Ted Talks: Listen, Learn…Then Lead

 

Stanley McChrystal goes into depth in this enlightening Ted Talk about the value of listening and learning in leadership. He references his former position in the military as a place in which many people of different ages and temperaments had to be brought together for a united cause. Leaders in the military were able to make great teams by listening to others and learning from mistakes. McChristal’s advice can be broadened to include all leaders.

TedTalks: Simon Sinek, Why Good Leaders make you feel Safe

What makes a great leader? Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests, it’s someone who makes their employees feel secure, who draws staffers into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility.

To learn more, please refer to the video above.

What Great Leadership can do at the Workplace

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Many people equate leadership with a specific position or job title. But, at the end of the day, you need more than just the fancy title on the door to be the transformative change at your workplace.

When it comes to defining leadership, the definition in itself is incredibly difficult to summarize in just one sentence. The reason why is that leadership is often subjective. Every business owner, CEO, and rising star wants to personify the necessary characteristics of a strong and transformative leader. But how can you be a good leader without a centralized definition?

The answer is simple. Leadership does not have a one size fit all definition. Instead it encompasses a variety of ideas, concepts, examples, and character traits that personify the essence that many professional individuals try to achieve each and every day. While at times, this can be confusing, understanding these various concepts will allow us to grow and develop within our professional industries.

So what is true leadership? How do I become that game changer at my workplace?

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When we identify leadership, we need to understand that leadership is more than just a title or longevity at a workplace. Instead, leadership is the ability to influence people to achieve a better result for an organization or group. It is the power to ignite action and creativity within your workers. But most importantly, it is the modesty of adapting ones style and communication when circumstances require them to do so. For this to happen, a leader must first understand their strengths, weaknesses, and goals through self-reflection.

While many people find internal reflection as a new age concept, the overall idea has actually been around for years. Through reflection, professional individuals are actually able to clarify their professional strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their professional futures. By conceptualizing these three big categories, an individual is able to effectively create and communicate positive and tangible steps to help motivate and alter their work to be the best that it can be. In addition, that sense of clarity allows that individual to take risk at opportunities that go beyond his or her title. This exhibition of drive and self-confidence of their work and personality eventually becomes infectious to those around them. Now, while some individuals can leverage that position to climb and build their name, true leaders use this time to inspire and drive action.

            Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Once you are able to articulate and resonate your goals and work ethics internally, you are now able to empower others through action and direction. Yes, a part of this deals with making difficult decisions. But in any position of power, you need to recognize the influence you are able to make in a grander scale.  Now this will never be easy. At times, you will be asked to utilize your position of power that best meets the productions needs. Think of this as micromanagement. Before any sense of autonomy is given, you want to make sure that your workers are able to do the task at a specific standard. This will require more of an authoritative approach because of the specific guidelines and expectations you want them meeting. While this starting approach will not make you the most popular individual, it will gain you the necessary support in establishing yourself at your workplace. Also, in reality, you cannot be seen as the ‘fun’ boss every time. Like it or not, you will be asked to make some unfavorable decisions and that will require you to accept that everything is your fault. The only way to help change that is to refine your weakest links and optimize that flaw to its fullest.

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Once you are able to establish that authority, now you will be able to build that personal relationship needed to motivate your employees each and every day. In the pop-culture show Suits, Mike Ross always says this one line: “If I read something, I understand it. Once I understand it, I never forget it.” To take that a step further, once you are able to establish the internal understanding of your vision and goals with your workers, you are able to cultivate a more organic and positive work culture. At the end of the day, your employees at your workplace want to know that their work provides a purpose. Your job is to show them that. Begin by inspiring them to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more. As a leader, it is your job to identify the standard bar and create a higher one so that they can be bigger than themselves. This type of challenge is something that personifies the true action and mentality of a strong leader. For this to happen, you of course need to be honest and transparent with your workers.

Being transparent often times can be perceived as something negative. While it may be difficult to give that type of feedback, having a strong line of communication with your employees will help aid them in improving their abilities, skills, and style that meets the workplace demands. To help alleviate the intensity of this talk and inspire action above anything, restate and remind your values, beliefs, and management philosophy with your workers. Show them not what you want, but what they are looking to accomplish. Once you are able to listen and understand their goals will you be able to align their views with yours and your company. This in turn will help you unlock their potential in becoming the person they dared to be.

Now all of this may sound difficult, but that is what it takes to be a true game changer within the workplace. It is about understanding, educating, and leading those around you in order to get the best from your people. For many people, this is daunting. But if you are looking to be great, do not be afraid to challenge the status quo. Raise your voice and the voices of others so that you can build a standard beyond the normal limitations.

Improving Company Culture

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Regardless of what industry you are in, building a strong and engaging company culture within a team is the cornerstone of any business’s success. To do this, we must first understand and conceptualize the definition for an efficient and effective work culture. By definition, company culture is the organizational cultural representation of a corporation’s collective values, beliefs, and principles. To put it in simpler terms, it is the personality and character of a business. The various social norms, style, language, and operational habits of a company represent how an individual should act and perform each and every day. While it may not be easy in establishing this type of fluid and cohesive culture, it will be absolutely vital for your company’s health to do so.

Below, you will find four fundamental steps that you can enhance to improve your company’s culture. Remember, a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. As a business, your job is not just to lead your workers to your goals, but also to inspire and empower their passion and drive so that they can grow personally and professionally within their positions.

1. Be Transparent

You probably heard this word thrown around the office. When it comes down to office culture, you want to ingrain a sense of honesty and transparency in every aspect of the day. Whether you are working with a client or with a coworker, having a sense of transparency will make all the difference when streamlining your communication. To do this effectively, try and give everyone at your company access to as much information as possible. Even if it is bad information, you want your workers to be well aware of the roles they will need to assume for the future. This will establish a sense of trust and belief of the direction and expectation of the company as a whole.

2. Enhance Strong and Communicative Collaboration

You have heard the saying ‘two heads are better than one,’ well the same goes for at the office. To establish an enriching and motivational work culture, you need to make sure that there is a strong sense of collaboration between various parties and departments. One of the most frustrating points an employee can say about a company is the lack of communication and support they are getting from their team or their managers. To avoid this negative mentality, establish that strong line of communication. Enhance the logistics within the departments themselves so that information can be streamlined from one place to the next as efficiently as possible. Last but not least, encourage group collaboration. The best people your employees can learn from are from their own peers and coworkers.

3. Inspire Holistic Thinking

One of the biggest assets you have at your company is simply the people there. For many thriving businesses, executives and managers constantly look to their employees for innovative strategies and new-age thinking. By opening your company to this new style of thinking, you will be able to reflect and revamp any existing weaknesses or flaws that can better grow your company in the future.

4. Establish a Sense of Autonomy

There will be times where you will need to micromanage your group. But unlike the antiquated mentality of authoritative leadership, you want to make sure that you are providing your employees with the opportunity to assume responsibility and ownership of their work. Remember, good leaders manage their workers to complete their objectives; great leaders look to push, inspire, and drive their employees to be better than who they are.