Nine Tips for Leading by Example

Managers and team leaders, who want certain qualities in their employees and teammates, must provide an example for their followers.  If examples are not provided, any rhetoric encouraging certain policies or attitudes will seem hypocritical to those observing management behaviors and company reward systems.  It is important to remember good examples can have great influence.

"Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.
- Robin Sharma

Below are 9 tips to help leaders provide an example to their followers.
  1. Respect others by showing up on-time for meetings, whether you are the meeting planner or an attendee.  Do not make them wait for you.  Managing your time and acknowledging the importance of the time of others shows a mutual respect.
  2. Listen actively by asking questions to increase understanding, engagement, and involvement.  Showing that you are listening encourages dialogue, problem solving, and mutual commitment.
  3. Delegate appropriately by giving assignments to people who have the necessary talents and knowledge.  But be aware of people who want to gain skills and pair them up on tasks with a skilled persons willing to train them.
  4. Build trust by taking joint responsibility for team failures rather than trying to assign blame.  Perhaps they did not understand your directions or assumptions were made about what was expected.  If you want them to be accountable, you must also be.
  5. Take risks in your work and what you expect from your followers.  Reward their courageousness while acknowledging that current failure may lead to improvement and better problem solving in the future. Do not be afraid of change and teach others not to be as well.
  6. Provide options for doing a job or resolving a problem rather than giving step-buy-step instructions.  Allow your team to find creative methods that solve their problems or get the job done well and quickly.
  7. Be consistent in how you communicate and appreciate.  Use company rewards liberally to acknowledge team jobs well done.  Use punishment rarely, instead acknowledge what was done wrong and what type of improvement needs to occur.
  8. Remove barriers and do not be a barrier to your employees and teams getting their work done.  Make sure your employees and teams know you are there to help them move forward and improve any situation that come up. 
  9. Work hard and let your team see you doing it.  If you are unwilling to help out when the going gets tough, how can you expect your employees to do so.
For more ideas, review the following articles:

Six C’s for Holding Others Accountable

In organizations today, everyone seems s to be having problems holding others accountable for individual job performance or group work processes.  Supervisors, managers and other leaders wonder how they can make their employees more accountable for finishing projects on-time or improving their overall job performance.  Teams wonder how they can make that certain team member more willing to take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.  Below are six things to consider to help get others to be more accountable.

Six C’s for Holding Others Accountable:
  1. Communicate expectations in advance.  This means what the goals and deliverables (finished product, service, or assignment) are and when they should be completed (phases and milestones help make it easier to meet final deadlines).  Write these expectations down so you can track progress against what you agree to later on.
  2. Connect often to check progress and determine if additional resources or information is needed..  If you established phases and milestone deliverables early on, then both parties know when to verify if all is running smoothly or if additional help or training is necessary.
  3. Critique based on facts not feelings.  Give honest feedback, whether it is praise for a job well done or expressing a need for improvement.  Be specific about what was done right or wrong and why.  What goals were met or deadline missed?  Do not wait until the end of the project or assignment – be respectful of others by doing this as needed when connecting and coaching.
  4. Coach as needed to close gaps in understanding or knowledge to keep things moving along.  If leaders are not coaching, then their team members cannot become winners.  Accountability must go both ways, otherwise things will go nowhere and little will get done.
  5. Consequences for not meeting expectations should be explained up front and reinforced.  If not doing a job on-time and correctly will cost the company something, the person(s) being assigned the work need to know this.  They are interested in what rewards they may personal get, but they also need to know how failure will personally affect them and their job(s).
  6. Commitment will be achieved only if initial communication and continued support happens.  Clear expectations and follow-though are keys to everyone understanding their responsibilities and increasing individual/team credibility for actions. 

Over Two-Dozen Ideas for Continuous Learning

Continuous learning (aka Lifelong Learning) has been touted as a management must before the dawn of quality improvement programs.  Why has this remained key to business success when other management concepts have come and gone?  It is important to continue to grow to keep up with changes and motivate people.  Whether the changes are economical, environmental, societal, or technical - to remain successful leaders must keep up with what is going on, not just in their industry but across many areas.

“Knowledge is power? No. Knowledge on its own is nothing, 
but the application of useful knowledge, now that is powerful.” ― Rob Liano

So how do you make continuous learning happen in a company or as an individual?  There are multiple method to incorporate the continuous learning concept.  These can include some or all of the below methods for increasing knowledge.  

  1. Ask questions or for help on a new or difficult task
  2. Observe how others do tasks to experience new ideas or learn different ways to do things
  3. Watch videos/DVDs on relevant subjects
  4. Listen to professional podcasts
  5. Subscribe to relevant blogs or e-newsletters
  6. Get feedback from others and work towards improving as needed
  7. Join a professional association/society and go to some of the meetings for networking
  8. Work with or as a coach or mentor - learning experiences are gained on both sides 
  9. Develop a skills matrix, create a goal plan, and track progress
  10. Read books or skill-specific magazines/journals
  11. Find relevant on-line articles, case studies, research, or white papers
  12. Complete workbook exercises, or team-building activities, or computer-based/on-line quizzes
  13. Hold leadership reading clubs or business book discussion groups
  14. Look for on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities
  15. Go to internal training classes and/or external workshops
  16. Participate in or lead seminars or webinars  - learn by sharing time with others
  17. Take part in Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses
  18. Get a higher degree in your field or another degree in a different or related field
  19. Enroll in a certification program that increases skill-levels
  20. Benchmark/visit other companies or department within your organization
  21. Knowledge share with others via virtual meetings or a computerized database
  22. Volunteer for projects or teams that allow stretching current skills or learning new ones
  23. Check out leadership and educational programs on public television (PBS)
  24. Attend or facilitate presentations, face-to-face meetings, and Lunch N Learns - learn in a short time with others
  25. Plan quarterly, biannual or annual strategic meetings or team-building events
  26. Check into conferences, trade shows or product showcases
Continuous learning not only benefits leaders and other individuals by making them more knowledgeable, it benefits companies as well by providing better equipped and flexible employees.  Remember for one to truly learn something, an opportunity to apply and use the gained knowledge is also necessary.  So be sure that the new skills can be practiced on-the-job,  Knowledge is information, however wisdom/expertise is only gained in the application of knowledge.

See also The Business Journal article 5 Steps to Developing a Continuous-Learning Culture.

Gender Diversity: Women in the Workforce

Gender diversity usually refers to an equitable ratio of women and men in the workplace. This does not mean you must have a 50/50 split of females to males within every position within your company. You should still hire/transfer/promote the best person for the job, however you need to plan for a fair representation of both sexes in both job roles and organizational hierarchy.

Why is it important for your company to have women in the leadership positions?  A 2016 Survey by PIIE "suggest that the presence of women in corporate leadership positions may improve firm performance." Another plus for more women in leadership positions is improved problem-solving and increased idea generation that comes from the different perspectives of a more diverse workforce - gender and race.  Leadership not only happens in corporate hierarchy, but also in teams and individual performance in every department!

Leadership is not the only place this is important.  It is important to consider the possible benefits of women in all positions.  For example, your sales department will need women since your customer base most likely includes many women.  How do you know that there are more women buyers out there?  Per Statista Demographic Report, women make up more than half of the USA current population and this trend is expected to continue.

So consider gender diversity in your recruitment and hiring process, as well as transfer and promotional opportunities.  This will set your company as a preferred place to work as you not only adhere to federal laws, you demonstrate that you value diversity in all forms.

For ideas on how to create a gender divers workforce, see SHRM article 10 Tips to Fight Gender Discrimination.  For suggestions for improving hiring processes, see article Write Better Job Postings in 7 Smart Steps.

Four Business Management Tips for When You Take Time Off

In this always-connected work-world we have created, it is hard to unplug when going on vacation or leave the office for multi-day events.  However, you need to do so in order to really relax, refresh, and come back rejuvenated.  So below  are four tips to help you prepare to be disconnected from work before you leave for vacation or any other event.
  1. Ask someone to be your "go to" substitute.  This could be one person who covers you typical work functions and the same person or another person for special projects you are involved with.  Give these people your emergency contact number and be sure they understand what might constitute an emergency that could require calling you rather than sending an email.  After you get their agreement, send out emails to those who may be looking for you during your vacation.  In the email include the dates you will be gone and the name(s) and contact information for your substitute.
  2. Check your work-related emails only once a day.  Plan for this ahead of time and if appropriate, let selected people know the time you may be checking email during your vacation in writing.  Send out an email which says "I will try to check my emails daily at ---."  This give your substitute, key team members, and your boss the option of asking quick questions or giving you a "head up" before you return.  Having a time they need to contact you by will keep you from having to worry about email when you should be having fun or relaxing.
  3. Limit business texts and phone calls.  The email tips above also applies to phone calls and those pesky text pinging you when you are in the middle of an excursion or fun photo.  So when you send out your email check time include a note about this too.  The note might be something like "Instead of texting or phoning me, please send an email so I have the details I need in advance to get back with you with the best possible answer."  This lets them know you want to help but puts the responsibility for questions back on them.  Often they may come up with their own answer or decide it is not as important as they first thought while trying o compose an email so they don't send it. 
  4. Set-up email out-of-office notifications.  This is an automatic email feature that tells people you are not available on certain dates and lets you compose a message.  Set-up a generic message body with the contact information of your substitute, but you do not need to say where you are going or why.  
If you do this right, there should not be any fires to put out or mounds of work waiting for you when you get back. Instead you should be ale to fall back into your routine immediately.  However, you should  expect to return the favor when another takes their time-off.

Infographic with Twelve Statistics on Social Selling

12 statistics as infographic that may convince you that your business needs to start social selling, originally from Sales for Life blog.  They also shared more stats in an infographic on B2B Solcial Selling.  

12 Stats That Prove You Need To Start Social Selling

Learn At Lunch: A Great Team, Sales, and Management Training Option

Lunch & Learn, Lunch N Learn, Lunch and Learn, Brown Bag Seminar
Learn At Lunch-Training Presentations 
Whether you call it learn-at-lunch (American Management Association term, circa 2013) or lunch-and-learn (also Lunch N Learn or "Lunch & Learn" terms @2007), this is a great option for disseminating short training nuggets. It can save both time and money when it comes to employee learning.

Please note, the older terms of Bring-Your-Own-Lunch Training or Brown Bag Seminars (started in the 1980's by offering short technical topics or product introductions) are dropping in popularity by business organizations due to language acceptability and labor issues.

Use learn-at-lunch time to:
  • Introduce team-building concepts or simple business skills that do not require physical activities or special equipment
  • Familiarize sales and customer service representatives with new products, services, or processes
  • Encourage supervisors, managers, leaders, and facilitators to adopt new procedures, attitudes, or policies
For corporate events, nothing says says you have to use the term Learn-at-Lunch.  Instead you can even make your lunch menu a fun match to the topics.  Some ideas might be:  Tacos & Tools, Pizza N Presentations, Sandwiches & Sales, Training N Treats, Salad and Service, or Noodles & News. Get the idea?

For tips on Learn at Lunch, see:

How to Get Topics and Participants for Learn-at-Lunch Events

How do you get topics for learn-at-lunch training sessions?

If you want to start lunch and learns but do not where to start, do an on-line survey (with SurveyMonkey or Social Media Polls) to see what topics people are most interested in to get started.  You can provide 10 topic areas and request those surveyed rank them in order of preference.  You may also want an optional fill-in the-blank field to capture ideas you did not think of for prioritizing in the next survey.  Be sure to provide a “do by” date to encourage timely responses.  The easy decision then is to start with the topic with the highest ranking and move down the list.  This type of survey could be done quarterly or annually to test new topics or determine which ones to repeat.

How do you get people to attend Learn-at-Lunch events?

The obvious answer is to make them worth attending.  How do you do that?  Below are a few ideas to think about for mixing it up and making it worthwhile for your training participants.

  • Do not just do lecture and a PowerPoint presentation!  You can make it interactive by adding games, case study review, quizzes, as well as "Q&A."  Make it more interesting by including skits, vendor or customer comments, video clips, demonstrations and music if appropriate.  You might find something funny on YouTube that could drive home your primary point. It should be so interesting that people want to come to the next one!
  • Consider capturing all the questions on a flip chart or marker board, if the lunch and learn involves a strategic change.  Then when you get the best answers from management, you can publish it as a FAQ document for all employees to access.  You may also want to record the event so you can share it with more people via the company intranet.
  • Find good presenters, people who are knowledgeable and can make their topic interesting!  You do not want a monotone voice reading slides and putting the audience to sleep after they eat.  Instead you want people to go away with more knowledge than they came with.  Presenters can be internal to the organization or motivational speakers from outside the company.
  • Make sure you space and equipment works in advance.  Not understanding how to link in remote attendees or on-line data is not only frustrating to them and the speaker, it is distracting to those physically sitting in the room.  If you mess up with technology and spend too much time fixing it, people may not come back to the next event.
  • Consider success sharing among teams and projects as potential lunch and learn topics too.  Let your teams shine and share to help others improve and grow.  This should be a learning session, not an idea generating meeting or project completion party – those should be separate individual team events.

Once you have your topics and your schedule planned.  Get the word out!  Start with emails and do not stop there.   Promote it with flyers, bulletin boards, or posters prominently placed around your business facilities.  If your organization has a newsletter or corporate e-calendar make sure your lunch and learns get listed there too.