Tag Archives: conative

Leading by Instinct

There is not a Best M.O. among top leaders. Nor is there any M.O. that would exclude you from being a good leader.

My research shows that the best predictor of both productivity and sustainability in complex and complicated environments is the degree of conative or instinct-based diversity among the core leaders in the C-Suite. In smaller organizations, with only a few people at the top of a narrow pyramid, the conative criteria for leadership also narrow.

Instincts in C-Suites

In a large and very complex organization with a collaborative culture, it works especially well to have a CEO whose instinct is to initiate in both the Fact Finder and Quick Start Action Modes, sparking both research and development programs. Another essential part of the conative mix is for such leaders to instinctively resist or just mildly accommodate Follow Thru systems. This is how such leaders keep their organizations from getting bogged down in redundancies or becoming too bureaucratic.

It is essential, that leaders with this M.O. have CFOs, or other cohorts at the top, who deal with the complicated, more linear, financial, legal, and sometimes physical structures. It has proven wise to have a second in command who naturally plays the role of insisting on adherence to Follow Thru regulations -which he or she instinctively creates. It helps a set of such leaders to work in sync with each other if the second person accommodates Fact Finder strategies. When these leaders have equal levels of insistence in Fact Finder, they need to have clearly defined, separate responsibilities or they will end up with dueling priorities. Rounding out the M.O. of the cohort is a resistance in Quick Start, which adds a stabilizing force to the senior management team.

In today’s world, the CEO often serves as the chief PR person in the face of scandals, recalls, attacks, and hackings. I don’t see many resistant Quick Start CEOs surviving through major crises like these. Quick Start energy is required when being a spokesperson dealing with uncertainty (note what happens to the grand orator in Obama when he addresses uncertainty).

Resistant Follow Thrus are beaten up for not finishing what they start, but without their input organizations would stay put. The power of their randomness makes their resistance to sticking with the plan the ingredient that often saves the day. As confounding as it can be to their conative opposites, their natural ability to dodge bullets is a trait that helps organizations land on their feet.

It is the Implementor leader’s insistence on precision and manifestation of ideas that makes this M.O. the most difficult to put in the C-Suite. It is essential, but often better in the field than the executive offices – as long as he or she is empowered to halt processes for quality control purposes. Given the freedom to skip meetings and lead the on-site troops, these leaders will add significantly to the power and quality of products and programs.

Instinctive Facilitators are especially interesting to observe as they perform at high levels of leadership in organizations like franchises and health related situations; first, because in those environments leadership involves maintaining systems and second, because it involves maintaining ego-driven relationships – and the caring for a diversity of human beings. Their instinct to bring out the best in others and to build bridges between people reduces conflicts and keeps energy focused on purposes rather than personal issues.

Entrepreneurial Instincts

It is less complicated to diagnose the instinct-based leadership in an entrepreneurial organization. It is all about the naturally born entrepreneur trusting the combination of Quick Start insistent drive and back-up Fact Finder strategies. Without much Follow Thru budget making, a stand-alone entrepreneur needs to use the power of Quick Start persuasion to cut deals, and rope friends, family and vendors into becoming uncompensated co-conspirators. Of course, those who fill the need for creating Follow Thru systems are also essential. When a true entrepreneur builds an organization to the point where it requires the type of leadership team noted above, it is time for him or her to move on – and do it all over again.

Leadership is not just about the use of conative instincts. But, nothing in my experience indicates that leaders, regardless of their M.O.s, initiate problem solving by using processes they have been taught. Their cognitive powers come into the process when they edit their instincts – and certainly when they second guess them. Leaders’ actions, triggered by whatever motivates them, are as tied to their instincts as their best salesperson’s instincts are tied to asking for the order. I do not belittle the power of the cognitive (it is not an after-thought in the Kolbe Creative Process). It’s a matter of what comes first.

Instincts are precognitive. If that weren’t true, we would have no heroes – or top leaders. Having closely observed the creative efforts of thousands of leaders in vastly different types of problem solving situations, I have yet to see an example of solutions being initiated by them during a period of contemplation. The actions that spark productivity are born from the innate, authentic powers of a leader’s instinctive drive.

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Doing Nothing On Demand

One of my 5 Rules for Trusting your Instinct is
      Do Nothing – when Nothing Works¹

Rule-5-Do-nothing-when-nothing-works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why did I get so angry when traveling companions told me that they were committed to making sure I did not work while I was on vacation?

Because:

1.  If what I am doing is working for me, I do not need to, nor do I want to stop doing it.
2.  Deciding, of my own volition, when I will Do Nothing is essential for my acting according to my Free Will.
3.  What I do – my work – is my joy. To not be able to do it would be agony.
4.  Unless I am mentally incompetent, self-managing my mental energy is essential for me to be a productive human being.
5.  It is not a hardship for me to do what I do, and Doing Nothing is not something I would ever consider to be a reward.
6.  Doing Nothing ought never to be demanded by or enforced by others. It would be an attempt to assert their Will or control over my freedom to be myself.
7.  My work is my purpose. Rob me of it and you have taken my life.
8.  For me to be put in a place where I could only Do Nothing for an extended period of time would be putting me in Purgatory.
9.  Without striving to Do what I do, it would be impossible for me to thrive.
10.  I cannot plan ahead to Do Nothing, or prevent the need to Do Nothing. I have to Do Nothing On Demand – but not the demand of others.
11.  The appropriate demand to Do Nothing comes when my instincts require that I take a break – not when others think it is a good time for me to stop working (sorry Mom, well-meaning friends, and government/corporate regulators).

My instincts have sometimes had to scream pretty loudly for me to stop working (accidents are no accident). My instincts always have and always will have the final say.

1. Kathy Kolbe, Powered by Instinct (Momentus Press, 2004)

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Being a Clown

Kathy Kolbe for clown

I dressed up in a clown outfit once. To entertain kids at a camp I ran. It totally embarrassed my then 8-year-old son, David, who was in the audience.

Wearing a clown costume doesn’t make you a clown – but it can make a clown out of you. It proves my theory that dressing for success is often a waste of time and money.

Could a good school for clowns train me to be a better clown?

Not if I only mimicked being a clown. Being trained to act like a clown doesn’t make you good at it – anymore than being trained to act like a salesperson makes you a top salesperson. If you don’t have the right instincts to be good in a role, your attempt at it can come off as awkward.

Ouch Factor: Happy masks hiding Sad realities

Putting on a happy face while suffering in a misfit role is the stuff of tragedies (think Death of a Salesman). When people don’t have an ounce of the right conative instincts for the outfit, pretending the shoe fits ends up causing a lot of hurt. Maybe that’s why there are so many sad clowns. It’s the Ouch Factor.

We sense inauthenticity. It makes us uncomfortable. We don’t want to deal with a person who is putting on an act — whether it is as a carpenter, cleric, or cable guy.

People radiating the yucky vibes of the Ouch Factor seem to believe the fairy tale about being able to do anything they want to do. They must have bought into the notion that their preferences were the key to determining career decisions. It would be interesting to track people who followed career advice from programs based on such assumptions, and rate their Ouch levels.

Effort Effect

That wasn’t my excuse for being a lousy clown. It is in my conative nature to be at least OK at clowning around.

Being a clown was a side show for me. I certainly didn’t put much effort into it. But it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. It might have helped if I had a least practiced a couple of minutes in front of a mirror. Instead, I was just me being silly. (Moms being silly always seem to embarrass their kids.) I overlooked the Effort Effect.

My clown moment was a bundle of years ago, and I still regret that I wasn’t more convincing. The point is not that I discovered “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” If that were true, I would have garden that’s a show place – and not had the time or energy to create the Kolbe theories.

I imagined that my clown act would get a “Good job!” rating from more than a couple of kids (My son proved he had learned the lesson of not giving false praise.). Mid-act I knew I hadn’t made the necessary effort to pull it off.

Effort Effect – Reversed

I bet the most creepy clowns are the most conatively misfit clowns – who work especially hard at being untrue to themselves. Kids trust their instincts – and stay really far away from clowns they sense are that degree of phony.

There’s something ugly and unsettling about watching a person trudge through life trying to be something he or she was never intended to be. Why try so hard to be a clown when it just isn’t working?

There is a time to turn in the costume. Misplaced efforts rob us of opportunities to succeed in roles for which we are a good conative fit. A misfit clown might make a terrific Ring Master or Lion tamer. The trick is to find roles that fit both our M.O. and our interests. That’s when we make wise efforts.

Effort + right Instincts avoids the Ouch Factor and ups the level of our performance.

I trusted my instincts when I did the clown act. I dressed for success in the role. But I didn’t make a high enough commitment of effort. I have both trusted my instincts and worked hard as a Theorist. I’d say “I made the shoe fit” – but much of the time I’ve been barefoot.

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What I know about Being Gifted

Being gifted cognitively does not make you smart. Nor does it give you instinctive problem solving abilities, a better personality or a greater work ethic than others.

“Gifted” is a dumb label for high intelligence. It is a “gift’ that comes with no instructions, and is often like the proverbial “White Elephant.” It can be hard to figure out how to use it.

Being gifted adds to your workload

People with higher IQs often find it hard to use normal solutions.

If you have a high IQ this means:

You have to work hard to figure out how to get along with the majority of people who don’t “get it” as fast as you do.
If you don’t overcome this problem, you will be a terrible teacher/trainer/boss/roommate/team-member/next-door-neighbor.

You have to discover how and why you learn differently, because most teachers will not challenge you sufficiently.
If you don’t figure out that you have to be self-motivated, you’ll simply learn to regurgitate facts and not fulfill your potential as an excellent creative problem solver.

You have to work very hard to communicate the ideas in your head in ways that work for most others.
If you don’t make this happen, you will be frustrated by others not listening to you, or joining you in developing solutions you know are possible.

You have to work hard, some times to avoid the bad behaviors that stem from boredom.
If you don’t self-manage your mind, you will attract attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons.

“Over-achieving” is impossible. “Under-achieving” is a betrayal of possibilities.

Those who have a “gifted” mind do not have the option of re-gifting it. They have the responsibility of using it for good purposes.

Advantages of High Intelligence

Three characteristics, which could be used to define the unique nature of high intelligence are:

1. Ability to Anticipate Actions
2. Ability to Empathize
3. Ability to Manipulate

It’s because they have the first two abilities that gifted people CAN manipulate – for good or for not-so-good. They can to choose how and when to use this attribute.

When someone seems to “know” how you feel, it can be a sign of high IQ. However, do not confuse this with Caring about how you feel, which is, of course, in the affective domain rather than the cognitive.

Those who anticipate a movement in the stock market, or of a bear in the woods, or what will make a tree crash to the ground – are all showing higher degrees of IQ. Whether they act on it is an affective issue. How they act on it depends upon their conative instincts.

Being Gifted is Never the Whole Story

I was told as a child that I was highly gifted – in everything but math. Math turned out to be one of my greatest strengths as a theorist and entrepreneur. The terms “severely dyslexic and dysgraphic” weren’t used yet, so my weird way of reading and writing made some people think I wasn’t trying hard enough. It always took effort to “show them!” that my weird ways worked. It also took effort to prove that a severely gifted girl (born in the late 1930’s) didn’t have to play dumb. Most of all, it has required tons of effort to prove that a highly dyslexic person could play smart.

Effort is as essential for a gifted person as it is for any other person. This is understated in most literature on gifted education. Although I have been a university Adjunct Professor of Gifted Education, published “Resources for the Gifted,” and run programs for gifted youngsters, no amount of reading or discussion among experts in the field ever taught me as much on this subject as my observations and discussion with four generations of gifted family members. There is not a single one among them who has not had to work very hard to overcome challenges and discover their nitch in the world.

It is through interactions with gifted grandchildren, that I believe I have completed my home work. I finally consider myself a bona fide authority on the subject of Being Gifted.

 

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My Theory of Creative Problem Solving

You will never create anything without a conviction that it’s worth creating.  

If you try to create something by making an effort that doesn’t fit your M.O., you won’t get very far with it.

It takes a Commitment of your conative abilities for you to solve a problem in a sustainable way.

Creative Process

Creative Problem Solving takes more than just Doing something you want to do, you also have to evaluate whether what you’re doing makes any sense.

Judging whether another person is fully engaged in Creative Problem Solving is easier than judging levels of beauty. You can evaluate the process without judging the outcome.

Q: Why bother evaluating the process if the outcome stinks?
A: Because those who engage in the process are more likely to get consistently creative results.

 Q: Couldn’t someone who is not using a Creative Problem Solving process create something by dumb luck?
A: Luck happens when you create the opportunity.

Q: Is that all there is to your Theory of Creative Problem Solving?
A: No, but I’ll wait for you to ask more questions here so I can tell you the things about it that you are motivated to discuss.

Creative Process ladder

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5 Simple Steps to Avoid Getting a Job Interview

You have an equal opportunity (or as one recent job candidate wrote in the first line of his resume:  “an opertunity”) …to destroy your chances of getting called in for a job interview.

Simple 1st step for getting out of a job interview is what 80% of on-line job applicants are doing: send blah, or blah that should have been spell-checked and proofread.

Step 2: Show laziness + ignorance by either not including a cover letter, or (even better – for your purpose) sending a one-size-fits-all cover letter that doesn’t even mention what the company does or what the job requires.

When you don’t take time to individualize your application for a specific role at a particular company, you won’t need to worry about a quality company taking your time for a job interview. They’ll immediately put you where you seemed to ask to be put – in  the Not Interested pile.

Step 3: If you’re still in danger of having to be interviewed, your next line of defense requires going beyond canned blah. You may need the help of an overused, senseless expert in bad blah, like the book, What Color Is Your Parachute. By using all of its meaningless “key” words, you have a recipe for avoiding the disclosure of any spark of your own creativity or insight. This me-too approach will keep companies from expecting too much from you.

Step 4: You shouldn’t have to put this much effort into not being selected for interviews, but this just-in-case step improves your odds of not being interviewed because it insults the intelligence of whomever makes those recommendations. Be sure you take this step to extremes. Unfortunately for you, many others seem to be catching on to this trick. You’ll have to one-up what is being said by all the other wannabe losers.

Use highly unbelievable statements about how much you have done in so little time (“I worked for a very high status company for 6 months, and during that time I increased corporate revenues by 28%). Or how you saved an entire company from disaster by your discovery of all of their mistakes (“Reviewed and redesigned corporate strategic plan and established a workable system that impacted the productivity of all departments.”) Or how just little “newbie-you” outsmarted the corporate culture (“I introduced the company to the world of social media and got thousands of on-line followers to chat with us.”).

 Step 5: Not sure you can sound more boastful than so many others? This last step is what some have used as the dagger in the heart of an almost-ready-to-interview-you situation. You may even find it fun:  Complain about the potential employer’s hiring process.

There may be an employee who will give you credit for being outspoken (or agree with you that their company is not doing a good job) so be sure when you use this technique that you call the company owner or CEO on his or her personal cell phone. Here’s a sample script that is pretty sure to get you out of the interview:

“I don’t know why you think anyone would want to work for your company. I shouldn’t have to show you examples of my private, personally done work, or spend my free time reading your website, or put up with you snooping around my Facebook stuff.  And, I shouldn’t have to fill out that stupid Kolbe Index.”

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Scholarship: About Doing, as Much or More as Thinking

It feels like there is mostly Thinking going on in many academic programs, from fourth grade through undergraduate programs in universities. Where does the Doing get done? Not in lecture-based classrooms.

How inappropriate that parents, not teachers, often end up helping kids DO their homework – where most of the learning actually gets done.

Ask undergrads what they are Doing at school, and they usually tell you about what they are Doing in their “free” time or extra-curricular activities. Ask what they are doing in class, and the answer is probably, “Nothing but sitting and listening.”

Decades of research shows that learning happens by Doing. It’s called Active Learning in today’s literature. The proper term for the Doing domain of the mind is Conation.

Every field of study deals with conation. Yet, a century of perseverating about cognitive Thinking has led to contemporary blindness of the pervasiveness of conative Doing.

  •  Marketing textbooks, when discussing the fallacy of focus groups asking for opinions (Thinking), point out that they are not a good predictor of what people will Do in the actual purchasing process.
  • Law school texts warn of the need to distinguish the difference between Thinking about and actually Doing (or committing) a crime.
  • Religion and philosophy courses deal with the difference between Thinking in moral ways and actually Doing moral or immoral acts.
  • Language classes teach the difference between passive verbs (Thinking) and active verbs (Doing) – the latter even known as conative verbs in some languages.
  • Engineering programs tackle issues of sustainability – this does not mean keeping a level of Thinking, but rather sustaining levels of energy or Doing.
  • Medical and health related programs cope with issues related to getting patients to Do what they need to Do, not just Think about what they need to Do. The term coming into greater use is now referred to as the patient being Active, as opposed to the former negative labeling of patients as Non-compliant.

Name a field of study and there will be issues dealing with the differences between Thinking and Doing. Doing will always be the key to breakthroughs, innovation, discoveries – or any other word synonymous with Success.

The programs that “Get Conative” become the leaders in their field.

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