Paul Napper helps business leaders increase their effectiveness through focusing and strengthening their agency as leaders. His client list includes Fortune 500 companies, financial firms, non-profit organizations, universities, and start-ups. He is the co-author of The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decisions, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms.
Agency is the thing that allows us to make the right kinds of choices in our lives and live life on our own terms.
Two primary “buckets” for agency: Our behaviors and our thinking/processing of emotions.
3 Behavioral principles: 1. Control stimuli. To have agency, you must control the amount of stimuli you expose yourself to. 2. Associate selectively. Surround yourself with people who will make you better. 3. Manage yourself through movement. Move, eat, sleep well.
4 Cognitive principles: 4. Position yourself as a learner. Ask questions about the world, other people, yourself. 5. Manage your emotions and beliefs. Update your story as you need to. If you see yourself as a victim, etc., you will build a life around that belief. NOTE: Values don’t change much in life, but beliefs do. 6. Check your intuition. This is a learned skill and the primary mode by which we make day-to-day decisions. 7. Deliberate then act. Slow down and think through important decisions before making them… but don’t just deliberate!
Agency allows us to adapt.
There’s no such thing as bad weather… just bad gear!
We have the capacity to develop more agency. Instead of doing this, many look for external hacks (medication, etc.). We are all struggling to adapt, so do the work of developing agency in your life.
QUESTIONS TO INSPIRE US TO ACTION
What is some lesson, saying, or experience that continues to influence your leadership to this day? We tell ourselves stories in order to live. Humans live in the stories they construct for their lives, and we’re in a constant act of creating and re-creating those stories.
Use three descriptors to finish this sentence: “A leader is…” Creative, thoughtful, and measured.
What is a question that leaders should be asking either themselves or others? How did you arrive at that point of view?
What book would you recommend to leaders? The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growth by Amy Edmondson
If you could get every listener to start doing something THIS week to help them be a better leader, what would it be? Slow down, reflect more, and make sure you’re giving adequate time to the most important decisions you need to make.
As a general life principle, is it better to ask “why?” or “why not?” “Why?” is always a critical question, and “why not?” is just the other side of the coin. They are both important.