Leaders, Stop These Behaviors Now

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If you want to empower, engage, or motivate others, don’t just focus on increasing your positive behaviors. Pay attention to the things you need to stop doing at the same time. Here are three to avoid:

  • Judgmental body language. No one likes perceived condescension. Watch out for scowling, furrowed brows, and quizzical or sarcastic looks (as if to say, “Are you stupid?”). While seemingly harmless, each of these subtle darts creates a considerable amount of relationship damage.
  • Interrupting. It’s almost impossible for people to feel safe if the boss takes up most of the airtime or cuts people off. Do more listening than talking, and let people finish their thoughts.
  • Being inconsistent. It’s hard on employees to wonder who is going to show up: “smiling, charming, funny boss” or “judgmental, intense, snapping manager.” Try to keep your tone and personality consistent so people know what to expect.

Adapted from “Which Behaviors Must Leaders Avoid?” by Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins.

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Between 1946 and 1974, the economy grew faster than it’s grown since, on average, because the nation was creating the largest middle class in history. The overall size of the economy doubled, as did the earnings of almost everyone. CEOs rarely took home more than forty times the average worker’s wage, yet were riding high. Third, higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments — better roads, bridges, public transportation, basic research, world-class K-12 education, and affordable higher education – improve the future productivity of America. All of us gain from these investments, including the wealthy. In those years, the top marginal tax rate on America’s highest earners never fell below 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower the tax rate was 91 percent. Combined with tax revenues from a growing middle class, these were enough to build the Interstate Highway system, dramatically expand public higher education, and make American public education the envy of the world. We learned, in other words, that broadly shared prosperity isn’t just compatible with a healthy economy that benefits everyone — it’s essential to it. We Forgot Our Economic Lessons but then we forgot these lessons. For the last three decades the American economy has continued to grow but most peoples’ earnings have gone nowhere. Since the start of the recovery in 2009, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent. What happened? For starters, too many of us bought the snake oil of “supply-side” economics, which said big corporations and the wealthy are the job creators – and if we cut their taxes the benefits will trickle down to everyone else. Of course, nothing trickled down. Meanwhile, big corporations were allowed to bust labour unions, whose membership dropped from over a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to under 7 percent today. Our roads, bridges, and public-transit systems were allowed to crumble under the weight of deferred maintenance. Our public schools deteriorated. And public higher education became so starved for funds that tuition rose to make up for shortfalls, making college unaffordable to many working families.