Monday, February 9, 2015

Digital Master Tuning: The Pygmalion effect

Leaders are the gardeners to nurture talent growth.
The idea behind the Pygmalion effect is that increasing the reader's expectation of the follower's performance will result in better follower performance. The Golem effect is the opposite, so low expectations beget low performance. As a person/leader, how do you think your expectations of people affect their performance? How to leverage the Pygmalion effect in growing more Digital Master in your organization?

Trust is the soil to make expectation blossom: Expectations are like everything else in business or life, there has to be an atmosphere of trust for positive expectations to succeed. Having positive high expectations of people and engaging and guiding them, they, in turn, develop positive high expectations for themselves. So setting a high but achievable expectation becomes a license for creativity. A general framework with moderate guidance around the expectations fosters the creativity and high performance. Further, expectations can certainly affect productivity but that the results and how much they affect it are about the trust between the parties. If everyone does not trust each other to do the work, you get the Gollum effect. If they do, you can get Pygmalion.

Leaders are the gardeners to nurture talent growth: If you set high expectations of the right people and provide them the right environment, they grow faster than you could ever hope for. Just make sure there aren't many weeds in that field, believe in setting expectations high and then checking in often to see what the person needs to succeed, and then provide them what they need. The leaders are like gardener, when you water and nurture the talent, they seem to flourish; when you do it poorly, they may do ok but chose to move on; and when the employee fails, the leaders are not so effective and the employee didn't try as hard as they might have, you fail to unleash talent potential or diminish the overall business potential. So you have the greatest chance of success if you believe in the best in people and give them the best environment to succeed (whatever their specific requirements might be). That trust contract can be many things and in some cases, it may be allowing failure.

Become more aware of your own expectations of people. Think about what your expectations are of the different people and how you engage or ignore dialogue with different people then ask yourself; why do I engage with certain people but ignore other people? Or you can try this out at work. Clarifying expectations is essential for behaviors and actions; they are not just for results and improved performance. A clear vision (a form of expectation), the ability to provide value (which can be defined by specific expectations), and the opportunity to be valued themselves (which can be measured against expectations) will be more engaged and determined not only to succeed but to exceed expectations. Add to this the natural tendency that no one wants to fail, and you have a scenario where expectations can be beneficial. The interesting discovery is that the leader's expectation set actually controls even more of their behavior, then it does of the person downstream. Leaders that expect little are typically not engaged, not encouraging, inspiring or reinforcing, and probably quick to express and not mediate their own frustration when the "self-fulfilling" prophecy comes to bear.

No matter you are a digital leader or a digital professional, it is your "job" to expect positive intent simultaneously with unconditional positive regard for each other; even in the face of disagreements, ignoring or temper tantrums. As a leader one can provide direct feedback that reflects positive expectations that the individual who wants to and can improve themselves. The decision to continue to coach, develop and empower talent to achieve the higher expectation, and unleash the team/business potential via the Pygmalion effect.

Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:


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