How To Handle A Bad Boss: 7 Strategies For ‘Managing Up’

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If you’ve got a lousy boss right now you have my sympathy. Truly. It can really siphon the enjoyment from what might otherwise be a rewarding role, leave you feeling undervalued, and wondering whether you should begin searching for something new. But before you start planning an exit strategy, it would be wise to rethink how you can better manage the boss you already have –for all their flaws and shortcomings.

Having worked with numerous not-so-inspiring bosses in my corporate career, I’ve learned they provide invaluable opportunities for developing  executive leadership skills and learning ‘what not to do’ when managing people who work for you. You just have to be proactive in looking for them and ready to practice some real self-leadership.

New research has found that being overworked is not the reason people leave their jobs. A Danish study of 4,500 public service workers has provided credence to the adage that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”  According to psychologist Matias Brødsgaard Grynderup, one of the researchers behind the study, “We may have a tendency to associate depression and stress with work pressure and workload; however, our study shows that the workload actually has no effect on workplace depression.”

However fixed in their ways your boss may be, you can always learn ways to better manage him or her.  The secret is to “manage up” without them ever realizing you are doing it. So rather than think of your boss as your boss,  think of them as a difficult client – one you have to figure out how to work with if you want to get ahead, even if you’d rather not.

Hopefully the strategies below will help you on your way. Underpinning each of them is a commitment to take responsibility for your own success, regardless of the different (and difficult) personalities you will inevitably have to encounter throughout your working life.

1.  Know their why: what motivates them

The better you understand what your boss does, and more importantly, why, the better positioned you are to deliver results, manage expectations, and avoid lose:lose situations.  Try to put yourself in their shoes and see the world, and your workplace, as they might.

  • What does he care about?
  • What keeps him up at night?
  • What would he love more of and what would he love less of on a daily basis?  
  • What frightens him?
  • How much importance does he place on impressing others? 
  • How does he measure success and what does he think about failure?

When you know what drives your boss (even if your boss may not be fully conscious of it), you can speak to “his listening,” frame your opinions and use language in ways that line up with his core values, concerns and priorities.

2.  Support their success:  Work around their weaknesses

While it may sound counter intuitive to support a bad boss in becoming more successful, there is absolutely nothing to be gained by making him look bad, going to war or helping him to fail. If he is as bad as you think, he will likely do a pretty good job of that all by himself. Exposing his incompetence will only compound your own misery and may even damage your reputation.

One way is to help your boss focus on his natural strengths. Another is to proactively work around his weaknesses. If you know you have a boss who’s disorganized, then help him to be on top of things rather than whining about his lack of organizational skills. If you know your boss is often late to meetings, offer to kick off the next meeting for him. If he tends to change his mind frequently, or is outright forgetful, be sure to document interactions so you can refer back to them if he ever contradicts himself. If you know your boss is slow to respond, continue to work on a project while you wait to hear back from him.  Making yourself  indispensable and someone your boss can rely on to help him do his job is a valuable asset when you start to look to ‘what’s next?’

By doing what you can to help your boss succeed, you lay a solid foundation for greater success yourself. It may not be an immediate reward, but in the long run, you can never lose by helping others do better than they otherwise would.

3.  Take the high road: Your “Personal Brand” is riding on it

Never let your boss’s bad behavior be an excuse for your own. All too often, people start feeling entitled to slack off, take longer and longer lunches, lose interest or stop performing well because of their bad boss. Don’t do it. Keep your mind focused on top performance. Complain to your spouse or your friends all you want, but when in the office or workplace, stay upbeat and engaged. Actually handling a difficult boss well can really set you apart. You never know who is watching or listening but be assured, people who can open or close future opportunities for you are doing just that!

Evening the score by working slower, taking excessive “mental health” days or longer lunches doesn’t do you any favors and can hurt your own self more in the long run than any irritation or trouble you cause for your boss. On top of that, it may only put you behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go. So if your boss is a shouter, don’t react by shouting back. If they are petty or small minded, don’t descend to smallness yourself.  Rather maintain a calm and professional demeanor in dealing with your difficult boss or let your emotions get the better of you. Literally. As Gandhi wrote “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In this case, act like the leader you wish your boss was.

If you feel you’ve run out of options for dealing with him reasonably, then don’t go rumor-mongering or bad-mouthing him to everyone within earshot. That will ultimately say more about you than it does about your boss (and not things you’d want said!)  Rather, follow proper procedures for registering complaints with Human Resources or with higher-level superiors, documenting each step of the way.

4.  Know their preferences: Adapt to them

Observe your boss’s behavioral style, preferences and pet peeves.  Is he fast-paced and quick to make decisions? Is he slow to think about things, needing time to process information?  How does he like to communicate – via e-mail, in person drop-ins, or lengthy memos? The more you can match your style to your boss’s style when communicating, the more he will really hear what you’re saying.

If you’ve ever done any personality assessments such as Myers-Briggs or DISC, then see if your boss has as well and find out what they are.  It can help you adapt your style and spare a lot of strain.  Working with his preferences is an obvious way of managing your boss without his ever knowing it, and it’s a key leadership skill to develop regardless of the kind of boss you are working for.

5.  Don’t be intimidated by a bully: Stand tall, never cower

People who bully get their power from those who respond by cowering and showing fear. If your boss is a yeller, a criticizer, or a judge – stand firm. If you’re doing the best job you can do, keep your head held high and don’t give him the satisfaction of pushing you about.  Rather ask questions, seek to understand, and work to defuse a difficult situation instead of cowering or responding in anger. It takes practice, but over time you will get better at it and he will look elsewhere for his power kick.

If you feel compelled to call your boss on his behavior, go ahead but do so with a cool head and prepare in advance for the ensuing fallout. It could get ugly so think things through beforehand. What are your options?  Who are your allies? Have you documented his behavior? Can you deal with the possibility of the worst outcome?  Sure, it’s important to stand strong, but be smart about it. As I wrote in Stop Playing Safe, “Sometimes you have to go out on a limb and do something where the risks are high. But before you climb out, be sure you’ve managed the risks as best you can and set up a safety net should you fall.”

6.  Speak up: Give your boss a chance to respond 

Early into my career,  I left a good job with a global consulting firm because I had a lousy boss and a toxic work environment.  Upon leaving, the HR lead – a senior partner at this organization – asked to meet with me to find out why I was leaving.  I shared how undervalued I had felt, how the promises made to me upon employment had not been met and how little accountability there was for my colleagues. He was surprised and disturbed and asked if there was anything he could do to make me change my mind. Apparently I’d been ear-marked a hi-po (which would have been nice to have known before then!), but by this point it was too late. I’d already made other plans, hoping for a better work environment, and a better boss.

The lesson for me was this: have the courage to speak up rather than cower in silence for fear of an awkward conversation. The truth is that I’d  been too cowardly to address my concerns with my boss or to go around her.  Admittedly I was young (mid-twenties) and inexperienced, but if I knew then what I do now, it would have been that I owed it to myself, and to my boss at the time, to have at least voiced my concerns, offered up some possible solutions and engaged in a conversation about how we could have improved the situation.  It may not have changed a thing, but at least I could have known that I at least gave her a chance.

So just because it may be easier to say nothing, to just ‘suffer quietly’ or complain loudly to colleagues or to head for the exit as I ultimately did, you at least owe your boss the opportunity to respond. Don’t prejudge and assume they aren’t able to take feedback, or don’t care how miserable you are. When you approach them with respect and with a genuine desire to make things work better, you can open the door to whole new levels of trust, collaboration and outcomes. A door that will remain permanently closed otherwise.

7.  Be Proactive:  Do your research before  jumping ship 

Of course the best way to manage a bad boss is not to have one in the first place. So whenever you are looking to move into a new role in the same company or move to another organization  all together, invest some time to get a sense of the culture, the leadership and the sort of management practices that are tolerated and supported. If you are moving internally, make sure you do your networking ahead of time to get a sense of both the environment within the team you might be moving to, and those  who are creating it. Are they leaders who create an environment where people are inspired and supported to work hard, or do they incite fear about what will happen if people don’t?

If you are moving to a new organization, do your research to make sure you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Sometimes in our desperation to escape a toxic work environment we fail to take notice of the warning signs that the new job we’re taking will only be worse.  Have a coffee with whoever you know at the new company to get a sense of the culture, employee engagement, moral, and management style. Investing a few hours up front could spare you a few years of frustration. -Margie Warrell

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

Work Your Way into Better Habits for 2014

Work habits

 

 

 

 

It’s a new year – which means you’re probably contemplating resolutions for personal improvement and ways you can break bad habits. Because most positions often require an attention to detail, better habits can improve productivity and make it easier to focus on the task at hand. By taking small steps, you can break bad habits and replace them with productive behaviors.

Before you can change bad habits into good habits, you must identify the things that have prevented you from making progress in the past. At work, many professionals find a myriad of excuses to avoid making progress on personal development goals. Many people are held back by fear—that you might not succeed, that your goals will prevent you from getting your work done, or that you don’t have the resources to accomplish a personal improvement goal. Other roadblocks are related to the perceived hassle or stress of creating a new habit. Once you identify the things that hold you back from making progress, you can find ways around them.

Personal improvement can often feel like an uphill battle. One of the most important things to do when creating a positive habit at work is to start small. When you take on a large goal all at once, you create a high risk of failure. Instead, start with a large goal and break it down into smaller components. According to a recent Forbes article, a specific, organized plan with carefully delineated steps can make it easier to stick to your goals.

If you want to adopt more efficient filing habits, for example, start by identifying the things you want to change about your current system. Pick one item and focus on changing it for a full week. You might create a different naming convention and practice it for a week. The next week, you could work on renaming directories, and the next week, you might move files into more logical folders. The same process works for any habit; by focusing on small changes, the overall personal improvement process feels less daunting and overwhelming.

Chances are, in your quest for personal improvement, you will come across challenges. A big project at work can make it easy to lose focus on a goal. A stressful week might lead you to fall back into old habits, and a demanding boss can make it difficult to accomplish your small milestones. To reduce the impact on your personal development plan, make a list of potential challenges. For each item, create a plan that will enable you to accomplish your work without stalling your progress. In doing so, you can reinforce the positive habit.

Whether you are trying to revamp your professional image or finding ways to do your job more efficiently, better habits can increase your chances of success. By building positive, productive habits, you can make light work of the personal improvement process.

16 Basic Principles for Avoiding Stupidity

Don't be an idiot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early in my career, someone told me that “not being an idiot is a sustainable competitive advantage.” Unbelievably, it’s the truth. It’s easy to jump past the basics and focus on the challenging, and often confusing, topics that seemingly lead to success.

But the longer I live, the more I’m convinced that understanding and consistently practicing a handful of basic principles, like the 16 below, is the surest path to success. As Shane Parrishsaid, “Spend less time trying to be brilliant and more time trying to avoid obvious stupidity.”

1. Follow Through: Just do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. If you quoted a price, stick with it. If you promised something, deliver.

2. Say “Thank You”: The world doesn’t owe you anything, so don’t act like it does. When someone acts in your best interest, thank him. If you’re given a gift, thank the person who thought of you. If you’re particularly pleased with someone’s performance…you get the idea.

3. Be On Time: Circumstances occasionally cause a justified aberration. But most of the time, tardiness signals self-importance, a lack of respect, and disorganization. As the saying goes, “Five minutes early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

4. Use Impeccable Grammar: This is the clearest canary in the mine. If someone can’t properly spell, punctuate, or structure a sentence, chances are he a) is not well-educated, b) lacks attention to detail, and c) doesn’t care. Any way you slice it, bad grammar is bad news.

5. Say “Sorry”: Being wrong is being human. Just own up to it, and everyone will move on. Apologizing conveys that you a) care, b) are humble, and c) are self-aware. It’s incredible how much a genuine “sorry” can make up for.

6. Be Intentional: We all have the same amount of time. You can choose to randomly stumble around, hoping to bump into money, meaning, love, friendships, and opportunities. Or you can be intentional. It’s your choice, every single day.

7. Question Why: The smartest people in the world know what they don’t know, and they aren’t scared to look ignorant. If you don’t understand, ask “Why?” until you get it. This simple technique is the greatest antidote for the illogical and inexplicable.

8. Default to SilenceThere’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth. If you don’t have something meaningful to say, keep your trap shut. This ensures that when a significant thought does arise, people might actually listen.

9. Set Expectations: The formula is simple: Happiness = Reality — Expectations. Changing reality is hard. Setting expectations is easy. Under-promise and fill reality with happiness.

10. Take Responsibility: We love to rationalize blame. While it feels good to play the victim, it’s incredibly destructive, leading to a cynical and jaded life. The far better approach is to say, “It’s all my fault.” It gives you control to change yourself and your circumstances.

11. Say “No”: Life is a game of opportunity costs. If you say “yes,” you’re saying “no” to something else. Have clear priorities, pursue opportunities that align, and say “no” to everything else.

12. Continuously Learn: If you wake up each day trying to get a little better, before long, you’ll find yourself ahead. Read, ask, and listen. If something conflicts with your worldview, dig deeper and determine whether you should embrace it or discard it.

13. Embrace Simplicity: Small bits of complexity add up quickly and exponentially. A little white lie can get you fired. A little gossip can ruin a friendship. A little kiss can end a marriage. Enough small splurges can lead to bankruptcy. Given a choice, always choose simplicity.

14. Gain Perspective: We measure ourselves by our intentions, but others by their actions. But you’re not a special snowflake. Everyone else, regardless of how convinced you are that they’re “doing fine,” is struggling with something. Remember that to have some perspective.

15. Check Yourself: As Warren Buffett says, “Negotiating with one’s self seldom produces a barroom brawl.” Surround yourself with people who will a) call you on your BS, b) thoughtfully help you reason, and c) genuinely understand your weaknesses.

16. Avoid Eating Crap: You were given exactly one container for this life, and the quickest way to damage it is by consistently eating lab-concocted, food-like substances pumped full of chemicals, hormones, and fake nutrition. Simply eat real food that came from something previously living in a recognizable form.

The truth is that 100 percent consistency is impossible, and I’m certainly no exception. In the past two weeks, I’ve been late to a meeting, parroted some gossip, and failed to say “sorry” to two  people who deserved to hear it — and that’s just what I can recall. But I’m constantly striving to walk the talk, and I encourage you to do the same. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” -Brent Beshore

Women: Are We to Blame for the Glass Ceiling?

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Enough about the glass ceiling.

There’s nothing wrong with talking about barriers for growth for women in the workplace, but much of the conversation today paints the proverbial glass ceiling as if it’s something women have no control over.

That sounds like victimhood to me. Women do have control, and in some ways, are to blame for the glass ceiling’s continued existence.

As a woman, I have spent my whole career working in a male-dominated world. It’s true that men generally make more money. They are also promoted more and, according to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal, they make up 66 percent of middle management, 86 percent of the overall executive suite and 96 percent of CEO positions.

We work just as hard as men and therefore we deserve to be paid equally. But while there are many women’s organizations demanding equality in the workplace, I would argue that these groups are actually doing more of a disservice than they are breaking the glass. Demanding something of someone never solves problems; it just Band-Aids the issue. If the problem were actually solved, we wouldn’t be having this conversation 50 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law.

While we’ve made some good progress over the years, I believe some of the choices we have made have held us back from shattering this metaphoric barrier. Do you really want to get promoted just to fulfill a mandatory quota? Does that achieve true success? I would argue not.

Here’s why I believe we hold ourselves back:

We place too much weight on the existence of the glass ceiling. 
Perception is reality, and because we waste a lot of energy believing and put up with the idea that there is this metaphoric barrier in our way, it’s killing our confidence. Everyone faces obstacles in their careers – even men. If you really want to get ahead you must tune out that noise and just go for it. When we pay attention to this so-called glass ceiling, we give it validation and, in turn, invalidate ourselves. Just because there is an obstacle in your way doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Figure out a way to climb over it or maneuver around it. And if you figure out that you are at a dead end in your current job, do something about it.

We make choices and then complain about them. 
The women who complain about inequality in the workplace are often the same women who want flexible work schedules or other benefits so that they can have it all. For many, having it all means deciding that you want to have a career and raise a family – and that’s ok. You can have it all. However, you can’t expect to be the CEO of a large multinational corporation if you don’t put in the time to get there. And let’s not forget that, according to a recent survey of 4,000 employees at big companies, 36 percent of men said they want to be CEO, whereas only 18 percent of woman said the same. Let’s acknowledge the choices we make and not blame others for the results.

We are mean to each other.
This is the No. 1 reason why we hurt ourselves and keep the glass ceiling intact. We do very little to help ourselves in this area. According to a 2012 report by the Federal Aviation Administration on workplace bullying, 68 percent of workplace bullying is same-sex harassment and of that 68 percent, 80 percent of cases are women-on-women harassment. So ladies, what does that say? Why should men respect us if we don’t respect ourselves?

Years ago during my tenure on Wall Street, I found myself navigating through a promotion and the transition was a bit bumpy. Most of my colleagues were helpful and supportive as I worked out the kinks. However, many of the women I worked with were the ones to be avoided. Rather than cheering me on, they were waiting for me to fail and made it clear that they had no interest in helping me succeed. It left me wondering: If we cannot mentor and support each other, if we cannot set aside the pettiness and cattiness to lend a hand to each other, then how on earth can we expect men to?

There is a need for change for women in the workplace, but as with anything, change starts with us. We must believe we can have it all, accept our choices and then form strong alliances with each other. Demanding men treat us in a way that we don’t even treat ourselves is counterproductive and, in the end, will ensure the glass ceiling always exists. -Lindsay Broder

Don’t Lose Your Year-End Bonus! Maximize It By Becoming An Intrapreneur

MoneyHere is some little-known information, and an innovation tool, that will help you get rewarded for your actions.

An intrapreneur is an internal entrepreneur. As an intrapreneur, you must begin to think and act like an owner or senior executive, even though you were originally hired to perform within a more narrow job description, which you’re probably already doing well enough. The purpose of this article is to help you immediately do one thing outside of your current assignment that will add surprising value to the company, thus qualifying you for a maximum year end bonus, or pay raise, or maybe even a promotion (if you can make this a habit). Sound good? Let’s go.

Intrapreneurs are innovators. They bring positive change in areas critical to the success of the organization. As an intrapreneur, you create value by innovating in one of four ways. You can:

  • Increase Revenues
  • Decrease costs
  • Streamline processes
  • Solve problems

Innovation opportunities abound in every organization, and you can engage in one of them right now through a simple, four-step process.

Step 1. Identify an innovation option that would add value. Look around. Ask your peers, subordinates, and superiors. Go online and explore these topics. It should take you about ten minutes to identify something that could be improved. We have taken thousands of people through this process in training sessions, and we have never seen a group come up short on innovation ideas.

Step 2. Create a professional-looking innovation proposal. You can do this using a free online tool that will make you look like a financial genius. This tool will automatically calculate key financial measures such as Implementation Cost, Break Even Point, Return on Investment, Internal Rate of Return, Net Present Value, and Sales Equivalency. If the numbers don’t look good, don’t submit the proposal. If there is value in your idea, you will have provided all of the financial information necessary for management to accept it.

Step 3. Get your proposal approved. I suggest that, rather than taking your idea to your direct supervisor, you should aim higher in the ORG chart. Minimally, you should take it to you boss’s boss, but the higher the better. That’s because there tends to be greater appreciation for business improvements with upper management. Also, when senior leaders recognize you for your intrapreneurial contributions, it’s easier for your boss to support your increased compensation. An alternate strategy would be to work together with your boss on your idea so you can share the credit and build a more collaborative relationship that will serve you both well in the future.

Step 4. Help implement your innovation. Improvement ideas are worthless without execution; therefore, you should act with a sense of urgency to turn your innovation proposal into real change that starts to add value. In cases where the implementation is assigned to someone else, or the time required to make the change is longer than you would like, you should still benefit from your efforts come bonus time.

Bottom line: Leaders need intrapreneurs that can improve the bottom line. You can do this right now to help ensure your year-end bonus, and you should also consider becoming a life-long intrapreneur in order to boost your career in the long run. -Forbes Magazine

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/

11 Attributes of Leadership

Napoleon HillI have had the great privilege and good fortune to work with and for leaders  who inspire with their words and most importantly, their actions. But  unfortunately, far too many people in leadership roles are ill-equipped to lead  with effectiveness.

What follows is excerpted from Think and Grow Rich, written by  Napoleon Hill and published in 1938. Read the book if you haven’t already. It’s  essential and inspirational, and should be read by all who partake in  business.

11 Major Attributes of Leadership

  1. Willingness to Assume Full Responsibility. The successful  leader must be willing to assume responsibility for the mistakes and the  shortcomings of her followers. If she tries to shift the responsibility, she  will not remain the leader. If one of her followers makes a mistake, and shows  herself incompetent, the leader must consider that it is she who failed.
  2. Definiteness of Decision. The person who wavers in her  decisions shows that she is not sure of herself. She cannot lead others  successfully.
  3. 11 Attributes of Leadership image leadership Lincoln 267x300Definiteness  of Plans. The successful leader must plan her work, and work her plan.  A leader who moves by guesswork, without practical, definite plans, is  comparable to a ship without a rudder. Sooner or later she will land on the  rocks.
  4. Unwavering Courage based upon knowledge of self, and of  one’s occupation. No follower wishes to be led by a leader who lacks  self-confidence and courage.
  5. A Keen Sense of Justice. Without a sense of fairness and  justice, no leader can command and retain the respect of her followers. Leadership-Ghadi-235x300
  6. Cooperation. The successful leader must understand and  apply the principle of cooperative effort and be able to induce her followers to  do the same. Leadership calls for POWER, and power calls for COOPERATION.
  7. Self Control. The person who cannot control herself can  never control others. Self-control sets a mighty example for one’s  followers.
  8. The Habit of Doing More Than Paid For. One of the penalties  of leadership is the necessity of willingness upon the part of the leader to do  more than she requires of her followers.
  9. A Pleasing Personality. No slovenly, careless, or  unpleasant person can become a successful leader. Leadership calls for  respect.
  10. Sympathy and Understanding. The successful leader must be  in sympathy with her followers. Moreover, she must understand them and their  problems.
  11. Mastery of Detail. Successful leadership calls for mastery  of details of the leader’s position.

Hill writes the following in an afterword to this list. Remember, this was  written 75 years ago: “The relation of employer and employee, or of  leader and follower, in the future, will be one of mutual cooperation, based  upon an equitable division of the profits of business. In the future, the  relationship of employer and employee will be more like a partnership then it  has been in the past.”

Wishful thinking, perhaps? Collectively, it would appear that we still have a  lot of work to do. -Matt Laddin

5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM

Thatcher-locRise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.

Working out

2. Map Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos. The morning is a good time for this as it is often one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing your activities. They also allow for uninterrupted problem solving when trying to fit everything into your timetable. While scheduling, don’t forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute break after that stressful meeting for a quick walk around the block or a moment of meditation at your desk. Trying to eat healthy? Schedule a small window in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the next day.

healthy_breakfast_meals

3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. We all know that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You sit down at your desk, and you’re already wondering how early that taco truck sets up camp outside your office. No good. Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it. It will help keep your mind on what’s at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially. Even five minutes of talking with your kids or spouse while eating a quick bowl of oatmeal can boost your spirits before heading out the door.

visualization

4. Visualization. These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked. The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a moment to visualize your day ahead of you, focusing on the successes you will have. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook on your work load for the day.

guy on ladder

5. Make Your Day Top Heavy. We all have that one item on our to do list that we dread. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally suck it up and do it after much procrastination. Here’s an easy tip to save yourself the stress – do that least desirable task on your list first. Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects. And look at it this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is ending, you’re winding down with easier to dos and heading into your free time more relaxed. Success! – Forbes Magazine

Essential Qualities of Highly Promotable Employees

promotions, careers

One of the most common questions asked by an employee of his or her company is, “What can I do to get promoted?”

The thinking behind the question is obvious: The employee assumes there be some key initiative, some specific action, some high visibility project, or some critical role the employee should take on, and if they do, promotion is almost guaranteed.

And maybe, just maybe, that is occasionally true.

But there’s a much better approach. The key to advancing – whether professionally or personally – is not based solely on what you should do (although what you do is certainly important.) The key to advancing is based on what you should be.

Attitude informs action. Attitude informs behavior.

Attitude is the driving force behind every achievement, every accomplishment, every success, attitude, where performance and therefore advancement is concerned, is everything.

Here are some of the attitudes and perspectives that inform the actions of incredibly successful people – in all walks of life:

Are humble, not arrogant.

Arrogant people think they know everything; humble people are always learning. Humble people ask questions. Humble people ask for help.

Humble people automatically share credit because they instinctively realize that every effort, no matter how seemingly individual, is actually a team effort.

Humble people are willing to take on any job, no matter how menial, because they realize no job is beneath them, and in the process they prove that no job is above them.

Ultimately, success is not limited by how high you can stretch… but by how low you are willing to bend.

Are servants, not self-serving.

No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his own. No one.

Great teammates make everyone around them better. Take an unselfish basketball player: He makes his teammates better by delivering pinpoint passes in space, by boxing out, by setting solid screens, by rotating on defense… all the things that don’t show up in the statistics but definitely improve the stats of his teammates.

Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training and culture to help their employees do their jobs better – and achieve their own goals.

Even great businesses serve their customers first; they know that by serving their customers they ultimately serve the interests of their business.

The employee only in it for himself will someday be by himself. The employee in it for others may not get all the limelight, but trust me, the right people definitely notice.

Are optimistic, not pessimistic.

Optimists add energy to a situation, or meeting, or business; pessimists suck energy away. Optimists try more things and take more (intelligent) risks simply because they focus on what can go right. Pessimists never get started because they’re too busy thinking of what might go wrong.

Optimists don’t feel they need to wait – to be promoted, or accepted, or selected, or “discovered” – they feel they can, if they work hard, accomplish almost anything.

Optimism is infectious.

Think execution, not just planning.

Planning is definitely important, but countless shelves are filled with strategies that were never implemented.

The best employees develop an idea, create a strategy, set up a basic operational plan… and then execute, adapt, execute, revise, execute, refine, and make incredible things happen based on what works in practice, not in theory.

Success starts with strategy — but ultimately ends with execution.

Employees who advance are certainly good at planning, but they’re awesome at execution.

Think forever, not today.

Real leadership isn’t situation or short-lived. Real leaders are able to consistently inspire, motivate, and make people feel better about themselves than they may even think they have a right to feel. Real leaders are the kind of people you follow not because you have to… but because you want to.

You’ll follow a real leader anywhere. And you’ll follow a real leader forever, because she has a knack for making you feel you aren’t actually following – wherever you’re going you feel like you’re going there together.

Creating that level of respect, that level of trust, and that type of bond takes time. Great employees consider not just the short-term but also the long-term – and then act accordingly.

And, in time, are placed in positions where they can truly influence the long-term success of their team, their unit, and their company.

Are volunteers, not draftees.

Sure, you have a manager, or a board, or some higher authority. They may often ask you to do things.

Still: The best employees are natural volunteers. They volunteer for extra tasks. They volunteer for responsibility before responsibility is delegated. They volunteer to train or mentor new employees. They offer to help people who need help – and even those who don’t.

Why is that important? Volunteering demonstrates leadership aptitude. Leaders are proactive, and proactive people don’t wait to be told what to do. They’re already doing it.

Successful employees earn their promotions by first working harder, just like successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value, and like successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.

Draftees expect to be asked. Draftees expect to be compensated more before they will even consider doing more.

Volunteers just do it – and, in time, their careers flourish.

Are self-aware, not selfish.

Self-aware people understand themselves, and that awareness helps them understand the people around them. Self-aware people are more empathetic. They are more accepting of the weaknesses and failures of others because they know how it feels to fail.

They can lead with empathy, compassion, and kindness because they know how it feels to be treated with disregard, disdain, and scorn. They do everything they can to help others reach their goals, because they know how it feels to fall short.

Self-aware people solve for the team, the organization, and the customer – not just for themselves.

Every organization needs self-aware people in key roles. (What is a key role? Every role.)

Are adaptable, not rigid.

Things constantly change in high-growth companies. Inflexible people tend to grow uncomfortable with too much change and consciously – even unconsciously – try to slow things down.

Best practices are important. Methodology is important. Guidelines, procedures, policies… all can help a business run smoothly.

But anyone can follow guidelines and procedures. Great employees are willing, even eager, to change. Great employees respond to new circumstances and new challenges with excitement, not hesitation. Employees willing to adapt and adjust tend to advance more quickly because that is what every company – especially a high-growth company – desperately needs.

Otherwise growth will be a thing of the past, not the future.

Are teachers, not truant officers.

The best people like to teach. They don’t hoard knowledge; they spread it. They share what they know.

A truant officer’s job is to make sure people show up. A teacher’s job is to make sure people learn.

Besides, truant officers tend to give “advice”: Do this. Don’t do that. Go here. Don’t go there.

A teacher gives knowledge. A teacher helps other people gain experience, gain wisdom, gain insight, a teacher willingly and happily gives other people tools they can use.

In the process a teacher build teams. And a teacher advances, because a true team builder is a rare, precious gem.

-Darmesh Shah, Founder and CEO of HubSpot

What do you think? Any essential qualities that I missed that should be on the list?