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Leadership

Via The Chronicle : ‘Leaders are born’: the biggest business myth

GENETICS may be responsible for blue eyes and a chiselled jaw, but when it comes to leadership, this is where the work of your DNA stops.

Contrary to popular belief, experts repudiate the common perception that leaders are born and not made, is one of the biggest myths in business.

Recent studies narrow the percentage of leadership linked to genetics to a mere 30 per cent, accounting for attributes like height, sound of voice and physical appearance, which may aid in the influence over others.

That means an overwhelming 70 per cent of a leader’s ability is a result of lessons learned through real life experiences.

What makes a good leader?

Senior lecturer in management at Griffith Business School Rod Gapp, says there is no doubt people can develop their ability to become good leaders, although what we understand to be a good leader has changed dramatically in recent times.

“Leaders are now becoming helpers,” Gapp says. “Traditionally, leaders were very much tellers and instructors.”

According to Gapp, the best leaders are participative and see their role as assisting the people they are leading to achieve their goals.

“There are two things that stand out in the best leaders – they’re good at both structure and consideration. They actually listen to people, hear, understand and create empathy, then give back in a logical structured way how to help that person achieve their task in the most effective way. It’s a jointly owned process,” he says.

The opposite of a good leader is a narcissistic leader – something Gapp says is a danger in the workplace.

“Narcissistic leadership is all about making that person shine and there’s very little consideration back down to the people underneath them,” Gapp says.

But the managers who understand the key to success is having quality leaders at the helm of their company, and place emphasis on the professional development of their managers, are the ones who succeed.

The ‘accidental manager’

For those who find themselves in the awkward position of being an ‘accidental manager’, becoming a great leader can be fraught with difficulty.

These are often people who are highly skilled, hard-working and loyal team members rewarded with managerial roles, albeit without any support, training or guidance.

Thrown in the deep end, they often struggle to cope with the dramatic shift in their role from delivery to direction, placing everyone involved at risk.

But with the right support, resources and networks, these professionals can learn how to transition into leadership roles and go on to achieve great success without the risk of falling into the narcissistic category.

The Oxford Handbook of Leadership and Organizations 2014 identified that leaders develop from novices to intermediates to experts, changing their mindset, identity focus, relationships and skills along the way.

By the expert stage, the accidental manager has honed their craft and while they’ll continue to learn and develop throughout their whole career, they’re confident in the role as a leader.

The ‘intentional leader’

It’s not a crime to fall into management ‘accidentally’ – in fact most accomplished and successful leaders start there.

However, in the highly competitive management industry, employers look for ‘intentional leaders’, those committed to the lifelong learning and development journey.

The increasing demand for intentional leaders has seen the introduction of the Chartered Manager accreditation that offers the key to further leadership careers and give managers a competitive edge by proving them as intentional leaders.

The Chartered Manager designation is the highest status you can achieve as a leader and acts as a globally-recognised accreditation to formally recognise leadership experience.

The Institute of Managers and Leaders Chief Executive David Pich says Chartered Managers are required to demonstrate the positive impact they’ve had on their workplace over the past 18 months and how they’ve used the key skills of managing change and leading people to achieve it.

“Chartered Managers stand out as intentional leaders,” Pich says.

“By becoming Chartered, they prove their commitment to management and leadership as a profession.

“Recognition is important at every point in your career. For emerging management professionals, Chartered Manager sets them up to succeed in their current role by establishing a need for continuing professional development and ethical leadership.

“As an experienced and accomplished leader, Chartered Managers add value to their organisations as effective intentional leaders, and are differentiated in the competitive leadership market.”

He says not only is a Chartered Manager accreditation beneficial for the leader themselves, but the entire organisation.

“Organisations with Chartered Managers perform better as these intentional leaders understand leadership is about others,” Pich says.

“The leadership skills they are committed to developing allows them to manage stress, lead ethically, use emotional intelligence and use their abilities to support their team.”

Via Forbes : ‘Feminine’ Leadership: Why More Men Should Practice Empathy In The Workplace

In today’s day and age, it seems like we’re becoming more and more stressed and constantly finding ourselves in fight-or-flight mode. Not to mention, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are on the rise.

So why is this happening?

If we really look at where all of this anguish is stemming from, we’ll find that it’s in our daily interactions — particularly in the workplace — and what’s lacking in these environments.

Historically, people thrived in communities where each person had one skill they cultivated. People excelled when they were working together with a sense of common purpose and they each had one thing they were focusing on. The carpenter worked with wood, the potter made ceramics, the weavers wove, and all worked in symbiotic harmony.

Now, we’ve moved into an individualistic lifestyle, one in which the average person is expected to have a varied skill set and is required to multitask in several directions throughout the course of any given day.

In today’s society, if you only do one thing, it’s often frowned upon. People wonder what’s “wrong” with you. Someone in marketing is expected to do event coordination and graphic design, and programmers are asked to do social media management. There are multiple career abilities layered on top of one another, and having to switch direction and focus over the course of any given day can range from stressful to utterly exhausting and anxiety-inducing.

We need to be able to look at our work environments with more compassionate understanding and awareness. That’s where “feminine” leadership skills come in.

When we think about those historical communities we mentioned earlier, we see that those existed in a time when, traditionally, there was more empathy. There was more emphasis on thinking about others, about family, and a greater sense of love.

Now, we’re in a space where loneliness is rampant. People are depressed, and many people can go for days, or even weeks, without any real connection to other human beings.

So what needs to change?

Quite simply, change is needed in the way organizations are structured. We need to bring in more of that sense of community, collaboration and cooperation. People need to feel a deeper sense of belonging, feeling that they matter and that there’s someone at work who cares about them. People need to feel that the person in charge is sincerely interested in what’s going on in their lives and in what’s happening in their world outside of the workplace — someone who wants to spend real time with them and bring more joy to their lives.

We are well aware of the statistics regarding women in leadership. There aren’t enough women in these roles yet, so we need to call on the men to help bring about change. If men who are currently in leadership roles were to embody more cooperation, collaboration and empathy, and really start listening to their team members, corporations would change for the better.

We need men to treat their team members in such a way as to bring out their strengths. Encourage them. Nurture them. Show team members compassion and how best to bring empathy and love into the workplace. We need men to show up and embody these qualities until the statistics about stress and work/life dissatisfaction become more balanced.

In order for our world to become healthier, and for people to enjoy what they’re doing more, we need people to feel alive, thriving and optimal.

For that to happen, we need to bring in more gentleness into our corporations.

Via Chief Executive : How CEOs Can Drive Culture Change And Workplace Diversity

A diverse workplace — one that recognizes and respects all unique individuals across the business — is widely accepted as crucial to a successful organization. In its “Why Diversity Matters” report, workplace research firm McKinsey documents the higher financial performance by diverse companies across industries.

Yet, despite recent efforts, diversity remains a much-discussed topic — and not because companies are great at it. Take Google’s data-driven diversity program. It cost $265 million to implement but still failed to significantly change the composition of its workforce.

The critical missing link for many organizations is often strong CEO involvement. By putting their stamp on diversity initiatives as part of a proactive, robust strategy, CEOs can help their business leaders drive change from the top down. Here are four ways to make that happen.

Re-examine the workplace environment

To really tap into the benefits of diversity and inclusion, CEOs can encourage their organizations to look beyond traditional diversity categories. A workplace that fails to adapt to the needs of different age groups, personalities, individual qualities and work styles will likely find efficiency and performance suffer.

For example, many workplace environments are built around eye contact, noisy group work and generally overstimulating settings, from the interview process to long-term decision making. But these traditional workplace environments and routines may not encourage top performance from all types of workers.

If your company features an open plan environment, make sure you offer access to private work spaces, too. Consider how lighting and noisy distractions could impact individuals with autism or hyper-sensitive personalities. Encourage a company culture that values subtle collaborative practices — and be sure you model this behavior across your C-suite, too.

Learn from strengths and weaknesses

By opening the doors to nonlinear thinking, business leaders can maximize employees’ individual strengths and solve difficult problems. If nurtured in the right way, these skills are extremely valuable to a business.

For example, global giant EY implemented a pilot in 2016 to hire individuals with Asperger’s syndrome to help analyze the effectiveness of account operations and determine specific client needs. With a talent for detail-orientated and process-driven work, these employees demonstrated they could deliver results in an innovative and efficient way.

While it’s fine to set individual and highly specialized tasks, it’s still important to keep a collaborative element to roles. Encourage employees to share their ideas and feedback on other workplace projects to ensure everyone feels part of a team and no one becomes too isolated.

Promote flexibility and cater to individuals

Pioneering computer scientist Grace Murray Hopper once said the most dangerous phrase in data processing is “We’ve always done it this way.

The same could be said for any business. Hiding behind bureaucracy to deter employees from making requests for greater flexibility can be a major obstacle to achieving greater inclusion and diversity. And employees say that flexibility is highly important: A study by PGi found 70 percent of employees were more productive, 80 percent had higher morale and 82 percent had lower stress when allowed to telecommute.

Lead the charge to promote flexible policies with work-from-home options and encourage employees to use that time when they need it. This proactively demonstrates your company’s goal of supporting the varied needs of individuals.

Apply that same flexibility to rewarding staff when they excel. Happy hours or golf outings may work well for some employees but will leave others flat. Working parents might not be able to arrange child care after work or on the weekends, for instance. Would your star performer prefer a few bonus days off? Early release days? A team breakfast or lunch?

Test alternative recruiting strategies

The cost of losing an employee can range from thousands of dollars to more than twice the employee’s annual salary. These costs include hiring, training, the loss of engagement from others due to high turnover and higher business error rates. That’s why it’s vital to invest in finding the right employees for your company.

However, the personalities of some individuals may run counter to common notions of what makes a good employee. Concentrating only on conventional benchmarks — such as solid communication skills, teamwork and the ability to network — may systematically screen out individuals with unique gifts.

Talk with your HR leaders to discuss ways you can adapt hiring policies to encourage diversity. In some cases, it might be more effective to conduct interviews virtually, since some candidates may interview better in familiar surroundings.

Or as Microsoft found, sometimes it’s better not to hold traditional interviews at all. Adapting the structure of its interview process was a key action the company took in its bid to attract colleagues with autism. Instead of a traditional interviewing process, candidates were invited on campus for two weeks to work on projects, while being casually monitored by managers looking for new team members.

Companies that emphasize a flexible, inclusive workplace culture will find it easier to attract and keep top talent — employees who feel supported to realize their full potential. That ultimately leads to business innovation, growth and profit — top of the wish list for CEOs the world over.

Via Forbes : 16 Essential Leadership Skills For The Workplace Of Tomorrow

Some people believe that leaders are born, not made. Others, however, think leadership skills can be developed and honed, just like any other ability.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council tend to agree with the latter theory, as many of them work closely with up-and-coming professionals to help them become better, more effective leaders. Thesecoaches are also finely attuned to workplace trends, and based on today’s changing environment, they know what skills tomorrow’s leaders will need to succeed.

Here are 16 leadership skills that will be imperative to the future of work.

1. Fearless Agility

The speed of the market and our workplaces, powered by the constant stream of new technology and the “on demand” expectations it has created, will continue to accelerate. Leaders who can quickly yet effectively think, decide and inspire will be critical to keep up with these fast-changing competitive demands. – Bonnie Davis, Destination Up

2. Earning Respect

As the workplace evolves to become more transparent, collaborative and mindful, leaders must be equally diligent to earn respect from their team. Leaders must hold themselves responsible and accountable for the effect their influence has on their employees and the organization as a whole. Leadership should be earned anew each day. – Sheri Nasim,Center for Executive Excellence

3. Empathy

The future of leadership will revolve around our capacities to build emotional intelligence within ourselves as leaders, and those whose lives we touch. Empathy and compassion aren’t just ideals of ancient spiritual teachings; they are cornerstones for bringing people together in mutual understanding around vital, complex and sometimes alienating socio-political and economic issues. – Dave Ursillo, DaveUrsillo.com

4. Selflessness

Leaders of the future will know how to tirelessly encourage the dreams of those around them while diffusing their fears. This requires leaders to have unshakable certainty in themselves and a willingness to be generous with those they lead. – Monique Alvarez, Monique Alvarez Enterprises

5. Flexibility

The days of cubicles and 9-to-5 routines are winding down. Teams are quickly transitioning to work from remote locations, on their own time, on platforms that change every single day. Flexibility may be an old-school idea, yet it’s a principle leaders will always need. Adapting to the changing technology and millennial-created cultures continue to keep leaders fresh and effective. – Hanna Hermanson, Dream Life is Real Life

6. Committing To A Clear Vision

Upholding a vision for the future is nothing new to leadership, as are other key traits like emotional intelligence and being willing to take necessary risks. But there is something to be said for being unwavering in the pursuit of a mission and vision. Leaders who can capitalize on ways to make that future vision a reality will take their companies and staff further, faster. – Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International

7. Listening

The pace of work, innovation and change continues to accelerate. Leaders need to be highly skilled listeners to stay ahead of the curve on what’s happening with their teams, their clients and their partners. That will require learning to listen on multiple levels, including being able to tune in better to the emotional soundtracks of those they lead, serve and work with. – Joe Casey, Princeton Executive Coaching

8. Humility

Humility is one of the behaviors I observe least often. Recognizing that, simply put, it is not all about you, is how leaders can enable their teams and their organizations to prepare for the future. Leaders should not view themselves as the most important person. Be modest about your value. Encourage others to shine rather than looking for the light yourself. – Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC

9. Communication And ‘Soft Skills’

“Soft skills” like communication, listening and public speaking have become crucial in the day-to-day leadership environment. Without effective communication, leaders are just figureheads. By focusing on the interpersonal interactions, leaders can reach individuals where they are and connect. – Jennifer Oleniczak Brown, The Engaging Educator

10. Steadiness While Remaining Adaptable

Technological advancements are happening at a rapid pace, which affects the way leaders do business often. Inflexible leadership causes companies to lag behind competitors, which could ultimately lead to losing market share – or worse, becoming obsolete. Staying on the cutting edge of any industry requires flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to the changes in the marketplace. – Tamiko Cuellar, Pursue Your Purpose LLC

11. Learning Quickly

The well-known skills of top leaders in the past, such as effective communication and personal branding, will always be around. But the often-overlooked trait of a top leader that has never been more important is the ability to learn quickly, over and above just the ability to recall and reformulate current knowledge. Coachability and adaptability are critical in an age of tech overwhelm. – Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk Consulting

12. Cultural Intelligence

Experience and business acumen will only take a leader so far. High-touch experiences with stakeholders and employees and the ability to deftly maneuver in social settings have become the rule, rather than the exception. Because we are becoming more globally entrenched as a society, understanding, appreciating and leveraging differences each become critical to effective leadership. – Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport

13. Understanding The Individual

With multiple generations in the workforce at the same time, the need for individual attention is crucial. Gone are the days when leaders could enforce blanket policies and expect results. Acknowledging the differences in each team member goes a long way when leaders are trying to communicate, motivate and inspire. – Dominique Anders, Dominant Media / Dominique Anders Coaching

14. Authenticity

Authenticity encompasses trustworthiness, openness, empathy and being real. We are wary of leaders who are fake, narcissistic, secretive or self-serving. Teams are getting bolder at calling out destructive character traits that impact their livelihood and the corporate world. The best leaders today are authentic; it’s how we connect and build trust in our teams and companies. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC

15. Leading Through Change

Leaders of the future have to get better at leading teams through change. The talk of the importance of change is pervasive in business conversations today, but few leaders actually understand and are good at executing change. The most powerful change skill is leveraging your people’s natural inclination to be creative through transitions. Harness that energy, and leaders will be unstoppable. – Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group, Intl

16. Versatility

Versatility across multiple areas of business is proving to be a coveted leadership trait. Gone are the days of singular expertise; businesses covet skill diversity and agility. The greater the exposure to various job functions, the easier it can be for leaders to navigate the ever-evolving world of business, adapt to changing business demands, and provide beneficial solutions. – Adrienne Tom, Career Impressions

Via Forbes : 10 Ways To Gain Respect As A Young Leader

The makeup of leadership teams in the workplace is rapidly changing. One study found that about 10,000 baby boomer employees are retiring every day, and that by 2020 millennials will comprise about 50% of the workforce in the United States.

Because of these trends, young leaders are being asked to take on significant leadership roles. This can present challenges both for the managers and for those who are being managed. This article provides readers with 10 ways to gain respect as a young leader; respect that should also help those being managed.

1. Prove Your Value As Soon As Possible

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, young leaders are faced with a number of unique challenges related to the way colleagues perceive them in the workplace. A primary concern is that young leaders lack the necessary experience or knowledge to be successful.

To overcome this perception, young leaders should create a goal for themselves early on, and should share this goal with the team. They should then make sure to actually hit the goal. Doing this early in a young leader’s tenure can demonstrate to the team that they are capable of performing as expected.

2. Genuinely Care About The Wellbeing Of Your Team

It becomes considerably easier to earn people’s respect when they believe that their manager cares about their wellbeing. Caring about an individual’s wellbeing does not mean that you should be a pushover, or that you should accommodate every personal request a team member makes.

Instead, you should show that you care about your team’s success, both individually and collectively. You should make time to be available for your team for work and personal matters, and should listen more than you talk.

3. Understand That Their Success Is Your Success

A key difference between a business leader and an individual contributor is that a leader is judged by the success of his or her team. That means that a leader should constantly be thinking of ways to put his or her team in the spotlight if they do well-executed work. Others in the company will swiftly realize that you are the one leading those on your team to success.

Putting the success of the team first is also an effective way to earn respect as a young leader. If people feel that you are interested in their professional growth, they are more likely to be open to feedback and guidance.

4. Give And Ask For Honest Feedback

Speaking of feedback, it is important to provide candid feedback to your team. It is the only way that your people will grow professionally. As Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, said in an interview, “You reinforce the behaviors that you reward … If you reward candor, you’ll get it.” Welch went on to espouse the importance of providing candid feedback to people on your team. Failing to do so is a great way to ensure mediocrity.

5. Provide Employees With Reasonable Autonomy

If you micromanage from the get-go, people will quickly become frustrated with you. This is especially true if the previous manager was relatively hands off.

Instead, provide employees with a reasonable level of autonomy and trust them to make the right decision. After further evaluation, decide whether employees can work autonomously. If they cannot, put them on a performance-improvement plan. If that doesn’t work, you may have to let them go. Managers should not be micromanagers; they should be facilitators who empower employees.

6. Hold Regular One-On-One Meetings

Ben Horowitz is a well-known venture capitalist, and the former CEO of 2 successful technology companies. After years of leading people, he came to realize the importance of conducting meaningful one-on-one meetings with the people on his team.

Holding a one-on-one meeting lets employees know you are available to help them succeed. It provides employees with a space where they can ask for and receive feedback, and it also provides a mechanism for you to hold those on your team accountable on a regular basis.

7. Ask For Advice From Other Leaders

You won’t have all the answers all the time, and that’s okay. Develop a network of business leaders whom you feel comfortable calling when a challenging managerial task pops up. Cultivating a network of other successful business leaders can accelerate your learning curve, making you a more effective leader.

8. Practice Patience

Be patient with yourself and with your team—within reason. Understand that it will take time for you to learn the ropes of management, and that it will take time for your team to acclimate to a young business leader.

Create a management routine for yourself; one that involves regular one-on-one meetings and self-reflection. In time, your team should come to respect you as a leader.

9. Be Humble

Accounting to a study cited in the Washington Post, humble leaders are more effective leaders. Humble leaders (those who have an accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses) were more likely to lead their business to success, and were more likely to receive positive assessments from people on their team.

Being humble means putting the good of others, and of the organization, ahead of yourself. It also means being able to clearly take stock of areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

10. Make Personnel Changes If Needed

If, after following the 9 best practices listed above, you find it difficult to establish respect among some members of your team, it may be time to make a personnel change.

True leaders will not tolerate insubordination after a sustained effort to earn respect. One toxic employee can negatively color how others within the organization see you as a leader. It is important to be open to making personnel changes should that be called for.

Conclusion

It can be challenging to be a young leader in the workplace today. To quickly gain respect, remember to put the success of employees ahead of your own success. Hold regular one-on-one meetings and create a culture of candid feedback to help employees grow quickly. If all else fails, remember that firing an insubordinate employee is acceptable in some situations.

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