StrategyDriven Professional Development Article

How To Improve Your Leadership Skills

Wanting to be a better leader is a good goal to have. You’ll be strengthening your chances at moving up in your company and helping your organization to succeed. It’s a great personal goal because you can take the skills you develop with you and use them in all areas of your life.

Think about when you’re managing employees in the office versus when you’re at home. It’s likely some of the skills carry over and help you succeed in both environments. You can’t simply want to be a better leader. You have to put in the hard work it takes to achieve results.

Find A Mentor

Your first plan of action should be to find a mentor who you admire and believe has strong leadership skills. Make it your goal to observe them in their element and take notes about why they’re admirable to you. Ask to have a meeting with them and discuss your goals and any tips they have for you. Try to connect on a regular basis and keep learning from them as you start implementing some of their suggestions into your daily life.

Be Innovative

Always be thinking ahead about how you and your business can take your industry by surprise. For example, the painting and decorating company decided to launch a website for marketing their business, which they hadn’t previously done. It’s a great way to get their services out there and in front of their target audience. Think about how you can do this at your company. Put yourself in charge of the project to make sure it goes smoothly. Show you’re a leader by being attentive, organized and assertive when discussing the details and assigning roles.

Ask for Feedback

Be open and honest with others about what you’re trying to achieve and ask for feedback. Approach people you work and interact with on a daily basis for their comments and suggestions for improvement. You may find some of what they say surprising and be able to use their advice to help you improve your leadership skills. You never know what other people are observing that’s difficult to see for yourself. Focus on what you’re doing right and be honest about where you’re struggling, so you can fix it.

Take Advantage of Professional Development Opportunities

You’re not going to progress by sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself that you’re not a top leader in your company. Be proactive and ask your company what they offer for leadership training. Take an online course or an in person training session that allows you to practice your skills in front of others. Use this as an opportunity to educate and challenge yourself to becoming a better leader, boss and partner at home. Always be learning and jumping on any training classes that will help build your skills.


Be glad that there are ways to improve your leadership skills, so you can keep moving forward in the right direction. Don’t worry about your weaknesses. Look at them as opportunities for growth.

StrategyDriven Management & Leadership Article

3 Effective Strategies for Keeping Employees Focused on the Task at Hand

The reason you worked so hard to complete an executive masters in business administration program is that you wanted to make a difference. Over time, you saw areas which could have been handled more efficiently and at lower costs within your organization. Although you were already in a position of authority, you felt you needed better skills to keep things flowing smoother in accordance with best practices, as outlined in the company manual.

The one issue you kept running up against daily was keeping employees focused on the task at hand. You’ve finally gotten that online executive MBA degree and it’s time to put it to use building strategies to keep your team on task.

1. Complete an Assessment of Why and How Employees Become Distracted

The first step in building any strategy is to determine what it is you’d like to accomplish. The end goal sets the stage for any strategy because, by its very nature, a strategy is a roadmap to success. In this case, you are using your MBA to define common causes for distractions, in order to facilitate a more focused approach to the jobs at hand.

2. Create New Policies to Avoid Distractions

One of the best strategies is one in which you set new rules. In the course of assessing the source of distractions, you’ve discovered that altogether too much talking is going on about things totally unrelated to what they are currently working on. While you don’t want to be a hard taskmaster, you do want to keep things moving along to increase productivity. Why not set a rule that talking is allowed only in terms of job-related issues and all other conversation is best left to the break room.

3. Keep Peripheral Distractions to a Minimum

As you studied for your executive masters in business administration online, you knew that you needed to be in a place where there were minimal distractions. As a result, you set aside one room in your home where you couldn’t hear the television and noises from the playroom couldn’t filter in. You can use the same strategy on the job! Reroute foot traffic through areas where employees aren’t sitting at desks or working on the line and try to keep announcements over loudspeakers to a minimum.

Research indicates that distractions on the job cost employers over $10,000 per person per year!

In the End – You’re the Boss

You can clearly see that distractions are costing your company a ton of money each and every year. Not only do distractions cut profits, but they also increase the risk of inferior quality of work. In fact, you may even want to open the floor for discussion among the very employees you’ve found to be most distracted while on the job. Their input could be invaluable. They might define a whole new set of issues they find distracting, after which you can devise strategies to reduce those as well.

Your job as an administrator is to devise and implement strategies. Reducing distractions is a great place to test your newfound skills. Don’t let it be your last.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

What Does It Take to Create a Good Design Team?

A great design team is only as good as the staff within it. The team itself includes the personnel, all of their assigned roles within the team, personal objectives, their methodologies and software (like the new Altium designer 18 package), and the framework they use. When any of the above component parts of a team are missing or misaligned, things tend to go wrong or are placed at opposing sides which leads to difficulties completing tasks on time, if at all.

Multiple Roles or Single Roles

Depending on the person and the size of the team, it may be necessary for team members to perform multiple roles on a project. When mixing too many roles for a single employee, this can create difficulties as it’s both difficult for them to embrace collaborators for each of their distinctive roles, but more so when two or more of their roles conflict with each other with no one to act as a referee.

Some roles also don’t mix well with others. The person funding the project shouldn’t usually also be a designer on the project because their motivations may get muddled. Is it more important to create a better designed circuit board or website, or to keep to the development costs within the budget set by upper management? Where is the line drawn?

Every Team Member Has Professional Advancement

With advancement, we don’t necessarily mean a promotion. It’s important beyond position and money that an employee feels invested in the project and its outcome. It’s also useful when they feel that the project adds something new to their cache in the industry and is something that can go on their resume as a selling point.

When a project lacks that special something that’s different to what they’ve done before, or they’re not being allowed to advance in their knowledge and involvement, they begin to feel stagnant. In some senses, it doesn’t matter if they been given access to the cutting-edge Altium designer 18 software ahead of its release or been responsible for new areas of a design project, there must be something there to spike their interest and sustain it throughout completion of the project.

Successful Teams Are Often an Eclectic Mix

When looking at any design team, you’re unlikely to see a herd that all dress alike, talk alike and look somewhat similar. Diversity across the team is a good thing in many cases as is the previous project experience they bring to the table. New blood brings fresh perspectives and ideas on how to do things differently, more efficiently, or simply better. It’s important that the team leader embraces diversity in the ranks and does not see a culture developing where people who are different get hammered down until they conform. Conformity is usually the death of the type of creativity that’s badly needed in great design execution.

Great design teams are carefully put together and managed. Every team is likely to be quite different to the next one. Embracing those differences rather than citing them as reasons why a previous failure occurred, encourages the best creatives to work in a team environment that they might otherwise find too stifling.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

How to Encourage the Sharing of Information in Your Team

Building a team is not always an easy thing to do. Not only do you need to find people who share common goals, but you need people who each bring something unique to the table. Unfortunately, the corporate environment has not always been one that fostered working well together, and so these two factors alone are insufficient for putting together a team willing to share information. In order to overcome this obstacle, it is first necessary to look at why we have so much trouble sharing what we know and then to find ways to encourage the sharing of information.

The Down Side of a Competitive Spirit

A little bit of competition is a good thing, but when that competitive drive to reach the top at all costs consumes you, it can be detrimental to working well in a team. Some people are overly competitive from a very early age, indeed, even toddlers are seen vying for mom’s attention. They will strike out at each other, bite, kick, scratch and scream their lungs out to be the one mom sees first. You might say this is normal behavior in a child that young and you might be right if it isn’t taken to extremes and if it is corrected by an astute mother.

But what of highly knowledgeable professionals who will do anything to claw their way up the corporate ladder? Have they somehow gotten themselves stuck in a juvenile mentality in terms of how they handle competition? This is the personality type that will work very hard to guard the information they have and will only share bits and pieces on a need to know basis. However, that could hold up a team for weeks, if not months or years if the information they are sitting on is a vital piece of a process that can’t continue unless all the pieces are fit together in tandem.

What You Can Do As Team Leader

After weeding out candidates who simply won’t be good team players, you are left with a group of individuals who, although willing to work together, may never have been briefed on the importance of sharing their piece of the pie. Understanding that you are working with individuals, sometimes it helps to have a non-confrontational way in which they can share what they have without fearing negative reactions of others in the group.

Some corporations even encourage team members to blog about their research on sites like where you can write under a pseudonym if you want honest comments from other team members to whom you remain anonymous. There’s no threat there!

Some Companies Are Setting up Teams in the Cloud

Many companies have gone to setting up work spaces in the Cloud. Each team member is given access to the area he or she needs to work in and that is where they will leave what it is they know and where they expect to be within a given timeframe. These group spaces can be set up in a number of ways, either through dissemination of information through email, an online ‘conference room,’ or even a chat room where members can speak with select individuals, rather than the entire team, if that’s what they prefer.

In other words, by working in the Cloud you can meet briefly if need be, leave information for other team members to work through when they have time, and even access when they need your piece of the puzzle. This will often break down barriers so that team members have a sense of security when dealing with others.

The best way to encourage the sharing information is to provide a non-confrontational setting for the dissemination of knowledge. Most often, that space is in the Cloud.

Why It Is Time to Invest in Professional Development of Your Employees

One of the biggest challenges in today’s market landscape is finding the right team members. The growth of your business depends highly on employees supporting that growth. Filling key roles and managerial positions are even more challenging; it is more expensive too, especially with the market being as competitive as today.

Now is the perfect time for businesses – your business included – to start investing in the professional development of employees. There are a lot of benefits you will get in return for the investment. We are going to take a closer look at some of those benefits in this article.

Improved Productivity

Studies have shown that employees whose professional development is fully supported by the company are more motivated at work. That sense of appreciation and the support of the company are among the biggest factors that help employees stay motivated for longer.

In return for your investment in your employees’ professional growth, you get engaged employees who work with passion and who feel very connected to the company. Motivated employees put more into ensuring the smooth operations of the business, as well as helping the business grow at a faster pace.

Engagement is the keyword here. Employee engagement is something that needs to be developed naturally, and one of the best ways to do that is by encouraging – and supporting – professional development. Engaged employees will soon be your company’s biggest assets.

Experience and Added Resources

It is always better and more affordable to fill mid- to top-level management positions through a clear career path for all employees. When you promote a sales executive to the position of sales supervisor, for example, you shift the employee’s experience in the field and the employee’s ability to understand clients towards skills that are useful in the new role.

The trend can be seen in the healthcare industry. Many hospitals and medical institutions are encouraging their employees to pursue a health science degree online. The presence of online courses makes investing in your employees’ professional growth easier because they can still perform optimally at work while pursuing a higher degree.

Sustainable Growth

Another great advantage of investing in the professional development of employees is loyalty. Many businesses shy away from helping their employees grow out of fear of losing the best employees to other, better-paying companies. It is a justified fear, but one that must not hamper your efforts to help employees grow alongside the business.

Further studies have shown that employees whose pursuit of a master’s degree are supported by their employer have a higher loyalty to the company. They are more invested in helping the business grow and achieving great things together. The impact is clear; your business will benefit from a more sustainable growth, driven by capable people who are committed to delivering their best.

The market is evolving and the best way to stay ahead of the competition is by investing in the people around you. There are so many other benefits to gain from putting employees’ professional development as a priority. Now is the perfect time for your business to start.