most (but not all) captives talking is to be nice to them.” Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down
  • 41. Common Social Heuristics •  Tit for Tat: –  Be kind first, keep a memory of size one, and imitate your partner’s last behavior. –  Only the last behavior is remembered and imitated. –  Political scientist Robert Axelrod found this to be the most frequently winning strategy. •  Don’t Break Ranks
  • 42. Is Efficiency Overrated? •  Study conducted by Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia. •  Participants who “smiled, made eye contact, and talked with the cashier” at a coffee shop reported higher satisfaction and moods than those who avoided interaction. •  Small, unimportant interactions with others can create a feeling of connection according to researchers.
  • 43. Social Connections Matter •  Anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that a species’ brain size—size of its neocortex, the outermost layer—is linked to the size of its social group. •  We have big brains in order to socialize.
  • 44. We’re Wired To Be Social •  In the brain’s non-active moments, it reverts to a configuration called the “default network.” •  According to researcher, Matthew Lieberman, this appears to resemble another configuration, the social thinking brain, which is empathetic.
  • 45. Make Stress Your Friend •  A study tracked stress in 30,000 adults over eight years. •  Researchers found those under great stress had a 43% increased risk of death, if they believed stress was dangerous. •  Under stress, the pituitary gland releases Oxytocin, the bonding hormone. •  Acts as anti-inflammatory which can counteract negative effects of stress.
  • 46. Your Response to Stress Matters "When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience" - Kelly McGonigal, health psychologist and researcher, Stanford University
  • 47. Methods of Engagement •  Interaction based on core competencies of Emotional Intelligence, such as self- awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and motivation. •  Social engineers and con artists use the same skills to create emotional and social affinity with a target. •  Conflict resolution methods.
  • 48. “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together we have to talk.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
  • 49. Effective Collaboration Levels Personal Social Institutional Personal + social = institutional change
  • 50. Communication Models Based On Empathy •  XYZ model •  NVC •  Respectful Confrontation
  • 51. Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication •  Facts or observations •  Feelings •  Needs or what’s “alive” •  Request
  • 52. Joe Weston’s Respectful Confrontation •  Behavior •  Impact •  Need •  Make a request
  • 53. "Niceness can be a dodge to avoid engaging in unpleasant interactions." -Bill Kahn, Ph.D.
  • 54. Goals •  Learn about empowered, collaborative engagement. •  Reframe views on confrontation, assertiveness, and true power. •  Achieve greater self-confidence, personal freedom, fulfillment, and peaceful interactions with others.
  • 55. My truth ≠ The truth
  • 56. Respectful Confrontation •  The practice of developing the respectful self •  The practice of respectful engagement •  The practice of respectful offense •  The practice of respectful defense
  • 57. 3 F’s Fight Flight Freeze
  • 58. break down your communication, connection, and collaboration. ICEBERG CHART BODY LANGUAGE FACIAL EXPRESSION PHYSICAL SENSATIONS / CONDITIONS AND BODY CHALLENGES SURROUNDINGS / ENVIRONMENT TEMPERATURE, TIME OF DAY RELATIONSHIP POWER DYNAMIC POWER STATUS PAST HISTORY MOOD EMOTIONS, PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY, BELIEFS, PREJUDICES, JUDGMENTS, CULTURE, RACE, GENDER, CUSTOMS, RELIGION, EDUCATION, LOVE FEAR, WOUNDS, NEEDS, DESIRES, LONGING, TRAUMAS, INSECURITIES VERBAL 10% 90%
  • 59. “Hmm, I’d like a cup of tea…”
  • 60. 5 Steps of Clear Communication 1.  Contact with yourself 2.  Contact with other 3.  Desire/Impulse 4.  Act of communication 5.  Received message
  • 61. True power = Brute force Confrontation = Conflict Assertiveness = Aggression
  • 62. Brute force ≠ true power
  • 63. 4 Pillars of True Power •  Grounding •  Focus •  Strength •  Flexibility
  • 64. Conflict ≠ confrontation
  • 65. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” - Winston Churchill
  • 66. 1 : FIGHT, BATTLE, WAR 2 a : competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b : mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands; see DISCORD Conflict
  • 67. Confront con·front 1 : to face especially in challenge : OPPOSE 2 a : to cause to meet : bring face-to-face <confront a reader with statistics> b : to meet face-to-face : ENCOUNTER
  • 68. Respectful Confrontation Definition CONFLICT: an encounter that leads to the further separation of individuals, the breakdown of relationship, and the disempowerment of the other.
  • 69. Respectful Confrontation Definition CONFRONTATION: an encounter that leads to individuals coming closer together, deepening of relationship, and the empowerment of all involved.
  • 70. “If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.” - Former President, Jimmy Carter
  • 71. ALIVE ANNOYED APPRECIATIVE CALM CONFIDENT CONFUSED CONTENT EMBARRASSED DESPAIRING DESPERATE DISAPPOINTED ECSTATIC EXCITED FASCINATED FRUSTRATED GLAD HELPLESS HURT INSPIRED INTERESTED IRRITABLE JOYFUL LONELY LOVING MISCHIEVOUS NERVOUS OVERWHELMED PLAYFUL PUZZLED SAD SATISFIED SCARED SHOCKED SUSPICIOUS TENDER TIRED . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FEELINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PLEASANT / UNPLEASANT
  • 72. DESPAIRING HURT OVERWHELMED TIRED ................................................................................................ NEEDS ................................................................................................ ACCEPTANCE AUTHENTICITY BELONGING CELEBRATION CLARITY COOPERATION CREATIVITY EASE EQUALITY FLOW FREEDOM GROWTH HARMONY HONESTY INFLUENCE INTEGRITY TO KNOW LOVE TO MATTER MEANING ORDER PLAY POWER PROTECTION RESPECT REST SAFETY TO BE SEEN SUPPORT SUSTENANCE TOUCH UNDERSTANDING
  • 73. VALUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ACCOMPLISHMENT/SUCCESS ACCOUNTABILITY ACCURACY BEAUTY CALM CHALLENGE COLLABORATION COMMUNITY COMPETITION CREATIVITY DELIGHT IN BEING/JOY DISCIPLINE EFFICIENCY EQUALITY FAITH FAMILY FREEDOM FRIENDSHIP FUN HARD WORK INDEPENDENCE INNOVATION JUSTICE KNOWLEDGE LEADERSHIP LOVE/ROMANCE LOYALTY MONEY PEACE/NON-VIOLENCE PLEASURE POWER PROSPERITY/WEALTH SERVICE SIMPLICITY SKILL STATUS TRADITION TRUTH WISDOM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Choose ten values from the list
  • 74. Aggression ≠ Assertiveness
  • 75. Assertive 1 : disposed to or characterized by bold or confident assertion <an assertive leader> 2 : having a strong or distinctive flavor or aroma <assertive wines>
  • 76. Aggressive 1 a: tending toward or exhibiting aggression <aggressive behavior> b: marked by combative readiness <an aggressive fighter> 2 a: marked by obtrusive energy b: marked by driving forceful energy or initiative : enterprising <an aggressive salesman> 3: strong or emphatic in effect or intent <aggressive colors> <aggressive flavors> 4: growing, developing, or spreading rapidly <aggressive bone tumors>
  • 77. Respectful Confrontation Definition AGGRESSION: any behavior, action, remark, gesture, or facial expression that impacts another with the goal to disempower and/or is received by the other in a harmful, threatening way.
  • 78. Respectful Confrontation Definition ASSERTIVENESS: any behavior, action, remark, gesture, or facial expression that impacts another with the goal to empower and/or is received by the other in a positive way.
  • 79. “With realization of one’s potential, and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” - His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  • 80. “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.... what is soft is strong.” - Lao Tzu
  • 81. http://www.respectfulconfrontation.com/
  • 82. Key Takeaways •  Bad trumps good in the human brain. •  You can’t turn your emotions off or leave them at home. It’s like wearing a bad toupee. You aren’t fooling anyone. •  If the limbic system is an open loop, we’re all responsible for the quality of the emotional landscape. •  Stress makes you stupid, by shutting down blood flow to the critical pre-frontal lobes. If you set off a stress response in someone, you minimize the chance of having a rational dialogue. •  Confrontation isn’t always negative. Resistance to change can be a valuable source of feedback.
  • 83. Where Can You Find Us? Michele Chubirka, spending quality time in kernel mode. http://www.healthyparanoia.net Twitter @MrsYisWhy Google+ MrsYisWhy networksecurityprincess@gmail.com Joe Weston, writing and teaching workshops. http://www.respectfulconfrontation.com/
  • 84. References Esfahani Smith, Emily. "Social Connection Makes a Better Brain." The Atlantic 29 Oct. 2013: n. pag. Print. Global Workforce Study - Engagement at Risk: Driving Strong Performance in a Volatile Global Environment. Rep. no. TW-NA-2012-25644. N.p.: Towers Watson, 2012. Print. Goleman, Daniel, and Richard Boyatzis. "Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership." Harvard Business Review Sept. 2008: 74-81. Print. Goleman, Daniel. Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam, 1998. Print. Hanson, Rick, and Richard Mendius. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009. Print. Kryder, Suzanne. The Mind to Lead. N.p.: NeuroLeap, 2011. Print. Luders, Eileen, Florian Kurth, Emeran A. Mayer, Arthur W. Toga, Katherine L. Narr, and Christian Gaser. "The Unique Brain Anatomy of Meditation Practitioners: Alterations in Cortical Gyrification." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6.34 (2012): 1-9. Print. O'Connell, Andrew. "HBR Blog Network / The Daily Stat." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Nov. 2013. Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead, 2009. Print. Pink, Daniel. "Why Bosses Need to Show Their Soft Side." The Telegraph 17 July 2011: n. pag. Print. Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer, 2003. Print. Siegel, Daniel J. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-being. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print. State of the American Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders. Rep. N.p.: Gallup, 2013. Print. Weston, Joe. Mastering Respectful Confrontation: A Guide to Personal Freedom and Empowered, Collaborative Engagement. Emeryville, CA: Heartwalker, 2011. Print.