Category Archives: U.S. life

In my previous blogs in leadership development, I intrdocued “Become a successful leader (1): Everyday Leadership“, “Become a successful leader (2): Self-Awareness“, “Become a successful leader (3): Know who I am, and what personality I have.“, “Become a successful leader 4: Be an inspiring leader, The Golden Circle Theory“. Here, I would like to discuss another key component, “communication” in leadership development.

Communication is an art of understanding

Communication is an art where we need to keep creating understanding to deliver the right message between the talker and the listener. The communication process includes encoding our thought/ideas into words and behaviors and decoding this information into meaning. Misunderstanding occurs when the listener decodes the words and behaviors into a different meaning. To avoid the misunderstanding, we need to know 7C’s (correctcompleteclearconsistentcredibleconcerned/connectedculture) and 1 V (Volume). Moreover, what we do not say in the conversation and how we say it is very important to achieve effective communication.

Information transmission

Communication is a process of information transmission. Talker/Writer express ideas and thoughts in words or behavior, which encodes the message by one brain. The audiences decode the message to collect the information; however, each audience’s brain might translate it into different information. Also, in the human mind, emotions usually come faster than thoughts. Therefore, if you are in the mood, do not say anything or reply to any email because your emotion might highly affect your communication. In other words, we should always communicate with others in an adult-to-adult way.

Curse of knowledge

Cognitive bias usually occurs when an individual in a group unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand the message. For example, when we learn something new, such as cancer biology, we start to talk with professional words. Even if we are talking to other people without a biological background, we forget to explain the information or switch to simple terms to transfer the information. This is what we call the curse of knowledge. Therefore, we should always assume that we are not talking to experts if we do not know the audience.

Unconscious Communication

Sometimes there is a hidden message in our verbal or non-verbal expression. For example, intonation is a way to express the hidden meaning within a sentence. If someone said that “I didn’t say you broke my equipment,” we could try to stress a different word in the sentence to see if there is any difference.

  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment
  • I didn’t say you broke my equipment

Another example is body language. It is an interesting topic that sometimes we might unconsciously express our emotions through body language. If you found out that someone stands with folded arms when talking, you could assume this person disagrees with what you said.

Communication is based on trust

To have an effective communication, trust is an important factor to connect individuals in a group. There are 5 elements to build up trust: consistency, openess, loyalty, competence, and integrity.

  • Consistency: How often do you change your mind?
  • Openness: Do you share information about yourself or do you just expect others to do so?
  • Loyalty: Do you support people only when everything is great or also when they are struggling?
  • Competence: Do you know what you are talking about?
  • Integrity : Are your actions matching your words ? 

Communication Strategy for a good leader

A good communication strategy for a leader is to include both positive and negative aspects in your message and be specific and concise. An excellent example is that both U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and Massachusetts governor Edward Everett gave a speech after the Gettysburg battle in 1863 (Civil War). Everett’s speech was 2 hours long, and Lincoln’s was 2 minutes. However, everyone only remembers what Lincoln said in the address. Therefore, good communication should be short and specific.

If you are interested in Lincoln’s speech, it is the links for the speech and transcript.

Conclusion

Communication is very important not only for leadership but also for everyone in daily life. In the next blog, I will introduce how we communicate with people from different cultures and how we lead an effective meeting.

Become a successful leader 4: Be an inspiring leader, The Golden Circle Theory

I have explained everyday leadership, self-awareness, and personality in previous blogs. Being an inspiring leader is essential in leading a team/group to become successful. Additionally, an inspiring leader should be passionate, confident, decisive, emotionally intelligent, and strategic. For example, Winston Churchill brought the U.K. to the victory of World War II; Martin Luther King Jr. inspired the American people with him “I Have A Dream” speech to contribute to the American civil rights. This article will introduce the golden circle theory proposed by Simon Sinek. A new thinking logic could help us to learn inspired leadership.

The Golden Circle Theory

The Golden Circle Theory

The Golden Circle Theory provides an exciting way to think about a brand and business and inspire your audiences/consumers/team members. Usually, when a team leader tells his/her team members, the first thing is the task we need to do. Second, the leader talks about how we make it, and the last is why we need to do it. However, if we reverse this thinking logically, first, we explain why we want to do this. Will this be more inspiring? Taking cell therapy for type I diabetes patients as an example, a group leader first tells a story to describe the daily lives of type I diabetes patients receiving multiple shots of insulin every day. It is challenging because no one likes to get shots. To save the patients from insulin injection, we need to “cure” diabetes, not just “treat” it. Last, we would develop a new therapeutic to transplant the pancreatic cells in the patient’s body to replace the damaged pancreas and regulate the blood glucose level. This is an example to show what an inspiring leader does.

Another example-Apple

Apple sold computers initially, but why did Apple become a huge company with various products, including the iPhone, iPod, iPad, MacBook…etc. Instead of promoting the products, Apple first explains its core value in designing a beautiful product that everyone can easily use it. That’s the reason why Apple start the business. Then Apple tells consumers how they do it and what they can provide in the Apple event. After the event, people worldwide crazily buy every product from Apple.

How does Golden Circle Theory work?

Most leaders or organizations like to do from “What” to “Why” (outside-in), but an inspired leader/ organization thinks oppositely from “Why” to “What.” To understand how it works, first, we know that human beings always try to find out the meaning; therefore, people do not buy what you have done but why you do it. Another explanation is that the human brain is the organ that makes decisions. In our brain, the outer layer, the neocortex, is responsible for rational, analytical thinking and language, and the inner sections, the limbic brain, are responsible for emotional, feeling, and decision-making. So, decision-making is not from language but the feeling or emotions. In other words, it is our nature to decide by our gut feeling.

TED Talk by Simon Sinek

If you are interested in this, you could also watch the TED talk video by Simon Sinek. He proposed this theory and explained how it works.

Conclusion

In sum, an inspired leader/ business would move audiences with a touching story. We could learn the inspired leadership by the golden circle theory to think from “Why,” “How,” to “What” in the business. I hope everyone can learn and practice the golden circle theory and become a good leader to lead your team/ company to success.

Become a successful leader (3): Know who I am, and what personality I have.

In the last article, I introduced what self-awareness is and why it is so important for leadership development. To better understand ourselves, except for the reflection and asking others how they see us, we could also take a personality test. The most popular personality test is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which consists of 16 personality types. Here I will use the MBTI personality test to explain how we use it to know who we are and what personality we have.

Free MBTI personality test

The official MBTI test is a paid test, however, there is a free version through a platform, called 16 Personalities. You could take a free test and get the result to know what type of personality you are.

Why do I need to know my personality?

Our behavior is decided by our personality traits, and the behavioral outcomes would highly impact our relationships with others. There 6 different types of relationships in our lives:

  • The container: people who make you feel safe and secure
  • The twin: people who have similarities with you
  • The adversary: people who usually oppose and confront you
  • The mirror: people who provide reflection to you
  • The mystic friend: people who know you in a mysterious way without speaking to you
  • The conscious partner: people who company with you and share the life experience with each other

We all need these 6 types of relationships to help us for personal growth and transformation at certain time points in our lives. Therefore, we have to learn our personalities and manage our relationships.

4 key elements in the MBTI personality test

In the MBTI personality test, we use 4 elements to characterize us from these personality aspects: mind, energy, nature, and tactics. In each aspect, we could divide into 2 different personality types.

  • Mind: where you focus attention; extraversion (E) or introversion (I)
  • Energy: the way you take in information; sensing (S) or intuition (N)
  • Nature: how you make decisions; thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • Tactics: how you deal with the world; judging (J) or perceiving (P)

To better understand the personality type, here is the definition for each type:

  • E, Exroverts: Enjoy hanging out with people, easy to get energized by people, enjoy a variety of tasks, a quick pace, and are good at multitasking
  • I, Introverts: Enjoy working alone or in a small group, prefer to work at a deliverate pace, also like to focus on one taks at a time
  • T, Thinkers:Good at using logical analysis, objectively weigh pros and cons, and value honesty, consistency, and fairness to make decision
  • F, Feelers: Tend to be sensitive and cooperative, and decide based on their onw personal values and how others will be affected by their actions
  • S, Sensors: Realistic, like to focus on the facts and details, apply coomon sense and past experience to come up with practical solutions to problems
  • N, Intuitives: Prefer to focus on possibilities and the big picture, easily see patterns, value innovation, and seek creative solutions to problems
  • J, Judgers: Tend to be organized and prepared, like to make and stick to plans, and are comfortable following most rules
  • P, Perceivers: Prefer to keep their options open, like to be able to act spontaneously, and like to be flexible with making plans

16 personalities

According to the 4 elements and 8 types, we could divide people into 16 personalities. First, we use goals, interests, and activities (Energy&Nature) to define 4 roles, Analysts (_NT_), Diplomats (_NF_), Sentinels (_S_J), and Explorers (_S_P). In each role, 4 personality types are defined by the preferred way to achieve goals (Mind&Tactics).

Once you find out which type of personality you have, there are resources on the 16 personalities website to introduce the personality including strengths, weaknesses, relationships, friendships, parenthood, career path, workplace habit…etc. From this information, we could better understand ourselves and train and grow to compensate for our weaknesses.

Conclusion

From my personal aspect, I think that finding out who we are, and what personality I have is a fun thing because it provides some clues that I never thought of. Taking me as an example, the test result is Commander (ENTJ-A), and I checked the information about this type. I learned that my weaknesses might be stubborn, intolerant, poor handling of emotions, cold and ruthless, but I could start to work on these to develop my own leadership. What is your test result? Please share with me. I am interested in seeing other personality types.

Things you need to know before entering the U.S. part I

If you are applying for graduate school, you might start to receive an interview notice or admission letter. Or if you are graduating from the Ph.D. program and plan to do your post-doctoral training in the U.S., Here are things you need to know before you board the flight.

The first thing we need to do is find a place to live, either an apartment or a house to rent. Fortunately, after the COVID pandemic, many landlords or leasing offices provide a virtual tour for the house or apartment. Although the virtual tour would be good enough to check the overview of the house, I would recommend having some local people check the place for you. It might be worth hiring a local student and asking the student to do a video chat while he/she is on tour. Some people would think this is a waste of money if there is a virtual tour service, but minor things might be easily neglected in the virtual tour. Or I would suggest that you stay at a hotel for 1-2 weeks before you have a tour and sign the contract. Do NOT pay any deposit without any house tour because it might be a fraud.

Second, everyone has a smartphone that requires wireless service. However, with smartphone technology, the only problem is that you do not have any wireless service, and you cannot do anything, go anywhere because modern people cannot live without a smartphone. There are three major wireless service companies in the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. I believe you could find the stores of these wireless service companies when you arrive at the international airport and get a prepaid sim card for your smartphone. Then you could still be a “smart” person to solve any problem with your phone.

Third, a driver’s license and a vehicle would be essential tools if you plan to live in the country because the bus schedule might not be as frequent as in the city. In the U.S., each state has its own motor vehicle laws and safe driving practices, for example, in New York State, when a school bus stops on street to load or discharge passengers, all the vehicles should stop for the school bus even you are on the opposite side of a divided highway. However, in New Jersey, if there is a divided highway and the vehicle is on the opposite side of the bus, the car does not need to stop but should drive less than 10 mph. So it is better for you to learn the local traffic law while you are new to the state. Additionally, the steps to get a driver’s license are to pass the written test for your Class D learner’s permit before you schedule the road test. About buying a car, I will prepare another blog to share my experience buying a car in the U.S. and share some tips to get a lower price.

In sum, I only listed the three most important things to those who are fresh off the boat. There are several minor things I could not discuss here due to the length of the blog, but feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Last, I would like to welcome you to the states and enjoy your lives here.

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Jason(Yen-Chun) Lu, All right reserved.