Leadership Traits to Avoid | BridgeBetween.com

5 Leadership Traits to Avoid

There is a lot of information out there about ideal leadership qualities, but talking about leadership traits to avoid is important, too.

Have you ever had a toxic manager? Someone who poisoned the workspace with their negativity or domineering attitude? It’s not uncommon, and as much as we talk about all the qualities of a good leader, it’s important to understand and acknowledge the negative leadership traits that should be avoided at all costs.

After all, an ostrich doesn’t really survive by burying his head in the sand, and neither should leaders who want to succeed!

5 Leadership Traits to Avoid

1. Talk the talk but don’t walk the walk

A leader who can talk a good game about attitude and work tasks but then does the very opposite in action is a leader who won’t be trusted by his or her team.

Taking personal responsibility for one’s own actions and modeling the behavior you expect to see from others are essential to gain and keep trust and loyalty. Creating a culture of trust, fairness and good work being noticed is what makes a difference.

2. Conflict resolution, ostrich style

A leader who can’t deal with conflict is not leading.

In the hopes that a problem will simply go away, a bad leader will miscommunicate their feelings or intentions, being purposely vague and leaving everyone in the dark as to what they really want and how they want to deal with the issue.

But like a throbbing tooth, problems and conflict in the workplace don’t usually ‘self-resolve’. Team members are looking for their leader to deal with it, or pull the tooth, as it were. Hiding behind a closed door and ignoring the problem will not make it go away.

3. Communication is a one-way street

A leader who is forever pontificating on one topic or another, without censoring their words, and is not open to input from team members, is a concern.

This kind of ‘leader’ will typically surround themselves with sycophantic ‘yes-people’ who will in no way challenge their authority. As if having an opinion in a team environment was a threat! This is a leader who exerts control in many ways and one of them is to control the ‘conversation’ so it isn’t based on two-way communication.

4. Learning is for sissies

A leader who is closed to learning and self-growth can’t lead.

Admitting flaws, faults and mistakes IS true leadership, not a sign of weakness. Acting like you have it all under control when the wheels have effectively just fallen off the bus? Not so much. A good leader can ask for help, even from subordinates and still have confidence in themselves.

5. It’s all about ego

A leader who doesn’t have the greatest self-esteem, which is usually accompanied by an ego the size of Texas, can’t be a great leader.

Sometimes it’s not entirely their fault: by a series of strange events, they find themselves in a role that they can’t cope with but don’t want to admit that to anyone.

Ultimately, a person who is working with ego isn’t thinking about the good of the team or the greater good of the organization as a whole: they’re thinking about themselves and how the decisions will affect them.

It’s not an accident that performing companies have excellent leadership. One follows from the other, like flowers from well-maintained earth.

Leadership isn’t innate: you can be taught to be a great leader, you can learn the skills you need. Equally important, however, is to learn what traits that will bring you, and your organization, down.

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Public Speaking | BridgeBetween.com

Why Public Speaking Helps to Build Leadership Skills

Public speaking ability is among the most critical, yet also the most feared, skills. But the lack of it can really impact your ability to lead a group effectively.

Public speaking allows you, as a leader, to show your team what you are thinking and what direction you want to take: they will see you as not only an actual leader, but as a thought leader, helping to motivate them to the action that you are seeking from them.

A leader isn’t just someone who states what they want done and waits for people to do it. A leader is someone who motivates positive action, who inspires innovation and growth, who sets a set of goals for a group of people and helps them to find the path to their mutual success.

There’s no question that the only way that any of these ideals get accomplished is through clear communication—both as an active listener and speaker.

But as I said before, while it is critical, public speaking is often the most feared skill that a person acquires in their quest to lead. So what can you do to improve your public speaking skills, and by extension, your leadership skills?

Speak like a leader

A leader of a Fortune 500 company is probably not going to drop an F-bomb every few sentences and for good reason. A conversational tone is perfectly acceptable, particularly when you’re trying to reach a large group of people and still make them feel like you are talking directly to each and every one of them; but conversational doesn’t mean crude or inappropriate.

That can only cause discomfort for some or all of your audience; they will ignore the message and then you will have lost an opportunity.

You need to be focused on your message and on your audience and find ways to connect your message to them in a way that makes sense and is absorbed. Storytelling, anecdotes, examples are far more effective transmitters of the message than just the message by itself.

Focus on Your body language

Just as important as your actual voice is how you present yourself to your audience. Having an open, relaxed stance, and using eye contact where you can, has the same effect as the appropriate tone, mentioned in the previous point. Your body language will offer a lot in terms of engagement, for the audience.

Speak at a level that matches your audience

If you’re a scientist but you are speaking to a group of non-scientific laypersons, match your language to their knowledge and abilities. If they aren’t familiar with the vernacular of the area you are speaking about, including acronyms, you will lose them.

Similarly, if you’re a business leader and you’re talking to a group of CEOs, you don’t need to talk down to them and explain basic concepts of economics. Not matching your speaking level to the audience in question can result in you confusing them and losing the message.

Practice, practice, practice!

If you’re new to public speaking, the best thing you can do is practice.

It’s best if you can deliver your speech without detailed notes and leverage some points from reference cards instead. But this takes some preparation.

Why is it best?

Because you’ll engage more effectively with the audience if you’re not looking down at pages of notes the whole time you’re speaking. Your voice will project better and you’ll be able to read nonverbal cues as to whether or not your words are making a connecting (nodding of heads, open, relaxed faces, etc.)

If you can, record yourself on video. You’ll never hear or see the things you do that are distracting if you don’t literally hear and see yourself. The incessant ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that some people insert into their speaking are distracting for the audience and detract from the overall effect of the words. Similarly, nervous laughter or over excited arm movements and gestures can overwhelm the audience.

Final Thoughts

Speaking well gives a person authority, a quality that is not just handed over simply because you have a title. It’s this authority that is among the more difficult to pinpoint aspects of quality leadership.

That said, when a person has it, the audience knows it and responds accordingly, whether that set of people is a small team or an assembly of four hundred investors. Master public speaking and you’ve mastered a vital skill for leadership.

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Productivity Tips for Leaders | BridgeBetween.com

Essential Productivity Tips for Leaders

Working your way toward sustained success.

You were not born productive or with a manual filled with productivity tips for leaders. If anything, most of us spent the better part of our youths being the opposite. Productivity is learned and if it’s a skill that you haven’t quite mastered yet, it’s not a hopeless ideal!

There are some essential things you can do to be more productive in your day to day and as a leader, modeling the kind of attitude and behavior that you’ll no doubt want to see in your team.

After all, the old saying: “Time is money” has a ring of truth to it, doesn’t it? Wasting time ultimately wastes money, along with other resources along the way, so eliminating as much waste as you can is essential.

Have clear goals

This can’t be overstated: if you don’t have a clear vision as to what the end goal is, you will not be able to find a productive path to get there. Once your vision is clear, you can establish the tasks that need to be taken to achieve said goal.

It might seem redundant to say that you need to prioritize your tasks, in addition to knowing your end goal, but it bears repeating. Team members and leaders alike can end up dithering and flailing around in a multi-tasking quagmire, and ultimately not being very productive, if they aren’t sure where to begin.

Don’t forget, too, that short term (weekly/daily) goal planning is just as important: it will help you with prioritizing the tasks at hand.

In line with clear goals is the ability to refuse tasks. You have to say no sometimes. If you are constantly taking on meetings, speaking engagements and in general tasks that aren’t related to the goals you’ve set out, your productivity will get bogged down from going in too many directions at once.
 

L.I.F.E. @ A GLANCE PLANNER: Organize your priorities and invest your time wisely.

 

Productivity isn’t about time in the chair

Most leaders who have understood the principles of effective team management have long gone past the point where they equate time in the chair with productivity, in evaluating their team members.

The same applies to you, as a leader. Being the first into the office and the last to leave does not make you productive and it doesn’t really serve to show your team members an effective method to achieve productivity.

A good way to maximize your time is to block off time where you can’t be reached. Notifiers can become the ultimate distraction. Turn the phone to ‘do not disturb’, block the time on your calendar for everyone else to see… disconnect. As a leader, you can’t get away with it everyday, but once in awhile, it’s a great way to get on top of a runaway list of tasks.

Know yourself

Are you more productive in the early morning? Late at night? Right around noon? Do you think better after a workout? Make sure you block off time in your schedule during those productive times, so that you can get the work done that requires a lot of intensive thinking.

Schedule the more routine tasks—like answering emails—for when you’re at a lower point on your productivity scale. A lot of people find that to be middle of the afternoon but to each their own!

TIP: Many high level executives avoid email first thing in the morning. You can get really bogged down in the details of things that you actually don’t even need to be involved in, losing out on what is a highly productive time for most people.

Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it: slogging through tasks when you’re overtired and undernourished isn’t going to result in good work. This too is a good behavior to model for your team members: if you feel okay taking a break now and again, they will be too.

Choose the tools—and team—that work for you

Some people swear by their phone calendars or apps designed to remind you about everything. Others like to kick it old school and rely on pen and paper (hint: I’m more the latter!) Use what tools work for you, not what’s ‘in’ or ‘trending’!

Having the right team is a major factor in personal productivity as a leader. It’s not about having people who can run with the job without even talking to you: it’s about trust. If you know they can get something done, you will feel comfortable relinquishing the task to them, instead of micromanaging it and losing out on productivity. It’s a win-win too because a team member who feels nurtured but not hovered over will respond with outstanding effort.

Confront the task you hate the most first

Getting rid of the most daunting task first sets the tone for the rest of your day. You can envision it being smoother and more productive if you get rid of the one thing that’s been bugging you or dragging on for a while. A lot about being productive is about mindset. Free your mind from something that was getting between you and creativity and you will see your productivity levels skyrocket!

 

An essential element to productivity is knowing what’s happening today, tomorrow and in the not so distant future. It’s easier to prioritize if you know what’s coming down the pipeline, and a tool like the L.I.F.E. @ a Glance Planner will help you drive your tasks towards your end goal by “Living In Focus Everyday”.

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team communication

Team Communication: How to Speak So Your Team Will Listen

Not only listen, but take action, too.

Team communication should be very important to all leaders. Whether speaking to a large group or a small team, there are ways you can engage with your ‘audience’ so that they will not just hear you but actively listen and even take action on what you’re telling them. It’s an art form, really.

Motivating positive reactions versus acting from a place of fear, or worse, disdain. It’s an important skill for leaders to master in order to be effective with their team.

Be genuine and be present

No matter the size of the group, if you speak to all them as if you were speaking to one of them, you’re more likely to get a positive response. It’s not an easy thing to do at first, and will require some practice, but doing it will reap many rewards.

Appearing genuine and human is essential for people to want to take in what you’re saying and, further, act on it. That really only comes if each person in the audience feels as though you are speaking directly to them. Putting on the ‘big shot’ persona isn’t appealing and doesn’t invite others to act on your words. Be real.

Being present is also important: eye contact for smaller groups, body language that is open and receptive, focusing on what is happening in the moment and not fidgeting, fussing or, worst, looking at a phone. The audience needs to feel that, in that moment, you are 100% there for the message and for them.

Listen—actually listen—to the feedback

Feedback isn’t always verbal. Take non-verbal cues from your audience into account when you are speaking with them. You need to be able to adjust what you’re saying on the fly, so that you don’t lose the audience and you remain connected to them.

Someone who feels they need to say everything they had on their agenda, regardless of how it’s received, simply to ‘make their point’, isn’t communicating effectively. If you’re looking for feedback or an actual dialogue on the subject, you’ll know that you’re not reaching your audience when they tune you out or don’t ask any meaningful questions.

Further to the last point, you should always be looking to create that dialogue. Communicating to create action is not a one way street: it’s not command it, and it will happen. People simply don’t respond to that kind of demagogue like speechmaking.

Focus on the WHY, not the WHAT

When you want people to act on what you’re saying, you have to give them the motivation and, to some extent, that feeling is more important than the acts themselves. Look at it like storytelling: if you tell a group WHY you’re passionate about a new process that you want to put in place, and not just THAT you want to put it in place, you will develop buy in from your audience far more quickly and effectively.

If you start with just the fact of a change that you want them to engage in, you’re putting walls and barriers for those who might be reluctant followers before you’ve even begun. If you start with the why, your motivation, your passion… you will get far more people nodding along with you, understanding your thought process and wanting to run with it on your behalf.

The reality is, most people aren’t born communicators. The skills needed to reach an audience and compel them to action are learned. It’s a major effort for most people but it’s worth every moment spent acquiring the skills and practicing them because communication and leadership are synonymous. You really can’t have one without the other.

 

With that in mind, executive coaching might be just what you need to take your communications, and your leadership, to the next level. Contact us today for more information.

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tumultuous times leadership

Leading Through Tumultuous Times

Whether changes are occurring inside the organization, or outside forces are creating conflict, the key is to accept and encourage change, rather than deflect it.

Change is hard, whether in personal or work lives. There’s no other way to phrase that. It’s just hard. Change management is a discipline, in and of itself, within the realm of human resources because the impact to morale, to say nothing of the bottom line, can be intense when changes aren’t introduced properly.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. ~ Charles Darwin

People want to guard what they know, their little piece of the business pie, for fear that they will become expendable if they share it with others. Any changes in an organization often lead to people hoarding their pie slices even more closely than in normal times.

There is one key to effective change management within an organization and that’s the attitude of the leaders. If they don’t buy into the changes, or they’re discomfited by conflict, allowing their agitation to show to the rest of the team, they won’t be able to lead their team through whatever upheaval they need to manage.

All leaders deal with turbulence or conflict, within the organization but they must also deal with influences from without. In fact, a good leader will have a nose for what’s coming and be ahead of the game, where they can.

Strategic, long-term thinking, which is a major focus for most leaders, has to be done in the context of the real world: the current economic climate, the international market, the political realities of the day and so on.

So how can you lead through tumultuous times?

Lead by example

This one should be obvious to most any leader worth their salt but, perhaps in these days more than ever, it’s worth repeating. If you expect your team to work through change or conflict, you have to show them how.

That’s what leadership is, at its most distilled level. Your team is looking to you to show them the way and will be scrutinizing every move you make. Don’t make them guess at what to do next: communicate your vision and goals at every step!

Adapt with positivity

Look at change as an opportunity. The evolution of digital is a great example of how massive and very fast changes can be upsetting but if you alter your frame of mind and see them as opportunities for growth or to capture new business, you can ride the wave with more confidence and success. Example? Banks could have balked at changes in the digital sphere.

After all, there is far less call for tellers when everything can be done via a smartphone. Rather than lose their collective minds, they adapted and built apps and online resources. It’s what customers were asking for, so they embraced it.

Embrace differences of opinion

It’s important not only to acknowledge conflict or change but in fact to embrace it. Through conflict, new ideas are often born.

You’ll never find a better sparring partner than adversity. ~ Golda Meir

It doesn’t need to become toxic or overwhelming to be effective, but a little adversity can create a new vision. This goes back to the previous point about adapting: it’s often from places of difference that these new and interesting opportunities develop.

It’s a question of having an open mind, in order to be able to see the possibilities. Within a team, within an organization or even within an industry, or a country, adversity can lead to interesting changes so long as the leaders acknowledge it in the spirit of growth, as opposed to destruction.

Doing things the way they’ve always been done isn’t an open door to growth, but endless conflict isn’t either. A good leader will weave a path between these two extremes and inspire their team towards change. It’s not always an easy sell but worthwhile for the company, and leader, that can get it right.

It’s not always an easy sell but worthwhile for the company, and leader, that can get it right.

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