Company culture can make or break an organization’s success. Leaders have a direct responsibility for establishing and maintaining a work culture that allows employees to thrive. Although there are no one-size-fits-all cultures, there are fundamental leadership values that foster positive work cultures. These core values include being firm, fair, and consistent when leading.
A firm leader establishes rules, policies, and protocols and holds team members accountable for abiding by them. Being firm requires balance—leaders do not want to be perceived as being mean or unreasonable. However, laissez faire leadership is rarely successful either. A firm leader says what they mean and means what they say. If there is a late policy, it is enforced. If there is a time off policy, it is enforced. Team members are held responsible for meeting performance expectations. Ultimately, team members view firm leaders as confident, strong, and trustworthy. The culture of an organization is strong when everyone is expected to perform their role.
A fair leader treats team members in an equitable manner. Many have experienced what it is like to work with a leader who plays favorites—it can be discouraging if an employee is not a favorite and does not receive the perks or allowances that others receive. Unfairness manifests in the workplace as favoritism and nepotism and can even be the result of prejudice, stereotypes, and bias. A leader should strive to treat all team members in a fair manner and be conscious of how interactions with team members can be perceived by others.
A consistent leader behaves in a manner that provides structure and predictability to the workplace. A leader should enforce policies consistently, communicate on a regular cadence, and be present and visible in a consistent manner. Being consistent does not mean that a leader cannot be spontaneous or surprise team members; consistency means that the basic aspects of the organization and of job functions are understood and applied all the time and with predictability.
Firm, fair, and consistent leaders instill confidence in their team members and set them up for success. Employees who feel like they are treated fairly and are valued will always do more than what is expected. Employees who do not have to worry about the “what ifs” of day-to-day operations can focus their energy on work performance.
Being a firm, fair, and consistent leader requires that the right policies and procedures be in place. It also requires a leader to be confident and comfortable holding team members accountable and having critical conversations. If you would like assistance or support in any of these areas, I am here to help! Contact me for a free consultation today!
It is inevitable that we will experience crisis, whether personally, in our business, in our nation, or even globally. This year seems to be filled with one crisis after another and people look to leaders for direction. As a leader, your actions during times of crisis have significant impact on those you lead and are evidence of your efficacy as a leader. Demonstrate your leadership during times of crisis by heeding these five areas:
If you would like support while leading or aspire to be a leader, contact Amber E. Williams today!
What is not addressed will continue.
I have heard many leaders at different leadership levels in different organizations complain. Behind closed doors, leaders who are dissatisfied with the performance of their team spend a lot of time complaining and gossiping about people in the organization. The problem is that these types of leaders spend more time complaining about the problem than searching for a solution. They return to their workplace hoping that something may be different, but change is not magical; change is the result of deliberately identifying a problem and addressing it with a solution-oriented mindset and an action plan. Problems that are not addressed will continue.
People do not change things they do not see as a problem.
Leaders are often in their position because they are visionaries. They are big picture people. It may even be hard for them to accept that many on their team do not have that vision. Team members may not see the ripple affect of their behavior and performance on the rest of the team, the rest of the organization, or the people that the organization serves. As a result, leaders have the responsibility to address problems that they identify because the employees who are committing the offenses may not be aware that their behavior or performance is not acceptable. An employee who is a drain to the company culture probably does not believe that about themselves. A person will not work to fix something that they have never seen as broken. It is the leader’s responsibility to call attention to the behaviors that do not meet their standards of practice.
Why do we avoid critical conversations?
There are many reasons why leaders avoid critical conversations. Some leaders like to avoid conflict. They may desire to preserve the false sense of calm and collegiality that is in their team. This is fallible thinking because unchecked team member behaviors erode positive company culture. Other leaders are fearful of losing team members. They believe that everyone they confront will resign and they will be stuck trying to fill vacant positions. This is fallible thinking because a leader should not want that kind of person on the team anyway. Lastly, some leaders just want to be liked. They are fearful that they will lose the favor of their team if they must chastise or reprimand. This is fallible thinking because most team members desire to be properly led. When a performing team member observes another team member’s poor behavior go unchecked, it is demotivating and perpetuates doubt in the leader’s ability to lead.
How do you have a critical conversation?
A critical conversation does not have to be confrontational, but it should be direct. These conversations should be held face-to-face, if possible. A colleague once told me, if an email draft reaches a third paragraph, it means a conversation should be had instead. Critical conversations should not be conducted via email. Also, these conversations should be planned and scheduled in advance. This ensures that interruptions and distractions are limited, and the other party recognizes the seriousness of the conversation to be had.
In traditional feedback sessions, we are often encouraged to temper constructive feedback with positive feedback. This is not necessarily the case in critical conversations. You do not want your message to be lost or watered down by positive praise that may be irrelevant to the subject at hand. You must be direct without being severe, but you cannot waver in your expression of your standards and expectations.
During critical conversations, it is important to reference previously conveyed rules, policies, procedures, and expectations if possible. Feelings and emotions can be argued, standards of practice cannot. In instances when the unacceptable behavior is more subjective, such as negative attitudes, try to identify specific behaviors that reflect the negative attitude and refer to concrete examples of how the unacceptable behavior impacts others or the organization.
What is the result of the critical conversation?
The ideal result of a critical conversation is changed behavior. In a perfect scenario, the other party realizes the gravity of their behavior and immediately works to correct it. Alternatively, the other party may not agree about the views of their behavior or performance, but they recognize that their leader does not approve so they will conform. Conversely, a person may rebel, lash out, or leave. As a leader, you must be okay with someone’s disgruntled exit. What that means is that they are not responsive to leadership, do not demonstrate a growth mindset, and cannot conform to the norms and standards set by your organization. Ultimately, that person is not an asset to your team, no matter how talented they may be.
If you would like coaching in critical conversations, I would be happy to help! Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!
The word toxic is used frequently to describe behaviors, relationships, and environments, but what does it mean? The word toxic literally means poisonous, but when used in this way, it refers to the undesirable, destructive, and detrimental characteristics of something that drain and damage those that encounter it. How do you know if you work in a toxic environment? Here are a few indicators:
Workplace culture is the leader’s responsibility. A leader has the choice to create the workplace culture or accept and perpetuate a culture that develops on its own. If a toxic work environment exists, then the leader either created that culture through their behavior or allowed other employees to create the toxic culture. In either scenario, the leader has failed, and their team suffers.
If you are a leader that recognizes that your workplace culture is toxic, it is important that you become the catalyst for change. Addressing your own toxic leadership traits is the first step to shifting the culture. Set the example by cultivating authentic relationships with all employees on your team, not just a select few. Actively seek to collaborate and receive feedback from subordinates. Communicate positively and welcome new ideas. Effective, sustainable change begins with the leader!
If you are a leader and would like coaching and support to change your organizational culture, I would be happy to assist! Contact me today!
Many of us have been there. Your supervisor is breathing down your neck and monitoring your every move. You can’t make a move without checking in first, you have to justify every decision, and every moment of your day has to be reported. You feel like you are being smothered, your creativity is stifled, and you are sure that you are being micromanaged. What can you do?
When we are being micromanaged by a leader, it is not uncommon to begin to wonder if your leader doubts your ability to fulfill your role. You may begin to feel undervalued or simply fed up and frustrated that you are not given the space to do your job. Before you quit or have a confrontation with your supervisor, consider the following steps:
Use this opportunity to build rapport with your supervisor and to demonstrate professionalism. No one appreciates being micromanaged so as you move up in leadership, remember to offer the same freedom to your team that you need to get the job done.
Disappointment occurs when reality doesn’t meet expectations. Perhaps a family member, friend, or colleague did not behave the way they were expected. Maybe money did not arrive when it was supposed to. Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion that you went after. Maybe your team fell short of a performance goal. Perhaps your marketing campaign did not generate new customers. The list could go on and on. Disappointments can happen anytime and they can happen often. How do you deal with disappointment so that you do not become discouraged or give up? Here are a few ways you can deal with the disappointment in your life:
Leadership is a complex job description. There are varying definitions for leadership in research, yet every so often, leaders come along that defy the current definitions and add more dynamics to the accepted notions of leadership. Leaders find themselves defined by their success or failures. Success can bring life-long accolades while failures can end careers. There are many perspectives about what makes a good leader and a general idea about what makes a bad leader. Fortunately for bad leaders, there are strategies that they can use to become better leaders.
Characteristics of a Good Leader
In order to know what makes a good leader, it is helpful to understand what the leadership job description is. While many job descriptions refer to leadership abilities or leadership qualities, those are rarely defined. Mike Myatt defines leadership as:
The professed desire and commitment to serve others by subordinating personal interests to the needs of those being led through effectively demonstrating the character, experience, humility, wisdom and discernment necessary to create the trust [&] influence to cause the right things, to happen for the right reasons, at the right times (2012).
In light of that definition, Myatt also goes on to state, “there is no perfect leader; only the right leader for a given situation (2012). However, most researchers and writers agree on similar qualities that good leaders possess.
Characteristics of a Bad Leader
Just as there are good leaders, conversely, there are bad ones. Bad leaders are leaders who have failed or leaders who have succeeded but their methods were questionable. Failure is viewed in a variety of ways depending on the various industries, organizations, and results; however, there have been many prominent leadership failures over time. Most failed leaders have characteristics in common. These characteristics include feeling invincible, being paralyzed by fear, failing to grow, not being passionate, failing to dream, feeling entitled, and having a sense of victimization. On the other hand, other leaders have failed by gaining success at the expense of others. These leaders may have done things that are illegal, made decisions that were unethical, utilized unsound methodology, or settled for strategies that were not innovative.
How to Become a Better Leader
There is hope for leaders who do not start off great. Fortunately, there are strategies that they can implement to improve their performance as leaders. This includes:
Would you like to improve your leadership skills? Schedule a free consultation today!
There’s a saying that all good things must come to an end. There is some truth to this, even when it comes to our mentoring relationships. Despite how beneficial your mentoring relationship has been or how close you have grown to your mentor, it is inevitable that you will outgrow your mentor at some point. After all, the ultimate goal of mentorship is to grow you professionally.
How do you know it’s time to end your mentoring relationship? Here are a few signs:
The end of every quarter of the calendar year is an excellent time to reflect upon current performance. This reflection is critical in order to meet or exceed the year’s goals. When this reflection is done after the first quarter, there is still ample time to accomplish the goals that were set for the year. Here are some steps that you can use to complete the reflection process:
Step 1: Identify the goals that you set for the year. Hopefully, you set between one and three key goals for the year. These goals and their associated action plans should be guiding your actions and decisions. It is easier to track the progress of these goals if they are written as SMART goals. If you set goals but did not ensure they were written as SMART goals, tackle that first.
Step 2: Determine how much progress you should have made. Many goals are measured by where you should be at the end of the year, but what does progress look like in April? July? October? Break your overall goal into milestones for the four quarters of the year. For example, if you were aiming for increasing the dollar amount of your sales by 10% by the end of the year, you should expect to increase sales by 2-3% each quarter to meet that goal.
Step 3: Identify whether you did not meet, met, or exceeded your milestones. If you met your milestones, great job! Keep doing what you’re doing! If you did not meet your milestones, it is time to revisit your action plan. Are you doing what you said you were going to do to meet the goal? Are the action steps that you identified working? This is an opportunity to research, regroup, and reorganize your action plan. If you have exceeded your milestones, you may want to reevaluate your goal to see if you were setting the bar too low. Don’t limit yourself by your goal—you can keep pushing to the next level!
Step 4: Define next steps. At this stage, you have to decide if you need to revise your goal, revise your plan, or go back to the drawing board. You may have found that the goal that you set for the year is no longer appropriate based on newly identified needs or opportunities. For example, if you set a goal to secure a certain number of new clients, but new opportunities have enabled you to offer a greater array of services to existing clients, you may change your focus. Use discretion when changing or abandoning goals and certainly don’t give up on a goal because you didn’t make the progress that you thought you would make during a certain time period.
Goal-setting and attainment is the heart of success. Mastering this process will ensure that your business is profitable and sustainable. As you practice this process, you may find these other blog posts helpful:
How to Make Goals Stick
Bouncing Back After Defeat
If you would like support in identifying the needs for your business and how to set goals that will address those needs, contact me for a free consultation!
This article by Sarah Pritzker first appeared on Youtubetomp3shark.com.
A leader is a dealer in hope – Napoleon BonaparteWhat does it mean to be a leader? How does one become a great leader? What does it really take? These are questions that the best leaders of all time ask themselves constantly, and that’s probably part of what makes them great.
But, the recipe doesn’t end there. So much that goes into being a good leader, including constantly striving, working to improve, and most of all, always learning. There has never been a better time to be a leader than today because we’ve got thousands of resources at our fingertips, hours upon hours of inspiring talks from the best of the best, right in front of us, ready be to utilized if we dare.
If you’re ready to be the best leader you can be, check out 10 of the most inspiring and motivational TED talks on leadership today.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #1 Listen and learn from everyone around youLeadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John F. Kennedy
General Stanley McChrystal is a decorated four-star general in the United States armed forces, and in my book, those are pretty good credentials for leadership training. He gave an incredible TED talk (Stanley McChrystal: Listen, Learn Then Lead) that’s just around 15 minutes long. Yet in the video McChrystal gives over an essential value of leadership: don’t be too proud or full of yourself to learn from others because, at the end of the day, we all need one another to get through life. Short, poignant, and incredibly relevant to anyone in a leadership position. Salute.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #2 Self-leadership comes firstOne of the most important things that a leader can do is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first! – Marshall Goldsmith
Lars Sudmann gives a quick TED talk about the number one rule in leadership: self-leadership. He quickly goes through some important exercises you need to be doing constantly as a leader to ensure that you are being the best leader and that includes periodic self-character trait checks, asking self-reflecting questions, and continuous self-regulation. In short, Sudmann shows that if you really want to lead others, you have to start by leading yourself.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #3 Value each employee for what they have to contributeThe role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. – Ken Robinson
The good leader is the one that appreciates and understands the value of each employee. The obvious truth is that no great empire was built single-handedly. Instead, it’s the combined efforts of several individuals. And the great leader understands this principle, cultivates a culture in which each individual knows they have what to contribute, is given the tools and the space to make those contributions, and is appreciated for their contributions towards the finished product.
In her talk, Forgetting the Pecking Order, Margaret Heffernan contests the usual business model of competition, dog eat dog, you’ve got to step on each other to climb to the top ideology, and suggests a different type of mentality. My favorite line from the talk is this: “If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work.”. So well put, Margaret.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #4 The definition of leadership is making someone’s life betterA leader is someone who helps improve the lives of other people or improve the system they live under. – Sam Houston
This is one of the best TED talks about leadership out there because it totally turns the entire definition we’re accustomed to on its head. Drew Dudley shows us in just six minutes how each one of us can be and is a leader without even knowing it. By doing the smallest thing, we can change someone’s life, thereby becoming a leader of people.
Dudley contests the superhero image of a leader who changes the world through massive feats of strength and superhuman powers. Instead, Dudley says we change the world, we lead the world, by the small things that make an impact on a single person at a time. Watch it, you’ll be amazed.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #5 Motivate properlyEverything is hard before it is easy. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Part of the job of a leader is to motivate their people to succeed. One of the most common methods society generally uses to get people moving is incentive, whether it’s positive or negative, internal or external. But motivational speaker Dan Pink is teaching us some fascinating findings about motivation. Turns out most of the time when we use rewards to motivate people, they actually end up doing more damage than good! Listen to Dan Pink’s The Puzzle of Motivation, and learn that at the end of the day the greatest motivation is feeling like we’re doing something that matters.
There are lots of other studies and speeches on the subject including two of the best from Dan Ariely and Tony Robbins. These two really go deep explaining the motivation of people and how to work with our internal mechanisms for greater productivity and greater workplace happiness.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #6 A little encouragement goes a long wayIf you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less-than-successful, unknown or famous – is changed by it. John C. Maxwell
Simon Sinek has got a ton of great inspiration and advice for anyone who wants to be a great leader (and I highly recommend you check them all out). One of my favorite TED talks Sinek gives is the one about how leaders inspire action. In this talk, Sinek shows that your mission statement motivates, and that your “why” is more important than your “what” or “how.” Learn from the master.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #7 Lead fearlessly, love hardA true leader not only cares about their success, but the success and empowerment of others. – Warren G. Bennis
Linda Cliatt-Wayman might be the most motivational speaker on this entire list. She is a powerful, driven, and successful leader, and she is a school principal. That’s right, she is a school principal, but not just any school principal. Cliatt-Wayman goes into seriously troubled school districts and turns their situations around in incredible ways.
In her TED talk, Linda tells people that if you want to be a leader, you have to do three things: really lead, i.e., get up off your butt and do things. That includes, of course, the big jobs that nobody else can do, but even the little, menial jobs that nobody else is interested in doing. Second, don’t focus on excuses or problems, focus on solutions. And thirdly, do it with love. No matter what kind of organization you’re leading, a little concern and respect go a long way.
Also a shout out to Angela Lee Duckworth’s Key to Success? Grit speech. Check it out if you want to hear more like this.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #8 Female empowermentAnd one day she discovered that she was fierce and strong, and full of fire and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears. – Mark Anthony
In her incredibly inspiring TED talk, Sheryl Sandberg explains why there are too few women taking leadership roles. I think this is an invaluable talk that every girl needs to hear. Sandberg talks about the right self-messaging, that the workforce isn’t the right place for every woman, and that if it is, make sure to always “be at the table.” Look at and treat yourself as an equal, and others will too. Try it!
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #9 Learn how to make wavesThis is a three-minute video that shows some key points about being a good leader.
In How to Start a Movement, Derek Sivers shows the importance of nurturing your supporters and also of not being afraid to be a follower sometimes too. Seth Godin goes further into this concept with his talk about How to Get Your Ideas to Spread. In a word, it’s about being remarkable. Check it out.
Leadership TED Talk Lesson #10 Difference between success and winningWinning is fun…sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. – Pat Summitt
I’ll end off this inspirational roundup with one of the most important lessons anyone (but especially a leader) needs to understand. In a terrific talk, John Wooden explains that there is a world of difference between success and winning. Almost every time, the biggest success is putting in your effort and doing the best you can. Whether or not you win, i.e., accomplish the goal that you set out to do, is less important than what effort you put forth.
Liked what you saw? You can also check out Fields Wicker Miurin’s speech for some quick and uplifting inspiring leaders stories or Itay Talgam’s talk about using harmony to create a beautiful symphony.
The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. – Henry Kissinger
Leaders have untold potential to make significant changes, touch people, and really shape the world, but they have to be good leaders to accomplish those goals. Luckily, we have some of the most successful, powerful, and influential leaders in the world as our teachers. With technology today, we have nothing stopping us from learning these priceless leadership lessons. As Muhammad Ali said, “the only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves.”