Tag Archives: leadership

Leadership Should Be Difficult

ThinkstockPhotos-87453587Leadership isn’t easy. People and employees who think being a leader means sitting in the corner office, taking three-hour lunches and spending afternoons on the golf course are sadly mistaken.

Leadership is difficult—and leadership should be difficult. Why? Because at its heart, being a leader is about bringing people together with a shared vision in order to achieve a goal or solve a problem. It’s about how leaders influence the daily lives of the people who work for them and how their decisions affect careers and outcomes.

A leader not only brings different personalities and employees together but also instills confidence in those differing personalities in order to bring about success. This is not an easy task. The most difficult part of commanding is knowing what is really going on with the company, with individual employees and what the best solution is. That’s a daunting task for anyone.

The Difficult Truth

Human nature dictates that employees and workers look up to leaders because they believe these leaders know the truth and have solutions. On the flip side, human nature also dictates that even leaders are sometimes clueless as to what is actual truth and what is a personal interpretation.

Humans often draw conclusions quickly and without awareness, which results in a skewed view of what is really going on.

What leaders think and say is usually perceived as truth, when it may not actually be. Managers have the difficult task of putting their personal interpretations aside, researching all options and deciding—even against their personal preferences—what the best course of action is.

The Mediator

Handling conflicts in a workplace is also a difficult, but necessary, task for leaders. Ideally, employees can work out problems between each other, but if they cannot, leaders must step in to resolve the conflict. Conflicts in the office can easily spiral out of control, leading to a toxic and unproductive work environment.

Handling conflicts or disciplining employees is not an easy task, nor should it be. Leaders are expected to use a firm, yet gentle, hand to help resolve problems and ease fears.

The Professional Student

In addition to managing expectations, results and people, leaders are expected to be on top of the latest training and information. Professionals in an authoritative role can’t wait for the next training session, but instead, must constantly learn, research and grow in order to effectively lead a team.

While others go home at the end of the day and relax or watch their favorite show, leaders should invest in their development by reading, watching and studying as often as possible.

Putting Others First

Today’s leadership model has shifted toward servant leadership where leaders are expected to focus on the development of their employees. True leaders create more leaders.

This role is a tough one to balance. On one hand, a leader must deliver results and make an impact on the success of the company; on the other hand, managers are expected to cater to different personality types and generations in the workforce in order to boost employee development. The overall result should benefit the company’s bottom line.

Modern leadership is more difficult now than in the past. Being a leader isn’t a simple task, but instead is a journey of work, self-discipline, and continuing education. If done right, however, the results can be rewarding, for you, your employees, and your company.

Super Bowl Leadership Lessons

footballWith the biggest game of the year upon us, many this weekend with focus on the matchup between the two teams, the legacy of the players who end up on the winning side, the commercials that will win the day, or the number of Buffalo wings they’ll consume.

But the Super Bowl also offers many lessons for people pursuing success in their professional lives. Throughout the years, many players who have shined on the biggest stage of professional football have gone on to lengthy and successful careers.

Troy Aikman

In 1990, if you asked any football fan or expert about the prospect of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman becoming a Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl champion, it’s unlikely you’d find any who would think there was a chance of that happening. The Cowboys didn’t win a game with Aikman as the starting quarterback, and he threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.

So what happened over the next two years that would lead to the Cowboys winning Super Bowl XXVII and Aikman being named the MVP?

Over those two years, Aikman grew and matured while the Cowboys organization surrounded him with a talented offensive line and future hall of famers in Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.

If you’re just starting your career and gaining experience in your work, don’t give up. Understand that success takes time and that as you learn more about your career field, you will experience more wins.

The other lesson to remember is that nothing is accomplished on your own. A successful career is often the result of teamwork, so make sure to learn from those around you and thank them along the way.

Hines Ward

Known for his toughness, resiliency, and big smile, Hines Ward’s story is one of perseverance through tough circumstances.

Ward was a highly regarded wide receiver coming out of college in 1998, with many expecting him to be one of the top five receivers selected in the pro draft. But before the draft, it was discovered that Ward was missing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee from a bicycle accident during his childhood.

This news made many teams wary of his health, and Ward fell from being one of the top receivers in the draft to being the 12th receiver taken when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in the third round.

Over the next seven seasons, Ward and the Steelers found success but came up short of their ultimate goal, a Super Bowl trophy. Then, in 2005, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL and Ward was named the MVP.

Throughout his career, Ward was known for his willingness to block for teammates and make the catches that would leave him vulnerable to big hits. This sacrifice for the good of the team towards a common goal is a lesson we can all take to heart in our professional lives.

Von Miller

The most recent Super Bowl MVP, Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has played the majority of his young career with a spotlight on his efforts and an expectation of success.

Drafted second overall in 2011 by the Broncos, Miller was anticipated to be a highly successful player who could lead the rebuilding of the team’s defense. While he saw success early on and the Broncos became a contender, toward the end of the 2013 season, Miller tore his ACL and watched as his team made it to Super Bowl XLVIII. From the sidelines, he watched the Broncos suffer one of the worst losses in Super Bowl history, falling to the Seattle Seahawks, 43-8.

Two years later, Miller helped lead his team to another chance for a championship as the Broncos made another appearance in the Super Bowl. Instead of standing on the sidelines, Miller was instrumental in the Broncos victory, forcing two fumbles and winning Super Bowl MVP.

Just like Von Miller, many of us have expectations set on us for success, whether from leaders at work or friends and family members at home. Those expectations may put a heavy weight on our shoulders, but they can also move us to work harder knowing that others have confidence in our abilities.

And when setbacks happen, we know from the stories of each of these Super Bowl MVPs, they don’t have to define us. We can grow, learn, and reach new heights if we’re willing to put in the effort and fight to see success.

What other prime-time performers from past Super Bowls can teach us career lessons? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Top Traits of High Achievers

Have you ever looked at the successful people in your life and wondered how they got where they are? What characteristics or advantages do they have that you don’t? Thankfully, most successful people don’t have some secret formula for success that we don’t all have access to.

Ultimately, high achievers have three traits in common that allow them to be successful.

Perseverance

When looking at the most successful people in your life, you’ll likely notice their hard work and determination to do well, no matter what their career or the task they’re facing. This attitude of perseverance helps them overcome difficult odds so that they can achieve what others can’t.

But where does this perseverance come from? A passion and focus to achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves.

They set their eyes on achieving something and don’t let distractions hold them back. Whether it’s their personal wellness, work/life balance, or completing a big project at work, high achievers have a single-minded focus on accomplishing their goals.

This focus also means they are willing and able to fail during the process, knowing that they won’t be stopped by a momentary setback. Often, the high achievers among us are those willing to try something new in the hopes that it will bring great results. New ideas, though, don’t always lead to success. Persevering through these tough times is what will set you apart on your way to success.

Learning

For many, the fear of asking questions is holding them back. For high achievers, however, questions are the key to their success, because they lead to learning.

Being willing and excited to learn new information helps the most successful people stay successful and reach new heights in their careers. They aren’t going to settle or stay stagnant with the knowledge they have. Learning leads to new ideas being brought to the table, so to become one of the high achievers, commit to being a life-long learner.

The drive to continually improve is one of the top traits of people who achieve greatness in their lives, including the desire to keep learning and growing in their profession.

Thankfulness

This trait may surprise you, considering we most often associate high achievement with a singular focus that can be seen as steamrolling anyone who gets in the way, but the most successful people are often the most thankful.

They understand that nothing can be accomplished alone—that a group of individuals, supporting, challenging, and pushing them to be their best, is the best asset. Showing them their gratitude and being compassionate is common among the highest achievers in the world.

Whether it’s in their professional or personal life, successful people know that when they succeed, they provide value to others that will ultimately help them reach their goals, and they don’t take that for granted.

Take a moment and think about the high achievers in your life, the leaders, co-workers, family, and friends that you consider successful. These three traits of perseverance, learning, and thankfulness are very likely found in each of them.

What other traits do you think make someone a high achiever? Let us know in the comments section.

Great Leaders Who Overcame Huge Obstacles

overcomingYou may have heard the saying, “If you get knocked down; get back up and try again.” Not everyone on top today got there by having success after success. Many people face obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. In fact, the greatest triumphs often come from situations that seem overwhelmingly awful. The way in which you respond to those adversities can be seen as victories themselves. People who have encountered challenges may agree that the factors in overcoming obstacles are determination, focus, and self-discipline.

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The Results Are In: How Do You Prepare for a Future Leadership Role?

Leadership MsgA company is ultimately shaped by those in leadership positions, for better or worse. Because of this—and because having the right leadership is vital to company success—we wanted to know how Movin’ On Up readers might prepare for future leadership roles.

The Results
According to our poll, the majority of respondents (49%) said they prepare for a future leadership role using a combination of the following: pursuing higher education, finding a mentor, and learning new skills, among others.

Approximately 15% of respondents selected “learn new skills through work or volunteering” as the sole way they prepare for a leadership role, while “study leadership” and “pursue higher education” tied with 10% of the votes.

In addition, each of the following choices received less than 10% of the votes:

  • Find a mentor
  • Become involved with networking or industry organizations
  • Change careers

Readers were also able to select the “Other” option and provide their own answers. Of the 3% who chose this option, responses included utilizing personal connections, going beyond the average duty of their jobs, and taking responsibility for special initiatives—just to name a few.

To learn more about how you can prepare for a future leadership role with every day habits, check out this article.

Do you aspire to be in a leadership position someday? Are there other ways you’re preparing for a future leadership role? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Celebrate Women’s History Month With These Stats

March is Women’s History Month in the United States and is a great time to reflect on the many accomplishments of the nation’s leaders. In 1981, Congress requested President Ronald Reagan to proclaim the week beginning March 7 as “Women’s History Week.” Since 1995, a series of annual proclamations have designated the entire month of March “Women’s History Month.”

To help you celebrate the annual observance, take a look at this infographic from ATG Stores.

ifg_main_womenshistory
Click for full-size image.

Everyday Habits That Make You a Better Leader

habits_better_leader_webBecoming a great leader doesn’t take a lifetime of work. Rather, there are everyday habits you can start right now that will help you learn to successfully lead others. From communicating effectively to being courageous in the face of adversity, these tips can help you mold yourself into the leader you want to be today.

Learn to set clear expectations.
It’s fair to say that no one can read minds. So, it’s especially important to make sure you are setting clear expectations before starting a project or delegating an assignment. If you’re leading people on a project, ensure you’re being precise, both verbally and in writing, about what is expected and when you expect the work to be completed. If you’re being assigned a task, make sure you ask questions that clearly establish the expectations of your job before you start. By clarifying expectations, you decrease the opportunity for problems to arise and make it easier to deal with them when they do.

Focus on people.
If you’re a supervisor or a leader of others, it’s important to visit with your teammates on a frequent basis. Investing time in your co-workers helps grow your team and build trust, accountability, and understanding. And strengthening your relationships with those you lead helps you give important feedback during annual reviews. If you aren’t in a leadership position yet, the same rules apply. Getting to know your co-workers and being someone people trust is a great way to help you move up the ladder and get noticed.

Get involved.
One of the easiest ways to gain experience, network, and build your resume is through volunteering. When you give your time to help with community service or an organization that’s important to you, you’ll gain valuable relationships, enjoy the feeling of giving back, and gain skills you may not have otherwise. You may also learn how to lead others, which can be a valuable tool back at the office.

Be brave.
When faced with difficult decisions, leaders have to be brave. In fact, employees will often look to how a leader behaves during turbulent times before deciding how to react themselves. When you’re faced with adversity in the workplace or at home, take a deep breath and consider your options before moving forward. Remember to assess the outcomes of your decisions to learn from your mistakes and celebrate your accomplishments.

Know yourself.
According to Forbes, 90% of top performing leaders possess an abundance of self-awareness. Having a strong sense of self-awareness means you have a clear image of yourself, which includes your leadership style, strengths, weaknesses, and skills. You know where you can improve, and you know where you shine. Once you develop stronger self-awareness, you can craft a plan for improving areas that need work.

Hold yourself accountable.
When things go wrong, it’s easy to blame someone else. But, great leaders know when they’re at fault. Instead of shifting the blame to someone else, own up to your mistakes and any role you had in the problem. Don’t be afraid of what may happen when you’re honest, and never point the finger at those who are not at fault. Furthermore, be there to back up those who need you when things go wrong.

Love what you do.
When you’re passionate about something, it shows. And often, it’s contagious. Take time to be thankful for your job and gain enthusiasm for what you do so others can pick up on your energy. Strive to share the passion you have for your work with others before boredom and apathy take over your team.

How do you prepare yourself to be a successful leader? Share your tips in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to by Express Employment Professionals.