NASAA Notes: May 2022

May 3, 2022

Reading That's Inspiring Me

Reading powers us personally and professionally, and I’m always appreciative of the opportunity to pick up something new to read. Below I’m pleased to share what’s within arm’s reach for me these days; they’re providing ample food for thought and inspiration. Perhaps one will wind up on your reading list.

How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted—and You Are, Too, from Harvard Business Review

How true this title rings! Leaders at all levels need solid strategies for themselves and to support their teams. Among other lessons, this text reminded me about the difference between urgency and importance; the idea is simple enough, yet too many foggy moments these past two years veered me from the path of focusing most deeply on what’s actually of utmost importance. This article also shares strategies for energizing our teams, which is critically important for resilience.

How Political Polarization Is Changing Work, from HBR IdeaCast, Episode 850 (audio and transcript available)

Political polarization stays on many of our hearts and minds these days. It seems we’re more divided than ever—divided by our differing opinions and divided by how we feel about those with different opinions from ours. This piece offers a conversation about how to prevent colleagues’ differences of opinions from advancing into conflicts. The chat offers strategies and frames for entering into difficult conversations likely to surface disagreements. For example, one strategy helps folks center more curiosity and less judgment during exchanges that can be polarizing.

Hiring Revolution: A Guide to Disrupt Racism and Sexism in Hiring, by Alfonso T. Wenker and Trina C. Olson

This book comes to us from two colleagues at Team Dynamics, the organization that facilitated anti-bias trainings for NASAA members and staff last year. The guide helps readers understand how they can disrupt bias in hiring practices. It’s a practical book that provides concrete solutions for taking action throughout the hiring process. Here’s a small example. We’ve all heard of reference checking, right? But have you heard of preference checking? We all have preferences and biases; it’s innate. However, if we’re cognizant of our preferences and surface them, we can consider our feelings about who we’re usually most comfortable with and who we tend to find likable. These preferences can be barriers when trying to diversify a team. Noticing and naming our preferences can help us keep them in check and be more open to a diverse pool of candidates.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt

John Bracey, retired executive director of the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, recommended this book to me. Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist who uses research on moral psychology to help people better understand each other. It’s compelling to me that a number of conservatives, centrists and progressives recognize the value in his book. This text dives deeply into why we’re so easily divided, often into hostile groups. Haidt’s goal is to help make conversations about morality, politics and religion more civil and more common. It’s a lofty goal and an interesting read.

Call Us What We Carry, by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is inspiration incarnate, and hers is a lovely book that powerfully captures the moment in time in which we currently live. When I first picked up this book, I was struck that a book of poetry can feel like such a page turner, a literal can’t-put-it-down page turner. I love poetry, but my experience with it is usually a lot calmer than that. Regardless, that was my introduction to this book; it’s just that exciting. These days, by comparison, I’m happiest to pick it up and slowly savor just one poem on any given day. It provides quite the healing balm in response to the two years we’ve all just experienced.

Whatever your choices, I wish you many happy readings that inspire your soul as well as your work!


In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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