I'm the Boss

It’s All About the Boss

I'm the Boss

Leaders open doors, not force everyone behind one.  Bill Treasurer, author of Leaders Open Doors, says that, Leaders open doors of perception, possibility, and most importantly opportunity

Everyone can’t be locked behind the same door.

Boss vs. Leader

If you’re not privileged enough to work for a great leader, but rather locked behind a door working for a “boss,” you can still put a positive twist on it.  Having been the victim of my share of bosses, I’ve always been able to move on with one important thing . . . lessons learned.

When we think of learning and training, it’s usually associated with a positive twist.

Though it’s a bad experience, realizing the negative attributes of the boss are actually positive learning tools for us.  It’s the experience that’s bad, not the learning outcome.

Taking Time to Learn

We can learn something from every situation that we’re dropped into.  At one point I was in an operations department where I would write and review standard operating procedures (SOP).  Some of those SOPs would have to be reviewed and approved by my boss.  We’ll call him Mr. Tall.  I would give him a hard copy – partially because it was back in a time when not everyone was that computer literate.

But the main reason was that he liked to “bleed” on his reviews. I honestly believe that he must have ordered red ballpoint pens by the case!

  • Mr. Tall would review, mark it up (very often with synonyms of what was there), then send it back to me.
  • I’d make the corrections and send it back to him (mistake #1).
  • Then he’d make more corrections to different things.  I’d correct and send back (mistake #2).
  • Then Mr. Tall would make more corrections . . . generally reverting back to the original wording.  This was typically the last time I’d have to send it back.

What did I learn from this?  Well you can probably guess the negative right off the bat.  The positive was that when I’m in his position, as much as possible, review it, send it back for corrections, and sign off.  Don’t waste the team’s time with multiple reviews when you can take a little time and review it completely and accurately the first time.

On Leading Meetings

Let me tell you about another instance.  Oh look, it’s Mr. Tall again.  Mr. Tall would have a supervisor’s meeting every Friday at 4:00 (end of day being 5:00).  Now you may be thinking that that’s not such a big deal to meet in order to review the week and plan the next week . . . a little late in the day for a Friday, maybe.

But the kicker is that he held another supervisor meeting first thing Monday morning.

So how captivated do you think the “participants” were on Friday afternoon, knowing that we’d be sitting in the same place, doing the same thing, first thing Monday morning?  The correct answer?  Not very.

This was not some Fortune 500 company trading stocks or trying to secure marketing deals.  Except for the occasional outlying issue, which could have been handled with a sidebar, we didn’t need two meetings so close together.

If you think about it, it was basically one meeting with a two-day break in the middle.

Thoughtful Leadership

What did I learn from this?  People have too many things on their plates to be attending useless meetings.  Constructive meetings involve people and encourage participation.  Badly planned meetings waste time, money, resources, and quite frankly, are worse than having no meeting at all.

  • So I’ll never have a meeting just for the sake of having one.
  • Meeting methods are chosen that are appropriate for the situation.
  • They’re planned out in advance, with an agenda, and one-on-ones are utilized as much as possible when the whole team is not needed.

These are just two examples of controlling bosses.  It’s all about the boss, ’bout the boss, no humble . . . sorry, just had to go there.  Mr. Tall could have been an extremely effective leader if he were to practice a bit of servant leadership.  We were in a business where it would have fit in perfectly.

A Different Way to Lead

In S. Chris Edmonds’ latest book, The Culture Engine, he explains that servant leaders believe:

  • Every person has value and deserves civility, trust, and respect.
  • People can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves.

Focus on the purpose of the organization and people within it.  They want to do a good job.  If you respect their abilities and trust that they can handle the tasks at hand, as the leader it will ultimately free up your time and energy to accomplish even more.  And when that happens, production and energy from employees also goes up.  It’s a win-win.

Are your doors open or closed?  How many useless meetings can you eliminate to free up time and resources?  Are you focused on others, or just yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Learn This: 5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge

Awesome Apps

Leading people and teams in this new era of connectivity, having the right tools in hand can really help make a difference. With literally thousands of smartphone and device apps to choose from, finding educational apps may be truly easy.

But finding educational apps that are worth using is another story!

5 Awesome Apps That Grow Knowledge

 

That’s why this list of the best learning apps includes some of the most talked about and highly rated apps on the market today. Armed with the right app and mobile products, you can learn virtually anything, from how to prepare Russian cuisine to simply brushing up on your mathematics.

Mathomatic

Most math apps are little more than fancy calculators, but Mathomatic is different. In many ways, this app is closer to an advanced graphing calculator than to a simple smartphone app. For instance, it can actually solve algebraic equations. It also comfortably handles derivatives, indefinite integrals of polynomials, and essentially everything else under calculus. While solving problems, Mathomatic shows all its steps as well as all possible answers, so it’s easy to learn just by watching the app.

Best of all, Mathomatic does this in a reasonably clear, easy to manage, and simple to understand interface that doesn’t add any more confusion to an already difficult subject. No matter if you’re trying to check your homework, solve a particularly complicated system of equations, or just simplify a polynomial, this app is definitely worth checking out.

History Line

The highest quality education is often the result of a collaborative effort. And that’s no doubt one of the reasons why History Line has been so popular in the academic community. History Line is a collaborative learning app with an emphasis on US History, and it supports anywhere between one and six players simultaneously.

In short, the app presents series of events, and players have to order the events into the correct sequence.

But in a multiplayer game, every player is responsible for only a portion of a much larger timeline. Players have to choose if the elements the game has given them belong on their own timeline, or if they need to be sent to another player handing a different period of time. Besides being truly engaging and entertaining, History Line can help you build an impressive command of history for such a simple app.

iTranslate Ultimate

Trying to learn a new language? iTranslate Ultimate lets you quickly translate between five languages: English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian. One of the most difficult parts of learning a new language is handing the pronunciation of new words. That’s why iTranslate Ultimate can pronounce the thousands of words in its multiple dictionaries for you.

Apart from being an excellent aid for learning a language and accurate pronunciation, this app is a useful tool for navigating through some of the more diverse cities in American and abroad.

USA Factbook and Quiz

Want to know more about US History? The USA Factbook and Quiz app can help teach you all about the world around you, modern and historical.

Apart from the state by state information, including regional maps, flags, and data bout major cities, the USA Factbook app equips you with the ability to test your knowledge in a quiz. In many ways, this highly patriotic app is as educational as it is fun. If you’ve ever wanted to know all the state capitals or master US geography, the multiple choice quiz is about the best an app can do.

Taber’s Medical Dictionary

Whether you’re just looking to expand your own knowledge, or you’re an active medical professional, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is a must have. Containing a dictionary of 65,000 terms, 32,000 audio pronunciations, hundreds of videos, and detailed patient care statements, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is one of the most in-depth medical apps in the world.

No matter if you’re interested in nutrition, therapy, nursing, or just want to keep in touch with the latest information in the medical world, Taber’s Medical Dictionary is all you need to do it.

Do you have a favorite educational or personal development app? Please let me know what it is and how it helps you!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

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I’m a Leader Now But No One Likes Me

Confused

What too many people fail to grasp is that one doesn’t become a leader overnight.  You may have the title, but that’s not all it takes to be successful.  To become a good leader takes some planning and experience.

Have you ever felt like this:

“I was “one of them” on Friday, but since I’m their supervisor now, no one likes me.  Why?”

You probably made the jump too suddenly.

Learning Leadership

When people tell me they want to be a leader in their organization or I hear that someone is being looked at to fill an upcoming position, the first thing I tell them is to start the transition NOW.  Plan and learn.

Don’t wait to make a sudden change over a weekend, because you’ll set yourself up for disaster.

Two Lessons on Leadership

Here are a couple of stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Story One

Mike has been one of the guys since he started at ABC Company.  He knows his job well, and that of the department, but really only does what’s required.  He watches the clock, is always yucking it up with everyone, and hits the bars every Friday afternoon having drinks with the best of them.

But behind all of that, Mike does think about moving up and his managers believe he has some good leadership potential.  A supervisor position is getting ready to open up in 2 weeks and Mike is offered the job.  That means more money, control and responsibility.  He says he’s up for the challenge.

Mike does nothing to prepare, thinking he’ll learn what he needs to know once he starts.  He continues his ways and on Friday Mike goes out with the gang and pounds shots.  On Monday morning, Mike is a straight-laced, all business, suit, barking orders around every corner.  What do you think the reaction of his staff is to this new look?  “What the h*ll happened to you?”  Is his staff ready to work for/with him?  I don’t think so Tim.

From then on, Mike is in an uphill battle to get respect and support.

Story Two

Patty, on the hand, knew she wanted to be a leader within the ABC Company someday.  Everyone likes her and although she’s also one of the guys, she never goes overboard.

She has fun, but within limits.

Patty, like Mike, knows her job and the department well.  But unlike Mike, she asks questions and tries to understand the business as much as she can.  She also reads leadership blogs online (i.e., Linked2Leadership) and participates in leadership type webinars.  The people she works with know where she’s headed some day.  So it comes as no surprise that when a leadership position opens in her department, she’s offered the job and accepts.

She immediately asks for time during the next two weeks to meet with experienced leaders to discuss her new position and to ask questions.  At the same time Patty discusses how this new position is going to alter her relationships with her,

  • old peers/new team,
  • new peers/other leaders,
  • old/new boss, and
  • . . . family.

How do you think Patty’s transition goes, compared to Mike’s?  I see much success in Patty’s future.

Leadership and Family

When I talk to people about changing relationships, many don’t immediately understand how there’s a change with family.  After all, work and family are two separate things.  Well, not exactly.  Even though we like to keep the two separate, they’re pretty well intertwined.  The added responsibility of being a leader is going to cause more stress, working more hours, and possibly travel, among other things.

Your future is also your family’s future.

Don’t get caught up just looking at the job itself.  It’s going to affect other people besides you.  The better prepared they are, the less stress it will cause.

It’s never too late to learn and plan for the future.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an up and comer, or you’re a director, or even a CEO.  Learning should be a lifelong endeavor.

When we stop learning, we stop growing.

The two books I always recommend to people when they’re starting out in their first leadership role are:

These books are not only good for new leaders but also serve as great reminders and inspiration – and some new info – for the seasoned leader.

It takes little effort, or time, to read a couple of blogs or books here and there.  Then be sure to share that new found information with the people coming up underneath you.  Remember, some of those people are going to be in your position some day.

Have you planned your future?  Do you discuss your future with your family?  Are you investing in continued learning?  Are you helping others succeed?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Leadership Experience: Where Do Theory and Reality Meet?

Learn Lead

I continue to read and learn from various articles, blogs and books on the subject of leadership. There really is an unlimited supply of material for us to read!

And reading new content provides the opportunity for our thoughts and actions to be challenged.

New Points of View

New challenges to our thinking occurs when we see examples of theoretical context provided that relate to leadership application and effectiveness in practice.

There is a definite place for the theory of leadership. Without it, the same ideas and concepts continue to be generated and espoused by a variety of authors, learning little beyond that which has been distributed for some years.

  • However, I wonder how important the theoretical content is compared to the ability and experience gained through practical leadership?
  • Where is the balance between testing your own thinking through reading, seeking answers, being mentored and the opportunity and ability to put leadership into practice?

Developing Future Leaders

Questions such as these are particularly relevant for those of us who work in the field of developing and coaching future leaders. At some point there has to be a practical level of experience gained through leading others to test and try out the theories and concepts.

This is where real, entrenched learning occurs.

The relevance of learning and continually developing your ability is very important in many aspects of our lives, including when learning to become a leader. The potential to lead exists in you.

(People) learn to be better leaders as long as they engage in activities that help them learn how. Because to master leadership you have to have a strong desire to excel, you have to believe strongly that you can learn new skills and abilities, and you have to be willing to devote yourself to continuous learning and deliberate practice. No matter how good you are, you can always get better. ~The Truth About Leadership, Kouzes and Posner

The How of Leadership

It is the ‘how’ leadership growth and effectiveness occurs that intrigues me. In addition to the broad elements of leadership success already highlighted, various attitudes and behaviors are predominant in those who I have seen and/or helped to succeed in leading others.

When the right attitudes and behaviors are more apparent in an upcoming leader, the base for development appears to be exponentially greater.

The starting point is much more solid, providing improved opportunity to succeed as a leader:

  • The willingness and ability to assist others and their development through teaching, guiding and mentoring provides a ‘win-win’ in that the teacher and student have opportunity to learn and test ideas.
  • By giving in terms of mentoring and coaching I have learned much about myself, human behaviour and organisational culture.
  • Connectedness, trust and the ability to build genuine relationships form the basis for developing people.
  • The desire to make a difference is inherent.
  • Exposure  to a large variety of people and conducting open conversations are a wonderful platform for learning generally, particularly in a leadership and business environment. Sadly, this is not the norm. Making sure that diversity is a benefit within a culture or team, not a negative.
  • People are often fearful of sharing, preferring to hide their honest views and develop a strategy of shielding others from the ‘real’ them. Often this is exaggerated within the leader-employee context. Breaking down this resistance and earning the right to ask and listen is a key requirement for this relationship to foster change.

Maximizing Leadership

We learn through reading, observing, succeeding, failing and tackling the many other opportunities that arise through our work and outside commitments.

The opportunities to grow are maximised through practice and application.

To the original point though,  the need to practically apply the learning is an imperative to truly master any skill, as is certainly the case with leadership. We all have opportunities to develop and portray leadership in many aspects of our lives, both formally and informally, in and out of the workplace.

Applied Leadership

The theoretical tenets  of leadership do not replace the need to apply leadership principles in practice. Real experience in leading people, influencing, feeling genuine growth and embedding of knowledge is the result of both theory and practice.

Learning to lead is the outcome of various inputs and contributions, but whatever your official role, it starts with your attitude to learning and willingness to dedicate yourself to the art and science of leadership.

You must have the attitude of a leader to become a leader.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
Steve Riddle

Steve Riddle is the owner of CoachStation
He is making a difference by focusing on leadership & people development
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Skype: steve.riddle36

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On Leadership, Loyalty and Listening to Your Customers

When it comes to leadership, every leader needs to understand that they are on the front lines with everyone looking at them. And this especially true in business when it is your customers who are watching you.

They look to you to understand them, serve them, and know their needs.

Really Knowing Your Customers

There’s more to knowing your customers than just being aware of their age, income level, and stage of life; savvy companies are intimately attuned to their customers’ unique personality profiles, quirks, desires, and world views. Urban Outfitters even describes some of its core customers as “upscale homeless” — people who just do things differently.

“Voice of Customer” is a concept that describes the in-depth process of collecting information about customers’ sentiments, expectations, preferences, likes, and dislikes to improve the customer experience. These insights are extremely valuable to companies for tailoring products and services to meet or exceed customers’ expectations and making the customer experience a positive interaction every time.

Positive Experiences Make Loyal Customers

Listening to your customersSome of the most important benefits of Voice of Customer programs are improved customer retention and increased customer loyalty. Companies with the lowest customer churn rates and highest levels of new business from referrals are the ones that consistently provide the best customer experiences.

Customer experiences drive word-of-mouth referrals. News travels fast; bad news travels faster. Customers are three times more likely to tell others about bad customer experiences than good ones.

Lackluster experiences push customers away and make it more difficult for companies to gain new customers.

This only feels like poor leadership from the customers’ point-of-view.

Empathetic Listening Improves Experiences

Before a company can improve customer experiences, it must understand where its current offerings fall short; this requires a deep understanding of what customers want, like, and value.

Organizations frequently implement new processes designed to support interactions with customers, but how does an organization know how those processes impact customer experiences? Only Voice of Customer affords the ability to understand whether the processes unintentionally erect barriers to purchase, cause customers to become confused, or make dealing with the company more arduous.

Careful listening is absolutely essential for successful Voice of Customer initiatives, and that doesn’t mean listening politely while waiting to talk.

Businesses must employ careful, empathetic listening across all channels to learn about and understand their customers.

Persistent listening helps identify and start meaningful dialogues with individual customers. When Voice of Customer is being heard, the company knows what went wrong and has the opportunity to remedy a customer’s poor experience by acting quickly to make things right.

Share Information to Provide Value

Customer listening should not be a snapshot from one moment in time. It must be considered an ongoing conversation that enables companies to see what resonates and what needs improvement.

This means the data from specific customer interactions must be shared across the enterprise in a timely fashion. The longer information remains in a silo, the more the value of the information diminishes.

Sharing across departments is vital because processes in all departments impact the overall customer experience.

When customer feedback is routed directly to research and development and product managers, concepts for an innovative service offering and enhanced product development processes can be put in motion. Feedback can also illuminate other important insights like the critical time to market, the “sweet spot” for price points, competitors’ activities, potential crises, and ways to improve or reduce customer service costs.

Adopting a continuous learning cycle results in making adjustments to an offering while it’s still in development, rather than waiting until it’s completely finished. After an arrow has been shot, the trajectory can’t be adjusted while it’s still in flight. But if the arrow’s aim can be corrected before release, there’s still an opportunity to hit the bull’s-eye.

This is the essence of customer leadership.

Delight Customers for the Long Term

By staying connected to customers and cultivating those relationships, companies with effective Voice of Customer programs are more adaptive and better equipped to anticipate market changes and make business decisions proactively, rather than scrambling to adjust to new market dynamics. If customers are delighted, the company will enjoy much longer relationships with them.

So, what does your leadership look like in the eyes of the customer? Do they feel like you understand, know, and care about them and their needs? What have you done to sharpen your listening skills to truly hear your customers’ voice? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Stephen Monaco

Stephen Monaco is an integrated marketing expert, author and speaker
Monaco advises companies on Driving Strategies & Leveraging Digital Media
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Book | Web

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