There are so many misconceptions, stereotypes and blatantly wrong factual information floating around that its no wonder all entrepreneurs get slapped with a bad reputation label. The discrimination runs deep but thanks to a swift and positive upswing in the dominant demographical markets, these ideals are rapidly changing for the better.
We’re not all bohemian, airy-fairy, dream-chasers, who will likely crash and burn. If that’s what you believe, I’m here to tell you that you’ve got it all wrong. Until recently, everyone from financial lenders to the tax man treated the entrepreneur with an underlying tone of distrust or at least with caution tape.
All hail the Boomers and Millennials for infiltrating the entrepreneurial world with gusto. These demographic markets are not only the dominating force in society at the moment (dictating the sway of masses), they’re also embracing the need to create and build their own future, forge their own path, and the cherry on top is their seemingly innate ability to do so. As if they were born for this moment in history. As Amazon gobbles up retail and corporate America, the “new kids in town” aren’t hesitating to reinvent the wheel.
We’re neither here nor there; we’re on our way from one point to another, usually sitting in traffic, reading email on a train or bus, or simply zoning out in the back of a shared carpool.
In my opinion, this in-between time offers the perfect opportunity to brush up on your leadership skills, take on a fresh perspective, and really dig deep into the things that matter the most to you in business. The best way to do that is to find some great podcasts to listen to as you shuttle from one place to another.
You have probably overheard all of your coworkers and friends talking about podcasts lately. That’s because podcasts have seen a significant uptick in popularity in the last few years.
Podcasts are easily consumable when you are on the go. Whether you have 15 minutes or an hour-and-a-half, you can find a podcast that will meet your needs, feed your interests or teach you something new.
Podcasts also fit comfortably into our busy daily lives. On your way to pick up the kids after work? Listen to part of a podcast. Waiting for your train from the city? Dive into that article you couldn’t read by listening to the interviews on a podcast. Anytime you want to make the most of that in-between space, you can just plug in a pair of headphones or connect your smartphone to your car and take advantage of any sort of downtime you might have. You can choose an educational podcast, something light and funny, a dark mystery, or something that lifts your spirits. It all depends on how you want to spend your time.
Podcasts have also begun to help build communities of people who share similar passions and interests. In an increasingly separated, divided, …Read More
That’s it. Two steps that are recursive and endless. But, a lifetime of learning stems from engaging in these steps.
The first step to being an inspirational leader is to give up on the idea of being either inspirational or a leader. While counterintuitive, I believe the idea of being a quote-unquote leader misguides people and takes them in the opposite direction that authentic leadership requires.
Leadership, to me, is about authenticity. Consciously trying to behave in a given socially constructed way creates shallow inauthentic behavior that is readily perceived by those around us. It may not be at a conscious level, but I believe people do pick up on this.
So there’s a socially constructed archetype for an inspirational leader: brave, decisive, tall, relentless, committed to the vision, charismatic, down to earth, thoughtful and creative. The list of adjectives could go on and on. The problem is that no one is entirely like that. We may behave ascribing to these adjectives occasionally, but no one is a robot who can fulfill all of those characteristics all of the time. And even if someone does manage to come across like that all the time, I don’t think that pretending to be beyond human comes across as inspirational. That’s just demanding and taxing of oneself and others. Ultimately, people will feel pressured rather than inspired by such behavior.
So how do you rise above this problem? Deconstruction.
Real people are not at their best 100 percent of the time. Real people don’t feel like working all the time. Real people have shitty and panicky moments, and that does not make them less inspirational. Quite the opposite actually.
People become inspired by getting rid of the masks and the veils of obligation and stepping into a place of vulnerability. …Read More
You can improve the outcomes of your difficult conversations by:
Reinforcing trust and transparency
Offering your undivided attention and a listening ear
Helping your counterpart feel heard and respected
Apologizing or taking a break when called for
Here are six ways to artfully navigate even the toughest discussions.
Long before it’s time to have a difficult conversation, you should cultivate a culture of respect, inclusivity, and transparency. Create an environment in which each team member feels valued, encouraged to participate, and rewarded for candor.
To start building this foundation, offer opportunities for collaboration and idea sharing. Invite team members to share ideas and seek feedback. Be sure to ask open-ended questions, which prompt deeper participation than yes-or-no questions. It’s also a good idea to schedule group lunches or other non-work activities that give everyone an opportunity to socialize and find common interests outside their job descriptions.
Fostering these dynamics builds trust and camaraderie, which lay the groundwork for a more constructive outcome, no matter how difficult the conversation. Feedback is received better when we believe it’s being offered out of concern rather than judgment.
It’s also helpful for both parties to remember that you’re ultimately on the same team. Executive coach and management professor Monique Valcour recommends sitting next to — rather than across from — your counterpart. This placement reinforces the idea that you’re allies rather than opponents, setting the stage for a more cooperative conversation.
Better yet, don’t bring your phone to the meeting. Leave it elsewhere. Having your smartphone nearby impairs cognitive capacity, including short-term working memory.
A small Virginia Tech study also found that the mere presence of a cell phone was enough to undermine participants’ perceptions of their conversations. Even when the …Read More
The first thing you need to do is to recognize your culture for what it truly is as opposed to what you would like it to be. You then need to assess what it brings to the organization so you can decide what elements to keep and build on, and what you need to leave behind. After that, you can take the necessary steps towards transformation. Read on to understand exactly how each of these steps work.
If you want to create a positive and productive company culture, do not start out with a deck full of utopian values such as humble, honest, hard-working, driven, ethical, bold, brave, understanding, loving or caring. Yes, many organizations have amazing characteristics, but they have crappy ones as well. Listing these lofty ideals as valued behaviors will lead to an inauthentic organization where people are unable to really live up to the idealized behaviors.
Once you have gotten over the idealized model of what your culture looks like, it’s time to get to know your company for what it is. Chances are, you are not going to like a lot of what you find. You may find tremendous work ethic, but you may also find lots of procrastination. You may find humility, but also a lot of focus on self-marketing. You may find bold people, but you may also find people who play it safe. The bottom line is that the first step towards creating a positive and productive culture is seeing it exactly how it is, for all its beauty and all its ugliness.
Take our company as an example, we have incredible resourcefulness. But this resourcefulness stems out of the fact that we are a fluid organization that can feel very chaotic to …Read More
According to a survey conducted by the American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers reported that their jobs were very or extremely stressful. Stress in the workplace has become an epidemic, and we’re all looking for ways to feel more peaceful and focused at work. Many of these solutions are self-care tactics like meditation and taking a walk around the block during our lunch hour. But what happens when those practices aren’t strong enough? Here are three practices to that can help you eliminate stress when self-care isn’t cutting it.
Many of us are leaders both at work and home; the demands never stop, and we can feel pulled in all directions by the never-ending list of chores, deadlines and tasks. The key to finding more balance and less stress is to delegate the tasks you don’t like and aren’t good at, and then use your time only for the things you like and are good at, or love and are great at. I use a practice called Delegate and Elevate, developed by entrepreneur and author Gino Wickman, to categorize my tasks both at work and home. Simply categorize all of your tasks into these four quadrants:
Once you have a clear visual of where your tasks fall, focus on delegating all of the things you don’t like or aren’t good at.
It can sometimes be difficult to delegate at first, but you’ll often find that there is someone else who enjoys the tasks that you don’t like. One of my employees loves to research and create spreadsheets. These are some of the last things I would ever want to do, but …Read More
With so many positives, it’s no wonder why remote work is becoming more and more popular. Research from Owl Labs, 16 percent of global companies are fully remote and 40 percent partially remote. Those numbers are only going to keep rising as more people realize the benefits of remote work.
But, with all the benefits of remote working, there come struggles as well. When your team members are working from their homes in different locations, they’re missing out on connecting with each other and the company as a whole. A Harvard Business Review study of 1,100 employees, found that remote employees are more likely to feel that colleagues mistreat them and leave them out. If your remote workers are experiencing these feelings, it could decrease their productivity and negatively affect company morale.
Building strong connections is a key part of building a strong business. Here’s how to make your remote work team feel more connected.
Your remote workers need to be able to easily communicate with each other. Sending off an email and waiting to receive the response just won’t cut it in today’s work environment. In order to make your remote workers really feel connected, you need to make sure you’re using remote working tools for communication. One of the most popular remote working tools is Slack. Slack is a type of instant messaging tool where conversations are organized into channels. These channels allow you to organize communications based on teams, projects, or even office locations. Implementing a communication tool, such as Slack, will allow your remote workers to feel like they can get a hold of someone quickly if they need to.
Aside from creating Slack channels based on teams and projects, you should also create some general or family channels that allow your remote …Read More
Whether you’re an employee or a manager, personal and professional growth may be the key to your long-term success. Even if you feel like you are in a good spot in your career, if you aren’t seeking opportunities for growth, you could be hurting your chances for future success.
Bill Eckstrom is the president and founder of the EcSell Institute, which helps managers, executives, and organizations grow by providing research, data, and clarity into how their teams are performing. Eckstrom believes that when you aren’t growing, you’re stuck in a cycle that eventually leads to stagnation. It’s searching out development opportunities, whether they be on the job or off, that can break the cycle and get you moving forward again.
In addition to individuals benefiting from seeking out opportunities for growth, Eckstrom says, organizations as a whole reap similar benefits.
We recently had the chance to speak with Eckstrom about professional growth, how it relates to professional development and the steps you should take if you feel you aren’t growing.
A: The way I view professional growth is the development or better use of talents and skills that lead to improved outcomes. This development can take place in many differing places – on the job or [in] off-the-job environments.
On the job can be the result of experiential learning, coaching relationships, classroom, etc. However, too often people view professional growth as something that is only on the job, but it is not. For example, one of our executive leaders became a certified yoga instructor, and we have all benefited from her growth. She is more calm under fire, she has …Read More
According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Financial Economics, companies who see improvements in their employee-sourced ratings tend to significantly outperform those whose ratings decline. Employee feelings matters – and as tempting as it might be to clean house and dismiss naysayers during times of change, doing so will harm morale, undercut engagement, and halt your business’ upward trajectory.
I’ve seen the fallout firsthand. Some twenty years ago, I served as the director of manufacturing for a firm that was undergoing a massive organizational overhaul. At the time, the company had just welcomed a new CEO to optimize its structure. The new leader was inarguably brilliant, having previously been fabulously successful as the president of one branch of a well-known conglomerate. He wanted to transplant the systems that had worked so well for him at his old company into the new, cleaning out any cobwebs that remained of the old order in the process.
His strategy? To promptly sweep out or disregard anyone who had been in the organization for over four years. It was a decisive dismissal – and one that came at a significant cost. He might have saved himself a little time and a few arguments by sending potential critics out the door, but they took an incredible amount of invaluable accumulated knowledge and experience with them. By refusing to take the time to engage with longstanding employees, the CEO lost the very assets that would have helped him rebuild the company to be stronger, better, and more successful. Needless to say, the leadership change didn’t go as well as the company hoped.
You can’t change a company’s culture with brute force – no matter how talented you are. Below, I offer a few tips on how employers can use employee goodwill and …Read More
Even the largest and most well-reputed enterprises and corporations are not immune to such a reality. Toyota, a tycoon of the automobile industry, suffered an exorbitant amount of financial damage between 2009 and 2011 following the release of vehicles with sticky accelerators that claimed the lives of many innocent people. The company was slow to react and reluctantly recalled their faulty vehicles, incurring huge losses and permanent damage to their credibility.
Another notable example is the PEPSICO “Syringe Crisis” in 1993. Claims were being made that cans of Diet Pepsi contained syringes that were contaminating the content inside. Unlike Toyota, Pepsi was quick to remedy the situation, arresting the individual at fault and publicly apologizing for their mistake. As such, there was hardly any lingering effect on the Pepsi brand and normal operations resumed in no time.
The two situations highlight the importance of good leadership and a proactive damage control policy. Small business owners have to be especially wary of this as most are deluded into thinking that their small firm is not susceptible to a crisis because of its small scale. Having no clear cut plan, and leadership that is reluctant to take responsibility can be severely detrimental to a firm.
Although the aforementioned examples occurred in large organizations, there are several valuable lessons which small business owners can learn from:
If your small business ends up in the middle of a crisis, here are four ways to successfully overcome it:
In times of peril, you should remind yourself to never let your emotions get the best of you regardless of the size of your business. Instead, you should make an active effort to remain calm, collected and composed. This will enable you to objectively analyze the situation, allowing you to ascertain the …Read More