New Year Resolutions for Leaders

Resolve to be the kind of leader we want to follow. Be consistent. We can tolerate even a poor leader if he isn’t channeling a different sort of poor leadership each day. Be real. Let us see how you as a leader effectively manage emotions and frustration at work. Show us what excites you about the challenges ahead.

Resolve to help us understand how we can develop. This helps us be better in many ways. It allows us to understand our future with the company; it gives us a way to structure our efforts to learn more about our jobs, our company, and our industry; and it shows that you have a personal interest, because you have made an effort to know our individual strengths and weaknesses.

Become a better listener. We have ideas. They won’t all be great ideas, but if you listen to us you can coach us to develop our ability to better vet and sharpen the next one.

Hold the micromanagement. Let’s talk trust. Nothing is more frustrating than to be prevented from just doing the job you hired me to do. We understand that it can be uncomfortable to delegate work. We understand that in many cases it is your reputation on the line when our team fails to produce something to our standard.

Hold poor performers accountable. If they can’t improve, pay the price necessary to cut them loose. What could be more damaging to the morale of the team than the struggle associated with carrying dead wood? We understand that you may not want to lose a position, that you may have some hope that you can magically restore someone’s motivation or suddenly implant some talent, or that politics may provide the poor performer with protection.

How To Reward Team Members Or Employees Without a Budget

Many leaders would like to reward their subordinates, but don’t have a budget to do so. Liz Ryan at Forbes has some suggestions for leaders, managers and business owners in regards to rewarding employees without dipping into funds they may not have.

Allowing employees a work from home day can be a good way to reward them. If this doesn’t apply to your situation exactly, figure out how to reward your team member by allowing them to work for a day on their own scheduling or location terms.

If you have a dress code, ease up on it. It is no longer just the tech sector or other “young” businesses that have discovered that it is kind of absurd to pretend we need special clothing to get our work done in the business world. Ditch the white collars (at least on Fridays).

Find a way to give your team member a special project that suits their interest or under used skill set or find another job-related opportunity to give them.

Bring in one of the “big wigs” to have a sit down with your team and discuss the vision and future of the company and how they all fit into that picture. If you are the big wig (or not) you might consider bringing in a relevant outsider to lead your pow wow.

Take the time to write an honest and positive letter of recommendation for the team member. Talk to them about why you’d be happy to be a reference in the future, either for advancement within the organization or if they decide to move on.

The latter could be part of regularly scheduled one-on-one sessions with your teammates. Focus on the teammate’s needs and thoughts. Ask them questions. How can you help them?

Whatever you choose to do, a simple gesture highlighting the accomplishments and talents of your employees when monetary or material rewards aren’t an option is the best way to let them know they are appreciated.

Is Positive Feedback Effective, If So Why Do Leaders Avoid It?

Zenger/Folkman, leadership consultants, found that nearly 8,000 managers (or 44%) reported they “found it stressful” to give negative feedback. Z.F. also found that an entire fifth avoids it entirely. But perhaps most shocking, 40% said they never gave any positive feedback. The study concluded that a leader’s willingness to give positive feedback was the top indicator of whether their subordinates consider them effective and honest communicators.

Some research has indicated that giving positive feedback helps subordinates feel like they are learning and growing which leads to increased confidence and competence.

A Gallup survey concluded that managers who communicated their strengths to their employees found employees far more engaged in their work.

Z.F. indicated their studies found reasons for avoiding positive feedback include it being thought of as “un-macho” and a sign of weakness in male dominated industries, while others reported they feared it as being perceived as “blowing smoke”. Others simply may want to avoid familiarity with people that work for them and who they may have to fire or feel they are avoiding the roll of “judge”.

Positive feedback and constructive criticism are two leadership tools that are certainly worth the so-called risks, which are often only perceived as real risks when none exists.

Insubordination: How Do Leaders Handle It?

Most organizations and teams are not pure democracies, in the end there is someone who is in charge. More often than we like to think this person in charge is asked to discipline a peer in cases of insubordination. Though we don’t like to think about it, insubordination does happen. Whether it is just the nature of a particular team member’s personality or someone just having a moment of rebellion how does a leader deal with insubordination adult to adult?

First and foremost having a standard in place with dealing with general and/or specific types of insubordination is key. In the corporate world this often comes in the form of an employee handbook—a document like this can be invaluable even for a very small business, that may be run more casually. It is far easier to have rules in place then to try to enforce something without precedent.

Some leaders, managers and bosses will accommodate successful team members who have rebellious personalities if they are getting the job done and fundamentally respect the leader, other team members and the organization. However, leaders should know that some team members may be annoyed or resentful by the accommodation style and leaders who use this style may loose their credibility with other team members if they are too loosey-goosey.

At the other end of the spectrum there is a strict leadership style in which decorum is of the upmost importance to the leader—sometimes to the point where any questioning of the leader is considered insubordination. Team members typically know exactly where the line is when this style is employed, however leaders will loose out on honest, critical feedback and may foster an atmosphere of fear and low morale.

While both these extreme styles have potential benefits and drawbacks, staying consistent is important. Inconsistent treatment of insubordination will inevitably lead to chaos, low morale and loss of respect. Playing favorites or allowing something on Tuesday, but then not on Thursday is a quick way to lay waste to any respect or credibility a leader as earned from her team.

Some believe the best way to handle insubordination, adult to adult, in a leader-to-team-member relationship is through immediate constructive criticism. Address the behavior politely, but firmly. Be as objective as possible about the transgression. While for many this will feel like the most uncomfortable and difficult option in the short term, in the long term this style may reap the most healthy team environment.

Everyone Should Be a Leader

While we usually think of the leaders in an organization as being “at the top,” no great organization would be what it is without leaders at every level. Whether it’s a mail clerk expediting the delivery of a letter he recognizes as important or a VP going the extra mile to close the next big deal, leadership is important at all levels of an organization.

Being a leader comes down to wanting to make the world a better place, believes Helen Handfield-Jones, independent consultant on leadership and author of The War for Talent. “What does that mean? That sounds grand, but when people apply that idea to their work situations, it means having a vision of how your unit, or you as an individual, can be more effective and creative, go beyond day-to-day requirements, and energize others around that vision.”

The idea that a single, super-talented personality will guide and foster growth in an organization with out the help of others has been idealized in first-world cultures, but is not very realistic.

While it is true that such an outstanding personality can bring a lot to an organization no organization can thrive without team members from the bottom up who are willing to set the example and make it their mission to go beyond the base requirements of their office.

Why Everyone in an Enterprise Can — and Should — Be a Leader

5 Tips For Self-Improvement That Will Make Anyone a Better Person

Since we are all leaders in some small capacity, whether it is as a member of a family, a community sports team or in our career or other social relationships. Trying to improve our leadership skills will, generally speaking, make us all better people.

It only makes sense we would all want to become better people. And even if one were the type to step out of the way and let someone else lead, these skills will still make you a more valued member of any team.

Consider these five tips for how to improve your leadership skills so to become a better leader and think about ways that you can implement these strategies in your daily life at work.

1. Have a clear vision
Make it a point, in clear simple statements, what your goal is as a team. A family motto or an encouraging chant for your community softball team can be a good way to vocalize and remind each other periodically what the goal is. It is also important to explain why the goals are important and to ask for feedback. As a team member it is important to be both supportive, but critical. Actively help the team develop the vision.

2. Know and utilize your strengths and gifts.
You have unique gifts and natural leadership skills that you were born with and personal strengths you’ve developed over your lifetime. Realizing and utilizing these gifts and strengths will assist you in being a formidable leader. Make sure to ask your team members what they think there strengths are and give them opportunities to utilize their talent. As a team member, if you feel your strengths aren’t being utilized, speak up!

3. Be Passionate
Find a way to appropriately express you enthusiasm. Great leaders are not just focused on getting group members to finish tasks; they have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for the projects they work on. Let people know that you care about their progress. When one person shares something with the rest of the group, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate such contributions.

4. Live in accordance with your morals and values.
Integrity is important. Don’t ask your team members to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Be the same person in your public and private life. making choices and taking actions aligned with your morals and values helps you succeed almost effortlessly as key leadership skills. People sense integrity and will naturally respect your opinion and leadership.

5. Serve as a role model
The best leaders walk the walk and talk the talk. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors. If you want to become a better leader, work on modeling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.