Category Archives: Bring Out the Best

Leadership Accountability

Carrot on a stick

Image by Ben Sutherland via Flickr

Generating accountability for leaders can be a challenge. Often we confuse reminders with follow-through. We get so caught up in our own actions that it becomes difficult to see that our team is struggling to generate action amongst themselves. This could be because we believe that once we have reminded someone to do something that their own intrinsic motivation will kick in and take over. This is often not the case though. It is very hard for people to do things that they do not want to do. Look at the obesity epidemic in America. Everyone knows that the secret to slimming down is to eat less and exercise more. How many people follow through on these simple steps? Leaders can start to generate accountability through taking action with their teams. Mark Sanborn discusses this accountability dilemma further below.

Helping people be accountable is more than identifying what they need to do; it is about clarifying what needs to be accomplished.

Clear outcomes can often be achieved several different ways. We tend to be too rigid about the means and completely miss the end. For instance, in the example above, the objective wasn’t running, it was fitness.

Structure your efforts around the end goal, and involve the person you’re working with in determining the “how.” Giving them an active role in creating the process will engage them and create a greater sense of ownership.

…More at Leadership Accountability: Holding or Helping? | Sanborn and

Everyone has goals and new years resolutions this time of year. Goals are a healthy and natural way of accomplishing tasks and making meaningful progress in our lives. Goals and resolutions often fail however because we do not associate a goal with a particular benefit. Leaders can help their teams link benefits with their work goals. It is very important for the human mind to have some driving purpose and a goal without a benefit can be a challenging task. For example, lets say you give your team a project to retool the user interface of the dashboard for your member portal and do not give them a reason or benefit to doing so. Without the why behind the project, it is difficult for your team to see the purpose of the project. Telling them that by retooling the UI you can enhance the clicks on extras that will improve the bottom line by 4% and boost the year end bonuses greatly enhances the motivation behind the task. Leaders need to be able to generate accountability which can be a major challenge.


Leading For Productivity

Energizer Bunny

Image by Jeremy Vandel via Flickr

A leader has to be a good motivator when leading for productivity. Productivity is all about producing results. Results are impossible to achieve without enough willpower and energy to accomplish the desired results. A leader needs to be the one to set a good example by arriving at work invigorated and ready to tackle the day's work. This can be accomplished so that one's personal life does not interfere with their work life. Teams admire and follow a leader who acts as an energizer for them. Marcia Zidle has more information on energizers and how they improve everyone around them.  

What is an Energizer?
They aren’t necessarily extroverted or charismatic. They’re people who always see opportunities even in challenging situations;  listen to others and value their ideas, show integrity in dealing with others and avoid maneuvering to get their way. They’re high performers and people want to work for and with them. Bottom line: Energizers have full tanks that propel them to success.

…More at Personal ProductivityLeaders at All Levels

As a leader and manager, are you overworking yourself and absorbing responsibilities that are not always yours? If so, then it is time that you took a serious look at your workload and eliminate the peripheral or non-essential work and delegate it out to your team. Your function as a leader is to energize your team and be a driver for productivity. An overworked and stressed-out leader is hardly a leader. Leaders need to set the example for their team by putting their best foot forward each day and coming to work ready to go. Leading for productivity requires you to motivate your team to achieve results and it all begins with you leaders out there.


Leadership and Employee Engagement in 2013

Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place.  But there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.  ~E.L. Konigsburg

Image by thephotographymuse via Flickr

Employee engagement should be a top priority for every leader in 2013. Studies have shown that engaged employees perform better at work. If you and your leadership team have not thought about your employee engagement strategy today and made steps to implement it then you are hurting your own bottom line. Take a look at your team as they finish up their day to gauge their well-being and make note of it. Do this for a week and then examine what you are seeing and contrast it with each individual's workload. Is there a pattern of stressed out employees struggling to finish a major launch? If so, action on your part is required. You, as a leader, owe it to your team to make their well-being a priority. Tony Schwartz discusses the benefits of employee engagement more below and at HBR.

What would contribute most to your being both happier and more productive at work? How about feeling truly taken care of, appreciated, and trusted by your employer?

More than 100 studies have affirmed the connection between employee engagement and performance, but the Towers Watson 2012 Global Workforce Study — 32,000 employees across 30 countries — makes the most powerful, bottom line case yet for the connection between how we feel at work and how we perform.

What's required now is something called “sustainable engagement.” The key factor, the study finds, is a work environment that more fully energizes employees by promoting their physical, emotional and social well-being. I'd add to that mental and spiritual well being — or more specifically, the added energy derived from the capacity for absorbed focus and a strong sense of purpose.

…More at New Research: How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line

Is your engagement strategy sustainable? Are you enriching your team's lives by providing a sense of purpose and promoting well-rounded employees who are physically, emotionally and socially well? Leaders act as the catalyst for change in an organization and must be fully engaged to inspire a sustainable engagement strategy. It is a demanding task but one that reaps many rewards such as better operating margins, lower attrition rates and healthier employees. All of these improvements will be a boon to your business. Leaders must show the way and actively work to provide sustainable employee engagement in 2013 and beyond.


Leaders Should Focus on Organizational Well-Being AND The Bottom Line

Kodak VS

Image by kevin dooley via Flickr

Achieving organizational well-being and adhering to the bottom line are not mutually exclusive. Organizational well-being is about providing a working environment that produces smarter, healthier and happier employees while at the same time enhancing the community around them. Common practice among many companies around the world have done the bare minimum to achieve the appearance of organizational well-being while really serving the bottom line exclusively. Strict adherence to the bottom line without regard to other factors will become less prevalent as workers will flock to companies that value their contributions and the old guard will be forced to adapt or lose significant market share. Leadership in various industries have already spearheaded this effort around the globe. Morten T. Hansen, Herminia Ibarra, and Urs Peyer examine this trend and identify several companies that are outperforming in both financial and social efforts. 

Many management thinkers argue that it is no longer enough to do well financially; companies also need to improve the well-being of (or at least not harm) the communities in which they operate, the environment, and their employees. (See, for example, “Creating Shared Value,” by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer.) That's the good news. The bad news is that stellar performance on both dimensions is no common or easy feat.

...More at Can Companies Both Do Well and Do Good?

Leadership at these companies are making a conscientious effort to innovate and ensure that their practices are serving their financial and organizational goals. We see that more and more companies are striving to achieve organizational well-being through community engagement, employee enhancement, and generous benefits/perks packages. This push toward a well-rounded workforce can, and often will, lead toward enhanced productivity which helps boost the bottom line. Hansen et al. have shown that this is no guarantee and that there is a spectrum of achievement as each company works towards optimizing both their organizational well-being and their bottom line.


The Accountable Leader

Business Meeting

Image by thetaxhaven via Flickr

The accountable leader is someone who possesses the wherewithal to identify problems in the workplace. An accountable leader has rapport with their team and the knowledge of the major events happening inside and outside of the workplace that can affect team performance. By holding themselves accountable to a rigid standard, a leader will demonstrate to their employees what is expected of them. Chris Young presents us with five essential tools that the accountable leader has in their toolbox. 

The fastest way to insure an inefficient workplace with low morale is to fail to hold poor performing employees accountable for their poor performance, thereby frustrating effective employees, who will feel themselves bearing the brunt of others' poor work. Leadership through accountability means taking responsibility for creating a company culture where no one feels put upon by the mistakes of others, and those who perform well know they can expect to reap the rewards of their hard work.

…More at Leadership Through Accountability – The 5 Essentials

We know that there are at least five essential skills that leaders can develop to help generate accountability in their employees. Encouraging openness and honesty goes a long way in building a trusting relationship with fellow employees. Developing an outline that clearly defines the scope and expectations is crucial to engaging employees for maximum benefit. There are more ways for the accountable leader to make their mark? What strategies have helped you become the accountable leader?


Four Strategies to Nurture Creativity

The Thinker

Image by Dano via Flickr

No matter what your workplace environment may be, strategies to nurture creativity can be incorporated and will be beneficial to your workplace. We often associate creativity with strictly artistic endeavors but creativity can be useful in environments from cutting edge ad agencies to corporate offices. All it takes to implement creativity is a positive attitude and the ability to identify and examine problems where creativity may yield especially high yields. Tim Herd brings us four strategies to nurture creativity in the workplace. 

1. Invest in imagination. Allocate regular periods to digest new information, ponder, imagine, and act creatively. Crunching numbers and brainstorming involve very different brain functions, so dedicate specific times to shift from analytical to imaginative thinking.

Albert Einstein, no slouch as an analytical thinker, said: “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

2. Pile up possibilities. Let ideas flow without censorship. You can critically evaluate them all later, but new thoughts, no matter how outlandish, often generate others. Encourage trust and open communication. Toss out the rules, suspend judgment, permit playful experimentation.

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going,” explained philosopher Thomas Merton. “What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

3. Dive into diversity. Encourage multiple viewpoints and perspectives. Even fuzzy, ambiguous concepts can help stimulate innovation. Sanction artistic expression. Resist the urge to resolve issues immediately; once things are finalized, creativity stops.

Theodore Roosevelt understood the creative value of diversity: “Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.”

4. Cultivate curiosity. The workplace inquisition can be a good thing! Creative thinking is fueled by asking questions that reveal potential for further explorations and new possibilities. Ask and listen. Daydream. Wonder. What if…?

…More at Fostering creativity in the workplace | Tim Herd

You can incorporate these four strategies into your workplace culture today and begin to see a difference in employees attitudes and ideas. Integrating time for imagination allows for employees to start thinking about problems from multiple perspectives and the number of possible solutions to problems that pop up begin to grow. Curiosity is a crucial aspect of creativity that should not be made ineffectual by limiting questions. You can begin to nurture creativity in your workplace with these four strategies.


Five Easy Project Leadership Tips

Flag Bearer

Image by unknown via Flickr

Here are five easy project leadership tips to make you a great leader. A great leader works for his or her team. They support their team consistently and fairly. A project leader has to realize that they are in service to the team rather than vice versa. A team leader who is selfishly looking for results to drive their own motives will not garner the same respect and dedication as one who shares in the success of their team with all. If you are looking to improve on your team leadership skills then take a look at this article from James L. Haner, who brings us five tips to becoming a great project leader. 

True project leaders are not project leaders for themselves. True project leaders seek to bring out the best in their team mates . . . not put themselves on a pedestal.  They let team members realize their own success. True project leaders are remembered for the right reasons.

False project leaders, on the other hand, are those who acquire a project leadership position for their own glory. They talk a lot about “I” . . . and not a lot about “we.” False project leaders are remembered for the wrong reasons.

You can become a true project leader by practicing these five teambuilding steps.

…More at Five Steps to Becoming a True Project Leader « Perspectives on

You can become a great project leader by following the five tips presented in the article above. Project leadership is ultimately about achieving results but the difference between doing this the right way and the wrong way is as big as the Grand Canyon. A leader should have the mentality that they are working for their team members by seeking ways to empower them to do their job better. A leader needs to take charge and proceed by showing a positive example for their team to emulate. Just follow the five easy project leadership tips to become the truly great project leader that you have been striving to be.


Engaging Younger Employees


Image by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

A workforce is inevitably composed of an array of people of different ages, sexes, and races and embracing this diversity and engaging younger employees is a great way to foster collaboration and skill-building. Younger employees have grown up with technology and use it to constantly monitor and interact with the world around them. It is a common complaint that younger workers rely on the internet to solve all of their problems. This attitude does not allow for critical thinking and deeper analysis which are crucial aspects of today's market and very valuable skills. Elizabeth Newell writes about five strategies that leaders can employ to engage your young employees from Robert Wendover

It has become something of a trend, in government and elsewhere, to bash Millennial employees — those 30 and younger who came of age immersed in a technological world. But rather than criticize their perceived weaknesses, a good manager can foster the type of analytical thinking and problem-solving that can be developed only offline.

Robert Wendover, director of the Center for Generational Studies, has spent more than a decade studying the impact of what he calls “menu-driven thinking” on the development of those under 30. Employees in their 20s, he says, grew up with technology that helped them “think [their] way through the day.” Many feel they should be able to find the solution to every problem online. In reality, though, problem-solving is about reasoning and computers don’t reason. That’s why many digital natives get stuck when it comes to making judgments, resolving differences, persuading people, evaluating performance, juggling conflicting priorities or dealing with a whole host of other everyday challenges, according to Wendover.

…More at Making Young Employees Feel at Home – Management Matters

Keeping your young workforce involved and interested in their work is a matter of allowing them to make connections and collaborate. Being connected and available is a facet of today's always-on technological culture that will allow younger employees to feel more at ease completing the tasks put forth to them. Allow them to make mistakes and realize the value in different methodologies to problem-solving. Engaging younger employees by tapping into their energy and harnessing their network is a great way to allow for development.


Coaching For Performance

I'm So Confused!

Image by Ian Sane via Flickr

Leaders of your business need to be coaching for performance. Coaching for performance has many benefits that can reverberate through your workforce. A great way to engage employees is to set up a mentor program. Having a mentor or coach at work can be a real benefit to employees as fresh hires although the benefit is no one-way street. Seasoned veterans solidify their understanding of your business and can gain new insight or innovate during the process as well. Rachel Miller discusses several gains achieved for a call center and her lesson is broadly applicable. 

Suc­cess­ful busi­nesses rec­og­nize the impor­tance of qual­ity lead­er­ship. Hav­ing skilled men­tors at hand to encour­age and engage con­tact cen­ter employ­ees can make or break desired per­for­mance lev­els. While many super­vi­sors and man­agers are nat­ural lead­ers, oth­ers may strug­gle when required to praise or dis­ci­pline employ­ees. Coach­ing plays an impor­tant role in the suc­cess of each team or depart­ment, and con­tributes to the over­all suc­cess a com­pany.

…More at Skills for Coaching Employees | Impact Learning Systems

Allowing for employees to work under no supervision is a risky proposition but hovering over their every move is not wise either. Aim to strike a balance and do some coaching along the way. Considering a mentor program for your team or work force is a great way to provide support for everyone and to foster positive relationships among employees. Building relationships within your workforce can pay dividends that are hard to quantify but this should not deter you from considering a formal coaching arrangement. Coaching for performance is a great way to reduce turnover, increase productivity and optimize your business.


Make Yourself Accountable

Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - Canal Path #2

Image by familymwr via Flickr

An ability to make yourself accountable for your work is a great way to get noticed by leadership. Leaders want employees who are able to determine what actions are necessary and to assess the impacts on business. Taking accountability for yourself is a sure-fire way of standing out from the crowd. This will help your prospects for growth within the company and will mark you as a future leader who knows responsibility. Ron Ashkenas writes about his experience with taking accountability measures in the workplace.

The reality is that the most effective organizations engage in continual (and sometimes brutally candid) dialogue — across levels, functions, and with customers and suppliers. For organizations to be successful, dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people have to be engaged and aligned around common goals and directions. That doesn't mean that everyone needs to move in lockstep, but it does mean that everyone needs to take accountability, to see themselves as part of the solution on the field rather than a distant observer in the stands.

So that's where accountability comes in. If you want to be part of a successful organization, you need to be part of the dialogue — to share your views, influence others, and make a difference. If you don't feel that you can take the initiative to do that, then either think about what gets in your way or what you can do differently. If conditions don't allow you to speak up and exert your influence, go somewhere else. But waiting for senior leaders or the CEO to make things better is probably not going to be a very effective strategy. It makes more sense to blame the last snowstorm.

…More at Take Accountability for Your Own Success – HBR Blog Network

It makes sense to have a success strategy that starts with accountability to help you grow in your career. Everyone can (and will) reason away failure but if you hold yourself accountable for your work then chances are you will be noticed! An increasingly dynamic economic market makes it ever more difficult to compete as constraints change and markets shift but by being flexible and accountable then you set yourself up for success no matter what the difficulties and pitfalls that lie ahead. Make yourself accountable to exhibit your value and get noticed by leadership today!