Coaching World Issue 12: November 2014 - Page 6

Network with a Clean Conscience If the thought of professional networking makes you squirm, you’re not alone. A recent study found that networking for the purpose of career advancement makes some people feel immoral and physically dirty. “People feel that they cannot justify their actions to themselves, and the lack of justification comes from the difficulty people have in framing some forms of networking as motivated by a concern for other people versus a selfish concern,” said study co-author Tiziana Casciaro, an associate professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Networking can be critical for career development, so that uneasy feeling may hold back an otherwise highperforming employee from moving up the ladder at work. Casciaro and fellow researchers Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Maryam Kouchaki of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management based their findings on both laboratory experiments and a study of lawyers at a large North American firm. The researchers found that lawyers who held positions of power in the firm were less likely to report feeling impure while networking and networked more often. Those who held less power in the office reported that networking made them feel dirtier and that they were less likely 6 Coaching World Those negative feelings can be overcome when people start to see networking as being about more than just themselves, such as an opportunity to develop the networker’s knowledge of their industry, with the benefit being passed on to whomever they work with, said Casciaro. Networking can be more palatable if you feel that you have something to offer in return. “Don’t underestimate what you can give,” said Casciaro. The study was published in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly. —Lisa Barbella Shutterstock.com/ Bangkokhappiness Shutterstock.com/ baranq Keeping Current to do it. This imbalance is likely to reinforce the existing power structure and make it more difficult for those at the bottom to advance. Not Just Nature or Nurture Is “genius” a matter of genetics, or can anyone achieve greatness through dedication and hard work? According to new research from Michigan State University, your belief about this question can literally affect the functioning of your brain and your ability to achieve goals. The study suggests that simply being told that effort trumps genetics can cause instant changes in the brain and prompt subjects to perform better. To conduct the study, researchers split participants into two groups and instructed them to read one of two articles about the nature of intelligence. The first article stated that intelligence was largely genetic and immutable. The second article stated that intelligence was malleable—that the genius of brilliant individuals, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein, was “probably due to a challenging environment,” and “had little to do with genetic structure.” The subjects were told to remember the article’s key points, then to complete a set of reactiontime tests while the researchers monitored their brain activity. The participants who read the “immutable” article showed an increase in attention to their responses (as if they were more conscious of their own performance), but no improvement in the task from trial to trial. In contrast, the subjects who read the “malleable” article showed an increased attention to the task itself, and an improved performance from trial to trial. Lead investigator Hans Schroder, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at MSU, says that regardless of the “nature vs. nurture” debate, simply holding the belief that intelligence is malleable creates positive effects in the brain, and thereby encourages us to work harder. He noted that “giving people messages that encourage learning and motivation may promote more efficient performance,” while “telling people that intelligence is genetically fixed may inadvertently hamper learning.” The Takeaway We all possess different strengths and abilities, some more malleable than others. But it’s interesting to see that by simply believing that change and growth is possible, we encourage our ability to change and grow, and in doing so, work to develop our highest potential. The study appears in the journal Biological Psychology. —Justin Hannah