Top 10 characteristics in a great boss?

I have been lucky enough to have some great managers in the last 21 years and I thought that I would capture what made them great bosses in a top 10, because by understanding what makes a great leader for me will ultimately help me be a better leader.

1. Took the time to get to know me and my motivations and aspirations and linked these to work I was asked to do

2. Treated people in the orgainisation as peers; everybodies job was important and contributed to the success as a whole from cleaners to CEO’s

3. Set down clear expectation around my role and targets and then gave me the autonomy and trust to go and do it, however, they were there if I needed support

4. Introduced me to their network. They always looked to work across departments in a collaborative way rather than view them as competition.

5. Encouraged discussion, feedback and new ideas

6. Forgive and forget – if I made a geniune mistake I received support to fix it and it was never cast up again.

7. They had my back and had little toleration for disfunctional behaviour against a member of their team

8. Encouraged me to develop myself

9. Helped me see the positive in situations and the value of positive thought in life

10. Let me know the big picture and what was my part in it

How do you rate yourself against this top 10?

What would you add to this list?

What would you take out?

I would love to hear your comments, hope you have a great day

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Rework your development

I love reading books that inspire me and my most recent is rework. This book is aimed at businesses, however I wanted to write about how some of the controversial ideas could be adapted for your leadership development

The book has essentially 7 chapters (I am only going to look at a few in this post)

  1. Ignore the real world
  2. Planning is guessing
  3. Start making something
  4. Embrace constraints
  5. Make tiny decisions
  6. Underdo your competition
  7. Build an audience

Ignore the real world

Many of us unfortunately work in enviroments where the atmosphere is less than positive and new ideas are greeted with ‘that wont work in the real world’, however, if you look at the truly innovative ideas and products of the last 20 years they probably met with the same response.

Routine will severley damage you as a creative, thought leader. If you make the same noises at work as everyone else then be prepared to be seen as part of the group not a leader and individual

Planning is guessing

Now the book controversially advises against long term business plan and as a executive coach you may be surprised that I kind of agree when it comes to development. I have met people that have 5 year plans and that works out for them but it isn’t for everyone.

To test the theory ask yourself, am I where I wanted to be after the last 5 years? Has the business stuck to its long term plan?

Have a Vision of where you want to be eventually, however concentrate on what needs to be done now take action to meet to immediate needs, stay flexible so that you are open to unexpected opportunities.

We all change as people as we get older we should acknowledge this and change our plan as appropriate.

Start making something

Leaders hate problems and love solutions… so if your call to arms to change something in the workplace falls on deaf ears it is because you aren’t presenting solutions.

Start making the solution, this could be a short presentation, run a pilot using your ideas, putting an unofficial mentoring programme in place etc.

Then when you have the facts and can show success then people will be more open to your ideas. I am always amazed when there is a success then people start talking about how they were involved, when they weren’t that interested in the first place.

Embrace Constraints

Learning& development budgets are currently been slashed in spite of recent research showing that companies that spend on development have better productivity, but rather than dwell on this it is time to be more creative.

Development that costs nothing but a little time

  • Coaching, mentoring and shadowing – eitheir ask for it or put yourself forward to help other people
  • Challenge people to get involved in projects outwith their job role
  • Introduce ‘stretch’ concept into 1:1’s, talk about the added value you bring or challenge people to bring added value to their role
  • Access to the internet – you be amazed how much free stuff is on here e.g. follow a leadership blog! 😉
  • Give groups of employees time to work on anything apart from their existing role to come up with ideas that will increase efficiency, productivity,reduce costs,increase employee engagement etc (it worked at google)

Make Tiny Decisions

Sometimes wholesale change in your life can be overwhelming and it allows our inner critic to step in an scupper our motivation. Also if things go wrong on what you see as a massive goal it can become a source of embarassment, the critics in our reality have won.

So, make small changes in your life and stick to them and once it has become the norm add another before long you will have made a massive change.

Another tip is not to talk to much about the changes as it may lessen the energy of the idea, just keep doing it and you will start to hear people commenting on your positive change.

You can find more on rework here (I am in no way related to the authors or publishers, I just liked the book)

http://changethis.com/manifesto/68.01.37Signals/pdf/68.01.37Signals.pdf

http://www.amazon.co.uk/ReWork-Change-Way-Work-Forever/dp/0091929784

Please let me know what you think for or against this book

If your are thinking about buying a new book, here is a link to someone who read 200 and his thoughts.

http://inoveryourhead.net/lessons-i-learned-reading-over-200-books/

Raising your profile with Social Media

In these tough economic times we need to use every advantage we can get to raise  our profiles whether we are a business or employed, however when networking the traditional way I have noticed that many people are not using social media to raise their brand awareness…professional or business

When I meet leaders I always have a look at their Linkedin profile, website and if they have a blog because 1. I am genuiely interested in people and what they do 2. If / when I meet them again I can have a more informed chat with them 3. Steve Jobs always reccommended looking outside your own industry for inspiration 4. I am nosey!

Some trends have struck me

  • Linkedin – No photo or sometimes worse a horrendous one (I am a photographer as well, so I always unintentionally critique photos),or the profile hasn’t been updated in ages with what they are doing, skills, description, no recommendation’s etc. A Linkedin profile is like a CV – one that the world can see!
  • Websites – They take too long to load (you have between 3 – 5 secs before someone will give up on your website). Bland, uninteresting or hard to navigate. If you had trouble getting into a store and couldn’t find anything, would you go back? Lack of pictures, I am a visual learner so pictures are a must for me
  • No Blog – If your website is your virtual market place, then your blog is the voice of your business. People buy from People… always. Your blog gives you a virtual personality.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc People tell me I don’t have time for all these, well if you set up your blog correctly it will update some of these automatically. Imagine for a moment that most people on Facebook have between 20 – 500 ‘friends’ if they like your facebook post then think how many people that could reach. It costs nothing, but a little time

If you are currently employed you maybe thinking, I don’t have a business, this doesn’t affect me, well something to consider is

  • Most recruiters will search on the web for applicants, if a recruiter searched for you what would they find…
  • Research has shown that potential recruiters are actually suspicious of people who don’t have a web identity
  • How safe are anyone’s job these days, it better to be ahead of the competition

As part of a stand alone package or as part of a coaching package I will help you increase and enhance your social media profile; please see my page https://mcdougalldevelopment.com/social-media-raising-your-professional-business-brand/

email me at mcdougallmartin@aol.com

Still need convincing watch this youtube video

http://youtu.be/1aconjR6uH4

Oh in the spirit of this post, please feel free to contact me on Linkedin, Like my Facebook page at the bottom of the home page, tweet, wordpress – like / press this or share in any other way! 😉

Linkedin hints & tips

http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/news/social_networking_consumer/231900330

Let me know what you think about using social media

The Sisyphus Trap

‘In Greek mythology was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.’

‘In experiments that test how workers respond when the meaning of their task is diminished, the test condition is referred to as the Sisyphusian condition. The two main conclusions of the experiment are that people work harder when their work seems more meaningful, and that people underestimate the relationship between meaning and motivation’

Sometimes as individuals and leaders we fall into this trap, we tried to change things and it didn’t work, this caused us to be fearful so we resolved not to let that happen again and took the safe route. We make compromises with our values, we start saying things like ‘another day another dollar’ (or equivalent currency), ‘I wish I had a job that I enjoyed’

I wish means: wouldn’t it be nice if … If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else. Always wishing life was different. (just like Sisphus) Paul Arden

In fact our brain is hardwired to seek stability and not change as it takes more energy to build new synapsis that are required to retain new information and ways of doing things. Don’t believe me, then think back to when you had to study some new process or qualification, did you feel tired?

To start avoiding the Sisyphus Trap you need to consider

Values & Beliefs Attitude Behaviour

Your values and beliefs influence your attitude and these manifests in your behaviour to yourself and others. When you compromise these too much your attitude will become less positive and this will affect your behaviour.

So step 1 is for you to identify your values e.g. honesty, being creative, team player, recognition, autonomy etc.

Then look at how many you have given up in your current work / home environment. Then plan how you can start to overcome barriers to being ‘valued’ in your life and work. Start with small steps e.g. talking with your boss about other opportunities to be more creative or greater autonomy. When you start planning solutions on how to create links from what you do to your values, you will notice your attitude and behaviour will start to change.

If you are a leader and you notice that your teams attitude, behaviour and motivation is not where it should be then it maybe down to their values being overly compromised. Find out their individual values and help them to see links to what they do. I have run a values exercise with leadership teams many times and it is amazing what sharing values in a safe environment can do.

Summary to escape the Sisyphus Trap

  1. Re-identify your values
  2. Make a plan to connect your values to what you do and take action
  3. Bring meaning and purpose back into what you do in your life through your values
  4. Recognise and appreciate that people’s values are different
  5. Be tenacious and recognise the successes you make

Please use the comment box if you have any questions or have experience of this happening in your working world.

If you would like to talk to me about coaching or team development please contact me at mcdougallmartin@aol.com

It’s Better to Regret What You Have Done Than What You Haven’t

I wanted to leave you with this great Ted video

Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions

Listen your way to success

You are probably thinking that I have lost my marbles with the title of this post, however stay with me.

We put so much emphasis on clever pitches, presentations and influencing people (all important) in meetings or waxing lyrical to our partners and family about our day that we tend not to consider our listening skills.

Are we truly listening or are we just waiting for our chance to put across our point of view that matches our agenda / objective, maybe even satisfying our ego?

Test yourself; do you do any of these in

Important meetings

  • Think about the amount of work you have already on your desk
  • Think about the previous meeting that didn’t go so well
  • Check your blackberry etc.?
  • Concentrate solely on what you want or your ideas
  • On telephone conferences put yourself on mute and work your way through emails
  • Take copious amounts of notes

At home

  • Talk about your day in front of the telly, computer or whilst doing something else

If you have mentally ticked yes to any of these then you may not be ‘living in the moment’ and truly listening and have the potential to miss important chances to communicate or influence someone in the most effective way. You may be treating symptoms not the root cause and so they are less likely to see the merits in your solution. Switch off any ‘interference’ that can affect your listening.

‘I have so much work and so many meetings that I need to multi-task’ is a common objection to this, however this is more about saying yes rather than no which I will cover in future post.

Listening effectively will help time management as you will not have to cover the same ground again; you have closed the sale or articulated your point or feelings in a persuasive way.

Stephen covey said ‘seek to understand before being understood’ – 7 Habits of Highly Effective people. https://www.stephencovey.com/ (his new 8th habit is great too)

He talks about listening with your ears, eyes and heart

5 levels of listening

5. Empathetic – as active however, you are putting yourself in their shoes, noting body language, tone, pace and volume of speech

4. Active – Verbal and non-verbal nods, asking pertinent questions, recapping offering relevant insights or challenges

3. Selective – Hearing what you want to hear

2. Pretending – Nodding dog syndrome

1. Ignoring – off in your own wee world – lights are on but nobody is home

Ok so sometimes I am in the zones of 1 – 3 (clothes shopping springs to mind!) I am not perfect. It does take hard work and effort to listen well

If you have an important meeting then you need to be in zone 5 as sometimes… what is not being said is as important as what is.

Ever heard someone say ‘I dont need solutions or help I just want someone to listen’

So my challenge is to practice empathetic listening at least once a day and record how you get on. You might want to start with family members or friends, remove any distractions TV etc. sit down and ask them about their day and stay in zone 5!

Feel free to post results in the comments box. Hope you are having a great week