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

10 Leadership Resolutions to Make It a Very Good Year

 

2014 resolutions

 

New Year resolutions — who keeps them? Practically no one. But if you’re a leader, be it of three people or 3,000, it’s your flat-out responsibility to not just go into work every day and improvise around the latest crisis or email flurry or employee meltdown, but to go into work every day with a cohesive plan of action about how you’re going to lead. Otherwise, why would anyone follow you, except that they simply have to?

That’s no good.

So here’s to 2014, and 10 resolutions to make it a very good year — for you, and for the team you lead.

1) Get In Their Skin

From the day you become a leader, your biggest role is to build trust, respect and support from your team. A mutual respect. As long as they deliver, you will support them and stand up for them in every way — and they know it. It’s a never-ending job and you can never slip up.

2) Over-Communicate

It’s your job to communicate your message, your values, what’s right about what’s happening, and what’s wrong — over and over and over again. There can be no lack of transparency. Everybody has to be on the same page. Even when you’re ready to gag over the message, you have to keep communicating it.

3) Follow-Up Relentlessly

Just because you say something once, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Too often, managers think, “Hey, I told my team what to do.” Then they come back a week later and nothing has happened. Yes, your job is to set the direction. But you also have to make it your mission to follow up — relentlessly — to see that things are moving in the right direction.

4) Create a Rallying Cry

I’ve always found that defining an enemy is very helpful. Define a competitor that’s coming after you. Rally the team around every win you have against them, every new product you introduce that’s better than theirs. Make that competitor come alive as your true enemy and you’ll see your team galvanize around beating them and winning in the marketplace.

5) Realize Personnel Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When you pick someone for a new job, you are defining what’s important. Managers love to give speeches about how their new initiative is the most important thing in the world. But then they put whatever warm body happens to be available in charge of it. Nothing could be worse. When you make an personnel appointment, you’re doing much more than any speech you could ever give. The people in the organization already know who the star performers are. And matching those stars with the projects you claim are important is absolutely critical for your credibility and the trust you want to build.

6) Embrace the Generosity Gene

I happen to believe that every good leader loves to give raises to people. They are thrilled to see their employees grow and be promoted. They are turned on by their success. Good leaders understand that they are only as good as the reflected glory of their people — and so they give until it hurts.

7) Fight Bureaucracy

Remember how much you hated bureaucracy from the bosses above you when they wanted this “i” dotted and this “t” crossed? Guess what? You’re now the leader. Don’t let bureaucracy creep into your place. Just because it’s yours doesn’t make it any prettier than when it was someone else’s. Get rid of clutter. Bureaucracy slows things down and speed is one of the best competitive advantages you can have.

8) Find a Better Way

Recognize that in business, somebody out there is always doing something better than you are. Your team can get insular and come to believe they’re already doing everything right. Your job is to ask, “How can we do it better? Where can we find someone doing it better?” Finding a better way of doing things every single day can become so much more than a slogan. It can become a way of life and make your group stand out above the rest.

9) Own Hiring Mistakes

Look, you’re not the only person in the history of the universe who has ever made a hiring mistake. Once you understand that hiring is hard work and you’ll surely have missteps along the way, realize that you’ve got to deal with mistakes fast and compassionately. Recognize that it was your fault that the fit didn’t work and get on with it. The team will respect you more. The hire you dealt with fairly will respect you more. And your superiors will reward you for your candor and willingness to own up to your error.

10) Dig into Crises

Without doubt, crises are going to erupt in your career. You’ll have someone do something wrong or have to face into a violation somewhere in your organization. To make matters worse, when you first hear about it, you’re not going to get the whole story — after all, you’re the boss. You’re only going to get the tip of the iceberg. Underneath the surface is a very big piece of ice. Your team will come to you and feed you, piece by piece, a slow-drip expose of the crisis. Your job is to dig deep, early and fast, to get it all to the surface. Be candid. Recognize there are no secrets anywhere. Get the right people involved immediately. And you will see a swifter resolution to problems that people all too often try to brush under the table. – Jack and Suzy Welch

Five Bosses You Don’t Want (Or Want to Be)

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What is lousy leadership? Here are a few of the most common ways leaders can get it wrong and too often do.

The first and perhaps most frustrating way that some people blow leadership is by being know-it-alls. They can tell you how the world works, what corporate is thinking, how it will backfire if you try this or that, and why you can’t change the product one iota. They even know what kind of car you should be driving. Sometimes these blowhards get their swagger from a few positive experiences. But usually they’re just victims of their own bad personalities. And you and your company are victims, too. Because know-it-alls aren’t just insufferable, they’re dangerous. They don’t listen, and that “deafness” makes it very hard for new ideas to get heard, debated, expanded, or improved. No single person, no matter how smart, can take a business to its apex. For that, you need every voice heard. And know-it-all leadership creates a deadly silence.

If know-it-alls are too in-your-face, a second kind of lousy leader is too remote. These emotionally distant bosses are more comfortable behind closed doors than mucking it out with the team. Sure, they attend meetings and other requisite functions, but they’d rather be staring at their computers. If possible, all the messy, sweaty people stuff would be delegated to HR managers on another floor. Like know-it-alls, this breed of leader is dangerous, but for a different reason. They don’t engage, which means they can’t inspire. That’s a big problem. Leaders, after all, need followers to get anything done. And followers need passion for their fuel.

A third category of lousy leadership is comprised of bosses who are just plain jerks—nasty, bullying, insensitive, or all three. As one reader wrote us recently: “My boss is abusive, by which I mean disrespectful, finger-pointing, and sometimes even paranoid.” Such leaders are usually protected from above because they deliver the numbers. But with their destructive personalities, they rarely win their people’s trust. That’s no way to run a business, which is why these types of leaders typically self-destruct. It’s never as quickly as you’d hope, but unless they own the place, it does happen eventually.

The fourth type of lousy leadership is at the other end of the spectrum: It’s too nice. These bosses have no edge, no capacity to make hard decisions. They say yes to the last person in their office, then spend hours trying to clean up the confusion they’ve created. Such bosses usually defend themselves by saying they’re trying to build consensus. What they really are is scared. Their real agenda is self-preservation—good old CYA.

Which leads us to a final version of lousy leadership which is not unrelated: bosses who do not have the guts to differentiate. The facts are, not all investment opportunities are created equal. But some leaders can’t face that reality, and so they sprinkle their resources like cheese on a pizza, a little bit everywhere. As a result, promising growth opportunities too often don’t get the outsized infusions of cash and people they need. If they did, someone might get offended during the resource allocation process. Someone, as in the manager of a weak business or the sponsor of a dubious investment proposal.

But leaders who don’t differentiate usually do the most damage when it comes to people. Unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, they give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, “nice job” sign-off. And when rewards are doled out, they give star performers not much more than the laggards. Now, you can call this “egalitarian” approach kind or fair—and these lousy leaders usually do—but it’s really just weakness. And when it comes to building a thriving enterprise where people have an opportunity to grow and succeed, weakness just doesn’t cut it.

Surely we could go on, but we’ll end here with a caveat. We hardly expect lousy leaders to read this column and see themselves. Part of being a lousy leader, no matter what the category, is lack of self-awareness. But if you see your boss here, take heart. When it’s finally your turn to lead, you’ll know what not to do. – Jack and Suzy Welch

A Message to the New CEO

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From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, executive turnover has become pervasive across the business world. Companies that were once unshakeable, from Microsoft to BlackBerry, are seeking new leadership and dedicated stakeholders to guide them through a business climate that is almost unrecognizable from just a few years ago.

Around the world, companies and governments alike are experiencing the dawn of a new era. Today’s leaders don’t just have an opportunity, but rather have a strategic imperative to drive step change. Mobile, social, and cloud computing have transformed customer expectations, and the time is now to lead our organizations into this new era which is all about the customer.

As CEO of a young startup that works alongside numerous Fortune 500 organizations, I’ve had the opportunity to see how a variety of different companies are embracing innovation, and thriving as a result.

Here are my top three strategic recommendations for leaders to execute today in order to stay relevant and competitive in the social media era:

1. Get Social

The world has truly become social and mobile. The new CEO needs to understand how social media has transformed nearly every aspect of business, from customer service to marketing to sales.

Customer service was the first area to be most affected by the social media revolution because companies quickly realized they couldn’t just ignore customer complaints (and praise) published on social networks. Next, marketing jumped into the fray with corporate pages promoting the brand. Recruiters too, who have always understood the power of person-to-person referrals, have embraced social technologies to find the right fit at their organizations.

Finally, sales could be the business area most dramatically affected by social. If you know what your customers and fans are most passionate about, then you can sell them the products they actually want and give them the support they need when they need it. A decade ago, that would have sounded like fantasy, but today that’s simply the power of social media.

2. Disrupt Yourself

Technology innovations are transforming how everyday people go about their lives and it’s changing how businesses work. At the same time, there’s an unprecedented pace and breadth of disruption taking place even in industries traditionally not touched by technology. Companies tapping into the new collaboration economy, like Airbnb and Uber, are turning upside down the hospitality and transportation industries, respectively. Google and Tesla have spurred car companies the world over to rethink their plans. And Amazon Prime and eBay have given every company in the retail industry very real competition in the form of next-day deliveries.

No industry is immune anymore: if you don’t disrupt yourself, then your competitors will.

3. Prepare Your Organization to Adapt

It’s critical that the new CEO be a strong leader adept at dealing with change because, going forward, constant and unrelenting change is the “new normal.” There are three ways to do this.

First, hire smart, creative people and incentivize innovation. This is an essential first step because it lays the groundwork for how your organization responds to obstacles at the ground level. Next, create the right culture. Encourage all those smart people you hired to take risks and experiment. Some of those risks will end positively and some of those experiments might not. That’s okay, because you can celebrate failures as learning opportunities and a chance to collect meaningful data so you don’t repeat those mistakes. Finally, accelerate your company’s cadence. Facebook’s mantra of “move fast and break things” may not work for all companies and services, but the spirit of acting quickly certainly applies.

Clearly, the battles will be unique and challenging for leaders across companies of different sizes and different industries, but today’s disruptive climate presents an incredible opportunity for the CEO to take the reins and steer ahead of the competition.

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

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

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?

How The Best Leaders Embrace Change

lead changeWe all know change is inevitable. Yet in the midst of transformation, too many leaders abdicate, says Rose Fass, CEO of the consulting company fassforward. After all, it can be hard to let go of a cherished initiative, or a product line that’s been successful for years.

But you have to be strong enough to take charge, says Fass: “The best kind of change comes when you envision, initiate and control it. That type of change creates opportunities, transforms companies and ignites growth.” Otherwise, you’re facing with the damaging prospect of “change that happens in spite of you, rather than because of you.”

Fass offers a list of 10 “transformation topics” that she believes all businesses should discuss. If you have a handle on these questions, you’re well on your way to leading change, rather than letting it control you.

1) New Actions: Which ones do we need to make happen?

2) Core Assets: Do we know how to leverage ours?

3) Barriers to Success: What are ours and how do we knock them down?

4) Competitive Positioning: Where do we stand?

5) Key Differentiators: Are ours still making a difference?

6) Resources & Relationships: Can we get more out of ours?

7) Operating Climate: Where are we hot, cold, lukewarm or frozen?

8) Strategic Imperatives: Have ours been clearly communicated?

9) Strategic Options: Are our best ones identified?

10) Strategic Shifts: Where are ours occurring?

Change, says Fass, is bittersweet. But that realization means “you’ll be more prepared to persevere when the pain points start popping up. The course you follow to change also needs to be consistent or else it will cause confusion and slow everyone down to a crawl.” -Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

How does your company master change?

7 Ways To Keep Your Employees Happy (And Working Really Hard)

Happy Face

It doesn’t matter what you build, invent or sell; your organization can’t move forward without people. CEOs, company founders and managers the world over know that keeping the teams beneath them moving forward together in harmony means the difference between winning and dying.

Prof. Leonard J. Glick, Professor of management and organizational development at Boston’s Northeastern University, teaches the art of motivating employees for a living. He let FORBES in on a few tips for entrepreneurs and managers looking to keep their people smiling and producing.

You’ve got to get employees to feel that they own the place, not just work there. “One of the principles of self-managed teams is to organize around a whole service or product,” Glick explained. In other words, make sure company personnel feel responsible for what the customer is buying.

One way to inspire that feeling is to have each member of a team become familiar with what other team members are doing, allowing them to bring their ideas for improvement to the table and have input in the whole process. If the roles are not too specialized, have your people rotate responsibilities from time to time. “It all contributes to a feeling of ‘it’s mine,’ and most people, when it’s theirs, don’t want to fail, don’t want to build poor quality and don’t want to dissatisfy the customer,” said Glick.

Trust Employees To Leave Their Comfort Zones

Few employees want to do one specific task over and over again until they quit or retire or die. Don’t be afraid to grant them new responsibilities—it will allow them to grow and become more confident in their abilities while making them feel more valuable to the organization.

Though managers might feel allowing their people to try new things presents a risk to productivity or places workers outside of their established place, it heads off other issues. “To me the bigger risk is having people get burnt out or bored,” explained Glick.

Keep Your Team Informed

Business leaders have a clearer perspective on the bigger picture than their employees do. It pays to tell those under you what’s going on. “Things that managers take for common knowledge about how things are going or what challenges are down the road or what new products are coming… they often don’t take the time to share that with their employees,” Glick said. Spreading the intel lets everyone in on the lay of theland and at the same time strengthens the feeling among workers that they are an important part of the organization.

Your Employees Are Adults—Treat Them Like It

In any business there is going to be bad news. Whether it’s to do with the company as a whole or an individual within the organization, employees need to be dealt with in a straightforward and respectable manner. “They can handle it, usually,” said Glick. If you choose to keep your people in the dark about trying times or issues, the fallout could be a serious pain in the neck. “The rumors are typically worse than reality. In the absence of knowledge people make things up.”

You’re The Boss. You May Have To Act Like It Sometimes (but be consistent)

Though this issue is affected by an organization’s overall culture, there are going to be times when you have to make a decision as a leader, despite whatever efforts you may have made to put yourself on equal footing with your personnel. “Ideally they have an open relationship but not necessarily are peers,” Glick said of the manager-employee relationship. “I think the worst thing is to pretend you’re peer… it’s the inconsistency, I think, which is the bigger problem.”

Money Matters (But Not As Much As You Think)

Compensation packages are a big deal when employees are hired, but once a deal has been struck the source of motivation tends to shift. “The motivation comes from the things I’ve been talking about—the challenge of the work, the purpose of the work, the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to contribute,” Glick explained.

When it comes to finding a salary that will allow your employees to feel they’re being paid fairly, don’t bend over backwards to lowball them. If you do, they will eventually find out and not be happy. “If the salary were open, is it defensible?”

Perks Matter (But Not As Much As You Think)

Some companies (we’re looking at you Google GOOG +0.21%) have received attention for offering lavish perks to their personnel – massages, free gourmet lunches, ping pong tables, childcare facilities – but, like money, these things tend to be less powerful motivators for workers than in-job challenges and the feeling of being a valuable part of a quality team that will recognize their contribution. A manager needs to understand that though those perks are great and release burdens from employees’ shoulders, they are not a substitute for prime sources of professional inspiration.

“I don’t think people work harder, work better because of those things,” said Glick. “It may make it easier for them to come to work, I understand that.”

– Karsten Strauss

10 Steps to Executive-Level Confidence

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Making the move from middle management to the executive suite requires a healthy dose of confidence. Executives have to make critical, wide-reaching decisions, often with limited information and time—then persuade others to execute those decisions. Self-assurance is a must.

Yet gaining confidence can be a struggle. The “Impostor Syndrome” is real:  researchers at Georgia State University found that 33% of the high-achieving adults they interviewed did not feel they deserved their success. The Imposter Syndrome meant that sufferers opted out of important career opportunities, to their financial and personal detriment.

Women in particular struggle with confidence. They often are less adept at moving forward after setbacks, reading temporary failures as permanent deficiencies, and they often have smaller professional social safety nets than men.

The good news is that confidence can be learned, like any career skill. Here are 10 steps that can have you operating from a place of power:

1) When in doubt, act. It’s the difference between running and stagnant water. When you’re stagnant, doubt and insecurities breed like mosquitoes. Dale Carnegie wrote that “inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” Fear of failure can paralyze us, as we almost always overestimate the consequences. Build your confidence instead by taking action, often.

2) Do something outside your comfort zone each day. If we don’t stretch our comfort zones, they shrink. Constantly challenge and improve yourself, and you’ll become comfortable doing new things—and you will establish your identity (both to yourself and others) as someone who takes risks. Each new thing you try adds to your knowledge and skill base, and provides you with a foundation of competence. This is the bedrock of any successful career.

3) Put the focus on others. Choose to be conscious of others instead of self-conscious. Ask people questions. Turn conversations into a game where you try to find a connection with the other person. Give compliments generously, and volunteer to help others when you can. Looking for the best in others will help you see it in yourself.

4) Cultivate mentors. Their advice and connections are invaluable, plus you will make better decisions about opportunities thanks to their objective assessments of the pros and cons. And you will be much more willing to take risks knowing you have supporters who will help you get back up on your feet if you fail.

5) Keep self-talk positive. It’s hard to feel confident if someone puts you down all the time. It’s impossible if that naysayer is you. Watch how you talk to yourself. Is it how you would talk to a friend? If not, then make a change.

6) Eliminate negative people from your network. You absolutely need to invite and be receptive to constructive criticism if you want to grow as a professional and as an individual. But recognize that some people will never be happy with you or with life, and it is a waste of time to try to convince them of your worth.  What’s more, their sour outlook on life is contagious. Learn to identify these people quickly, and move on.

7) Take care of your health. Make time for exercise, and get enough rest. Your body must be physically ready to take on challenges.

8) Do your homework. Keep up-to-date on the news in your industry, and know your company and department inside and out. If you have a challenging task ahead, prepare and practice in your mind. Nothing builds confidence like knowledge and preparation.

9) Watch your body language. Your posture and overall appearance affect both your mental state and how others perceive (and thus respond) to you. If you want to be a leader, you have to dress and act the part. Stand and sit up straight, make eye contact, and remember to smile. Wear the professional clothing of your industry. Eliminate the telltale signs of nervousness: excessive twitching, closed-off posturing (crossed arms and legs, hunched shoulders), and shallow breathing.

10) Practice gratitude daily. In a recent study of how successful people spend the first hour of each day, the No. 1 response was investing time in thinking about the things for which they are most grateful. Starting your day by saying “thank you” for the good in your life makes it more likely that you will approach the day’s challenges with the proper perspective.

Like public speaking or leadership, confidence is a professional skill that can be improved. According to Dr. Peter Buckley of Georgia Regents University, “As you add experiences, you’re more likely to gain confidence. And with confidence, you will embrace new experiences.” Start growing your confidence today.

Becky Blalock is the author of the new book, “Dare: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage, and Career for Women in Charge.” You can take a free quiz to measure your current confidence level at her website,BeckyBlalock.com.