Posts in leadership
Tips to Help Your People Become More Independent

The transition from dependence to independence exists in many arenas, including the workplace. As leaders, we want to quickly help our newly employed or repositioned personnel move from needy and dependent, requiring lots of direction, to confident self-reliant, and thus capable for being delegated to.

Here are some steps that can help expedite the process of making your people more independent.

  1. Avoid micromanaging – It is very common for managers and supervisors to want to ensure that their newest additions feel properly supported. They also want to avoid early mess-ups. So, they micromanage and insist on being involved in every step. While this is understandable, it is also detrimental to the new person’s growth. Find ways to allow them the space to work without constant direction, so that they can spread their wings.

  2. Be willing to let them fail Jon Brodsky of Finder.com takes the approach of letting his newly-appointed managers fast and forward. This does not mean that they get tossed into the deep-water section with the hope they quickly figure out how to swim. Instead, the goal is to give them space and permission (if not encouragement) to fail in controlled, low-stakes ways. This will allow them to learn from the process and start self-correcting. In the long-term, this learning will be far more valuable and lasting.

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What Kind of Cop Are You?

Can you be nice and still get things done? Is it possible to be pleasant and still respected?

The short answer is yes. It is possible to balance the two, to set high expectations and yet find ways to be giving, demonstrate care, and go the extra mile. (For more about leaderships styles and how to best leverage your style with others’ needs, clink here.)

Leading others is less about choosing a persona (changing who we are at our core can be awfully difficult and can lead to all sorts of unwanted side effects) and more about finding a way for your inner self to balance against what your people really need.

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From Resolution to Achievement: 8 Tips for Making Your New Year’s Commitments Stick

If you are like most people, you will take some time on New Year’s Day to reflect on the outgoing year and set some resolutions for the year ahead.

Maybe you’ll decide to make a lifestyle change, such as eating healthier and exercising more.

Perhaps you’ll determine that it is time for more work-life balance or to travel more often.

You may set some business-related goals, such as making more sales calls or taking other action steps that will improve your bottom line.

These, or any other constructive goals, are the first step in living a better, more fulfilled life.

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It Needn't be Lonely at the Top

Loneliness is, in a relative sense, measured in the eyes of the beholder. Some argue that the loneliest professionals in the world are those who toil in isolation, with limited opportunity for interpersonal communication. Yet there are others who weigh loneliness not by the frequency or infrequency of their interactions with others but rather with the quality of such exchanges.

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Winter Driving Lessons for Business Leaders

Driving conditions for much of the Northeast this past Thursday afternoon and evening were downright abysmal. Weather forecasts had grossly underestimated the amount of snow and sleet that would blanket the region, often at blinding speeds. Road crews were slow to respond and were understaffed.

Traffic, naturally, moved at a grinding pace. My commute home, for example, was more than doubled.

Despite my less-than-ideal commute, there were some lessons from the experience that can inform decision making in more normative business conditions. (I guess having multiple hours of solitude can produce some useful insights.😀)

  1. Listen carefully to the forecast – While in this case, the forecast was somewhat misleading, in most instances knowing what is being predicted can vastly improve decision making. The same is true for the workplace. Before taking action that involves outside conditions, such as market and industry trends, seek to get as much information as possible. Then, use that information to guide your decisions. Sounds simple, right? Well, it isn’t, in part because business data is not presented as neatly as a weather forecast. Successful leaders know how much information they need (HINT: it’s not 100%) and then what to do with it and which traps to avoid when seeking to move forward.

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Make your feedback personal

It is not a secret that job satisfaction in this country is not where it should be. A 2014 Conference Board report says that the majority of Americans (52.3%) are unhappy at work. What makes our workers happiest? The CB report says that “interest in work” provides satisfaction to 59% of the workplace. Even more fulfilling was “people at work,” which 60.6% said they liked. Similarly, an expansive study by Boston Consulting Group found that the No. 1 factor for employee happiness on the job is getting appreciated for work. The question for me is this: If interpersonal relationships and the expression of appreciation are so important to employees, why aren’t leaders spending more time doing it?

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Confront With Care

Few leaders can avoid confrontation. There are simply too many items and employees that require oversight and guidance. The likelihood is very high that every leader will need to address numerous areas of concern within her organization at various points.

Whether the matter is personal (a coworker's attitude or manners, for example) or performance related, confronting someone about an issue can be one of the hardest things for a leader to do. It is generally unpleasant for someone to have to bring this concern forward and demand change and improvement. In fact, many leaders will go to extreme lengths to avoid it. Some reasons for this include:

  • Fear of how your relationship will be affected moving forward;

  • Concern over being seen as overly demanding or callous;

  • Bad feelings from past confrontations that went awry;

  • Second-guessing and questioning ourselves regarding our grounds and motives for the confrontation;

  • Negative memories from times that we were confronted by others.

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13 "S" Hacks to Increase Productivity

A recent report from the US Department of Labor confirms what many of us already suspect. Employee productivity is on the decline, with increases in email to respond to, web surfing, daily meetings, and poor management partly to blame (though meetings and idea sharing, while not productive per se, can and often do yield positive benefits.) Many leaders and managers similarly are also not as productive as they once were.

Let’s be honest. Staying productive can be tough, especially for folks who need to use their minds (to manage others, plan and be strategic, produce content, develop code, solve problems, coach, etc.) and / or pound the pavement to generate sales or other deliverables.

To help us become more productive, and to make the list more memorable, I compiled a list of “s” productivity pointers. They are in no particular order.

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Educational Insights from the Business World

Without question, there are several significant differences between the roles and goals of educators and those the ply their trade in the business world. Perhaps most significant is how the two groups measure success.

Educators are focused primarily on student learning and development. To them, a healthy fiscal bottom line is a means through which they can achieve their goals, not an end to itself. Businesspeople, in contrast, are mainly interested in developing successful, profitable enterprises. Learning and development are viewed as necessary to help businesses and their people grow, but do not constitute a primary objective for most businesses.

The fundamental difference of purpose that separates schools from businesses often lends members of each camp to think that there is little to be learned from the other. This, in my view, is particularly true for educators. As a former teacher and principal, I felt a fundamental disconnect from what was occurring in the for-profit world. Many of my peers and colleagues expressed similar sentiment. Any time that I heard of some lay leader or governmental initiative to make schools more like businesses, I became suspicious. “What do they know about education anyway?”, I would ask.

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