Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Managers lack people skills and training lacks relevance

Almost one-third of managers and executives are regarded as severely lacking in their abilities to manage other people, with the ability to engage other people and to develop subordinates the most in need of development. A recent survey also indicated that other areas that need enhancing include communication skills, motivating people and information sharing.

The survey went on to find that good communication is the leadership skill that organizations value most in managers and executives, while other valued skills include a sense of vision, honesty, decisiveness and the ability to build good relationships with employees. It was concluded that companies need to provide the necessary leadership development and coaching to the bottom third of managers and executives to turn around their performance, but they also need to pay very close attention to the 30 percent of managers and executives who are in the middle, and develop them into excellent leaders, rather than maintaining them as mediocre managers.

The keys seem to lie in:
1. taking an honest look at your organization's managers and executives,
2. not following the belief that, because someone occupies a position of leadership, he or she must be a good leader,
3. recognizing the need for a well-organized and relevant leadership development initiative,
4. identifying those who require development,
5. implementing a program of training and coaching that is relevant to the real work environment and that focuses on direct transfer to the workplace.

All too often, companies bury their heads in the sand, and either do not recognize the need for leadership development or bring in programs that are seriously lacking in relevance and transferability to the real world.

Don't kid yourselves any longer. Decide to do something that has a real impact.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Importance of Leadership at all Levels

Leadership is a valuable skill, especially in the workplace. Some people seem to be born to lead, and others have to work at it. Whichever category you fall under, you can be sure that the ability to effectively lead others will improve your work environment and help you get the best out of your employees and coworkers.

Even if you aren’t in a specific position of leadership in your job, leadership skills can benefit you. In dealing with coworkers, leadership skills can help you develop strong working relationships and earn the respect and support of your peers. Even if it’s not your job to manage others, by demonstrating leadership skills in your day-to-day activities, others will be willing to help you and will learn that they can count on you and turn to you for assistance, advice or support.

People are naturally drawn to leaders. The following are some of the characteristics that leaders commonly have. If these characteristics don’t all come naturally to you, make an effort to improve your areas of weakness. Leadership skills can be developed through practice and experience.

Leaders have direction. They are focused on their job and they aren’t easily distracted. Leaders work proactively, seeking new ideas and ways to improve things. They don’t get bogged down with smaller problems and they provide others with direction as well. When people see a good leader and their dedication to the job, it inspires them to be dedicated too.

Effective leaders inspire and motivate others. They help others see the importance of what they are doing and motivate them to do their best. A good leader understands that everyone works differently and takes note of others’ preferred work methods. They are able to use this knowledge to get more out of their employees and coworkers and show that they value them for their contributions.

Leaders are good communicators. They interact well with others despite different personality types and they know how to confidently and effectively convey messages to others. In addition, effective leaders make an effort to remember bits of personal information about others, take note of their interests, skills and experience. Taking a personal interest in someone strengthens their working relationship and encourages them to be more dedicated.

Leaders are positive. They don’t focus on the negative, but inspire others by letting them see how important their contributions are. This doesn’t mean they never have any problems to deal with, but when they do, they do not get wrapped up in the negative- they look for the best solution and focus on reaching it.

Successful leaders are solutions-driven. They see the problem and work for a solution, and they encourage others to help them. Leaders see the bigger picture and are constantly moving toward a specific goal.

Whether you have a disability or not, people are drawn to the same leadership characteristics. When others see leadership potential in you, it is likely to lead to greater opportunities and career growth. Even if you are not currently in a position where you have to be a leader, do your best to demonstrate these characteristics. You don’t have to be a natural leader- you just have to know what it takes, and be willing to work at it.

By Christy Eichelberger

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If you want stress, work for a bad boss.

What’s with the apparent massive increase of bad bosses in today’s workplaces? Are there more of them or are they simply being identified more often? One would think that with the amount of money organizations spend on hiring, succession planning and training (in particular ‘leadership’ training) the numbers should be drastically decreasing. But they are not. Apparently companies have to look at, and evaluate, the effectiveness of their programs, not to mention the effectiveness of their leaders.

The stress of even one bad boss is debilitating and the negative impact on productivity is exponential. What’s more, there seems to be either a lack of awareness among upper management or an aversion among upper management to deal with the manager or supervisor who is having such a negative impact on the people and the business. This, in turn, makes the upper managers bad bosses as well.

To break the cycle, the bad boss scenario has to be addressed directly and swiftly. In some cases the bad boss may not be aware of the negative impact of his or her behaviors; in other cases the bad boss may require more training in communication and interpersonal relations; and, in some cases, the bad boss is simply BAD (self-centered, arrogant, insensitive, micro-managing, abusive, etc., etc., etc) and dysfunctional.

Organizations cannot afford bad bosses. The stress on the employees and the impact on productivity have a direct impact on internal and external customer service, and the bottom line. The solutions can range from simple communication and awareness campaigns, to extensive revamping of the company values, behaviors and culture. In any case, inaction is not an alternative. The problem will not go away on its own and lack of action simply validates and reinforces the negative behaviors of the bad boss.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

7 tips to improve your listening ability

1) think like your customers, always remembering that you are trying to understand them in order to better manage your own business

2) limit your own talking, keeping in mind that you can't talk and listen at the same time

3) remember to concentrate and focus on what is being said, avoiding distractions or thinking about other things

4) ensure that you are actively listening by maintaining eye contact and responding to what is being said

5) don't think ahead or jump to conclusions, thereby muddling your mind with your own thoughts rather than listening to the speaker

6) accurately repeat and summarize what you hear to ensure that you have the correct information

7) continually practice your listening skills and encourage others to do the same. Learning to be an effective listener takes a lot of work.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Are you a credible leader?

Credibility is based on both ‘internal’ and ‘external’ results. If results are not achieved then credibility is impossible.

There are many stakeholders who decide whether or not you are credible as a leader. Some are not directly in contact with you on a day-to-day basis and evaluate your effectiveness from an ‘external’ perspective. These people include company shareholders, directors and your superiors who are at least one level removed. These people evaluate your effectiveness on the basis of results, including production, profitability and customer satisfaction. Their measurements ultimately tend to reflect your contribution to the financial success of your team, department or subsidiary operation.

However, your success, as measured by these stakeholders who are removed from your immediate operation, is directly related to your success ‘internally’. Your internal success measures come from the people you work with, other employees and your immediate team. They reflect your success in leading and motivating yourself and others to achieve goals. This, in turn, reflects your ability to create an environment in which you are satisfied in your job and in which those that you work with are satisfied, loyal, committed and accountable (engaged). With these internal results, people view you as a credible leader.

If your internal credibility is compromised and you are not viewed as a good leader by those that you work with on a day-to-day basis, the negative impact quickly becomes evident. It is reflected in decreased production, low morale, poor teamwork, minimal cooperation, and high turnover. This, in turn, directly impacts your ‘external’ credibility and renders you a liability. Your leadership days are numbered.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Are leaders born or made ... and who really cares?

Are leaders born or made? .... and, more importantly .... who really cares? I've been around this nature/nuture debate for many years and on many levels and, ultimately, it doesn't really matter. The important thing to recognize is that, regardless of etiology, there are a number of behaviors (including the way you treat yourself, the way you treat others, and the way you look and speak) that are fundamental to successful and effective leadership. If you don't come by some of them 'naturally', then you must learn them.

Can leadership behaviors be taught? Absolutely! (and keep in mind that there is no such thing as a 'born leader' who does not dedicate a lot of time to learning the behaviors and skills that are essential to his or her gaining credibility as a leader).

Is effective leadership an essential ingredient for organizational success. Absolutely!

Is there a single set of leadership skills or traits that guarantee success in any setting? No!

Is effective leadership 'situational'? Yes!

Do certain leadership behaviors impact effectiveness in different 'cultures'? Yes!

... and so on, and so on .....

Here's what I DO know:

Leadership is the single, most significant contributor to motivation and productivity through people.

Anyone can elicit average performance. A good leader creates an environment in which people and productivity flourish.

Leadership behaviors can be learned.

Leaders are found at all levels of an organization.

If morale is low, job satisfaction is minimal and engagement in the activities of the organization is poor .... you can usually look to leadership at just about every level and you will find it inadequate.

And, here's what leaders do:

Leaders initiate direction, communicate purpose, and motivate others to act together with enthusiasm and commitment to achieve a common goal.

Now that we know what leaders do, the remaining hundreds of posts that will comprise this blog will focus on successful and productive leadership. What people must do and not do in order to be effective at any number of levels of leadership.

Stay tuned.