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StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

Want To Be A Great Team Leader? Look On The Bright Side

Some entrepreneurs are great at managing their money or developing new deals with clients. But sometimes, they lack skills in the leadership department, mainly because they’ve not had time to practice them elsewhere in their lives. Some people believe that you’ve either got leadership skills or you haven’t. But, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to improve your leadership skills that don’t require you to totally change your character. Here’s how.

Be An Optimist

It’s hard being a great leader while believing that the world is getting worse. It kind of takes a bit of the joy out of running a team of people and striving for a better life in the future. As a result, great leaders tend to be optimists in general, and this helps to keep their staff upbeat and on track. Positive thinking tends to go hand-in-glove with higher team output and individual productivity.

Get To Know The People Working For You

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article
Photo courtesy of Chris Potter at ccPixs.com via flickr

With the rise of internet working, it’s becoming more and more difficult for managers to get the know the people who work for them. But just because a lot of your interactions are digital, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Even if you’re just employing contractors on a temporary basis, ask them how their lives are going, whether they’re enjoying their work and what they want to achieve in the future. All these questions can help bring a team together even if they seem unimportant at the time.

Get Excited About Going To Work

In every job, there’s something worth getting excited about. That’s because all jobs are fundamentally about serving other people and helping to meet their needs. Even if your business does something mundane, like clean out septic tanks, it’s still possible to get enthused about what you do. After all, who wants a malfunctioning septic tank? It’s funny: the longer you work at something, the more passionate you tend to become about it. The best way to really get into a management role is to embrace it and make it an important part of your life.

Update Your Skills

The science of management has come along a long way since you last went to school and a lot has been learned. As a result, it might be a good idea to head back to school temporarily to update your skills. Thanks to things like FPU online degrees, there’s no longer any need to go to a physical college or school to learn more about the craft. It can now all be done over the internet meaning that you can organize your training around your day job.

Find A Mentor

Leading a team is never easy or a process because people are complex creatures. As a result, it can sometimes help to get a mentor to help you through the harder times – and there will be tougher times. Mentors are great for giving advice and well as sharing stories about the leadership trials they faced and how they got through them.

James C. Crimmins

4 Fundamental Lessons for Leaders

The first lesson of leadership: it is not about you.

The essence of leadership is the ability to influence others. And all successful leaders realize what Dale Carnegie explained: “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”

Being a leader means understanding what others desire. You won’t figure that out by self-analysis. What motivates people to follow you is not something within you. It is something within them.

It’s difficult to get people to want something they don’t already want. But people, of course, want all sorts of things. They want healthy children, an attractive appearance, security, recognition, adventure, etc. It is much easier to focus people on one particular desire that can be fulfilled by doing what the leader suggests.

People will follow you because they see in you the easiest path to get where they want to go.

The second lesson of leadership: debate facts, not feelings.

The most motivating of desires are feelings. Effective leaders show people how to feel the way they would like to feel. Feelings motivate at a more basic level. Feeling smart is more motivating than saving a little money. Feeling sexy is more motivating than losing some weight. Feeling like a good parent is more motivating than serving oatmeal.

Feelings have the advantage of being immediate. While drinking milk may lead to strong bones eventually, you can feel healthy with the first glass. People pursue an immediate feeling more enthusiastically than a delayed fact.

Feelings also have the advantage of being certain. While the politician you support may or may not be able to accomplish what you hope, casting a vote will certainly make you feel like you’re doing your part. People pursue what’s certain more passionately than what’s likely.

Leaders elevate their promise, and show people how to feel the way they would like to feel.

The third lesson of leadership: actions matter, reasons don’t.

People pay little attention to what would-be leaders say, believing they will say most anything to get ahead. But people are convinced what would-be leaders do reveals their true selves. In fact, people pay close attention to how others act and ignore why they act that way.

Leaders can’t persuasively claim to be tough, calm, determined, or kind. What leaders say, particularly about themselves, is irrelevant. The only way leaders can convince people that they have those qualities is to act tough, calm, determined, or kind. As far as followers are concerned, leaders are what they do no matter why they do it. If leaders act tough, people will believe they are tough even if, in reality, the leaders are milquetoasts.

By identifying with a leader, followers get to, in a sense, clothe themselves in the character of that leader. People who want to feel confident follow leaders they perceive as confident. People who want to feel smart follow leaders they perceive as smart. In political campaigns, people literally clothe themselves in the apparel of leaders to share in their qualities.

Leaders act the way followers would like to feel.

The fourth lesson of leadership: let followers take small steps.

How do leaders develop loyal, sometimes rabid, followers? It doesn’t happen in one step. People don’t go from 0 to 60 without passing through the speeds in between.

Smart leaders encourage others to begin by taking a small step in the leaders’ direction. People who have taken a small step look at things differently than they did before. Putting a small, discrete sign for a candidate in your window will make you look at that candidate more favorably than before and you will be more willing to accept a large sign on your front lawn. If someone agrees with you on a small issue, they will be more likely to agree with you on a bigger issue. Persuasion experts refer to this as the “Foot in the Door” technique. Getting that first movement in a leader’s direction is the hardest. That step changes the way things look to the follower and subsequent steps come more easily.

Leaders depend completely on followers’ enthusiasm. Lessons in leadership focus on understanding what potential followers want and how they think.


About the Author

James C. CrimminsJames C. Crimmins is the author of 7 Secrets of Persuasion: Leading-Edge Neuromarketing Techniques to Influence Anyone (Career Press, Sept 2016).

JV Venable

Are There Gaps on Your Team?

A leader has three primary roles: set the direction — the vision for the team; attract and retain the best talent you can find; and build and protect the corporate culture.

Robert Walter
Founder and Former CEO, Cardinal Health

Leo Van Wart is a professional golfer who helped propel Notah Begay III to the ranks of the Professional Golfers Association of America. Leo was hired to run a golf complex just outside of Las Vegas, and shortly after he arrived he hopped in a golf cart and drove the expanse of his new course. Many fairways and greens were in disrepair, and the desert had all but reclaimed his new driving range. When he stopped by the grill and sampled its marquee item – a flavorless cheeseburger – he had a complete picture of why the course was bleeding money. The biggest gap he found in the operation was ownership. No one on the small team took pride of ownership in the work – there was no sense of cohesion or unity. To them the course was just a job. Does that sound familiar?


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About the Author

JV VenableColonel JV Venable [USAF, Ret], author of Breaking the Trust Barrier: How Leaders Close the Gaps for High Performance, is a Fighter Weapons School graduate who went on to lead the USAF Thunderbirds and combat group of 1,100 American airmen in the Persian Gulf. For more information, please visit http://jvvenable.com/ and connect with JV on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Bruce Hodes

A Fish Out of Water

When does a fish notice water? When it is out of the water! The fish gasps for breath. The fish beats its tail on the deck and moves in a helpless manner. It is out of the water and clearly feeling the difference. Hence the saying “like a fish out of water”.

I recently had many of those “fish out of water” experiences while I was on my business trip to Ecuador. I arrive into the new Quito airport. As I get my bags a red, yellow and green traffic type light confronts and guides whether you need to get your bags checked by Immigration or not. If you get a Green light, which I did, out the exit door you go. Red light and into security you go. Traffic lights for bag security, never saw that before. It is OZ like in that you do not know exactly who is controlling the light or why they decide whether you get checked or not.


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About the Author

Since growing up in his family’s boating business to founding his company CMI, Bruce Hodes has dedicated himself to helping companies grow by developing executive leadership teams, business leaders and executives into powerful performers. Bruce’s adaptable Breakthrough Strategic Business Planning methodology has been specifically designed for small-to-mid-sized companies and is especially valuable for family company challenges. In February of 2012 Bruce published his first book Front Line Heroes: Battling the business Tsunami by developing high performance organizations (Volume 1). With a background in psychotherapy, Hodes also has an MBA from Northwestern University and a Masters in Clinical Social Work. More info: [email protected] or www.cmiteamwork.com.

How to Lead in High Turbulence – 5 Lessons from the Tunisian revolution

What would you do if you were offered a new job and were told you would be fired after one year but you weren’t allowed to quit during your mandate? That you would be paid peanuts compared to your old comfortable job, and you would be harassed and bashed in the media constantly. And you wouldn’t be allowed to complain. You would probably say “no thanks,” right?

I ended up with that job and found out what it really means to lead in a high turbulence environment.

I was Dean of a leading business school in Paris and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the top mobile telecom operator in Tunisia when the Arab Spring broke out, turning the already troubled Middle East and North Africa upside down.


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About the Author

Tawfik Jelassi is IMD Professor of Strategy and Technology Management. He was the Tunisian Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research, and Information & Communication Technologies during a transitional technocratic government in 2014-2015 following the Arab Spring revolution in the country. He is conducting a session on Leading in a High Turbulence Environment at Orchestrating Winning Performance taking place in Lausanne from June 27th to July 1st.