Posts tagged leadership
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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How to Deepen the Workplace Bond

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports. Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Another, more sustainable approach to bonding with employees is to actively connect with them on a regular basis. Hewlett Packard (HP) founders William Hewlett and David Packard used a strategy that has become known as MBWA, or Management By Wandering Around. As its name implies, MBWA requires regular walking throughout the workplace. It offers many benefits to leaders and their employees

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5 Tips to Increase Workplace Engagement

The statistics about worker disengagement are staggering. We read all the time about how workplace engagement levels are low here in the U.S. and even lower around the world. Loss of productivity is estimated to cost employers hundreds of millions of dollars annually, if not billions. And it all stems from how disconnected folks feel from the people working around them, the work that they do each day, and the purpose that it serves to them and to others.

Workplace connection results in many benefits, including stronger communication, greater synergy, enhanced anticipation of others’ needs and worries / concerns, and, last but certainly not least, increased worker engagement. When we feel connected, we operate with a sense of purpose and utilize our many talents and abilities to advance that purpose, consciously as well as subconsciously.  

The need for connection at work is perhaps stronger today than ever before. It has become an expectation, especially amongst younger workers, that the workplace be a source of meaning and intention, not just a place at which to collect a paycheck.

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How NOT to show appreciation

Do your people feel valued and appreciated at work?

If you're a leader, one of the most important things you need to be doing is thinking about how can you demonstrate appreciation – that's right – appreciation for your people and what they are doing for you.

We cannot assume that just because we pay people – and often pay them really well – that that alone constitutes appreciation.

Nor can we assume that just because we don't need appreciation, which may or may not be the case, but even if we don't, that others don't as well.

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How to Help Yourself When You’re Helping Others

A colleague of mine recently attended an educational conference. She met a teacher during a session about working with students who have experienced trauma. The teacher said that she knew how to help traumatized students but asked wonderingly, “How do I help me? You have to get into their lives in order to teach them. And their trauma is deep. It stays with you. So, here’s my question: After I go over the line to help them, who pulls me back?”

Sadly, traumatic situations do not only affect students and their teachers. Many working professionals have also experienced workplace trauma, which can be categorized as follows: (1) stressful events (death, grief, suicide, accident or injury), (2) organizational stressors (bullying, threats, harassment, betrayal, maliciousness, extreme isolation, chronic pressure, toxic work environment, uncertainty, fear for the future, downsizing or fear of unemployment), (3) physical stressors (noise, chaotic environment, sense of no control over space, fear for physical safety, harsh or flashing lights, extremes of heat or cold, working amid construction) and (4) external threats (evacuation, lockdown, fire or robbery).

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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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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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How to Know When to Keep Pushing

Recently, I was out driving on the highway during a rain storm. I signaled right and started to switch lanes. The problem was that, due to low visibility, I failed to see a van that was moving into the same space. It’s tail swiped the front side of my car.

For the next few days, I drove around with increased hesitation. Before turning, I would double and triple check. My driving speeds were down a few miles. In general, I was more cautious. After a while, however, I was back to my New York driver self, navigating the streets with (semi) reckless abandon.

It’s common for people who experience a setback to be more cautious the next time. The problem is, many folks will often view a single failure as an indictment on past efforts and not try again. For example, they make a large number of sales calls that don’t convert. Or they produce a product, service or program that they believe will sell and get almost no response. So, they quickly throw in the towel and give up.

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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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