Traits of the Modern Leader pt. 2

Many of us of heard the old adage that people don’t leave bad organizations, they leave bad leaders. So, for an organization to succeed building great leaders should be a top priority.

The “master and commander” style leader is no longer relevant. Leaders now need to build authentic relationships with the people under their leadership. There are some particular traits or tools that will help leaders do this in a modern and relevant way.

This is part two of this discussion.

Leaders in our new age know they cannot possibly have all the answers on their own—they ask for other people’s input and opinions. They may even hire outside experts if no one in their organization has that particular skill set and/or knowledge.

Expressions of gratitude, especially in front of others, when a team member has contributed significantly to the vision of the company is a trait of this new kind of leader. This new kind of leader would also never take credit for the work of others.

On the other hand, if a team member is having a problem with a project this new kind of leader doesn’t waste time on blame, reproach or overacting out of frustration. Instead, the new leader helps team members solve their problems. They know the right kinds of questions to help the team member find their own way through their issues.

The new leader has a real interest in their team members lives outside of work so they can help team members reach their future goals and dreams. They understand their team members’ ambitions to help them best find their place and their way in the organization.

The new leader must find the right balance with each team member between being a mentor, cheerleader and coach and not being the old school task master.

New Traits of the Modern Leader pt. 1

Many of us of heard the old adage that people don’t leave bad organizations, they leave bad leaders. So, for an organization to succeed building great leaders should be a top priority.

The “master and commander” style leader is no longer relevant. Leaders now need to build authentic relationships with the people under their leadership. There are some particular traits or tools that will help leaders do this in a modern and relevant way.

A good modern leader should be able to recognize what that something special that every member of the organization has to offer. What is that person’s “brand”? How do I help the member turn that into something that benefits the whole organization? How do we nurture and integrate it?

Many people today (some might even wager most) do not like being micromanaged—and its debatable whether this style of leadership was ever all that effective.

Modern, effective leaders espouse a vision and inspire their people to se their role in achieving that vision. A modern, effective leader doesn’t waste their time running all over or sending emails to people on exactly what to do and how to do it. They will trust their team members to do the job they’ve been hired to do. They make this clear through their actions and empower  their team members to act.

The Difference Between Good and Bad Distractions

In a world obsessed with hyper-productivity and success it may be hard to believe that distractions could be a good thing.

Distractions are one of our primary coping mechanisms for dealing with physical pain. Not only that, but also mental pain such as anxiety. In children, pre-surgery anxiety is very common. In one study, three groups of children were studied for pre-surgery anxiety. There were three groups: one was given an anxiety medication; one group was given nothing; one group were given video games to play.

One study found the video game group to have the least amount of measurable anxiety. Another study found that adult patients given video games to play experienced 50% less pain during wound cleanings.

But clearly distractions are also bad at time.

In the workplace, in a group as the leader, is a particular person or group using a distraction as a means to avoid uncomfortable conversation, to avoid boring or challenging work, to disengage from useful problem solving? Maybe it’s OK for your employee to play Words with Friends for fifteen minutes to ease their anxiety about please an important client. Maybe some off-topic conversation at a creative meeting is just want the group needs to relax and be able to share the ideas they think might be good but are afraid of.

Is It Ever OK to Us Directive Leadership?

Directive leadership, basically a “dictator” style where the leader tells people what and how to do things, is no longer popular. So, is it ever OK to use this style?

When you organization is making a major change and people need to “get on board” is a time when the style might still be useful.  This is the point at which you ought to be more directive, revealing to them how to do it. As your colleagues learn and create, you will never again need to screen their work so nearly.

Later on when people are locked in on new policies, procedures etc. you can back off.

At the point when there is an issue or crisis, time is of the essence. You can’t bear to settle on choices by committee in these conditions. This is the place mandated administration truly sparkles.

Some other examples are if there is a situation where anyone’s well-being or security is at hand.

It is still a good idea to allow people to have their voices heard when using this leadership style even if there is no room for negotiation

Practicing Being Deliberate

When practicing being deliberate, we have to break down an area of expertise into a series of smaller, achievable practices. We must engage in structured activities that improve performance in a specific area. The goal of being deliberate is not just to reach your potential but to build it. To make things possible that were not possible before. It will take a long time. It will be hard. It is supposed to be difficult. If being an expert was easy, everyone would be one.

But how we keep going in the face of difficulty? That is perhaps the biggest question we can ask when practicing being deliberate. Anyone can get started, that is the easy part. The popularity of self-help books and guides to success is evidence of this. The many gym memberships abandoned by February is evidence of this.

When we decide to learn a new language, learn to play an instrument we run out and buy things and jump right in. There is an exciting energy to engaging in a new adventure. But then reality hits; we hit that wall. We don’t find time to practice. We don’t improve as fast as we thought we would. It stops being fun and we view it as a chore. Eventually we give up altogether.

Why? Frankly, its hard work.

Being deliberate and breaking down your goal into attainable pieces is a way to pace oneself. We shouldn’t tell ourselves we will become Jimi Hendrix by the end of the year. We should tell ourselves we will learn to play a simple song in two months. We will learn the scales in six months. We will learn correct finger positions by the end of the first month.

We should give ourselves goals we can reach.

 

Always Two Opportunities

In all aspects of our lives there are always two sets of opportunities in front of us—one set governs where we are, a current job, a current relationship, a current volunteer activity, a current hobby and then there are those things only available if we actively seek them.

Whatever those new things are that we seek, if we find them and develop them we become more versatile. It could be that what we have currently (a job, relationship, volunteerism, hobby) provides us with the tools to become more versatile. Sometimes we need to actively find new things to learn, new skills to develop, new networks to tap into.

If we only remain qualified to maintain our current job, relationship, volunteer activity or hobby we are vulnerable to or unprepared for change.

Every day we should set out two lists of tasks for ourselves: one to maintain that which we already have and one that will allow us to expand the boundaries of our experience and knowledge.

It doesn’t matter who you are—an entrepreneur who created your own job, an employee, a community organization leader or member, a high school or college student, a retiree, or a stay at home parent—you have the capability, this very moment, to prepare for what comes next.