Posts Tagged “leaders”

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When you’re a manager, your employees are constantly watching to see how you behave and what you say. As a result, it’s important to be intentional about your choice of words in any setting.

As the boss, there are certain things you probably shouldn’t say.

You’re probably aware of the more obvious statements, like:

“I’m only doing this because corporate is making me.”
“I really shouldn’t be telling you this, but…”
“I just need to vent to you about [Person]…”
However, in addition to these obviously-nots, there are a few others phrases that, although seemingly harmless, may end up hurting you and your team.

1. “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”

Leaders often say this to their high performers—the low-maintenance team members they know they can count on to deliver. It’s intended to encourage them to keep it up by letting them know they’re doing a good job.

Still, as an executive coach, I’ve heard time and time again from high performers how frustrating this type of feedback is.

Why? Because they’re often ambitious. They want to advance in their careers, and they crave feedback that will help them grow. The absence of constructive criticism sometimes exasperates them so much that they’re inclined to seek out other opportunities where they’ll get the mentorship they need to continue moving up.

A Better Alternative
To maintain your high performers (and keep them growing), try: “You’re excelling with X. Let’s give you an opportunity to stretch by giving you more chances to do Y.” Or, “You’re doing really well! Let’s explore your career goals so that I can make sure I’m coaching you to get you ready for your next step.”

2. “Was That Clear?”

While this might seem like a reasonable thing to say, it might not always give you an accurate picture of whether or not your team understands your intended message.

For example, I’ve often seen really bright leaders provide so much information that it overwhelms their audience. In those cases, people might not even know where to begin to respond to the question. Further, if this is posed in a group setting, people are less likely to speak up for fear of looking like the only person who’s confused.

Even in those cases in which your audience thinks that everything’s clear, they still might not be on the same page (like when you’re talking with a peer and realize that you’ve each walked away from a meeting with different conclusions).

A Better Alternative
Instead, say: “Let’s do a quick review of the key takeaways to make sure I articulated it clearly.” (Then, you can review them, or better yet, you could have other people in the room review them for you.)

3. “Failure Isn’t an Option”

While this might be something that’s appropriate for life and death situations, for most leaders this isn’t the sort of phrase you should be using too frequently.

Although it seems like it sets the bar high, the reality is that it’ll likely encourage mediocrity.

Think about it: If people are afraid to make mistakes, do you think they’ll be willing to experiment to see if they can make something better, or do you think they’ll stay safely within the bounds of what they know?

A Better Alternative
You can tell your team, “To be innovative, we’ll probably have to take some calculated risks. I don’t want us to make mistakes on purpose, but they’ll inevitably happen. Let’s make sure to learn from them so we can continue to improve.”

4. “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”

This statement is usually meant to encourage problem-solving and proactivity. I’ve also seen it said by bosses who want to prevent employees from incessantly complaining about issues while doing absolutely nothing to solve them.

But according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, it can prevent people from speaking up about important issues they simply don’t know how to solve. This can result in leaders being unaware of where their team stands.

It can also create a “culture of advocacy” where people come to discussions highly invested in their solutions. As a result, they’re more concerned about selling their ideas than engaging with the group to work collaboratively.

A Better Alternative
To encourage your employees to speak up when needed, try: “To make this place better, we need to be aware of all problems—whether or not you know how to solve them. I’m also open to hearing your proposed solutions, too, so we can collaboratively improve our environment.”

To excel as a manager, you’ve got to be a great communicator. When you’re speaking, keep your goals in mind, and think critically about the messages you’re sending. With that sort of intentional communication, odds are you’ll have a positive impact on your team.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-harmless-phrases-leaders-never-say-at-work?ref=recently-published-1

Trusted Leaders

Posted by | February 3, 2017 | Employers, Industry News, Training

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These are the essential traits of a trustworthy boss.

By Marcel Schwantes, Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core

Organizations far and wide have for years attempted to crack the code on what makes for a healthy and profitable work culture. Well, let me save you time and money and simply break it to you here: It is trust.

We already know this to be true from several studies. For example, Great Place to Work — the global research consultancy that partners with Fortune to conduct the annual study of those “best companies” — confirms that trust is the human behavior you cannot afford not to have.

The research on those companies (Google, to no surprise, being No. 1 on the list seven out of the last 10 years) says that 92 percent of employees surveyed believe that management is transparent in its business practices. And transparency begets trust.

Author and thought-leader Stephen M.R. Covey makes his living on this. In his book, The Speed of Trust, Covey says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost (not to mention it’s free).

5 Leadership Habits You Absolutely Want for Developing Trust

In all my years working with HR and executive teams, I have often found that these five leadership habits are difference-makers in building trust. Trustworthy leaders:

1. Are willing to give up power.

You will find that many successful leaders give up power and entrust it to their team. They do this because they are confident in their team’s ability, since trust is freely given as a gift even before it’s earned. By giving up their power and pushing their authority down, they empower others to own decisions, thus creating a proactive leader-leader culture of success, rather than a reactive leader-follower culture.

2. Show remarkable resilience in the face of adversity.

Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Such leaders are the ones who bounce back from setbacks by self-diagnosing why the same issues keep coming up over and over. They will recover and be open to change much quicker — changing what’s holding them back, and changing what no longer serves the company. This is someone you can trust.

3. Are willing to trust and believe in the people they lead.

Bringing Stephen M.R. Covey and The Speed Of Trust back to the discussion, he says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost. But should you first earn the trust of your people? Or does trust develop from having a belief in your people first — their strengths, abilities, and commitment? In other words, which of these two statements would you agree with?

A. Trust is something that people must earn.

B. Trust is something that should be given as a gift.

If you chose A, you’re in the majority. Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust first, and if they violate that trust, it becomes difficult to earn it back, right? But if you selected B, pat yourself on the back. It has been found that, in healthy organizations, leaders are willing to give trust to their followers first, and they give it as a gift even before it’s earned.

4. Display humility as a leadership strength.

I’ve heard a few times from people in positions of power that humility is weak. Yet this core virtue drives against the inner strongholds that make a bad leader: pride, self-centeredness, judgmentalism, control, and impulsiveness.

Author and thought-leader Jim Collins has probably dedicated more time to researching and writing about humble leaders than any other topic in his landmark study of Level 5 Leadership. He states:

Level 5 leaders channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious — but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.

5. Are willing to seek input from peers.

Wondering how you are doing on your leadership path? Ask. It takes humility to say “How am I doing?” And even more humility to consider the answer.

Conclusion
Any company with a leadership team committed to developing a culture of trust will eventually realize that it starts with them. That is, if they’re willing to change and set the wheels in motion.

There is an absolute ROI when organizations invest in creating a high-trust culture. Great workplaces have significantly less turnover and attract employees who have a vested interest in their companies.

These factors ultimately lead to a competitive edge and enable companies to quickly bounce back from challenging situations.

Source: http://www.versatileresourcing.com/trusted-leaders/

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The old adage states that rules are meant to be broken. And, in fact, many of today’s most revered leaders echo this time-tested mantra: Sir Richard Branson once uttered the sage advice, “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

But while the rule-breaking approach certainly lends itself to disruptive ideas, innovative thinking, and challenging the status quo, don’t let the bravado fool you: Leaders do follow rules—just not always the rules taught in Management 101.

Below are a few out-of-the-box guidelines that some of the most famous leaders in recent history swear by—and how you can incorporate them into your own life.

Rule #1: Don’t Waste Brain Power on Trivialities

When it comes to leadership style in the most literal sense, Mark Zuckerberg is famous for his, let’s call it, “dorm room chic” fashion choices. His grey hoodie is an inextricable part of his public persona. Steve Jobs is another iconic figure who’s famous for a signature ensemble: Even Jobs’ LEGO character dons the black turtleneck.

There’s a well-documented reason why some successful leaders wear the same thing every day, and it’s not because they’re making a thinly veiled statement about corporate fashion: It’s to avoid decision fatigue, or the mental paralysis that results from information overload. The theory posits that your brain has a limited amount of decision-making power, so using it for trivial things—like your daily outfit or how to cook your eggs in the morning—is ultimately wasteful of a finite resource.

While we’re not advocating tossing out every wardrobe item that’s not on the grey scale, there is a valuable takeaway here: Prioritizing decisions is a crucial element of successful leadership. Look for opportunities in your own life to cut out or delegate choices that you don’t need to make—it can be key for reducing decision fatigue and freeing up extra brain space for matters that matter.

Rule #2: Fail, Fail Again

Growth through failure is one of the most prevalent themes touted by modern leaders.

James Dyson, for example, famously tested 5,127 prototypes of his revolutionary vacuum cleaner before releasing the version that finally went to market. Airbnb faced numerous VC rejections before finally successfully securing funding. Google Glass was probably one of the most famous failures out there.

I could go on and on. If you think about it (or do a little research), you’ll find that nearly every notable company has experienced spectacular failure at some point on the way. That’s because if you’re taking the risks required to do big things, things are bound to not work out as planned from time to time. Or, as author and speaker Ken Robinson says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

So how can you use failure to propel you forward like the great leaders of our time, rather than letting it get you down? In their book The Other “F” Word: How Smart Leaders, Teams, and Entrepreneurs Put Failure to Work, John Danner and Mark Coopersmith suggest this: Expect that disasters will happen and plan for the worst of them ahead of time; aim to recognize failure early and respond as it’s happening; and if everything falls apart, analyze what went wrong and put those lessons into everything you do moving forward. And, we’d add, make sure you take care of yourself along the way and surround yourself with colleagues and comrades you’re certain will have your back in a slump.

Rule #3: Always Ask for Criticism

On the path to successful leadership, feedback walks right next to failure. Not only is it important to “never stop iterating,” but it’s also crucial to seek honest feedback from consumers, colleagues, and your own team members.

In a 2013 TED talk, Elon Musk advised about the importance of seeking negative feedback, particularly from those closest to you and your business. “Really pay attention to negative feedback, and solicit it, particularly from friends,” he says. “This may sound like simple advice, but hardly anyone does that, and it’s incredibly helpful.” Bill Gates backs him up, suggesting leaders pay close attention to any negative points of feedback from users or customers: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” he once famously advised. We’d note that this also applies to unhappy teammates, bosses, or anyone else you work closely with.

While it’s never fun to face your shortcomings, it’s important to take them seriously (but not personally) if you want to move forward. First things first, figure how much of the feedback is a fact or an opinion. While both may be worth addressing, this simple distinction is important. If need be, ask more questions of the person giving you feedback to really try to understand the crux of the problem. Then, start creating a plan to solve it, working with a trusted friend or advisor if you need some help understanding how to move forward.

And, of course, make sure to also remind yourself what you’re doing well along the way, to help keep your spirits up!

Rule #4: Have Confidence to Ask for What You Need

People often think successful leaders have gotten to the top by throwing themselves into their work, sacrificing their life for long hours at the office, and always being available. And while, yes, for some this is true, more often leaders are able to succeed because they are thoughtful about what they need to make all aspects of their lives work—and aren’t afraid to ask for it.

Sheryl Sandberg is one of the most famous proponents of this rule, and one of the disciples of Sandberg’s philosophy is Stacy Brown-Philpot, CEO of TaskRabbit. Brown-Philpot’s list of accomplishments is lengthy; her resume includes names like Goldman Sachs and Google, and she’s the founder of the Black Googler Network, a cornerstone of the company’s revamped diversity efforts. But, in her Lean In story, she shares that some of her successful decisions came not because she threw her life to the side, but because she figured out what she would need to balance everything. “Never be afraid to ask for what you need to make your whole life—not just your work life—work for you,” she shares.

Asking for the things you need to maintain work-life balance, as well as asking for support from employees, colleagues, and trusted confidants is paramount for successful leaders to avoid burnout and, ultimately, be better at what they do.

So, if you think a weekly work-from-home day, the opportunity to leave the office a little earlier to pick up your kids, or something similar would make you a more balanced person and, in turn, a better professional, don’t be afraid to approach your boss and see if a flexible arrangement can be worked out.
Becoming a leader isn’t easy, but the good news is, those who’ve come before have left a playbook that’s worth paying attention to. Begin to follow these rules, and you’ll likely get closer to success than you ever imagined.

Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-rules-the-most-successful-leaders-live-by?ref=carousel-slide-0