Social Media: The Benefits Of Bigger And Better

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, turned the world upside down in 2004, when he made a way to share everything online. At the tips of your fingers, you could access photos from people in London, have a conversation with someone in New York and post and share information for the world to see from sitting on your couch. These easy tools can quickly connect people from all over the globe. Social media has changed the business world. It is time for you to hop on the bandwagon or get left in the dust!

By The Numbers: Discovering Linkedin

As of May 2014, there are currently 300 million people around the globe that are on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a business site that allows you to connect with people in your field of work, in your company, from your school, among others. Your options are truly endless. If people have connected with you on LinkedIn then every time that you post something it will show up on all of their newsfeeds.
LinkedIn is a great way to get your business off the ground and to create a new client basis. Other than being a great tool for your business, LinkedIn has been a great example of what it means to evolve with time. They are one of the older social media sites yet they are still around and still popular because they are constantly updating their site and evolving to keep up with our fast-paced society.

Don’t Get Left In The Dust

Social media has the perks of being instantaneous. If you want to get your company’s name out there, it is a very efficient way to get that done. Facebook is one of the many ways that you can reach people. Their 1.23 billion monthly active users are completely at your disposal if you know how to manage social media correctly. When you have an event happening or something great has happened within your company, tell people about it! Making one quick post lets your followers be able to see your success at a moment’s notice.

Be The First To Tweet It

Twitter, although it looks as if it is overwhelming at first, is an amazing marketing tool. Not only does it keep you actively engaged in your community, it allows your community to stay actively engaged with you. Announcing an upcoming event via flyers, banquets or even webinars only reaches a select group of individuals. Although all of these ways of sharing information are somewhat successful, they only reach a small audience and your vision should be to reach all audiences in order to grow your client base.

More Than An Entertainment Destination

Youtube has become the place to watch videos. It is easily accessible to people all around the world (again, growing your client base). It is a one-stop-shop for variety and you are even able to create certain channels to organize all of your videos and edit them later as you please. Youtube is used everywhere and by everyone: from classrooms to couches, from children to grandparents. If you want to get your videos out there, all you have to do is post them. With each video, you can give develop tags. For example, you have a video about how to be successful in your business and you title it “Business Success Video” (hopefully you use a more creative title), well, when people search for Rihanna’s music video of “Nobody’s Business” your video will also come up because of the tagline business. It is an ingenious way of getting the common person to view your videos.

Growing Your Business

Social media is the root of success in today’s business industry. It is the most time efficient way to get your information out into society and expand your client base. Evolving with the fast paced, need-it-now society is the only way not to get left behind. Social media takes work to keep up with but once you get started it is only the beginning to an upward climb towards success.

Employee Engagement the Key to Success

A common complaint within the workplace these days is, “there is no communication around here. Nobody ever tells us what’s going on.” So everybody feels that it’s a communication problem. But on closer inspection we find that the problem is not a lack of messaging but rather a lack of engagement.

The workplace has become so politically correct, due to the diversity of the workforce, that in order not to offend many of us have become passive/aggressive. In other words it’s safer to ignore rather than engage. Because of this response the workforce misinterprets a desire not to offend, as offensive in that their read is that management does not engage because they do not care about the employees or worse yet management is hiding something from them.

Consequently living in this passive/aggressive world creates poor morale, a general malaise descends upon an employee’s work performance and rumors and gossip rule the day. This kind of behavior and response sets up an atmosphere of distrust which then leads to increased costs of supervision, the addition of more employees to get the job done because a general feeling of, “It’s not my job” prevails. So the cost of doing business rises higher than it needs to and the consumer feels that the product produced is substandard.

But there is an antidote to this problem and it’s easier than people think. It is actually quite simple in fact it’s called, “Engagement.” It is the ability to sincerely and repetitively engage your employees in a dialogue where you cover the issues of the day either in a group or individual situation depending on the subject matter. Engaged employees tend to be positive about their workplace, more productive in their actual work product and they also tend to do more than is expected hence for all these reasons the workplace is more profitable than the industry average.

Engagement though is not easy. To be effective it must be consistent, organized, and easy to understand in other words it must appeal to the employee as you explain what’s in it for them. It can’t have just a checklist feeling but rather the content, tone and outcome must be sincere, topical and informative. You have to work at it and spend the time necessary to be effective.

Engagement can be used effectively to educate, train, inform, motivate, discipline and praise. In fact it can be used in every communicative interaction if you want your workforce to be at the top of their game. It can be a happy time, a stressful time, an uncomfortable time but no matter what kind of time it is, even if it is difficult, remember that through conflict comes positive change.

So today, if you need to, start to retool your style to be, “Engaging,” as it will make your management life more productive, satisfying, and profitable and it just might get you that raise or promotion that you’ve been looking for. That’s what’s in it for you!!!

Good Resolutions and Lack of Conflict

Good Resolutions and Lack of Conflict is Only Possible with Good Management

By Bob Foley, CEO – 360 Talent Advisors

Unfortunately, conflict appears in our professional and personal lives and must be dealt with. Workplaces are common ground for conflicts that must be controlled before it gets out of hand. Unfortunately, weak management will run for cover and refuse to acknowledge that he or she has a serious problem developing. Conflict will not simply disappear and resolve itself. Without solid, strong management, conflict can escalates into a really big problem.

Every workplace or business has workers that disrupt everyone’s workday by manipulation, back stabbing, pointing fingers, lying and the list goes on. Adding to that is the lack of good leadership, shrugging off the problem or refusing to even see it going on. Good management does not play favoritism and does not ignore bad behavior or the disruptive actions of some workers. They understand that if problem is not resolved, they will lose good employees who are tired of a bad atmosphere. Poor working environments lead to a lack in productivity, clients being treated poorly and can lead to business failure.

Good management will recognize situations, realize the core of the problem and bring everyone back to a good resolution. Knowing how to resolve conflicts requires the skills to deal with situations and build a stronger workforce.

What Causes Conflict with an Organization?

People are people and conflicts do arise but in many cases it’s a misunderstanding that can be cleared up and everyone moves on. Other causes range from a struggle for power, jealously, egos and competition. Nine-tenths of conflicts are caused by poor communication or not having the ability to control one’s temper and behavior.

Communication:

Communication between fellow workers and management must be clear, concise and understood by all. When communication is rarely addressed, employees will gossip, spread untruths or lack of job description. It is essential that management conveys accurate information and makes sure all the employees have been given this valuable information. Siding with one side of the dispute, without knowing the core of the issue, will only lead to more conflicts that will continue to erupt.

Ill-Tempers:

On more than one occasion, people will let their temper and their mouths run ahead of their brains. Saying hurtful or threatening comments is more than likely going to show them the door. In some cases, the disruptor is protected because he or she just happens to be “this month’s pet.” This is harmful to other employees leaving them to believe the “pet” can say and do anything they please without consequences. As mentioned earlier, favoritism can be deadly to a healthy work environment and management is totally at fault.

Understanding and Putting the Fire Out:

Management must step up to the plate and understand what’s causing the conflict before being able to resolve the situation:

First and foremost, try and understand what is causing an emotional breakdown with employees. What is triggering the conflict and what’s the catalyst.

Do not assume one party is totally at fault while the other is “as pure as the driven snow.” If management does not know the core of the issue, they should never assume.

Put yourself in the other employees position. Is lack of communication causing arguments amongst employees? Do you recognize that an employee might feel second rate to another employee because of favoritism? Staying neutral and listening to both sides of the situation should give a clearer understanding of what’s going on.

Clearly define employees’ responsibilities and make sure that duties are fairly distributed and not all tasks are placed on just a few workers.

Know your battles and choose carefully. Some situations may be a false storm because employees are tired so let it go. Situations that continually erupt need to be taken seriously and carefully reviewed. Bring the employees together and see if mutual ground can be found and the problem eradicated.

Use Your Best Communication Skills:

Listen to all parties involved and give each person the opportunity to relate their side of the issue. Only ask questions that will help clarify the situation. Do not criticize, accuse or blame one person without knowing the full story.

Sit down with other management personnel and see if changes in the environment, upping communications and recognizing all employees as equal could lead to a better business atmosphere.

Final Decisions:

Always keep a positive attitude, give people the benefit of the doubt and keep an eye out for any further problems. Most workers are good people and will try to work toward a positive ending.

Good management will seize the opportunity to see what is causing the problem, correct the problem and retain your valuable employees.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

By Chip Wilson, CEO – 360Solutions

Emotional intelligence is one of my most valued leadership skills, and is behind any personal or professional development training I’ve done. Emotional intelligence is defined as “the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions,” and in order to move forward as an organization one must frame the way individuals communicate with one another, the way they think, the way they act and the way they see conflict or situations.

More importantly, before any changes can be made, it’s crucial for us to start by analyzing who we are and why we make the decisions we make.

There are four critical components through which we see the world, and situations that arise in the workplace.

  • Fear—We feel powerless and out of control. We do not like what is happening and yet are unable to change it. We are reactive, blame others or seek escape. Life is a hassle.
  • Duty—
We have control over our lives by conforming to what others expect. We are “good” and “honorable” people. We build security, submit to the rules and avoid problems with others. Life is safe.
  • Achievement—
We seek importance and meaning through our achievements. We project a competent and “together” image to others. We are productive, goal-oriented and competitive. Life is good when we perform well.
  • Integrity—
We are alive and happy. We unconditionally accept what is, and recognize numerous choices about how to respond to the events and circumstances of life. We believe in ourselves and care about others. Life is great.

It’s essential to be aware of how our emotions affect us individually. Without such awareness, it’s nearly impossible to function and thrive within a high performing team or organization. Emotional intelligence is proven to have a direct impact on professional success, and if each individual focuses on being emotionally aware, the organization will incur greater long-term success.

Awareness involves several things:

  • Being fully present
  • Seeing reality clearly and for what it is
  • Recognizing the choices we make
  • Making choices based on the present, rather than past emotions or concerns
  • Being active and independent

Chip Wilson, founder and CEO of 360 Solutions, LLC, is a visionary who has an overwhelming passion for helping others develop their entrepreneurial spirit. With extensive knowledge of the training and development industry, Chip regularly has the opportunity to share his skills and successes with others. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Why Leaders Must Be Strong AND Gentle

Back when I started my career (insert Dark Ages joke here), we were always taught that leaders were “strong,” not just in business but in society overall¬—family, religion, politics. However, as I moved through my career, I was fortunate to work with many of what I would consider great leaders (and just as many awful leaders, but that’s for another time.) So gradually, my definition of a great leader slowly evolved. And it wasn’t just me. Many respected authors and researchers began to define strong leaders according to some similar characteristics.

  • They are focused. A laser focus on what matters to the point of single-mindedness.
  • They are clear. Openly clear about what they want to achieve on both specific projects as well as the overall direction of the company.
  • They communicate objectives. The goals and targets are communicated in firm, unmistakable language.
  • They are decisive. They collaborate with their team, but possess the ability to quickly weigh the input and options to make the final decision.
  • They are confident. Typically, I’ve seen great leaders possess a high level of confidence and a touch of individuality.
  • They are resilient. They are more resistant to criticism, but will meet opposition to their ideas and decisions head on.

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of writings about “gentle leadership.” Researchers and leadership authors describe a different set of characteristics for this gentle leader:

  • They are open-minded. They often reflect on what is possible.
  • They are emotionally intelligent. They listen carefully and provide a more nurturing feedback.
  • They welcome opposition and see it as the path to process improvement and an entrepreneurial culture.
  • They make collaborative decisions as often as possible, soliciting the input of their team.
  • They communicate redundantly utilizing different styles and communication vehicles.
  • They empower and delegate, not just with the tactical executions but also the overall responsibilities and decision-making.
  • They build teams both within and without the organization.

Both of these lists lean dangerously toward stereotypes, in my humble opinion. Taking a page from the great leaders I have worked with, I believe the best leaders possess many or all of these characteristics in combination. They simply become more acute given the situation. Unlike many researchers and authors, I also do not believe great leaders are hard-wired, or born with these talents. We’ve seen too many of our clients actually learn the skills needed to provide strong leadership. These traits can be taught.

Interestingly enough, the trend we’ve seen recently when we perform our initial analysis of a company or organization is a demand, from the employees, for leaders who are strong vs. gentle. Based on our follow-ups, we’ve discovered this is most often because of the employees’ changed expectations in the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown.

Employees need their leaders to 1) reduce their uncertainty and 2) to help them feel as if they are not moving backwards or standing in one place.

When faced with uncertainty, employees will simply fill in the blanks. And the data they usually fill in is most likely highly inaccurate. So in these circumstances, they feel more urgency for a leader who “takes charge,” who offers clarity about the tasks that need to be completed, and who makes quick decisions. However, these characteristics tend to manifest as extremes in some leaders when the going gets tough, creating employee frustration about their lack of ability to provide input and participate in positive outcomes.

In our experience, we’ve seen a more gentle leadership approach—punctuated with the occasional “strong leadership” qualities—tend to create a culture that produces more sustainable and consistent outcomes. For example, the model we often suggest is a strong leadership at the beginning of organizational initiatives, followed with more gentle tactics as progress is made. It can be challenging to implement, but with training and practical exercises, we’ve seen it create strong, rather than gentle, results.

Top 5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators

  1. Mind the Say-Do Principle. If your actions don’t align with your words, it’s a cause for destruction.  Communication is all about trust, and it’s better to say nothing until you’re certain that your actions will also follow through.
  2. Vow for Simplicity.  Information is thrown around 24/7, making simplicity not only powerful, but also necessary.  Effective communicators have the ability to turn complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable statements that employees can grasp and act upon.
  3. Find Your Voice. Don’t opt for the “corporate voice” that executives are so fond of.  Concentrate more towards being distinct and real. People respect real, and follow real. If you are genuine, then your employees will respect and listen to you for it.
  4. Be Present. Being present means you must interact with those whom your communication is directed towards. Email definitely serves a valuable purpose, but effective communication requires face-to-face contact. Make sure you’re spending equal amounts of time on every floor, starting from the ground-up.
  5. Listen In More Ways Than One. Effective communication is two-way. Good leaders not only ask great questions, but they also listen with both their eyes and ears.  Don’t be so focused with getting your message heard, that you forget to recognize what you’re seeing and hearing right in front of you.  Sometimes a person’s body language will tell you everything you need to know.

Leadership must be earned. But first, it must be taught.

During one of our recent webinars, one of our attendees posed this question: “How do you handle those in management positions who push down future leaders because of their own personal agenda to be promoted?”

Great question.

We’d all love to think this type of manager only exists in Hollywood movies, but sadly it’s probably more the rule than the exception. Especially in organizations with limited individual accountability. Like large companies where individuals fade into the burled woodwork. Or in bureaucratic organizations like hospitals or government agencies.

However, in high performance organizations, this type of leader is incredibly short-sighted. High performance companies require results. The level of results generated only by highly effective teams. These teams are made up of employees who simply don’t work for leaders they don’t trust.

Recently, we worked with a company struggling with many of the same problems Cynthia McCauley (a senior fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership) identifies as symptoms of a company lacking leadership.

  • There is lack of agreement on priorities.
  • People feel as if they are being pulled in different directions.
  • There’s inertia; people may be busy, but they aren’t making progress.
  • Things are in disarray: deadlines are missed, rework is required, there’s duplication of effort.
  • People feel isolated from one another.
  • Groups compete with one another.
  • Only the easy things get done.
  • Everyone is just asking “what’s in it for me?
  • People are not “walking the talk.”

Do any of these symptoms exist within your organization? Consider executing an anonymous employee engagement survey to help you identify problem areas. This is where we started with our new client.

The executive team had had previous conversations with their employees and managers. As expected, everything seemed to be perfect. So why was there still inertia? Seated across from you, employees will tell you what they think you want to hear, but when they’ve been guaranteed anonymity, the real truth comes out.

We discovered 26% of their managers felt unprepared to transition into management roles. They were afraid to admit it, feeling it revealed some sort of personal weakness. They made some assumptions about what being a leader meant. Many enforced their own agendas through threats and intimidation. They failed to lead by example. They executed their management roles well, but their teams were inefficient. As Peter Drucker famously stated that “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

It wasn’t entirely their fault. They did what they THOUGHT leaders were supposed to do. They didn’t realize that leadership can be taught. There are natural leaders, of course, but most leaders are created. Our client’s managers had not received any leadership training. They had been trained on how to execute their job, but not their role.
Effective leaders work constantly to improve through education, self-study, training, experience and coaching. It’s a process, not a seminar. For our client, we implemented trainings, but, more importantly, coached them through real-life scenarios so they could learn through applied examples. As a result, their leadership learned:

  • To put relationships first. Not to just establish relationships but to nurture them by making time for their colleagues and those they mentored. They become aware that making respectful connections is critical to creating a successful transformation. They begin to genuinely care about the development of their employees. They go to bat for them with the executive team. They learn to ask questions about their feelings, not just how their doing, and genuinely care about the answer.
  • To communicate in meaningful ways. They understand how both their roles and the roles of each of their team members fit into the broader goals of the organization so they can communicate it clearly and coach it regularly.
  • To keep their egos in check. After one of our workshops, we watched as our new leaders began to talk about themselves humbly while sparing no adjective in their praise for their employees. They immediately connected with their employees. Remarkably, they began to speak the same way about their teams when talking to their customers and the customers began to connect as well. In Danial Coleman’s book Emotional Intelligence, he writes of the two human brains: one that thinks and one that feels. By changing their practices, our new leaders began to connect through feeling thus creating stronger relationships.
  • To use humor. Humor strengthens relationships and has even been shown to improve the health of the individual and those around him or her. It builds positive emotions and helps reduce feelings of anger, depression or anxiety. For our client, we implemented our Executive Improv training. While improv is often associated with humor, it really enables leaders to listen more accurately, think on their feet and work with those around them. Humor is just a happy side benefit.
  • To lead with their strengths. Highly effective leaders learn to identify their unique blend of strengths and skills and leverage these to better the team, She surrounds herself with those who have complementary strengths.
  • To live with their strengths. Since leaders recognize their strengths, they also realize they cannot be all things to all people. Results don’t come from micro-managing or doing everything themselves. Instead they inspire those around them to maximize their own strengths and work effectively as a team.
  • To manage pessimism. Notice I didn’t say eliminate. Some pessimistic thinking can be healthy if leveraged correctly. Leaders can learn to focus their time and energy on those things they can control and when to change lanes when certain strategies aren’t working. They recognize that sometimes things just suck, so they embrace it and ride it out. And finally, they are good at compartmentalizing so the bad things in their lives don’t slop over into the good things.
  • To snicker at the concept of luck. Effective leaders pursue goals with passion and a dogged persistence. They don’t back down from challenges and define themselves by how they react to failure, not by the failure itself.
  • To understand the value of energy. Every employee should learn how to move efficiently from energy expenditure (those stressful times) and energy renewal. However, refilling their emotional tank is key for leaders and managers and they identify when their employees need it as well.

Remarkably, this actually comes naturally for most of the leaders we train. Certainly, habits can be deeply embedded and hard to change, but these habits are based on decades old perceptions of how a leader is supposed to act. Caring for their employees is far more natural. And far more effective for highly effective companies.

Performance Dashboards

Performance dashboards are very valuable to a slew of professionals far and wide.  They are basically a tool which allows companies to transform their goals and expectations into actual strategies, actions and tasks that are different for each person within the company.  This allows each person to have customized tasks which they must accomplish in order to meet the company’s goals.  They are extremely useful for keeping productivity, understanding and motivation high.  In fact, they can often be the difference between success within a company and failure!

The difference between using performance dashboards and not using them is focus.  Imagine gathering a group of employees and telling them that a certain project must be completed within two weeks or you will lose a very high paying client.  You tell them what the project is and you tell them to get to work with a wave of your hand.  Now, you have employees running around like crazy, three or four of them are working individually on the same part of the project while no one is addressing another part of the project, and everyone is going haywire without any focus.  Goals are not getting accomplished, tasks are not being completed and the project is not going to be finished on time or in an organized manner.  In fact, it could spell destruction for the project, the client and over time, your company! However, if you take this group of employees and break the project down into sections that each and every employee or mini-group can handle, each one is focused on their set task.  When each employee has finished his or her set task, the entire project comes together smoothly!

This is how performance dashboards work within a company and they provide several benefits which increase a company’s productivity, efficiency and even profits.  When each and every person within the organization is focused on specific tasks and goals, things run more smoothly and there is less confusion.  Performance dashboards also allow leaders to monitor the progress of specific tasks as well as find the root of problems within the organization.  With this combination of measuring, managing and monitoring your company, growth and success are much more achievable and easier to reach.  Performance dashboards may be a great tool for companies who feel that they are losing focus and will help them re-establish focus and set important goals and tasks which will lead to success.

Leadership: Who’s Trainable?

The ubiquitous question: Can anybody be trained (or better phrased, learn) to become a leader? From my perspective – NO! Many yes, possibly most, but not anybody.

Another way of asking the question: Who’s trainable and who’s not?

The prerequisite to this entire topic is about intent; given a potential leadership candidate, do they want to become or have the motivation to become a leader of people? This is often forgotten or ignored in the effort of promoting employees into the management ranks.

Given the starting point of a motivated leadership candidate, the following characteristics establish the best scenario for success:

  1. Introspection:  Becoming a leader is a process of learning and development that requires an individual to be open minded about their strengths and weaknesses. This not only requires the ability to accept criticism but to seek out feedback proactively.
  2. Willing to listen and learn:  Growing into a leadership role requires a person to be coachable. Learning from a great leader is a highly rewarding and unforgettable experience.
  3. Big picture thinker:  In addition to having industry expertise, leaders need to place emphasis on finding balance cross-functionally and in relation to organizational objectives and goals.
  4. Responsive versus reactionary:  Running any business is an endless string of solving problems, resolving conflict, and meeting challenges. Leaders set the tone to ensure the best result.
  5. Perspective as a follower:  Leaders start as followers and should never lose perspective on what people need from their manager to reach their potential.
  6. Lifelong learner: Read any biography or autobiography of a great leader and you will find some element of “I never stopped learning”.

Being a “top performer” in a position did NOT make the list. Although it is nice to have it does not provide substantial (enough) value for success as a leader. For followers it helps lend credibility to their manager, however, certain required characteristics necessary to be a super-star contribute to failure as a leader of people.

Defining Your Integrity

Must leaders have integrity? Most people would say they do without hesitating. However, defining integrity is not black and white. Integrity is not something that is defined in a book. It’s not something that’s defined by someone else. Integrity is you deciding what’s important to you.

As a leader, how do you perceive integrity? What do you want your life to look like? How do you want to be perceived by others? You create a model of integrity based off your own opinion. It’s not how someone else thinks you should live. It’s not how your boss, your spouse, or your family or friends perceives you. It’s how you define it.

Here is one way to create the definition of your own personal integrity. Write on a piece of paper the things in your life that are negotiable. Then, write the things in your life that are non-negotiable. The things that you are not willing to compromise on, the things that you are not willing to change and the things that you are not willing to get rid of in your life. Once you can truly determine what your non-negotiables are in life, it makes it easier to identify what your integrity paradigm looks like.

So, if only you can determine your own personal definition of integrity, what traits do you think leaders must possess? Are they tangible? Can they vary? And, how does a leader’s level of integrity affect those in the organization?