Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Good leaders know how, when to listen

Facilitative listening is one of the most important skills that good leaders demonstrate. It shows respect and encourages communication from others.
Listening involves a set of nonverbal and verbal behaviors. Nonverbally, people feel listened to when others make respectful eye contact. Often, when we slightly lean toward the other person, have appropriate, positive facial expressions, and nod our heads, people feel that we are listening to them.
Verbally, listening behaviors include questions that clarify the statements made, comments that capture the thoughts of the other person, or comments that summarize the thoughts of the other person, or comments that summarize the thoughts of the other person.
Questions that are more open than closed-ended are also seen as enhancing dialogue. Open-ended questions tend to start with the words what, how, or when. Closed-ended questions begin with is, do, or can. Open-ended questions give the respondent more options as to how to answer the question. Closed-ended questions usually elicit shorter "yes" or "no" responses. When you combine verbal and nonverbal listening behaviors, the other person knows you are paying attention. It is virtually impossible to fake listening when you employ both verbal and nonverbal listening behaviors.

The three most important company culture metrics to track

In the day-to-day bustle of running a business, it’s easy to forget about company culture. You may even think that compared to tracking the bottom line, assessing customer satisfaction with services or products, and opening new markets, culture is pretty low on the totem pole.
If it is, you need to raise it higher. That’s because culture will ultimately define employees’ job satisfaction and productivity. How are you going to accomplish your goals without satisfied, even happy, employees who believe in the company mission, like working there and want to be successful?
First, let’s define what company culture is. You may think it’s working at that cool office downtown with a ping pong table in the basement and complimentary craft beer in an adjacent fridge. Let’s not confuse culture with perks. Culture is much deeper, and if a prospective employee doesn’t buy into it, you shouldn’t be hiring her. Culture is how you get things done, the level of openness to new ideas, the levity or seriousness of co-worker relations, the will and drive to commit to a mission. It’s a bit like that elusive thing we call “chemistry.”
Only it’s really not as elusive as you think. And it’s time to start tracking it.
1. Make sure there is real communication happening.
Do your employees feel heard? Is company leadership open to new ideas? Is it acceptable for the downline to make suggestions to the top? And conversely, is the company leadership open and honest with employees, keeping everyone in the loop? If you’re operating a business on a “need to know” basis, chances are communication is weak, and you need to reframe your approach so everyone has a place at the table and feels their contributions and ideas are of value.

10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator.
Great leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words inspire others to achieve more than they ever thought possible.
Great communicators are intentional about it, and there are 10 secrets they rely on to deliver a powerful message. Put these secrets to work in your communication and watch your influence soar.

1. They Know Their Audience

Great communicators don’t worry about sounding important, showing off their expertise, or boosting their own egos. Instead, they think about what people need to hear, and how they can deliver this message so that people will be able to hear it. This doesn’t mean that leaders tell people what they want to hear. Quite the opposite—they tell people what’s important for them to know, even if it’s bad news.

2. They Are Experts In Body Language

Great communicators are constantly tracking people’s reactions to their message. They are quick to pick up on cues like facial expressions and body language because they know this is the only feedback many people will give them. Great communicators use this expertise to tailor their message on the fly and adjust their communication style as needed.

3. They Are Honest

The best leaders know that for communication to be effective it has to be real. They can’t have people parsing every word trying to separate fact from spin. When great communicators can’t share certain information, they come right out and say it because makeshift, half-truth answers breed distrust and anxiety. In good times and bad, honesty builds trust.

4. They Are Authentic

Great communicators don’t try to be someone they’re not just because they’ve stepped behind a podium. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook to investors in a hoodie and jeans. Great leaders know that when they stay true to who they are, people gravitate to their message. They also know the opposite happens when leaders put on an act.

5. They Speak With Authority

Great communicators don’t try to cover their backs by being ambiguous, wishy-washy, or unassertive. Instead, they stick their necks out and speak very directly about how things are and how they need to be.

The Power of Mindful Leadership

From the moment you wake up, you're bombarded with distractions. Emails clog your inbox, requests pile up, and notifications flicker in the background. Within moments your attention is scattered. Given the realities of today's 24/7 world, how do great leaders slow down and focus in order to make thoughtful decisions?
Mindfulness is the practice of self-observation without judgment with a focus on our minds and inner voices. Mindful practices include daily meditation, prayer, journaling, or jogging alone. In a fast paced world, mindfulness enables you to clear your mind of clutter, focus on what is important, and be creative. Leaders like Arianna Huffington and Steve Jobs are well known for their mindfulness practices.
As our lives have become filled with technology, the distractions we face increase exponentially. With it, our ability to focus has diminished, but our need to think clearly in order to make complex decisions has not. More than ever, leaders need to train themselves to be fully present.
Becoming a mindful leader isn't easy. There are no five easy steps to do so. A few years ago when I asked the Dalai Lama how we can develop a new generation of compassionate, mindful leaders, he replied simply, "Develop a daily habit of introspection."
Today many more companies are promoting mindful practices to improve the health and decision-making of their leaders. Google, under the tutelage of Chade-Meng Tan, trains 2,000 engineers in meditation each year. When I visited Google this spring, it was evident that mindfulness is one of the key reasons behind Google's innovative and harmonious culture. Leading financial services firms like Blackrock and Goldman Sachs offer mindfulness courses for their employees. At General Mills Janice Marturano was so successful in mindfulness training that she founded the Institute for Mindful Leadership.
My Mindful Practice: Meditation 
In 1975 my wife Penny and I went to a weekend program on Transcendental Meditation. At the time I was working nonstop, coming home exhausted, and having late dinners. I even got denied for life insurance because of high blood pressure. After the training, I started meditating twice daily--not as a spiritual practice, but for health reasons. Forty years later, I still practice regularly.
Meditation is the best thing I have ever done to calm myself and separate from the 24/7, connected world. By centering into myself, I can focus my attention on the important things, develop an inner sense of well-being, and gain clarity in making decisions. My most creative ideas come from meditating, and meditation has built resilience to deal with difficult times. No doubt it has helped me become a better leader.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

7 Habits of Highly Respected Leaders

Your technical skills might get you a promotion, but it's your people skills that will earn you the respect of your employees.
A title, position, and corner office may earn them extra pay and benefits, but respect is something that does not automatically come with a leadership position. This has to be earned and is one of the most difficult entities for a leader to acquire. Respected leaders are not always liked by everyone and not always popular. A leader may be well liked as a person, yet be weak and afraid to make difficult decisions, shows favoritism to those who stroke his/her ego, and be quite ineffective.
On the other hand, there are leaders who intimidate their subordinates and use fear as a way of getting things done. Neither of these leaders will earn the respect of their employees. If we take a closer look at leaders who have walked the difficult path that have earned them respect, we will see the following traits.


Leaders should not ask others to do something that they have not done in the past nor would they be willing to do now. They lead by example and their efforts will set a standard for the rest of the organization. If they are unwilling to put in the extra time and effort into a project they expect of their staff, they will be seen as hypocrites and lose the respect of those under them. Leaders who are highly respected will put in at least as much time and effort as those they serve. Often they will lead by being the hardest working person on their team.


Respected leaders have a healthy dose of emotional intelligence and are aware of how they come across and how their work and actions impact others. They use their self-awareness in giving feedback by looking for sincere opportunities to praise the work of others. They monitor their emotions and never speak or act when highly emotional, waiting until they have regained control and have had time to think over the situation.


When they have to give negative feedback, they look for opportunities to turn this conversation into a learning and growth opportunity for the employee, rather than a form of punishment. They would rather be wrong about someone they thought had potential than miss an opportunity to bring out the best in one of their staff. Their motto is to believe in and trust those they are in charge of, until they are proven wrong.

7 Things Leaders Do to Help People Change

Ever tried to change anyone’s behavior at work? It can be extremely frustrating. So often the effort produces an opposite result: rupturing the relationship, diminishing job performance, or causing the person to dig in their heels. Still, some approaches clearly work better than others.
We reviewed a dataset of 2,852 direct reports of 559 leaders. The direct reports rated their managers on 49 behaviors and also assessed the leaders on their effectiveness at leading change – specifically, the managers’ ability to influence others to move in the direction the organization wanted to go. We then analyzed those who had the highest and lowest ratings on their ability to lead change, and compared that with the other behaviors we’d measured.
We found that some behaviors were less helpful in changing others. We found two that had little to no impact, thereby providing useful guidance on what not to do:
  • Being niceSorry, but nice guys finish last in the change game. It might be easier if all it took to bring about change was to have a warm, positive relationship with others. But that isn’t the case.
  • Giving others incessant requests, suggestions, and advice. This is commonly called nagging. For most recipients this is highly annoying and only serves to irritate them rather than change them. (This is the approach many tend to adopt first, despite its lack of success.)
We then analyzed the behaviors that did correlate with an exceptional ability to drive change. We found eight that really help other people to change. Here they are, in order from most to least important:
1. Inspiring others. There are two common approaches that most of us default to when trying to motivate others to change. Broadly, we could label them “Push” and “Pull.” Some people intuitively push others, forcefully telling them they need to change, providing frequent reminders and sometimes following these steps with a warning about consequences if they don’t change. This is the classic “hand in your back” approach to motivating change. (We noted earlier that classic “Push” doesn’t work well.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Making Teens More Mindful

It seems like mindfulness is part of the zeitgeist these days. Everyone from school children to athletes to corporate CEO’s are learning to practice mindfulness and reaping its rewards—decreased stress, increased focus and productivity, and improved interpersonal relationships, to name a few. And, as the scientific evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness continues to mount, it’s bound to become even more ubiquitous in the coming decades.
But while mindfulness programs and books have proliferated in recent years, there is still a need to reach those who stand to benefit most from mindfulness practices: teenagers. By almost any definition, adolescents suffer more than other groups from the kinds of problems that mindfulness is purported to help alleviate: emotionality, stress, lack of focus, and interpersonal conflicts.
That’s why I was happy to see a newly published mindfulness book aimed at teens: Dzung Vo’s The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time. Vo, a pediatrician who runs workshops for teens called Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents, has written a book that is simple, straightforward, and bound to appeal to teenagers.
Vo has found that many adults assume teens don’t have the interest or the attention span to practice mindfulness. But, through years of leading his workshops, Vo has learned that many teens, despite expectations, are willing to try mindfulness and often see amazing results.
“The teens I have worked with have proven to me that they really ‘get it,’ even more than many adults,” he writes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Hidden Trait Every Great Leader Shares

As a former basketball player and team captain, I’ve always enjoyed watching and learning from the game’s top players – especially those whose careers also evidence other special qualities.  And it’s hard to name many greater than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – a three-time national champion at UCLA, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and inventor of the un-guardable “skyhook” shot that ruined many a night for his opponents.
Sports Illustrated recently published an article on what the 68-year-old Hall of Famer is up to now, more than 25 years after he retired from the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s an inspiring story. Kareem always saw himself as much more than an athlete – and he’s proven it through his impressive body of work as an author, journalist and philanthropist, with a special passion for exploring the intersection of religion, politics and history.
Throughout Kareem’s evolution, there’s at least one trait that appears to have remained constant on his journey from superstar athlete to modern day intellectual. It’s a quality that’s hard to measure, and, when things are going well, it’s sometimes hard to tell who really has it. But every successful leader I’ve ever known or studied possesses it in spades: resilience. (Think Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela or Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi).
Beneath the glamorous veneer of Kareem’s very public life has run a steady stream of major challenges that could have defeated him far more easily than another basketball team. The tensions of growing up as a black man in 1960s Harlem. Chronic migraines. Impossible expectations from fans and reporters. A fire that destroyed his home. Bad investments. A battle with leukemia.
Through it all, though, he’s emerged more accomplished, more adventurous and more committed to the causes that matter most to him – a 7’2” giant who truly is larger than life.
Most of us won’t end up on the cover of Sports Illustrated, let alone win the Nobel Peace Prize or run a country. But we can embrace the inevitable challenges in our own lives and draw strength and wisdom from them, if we’re committed to cultivating resilience.
As the Center for Creative Leadership’s short book Building ResiliencyHow to Thrive in Times of Change explains, “Being resilient isn’t the same as being tough, even though dogged determination – especially the determination to learn from mistakes and successes – plays a key role. A resilient person gets that way by broadening his or her perspective, by being open to change, and by being willing to learn.” We can develop and sustain resilience if we focus on revitalizing ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally on a frequent basis. Here are three ways to get started:
1) Stretch your mind. Skills and behaviors we’ve already mastered might make us feel good about ourselves. But, as our friend Marshall Goldsmith likes to say, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” We’re all naturally oriented toward growth from the moment we’re born, and we need new challenges and the new knowledge that comes from taking them on. Resilient leaders continually ask questions that help them gain multiple perspectives and reframe challenges. The world is changing so quickly we don’t really have a choice. How can we measure success? At the end of every day, write down one thing you learned. Better yet, make it two or three.
2) Stretch your body. Kareem attributes his incredible athletic longevity – he was still playing pro ball at age 42 – to yoga. CCL faculty member Nick Petrie, who has studied resilience for years, recommends meditation as one of the very best ways to build resilience. Our research also shows a strong correlation between physical fitness and effectiveness as a leader. So pick a few favorite activities, whether it’s swimming, running, biking,  tennis, or something else that keeps your mind and body sharp, and make them part of your regular schedule. 
3) Reflect, don’t ruminate. In his white paper Wake Up!: The Surprising Truth about What Drives Stress and How Leaders Build Resilience, Nick Petrie notes the crucial difference between reflection and rumination. We absolutely must pause to take stock. All too often, though, we spend that time looking back on the past with regret or toward the future with fear. That’s rumination. Resilient leaders need to maintain their optimism even more strongly in times of adversity.  So it’s much healthier to review the past with an eye for what we did well and what we might do better next time and to make plans for the future that inspire us based on what we’ve learned from the past. That’s reflection, and it will help you develop a resilient mindset and attitude.
John Wooden, Kareem’s legendary coach at UCLA, liked to say, “If I am through learning, I am through.” Fifty years later, his advice is still paying off for his star pupil, who’s an expert at bouncing back from hardships. We can benefit, too – for the same qualities that make us resilient are also the traits that enrich our lives.
 John R. Ryan is President and CEO of the Center for Creative Leadership, a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development.

Source: Linkedin Pulse

Friday, May 8, 2015

Can self-compassion improve wellbeing in teenagers?

Two new studies investigate self-compassion in adolescents.

Teenagers today face many challenges, often including intense expectations and pressures from their parents, teachers, and friends. Sometimes, however, their harshest critics are not any of these other people, but themselves. Could self-compassion help?
Pioneering researcher Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as treating oneself with kindness and care rather than judgment, being mindful of one’s own painful feelings, and understanding one’s suffering as part of the common human condition. While many studies have found it to be associated with well-being in adults, few researchers have investigated if this is true for young people as well. Now two new studies suggest that self-critical teenagers can also benefit from a dose of self-compassion—and this might be especially true for high-school girls.
In the first study, published this year in The Journal of Positive Psychology, Karen Bluth and Priscilla Blanton surveyed students in middle and high school about their levels of positive and negative feeling, perceived stress, and life satisfaction—as well as self-compassion. Overall, they found that self-compassion was associated with higher life satisfaction and lower perceived stress and negative feeling.
Then they compared boys and girls. There were no gender differences in middle school and no differences between boys in middle school vs. high school, they found. But the high school girls were another story.
Compared to both their male counterparts and to the middle school girls, the high school girls felt significantly worse and more stressed out. They were also less satisfied with their lives and much less self-compassionate.  According to researchers, the high school girls “reported being more self-judging, feeling more isolated, and having more difficulty maintaining a balanced perspective in the midst of challenging circumstances.” This finding concurs with other research that has found higher depression rates in adolescent females compared to males as well as lower self-compassion among adult women compared to men.
Although this study couldn’t determine the causal direction of any of these relationships, the authors suggest that a program to build and develop self-compassion in younger adolescents, especially girls, could help prevent the apparent self-compassion decline. Such programs have shown promising results in adults, and could help enhance the emotional well-being of teens as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.
The second study, conducted by Sarah Marshall and colleagues, tried to address the issue of causality by seeing how both self-compassion and self-esteem might relate to well-being over time. Low self-esteem has long been associated with reduced mental health in young people, and so well-meaning adults have tried to increase it. Unfortunately, self-esteem involves comparisons to others, and recent research has found that too much can lead to narcissism and avoidance of growth opportunities.
The researchers surveyed over 2000 ninth graders in Australia, measuring their self-esteem, self-compassion, and mental health. They went back to the same students a year later, asking similar questions. While both self-esteem and self-compassion on their own were associated with improved mental health in tenth grade, the researchers found an interesting interaction: high self-compassion seemed to protect against the harmful effects of low self-esteem.
For the students with high self-esteem, self-compassion levels didn’t make much difference; they all, on average, showed improved mental health the next year. But for those with low self-esteem, low self-compassion predicted reduced mental health a year later, whereas high self-compassion protected against this drop. (Though boys did report higher mental health than girls, on average, this effect was the same across both genders.)
This result makes sense since self-compassion, unlike self-esteem, would allow the students to accept their shortcomings with kindness, rather than judging themselves or avoiding their flaws. High self-esteem can be great, but teenagers—like all of us—often encounter situations that cause them to doubt themselves. In the face of these struggles, the authors propose, self-compassion could be a key to teens’ maintaining a healthy, balanced view of themselves and their lives.
Although more research is needed, it’s clear that self-compassion shows a lot of promise as a way to help teenagers become happier and healthier. Through all the challenges they face, they may not come out on top every time—and that’s OK.

By Emily Campbell

Source: Greater Good

3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part III

In our two previous posts, we've discussed two prominent myths in today's workplace. Myth I, "Leadership is Knowledge," and Myth II, "Leadership Development Should Happen Only with the Top Leaders."

Myth #3: "Leadership Development is about Learning, Not Just Asking"

As we move into the final part of our three part series on the 3 myths of leadership development, our focus is on asking the tough questions. In many cases when building a leadership development model, it is assumed that to learn you have to listen, observe and absorb. This is only partly true -- listening is only half the battle. If the right questions are not asked, then the right information will not be offered. Asking the right questions brings up the correct information needed to build the best leadership development model for an organization. 
Rather than believing what you hear, believe in what you ask. Asking the right questions will lead you to build a Leadership Development model that considers both intellectual consideration of opportunities and challenges, as well as identify the emotional difficulties and areas of engagement employees face within an organization.
Most organizations start with the obvious questions when building their leadership development model: What is working? What is missing?
But the toughest question is frequently not asked: What is unspoken?
Unearthing the unspoken acknowledges the "hidden culture" within an organization. This is the stuff that is asked after the meeting or at the water cooler. It is how decisions are made (or not made) and the "unofficial" way to get resolution to a problem. Asking about the unspoken gives a voice to what is really happening in your organization, above the surface and below it.
Most organizations build leadership development plans around an assumed culture and forget to ask what the unspoken culture is. Failing to do this will render a leadership development model less ineffective than it could be. By openly talking about your company's unspoken culture, be sure to identify and distinguish between the "real versus ideal" cultures. Dig deep into what's unspoken in your organization and make it safe to enable change to occur, from all levels throughout. Now... go make it happen!! 
To recap on all three myths, In Part I, we looked at the myth "Leadership is Knowledge," and unveiled the truth, which involves ensuring your leadership plan provides not only an extension of knowledge, but also the opportunity to provide opportunity to practice applying new knowledge or skills acquired.
In Part II, we looked at the myth "Leadership Development Should Happen Only with the Top Leaders," and found that in order to build one's Leadership Development pipeline, it's best to involve middle management.
Lastly, in Part III, we uncovered that asking the right questions is equally important to learning, and in fact one of the key factors to ignite change in the workplace.

Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. http://www.futuresense.com. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run

Source: Huffungton Post

Friday, April 24, 2015

3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part II

This is the second part of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development series. Myth #1 - "leadership is knowledge" considered how truly effective leadership development models go beyond knowledge transfer and focus on putting that knowledge into practice. In part 2 of the 3 part series, the myth about who should engage in leadership development is explored.
Myth #2 - Leadership Development Should Only Happen with the Top Leaders
When creating a leadership development model, the executive team, or c-suite, is typically the first to engage in the process. When it comes to leadership models, the conversations, strategic planning, etc. frequently stay at the highest levels of leadership. Yet engaging the leaders in the middle level of an organization in the planning and building of a model adds tremendous insight and value. After all, mid-level leaders are the direct link to organizational success. 
The best way to understand the demands and needs of your organization is to go straight to your middle management and get their feedback. This provides benefits that are two-fold: it not only allows you to build your leadership development plan, but also creates the opportunity for extra opportunities for your high potential leaders. Conger & Fulmer of Harvard Business Review comment, "succession management must be a flexible system oriented toward developmental activities, not a rigid list of high-potential employees and the spots they might fill." When you engage your mid-level leaders in the process, the possibility of engagement and competency development in your leadership pipeline emerges.

This process should not only be an opportunity for these leaders to provide feedback, but also allow them to do some of the heavy lifting. This group can help determine the competencies needed from their leaders in order to be successful in reaching business goals and outcomes. Being pulled in two different directions (leading while being led) typically gives them a strong sense of the competencies needed from their leadership team to help meet business objectives.
When selecting the team to get feedback from, it's important to choose your star performers, in critical roles in the organization with a wide breadth of responsibility. This also builds engagement in the leadership process throughout multiple layers in the organization, and strengthens your succession planning. That is how we grow future leaders.
Instead of having the top-level execs always driving the leadership development process, strive to involve those mid-level managers. By doing so, we are creating opportunities to build a stronger and deeper model throughout the organization for leadership development. It might even spark the identification of new leaders in the organization! Chances are those star performers at the mid-level want to grow as individuals, reach organizational goals, and not to mention - move up on the leadership ladder. If they want to help be the voice and spread the word, let them. What better way to reach a broader scope of your employees than by engaging them in the leadership process?
If the long-term goal is to become a stronger organization and grow future leaders, then engaging leaders in the building of the leadership development plan should be key to not just the executives, but to those in the middle who are stars and who want a voice. Give them one!
Stay tuned for part three of the 3 Myths of Leadership Development.
Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. http://www.futuresense.com. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run

By: Jim Finkelstein & Melissa Mead

Source: Huffington Post

3 Myths of Leadership Development: Part I

All the time and money in the world doesn't necessarily buy or translate into effective leadership development. Ironically, seventy billion dollars was spent in the US and over $130 billion worldwide on corporate training (Forbes, 2014). Why spend billions of dollars and countless hours on leadership programs, when efficiency has not necessarily been proven? Much of leadership development is built on several long-standing myths.
Through a 3-part series, we will dissect three basic myths of leadership development and uncover the truths hidden behind them. These myths are: Leadership is Knowledge, Leadership Development Should Happen Only with the Top Leaders, and Leadership Development is about Learning, Not Asking.
Myth #1: "Leadership is Knowledge"
People often assume that leadership equates to knowledge. Think about how many times leaders (ourselves included) have left leadership events or programs chalked full of ideas and ready to make change, only to find things back to business as usual within a few days in the office. This is the challenge with "event-driven" leadership development programs -- the focus stays on knowledge and retaining new ideas and concepts. Sitting through a survey, or assessment, or retreat, or training session, simply absorbing information, is not what is going to make us or our learning and coaching strategies better.
To build effective leadership development programs, efforts need to shift to a leadership program or model that accounts for the intellectual knowledge base, as well as the emotional capacity and opportunity to actually make changes. It is being aware that building or altering a leadership development model takes more than just spelling it out on a piece of paper. Leaders need the opportunity to actualize what they have learned on a daily basis. With this in mind, effective leadership programs and models are built to engage the desire to change within our organizations in both thought and the opportunity to execute the ideas.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the series as we look at the Myth #2 in leadership development.
Jim Finkelstein is the President and CEO of FutureSense, Inc. http://www.futuresense.com. He is a life long student of people and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Sonoma State University in the Executive MBA program. You can follow him on Twitter @futuresense
Melissa Mead is a writer for FutureSense. You can follow her on Twitter at @mloves2run

By: Jim Finkelstein & Melissa Mead

Source: Huffington Post

3 Common Leadership Habits That Are Stifling Your Success

As an entrepreneur, you work in a high-stakes environment -- you receive all the glory when your company flies high and all the blame when it hits a patch of turbulence. This pressure to perform can lead you to develop habits that end up hurting your chances for success.
And the habits most likely to cause problems often are the very ones often associated with strong leadership.
Here, three of these deceiving habits and how you can nix them for good.

1. You know everything.

When you need to make decisions in uncertain times, the pressure to have all the answers might lead you to rely too much on history and not realize that you need a new game plan. You think you already know everything.
This tendency toward self-reliance undermines your team. When you know everything, there’s no reason to engage others in conversation. Your team members become bystanders, and that makes it harder for them to share essential information and input, much less rally around your goals.
With a know-it-all approach, you also lack the humility to change course when you’re off track. When Ron Johnson left Apple and became CEO of JCPenney, he went in with a bold and dramatic change in strategy -- exactly what the company needed.
However, his strategy was largely based on what had worked in another industry with a very different customer profile. The changes didn’t resonate with JCPenney customers, and Johnson left the company after less than 17 months as CEO. Today, JCPenney is rebounding. Had Johnson listened to more input, he might have been successful in his turnaround attempt.
People closest to the front lines often have the most valuable insights. The best way to break a command-and-control mindset is to focus less on having all the answers and more on listening to these people. You always have the final say, but your front-line workers might suggest options you'd never have considered. They'll feel much more involved in a new strategy or initiative when they are able to contribute.

2. You overvalue data in decision-making.

You can track and measure nearly everything today, so it’s tempting to want to collect every data point and to address every uncertainty before you act. But too much data can be paralyzing. And waiting until you have the perfect answer might mean missing the chance to stay ahead of a changing market.
A classic example is Blockbuster, which waited too long to address the threat of streaming video. By the time the company decided to act, it was too late. Blockbuster went from being an industry leader to a has-been, and it couldn’t recover.
Data should act as a guide -- not your only input. In addition to data, use informed intuition, insights and wise judgment. Be willing to let solutions evolve as you learn more. When you move swiftly, you can adjust your strategy as new information emerges.

3. You focus on 'wowing' more than collaboration.

I once sat through an hour-long acquisition presentation in which two senior leaders shared numerous slides and concluded with upbeat, positive music. They walked away thinking they'd nailed it.
But over time, it became clear they'd only nailed a performance and not truly engaged their audience. Employees had felt more like spectators than important contributors. They didn’t feel the company recognized or valued their involvement.
The most compelling presentations capitalize on the power of human interaction and involve the audience. Scrap the idea of a “perfect” presentation, and don’t try to perform an act. Instead, speak with your audience and promote discussion. By doing this, you’ll reap the benefits of collaboration and allow others to see how they can contribute to meaningful change.
When starting out, you might feel the urge to know all the answers, rely too heavily on data to make decisions and communicate your vision flawlessly. But these habits can lead to costly setbacks. The best entrepreneurs approach every situation with a learning mindset.
Be an incrementalist and listen. Forget the search for the perfect answer, and be comfortable with collaboration.

by Patti Johnson

Source: Entrepreneur

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Will Your Leadership Legacy Say About You?

Leadership is often messy and unpredictable. Leaders today are trying to do more with fewer resources, and in a shorter timeframe. In addition to managing limited resources, leaders are expected to build solid professional relationships, coach and mentor employees, be in tune with team morale, manage conflict, and successfully navigate corporate culture . . . and that’s just the short list of expectations.  The ways in which you handle these expectations are the daily deposits you put into your leadership legacy account.
Many leaders think that their legacy will be built much later in their career.  In reality, you start shaping your legacy the moment you assume your first management position.  Your legacy is not determined by wishful thinking. It is defined by your daily decisions, interactions with others, mistakes made, and what you learn along the way.  Thinking about how you want to be remembered as a leader in the future will help you become an even stronger leader today.
In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful PeopleStephen Covey advises us to “begin with the end in mind.”  If you want to be a respected and remembered leader, start thinking about your legacy now.  People need to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you will and won’t negotiate.  Here are a couple of tips to help you better define who you are as a leader as you begin crafting your leadership legacy.

Why The Greatest Leadership Tool You've Ever Overlooked Is Gathering Dust on Your Bookshelf

Here’s a depressing (yet unsurprising) fact: 42% of all college graduates will never read another book after graduation. Even I have contributed to this epidemic of literary abandonment, and I was an English major.
I, like many of you, fell prey to a singular focus on my professional ambition. I subconsciously began to believe that reading stories about fictional characters detracting from precious time that could be spent reading more informative books that contributed to my career.
While business books have undoubtedly enriched my professional life, it turns out I was missing out on an entire world of cognitive potential by ignoring fiction. Studies have repeatedly shown that fictional literature is an exceptional key to unlocking the minds of your peers and becoming uniquely adaptable in the face of uncertainty.
How to Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes
As of yet, human beings are incapable of experiencing another person’s life. However, brain scans reveal that reading fiction may bring us amazingly close.
Researchers at the Emory University Center for Neuropolicy found that being absorbed in a fictional novel increased connectivity in several parts of the brain, including the sensory motor region. This area enables you to exercise “embodied cognition;” in other words, to represent a physical sensation in your mind, like running. This kind of brain activity suggests “that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” explained principal researcher Gregory Burns.
So what is the benefit of physically feeling the experience of a fictional protagonist?
It turns out this “extreme empathy”—the ability to not only care about your characters but to literally feel their pain or pleasure—actually translates into higher aptitude for recognizing the motivations of others in the real world.
Courtesy of National Media Museum of UK
Courtesy of National Media Museum of UK

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Business Impact of Authentic Leadership

Workplace diversity is a top goal for companies of all sizes today. Research shows that enterprises which include people of both genders and of multiple generations, cultures and physical abilities increase their productivity, improve the effectiveness of their employee teams and better their bottom line. A more diverse workforce clearly equals rewards.
At the level of the individual, however, less is more. Rather than trying to be "all things" to their employers, people perform better and are more engaged when they focus on being their singular, authentic selves.
When companies also encourage and reward this kind of authenticity and genuineness among their leaders, these leaders, in turn, are more likely to create real value for the organization.
So, how does authenticity support a business? When people feel free to be who and what they are -- both privately and publicly -- they have more energy to create and innovate. Authentic workers are more likely to bring their whole selves to the job, engage with the company’s goals and participate fully in the mission of the enterprise.
These same employees also recognize and are attracted to authentic leaders, and follow them with greater dedication -- leading to stronger teams and enhanced business performance.

Monday, April 20, 2015

We need more than women in leadership, we need cultural diversity

We asked a number of leading women who are speaking at the upcoming She Leads conference what they'd like younger women to know about navigating the career in front of them. Below, DAWN CEO and founder Dai Le shares her advice. 
How do we define leadership? What does it look like? What does it take to lead?  And for a woman like myself, that is, of non-Anglo Saxon background, (a double whammy as it has been described) what opportunities are there for us to lead? And should the opportunity presents itself, what barriers will there be that could stop us succeeding?
My foray into the political arena in 2008 educated me a lot about ‘leadership’, especially in politics. The characteristics I would normally associate with those in leadership positions  -- such as “treating others how you would like to be treated” “take risks”, be responsible for one’s own actions, be open to ideas with those you work with, be humble, have integrity, be mindful, be strong, and lead with the greater good of society in mind – are not all that common in the political arena.
Why are such leadership traits lacking in politics? I believe that this is probably due to the lack of diversity – gender and cultural – in the key leadership positions of our political system.
Leadership is male dominated across all aspects of life. And it is dominated by Anglo Saxon men. I am not saying that that is wrong or right.  It’s just plain fact. It’s how our society is structured. How can we then transform these institutionalised structures?  What conversations do we need to have to begin the shift?

Research: 10 Traits of Innovative Leaders

Many organizations would like their leaders to create more innovative teams. But how exactly should they do this? If you ask highly innovative leaders what makes them effective you are apt to hear, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it.” Or they will make something up that sounds compelling. But the fact of the matter is that people who excel at something aren’t usually very good at pinpointing exactly what accounts for their skill.
So to find out more, we conducted our own study. We began by collaborating with a respected organization in the telecommunications industry whose leaders scored well above average on most managerial competencies. We identified 33 individuals who scored at or above the 99th percentile on innovation, as measured by their peers, subordinates, and bosses in a comprehensive 360-degree feedback survey.  We believed these closest colleagues would have the most accurate view of what made this group of leaders stand out from the pack in this large organization.
Then we interviewed each leader by phone, together with the leader’s boss and a number of direct reports and peers, to ask for concrete examples of what the leader did that caused him or her to be perceived as highly innovative. The colleagues were also asked how this leader differed from other leaders they’d served.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Creating a Company Culture Where Employees Never Leave

According to a recent report released by the Labor Department, there were 5 million job openings on the last business day of January. This was the highest levels of job openings in the U.S. since 2001. It also found 4.8 million American workers left their jobs in January. This was a result of either voluntarily leaving or being laid off or terminated. Both of these stats indicate that the economy is doing pretty well, as long as the departures aren’t mainly from layoffs.
While this report may sound promising for businesses, having a high turnover rate as a result of employees quitting isn’t exactly a great scenario for a business. As The Wall Street Journal notes:
“High employee turnover hurts a company’s bottom line. Experts estimate it costs upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. And churn can damage morale among remaining employees.”
So, how can you ensure that your employees won’t leave you for someone else? I've found that it's all about company culture. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to create a culture where employees will stick around for the long haul.