Category Archives: Leadership

11 Ways To Grow In Your Leadership

Leadership is about giving to and serving others. It’s about creating an environment that enables others to reach new heights of achievement and depths of talents and skills.

And with a career devoted to giving and serving, leaders need to take in frequently as well. Like a river that feeds a valley and keeps it lush, it needs a source itself in order to continue to water the landscape.

While today’s workplace can be quite busy, finding a few regular resources for you to help grow in your influence is essential to stay sharp and refreshed.

So here are 11 ways you can keep growing in your leadership career:

  1. Reading Industry Articles. Keeping up on what’s happening in your industry is essential to understanding trends, best practices and emerging innovations. And most of the articles out there also touch ancillary industries to broaden your skills – such as SaaS development and sales, healthcare advances and regulatory issues, manufacturing and labor relations. Many great leaders are well versed in their fields and other industries as well.
  2. Podcasts. Podcasts are the fastest growing medium today, and for many reasons. The content can be consumed actively – such as in your office or driving – as well as passively, such as when doing your core work, reading or exercising. The accessibility of podcasts from a variety of platforms makes them quite possibly the best time spent in developing your leadership.
  3. Reading Books. Taking time to read good books on business or leadership can work great changes in improving your mind and leadership skills. Retention tends to be higher and you can always pause to ponder a well made thought the author poses. And reading other genres can improve and round out your conversational skills as well – such as historical books, biographies or true stories such as Into Thin Air (which I highly recommend).
  4. Audio Books. Similar to podcast, audio books give a great option for someone to consume a book when they’re otherwise not able to do so. Many people will save books they really want to deep dive into for reading, and leave the other books they want to glean from as an audiobook. Great way to get through a tough book or review a book you read and remember the key points.
  5. Apps. Smartphone apps can cover the entire scope of everything mentioned in this list. Yet beyond what you can learn from iTunes, Google Play or Audible, many apps help you with small leadership snipets like Audvisor or learning a second language like DuoLingo. Plus there are many productivity and goal planning apps that can help you plan, schedule time for personal development and take notes. Find what gaps may be in your growth path and there is surely an app to meet that need.
  6. Seminars. Attending a live seminar is probably the single most impactful thing to grow as a leader. While they can be pricey, a good leader will put a lot of effort into learning, networking and making actin plans to more than justify the cost and create a return not only for their company but for themselves as well.
  7. Networking Events. Local business meetups and industry events are just a few of the networking events you can attend and develop. While many people go to connect and widen their connections, astute leaders will learn about others and ask questions that engage in rich conversations to enable them to learn more about people, emerging trends in a variety of public and private sector areas and areas they may not be knowledgeable in.
  8. Videos. YouTube (and other platforms) is replete with great TEDTalks and videos from Simon Sinek, John Maxwell, Tony Robbins and others. If you can’t attend a seminar, webinar or want to see a particular speaker in action, consuming video content can help you know only learn, but develop your public speaking skills by watching others in action.
  9. Online Courses. Many established leaders and higher learning institutions have online classes available. Whether pursuing a higher degree, learning a new skill, or developing better personal habits or more rounded skills (like speaking, writing or ancillary industries) online courses can be a methodical way to develop some deeper and lifelong talents.
  10. Blogging. Did you know that creating content can also help you in growing and developing as a leader? The amount of knowledge one gains by researching and informing others always produces a more intimate understanding of what you’re writing about. Ask any blogger and they’ll tell you that they learn just as much from posting as does their audience from reading their blog.
  11. Podcasting. Just like blogging, creating your own podcast is a great way to grow as well. One of the unique things that podcasting can create for you is if you interview others. In preparing questions and interacting with those you have on your cast, you get the best of developing from networking, socializing and creating content all in one format. The verbal exercise also helps ingrain the practices your talking about into your psyche and creating inedible leadership impressions on you.

We wish we could do all of these techniques and more on a regular basis. But by knowing what’s available and picking the ones that are both most impactful for your growth and easiest to incorporate into your routine, you can come away with taking advantage of your precious time and the ready access of content to find the best resources for your path.

And with a career devoted to giving and serving, leaders need to take in frequently as well.

What do you use to grow your leadership? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

(image: pixabay)

The Case For A People Support System

What is a support system? And how do they apply to business?

In the technology sphere, many businesses operating today have support systems that manage the digital and telecommunications supports of its operations. These go by acronyms of BSS (Business Support System) or OSS (Operating Support System). There are also DSS (Decision Support Systems) that are computerized programs that sift through massive data and analyze it to help in decision making. These support systems keep the vitality of digital information and communication healthy and flowing in the organization.

In the wider sphere of business definition, a support system is defined as a network of good, services, resources and organizations that sustain an entity in its survival and growth. These support systems can be QA processes, efficiency studies or other procedures that check and improve the success of the company.

But when the phrase “support system” is mentioned out a the business context, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

Usually most people talk about a support system as what a person needs in order to recover from a traumatic experience or difficult situation. A person’s support system can be defined as a network of family, friends, and strangers in whom they can lean on for support in both good and challenging times.

So, what if companies made an effort to create People Support Systems in their organization? Apart from the outmoded Human Resources model, the Employee Assistance Program helpline, and other traditional programs that give mixed results, can there be a transformative focus to ensure the most precious resources any company has – its people – has a support system that genuinely meets their needs?

What if we combined the above business definition of support system with a focus on people. It would read “a network of good, services, resources and organizations that sustain an employee in their survival and growth“. If that definition could be a more focused part of the culture, companies could make a great impact on the work-life balance of their people, create deeper engagement, lower turnover, and create people who become more successful, which in turn will enable to company to become more successful as well.

Most companies do this here and there well in some aspects that were mentioned above, and in others like gym membership benefits, culture and engagement change, and unlimited vacation policies.

But many times employees need more to cope with the challenges of grwoing their careers, maintaining healthy work-life balance and coping with the challenges of life that collide in either their homes, work, or both.

Knowing today’s employees’ needs for life coping skills, mental health, professional development and non-bias in the workplace and making no excuses for meeting them will be the measure of successful businesses in the not too distant future.

Here’s what a few companies are trying to do to create these types of focused people support systems.

Starbucks announced last month that it was extending its employee mental health benefits to help meet a growing – and oftentimes ignored – need that Justworks has identified that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. workplace suffer from. This is a huge step to provide a deeper support system to help employees gain better success in their lives, which will then impact their work performance.

15Five is an organization gaining recognition in creating more positive employee engagement process focusing on positive psychology, employee centric check-ins and supports that are geared towards their success, not just a metric or a subjective feeling of performance. These 1-to-1’s are designed to help companies meet employee needs first through a support systems based on psychological science and best practices of organizations that are noted for proper development of their people.

Grocery retailer Nugget Market and major retailer The Container Store offer 143 hours and 263 hours of continued training for full-time employees annually, substantially more that any of their competitors or the industry average, This results in lower turnover but most importantly, a higher rate of promotion and engagement because their people’s needs are met by investing the time that their people need and creating a system to support their growth.

Tata Teleservices Limited has brought a variety of family counseling benefits to their people to help them with the challenges of life outside of work.

Starbucks (again!) and other companies are helping employees who may be academically ineligible to attend college with programs that allow them another chance to qualify for post-secondary education.

PwC assists it’s employees in helping them pay down their student loan debt.

Penguin Random House has created a program for their employees and other companies to order and download thousands of free books and participate in book clubs with their colleagues to discuss business, team building or professional growth.

These are wonderful examples of the burgeoning People Support Systems that companies recognize are the greatest need in creating best in class workplace cultures.

Can there be a transformative focus to ensure the most precious resources any company has – its people – has a support system that genuinely meets their needs?

What sets these companies apart is their recognition that they need to do something more to support their employees. In a world where companies still work their people six or seven days, long hours connected to their emails/phones and doing more with less, employees are seeking for more support to cope with these issues. These companies, and the leaders who run them, know that the best thing to do is to put their employees first by creating better support systems for their people.

People support systems should be the foundation and framework of every company. While the race for talent continues, employees are looking out for businesses that are looking out for the employees themselves as individuals.

(image: pixabay)

Make Meetings Matter

“Meetings, bloody meetings”.

John Cleese parodied the typical meeting structure many years ago. And that same dread of meetings still holds on today, over 20 years later.

Many companies, such as 3M, create a culture of productive meetings. Others such as OneMonth, reduce meetings by having them only on certain days, and very few at that. While these strategies are helpful, there is still a gap in many companies as to how they hold truly effective meetings. Most meeting outlines don’t prepare for what you could call a different approach to great meetings:

Make Meetings Matter

Meetings matter for many bosses. They create a framework and summarize actions for the staff (their new “to do list”) and then close the meeting. What should be a team building opportunity becomes a monologue of staff being told what they’re doing wrong or what they should be doing more of. This results in a one-sided drill-down that leaves staff burdened and further drives a divide between leadership and their people.

But do meetings matter for your people? Do they learn, get valued information, and feel as part of a team? Do they regret going to your meetings with the takeaway that nothing changes or it was a complete waste of their time?

Your employees count on you to value their time, and know that they matter to you. With that premise in mind, and yo get meetings to matter more to your people, consider these strategies to build your teams and culture:

  • Talk with your people, not to or at them. Build two-way dialogues and meeting structures that allows everyone an opportunity to talk. Studies show that having conversations with your employees is far more effective than a lecturing style.
  • Get their input ahead of time for agenda and hot topic items. Many times meetings are used to bring everyone up to speed on policies, new events, and other items that the managers’ feel need to be addressed. However, employees may have other pressing topics that need addressing that the leader does not notice. Get their input and commit to reviewing those items.
  • Build connection and trust and commitment. If you fail to enhance the relationship you have with your team during a meeting, then you have squandered a great opportunity. Meetings, done right, can be a fantastic outlet for people to let their guard down and show their concerns. Building these connections takes setting your agenda aside and working towards the best interest of your people. Find genuine ways such as icebreakers, break times, and casual conversations to get to know, truly know, who your people are.
  • Infuse missions, values, and cultures that shape the workplace. This focus should be the core of every meeting (and every day-to-day interaction) you facilitate. A meeting without your core mission to anchor is gives the leeway for drift of culture down the road. Shore up your values each meeting and work ways to repeat them throughout to ingrain them into your team’s cultural psyche.
  • Structure the speaker(s) more intimately. Some of the best meetings and classrooms I’ve seen are where the presenters walk around the entire room and every aisle. They meet everyone close and engage in meaningful eye contact and dialogue. Arrange the room in such ways to allow (or even make) whoever is speaking roam or even be in the middle of the group and be accessible. This type of approach not only transcends physical barriers but also roles and positions and makes for more comfort and personal interaction.
  • Develop ways for others to present, teach, debate, or train during the meeting. As a leader, you should make the meeting about your most precious resource – your people. In so doing, get them involved more and more in every aspect of planning, facilitating, and presenting topics or speaking. When your team feels that they are truly part of the meeting process, they will walk away with a greater satisfaction of the meeting’s usefulness and solicit their buy-in more readily.

Make your meetings matter the most to your people. An effective environment means an effective use of everyone’s time and effective results because of how you make the meeting matter to your people – by making it theirs.

(image: pixabay)

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