Category: Leadership

As a leader at your job or as a manager within your organization, you will have to make tough decisions. These decisions may include the need to hire or fire someone, or they could include the need to make strategic decisions about company partnerships. Having a poor decision making process can hamper you as a leader, threaten your legitimacy, and lead to unwanted outcomes. Improving your decision making is just like anything else, it takes practice. But a good place to start is by creating a framework for your success.

Leader Thinking Aboout Decision

Don’t Make Permanent Decisions In Temporary Emotional Moments

The easiest way to become a better decision maker is to stop making decisions while you are in an emotional moment. Did an employee make a critical mistake that upset you? Take a breath before making a personnel decision. Did your vendor come up short when you needed them last month? Think about it before making a change. Oftentimes we make decisions in anger without stopping to think of all the potential consequences. We don’t evaluate all of the possible outcomes. As a result, decisions made in emotional moments are more likely to lead to mistakes that cost us personally and our organizations collectively. Stop making decisions in a moment of anger, fear, or sadness. Instead, take a deep breath and think about it for a bit. Let the emotions pass, evaluate the situation, and then make a decision.

Create A Workflow For Big Decisions

In big organizations, leaders typically make significant decisions with the help of their workflow. A good workflow for organizational decisions will help leaders to figure out what steps to take and which opinions to consider before making the leap. Workflows are generally extremely detailed and used by more than one manager or leader in an organization, so it might be a good idea to create one with a team instead of by yourself.

Build A Circle That You Can Trust

This is may be the most important. Nobody can consistently make good decisions by themselves. It is a great idea to build a team of managers that you can trust and bounce ideas off of. You might not always take their advice, but hearing their concerns can help you think of situations from a different perspective. This can help prevent you from missing critical problems that you might not have thought of.

Decision Making With Team

Becoming a better decision maker takes time, just like anything else. You aren’t going to immediately make the best possible decision in every situation overnight. Decision making isn’t always easy either, regardless of how skilled you are at it and how good your framework is. It still might take you awhile to come to a conclusion about a particularly complex topic. However, improving your decision making process makes it significantly more likely that the conclusion that you come to is the right decision, and that you and your organization will be better off for making it.

Becoming a better leader doesn’t only benefit you, it also benefits your team and its overall productivity. Strong leaders understand how to motivate their teams and how to properly allocate resources so that they can be in a position to be successful. Poor leaders can sap motivation and drive from a team, and make them less likely to give their all in any given project. If you want to get the most out of your organization, you have to learn what drives each one of your key team members and how to get them to work together as a cohesive unit. Poor leadership can be very destructive to your business and to the value of the products and services that you offer.


Productivity Is Directly Tied To Leadership

Your team’s productivity is directly impacted by your leadership. If you are a good leader, who understands each team members’ role and how to put them in a position to be successful, then your team will likely see an increase in productivity over time. But if you are a poor leader who is constantly negative and uses fear, power or rage to drive results, then you are going to see your team’s motivation and productivity drop over time. Positive leadership inspires people by finding what drives them and helping them to become a proud member of something bigger then themselves.

Poor Leaders Can Sap A Team’s Motivation

Have you ever been a part of a sports team with a bad coach? Perhaps your bad coach never used positive reinforcement or always seemed to be in a bad mood. Maybe they didn’t recognize your successes or even reacted negatively to them. This kind of leadership probably didn’t motivate you to give your best effort. It might have even tore your teammates apart instead of bringing them together. And the ultimate result is that everyone is worse off. Poor leaders can destroy a team’s morale and limit their upside.

The Misallocation Of Resources

Leadership is about empathy and motivation, but it is also about the allocation of resources. Good leaders understand what roles to put certain team members in, and which resources and tasks to put them in charge of. A misallocation of resources can cause productivity problems even for a leader who understands how to motivate their team.

Team Productivity

Poor leadership often creates a sense of resentment that festers amongst a team. It can lead to poor productivity, but also high turnover and other negative externalities. You can avoid this by improving on your leadership skills and your empathy. You have to understand what drives and motivates your team members so that you can keep them happy and enthusiastic about coming to work every day and putting in a strong effort. Poor leadership is expensive, and wastes time, money, effort, and resources. That is why it is worth it to put the effort into become a better leader, and to take the time to hire managers who share your work ethic and values.

Everyone has a work dispute at some point. After all, we are human beings with feelings and emotions. Conflict is inevitable, we aren’t always going to see eye to eye. It isn’t the conflict that is the problem, it is how leaders manage conflict that matters. At every successful company in the world there are competitive people with diverging ideas on what works at any given time. Sometimes, people come to ideological disagreements that must be resolved. Sometimes the disagreements are much more mundane, and pertain to things as small as assigned seating. The way that a leader manages work disputes says a lot about their company. Strong leaders know how to manage these issues without compromising the relationship or morale of their employees.

Work Disputes Management

Make Sure Employees Understand Their Boundaries

When employees don’t understand their boundaries, conflict can arise. That is why it is important that you set boundaries as part of an employee guideline. For example, your guidelines might state that employees cannot discuss controversial topics, such as politics, on company time. This can help to limit the opportunity for conflict to occur.

Learn To Respect Your Differences

When you are running a successful business, you are often bringing together people from different cultures with fairly different ideologies. These differences don’t always have to result in conflict. It is critical that your employees (and management team) learns to respect and even embrace their differences as a strength, not a weakness. Sometimes this can be done through a class on diversity or multiculturalism. Sometimes the entire team should sit down and talk through their problems—as leaving an open line of communication is key to reducing the amount of conflict on a team.

Bring The Tension To The Forefront And Resolve It

There is nothing worse than tension that simmers under the surface. When tension isn’t addressed or resolved, the problem just gets bigger and more explosive. That is why it is critical to address problems when they arise instead of avoiding them. Good leaders bring the tension to the forefront without confrontation. Sometimes, this can be done through mediation.

Managing work disputes isn’t easy, and it isn’t meant to be. It is a skill that good leaders pick up and develop over time. The best leaders understand how to bring people together that have different ideologies in order to achieve a common goal. Managing personalities and handling work disputes is part of that. Strong leaders know how to create an environment where employees respect boundaries, where workers respect their differences, and where there is enough communication where employees can feel comfortable working things out. Does your company have a plan for managing work disputes? If not, it might be time to come up with a framework.

* Work Disputes Management image credit goes to: rawpixel.

The best leaders have technical competence in their industry along with emotional intelligence and a gift for persuasiveness. Think about it—we constantly laud CEOs for their ability to make tough decisions under pressure, especially when it comes to products and design. But do we hear much about a CEO’s ability to be persuasive? Not much. Being persuasive is absolutely critical, especially for small businesses. Small businesses are looking to make connections early on, and the failure to do so can make or break the business. That is why it is important for leaders to learn how to be persuasive and when to apply those tools.

Be You

Understand Your Target Audience

In order to persuade an individual or a group, you have to know what makes them tick. What are they interested in? What do they dislike? What kinds of arguments have persuaded them in the past? Doing this kind of research on customer segments is common place, because businesses need to know how to reach their target audience and be convincing.

Building Credibility

It is one thing to understand your target audience, but it is another thing to build credibility with them. Building credibility looks different for each business, but generally it is about learning how to look, feel, and sound authentic to your target audience. If your target audience is seniors, for example, you wouldn’t try to reach them via social media. If your target audience is young people, you wouldn’t try to reach them through a newspaper ad. Be authentic!

Connecting Emotionally

Creating an emotional connection is a great way to become persuasive. This comes through the development of a narrative and a storyline about your company and your brand. How do you want other people to view your company? How are you going to get that story out there to your audience? Why should your prospective customers feel emotionally invested in your business and its success? An example could be a health friendly food store that is focused on good environmental practices crafting a narrative that appeals to vegan and vegetarian consumers.

You can learn to be persuasive, just like you can learn any other skill. It isn’t something that is innate, you aren’t born with the ability to persuade others. But it is an especially critical skill for leaders that they must master in order to reach their full potential. A great leader can persuade talented people to join their company as employees. They can persuade prospective customers to become repeat buyers. And they can persuade the skeptical news media that their products actually work and are of significant value to the public. Persuasion is a powerful tool, and leaders that wield it responsibly tend to find a greater level of success.

* Be You image credit goes to: Victor Garcia.

Learning To Trust The Process Of Delegation

For many leaders, learning to trust the process of delegation can be quite difficult. Often, leaders have a hard time giving up control over the small details, especially when they come into a new role. But it is quite simply impossible to handle all of the responsibilities of work by yourself—a CEO can’t work on every project, or communicate with every employee. Today’s leaders must be managers who place their trust in competent team leaders who handle projects and manage people well!

Like a Boss

You Can’t Manage Everything By Yourself

Managing all of the projects that your company is handling is difficult enough when you have team leaders that you delegate to. It is virtually impossible to try to handle all of the work on your own when you aren’t delegating. Most manager’s responsibilities span across wide spectrums where it’s impossible to know every detail or be an expert in everything, yet there are plenty of extremely talented managers at work who believe that they have to be involved in everything. They keep a strong hold of all the reins and manage every single turn that is made, not recognizing that they are micro managing often equally talented employees! Leaders that recognize their need for control early on learn that they need to find skilled managers that they can trust. Only leaders who learn to delegate will eventually race to the finish line… all others will sooner or later fall at any of the hurdles put in their way.

Have Trust In Your Team And Their Individual Strengths

If you don’t have trust in your team, then you aren’t going to put them in a position to be successful. If you are going to successfully delegate tasks, then you need a team that you trust to get the job done effectively. Each individual is different, and has their own skillset. You might find that some employees are better communicators than others, and some might be better at solving complex problems. Figure out the individual strengths of your team and how you can leverage those strengths to better the entire company. Instead of micromanaging your people set them free. Trust in their ability to learn and grow, and spend time to make them successful!

How Do You Prioritize Your Tasks?

Every good delegator needs to learn how to prioritize tasks. Without prioritizing tasks, leaders can spend too much time on low priority tasks, leaving little time, effort, or resources for high priority tasks that require their attention. A good thing to do is to create a task priority system, where all team members can check and see the priority level of a new task.

Usability Test

The process of delegation takes some time to master. It isn’t easy to hand over control, especially early on for leaders in a new role. But evidence shows that leaders who can successfully delegate run much more efficient operations than those who cannot. Leaders that can’t delegate find themselves trying to handle everything, wasting valuable time and effort on low priority tasks. Great leaders learn to become comfortable with a certain amount of calculated “risk”. They know that they can’t control everything and they embrace every way to make their businesses more productive and efficient!

* Like a Boss image credit goes to: Brooke Lark.

* Usability Test image credit goes to: David Travis.

Good Leaders Facilitate Collaboration

In order to get the most out of your team, you need to be a leader that facilitates collaboration. New advances in technology have increased the number of ways that we can collaborate across long distances. There are also new workplace trends, such as the hiring of remote workers, which demand businesses place a focus on collaboration. The best leaders find ways for their employees to collaborate on projects and to integrate new ideas and concepts into the projects that they are working on.

Team Building Activity

In Toxic Work Environments, There Is Little Communication

If you have ever been a part of a poor work environment, one of the things that you quickly notice is that there is little communication. Whenever employees stop communicating, it becomes impossible for them to work together and reach a high level of productivity. Good leaders encourage communication, and remove toxic individuals from the equation who stifle growth. Team building exercises are a great way to establish trust and to get your employees to communicate more often.

Technology Has Created New Ways To Facilitate Collaboration

With new technology, it has become much easier to collaborate than ever before. Skype, Google Docs, Slack, Asana, and Trello are just a few of the document sharing, communication, and task management technologies that have been developed over the past decade or so. These new tools allow businesses to work with people from all around the world. If someone is talented in Australia and wants to work remotely with your team in New York, they can do so. It is important for leaders to take note of all of the new ways to communicate and collaborate, so that they can utilize these new technologies for their own teams.

One-on-One Communication

When People Trust Each Other, There Are Fewer Problems With Accountability

Despite all of these new ways and tools to collaborate and communicate, it is still critically important to build a culture where everyone trusts each other. When people don’t have trust, they are less likely to communicate and collaborate. And worse yet, people who don’t trust each other find it difficult to hold each other accountable. Make sure that you are working to develop trust between teammates. Workplace collaboration has been proven to dramatically increase project efficiency and improve work outcomes. When workplace morale is poor and when communication is low, you are likely to see very little collaboration. That is why good leaders encourage their employees to communicate and collaborate on the projects that they are building. Great leaders recognize the value of one-on-one interaction without technology in the mix, and the best way to do that is the old fashioned way of bringing everyone together for a day of team building and fun! People need to get to know one another and interact “live” in order to develop trust between team members and departments. When people trust each other, they are more likely to collaborate, and they are more likely to hold each other accountable. If you focus on finding opportunities to bring your team together to “learn” each other, collaborate, and bond, you’ll have a high performing team in no time!

* Team Building Activity image credit goes to: rawpixel.

* One-on-One Communication image credit goes to: rawpixel.

Becoming a new leader can be a daunting task. We all have our own perceptions of leadership, but actually being in the position to make decisions is extremely difficult. Even more so when you are in the position for the first time. There are several mistakes that new leaders tend to make. The good news is that these mistakes can be corrected and improved upon over time. The bad news is that if new leaders continue to make these mistakes, they can alienate their team members and make it harder to successfully complete projects. Here are a few of the mistakes that new leaders tend to make, and how they can be overcome.

New Leader

Valuing Control Over Delegation

Instead of building teams that they trust to complete the work, many new leaders micromanage. They value control over delegation, and as a result get less work done. The work that is completed tends to be lower quality, since team members are not trusted to do the job on their own. Leaders have to become comfortable with delegation. It is impossible to do everything on your own. Find team members that you trust and empower them.

Valuing The Title Over The Job Requirements

Sometimes leaders just want to have that shiny job title. We’ve all seen leaders who are in it for the title or the prestige. They get less respect from their peers and they are typically difficult to work for. As a leader, you have to have respect for the job and for the people you work with. In reality that means, being vulnerable and open to learning, not knowing everything and asking for input from others. Leaders who have the courage to learn, grow and include others demonstrate that they are taking their job seriously.

Not Taking Responsibility For Outcomes

Nothing is worse than a leader who won’t take responsibility when things go wrong. Leaders who shift the blame are clearly not ready to take responsibility over others, as they have much to work out on their own. When things go wrong, true leaders take the blame and figure out how the team can be better next time. And when things go right, they praise the team and empower them to succeed again in the future.

Not Working As Hard As The Rest Of The Team

Being a leader doesn’t mean we get to be lazy, or shouldn’t work as hard. It means that the job description is different, and you are carrying more responsibilities then before. True leaders are role models for their team. They are committed to the job and are working just as hard if not harder as the rest of the team.

Not Helping Their Team Members Build Their Individual Skills

Time Management Your team members aren’t finished products, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. They are learning and growing in their roles just like you are. A good leader recognizes this and helps them to develop new skills. Helping team members build their skills will improve the team’s efficiency on projects and it makes for great relationships and a team that will trust you, even in most difficult times.

* New Leader image credit goes to: rawpixel.

* Time Management image credit goes to: Bryan Minear.

Motivation is a crucial part of leadership. But learning how Motivation to remain motivated, and motivating others, can be difficult. You might believe that some people are natural born motivators, and that it can’t be taught. You’d be wrong. You can learn how to be a better motivator just like you can learn how to be a better leader. Good motivators share specific traits that they use to help their teams become more motivated to get the job done. Here are some ways to improve your skills as a motivator:

Look forward, not backward

When you are motivating your team, you don’t want to harp on the past. You want to look into the future with a positive vision. A motivator with enthusiasm and a positive vision is easy to follow and believe. Look forward and explain to each team member how you envision their role, and how their positive contributions are going to help make the team a better whole. By emphasizing the future, you can focus your team on a specific goal instead of having them feel content about past successes or down about past failures.

Being wrong is ok

This is part of being a good leader as well as being a good motivator. You aren’t going to be right all the time. You might tell your team that you know they can reach a goal, and they might miss it. Maybe you aren’t right about getting a client or making a sales projection. It is totally ok to be wrong, and you and your team should know that being wrong isn’t grounds for getting down or feeling bad about your performance. Every project, whether it ends good or bad, is just another opportunity for you to learn. No experience is a bad one, and there is plenty to learn from being wrong that you can apply the next time around.

How To Be A Better Motivator

Your passion and energy are contagious

Always be sure to share your energy and passion with your team. Your team is going to have difficulties, hurdles to clear, low points where there are motivation issues, and the like. But every team takes on the personality of its leader. As a motivator, you need to stay consistent with positive energy and passion about your work. You have to consistently reiterate your belief in your team and their efforts, and you have to show that energy even during low points. When your team overcomes a challenge, they will reciprocate that energy as they see the results.

Foster positive competition

With team members, a little positive competition is a good thing! From time to time, things can get stagnant on any team as people get comfortable in their roles. In order to spice things up, you might want to foster a little positive competition. Sales teams do this all the time, with boards that indicate sales leaders and rewards for those who get the most sales during the month and throughout the year. But you can foster positive competition in any business. Just make sure that the competition remains positive and doesn’t turn acrimonious. Acrimonious competition can breed resentment and actually hurt team unity.

Leaders are constantly looking for ways to become more effective, so that their companies can improve and grow over time. Luckily, leadership isn’t an innate skill—it is something that can be learned and improved over periods of time just like any other skill. If you are interested in learning how you can become a better leader and start getting more out of your co-workers, then keep reading for some key tips.

Improve Your Leadership Skill

1. Focus on the positives

Nobody likes a leader that only focuses on the negatives. Too often, we associate the strong and successful executive with someone who berates their co-workers or who only focuses on what is going wrong. While improvement does mean acknowledging what is wrong and how you can improve it, you can’t only focus on the negatives. If you do, you will wear out your team and they will become more stressed and less effective. Instead, you should put the focus on your team’s positive qualities and what they do right. Uplift them by focusing on their strengths and how they can improve those strengths.

2. Actions are more effective than words

It is easy to get into the act of simply telling your co-workers how something should be done, but not actually doing anything about it yourself. Resist this. You can become a more effective leader by actually showing your co-workers how you want something done with your own actions. If you are concerned about time management, for example, make sure to set a great example of time management with your actions. Your co-workers don’t want to be told to do something and then see you do the opposite. They will sense the hypocrisy and that will breed resentment. Make sure that you embody the kind of employee you want your co-workers to be.

3. Get feedback from your team

Don’t be a leader who leads without Skills the consent of their team. In order to get that vote of confidence from your team, you will need to consistently talk with them to gauge their needs, and in order to get valuable feedback. Getting feedback from your subordinates about your job doesn’t make you weak, it makes you thoughtful, and your employees will respect it and work harder for someone that they feel is looking out for them.

4. Make sure you are motivated and passionate about your job

It is easy to spot someone who is only doing a job for the paycheck. If that person is the leader of a team, that team isn’t going to be very motivated to do well. Make sure that you are motivated about your job and passionate about maximizing your abilities and the abilities of your team. A motivated leader can really inspire their team to achieve new successes.

If asked to list the skills that an effective leader has, most people will say resiliency, empathy, creativity, or communication skills. Most people aren’t apt to immediately list time management. But time management is one of the most important skills that any effective leader has. Time is a valuable resource, and in order to increase productivity, it must be used effectively. When I work with executives and business leaders, one of the first things I ask is how they manage their time. Here are several tips for improving time management, which will ultimately trickle down to better business performance.

Time management

1. Delegate Tasks

Too often, I see executives that try to bring every small task to their plate for completion or direct oversight. This leads to inefficiency because executives who practice this behavior are being pulled in too many different ways. Proper delegation can save executives valuable time. Employees with the right skills and expertise to tackle lower level tasks should be allowed to do so with relative autonomy. It frees up the executive to do more during work hours.

2. Watch The Time You Spend Online

The internet is an extremely valuable and powerful tool. Executives often use it for researching solutions or interacting with staff, clients, and business partners. However, the internet can be a major distraction that is a drag on your productivity. Make sure to be disciplined online—you can do this with time tracking software that tracks your time usage on the internet, such as how long you spend writing and responding to emails.

3. Recognize That It’s Ok To Say “No”

Sometimes business leaders feel obligated to accept invitations to meetings or oversee projects when they don’t need to be there. You shouldn’t turn everything down, but you should evaluate if your presence is needed to get something done, or if your time would be better suited elsewhere. You don’t have to totally be “absent” either—you can send a list of key points detailing your perspective on the meeting’s agenda, or you can send another employee in your place who can report back to you afterward.

4. Effectively Manage Meetings You Attend

If you are running a meeting, then you’ll want to make sure that you are efficient with your time. You should do this by starting on time, and not slowing down or repeating yourself if others are late. You should hold others accountable and expect them to do the same for you while the meeting is going on. Your co-workers will appreciate your professionalism. All meetings should have a clear goal (a lot of times this goal is setting a plan for another goal) that you can reach in the allotted meeting time.