Just over a week ago I was lucky enough to attend the 2018 Neuroleadership Summit. Lucky, because it was an awesome conference, and doubly lucky as it happened to be in one of my favourite cities in the world, New York.

There was so much amazing brain science, research and interesting studies presented. To say my brain was fried by the end of the conference is an understatement.

The irony, after two days of incredible information, the one thing that stuck (and got a round of applause from the audience) was a simple story that one of the panel members, Matt Breitfelder from BlackRock (the world’s largest asset management firm) shared.

The context was about how to make feedback/performance review processes brain-friendly.

He shared a story that went a little something like this:

“I have an 8yr old daughter, Lily, and recently I went to her parent-teacher conference at the school. I spent a long time preparing myself with a list of Lily’s strengths, weaknesses, her results to date, what my thoughts were on her improvement plan. I had a list of questions to fire away at the teacher to show that I took my daughter's education and growth seriously.  I arrive, chest puffed out, “ I’m the Managing Director & Chief Talent Officer for a multinational - I got this!”

Within the first few minutes, the teacher presented Lily’s self-assessment of her ‘Glow  & Grow’. The three things were she felt she Glowed at school, and the three things that she needs to help her Grow!”  Matt was flawed.

He continued “And with that, I put away my prepared documents and my list of questions, along with my ego and sat in awe of this teacher and the wonderful impact she was having on my daughter, both her development and self-esteem”.

The audience erupted in laughter and applause!
The response was interesting to me.

It highlights the power of simplicity and storytelling.
It was such a simple concept. 

Wanna improve performance at work?
What would happen if we asked people to reflect and list the three areas where they GLOW at work, their strengths, the activities that give them energy - focus on making them feel good about themselves and feeling safe, first. Once they feel ‘safe’, they are more likely to share the three areas where they could GROW.

No need to overcomplicate the feedback process. But, we do like to do that, don’t we! Overcomplicate. Sometimes it’s to make us look smart or feel smart, but it ain’t smart!

Simplicity is Smart!

Matt’s example landed so beautifully with a room full of leaders for two reasons:

  1. It was simple, and  

  2. He made it real with a personal story, allowing us to have our own personal insight (A’ha moment).

Whether you are a leader of people or not, we can all take a leaf out of Matt’s book when trying to influence others or drive better outcomes.

  • What can you do to simplify the information or process to make a concept stick?

  • What stories can you share to allow others to have their own 'a’ha' moments, which will lead to a greater chance of behaviour change?

Until next time!


BLYTHE ROWE & Her Life on Heels.

The founder and director of Human Incite, is widely recognised for her passion, energy and her ability to shake things up. Blythe is brilliant at revving-up productivity and performance in organisations. She is on a mission to rid our workplaces of toxic behaviours, build meaningful relationships, personally and professionally and create workplaces worth belonging. Her enthusiasm simply is infectious!