Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
The days of Command and Control are over. Today's leaders must Trust and Inspire their employees to be trusted as leaders.
Now, let’s take a trip down your Leadership Memory Lane.
Replacing Command and Control with Trust-Based Leadership
Leaders Develop Leaders
Friday, September 8, 2017
When we’re inspired, our work hums. We have a sense of purpose, buoyed by the feeling that our talents are being put to good use. We’re doing what we should be doing. And then, just like that, inspiration evaporates. Perhaps a negative comment from your boss deflated you or you’re not excited about a particular assignment. Inspiration can be frustratingly fleeting and difficult to recover when lost. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job you love, it’s common to go through lengthy periods where you need to dig deep to feel excited about your work.
I’ve coached many executives in the thick of this morass and they often struggle to understand the cause: is it the company? Or a particular set of circumstances? Or is it them?
Psychologists Todd Thrash and Andrew Elliot have been studying inspiration for decades. They’ve identified three elements that occur when we’re inspired: we see new possibilities, we’re receptive to an outside influence, and we feel energized and motivated. Fortunately, inspiration is not a static state of mind but a process that we can cultivate. While we can’t force ourselves to be inspired, we can create an environment that’s conducive to inspiration. Here’s what I’ve seen work for my clients.
Don’t wait for positivity to strike. When you aren’t feeling inspired, it’s normal to feel stuck. But inaction is your enemy in this effort. Inspiration doesn’t just happen while we’re at our desks returning emails. Don’t wait for a flash of insight to strike before making any changes. The field of cognitive behavioral therapy shows that our behavior affects how we think and feel. When we do different things, we feel different feelings.
Waiting to act reinforces stasis. Instead, understand that any move you make will open up new possibilities and reveal emotions that you can’t yet see. And remember that you often have more control over your work environment than you typically think.
Develop an inspiration routine. When you’ve excelled in your field, it’s natural to move out of learning mode. But researchers have found that when people believe that they’re experts they become more close minded, a concept termed earned dogmatism. We’re most likely to get, and stay inspired, when we have fresh experiences and information that can trigger insights.
YOU AND YOUR TEAM SERIES
Making Work More Meaningful
There are lots of ways to gather these – take a class, read a book, attend professional gatherings, travel. It’s best to pick one that works for you and then structure your time to integrate these actions into your routine. You might commit to traveling once every six months or take a few hours every Friday morning to read articles and books or set a goal to meet three new people in your field each quarter. Bill Gates was known for having a twice yearly think week, spending full weeks away from his office, reading and mapping new ideas. For most professionals, this isn’t possible but devoting even a couple hours a week to perspective-expanding activities will help you stay engaged and interested.
Find new friends. The people we spend time with affect our energy and our mood. They also tend to reinforce our beliefs. We can easily get into a situation where we speak to the same people about similar topics, week in, week out.
Get out and meet new people. Make a concerted effort to find thought partners and guides who are doing different things from you. Role models are inspirational because they allow us to learn vicariously through their experiences. They stimulate new ideas, and provide a glimpse into the future.
Having role models who are a few years or levels ahead of you can help you rethink your own situation and what’s possible for yourself. Make a list of people who have qualities that you admire. Aim for a few qualities rather than perfection. You don’t need to establish a formal relationship with your role model. It’s fine to observe and learn from them from afar. They don’t even need to know that they’re serving that function.
Narrow your choices. Sometimes we lack motivation, because we’re not sure what to do – stay in a job, leave for a different one, try out a new career, move departments, ask for a promotion. Too many options are paralyzing, as psychology professor Barry Schwartz discusses in The Paradox of Choice. Too often, we feel overwhelmed and do nothing.
We can boost our motivation by narrowing down our options, making it easier to act on them. We like to know we have a plan and are working toward it. If you feel stuck, try writing down all of your options and selecting the three you’re most excited about in order. Then allocate time to work toward your top choices.
These aren’t just actions to take when you’re in a slump. It’s important to keep them up even when you’re feeling inspired so you can stay that way.
Inspiration doesn’t have to feel elusive. It’s in your capacity to increase your opportunities for new insights and ideas. As Jack London said: “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”
Aiming to please your boss isn't about kissing up. When your goal is to make your manager more successful—rather than just yourself—you'll grow as an individual performer, as a professional, and as a part of the team, especially if you're just beginning your career.
This post originally appeared on The Muse.
When my client Angela needed help sorting out a number of career-related issues, her relationship with her manager was at the top of the list. Frankly, it was in shambles. Their working relationship was terrible, they couldn't get along, and Angela even admitted she thought her boss regretted hiring her.
While I'm sure Angela's boss had his own faults, I began to realize that Angela had forgotten the fundamental rule of employment: You are there to make your manager successful. Angela was contentious and argumentative, and I could see how her boss might not consider her someone who made his life any easier.
On the other hand, when I look back at the best staff I had as a manager, they were the ones doing whatever was needed—and with a great attitude—so that we could all be successful together. In short, they made my life easier.
The good news is, aiming to do the same doesn't just help your boss out. When your goal is to make your manager more successful—rather than just yourself—you'll grow as an individual performer, as a professional, and as a part of the team. You'll learn a lot about what it takes to be a leader, expand your empathic skills, and develop your capacity for leadership. Plus, your boss will likely become your mentor and advocate—which will put many more opportunities within your reach.
It's not complicated; it just requires a decision and commitment on your part to make it happen. Here are some starter tips for making your manager's life—and job—easier on a daily basis.
1. Get to Know Your Manager
You can't make your boss' life easier if you don't understand how he or she fundamentally operates. So, your first step is to figure out what he needs from you—and how you should deliver it.
Does he prefer updates delivered in written form or verbally? Spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides? Does he want information conveyed via email, during a team meeting, or on a voicemail?
Getting to know your manager and his preferences will help you deliver the information he needs, the way he needs it. And who doesn't appreciate that?
2. Know Your Boss' Goals
As an employee, you may be so focused on your own goals that you forget that you're actually there to support your manager achieving her goals. So, make it your job to understand the goals, numbers, projects, and other deliverables your boss is accountable for.
It's as simple as asking your manager as part of your one-on-one meetings, "If I'm aware of your goals and priorities, I can better support you in achieving them. Can you share these with me, so that I can help you succeed?" Once you understand her goals, you'll be able to produce deliverables that support her success.
3. Never Let Your Manager Be Blindsided
One rule I always asked my teams to abide by was to never let me be blindsided. In short: No surprises.
So, if you suspect that one of your customers is getting really ticked off and is about to escalate over you—and over your boss—to the VP of customer service, you need to let your manager know. Otherwise, she'll be completely blindsided by the situation, unprepared to handle it, and likely, not too happy with you.
A blindside creates frustration and chaos that usually ends up in a major time-wasting fire drill. Avoid it, and believe me, your manager will thank you.
4. Don't Expect Your Boss to Spoon-Feed You
It may sound harsh, but no manager wants to babysit an employee. So if you have questions about health insurance, where to find the pencils, or how to file an expense report, find a colleague who can help you get your answers.
Save one-on-one time with your boss for work-related matters that require collaboration; issues that allow you to flex your intellectual muscles and prove your worth as an employee.
5. Meet (or Beat!) Your Deadlines
When you get an assignment from your manager, enthusiastically commit to the deadline (this means "I'm on it!" not, "I'll see what I can do"). Then, aim to deliver it at least a day early.
This gives your boss time to flex and adapt in case something comes up—and it always does—rather than sweating it out for you to deliver something at the very last minute.
6. Offer Solutions, Not Problems
Your job is not to constantly point out problems that arise, but rather, to proactively start thinking about what solutions could help address those challenges.
For example, you should never walk into your boss' office to complain about how the shipping department can never get anything out on time. Instead, you should first go to the shipping department, have a conversation about what can be done to improve the situation, and see what you can do to help.
Then, when you do go to your boss about it, you'll be able to let him or her know the action you've already taken to start solving the problem.
7. Do What You Say; Say What You Do
If you say you'll finish a report by Friday for the team update, but you come in Friday morning unprepared because "other things came up," people will probably complain to your manager.
And if that's not enough, if your manager was counting on that report to take the next steps on a project or to present to the executive team, it will inconvenience (read: annoy) him or her even further.
People who are accountable for their actions and follow up on their commitments are dream employees—and their bosses know they can count on them, no matter what.
Employees who work to make their managers successful are golden. Your manager has a tough job—the stress and pressure of which may not be abundantly evident to you. So, help your manager out and develop your own skills at the same time, by doing everything you can to make your boss' job easier. When you're a manager, you'll appreciate the same.
7 Ways to Become Your Boss' Dream Employee | The Muse
Your neighbor pulls up in a sweet new ride. Your co-worker announces she's taking yet another trip abroad. Your best friend upgrades to a bigger house in a better area of town.
You're pretty sure these people don't make a lot more than you do.
So how are they able to spend that kind of money?
Maybe they're up to their ears in debt, or they're trust fund babies, or they'll never be able to retire. Or maybe they've figured out the secret to money, which is: You can have anything you want. You just can't have everything.
The new car, that house and that exotic trip are the shiny end results of a series of decisions hidden below the surface. What we don't see, typically, are the trade-offs — or their consequences.
You see what others want you to see
That's important to remember when we're stewing about someone else's spending. Economists and psychologists say we care about our status, especially relative to our peers, and what we consume can be a way of keeping track. We may lose self-esteem if we fear our consumption is below the average of our group and gain self-esteem if we think our spending is above average.
That dynamic helps lead to the phenomenon of "conspicuous consumption," first identified by economist Thorstein Veblen in his 1899 book "The Theory of the Leisure Class." Veblen coined the term to describe how newly wealthy people bought luxury goods to display their economic power and boost their social status.
Economists have since confirmed that conspicuous consumption, peer pressure about spending and concerns about "keeping up with the Joneses" aren't limited to the wealthy. Some believe that reading and sending signals about financial status permeates our lives — take a quick glance at your Facebook feed.
"A lot of our decisions are based primarily on this comparison effect," says behavioral economist Fernando Zapatero of the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business in Los Angeles.
Measuring ourselves against others can spur some people to economic success, Zapatero believes. That competitive "how can I do better?" impulse drives them to work harder, invest more and persevere through difficulties.
It also can lead people to waste money on things that aren't really important and miss out on the things that are, financial planners say.
You can't see what others give up
Certified financial planner Lisa Kirchenbauer of Omega Wealth Management in Arlington, Virginia, says "mindless spending" is a problem for some of her new clients. Many have little idea where their money is going and a nagging anxiety that they're squandering it on the wrong things.
"Sometimes we will have clients ask us, 'Is this what everybody else is spending on housing? Does this seem reasonable?'" Kirchenbauer says. "We're trying to help them make intentional choices about what's important to them, versus their neighbor or their family members."
Kirchenbauer, who also is a registered life planner, first asks her clients to track their spending. She recommends budgeting tools such as Mint, Quicken or YNAB. (If you don't want to sign up for one of those, a good way to start is the 50/30/20 budget.)
Then she asks about their values and helps them set goals based on those values. A free online tool that can assist do-it-yourselfers is Life Planning for You, created by George Kinder, a pioneer in holistic financial planning who also wrote a book with the same title.
Defining financial goals can help people change their behavior, Kirchenbauer says. If they want early retirement, for example, they may discover their high spending and low savings make that impossible. If they want their goal badly enough, they're more willing to cut spending on stuff they care less about, she says.
Ultimately, people need to decide for themselves what's essential and what's not, says Marguerita Cheng, a CFP at Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Cheng finds some of her fellow advisers to be judgmental about people's spending. Hiring a house cleaner could be a discretionary expense for some, for example. For a working mother with three kids, a housekeeper "could be essential for her sanity," Cheng says.
Being more mindful about spending returns our focus to where it should be: our own decisions and our own lives, rather than others'. But if the envy bug bites again, Kirchenbauer recommends realizing that other people's lavish lifestyles may not be all they seem.
"They may have a lot of debt. … Maybe they're going to work to 75," Kirchenbauer says. "Just because they have these things, you don't know what's behind it."
Liz Weston is a certified financial planner and columnist at NerdWallet, a personal finance website, and author of "Your Credit Score." Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.