Download a free ebook from Gaping Void

The team over at Gaping Void has put together an ebook, available for free download – Leadership In The Time Of Coronavirus Part 1 of 3

There are probably few people on the face of the earth today who are not aware of the crisis we are currently facing. Your social media feeds are likely full of responses, from silly memes, to cliched advice, to weird treatments that will eliminate infection.

One of the popular memes going around says something to the effect that, “when this is over, let us remember it wasn’t the CEOs and billionaires who saved us, it was the janitors, nurses, grocery workers, …” That’s not really true. There has been great leadership exhibited at all levels, from heads of state to retail staff.

Strong leadership is critical for an effective response to the crisis; from everybody.

Head over to Gapingvoid and download the ebook. It is 12 pages of great advice for being a leader in in this time of coronavirus.

Part 2 of 3 is now available for download – Love in The Time of Coronavirus.

How to Motivate and Inspire Others

The Green Bay Packers were a lacklustre team prior to the arrival of Vince Lombardi. The now legendary coach turned the Packers into the dominant NFL team of the 1960s. Why such a turnaround? Frank Gifford says it wasn’t Lombardi’s knowledge that made the difference, it was his ability to motivate the players. “He could get that extra ten percent out of an individual,” Gifford says. “Multiply ten percent times forty men on the team times fourteen games a season—and you’re going to win.”

We have all known those people who bring out the best in others—coaches, teachers, parents, bosses. They seem to possess a knack for inspiring people. How do they do it? How do they inspire and motivate people?

Here are four actions that will help motivate and inspire others:
  1. Identify with people. Don’t say, “Look at the challenge you face,” but rather, “look at the challenge we face.” If you want people to look at a problem from your point of view, don’t stand across from them and yell. Go to their side and identify with them and guide them to your side.
  2. Acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. Don’t hide things from those you’re working with or try to sugarcoat the problem. Face the facts.
  3. Have a call to action. Challenge others to specific action. You can think, discuss, investigate and plan all you want. Until you get people to take action things are not going to move forward.
  4. Assign tasks. Once you have a response to action, lay out the plan. An effective leader can cut the problem down to size. Assign each person a task that they can manage.

The people who make an impact on the world don’t have to be geniuses or the best looking or the most talented. They are those who can inspire others to action.

7 Ways to Develop Your Employees

One of the ongoing challenges of operating a business or running an organization is that of employee recruitment and retention.

One strategy that can improve recruitment and retention is training. Investing in staff training and development can alleviate skill shortages by improving your current staffs abilities to handle increased or new challenges.

Training may sound expensive, but the cost of turnover is even more expensive. Replacing and employee can cost between 50 and 100 percent of a positions’ annual salary! With this in mind, take a look at the following 7 ways to develop your employees.

  1. Training
    • A well-designed training program that maximizes learning before, during and after instruction translates into positive, lasting changes on the job.
    • Effective programs should include orientation, on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
    • Internet-based learning is an option that allows employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule.
  2. Self-directed learning
    • This approach puts individual employees in control of their own learning, allowing for personal differences in learning styles and encouraging ownership of the learning process.
    • When using this approach, many employers work with employees to develop a learning contract or personal development plan. The contract or plan, which is signed by both parties, outlines clear learning goals.
  3. Coaching and mentoring
    • Demonstrated benefits of these approaches include improved quality and quantity of work, transfer of learning and, for employees, improved communication and problem-solving skills.
    • Effective coaching and mentoring programs depend on the skills and personality of the mentor or coach, adequate time for coaching and mentoring sessions and established time-lines and goals.
  4. Job enrichment
    • Job enrichment increases the employee’s authority or responsibility within their current position. Examples include committee work, special assignments or serving on cross-functional teams.
    • This approach increases interest and motivation by allowing employees to try new skills, build new relationships and explore new areas of specialization.
  5. Job rotation and cross-training
    • Job rotation moves an employee through one or more different positions. The rotation can last several hours, several months or even a year or two. Cross-training is a specific type of job rotation where an employee learns the skills of a different position.
    • These approaches can effectively add diversity and interest, prepare individuals for promotion, rejuvenate work units and improve communication.
  6. Lateral moves
    • In a lateral move, an employee moves to a different position with similar status, pay and responsibility. A lateral move may offer new challenges or encourage the development of different skills for an employee who may not necessarily want increased responsibility.
    • This approach increases flexibility and communication among work units and, in small businesses with few opportunities for advancement, helps to retain valuable employees who might otherwise leave.
  7. Job aids
    • Job aids include checklists, tip sheets, wallet cards, posters, pictures, code lists, flow charts and diagrams—anything that offers on-the-spot practical help or reminders. Job aids can reduce the amount of information employees need to recall by providing easily accessible facts.
    • Well-designed job aids are concise, written in plain language and make good use of white space and graphics for easy interpretation.

Effective training and development better equips an organization to meet business challenges from filling staffing shortages to retaining current staff. Developing employee skills help generate the kind of performance that carries employers and employees forward.

7 Things Great Leaders Do

7 Things Great Leaders Do

Once in a while you meet a someone who stands out as a leader. They are more than just charismatic or likeable. You can quickly tell, they think and act and lead differently than most people.

However, people don’t become outstanding leaders overnight. Truly outstanding leaders are made. Through training, experience, self-examination and practice, they learn to nurture, motivate, and inspire.

They learn to truly lead.

Over time, those skills become automatic and reflexive. While great leaders do a tremendous amount of thinking, that thinking happens behind the scenes. In the moment, in the trenches, when people look to them and need them most, they act: swiftly, decisively, and confidently.

Want to become a truly outstanding leader? Work hard to do these seven things well:

1) Build a great team

Leaders must be rigorous in the selection process for getting new people “on the bus”, as Jim Collins puts it, in “Good to Great”. Invest time in evaluating each candidate and make systematic use of at least three evaluation tools (e.g., interviews, references, background, testing, etc.).

When in doubt, do not bring that person on the team. Keep the position vacant—taking on extra work as needed—until you have found the right person. Ensure your company does an exceptional job of retaining the right people to perpetuate good hiring decisions.

2) Offer recognition and praise

Offering praise to your employees is all about recognition. Most workers thrive on feeling appreciated. For an employee, knowing that what they are doing means something to their boss and the business, gives a feeling of worth that can motivate them to improve their work.

The happier your employees, the more engaged and productive they will be. Receiving praise is empowering. It doesn’t cost anything to recognize and praise your staff. However, not giving them credit when and where credit is deserved can cost you big time.

3) Improve constantly

Whatever you’re working toward, it’s important to constantly assess, evaluate and appraise where you are and where you want to be. It’s something you do because you want to be a better leader, not only for your own sake but also for the sake of those who are part of your team and work hard to achieve the vision and goals you set. Great leaders make self-improvement a daily practice.

4) Cross-pollinate

Great leaders know the benefits of working in a variety of departments in the organization. This cross-pollination is a productive development tool, giving organizations a competitive edge. When leaders better understand organizational processes, they can make better decisions. The same applies to staff.

Rather than compartmentalize employees in rigid departments, great leaders mix people from a variety of fields and allow them regular contact. As a result, the employees have a better understanding of the overall operations of the organization. This allows them to apply ideas from as many fields as possible to the problems at hand, just in case something unexpected applies.

5) Delegate

Delegation in leadership not only helps get things done, but it also empowers employees by giving them greater autonomy. No leader can do all things at all times, and delegation is a key tool for boosting team and organizational performance and efficiency. A Gallup study found that companies led by CEOs who were strong at delegating achieved a higher overall growth rate compared to companies whose CEOs delegated less.

Great leadership has many components, and delegation is an important factor for maximizing employee contributions and increasing productivity among all members of a team.

6) Share Information

Communication is a core leadership function. Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale.

You need to think with clarity, express ideas, and share information with your team. You must learn to handle the rapid flows of information within the organization, and among customers, partners, and other stakeholders and influencers.

7) Create a Vision

“In order to take the organization to the highest possible level, leaders must engage their people with a compelling and tangible vision.” ~Warren Bennis

Leadership vision is essential for focusing attention on what matters most; on becoming the kind of leader you wish to be. An effective vision has to be rooted in your past, address the future, and deal with today’s realities. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It inspires you, and the people whose commitment you need, to act to make constructive change towards a future you all want to see.

A visionary leader who clearly and passionately communicates his or her vision can motivate employees to act with passion and purpose, thereby ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal. The end result is that everyone contributes to the organization’s forward momentum.

How to be an Effective Mentor

Mentoring can be one of the most effective means of teaching: inviting someone to learn from the example of another with more experience. Whether through apprenticeships, internships or less-formal relationships, walking alongside an experienced practitioner can impart essential skills, attitudes and knowledge.

Being a mentor doesn’t mean having all the answers to every question. A good mentor know which questions to ask to stimulate development in their protégeé.

Some of the questions mentors ask:

  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
  • How can I help you?
  • Where are your skills being tested?
  • Where is your character being tested?
  • How is your relationship/communication style effecting what you are trying to accomplish?
  • What are some new things you could try?
  • What are some things that would help you to have more integrity?
  • What challenges have you faced and what were some of the effects of those challenges?
  • How has that shaped who you are?
  • How can you use your past to prepare you for the future?
  • Even though things haven’t worked out as you’d hoped, what are you learning from that?
  • As you assess your growth, where do you see yourself right now?
How to delegate effectively in the non-profit sector

How to delegate effectively in the non-profit sector

One would think, given the human-centric focus of most nonprofit organizations, they would be great examples of post-industrial leadership styles. Rather than a top-down management style they would exhibit the best traits of current, collaborative leadership. Unfortunately, that is not often the case.

There may be a couple of reasons why this is so:

One suggestion is, nonprofit organizations tend to be more collegial, have flatter management structures, and have a kind hearted approach to their employees. Therefore, leaders in these organizations are reluctant to burden staff and volunteers with delegated work.

Another suggestion says, the type of personality, drive and ability it takes to become a nonprofit leader often adds up to “control freak” (I can relate).

However, the inability or unwillingness to delegate is one of the biggest problems managers face. Delegation is one of the most important management skills for managers and leaders. The benefits are substantial, both for the leader, for staff, and for the organization.

Delegating:

  • Saves time for the manager to focus on things only they can do.
  • Ensures tasks are assigned to staff with skills to do the job.
  • Gives staff opportunity to develop.
  • Motivates and engages staff.

So, how do we delegate effectively?

  1. Plan – know what needs to be done, and be able to explain it clearly to the one receiving the task. Understand the skills required to complete the task, the outcomes expected, etc. Nothing is worse than setting-up someone for failure by giving them a job that is not clearly defined, and not matched to their skill-set.
  2. Define – Ensure the person receiving the task understands what is to be achieved with specific and measurable results; how they are responsible for producing the required outcomes; the deadline for completing task/project; what their level of decision-making authority is.
  3. Monitor don’t micro-manage, but provide enough oversight to enable the job to be completed: schedule regular progress meetings; make yourself available to provide clarification; communicate effectively.
  4. Be patient – If delegating is not currently an active part of your management toolbox, it’s going to take time for it to work fully. The first time you delegate a task, staff may lack confidence in the process, and come to you more frequently, or proceed carefully, taking more time that might be necessary. Stick to it, be consistent. The more you staff gets comfortable with the process and results, the more confident and efficient they will be come. Don’t dismiss delegation at the first hiccup, but support the process to see more effective results.

When you invest the time and energy to delegate, you increase personal and organizational effectiveness.  You improve communication, build skills and competency, and strengthen employee engagement. Effective delegation makes others better and ensures that even when you are absent your leadership impact is still present.