OK, So Now What?

16 May

This past weekend I graduated with an MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno. For the past 2 years I have been intensely focusing on this goal, and as a result, was able to graduate a year earlier than expected in the program. The past 2 weeks have been an exhausting whirlwind with finals and celebration with family and friends. Now, everyone has gone home and the commotion has died down. As the dust settles, I am beginning to think, “OK, so now what?”

This is a fairly common problem for leaders, many of whom are, by nature, goal oriented. We have learned that success comes from organization, dedication, follow through, and good old fashioned hard work. Once we set our sights on something, we find a way to obtain it.

Rarely, however, is there much discussion about what happens after we reach the finish. You see this in overachieving recent college graduates all the time: they graduate with high honors and then flounder as they try to figure out their next move. Or CEOs of major organizations: where is there left for them to go after that?

I’ve begun formulating a list of ideas to help me find my way:

#1: Take time to re-evaluate. Often times, when you are so focused on a specific goal, other things don’t always register on your radar. Take stock of where you are and where you’d still like to be. Be sure of your feelings in the present.

#2: Enjoy the break. It’s hard to come to a screeching halt when you have been going a million miles an hour, but you have probably earned it. Give your mind and body time to recover. Spend your new freedom exploring other areas of your life that make you happy.

#3: Develop new goals and personal objectives. Then go after them!

I’d gladly hear any suggestions you have as well!!!

Life Lessons From Mom

8 May

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a few lessons from one of the greatest leaders I know, my mom.

#1 Don’t do anything halfway. My mom taught me that when you decide to do something, dive in. Fully commit yourself and always follow through with your commitments. Work hard, and mean it!

#2 Be a part of the solution. Look for ways to give back and contribute to your surroundings. Don’t ever become so absorbed in your life that you stop seeing past yourself.

#3 Act with integrity. Be known as someone who can be trusted and counted on. If you have integrity, you can be tough, honest, and effective because you can be trusted. Never lose sight of who you are and what you believe.

#4 Build meaningful relationships. You can accomplish more with others than by yourself, and life is just better when you have people you care about to share it with. Open your heart and invest in others.

#5 Have fun! While no one works harder than my mom, I promise, no one has a better time! Learn to laugh, especially at yourself. Appreciate absurdity and comical misfortunes. Be just a little silly.

Thank you Mom, for instilling in me a work ethic, a sense of humor, and a foundation of strong values. Someday, I hope that I “grow up” to be just like you…

Increase Trust: Benevolent Leadership

29 Apr

Trust is a vital component of leadership. The perceived benevolence of leader by their followers is one of the strongest ways a leader can develop trust.

Trust for leaders based in perceived benevolence can be acquired through a few key behaviors:

#1 Recognize team members’ contributions. This can transpire with anything from elaborate rewards to simple acknowledgement. Doing so validates effort and cements individual feelings of self-worth within the organization.

#2 Build a spirit of community. Create a culture of support, teamwork, and positivity united under the same mission and values.

#3 Focus on the futures of the team and team members. Encourage honesty, openness, and transparency. Foster growth and learning opportunities for everyone. Develop a knowledgeable, capable, and well-functioning group that will succeed together and individually down the line.

When it comes to leadership, visible benevolence is imperative. Use your actions and behaviors to develop a perception of benevolence and increase trust.

How else would you inspire perceived benevolence? Have you had experience with a leader who either did or did not practice benevolent leadership?

It’s OK To Be Human

26 Apr

Most leaders are motivated, proactive, Type A individuals. If you are like me, you are also energetic, driven, dedicated, and always willing to pitch in. If you are, I’m sorry.

Wait, did you think those were good traits?

Well, usually, they are, but if you have these tendencies you may also have some behavioral flaws that negatively affect you on a personal level. For example, I have a seriously difficult time accepting the fact that I am, in fact, human. It is hard for me to admit when I don’t have the time or energy to complete something. If someone asks for something, I usually will go out of my way to accomplish it, whether it is reasonable or not. I have found that “sure”, “absolutely”, and “no problem” come out of mouth regularly, often times placing unrealistic expectations on myself. The upside; I get a lot of quality work accomplished. The downside; I run myself down.

So I thought I’d share a few tips I try to keep in mind:

- I’m human, not SUPERhuman.

- I am not solely responsible to fix everything I come across.

- I can’t always be in control, I can only control my reactions.

- Sometimes it is better to NOT help.

Unrealistic self-expectations are a SELF problem. The first step in addressing this self imposed pressure. The second is learning how to control the behaviors that are detrimental to YOU. This is difficult for me to always wrap my head around, because when I think leader, connotations of strength, responsibility, obligation, and teamwork are the first things to come to mind. “Self” is not at the top of that list. However, a leader will lose effectiveness if they never put themselves first.

Even though you’re a leader, it’s OK to be human.

Transactional & Transformational: Which Type Of Leader Are You?

25 Apr

Countless leadership theories exist and help to shape individuals’ leadership styles. Recently, one of my MBA courses has been discussing transactional and transformational leadership styles. For those of you who are not familiar with these theories, I will provide a brief explanation:

Simply put, transactional leadership is a “tit for tat” style of leadership. If the follower does what the leader wants, they are rewarded, and if they do not, they are punished. It is about making a deal effectively and moving on, which allows for efficient time management in some positions. A leader who is more transactional would be:

  • Aware of the correlation between effort & reward.
  • Very goal oriented: success deserves rewards & failure deserves punishment
  • Deal oriented
  • Aware that their effectiveness is reliant on reinforcement power

Transformational leadership encourages change in followers and strives to meet higher needs of individuals and social systems.  In this style of leadership, the leader strives to change organizational cultures and individuals. A leader who is more transformational would be:

  • Proactive and create learning opportunities for their followers
  • Encourage growth
  • Create an emotional bond with their followers
  • Motivate followers to think and act beyond self-interest

While this barely scratches the surface of these theories, and most leaders are a combination of both styles, I’m interested: which leadership theory more accurately describes you? Why?

Tips for Teams

22 Apr

In order to be an effective team player…

#1 Be Honest. People respond to authentic and meaningful behavior.

#2 Focus on Effective Communication. Be sure to factor ALL team members when deciding how to communicate. What works for one person may not work for another!

#3 Empathy is Important. Keep in mind that we are all human, even you! Ask for help when you need it and be willing to give it when you can!

#4 Be Responsible. Keep in m ind that when you are part of a team, more than just you are affected by your actions or lack thereof. Don’t drop the ball for yourself or everyone else!

#5 Be The Team Member That You’d Like To Have! Strive to be the person that you’d like to work with!

A Leader Helping Leaders

20 Apr

As those of you who follow my blog are aware, I am relatively new to blogging/tweeting and professional social media in general. So far it has proven to be a great learning experience and very personally rewarding. Much of what I have learned I have picked up from following successful and influential social media “experts” in my area of interest: leadership.

Somewhere along the way, Wally Bock, who, in my opinion, sets the standard for leadership bloggers, caught wind of my blog. Wally has numerous followers, a large scope of influence, creates thought provoking and informative content, and has an impressive online presence. Wally began contributing insightful comments on my blog posts and then reached out to me over Twitter and email. In his messages, Wally offered helpful tips and advice based on his own experiences, and truly encouraged me.

Wally’s behaviors exemplified a few important leadership  behaviors:

First, Wally wasn’t an elitist. Even though he is much more advanced than I, he treated me like an equal, not the “newbie” I am. He encouraged my actions, pointed out my strengths, and acknowledged my  efforts. Choosing to be approachable, friendly, and helpful, Wally’s insights never came across as condescending.

Secondly, Wally is proactive, responsive, and follows through. Proactively, Wally reached out to me. He responds to my questions and posts on his blog, and he still comments on my blog regularly. He didn’t just share his knowledge and walk away – Wally continues communicating and providing feedback.

Lastly, and most impressively, Wally offered help without strings. He wasn’t looking for anything from me; he was just willing to freely share his expertise and experience. This behavior is indicative of a leader who is confident and self-assured.

If you have not already, I encourage you to follow Wally’s blog, Three Star Leadership.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

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