Checkmate – How to Become a Better Leader in Four Moves 2

Leadership Cycle Coloured 2Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and for the forseeable future. Success in managing or leading others is no longer dependent on your technical abilities alone. Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, build collaborative teams, problem solve, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people and challenging situations better, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization and your people.

I believe to be a really great manager or leader you need to master all four disciplines of my “Four Step Leadership Development Model” (c) . The work environment is changing and you need to adapt to keep pace with those changes. You must have exceptional people skills and be able to bring people together, communicate often, teach others what they’ll need to know and then learn to get out of their way and let them do it. Don’t get left behind – learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way.

Congregate: “To collect into a group or crowd; to come together into a group, crowd or assembly.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Your success and the overall success of your organization begins and ends with your ability to bring people together. If you can’t connect with others on an emotional level, then you stand little chance of assembling a cohesive team. You are only as good as the people around you. Each individual is a vital link in the chain. Get to know your people for more than the job that they do. People like to work with people they like. Successful managers and leaders know how to develop those all important relationships and build collaborative teams.

Communicate  “To convey knowledge of or information about; to cause to pass from one to another.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Communication isn’t just something – it’s everything! If you can’t communicate – you can’t manage or lead others. I can’t think of a more valuable skill set for managers and leaders to have, than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t send the message and have it received the way it was intended – then what you said means absolutely nothing. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or inaction. 

Educate “To train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary. I don’t believe there is any such thing as common sense. The only thing common about common sense, is that it’s not very common. We should call it “Life Sense” because it seems the older we get, the smarter we get. We aren’t born knowing what we need to know, to be able to teach someone else what they need to know. I believe having the ability to teach someone else is a learned behavior. Successful managers and leaders are great teachers and coaches.

Delegate “To entrust to another; to appoint as one’s representative.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you fail to delegate you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Successful managers and leaders understand that they aren’t the end all and be all. Successful managers and leaders understand that they must give up control to get control. Resist the urge to micro-manage others. Your ability and willingness to delegate effectively are essential to freeing up your time, so you can carry out your duties and responsibilities as a manager or leader.

Any time is a great time to start a new beginning. Which one of these four disciplines; congregate, communicate, educate or delegate will you need to improve upon to be a more effective manager or leader? Don’t get left behind – you can become a better leader in just four moves.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Excerpts from Brian’s soon-to-be-published workbook “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century(c)”. Brian is available for keynote speaking or facilitating training sessions on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Life Lessons: Learning To Let Things Go Undone 11

7-ways-your-wasting-time“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists of eliminating the non-essentials”. I love that Chinese Proverb – It’s a great reminder that we all have just 168 hours in the course of a week. No more or no less. We all have the same amount of time. Do you have enough time to accomplish those things that are most important to you? Time is not a renewable resource. How wisely are you spending yours? Here are two things that you can do to help utilize your time more effectively. 

Learn to set priorities

Think carefully about what priorities mean to you and about how you decide what is really important. Remember – You will never have enough time in the course of a day, week or month to accomplish everything on your to-do list but, you do have time to decide what to do first. Most people start with the easy stuff. I want you to start with the urgent stuff. Take a look at your list and decide what absolutely  needs to be accomplished today. What is due today? Mark those items as “A” items. Anything that can wait two or three days mark those items as “B” items. Anything left on your list are “C” items. Make a rule with yourself that you can never, ever work on a “B” item until all the days “A” items have been completed.

Learn to say no 

The essence of good time management is good life management. Just like the essence of healthy living is a healthy lifestyle. We all seek balance in our lives. Balance between life at work and life at home. If I was to ask you to write down the three most important things in your life. What would you write down on that paper? Out of the 168 hours you have in the course of a week how much time are you spending on those three things? I hope you put yourself at the top of that list. How much “Me” time do you spend on yourself each week? What do you do to help you recharge your batteries? Do you like to read, take walks, bake or meet up with friends for coffee or tea? It’s important to your health that you spend time on you without feeling guilty about it. You are the only you that you’ve got. Learn to say no to others so you can say yes to yourself.

Copyright (c) Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Are you looking for a speaker or planning a training session on a variety of soft-skills topics? Give Brian a call. He will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. http://briansmithpld.com

What’s Getting in the Way of You Leading? 5

images (36)If dolphins, lions and wolves can do it – why is it so difficult for humans to do it too? Why is it so difficult to put a group of people together and have them perform as a team? Teams, or at least the concept of teams, are the primary force of most organizations today but, without a strong leader, teams stand little chance of being successful. Team success or failure rests solely on the shoulders of the leader. If your team isn’t as successful as they could be or should be – it’s time to take stock of your leadership style and make some changes.

Worth Remembering … “It is not the individual but the team that is the instrument of sustained and enduring success in management.” – Anthony Jay 

You can increase your chances of leadership success by avoiding or maneuvering around these ten obstacles to building collaborative and productive teams. What’s getting in the way of you being a more effective leader? Are you guilty of committing any of these offences?

  1. Lack of a competent leader: Leaders aren’t expected to know everything. But, they are expected to know who to go to and find out.
  2. Lack of goals and goal alignment: Leaders need to be very clear on what it is they want to accomplish and have a general idea of how to go about accomplishing it.
  3. Individual focus on themselves and not their team: There can’t be any hidden personal agendas. There can only be one agenda – the team’s agenda. Everyone needs to understand that if the “team” wins – everyone wins – including the leader.
  4. Lack of understanding team members: What motivates you may not motivate them. Leaders need to take the time to find out what their people’s individual needs are. And then work very hard to make sure their needs are met.
  5. Lack of clarity on team roles: Everyone has a strength that they bring to the team. Leaders need to put people in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths.
  6. Lack of trust: If they can’t trust your word – they won’t trust you. Your word must be your bond. What ever you say you’re going to do – do it!
  7. Lack of accountability: You must hold yourself and others accountable. Standards aren’t open for debate. Standards must be met and maintained. However, how you go about accomplishing them can be.
  8. Lack of team focus: – Leaders must never lose sight of why you do what you do. Everything you do and say must be congruent with your purpose and vision, or you must not do it.
  9. Lack of spending time together: People want to feel important. They want to feel needed. Take the time to establish a relationship with the people you work with and interact with. People perform better for leaders they like and respect.
  10. Poor Communication: Leaders can`t communicate too much. People want to know what`s going on – good or bad. Especially if it`s going to impact them. If you can’t communicate – you can’t lead.

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Are you looking for a keynote speaker, planning a lunch-n-learn or training seminar? Brian will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. To find out more about Brian visit http://briansmithpld.com

Soft Skills for a Hard Place

millennials-200x192Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other”.  Times have certainly changed. I think there has been a dramatic shift in people’s attitudes. Their wants and needs are changing. For the first time in our lifetime we have the potential of working with 4 different generations in the same workplace at the same time. Each generation communicates and interacts differently and want to be managed and manage differently. Each generation have a different set of values and career aspirations. For the newest generation – the Millennials – life outside of work is just as important,  if not more important,  then life inside work. Each generation is motivated by different things. What you need to decide now is – will the management style that got you here – be the same style that will sustain you or get you to where you need to go? Is one style of managing and leading others good enough?

Worth Remembering … “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein

Productivity is still the name of the game and that will never change. One of your roles as a manager or leader has always been to minimize the input and maximize the output. In today’s ever-changing, competitive global marketplace you need to produce more with less. Your survival and your company’s survival demands it. To accomplish both – managers and leaders must change from being task-focused to being people-focused. People like to work with people they like. People like to feel wanted. People like to feel that they are appreciated and respected.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of every business and that’s people”. – Oprah Winfrey

Technical skills are important but, for the most part, you can get that out of a book or Google it. What is needed to be successful managing and leading others in the 21st Century are soft-skills, sometimes referred to as people skills. Successful managers and leaders will be those who have developed great soft-skills for a hard place. Successful managers and business leaders are F.O.C.U.S.E.D. (C) on their most important asset – their people.

Friendly: Someone who can smile and say hello. Someone who can make the other person feel important.

Observant: Someone who can recognize those that need help and those that don’t. Someone who will get out of their way and let them do the job.

Consistent: Some who is consistent in the way that they apply policies and procedures. Consistent in the way they treat people and deal with situations.

Understanding: Someone who tries to see things from the other person’s point of view. Empathy is a valuable 21st Century skill to have.

Sincere: Someone who truly wants their people to be successful at what they do. Managing and leading others is a team sport – create win-wins.

Energized: Someone who is enthusiastic. Someone who looks and acts like they want to be there.

Dependable: Someone whose word they can depend on. Someone they can trust. If they can’t trust your word they won’t trust you.

Are you F.O.C.U.S.E.D.?  🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Brian is the author of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or organizing a workshop? Contact Brian. briansmithpld@gmail.com