When Distractions Are a Good Thing

When we speak about success, leadership, the workplace and other goal oriented parts of our lives we typically think of distractions as bad. How to avoid all those things that lead our attention away from responsibility and personal betterment have been a large part of the conversation of success. But what if distractions weren’t all bad—which seems to be the popular narrative about distractions in America.

According to an article in Psychology Today distractions can very much be a good thing in many situations. The article suggests that 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. The 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. How can we tell the difference? Dr. Jane MacGonigal has written extensively on the subject of distraction and she suggests that we simply ask ourselves whether we are using the object of distraction as an escape from our lives or are we using it to enhance our lives?

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.

PsychologyToday.com

How to Act Like a Leader When You Aren’t in Charge

When traveling the road of life, we won’t always be the one in charge or be put into a labeled leadership role; however, that doesn’t mean that exemplifying leadership qualities isn’t important. So, how can one act like a leader when they aren’t leading?

First always be a clear communicator. Leaders don’t talk behind people’s backs, they don’t complain behind closed doors. They never say yes when they mean no. Leaders speak what they believe and they stick to their guns, unless presented with good reasons to change their outlook. Good leaders are always flexible as well. Teams function best when everyone is giving an opportunity to be a specialist. Let the other team members shine when it comes to what they are best at. Weigh your teammate’s abilities and perspectives equally.

Another two-sided coin of demonstrating your leader-like qualities is to not let people walk all over you. Make your voice heard. Don’t be afraid to help someone, but don’t let them take advantage of you either. The best leaders bring others with them on their ride towards success—this is how success works share it, but take your credit when it’s due. Likewise, if something is your mistake, don’t be afraid to own! If you are under a good leader, they will understand, and the team will be there to help make the best of the situation. When you are acting like a leader, a mistake must be owned by the person who made it, but the team will want to help them.

Finally, don’t put up with bullies—whether it is someone trying to dominate a conversation or marginalize a co-worker, stand up for what is right. You’ll be surprised how quickly most people are to rally behind the morally-upstanding person who speaks out first.

5 Questions Good Leaders Ask

What can you control?
This question shifts the focus from focusing on that which is beyond the protégé’s control and onto what someone can actually do about the situation the find themselves stuck in. One might not be able to change an unfair policy immediately, but they may be able to find short-term answers to help themselves deal with it while they work on longer-term solutions.

What obstacles are facing you?
Protégés may be not want to share the challenges they find troubling, or may not have really thought them through. Asking about them directly allows the mentor to explore the challenges with which the protégé is struggling, and discuss the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in addressing them.

In three to five years how do you want to change?
Since the business world changes at such a fast pace today, focusing on a shorter window still allows enough time for creative, aspirational thinking without the distraction of how different the workplace might be at that time. The answers may reveal how the protégé wants to grow, or fundamental changes they need to make to achieve their goals.

What is the outcome you want?
If the protégé is facing a complicated situation, that is often the best question you can ask to help them lift their head up and start to look at the situation from an entirely new angle.

What does success look like to you?
Asking what success looks like can refer to long-term goals and planning. However, when applied to a specific situation, it can help determine what the immediate priorities are for a project or situation.

How to Be Viewed as a Leader

How do emerging leaders become viewed as such by their peers and superiors? What does it take to be considered an emerging leader? What are these people doing that sets them apart, not just in the eyes of their superiors, but also their peers?

It isn’t about being a yes-person or company person or a thankless workhorse. It is about influence. It’s about doing things that make people feel good about the work when you are on the team. They should choose to follow you, your advice and suggestions when offered. Better yet, become the kind of person from whom people seek suggestions and advice.

Influential employees identify problems, take them to people in power, offer practical, thoughtful solutions, note their own role in whatever mess needs mending, and offer to take part in the repair work they suggest. Telling your bosses that all’s not well can be risky when done wrong, but rewarding when you prove yourself to be the “loyal opposition.”

If you’re seen as operating from a small silo while ignoring the organization’s big picture, you won’t be taken seriously. At the same time, if you’re not interested in learning new skills as your business evolves or keeping updated on industry developments, your colleagues won’t count on you to do more than stagnate in the status quo while others lead change.

Finally, people who automatically look for ways to help others tend to do well at work, unless they are so self-sacrificing that they’re taken advantage of and fail to effectively manage their own time and workload.

These principles can be applied to our work inside all kinds of organizations like NPOs and community projects, not just at work.

Source:
https://www.poynter.org/news/four-ways-be-seen-leader-even-when-youre-not-charge

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.