Mike C

A Leadership Blog

Things You Might Need to Know About Leadership in an Inclusive World

I have to warn that this post may offend some individuals. It is not my intention to do so, since I would like to merely address the situation and the thought process. Keep in mind this is nothing more than informational.

What is Inclusion?

Inclusion is the process of incorporating a variety of different individuals from a variety of different backgrounds. These could be individuals of different ethnicities or individuals with different preferences for partners (among other things). It is important that these should not be the sole basis for hiring a candidate nor a contributing factor, as there are plenty of laws condoning those practices (and for good reason!).



With inclusion, you are aiming to make it safe for these individuals to be a part of your organization. You are making it acceptable that they are welcome for who they are, regardless of what those differences may be. As leaders, though we might not agree with the lifestyle choices that these individuals make, we need to be sure that we can include and make our organizations conducive for them to be apart of the structure.

Why Implement Inclusion?

The biggest reason to be inclusive (whether legal or not) is help facilitate internal growth. All individuals deserve the right to be able to contribute to society in a positive manner. Leaders can strive towards being able to incorporate new ideas or new ways of doing things by including these individuals more into projects and workspaces.

What Happens If You Have Someone That Does Not Behave Well With Inclusion

There will be individuals that unfortunately will mot play nice with people that are different than them. It is an unfortunate fact of life and no matter how progressive society tends to get, there will always be individuals that want to spend their time with like-minded people. The best way to handle and adress this is to facilitate their departure if they cannot be accomodating. It is not up to a person to like something or agree with something, but they can be civial about it. Provide them opportunities to be able to overcome some of their predujices if possible. Document everything to ensure that you have covered yourself if they decide to not change or show respect towards fellow human beings.

Why Some Organizations Should NOT be inclusive

Talking about inclusion is important. We should be accomodating of individuals to a point. Some of these are a rather valid and others are from a pragmatic stance on the situation.

There are some organizations that I firmly believe should not be inclusive nor be forced to be inclusive:

  • Religious Institutions such as mosques and synagogues
  • Non-profits that cater to a particular demographic
  • Elementary and Middle Schools

Leadership Failure #3: Failure to Cultivate Self-Management

What is Self-Management?

Self-management is the focus on getting a team to function without having leadership input. The idea is to have a team that can work out it’s problems/issues without external input. It’s to get people developed to work independently and without having individuals needing to have their hands held to get job duties done. Self-managing teams can work rather well in organization that are in mission critical fields. Self-management is the idea that employees are able to know what they need to do and can do that on their own.

Benefits

There are a lot of benefits to self-managing teams:

  • Reduces management and leadership involvement
    1. This allows a leader to focus on other, more important tasks.
    2. Leaders don't necessarily have to be involved in the more mundane elements of managing a team.
    3. Self-managing teams can also enhance an organization by getting other departments to become more independent. The more independent that these departments are, the more likely they can function and simplify processes to work more effectively.
  • Makes it easier to adjust to changes in the market.
    1. When teams are independent, they can figure out what is going on in the market and help the organization to adjust better.
    2. They are much more likely to find new ways to service these changes.
    3. Self-managing teams are also able to present new ideas as a result of seeing these changes firsthand.
  • Self-managing teams can simplify and enhance processes.
    1. When teams are independent, they can find out which processes can be simplified and then simplify them.
    2. Self-management teams can take those proceses that are ineffective and replace them with better ones.
    3. Self-managing teams are continually developing.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of other major benefits to having these teams being independent. These are just some of the benefits that you will see as a leader with developing teams that are functionally independent.

Why Leaders Fail to Cultivate Part One: Failure to Relinquish Control

One of the biggest reasons why leaders fail to cultivate these teams is that they fear giving up control. It’s an easy thing to understand when it comes to leadership. The individual(s) that have gotten into these positions may have worked hard for years to get there and don’t want to have “competition.” It is an easy thing to get into. Leaders that are here need to learn how to appropriately navigate the transition of having self-managing teams.


Failing to give up control can stifle a lot of the things that a team might need or want to function normally. When a leader stifles a team, there creates unneeded and unnecessary tension. This tension leads to situations that aggravates the stress that everyone feels. Failure to relinquish control when needed just makes it that much harder to get things done.

Why Leaders Fail to Cultivate Part Two: Insecurity

Much like the failure to relinquish control, leaders can fail to turn over control to their team as a result of insecurity. Some of these leaders can feel like they lose the potential of regaining control as a result of their teams becoming more self-managed. Others might feel like they feel like they are unable to let go of control. This can play onto the aforementioned reason, but insecure leaders are just afraid that there are going to be things that happen that they cannot repair the “damage” that a team is likely to cause if they are allowed to become self-managing.

Overcoming Barriers

There are a few ways to overcome barriers when learning to transition your team to a more independent role. Take each with a grain of salt and then look at these barriers as opportunities to learn/grow.

First, learn to let go. It will help you. Let go of control and the need to control every facet of what the team is doing. As a leader, you have to learn how to manage and do damage control. This will make it much easier for you to allow them to do what they need to do as a group of individuals.

Second, facilitate the transition towards self-management. Encourage people to take charge. Encourage the employees to work more independently and be time-managers of their own. Facilitate the team’s transition to communicate more with each other and other departments to be able to carry out their own duties.

Third, build in rules and trips that your team knows about. These should be for serious reasons and reasons that necessitate you getting involved with the process. As long as people can be civil, get stuff done, and be able to move forward, then you have no need to be overtly involved. Let them get their stuff done and move forward with it.

Leadership Failure Part 2: Failure of Communication

Introduction

Communication is one of those things that we all have to do. The effectiveness of an organization rests and hinges on being able to communicate well with others. Failure to do so can create a lot of issues that would not have otherwise existed. There are several types of communication that most leaders should be aware of and have to utilize on a regular basis.

What is communication?

Communication is essentially the focus on providing information to other individuals. The information can be given through a variety of different mediums. Communication is important and is something that is essential to every single organization. To further explain what communication is, I have broken them down into the types of communication that exist.

Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is the communication that communicates via any other medium besides utilizing speech and language. This includes things such as:

  • Facial expressions
  • Body posture
  • Fidgeting
  • Looking around

This is just a very brief list of some of the non-verbal communication that is available. These can conflict with how and what someone is saying. If your body language is saying that you are nervous or uncomfortable, saying that you are fine comes off as insincere. Failure to rectify your body language and non-verbal communication to what you say can make it hard to connect with other individuals.

Being aware of your verbal and non-verbal communication can greatly help the sincerity of your requests. You have to watch how you posture yourself in certain situations as these can greatly hinder your chances to get promoted or even be able to effectively address a follower. People want things that make sense, and if your non-verbal communication does not match, then you are going to have a hard time moving forward.

Verbal communication

Verbal communication here is the spoke word. These can include some of the following:

  • Tone of voice
  • Words used
  • The formality of the language

Things like this can demonstrate emotion or reverence to a person. They can also demonstrate whether or not the person they are talking to is going to be respected through the course of the conversation. Verbal communication is the conversational speech aspect of relating to other individuals that you might encounter on a frequent basis.

The way you would talk to a superior at work should not be the same way you talk to a friend. Likewise, how you would talk when you are angry will be different than how you would talk when you are excited or happy about something. These are things that recipients of your communication are going to be paying attention to. After all, they use this as a way to determine how to respond to you.

Written communication

Written communication, in the context of this particular post, is that which is focused on communication via a physical written word (like a book). Communication here could be an intradepartmental memo to staff about an upcoming meeting. It could be an interoffice bill that a department has to pay to the accounting department.

In a business sense, this is important because it creates verifiable paper trails (which is important). Having these paper trails is important since it can crop up in legal hearings or in situations where others might be curious about a situation that might have cropped up (like a claim of sexual harassment). It is important to keep these records.

What makes written communication hard is that the visual and auditory clues are often stripped out. You can never tell how the other person feels. You can’t tell if they are happy or sad or mad when they have written the document. It is important for you to keep written communication brief and to the point. This can make it easier to prevent misunderstandings from arising as a result of sending the document.

Email communication

Email communication is a subset of written communication via a digital medium. Much like written communication, there isn’t much behind it that you can use to understand where a person is coming from. You have to practice brevity here as well since the extra stuff is not easily communicated. Emails here can be formal to informal depending on the individuals involved with the communication medium. You have to understand who you are talking with in order to tailor your message.

IM (Instant messaging) communication

IM is a popular way to communicate. These can include Skype, Discord, MSN Messenger, and a plethora of other programs that often get used. These tend to be more on the informal side of things and can sometimes be hard to understand if someone is frustrated or happy. Usually, the course of conversation here will be a context for someone to determine the mental and emotional state of the other people within the chat.

Why is communication important?

There are a lot of reasons why communication is important:

  • It provides essential information for completing client projects
  • Communication can enhance how people are able to work together
  • It provides essential information for changing processes.
  • Communication is important for providing clarification on some of the internal workings of an organization

These are just some of the basic reasons why communication is important. Failing to communicate makes it harder to carry out what you need to do. It makes it hard to establish trust and respect with others. Leaders that cannot establish trust and respect often don’t wind up being leaders for long.

Why do leaders need to know how to communicate?

There are several things about communication that leaders need to know. Each of them helps a leader understand the why behind communication and the essential nature that these have towards ensuring an organization’s success and staying power in the market. When a leader fails to capitalize on these and utilize these within their own sphere of influence, disaster can arise as a result of poor communication. I have broken these down into several parts that are easier to digest.

Ensures smooth transitions

First, having good communication skills makes it much easier to be able to have smooth transitions with others. Sometimes people leave or retire. Sometimes people get fired. Other times you are doing an onboarding process for new hires or transitioning someone from another department into yours or out of your department into another. Changes like this are frequent and are a fact of life with any organization.

Communicating makes it much easier and better to ease the stresses of the transitions that occur within these changes. It is important and essential that people continue to communicate as these can impact projects or tasks that are being left behind for those individuals staying within that department or organization. The better that communication is, the easier it will be for individuals to adjust to the changes going on.

Ensures projects can be carried out well

In many organizations, there are a lot of projects that are going on. These projects require that an organization has good communication in place. If an organization cannot communicate across departments, then this can create issues with trying to get a few of the essential things done that a business might need to get done (think a multipart project that needs the input of 2-10 different departments). Heck, even within a department, communication is essential for them to work on projects that they might have been tasked with.

Facilitates interdepartmental strength

Strong communication enhances relationships between departments. The larger the organization, the more essential it is for the people to communicate effectively with each other. The better that the departments can communicate, the more likely they are able to enhance a variety of tasks and make it easier for the organization to perform. When departments are able to communicate effectively, it becomes easier to improve processes and make it easier to see where the fluff is and separate it from the chaff. Simplifying processes is a major thing that leaders have to undertake in order to see the results that they want.

What happens when leadership fails to communicate?

There are a lot of things that can happen as a result of a leader failing to communicate. Let’s examine some of these:

  • Failing to get tasks done
  • Getting removed as a leader
  • Creating unnecessary tensions with the organization overall
  • Misunderstandings occur
  • Creates a culture of distrust and resentment

As you can see, none of these are any good. You want to seek to reduce these as much as possible (it is not entirely possible to remove 100% of these issues but you can minimize them).

How to improve communication

The very first thing to improve communication is to take a deep breath and chill. Seriously, you cannot force and stress communication as that creates a sense of insincerity in that communication. When you can relax and unwind, you are more likely to implement more effective strategies for communication. If you are stressed out and trying to rush things, then you are likely to create additional problems, which is not the result that you want to have.

The team that you inherit will adapt to your communication style. You have to understand your own communication style and the shortcomings that it might have. You have to work to overcome those since your team will align themselves to those shortcomings that you might have. You need communication to be effective-so learn your own style and don’t rush any sort of changes.

The next thing is to communicate that you value good communication to your team. When they understand that you desire them to communicate, then they are at least able to start working on being able to implement ways to increase ways that they can communicate. For example, they might find an IM program that would be great for the team to use. They might find a way to communicate things more effectively with each other.

Part of this process is to encourage your staff and followers to get information from each other. Make it where they have to learn to communicate with each other before getting you involved. This is important for helping people to move into getting more done. This can also make it better for your staff to also not become tattletales on other staff when they can resolve issues on their own.

Third, providing appropriate training. You can do an anonymous survey to figure out where the communication black holes exist. You will have a much better understanding of the direction that you have to go and what training classes you can provide to your staff. Encourage and facilitate these individuals to participate in these classes since they are likely to receive the benefits from the training. Training will not always fix the problems but can help to create appropriate strategies for individuals that feel like they are struggling with being able to communicate.

Work on fixing those other black holes. If they are technology-related, find appropriate tools that you can use. If it the black holes pertain to a staff member, document it so you can address it in the appropriate way. Things like this will help your department to get more connected with each other. By fixing these problem areas, you are hopefully making it easier to communicate and make it easier for your staff to carry out their job duties. The more you fix, the better. Keep in mind, it wouldn’t always be feasible to fix some of these issues that develop.

What if I inherit a department or organization that does not have good communication channels in place?

Sometimes a leader inherits a department that does not have good communication channels in place. Sometimes they have to fix and implement changes to improve these channels. Things like this happen more often than they should and need to be fixed accordingly. Changing and growing a department like this takes a long time. People get ingrained in the ways that they do things.

You have to start by encouraging and developing better communication skills among your staff. Encourage them to talk and get to know each other accordingly. Make it an expectation that you want them communicating and that you will be documenting which individuals are not. You don’t want to force it but it is important that you make it clear that you want your staff to talk to each other.

Make everything actionable. The more actionable that it becomes, the more you can hold your staff accountable. Your staff needs to be held accountable in order to stay committed to the task of changing. In addition, when something is actionable, it is conducive to be done that way.

Facilitate the change yourself. You cannot force change to happen or occur. Forcing things to happen only contributes to bitterness and resentment with your staff. But you can facilitate the change of communication yourself. You can gently encourage others to be able to take steps towards improving their communication as well. It is all about positively rewarding your staff and also being a great support for them as they start to open up.

Remove the chaff when needed. There are people on staff that simply will not communicate at all. In leadership, this can be called a silo. No one works or should work in a silo. You have to work on removing those silos and barriers to communication. If you have made a reasonable effort in helping a person to open up to communication, then you need to work towards removing those individuals from staff. It’s not malicious when you have accomodated an employee or a staff member and they have not worked towards communicating more.

Conclusion

Communication is important for anyone and everyone. Leaders are the ones that have to facilitate further communication between their staff. When a leader cannot communicate or facilitate communication, everyone suffers. And they suffer in the absolute worst way imaginable.

What Causes Leaders to Fail Part 1

Introduction

Failure is something that most leaders are going to face in their careers. There are right and wrong ways to address these issues. Leaders need to be able to address their own shortcomings in order to be able to successfully change their failure into success.

Defining Failure in General

Failure, in it’s most basic sense, is attempting to do something with an unsuccessful result. It could be failing to start a business. It could be a Forex trade that results in a loss. It could be asking someone out and then getting rejected as a result. Failure is perceived to be negative against the individual undertaking the task. Many individuals seem to seek to reduce the number of failures that they have on their record. We all hate having failures and being reduced to a series of bad events. Failures can plague even the most optimistic of individuals. Have enough of them and a person can wind up going down a dark path. For some of these people, they never return from that path.

Defining Failure in Business Sense

Failing in a business sense is similar to the general idea of failure. It could be a product launch failure. It could be a failure to undertake a successful merger with another business or organization. Businesses can experience failures in marketing, hiring an employee, or any number of other tasks that pertain to keeping the business growing or at least stable for the near term. To explain this further, some individuals can wind up seeing their businesses close after running that company for a period of time. Entrepreneurs sometimes engage in a churn and burn type scenario where they have to churn through a series of businesses until they find a successful combination of marketing and products that work for the market.

Defining Failure in a Departmental Sense

Departments can experience failures as well. It could be focused upon reducing churn rate or a project that was handed to them. Departments want to reduce the number of failures that they have because that would help encourage and facilitate the business’ growth. A single department failure can tarnish the organization’s reputation, thus making it harder for the organization to stay afloat if it cannot retain a customer base. Departmental failures could also be a failure to address a problem that another department has that they have been tasked to solve. Things like this can create problems rather than solve them.

What Cause Leaders To Fail?

There are a lot of different causes that lead to leadership failure. Some of them include:

  • Failure to communicate
    • Communication failures could be a failure to provide a crucial bit of information on a project.
      • Things like this can make it harder to complete projects on time.
  • Failure to address a problem that arises with their staff
    • Not address staff issues just invalidate your staff.
    • Creates unhealthy relationships within your department or organization.
    • Individuals will wind up quitting as a result.
  • Failure to address budget issues
    • Not preparing in advance can make it harder to grow or carry out tasks.
  • Failure to address training issues
    • Staff training is important.
    • Not addressing training issues allows incompetencies to continue.
  • Failure to create a plan and gather input on the plan
    • We all know the expression.
    • Planning is essential and it can greatly help you to move forward.
    • Gaining inputs can make it easier to be able to see where flaws are.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can contribute to a leader failing and failing their staff. It is easy to see how the staff below can latch onto this and then repeat the same behaviors. As a result, there are further issues in the future that arise since individuals within that department cannot take responsibility for their actions and want to continually pass the buck.

Failure is Inevitable

For leaders to be able to succeed, they have to learn that failure is a part of life. It is better to fail than not to fail. Failure should be a learning experience and a chance to help progress forward. The sooner that leaders can understand that avoiding failure is just like avoiding old age will help them to address the issues head-on. It is important that you learn that you can use failure to your advantage (especially if you are a leader).

How To Overcome Failure

There are a few ways to overcome failure:

  • See it as a learning opportunity
    • You are not learning if you are not failing. You simply learn better ways to do things in the future.
  • Document the steps are taken that lead to the failure and find ways to work with the steps
    • Documenting what happened can help you better processes in the future.
    • Better processes in the future make it easier to carry out certain tasks in the future.
  • Reframe your mind
    • If you reframe your mindset, you can kill those inner demons.
    • Those inner demons can easily rob your peace and then cause you to make bad decisions in the future.
  • Take ownership
    • Taking ownership helps your staff to take ownership.
    • When your staff takes ownership, they can use that information to invest in better ways of doing things.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a lot of ways to overcome a failure. There are a lot of benefits to being able to use these opportunities to your advantage and grow your followership.

Should You Study in an Organizational Leadership Program?

Introduction

Some individuals look to see if an organizational leadership degree is a worthwhile endeavor. Some of them are looking to be able to lead teams better or others look to see if they can find ways to better enhance their current organizations without moving into management. Organizational leadership programs are programs that can be a great benefit for many individuals seeking to move forward and get ahead in life.

What are Organizational Leadership Programs?

The organizational leadership program is one that helps to train the next generation of leaders. These programs often have several different classes that cover various aspects of leadership such as leadership communication and marketing. They provide a lot of benefits for those looking to move up in the world. Programs such as these often train individuals to be able to take over teams even if they never become a manager type. Being able to learn a project is an essential skill that some individuals fail to learn. It can be important to know how to get some of the individuals on those teams to do what they need to do.

Studying leadership in school can help you to master some of those important skills that you will need to have to be able to lead your own teams. You will have the skills developed and a network that you can tap into as you are assuming control over teams. Studying leadership also provides you the ability to take your career in a variety of different ways. It is important to be able to have that ability to adjust wherever your future might go.

Pros of an Organizational Leadership program

Here are some of the pros of studying Organizational Leadership:

  • Learn essential skills.
    • Some programs even teach you things such as marketing.
    • You learn how to make successful transitions at work for others.
  • Be able to lead teams without becoming a manager
    • You will have a set of skills that you can use and you are not necessarily on the management path.
    • You will be able to take on and lead a project more effectively for your job.
  • Be able to learn more about processes
    • As an employee, you become more aware of the various behind the scene elements that go on with management.
    • You can look for ways to improve the current workflows that you have at your job.

Cons of an Organizational Leadership program

Here are some of the cons of studying Organizational Leadership:

  • Employers are going to want to promote you.
  • You are going to be expected to take on additional responsibilities.
  • If you are a master’s degree graduate, you will be expected to use that information.

Weighing Out The Decisions

Before you start, you have to look at whether you will directly benefit from the program. Not everyone will have the benefits and not everyone will experience the cons of the program. It is essential that you learn how to determine whether or not your situation will benefit from the degree and the knowledge that you gain.

Like any major decision, you have to write out a pro and con list to see if it is going to work for you. It is important to have those lists to look over. Additionally, consult people within your organization and also outside of your organization to see if you are going to make a viable and important decision.

Conclusion

To summarize, an organizational leadership degree can be a valuable degree if you make it be. It can really enhance your ability to take on additional responsibilities and find new ways to simplify processes. However, you are going to have to think through that decision before you sign your life away for the degree.

Leader’s SkillSet 1: Excel Financial Management, Part 1

Why Manage Finances?

This is a realm that some leaders shudder. Budgeting and managing finances can be a rather hard thing to do. It’s tedious and requires reconciliation that can drive most individuals made. Unless you have an interest or a knack in accounting, budgeting will cause you a few issues as you run your department or organization.

We have to budget. We have to know where those dollars (or money) is going so that we can be able to accommodate the needs that we have. We have to plan how we are going to use those funds. Planning and budgeting will help us to be able to figure out new ways to increase the profitability of the system that we are in.

Budgeting is also rather important for those individuals that are in pseudo-leadership positions. They need to be able to address issues and make presentations on a system change. Knowing how this can impact the bottom line will make it easier to sell the change.

Financial management is also one of the most important skills that we can undertake and learn. When we learn how to manage finances, we become more responsible. When those above us see that we can handle responsibility, we can often undertake further responsibilities and gain new skills that we can take elsewhere. We can enhance our integrity as we learn how to appropriately budget.

Why Excel?

Excel is a spreadsheet program if you are not currently aware of the program. There are a lot of benefits to the program. However, for this particular post, Excel is great for managing finances. Here is a list of reasons why you should use Excel for managing your department finances:

  • It creates a record of what you are doing.
    • As a leader, you have to CYOB (cover your own butt). When you have a record of the stuff that you have done and a record of where the money went, then you have a record in the event HR or other individuals get suspicious of what is going on.
    • You have a record to reflect upon a year down the road. Sometimes it is rather nice to be able to refer back to something that happened a year ago. Being able to refer back to something makes it easier to see where you can improve in the year going forward.
  • Excel can chart of the transactions.
    • Having a chart of transactions allows you to take a stance on the things that are perhaps the largest expenditures. You have a glance to see where the bulk of your money is going and can rectify your expenditures.
    • You can quickly compare different things. You could have the information to be able to justify why you spent money on X rather than Y. Leaders above you will audit that portion of the organization’s finances.
  • Excel is great for comparisons.
    • You can compare the various transactions. You have an idea about what you might need to reduce in the future. You have a ready-made list of what those expenses are.
    • You can compare years. You can compare the current transactions to the year prior to see if there is any improvement.

How to Use Excel to Manage Department Finances

There are several ways to be able to manage departmental finances. It is important to note that there are several approaches and ways to do this. While we are here, we are going to cover a few of the different ways to manage finances.

1. Just keep a log.

Some leaders are just interested in keeping a log. And they do that. They record where they spent money and when and at what store. For what they do, it’s fine to do it that way.

2. Keep a log of the various transactions.

Some leaders like to have their transaction log broken down into categories. By doing so, leaders in this category are much more likely to have a more detailed record of what they are doing. They have a lot more of an idea exactly which of their department categories tends to consume most of their department’s budget.

3. Incomes v Expenses

Yet other leaders go a step further. They like to exactly know how much money they are bringing in to compare to how much money they are expending. This makes it much easier to cut out the fluff and focus on what is likely to bring in the best revenue.

How Leaders Can Dollarize

What is Dollarization?

Dollarization is the focus on demonstrating value. More importantly it is demonstrating a dollar value to a task, process, or other business related task. By providing value, a leader could in theory make it easier to justify a certain decision when it comes down to the bottom line.

Dollarization predominantly started with a sales force. How they could provide a value to their customers and clients. This is to encourage these individuals to purchase whatever the salesman is trying to offer to them. The concept of Dollarization is not a new one, though it’s name might be a more recent invention within the business leadership world.

How Leaders Can Dollarize

Leaders can use dollarization within their departments or organization. Leaders can utilize the benefits here to justify certain actions that they might have to undertake with implementing something different. Dollarization allows them to place everything as either a savings of money or time or an increase in budget or profits. This is a very essential element that many leaders have to undertake.

Dollarization can make it easier to see if something is going to be readily beneficial. If you can make a system easier, then it will more likely make it easier to benefit your staff. It makes them better and more productive. That alone can make a change worthwhile.

The task of justifying whether or not something is worthwhile can also be in the cost benefit analysis that many leaders and managers undertake. Leaders can use this as a way to help justify a change that a follower wants to make within their own department or organization.

You can also use it to see if a piece of technology would provide the same benefits as implementing a workplace flow. Technology is often used as a way to directly benefit an organization achieve better goals. That justification has to be made on a regular basis.

Dangers of OverDollarization

There is a trap of overdollarization. Leaders can constantly seek to overjustify what they are doing in terms of time and monetary value. When this occurs, leaders often lose sight of what they are really there to do. Leaders often fall into these routines that take them away from their real purpose of being a leader. Leaders should be focused on how well they can help and aid their staff in growing. Leaders that focus on the dollar value and how to provide that very value wind up losing sight of how they can help and aid development in other ways.

Why Leaders Need Engagement of Followers

Note: Feedspot is currently compiling a list of the top 300 leadership blogs on the web. Check the site out here! This blog is listed at #225 last time I checked!

What is Engagement?

Employee engagement is something that most entrepreneurs are looking to incorporate with their organization. Entrepreneurs and managers tend to spend a lot of time trying to engage their followers. They want their staff to be fully vested with their work and their organization. Otherwise, they wind up feeling like there is no progression forward.

According to Kevin Kruse, employee engagement is when the employees actually care for the organization and the work that they are doing (Kruse 2012). Employee engagement shouldn’t merely be happy. That is not what it is about. It is about curating employees that are in alignment with the employee vision and ones that are in align with where the organization is wanting to go.

Why You Should Be Engaging Your Followers or Employees

Engaging your employees has a lot of practical benefits for your organization:

  • Engaged employees are more likely to perform better.
    • They are more vested in the work that they do.
    • They are most interested in performing well.
    • Engaged employees are more likely to also find better ways to work and achieve.
  • They are less likely to quit.
    • When employees are engaged, they are less likely to search for work elsewhere.
    • Engagement makes employees much more likely to look forward to coming to work.
  • Engaged employees can help culture and enhance the workplace
    • When employees are engaged, they are more likely to find ways to solve problems.
    • Engaged employees are likely to help others to remain or get more engaged.
    • This, in turn, keeps every cog turning.
  • They are also likely to find new ways of doing something
    • When employees find new systems and processes, the organization and the employee benefits.
    • New systems can easily help reduce costs or time while increasing revenue.
    • New systems might help reduce the chance of being audited.
  • Engagement can help reduce the overall stress of an organization
    • Engaged workers are much likely to have less stress when they come into work.
    • Organizations are less likely to feel the stresses of turn over.
    • Organizations are less likely to have to retrain staff.

As you can see, these are rather useful benefits for those leaders looking to have that engagement element in their organization.

References

Kevin Kruse. (2012 June 22) What is Employee Engagement? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2012/06/22/employee-engagement-what-and-why/#194170607f37

Why Leaders Should Be Blogging

Introduction

Leaders often overlook blogging as a way to engage the world around them. They get obsessed with the minutiae of details that exist and often don’t tend to anything else. A blog is a great way for them to escape and be able to get rejuvenated. Blogs are also ideal for leaders to reach out and build a market.

What is a blog?

A blog is a mere web journal that many individuals have set up. These can be informal, such as a journal and a daily log of things that a person is doing. Others are topical. They discuss something such as politics, finances, and more that readers can use to draw upon for educational purposes. Blogs come in many different forms and serve many different purposes. You have to be aware of what your purpose for setting up a blog is. It is important to know the end result before you set it up and fork over the money to get it up and running.  Before you start, map everything out accordingly and then set up a plan for yourself to get it up and running.

Why a leader should blog

There are a lot of reasons why a person or leader should be blogging. Here are a few ideas:

  • It demonstrates an understanding of a subject matter
    • Leaders need to establish credibility.
    • Demonstrates what you know and have learned.
    • Provides a way for you to supplement your resume.
  • Blogs can be a way to be a note-taking medium
    •  A blog can be a way for you to share things that work or were thought-to provoke
    • It can be a way to keep track of the tools that you found interesting and useful
    • A blog is an essential tool for also having a way to refer back to something that might have worked better
  • Develop a market
    • A blog is a way to get people interested in something different
    • A blog is a way to also get backers for something else that they might not have had an interest in before.
  • It can be a marketing medium
    • Blogging is great for search engines
    • It can be sharable to social media
    • A blog is a way to engage customers.
  • It can boost your career
    • A blog is a way for a potential employer to see your skills and management style.
    • This is a medium where you can also be able to negotiate a higher rate of pay or additional benefits.
    • Blogs are a way to demonstrate additional things that you have gained from being in a leadership program
  • It can be a way to interact with others in your field
    • Blogs are a networking tool. You never know when and where you might meet someone from your field as a result of your blog.
    • It can be a great conversation piece for others to get to know you.
  • It can be a side hustle
    • There are bloggers that earn some serious money from being a blogger.
    • Some of them even earn a full-time income.
    • If you are looking to grow your bottom line, a blog can be a great way to bring in some extra money.

As you see, this is just a shortlist of what you can do as a blogger. Leaders oftentimes look at things like this with disdain because they often times either confuse it or lack the perception to see how it can be valuable for them.

Where to start

Now that your interest is peaked, how do you get started? What should you do to start blogging and make it worth your while? There are a lot of other questions that we could discuss. Let’s start with a few things first.

Start with the right platform

The right platform makes a world of difference. Some platforms, like Drupal and Joomla, are not necessarily right for blogging. You can use them for blogging, but they are going to require a lot more set up in order to achieve that end goal. There are other platforms that are a little bit more conducive towards being a good platform.

A good platform will be easy to maintain. They will be easy to rank in search engines. They are geared towards good permalinks (i.e. URLs). A good platform should already be set up to blog right out of the box without needing to incorporate additional extensions to be able to even run a basic blog.

Start with the right mindset

Many bloggers fail the first few times at starting and setting up a successful blog. They often do not have the right mindset when they get started and they wind up getting defeated. They give up when they do not see the results in a timeframe that they want. The reality of it is that bloggers need to have the right mindset. They need to have the right starting framework.

The same goes for you as a blogger. You have to have the right mindset when you start writing on a blog. You cannot expect instant results even if you are marketing on the front end. It can take several months for you to be able to get the return that you are looking for. It takes time for search engines to acknowledge that your blog exists and for them to index.

Start with the right goals in mind

In addition, start with the right goals. Don’t expect to get rich even if you have been blogging for years. Realistically, you might only receive about $1000-$4000 (USD) a month at the most. The bloggers that earn over $50,000+ have been in business for years and have been able to establish themselves as leaders in their fields. You must invest the same if you want the same results. However, you can make it worth your while from a few hours as well. The key is to be 100% realistic with the results that you are expecting to get in return.

Blog types

There are two main types of blogs: database and static. A database one is like WordPress where it connects to a database backend and allows you to access it from anywhere. A static blog is different-it is based on text files and then there is an RSS feed built from that. There are a few other types of blogs, but these two are the main types that you will find.

Why WordPress?

One of the more popular database-driven blogs is known as WordPress. WordPress is a great platform since it is popular and likely to be easily extensible with most everything that you are looking to have on that platform. You can find tutorials for it. You can find a plugin to do just about anything and everything that you are looking for. That makes it attractive.

Wait….there’s more. WordPress is user-friendly enough that even the most untech savvy individual can set it up. That makes it rather nice for everyone. You don’t even have to hire someone to set it up for you. You can just spend an afternoon or two having it established and ready to go for the world to see and read.

WordPress Plugins

On WordPress, extensions are known as plugins. These extend the functionality of the platform to do something different and new. It is important to be aware of the variety that you can find:

  • Shops
    • WooCommerce
    • Wp eShop by Tips N Tricks
  • SEO
    • Yoast SEO
  • Security
    • Bulletproof security
  • Sharing
    • Pin to Pinterest
    • Social Plug
  • Marketing
    • Popup Builder

You can find some of them are even premium plugins with entire ecosystems that really make something entirely new. This is very good if you are a leader looking to have a custom-built site for yourself.

Why Octopress?

Now time for setting up a static version. One of the static site generators (or blogs) that I recommend is Octopress. It is a basic Ruby Language blog that is rather extensible. A blog using this is good if you just want to present information without having to set up a host and a domain. It is good if you are also just looking to have a way to advertise yourself and have little interest in being self-employed. A blog like this can be set up in under an hour if you are looking to quickly get involved with the medium.

Getting Started with Octopress

The best way to get started with Octopress is to use Ruby. There are installers for Windows and other platforms tend to have Ruby installed. You could even use RVM to choose the Ruby version that you want to have on your system. Make sure that you also have Git installed (Git is a versioning system that is rather popular with programmers). This can make it easier to push your blog to a free hosting platform such as Github Pages. That will keep you from sinking too far in debt to get it going.

Tips For Getting Started on Writing

Writing on a blog is rather important. It is kinda the focus on the platform. Many new bloggers fail to understand how to appropriately write for their platform. Leaders are no different when comes to their blogs.

Here are a few things that you can take away from writing well:

  • Make your post scannable
    • Too much text at once is a turn-off.
    • Readers are also lazy and don’t want to read any more than they have to.
  • Mix post lengths
    • Longer posts do well with search engine ranking
    • Shorter posts are good for readers.
    • A variety of posts can cater to all different types of markets and people.
  • Use bullet points
    • Goes back to scannable posts.
    • Provides breaks and makes the information easily accessible.
  • Use headers
    • Again, breaks up information.
  • Use stories if it fits with what you are talking about
    • Stories can make information more engaging and relatable.
    • Readers love it and are more likely to read the post.

Marketing Tips

Invariably, if you are a blogger, you are going to have to learn how to market your blog. It makes no sense to start a blog and then not get it out there for the world not to see it. Depending on your direction with the blog, you can make it as light or as invested as you want.

If you are looking for a lighter approach, I would stick to a few blog comments here or there. Make sure that they are on relevant blogs. It is easy to google for some of these blogs and maybe devote 1-10 hours a week commenting on some of these blogs.

However, if you are more interested in growing the blog into something larger, then you need to look at a marketing plan and using tools like SEO Powersuite. These can help you to be able to devote more of your time getting your blog off of the ground and as a medium for your consumers to become more engaged with your brand.

Conclusion

Leaders can benefit a lot from running a blog. They are able to share and interact with the world. A student of a leadership program can also benefit from being able to engage potential employers. It makes it much easier to also supplement anything that you are doing.

Why Leaders Need Technical Skills as Well as People Skills

Introduction

Leaders are individuals that need to have certain skill sets in order to succeed. They have to be able to balance both technical and people skill sets (two very different sides of the brain). Without these skills, it is rather easy for a leader to be overlooked or ineffective at best with their ability to drive change forward.

Leaders have to balance each side to be able to maximize the results that their team is able to achieve. Leadership is about optimizing every bit of the department that they have. To optimize, you have to know how to work with other people and use technology as a way to help them to work forward.

What are people skills?

People skills can rather loosely be defined as how well you are able to relate and interact with other individuals. It includes knowing when to tell certain jokes to acknowledging/addressing certain issues. There are a plethora of other skills that accompany this skill set. These skills determine how well you are able to relate to others and integrate with them on a regular basis. People skills determine how well that you are able to influence others (which is important if you are looking to lead).

There are any number of posts and videos that show and explain why a failure of having people skills will result in the failure of someone to be happy. Many individuals that are socially awkward find themselves incapable of moving up or being able to start their own families. Leaders in of themselves have to have these skills in place in order to succeed on their mission.

What are technical skills?

Technical skills are on the opposite end of the spectrum than people skills. These are the harder, more easily taught skills that can be used to perform any number of day to day tasks. These are skills such as programming, using Microsoft Office, Quickbooks and others. They are the skills that are acquired from years of studying and learning. Many leaders seem to overemphasize these skills on their development since they are much easier to acquire and use SMART goals than anything else.

These skills are important in part due to the fact they are needed. They are warranted in a job. They are what a business needs to carry out their functions accordingly. Leaders MUST have these in order to succeed at carrying out their day to day. Many of these skills are important to effectively work and move forward the business vision.

Why leaders fail at people skills

Some of the biggest reasons why leaders fail at using people skills:

  • They never learned them growing up
    • Parents could have tried to teach them but wound up giving up because the child did not want to learn.
    • Child could have just never had a social life to learn the skills to adapt.
  • Role models exhibited poor social skills or no social skills.
    • Parents or guardians often might have been too busy to invest in developing their child.
    • The same individuals could have also been uninterested or incapable of relating to their kids.
  • They developed or have a mental illness.
    • Depression, Autism and other illnesses can negatively impact and effect how well a person is able to relate to others.
    • Anger management or stress management issues are also a factor.
  • Traumatic experiences that have lead them to not interact with others.
    • Sometimes a leader could have been abused as a child that lead to other factors causing them to be antisocial.
    • A death of a loved one could have contributed to a traumatic experience, especially if they were a close relative or friend.
  • Bad past experiences with being social (such as being bullied)
    • Traumatic experiences like this make it harder for some individuals to want to come out of their shell.

These are just a brief list of some of the reasons why a leader might being failing at being sociable or personable with others. Leaders sometimes get into a habit of not using social skills either since the nature of their jobs often cause them to be busier than normal. As a result, you cannot just look at some of these reasons as the sole reason for why a leader might be failing at using social skills.

Why leaders fail at using technical skills

Much like personal skills, leaders can fail at using technical skills. These can be attributed to some of the following:

  • Uncomfortable use of a new piece of technology
    • Some technology can be rather difficult to get used to.
  • Age or Familial Background
    • Some individuals by sheer fact of their age or their upbringing may make it hard for them to adjust to using technology.
  • No previous experience with technology whether in former roles or personal life
    • This goes with the previous section, but there are some individuals that might not have had a chance to develop the skills in former jobs or roles.
  • Cultural background
    • Some cultures tend to not be as interested in technology or be able to afford a new computer (or other device).

These could be contributing factors with why individuals might struggle with using or developing technological skills. Keep in mind that there are other reasons why a person might be struggling to pick up these skills.

Why should leaders have both?

Many organizational leadership programs are more focused on the people element. Their focus is important since that you cannot be a leader without being able to influence others. People skills will help leaders to integrate within an organization and be able to create cohesion with their teams. Knowing how to manage others is important because that is what most leaders are going into the program are looking to develop.

People skills are ones that we need to have with anyone, not just leaders. Leaders need it more because they have to balance the variety of individuals on their team. They have to integrate individuals on their team. Leaders need people skills to balance the disagreements that arise as a result.

For technical skills, they need to know how to utilize technology in order to drive their organization forward. Technology makes it easier to account for things and also be able to automate various tasks that might be within their particular organization or department (think autoresponders). Tools like this can make a system or a process repeatable (and even more so).

Leaders must be able to utilize this information to their advantage. Leaders are all about being able to help their followers be able to carry out their tasks as best as possible. Knowing these skills can make it easier for a leader to be able to bridge the game between the more in depth and complicated to the people that they have on their staff.

Thoughts on developing technical skills

One of the best ways to develop technical skills is to enroll in after school programs or community enrichment programs offered by a community college. Community colleges offer courses such as Office 365 or Quickbooks. Courses like this are great since they are not entirely a semester long and can be easily manageable with a family and a job.

Another way that you could develop some of these skills is through an external course program like Udemy. This can make it rather easy for anyone that has an extremely busy schedule or on a budget. Udemy is a way that you can use video courses that can be watched at any time and anywhere. Many of them include additional resources like PDFs that you could print off.

Lastly, look at books that you can use. Many individuals like having the reference at hand. They are, for lack of a good way of saying this, unable or unwilling to really be able to learn these skills elsewhere. Books are a good way to help them learn some of these skills. They are great for additional reference in the future.

Thoughts on developing people skills

People skills are a little harder to fully develop and grow in an adult. Much of this should have been learned growing up and should have been taught to children. Leaders that struggle with this though are not beyond hope at all. They can still learn and develop rather great people skills.

The trick here is to acknowledge that you need to build them and that you need to invest. Things like Meetup are great for getting someone who is not normally social out there with other like-minded individuals. Many people could use to have groups like this as a way to help themselves get out. Getting out there will be the best way to start learning what is or is not appropriate (as well as learning how to read non-verbal cues).

If you happen to have an issue like Autism or Aspergers (Aspergers are essentially high functioning Autism), there is hope for you as well. The best thing to do is to find a therapist or a psychologist that has a focus on this niche. They can help you to be able to develop and craft a plan to learn how to interact with others.

There are ways to develop social skills. The biggest thing that you need to do as a leader is to focus on getting yourself out there. Accept invitations to hang out with others. Accept invitations to go to a dinner party. Situations like this can help you to be able to start learning how to interact with others and develop some of these skills as an adult.

Create a development plan

For leaders, you need to develop a plan for yourself. If you don’t, you are likely to NOT succeed. You are likely to NOT make any progress anywhere. That much is sure and that much is important. Take the investment in yourself first and move forward with that plan.

You have to set goals as you go. Goals that are easily measurable and achievable (but still make you work for them). Outline a date that you want to achieve a particular goal. Perhaps you want to learn 500 Spanish words to interact with Spanish speakers in one month. Perhaps you want to be an Excel master in 3 months. Define things like this on the front end and then break them down accordingly.

A plan like this is much more likely to be successful the more that you have thought it out and planned it out. It is much more likely to incorporate some of the issues that you might have and be able to address them accordingly.

Conclusion

If you are looking to become a leader, then there is a need for you to develop yourself first. You need to make sure that your skills and interpersonal skills are sharp in order to be able to lead accordingly. You must be able to interact and manage a variety of individuals that are difficult. If you struggle with this, then it is rather hard for you to succeed.

Lacking these skills will also make it hard for you to be able to succeed in other areas of life as well. Developing these skills are also going to affect your ability to integrate with any organizational structure.