Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hiring Smart

As leaders, hiring good people can be the most difficult aspect of our jobs. However, good hiring decisions can also yield the most reward. When looking to hire folks for your team, it is important to not only consider a candidate’s skill set and prior experience, but also what they can bring to your team as far as IQ and emotional intelligence.

I know some managers who like to surround themselves with yes folks - those who are just going to tell them what they like to hear and simply carry out orders given from on high. From my perspective, my success and that of my team is a result of having team members who challenge assumptions or dismantle the, “but that is how we do it here” refrain in order to get to the best possible result. I have seen that the top performing team members are those who possess the confidence to challenge the status quo, think strategically and speak up in order to put the success of the organization at the front of every decision.

When looking to hire new team members, I am drawn to innovators. These are folks who can look at a challenge in front of them, analyze and synthesize the necessary information, and come up with a plan of attack in order to create something new, exciting and profitable for the organization. Simply put, they are willing to try new things. This is in contrast to team members who operate from a place of “no” and are the first to give you five reasons why something cannot be done. I like people who say, “why not?”

As we have discussed in previous posts, office politics and the emotional needs of team members and colleagues can take up a lot of time and energy and be dispiriting for all folks involved. And so, when casting for new team members, I like to onboard folks whom I feel will stay above the fray and not get embroiled in organizational politics. For them, the top priority is a job well-done and one that supports the organization as a whole, rather than their own personal advancement.

But hiring smart, innovative people is only half of the equation. Keeping them engaged and their skills sharp requires work. The best way to foster this type of focus and dedication is to really get to know your team members. This is done by developing lasting and meaningful relationships with them. Listen to them, find out their passions and concerns, and understand how they envision their professional growth and development. This will deepen your bond and breed loyalty. The best team members are often the most creative, and providing them with additional outlets to shine will drive them even further and make them even more valuable.

The key to leading a successful organization is developing a team that enables members to contribute to the best of their ability. By surrounding yourself with smart and driven folks, who are able to be just that - smart and driven - you will develop a culture that yields a great deal of success.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Let Go of That Ego

We all have egos. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t and there is certainly a bit of ego in everything we do. Yet egos, especially those in overdrive, can be the biggest barrier to both leaders and team members working collaboratively and effectively.

Why do some people have trouble putting their egos aside and place what is best for their organizations, team members and stakeholders first? That is a difficult question to answer and the answer is certainly not the same for everyone. Egos are related to our need as humans to feel both special and in control at the same time. It is also easy for us to conflate being good at one thing with being good at everything.

Whatever the reason, when leaders let their egos get in the way, they begin to put themselves first. Their agenda, their status, their success and their gratification comes before everything and everyone else—especially their colleagues, those who are affected by their ideas and actions. In today’s work environment, where we must all work together to meet expectations and garner results, being led by someone who feels the need to be the center of attention can be the kiss of death.

As a leader, it is then critical to remain grounded, check your ego at the door and take constant stock of why you are doing what you are doing. Ask yourself: “are my decisions motivated by ensuring the collective success of my organization rather than my personal gain?”

Here are few tips to keep in mind when working on not letting your ego get in the way:

  • Understand your ego triggers—recognize situations that have caused you to put yourself first.
  • Practice humility and remember that it is team work that makes the dream work.
  • Seek honest feedback from both team members and stakeholders. Provide a space for those you trust and respect to evaluate your leadership.
  • Learn from others and seek out those whose skills you admire and respect.

By keeping your ego in check, modeling humility and putting success of your organization and team at the top of the list, you will increase your value as a leader and inspire others through your example.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Don't Get Spooked

With Halloween recently passing, now is the perfect time to talk about fear. Or more specifically, how not to let fear get in your way of leading.

Sure, there are times when you will face significant challenges or be forced to make a risky move. And sometimes, you will fail. We all have experienced failure, but that’s because we have demonstrated the courage to try.

As leaders, we are confronted every day with situations that can make us anxious and second guess ourselves, but in order to be effective we must face our fears head on. As a leader, here are some common fears that we must learn to conquer in order to lead effectively:

Making the wrong decision: I think each day I have to make more than 50 decisions—some big and some small. Will, I bat a thousand? Nope. It is easy to get overwhelmed but keeping the weight of decisions in perspective and be willing to accept that you made a bad call and move forward from there is required in order to stay in the game. It is also important to remember that making a decision—even if it turns out not to be exactly the right one—is better than kicking the can down the road and making no decision at all.

Serving as an authority: You are a subject matter expert in your field. You would not have gotten to where you are without the ability to speak effectively on your chosen subject. But it is easy to get nervous and be afraid to speak out publicly. The best way to overcome this fear is to relax and be prepared. Everyone flubs a line now and then. Mistakes make us human and what make us relatable to others.

Being judged for your leadership style. We all lead differently—some use humor, some of us remain more authoritative and professional. We all have our unique personalities and the ways we relate to people. The important thing to remember is that if you are treating team members with respect and communicating clearly, you will be successful. Don’t be afraid to show who you are and be yourself. Again, that will make you relatable to your fellow team members.

As a leader, the buck stops with you. Your team looks to you for guidance and direction. The moment you let fear--even a rational one--get in your way, you will find yourself on shaky ground. Overcoming fear can be difficult but it is certainly possible and necessary if you want to continue to be successful.