How to Get Elected Boss

Get Elected Boss

 

The higher-ups have just promoted you to manage the team you once belonged to. Congratulations. Now you need to go out and get elected by your former peers. Our advice? Start campaigning.
The transition from peer to manager is one of the most delicate and complicated organizational situations you will ever experience. For months, or even years, you have been in the trenches with your co-workers as a friend, confidant, and (probably) fellow grouser. You’ve heard secrets and told a few.

You know about every little feud and grudge. You’ve sat around in airport waiting rooms and at weekend barbecues and ranked everyone else on the team. You’ve pontificated about who would go, who would stay, and generally what you would do if you ran the group. And now you do.

Surely, some of your former peers are cheering your promotion and are eager to fall in line. That will feel good, but don’t let their support lead you to do something disastrous—namely, gallop into town with guns blazing.

Why? Because just as surely as some are cheering, others are uncomfortable with your promotion. A couple may have thought they deserved the job themselves. So they’re feeling anything from hurt to bitter. Still others will simply have some level of anxiety about your going from “one of us” to “one of them.” Either way, these former peers are in a holding pattern now, checking you out.

Which is why you need to start the campaign to win them over by creating an atmosphere of stability and cohesion where sound judgments about the future can be made—by everyone. Look, the last thing you want in your new role is an exodus or even low-level disgruntlement. You want people to settle down and function. The reason is straightforward enough. When and if there are changes down the road, you want to make them on your terms. You want a team of engaged supporters who buy in to your vision, not the resistance and nattering of a confused or chaotic crew.

But here’s the rub: You have to campaign without compromising your new authority. That’s right. You have to run for office while holding office. It’s a critical component in moving from peer to manager, and all effective managers go through it, often several times in their careers.

Getting this transition right is all about timing. Your kinder, gentler election drive can’t last forever. Give it three months. Six at most. If you haven’t won over the skeptics by then, you never will. In fact, after a certain point, the softer you are, the less effective you will become. And you’ll be fighting battles that do nothing but wear you down. Save your energy for bigger things and begin the process of moving out steadfast resisters and bringing in people who accept the changes that you and your core of supporters deem necessary.

Fortunately, the transition period doesn’t last forever, and if you handle it right—with a campaign and not chaos—you’ll be in a position to do what’s best for the organization and yourself: lead from strength. – Jack and Suzy Welch

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

Why Providing Critical Feedback Can Be A Gift

Feedback

 

 

Rarely are managers, in any field, well prepared to deal with employees who need corrective input. In fact, we’ve heard all too often how the whole idea of being critical strikes a note of “being mean,” “acting arrogant,” or “hurting someone’s feelings.”

And yes, being critical can be all of those things when misunderstood or delivered without support, care, and kindness.

But when you understand that life well lived is a journey of growth and expansion, then there have to be teachers along the way to provide helpful input. When left to only our own devices, our own perspectives, our own experiences, we can only replicate what we already know. And that’s what causes people to be stuck in a rut, unable to take their work life forward in a manner that is continually challenging and transformative.

So, if you are a manager, a supervisor, in any way someone who has the responsibility and opportunity to help other employees improve, please see your role as a gift.

Magic Words

When you can touch another person’s potential—beyond what they currently understand about themselves— you have the opportunity to provide the gift of a larger vision of who they are, of how they can conduct their work life, even perhaps a larger sense of their true identity.

While that may be beyond the scope of your work as a manager, it is not outside the scope of touching someone’s life and career.

Sometimes people have to have their hearts broken open in order to receive new value about who they are, what they are truly capable of, and how they are viewed by others. And while this can be painful, even very painful on occasion, it is an essential element for professional and personal growth.

That’s why your words of critical feedback and reality messages about the need to improve can be Magic Words, providing the inspiration for your recipient to look beyond what they already know and embrace and actualize what you are suggesting is needed for their improvement.

Steer In Another Direction

You may have someone on your team or in your company who needs a frank and honest wake-up call, explaining how they are not a good fit for the company. When you lay out the specifics with care and respect, hopefully the individual can understand that they would be better off if they moved on rather than feel frustrated and continue to receive less than sterling performance ratings.

Sometimes you can steer the individual in a new direction within the company, but be prepared for this to be met with hurt feelings, skepticism, or flat out refusal. In either case, remember that your honest attempt to help has still been a wake-up call about reality. And that, in the long run, will be a gift whether or not the recipient can accept it as such.

Support, Support, Support

Even if you have to use fairly extreme criticism, putting someone on probation or on a PIP (performance improvement program), as long as you do so from a position of support for that individual’s well being, you are still providing the gift of reality.

Too often, people who end up in trouble on the job do so because they are caught up in unrealistic ideas about their talent and ability, their role in the company, or on the other hand fears of putting forth their true expertise. Either way, when you can present them with reality, providing examples of their behavioral problems and limitations, you provide a mirror of reality.

The primary gift of critical feedback, when delivered with respect, including specific examples the recipient can relate to, and ideas for concrete improvement is the advancement of the recipient’s grounding in reality. Yes, there’s that “reality” word again. Because the delivery of critical feedback needs to always provide support for the individual being more fully grounded in reality. That is the most solid basis for their choices going forward.

16 Basic Principles for Avoiding Stupidity

Don't be an idiot

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being a Good Manager: Overcoming 5 Common Myths

myth

 

Building healthy culture, promoting innovation and bringing people together are key indicators of a successful manager. While working as an organizational consultant with startups who aim to scale their business, I’ve noticed five recurring misconceptions related to managing people that produce opposite results: unhealthy workplaces, unmotivated employees and frustrated managers. Especially for individuals who have started a business and end up hiring employees and becoming managers, here are five simple myths of managing that will help you turn around the way that you supervise your employees.

Myth #1: “The paycheck is the reward. That should be enough.”
Try this instead: A paycheck will not motivate employees to move mountains. Their paycheck is expected when people show up for work. Most employees aren’t concerned with your business bottom line. They do however concern themselves with the people they work with. The relationship they have with their co-workers and management. Daniel, the CEO of a startup in Santa Monica I work with, often sends a delivery order of chicken soup to his sick employees. I’ve told him that this is the type of gesture that expresses louder than words that his care extends past the quality and/or quantity of their work. An employee vested in the relationship will be happier and as a result more productive, more innovative and stay loyal as the company grows and changes. Yes, people need pay check to eat, but an “A” performance generally requires more than just a paycheck.

Myth #2: “They work for me.” 
Try this instead: It is your job to make your employees successful. A good manager strives to eliminate obstacles that impede their employees from reaching their goals. Try spending a day figuring out what you can do to make your employee’s life easier. When consulting with a local software company, their programmers mentioned that they would be happier if they could have one “flexible work day” where they could choose to work from home. The manager decided to implement this and soon found that his employees would only take advantage of the day when they truly needed it, and were happier and less concerned with balancing their work and life commitments. What obstacles can you remove to help your team meet their goals and achieve their deliverables? Yes, they may contractually work for you, but a good manager is also a servant of his people.

Myth #3: “I’ve told them this multiple times, they should be doing it already.”
Try this instead: Many employees have a difficult time keeping track of verbal suggestions. Verbal feedback is much more effective if paired with written feedback. The research suggests that therapists were more likely to provide higher quality services to their patients when their supervisor gave feedback orally, then followed up with written confirmation of the feedback. Are you frustrated that your employee isn’t responding to in-person feedback? The key word is accountability — and people feel much more accountable when documentation exists to make them easily accountable.

2013-12-02-WrittenFeedback.pngTry adding a followup email to your verbal suggestions. A quick email can serve as a good reference point if the problem persists, can create a paper trail of known issues to use for more formal feedback, and also allows the employee to go back and see a history of their progress. If the instruction already exists in an employee handbook, job description or email and you still notice compliance issues, feel free to cite the document and date to jog their memory and increase their accountability. Yes, your employees may forget your suggestions, but accountability is essential to good management and it is your job to hold yourself and them accountable.

Myth #4: “My employee’s mistakes cost me money.”
Try this instead: Mistakes employees make are typically unintentional and are an opportunity to improve existing systems. While some large mistakes can be very costly. The small day-to-day mistakes you deal with as a manager are perfect opportunities to understand flaws in your system. This upfront cost of identifying a hole in your system will save you money long-term if instead of blaming your employee, you use it as a way to give them feedback and improve your systems.

While working in a small health care company, we worked on a project to transition the responsibility of scheduling patients from the clinician to an in-house scheduling department. Although there were some instances where short-term utilization of billable hours wasn’t optimal, instead of blaming the scheduler, clinician or unreliable patient, we used these instances as a golden opportunity to revisit the scheduling protocols and identify gaps in the system. Yes, there is an instant cost of an error, but there are also hidden savings if you take the time to learn from this expensive lesson by providing feedback about the error and improving your systems.

Myth #5: “It’s faster for me to do it myself, than to train someone else to do it.”
Try this instead: Training takes time, but the time saved after your employee knows the ropes can give you more time to focus on more complicated tasks. Joe, a physician who decided to open a wellness center quickly found that running a boutique clinic was even more complicated than treating medical conditions. He often found himself filing patient charts, scheduling appointments, booking guest lecturers and creating daily activity schedules. When scaling his business, he resisted spending time training his employees on more important or complicated tasks, fearing that it wouldn’t be done correctly. In Joe’s case, by holding onto more complicated tasks, like finding his ideal guest lecturers to come visit his clinic, instead of integrating those into an employee’s workflow began causing later roadblocks when he was faced with more complicated medical-related demands. Once he realized that training his administrative assistant to research leads and give him options allowed him to focus on improving his clinic’s patient experience and he was able to make sure he was always operating at maximum capacity.

When faced with challenges, a manager should identify how these challenges fit within the context of growing their business and creating a stronger organizational structure. By trying these strategies, each obstacle sheds light on a learning opportunity to hone your managing skills, tighten your company protocols and learn about yourself and your team. Adopting these alternative views of the five common myths of management is a great place to start your journey to becoming a great manager. – Sara Gershfeld

Management Lessons: Moving Beyond Our Mistakes

mistake

 

 

I departed the plane and as soon as I crossed the security threshold I remembered the book, still on the plane in the seat pocket. It had only been five minutes and the plane was only one hundred yards away but it was impossible to sprint back. I had no boarding pass to get back through security. After pleading with United customer service, I filed the report and was assured the book would be returned. I was so mad at myself I couldn’t see straight.

But there was a lost and found and, after all, my name and phone number were prominently displayed on the front page.

That was months ago. The prized notebook never showed up. I was so crazed to find the book that the day after I left it on the plane, I went back to the airport looking for the lost and found office. The closest thing to a lost and found was the lost luggage counter. A nice woman there informed me there was a room where such things were stored until they were claimed or sent to the rightful owner. I pleaded with a nice woman behind the desk that since I am here now, to please let me check the inventory. She relented, but informed me it was against policy. It might have been my tears that swayed her.

In the lost luggage “room” I was transformed. It was like a home for broken toys and abandoned dreams. The shelves were full of iPods, iPads, laptops, prized notebooks just like mine (but not mine), well-loved stuffed animals, jackets and other priceless items. I thought the items might come alive and develop into a Pixar movie. I gave up on finding the notebook at that point but not on being mad at myself for making such a stupid mistake.

We all get mad at ourselves for making mistakes and we all have stories to tell. I am no exception. There was the time:

  • I hit the “Reply All” button and the message went to all the wrong people. It was too late, the message was out there and I had to go into recovery mode. I was so mad at myself I vowed to never use “Reply All” again.
  • I made an off-hand comment that someone overheard. It was the one person I didn’t want to hear the comment. I kicked myself – I should know better.
  • I drove away with a latte on top of my car where it spilled all over the roof. I had a messed up car and no coffee. I was pissed.
  • Someone gave me the middle finger recently and I responded in a way that had my blood boiling – at myself.

Being the glass half-full guy, I wondered, “When we all get furious at ourselves for making mistakes, is there anything to learn from the anger?” The answer is yes; managers need to keep the self-loathing under control. What can we all learn from our mistakes and anger?

  • Plan – Almost all of my anger-induced events could be traced to sloppy planning.
  • Delegate – If I gave more work away I wouldn’t be so busy and sloppy with my planning.
  • Think – Being thoughtful in how I approach each project and activity would help keep the blood pressure down.
  • Manage Time Better – Being late or overbooked always creates problems.

I suspect that no matter how much we plan, delegate, think and manage time, there will always be those day-to-day events or mistakes we make, after all, nobody’s perfect. Maybe the more important lesson is that when we make mistakes, to recover quickly. And when we’re mad at ourselves, to make sure that we don’t take it out on others in the workplace. -Richard A. Moran

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

Boss

 

 

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

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?

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