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: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

Is your school or workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create.

TedTalks: Alexa von Tobel and Personal Finance

Alexa von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest.com which she has been developing and growing since 2006. LearnVest is the leading personal finance and lifestyle website that brings financial literacy to women. Since launching LearnVest, Alexa has been widely quoted as a personal finance expert and entrepreneur in top tier business and consumer publications including: New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, BusinessWeek, Shape, Fast Company, Marie Claire, ForbesWoman, InStyle, People StyleWatch, Time Out New York, The Huffington Post, among many others

In this TedTalk segment, Alexa discusses how you as a young professional can assume the necessary control of your personal finances through her five principles.

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.

Network Like A Pro

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You probably have heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In today’s interconnected society, it is hard not to believe this simple phrase. Most people attend networking events to gain something.  Whether it is a job, a lead, a referral, or even an unpaid opportunity, networking events provide eager professionals with the community, exposure, and hope in making their professional dreams into a reality.

Over the past few years, I have seen two types of people. Those who walk away from these events disappointed and disheartened by the lack of job prospects and those who are ecstatic and inspired for the future. Now I know what you are thinking, it is not the event that led to this difference. Rather it was the mentality of the individual. For those who leave these events content and enthusiastic about their professional future, they come in simply with a goal in mind. That goal is what allows them to plan, act, and talk in a particular way. It gives them the inspiration to find new professional avenues and the determination in completing each and every task. This type of true network occurs because, at the end of the day, they are looking for something out of these people.

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Now with networking, the goal cannot be to simply get a job. That simplistic goal is oftentimes seen as too broad for it to be beneficial to you. Instead, think of your goal for the day. How many people do you want to talk to? What type of people do you want to talk to? Which field are you interested in? By answering these overarching holistic questions, you will be able to centralize your professional goals to something that goes beyond the job. In fact, by doing this, you will be able to communicate in your purest professional form. Instead of worrying about whether or not you are going to get a job, you will be able to enjoy your conversations with other people and communicate your own passion that can oftentimes catch the eyes of your future employer. Remember, the key fact of networking is to gain a stronger insight on the company (organization or job).

So beyond planning for a goal, what else do I need to know for networking?

When it comes to networking, it is never too early to start, even before you need it. For networking, seasoned networkers are able to see the desperation from individuals from a mile away. Many times this is triggered by a person’s eagerness or panicked looked as they brim through their resume. Instead of seeking an employer, look to build a professional relationship with an individual, even if it doesn’t benefit you in the present time.  This type of professional relationship can lead to new and exciting opportunities later on down the road and can help you develop your career through their particular guidance.

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Now beyond building a professional relationship with these individuals, you also want to come in with an overall plan. While this maybe similar to the concept of ‘establishing your goals’ as stated above, having a plan requires you to do your homework. Your goals maybe something like attending business school or networking with one of the biggest consulting companies. But when creating a plan, this research requires you to learn more about the ins-and-outs of an organization. Before attending any networking event, get a clear idea on the background, strengths, and goals for each company and organization. In addition, create a list of questions that allows you to dig deeper about the company. This type of homework will allow you to map out your overall conversation with the individual before you even speak to them.

Once you have done your homework and established your own personal agenda, you are ready for the show! One tip to keep in mind is to never dismiss anyone as unimportant. At the end of the day, you are there for a reason. Same goes for those individuals representing their companies or organizations. Make it your mission to discover the value in each person you talk to. Leverage what you know and drive out more information that can possibly interest or impact your future. Remember, you never know what impact a person may have later on down the line.