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Eight unexpected ways to continue to develop yourself as a leader

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Photo credit: 123rf. You’re a year or two into your dream leadership role and you know you are capable of more, but you don’t know where to start. After the first months of learning everything you need to learn about your job you settled in. Yet you have a nagging feeling that something is missing.

When you listen more

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Photo credit: Yarruta @123RF. It seems so much of our lives are wrapped up in what we see with our eyes that we forget that what we hear is just as important – maybe more so.

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Stepping up and stepping back

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Some leaders think that they need to be “out front” and leading at every moment. They simply can’t help themselves, feeling the need to overwhelm and dazzle everyone with their leadership prowess. Others hold back, staying quiet and never really stepping up to their own brilliance as leaders.

When you need to reset

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I love my work. Yet on occasion I need to do a check-in with myself because I might be feeling self-critical, stale, or heavy about it, and that can impact my effectiveness. That’s when I need a reset to help me to get back on track.

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What if you were curious?

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Photo credit: 123rf. Last week I listened to a client’s frustration over employees who had become complacent, moving slowly, dotting their “i’s” and “t’s”, following the corporate line. Unfortunately, this is a song and dance I’ve heard too often.

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Become a generative listener

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There is a kind of non-listening that goes on in our society and organizations that is distracted and disjointed, and often marked by interruptions. This non-listening doesn’t focus on the person speaking. Rather, the listeners try their hardest to get their ideas into the conversation.

Time for technology? How digital can help your production office work smarter

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Expanding into practically every aspect of our lives, the digital revolution has set out to achieve one core aim – to improve and enhance our daily experiences. And it does, extremely well. Transport, education, finance; even relationships.

Be realistic about your successes and failures

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Take a moment to think back on the leadership successes and failures you have experienced. Ask yourself, “Who is responsible for my successes?” and then, “Who is responsible for my failures?”. Think broadly as you ponder those questions.

How to make feedback a developmental opportunity

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Many employees cringe at the thought of getting feedback from their manager. Who wouldn’t blame them? It tends to be overly critical, given with haste and without care, and confusing. So often, the feedback given is often useless to the receiver.

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Coaching is more than asking questions

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I’ve seen a lot written and said about how important it is for people managers to coach the people around them. Often, the enthusiasm about coaching is anchored in leaders asking more questions rather than telling others what to do.

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Love. Its what makes a leader a leader

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Photo credit: 123rf. Subaru took a bold move in the world of marketing cars a few years back. They added the word, “Love” to the front end of their slogan, “It’s what makes a Subaru”. It was bold because who uses the word “love” in the business world?

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Are you making a difference?

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Although leaders may get great personal satisfaction from leading a team that accomplishes greatness, it’s in giving to others that creates conditions for the work to be exceptional.

Being vulnerable builds work relationships

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I was vying for a position in “corporate” that would round out my experience for something bigger later on. The manager who was interviewing me gave the most grueling interview I’d ever had. His intensity in interviews was the stuff of legends, and I wasn’t given a break.

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Separating behavior from the person

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Many of us are quick to judge others based on an instance of unseemly behavior. As a leader, falling into the trap of quickly judging someone based on a single bad behavior isn’t the best way to assure you have an organization of people brimming with potential.

Executive presence is an inside job

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It’s not unusual for an executive to be puzzled that they’ve been told they need to develop “executive presence” in order to move into executive levels in an organization. The question on their mind is “What is executive presence?”. Rightfully so.

Leading your team through a crisis

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Every once in a while, I work with a leader who heads up an organization that has been traumatized by an event or situation.

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Why you should coach people

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Photo credit: 123rf Southmind. Organizations are increasingly teaching leaders to coach their subordinates (and sometimes each other). I want to believe that this isn’t a passing fad, because there are lots of reasons for leaders to learn how to coach others in the workplace.

Becoming a great leader takes intention and mindfulness

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Leading others can look easy. In reality, most leaders aren’t naturals at leading people; they have to learn by trial and error. Think of all the professions that people go into that require years of honing their craft: musician, doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher, scientist….the the list goes on.

Ten daily practices that show respect to your team

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Disrespect seems to be running rampant everywhere, including our workplaces. Yet when a leader shows they respect their team, the benefits become obvious: people are motivated, dedicated, loyal and the leader becomes a talent magnet – the best workers want to work for and stay with that leader.

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The neuroscience of asking insightful questions

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I teach coaching skills to leaders. When I get to the section on how to ask questions (an important part of learning to coach) I might ask a trick question to start off: “How many of you are good at solving problems?”. Without fail, almost all hands shoot enthusiastically into the air.

Making mistakes okay

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If there is one thing that employees fear at work, it’s feeling shamed for mistakes they make. There is very little that is worse than feeling the sting of rejection from being called out on slip-ups.

Three enjoyable ways to manage stress

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Sometimes even the best leaders do bad things. If I had to name a common culprit that causes those bad behaviors, I’d pin it on chronic stress. Stress in the workplace has become so normalized that it often goes unnoticed to its victims until bad behavior shows up.

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Stretching past your fear

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Very few leaders will claim that they are fearful of anything. Other words might be used because the word fear in itself is frightful. They might say that they “avoid” something, “mistrust” someone, or have “anxiety” – perhaps more acceptable terms to use.

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Becoming a better leader takes discipline

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It’s a beautiful morning. I grab my camera, and walk out of the office to the property that surrounds it as I sharpen my sense of sight to find things that might be unusual or colorful. Something catches my attention with bright purple and yellow color.

Do less and be more of a leader

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Imagine that someone takes notice that you get things done and they see greater potential in you. They talk to you about becoming a people manager or having even greater people responsibilities if you are already a manager.

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Seven overused leadership strengths

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Knowing your strengths allows you to capitalize on them, and use them to be a better leader. Who wouldn’t want that? Yet, there are strengths that can be overused. When that happens, they can undermine your best efforts at becoming a great leader.

How to avoid starring in your own drama

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As human beings, we swim in daily drama. As leaders, any drama we’re involved in gets played out publicly. And there are lots of people out there who can’t wait to tell others about it, whether they get the background story right or not.

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Include others in complex decisions

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You are smart and confident, traits that have helped you to be a successful leader. Yet these traits have a dark side that can work against you, causing you to be less effective.

What does your heart think?

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Many leaders got to where they are because they’re smart and had been successful in their work as individual contributors.

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Psychological safety, perspective and behavior

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Photo credit/copyright: 123rf. Greg, a manager in a large company asked for his employees to be open with him. That didn’t go over well since he regularly dressed down those who came to him with bad news or mistakes they’d made.

Leadership IS personal

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Robert was well known as an executive who would go ballistic for the smallest of transgressions by others. He seemed to take everything personally, and often blamed the messenger who reluctantly carried any bad news into his office.

The companion that your passion for leadership needs

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“Follow your bliss and the world will open doors where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell. Copyright: lzflzf / 123RF Stock Photo. Sixteen years ago, I decided to become an executive coach and a year later left the corporate environment to start my own business.

Your discomfort is whispering to you

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With the scariest of holiday seasons behind us, it’s time to talk about fear. Not the running-away-screaming variety, but the smaller, uncomfortable kind that you may avoid in our workplace like: Having difficult conversations. Giving honest feedback. Asking for feedback. Speaking truth to power.

If you want to change the world, work on being happy

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You might be thinking that all the buzz about happiness is a lot of bunk. Yet isn’t it part of the human condition to want to be happy? Can you actually become happy? As a leader, why would being happy matter? You can become happy when you’re intentional about working at it.

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Make this year the beginning of closer work relationships

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Things are tough out there. Our core values are being challenged, our societies are being shaken up, and our organizations are filled with people who come into work every day confused and fearful. For so many, work is a haven to feel accomplished, to get things done, and to develop relationships.

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What it really means to be a strong leader

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For many, a “strong leader” may equate to tough, forceful, and powerful. Although there are situations that call for this kind of leadership, there are a select (and few) times when these qualities are necessary.

The recipe for great leadership

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I’m a pretty decent cook who loves to try new and sometimes unusual recipes. I always follow the step by step instructions – at least the first time I try a recipe. After that, I can improvise to make a dish that is my own.

How to develop your intuition

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One way to challenge yourself

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I’d started taking classical Russian ballet lessons in my 30’s. There were no plans to be a prima ballerina and no plans to perform. I just wanted to work hard and challenge myself to get some exercise and get as good as I could at this form of dance.

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The benefits of having a team of equals

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Perhaps you’ve had managers who expected things to be done their way, with little appreciation for your decisions and ideas. Think back to that time, and imagine how it felt.

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