Happy Holidays and a fantastic New Year to you! I will be taking vacation for the next two weeks and so will the Top 5 Leadership Articles. In this final issue for 2016 I’ve included a few bonuses and suggested reading – you’ll find everything following this week’s top five leadership articles.
Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
Ten ‘Leadership’ Ideas that Kill Corporate Cultures by Liz Ryan at Forbes.com
We are getting smarter as a species and realizing that leadership is completely different from command-and-control supervision.
Supervision is expensive, but leadership is very cheap. When trust flows in an organization, you don’t have to spy on your employees. You don’t have measure every breath they take and every keystroke they make. When you take away the roadblocks of fear, bureaucracy and unaddressed conflict that clog up most companies who aren’t paying attention, your teammates will amaze you with their results.
My Comment: There are some excellent and challenging observations in this list. For instance, Ryan suggests that “Attendance as a Disciplinary Issue” is a corporate culture killer. In some situations there is a valid case to be made here: productivity and results are what ultimately matter. On the other hand, if people aren’t where they need to be in order to achieve those results and build healthy relationships, then that could be major problem for clients and teammates. Check out this list and let me know what you think!
How to Foster a Coaching Culture at Your Workplace by Bill Howatt
How effective are you as a coach to your employees?
One factor that can positively or negatively impact employees’ engagement is their relationship with their direct manager. The collection of relationships employees have with management also plays a role in shaping corporate culture as well.
My Comment: In my work with thousands of leaders across industries, one of the skills I frequently hear leaders struggle with is how to coach their employees. Nearly every leader knows they should coach, but few are confident in those skills. In fact, if you don’t master coaching, one of two things usually will happen: 1) You spend most of your time solving problems for other people or 2) The problems don’t get solved at all. In Winning Well we give you several coaching techniques to help you develop your team’s critical thinking skills, help them problem solve on their own, and to coach them to higher performance. Howatt gives you a few ideas to create the foundation for your coaching.
People Want to See Meaning In Their Work by Naphtali Hoff at SmartBrief
I was recently given the opportunity to address a group of advancement professionals at a national conference in Chicago. These individuals labor in the back offices of large non-profits such as universities and museums, advancing their institutions by developing donors, managing campaigns and the like.
My talk focused on why their work matters and was intended to help attendees — many of whom did not occupy prominent roles within their organizations — see the value in their daily efforts.
As I researched this topic, I was struck by the extent by which all people, not just back office or less prominent professionals, identify meaning and purpose and central elements of their job satisfaction. We all seek affirmation and want to know that the work that we do makes a difference.
My Comment: One time I heard a senior level leader say with exasperation: “They all want their work to mean something.” She said it as if it was an unreasonable request. I challenged her, “Why would you want to waste people’s time doing something that doesn’t matter?”
This is one of those topics we can’t emphasize enough. In the harried day-to-day business of getting things done, we can easily lose sight of (or assume our teams know) why we’re doing what we’re doing.
They don’t. Or at least, don’t assume they do. They need to hear it from you. One of your most vital leaders tasks is to connect every what to a meaningful and compelling reason why it matters. If you struggle to keep the meaning in front of your people, set an appointment with yourself every week. Make it a part of every meeting and interaction.
How to Bridge the Leadership Perception Divide by Thuy Sindell and Milo Sindell
Leadership style has a huge impact on how employees feel and perform at work. And while many leaders may think they inspire innovation, creativity, collaboration and other traits that move the business forward, research shows their employees might well disagree.
A July 2016 survey from VitalSmarts uncovered a huge gap between how management and employees view the company’s leadership style and culture. Even worse, this gap markedly influences productivity and turnover. When employees thought leaders valued obedience, deference to authority, predictability and competition with peers, they were 32 percent less likely to be engaged, motivated and committed to their organizations. In these circumstances, employees were 26 percent less likely to rate their company as successful at innovating and executing.
My Comment: These research results don’t surprise me at all. It seems as if there is a magical switch that gets flipped. One moment you’re an employee and frustrated by a lack of transparency, more emphasis on tasks than goals, and it seems that no one listens to your ideas. Then you get into a leadership role, the switch gets flipped – and you forget what it felt like. Your perspective shifts and what’s easiest is to act the way the managers acted (yes, the same ones that frustrated you). I see this happen regularly. The Sindells identify several of the reasons this gap in intentions exist and what you can do about them.
Last September, Elon Musk publicly unveiled a sweeping vision to colonize Mars. The SpaceX founder and CEO framed those ambitions as nothing less than a bid to save humanity from self-destruction.
Whatever your opinion of Musk’s plans, his presentation of them was rhetorically effective—and a memorable departure from the tech leader’s notoriously dispassionate Twitter voice. In introducing his Mars plan, Musk tapped into two foundational emotions that every effective leader should know how to activate: hope and fear. Here’s how…
My Comment: This is a fantastic look at how you can communicate in order to create buy-in, influence change, and move people to action. However – handled poorly or manipulatively, you can quickly find yourself in “Gamer” territory. The twin emotions Sanchez identifies are among the most potent and influential that human beings experience. You can use these same emotions to lead your team – even if that team is three people. Use with caution, and use them skillfully, and watch your influence rocket (to Mars?).
Those are top five leadership articles this week. On to the bonuses!
These are some of the best non-fiction books I’ve read this year. Some are new, some have been around awhile, but I heartily recommend them for you or as gifts:
- Why Leaders Fail by Mary Kelly and Peter Stark – While the title might intrigue you, the power in Kelly and Stark’s work is in the prescriptions. There is an incredible amount of practical value here in a tightly written package!
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles. A succinct, engaging, and practical guide for succeeding in any creative sphere, The War of Art is nothing less than Sun-Tzu for the soul. What keeps so many of us from doing what we long to do? Get a swift kick in the tail and the motivation you need to do what you need to do!
- The Culture Engine by S. Chris Edmonds – So many people talk about organization culture, but Edmonds gives you the practical tools to create it and hold yourself accountable to it. If you’re serious about building a positive culture (or you know someone who is), this is a great book.
- Feel Good, Look Good, For Life by Angela Gaffney – Gaffney overcame an amazing health crisis the old fashioned way: she studied the heck out of it and changed her behavior to match. This book is a compilation of everything she learned, shared with pragmatism and compassion to help you live well in a world that’s not set up to make it easy.
Top Articles of the Year:
My look at one word that will protect you from ethical lapses and help you achieve transformational results.
This one struck a nerve. I look at some of the pitfalls that prevent us from leading well and what you can do to avoid them.
Why Understanding Others Perspectives is a Key Leadership Skill by Steffan Surdek
The title says it all and it’s one of the most vital leadership skills you’ll ever master.
What I learned this year about life, leadership, and myself while backpacking up the third highest volcano in Central America with my daughter. You’ll certainly recognize yourself in the journey.
A Final Gift:
Be the leader you want your boss to be with this infographic of 52 different leadership tips that will help you be a leader who gets results, that people respect, and who people want to follow. You can download the full leadership infographic for free by clicking here.
Happy Holidays and thanks again for all you do!
Be the leader you want your boss to be,
David works with leaders to get results without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. Have David keynote your next event or deliver corporate training: Email today or call 303.898.7018!
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