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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader Part II

 Part II of II

If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to the work at hand, but also to your promises. If you pledged to host a holiday party, or uphold summer Fridays, keep your word. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also be known as a fair leader. Once you have gained the respect of your team, they are more likely to deliver the peak amount of quality work possible.

Positive Attitude
You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person. Keep the office mood a fine balance between productivity and playfulness.
English: Think positive
Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end conclusion you were aiming for.

When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.

Ability to Inspire
Creating a business often involves a bit of forecasting. Especially in the beginning stages of a startup, inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of equity, or you operate on a bonus system, generating enthusiasm for the hard work you are all putting in is so important. Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues. When you are all mired deep in work, morale is low, and energy levels are fading, recognize that everyone needs a break now and then. Acknowledge the work that everyone has dedicated and commend the team on each of their efforts. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Top 10 Qualities That Make A Great Leader Part I

Part I of II

Having a great idea, and assembling a team to bring that concept to life is the first step in creating a successful business venture. While finding a new and unique idea is rare enough; the ability to successfully execute this idea is what separates the dreamers from the entrepreneurs. However you see yourself, whatever your age may be, as soon as you make that exciting first hire, you have taken the first steps in becoming a powerful leader. When money is tight, stress levels are high, and the visions of instant success don’t happen like you thought, it’s easy to let those emotions get to you, and thereby your team. Take a breath, calm yourself down, and remind yourself of the leader you are and would like to become. Here are some key qualities that every good leader should possess, and learn to emphasize.

Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, its important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit.

Ability to Delegate
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. Its important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows. The emails and tasks will begin to pile up, and the more you stretch yourself thin, the lower the quality of your work will become, and the less you will produce.
The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing most. Chances are if they find that task more enjoyable, they will likely put more thought and effort behind it. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks, that should not be delegated. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

Knowing what you want accomplished may seem clear in your head, but if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on honing your communication skills. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
Training new members and creating a productive work environment all depend on healthy lines of communication. Whether that stems from an open door policy to your office, or making it a point to talk to your staff on a daily basis, making yourself available to discuss interoffice issues is vital. Your team will learn to trust and depend on you, and will be less hesitant to work harder.

Sense of Humor
If your website crashes, you lose that major client, or your funding dries up, guiding your team through the process without panicking is as challenging as it is important. Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill a positive energy. That’s where your sense of humor will finally pay off. Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. If you are constantly learning to find the humor in the struggles, your work environment will become a happy and healthy space, where your employees look forward to working in, rather than dreading it. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.

Our office is dog friendly, and we really believe it is the small, light hearted moments in the day that help keep our work creative and fresh. One tradition that we like to do and brings the team closer is we plan a fun prank on all new employees, on their first day. It breaks the ice and immediately creates that sense of familiarity.

There may be days where the future of your brand is worrisome and things aren’t going according to plan. This is true with any business, large or small, and the most important thing is not to panic. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.

To Be Continued...


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


"management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." 

-Peter Drucker
American management consultant, educator, and author. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

Leadership is learned behavior that becomes unconscious and automatic over time.  For example, leaders can make several important decisions about an issue in the time it takes others to understand the question.   Many people wonder how leaders know how to make the best decisions, often under immense pressure.  The process of making these decisions comes from an accumulation of experiences and encounters with a multitude of difference circumstances, personality types and unforeseen failures.   More so, the decision making process is an acute understanding of being familiar with the cause and effect of behavioral and circumstantial patterns;  knowing the intelligence and interconnection points of the variables involved in these patterns allows a leader to confidently make decisions and project the probability of their desired outcomes.   The most successful leaders are instinctual decision makers.  Having done it so many times throughout their careers, they become immune to the pressure associated with decision making and extremely intuitive about the process of making the most strategic and best decisions. This is why most senior executives will tell you they depend strongly upon their “gut-feel” when making difficult decisions at a moment’s notice.
Beyond decision making, successful leadership across all areas becomes learned and instinctual over a period of time. Successful leaders have learned the mastery of anticipating business patterns, finding opportunities in pressure situations, serving the people they lead and overcoming hardships.   No wonder the best CEOs are paid so much money.   In 2011, salaries for the 200 top-paid CEOs rose 5 percent to a median $14.5 million per year, according to a study by compensation-data company Equilar for The New York Times.
If you are looking to advance your career into a leadership capacity and / or already assume leadership responsibilities – here are 15 things you must do automatically, every day, to be a successful leader in the workplace:
1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up
Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.
2.  Make Decisions
Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.
3.  Communicate Expectations
Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.
I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.
4.  Challenge People to Think
The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.
If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.
5.  Be Accountable to Others
Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.
Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.
6.  Lead by Example
Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.
7.  Measure & Reward Performance
Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.
8.  Provide Continuous Feedback
Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.
9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent
Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand. 
10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel
Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.
11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination
Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).
Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.
12.  Positive Energy & Attitude
Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.
13.  Be a Great Teacher
Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.
Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.
14.  Invest in Relationships
Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.
Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.
15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities
Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.
In the end, successful leaders are able to sustain their success because these 15 things ultimately allow them to increase the value of their organization’s brand – while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile.   They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Maintaining a Positive Attitude in the Workplace

By Bob Rosner and Sherrie Campbell

With the current American economy in a recession, it can be difficult to maintain a positive attitude in the workplace. In fact, sometimes it can seem like Mission Impossible. Instead of falling victim to the negative work attitudes that surround you, make an effort to buck the trend. Look for the good in your coworkers and your workplace. By learning how to communicate with coworkers effectively, you will gain recognition as a force of positive attitude in the workplace. Here are some beginning steps for how to communicate with coworkers effectively:
  • Be appreciative
  • Recharge yourself
  • Volunteer your time
  • Avoid negative work attitudes
By following the specific strategies below, you'll learn how to communicate with coworkers effectively, and lend to a positive attitude in the workplace.
Be Appreciative
It is always nicer to get a pat on the back rather than to get stabbed in the back. If you're wondering "how do I change my negative attitude," start by observing how you communicate with coworkers. If you practice asking useful questions, giving accolades and being gracious at work for two weeks, you'll notice a difference in the people you work with and in your own feelings about work.
Stay Positive Checkup Questions:
  • How often do you show appreciation at work?
  • Are there opportunities to energize your coworkers?
  • What is the key to increasing a positive attitude in the workplace?
It's easier than you think to create a positive attitude in the workplace - simply, show appreciation for your coworkers.

How to Communicate With Coworkers Effectively:
  1. Give thanks. Thank coworkers for the work they do that makes your job easier - including the peers, managers and office assistants. Even thank the security guard for making you feel safe at work. Cultivate a thankful, positive attitude in the workplace, and in return you'll notice a change in how coworkers treat you.
  2. Acknowledge a job well done. One of our favorite ways to create positive energy at work is to give a "Most Valuable Player" award. Once a month, stage a vote for the office MVP - asking each voter to include why their nominee should get the award. You can even have employees vote on what the award will be, from premium parking to a tiara or crown.
  3. Celebrate. Take the time to celebrate birthdays, holidays, life changes and achievements. Not sure how to celebrate? Bring in a Nerf football; bake cookies and bring them to work; or put up a graffiti poster where people can leave positive comments.
Recharge Yourself
A favorite quote of ours is "A dead battery can't charge a dead battery." Stop complaining about negative work attitudes and lend your own energy to creating a more positive attitude in the workplace. Be the office live wire!
Stay Positive Checkup Questions:
  • How can one person increase the positive attitude in the workplace?
  • What specific things can someone do to tap into the energy of others?
  • How can you maintain a more energetic and positive attitude in the workplace?
Bringing more energy to work can seem draining. But everyone we've talked to who tries it finds that they get more energy in return.
How to Communicate with Coworkers Effectively:
  1. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is infectious. If you're going to spend eight hours a day at work, why not make it more than just tolerable. Make an effort to smile, laugh, and enjoy your job. If you work to create a more positive attitude in the workplace, others will follow.
  2. Practice random acts of kindness. Each day try to do something kind and helpful. Offer to cover for a coworker so they can attend their kid's soccer game, bring a busy colleague a cup of coffee, or volunteer for a project. You don't have to create elaborate situations, just keep your eyes out for opportunities to do a good deed.
  3. Look for opportunities to have fun. We all know someone who can make anything fun--and make time fly. Be that person. It's amazing how a joke here and a silly celebration there can breathe life into a stale office. Before you know it, other people will start coming to work with more bounce in their step.
Volunteer Your Time
Now is the perfect time to find a way to contribute to the greater good in your workplace. No matter how busy you are, look for five minutes that you can give every day. Others are sure to appreciate your efforts and you might even enjoy it.
Stay Positive Checkup Questions:
  • How do you find opportunities to volunteer?
  • What are the best places to volunteer?
  • Isn't it best to volunteer outside of your organization?
Try these strategies for effective volunteering:
How to communicate with Coworkers Effectively:
  1. Pitch in. If your office coffee pot or refrigerator seem to become a science project, break the cycle by pitching in to clean it out once a week. Then encourage others to help out. Even relatively small things (like a clean place to store your lunch) can dramatically improve the positive attitude in the workplace.
  2. Contribute to the community. Instead of getting sucked into office drama, create positive energy by volunteering outside of the office. Explore topics that are interesting to you such as homelessness, drama or adult literacy then find an existing program that needs volunteers. We've done all of the above and we were paid back a hundredfold.
  3. Don't overlook the need within. Recently we were in a grocery store that was holding a fundraiser for another employee who had medical problems. They talked at length about how this brought everyone closer. When looking for a project, don't overlook the needs and concerns of your coworkers.
Avoid Negative Work Attitudes
Negative work attitudes create a vicious cycle that can rob energy from an organization. If you're famous for your awful moods and stinging commentary, try something new.
Stay Positive Checkup Questions:
  • Can you resist sarcasm?
  • Do you look for the good in people?
  • Do you avoid stabbing people in the back?
Avoiding negative work attitudes is easier than it might seem.
How to communicate with Coworkers Effectively:
  1. Resist sarcasm. One of us grew up on the East Coast where sarcasm seems to be as natural as breathing. It's tough to break the cycle of sarcasm, but it's worth the trouble. If you're feeling sarcastic, challenge yourself to come up with something clever to say that energizes the positive attitude in the workplace, rather than depleting your coworker's energy.
  2. Look for the good. It's easy to get caught in an office drama trap. Instead of blaming and gossiping, focus on the good qualities of your coworkers. You'll be surprised by how much of a positive attitude in the workplace this will create and how much more productive you and your coworkers will be.
  3. Stab 'em in the front. This came from one of our uncles. He was fond of saying, "Friends stab friends in the front." Again, resist the temptation to stab coworkers in the back. Instead, challenge yourself to be honest with coworkers without being mean.