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Below are the articles in the Leadership category. Each article title is followed by a brief summary introduction to the content. Click "Read Excerpt" for a more comprehensive review. Click "Add to Package" to buy or redeem the article.


Becoming a Trusted Leader

Trusted leaders inspire the best performances from their teams, but how do leaders gain that trust?

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“We can build our leadership upon fear, obligation, or trust. However, only a foundation of trust results in the collaboration and goodwill necessary to achieve our peak performance.”

These words, from organizational design expert Roger Allen, could hardly be more succinct in expressing the central role that trust plays in building and leading high-performance organizations.

With the integrity of our business leaders under such a microscope these days, it’s valuable to take a moment for a refresher on trust in leadership. For integrity, though critical to trust, isn’t the only element of a trust-based management style. According to Seattle-based management expert Stephen Robbins, trust is based on four other distinct elements in your relationship with the people you lead:

Competence. At first this may seem strange—after all, can’t incompetent people be trusted? Of course, but not if you want to lead. Leaders are held to a different standard, and part of what your team trusts is that you know what you’re doing. It comes with the territory.

Bridging the Gap: Improving the Emotional Connection to Work

Overwork, anxiety and lack of challenge and recognition have colored the overall emotional connection of workers to their jobs. This article explores pointers on how to bridge the gap between how workers feel and how managers perceive them to feel—and how to help workers plug into a more positive emotional connection to their jobs.

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Overwork, anxiety and lack of challenge and recognition has colored the overall emotional connection of workers to their jobs, according to a Towers Perrin study. And workers’ attitudes are going to need more than just an economic recovery to emerge feeling positive about their work life.

Here are some pointers gleaned from the study on how to bridge the gap between how workers feel and how managers perceive them to feel—and how to help workers plug into a more positive emotional connection to their jobs.

Focus on ways to build self-esteem in your workers. The study showed that workers can feel intensely positive about their jobs from the self-esteem they get through feeling connected and competent in their work. While that ought to be obvious, the managers in the study predicted that this would matter little.

You’re not as important as you think, either. And that’s good. While the workers ranked management as a negative factor, it was one of many. Managers, however, predicted that management would have been much more important—on the negative side! So while you expect to bear the brunt of your employees’ negative feelings toward work, they may be cutting you more slack than you realize.

Credibility: A Critical Foundation of Leadership

Credibility is a three-legged stool upon which strong leadership is built.

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When people trust and believe in you as a leader, they’ll follow you far and without much question. But without credibility, that critical foundation of leadership, you face an uphill battle, because you’ll have the extra strain of trying to pull people along with you. And whether you’re the one pulling or the one being pulled, pretty soon you’re both weary and ready to give up.

Credibility stands on three legs: expertise, trustworthiness and integrity.

Expertise is an objective judgment, determined by such things as your credentials, your rank in the company and your prior accomplishments.

Trustworthiness is a subjective judgment, formed over time from a person’s experience interacting with you. Do you do what you say you’re going to do? Do you know what you say you know? How does it feel to work for you?

Effective Listening for Leaders

With organizations and individuals so focused on the bottom line, it’s easy to ignore “softer” goals, such as listening well. But those goals are essential for success.

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A focus on listening can lead to more effective teamwork, higher productivity, fewer conflicts and errors, enhanced innovation and problem-solving, improved recruiting and retention, superior customer relations and more. As authors on leadership development have noted through the years, listening is not just a nice thing to do, it’s essential!

“Make the human element as important as the financial or the technical element,” wrote Stephen Covey in his seminal book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “You save tremendous amounts of time, energy and money when you tap into the human resources of a business at every level. When you listen, you learn.”

As long ago as 1966, Peter Drucker, author of The Effective Executive and numerous other books, emphasized the importance of listening to both self and others as an essential step in bringing to light everyone’s role as contributors to the organization’s overall success.

Likewise, studies in Emotional Intelligence (EI) over the past couple of decades have found that leaders actually “infect” the workplace (for better or for worse) with their attitudes and energy. To understand and influence these flows of emotions and motivational states, leaders need to be able to practice empathic listening skills.

Emotional Intelligence & the Resonant Leader

Whether an organization thrives or struggles depends on the energy and enthusiasm of its leader.

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The term resonant leader was popularized in a 2002 book titled Primal Leadership, written by Daniel Goleman, father of the concept of emotional intelligence, along with emotional intelligence researchers Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee.

In that book, they argued that an organization responds to the energy and enthusiasm of its leader. If the leader expresses a positive attitude, an organization tends to thrive; if a leader spreads negative emotions, the organization struggles.

Since then, Boyatzis and McKee have continued their research in this field. In their recent book, Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion, they have come up with surprising recommendations for what it takes to achieve and sustain resonant leadership—not just corporate management, but leadership within any kind of organization, family, social group, including what they call “leadership around your own life.”

Everyday Leadership: It’s An Inside Job

What are the inner qualities that remain constant among all types of effective leaders? Leadership is a way of life, an expression of our fullest and best nature and it starts on the inside.

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Too often, we believe that leadership is the domain of those with recognized authority, and the title to go with it: CEOs, association presidents, conductors, mayors.

“In a world that is changing as rapidly as this one, we need to think differently about leadership,” says Susan Collins, author of Our Children Are Watching: Ten Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success. “Leading is not done by those few in high places, but by parents and teachers and managers and those governing—all working together to create the world that we want.”

When we dare to stand up for our beliefs or to follow through on our big dreams and ideas, when we act as though what we say and do in the world matters—matters greatly—we are leading.

In other words, leadership is a way of life, an expression of our fullest and best nature, our unique gifts. And it starts on the inside.

How Intelligent Is Your Decision Making?

A quiz to explore whether your decision-making skills are as sharp as they could be.

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We make decisions every day. While simple decisions require a fairly straightforward decision-making process, complex decisions usually require more effort to properly deal with challenges such as uncertainty, risk, alternatives and consequences.

Because of the possibility of conflict and unwanted outcomes, making decisions can be stressful. Being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and those of your team, helps alleviate that stress, and puts you on the road to taking decisive and intelligent action.

To determine whether your decision-making skills are as sharp as they could be, answer True or False to the following questions.

1. Prior to making decisions I ensure that I have established clear objectives that identify the desired outcome.

How to Build (and Keep) a High-Performance Team

Explores the ways to create and build a strong team that is focused on success.

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Employers and entrepreneurs often think they have to “do it all themselves,” as reflected in the following statements:

“No one can do this as well as I can.”

“It’s easier to just do it myself than to explain how to someone else.”

“I don’t have time to train anybody.”

When you think that way, however, you may be overlooking a critical component for success in managing small-to-medium sized businesses. And that is, building the right team.

What’s in a Team?

A team is basically a group of people with complementary skills who are mutually committed to working together toward a common goal with shared rewards.

Highly Effective Teams...

See “the big picture.” This promotes collaboration, increases commitment and improves quality. Each team member knows the greater goals of the organization and understands the context of their own (and each others’) roles and responsibilities toward those goals.

How Well Do You Delegate?

Whether a person work with others, or alone, he or she may still suffer from the “Lone Ranger Syndrome”—that managerial malaise that causes folks to work excessively long, hard hours because only THEY know how to do something right. Whoa, Silver! There is a cure.

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Effective delegation is a learnable time-management skill that can dramatically increase your effectiveness at work. To find out how well you delegate, take the following Self-Quiz.

1. In most cases, I can do tasks quicker and better myself than if I delegate.

2. Before I delegate something, I take the time to visualize the end result and to communicate that to the delegate.

3. I work longer hours than others doing the same kind of work.

4. A written outline or sketch of what I want always accompanies my oral description of the tasks I delegate.

How Well Do You Motivate Others?

As the quiz reveals, there is more to motivation than the three Ps.

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Pay, praise and promotions may have some effect on motivation levels in the workplace. But these three Ps pale in comparison to more personal factors, such as the Top 5 of the oft-cited research by Rewick and Lawler: job challenge, accomplishing something worthwhile, learning new things, developing skills and abilities, and autonomy. Take this Self-Quiz to see how you’re doing in lighting and kindling the fire of enthusiasm in your employees.

1. I know things about the personal lives of those who work with me, such as how many children they have or their special hobbies or musical taste.

2. I try to ask questions rather than give direct orders.

3. When making a request, I match the benefits of the task to the goals and values of the person I am asking.

4. I give specific and sincere praise for improvements in performance, so as to let people know that I have noticed. I celebrate successes.

How Well Do You Recognize Those Who Work With You?

What’s wrong with employee-of-the-month, coffee mugs, and length-of-service awards? This quiz will show more effective ways to express a job well done.

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Gone are the days when length-of-service awards, employee-of-the-month recognition and merchandise rewards were valued ways to recognize people who work with you. In fact, many people find such formal recognition programs stale and irrelevant, and their effectiveness has declined. This is true whether speaking of colleagues, direct reports or subcontractors.

The problem is that these methods don’t really express appreciation for a job well done or gratitude for a commitment to quality. Take the Self-Quiz below to discover how well you score.

1. Forget employee of the month! I try to acknowledge employees each time they do good work.

2. I make proactive changes and improvements to my recognition programs. I don’t wait until the evidence of ineffectiveness is overwhelming.

3. One way I express how much I value those I work with is by ensuring meaningful work, offering flexible work hours and encouraging greater work/personal life balance.

4. I am clear about what kinds of incentive merchandise not to give, including coffee mugs, paperweights, pen sets, plaques. In fact, I stay away from “stuff” altogether.

Leadership as a Choice

Leadership can be something for everyone to embrace, from administrative assistant to janitor to manager to CEO. Guidelines on what makes a good leader and how to become one.

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Great leadership doesn't require a diploma or a degree. It's not reserved for some elite group of people.

Leadership can be something for everyone to embrace, from administrative assistant to janitor to manager to CEO. Sometimes all it requires is a shift in mindset: interpreting frustrations at work as opportunities instead of barriers.

Maybe it's time for all of us to step up, to take action and become a leader and, with the support of other great leaders, help make the company (and yourself) succeed.

What Does Good Leadership Look Like?

Leadership is about so much more than strategy, operations and marketing. It's about discovering and understanding each team member's potential (as well as your own) and finding ways to tap into that resource, something many managers neglect to do.

Legacy: What Are You Leaving Behind?

Many of us are asking: “What am I here to contribute?” But we can take that question still further: “What is the legacy I want to leave behind when I’m gone?”

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Leaving a legacy is not just a practice reserved for the wealthy. It’s a common human trait to want to leave something of ourselves behind. For some that may be leaving their mark in business or in the arts; for others it’s carrying on the family name through children.

Types of Legacies

Your legacy might include a combination of some of the following:

• A business or non-profit organization that carries on your work after you’re gone.

• Beauty, inspiration and wisdom passed on through creations such as books, music, and art.

Quiet Leadership: The High-Performance Secret

Quiet leadership—isn’t that an oxymoron? A growing body of research and experience says no.

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The conventional image of a business leader is one we see all around us—the commanding, visionary person who takes charge in a time of crisis or transition and leads his or her company to victory over daunting odds. The tales of these “celebrity CEOs” and their successes make great reading—as does their failures.

Yet, for several years, a slowly growing body of knowledge and experience has begun to suggest that another approach—under the heading “quiet leadership”—may be ultimately more effective at achieving sustained high performance in organizations of all kinds.

While that may be good news for those of us who are not natural media stars, don’t be misled: Quiet leadership is a challenging management approach that requires a keen understanding of your business and the people in it to achieve its promise.

For starters, quiet leadership isn’t clearly defined. Certainly a bedrock of quiet leadership is leading by example, of eliciting the behavior you want by demonstrating it, rather than just telling others to do it. But a deeper understanding of what it means to be “quiet leader” is emerging as management researchers and business coaches delve into just why it is that certain types of leaders tend to produce better results, in more varied conditions, over longer periods of time.

Stronger Performances Through Mentoring

With books, consultants, the Internet, there’s no dearth of sources for information and expertise. But where does one go for ongoing wisdom, for experienced advice? Increasingly in business, the answer is: mentors.

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“Mentoring lets employees soak up character, judgment and approach,” writes Micki Holliday, in the book Coaching, Mentoring & Managing. “It is the opportunity for them to apprise situations and cultivate their own ways.”

This solution to the need for a certain flavor of guidance and learning is surprisingly ancient, having its roots in Homer’s Greece. Mentor was the name of Odysseus’ faithful friend who served as teacher and overseer for his son, Telemachus, when Odysseus left to fight in the Trojan War.

To this day, mentors continue to serve as guides and teachers, providing a good, reliable sounding board, opportunity for a second opinion and, often, emotional support. We learn from their experience, their mistakes and their successes. And we often gain access to their (usually extensive) network of decision-makers.

Working with mentors is generally not only good for individuals but good for the company, as well.

The Active Leader: Harnessing Willpower to Move from Ideas to Action

We know what we should be doing, now how can we get it done?

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For so many of us—whether CEOs for major corporations, small business owners or solo-entrepreneurs—there is a fundamental disconnection between knowing what should be done and actually doing it. Calling this disconnection the “knowing-doing gap,” Stanford University researchers Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton pose the question: “Why does knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?”

The answer, argue Bruch and Ghoshal, is both simple and profound. They sum it up with the term “willpower.” The problem they say is not that managers’ time is sliced, but that their intention or “volition” is sliced as well.

Getting things done requires two critical components: energy and focus. And both are at risk in the modern workplace. Building a bias for action in yourself and your organization requires developing and reinforcing the skills to become a “purposeful” or “volitional” manager. These are people who can consistently achieve their objectives by making an unconditional commitment to their goals and then leveraging the power of that intention to overcome the obstacles in their way, whether their own doubts or the bureaucracies within their organizations

Top 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking a Leadership Role

How well do I know myself? How do I handle failure? These questions and more can help clarify if a person is ready to move into a position of leadership.

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1. How well do I know myself? The most effective leaders are in touch with who they are and how they feel—especially during the important transition time into a new position.

2. How flexible am I? Moving into a leadership role can be a huge stretch…how can you avoid “pulling” something?

3. How do I handle failure? Good leaders fail frequently. Rather than viewing failure as a shame and a negative, it’s best to see it as a valuable learning tool.

4. How’s my work/life balance? Being out of balance in either direction makes for less potent leading.

Top 10 Ways to Support Your Team

A leader’s job is to ensure that the highest level goals of the organization are realized. Here are ten ways to accomplish that.

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As long as you are committed to the success of the group, you are leading. Below are 10 ways to support your “team,” whether that is a formalized project team or an informal grouping of employees.

1. Set direction; don’t give directions. Trying to tell everyone what to do is micromanaging, not leading.

2. Ask yourself the question: “Is what I’m doing helping the group to ¬succeed?” Ask the group, too. If the answer is no, stop!

3. Remind the group why it exists. A team’s charter can sometimes get lost.

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