August 23, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
I’m a Malcolm Gladwell fan. He has a capacity that educators treasure: the ability to review research on a complex topic and synthesize it into a teachable moment. To add icing on the cake, Gladwell also makes his teaching points usable by putting them in a form others can easily remember. Whether you buy everything Gladwell proposes or not, he gets you thinking.
BusinessInsider.com has a series on Gladwell’s Top 12 Mind-Blowing Ideas. Take a look.
Why is this important to leaders? Here are my Top 10 reasons why you can’t afford to ignore Gladwell’s work.
- 1. Change and influence are complex social processes, difficult under the best of circumstances. You increase the odds of success when you understand Gladwell’s Law of the Few. One person can change the world, but it’s a lot easier and quicker for the right strategic few. Learn how to start a social epidemic.
- 2. Leading is hard, and you don’t want to go it alone. Who can help give voice to your vision? You need allies, especially credible ones. Connectors, mavens, and salespeople add social weight to your message. Make sure you understand the difference among the three roles and have a few of each in your court.
- 3. A sticky idea is a memorable way to frame a message – and if you can’t remember the message, how will you heed it?
- 4. We are all social beings, influenced by the environment in which we live. The tacit and influential Power of Context is huge. Use it to your advantage, and you’ll enhance your influence skills.
- 5. Strong diagnostic skills involve capacities to form good judgments quickly and from limited data. That’s Gladwell’s blink phenomenon. We all can improve our powers of rapid cognition. Great leaders have it, and it serves them well.
- 6. Data gathering is at the heart of informed decision making, but there can be too much of a good thing. Gladwell’s prod toward information frugality helps avoid information overload and analysis paralysis. Leadership, after all, is about action.
- 7. Authenticity is a characteristic of effective leaders, but it isn’t shooting from the hip – or the mouth. We all make unconscious snap judgments that can get us in trouble if we act on those tacit thoughts before we really think them through. Better to stretch through priming: broadening our experiences and positive interactions with more and different kinds of people so that our first reactions will be more positive than those with a more narrow set of experiences.
- 8. It takes 10,000 hours of practice to perfect a skill or talent, according to Gladwell. Practice does make perfect.
- 9. Genius is more about practice (see above), persistence, and a supportive environment and family than natural skill or IQ alone. There’s hope for us all.
- 10. Talent is important. Experience key. Persistence required. But so is luck. May we all have some.