Monthly Archives: September 2009

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.

The Mixed Signals Affecting Your Career

We live in a world of perpetual communication. On average, men use more than 13,000 words a day and women use nearly three times that amount. We also send and receive information through nonverbal messages such as our body language, posture, facial expressions, gestures, and eye contact. Appearance, style of speech, and voice inflection can further communicate information to others. We communicate at work, at home, in social settings, through social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, through e-mail, blogs, instant messaging, phones, and more, all at an ever quickening pace.

What’s Your Message Saying?

We have a million things to say, and a million ways to say it, but with all that communication, the signals we send can get mixed. Sending mixed signals is sometimes unavoidable and is almost always done subconsciously, but could your mixed signals be hurting your career? What you convey verbally and nonverbally, and how you convey it can affect the way employers and co-workers perceive you. If you’re waiting on a promotion, worrying that you’re striking out during a job interview, or feeling misunderstood at work, it could be that you’re sending the wrong messages.

Understanding Misunderstandings

Misinterpretation is inevitable. Maybe your co-workers interpret your tendency to be introverted as you being cold or standoffish instead of just shy. Perhaps your enthusiasm, excitement, and passion at work make others feel overwhelmed or intimated. A relaxed personality can be interpreted as a lack of drive or just laziness. In your career and in life, it’s imperative to be aware of what you’re communicating and how that communication is received. To know what you’re communicating, you have to see yourself as others see you.

Know Thy Communication Pitfalls

Thomas Fuller once said, “No man is the worst for knowing the worst of himself.” So, while it may be uncomfortable, even a little painful, to learn you have a habit of talking over people and it’s driving your co-workers insane, or that your focused eye contact frightens the administrative assistant until she avoids you like she would a basilisk, knowing you have a disconnect in communication is half the battle. Soliciting feedback from others can equip you with the information you need to communicate more effectively. So ask a co-worker, mentor, respected leader, friend, or even the employer who choose not to hire you to provide feedback on the messages you send, and use that information to adapt your communication styles so you can be more clearly understood.  You never know, what may seem like a small change could make all the difference. Maybe your next interview will be a home run, the next promotion a sure thing, or at the very least, maybe that administrative assistant won’t cower in fear from your death stare every time you enter the room.


Using Twitter to Help Your Job Search

In this day and time, there are many online social networking sites you can use to aid in your job search. And no matter which social media site you prefer, when used to it’s full potential, finding a job can be just a few connections, tweets, or friend requests away.

One particular social networking site that has gained popularity not only among individuals over the past year, but with employers as well, is Twitter. With job boards becoming overcrowded with job ads, employers have flocked to Twitter to list job openings. It’s not only more economical for businesses, but it also allows prospective employers to target social-media savvy job seekers.

If you’re looking for a competitive edge in the job market, try these tips in utilizing Twitter to help in your job search.

Create a professional profile. To get started, first create a professional profile on your Twitter account that lists your experience and expertise. Experts suggest putting a job pitch in your Twitter bio to help attract prospective employers. You can also link to a professional blog or profile on another networking site for more exposure, such as your personal LinkedIn account.

Post tweets. Before you connect with anyone, make sure you have something intriguing to say. Don’t tweet about what you ate for breakfast – instead, tweet about the industry you’re trying to land a job in, an idea that invites interest, or share a link to an intriguing article of substance. Once you have some substantial tweets on your account, you’re ready to connect with business leaders and other Twitter followers in your industry. 

Connect with recruiters and businesses. Once your Twitter account is created and you have tweets posted, start connecting with prospective employers and recruiters. This will help give you a heads up on potential job openings as well as an inside look into company chatter. And, don’t stop with hiring managers and recruiters. Connect with employees of companies you’re interested in. Also, connect with professionals from your industry and metro area so you are expanding your offline network to your online presence. This will give you even more networking opportunities and a leg up if a job does arise because you will know more people on the inside.

Educate yourself on Twitter applications. Twitter is not a difficult tool to learn, but there are several applications you can use to assist you in your job search. Check out these 15 Twitter applications that will help you get the most value out of your Twitter account and increase your chances of job search success.

The growing popularity of Twitter and the benefits offered are luring more than just social-media minded individuals. This site is attracting job seekers, employers looking for prospective employees, recruiters, and industry leaders. This social media site allows job seekers to meet in an informal setting and interact one-on-one with recruiters and hiring managers without an awkward feeling of trying to connect with professionals, like on other social media networking sites. So, try these tips when setting up your Twitter account to help in your job search.

For more job search, career, and workplace advice, follow Express on Twitter today.

Is Your Dream Job Taking over Your Real World Expectations

As children growing up in the land of opportunity, we’re told to dream big dreams for our future, and we usually do. In a poll conducted by Forbes magazine of children in New York City between the ages of 5 and 12, the most common results for their grown-up dream jobs included superhero, spy, model, firefighter, astronaut, and princess.

While some of us do grow up to be heroes who walk on the moon, fight fires, or gather international intelligence, most of us quickly discover that superhuman abilities are difficult to come by (as are the legs of a model and prince charming, sadly), but we all still pursue that “dream job,” no matter how it changes over time. But what if the dream job you’re pursuing is taking over your real world expectations? Could you be missing out on opportunities, purpose, and gratification in your current position, your job search, or even your future career for the sake of a dream?

For some, the image of becoming one’s own boss who sets their own hours and answers to no one may sound like a dream come true, but successful entrepreneurs dedicate vast amounts of time, finances, drive, and labor to build their business. The eight to five, Monday through Friday work week becomes a forgotten concept as they strive toward their goal. They’re responsible for the welfare of their employees, their family, their business, and the satisfaction of their clients.

Dreams, goals, and visions are imperative to every life, individually and collectively. It is so important to dream big, to have vision, to set goals, to work toward those goals, and achieve new heights, but it’s also important to find knowledge, experience, and value in your current circumstances and to know the realities behind your dreams and what it takes to achieve them. So if you’re dissatisfied at work, find ways to gain knowledge and learn life lessons you can use in every future endeavor. If you’re searching for a new job, consider all your options even if they don’t seem like a straight shot to your dreams. And, if you’re taking steps to achieve your castle in the sky, prepare and plan for the realities and sacrifices that come with it. Relish your weekends, love your life, kiss frogs, be a superhero to your family, and enjoy each and every moment. If you do, you’ll always feel like you’re walking on the moon.

Getting a Good Job Reference After You’ve Been Laid Off

No one wants to hear the dreaded words, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go.” But, if you’ve been let go, these words don’t mean it’s the end of your career life. As difficult as it might be, you have to shake off the blues, get your résumé handy, and set out on a job search for a new start.

As you search for a new career, you’re going to need some references to help you out. How do you get good references after a layoff? Where do you look? Check out these categories to help you in your reference search.

  1. Previous managers – If you were laid off for a non-performance related work issue, you can go back to your previous manager for a reference. If the only reason they let you go was because of cutbacks, they should be willing to recommend you and your work.
  2. Former co-workers – Your co-workers work closely with you on a daily basis. They know what your work ethic, abilities, and attitude are like. Although they can’t provide you with an official recommendation on behalf of your previous company, they can provide you with a personal reference at their own will. Consider asking a former co-worker that you had a good relationship with.
  3. Business Acquaintances – In your career, you have more than likely come in contact with others in your industry through professional meetings and networking functions. Look to  those individuals who know you and have a relationship with you.
  4. Former customers – If you interacted with clients and customers in a previous job, you can ask them for a reference about your abilities and professionalism. They can recommend you on a specific project you did well for them and the positive impact you made on their business.
  5. Former professor or instructor – If you haven’t been in the working world for very long, you can refer back to a former professor to aid in your career search. They can tell prospective employers about your academic abilities, work ethic, previous internships, etc.
  6. Volunteer manager – Volunteering is a great way to build your résumé when you’re between jobs. Seek out those positions that relate to your skills and background, so you can showcase your abilities. The volunteer manager can recommend any good work that you do. Although you aren’t getting a salary for doing volunteer work, you are still doing valuable work.

If you’re currently seeking a new job, view this as an opportunity to have a fresh start and seek something you want to do and will enjoy. Take these six reference possibilities into consideration as you embark on your search. Just remember to get their permission before you list someone as a reference and always send a thank you note for offering their help.

Take Time to Reflect

Today, people everywhere are contemplating the tragedy that happened on September 11, 2001. Maybe you or someone you know was personally affected by this tragedy. Maybe you, like millions of others, were and still are simply struck by the enormity of the moment.

As you go throughout this day and into the weekend, whatever your situation in life, stop for a few moments and take time to reflect. In our busy world, it can be a struggle to simply find time for reflection. But taking time to reflect and appreciate your life can powerful thing. It can help you find renewed strength and motivation. It can help you see beyond your own circumstances. It can help you give beyond yourself to help meet the needs of others.

There’s no time like the present to stop, think, and find a reason to be thankful. Share your thoughts with us in the comments section, and have a wonderful weekend!

Think Positive About Your Current Work Situation

In the aftermath of a company layoff or cutback, your attitude about your current job might not be as positive as it once was. However, if you’re experiencing negative feelings about your work situation, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment – a.k.a. hurting your career or reputation. Negative attitudes reflect in all you do, and others can pick up on your negative feelings as well. For instance, do you dread getting up and going to work each day? When it’s Monday, are you only looking forward to Friday afternoon? If you answered yes to either of these, it’s time to change your way of thinking. Think about the positive aspects of your job – you owe it to yourself. Here are three steps to help re-focus your attitude.


1. Be grateful for the job you have. Even though you might be working someplace that you don’t like, keep in mind that at least you have a job. That is something to be grateful for today. You still have a source of income to pay bills and purchase the things you need.


2. Develop friendships at work. When you make connections with others in the workplace, the day tends to go by faster and your work performance to increase. Make it a point to say hello to your co-workers and maybe even go out to eat lunch. By doing so, you will not only be allowing some joy to come into your life, but you will also be adding joy to someone else’s life.


3. Focus on your strengths. There are things at work you excel at. You’re the expert at those things and they are a reflection of your strengths. Don’t lose sight of these stand-out qualities. Focus on using these skills throughout your workday so you feel a sense of accomplishment when it’s time to go home.


It can be easy to let your current work situation get you down, if you let it. Fight the urge to give in to a negative attitude. Try implementing these three tips into your life, and see if your days improve. Also, remember that attitude is contagious – would you want someone to catch yours?