Tag Archives: leadership

The 2 Keys To Success In Leadership

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I am working towards my next promotion at work. In preparation for this, I’ve been spending time going through mock interviews. Recently, one interviewer gave me this question: “As a manager, it is often said that you can influence 10% of change. Where would you focus this effort to get your maximum impact?”

So…where would you focus? Whether you’re looking at being a retail manager or coach or entreprenaur or whatever… where would you focus?

My mind raced at the sound of this question… there are so many things that are important to a business! I could respond with visual merchandizing, progressiveness/change management, forecasting, marketing… so many hugely important things… but I stepped back for a second and listened to my gut…” people.”

The most important step in leadership is investing in your people. You are only as good as your people. As a leader, your success needs to be measured by the success of your people. Being an advocate, a developer, a teacher, a friend, a coach, and a motivator – these are contagious behaviors that create a culture of success in any leadership position – and it is perpetuating. People helping people (cheesy youtube video – beware!).

The other key to success as a leader is having a growth mindset. This includes believing that people can becoming better, more, stronger, and that people have a limitless capacity. Even if people struggle with growing – this will set you up for the best way to invest in those around you as well as yourself. Think about athletes: Athletes are always training to improve. They do not simply tell themselves “my muscles simply cannot get stronger.” That fixed mindset is so limited. They continue to strive for betterness. 

So, fellow leaders: Strive for more, invest in your people, and believe in those around you. Grow your people, be an advocate, and be good to everyone around you. And have fun doing it! Everything else can come out of these two qualities. Lives are being changed and you’re driving your metrics and success simultaneously. People helping people.

 

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Stop Complaining and Go Make Something Of Yourself

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A month ago, a friend of mine (we’ll call her “Fran”) mentioned how she “has not been given an opportunity to grow” in her current role. Fran has been working in a small company role in sales for awhile and has seen other people chosen over her for the next role up. Fran confessed to me that she has “waited and waited and waited” for a superior to pluck her from obscurity and to commend her on being a “steady contributor” to her company. Fran is still in her role and isn’t going to leave that company just yet – but she feels frustrated.

Fran made me feel frustrated.

The world does not promote people who are “good.” How many baseball teams win world championships with players that are “good?” Likewise, how many AAA (minor league) ball players complain they’ve never been given a chance? Trust me…if someone is hits 50 homeruns for a minor league team in one year, it will be awfully hard for a team in the big leagues to not love the idea of having them on their team.

Don’t wait for your “opportunity” or for someone to “give you a chance.” It just doesn’t happen that often.

Instead, you determine your destiny. You are in charge of where you go in life, be it with a job, sports, social situations, whatever. If you are a leader, LEAD! Take control of your situation and earn your reward. Make yourself an unstoppable and amazing force that a higher-up in a company cannot help but lavish further responsility upon. Don’t aspire to be “good enough” – aspire to be the most amazing whatever in the world.

Our biggest blockade in growing or being successful is apprehension towards harnessing our potential.

If you want something, go get it. Don’t you dare give up until you’ve made it…. and when you get whatever you’re working towards, remember what happened and how amazing you proved yourself to be during that process…and how much more amazing you will continue to be as you grow.

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5 Questions with Hsuanwei Fan

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Hsuanwei Fan

Name: Hsuanwei Fan

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Occupation: Teach For America Corps Member assigned to the Los Angeles School District

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

I think the best kind of motivation I’ve received from a leader is seeing them lead by example. It is one thing to try to lecture a team to victory and a whole different story with the one in charge LEADING the charge. I like seeing my leaders in action because then their passion for the cause becomes evident, and it is a good way for them to also display their expertise at whatever you’re trying to accomplish, which wins me and my loyalty and respect over a hundredfold over just words that were meant to be inspiring.
2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I think the worst kind of example a leader could set is a display of incompetence. It is important for leaders to continue to educate themselves and sharpen their skills so that in the end, they are not only seen as someone who delegates responsibilities and sit back. Another trait that makes it difficult for me to respect a leader is when they are extremely closed-minded. A good leader is able to take and value input from different people, regardless of whether there is an impressive title or credentials by their name. I value leaders who can take constructive criticism and occasionally change their mind for the benefit of the cause or project that the team is hoping to accomplish.

3.What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?
I think I may have touched upon this quite a bit in the past two responses, but another characteristic that impresses me in an effective leader is the ability to be versatile and resilient. A leader who can quickly adapt to drastically changing situations calmly and without panic helps the team remain focused on solutions rather than uncertainty. In the face of a setback or disappointment, a leader who is able to remain optimistic and reassuring can inspire hope, which is much more preferred compared to the alternative.

4. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

I think the best kind of motivation I’ve received from a leader is seeing them lead by example. It is one thing to try to lecture a team to victory and a whole different story with the one in charge LEADING the charge. I like seeing my leaders in action because then their passion for the cause becomes evident, and it is a good way for them to also display their expertise at whatever you’re trying to accomplish, which wins me and my loyalty and respect over a hundredfold over just words that were meant to be inspiring.

5. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I think the worst kind of example a leader could set is a display of incompetence. It is important for leaders to continue to educate themselves and sharpen their skills so that in the end, they are not only seen as someone who delegates responsibilities and sit back. Another trait that makes it difficult for me to respect a leader is when they are extremely closed-minded. A good leader is able to take and value input from different people, regardless of whether there is an impressive title or credentials by their name. I value leaders who can take constructive criticism and occasionally change their mind for the benefit of the cause or project that the team is hoping to accomplish.

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Stop! Look! Listen!

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I recently switched departments at work. This is a common thing in our company and facilitates personal and professional development for leaders, as well as simply changing up the leadership voice for each department.

Receiving a new assignment as a leader comes with a responsibility to NOT act. As leaders, we are wired to act, act, act, and create change around us constantly. We want to develop and evolve our tasks at hand. However, we need to also remember to stop, look, and listen to those around us. If I were to come into this new challenge and change stuff up immediately – even if it made perfect sense – I would absolutely isolate my employees and miss out on their valuable input and insights.

As leaders, we need to slow down sometimes.

We need to earn the respect our employees, followers, and peers.

By stopping, looking, and listening, we will achieve success.

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5 Questions With Mark Keating

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Mark Keating

Mark Keating

Singer Songwriter (TMG)

Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

The sense of motivation came through a couple different ways. There was the opportunity aspect and the prospect of a challenge. The best example of this that I can think would be a situation with a band I used to play with. I started acting with them when I was 17 and the more opportunity I was given to do different songs the more I rose to the challenge and grew as a musician.

When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

The circumstance in which there was a lack of motivation came from a different boss, one that I also no longer work for. The obvious displays of favoritism and being passed on for opportunities for advancement played a key role in that. Self-motivation can only get you so far when a manager creates an environment without incentive. You don’t motivate the worker who is being treated less favorably because their efforts reap no fruit and it spoils the others into not striving for anything.

What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

I look for honesty in a leader. If a manager or boss can’t look honestly at a situation and make the best decision based on facts instead of opinion or favorable feelings then the company or group will suffer. This includes being able to honestly discern the employees’ skills and capabilities.

When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

I go into any sort of leadership position, however big or small, with the same attitude. Treat an employee or a student with a sense of respect. Actually expect something of them but give them the tools and opportunities to do succeed. I have done that with music lessons with my students by having shows in which they can demonstrate what they’ve learned and feel proud of it. I’ve done in more normal job settings by training people then letting them do it. I don’t constantly hover over them waiting for a mistake. If a mistake is made I offer help but allow them to try and remedy the situation themselves.

What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

My piece of advice would have to be warning against the destruction of micro managing. No employee exceeds expectation while being micromanaged. No employee grows as a leader themselves if they are not delegated some responsibility. You end up with a team of well-trained yes men and that does not for a good company make.

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How to Be A Not-PO’d-Leader

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Leaders have egos and therefore have some awesome emotions. Sometimes these emotions are positive but sometimes they can be negative. As you can imagine, leaders need to keep these emotions in check.

Daniel Goleman recently wrote an article about how to do this. I recommend giving this a read:

Emotional hijacks – this priming, this mechanism, which is usually so positive in evolution – can take us over. During these hijacks we can become very angry. When the dust settles we often think, “Oh, why did I say that?”

I spoke with Paul Ekman for my Wired to Connect CD Knowing our Emotions, Improving Our World, about how to identify emotional triggers. One of his recommendations: simply keep a record of your hijacked moments. Here’s what he had to say.

You know I have ambivalent feelings about the term hijack because in some sense it absolves us of responsibility. If someone hijacks us, “Well, it’s not my fault.” Okay, but it is. It is our responsibility to learn to become emotionally intelligent. These are skills, they’re not easy, nature didn’t give them to us – we have to learn them.

I recommend in my book Emotions Revealed that people keep a log of regrettable angry episodes. Write down just what it was about, how it happened, what set you off, and what did you do that you think you shouldn’t have done.

After you’ve got 30 or 40 of them, try to see the commonality in the triggers and responses. You’ll usually find a particular script that underlies what’s causing you to have a particular perception on certain situations, to cast people into roles that they really aren’t in, and to try to replay a plot that doesn’t really fit.”

How do you recognize and manage triggers? Share your advice in the comments below.

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5 Questions with Matt Wheat

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Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. This week we meet Matt Wheat.

Name: Matt Wheat

Position: Retail Store Manager

Place: Oxnard, CA

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

The leaders who have most influenced me have done so by building on a foundation of personal investment.  Whether it was a challenge, recognition, coaching, or feedback, they engaged me on a personal level. Their emotional intelligence allowed them to select the right tonality and language that most resonated with me.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

I find micro-management intolerable.  It is the absence of empowerment and trust.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

The ability to connect with a diverse population while remaining transparently true to themselves.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

It is my intention to motivate by creating an environment where the innate skills and strengths of an individual are allowed/encouraged to flourish on a daily basis.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Bob Dylan said you gotta serve somebody. I would challenge any leader to keep asking who they are serving.

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