Personal leadership and organizational culture


Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and Wharton’s top-rated professor. I have followed his work for the longest time and even had the privilege to interview him in person in New York a couple of years ago.

Recently, Adam Grant held his Master Class (Virtual) on Personal Leadership and Organizational Culture presented through WOBI. I attended the class and proudly displayed my digital “Certificate of Attendance” in my digital spaces afterward. I never stopped learning from Grant. He always presents fresh and compelling ideas.

WOBI (World of Business Ideas) features world-famous gurus and experts and gets them to present their ideas and conveniently beamed to my home office. The only area of discomfort is to adjust to the time zone for live streaming so I can get to ask questions in real-time. The sessions usually start at 11 p.m. Eastern standard time and run for two hours.

But trust me, the learning is worth it.

Taken from his master’s class, I would like to present you with an executive summary of his presentation. For obvious reasons, I would not be able to feature the whole of his presentation but allow me to share with you the parts which I would consider most relevant to our current situation.

Adam Grant says there is a great need to develop cognitive skills for a rapidly changing world. Leaders should be open to re-thinking how their organizations are structured and challenge old ideas that may no longer be feasible. Adam suggests that often leaders tend to adopt the following two mindsets:

1. Think too much like preachers: Leaders tend to believe they already found the truth about the best way to run their organizations.

2. Think too much like prosecutors: Leaders shoot down opposing ideas and arguments even if they’re rational and data-driven.

On the other hand, employees tend to adopt the “think like a politician” mindset mistakenly. They approach and tell their leaders what they want to hear instead of what they genuinely believe about an idea or problem.

We should build organizations where rethinking is the norm as opposed to being an exception. Since we live in a rapidly changing world, we quickly become experts in a world that no longer exists. What served us well in the past is going to hold us back in the future. So, Adam believes that to adapt and continue growing as an organization, leaders should adopt and strengthen the following set of cognitive skills.

1. Think Like a Scientist: Value humility over pride and curiosity over conviction. Surround yourself with others who challenge your ideas and listen to perspectives that make you think differently. Test and learn through different approaches.

2. Know What You Don’t Know: Be humble about your expertise and knowledge. To become a confident learner, because you’re open to new ideas, consider the following:

Build a Challenge Network: Develop a challenge network of your most thoughtful critics, those who help you think more broadly and make meaningful contributions in the workplace. Adam suggests that disagreeable givers are one of the most credible advocates in a challenge network.

Have Productive Disagreements: Be more effective in opening up other people’s minds and motivating them to rethink the ideas of others instead of having destructive arguments.

Reconsider Best Practices: Look for better practices. Build a learning culture where people are willing to rethink those best practices in favor of better practices. A good place to start is to measure the results achieved and the processes by which you achieved them.

Building resilience in our teams and ourselves. How do we as leaders and organizations bring a sense of purpose in times of adversity? The past year has been difficult for many, but Adam offers a strategy to create and strengthen meaningful and resilient relationships within your organization.

1. Find Self Compassion: Leaders should normalize struggle by modeling self-compassion. Talk about some setbacks and hardships so that your teams can also reach out and share their thoughts and feelings.

2. Know Your Emotional Triggers: Recognize what makes you tick and develop a strategy to recognize and respond appropriately to your triggers. One way of doing so is to create and memorize a “script” that you can recite when emotionally triggered.

3. Make Remote Work, Work: Coordinate a system of intermittent collaboration to maintain resilience in the workplace. Set a few hour blocks to work together, attend constructive meetings, or simply respond to questions that teams working remotely may have.

I hope you find these ideas helpful. Adam Grant is always attuned to things in the workplace, and his ideas are always fresh and stimulating. They are useful for me as I do they would be for you too.



(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class Online will have another run this May 17-19, 2021. Develop leadership skills that translate into personal, career, and business growth in the Current Reality and the Post-Covid World. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with