The Most Undervalued Leadership Traits Of Women

It’s impossible to respect, value and admire great leadership if you can’t identify what makes a leader great.  Because of this, the identity crisis I have written about that exists in today’s workplace is something that women leaders in particular have been facing  for much too long. While the tide is changing and more women are being elevated into leadership roles, there is still much work to do. As of July 2013, there were only 19 female elected presidents and prime ministers in power around the globe.  In the business world,women currently hold only 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions and the same percentage of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.   As women continue their upward trajectory in the business world, they have yet to be fully appreciated for the unique qualities and abilities they bring to the workplace.

Like many who grow up with a Hispanic upbringing, I was surrounded by strong-willed, hardworking and purpose-driven women. It is through their leadership that the traditions, values and legacy of our family have been upheld.  My grandmother, mother, wife, and sister-in-law all possess natural leadership skills and they are masters of opportunity management – seamlessly keeping us all in check while running the family household and at the same time supporting our family businesses.  They have taught me that a woman’s instincts and emotional intelligence can be off the chart. They seamlessly manage crisis and change and are turnaround experts – sensing and neutralizing any signs of danger well before it invades our path. It is because of the women in our family that we are well-organized, full of love, spiritually aligned and well-balanced. We are by no means a perfect family, but we are a modern family who embraces traditions even as we adapt to changing times.

It can be difficult for a man to understand how women think, act and innovate unless  he has been closely influenced by  the women in his life.   I’ve learned that women may process things differently and  in their own terms. Fortunately for me, I’ve been influenced by great women who made me appreciate their approach towards leadership. I’ve grown to understand their decision-making processes, the dynamics and subtleties of their personality and style, and other special character qualities that women possess.

The best women leaders I know have circular vision that enables them to be well-rounded people.  For example, they have their finger on the pulse of the culture and can talk to you about the latest pop-culture news – but then easily switch gears to give you their perspective on what is taking place on Wall Street.  Women leaders seeking a chance to be significant see the world through a lens of opportunity; they are especially in search of those opportunities previously unseen (perhaps this is why the women I know enjoy a good treasure hunt).   My experiences have taught me that great women make it a point to teach men about women.

I’ve seen women run the show for years both at home and in the workplace, which has enabled me to recognize behavior patterns and see the value behind their way of doing things.  These women are master multi-taskers and highly collaborative (though not afraid to get territorial to protect their domain).  They enjoy their own space to test themselves and find their own rhythm.  These women leaders are like scientists: many of them want to make new discoveries or solve for problems where others have failed.   The women leaders I’ve been around don’t stop pursuing until the job gets done. This is why I believe they are good collaborative leaders – not afraid of trial and error as long as they continue to build the resource infrastructure around them that gets them closer towards accomplishing their goals.   As one of my women mentors told me, “Without enough of the right resources around me, I will not risk the outcome. I know the resources I need to get the job done right. I’d rather be patient than foolish.”

The women leaders I know invest in themselves and become knowledge seekers. They are not afraid to ask questions when given a safe platform to express themselves. For example, during my keynote and conference appearances – more often than not – it is the women who ask me the most questions and they are also more inspired to adopt new ideas and ideals.  Though extremely curious, it’s often balanced with a bit of skepticism    – after all, they don’t want to be fooled or taken advantage of.   My experiences have taught me that women leaders need to trust a person before they will endorse what they have to say.   Many just want to know that there is legitimacy behind the opportunity.

As I’ve learned from my women bosses and mentors, they want things to be authentic yet practical. These women leaders enjoy a good challenge – and seek to find meaning and purpose from each circumstance they face and opportunity they are given.  They like to see and understand the connectivity of thoughts and how they work or why they don’t.   They want all the facts and figures before making important decisions.

Competitiveness amongst themselves may really be about looking for validation — an identity that matters and a voice that is heard.  Successful women leaders don’t rely on favors; they earn respect   and truly believe they can influence their own advancement by serving others.  Consummate team players, they also seek to prove their value and self-worth by exceeding performance expectations..  Looking for respect more than recognition, the most successful women leaders don’t seek to become the star of the show — but they enable others to create a great show.  In other words,   being in the spotlight is not what drives them – but rather it’s the ability to influence positive outcomes with maximum impact.

One thing is certain: these women leaders understand survival, renewal and reinvention. They have grit and are not afraid to fight for what they believe in or an opportunity to achieve something of significance. They believe in what they stand for, but that doesn’t mean they won’t put their ideas and ideals to the test.  For them, doing more with less is simply a matter of knowing how to strategically activate those around them.

While women leaders have their productivity secrets, it’s not secret where they come from:  the leadership traits that women leaders naturally possess and – based on my personal and professional experiences  – are the most undervalued.

1.  Opportunity-driven

When confronted with a challenge, the women I know look for the opportunity within. They see the glass as half-full rather than half-empty.  They push the boundaries and, when faced with adverse circumstances, they learn all they can from it.  Optimism is their mindset because they see opportunity in everything.

Estée Lauder, the child of Hungarian immigrant parents, was quite the opportunist in the cosmetics industry. During the postwar consumer boom, women wanted to start sampling cosmetic products before buying them. Lauder noticed and responded to this shifting dynamic by pioneering two marketing techniques that are commonly used today: the free gift and the gift-with-purchase. It’s exactly this type of inventiveness that other women use to pursue the opportunities in front of them.

2.  Strategic

Women see what often times others don’t see.  As one of my women mentors told me, “A woman’s lens of skepticism oftentimes forces them to see well beyond the most obvious details before them.  They enjoy stretching their perspective to broaden their observations.  Many women are not hesitant to peel the onion in order to get to the root of the matter.”

At times they “play the part” to test the intentions of others and to assure that they are solidly grounded and reliable. Successful women leaders know how to play the game when they have to – and can anticipate the unexpected.    They know what cards to play and keenly calculate the timing of each move they make.

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a woman leader made the word “organic” a business term.   I learned that women who enjoy the ebbs and flows of business activity also know that the best things are accomplished when they are done naturally – and unforced.  When things are happening organically, this means that they are functioning within a natural rhythm and speed – that is safer and risk adverse.

This is not to say that women are uncomfortable with risk – in fact,  they will often tackle risk head-on in order to get to the root cause of  a problem and to solve for it (they value time and money).  Women leaders who don’t allow their egos to stand in the way of good business are in the mindset of getting things done for the betterment of a healthier whole.

3.  Passionate

While women in general were historically viewed and stereotyped as emotional leaders by men, I believe they are just passionate explorers in pursuit of excellence.   When women leaders are not satisfied with the status quo, they will want to make things better.  These women leaders get things done and avoid procrastination. As another one of my women mentors said, “They enjoy order and stability and a genuine sense of control. Many women have learned not to depend upon others for their advancement and thus have a tendency to be too independent.  A woman’s independent nature is her way of finding her focus and dialing up her pursuits.”

When these women leaders are locked into what they are searching for – move out of the way.  Their passionate pursuits allow them to become potent pioneers of new possibilities.  No wonder minority women represent the largest growing segment of entrepreneurs. According to a report by the Center for Women’s Business Research, U.S. Hispanic and African American women entrepreneurs  grew at rates of 133.3% and 191.4% respectively from 1997 to 2007.

4.  Entrepreneurial

Entrepreneurship is just a way of life for many women.   They can be extremely resourceful, connect the dots of opportunity and become expert in developing the relationships they need to get the job done.   Many women leaders also see through an entrepreneurial lens to best enable the opportunities before them.    They know that to create and sustain momentum requires 100% focus on the objective   – and so they don’t enjoy being disrupted by unnecessary noise and distractions.

As one of my former women bosses told me, “Women can play into the politics of the workplace, and do so if it means adding value to the momentum they are attempting to create.”

Many women leaders find excitement and motivation by being extremely creative and resourceful when completing tasks and other duties and responsibilities –. They avoid falling too far behind on projects – knowing that if they do it will disrupt their focus and momentum.   That is why I learned never to disrupt a woman’s focus and concentration if I can avoid it.

My former female boss continued by saying, “This is why women like control.  Not necessarily to be in charge, but to not lose the rhythm or compromise the momentum they need to accomplish their goals.”

5.  Purposeful and Meaningful

I have found that many women leaders enjoy inspiring others to achieve. They know what it’s like to be the underdog and work hard not to disappoint themselves and others.  Women leaders in particular often have high standards and their attention to detail makes it difficult for others to cut corners or abuse any special privileges.

Women leaders with a nurturing nature are good listeners and excellent networkers/connecters. They enjoy creating ecosystems and support acollaborative leadership style that melds the thinking and ideas of others; this is what multiplies the size of an opportunity and/or its speed in execution in order to create a larger sphere of influence and overall impact.  Women who don’t have to be right all the time make good consensus builders and will more likely enjoy participating in a team environment.

6.  Traditions and Family

Whether at home or at work, women are often the glue that keeps things together and that is why they represent great leadership for America’s future.  When they sense growing tensions that can lead to potential problems or inefficiencies, the most successful women leaders enjoy taking charge before circumstances force their hand.   Women are usually the ones to secure the foundational roots of the family and to protect family and cultural traditions from wavering. They provide the leadership within the home and in the workplace to assure that legacies remain strong by being fed with the right nutrients and ingredients.

The most successful women leaders are big believers in team building and the enforcement of mission, goals and values to assure that everyone is on the same page with like intentions.  This secures a sense of continuity making it easier for everyone to have each other’s backs.  No wonder women are assuming more management and leadership roles in family owned businesses.

To the great women in my personal and professional life, thank you for the opportunity to be inspired and mentored by your leadership (you know who you are).  I’ve read many things about women in the workplace and their lack of advancement into senior executive roles and in the boardroom.  Rarely have I read something from a man who has been inspired and influenced by the wisdom of a woman’s leadership.  Hopefully this perspective helps awaken more of us to the opportunity of learning about leadership from the women in our lives, whether in the home or at work.

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.

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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

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

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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

 

How to design a road map toward an engaged workforce

Can you prove the ROI of employee engagement? According to a Gallup survey, companies with world-class engagement have 3.9 times the earnings per share growth rate compared to their competitors with lower engagement. The challenge is planning a route to get employees engaged.Here are four basic tips companies can follow to motivate disengaged employees:

  • Pay according to market value. Many executives don’t like to hear it and would rather offer training or take similar steps. But paying accordingly is critical in moving disengaged employees up.
  • Limit organizational reductions in force. While hard to do, it’s impossible for employees to become engaged if they fear losing their jobs.
  • Manage organizational changes. Whether a market change or a leadership change, proactively communicate it to motivate disengaged workers.
  • Increase trust. Make sure all employees see the value in their company and believe in the brand. Executives must be visible and accountable.

While paying accordingly is important, it isn’t necessarily a motivating factor; it’s a baseline. Employee motivation is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need to be taken care of, have the supplies needed to do the job, know what their job is, and be paid accordingly. Once those baseline needs have been met, you can move employees to becoming engaged.

To accomplish a company’s engagement goals, the process starts with an employee survey to determine what areas need work. The survey should be used as a starting point. To achieve the best results, develop the survey with experts from a third party who understand what motivates employees.
Based on responses, develop a plan for areas that require immediate attention. If there’s something that can be done, work on a plan to make a change. If a change cannot be made, explain why. It’s important for employees to know that action is being taken regarding a survey.
After changes are implemented, measure to see if there’s been an increase in revenue or productivity. Generally, a baseline is measured before the survey and six months to a year later to see if those factors increased.
Engagement takes a long time. But if you are genuinely trying to increase employee engagement, you will get a return on your investment.

5 Reasons Your Employees Probably Hate You

employees, boss, leadership, relationship, retention

 

Many years ago I worked for a company whose CEO was a stickler for how many hours employees worked. He made a point to note who came early and who stayed late. He considered anyone who didn’t a slacker.

As far as I know, nobody ever told him how shortsighted his approach was. Instead of rewarding results, he rewarded butt-in-chair time. Instead of focusing on output, he focused on input. Most hated the practice, but nobody told him.

How many of your behaviors drive your employees silently crazy that you don’t know about? Here are five leadership missteps to look out for:

1. You reward the wrong things. 
What gets rewarded gets done. It is such a familiar axiom of management that it is nearly cliché. It is, however, completely true. Where you focus your attention focuses your employees’ attention. What you notice, note and reward will get done more frequently.

Identify and focus on the results that matter. And don’t be like the executive above who confused activity with accomplishment.

2. You don’t listen. 
Even if your employees told you about a qualm of theirs, you might not really hear them. It is too easy to be distracted and pre-occupied.

Becoming a better listener is actually quite easy. When an employee is in your workspace to talk, turn off your email alerts, close your door and let your monitor go into sleep mode. Give your undivided attention to the person in front of you. They will feel you value them, and you’ll likely increase the quality and speed of the interaction.

3. You don’t notice what your employees are doing.
Brittney was a financial manager at a client firm. She was bubbly and outgoing. She also had the ability to draw attention to her “contributions,” though many weren’t that significant. Employees hated her self-aggrandizement. But they also disliked that management noted Brittney’s efforts because they were easily observed. Leaders didn’t pay attention to the good and often better work others were doing.

Great work is often done backstage, out of the spotlight. The glitter of self-promotion doesn’t blind great entrepreneurs. They seek out those people doing good work and make it a point to notice. Pay attention to people who do good work and let them know. And don’t get suckered by people who are better at promoting themselves than producing results.

4. Your attitude sucks. 

Bill is an entrepreneur who constantly complains about how terrible his employees are at delivering customer service. He berates and belittles even their best efforts. And yet he’s puzzled why those same employees treat customers poorly. The irony escapes him.

Attitudes are contagious. Mirror neurons pick up on and are affected by the moods of those around us. Leaders are especially powerful in influencing the mood of those on their team.

Don’t expect others to be more upbeat than you or treat customers better than you treat them. There are a few entrepreneurs who might have dodged this bullet, but not enough to be statistically significant. Your attitude is contagious, so pay attention to how you act at work each day.

5. You can’t keep your mouth shut. 
A young entrepreneur we will call Bob loved to share insider information about others. At one after-work beer session, he shared something HR told him confidentially about a coworker who was not at the gathering. It was less than flattering and was instantly off-putting to those in the group. The employee, a valued and productive member of the team, learned of the betrayal of confidence and was outraged. She left the company soon after.

Don’t think that trust can be effectively compartmentalized. If you’re known to be untrustworthy in your personal life, few will trust you in your professional dealings. If people don’t trust you, they will follow, but out of compliance instead of commitment.

No one is a mind-reader. If you want to find out why your team is dissatisfied to be a better leader, work on building trust and being equally open to both good and bad news. Ask them what they really think. And most importantly: listen.                 -Mark Sanborn

Finding Leaders Starts by Listening

 

 

 

 

This morning I commented on an article in a Group I’m in on LinkedIn. It was an article about the gender gap and why men are still paid more than their female counterparts. My comment on that article is that I believe a change will come, where women will become more recognized for their leadership style and therefore this will eventually cause the gap to narrow. Immediately after I made that comment I saw an article written by Lou Adler and wanted to share it with you…it supports my point!

leadership, vision, execution, CEO, leadership

If I had a bigger napkin I would have written this:

The Less Simple Formula for Assessing Leadership = Identify the Problem, Find a Solution, Develop a Workable Plan, Inspire Others, Deliver the Results

The story started many years ago, but was retold last week while having breakfast with a former client. The napkin was handy. When a client, he was the CEO of a mid-sized company, and my search firm had placed most of his senior management team. Now he’s on the board of a dozen or so different charitable organizations, university groups, and privately held companies. In his new role he’s still confronting the same hiring challenges as before: finding enough leaders. My company today is no longer a search firm. We now help companies set up programs to find and hire leaders of all types. Sometimes these leaders are engineers, accountants or sales reps. Sometimes they’re business executives or someone working on the shop floor. Regardless of the role, it’s not hard to identify leaders when you know what you’re looking for. This is where napkins come in handy, at least as a starting point.

Before I started working with this CEO, I had an assignment with a major LA-based entertainment company looking for a corporate director of accounting. The ideal candidate needed a CPA from a top accounting firm, and at least 5-10 additional years of experience working at the corporate office of a publicly-traded company. One of my candidates for the role was a young woman who was a senior manager with one of the major accounting firms. While her clients were publicly-traded companies, she didn’t have any hands-on industry experience. More challenging, she only had seven years of total experience, not the 10-15 listed on the job description. There was no question she was an exceptional person, and the VP Controller was more than willing to meet her. After the interview we both agreed she was a very strong person, but too light for the position. She never got this message.

Before I could break the bad news she wasn’t going to be considered for the job, she said something like, “I don’t want this job the way it’s currently structured. There is no way anyone could accomplish the overhaul of the department as defined given the resources and time frame currently specified. If you want me to consider this job there are five things that must happen.” She then spent another 10 minutes describing what she needed in terms of resources, staff and system support including a rough time-phased implementation plan. It was a remarkable plan. So remarkable, I never had a chance to tell her she was not getting the job. Instead, I called the VP Controller, and told him he had to hear directly what this woman proposed, even if he didn’t hire her. He enthusiastically invited her back and with a few other directors in the room asked her to describe her plan for rebuilding the accounting department. After about three hours he made her the offer. She accepted. Eighteen months later she was promoted into a bigger job after successfully completing the initial project.

What this woman did was simply amazing. As a result, I started rethinking how the best people I had placed up to that point answered questions. The best engineers could always visualize the technical problem, figure out a way to solve it and put a plan together. One plant manager candidate put a plan together on a flip chart on how to set up a global manufacturing and distribution center. The best sales reps could develop approaches to handle the most difficult clients. YMCA camp counselors could develop daily activities to ensure even their quietest kids would have a great experience every day. And it goes on and on. The best people in any job, regardless of their age or level, can visualize the problem they’re facing and figure out a way to solve it.

But this is just the first step in leadership ….

But this is just the first step in leadership – having a vision and being able to articulate it. It’s not enough, though. Not only do you need a detailed plan once the problem is solved, but you also must implement the solution successfully. This requires obtaining the resources, developing and motivating the team, and committing to achieving the objective despite the numerous challenges and obstacles that will always crop up.

The ability to articulate a vision combined with a track record of achieving comparable results was how the two-question Performance-based Interview described in The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired was developed. One question involves asking candidates to describe how they’d go about figuring out how to accomplish a major objective or realistic job-related problem. The other question asks them to describe something they’ve done that’s most comparable. (Here’s a link to a summary of the Anchor and Visualize two-question process.) After asking these two questions a few times for your biggest job-related challenges, you can be confident about hiring someone who has the ability to both visualize a solution when combined with a track record of having accomplished something comparable. One without the other will be a problem.

Be careful. Too often we’re seduced by just the vision and the lofty ideas. Others become overly focused on technical brilliance, or a track record of years of experience. None of this is good enough. Competency without results is just mediocrity. Results without vision is just more of the same. Vision without the ability to deliver results is just a bunch of empty promises. With leadership, everything changes. It starts by listening.

The Power Of Thank You

Thank You, Appreciation, Employee Appreciation, Communication. Performance PraiseMost managers and supervisors know that the single greatest disappointment employees suffer in the workplace is the feeling that their hard work and effort goes unnoticed.  What most managers and supervisors don’t know is that the second greatest disappointment employees have is insincere or inappropriately applied recognition!  Does it seem to you that sometimes you can’t win?!  The fact is you can all win, and here is how you do it.

 First, you need to train yourself to constantly be on the look out for someone doing something right.  As managers, we typically spend way too much time dealing with hot spots or trouble issues.  Believe it or not, you have to develop the habit of seeking the good work that’s being done all around you.

 Second, take time to visit with your staff when there is not a crisis or a problem to deal with.  Sometimes a quick five minute meeting just to say Hi and let everyone know that they are OK is worth its weight in gold.  If the only time you get together is when something is wrong, how excited are your people when you call a meeting or when they interact with you?  The development of non-crisis interaction time is critical to team development and positive employee moral.

Third, learn the Power Thank You.  For a simple “thank you” to become a powerful, and motivational tool for managers and supervisor’s, simply apply these four basic rules:

  •  Be timely. After a few weeks the accomplishment is forgotten.
  • Be specific to something the employee accomplished, a task or goal completed.
  • Acknowledge the effort it took to complete the goal.
  • Address personally the benefits you and the company received as a direct result of this effort.

As a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst and Executive Coach, “One of the first things I look for in a President or CEO is how well they know, and then acknowledge, their employees efforts and tasks. A Chief Executive who can not only recognize an employee by name but also by task and accomplishment, well…, that’s a keeper.”

Here is a tip for those of us trying to build this idea into a positive habit … sometimes we’re busy and we forget about what’s really important.  To remind us to do the right thing, I ask my executives to start their day with three pennies in their right pocket. Every time they offer someone a power thank you, they move a penny to their left.  By the end of the day, all three pennies need to be in that left pocket.

 We spend more daylight hours at our workplace than with our families and friends so it is reasonable to assume that we should do all we can to make our work environment as pleasant as possible.  The Power Thank You is one way to support this philosophy.

Sharon Jenks, CPBA, is President of The Jenks Group, Inc. a CA based consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and executive team development.  Sharon can be reached at sjenks@thejenksgroup.com

http://www.thejenksgroup.com