Tag Archives: leadership

Foolproof Conference Calls: 3 How To Tips

Conferencecall_Jan_2012_webIf you’ve ever been asked to set up a conference call, you know first hand the anxiety that comes with meetings conducted this way. So many things can go wrong, from the phone conferencing system, or web conferencing software not working to attendees not calling in on time. Conference calls are normally necessary when a question is complex, a decision is trying to be reached, or an idea is being pitched, which can all be stressful conversations in person, without the added challenges conference calls can bring. Here are a few tips to take control of the situation, help you plan for the call, and conduct a successful meeting. 

1. Plan in Advance

When it comes to setting up a conference call, don’t leave anything to chance. Before you set up the call make sure you understand what is expected. Some technical questions to ask are:

  • Will you need to be able to share a slideshow or your computer screen?
  • How many people will be on the line and will you need to be able to mute the lines?
  • Will the audio call and/or the visual presentation need to be recorded?
  • How long will the call take?

You’ll want to schedule the call like you would schedule a meeting, using your calendar software to make sure that everyone involved will be available. Resist the urge to send an email with the details, instead send a meeting request containing the conference call logistics to ensure that it will show up on the calendars of the attendees and not be lost in their email inboxes. Prior to sending the meeting request, confirm the phone number, access codes, and online presentation link so that all of the information is included in the initial meeting invite. Don’t make it difficult to find the log-in information by sending separate emails and meeting requests – communicate clearly in one message. Also, include an agenda or list of questions that will be addressed. Giving your attendees time to gather information they need prior to the call will help you achieve your objectives and have a better discussion on the call. Conference calls can be effective ways to clear up confusion and seek direction, as opposed to several email threads or discussion threads trying to seek a resolution, if people are prepared in advance for the conversation .

2. Rehearse

If several individuals on your team will be involved in a call to make a presentation to a client, make sure everyone knows in advance who will be taking the lead. As the initiator of the call, you are expected to start the discussion and ensure all necessary items are communicated and decided upon with the meeting time. Again, if several of you will be talking during the call its best to rehearse the presentation to make sure everything flows together and the transition among speakers is a smooth transition. It’s important to keep callers engaged and a smooth presentation is a good step in doing that. When a call seems disorganized and lacks an agenda attendees can start to tune out and focus on the work at their desk instead of engaging in the conversation.

3. Set Up in Advance

About 30 minutes prior to the call, confirm the phone number and access codes of the call and make sure that was the information sent in the meeting request. Check to make sure your conference call was set up for the right date, in the right time zone, and for a.m. or p.m. With some conference bridges, an error in one of those fields will block callers from dialing in. If you’re hosting the meeting in a conference room, make sure the web conferencing and phone conferencing lines are all in working order and turned on 15 minutes before the call begins. If you have to download any software for the call, make sure you’ve done that the day before the call on the machines you’ll be using. You’ll reduce the stress of your fellow participants if everything is flowing smoothly before the call even begins. Prior to the call beginning, make sure you know how to mute/unmute callers and how to record the presentation and/or audio portion. One last trick for success is to dial-in with the call participant information from your cell phone after you’ve activated the call to make sure everything is working correctly. Also, let a teammate that is not on the call know the log-in information so they can direct anyone who has misplaced the information how to join.

All of the time you’ve invested prior to the call will pay off in a successful call, saving you time in the long-run. And your participants will appreciate your respect for their time with your attention to detail in hosting a successful conference call.

 

By Rachel Rudisill

Mentor Up: How to Pick the Right Mentor

Mentorup_june2011_web

Whether you’ve been working for several years or are just preparing to enter the career world, traveling the path alone can be risky and hard. Surrounding yourself with people who can directly and positively impact your career is one of the key steps to take in any employment opportunity. Research shows protégés report more promotions, higher incomes, higher job and career satisfaction, and greater job involvement and commitment to a company than those not being mentored. Considering the benefits of having a mentor, the next question is how to get one. But, before asking someone to be your mentor, you need to know what to look for. So, here are some important aspects to consider in your quest for a great mentor.

Finding the right mentor.
A mentor is meant to challenge you. Do some research and find high-level managers or peers with more work experience than you. These individuals should be successful in their field, highly respected, and an all-around positive role model. Although it may be intimidating to approach such an esteemed and experienced professional, it’s important to surround yourself with people who have more knowledge than you do. The purpose of a mentor is to teach, counsel, and guide you to intelligent and beneficial career moves. Find someone who can help do just that.

Asking to be mentored.
Obviously, when selecting someone as your mentor, you need to ask them first. Begin by sharing with your potential mentor how they’ve already impacted your career, how you respect them, and why you want to learn from them. The more interest you take in a potential mentor, the more likely they will be to return the favor. However, you aren’t just asking them to guide you – you are asking for a major commitment. Make sure your mentors are willing to share their skills, knowledge, and expertise with you. Select people who seem to take a personal interest in helping you succeed rather than people who will toss you aside when their schedule gets hectic.

Having multiple mentors.
Because you’ll be choosing mentors for different qualities that put them at the top of their field, choose several. Leaders, although they may tell you different, have very little spare time to devote to full-time mentorship. Consider looking for someone in your own department, someone in another department of your company, someone in your field but with a different company, or someone that leads a charity organization you’re involved in. Having diversity in your mentors will provide you with relevant, yet different, opinions. Consider your group of mentors as your very own board of advisers.

Giving back.
Finally, remember that people don’t mentor just to be friendly. Mentoring can take a considerable amount of time, energy, and effort. Ask your mentor what you can do to help them. For some, simply seeing your appreciation and loyalty may be enough. For others, they may want to see you volunteer your time to mentor someone too. What’s most important is showing the initiative to give back to the mentor rather than simply taking from the relationship.

Moving up in an organization is increasingly challenging, however, having the right mentors by your side can help you climb the corporate ladder to success. Surround yourself with the highest quality people to create your own network of professionals.

 

Who’s Your Boss? – Understanding Leadership Styles

In every work environment, you encounter different leadership styles among managers. Some might have exceptional leaders, but others might experience a manager with not-so-great leadership. Leadership styles vary broadly from one manager to the next and from situation to situation. So, how do you know what type of leadership style your manager has? Here is a list of the most common leadership styles and a description of what they are to help you identify the type of manager you work for.

1. Authoritarian.

The authoritarian leader exudes extreme power over their employees. This leader calls all the shots and does not leave much decision making up to the team. They have a vision they want to achieve and know exactly how they’re going to get there … no matter what. With this type of leader they won’t ask employees to do something – they will tell you to do something. If so, to keep the peace, do what is asked without griping or complaining.

Leaders who fall under this category are also classified as transactional leaders. Basically, these are no-nonsense leaders who lay down the law to their employees from day one. Team members have no say and the manager doesn’t really focus on helping the team grow and develop – they just want the work done right.

2. Bureaucratic. This individual is a rule follower and makes sure that the team sticks to the rules. They don’t allow for team brainstorming or coming up with creative new ways to accomplish work. To stay on this leader’s good side, make sure you are following the rules. Over time, this leader may become comfortable with new ideas that you propose – just remember to relate them back to the company and show how they follow the rules and meet company standards.

3. Democratic. A democratic leader is the exact opposite of an authoritarian. They involve the team in decision-making processes, and take all suggestions into account when making the final decision. Also, a democratic leader is considered to be a transformational leader because they focus on the future and on positive growth at work. They want to help others become better leaders as well.

With democratic leaders, feel free to voice opinions or suggestions that you might have. Tell them why you believe in an idea or support or dislike something in the workplace. They will respect your interest in the business.

4. Laissez-Fair. A leader with this style tends to be hands off and allows the team to make all the decisions. In French, laissez-fair means “leave it be” or “let it be.” Basically, this leader leaves everything alone and puts the team in charge. However, this can create a stressful, chaotic environment that lacks direction and goes nowhere.

Unfortunately with this type of leader, they are not very interested in an organization, and there is little that an employee can do to improve the situation. An organization needs leadership to survive. If your organization is dealing with a laissez-fair leader, it might be in the best interest to elect someone into the leadership role who will be involved in the organization.

As you can see, the top leadership styles vary widely and range from the good to the bad. Apply this information to find out what type of leader you work for and to make the best of your workday.

Earning a Promotion: 3 Things You Can Learn from Your Boss

Your boss was given the responsibility and the corner office for a reason, so if you’re looking for a promotion, look no further than them for guidance. Observing your boss and following their lead will give you a leg up when you’re ready to seek a promotion. Here are three things you can focus on and learn from, so start paying attention.

Management Style – Every leader has a different way of leading their team, including your boss. So, watch how your boss interacts with your co-workers, delegates projects, and recognizes accomplishments. Also, notice how your co-workers react to their behavior to learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll realize that different personality types require different types of leadership styles. For example, your boss will most likely allow high performers to self manage more than new employees. Demonstrate this knowledge when you interview for a promotion by talking about specific management scenarios that you would use in each situation.

Professionalism – Observe your boss interacting with their peers, supervisor, and other company executives. Pay attention to how they handle situations – both good and bad. A world-class leader respects their co-workers and superiors and earns their respect in return. Also, take note of when your boss is praised for their work and what they did to earn that praise. By emulating their behaviors, treating others with respect, and acting and reacting professionally, you can build your leadership ability and presence within the company.

Wardrobe Choices – You might not consider how you dress to be important to your career, but it does matter when you want to get ahead at work. You don’t have to wear $1,000 suits to receive a promotion, but you do need to dress professionally. Observe what your boss wears to the office every day. Are you wearing something comparable? If not, you’re not helping your professional image. So, follow your boss’s lead and wear similar clothing styles. That doesn’t mean you have to copy their wardrobe shirt for shirt or shoe for shoe, but if your boss is wearing a suit every day and you’re wearing khakis and a polo shirt, it’s time to step it up a notch.

Earning a promotion takes more than just being well-versed in your subject area, industry, and company. Companies want to develop well-rounded individuals into leaders who can represent their company professionally. That’s why people who know how to manage others, act professionally, and dress the part have a great shot at moving up the career ladder. And, who better to learn from than the individuals your company already trusts and respects as leaders?

What have you learned from a manager that helped you develop your career? As a manager, what advice would you give others to help them move up the corporate ladder? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

5 Simple Ways to Appreciate Your Boss (Without Kissing Butt)

Anonymity – the feeling that you are not known or appreciated for your job role – is one of the three signs of a miserable job. Everyone craves to be known and appreciated for the work they do. In fact, it’s the role of the boss or manager to provide this for every employee.

Do you ever think about who is appreciating your boss for the work they do? Chances are, they don’t get as much thanks as you would think.

Many people are hesitant to demonstrate their appreciation for a great boss. That’s because, there’s often a sticky side to employer appreciation. No one wants to be known as the office brown-noser. Especially at the price of co-worker relationships.

But, the fact is, a great boss deserves to be appreciated – and more than just with a card on National Boss Day. So, here are five simple ways you can show your boss your genuine appreciation – without kissing butt.

1. Strike up a conversation. Depending on your work situation – and your boss – this may be the easiest thing in the world or it may be difficult. Either way, having an informal conversation with your boss is a great way to build rapport. Don’t forget, conversation can happen in many ways – it doesn’t have to be in person. Write an e-mail, or make a phone call, just to say thanks or catch up. Then, make sure your thankful, positive attitude shines through in the way you communicate – verbally and non-verbally.

2. Help them meet a deadline. When you’re on top of your game and have time to spare once your tasks are completed, invest your time in helping your boss meet – or beat – an important deadline. Adding time into your boss’ workweek by offering to lighten the load when you can is one of the best ways to show your appreciation.

3. Share important news. If you have a pulse on a niche or are well-read in your industry, consider e-mailing interesting articles or resources to your boss to keep them well-informed. This practical idea not only saves them time, it also demonstrates your value and just may spark an innovative idea.

4. Send them a note. Consider writing a short note of appreciation or encouragement to your boss and leaving it on their desk. For an even bigger impact, mail the note – to their work or home address. The cost of the stamp will be worth it. Personal mail is so rare these days, your gesture is sure to stand out and make a positive impact.

5. Use the golden rule. Most bosses aren’t perfect. But who are we kidding? Most employees aren’t perfect either. So, choose to focus on the positive aspects of your boss, and show your appreciation for those factors. (Even if you don’t feel fully appreciated by them.) A simple act of gratitude may speak multitudes into the heart of even the most callous boss.

You may be surprised how far a little thanks can go. After all, a positive attitude is contagious. So, no matter how good or bad your relationship with your boss stands right now, realize you have the power to make it better than it is today.

Taking the time to show your thanks – whoever your boss may be – just may spark the positive energy they need to better motivate your entire team.