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Glow

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For every new project or high-profile assignment, there is a mile-long line of wannabes waiting to grab the brass ring. But those consistently at the forefront have something truly extraordinary in common.

You know them at first sight: teammates or colleagues, direct reports or bosses who radiate enthusiasm, positive energy, and inspiration. Even when confronted with circumstances that work against them they, Glow with an attitude that inspires others, fosters a great working experience for themselves and everyone around them, and creates empowering relationships. And Lynda Gratton can make sure you’re one of them.

In her book Hot Spots, Gratton explored how pockets of energy and innovation are created in organizations. Now she zeroes in on how you can become a source of energy and innovation yourself. Drawing on years of original research, Gratton identifies three principles that people who Glow live by: they cultivate a cooperative mind-set, they are adept at reaching across traditional boundaries—what Lynda calls “jumping across worlds”—to gain great new ideas and powerful insights, and they are able to ignite inspiration and energy in others. For each principle, Gratton outlines three actions anyone can take to put it into practice, illustrated with dozens of examples and personal stories. Easy-to-use tools enable you to evaluate where you are now and measure your progress.

Success isn’t about just working harder—there’s always someone out there who will put in longer hours. But if you can learn to Glow, you will add tremendous value to your organization in a way that will make your work more satisfying and fulfilling.

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Chapter One: The Secrets of Glowing

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You only have to glance at the morning paper to read that globalization marches on, and technology continuously changes the way you work. The result? There is always someone, somewhere in the world, who will volunteer to do your work faster, quicker, and cheaper. So where does this leave you?

In an ever-changing world, how can you be sure that you will find and pursue great opportunities? How can you ensure that you stay fresh and energized? What will it take for you to become the first person of call when an exciting assignment comes along? How can you relentlessly create value in your work and for yourself? How will you stay ahead of the curve?

These are everyday questions that you and I and everyone around us must ask ourselves on a fairly frequent basis. It does not matter where you are in your career. You could be fresh out of college and wondering where to go next. You could be in the midst of your career and thinking about how to become more innovative. Or you could be contemplating the final years of your working life and wondering how to stay engaged and energized. Wherever you are in your work life, you want to be sure you stay ahead of the curve.

 

Chapter Two: Your Glow Resources

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You want to make Glowing a daily experience in your working life rather than something that happens occasionally. You do this by working on the three principles defined in Chapter One and developing your skills and competencies in the nine actions described there.

Stop for a moment and think—does this seem like tall an order? Too many actions for you to take right now? Possibly it does. But before you feel truly overwhelmed, remember that in building your skills and creating more value in your working life, you have three potential resources available to you. Think carefully about each of these resources and how they could be of service to you.

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In the stories that follow, you will meet people who have been able to use these three resources for support, encouragement, and skill development. You will also meet people who are in teams or communities that have significantly narrowed their opportunities and limited their choices. These resources can provide a wonderful support to Glowing—but they can also act as a serious barrier.

 

Chapter Three: The First Principle: A Cooperative Mindset

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You have said a resounding yes to staying ahead of the curve, to being able to create and flourish in high-energy places. You want a life where you Glow, a working life of exhilaration, energy, and insight. You have also said a resounding no to a life dominated by the Big Freeze of political intrigue and gut-churning politics.

So let’s start with the first principle, developing a cooperative mindset. You will begin by completing the Glow Profile for cooperation and then read how three people—Jill, John, and Gareth—challenged themselves to become more cooperative and to Glow on a daily basis by taking action around the three cooperative actions:

Action 1 Developing the daily habits of cooperation, such as sharing valuable information with others, acting with discretion, using cooperative language, and making and keeping commitments

Action 2 Mastering the art of great conversation with both emotional authenticity and analytical rigor

Action 3 Having the savvy to act on the “smell of the place” by knowing the signs of the Big Freeze and moving to teams and communities where cooperation flourishes

 

Chapter Four: Stories about the Warmth of Cooperation and the Big Freeze

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As soon as I walked into Jill’s office, I could hear the buzz; it was obviously a Hot Spot of energy and excitement, and Jill was Glowing. I wanted to know why. This is Jill’s story.

I am a very driven person. From an early age I knew what I wanted to be and have always worked really hard to get there. My passion was always for design. I love the process of thinking about something and then bringing it to fruition. For me the way I judge myself is the quality of my work—I have really high standards for myself and others and am known to push my colleagues really hard at times. When I was at design school, I was really focused on developing my own skills—I wanted to be the best designer in the college.

When I left design college, I joined a small design team. At first I loved the work, really relishing working on my own and bringing my ideas to fruition. Then I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. I found I was not sleeping very well at night and often felt a pit of anxiety in the stomach. I began to realize that one of the reasons was that people had begun to move away from me. At college we worked pretty much on our own, and I was used to doing my own thing. Here in the design studio I continued to work like this—getting in early in the morning, working on my project, and leaving late at night. I felt increasingly exhausted and isolated.

 

Chapter Five: Action 1: Developing the Daily Habits of Cooperation

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People who Glow have positive ways of thinking about others and five daily habits of cooperation. They have realistic and positive expectations of others and are prepared to share valuable information with others, to act with discretion, to use the language of cooperation, and to make and keep commitments.

For some people, being cooperative is as easy as falling off a log. That’s the case with Gareth, who has been cooperative since he was a child. Ask him what he does to be cooperative, and he will look at you in amazement— it’s invisible to him; he doesn’t know any other way. For other people, being cooperative does not come so naturally. They can choose not to change— and like Gareth suffer the consequences of the Big Freeze, or they can, like Jill, learn to Glow by actively developing the habits of cooperation.

Everyone can learn to be cooperative—it’s simply a matter of will and choice and of learning a number of habits that you will depend on every day. And if you have children, these are habits you may want them to learn as well. As Jill found, it could make their working life more energized and fun.

 

Chapter Six: Action 2: Mastering the Art of Great Conversation

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People who Glow know the art of great conversation and use conversation as the bedrock of their cooperation with others. They are able to bring emotional authenticity and analytical rigor to their conversations.

When you Glow, one thing that is striking is the way you talk with other people. Sure, some of your conversations will be of little consequence, but many will be considerably livelier: thought-provoking, fascinating, and purposeful. People who Glow and the Hot Spots they inhabit bubble with great conversation—and great conversation is what ties you together as you cooperate with others. So if you want to Glow by finding, flourishing, or creating Hot Spots, you’d better take a look at how you converse with others.

Here are some snippets from a high-quality conversation. We join the team of a company that markets coffee and tea; it’s the very beginning of a Hot Spot that will develop as time goes on, and Adam and his colleague Barbara are beginning to cooperate with each other and share the knowledge that will enable them both to Glow. We drop in as they are talking about going to work on their coffee products.

 

Chapter Seven: Action 3: Acting on the “Smell of the Place”

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People who Glow are astute at acting on the “smell of the place.” They know the signs of the Big Freeze and how to avoid them and take action to ensure that they move to teams and communities where cooperation flourishes.

Sometimes you have no choice: if you want to Glow, you may have to be prepared to move, to put yourself in a different place with different people. To do that you have to become skilled at understanding and acting on the “smell of the place.” The “smell of the place” consists of all those subtle clues that tell you intuitively and rationally what a place is like before you join. Being aware of the “smell of the place” will help you find teams, communities, and companies that will help you Glow and avoid those that won’t.

Remember that Glowing is a lot about you, but it is also about the company you keep. That’s what Gareth found in his work experience. Recall that Gareth is a young man who from an early age has been trained to adopt the habits of cooperation. When he left college, he was lucky enough to join a company that supported and cherished his cooperative attitude and reinforced and built his cooperative skills. I do believe that luck was involved because my guess is that Gareth had little idea of what he was letting himself in for at the time. So when he switched companies, he was in for a big shock. Not only did his colleagues fail to behave cooperatively with him, they even went so far as to exploit his goodwill. Gareth had joined a place that was playing to a complete different set of rules than those he was used to—and he was coming out as the loser. Gareth had failed to pick up on the “smell of the place,” which was distinctly competitive, before he took the job.

 

Chapter Eight: The Second Principle: Jumping across Worlds

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When your relationships with other people are built on cooperation, trust, and appreciation, you have the tantalizing possibility of undertaking extraordinary endeavors and Glowing. However, it’s not just your relationships with your closest colleagues that are so crucial. Think more broadly of the vast cloud of acquaintances, friends, and friends of friends who surround you. Recent estimates suggest that in modern societies, many adults have thousands of acquaintances, of which about one hundred can be contacted immediately to help out. Of these hundreds of acquaintances, you probably keep in regular contact with about twenty people, of whom perhaps three are close confidants. So when you think about how to Glow and to create, find, or flourish in a Hot Spot, think about the vast cloud of people you have to support you.

Recall the way that Frank was able to reach out into his network when faced with a particularly thorny task—and how Fred failed because he closed down rather than opened up.

 

Chapter Nine: Chocolate Stories and Connecting Different Worlds

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Jumping across worlds can be a marvelous creator of the energy of Glow; in Chapter Eight you heard my story of bringing together chocolates and writing. Here is another story, this one about how Harry and his colleagues learned to Glow and create a Hot Spot. As you read the story, think about how the networks in your working life have sometimes created wonderful moments of joy and excitement.

I am a manager at Unilever, and I work on the Lynx deodorant brand. Let’s face it, this is a tough market to work in. There are hundreds of brands of deodorant out there, all competing for a space on the supermarket shelves, and profits are razor-thin. Sometimes I feel pretty down about how I am ever going to be able to succeed as a manager and really bring energy and innovation to my work. But last year was one of those great times when I really felt as if I was making a difference—I really felt I was Glowing. Here is how it all started.

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It was indeed a breakthrough. Once we had the idea, of course, we had to work with each other to thrash out how we could create a high-quality chocolate scent delivered in an aerosol. But you can imagine how great I felt when a year later Lynx’s chocolate-scented deodorant, Dark Temptation, was launched and quickly became one of the fastest-selling products aimed at teens that year.

 

Chapter Ten: Action 4: Increasing the Value of Your Networks

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People who Glow are skilled at increasing the value of their networks and at balancing their networks between acquaintances and close friends who are similar to them with more extensive networks of people who are very different from them. They know that sometimes the most interesting and most innovative ideas come from people whom they barely know and who are very different from them.

Your closest friends are dear to you. It is they who provide the emotional support, warmth, love, and understanding that are so important to your happiness and well-being. It is they who help you through your darkest moments, who know your idiosyncrasies and your foibles.

But if you want to increase your ability to Glow, you will have to do more than concentrate on your closest friends. It is natural to keep your friends close, but by focusing too much of your energy on them, you run the risk of severely limiting your capacity to create the sort of energy and innovation Harry did when he reached out to Julie and her network.

 

Chapter Eleven: Action 5: Jumping out of the Boundaries that Constrain You

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People who Glow have broad and extensive networks and are skilled at jumping out of the boundaries that constrain them. They allow for serendipity in their life and are prepared to meet new people and take the untrodden path to broaden their experiences.



When you create extensive and meandering networks, you Glow, as these networks ensure that you create, find and flourish in Hot Spots.

You have two diagnostics to help you understand whether this is an action you should be focusing on. The first is your responses in the Glow Profile in Figure 8.1. This will give you a good idea of how adept you are at jumping across worlds. If your final profile is Profile Type D or E, this action is particularly crucial to you. Also take a look at the names you wrote in the four quadrants in Figure 10.1. Are the relationships in Quadrants 3 and 4 taking as much time as those in Quadrants 1 and 2? Are they as well developed? If you are spending too much time walking the same patch with the same people, Action 5 is crucial for you.

 

Chapter Twelve: Action 6: Finding and Moving to Boundaryless Places

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People who Glow are adept at finding and moving to boundaryless places. They know how to escape from the Fortress and connect with teams and places that encourage them to grow by creating opportunities to jump across worlds.


Look back at your profile in Figure 8.1. If yours is Profile Type C, D, or E, you are currently with a team or a company that does not encourage you to jump across worlds—in fact, you could even be holed up in a Fortress with high walls around you. The ability to Glow is within you, of course, but it is also dependent on the context you are in—the friends and networks you have and the community, organization, or business you are working in.

Recall that in Action 3 you reflected on what it is like to be in a place where there is little cooperation and considered what it would take to become skilled at understanding and acting on the “smell of the place.” The same is true of jumping across worlds. If there are big walls around you, you may find it mighty hard to scale them; you feel as if you are trapped in a Fortress. So this chapter is about how in the short term to really make the best of where you are now while also in the longer term learning to spot and then join places that are boundaryless.

 

Chapter Thirteen: The Third Principle: Igniting Latent Energy

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You’ve created latent energy by behaving in a cooperative way and by jumping across worlds; now the scene is set for ignition. Without these sparks of ignition, you are consigning yourself to a Country Club, a place where you feel comfortable and at ease but in which you will never, ever Glow.

This is the third principle of Glowing. First you will hear one man’s story of how he created enormous energy and innovation throughout a whole community of people and became a superb catalyst to help everyone Glow. Then you will complete the Glow Profile to identify your specific profile type before looking at the three actions that can ignite you:

Action 7 Asking the questions that spark energy and also have the capacity to ignite and excite others.

Action 8 Creating a vision that compels others and demonstrates your beliefs and passion.

Action 9 Crafting meaningful and exciting work that provides you and your colleagues with an opportunity to stretch your capabilities, develop new skills, and ultimately Glow.

 

Chapter Fourteen: Action 7: Asking Questions that Spark Energy

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When you are able to engage with your own passion and beliefs, you become a source of energy for yourself and others. This energy is radiated to others as you Glow and ignites Hot Spots of innovation in your work community.

Look back at your igniting latent energy profile in Figure 13.1. It will help you understand where you are now with regard to asking the big, bold questions that generate energy. Also recall how Ratan Tata reached inside of himself and into his personal history and beliefs to find a question that was meaningful both to him and to everyone around him. His question “Why can’t we create the one-lakh car?” was audacious, but it was not complex. In fact, it was a question that even a child could ask.

Think about how many times you have not asked a question because you thought it was too dumb or too simple. As Ratan Tata found, even the simplest of questions can have a profound impact. You can imagine that at the time some commentators probably thought that Tata—then in his early seventies—had lost his mind, that his proposal was simply the foolish ramblings of an older man. Yet because Tata was prepared to ask this question over and over and never deviate from it, people began to take him seriously.

 

Chapter Fifteen: Action 8: Creating Visions that Compel

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People who Glow are able to create a compelling vision that sparks energy and is so exciting and engaging that others are drawn to it.

A vision invites people into the future. It can describe what is important to you and can ignite the latent energy around you. Look back at your igniting latent energy profile in Figure 13.1 to help you to understand where you are now in terms of creating a compelling vision. Recall Ratan Tata’s vision: “Imagine a world where rural communities can access the transport infrastructure so crucial for their development.” It was a vision of the future so engaging and exhilarating that people were drawn to it in large numbers. Great visions like Tata’s are palpable: they actually allow others to think their way into them.

Following are some of the ways I heard people talking about an igniting vision that helped them Glow:

“I could imagine so clearly where we were going—we knew what we had to do, and we were all excited about getting there.”

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“I had spent years dreaming about this. What really seemed to make a difference is that I was able to describe my dream so clearly that others could see what I was aiming at and wanted to become part of what I was building.”

 

Chapter Sixteen: Action 9: Crafting Meaningful and Exciting Work

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People who Glow are able to craft meaningful and exciting work that stimulates them and others.

Visions and questions are excellent aids to keeping you ahead of the curve and helping you Glow. Mohi’s vision of the innovative company, Ratan Tata’s vision of the one-lakh car, and Johanna’s vision of the creative job agency were all wonderful stimulators of energy—but to sustain energy over the longer term, you also need to be able to design your work and the jobs and projects you do in a way that brings meaning and excitement to you.

Think back to the experience of Harry and Julie in the creation of the chocolate-smelling deodorant spray, recounted in Chapter Nine. The vision was compelling, the questions were exciting, and their initial friendship and conversations sparked the igniting ideas—but to sustain their interest over the longer term, the work they engaged in had to be meaningful and exciting. For Harry and Julie, the work they embarked on really stretched their competence: after all, to encapsulate a chocolate aroma in deodorant form is fiendishly difficult. Our noses are very attuned to what chocolate smells like, so any sense of the artificial will turn people off. Thus the team faced a task that was novel, had few precedents, and would bring challenges that had never been faced before.

 

Chapter Seventeen: Glowing Every Week

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I hope by now you are Glowing more. You’ve completed your Glow Profiles and understood what might be working for and against you. You’ve identified which of the nine actions are going to make a difference and have begun to acquire the habits and competencies of your key actions. Keeping on the path is about focusing your energy.

Much of what you have thought about in this book is designed to increase the stock of positive energy available to you at any point in time. The challenge you face is to ensure that all the actions you take focus rather than dissipate your energy. In the course of this book you have met a host of people who have been able to create and flourish in Hot Spots in their working life. For all of them, the capacity to focus their energy was crucial to their success. Having watched people who Glow over long periods of time, I see that they stay on the path by focusing on the journey forward, by removing the obstacles on the path, and by keeping track of progress.

Our lives have their own rhythms, and there will be times when more energy is available than at other times. I know for myself that when my kids were young, a great deal of my energy went into caring for them, and I was content to look for other people’s Hot Spots and flourish in them. Now that my children need me less, I have more energy available to create my own Hot Spots. What I have seen in myself and others is that focusing on what is important is essential to staying on the path.

 

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