Studies have shown that there isn't a set list of skills that defines a leader. But it is a combination of an individual's unique qualities that shapes them as a leader. Leadership stems from self-awareness and the ability to know one's strengths, weaknesses, values and purpose. But it is also the ability to relate to and know others. It takes a courageous leader to do both.
One quality that is not often spoken about, but is important in leadership, is Courage. The meaning of Courage as stated in the dictionary, "is the ability to face difficulty, uncertainty or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action." As Mark Twain stated, "Courage isn't the absence of fear, but its mastery." It is a learned skill. That similar to any other skill can be strengthened with practice.
Aristotle called courage the first virtue because it made all other virtues possible. With courage, a leader can make decisions that are often outside of the norm. A courageous leader has the confidence that the direction one is taking is the right path for the company's growth. Take courage out of the picture and leadership collapses or never gets started.
Courage for a leader comes in 3 ways. It is about action, thought and letting go.
Courage is about taking action. When a leader sets a course for change, it takes courage and conviction to stand behind the decision. A leader takes a step into the unknown or a new direction because they have confidence, have done the preparation and careful deliberation and believes in their team to be able to handle the challenge.
When leaders are courageous they can be creative and think outside the box. With creativity and focus comes innovation. When a leader is innovative they think differently and are not afraid to face growth and a new challenge.
Courage is about giving feedback and raising difficult conversations when others don't want to hear it or are afraid to say it. Feedback is not about being rude and arrogant. But it is about learning, teaching and exploring new ways to discover unchartered waters. A courageous leader can face an adverse situation and challenge the conversation to think differently.
Courage to have faith in others and let go. This is a big part of leadership. Knowing that you are not the only one with answers but having faith and belief that your team can also perform. Letting go is the courage to believe that there are people, other than yourself, who can do the job. A leader that can let go, allows the team to step up and take responsibility. With responsibility comes engagement. With engagement in the global workforce at an all time low of 13%, it is time for leaders to let others takes responsibility, get involved and feel a part of the greater whole.
Leaders who really want to succeed and make a difference, need to have courage to step outside of the safety zone. With safety you will most likely do a good job. But will you surpass what you set out to achieve? In order to go above and beyond, a leader needs to be brave and not afraid of uncertainty. They need to have confidence in one's ability and faith in the team.
Courage is a skill that can be learned through repeated interaction and leaning into one's own discomfort. As published in Neuron, research has proven that you can access and increase your courage center in the brain. The courage center in the brain is located in an area responsible for fear, stress and emotion. When activated it can actually cancel out some of the fear activated by the amygdala. Thus courage trumping fear.
When deciding to be a leader, don't forget about courage. The courage to act, think and let go. Courageous leaders foster trust and set the stage for others to follow. Think Richard Branson and his first mail order business venture, or a young 15 year old Bill Gates or Ray Kroc, and the courage he had to start the Franchise Realty Corp and the first McDonald's.
What leaders in your mind show courage?
Colleen Cassel speaks, coaches and trains individuals and organizations on impacting performance. Colleen works with you on leadership, communication, career development and creating thriving work environments.
There is all sorts of research about the benefits of being a leader that is focused. Research shows that when you are focused, you are more productive, performance improves, you are resilient and more creative. But true leaders know that they have to focus in 3 ways. Their focus needs to be on themselves, others and the wider organization or group.
Studies and an article from Harvard Business Review show that when you practice mindfulness it improves your focus, and clarity. It helps you to not only focus on yourself, but connect and have empathy towards others.
With focus you can more easily respond and think about a situation instead of just reacting to a situation. Put this in the work context. What if you could actually show more compassion for your co-workers, interact and communicate more fully and manage more effectively? With mindfulness and focus you can do that. Below are 6 ways that mindful and focused leaders impact and benefit an organization.
Connect. When a leader connects, engagement increases. According to Gallup, employees go the extra mile, work with passion and have a profound connection to the company. They are the employees that drive innovation and move your business forward.
Listen. The best leaders are not concerned with always talking. But listen to what their employees are saying. Communication is a two way street. It is listening and engaging. Listening is about understanding, learning and then responding.
Collaborate. Research shows that collaboration in the workplace is better than having sole individual talent. With collaboration overall performance and loyalty is increased. When employees and leaders collaborate, motivation, customer experience, innovation and morale is boosted.
Creative. When you are focused and practice mindfulness your mind becomes clear and sharp to make creative and critical decisions. You begin to view situations and challenges not as obstacles but opportunities. Leading to new ideas, creativity and innovation.
Feedback. Feedback is an important element in the workplace as it increases productivity, quality of work and effectiveness of the team. Employees initiative, innovation and motivation increase with regular and constructive feedback from leaders.
Compassion: According to an article from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, when leaders put pressure on employees it increases the stress level of employees. Stress ultimately leads to higher employer costs. Plus 52% of employees report that workplace stress will result in them looking and leaving for a new job. With compassion the work environment becomes a happier place. Resulting in better customer service, engagement, commitment, social connection and an improved bottom line.
With focus a leader can think more clearly. Have the space to make critical decisions and be more creative. Remember, a great leader is not without skill and talent. But has the added dimension of quality personal skills and embraces collaboration, compassion and communication in the workplace to improve the bottom line.
Have you seen the benefits that focus and mindfulness has had on leaders that you respect? Please leave a comment and thank you for reading.
Colleen Cassel is founder of Upstream Solutions, a business and career consultancy. She speaks, trains and coaches leaders and organizations on impacting performance in their business and career. Working on authentic and mindful leadership, communication and creating thriving work environments. Connect with her at Twitter, Facebook and Google+
Have you been thinking that it is time for a new job? Possibly even starting your own business?
Let me guess. You have been thinking about a change for some time but you just can't make a decision. Is it fear that you won't be able to handle the new job, fear of
the unknown or are you just too comfortable where you are? What has you stuck? It is fear that often keeps us stuck. When you approach the fear and ask yourself the following questions, you may find the answers you need.
Read the four questions below and write down your answers. When you write something, you are more apt to remember it. Research tells us that when we write something down it is as if we are doing it. A mini-rehearsal per se. Writing your answers will help you to gain clarity and shed light on your decision.
1. What is the worst thing that could happen?
We spend months, even years, sometimes wondering if we should leave a job.You know you are not happy but day in and day out you go to the same job. You analyze why you should stay, but do you ever ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen if you were to leave?” We have over 50,000 thoughts a day and more than 70% of them are negative thoughts. What if you were to reverse the percentage or even make it 50/50? The key to changing your negative thinking is to recognize and become aware of your thoughts and then challenge the negative thought. Don’t let it control you. With a positive attitude new opportunities appear.
2. How will you feel when you make the change?
You are nervous about a change but what is your vision for the future? What is it you want to do and how do you see yourself in a new situation? Take the time to envision what you really want. Write it down or draw a picture. As I mentioned when you write down your goal it is as if your brain can see it.
When you take the time to think about what you want, more of that comes into your life. Our minds are very powerful and, as research has shown, you can train your brain to think a certain way, strengthening and stimulating your emotions. You see, hear and experience more of what you focus your mind on.
3. Why do you want it?
Your “why” is often the biggest motivator to make the change. Will you be better off financially, will you be happier? When you place emphasis on the why, you get to the root of the truth. It challenges your assumptions about what you think you know. Knowing the why will give power to your passions.
4. What do you really want?
Ask yourself what you really want and how you want to feel. We are all entitled to happiness. You are meant to be happy and, in fact, according to a study at the University of California Riverside, led by Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, research has shown that happy people are more successful, make more money, are more productive, and have stronger immune systems. Isn’t it time you make yourself happy?
What did your answers tell you? Perhaps it is time to make a decision and not let fear get in your way. If you are stuck regarding a job decision or change in your life, contact Upstream Solutions to inspire and motivate you to make the change you want.
What does it mean to be an authentic leader? You hear the word often enough and you wonder, am I being authentic in my style? Does my team view me as a good leader? When you think of an authentic leader, two people come to my mind. Yes, there are others, but these leaders I respect and honor their style.
The two that I a refer to are running large corporations. But don't let that stop you from considering their style. Regardless if your company has 3 people or 100, you too can be an authentic leader. They are Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks and Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands. You ask, why them?
To be an authentic leader you have to have high emotional intelligence skills. What does that mean? You have inner, other and outer focus in your leadership style. Self awareness is the starting point. You know your purpose, vision, strengths and weaknesses. And you also understand that leadership requires integrity and focus.
Other focus is your people. Do you connect with them and understand what they may be saying? Empathy and compassion in leadership allows you to communicate more effectively. When leaders connect, they build trust and a support team. Outer focus is the organization at large. Ask yourself, what is your strategy? What is your mission that will take and guide your ship?
When leaders recognize that it is WE and not I, that they have checked their ego at the door and surround their weaknesses with the strengths of others, you have a winning formula.
I mentioned Howard Schultz. Starbucks is in the business of humanity. Howard looks back to his personal story as a young boy. He is motivated by the fear of failure but inspired to provide excellent benefits for his employees. He represents communication and connection in his leadership. Think of the last time you bought a Starbucks. For me, they were courteous, used my name and smiled. Those few things are the very basics of leadership.
Kat Cole, President of Focus Brands which includes Cinnabon and other brands,leads with courage, curiosity, humility and confidence. She leans of her humble beginnings, growing up in a family that only had $10 a week to survive. She believes that authenticity is the fastest way to win trust and build credibility. She supports and champions her employees.
Gone are the days of command and control. Today's employees whether they are at the beginning of their career or at the end, want to feel valued and understood. With engagement globally at an all time low of 13%, leaders need to think differently. They need to lead with creativity, humility, focus and curiosity, to name a few. They need to ask themselves, how can I support, collaborate, communicate and listen to my teams? When a leader takes a second to ask, how would I like to be led, they will find the answer.
Become self aware and ask yourself what leadership style would motivate and inspire me? When the answer appears, that is the leader you should be.
Colleen speaks, trains and coaches businesses and organizations on beingleaders and creating thriving work environments.
When it comes to team building and building organizations that are successful, collaboration is one of the most important elements. The benefits of collaboration are nothing new but we often forget what truly happens when we collaborate. When we realize that the whole is greater than any of the individual parts, we reap the benefits. Collaboration brings about new ideas, friendships and ways you never thought possible. Collaboration requires meetings, but meetings in which it is not run by one but many. Collaboration is “we” and not “I”.
All ideas can be considered good ideas
In a collaborative work space there is an environment of safety, no idea is a bad idea. Employees are free to communicate what is on their mind. Great ideas have been born out of the craziest thoughts. There is a quote that states, “99% of Success is built on Failure” by Charles Kettering. With failure comes creativity which leads to innovation and success. I was in meeting once and someone suggested an idea that seemed so impossible. We all looked at the individual as though they were crazy. But the idea was born and we made it happen.
Employees feel appreciated and trust is built
Today’s workers, want to feel valued and appreciated. People go to work not just for money but to feel that their work is appreciated and is contributing to the purpose of the organization. When information is shared within a team and employees are open, trust is built. Trust is built with collaboration and is the foundation of all great organizations.
Creativity is born
According to an article in the Greater Good from Dr. Keith Sawyer, he describes that from collaboration springs creativity, conversation and social networks. When employees feel connected and friends are made within an organization, employees are more satisfied with their jobs. Fresh ideas from employees who were never included in meetings can spark new concepts never thought of before.
Diversity leads to success
When we collaborate with diversity within our teams, teams are stronger, new and different ideas are formed. Successful results can be generated. With diversity and collaboration we are able to view and discuss all the thoughts, regardless if they are good or bad.
Creates a learning environment
A learning environment is when an organization supports and encourages values and practices to increase knowledge and performance. A learning environment and collaboration results in the achievement of goals and capacity to know when change is needed.
New strengths and weaknesses are realized
In order to be successful in today’s complex organizations, leaders have to consider all points of view. We have to keep an open mind to new ways of thinking and doing. Opening meetings to a sharing culture allows employees to feel safe to communicate and think creatively.
I am sure you have you heard that money is not always the driver in someone’s productivity but the environment in which you work that makes the difference? Why is that? Research continues to show that when employees feel appreciated, valued and have trust in the leader, production increases and people simply work smarter.
How does a company create an environment in which people thrive?
Many businesses operate with one leader but when an organization considers each person a leader, the business thrives. When an individual employee feels that they bring value and their opinion counts, their ability to perform and be more productive increases. They have skin in the game. The sense of belonging makes them feel responsible for the job they do and to do it well. Make it comfortable for employees to share their voice and let them know that their opinion counts.
Compassion must be shown throughout the organization. Studies have shown that when compassion is present in the work place, employees feel a sense of connectivity. Compassion is the ability to feel empathy and an overall friendliness towards each other. When there is genuine compassion, cooperation and loyalty increase and employees experience less stress. One way to build a compassionate organization is to take the time to get to know your employees. Understand what makes them tick and a bit about their personal lives. When you tie their personal life into their work life a connection is built and it shows that you care.
Not always being right is OK. When employees have the freedom and flexibility to explore and create, new ideas are generated. If employees are worried about not being right, they don't allow themselves to think outside the box. Being open to failure can lead to innovation and success. As Eileen Fisher advocates, it is about “not knowing” which makes it easier to learn from others. Make it a point to have an open format to freely share ideas and explore new possibilities.
When you view your organization as people working together for a common goal, trust builds. Showing compassion and being able to freely express ideas whether they are good or bad does not make an organization soft but it builds a unit that supports and believes in one another.
How does your organization create an open environment? Please leave a comment.
As the year winds down and the Holidays are upon us, it is a perfect time to summarize the best traits in a leader. The list is short and sweet. If all you can do is concentrate on these 4 qualities, you are sure to make a difference. Regardless of whether you are at your office or in your personal life, you owe it to yourself and others that follow you, to be a LEADER.
The list below takes for granted that you are intelligent and have the skills to do your job. Now, the most important part of the job is being a leader so others can learn and follow.
Grateful, when a leader is grateful, a sense of joy and ease resonates throughout. Gratitude, opens you for more good to unfold.
Compassion, You have a connection with people. You understand the value that someone offers and are willing to open your mind to them.
Focused and Clear, You know what needs to be done and you do it with grace and poise. You are steady in your direction. You are patient and willing to watch things unfold.
Courage, With courage you are able to make confident decisions. You believe in yourself and your team trusts you. You look at everything as an experience, unwilling to let fear get in your way.
Wishing you and your families Happy Holidays and a Safe and Healthy New Year!
Who was your best Manager? Does the answer come to you right away or did you have to think about it? What quality made you choose that person?
I bet it was someone who always provided feedback. Whether it was in a one on one discussion or in meetings.
More than ever it is essential that businesses have an inclusive environment that encourages feedback and that flows freely from employees to management.
Feedback is one of the key elements in leadership. It provides a learning and growing experience for both employees and managers. So how do you deliver effective feedback?
There are many bosses that provide feedback, but in a negative tone. When it is delivered in a negative manner, employees can shut down. When you use encouraging feedback, you create a learning and safe environment. Think back to your childhood. When a teacher or parent provided feedback in a negative or threatening tone, what was your reaction? Did you shut down? Did you respond the same way when it was delivered in a positive manner?
In an article posted on Buffer, Daniel Goleman, in his book, Social Intelligence states the importance and connection behind positive interaction and performance. In his studies when negative feedback was given in a warmtone, the employee's rated the interaction positively. Conversely, when good news, such as goal achievement was delivered in a negative tone, the employee left feeling bad. The emotional state of a manager can play a big role in the office environment and the employees moods.
In feedback it is important to ask for solutions. Not just what is working or not working, but how else can you do it better? When feedback is solution driven, you build a “we” environment. It creates an atmosphere that your voice matters and you are valued as an employee.
During meetings, ASK QUESTIONS and give others the ability to offer input. When you ask What, Why or How, you create an open discussion. Try questions such as “What is working” “What would you like to see done differently”, "How can our team operate more efficiently?
Feedback that is lateral allows peers to offer input. Lessons learned from co-workers can be invaluable and responded to differently than from management. When employees feel safe and trusting, that what they have to say will not be held against them, you may be surprised at the leadership skills your employees possess.
It is important that feedback take place on a regular and timely basis. The annual and quarterly review is important but feedback that is continual and informal provides for a more open environment. The "My Door is Always Open" policy goes a long way to build relationships. Remember, communication is the key to leadership.
How do you use feedback on a regular basis? If a new program or project has been put into place, ask for feedback along the way. Waiting till the end, can often be too late. Your co-workers can offer valuable insight and most everything in life can be improved upon. In your regular feedback be specific and direct. Providing examples prevents you from beating around the bush and addressing it head on.
Timing is essential. If there is a situation in which an unpleasant issue has to be dealt with, handling it in the immediate can stop it from becoming a bigger issue. Start with positive feedback, followed by the issue that needs to be addressed and end with words of encouragement.
Remember, communication and interaction is a driver in creating successful, learning business environments.
Colleen is a People Management Expert. Speaking, training and coaching business leaders and organizations on a New Way to Work. Helping to impact performance growth in their business and career.
#Leadership Development, #Communication #Feedback Management
Now more than ever we need to realize the importance of compassion and gratitude in not only our personal lives but also at work. What do these words mean in a work environment? Are you able to show compassion to your fellow colleagues and still have bottom line results that make you smile? Where and how does gratitude fit into the management structure?
As human beings we want to feel valued for the work we do. An article in Fox Small Business News sites that given the choice, employees leave their job, due to a lack of appreciation. Not necessarily money.
So what does it mean to show compassion in the workplace? It is about attention, care and kindness towards your colleagues concerns. Without getting "soft" in the workplace, compassion can show up in the following ways.
Mentoring Others. Perhaps it is a new employee who needs your guidance on a project. It is time and support that you share with others on how to dosomething that will make a difference. Often employees are afraid to admit that they don't know how to do something. Provide a safe environment for learning. Show them how to do something versus what to do.
Attention to One's Needs. Be attuned to and notice what is going on with your employees. Take the time to understand your employees needs both on a professional and personal level. Many times it is one's personal life that impacts their work life? Be open and have conversations. Ask them, Where do they want to go in their career? How can you as a Manager help them on their path to success. Be curious and show interest.
Treated Fairly. Employees who put the time in and work hard want to be treated fairly. A kind word from management showing that their work is appreciated goes a long way. Employees are not always "best friends" with their managers. When a manager shows favoritism for an employee who is not pulling their weight, morale is affected.
Positive Engagement. Connect and create a positive team environment where there is support for one another. Employees want to play on a winning team and feel part of a shared mission. People thrive in a positive environment. Instead of pointing out what is wrong, start first with one to two positive statements. Focus on what the employee is doing right and watch performance increase.
Appreciation. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, 39% of employees polled, said that they wanted to quit their job when the work they did was not appreciated. Positive recognition and appreciation reinforces accomplishments and engages the employee to work harder. A thank you for a being a good employee and part of the organization goes further than a mere pat on the back for a task accomplished.
Compassion is often forgotten but it is one of the key factors that is needed in an organization. Return to the basics. Include compassion into your management style and remember it can show up in many forms.
Colleen speaks, trains and coaches organizations and individuals on a New Way to Work. Focusing on leadership and organizational effectiveness for greater performance impact in ones business and career. Contact Colleen atwww.colleencassel.com, @colleencassel, email@example.com
You are working for a profitable company that excels in its industry. But something is not right. Why is it you don't feel engaged and excited about your job? Instead of excelling and loving your job, it is just a "job" and you continue to work for the company only because of the money. What would it be like if you went to work each day and not only got the salary you deserve but you loved the job you were doing?
Research has shown that when you match your personal values to the values of the Company there is synergy. Employees are happier and more engaged. The values of a Company underlie the purpose and drive to move forward. The values are the "Why" that make a difference. They lead to impact and performance for employees.
When business objectives become a personal matter, a closer connection is made. Employees feel they are part of the bigger picture and have a reason to work hard and produce. Remember, both internally to their teammates and to the public.
So what values in a company make a difference for you? Is it strictly skill driven and hard work? Or is it the right mix of both skills and developing and recognizing your people?
Ask yourself. What values does your Company embrace? Is it Collaboration, Trust and Communication? Or is it Innovation, Drive and Intelligence? What if your company had the right mix all six elements?
When there is Trust, employees feel safe. You understand the purpose and have a greater drive to see the company succeed.
With Collaboration, teams work together. Ideas are created and employees become part of the greater whole. They know the work they are doing will make a difference.
With open Communication, people talk about what is important and what is needed in an organization. With effective communication you tear down the walls to any misunderstandings and negativity that can foster when teams don't know the direction.
With Innovation, companies excel and strive to create new and better ideas. It is with creativity that organizations continue to tweak and improve, to become a more profitable business.
Drive is what gets you up in the morning. It is the desire to constantly succeed and move past what is in the way and not working.
Intelligence is always needed. But when the leader is intelligent, has strong people development skills and knows how to motivate and mentor others, there is a winning formula in an organization.
Thank you for reading! Do these values align with your organization? Please comment.
Colleen speaks, trains and coaches organizations and individuals on creating greater performance impact in their business and career. Introducing Mindfulness into the workplace to improve focus, resilience, productivity and organizational performance. To learn more about how Mindfulness in the workplace can transform your Organization, contact me atwww.colleencassel.com, @colleencassel, firstname.lastname@example.org
You often read about the qualities that management needs to lead a team. What are the qualities that an employee needs to become a leader? To be recognized and admired by management? To be a standout but also enjoy the job?
Stand Tall. Believe in yourself and be confident about your ability and the skills you learned. When you believe in yourself and your talents you stand tall. You are self-assured and positive about approaching management with new ideas.
New ideas give you the opportunity to become recognized. When you are known for creativity and innovation, management becomes aware of what you can do for the organization.
Speak Up. When you are in a meeting, make sure you speak up. It is not about talking just to be heard. But it is listening to the conversation and adding valuable insight and thoughts to what is being said. When you speak up, management takes note of your leadership ability. A true leader and recognized employee, interacts with the team, adds input and is an example and mentor to others.
Be Mindful. When you are focused on the task at hand, you are clear and able to make better decisions. The work-place can be a stressful environment with constant distractions, information overload and pressure. To help with the stress and workload, a practice in mindfulness, will allow you to respond versus react.
Being mindful in the office, is about finding a second to clear out the clutter in your head and to pause on what is important in the moment.
Know your Fellow Employees. It is important to make friends at work. When employees get to know each other and make a connection, they feel part of the team. Collaboration between employees is an important aspect of team development. When employees make friends they are more likely to stay, be happy and build greater team engagement. According to an article in Lifehack,50% of employees with a friend at work, reported having a stronger bond with their company.
Have Courage. Courage is not only important for leaders but for employees. When you have courage, you are not intimidated by management or others. But you are brave and tenacious and know that what you offer can help the organization you are working for. You have faith in yourself, others and areopen to change and direction. As Aristotle said, "courage is the first virtue as it makes all other virtues possible."
Communicate with both management and colleagues. Communication is the key to success. According to research, effective communication is the number one reason you are promoted into management. Employees and leaders need to communicate with colleagues at all levels to improve performance and productivity within the organization.
Clear on your Goals. Be sure to have goals. Know where you want to go in the organization or department you are working for. When you set out on your path with clear goals, you have something to strive for. You have a plan and can set a course to achieve it. Letting management know your goals and path you want to follow, allows them to help you achieve your goals. Effective managers help their employees with career development plans so they can continue to learn and grow.
Confident and brave employees become great, courageous leaders! Please comment.
Colleen partners with the Potential Project, the global leader in mindfulness in the workplace. To enhance focus and clarity for increased productivity, performance and resilience.
Speaking, training and coaching organizations and individuals on performance impact in their business and career. Improving leadership, communication and team effectiveness. Connect with her at email@example.com andwww.colleencassel.com.