The Keys to Strong Leadership

The Keys to Strong Leadership

You can’t just talk the talk.

Talking tough is not leadership. It’s bluff and it usually masks a whole host of insecurities and issues of self-doubt. Being tough: that’s a true foundation of strong leadership. This doesn’t mean being tough in the sense of coming down hard on other people, but an inward strength that helps a leader to navigate whatever waters they’re on.

This internal strength comes from a place of confidence and knowledge. A strong leader has a clear understanding of the world around them and what they are trying to accomplish within it. It’s this understanding that helps them move forward with decisions, big and small.

This inner strength is also what inspires others to action, almost innately. A tough, strong and knowledgeable leader will always be more effective. Are these traits born or can the be learned? Of course they can be learned! It’s a question of practice.

But first, let’s look at a few differences between a strong leader and one who has room to improve.

The Keys to Strong Leadership

A strong leader sees difficulties as opportunities

Instead of viewing every challenge as a major problem, strong leaders will turn that view around and look at the difficulty as an opportunity. For change, for improvement, for growth… whatever. It’s the ultimate version of making lemonade when life hands you lemons!

A strong leader exercises their influence carefully

The strength that inspires people is not about control. It’s not about telling people what to do in order to get things done, making rules or micromanaging staff. It’s about setting the right example so that others are inspired to follow, rather than having people who follow out of fear.

A strong leader is authentic

This is so important: a leader who is more concerned with how things ‘look’ rather than the real impact of actions and decisions is not strong, and people will eventually see through the narcissistic tendencies. Authenticity and true belief in one’s own actions and decisions are vital, regardless of appearances.

A strong leader can admit when they’re wrong

This goes back somewhat to authenticity, but basically, a leader who cannot acknowledge errors or admit a gap in their knowledge isn’t displaying strength. That kind of leader is showing their insecurities instead of dealing with the challenge of growth and change.

Learn how to become a strong(er) leader

It takes commitment to recognize that you might not be as inwardly strong as you think you are. It takes even more commitment to do something about it but once you make that choice, you can move forward and grow as a leader:

  • Give up the bad habits — Giving in to rampant self-doubt and that negative inner voice is vital! Every one of these negative thoughts limits your opportunities to grow. Dump them! Sure, you need to learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them, but that’s not dwelling: that’s using a negative and turning it into an opportunity for growth.
  • Control your emotions — The leader who is always posturing, blustering or yelling isn’t leading: they’re being controlled by their emotions and they’re projecting that out onto others. You can’t think clearly, let alone lead others effectively, if you’re a mess of angry anxiety or fear.
  • Don’t try and control things that are out of our control — Your emotions? They’re within your control. Other people’s? Not so much. The world economy? Definitely not. Within every problem or challenge, there IS something you can change and control for the better, so find it and work on it! You’re never going to please everyone with every decision, so don’t try.

Like the muscles of your body, your inner strength ‘muscles’ need a regular workout so they can become stronger. Deciding that you want to be a better leader is the first step. After that, it’s all about the effort you put in. Good luck!

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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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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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Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

It’s easier than you might think for a leader to upset the morale of a team.

If you are in any kind of management or leadership role, you know that managing different personalities and work styles can be difficult. Everyone has their little peccadillos that need to be handled appropriately.

But there are things that some leaders do that will almost universally upset the balance and morale of a team. It’s not that your team are delicate snowflakes that need to be handled with kid gloves, but they are people and they have feelings. If you abuse them or their trust, you will have a morale problem on your hands that will be very difficult to walk back from.

Team Morale: 5 Things You Should Avoid Doing

Here are some ways you can really freak out your team. The moral of this story? Don’t do them.

1. Be an Emotional Yo-Yo

One minute, you’re happy and laughing. The next minute, you’re slamming your office door and giving people the silent treatment. Are your mood swings even related to work? Or are you bringing your personal life to the office? Like the Hare and the Tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Whatever is going on in your life or at the office, you need to display outward calm and control.

I knew a manager once whose employees would do a walk-by of her office to peek in at her and see how she was looking before daring to go in to ask for time off, or even a simple query about a project. That’s not leadership. The instability this causes among team members is a major hit to morale.

2. Be a Bully

Unless you’re wearing a crown, you don’t get to behave like a bully. And even if you are wearing a crown, it might not be a good idea. Intimidation and public humiliation are not management techniques. Using threats to get results will not propel a project forward in a positive way but will result in people feeling like their jobs are constantly on the line.

It even comes down to the way you communicate with your team. Good leaders ask for input and make requests. Bad leaders demand things of their team. The rules of the game apply to you too, and don’t think your team won’t notice if you think they don’t.

3. Make Poor HR Decisions

Even worse than making a poor HR decision is not making them at all. Your team needs you to make hard decisions, not pussyfoot around. Not dealing with team members who aren’t performing or have a negative attitude is a great way to bring down morale. It looks like you have no interest in the team or the project at best, or that you are blithely unaware of the problem, at worst.

Putting the right people in the right roles so that they can do their jobs effectively is not an exercise in politics or patronage. It’s an exercise in getting the job done. The right people are those who are qualified and motivated to do the work. If you’ve done your job correctly, by putting together a good team, you won’t need to micromanage them, treating them like kindergartners.

4. Stop Communicating With Your Team

This is on the same line of thought as ‘not being an emotional yo-yo’, above, but even more so, a good leader is straightforward with their team. Don’t make your staff guess at what you’re trying to tell them. Improperly communicating expectations will just result in the team not meeting them. Why? Because they can’t read your mind!

Feedback is essential for good team building. Not the dreaded once a year annual review, which no one appreciates, but on an ongoing basis. A good leader will offer positive or constructive feedback throughout the lifecycle of a project. Bad leaders will say nothing until they’re unhappy, equating feedback with criticism. Eventually, team members will avoid communicating with a leader who can’t or won’t share useful comments.

In the same vein, building a culture of blame and finger pointing instead of finding solutions to problems is a communication issue. If you are only looking for the holes and who created them, instead of finding ways to mend them, you’re not going to get far.

5. Take the Credit Where It’s NOT Due

By far, one of the easiest ways to upset a team is to blame them when things go wrong but take all the credit when things go right. Worse, if you refuse to admit when you don’t know something or when you are wrong about something. It comes down to being forthright and clear with your team, and having an understanding that without them, you have nothing. Appreciating their efforts is the single best way to boost their spirits and commitment.

Building a team and being a good leader are remarkable goals. They’re totally attainable as long as you keep both feet on the ground and work to achieve them with honesty and purpose.

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How Creating Margin can Foster Effective Leadership photo

How Creating Margin Can Foster Effective Leadership

Effective leadership takes time, intentionality, purpose and strategy. It also means making the choice to create margin in your life. Just like a well-written, typed paper needs margin around the edges to be a source of communication and efficiency, leaders need margin in their lives to perform at peak levels. But leaders are often driven, which can result in schedules crammed with meetings, tasks and busyness.

Have you created margin in your life so that you have the reserve you need to accomplish the goals you have for yourself and your team? How do you create that margin? Here are 10 suggestions:

  1. Get enough sleep.  When leaders don’t get enough sleep, they are more likely to react badly and make poor decisions. Sleep equates to better decisions and a clearer vision for what is important. Without enough sleep, we waste the extra time we might have making up for poor decisions. Sleep is vital.
  2. Pay attention to your energy levels. Each of us have different energy levels throughout our days depending on our personalities, schedules and body composition. Knowing when you are more and less energetic can be a strategic factor in creating margin. If you find that you are more productive in the morning, it is smart to schedule your important tasks and meetings then. If you find your energy wanes every day around 2 pm, make a decision to plan an activity that will boost your energy or give you rest.
  3. Know your productive seasons.  In the same way that each of us have different energy levels during the day, we each have more productive seasons than others. Winter can be more difficult for some. The month of May is often a busy time with kids in school. Knowing your productivity highs and lows throughout the year will allow you to plan margin in your life effectively.
  4. Give yourself 15 extra minutes.  If you are not an early morning person, it is difficult to follow through with the decision to get up earlier each day in order to get more accomplished. But many people who don’t get up early find themselves rushed and stressed. So instead of getting up early, start giving yourself 15 minutes for tasks throughout your day. Arrive fifteen minutes early for meetings so you can give yourself extra mental energy. Plan for an extra fifteen minutes at the end of meetings so you can wrap up your notes and next action steps.
  5. Do some meal planning on the weekends. Meal planning can take time out of your schedule that could be used in other more productive ways. So take time on the weekend and plan out some meals, do some early preparation and freeze some meals. This will create extra time during your week that could be quite valuable to the margin in your life.
  6. Keep a time limit on your social media activities. Being active on social media is important for a leader, especially a business leader. But social media can also prove to be a black hole that eats up valuable time for work and for margin in your life. Set a time limit on your social media activities and begin each session with work priorities. Connect with friends and colleagues next, but when your time limit is over, shut it down. Margin is often consumed with mindless activities that profit us little.
  7. Solitude. We live in a world of noise and people and chatter. Choosing to make solitude a priority in your life centers your mind, body and spirit in a way that will bring a healthy perspective to everything. Margin is often birthed in the freedom that solitude brings.
  8. Nap. There is extensive research that says that a 30-minute power nap in the middle of your day can rejuvenate you. Choosing to rest creates much needed margin.
  9. Learn the difference between a concern and a responsibility. When we find ourselves concerned about a particular thing, we are worried or anxious about it. When we have a responsibility, we have an actual duty and obligation to do something for someone or something. Margin is naturally created when you don’t waste time on concerns. As a leader, you need to fulfill your responsibilities. Concerns can be energy wasters because you often do not have the authority or ability to change it simply by being concerned about it.
  10. Learn to say NO. The best way to create margin is not to overextend yourself.

Start creating margin in your life today so that you can be the most effective and most balanced leader you can be.

 

Sources:

http://rubiconn.com/choosing-to-create-margin-in-your-life/

http://www.toodarnhappy.com/2012/03/19/5-ways-to-create-margin-in-your-life/

http://www.sean-johnson.com/why-you-need-more-margin-in-your-life/

http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/leading-with-margin/

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