4 Tips for Empowering Your Team


Your team is your greatest asset — are you helping them help you?

In the initial stages of any business, there is a chance that you will see very rapid growth in the number of employees that you have. While this can be an exciting time, it can also be very stressful and frightening. Team members might come directly to you for advice and guidance because you have the overall vision about what needs to be done.

Your first instinct might be to keep them at arm’s length, but it is your job to inspire and manage the team. Here are some ways that you can help empower your employees and give them the tools necessary to become the successful individuals that you want them to be. Don’t tell them to get off your back — urge them to join you!

  1. Respect the individual. Each person on your team has their own set of skills and experiences. And if you are a young or first-time entrepreneur, chances are pretty good that you’re going to be guiding people who are older than you. Don’t see this as a challenge, but an opportunity to use their experience and knowledge to your advantage. Hear what they have to say and think about what you can implement in order to move the business forward. Of course, this goes for everyone on your team — not just the veterans. Remember that each person has traits that you wanted, even if they don’t excel in other areas.
  2. Be open to new ideas. Keep an open door policy within the company. Some of the best ideas come from unseen sources, and it’s important that you don’t miss them. Let your team know that you are always open to new ideas and that they shouldn’t be afraid to suggest things. These folks are on the front line. They know more about the inner workings of the system than you realize. 
  3. Set the example. It is up to you to motivate your employees and show them what you expect of them. Show them how you want to maintain standards and what needs to be accomplished. If you simply bark orders, you’re not contributing to anyone’s success. If your team sees that you aren’t above the protocol, they are more likely to follow it with you. If you adopt the best practice early on, your team will be able to maintain a higher standard for customers and each other.
  4. Empower your team. Lastly, never forget how important it is to empower your employees. They need to be able to handle some situations without asking you for help. Customers may be waiting for a response, and if they wait for your response each time something comes up, it only slows down the process. Give them the training and knowledge that they need to succeed at what they set out to accomplish. You can do this a number of different ways, but remember that meetings and training sessions can eat up a lot of time and resources. Systems, like a digital guidance system, can be an excellent asset during growth spurts.

By following these four steps, you’ll enable your team to solve issues as they encounter them — so you can focus on more growth in the future.

 Dan Adika is CEO and Co-Founder at WalkMe, an online guidance and engagement platform. WalkMe provides a cloud-based service designed to help professionals – customer support managers, user experience managers, training professionals, SaaS providers and sales managers – to guide and engage prospects, customers, employees and partners through any online …4


16 Kick Ass Quotes On Leadership From People Who Walk the Talk


So often we become consumed with telling people what to do that we forget the true essence of leadership. Take a few minutes and learn from those who came before.

As a follower, you must know who to follow. As a leader, you must earn your followers!

Bill Gates

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

George Patton

Lead me follow me or get the hell out of my way!

Sun Tzu

A leader leads by example, not by force.

Napoleon Bonaparte

A leader is a dealer in hope.

John C. Maxwell

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.

Gene Mauch

You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself.

Peter Drucker

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes…but no plans.

Theodore M. Hesburgh

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

Davy Crockett

Be sure you’re right…then go ahead!

Henry Miller

The real leader has no need to lead, he is content to point the way.

Eric Hoffer

The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.

Harvey S. Firestone

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.

Ronald Reagan

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.

Theodore Roosevelt

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss…The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.

Dennis A. Peer

One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you.

Andrew Carnegie

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.

Short sweet and to the point. Everyday, take the time to learn from those who came before you on how to become a better leader. Leaders are forged, not born.

Share how these quotes impact you and others that you find inspirational!

Oh Snap! I’m a Leader Now!


How many of you have experienced an epiphany where you realized people were following you and trusted your judgement?

I’ve had several of those in my career, and each one has forced me to analyse what I’m doing and become a better man. While these moments cause you to accept responsibility and the weight of leadership, they also provide opportunities to take things to another level and surprise yourself.

So let’s dive into a few moments where leadership can be realized, and the choices you face.

I Want To Live Up To Your Expectations, And Be Who You Want Me To Be.

That was said to me after a former employee asked me to write his biography for a new job. I had hired him out of college, and watched him grow from being a hot headed, high maintenance employee to a rock star designer in high demand.

What I said in his biography was everything I had seen him become, and what he had told me were his ultimate goals in life. This made me realize that he viewed me as a leader, respected my opinion, but what meant the most to me was his desire to live up to expectations.

Over the years I have tried to help mold him professionally into someone who could communicate with clients, deal with the stress of managing a team, and to know when to take a stand, but more importantly how to be a good businessman.

The challenge I now face is being worthy of his respect. Not to boost my ego, but to not let him down. Leadership is a two-way street.

I Used To Hate You. Now I Understand You.

A few months ago I got a phone call out of the blue from another former employee who has started his own company. He’s now having to hire and fire, deal with difficult clients and cash flow issues.

He had left my company in a huff feeling like he wasn’t being valued, in spite of being told the reasons we couldn’t pay him more at the time. We were in a bit of a cash flow crunch, and just couldn’t afford to raise his salary.

Our conversation quickly turned to him asking questions about how I had dealt with the stress of building a company. How to deal with employee issues, and how to approach difficult clients.

It was in that moment I realized that in spite of the rough ending to our business relationship years prior, how I had conducted myself then had stuck with him. To him, I was a leader he could trust to give solid advice. Since then, we’ve had more conversations about how the advice given had been implemented, different spins he’s applied that have worked and what didn’t work.

The choice I’m faced with is always doing the right thing, even if it’s not popular in the moment. As a leader you can’t be swayed by emotion when making tough choices.

I Want To Work FOR You! Don’t Do This Without Me!

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation about a business idea with a man I have a great deal of respect for. He has been very successful, currently runs a multi-million dollar company, and has influence superior to my own.

He was so inspired by the passion and logic behind the idea, with great vigor he said he would walk away from what he’s doing now, and would work for me if I asked. Very quickly I made it clear that my goal was to work withhim, not him work for me.

The moment of realization I had was that age and prior success are not what makes you a leader, but the ability to inspire others, not only through intellect but also passion. I have always been a passionate firecracker in life and business, but so often forgotten the impact it influences those around me.

As a leader, I must always maintain passion for what I’m doing, or it is only reasonable for those following to have doubt. When your fire begins to wane, search for reasons to keep going and fan the flames!

If You Do Not Know Where You Are Going, Every Road Will Get You Nowhere – Henry Kissinger

As a leader, you are out front building the road those behind you will travel. You will never be able to predict every challenge you will face, but you must know what your goal is and stick to it.

Those you have inspired to travel the hard road with you will help you to make it through hard times, pick you up when you fall, and someday a few will begin to build their own road.

It is up to you to accept the responsibility of being a leader, for you never know when the road they build can join with yours. In times of need they can becomeyour inspiration, and help take you up to the mountain peak!

Be a leader who inspires trust and loyalty, or be greedy and have nothing but mercenaries. The choice is yours.

But always remember that followers choose their leader!

What My Kids Can Teach You About Business Perspective


I was running around the other morning trying to get my two boys (ages 2 and 5) ready for school and Carter, my 2-year old, was flipping out about nothing being able to “see” the video he and Will, my 5-year old, were watching on the iPad. I moved the iPad closer and went back to unwrapping cereal bars. He kept flipping out. I got frustrated and snapped at him. He got more upset. This was going nowhere.

So I stopped and thought about it. I walked over to his chair and ducked down so my head was right next to his and I looked at the iPad. There it was — a terrible glare from the sun beam streaming in from our back window — right across the iPad screen. When I looked at it I couldn’t see the video at all. *Head slap* I moved his chair five inches to the left and he calmed down.

Isn’t so much of leadership and teamwork just like this?

It took me all of 20 seconds to calm down, reorient myself to his perspective, see and acknowledge that he was right, and fix the problem. From his perspective he physically could not see the screen, and that’s exactly what he told me. When I didn’t try to understand from his perspective he got upset. When I took the time to not just listen, but to experience the world from his perspective, it all made sense and we were back in sync.

True effectiveness requires the leader to stand in the shoes of the team.

This morning when we walked out to get in the car for school I saw a huge spider web covered with water droplets that I wanted to show the boys. I pointed it out and Will couldn’t see it. I lowered my head to his level and looked and sure enough the spider web was lost to my view against the light of the sky. I lifted him up two steps and he saw it against the darker background of the trees in our neighbor’s yard. We all enjoyed the view and went on our way, having an instructive discussion about how spiders might be scary, but they eat the “bad bugs.” I would have missed all of that if not for taking his perspective and learning from it.

Leadership Ability Starts In Childhood


“Standing on the shoulders of giants” is one of my favorite quotes of all time.

While it was originally referencing scientific advancement, it also applies to personal success being impacted by the examples of those around us as children.

It concerns me greatly that so much attention to our children is being turned over to people other than the parents. We have become so consumed with material things as a society we are neglecting the future…Our children.

Where Is Our Time Going?

Does it not bother you that the average parent spends less than 8 hours per week with their children?

Does it not bother you that the average adult somehow finds time to watch 2.8 hours of TVeach week?

As a society have we become so enthralled by the here and now that we refuse to prepare for the future! Without examples they can respect, learn from and ultimately surpass in adulthood, how can we possible expect to make a better life for our children possible?

The Need Of Leadership Examples

Whether we want to accept it or not, our children learn from what they experience. If we are not around, then they are searching for someone to emulate. It’s just a hard truth.

Unfortunately the examples being projected by our media proclaim that everything will be handed to you. That you have nothing to fear and that everyone is a winner. I don’t know about you but I have won many times, but have also had many hard defeats.

Those moments of defeat are what forced me to become stronger, learn to adapt and prepare to face the unknown. How can we as parents not remember this reality and help our children become ready for the days when we are no longer there to defend them?

We Must Prepare

From a purely selfish perspective, when we are old, we will rely on our children to take care of us. Providing examples for our children should be endeavored just for self-preservation.

This however demands that overcome our obsessions with short term gratification and actually think about what we want to help our children become. We can either be the strong shoulders our children can stand upon, or be Atlas, so weighed down by debt, stress and impatience we are never able to be the leaders our children can emulate and ultimately, surpass.

I challenge us all, on both a personal and professional level, to make the right decisions and be the next “great generation” providing the ladder to a new era of enlightenment and success.

What do you think? Comments below on how you think we can overcome these challenges would be greatly appreciated!

Stop Wasting Time on Decisions


Stop wasting so much time on decisions.

I know this immediately seems like I’m telling you to fly by the seat of your pants and put no planning into your decisions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As an innovator, business leader, entrepreneur, parent or friend. The truth is you have to make quick decisions, and ultimately the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

The goal of this article is to pose a simple question. Do we waste time and therefore opportunity by over-analyzing possibilities, and not just pulling the trigger?

For those of you who read my article Business Innovation Requires Patience this again may seem like a counter-intuitive statement, but hang on, there is logic behind it.

So Many Decisions. So Little Time

Just think about the number of decisions you make everyday. Not big decisions. The number you have to make each day. Where to get coffee. Where to eat. What clothes to wear. What to do after work. The list goes on and on.

Now think about how many of those decisions you make in the blink of an eye.

99% of decisions are made with very little conscious thought. We react instinctively based on our past experiences. If every decision made was thought out, we would never get anything done.

As a decision maker in business, because of the responsibilities and ramifications of the choices we make, often we find ourselves over-thinking and wasting both time and opportunities. This could be a hiring decision, closing a deal, making a pivot in the business model.

Stop Over-thinking

So often, in the same blink of an eye as choosing where to get coffee, you know what the right choice is, but spend hours, days or even weeks trying to find reasons your gut instinct is wrong.

As a society, we are conditioned to search for all the reasons we are WRONG first, not why it’s the RIGHT option. By default, we immediately lengthen the time needed to make a decision, because everything being researched, discussed and/or keeping you up at night is negative. If everything you’re contemplating is a negative, it’s only natural to doubt your judgement.

I say look for the positives first. Very often, the supporting evidence to it being the right decision become readily apparent. If this is the case, then pull the trigger and go for it. Don’t waste time and energy, and more importantly, don’t miss opportunities.

Justification Of Quick Decisions

As experts in our relative fields, we know the right answer very quickly as our subconscious is analyzing and predicting outcome much more rapidly than our conscious mind. Our body even gives us physical instructions that we refer to as “gut feelings”.

When you learn to “go with your gut” rather than ignore it, you will be amazed at how much stress will fall away and the speed of which you can make correct decisions.

Studies going on for almost a century have consistently shown that our “gut reaction” is generally correct 90% of the time. Since these reactions are happening literally in the blink of an eye, the time spent looking for reasons you’re wrong becomes harder to justify. This is NOT to say you should never ask second opinions. For major decisions always look for additional validations to your initial thoughts.


Personal Defense Of Rapid Decision Making

The logic outlined has been the way I have operated my entire life. For years, I often questioned myself because so many people viewed my actions a “flying by the seat of my pants” and not thinking things through. More than a few times it was viewed as arrogance.

However, as time and again my gut instinct turned out to be the correct path, I made the conscious decision to let the chips fall where they may. This has led to being able to grow successful companies, make great hiring decisions, connect with amazing mentors and overcome adversity.

As the demand for quick pivots, instant gratification, and evolving limits of time continues to expand, my closing argument is this:

Nobody is perfect and there will always be times we make the wrong decision. The faster we know whether it was the right or wrong choice, the quicker we can either enjoy the rewards or recover from the mistake.

Learn More About The Science

Many of you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking where he dives into the concept of “thin-slicing” and using our adaptive unconscious; mental processes that work rapidly and automatically from relatively little information, to make the correct decision very rapidly.

For anyone who hasn’t, I strongly recommend you take the time to read it. For those of you who already use this process but don’t understand the scientific justification, it will be extremely encouraging. For others, it will radically change your life.

Get Up! I Didn’t Hear No Bell!


One of my favorite scenes in Rocky V, really the only good scene in the movie, is when Rocky is in a street fight with Tommy Gunn and just getting his butt kicked. Barely conscious, he has a powerful flashback of all his hard fights, and Mickey comes to him in a vision.

Now Get Up One More Round…Fight This Guy Hard…I Didn’t Hear No Bell!

As an entrepreneur, you face tough opponents on a daily basis. It could be keeping the lights on, dealing with difficult clients, losing a major deal, or having a complicated employee situation. It often feels like you’re getting hit daily with jab, jab, uppercut, body blow.

Everyone who has been in business for any length of time knows how this feels. We have all had experiences where we’ve been knocked down and it feels like the lights are going dim.

Now watch the scene so the rest of this makes sense.

Leadership Requires Toughness

Just like a physical fight, business requires toughness – both physical and mental – and the will to win. If you don’t have your heart and soul in what you’ve set out to accomplish and people are trusting you to achieve, then when those tough times come, you are the guy or girl with a glass jaw.

Innovation Requires Agility

Just like a physical fight, innovation requires agility and reflexes. You have to be able to see opportunity and seize it, while also being able to anticipate pivots and counter-punch the competition. We often become so blinded by the big picture and long term goals that we forget to pay attention to the here and now. Avoiding pitfalls, objections, and the status quo demands being able to sidestep and get in a few jabs until you’re ready to deliver the knockout punch.

Entrepreneurship Requires Stamina

Just like a physical fight, being an entrepreneur requires stamina. Achieving success requires you to have toughness, agility, and great reflexes. Since all those traits require stamina, you better prepare yourself physically and mentally for the long road before you.

Have Rocky Style Training

Of course in the Rocky movies the insane training he does is compressed into two minutes. In life and business, you need to be training on a daily basis to keep up with the hard times that are coming.

There will be more than a few times when it seems like there is no point in going on. It would be easier to just give up. If you haven’t taken the time to push yourself when the times are good, then when you enter the ring and punches are being thrown, you might as well throw in the towel.

Prepare To Go One More Round

My encouragement to you is to surround yourself with people who have already fought the good fight. Learn from them. Go find yourself a Mickey. Use all of the amazing resources at our fingertips with mastermind groups, online forums, books, training videos.

Being an innovator requires leadership abilities and entrepreneurship requires amazing toughness. Train like you know the fight’s about to get tough.

Success is falling nine times and getting up ten. – Jon Bon Jovi

Prepare yourself for the hard times. Because they will come. Business is a knock down, drag out fight and you will find yourself on the canvas. When that happens, just do what I do. Watch that simple scene and let it speak to you in a very powerful way…then say:

Hey Life…I Didn’t Hear No Bell…One More Round!

Business Innovation Requires Patience


Innovation requires patience.

I know that seems counter-intuitive to driven entrepreneurs, but hang on, there is logic behind this statement.

The vast majority of people just don’t have the ability to see future possibilities until they exist and are being used by their peers. This may seem like a degrading statement, but it’s not.

Some people have the ability to see the future possibilities others don’t. Just as often, those who have entrepreneurial vision are totally incapable of turning the dream into a reality.

Accepting this truth as an innovator will give you the patience needed to make sure your vision becomes reality.

Patience With Family & Friends

When you have an innovative idea, especially one that directly impacts your life, frustration quickly grows when you can’t convince others of its validity. Those around you not being able to understand how this could change their lives seems outrageous.

When you allow this frustration to impact how you treat those close to you, they will begin to question your abilities. The people who are most likely to help you take risks can quickly become those most opposed to your dream. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because who you are as a person is more important to them than your “crazy” business idea.

Remember that all the hours you spend contemplating and planning your idea isn’t what they are doing. Be patient. Write down your idea. Think of analogies that will have relevancy to them. Not only will this help you prepare to counter objections, it also helps get you ready for customers and potential investors.

Patience Convincing Investors

On the investor side, they are already successful. The need to take risk isn’t something they have to do. It’s something they choose to do. More importantly they want to take risk, but only with the right people. 99% of investors will tell you that the person is more vital to success of their investment capital than the idea.

Since they are getting pitched hundreds of ideas, this means they have so much to filter through. On top of that, most of them have multiple companies, incredible responsibilities and decisions to be made on a daily basis.

So in terms of patience, never expect everyone to see the potential in your idea. You have a 1 in 50 chance of getting a yes from an angel investor, and 1 in 300 chance from a VC. Many startup founders give up after being turned down the first time. Don’t give up the first time.

Just like it’s hard to convince your friends and family, it takes time to connect with the right investors, identify objections and develop ways to counter them. Not just through words but expanded business logic, customer acquisition strategies, and proof of concept.

So Why Be Patient?

As you try over and over again to convince friends, family, bosses, or potential investors of your genius, remember that people just can’t see what is in your brain. Everything about entrepreneurship requires the courage to take risk. Since very few are ready to make that leap of faith, the ability to see beyond the here and now becomes even more limited.

Changing the status quo requires being able to paint so vivid a picture, your target customers and potential investors will be able to see the future created if they adopt your new product or service. Think of painting this picture just like an artist would. While the vision is there, it takes time, patience and expertise to create something of true value.

Since there is no way to escape this truth, it is much more efficient to just accept it and leverage to your advantage. When the inevitable panic sets in that someone else is going to beat you to the punch, just remember they are facing the exact same challenges as you.

Are You Really the Best Person to Lead Your Startup?



Are you doing your job as a leader, or are you hampering your employees’ abilities through misdirected delegation? Should you step down in order for the company to step up? Are you aware of your individual impact on the bigger picture?

incontent3You may have started out as the strong, inspirational skipper of a smooth-running ship, but everyone and anyone can potentially burn out  – even founders lose interest and the ability to inspire others. Companies pivot all the time, and whether you’re a CEO, manager, or employee the same principles apply to your role as a leader.

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

If you’re a leader of a team, and asking how you should lead or follow, you may have already failed. “Lead” and “follow” are not actually mutually exclusive. Leading is more complex, sublime and decisive, but it also entails a bit of following.

Entrepreneur Mark Suster speaks of a time when his company was trying to produce too many products at the same time. One of his managers pulled him aside and advised that the company should narrow their focus. After a company-wide discussion he cut down the number of items in production from four to just one — the one that would ultimately turn out to be an industry-leading product.

Everyone remembers what happened when Steve Jobs resumed leadership over Apple. Double-down focus — minimize in order to maximize. Sound familiar? In Suster’s case, he effectively followed his employee in order to lead, and the company benefited greatly as a result.

On the other hand, when every team member is trying to tell everyone else what to do, and simultaneously listening to no one, it is no longer leading. That’s just (dis)organized chaos, and an effective leader knows how to cut through the noise.

What It Means to Lead

A leader’s job is to ensure the success of the organization — no matter who reports to whom in any given group. At every moment she should be examining, scrutinizing, and constantly asking, “Is what I’m doing helping all of us to succeed?”

Or, in the words of entrepreneur and author Jason Baptiste, ”If that means taking out the trash and picking up low fat, low carb, organic pizza for the team so they can work straight through, then so be it.” You can’t be too proud. Do what needs to be done to help your business thrive.

Leadership is also about empowering, and 31 percent of employees leave if they don’t feel they’re empowered to do their job properly. Are you empowering your employees? If not, it’s time to move out of the way and let someone else take the lead. There still may be many important jobs to do.

Do You Project Great Leadership?

There is more to leading a team of employees than simply telling them what to do. Are you perceived as more than just a manager? Do they respect you as such? Ask your employees. They will tell you.

It’s also okay if you’re not the Leader (capital L intended). Oftentimes, there’s only room for one visionary. However, equally if not more importantly so, the company and organization needs a strong Executor. The one that can see the steps to actualizing the big idea.

The doer. The hands-on manager. The person who dots i’s and crosses t’s. Every “shaper” needs a “finisher” – someone to complete the picture. Nothing is accomplished single-handedly. Just because you might not sit in the CEO seat, doesn’t mean your leadership is somehow less valid or valued. People tend to respect the ones they engage the most with and everyone on the team has the opportunity to lead, even if it sometimes looks like following.

Team Building Is Hard

Leaders are powerless without their teams. They can’t possibly do everything themselves. Finding and keeping the right people is absolutely essential.

Create small teams led by people with a wide range of skills and be generous with your knowledge. That way, if you do have to hand over the reins, you already have someone ready to take over (or at least keep the company running while you search for a successor).

As a startup, we look for ambitious (entrepreneurial-minded), flexible and adaptable people to bring into 15Five. Hiring a new employee on a 90-day mutual trial period is nothing new. What we do is put them into a position, show them what we know and then ask them to find a better way of doing it. By the end of three months, we want them to have grown into a position where they could essentially hire themselves out of the job we originally brought them on board for. And if they’re culturally a great fit, then we know we’ve found a gem.

An Outside Perspective

It takes some fortitude and fearlessness to step outside your role and look objectively at your involvement in an organization. Try putting yourself in the shoes of a stakeholder who is not wrapped up in the day-to-day work, like an investor or advisor. Would they determine that you’re the best fit for your current job description?

The best person for the job should be the one doing the job, and if it means that someone else needs to be the leader of your company, then step aside. It doesn’t mean you have to banish yourself and voluntarily walk out the door with your tail between your legs. It means you’re operating in the best interest of your company. Besides, there may be a capacity that is a better fit for you and ultimately you might just end up more happy, productive, and fulfilled.

Anybody know of a story where a founder or employee successfully handed over the reins or stepped into another position in the best interests of the company at large? Would love to hear from you!

David Hassell is a serial entrepreneur and presently Founder & CEO of 15Five, a SaaS company focused on helping individuals and organizations reach their highest potential. Hailed by Fast Company as the “15 Most Important Minutes of Your Work Week,” 15Five creates an internal communication process that enables the most important information to flow seamlessly throughout an organization.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Earning Your Leadership Stars and Stripes

Leadership, Startups, Guest Post, Leadership Qualities


For many of us, the Fourth of July conjures up images of fireworks, hotdogs, and the unofficial start of the summer season. But when we celebrate Independence Day, it’s also important to reflect on what our founding fathers gave our nation as well as the lessons they can teach us about great leadership.

Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. They were lawyers and merchants, farmers and large plantation owners. They were educated, wealthy men. They signed and pledged their lives, fortunes, and honor to ensure that the 13 colonies could establish a sovereign nation, truly leading others by their example.

In today’s workplace, most people equate leadership with a specific position or job title. But you need more then a title on the door to have followers. True leadership is the ability to influence people to achieve a better result for an entire organization or group.

The most effective leaders have a very strong sense of self; they understand the qualities that make other people want to follow them and they know how to adjust those qualities when circumstances require them to do so. The most effective leaders are those who:

  • Know their own strengths and limitations;
  • Create and effectively communicate a positive, realistic vision;
  • Motivate and inspire followers to reach their potential;
  • Look beyond their own self-interest and encourage others to do the same;
  • Anticipate and manage conflicts fairly and objectively;
  • Exhibit self-confidence;
  • Respect and maintain personal and organizational values;
  • Are fair, reasonable and compassionate;
  • Instill trust; and
  • Behave consistently.

These leaders develop and articulate reasonable goals and hold people (including themselves) accountable. They are prepared to make difficult decisions and balance the sensitivity of individual needs with organizational needs. Employees not only recognize their power and authority but they accept it and follow these trusted leaders willingly.

There are two ways to get people to do what you want: compel them by using your “position” power or persuade them by using your “personal-relational” power. In certain situations, compelling your team to do something based solely on your position power may work best to meet production needs. But a consistent approach of, “Do this because I said so” will not serve you well in the long term because it will limit your ability to develop “personal-relational” power.

Persuasion requires developing relationships based an understanding of what makes people tick and what motivates them. The trick is to figure out how to influence and motivate your staff through the effective use of both the proverbial carrot AND stick.

An honest assessment of your leadership qualities will enable you to capitalize on your natural strengths and work to improve those you find more challenging. Ask yourself, “What kind of leader do I want to be?” and “How do I want to be perceived by those reporting to me?”

Then, create a written credo summarizing your values, beliefs, and management philosophy to help you focus not only on what you want to accomplish but how you want to do it. These are important considerations not only because it will enable you to develop effective relationships but also because it will enable you to complete the tasks at hand more effectively, making YOU more valuable to your organization.

To be a good leader, it is critical to develop management skills relating to delegation and feedback. Differences in employee abilities, skills, and style are inevitable and must be managed in order to meet workplace demands. Leaders who learn to recognize these differences and flex their leadership style to meet those needs will be more successful at managing and motivating their employees to achieve organizational objectives.

To delegate effectively, always operate under the principal that you can never be too clear. Here are some tips:

  • Take the time to explain the goals and objectives. If everybody from administrative support to senior staff understands the overall objective (which typically can be explained in 3 sentences in less than 30 seconds) or how their segment of the project ties into the overall goal, they will be more invested in the project and better serve the needs of the organization.
  • Let people know how you want information to be shared (via e-mail, voicemail, meetings, etc.), who else is working with them, and any other peculiarities specific to this project. Most importantly, let them know how best to approach you throughout the project if they need clarification or further instruction. Do not allow yourself to become a choke point or source of frustration for your team.
  • Set specific deadlines – “ASAP” is meaningless. So is “In a few days.” Try, “I need it in an hour,” or “I need it Wednesday afternoon.” Leave no room for ambiguity. Setting specific deadlines and allowing your team to manage their own workload will ameliorate your constant need to hover and inquire, “Is it done yet?” to the relief of both you and your team members. It is equally important that YOU adhere to team deadlines. Lead by example. Again, if you become a choke point, you will frustrate members of your team and ultimately sabotage your own career.
  • Provide on-going feedback to allow for corrections to be made as the project progresses. Capture those “teachable moments” along the way to strengthen your team. When delivered properly, feedback not only creates trust and cooperation; it focuses on improvements, both possible and those actually achieved. It increases skills, improves employees’ confidence and enhances your personal-relational power.

On-going, informal feedback enhances the formal appraisal process because staff members receive messages throughout the year offering immediate corrective action for very specific behaviors. The formal review can than be used to reinforce those message and focus on systematic goal setting to ensure the professional development of each person for the benefit of the individual as well as the organization.

Keep in mind, not all managers are leaders, but every leader is a manager. Your goal is not simply to make everyone happy (or miserable), but to understand how to capture individual talents and get the best out of each contributor. In his address to officers of the Virginia Regiment, George Washington once said, “Remember that it is the actions, and not the commission, that makes the officer, and that there is more expected from him than the title.” These words are still pertinent today. When you focus not only on the “what” of what it takes to be a successful leader but also on the “how,you will see your sphere of influence grow and your career soar.

Kathleen Brady, CPC is an iPEC-certified career management coach with more than 25 years of experience helping people identify and realize their professional career goals. In GET A JOB! 10 Steps to Career Success (Inkwater Press, 2013) Brady shares her secrets for navigating the job search process from start to finish as well as practical exercises for job seekers at every level. GET A JOB! is available at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers. For more information, visit www.careerplanners.net.

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