Are You the Smartest Person in the Room? Let’s Hope Not.

Smartest person in the room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best thing that can happen to you as a boss is hiring a person who is smarter, more creative, or in some way more talented than you are. It’s like winning the lottery. Suddenly you’ve got a team member whose talent will very likely improve everyone’s performance and reputation. Including yours.

Yes, it’s human nature to feel fearful that a “superior” employee could make you look, well, inferior, and perhaps slow down your career progress. But in reality, the exact opposite usually occurs.

The reason is that leaders are generally not judged on their personal output. What would be the point of evaluating them like individual contributors? Rather, most leaders are judged on how well they’ve hired, coached, and motivated their people, individually and collectively—all of which shows up in the results. That’s why when you sign up top performers and release their energy, you don’t look bad. You look like the goose that laid the golden egg.

So keep laying them. It is a rare company that doesn’t love a boss who finds great people and creates an environment where they flourish. And you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do that. Indeed, when you consistently demonstrate that leadership skill and come to be known as the person in your company who can land and build the best, watch your career take off.

Now, we’re not saying managing “superior” employees on your team is necessarily easy. We received a question from an audience member at a speech in Chicago several years ago who said two of his seven direct reports were smarter than he was. He asked: “How can I possibly appraise them?”

“What the heck happened to the other five?” was our attempt at a lighthearted response. But we took his point.

How in the world do you evaluate people whom you feel are more talented than you?

You don’t. That is, you don’t evaluate them on their intelligence or particular skill set. Of course, you talk about what they are doing well, but just as important, you focus on areas in which they can improve. It is no secret that some very smart people have trouble, for instance, relating to colleagues or being open to other people’s ideas. Indeed, some struggle with becoming leaders themselves. And that is where your experience, self-confidence, and coaching come into play.

In that way, then, managing superior employees is just like managing regular types. You have everything to gain from celebrating their growth and nothing at all to fear. -Jack and Suzy Welch

Five Ways To Be Amazing At Work

StarIn every company, there are a few employees who stand out. They’re the ones who always finish first, get recognized for their accomplishments and eventually make their way up the ranks. Invariably, they know how to play the political game. But there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common. Here’s how you can be one of them.

1. Be obsessed with productivity. The best employees tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive rarely leave their mind. In fact, the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover.

2. Solve problems. Problem solving is the cornerstone of commerce. Average employees tend to spend more time jockeying for position to gain favor from their superiors than they do solving problems. Great ones are not interested in management kudos; they are interested in results. World-class managers and employees solve problems quickly and move on to solving bigger, more complex problems, whether individually or as part of a team.

3. Take risks. The most common commodity in corporate America is the sales manager who craves the approval and friendship of his sales team. The second most common commodity is the sales manager who rules her team with an iron fist, refusing to consider feedback or input from the field.

World-class leaders are neither dictators nor micromanagers. Instead, they have two primary objectives: increase revenues and bring out the best in the people they lead. That might mean being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, or being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. These leaders can adapt to any situation. The great ones never play it safe when it comes to leading their teams through change, knowing their job is to serve as a guide and coach.

4. Have a strong work ethic. Amateurs work just hard enough to escape being fired. They expect to be compensated for every little thing they do – if they can be over-compensated, even better.

The pros have exactly the opposite mindset. They understand that the marketplace will richly reward a world-class work ethic with an endless stream of opportunities. This work ethic is the reason so many immigrants come to the free world and become millionaires. They’re so grateful for the opportunity to work hard that no one can convince them to slow down.

5. Find a coach. Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within. The more coachable and open-minded your employees, the better they’ll perform.

Trouble is, ego can get in the way. The best employees are the most open to world-class coaching. They don’t care about ego satisfaction when it comes to improving their results; all they’re looking for is an edge, no matter how slight. When two companies or opponents go head-to-head, many times the only thing that favors the winner is a slight edge in thinking, strategy and technique.

From: http://www.mentaltoughnesssecrets.com/

7 Things I Wish I Had Known at 25

 

work-advice-known-25-ftrWe’ve all had transformative moments.

You know what I’m talking about: those brief instances when you find yourself reflecting on lessons you’ve learned over the years. They may come professionally or personally. Sometimes they’re huge life lessons that really shake things up. Other times, they’re small things that are easily forgotten if not put to use.

I’m a firm believer that no one’s born a leader or expert. It’s the experiences we encounter that help transform us into better, brighter, and more successful versions of ourselves. For me, I started out as an entrepreneur, a move made with little thought at the nontraditional age of 16. Today, my experiences as a serial entrepreneur, CEO, leader, father, and husband have taught me a lot.

But imagine if you could bundle up the key lessons you’ve learned in your professional years and hand them to those just starting out. I want to do just that.

Here are seven things I’ve learned professionally that I was fortunate to gain, but wish I had known when I was just starting out:

1. Proactivity is a secret weapon. There’s this general stereotype I want to put an end to immediately: Jobs aren’t about waiting around and doing things as they’re assigned. Far too many people—even those with passion to spare—fall into this trap.

Begin building your proactive habits as soon as possible by seeking out ways to go above and beyond your role every day. This could mean kicking your projects to the next level, finding new ways to impact your company, or even just improving internal processes to make things run smoother. Proactivity is a crucial part of advancing your career.

2. Perfection isn’t attainable. Being a perfectionist and micromanaging others—even if they aren’t your direct reports—can be damaging. These are two things I personally struggled with early on. I learned quickly that people don’t like being told what to do, and good leadership and management don’t come from tweaking things to perfection. Instead, I learned to live by the 80/20 rule and ask questions to derive answers when it comes to managing others.

3. Great public speaking skills create influence. When I was just starting out, I had a mentor who took me under his wing. Tom Antion was a successful entrepreneur and great public speaker, but I never thought much of it until the time came for me to really dive into public speaking.

It’s important to understand that those who can speak well, be it in a company meeting or at a presentation, typically become trusted leaders. Never stop improving as a public speaker, even if it’s something you initially fear. If you have a strong voice and show confidence, authority will follow.

4. Work isn’t just about cashing your paycheck. If you’re in it for the money alone, you’re probably not going to get very far. Work is truly about passion—finding and doing what you love. Being driven by passion is an insanely beneficial motivator.

So, if you’re not passionate about the job you’re doing today, what can you do to find your passion? Would it be a new job? What about a new role within your company? Whatever it takes, find and pursue your passion sooner rather than later.

5. Seek out a mentor. As I stated above, I was fortunate enough to have started and fueled my career due to the guidance of a great mentor. If you don’t already have a mentor, it’s time to go out and find one.

You may find a mentor in someone within your company or a person you look up to in your industry. If you don’t already know of someone who would make a great mentor, there are plenty of websites, organizations, conferences and networking events that can hook you up with someone who shares your professional vision and can offer helpful advice.

6. Know what makes you better than the rest. The days of fitting into a professional mold are dead and gone.

Today, knowing what sets you apart from the crowd professionally is the way to build your career. Knowing your top skills and using them to establish your personal brand will catch the eye of employers and maybe even lead you to starting a business of your own.

7. Always risk it. We all know that risks and rewards go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t open to taking the occasional risk, you’re likely to get stuck in a flow that you can’t break from. This doesn’t always mean starting your own business or quitting your job for something less conventional. Taking risks often means overcoming your fears and reaching for opportunities you may have overlooked with more thinking.

I wish I had known these seven lessons when I was 25, but I’m thankful to be able to share them regardless. One thing’s for certain: there is never any time to stop learning and growing as a professional. -Ilya Pozin

What do you wish you had known professionally in your 20s?

10 Qualities Every Leader of The Future Needs to Have

10-qualities-every-leader-of-the-future-needs-to-have

The reigning theory in business has long been that “alpha” leaders make the best entrepreneurs. These are aggressive, results-driven achievers who  assert control and insist on a hierarchical organizational model. Yet I am  seeing increasing success from “beta” startup cultures where the emphasis is on  collaboration, curation and communication.

Some argue that this new horizontal culture is being driven by Gen-Y,  whose focus has always been more communitarian. Other business culture experts,  like Dr. Dana Ardi, in her new book The Fall of the Alphas, argue that the rise of the  betas is really part of a broader culture change driven by the Internet —  emphasizing communities, instant communication and collaboration.

Can you imagine the overwhelming growth of Facebook,  Wikipedia and Twitter in  a culture dominated by alphas? This would never happen. I agree with Ardi who  says most successful workplaces of the future need to adopt the following beta  characteristics and better align themselves with the beta leadership model:

1. Do away with archaic command-and-control models. Winning  startups today are horizontal, not hierarchical. Everyone who works at an  organization feels they’re part of something, and moreover, that it’s the next  big thing. They want to be on the cutting-edge of technology.

2. Practice ego management. Be aware of your own biases and  focus on the present as on the future. You need to manage the egos of team  members by rewarding collaborative behavior. There will always be the need for  decisive leadership, particularly in times of crisis. I’m not suggesting total  democracy.

3. Stress innovation. Betas believe that team members need  to be given an opportunity to make a difference — to give input into key  decisions and communicate their findings and learnings to one another. Encourage  team-members to play to their own strengths so that the entire team and  organization leads the competition.

4. Put a premium on collaboration and teamwork. Instead of  knives-out competition, these companies thrive by building a successful  community with shared values. Team members are empowered and encouraged to  express themselves. The best teams are hired with collaboration in mind. The  whole is thus more than the sum of its parts.

5. Create a shared culture. Leadership is fluid and  flexible. Integrity and character matter a lot. Everyone knows about the  culture. Everyone subscribes to the culture. Everyone recognizes both its  passion and its nuance. The result looks more like a symphony orchestra than an  advancing army.

6. Be ready for roles and responsibilities to change weekly, daily  and even hourly. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make is they  don’t act quickly enough. Markets and needs change fast. Now there is a focus on  social, global and environmental responsibility. Hierarchies make it hard to  adjust positions or redefine roles. The beta culture gets it done.

7. Temper confidence with compassion. Mindfulness, of self  and others, by boards, executives and employees, may very well be the single  most important trait of a successful company. If someone is not a good cultural  fit or is not getting their job done, make the change quickly, but with  sensitivity.

8. Invite employees to contribute. The closer everyone in  the organization comes to achieving his or her singular potential, the more  successful the business will be. Successful cultures encourage their employees  to keep refreshing their toolkits, keep flexible, keep their stakes in the  stream.

9. Stay diverse. Entrepreneurs build teams. They don’t fill  positions. Cherry-picking candidates from name-brand universities will do  nothing to further an organization and may even work against it. Don’t wait for  the perfect person — he or she may not exist. Hire for track record and  potential.

10. Not everyone needs to be a superstar. Superstars don’t  pass the ball, they just shoot it. Not everyone wants to move up in an  organization. It’s perfectly fine to move across. Become your employees’ sponsor  — on-boarding with training and tools is essential. Spend time listening. Give  them what they need to succeed.

Savvy entrepreneurs and managers around the world are finding it more  effective to lead through influence and collaboration, rather than relying on  fear, authority and competition. This is rapidly becoming the new paradigm for  success in today’s challenging market. Where does your startup fit in with this  new model? -Martin Zwilling

Women and Today’s Culture

glass ceiling, generations, baby boomers

Today’s culture will make a change on its own when it comes to men and women and their resilience and success in the workplace. Today’s culture calls for more empathy, nurturing careers and listening to employees.

Never before, have there been 4 generations in the workplace all speaking a different language with different motivators as to why they are there and how they create value for the organization.

I am finding in my consulting engagements that men are having a more difficult time with managing the generation gap. Not because they don’t have the skill set but because many of them still believe in a hierarchal style of management or that women are not equal to men when it comes to experience and ability. Especially many male baby boomers, who are still caught up in how they were treated or better yet how they rose to their current positions. They want their subordinates, especially the Millenniums to adhere to this same principal.

Unfortunately this just doesn’t work and talent is lost as a result of that. Women on the other hand just naturally possess a more nurturing attitude, empathy and the patience to listen. Perhaps it is because they themselves have struggled for acceptance and acknowledgement. I’m not suggesting that they mother these quick witted, sometimes impatient entitlement acting Millenniums, I am saying that they have a wiser way of hearing them out and coaching them in what they need.

We all wake up in the morning and turn off our alarm clock and tune into station WIIFM. “What’s In It For Me”? These are called our intrinsic motivators, it’s what makes us get up in the morning go to work and “kick some…..” It’s when we get to work and those motivators are compromised that we turn up the sound of station WIIFM and tune others , often our supervisors, out. The workplace is full of everyone wanting what they want and it’s all based on what they value and that is what initiates their behavior.

In my coaching and consulting experience I find that men have more difficulty “giving them what they need” versus “giving them what they want them to have”. Women on the other hand have figured out that if you can create a motivating environment by listening to what employees need to be productive, they are able to keep all 4 generations feeling valued.

This is why I believe the culture itself will make a change as women will eventually make their way up the ladder and they will be much more effective as leaders. Ultimately this will cause the gender gap to narrow. Not every organization will embrace this and not every male manager is stuck in the behavioral model they learned. I was fortunate to have worked in an organization in my mid-twenties and broke through the glass ceiling thanks to some wonderful male role models.

My advice to women is to not get caught up in “this glass ceiling affect”. Do your job well, expect to be recognized and you will be. It is changing, perhaps not fast enough but I guarantee you that the younger generation in the workplace does not see gender, they see talent and equality and one day they will be running our organizations. Hang in there…a change is gonna come.

-Sharon Jenks, President of The Jenks Group, Inc. http://www.thejenksgroup.com