Grateful people are happier, healthier, and nicer to be around. Research has shown that thanking others and explaining why we’re grateful is one of the most powerful ways things you can do.
What are the benefits of expressing gratitude?
- It builds and strengthens relationships. When others know we need them, our relationships deepen.
- It improves health. Gratitude positively impacts our health by reducing stress.
- It makes us nicer to be around. We can all do with a little more social capital; expressing gratitude builds those networks of relationships.
- It creates optimism. Gratitude shines a spotlight on things we have, rather than drawing attention to what we lack. This fosters a culture of abundance within us, making us optimistic about the future.
- It reduces anger. A practice of gratitude makes us more open to receiving negative feedback and strengthens us over time.
- It causes us to be more people-centered. Gratitude shifts attention away from ourselves and directs it to others.
- It eliminates negative emotions. With a focus on positive emotions, room for negative thoughts becomes smaller.
- It feels good. When we express gratitude, it helps our meed and allows us to feel better about our circumstances and ourselves.
Give yourself the gift and power of gratitude. It will foster stronger relationships, and help you live happier. What are some of the ways that you express gratitude in your life?
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar
We may live in a digital world, but soft skills like communication, problem solving, collaboration, and empathy are becoming more valued than technology. It’s time to elevate soft skills to a topic worthy of frequent leadership inspection.
Here are four ways you can develop your team’s soft skills on the job with minimal financial investment:
- Set the stage. Help your team members understand that developing their people skills is part of their path to internal career mobility; and that only focusing on their technical abilities will hold them back in the long run.
- Put soft skills front and center. Celebrate wins that highlight people skills. Give equal praise for how something was done as well as what was achieved.
- See the opportunity in challenge. Setbacks are an opportunity to coach employees through the speedbumps of organizational life while building a portfolio of critical soft skills. Work with your employees to overcome these challenges and they will come out the other side stronger than before.
- Get clear about what good people skills look like. Consistent detailed feedback is core to leadership. When offering feedback highlight specific things your employees said or did that demonstrate their soft skills.
The modern workplace demands top-notch soft skills. Help your team members shine by developing their human skills in equal measure with their technical skills.
“The soft stuff is always harder than the hard stuff.”
– Roger Enrico
(Adapted from Smart Brief)
If motivation were an exact science, leaders would have no problem keeping their teams motivated and moving forward. From experience we know that motivation is an art that requires a mindful approach. Especially when our goal is to motivate others to do something not because they were asked, but because they want to do it. Inspiring this kind of lasting motivation is an important skill for leaders to develop.
Here are three strategies for how you can motivate others in a way that lasts:
- Model motivation. Make sure you are motivated, because that sets the tone for your team. If you’re lacking passion, eventually your team is going to lack passion. If you lack motivation, your team is going to lack motivation. The team follows the tone the leader sets.
- Create a culture of appreciation. The single biggest reason a person leaves an organization is they don’t feel appreciated. If you want to motivate, appreciate. Appreciate more than you think you should, and then double the appreciation you show.
- Address performance issues directly. One of the most demotivating things we can do is consistently accept unacceptable performance. Ignoring destructive behaviors means the whole team suffers.
As a leader, your role is to set up your team for success. You have the power to create a motivating atmosphere that keeps your team motivated through almost any challenge.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
We all spend a lot of time in meetings, and we’ve all spent time in meetings where nothing really got accomplished. As a leader, you can change the culture of meetings and make them more productive and collaborative by following these three simple steps:
- Only include agenda items that require a meeting. Some things require human interaction and collaborative thinking. Problems that don’t have solutions yet, or conflicts that haven’t been explored. Meetings are best used when we need to take time to let creative solutions emerge.
- Everyone necessary should be present. Sometimes we send our bodies to meetings while our mind focuses on other things. Pull folks out of their smartphones by including agenda items that focus on decisions that make a difference.
- Communicate what needs to be accomplished beforehand. No one should be hearing about something for the first time in a meeting. Send out an agenda beforehand to let folks know what to expect, and give them time to process and prepare before they arrive.
By following these three tips, you can create an environment where attendees become active participants. In other words, great meetings are not only pointed at getting things done, but also create an atmosphere of reflection, focus, and collaboration.
“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams
Innovation is important, but few companies are really good at it. Why? In part because leading innovation is different from leading ongoing business operations.
Managers and individual contributors responsible for managing change need more emotional support to take the risks and deal with the uncertainty that makes innovation possible. As a leader you drive innovation when you:
- Demonstrate trust and empower. Let your team know that you trust their talents, efforts, and decision making. This will allow them to trust themselves in the midst of the inherent ambiguity of their work.
- Keep the purpose of the innovation front-and-center. Keep focus on the benefits that ultimately come from the innovation project. Help those who are striving for innovation to know what they’re doing is important and valuable.
- Partner with innovators as equals to contribute and share the risk. Being an equal partner means participating not as a boss, but as part of the team. Sharing the risk means helping your team know that they’re not in it alone.
As a leader you provide this support to your team, and ensure their innovation efforts are sustained and rewarding.
“The difficulty is not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones” – John Maynard Keynes
This article was adapted from Center for Creative Leadership’s 10 Leadership Resolutions for a Successful 2018.
Change is inevitable, but intentional change takes work. As a leader you guide your team through changes, and you often act as a change agent yourself. Here are some truths about change management that will help you navigate even the choppiest waters.
- Change is about people. You can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.
- Change takes time. Changing hearts, minds, and workplace cultures can’t be done at the snap of your fingers.
- Change requires vision. Describe what success looks like, and allow that vision to guide the change process.
- Change requires buy-in. Identify who will be affected by the change, and get them involved and invested.
- Change means trade-offs. Making new priorities means reducing or letting go of old ones.
- Work with the willing. Assemble a team of people who share your vision to champion the change.
- Overcommunicate — and then communicate some more.
- Listen. Look hard for the useful nuggets in what people tell you, and incorporate them into your plan.
- Empower the silent. Reserved team members may be more comfortable communicating their thoughts in private or anonymously.
- Learn as you go. Create new learning opportunities and career paths to support the change.
Each of these tools has its place, and success lies in its application. While knowing these tools is important, the role of a leader is modeling the behaviors you want to see your team demonstrating.
Great leaders are communicators who deliberately refrain from using weak, indecisive words and phrases and instead use language that injects clarity, focus, and positive expectations into their conversations. Here are some powerless words and phrases to avoid that can hinder communication and set negative expectations:
- “I’ll try…” Instead: be clear and firm. Candor and honesty will go farther to build trust with your customers and colleagues than “trying” ever will.
- “I’ll have to…” This can imply that supporting your team is a burden. Instead: replace this negative line with the hospitable phrase “I’ll be glad to…”
- “Basically…” This and other filler words take up space without adding value. Instead: Drop the filler entirely, and say what you intended to say.
- “To be honest with you…” Saying this phrase can leave your team wondering “wait… you’re not honest the rest of the time?” Instead: Remove it, and simply say what you were planning to say.
- “I should be able to…” This sounds like a weak commitment, and your team deserves better! Instead: tell them what you will do!
Your team takes cues from the words you use; consciously eliminating negative, powerless expressions and projecting a more positive, resourceful image will build your team’s confidence in you as a leader.
“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda
We believe that everyone has the potential to become a great leader. Developing leadership skills is hard work, and sometimes you’ll find yourself working with a leader whose skills are a work in progress. If you find yourself in a situation, here are three tips of how you can make your job more bearable:
- Own it. Focus on what you can control. What can you do to make the project, meeting or job better? If you get stuck dwelling on the problem, you risk feeding it.
- Focus on results. Concentrate on what you need to accomplish by thinking about how your role supports the organization’s success. It’s hard to go wrong when you’re delivering high quality results that align with the organization’s needs.
- Ask for feedback. Engaging in a round of healthy feedback without getting defensive can build a bridge to a healthier relationship.
While there are many factors outside of your control, you can own your part in forging a positive relationship with your leader.
“Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens.”
– Wade Boggs
28 Top Books to Get Ahead in 2018
2018 is an open book of possibilities, and it’s time to start reading! Reading is known to be one of the primary habits of ultra-successful people, and can open up a world of new ideas and new possibilities.
Start off the New Year right by resolving to read! Here is a list of 28 business books to add to your tablet (or your night stand):
- Outside Insight: Navigating a World Drowning in Data by Jørn Lyseggen
- Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer
- Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships by Scott Gerber and Ryan Paugh
- Selling Vision by Lou Schachter and Rick Cheatam
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.
- The Startup Hero’s Pledge by Tim Draper
- Leading Through the Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance by Elise Mitchell
- Surviving the Tech Storm: Strategy in Times of Technological Uncertainty by Nicklas Bergman
- Performance Partnerships: The Checkered Past, Changing Present and Exciting Future of Affiliate Marketing by Robert Glazer
- They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
- Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao
- The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant
- Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
- You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
- Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness
- Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
- Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
- Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West.
- The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker.
- The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
- Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins
- What To Do When Machines Do Everything: How to Get Ahead in a World of AI, Algorithms, Bots, and Big Data by Malcolm Frank, Paul Roehrig, and Ben Pring
- Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, How to Become an Expert in Just About Anything by Ulrich Boser
- Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg
- Spark: How to Lead Yourself and Others to Greater Success by Angie Morgan, Courtney Lynch, Sean Lynch and Frederick W. Smith
- The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
- Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
- Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin
That should get you started for a great year of exploring new ideas and experiencing new challenges!
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” – Amelia Earhart
Your feedback was rejected. Now what?
Giving feedback is part of being a leader, but sometimes recipients don’t recognize feedback as the gift it is intended to be. What can you do to help the recipient move past resistance and into understanding?
Before responding to the individual, take a moment to consider your motivations in giving the feedback. Do you really want what’s best for the recipient, or do you have a bone to pick? If your goal is to be helpful, keep going! If you’re motivated by your own self-interest, move on.
When you come up against a wall of resistance, don’t keep hammering your point home. Instead, ask these questions and listen to their answers.
- What’s going on for you right now?
- Go through the senses. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are you hearing? What are you seeing? Hitting their preferred way of thinking may help them open up.
- Imagine, if this feedback was true, what would you say next?
- Imagine, if this feedback was true, what would you ask?
- Explore intent vs. impact. What did you intend? What is the impact?
- When someone is resistant, what do they do?
- What’s at stake for you right now?
From: The Leadership Freak
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” – Frank A Clark
Workplace conflict is inevitable. It’s tempting to avoid these uncomfortable situations altogether, but there’s a much more effective solution!
With Everything DiSC® Productive Conflict assessment profile, learners will discover how to curb destructive behaviors so that conflict can become more productive. This is not your average conflict resolution program. Everything DiSC Productive Conflict offers highly personalized content that helps learners increase self-awareness around conflict behaviors and effectively respond to conflict situations, which ultimately improves workplace results and relationships. You can take individually or as team (in tact teams or cross-company).
Your learners will:
- Explore the destructive and productive conflict behaviors of each personality DiSC® styles
- Understand how to manage your response to conflict situations
- Discover communication strategies when engaging in productive conflict with colleagues
Interested to learn more? Check out the Everything DiSC-Productive Conflict brochure!
Questions? We are happy to help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In today’s world of constant access and fast-paced lives, everyone struggles with finding the best way to manage their energy and time. Here are five secrets to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and get the most out of every day:
- Identify what’s not working for you: Spend a week tracking how you spend your time, and then goals for how you want your time to be spent. Compare the two, and see what changes you can make!
- Establish boundaries: Making changes means setting boundaries. If you want to spend more time on creative pursuits, then carve out time and space for creativity.
- Set goals: Some boundaries take time to get in place. Be patient, and set long term goals that you work towards. It may be a while before your new morning ritual is in place, take steps each morning that bring you closer to success.
- Get support: Everyone needs support to achieve their goals, especially goals that change how you manage your relationships and time. Support can come in the form of emotional, cognitive, political, or physical support. Individuals, groups, classes, and other resources can help you connect with the support you need.
- Track your progress: Celebrate your successes, and recognize and learn from your mistakes. As you move towards a more balanced approach to productivity you will see the impact of your changes.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”– Charles Buxton
The challenge of leadership is to inspire teams to come together to accomplish a shared goal. Leaders who focus on celebrating their team over celebrating themselves can inspire teams to work together, resulting in higher performing teams, and better outcomes.
Do you have the 7 characteristics of leaders who embrace humility?
- Are you real?
Leaders who understand and share the true balance of their strengths and weaknesses do a better job of connecting with their teams. When leaders pretend to be perfect they’re often seen as inaccessible and distant.
- Do you strike a balance between influence and authority?
Egotistical leaders use shame, threats and intimidation to get the results. Humble leaders use their influence to encourage others, reserving their position of authority to set direction for team members.
- Do you support and promote others?
Humble leaders push their team members’ accomplishments to the forefront; often to the benefit of the team member’s career advancement. Their first priority is supporting the accomplishments of the individuals they lead.
- Do you build others up?
Those who do believe in their team’s ability to succeed, and they communicate that belief early and often. When something goes wrong, a humble leader coaches their team through figuring out what happened, and coming up with a plan for next time.
- Do you reframe failure as learning?
When being lead with humility, team members know that losing a battle is a learning opportunity and that the team will continue to work through the challenge together.
- Do you lead with integrity?
This integrity provides clarity of role and expectation for everyone on the team. The team understands the importance of following through on their promises.
- Are you grateful?
Grateful leaders value what each person brings to the table, and are thankful for the diversity each voice contributes to the conversation.
“Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness” – Simon Sinek
Great leaders inspire others to be part of something bigger than themselves. One of the most powerful tools in a leader’s toolbox is effective presentations. Powerful presentations inspire audiences to do amazing things.
As a leader, you need to know how to avoid the doldrums of run-of-the-mill presentation to inspire your audience to be part of your vision. Here are three common pitfalls that lead to lackluster presentations… and how you can avoid them!
Pitfall #1: Letting the content drive. Presentations defined by content leave audiences feeling lost and confused. A presentation without a purpose is a lot like a song without a melody; things just won’t flow and the audience won’t stay tuned in for very long.
How to avoid it: Let the objective take the wheel.
Ask yourself: What do you want your audience to take away from this experience? From there, select content to present that supports the objective.
Pitfall #2: Ignoring emotions. Audiences are left unmoved and uninspired when presenters only focus on teaching them information while neglecting the audience’s emotional experience.
How to avoid it: Begin with the emotional journey you are asking your audience to take. Are you asking them to go from “this isn’t possible” to “this is possible and I should be part of it”? What will it take to get them from point A to B? How can you change their minds and their hearts?
Pitfall #3: Omitting their role: Audiences feel disinterested and disconnected when they can’t see their role in the vision you are presenting.
How to avoid it: Provide a narrative that your audience can see themselves in. Personal stories or illustrative analogies help audiences recognize their role in carrying out your vision.
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.” – Plato
Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the commitment to overcome it. Courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid; it means you battle against your fear and confront it. Courage pushes you to resist the impulse to shy away from the things that stir up your innermost anxieties. Courage is required and must be a constant. It’s tiny pieces of fear all glued together.
Here are some helpful tips for building a culture of courage in your organization:
- Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product or service or experience should almost be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.
- Allow for failure. The road to success is many times put together through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.
- Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.
- Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.
- Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead.
Source: Catalyst Leadership
“One isn’t born with courage. One develops it. And you develop it by doing small, courageous things.” – Maya Angelou
In July, we introduced you to the exceptional students at Beacon Elementary. At Beacon, 100% of the students receive free and reduced lunch based on household income. With the new school year fast approaching, the students at Beacon need your help to thrive this year!
Member’s of Beacon’s staff are teaming up with Ward Church in Northville to provide 50 backpacks before the start of the school year. Each backpack is chock full of the supplies one students needs to thrive this year. While any amount is appreciated, a gift of $25 gives one kid everything they need for the first day of school.
We are only 10 backpacks from our goal; and the staff and students at Beacon are counting on you!
Donations can be made online, and are tax deductible. Visit this link to make a donation. In “select a designation“, please choose “Outreach Backpack Drive“.
…AND for every child that one of our friends sponsor, Aha! Leadership will sponsor in in kind!
Together we can help develop future leaders!
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
Great leaders stand out for their ability to disrupt the status quo. They have the courage to make bold moves, and to innovate new solutions to old problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to overcome.
This knack for seizing opportunity when things look bleak is not an innate ability that a fortunate few are born with. Instead, it represents a mental strength that is built over time and economically used. Developing mental strength takes intention, focus, and daily practice; and so does spending your mental resources wisely. Start with these 10 practices to work out your mental muscles, and to make the most out of the mental energy you have:
- Establish goals: with each goal you achieve, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to succeed.
- Set yourself up for success: Stop wasting your energy resisting temptation or trying to find the tools you need. Want to eat better? Stock your pantry with healthy food. Want to limit distractions? Place your phone in a drawer.
- Tolerate discomfort: Don’t let yourself use short-term solutions to address long term problems. Instead, taking care of things the right way the first time, can help you maintain your mental reserves.
- Reframe your negative thoughts: Replace overly pessimistic thoughts with more realistic expectations to help you stay on track. “This is too hard to do” becomes “I am going to have to figure out a different approach”.
- Seek balance between emotions and logic: You can confidently move forward with decisions when your emotions and logic are in sync. Strive for a balance that allows you to live compassionately and rationally.
- Work towards your purpose: Write out your personal mission statement to remind yourself why it’s important you keep going, and to help you spend your mental energy where it matters most.
- Look for reasons, not excuses: Acknowledge and face your mistakes so you can learn from them and avoid repeating them in the future; without wasting energy dwelling on them.
- Say no: When you’ve reached your limit, say no with confidence. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and allows you to successfully fulfill them.
- Overcome procrastination: Recognize that there is no magic time in the future where you will suddenly want to do the undesirable task. You are as motivated to complete the task now as you ever will be. Start now, and get it done! The more your practice this, the easier it becomes.
- Take care of yourself physically: Getting enough sleep, and eating the right foods can ensure you have the reserves you need to keep going, even as things get tough!
“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse” – Florence Nightingale
Be a Beacon of Hope! Reach Out to Support Low Income Students this School Year
The students who attend Beacon Elementary in Harper Woods are extraordinary leaders in the making! With the new school year on the horizon, many of Beacon’s students are facing a big challenge: starting the school year off right.
100% of Beacon’s students receive free and reduced lunch. This means all of the students who attend Beacon are provided breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily based on household income. Some of Beacon’s most vulnerable families struggle to provide the basic school supplies. That’s where you come in!
Members of Beacon’s staff are teaming up with Ward Church in Northville to provide 50 backpacks. Each backpack is chock full of the supplies one student needs to thrive this year! While any amount is appreciated, a gift of $25 gives one kid everything they need for the first day of school.
… AND for every child that one of our friends sponsor, Aha! Leadership will sponsor one in kind.
- Donations can be made online and are tax deductible. Visit this link to make a donation.
- In “select a designation”, please choose “Outreach Backpack Drive”
Together we can help develop future leaders!
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa
In our last newsletter, 3 Must-Know Principles for Scaling Leadership Development we explored the principles for scaling leadership development to promote organization success. In this article we zoom in to take a closer look at the skills leaders in the middle need to be most effective in their roles.
Making the move from star performer to effective leader can be a challenging shift for new managers. Individuals who have always been successful at getting things done find that their ability to succeed on their own has reached its limit.
When this happens, it’s time for theses “managers in the middle” to to shift their focus and embrace their role as leaders. This means developing six key skills to get things done through others:
- Thinking and acting systematically
- Learning Agility
Those who are able to harness these 6 skills can “lead from the middle”. They are better able to contribute to the organization’s strategy, they are more likely to advance, less likely to experience career derailment, and better able to manage not only work obligations, but family, community, and personal demands as well.
Aha! Leadership can work with you to develop emerging leadership talent, learn more by visiting our workshops page, or by reaching out to us!
Learn more about strategies for incorporating leadership development into your organization by reading the full Click here to download the full White Paper.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford