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The Importance of Resilience in Leadership

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Leadership Development, Management Communication | 0 comments

The Importance of Resilience in Leadership

People envy leaders in the workplace. After all, they may make more money, have a better office, or have more control over what goes on in the workplace. But excellent leadership doesn’t just happen by accident. Leadership development can take years, and leadership duties include having superb communication skills, great decision-making skills, and the ability to see when team members need more information and then supplying it.

But there’s no leader out there who hasn’t made mistakes. The difference between a so-so leader and an excellent leader often comes down to resilience and a willingness to acknowledge mistakes. Team members’ respect for the “perfect” leader won’t last if that leader makes mistakes and refuses to admit them, learn from them, and move forward. But respect for a leader will increase if team members see a leader as talented, but human, and willing to learn from his or her mistakes. (more…)

Visionaries: Communicating the Big Picture

Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Management Communication | 0 comments

Visionaries: Communicating the Big Picture

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When our work organizations undergo changes, it is easy to get lost in the details of the process and forget why we’re undergoing the changes in the first place. Someone – whether it’s the team’s leader, a manager, or a visionary who has been brought in from the outside – must help the team members remember the big picture. Remembering the vision and the reasons for the changes helps team members put aside some of their reluctance or outright fear of organizational change.

For a true paradigm shift to be effective, all team members need to be on board with the changes going on at work. (more…)

Things you Can’t Take With you During Change: Your Comfort Zone

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

Things you Can’t Take With you During Change: Your Comfort Zone

Ruts are comfortable. We dig them and furnish them and though we may not be exactly happy there, we feel safe. Leaving our ruts requires a total paradigm shift: climbing and grappling, and we don’t really know what we’ll find once we’re back out in the light of day. Our comfort zones at work are perhaps the ones we cling to the most. After all, lives outside of work change – we buy a house, or get married, get divorced, have a car accident, watch children grow much too fast … work is something that, while it may not be exciting, at least it is a known quantity. (more…)

The Emotional Work of Change

Posted by on Mar 8, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

Why is change so hard? Even when we desperately want change, when it finally happens, we can feel afraid or depressed. Happy change is no different. Think of all the big life changes we go through: a wedding day, the day a child is born, graduation … These are all paradigm shifts – happy ones to be sure – and yet the range of emotions on these days of change is wide. We may be laughing one minute and crying the next.

Change at work may be different in scale, but not in substance. Suppose a structural reorganization takes place at work. We may be placed in a new group of co-workers – some of whom we like and others that we don’t like. The group we’re leaving is probably much the same way. So why does a part of us want to hold on to what we had, even as imperfect as it was? Even when changes are anticipated and desired, employee motivation can lag.
During these times, management communication is more important than ever. It is easy for someone entering a new work situation to feel abandoned during a time of change. Their old routine is gone, and they may have moved their office as well. They’re unsure exactly what to do next. This is when leadership development demands that team leaders, managers, and others who are leading the changes at work are available and open. If they are open, accessible, and active in the transition, they will be seen as engaged and not aloof and set apart from the team.

Leaders are also dealing with their own emotions during periods of change at work. By engaging with team members new and old, they not only show that they are integral to the team, but that they, too are going through many of the same emotions that other team members are experiencing.

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Communication is Indispensable in the Workplace

Posted by on Mar 1, 2011 in Management Communication | 0 comments

There’s no such thing as too much communication in the workplace. Team members are naturally curious as to what is going on with workplace leadership. That curiosity is so strong that if they feel like information is being withheld, they will make up their own stories based on even the tiniest nuggets of information. Management communication must address team members’ vision and goals, and it must effectively outline changes in the workplace.

Workplace studies show that the least satisfied employees are the ones who have great responsibility, yet little control over how those responsibilities are carried out. Withheld communication makes every affected employee feel as if he or she has less control. Employee motivation depends on knowing that they are important enough to the organization that they will not be kept in the dark about changes in the workplace, particularly large changes that require a total paradigm shift.

When change in the workplace is afoot, leaders must be willing to communicate to all team members the reasons for the change, and their vision for the team. When team members have questions, leaders must provide as complete answers as they can, and they must be willing to say that they don’t know the answer if that is indeed the case. Team motivation and employee morale suffer in the absence of communication, and if it is your team, then so will your own leadership development.

Team members react differently to change, but they all react. Whether they express their misgivings or not, all team members must be kept apprised of the changes that are occurring or imminent. If you, as a leader, are evasive, or simply reassure everyone that everything will be OK, you’ll be doing yourself and your team a disservice. If you don’t know the answer to a team member’s questions, say so. But if you do know the answer and fear it will be painful for them to hear, then you’ll only make it worse by being evasive. Remember: there’s no such thing as too much communication in the workplace.

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Urgency: Is it False or Real?

Posted by on Feb 24, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

False urgency at work is a bit like a sugar rush: it may feel good while it’s happening, but the crash afterwards can leave you groggy and dazed. As a team leader, you must communicate true urgency with your team members. True urgency is understanding the reasons behind changes at work, and when communicated properly, it improves employee motivation.

False urgency, on the other hand, is a way of over-dramatizing a situation in hopes of getting a rush of activity and accomplishing a lot in a short period of time. It is a “hurry up and wait” approach that can easily leave team members burned out and cynical. It makes it that much harder for employees to believe a situation of true urgency should a real one come up.

The key to avoiding this is, as you might have guessed, communication. You don’t have to speculate, and you shouldn’t hint to team members that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that they can’t be made aware of yet (even if it’s true). Sharing the truth with team members will increase their respect for you, and sharing that there are things that you don’t yet know will improve your integrity in their eyes.

Spreading a sense of false urgency, or denying that any change is imminent will result in one thing: a sense of complacency, and teams that are mired in complacency don’t undergo changes well. Effective leadership development requires that you lead by example, because team members often take their emotional cues from team leaders.

If you seem worried, distracted, or remote, they will pick up on it instantly. If you talk frankly about what is going on and show that you are committed to continuing to do your best work in times of uncertainty or change, you will inspire the same in your team members. Management communication includes talking the talk and walking it too.

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The Leader’s Role in Times of Change 

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

As a team leader, it is important for you to be open to communication throughout the transition period when workplace changes are afoot. You will most likely be called upon to help some team members work through their reservations and hesitations about change. While it is important that you not remain aloof or unavailable to your team members, it is equally as important that you do not try to micromanage your way to successful change.

Successful management communication in times of change involves communicating the vision that’s behind the change and ensuring that employee motivation remains intact during the times of accepting and implementing the little changes that add up to the overall change that the team is undergoing. If you do this, then the team itself should rise to the challenge of responding to challenges inherent in making changes in the workplace.

Leadership development doesn’t mean taking on all the challenges the team faces and taking responsibility for them. It has more to do with showing team members that you have faith in their abilities to meet the challenges that come with change. Encouragement is important, as is acknowledgement that not all team members will be enthusiastic about workplace changes at all times. The enemies of successful change in the workplace include secretiveness, the ordering of changes without explaining the reasoning behind the changes, and dismissing employee concerns.

A paradigm shift can be jarring. Some people embrace change, some people go along, and some people resist change. There’s no way you’ll get every team member to feel the same about change or approach change with the same attitude. But if you are doing your job well as a leader, you can function as the psychological adhesive that keeps the team together and helps its members support each other so that change and transition truly are team functions, and not just forced changes implemented from above.

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Acceptance and Commitment: Essential to Successful Change 

Posted by on Feb 17, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

Management Communication must not lag as team members accept change and commit to the transition. It is a time when complacency must not be allowed to take hold. Successful change requires a certain amount of momentum. Your leadership development should have brought you to where you can help your team remain committed to change in the workplace while acknowledging that some will have difficulties with changes.

Inertia can be hard to overcome. That’s one reason why “the way we’ve always done it” has such sticking power. But in today’s world, with technology advancing at such a rapid pace, “the way we’ve always done it” may have been streamlined, simplified, and made far easier by hardware and software advances. This can be threatening, even if it means that some people’s tasks become easier. If something that always took you half a day now only takes one hour, then what do you do with that extra three hours? Will the company brass decide you’re no longer needed?

Technological change is a double edged sword. Willingness to embrace technology can improve efficiency – sometimes to the point where a person can be replaced by a machine. Alternately, there are managers who see any technological development as yet another way to squeeze more productivity out of a fixed number of team members. This can feel threatening to team members who feel as if they are already saturated with responsibility. It is your responsibility as a team leader to reassure team members that changes affect everyone, and the proposed changes are ultimately to the good.
Employee motivation must be tended carefully during times of change. With your leadership, your team can come through the phases of acceptance of change and commitment to change successfully.

Ask, Experiment, Discover: Learning how Change Can be Positive

Posted by on Feb 15, 2011 in Organizational Change | 2 comments

When your team is going through a time of change, team members need to know that they’re not expected to be completely adapted to the new way of doing things the very first day. Let them know that it’s OK to ask questions. That it’s OK to experiment when it comes to doing things that don’t have exact prescribed protocols. Allow team members to discover for themselves how change can be a positive experience in the end.

You can tell team members that the new way of doing things is better, but unless they experience that for themselves, your words are just words. Employee motivation will take quantum steps upward as team members learn the benefits of the new organization or the new way of doing things. Paradigm shifts are hard. In some cases, accepting a paradigm shift is akin to “turning the other cheek.” But turning the other cheek forces you to look in a different direction, and that itself can be positive.

Management communication must remain strong, even as you leave behind some of the “hand holding” you may have had to do during the stress of transition. It will do no good for you to take an “I told you so” attitude. Acknowledging that the transition has had its ups and downs brands you as part of the team, not just a team leader who exists in some rarefied “leadership” atmosphere.

Letting your team know that you are open to their questions, and that it’s OK to experiment with ways of incorporating changes into the new work routine is vital. Leadership development is a process, not a destination. How you handle change in the workplace is an indication to your team of what kind of leader you are. While you don’t want to appear disorganized and inept, neither do you want to appear autocratic and infallible. Your strength lies in bringing out the best in your team, and encouraging them to bring out the best in themselves.

Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 in Organizational Change | 0 comments

Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

Nobody can stop change from occurring, and people who try often end up more frustrated than if they had opened their minds to the possibilities of change. Since the beginning of the 21st century, change has accelerated and permeated every facet of most people’s lives. Pay phones are now novelties that sit unused most of the time. Getting a real letter in the mail is also an unusual occurrence, yet communication has improved exponentially in speed and efficiency. People tend to resist change out of fear: fear of “looking stupid” for not picking it up readily, or fear that personal growth will lead to an overwhelming number of changes in life. (more…)