Today’s economy demands a new kind of leader. A courageous leader who pokes the box, challenges the status quo, or breaks the rules, even in the midst of an increasingly complex business climate. Anyone can follow a map, but remarkable leaders seize opportunities by designing the map!
Innovation. It is not just a business strategy for the creative team or senior management. Innovation is the responsibility of everyone! From the c-suite to the front line, leaders must abandon the old philosophy “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and look for ways to create new methods, ideas, products or services to keep their competitive advantage.
In a recent IBM study of 1,500 CEOs, over 60% cited creativity as the most crucial leadership quality needed over the next five years. However, another study reports a mere 26% of employees are often or regularly encouraged by their manager to look for new solutions or to take risks. More than a third (41% in the US) said they are never encouraged to do so. The irony … creativity is crucial in a thriving organization but very few leaders actually allow or encourage their employees to be creative. [click to continue…]
My husband and I were blessed to take a vacation out west a few months ago. We absolutely love spending time in Arizona. We love renting a 4-wheel drive Jeep and going off road to explore the mountains and the desert. It is simply amazing how the landscape changes from the tall ponderosa pine trees scaling the mountain sides in Flagstaff to the ominous mountains of brown rock covered in cactus in Phoenix, to the more flat terrain covered with blowing tumbleweed in Tucson.
This year we decided to spend a couple days in Sedona. Our condo had a perfect view of one of Sedona’s signature red-rock mountains. When I walked out that afternoon onto our balcony, I was captured by one of the most breathtaking displays of God’s creation I had ever seen.
As I sat there trying to take in all the beauty of the red rock mountains, I realized that no matter the people or businesses that might come and go in that city … no matter the weather patterns that might come and go in that city — those magnificent red rock mountains would still be there. No matter what might be going on in the lives of the people who called Sedona their home, the one thing they could always count on to be a consistent part of their landscape would be the red rock mountains. Life might bring about change, but the mountains would remain consistent. And with that consistency, comes a sense of assurance and security.
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When I came up with the idea of writing a blog on the importance of “caring” for your employees as a leadership skill, it quickly became apparent that this was not some revolutionary idea. There has been a lot of talk around this topic dating back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs research from 1943 to 1954.
The research behind Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides compelling evidence that individuals are motivated by being a part of a close-knit group that expresses care, concern, and respect for one another. When their basic needs are met in the workplace, we (the leaders) benefit from our team reaching their remarkable potential!
The dictionary defines CARING as “displaying kindness, concern, and empathy for others.”
Is this really such a bad thing? Is it possible we (as a team) could achieve remarkable results while displaying more kindness, more concern, or more empathy towards others? I’m not talking about doing away with setting goals, raising the bar of excellence, setting high expectations, or throwing out accountability. No! I’m talking about making the process of achieving the goal equally as important as achieving the goal itself, therefore, emphasizing to the team that behaviors matter!
Here are just a few benefits of caring for your team. [click to continue…]
Recently I was faced with the challenge of making a difficult decision. I was torn between continuing to volunteer in a leadership role that I thoroughly enjoyed and where I was successful or to pursue a newly created role that had greater potential to impact more people. While this might sound like a fairly easy decision for others to make, I was extremely passionate about what I was doing but was also feeling the tug to do more.
There is nothing easy about making a difficult decision (SMILE). In addition to evaluating the facts, you must also address the emotional side of making a tough decision. Now the decision goes from being hard to being complex.
Learning how to balance the emotions with the facts is very important when dealing with a difficult decision. The fear of the unknown often causes me to avoid making the decision, while the pressure to make the “right” decision results in a lot of stress and anxiety. What will others think of my decision? What if it doesn’t turn out the way I thought it would or should? Then what?
I have been faced with a lot of difficult decisions to make in both my personal and professional life. Here are a few strategies that have helped me over the years make difficult decisions easier.
Explore the potential outcomes and consequences. Sometimes when you are so close to a situation it is helpful to consider different views. You can explore all options by asking the following four questions followed by “and what else?”
- What will happen if I do “x”
- What won’t happen if I do “x”
- What will happen if I don’t do “x”
- What won’t happen if I don’t do “x”
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On the heels of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I’ve been thinking a lot about the acts of courage that occurred that day. From the heroes in the theater who gave their lives to protect someone else … or the people who didn’t flee but stayed to help a stranger who was wounded … to the police officers who voluntarily ran into the violent chaos to try and capture the shooter and save lives, these were all acts of courage. They willingly put the best interests of others in front of their own.
What is Courage?
The VIA Character Institute defines Courage as the capacity to take action to aid others in spite of significant risks or dangers. Courage allows people to avoid shrinking from the threats, challenges, or pain associated with attempting to do good works. Brave acts are undertaken voluntarily with full knowledge of the potential adversity involved. Brave individuals place the highest importance on higher purpose and morality, no matter what the consequences might be.
Rosa Parks exhibited an amazing act of courage when she refused to obey the orders of a Montgomery, AL bus driver who directed her to move to the back of the bus. Even when faced with the fear of being arrested and even the possibility of being beaten, she did not back down. This single act of courage became the tipping point for extraordinary change!
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Throughout my career I have had the privilege of working for bosses who had different leadership styles. Most of them had a direct, hands-on approach, which simply means they told me what to do and I did it. Even though I worked in an office environment, the culture was more like a factory. I knew exactly how things were supposed to work, what I was supposed to do, and if there was a problem I knew who to go to for the answer. And once I understood the written (and unwritten) responsibilities and rules of my job, there was absolutely NO THINKING and NO ENGAGEMENT required. Just put the square peg in the square hole.
On the other hand, I was also blessed to have a boss who had the opposite management style. He took a more non-directive approach. He did more listening than talking. He would ask instead of tell. While he provided guidance and direction, he asked me to think about solutions and recommendations. He was coaching when coaching wasn’t popular. As a result, not only was I engaged, I was invested. I didn’t just invest my head … I invested my heart!
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Keeping customers happy has always been a critical objective for most companies. However, recent studies suggest that happy employees also have a significant impact on the organization’s bottom line. Benefits such as increased employee retention, improved performance, satisfied customers, and greater profitability has caused employers to take a greater interest in their employees’ work happiness.
The following strategies can help improve your team’s HQ (happiness quotient).
- Set expectations. Make sure your team knows exactly what is expected of them in their day-to-day work. Ensure they have a clear definition of success and know how their performance will be measured. Clarify the desired results and focus less on the “how.” Setting clear expectations minimizes uncertainty and guesswork and establishes a strong foundation for happy employees and extraordinary performance. So make setting expectations a part of every conversation.
- Provide support. Have you taken the time to ask your team what they need to be successful? What materials, time, training or information is needed in order to succeed? Help them remove (or at least minimize) the barriers to success and you will have a team appreciative of your leadership and focused on goals and results. Great leaders don’t just exist … they educate, equip, and excite! [click to continue…]
My husband and I went this past weekend to watch the latest Julia Roberts’ movie Mirror Mirror. In this story Julia Roberts played the role of an evil queen who was out to steal the throne from her stepdaughter. When the evil queen looked into the mirror and recited the famous line “mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” she saw an idealized version of herself. In her eyes she was the epitome of perfection and excellence. It was the king … the stepdaughter … the prince … and those bandits who were the imperfect ones and the nagging source of her problems.
This story line reminded me of a lot of managers I have known and worked with over the years. They were quick to pass blame and took little (if any) ownership to the dysfunction of their team.
A couple days ago at a training event, a manager at my table was complaining about her team and how they drained her mental energy and kept her from doing her work. I asked her what could she do differently to influence a more positive outcome? Her response … “Nothing.”
Here are a few common excuses I’ve heard managers (and non-managers) use to rationalize doing “Nothing.”
- I’m too busy
- I’ve done everything I can [click to continue…]