The Net Effect of Having A Positive Outlook | BridgeBetween.com

The Net Effect of Having A Positive Outlook

In a leadership role, a positive outlook is a vital trait to cultivate!

Whether you manage a team or run an entire company, when you are in a position of leadership, you have to be aware of the things that can affect people’s perception of you and your capacity to lead.  A positive outlook is important!

Perception is, as they say, reality, so taking care of how direct reports see you is important. Now, I’m not saying you need to be blindly happy-go-lucky, almost impervious to the realities of business, and take that can-do attitude to a point where people are irritated with you.

You can’t be ultra positive all the time; no one can! But you can be aware of your attitude and how it affects others, adjusting when necessary.

The elements of how to think positively, even when the chips are down aren’t difficult but do require you to be aware of them:

Set goals

Positive people always know where they’re going. They have a plan and goals, achievements they wish to reach and that’s what creates momentum. It’s precisely these goals that help you to maintain a positive attitude because forward momentum is always impactful, in a good way!

Believe in yourself and your goals

Self-confidence goes a long way to creating that positive attitude that everyone needs to see, even in the face of failure. It’s important to know that one failure doesn’t make up a whole person; risk-taking is essential to business success.

Sometimes those risks pan out, sometimes they don’t, but keeping in mind that the failure is usually not about personal skills but about circumstances will make all the difference.

Even if skills, or a lack of them, contributed to a failure, a positive attitude will see you through taking stock and learning from the experience, rather than letting it defeat you.

Learn to manage defeat

While a toddler will experience defeat by throwing themselves on the floor and having an epic tantrum, leaders need to develop the ability to move on from the base desire to flip out and instead embrace emotions as things that motivate us.

With that in mind, you can use the emotions to move forward in a stable, rational way, rather than expressing frustration inappropriately, to the detriment of others.

Leaders aren’t robots, but they do have to regulate their emotions to some extent and learn the lesson that decisions made in the height of negative emotions are rarely good ones. Step back… breathe… and remember that others are watching to see how they should behave.

Show the behavior you wish your team members to emulate!

Look on the bright side

There is ALWAYS a silver lining, in any situation. The ability to find it and promote it should be a priority. Creating positive solutions to a problem will help you to develop that skill in your team members. If you are miserable, your team members will be too.

If you are positive, in an intelligent and motivating way, they will be too. People want, by nature, to be associated with things that are positive. It uplifts them individually, which in turn contributes to a greater and stronger team as a whole.

Looking to create solutions, rather than dwelling on defeat, is an important skill that stems from a positive outlook.

Be grateful

This is essential! Looking forward is important. So is looking back. What has already been accomplished? Expressing gratitude for those things and the people who helped you succeed is just as valuable.

Giving credit to others is a positive thing that uplifts everyone, yourself included! It reflects an open-mindedness and fundamental understanding that most successes are a team effort.

Positivity is a trait that can be developed. If you’re mindful of the ways in which it can be good for your leadership, you can learn how your attitude affects others. You’ll also start to notice how your reaction to events can change the events themselves and how you can change.

Gratitude is a huge part of self-reflection, and you can start on the path to positivity with the Grounded in Gratitude 5-Year Journal. It was created to help you find the positive energy that is centered in gratitude. Make gratitude a part of your leadership style and use it to move yourself and your team forward.

Is it Possible to Have Influence Without Direct Authority? | BridgeBetween.com

Is it Possible to Have Influence Without Direct Authority?

Yes, but a few key ingredients are necessary!

You’re running a new team for a project but that project requires the participation of individuals who are in other business silos, within the company. In other words, you’re running a team that is comprised of people who don’t actually report to you, on a normal day. So how do you have influence over them without having direct authority?

The idea of running a team without a standard hierarchy is a more common occurrence than people think. Changes to corporate structures where a flatter, more ‘universal’ style are now being embraced.

The key to being able to effectively work with a team like this, among other factors, is credibility. If you have it, you will have influence. It’s as simple as that. You can’t just be proclaimed leader by an even higher power and expect people to follow who are, at the very least, in a lateral position, or possibly even higher.

Types of influence

Your title is not your influence. It’s just a name given from an external and higher authority. It doesn’t confer any real influence on you with your team. Instead, influence is made up of other things, the most important of which is credibility.

  • Credibility — This is influence that comes because of your abilities and your experience. More will be said about how to build this up, below.
  • Informational — This is the kind of influence you can exert because you are ‘in the know’. You have a deep understanding of the organization, how things work, who knows what and how you can leverage that information.
  • Relationships — You are well connected with larger networks that your team sees as valuable to their overall success.

How do you build up credibility?

  1. Meet expectations. Learn what others expect of you and meet those standards. It’s not always easy to discern what others are expecting—we’re not mind readers, after all! But it’s important to find out what key members of the team are expecting so that you can work towards those goals.
  2. Do what you say you’re going to do. There is nothing worse than individuals who talk a good game and say they’re going to accomplish XYZ, only to find out that they can barely accomplish X. Set reasonable expectations and limits so that you can not only meet but exceed them!
  3. Communicate clearly. As much as you need to learn what others expect of you, you need to clearly communicate what you expect from them. Everyone needs to be on the same page, with no confusion, as to what they’re supposed to do.
  4. Use feedback wisely. Good, constructive feedback is essential to building credibility. When someone isn’t meeting the expectations you set out, it’s vital to call them on it. Like calling someone’s bluff, you can build a tremendous amount of credibility by being on top of your own requirements.

 

“Your credibility is your on-ramp to greater influence with others, and it’s too important to be left to chance.” (SOURCE)

 

Essential skills for influencing a team without direct authority

Beyond credibility, there are some essential skills that a leader needs in order to be effective:

  • Networking — The ability to network with a wide variety of people within and outside of your team will help you achieve the influence you need. There is a feeling of reciprocity that develops when you are able to connect people who need to know each other. You have social currency that others want (social, in the sense of team and position, not social standing in society!)
  • Team-within-a-team building — If you are able to successfully get the backing of key people on the team, people who are essential to the success of the team, you will have more influence over the rest.
  • Negotiation — Ensuring that everyone sees decision-making as mutually beneficial is the key to successful negotiation among peers. It’s not about getting what YOU want. It’s about getting something for everyone.

These are skills that are separate from credibility but still emanate from it. You can’t negotiate with people, no matter how skilled you are at it in theory, if you don’t have credibility with the people with whom you are negotiating.

Work on building up your credibility as well as the skills you need to support it. You’ll likely find any team easier to inspire!

Be True to Value Statements | BridgeBetween.com

The Importance of Being True to Value Statements

Leaders are, and should be, held to a higher standard.

It’s business fashionable to throw around words like ‘value statements’ and ‘mission’ but, in many cases, they are just empty words.

Why? Because often leaders in a company don’t actually give those terms any weight, so they become hot air instead of standard operating procedure. How does a leader give them weight?

By living them.

Case in point: Dropbox’s CEO ‘A-HA’ moment

Drew Houston, CEO at Dropbox, had his moment of understanding the importance of walking the walk when he set up an all-company meeting to address the issue of lateness. A meeting to which he was … wait for it … late.

In his mind, being two minutes late was no big deal, but that’s not how others perceived it. A fellow team member shared with him that it was, in fact, hypocritical to behave as if the rules didn’t apply to him.

Houston came to the realization that all the value statements in the world won’t make a hill of beans difference in team morale and attitude if the leadership isn’t living them, rather than just repeating them.

Show rather than tell

The best way for a leader to breathe life into value statements about the company is to live them. Like a novelist who wants to bring the reader into a new and interesting world, he has to show them the way, rather than tell them how to get there:

“To illustrate, let’s say someone stops you on the street to ask for directions. You could give the person a step-by-step route to follow, or you might draw a map, complete with street names and landmarks.

But you could also say:

“That’s not too far out of my way. Just follow me, and I’ll take you there.”

Which method do you think is the most effective?” (Source)

Communicate intentions clearly

While mission statements and value propositions might be written in the employee handbook or even on the wall at the office, the real power of these words comes from direct statements and actions of leaders.

It’s all very well and good to SAY that you value the mental health of your team members, but you have to show it too. A recent example that went viral online was an employee at Michigan tech company who sent her team an email saying that she was taking a couple of days off. The reason: for her mental health.

You might expect that the CEO of that company would be unhappy to see an email from a team member that so openly admitted to taking time off for this reason — mental health not being accepted in every organization as being a legitimate concern for employees. In this case, you would be wrong.

This was his response:

“I just wanted to personally thank you for emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health—I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”

Now, that’s leadership. The employee, Madelyn, tweeted his response (with permission) and the result was overwhelming, even to the CEO, Ben Congleton. As he stated in a subsequent post at Medium.com “It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 americans are medicated for mental health.”

Don’t create value statements you don’t believe in

That’s the bottom line. Hollow value statements are pointless and, in fact, can hurt a team’s morale when they discover how little those statements mean to the leadership of the company.

Sit down and really think about what your company is about and how you can use mission and value statements to show your team where the path to success is, rather than just pointing the way and then going in the opposite direction.

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.

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.