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Autodidacts are the Future


Years ago, I offered tutoring and private courses for gifted students via The Library Table. Now, I have founded the Humane Leadership Institute to support the ongoing development of self leadership and self education methods and tools.

An excerpt from chapter 11 of our book, Humane Leadership:

"An autodidact is somebody who teaches themselves. By creating the roadmap and creating dopamine reward loops for ourselves, we are well on our way. Learning independently can become a healthy addiction.

You may notice that the very best contributors in your organization today are probably people addicted to learning; they're always looking further and deeper, bringing in fresh ideas from outside, always experimenting. They're trying things in new ways, and when something works, they share their findings.

Autodidacts are the people we all want on our teams.

Leaders can build a learning culture by empowering these autodidacts by having them share what they've learned in your online collaboration environment or in meetings. They can be your star authors and librarians who are collecting and creating next level training materials.

With all its successes and challenges, Amazon is still one of the best learning cultures I know of. In their 13 management principles, “Learn and Be Curious” comes just after “Be Right, A Lot.” Amazon responds seriously to errors large – taking Amazon Web Services down for a day – and small – temporary latency (slowness) impacting customers. The engineer most closely associated with the error must complete a detailed (sometimes weeks long) post-mortem report including analysis of customer impact, root causes, blast radius, event duration, health and diagnostic metrics, and how to avoid repeating the error in the future. These Correction of Error reports are widely distributed within the company and must be publicly defended in weekly operational leadership meetings before they are distributed across relevant teams in the company.

“There is no compression algorithm for experience.”

— Werner Vogels, CTO, Amazon

Amazon squeezes every error to extract and institutionalize all the learning possible.

To lead by example you may need to upgrade your own curiosity and study habits to become the Autodidact in Chief or Chief Curiosity Officer for your team.

Imagine the end of your career with the team that you've worked with for so long because they've been so engaged, so loyal, and having so much fun together. You look back and you see this cascade of people who have learned together and taught each other and expanded their ability to contribute not only at the office, but in the world, in a thousand different ways. To me, that sounds like a life well lived, a community and a career well built."

You may find these offerings interesting:



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A More Humane (and Effective) Performance Review

Photo by Jj Mendez on Unsplash

85% of employees are "not engaged" or are "actively disengaged," according to Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report.

We agree with Jim Harter that this points to a crisis of leadership.

How leaders drive performance is one source of this crisis. Aggressive leaders can push their teams to high performance in the short run but will drive away the best contributors over the long run. Great leaders build teams and team productivity simultaneously by creating great experiences based in great performance.

Traditionally, employees' performance has been evaluated with a formal performance review meeting, which is often met with anxiety by all involved. And once the review is over, it is swamped by the demands of daily responsibilities. There's sporadic follow up, only periodic accountability, and little opportunity for meaningful change.

We at the Humane Leadership Institute have developed a different approach to performance evaluation and improvement. We call it a longitudinal performance development process and tool. Kind of a mouthful, but, you'll see, it works. 

This leadership tool will help you evaluate your own and others' performance and reveal improvements to make in the areas of motivation, time usage, delegation of authority, clarity and ability. We call this the MOCA model of performance. As a leader, are you successfully motivating your team? Do they have the time and opportunity to do their tasks well? Are your expectations clear? Does your team have the skills needed to do their jobs?

Recently, an HLI client wrote:

It is of the utmost importance we use MOCA.

We have folks in here every day with a wide variety of needs. We want to make sure of the fact that each employee is Motivated to help, they have the time and Opportunity to help the customer, that we have been Clear to what degree we are expected to help (we LOVE to help make their day, and create one of those magical moments) and we want to know we have folks on the sales floor with the Ability to perform the helpful tasks for customers that we may be asked to perform, be it a return or a purchase or a warranty claim.

This is a very useful tool in giving feedback...

Try it for yourself! Click on the Performance Improvement wisdom jig (.pdf) below and let us know how it works for you and your team.

Sign up for our email list to learn about new tools as they are published.

If you are interested in a facilitated leadership training program using this tool and many others, please check out our workshops or contact us.

We'd love to talk to you about how we can improve your team's experience and performance.


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HLI Interview with Stephen Sloan

I think we have some serious questions about leadership before us that need our very best thinking – not one person’s best thinking, but the wisdom of the crowd.

We really need a new way of looking at our humanity if we’re going to deliver the greatest good for the greatest number going forward.

Stephen is the driving force inside the Humane Leadership Institute. He is also Managing Director of Sloan Value Partners, a management consultancy specialising in IT, sales and leadership development. Here are a variety of questions that begin to give us a sense of Stephen’s path here and what’s to come. Continue reading HLI Interview with Stephen Sloan