Career And Leadership Skills

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10 Leadership Secrets From Top Business Books

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Think about your boss for a moment. What do you think are the reasons for his success? What are his qualities that inspire you? Why do you want to become like him? Let’s learn about the answers to these questions by taking help of the leadership books.

Leadership has got multiple facets and each and every facet plays a key role in the success of the leader. Everyone wants to become a leader. People like to have followers who admire them. Leaders are responsible for the success or the failure of the organisation. If they could effectively manage the people, culture and work in the organisation, no one can stop the organisation from achieving heights.

If you are a student who is about to enter the corporate life in a year, learning leadership lessons can help you get an edge over your competitors. If you are a manager who is facing challenges in managing people, work or culture in the organisation, leadership lessons are essential for your career.

1. Every team member should wear the crown of a ‘leader’ and take charge

Becoming a leader and leading a team is an achievement, but when the responsibilities of the leader becomes overwhelming, the achievement can soon turn into a nightmare. Rather than having a single leader loaded with work, developing a team of leaders with each member acting as a leader can help in developing a team with excellent team coordination. By growth of each employee ultimately the organisation grows. This idea is suggested by Paul Gustavson and Stewart Cliff in their book ‘A team of Leaders‘.

Imagine a situation, where you don’t have to give explanation for a decision, instead your team members point out the benefits of your decision as they can relate themselves to you. Life will become so easy for the leaders and the overall potential of the organisation increases.

2. A Motivated Employee is twice efficient than a demotivated employee

What do you think is the reason behind the continuing success of an organisation like Google? It’s the Motivation. Not just external motivation of the employees is important, internal motivation plays a crucial role in the long term success of the organisation. This idea is given by Daniel Pink in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth about what motivates us who is connecting the dots between motivation and Organisation Effectiveness.

If the employees are just externally motivated by giving rewards and appreciation they may adopt an unethical behaviour in order to achieve the rewards which destroys the culture of the organisation. If they are internally motivated they’ll trust the values of the organisation, put in extra effort and be ethical.

3. Empathy towards your employees will win half battle for you

If you empathize with people and understand their emotions you can learn about things like ‘what motivates them?’, ‘What are the different problems faced by them’ and ‘How can you help them grow?’ It you want to become an effective leader, you need to influence your employees which is possible only if you are emotionally intelligent.

Daniel Goleman in his book Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence relates Emotional Intelligence with leadership. He describes how leaders can positively influence the people they lead so that they can work at their best potential.

If you are empathetic to your employees, you can get the insights about inside the organisation as well as outside it by developing a healthy equation with your employees. Invite your employees to a dinner party after they failed in a project, appreciate the effort put in and see the difference in their behaviour.

4. Focus on developing the strengths of your employees

Have you ever heard of a leader who is the master of all? Even Steve Jobs was fired from a company he himself created. No one is perfect. As Devora Zack suggested in the book ‘Single Tasking’- Multitasking is a myth. Successful leaders are successful because they can delegate work to their followers on the basis of their strengths and don’t focus on managing their weaknesses. By surrounding themselves with the right people having the right skills they can develop an effective team.

Tom Rath and Barie Conchie in their book Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, And Why People Follow explains that effective leaders focus on developing strengths of the people instead of managing their weaknesses.

By knowing your strengths you can use them to become successful in academic, career and personal success. It can help you become a successful leader because now you will be able to identify strengths of other people and recruit them accordingly.

5. You can’t become a leader overnight

What if your employees are not satisfied with your leadership? Instead of talking to you about an issue, they talk against you behind your back? Leadership is about influencing the people and gaining followers which can’t happen in a day. By prioritizing effectively both people and tasks it is possible to become an effective leader.

Maxwell in his book Developing the Leader within You and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership explains the different laws and steps to be followed to become a successful leader.

It requires patience, commitment and learning from your mistakes. Along with personal development if you can contribute to the development of others you are an effective leader.

6. Predict the uncertainties of future and decide the right path

Leader is a person who could successfully navigate his followers in times of uncertainty and help them deal with difficulties without getting demoralised. It’s important to develop a strategy to achieve the long term goal of the organisation.

Alfred Lansing in his book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage tells the story of the leader Ernest Shackleton and his crew of 27 members voyage across the Antarctic Circle in a very difficult environment of extreme cold, no food and stormy winds.

There will be times when you face opposition from people against your decision, but staying confident, firm and strong with your decision will help you gain followers slowly and exponentially.

7. Storytelling and Character Building are an effective way of getting followers

Joseph L. Badaracco Jr. in his book Questions of Character: Illuminating the Heart of Leadership through Literature tries to emphasize the storytelling is an effective way of making a resonating effect in the minds of the employees where by relating themselves with the characters of the story they can modify their behaviour according to the needs of the organisation.

If you want to be the inspiration of others, develop character and trust among people, and only then you can help others to grow. If your employees perceive you as honest, fair and intelligent, then only they’ll be able to understand your vision and will be willing to contribute their 100 percent.

8. Promoting Innovation by developing a favourable culture in the organisation

Leader who ensure creating a conducive environment for creativity to flourish; values employees, customer and competitors; and works in the interest of everyone is a real leader.

Tony Hsieh in his book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by telling about his journey from selling Linkexchange (his first company) to getting Zappos (second company) out of bankruptcy and selling it to Amazon, highlights the effect of culture and core values of the organisation on the creativity and productivity of the employees.

Lazlo bock in his book ‘Work rules’ highlights the reasons behind the success of the Google from an HR perspective. The key behind Google’s success is its culture where no unilateral decisions are made. Every decision is made after the consent of all the group members whether it is performance appraisal or product design or launch of a product.

Employees when given freedom, equal powers and responsibility become more loyal, confident and creative. When people who are more intelligent then you are hired, commanding them may result in reducing their efficiency. They are smart enough to manage their work and innovate independently.

9. Expand the pie

Imagine working with people who competed with you for the position you are currently on. Appointing them to work under you is a big risk. They may try to throw you out and take your position.

Doris Kearns Goodwin in his book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln explains the reasons behind the success of Lincoln who took the risk and appointed his competitors to his cabin as he considered them to be the best men whose service is needed by the country.

Understanding the human behaviour and knowing what motivates them can work wonders for a leader and turn enemies into allies. You can talk and analyse the situation of conflict with other person to find a way that ensures benefit of everyone.

10. Guide the Change

Assume that you work in an organisation which lacks creativity. Being aware of the rising competitive forces, you know that your organisation won’t sustain for long. How will you guide the cultural change of the organisation?

Developing your strategy, gaining trust of everyone and analysing the positives and the negatives of the change will help you guide the change that you are planning to bring in your organisation. Have a plan B ready if the change doesn’t go according to the way you planned. For example- If you are adopting a new technology for your product, don’t discard the old technology completely.

Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to great‘, studies the reasons behind the sustained success of the great companies like Kimberly-Clark, Nucor, Walgreen’s and Wells Fargo. These companies could move from below average to successful company’s status only because of the vision and guidance of their leader.

In the book ‘Only the Paranoid survive‘, Andrew Stephen Grove emphasizes that it is important for long term success of the business to be prepared for changes in the market by anticipating them. The earlier and more accurately you identify these changes, the more freedom you have to choose your response, because your original business will provide the resources to jump-start the new business.

Leadership is not about micromanaging or making your employees scared of you, it has multiple aspects. Each and every aspect is important. You become a successful leader only when you adopt a holistic approach and contribute in the growth of others. Don’t dictate people because of your positional power. Instead influence them with your leadership power. Read these books and apply its suggestions in your life and become an effective leader.

This is a guest post from Vandana Shivani of Keynote where you can read Book summaries.

* All links are affiliate links to Amazon.

Should You Document Your Company’s Stories

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Why do you think Legos are such a popular toy?

I bet you can guess from the title of this blog post.

Legos are popular because you can see your hard work come to life. Every Lego brick you stack the more your progress improves. You can see how the story unfolded.

Many of your employees don’t get to see the physical results of their hard work. They don’t see a customer’s reaction or what happens after they hand it off to another department.

That’s why it’s important to focus on the outcome of your employees’ hard work.

That means asking the right questions that helps them see their progress at work.

Do you want to be a better leader at work? Then we should talk about you can improve employee engagement and happiness. Click here to see how more happiness can help your organization.

A great question to ask your employees is…

What is the thing that you’ll remember the most from this past week?

The answer will help add to your company story. Every story is a lego brick that shows your progress.

Can you keep a company journal that helps keep track of milestones and stories that occur at work. I suggest that you keep it positive, but nothing wrong with being able to document and laugh at mistakes so you can learn from them.

People need to believe that the work they do is worth doing. Otherwise they see no point in putting in extra effort.

A great way to help your employees find meaning is to tell stories that they can connect with. A good story can show a perspective that the employee hadn’t yet seen. The hard part is remembering these stories and making them easy to share.

My Father

My father is an electrician and has owned Staib Electrical for 40 years. I worked with him through high school and college. I was always baffled by his need to form the wires so perfectly. My dad made sure his electrical panels were like little pieces of engineering art work. One day, after he fixed my work, I asked him why it was so important to him to make the wires look perfect.

He explained how he recently received two phone calls from potential clients. They had both heard from a previous customer about the great work he did. He asked them who referred him, and they both named a neighbor of theirs, Mr. Flankel. My father told me about Mr. Flankel’s delighted expression when he showed him his work. Mr. Flankel then bragged to his neighbors, and they too wanted an electrician that cared as much as my father does.

His story helped me understand why the presentation was so important. If he didn’t apply a bit of art to his craft, everyone would think he was just like every other electrician. It separated him from the crowd and as a result people became a fan of his work and promoted him to people they knew.

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

From that point on, when I worked with my father, I applied a little extra effort to every wire I formed.

Why Stories Work

We share these stories all the time at work, but many of them get lost and forgotten when someone who had this skill leaves the position.

Stories help show your employees how to bring a little extra creativity to their work. If they are willing to go the extra mile they will be more engaged and get much better results. This all starts by sharing stories of what worked in the past. It also helps them see their progress at work. It’s a win-win that can help for years and years.

It’s up to you, but helping your employees appreciate their progress at work is one of the quickest ways to bring happiness into your team. The best part in documenting your company’s progress will show them how far you’ve come as a team.

Yes

My belief is that every company should document their stories. It’s a great way to pass on information within an organization. It’s also a great way to help improve the marketing. If a company goes through a struggle and comes out the other side more successful that’s something customers and investors can get behind.

Your Turn

Do you notice how your company shares its stories? Company meetings, around at lunch, on your social media accounts etc. Even the mistakes can show how much you care as a company.

How to Say No to Soul-Sucking Tasks

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You’re busy. I get it. You get lots of emails. You work a lot. You’re really important to lots of people. You usually get nods of approval when you talk about the depths of your busyness. But I’m not impressed. Look, everyone is busy. It’s not impressive anymore. Bragging about being busy is like a fish […]

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How Difficult Challenges Define Your Career

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When you wake up in the morning what is usually your first thought? I need more sleep. I can’t wait to get today started. I wish I didn’t have to go to work today. The first thought is important, but the next thought is more important. What do you do with that first thought? If […]

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Why You Should Take The Time to Appreciate Your Progress at Work

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“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” Benjamin Franklin It makes sense. You chip away at progress. It isn’t just a sprinkle of magic that leads to a finished project. It can feel like a little luck had something to do with it, but it’s always due […]

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An Open Letter to All Bosses Who Don’t Listen

Open Letter to Your Boss

Dear Karl, I truly want to work happier, but I feel stuck. I received your email last week about being a great leader. I’m sad to say that my boss is a true jerk. I’ve tried to talk to him, but he is always too busy or when I try to speak up he just […]

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5 Reasons You Should Write Down Your Core Values

Core Values

I waited. I’m not sure why, but my light was green and I hadn’t pressed on the gas peddle. Then a big truck came barreling through the intersection. My jaw dropped. I should be dead right now. I don’t know if it was divine intervention, my gut instinct telling me not to go, or just […]

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Why Great Leaders Have a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset quote

It’s 10am. Mark knew it was time for the team meeting, but he really didn’t want to go. It was always the same thing. People would joke around for 10 minutes. Then Cindy and John would dominate the conversation to see who could one up the other. Alex would try to chime in with calm […]

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5 Free Tools Top Professionals Use

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You look across the meeting room. He has a slight smile on his face. Why is he always smiling? He never seems stressed. What does he know that I don’t know? You look down at your notes and the only thing you did was title the top of your sheet and that’s it. You sigh. […]

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Why Feeling Grateful Will Boost Your Career

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One of the most important tools I’ve used to improve my life and my career is a very simple tool. It has transformed my thinking as well as my results. I grown two businesses while taking care of my 1 year old son. The tool is… Gratitude Journal Practicing gratitude at every chance I can […]

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