Leadership is not an exclusive club. Anyone can join.
Anyone includes introverts, too. In my first tip this week, we examine the fallacy that extroverts make better leaders than introverts. Sure, in some situations, an extrovert’s tendency to speak confidently and off-the-cuff can be very effective. But in others, an introvert’s tendency to carefully process thoughts before speaking may be exactly what’s needed.
One pitfall is making dangerous assumptions—like assuming that it’s not your job to develop the talent around you. You’d think that with all the leadership-related books, blogs, and videos on the market, professionals would understand the importance of helping to develop those around them. But you’d be wrong.
This week I’ll tackle a fun case: managing those employees who approach their jobs a bit differently than the rest. Say hello to your creative and technical teams.
In this week’s first tip we’ll address the creatives on your team. Creative professionals can be colorful, unique individuals; by nature they tend to view problems from different perspectives. Your real management challenge with creative professionals is nurturing and channeling their creativity while protecting them from team members who don’t understand their processes.
This week’s first tip takes aim at our unquestioning love of teams. For the last half century, building a team to handle issues has been the de facto response to big challenges at work.
The idea is simple. Two heads (or three or four) are better than one. More experience and more ideas make for more effective decision making, right?
Not necessarily. First, there are many ineffective ways to build teams. From staffing and training to recognition and rewards, we don’t always think about all the issues that should be involved when building a team.
It’s reality: Even our leaders can make mistakes. Working for some leaders can prove to be particularly challenging. It could be due to their questionable competence, sketchy ethics, or a generally bad attitude—but if these traits sound familiar, then you just may have the proverbial “bad boss.”
The good news is that you can learn a lot from a bad boss. If you aspire to run the department, or the organization, or even start your own company, then listen up! Great mentors will help you accelerate your growth, but bad examples around you can help even more. The negative emotions their behaviors stir up force us to pay attention. So take notes, be kind and cautious in response to their crazy behavior, and spend all the time you need to plot your escape. Soon enough, you’ll have your shot—and a long list of things you won’t do when you’re the new leader.
It’s sometimes shocking how useful honesty can be, yet we often avoid it. Take hiring talent as an example. We should be honest to ensure that candidates know exactly what they are getting into. But instead of telling them about team quirks, odd office dynamics, and long hours driven by client needs, we often lie. We push out polished and agreed–upon images about a team and company that don’t exist in the real world. We tell them everything we can think of that is good about us, but nothing that sounds remotely imperfect or strange.
Communication at work is a lot like trust: Both take time to build but can be lost in a moment.
In this week’s first tip, I’ll tell you several phrases you should avoid saying at work. Here’s one: “That’s not my job.” Even when it’s true, it’s never helpful. It draws lines, sounds combative, and otherwise turns people off. So one part of effective communication is choosing the right things to say, while another is avoiding troubling or unproductive phrases.
One of the biggest potential wastes of time and money in corporate America is the team-building retreat. Retreats are rarely well planned well or correctly facilitated. The result is that teams often dread attending retreats, considering them either a waste of time or, best case, merely some “fun time” away from the office. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If handled correctly, team retreats can be productive, educational events that strengthen team bonds and encourage creativity.
My first management tip this week looks at the planning phase of a successful team retreat. It starts with being honest about what the team needs; a dose of fun is always helpful, but it should be bundled with serious, targeted learning. Is your team’s key issue trust? A lack of candor? Greater accountability? Brainstorm on the possible learning areas you could tackle, talk to your team, and choose a relevant topic.