Monday, December 27, 2021

How to Become an Innovative Leader

Anyone hoping to move up the leadership ranks better put "innovative" at the top of their resume.

Innovation is highly prized by companies because it means that this person is always on the lookout for new ideas and new opportunities, which are critical in succeeding into today's competitive marketplace.

In an XBInsight study of almost 5,000 leaders across a wide range of industries, here are the competencies that innovative leaders share and how you can do the same:

1. Manage risk. Think of at least eight new initiatives and benchmark the best practices for each. How can they be implemented in your organization? Then, identify, document and plan for risks, dissecting the risk for every decision.

2. Show curiosity. What other education or training do you need to expand your current knowledge and skills? Look at past mistakes and write down what you can learn from them and what behaviors or actions led to those mistakes.

3. Lead courageously. Be willing to share your feelings and opinions clearly and with conviction even if you get pushback. Think about how to be assertive without being aggressive. Try to always look for the win-win.

4. Seize opportunities. When you've run into a setback or a problem, have you looked at it in a different way so you can create opportunity? New situations can create new areas of growth, but you can't let yourself be intimidated by them. Look for collaborators and remember that you don't always have to go it alone.

5. Maintain a strategic business perspective. You must thoroughly understand your business, the marketplace and your customers. With that knowledge you can then develop collaboration with others to better analyze and execute a business strategy.

Monday, December 20, 2021

3 Questions You Must Ask to Get Ahead

 Are you good at your job?

If so, congratulations. But it's not enough.

If you really want to move up in your career or in your company, then you've got to offer more. You have to go beyond your job description and figure out how your input contributes to the bottom-line success of the company. 

Here's how to figure out where you also need to focus your energies if you want to move up:

1. What tasks do you perform -- either officially or unofficially -- that have a direct impact on the bottom line? In other words, what earns the company money or customers?

2. What relationships do you have with the people who are critical to getting these key tasks done? For example, if you often predict when and how shipping needs will change for your company's product -- and prevent that change from becoming a problem -- then are you connecting with the right people that can help you accomplish that?

3. Does your boss know? If you're performing a critical task that is contributing to the bottom-line success of a company, you better make darn sure the boss knows about it. This is a contribution that matters, and he/she needs to understand that you're the one getting it done. Your success will contribute to the boss's success, so he/she needs to be on the same page so that the positive results continue.

Too many people take their job descriptions to heart and think that's the blueprint for their jobs. But job descriptions are often a hurried, random thing thought up by a busy human resources person or a harried boss. 

Take the time to truly understand the path to greater success by writing your own job description of the things you do that reall add value -- that's where you need to focus your time and energy.

Monday, December 13, 2021

What Does Your Pride Say About You?

Many of us have been taught from a young age that lacking humility is a downfall. Of course, now that social media has come along, it seems that bragging is an art form.

We might be able to ignore the celebrity or star athlete who can't quit bragging online, but it can be more difficult to stomach the boss or the colleague who is always gloating. We might believe that we shouldn't brag -- but one expert says that not correct.

Jessica Tracy, a psychology professor and author of "Take Pride; Why the Deadline Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success," says that being proud of an achievement isn't a negative. But when you have "hubristic" pride where you believe you are the greatest and deserve more than others, then that becomes a problem.

She says that insecurity often is the biggest motivator of such behavior, and such people become defensive and defiant as they push down the thought that they're not good enough and instead begin touting "I'm the best."

That can steamroll to the point that the person doesn't do the work to really have "authentic" pride and instead bases his/her sense of self on how others view him/her.

Tracy emphasizes that pride can be a positive thing, but it needs to come from doing hard work and trying to become the best person you can be. Only then will you feel better about yourself, because you know you're putting in a genuine effort toward something that matters to you.

What kind of pride do you have? Is it authentic or hubristic? 

Monday, December 6, 2021

How Managers Can Learn to Go With the Flow

No one would argue with the statement that the last 18 months have been challenging for workers.

But it's also been a very, very challenging time for managers. The strategies they developed to keep working flowing on their teams, deal with obstacles and help employees stay engaged have flown out the window. Now, these managers are dealing with workers working remotely, or in a hybrid situations. Team members they've relied on in the past have left for other positions. Workers are more stressed and it's up to managers to figure out how to relieve that stress and keep them moving forward.

It's a big ask.

But it may be easier for managers if they stop obsessing about the clock and how long it takes for someone to get a task done, and instead focus on how team members best get work done. 

For example, a working parent may be most productive between the hours of 10 a.m.-3 p.m., when the kids are off to school and he/she has had time to get a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and focus on work. Or, a young, single employee may work best from noon until 9 p.m. as he/she likes to go on a long bike ride before work and doesn't mind working later into the evening.

When a manager is focused on the clock instead of how quality work gets done, they may be getting work delivered -- but it's not as well done. That increases the stress on the team and on the manager.

Instead of trying to force your work pace on team members, try to let them choose when they work best and how they can meet goals. While there will certainly always be deadlines, letting team members have more leeway in their work flow can help relieve a burden on employees and managers.