Tag Archive | "leadership"

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Leadership Strategies to Address Today’s Most Common Team Building Problems

Posted on 12 May 2016 by cradmin

By Gayle Lantz

Despite best team building efforts, many organizations are still operating on low power when it comes to producing desired results. They’ve invested time and dollars in events that supposedly help team members bond and function coherently, yet results are short term at best.

So what’s the problem? Every situation is unique, but here are a few possibilities:

  • Some or all members don’t want to function as a team. They’ve become accustomed to operating independently and don’t see the value of operating as a whole.
  • Team building isn’t linked to business results. Instead, the team experienced artificial feel good exercises. Although the team has learned about each other’s behavioral styles, motivational profiles, individual strengths, etc., they have failed to connect their efforts to desired business outcomes.
  • There’s no follow-up beyond a one-time event. A successful team building process should be approached strategically, not as a one-time event hoping for the best. It should result in actionable ideas to help the team and organization achieve their goals. Continued learning, action and reinforcement are critical.

Of all of the potential issues that can negatively affect team building, here are some of the most common impediments to team success, in my experience, and ways to overcome them.

Team Building Impediment #1: Fuzzy focus

In this situation, the team doesn’t really know how to function. Either the team has lost focus on results or members have never been clear of their goals in the first place. Instead, they’ve become too internally fixated on other team members – judging what they’re doing, making assumptions, speculating, backstabbing, finger pointing, etc. Without a clear focus, team members frequently react to events in their immediate environment. They become distracted by other team members or simply respond to whatever issue lands in their lap. There’s no strategic team focus or energy to move forward.

Suggestion: As the leader, you must step in and clarify big picture goals and expectations. In order to complete this task effectively, you must communicate the goals in a number ways that appeal to a variety of team members. Some may need a visual representation (e.g., a roadmap); others may need to know the “why” behind the goals to buy in. Check for clarity. Ask the team to articulate their understanding of the overall goals in their own words. Then, clarify or correct as needed.

Team Building Impediment #2: Lack of leadership

Leadership is critical to help the team succeed. Without it, team members will resort to their own methods. Some will run as far and fast as they can to prove themselves, pushing boundaries and taking on too much risk. Others will sit idle for as long as they can, performing as little as possible, yet complaining about how much work needs to get done. Some leaders are too busy concentrating on their own political or career agenda. Other leaders just don’t understand their role or possess good leadership skills.

Suggestion: Conduct regular strategic focus sessions. Strong leaders will help the team focus on the goal (the what) and key strategies (the how). Hold consistent informal one-on-one development meetings with direct reports to gain feedback, uncover trouble spots and leverage opportunities. If you need to build leadership skills yourself, make that a priority. If you value your career, find a coach or mentor to help you. Remember, in order to develop others – you must first develop yourself.

Team Building Impediment #3: Stuck in sameness

The team is stuck in practices that may have been established years ago. They’ve gotten lazy or stopped trying new approaches. New team members may be frustrated by the apparent lack of openness to new ideas or ways of operating. Experienced team members defend the way things have always been done.

Suggestion: Identify one aspect of the team that you would be excited to see change. Talk with your team to make sure everyone agrees it would be worth it to affect change in that area. Determine what the best possible outcome could be if the team made the change, adopted a new procedure, tried a new approach or do whatever it is you’re suggesting. Then, call for ideas from the team on how to make it happen. Generating excitement about new possibilities makes it easier for the team to get unstuck.

The most effective teams can maintain best practices while adapting to new environments or organizational changes. They are not content with sameness or status quo. Their best practices include constantly seeking new and better ways to perform their jobs. They are not content with going through the motions or frivolous exercises that may help increase awareness but stop there.

Final Thoughts:

It doesn’t matter if Bob is a blue, green or yellow if he can’t connect his self-awareness to results. The same applies at the team level. Team members may find it interesting to learn more about team members, but be sure to help translate learning into results.

Great team leaders spend time clarifying goals, cultivating their own leadership skills and identifying new ways to achieve great results. Not to be confused with micromanaging, an effective leader will check in from time to time to make sure the organization’s goals and strategies remain clear. At the same time, they help build capability of individual team members versus taking on the work of the team themselves.

Simply opening productive and constructive communication to a greater degree will help leaders increase their effectiveness and their team’s functioning most effectively. Leaders often feel unnecessary pressure to tell everyone on the team what to do. Focus on influencing versus doing.

Team building is a means to an end and not an end in itself. What do you want your team to achieve?

About the Author

As an organizational development consultant, executive coach and founder of WorkMatters®, Gayle Lantz can help your team achieve substantial results. Clients include organizations such as NASA, Southern Company and Compass Bank.

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Effective Safety Planning Part 2: The Four-Point Plan

Posted on 21 October 2015 by cradmin

Every day in the United States, 17 workers are killed in occupational accidents, 137 succumb to fatal, job-related medical conditions and more than 17,000 suffer from injuries sustained while working. Aggregating the losses for the year, the cost to the U.S. economy is more than $170 billion. Chances are that your business has experienced a bit of these losses, but they can be reduced to a bare minimum by establishing a four-point safety plan as recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Last month, we took a look at the ultimate goal of safety planning, which is establishing a culture of safety in the workplace. It is generally regarded that maintaining a strong safety culture is the most effective way of reducing worker injuries and fatalities. However, developing a culture of safety is more easily accomplished by following the OSHA-recommended Four-Point Safety Program:

  1. Commitment from management and employee involvement
  2. Full worksite analysis
  3. Hazard abatement, prevention and control
  4. Safety training for managers, supervisors and employees

Commitment from Management

The first step in the establishment of an effective safety plan is to obtain a commitment from everyone in the company, starting at the top. As an owner or manager of the business, when you take a genuine interest in the safety and health of your employees, you employees will be more likely to reflect your sentiment. You must create a clear and uncompromising safety plan that covers everyone equally with no exceptions, and you must actively enforce it at all times.

Business owners and managers must demonstrate leadership in keeping a safe workplace by providing training, resources and motivation and by holding everyone accountable for safety, including themselves. A written plan starts with training management to be effective safety leaders.

The best way to create safety leaders is to elevate safety above everything else. Safety should not merely be another duty that must be accomplished. Rather, it should be among the company’s chief values or part of the mission statement. Safety and health should be an overriding concern that plays into every situation every day of the week.

Benefits of Management Safety Leadership

Effective safety leaders can make a huge difference in a business. Management leadership can increase productivity, cut costs and improve morale in the workplace. OSHA has found that companies enrolling in one of its Voluntary Protection Program’s (VPPs) report a decrease in lost workday cases by up to 80 percent. In addition, studies show that for every dollar saved on direct medical expenses or insurance compensation, up to $50 are saved on indirect expenses, which may include hiring and training new workers, delays in production, equipment repair and much more. A prime example of the benefits of a proactive safety program comes from a major Ford factory that experienced a 13 percent increase in productivity and a 16 percent decrease in wasted materials.

Actions of Effective Safety Leaders

When managers are committed to workplace safety, they will take many of the following actions:

  • Post the company’s official safety policy near the required OSHA Workplace Poster so that it is easy to find and read.
  • Hold employee meetings concerning safety and health issue, goals and procedures.
  • Visibly and explicitly show support and personal involvement in the company safety plan, such as reviewing reports and conducting follow-ups when accidents occur.
  • Personally follow all laws and safety rules that pertain to employees.
  • Immediately halt hazardous activities or activities held in unsafe conditions.
  • Encourage all employees to become involved in workplace safety, especially those who have specialized knowledge.
  • Assign specific safety responsibilities to employees as outlined in the safety plan. Try to disburse duties in the same way that you would assign production duties.
  • Provide the people, time and training necessary to ensure all responsibilities can be carried out.
  • Make everyone accountable for the responsibilities that have been assigned to them.
  • Ensure that all responsibilities are covered and completed adequately.
  • Review safety accomplishments and accidents at regular meetings held at intervals of no greater than one year.

Employee Involvement Is Crucial

One of the top reasons for making your managers effective safety leaders is to encourage employee involvement in your workplace safety and health program. The best way to reduce health and safety issues is to share responsibility for them with everyone. In this way, you can tap the unique knowledge and resources that your employees provide. In addition, employees will have greater interest in and appreciation of the company safety plan the more involved they are in establishing and maintaining it, and they will be less likely to engage in unsafe activities that can affect your bottom line.

Following are just a few of the advantages of getting employees involved in workplace safety:

  • Employees will hold a vested interest in their own safety and their duties in keeping a safe workplace.
  • Group decisions are more likely to be followed.
  • Employees are more apt to support programs that they have helped create or maintain, and without employee buy-in, safety will be compromised.
  • Employees who are encouraged to share ideas and expertise are generally more satisfied and productive than those who are told to keep quiet.
  • The more involved employees are with the safety plan, the more they will learn about how to avoid injuries and dangerous situations.

Employees can be encouraged to participate in workplace safety in several ways:

  • Become members of safety committees
  • Conduct onsite safety inspections
  • Analyze workplace hazards
  • Develop safety rules
  • Participate in accident investigations
  • Become safety observers, safety coaches or safety trainers
  • Report hazards
  • Provide ideas for reducing or eliminating hazards

Be on the lookout for next month’s Health & Safety Watch where we will continue our theme with Effective Safety Planning Part 3: Workplace Hazard Assessment.

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Solid Leadership Advice: 10 Ideas For Building Your Leadership Bench Strength & Improving Company Performance

Posted on 15 January 2015 by cradmin

by Gayle Lantz

Some companies have depended on the same leaders for years without developing new leaders. Other companies have attempted to develop leaders, but there is no strategic or integrated approach. Still other companies have unexpectedly lost leaders they were counting on.

Each year, about 25 percent of managers in typical Fortune 500 companies change jobs. Most spend an average of four years in a given position. High potential leaders in mid-senior ranks move more frequently: every two to three years.  While you probably aren’t involved in a Fortune 500 company, these statistics demonstrate why all companies must build solid leadership. Leaders must concentrate on developing their teams, getting the right people in the right jobs and producing results.

Job dissatisfaction is up. Some research indicates that one out of six people expects to quit a job in the next year. There are becoming more opportunities for people to seek “greener pastures.”  Good leadership can influence a person’s decision to remain with a company.

10 Ideas for Building Your Leadership Bench Strength

If your company wants to build leadership strength, here are my top 10 suggestions:

1. Transfer knowledge and experience from the top.
Companies can capture the wisdom from experienced leaders to aid in educating and developing future leaders.

2. Build relationships across generations.
Leadership skills, talents and values differ across generations. Dealing with these differences constructively strengthens the overall leadership of your organization.

3. Strengthen leadership peer relationships.
Often, organizations operate like a conglomeration of silos. It’s easy for leaders to feel isolated in their roles. Helping leaders learn from each other and strengthening interpersonal relationships build needed peer support and camaraderie.

4. Develop succession plans.

Companies shouldn’t wait until the need for a leader is obvious. Careful thought and planning in advance eases the transition.

5. Identify and nurture high-potential leaders.
Pay special attention to those employees possessing strong capabilities operating below the radar. They can be the most likely to leave.

6. Provide needed cross departmental learning and exposure.
With better knowledge of other departments and the organizational system as a whole, leaders can help your departments function more effectively.

7. Include more leaders in strategic planning
 .
In my work with leaders across a broad based range of industries, I find one of their most common challenges is the need to think and act more strategically. Busy managers struggle to find the time to think about the issues they most want or care about.  Their focus is diffused. Fostering strategic thinking early in a leader’s career will serve him or her well in the future.

8. Provide mentoring or coaching support for new managers.
Along with a new title and pay raise, new managers should benefit by having stronger initial support through mentoring or coaching programs to help them get acclimated in their new roles.

9. Assess leadership talent.

There are a variety of assessments in the marketplace to help companies assess leadership skills, behaviors and values. These tools give leaders insights to help them increase their effectiveness.

10. Open Dialogue
One of the greatest benefits to any organization is the opportunity to invite conversation about leadership across all levels. Start by asking questions like these:

• What does your company value most about its leadership?
• What improvement would you like to see?
• What is your company’s philosophy about leadership?
• What would outstanding leadership enable your company to do better?
• What leadership skills are critical for success?
• What is the impact of your company’s leadership on your employees? Your organization? Your market? The community?

As you address these kinds of questions, make a commitment to raise the bar on the level of leadership that exists in your organization. Build your bench strength, but do not let leaders sit too long. They are anxious to lead.

About the Author
Gayle Lantz is an organizational development consultant, executive coach and Founder of WorkMatters®. Clients include organizations such as NASA, Southern Company and Compass Bank. Reprinted from “WorkMatters Tips,” a free ezine produced by Gayle Lantz featuring tips for leaders and executives who want to grow themselves, their team and their business. Subscribe at http://www.workmatters.com/signup.

Copyright© 2015, Gayle Lantz. All right reserved. For information contact FrogPond at email [email protected]

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Effective Leadership and Teamwork

Posted on 20 March 2014 by CRadmin2

When you are at your countertop business, do you get frustrated because things don’t seem to be happening the way they’re supposed to be? Maybe you see people milling around, but nothing getting accomplished. In the daily hustle and bustle, do you feel that your goals as as business owner or manager remain just that – goals? Then maybe it’s time to do something about it.

Two of the best ways to control your business is through effective leadership and teamwork. Most people are content to stand around listening to orders, and it isn’t unusual to adopt a follow-the-leader mentality. When you feel the desire to make things happen – to be the head, not the tail – leadership must be asserted, but as a matter of hierarchy and stability in teamwork.

Some people believe that great leaders are just born that way. It may be true that some people are born with a natural talent for leadership, but without practice, drive, enthusiasm and experience, there can be no true development. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their natural skills, and this takes a commitment to constantly improve your business.

To be a leader, one must be able to influence others to accomplish a goal or an objective. However, a leader contributes to the organization and the cohesion of the group through teamwork. Contrary to what most people who are not leaders believe, leadership is not about power. Nor is it about harassing people or intimidating them. It is about encouraging them towards the goal of the organization. It is putting everyone on the same page and helping them see the big picture of the organization.

People follow others when they see a clear sense of purpose. People will only follow you if they see that you know where you are going. Remember the bumper sticker that says, “Don’t follow me, I’m lost too?” The same holds true for leadership. If you don’t know where you’re headed, chances are that people won’t follow you. You must know the vision of your organization. Having a clear sense of hierarchy, knowing who the key staff are, who to talk to, your business’s goals and objectives and how the organization works is the only way to show others that you know what you’re doing.

Being a leader is about who you are, what you know and what you do. You are a reflection of what your subordinates must be. Studies have shown that one of the hallmarks of good leadership is the trust and confidence of your employees and subordinates. If they trust you, they will go through hell and high water for you and for the company.

Trust and confidence is built on good relationships and high ethics. The way you deal with your people and the relationships you build with them will lay the foundation for the strength of your group. The stronger your relationship, the stronger their trust and confidence is in your capabilities. Once you have their trust and confidence, it is much easier to communicate the goals and objectives you wish to undertake, and have that endeavor be a successful one.

Communication is a very important key to good leadership. Without this, you cannot be a good leader. The knowledge and technical expertise you have must be clearly imparted to other people. In addition, you cannot be a good leader unless you have good judgment. You must be able to assess situations, weigh the pros and cons of any decision and actively seek out a solution. It is this judgment that your staff will come to rely upon. Therefore, good decision-making is vital to the success of the business.

Leaders are not always do-it-all heroes. Effective leaders do not claim to know everything, and you should not rely upon your skills alone. You should recognize and take advantage of the skills and talents your staff has. Only when you come to this realization will you be able to work as one cohesive unit.

Being a leader takes a great deal of work and time. It is not skill most people learn overnight. It takes practice, the application of experience and wisdom and good business sense. In addition, leadership is not about just you. It is about you and the people around you.

 

Article Source: Articleology.com

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How to Be a Memorable Leader

Posted on 05 June 2013 by CRadmin2

By Jean Kelley

If you look back over your career, chances are you can identify one or two people who stand out as memorable leaders. Even if these people didn’t hold an official leadership role, their actions and words rallied people together to achieve a common goal. Whether that goal was large or small and far reaching or contained, you remember these leaders for a long time.

While there are many great leaders in the world, not all of them are truly memorable. That is, they don’t leave an impression that lasts beyond their current accomplishment or focus, but being memorable is essential if you want long-term success. So, what makes one leader memorable and another not? It comes down to three key elements. Develop these characteristics in yourself and you, too, can be a memorable leader.

Know Who You Are

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” While this is a little harsh, it does make the point that everyone must examine their lives to pinpoint a moral compass and identify true values. Memorable leaders know their values, why those values are important and how those values play out in life.

Realize that you can’t have one set of values in your work life and a different set in your personal life. You take your set of values with you everywhere, and a mistake in one area of life can easily affect another. If you don’t examine your life and know what you stand for, you can easily get sidetracked.

Getting to know yourself starts with honesty: to others and yourself. While most people have cash-register honesty, meaning they’d never steal money from their employer, they aren’t always honest in other ways. Perhaps they tell the world they value one thing yet display something else. For example, some people will tout the value of hard work and claim they work harder than anyone else. Yet, when you really look at their work behavior, you find that they’re spending much of the day engaged in long conversations that have little to do with work or are surfing the Internet. That’s not personal honesty or personal awareness.

If you’re having trouble knowing who you are and what you stand for, ask a trusted colleague or family member to give you feedback. You can also opt to do a formal 360-degree feedback assessment, which enables others to give objective insight on how they view you.

Know Your Vision, Communicate It and Live It

A Harvard Business School professor once said, “The only thing a CEO needs to do is communicate their vision, communicate their vision and then communicate their vision.” Why is communicating your vision so important? If you know where you’re going but don’t tell others, then everyone around you is going to lose the way. With all the things employees have going on in their lives, they’re easily distracted and may get off track. Memorable leaders keep communicating the vision so that everyone is always on the same page.

Living your vision and your company’s core values means everyone knows the vision as well. Managers who don’t understand their company’s vision or core values should have a conversation with the boss about them. Without vision and values, both companies and people lose their way. People will flounder, not know what they should be doing and hide their potential talents. Vision and values make the difference.

Also, realize that communicating a vision does not mean the leader needs to be talkative. Many memorable leaders are quiet and reserved, such as presidents Truman and Eisenhower. People follow memorable leaders because they exemplify their vision instead of just touting it.

Be Teachable

Be open to learning new things and admitting your limitations. Your struggles give you power; it’s not a weakness. Realize that people don’t want to think they’re following a robot. They want to know that whoever they’re following is real.

Memorable leaders teach other leaders and are interested in the development of the people beneath them. That’s why you need to be in touch with those who directly report to you and learn their dreams, goals and career aspirations. As the old saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, the teachable part goes in two directions: you have to be willing to learn for yourself and you have to be willing to teach others.

Finally, Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, once said, “Leaders are readers.” That means it’s important you know what’s going on in all industries, not just your own. Staying too focused on one set of issues makes you one-dimensional. Creativity comes from combining what you know with what other leaders know and then adapting it to your own industry in order to improve or innovate. That’s why overview publications like Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Inc. are favorites of memorable leaders.

A Leader for the Ages

While few people are natural born leaders, you can learn to be a memorable leader and have people lining up and asking to work for you. All it takes is a commitment to lead others in a way that reflects your deepest held values, embraces your vision and encourages lifelong learning. The more you commit to practicing and living these three key elements, the more memorable you’ll be.

About the Author

Jean Kelley, author and entrepreneur, is the managing director of Jean Kelley Leadership Alliance whose faculty and trainers have helped more than 750,000 leaders and high potentials up their game at work in the United States and Canada. For information on keynotes, in-house programs or customized training, email [email protected] or go to www.jeankelley.com.

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