Posts in leadership
8 Tips to Handle Workplace Absenteeism

Simply put, absenteeism is a big deal for business leaders. It costs a lot in terms of lost productivity and temporary labor costs. Add in weakened morale and the price of absenteeism grows even more substantial.

So, what can leaders do to address it? Here are some strategies to consider.

  1. Be proactive – Don’t let the problem go on for so long that you eventually react in anger or, in the interim, come across to others as unresponsive.

  2. Keep records – While you don’t want to be breathing down people’s necks, it is important to have accurate attendance data at your disposal. This will give you the information that you need to have corrective conversations.

  3. Demonstrate concern – When you notice a trend, approach the employee and demonstrate concern. Ask her what’s going on and what can be done to rectify matters. Approach the conversation with the assumption that the employee wants to be on time and reliable. See what you can do to be helpful.

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Learn to Tell a Great Story

In my work as a professional speaker, I seek to weave in stories whenever possible. The reason is simple. Unlike dry, technical information, stories deliver messages direct to the heart. They deliver immediate understanding and are remembered much longer than other information.

When I use words like, “Let me tell you a story,” the audience always becomes more alert and attentive. It’s like they’re thinking, “Okay, here comes the really good stuff.”

Good stories have a power all their own. They can make complex issues understandable. They can give people a sense of community. They can call people to action in ways they never imagined.

Storytelling is not just an important skill for speakers. Now more than ever, great leaders are great storytellers. Storytelling helps executives weave rich narratives that inspire their organizations, set a vision, teach important lessons, and define the culture and values. Perhaps most importantly, stories explain who you are, how you got here, and what you believe most deeply about your work and about each other.

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How to Reward Employees Without Spending Money

In a recent post we talked about gifting experiences instead of money. But sometimes, even experiences are not in the cards. Or perhaps you want to set a standard that not every good act needs a tangible What then?

Consider gifting privileges.

When I was a head of school, we introduced a behavior management program that was built around core values. Students who demonstrated behaviors and attitudes that were in line with our values (safe, friendly, respectful and responsible) would receive tickets that could be cashed in for prizes. Some of those prizes were physical rewards, such as a toy or slice of pizza. But many were privileges, like having lunch with a certain adult or becoming my personal assistant for a day. Students were able to choose what they wanted, and many chose the privileges over tangible rewards.

We all want to feel respected and important. And what better way to gift somebody that feeling than by fostering opportunities for them to be recognized and pampered?

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How to Find the Right Person and Train Them, Part II

Finding the right person to delegate to may not be enough. Often, that person – experienced or not – is going to need to learn new concepts and skills to do their job correctly and efficiently.

One of the first questions you want to ask is, “what do you need to learn in order to do this task properly?” Once s/he has responded, add whatever you feel may still be missing. At that point, work to determine how s/he is going to get the needed training.

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How to Give Feedback Like a Boss, Part II

Following are more tips to help keep feedback conversations constructive.

  1. Be growth oriented – The primary purpose of feedback should not be assessment. Rather, it should be on coaching employees to grow and set new goals. Once goals are set, use them as a baseline for future conversations with a focus on how the employee is progressing towards his/her goals. If insufficient progress is being made, use the conversation to figure out why and what can be done to help get things on track.

  2. Be reasonable – Even if there are many correctable items that you’d like to discuss, avoid overloading. Too much information will only dilute the conversation and reduce its effectiveness. Choose the 2-3 most important elements that require attention and leave all others alone. Less is more.

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Become a Leader of Influence

At the heart of great leadership is influence, as in the ability to influence others to do what needs to get done.

In a piece written for Forbes, Kevin Kruse defines leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” I like his approach because it factors in some important primary leadership elements: (social) influence, others, effort optimization and goals.

Leadership is about influencing others, rather than demanding and coercing. It speaks to the ability to win people over to a new way of thinking and practice, through idea sharing, collaboration and role modeling. It emphasizes persuasion and motivation over coercion.

Influence occurs primarily through emotional connections, such as when we share triumphant or challenging times together. It also develops when leaders routinely demonstrate feelings of appreciation, care, concern, and empathy.

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The 3 I's of effective leadership

For leaders, the letter “I” represents three key elements in their ultimate success. These elements build from the inside out, starting with one’s core identity and purpose and extending far beyond self. They remind us of what we can do and become when we solidify our core and make others’ success our focus.

They are: (1) integrity, (2) influence and (3) impact.

  • Integrity helps us become the best versions of ourselves and communicates what we stand for.

  • Influence allows us to direct and augment the work of others.

  • Impact is all about results. We create impact when we achieve our goals.  

These three do not exist in a vacuum. In fact, they lead one into the next.

When we’re in integrity (A), we become more influential (B). This, in turn, drives results, magnifying our impact (C).

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Focus on Expertise Over General Knowledge

It's hard to run when you can barely walk.

Or read fluently when you struggle to decode.

Or pull things together when each individual task is complicated and onerous.

Last week, I was walking on a sidewalk made from decades-old slate tiles. Between the rain and wet pollen, it made for a treacherous walk.

I slipped a bit on each step and had to walk much more slowly and gingerly than usual.

Walking went from an automatic, subconscious act to a conscious one that required thought and consideration.

My mind, which is free to think, was held captive by my need to get home safely.

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How to Coach Your Team to Success

One of the biggest challenges for leaders is to create and maintain the proper conditions for worker engagement and productivity. We know that if we are to maintain high levels of workplace output and morale we need to ensure that our employees feel valued and challenged. We also recognize that if we want to be able to respond to, if not stay in front of, marketplace change we need to develop workers who are comfortable thinking independently and contributing to the collective brain trust.

Too many leaders and managers, however, fail to achieve this because they do not understand how to motivate today’s workers or how to empower them to think and act independently and more positively.

In generations past people would be told what they needed to do from their earliest years. Parents would instruct children on how to behave at home and teachers would demand student compliance in school. Failure to obey would result in corporal punishment or other heavy handed responses. In the workplace, employees would be given orders and were required to dutifully implement them if they wanted to hold their positions for any meaningful duration.

But times have changed. As younger workers make their way into the workplace, they expect to play by a different set of rules. They want to be given the freedom to experiment, a voice with which to weigh in at staff meetings and the ability to pursue what they view as meaningful, engaging work. Anything less they view as limiting, which spells dissatisfaction and, for the most part, underperformance (if not outside job seeking).

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