Show Empathy for your Team


Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

There’s no doubt that people want to feel appreciated and listened to at work. As a leader, it’s your job to create an empathetic environment where everyone feels valued. Here are a few simple things you can do to show empathy for your team:

  • Observe, listen, and ask questions. Stop assuming that you know what people are thinking and feeling — you probably don’t. There’s always more to learn if you’re quiet and curious.
  • Stop multitasking. If you’re writing an email to one person while talking with another, neither one is getting the best of you. Put your phone down and give your full attention to the person in front of you.
  • Don’t give in to distractions. There’s always a deadline looming, a crisis to deal with, or an annoyance to put to rest. It’s important to slow down and take a step back from all of this stress. Practice mindfulness, and encourage your employees to do the same. Let them know it’s OK to take some time for themselves.

Adapted from “If You Can’t Empathize with Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To,” by Annie McKee

Creating an Open Culture

 Digital-Consumer 2

Management Tip of the week

adapted from Harvard Business Review

Create a Culture Where People Are Open to Feedback


The benefits of an open culture — where frank, candid discussions about problems are possible — are immense, but building an open culture is difficult. However, once you establish the practice of open feedback across the company, you’ll likely find that it builds momentum quickly. Leaders can set their organization on the path to having an open culture by modeling three behaviors:

  • Showing appreciation. Overcome the negative connotation of “feedback” by recognizing your employees’ good work too. Research suggests you should share positive feedback three times as often as negative feedback.
  • Opening up. We all tend to respond to feedback by protecting ourselves, but building an open culture requires leaders to really listen to what people say to them. Demonstrate how to receive feedback without taking it personally.
  • Getting the whole company involved. Silos create an “us vs. them” mindset. Get other departments involved in decision making early and often.

Adapted from “Create a Culture Where Difficult Conversations Aren’t So Hard,” by Jim Whitehurst

Use Celebrations to Mark Important Moments at Work

customers 11Leadership Tip of the Week from HBR

People have long used ceremonies — bar mitzvahs, baptisms, weddings, inaugurations, quinceañeras — to mark changes and turning points.

Companies have ceremonies too, but they often focus on celebrating the positive: birthdays, work anniversaries, promotions, and project victories.

These types of recognition are important and shouldn’t stop, but companies should consider using celebrations to help people through hard times. This can be a powerful way to mark difficulties, acknowledge dark passages, honor those who have made sacrifices or experienced hardship, and help people move on.

You may not pop a bottle of champagne after a difficult reorg, but you might gather as a group and read your mission statement aloud or hold a mock funeral for the past (as Steve Jobs did at the 2002 Worldwide Developers Conference, to mark the end of the Mac’s OS 9).

Communal experiences like these can help strengthen your group’s bonds, values, and vision.

Listening as Leadership Tool

Listening as tool

Leadership Tip of the week,

adapted from HBR

What do you think?  best question asked to set up listening

Listening Is an Overlooked Leadership Tool

Listening can be a challenging skill to master and  three levels of listening have been identified:

  1. Internal listening- your own mind talk is focused on your own thoughts, worries, and priorities, even as you pretend you’re focusing on the other person
  2. Focused Listening-is being able to focus on the other person, but you’re still not connecting fully to them. The phone may be down and you may be nodding in agreement, but you may not be picking up on the small nuances the person is sharing
  3. 360degree listening This is where the magic happens. You’re not only listening to what the person is saying, but how they’re saying it — and, even better, what they’re not saying, like when they get energized about certain topics or when they pause and talk around

The impact on Leadership of moving quickly through your mindtalk to 360 degree listening can’t be underestimated.

Three Tips to Listen Better for Ninja 360 listening skills

  1. Look People in the Eye
  2. Create space in your day
  3. Ask more Questions

Full Article by Melissa Daimler @Twitter

The Best Leaders REALLY Listen

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Leadership Tip of the Week

adapted from HBR

In a world of instantaneous global connection, one of the most authentic modes of communication still is just listening to someone.

But listening can be a challenging skill to master. How can you build your ability?

Start by creating space in your day. Block off time in your calendar to reflect on a recent conversation and to prepare for the next one. When a colleague or employee asks for advice, make sure you understand the situation. Before answering, ask a question. Clarify what they really need. And give people your full attention. Look them in the eye. Put down your phone and close your laptop.

Leaders who make time for uninterrupted face-to-face conversation find that it’s one of their best management tools.

Adapted from “Listening Is an Overlooked Leadership Tool,” by Melissa Daimler

Maintain Your Entrepreneurial Passion by Being Flexible

steve jobs stanford

Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

Most of us think of entrepreneurs as passionate professionals who have a “fire in their belly.”

But it’s hard to maintain that level of dedication no matter how passionate you are, and research has shown that entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm for their projects can fade over time.

One way to prevent this is to avoid sticking to a plan. Strictly adhering to your business plan is a recipe for disengagement.

You need to be flexible and agile as you learn more about your product, your customers, and the market. This isn’t just good for your business; it keeps you excited about your project as you continue to evolve it. By changing and refining your ideas, you can make significant progress and build your confidence.

Rather than feeling misunderstood by the outside world, you will gain a sense of control over events as they unfold, which will counter any decrease in passion over time.

Adapted from “How Entrepreneurs Can Keep Their Passion from Fading,” by Veroniek Collewaert and Frederik Anseel

Which Skill Do You Want to Develop Next?

people4Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

Success requires continual growth and learning. But how do you know which development efforts will yield the best return? Here’s three tips:

  1. Look for the overlap between what your organization needs and what will give you the most satisfaction. If you’re in operations, you might identify several business-critical areas for improvement — say, learning to better manage large custom client projects in order to significantly reduce cycle and delivery times.
  2. Think about whether you can excel at the capabilities you want to develop. If you’re already very organized, that bodes well for being able to learn complex project management.
  3. Honestly assess how interested you are in the capabilities. The key is to focus on skills that will propel your organization forward, play to your strengths, and keep you passionate about learning.

Adapted from “How to Decide What Skill to Work On Next,” by Erika Andersen

Make sure you learn from Mistakes

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Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

Continuing to grow and innovate means taking risks, which naturally involves making mistakes.

But mistakes don’t mean a leader should discourage experimentation. Rather, leaders should encourage people to take time to understand why mistakes happened in order to minimise them in the future.

  • Trace previous mistakes back to their roots to identify the causes and what can be done differently next time.
  • Use role-playing exercises, debates, or even formal business war games to think through how a new strategy might play out differently.
  • Try to look at things from a competitor’s point of view to factor in a new perspective.

Mistakes are inevitable and can be costly, so don’t waste them — learn from them.

Adapted from “Don’t Let Your Mistakes Go to Waste,” by Mark Chussil

How to give good feedback

Yes, You Can Provide Feedback in a “Nice” Organization

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Building candour and feedback into any culture is challenging, but it can be particularly difficult in “nice” organisations, where behaviour is expected to be poised, respectful, and professional at all times.

In general these are positive qualities, but learning a new skill (like giving feedback) is inherently messy.

We learn by trying, getting it wrong, understanding our errors, and then trying again.

Start with yourself: Show your team that you are making a serious effort to improve, and actively request feedback from your peers. Really listen to what you hear. And make sure to identify when feedback would not be helpful.

Remember the acronym HALT—don’t give feedback if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Since candour and feedback involve other people, you’ll likely encounter misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or other conflict. Don’t expect feedback to always feel natural or easy.

A little discomfort and a few mistakes means you’re on the right path.

Adapted from “How to Give Negative Feedback When Your Organization Is ‘Nice,’” by Jennifer Porter

Get the crowd to Weigh in on Strategic Decisions

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Leadership Tip of the Week

adapted from HBR

In most organizations authority for the most important strategic decisions is left to the highest-paid person’s opinion (HiPPO).

But relying on the judgement of one person or a few individuals is bound to lead to trouble. HiPPOs often are wrong, due to inherent biases, misinformation, and other types of noise that can cloud one person’s opinion.

To cancel out much of that noise, companies should integrate crowd voting into their decision-making strategies. Crowd voting integrates the expertise, knowledge, and perspectives of many people. These opinions can help shape a more well-rounded frame of reference, and can vastly improve the chances that a strategic decision will lead to success.

Crowd voting doesn’t render HiPPOs obsolete; rather, it encourages HiPPOs to work with the crowd in order to develop more-successful strategies.

Adapted from “The Antidote to HiPPOs: Crowd Voting,” by Karim R. Lakhani

Walk away from work this summer….


customers 13

It’s here. Well, it might not be here meteorogically, but it’s here according to the calendar. Summer. That elusive season that promises so much and insists every family has a Plan A, B and C for all activities and events over the coming months.

July and August affect every business in some way whether it’s reduced or increased footfall, staffing issues or supply of services and products. Are you ready? But other than the obvious preparation that you will have included in your strategy planning, how will this summer affect you personally?

Whether you’re a business owner, a manager or a key person in a business, how do you survive summer? Will your own summer holiday be an endless juggle of family commitments and emails; full of those knife edge decisions of knowing just when to peel your eyes away from your phone and answer the 56th cry of ‘look at my dive Daddy’ with genuine interest?

Are you able to switch off completely or is your mind constantly buzzing with ‘what if’, ‘I’d better check’, ‘has that proposal gone’, ‘the project deadline is today’?

Long ago, I read about the value of working ‘on’ your business and not just ‘in’ your business.

A successful business will manage competently without you for a period of time. If you have a team of reliable and professional colleagues around you they will not let you down. If your team are rewarded fairly and empowered to make decisions, they will appreciate the trust and responsibility you give them and rise to the occasion. If your business cannot survive without you, you should be concerned. Delegation is a skill. And if your business only comprises of you, the same principle applies. You must take time out and can do so by outsourcing your communications and properly managing your schedule. Delegate, communicate and recuperate!

So, assuming you’ll be taking a break this summer, what are the major benefits of being able to walk away?

  • Firstly, and most importantly, YOU.

You need time out. There is nothing like a change of scenery or routine to enable you to look at things from a different angle. Perspective is everything. Step away, take time out, reflect and review. These are some of the most valuable activities in your whole business year.

  • Your FAMILY needs you.

Whether it’s children, partners or parents, being able to truly dedicate time to your family is critical. In our world of digital overload, instant access to people and information saturates our every waking moment. Leave your phone at home and allow your communication with your family to be genuine and uninterrupted.

  • Your Health.

Some business owners or managers are very successful in dividing their time up so they can include ‘space’ for themselves in every day. Many successful entrepreneurs are also successful athletes or impassioned by fitness goals. This is no coincidence. Being able to drive yourself towards physical goals is paralleled in driving business goals. Those of us who take time out to exercise are forcing change physically; creating a physical release of stress and tension and focussing the mind on an immediate and tangible result. The body reacts by becoming more alert and capable of withstanding physical demands. The mind has a break enabling you to re-examine your other roles with clarity and a fresh perspective. Your stress levels, your attitudes and your overall health will be hugely improved after a holiday.

  • Your Business.

You may be pleasantly surprised to discover your business thrives without you! Or you may discover ‘holes’ or issues that need addressing, thereby improving business efficiency overall. With the right team with you, the business should cruise through any absence of the manager or owner with little or no disruption. This makes for a strong and robust business.

What’s one of the most important factors in the future success of your organisation. You. Not necessarily your presence, but you. Take time out, walk away and recover. Then set about making the last half of 2016 even better than the first.


A Safe Way to Cut People Off in Meetings

jellyfish Leadership Tip of Week

adapted from HBR

When meeting participants veer off topic, critical agenda items suffer. But even when leaders or peers intervene, it’s often too late, and the typical approach (“This is really interesting, but can I suggest we get back to the topic at hand?”) leaves everyone feeling awkward.

Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this predicament: the word “jellyfish.” Jellyfish are, of course, those funny-looking creatures that have drifted along on ocean currents for millions of years.

Use the word to prevent drifting in meetings by introducing the jellyfish rule: If any attendee feels the conversation is heading off course or delving into an inappropriate level of detail, they simply say “jellyfish” or “I think we’re having a jellyfish moment.”

It’s a safe, effective, accessible catchall for “Why don’t you take this offline — the rest of us would like our meeting back.”

Adapted from “The Right Way to Cut People Off in Meetings,” by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene

Don’t over-monitor your goals


Leadership Tip of week #7

adapted from HBR

Having goals is a good thing. But the current trend of self-monitoring, whether through time trackers such as Toggl or fitness trackers such as Fitbit, means we’re constantly evaluating ourselves — the sales we make, the hours we work, or the miles we run.

Overmonitoring can get tiring and cause us to lose sight of what really matters. Avoid this trap by taking a more humane approach:

  1. Assess yourself. If you’re constantly measuring what you’re doing and feeling uneasy about things you actually want to do, it’s time to loosen up.
  2. Reevaluate the why. Think about whether you’re monitoring habits because they work for you or because it’s what you think you should do.
  3. Disappoint people. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the things people expect you to do and be. Let some of them go.
  4. Be brave. Stop looking at your self-worth as a scorecard.

Adapted from “The Perils of Overmonitoring Your Behavior and Goals,” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders

Tips to recruit top talent


Leadership Tip of the week

adapted from HBR

Whether you’re a founder of a startup, a young CEO, or a veteran leader, if you have big plans, you have one job: Put together the strongest team possible. Here are three concrete ways to attract new top talent:

  • Master the art of storytelling. Tell people what inspired you to start your business in the first place. Others will only follow you if you really leave them with the impression that you yourself are completely captivated by the opportunity you’re presenting.
  • Don’t be a one-trick pony. Every potential employee is different, so the way you can best get your message across will vary. Considering the candidate’s background and personality will give you insight into how you should deliver your message.
  • Never compromise. If in doubt, don’t hire. Your first hires are benchmarks for future hires; new candidates need to set the bar even higher.

Adapted from “6 Ways to Recruit Superstar Talent to Your New Company,” by Bastian Bergmann

Use Structured debate to avoid Groupthink


Management Tip of Week

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

To help your team respond to emerging threats and opportunities while avoiding the dangers of “groupthink” — teams or organizations operating on autopilot — hold frequent, structured debates.

Randomly assign different team members to argue opposing points of view. Then, at a regular team meeting or an offsite, set up a debate with scenarios such as: “Our organization’s mobile app will be obsolete within two years. Here’s what will replace it, and here’s what we need to do now to survive and thrive.”

Ask half the team to argue why the current mobile app is sufficient, and the other half to argue how and why the mobile app needs to be changed.

Debates like this can help overcome people’s reluctance to ask and answer tough questions about how the world has changed or is changing, and how the organization needs to evolve accordingly.

Adapted from “How Structured Debate Helps Your Team Grow,” by Ben Dattner

Best Leaders keep an Open Mind

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Best Leaders Keep an Open Mind

Leadership Tip of the week #5

adapted from Harvard Business Review

We often think of great leaders as having the conviction of their beliefs—they’re not pushovers. But the most successful leaders actually show a willingness to be persuaded. How can you do this, particularly on issues where you’re not objective?

  • Keep your hand on the dial. When debating a decision, envision turning a dial: all the way to the right represents absolute certainty, and all the way to the left signifies none.
  • Recall a moment of opacity, when you couldn’t see a situation clearly, or when something you were so sure was right turned out to be wrong. Whenever you’re feeling overly confident, remind yourself of that moment, and seek counsel.
  • Kill your darlings. It can be tough to change your mind about long-held beliefs. But the quicker you acknowledge that an idea (even a beloved one) is unworkable, the sooner you’ll move on to the right course of action.

Adapted from “The Best Leaders Allow Themselves to Be Persuaded,” by Al Pittampalli

Good Leaders have Good Personal lives

lifestyle family3

Leadership Tip of the week#4

Adapted from Harvard Business Review

Good leaders put aside their own needs for the good of the organization — but that doesn’t mean they completely sacrifice their personal lives.

Leaders who subjugate their need for exercise, sleep, and recreation eventually succumb to brownout: the graduated loss of energy, focus, and passion.

Burnout is often imperceptible to outsiders, but it affects a significant percentage of the executive population.

Today’s superstar leaders supplement their commitment to others with an equally important commitment to themselves. Whether it’s promising you’ll stick to your exercise routine, enjoy hobbies, eat dinner with your family, or reflect on what’s important to you, putting aside time for yourself makes you a better, more fully realized version of yourself.

Start by making one small but meaningful promise to yourself — and keep it.

If you’re successful, try another promise. It shouldn’t take long for the performance benefits to be obvious.

Adapted from “Treat Promises to Yourself as Seriously as Promises to Others,” by Michael E. Kibler

Noticing Positive Things Decreases Stress

lifestle family

Leadership Tip of the week #1

adapted from Harvard Business Review

Over the course of a typical workday, negative and positive things inevitably happen — and many people focus mainly, or exclusively, on the negative ones.

But research has found that even small positive experiences are a valuable resource for reducing stress.

When people spend time thinking about what went well that day, their mental and physical stress levels decrease by small but significant amounts, and they have an easier time detaching from work.

Thinking positively doesn’t come naturally for most people:

We’re attuned to paying attention to negative things, which makes it hard to notice positive ones.

So instead of ruminating on negative events, make time to relive, enjoy, and share the positive events of your day.

Doing so creates bonds with other people and reduces evening stress, improving your sleep — and the better alertness and mood that result can lead to more positive things happening tomorrow.

Adapted from “The Powerful Effect of Noticing Good Things at Work,” by Joyce E. Bono and Theresa M. Glomb

Set the Right Conditions for Creativity


Set the Right Conditions for Creativity

Leadership Tip of the Week #2

adapted from HBR

There isn’t a magic formula for how to be more creative.

But you can deliberately craft the right environment for optimal brain health, which in turn makes it more likely for you to experience artistic inspiration or have that “Eureka” moment.

Start by taking better care of yourself, which means sleeping more (at least 7–9 hours), eating a well-balanced diet, and getting plenty of exercise — the basics for brain functioning.

You should also force yourself to take time to think and reflect.

Try a mindfulness course or some breathing exercises to reduce stress, stop fretting about your deficiencies and failures, and focus on what makes you happy at work.

The positive emotions that are generated when you feel connected to your personal and organizational purpose will help you think more clearly — and more creatively.

Adapted from “How to Free Your Innate Creativity,” by Annie McKee