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Monday, August 30, 2010

Beware these leadership pitfalls

Beware these leadership pitfalls

Smart leaders know that leadership is about influence, not power.

Resist the urge to exploit your authority by recognizing—and steering clear of—these common management mistakes:

Status. Too many leaders become obsessed with maintaining their position and protecting their careers. To avoid this, you need to put the good of your employees and your company ahead of your own ego. Challenge yourself to help your team double last month’s sales, for example, or to bring a new product to market more quickly than before.

Popularity. Everyone wants to be liked, but in the long run, neither your employees nor your supervisors will like you if you don't achieve results. Aim for earning workers’ long-term respect by making tough but necessary choices. For example: Terminating an employee who isn’t productive may alienate some people, but in time your employees will recognize the benefits of working with top performers.

Harmony. A workplace without disagreements is quiet, but it can quickly become sterile. In order to grow, an organization needs exchanges of ideas even if they lead to conflicts and controversies. Urge employees to share their opinions with one another. Brainstorming meetings are a good way to start doing this.

Keep your crediblity and influence intact by avoiding these leadership pitfalls.

10 Things Every Leader Should Know

10 Things Every Leader Should Know

In working with companies over the years to develop programs for new supervisors/managers - there are some skills, knowledge and competencies that rise to the top of "must have's" for someone in a management role. These are in no particular order, but all are of equal importance to be successful in a leadership role.

1. Planning: The ability to effectively plan projects is important for any manager. This requires sharing the vision with others, getting them on board, creating plans to implement the vision, and ensuring timelines are met and budgets are managed.

2. Feedback: Learn how to give constructive feedback; provide those who report to you with feedback on a regular basis about how they are doing.

3. Influence: Effective managers can persuade others to accomplish the organizational goals; just telling someone what to do doesn't work - even if they report to you. The most successful managers are able to influence others to move in the direction they need them to go.

4. Interpersonal understanding: Managers must understand those around them; not just their staff, but their managers and the other department heads/employees. The ability to understand how others think and what's important to them helps to ensure success in accomplishing your goals.

5. Motivate: Learn how to motivate those around you - what's important to your staff? Not everyone is motivated by the same things and a good manager understands their staff and what motivates them to come to work each day and do a good job.

6. Finance 101: Understand the basics of finance; know how to read a balance sheet, understand how to create a budget.

7. Team leadership: Team leadership requires ensuring the team - whether your own staff or others - understand the mission, goals and objectives before them. A strong team leader builds effective teams that can accomplish the goals of the organisation and enables the team to move toward a common goal.

8. Problem solving: Effective managers know how to understand a situation completely - they plan, they don't react. Understanding the root cause of a situation is necessary in order to effective problem solve the issue.

9. Communication - written and verbal: Strong communication skills is required of everyone, and especially of managers. The ability to effective and efficiently communicate changes, plans, next steps, the direction of the organization, etc. is required to ensure that staff understands where they need to head and how to get there. Effective communication builds trust.

10. Organizational awareness: It's important to understand how things happen within the organization and how things get done. What are the informal paths involved in meeting goals. What is the culture of the organization? How do departments work with each other? This "insider knowledge" about the organization is key to the effectiveness of the manager and ensures the ability to get things accomplished.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Can I Grow as a Leader?

How Can I Grow as a Leader?

Personal growth and by extension, leadership growth, does not happen automatically because people are living or necessarily because they have experiences. Leadership development must be planned, deliberate and consistent. In other words, if we want to realize our true leadership potential we have to work at it daily.

There are three primary ways to develop  leadership capability.

The first is to study leadership and apply the lessons learned. In addition to Smart Development leadership classes there are plenty of of great books, magazines, CD’s and e-learning opportunities, (such as e-newsletters and pod/idea casts) for people to supplement their formal leadership education.

The second way is to learn from your experiences at work. For example ask to be assigned to a challenging project that will provide you an opportunity to exercise your leadership. Remember that leadership is about influencing positive change. Also, stay alert. Observe situations from different perspectives. Watch how different people handle leadership challenges. Have a teachable spirit and ask for feedback and be open to criticisms about your performance. And above all don’t be afraid to fail. You’ll learn more from failing once or twice than from succeeding all the time.

The final way to develop your leadership ability is to find a true mentor. The mentor should have experiences that you want to gain, a genuine willingness to help you along, and a positive relationship with you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Should I Grow as a Leader?

Leadership expert John Maxwell identified a principle of leadership which he called the “Law of the Lid.”

The “Law of the Lid” helps people understand the value of leadership. If people can get a handle on this principle, they will see the incredible impact of leadership on every aspect of life. The “Law of the Lid” states that leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the leadership, the greater the effectiveness. For example, if your leadership rates an 8, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a 7. If your leadership is only a 4, then your effectiveness will no higher than 3.

Your leadership ability—for better or for worse—always determines your effectiveness and potential impact with others. Yes, someone can have success as a "supervisor," but it's only a fraction of the success they could have as leaders.

Leadership has many facets: respect, experience, emotional strength, people skills, discipline, vision, momentum, timing—the list goes on. As you can see, many factors that come into play in leadership are intangible. That’s why leaders, at any level, require so much seasoning to be effective.

The good news is that your leadership ability isn’t static. No matter where you are starting from, whether you are brand new to management or have had years of experience, you can get better.

The essential element of leadership is influence. If you are in a position to influence someone to move toward a worthwhile goal, you are engaged in an act of leadership.

In order to achieve tangible results with their followers leaders need to influence the intangibles like morale, motivation, momentum, emotions, attitudes, atmosphere, and timing. How do you measure timing before you do something? How do you put your finger on momentum? To gauge such things, you have to read between the lines. Leaders have to become comfortable—more than that, confident—dealing with such things.

Your leadership journey should be open-ended. Most people have no idea how far they can go in life. They aim too low.

The Leader's Digest Blog

Welcome to the Leader’s Digest Blog!

Our blog will help readers improve their leadership skills. It is intended to serve up a dose of insights, resources and tips to help readers leverage their influence with the people they lead. We will also bring you great information from other noteworthy publications and from a host of management and professional development experts. The blog will include quotes, anecdotes, and proven tools that will help you and your team develop your people.

Remember, “If you grow people, the people will grow the business.”