3 effective behaviors of a great change leader

I mentioned last week that we’ve been working with a number of leaders who are about to announce a major change initiative to their teams. We’ve been helping them prepare and practice their initial communication. It’s crazy that we don’t do more deliberate practice in this area – it makes a HUGE difference! What we’ve learned through the data analytics of their performance? Here’s where the focus is:

I love how this article from LimbicZen deconstructs why these factors are important from a neuroscience perspective.

Are your negotiations Win-Win or Win-Lose?

I’ve always been a fan of Dr Karen Walch. She’s wicked smart, kind, funny and committed to making an impact through her academic thought leadership. As so often happens, if you surround yourself with great people like Karen, good ideas bubble up and I’d like to tell you about one of them today.

But first, a bit of context. I founded the Experience Accelerator to help equip early career leaders with the behavioural skills necessary to help them be great leaders and managers – affordably and at scale. And it’s going pretty well. We’ve been working with leaders across Europe, Middle East and Africa, on foundational leadership behaviours like: how to give feedback, using coaching as a tool for performance, building trust, having difficult conversations etc. It’s turning out to be a popular, high impact way of learning.

Karen was one of our first beta testers and we have been nurturing an idea about creating a set of scenarios focused on the latest thought leadership on leadership behaviours. Too often, the latest thought leadership does not attain its true impact, in part, because once the book is written, workshops designed and key note speeches delivered, the dissemination of the great ideas hits a scale problem – the author is consumed with delivery and there’s a finite set of days in a given year they can devote to delivering, let alone building out their next great set of ideas. We think there might be a new solution to this dilemma – here’s our first case in point:

Karen is an expert in negotiation training – you can see her latest post on the topic here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-negotiation-so-interesting-those-who-study-karen-s-walch-ph-d–1c/

Together, we’ve generated a two part training series entitled Negotiation for Industry 4.0 – where a learner can get access to the latest thinking and models on negotiation strategies and why leaders are evolving their negotiation approaches to be more effective in today’s business environment.  Learners focus on managing negotiations which are: complex or strategically important and where managing the relationship with stakeholders is key. They get to practice running a real negotiation in a safe environment both in a solo warm up activity and then with one of our Livetutors on a video call. Based on their performance in the video role play, they get a personalised feedback report on what they have done well and where they can improve. It’s personalised, practice-oriented training – and is delivered fully virtually and can be learned in bite sized chunks – so perfect for busy leaders. This scenario targets mid career professionals who lead complex internal or external negotiations on behalf of their organisations. 

In keeping with a core tenet of Negotiation for Industry 4.0, it’s a win/win business model for us both. We at The Experience Accelerator get to share some of the world’s best ideas on behavioural leadership and Karen gets to share her great thinking at greater scale to more of the world’s leaders. 

So three calls to action:

If you are responsible for improving the quality of your internal and external negotiations and want to learn more, check out our Negotiation for Industry 4.0 learning objectives here

If you want to get a sneak peek into some of our early observations on performance, join us on June 17th for a webinar – click here to register: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FYduX5IVR1SIYDh1OLqplw

If you are a thought leader in behavioural leadership and want to learn more about our scenario creation and qualification process, email me sarah@theexperienceaccelerator.com

Greek Gods and Avatars in a new learning solution

Continuing on with our theme of sharing some of the most interesting research into learning, we’re going to take a detour into the world of Greek mythology today.

The Greek God Proteus was known for his power of assuming whatever shape he pleased and, from him, the adjective “Protean” has evolved to bring connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.

In a thoughtful set of studies, Nick Yee coined the term “The Proteus Effect” to describe a phenomenon he discovered – that the use of avatars can cause our own behaviour to change. In his experiments, participants watched how their avatars acted and subsequently changed their behavior to reflect the behavior of their avatars. In one study which focused on negotiations, participants whose avatars were shorter were more willing to accept less attractive offers compared to those whose avatars were taller. Or in other words, the taller avatars helped the participants feel more confident and they negotiated more effectively.

Age also plays a factor in helping us visualise our future self more vividly. In a study that was seeking to tackle the challenge of “we don’t save enough for retirement”, Hal Hershfield ran a series of experiments that tested whether seeing ourselves when we were older had any impact on our decisions about saving for retirement NOW. Participants who saw their future “older” self avatar allocated a higher percentage of pay to their retirement than those who just saw their “actual age” avatar.

These results are impressive and unleash a powerful new set of tools to help accelerate learning outcomes. At The Experience Accelerator, we have deployed the latest technology to bring the Proteus Effect to life. Imagine seeing your future leadership self in avatar form, performing the skill or behaviour you are trying to master! It’s a powerful and fresh way of learning foundational managerial skills at scale and at the fraction of the cost of more traditional methods. Do contact us for a demo: support@theexperienceaccelerator.com

Mirror Mirror on the wall…..

Some of the best minds in social, psychology and machine learning have been exploring the field of persuasive technology for years. This summer, I locked myself in a room and set out a target of reading 4 academic research studies per day in this terrain area. Yes… arguably I am not the ideal person to invite to your next dinner party (unless of course your friends are passionate about cognitive research in learning in which case I would be perfect!) However, it was fascinating and I learned so much.

My motivation for doing so was simple. The world is moving at exponential pace and I believe we can differentiate ourselves positively by re-examining how we learn, why we retain some information and skills (but not others) and what gets in the way of doing so. I’m hoping to share a few things on what I uncovered in the coming weeks.

In a small but well cited and rigorous study, Gonzalez-Franco and colleagues found that, cognitively, our brains do not see avatars dramatically differently as to how we see ourselves when we look in a mirror. By measuring participants’ brain activity with electroencephalography (EEG), they found that our neural activity was pretty much the same if we look at an avatar or we look at ourselves in a mirror.

With a twist.

Kaufmann and Schweinberger’s research states that our avatar needs to resemble our real life image in a range of 70% or better. If this is true, our brain “sees” yourself (or more accurately the neural activity processes the image) in the same way. Fascinating right? And creates some very interesting possibilities about the power of visualisation in learning.

Put in other words, I can’t suddenly create an avatar that looks like Kate Moss and expect the same result, (for those of you who don’t know me, I am nowhere near!) but I can probably adjust my avatar a little and it wouldn’t dramatically affect how my brain processes the image. It’s as if I were looking at myself in a mirror!

Making a new type of baby

Babies are special aren’t they?  I just took a cab back to my hotel in Mumbai and came very close side by side to a rickshaw with a mother holding this cute baby.  Our eyes connected and we both smiled so hard our faces lit up.  It was a special moment.  And somewhere it made me laugh because it got me thinking.  I have a new baby which makes my face light up – my start-up company, The Experience Accelerator.  We’re in the business of helping leaders learn new skills and behaviours faster and more effectively.

If the Experience Accelerator was a baby, I would describe her as a beautiful blend.  She’s edgy because we are using some of the very latest and best cognitive research applied to learning – and yet dependable because we incorporate practice and feedback through a wonderful network of coaching professionals  – both tried and tested methods for making learning stick.  She’s democratic and ambitious, because our avatar solution aims to deliver leadership development at scale globally for so many more managers than have access today.  And she’s creative because we really are living at the intersection of tech, learning and film making – a heady combo as I’m finding out.  A case in point, I’m in the heart of the Indian film industry this week, shooting motion capture with proper, bona fide Bollywood actors!

And we’re moving fast….

  • we’re close to releasing the beta version of our avatar solution – check it out here:  cool video about avatars
  • we ran an amazing VR Experience in London a couple of weeks ago with PipsLab.  Our 7 leaders, passionate about learning, came up with over 30 corporate applications for the type of VR experience we ran.  The influential leadership guru, Josh Bersin, echoes our findings and this great quote from one of our participants does a perfect job of capturing the mood:

“The adventure of learning takes a new and exciting path!  Immersed in a virtual reality experience, I’m challenged visually, audibly, emotionally…and from all sides.  I spent the best part of 35 years, in various leadership roles in the insurance industry, training people to handle the emotions and challenges that go along with some very tough and challenging future changing moments for families and businesses.  If only I’d had VR…and Sarah Schwab as partners, I know that I could have done so much more, so much more quickly to get the learning in, embedded and making a difference.  This is an adventure not to be missed.” – Tim Culling, Retired Insurance Company Executive

We’re also a member of EPFL’s Edtech Collider – home to positively charged entrepreneurs transforming education.  We number over 50 early-stage to established startups.

Please get in touch if you are serious about pushing the boundaries of your learning strategy.  We’re on a fantastic journey.  If anyone is keen to help, we have 10 places for L&D professionals to beta test the avatar product for free in late September.  Approx 1-1.5 hours commitment.  Please share your details via the contact us link at the top right of this page to join the adventure!