How to be an Effective Leader

Being a leader in the workplace has its advantages. In fact, you don’t even need to be a manager to be a leader at work. You can lead simply by integrating these character traits into your daily mindset and activities.leadership traits

Communication – Essentially, every leader is a good communicator. That means they not only know how to engage with others, but more importantly they understand how to listen. Leaders pay attention, ask a lot of questions, and can express themselves accurately.

Team Player – Remember that old saying, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” Well, that statement still holds true. A good leader is a team player. They understand that success comes from working with a group of talented individuals and that no one person can do it all alone.

Risk Taker – A leader isn’t afraid to put themselves out there, share ideas, and explore new opportunities. Taking risks showcases that you have confidence in yourself, and even if the risks do not pay off, you aren’t afraid to jump back in and try again.

Vision – Individuals, who are leaders, also have vision. Having vision means seeing the big picture, and what needs to happen in order for that vision to come to fruition. They know where they want to go, and have a good sense of how they can get there. They can also easily share that vision with others, get people to jump on board, and lead the team to success.

Leadership can be learned. Stepping up and leading starts by making a conscious choice and commitment to lead. Are you ready to lead?

How to Ask for a Recommendation

Recommendations of your work history, skills, and abilities are a great way to showcase your value to both your current employer and future employers.

Here are a few tips for asking for recommendations.

First, let’s take a look at who should write a recommendation for you.

  1. Your manager is the first place you’ll want to look for a strong recommendation. A manager’s recommendation will tell how you handled the job, and where you excelled in a position.
  2. Next, a client can offer their experience in working with you directly. This will show how you interact with individuals and the relationships you were able to build with them.
  3. Lastly, colleagues and co-workers. While these recommendations tend to carry the least amount of weight, if you can get honest reviews about your ability to lead your co-workers, or how you work well within a team, or to highlight certain skills and aspects of your career – they could also be beneficial.
  4. Others. There could be other individuals whom a recommendation would carry weight for you, such as a professor, a board member from the non-profit from where you do volunteer work, or some other contact that can attest to your skills and abilities.

Let’s now look at how to ask for a recommendation. Currently, LinkedIn provides an excellent platform for asking for recommendations. Once you are connected to a person, you can simply request a recommendation from that connection. Here’s what you need to know.

  1. The sooner you ask for a recommendation, the better. Don’t wait. If you just changed jobs, go back to that previous employer now and get them to write a few words about you while you are still fresh in their minds.
  2. Be willing to reciprocate. If you ask for a recommendation, be willing to write one right back.
  3. Consistently seek out those who value your work, and stay in touch with them. When the time is right, send an invitation to write a recommendation. It’s okay if you give the person more details about what you are looking for, such as – “I’m seeking recommendations that highlight my ability to (manage others, close sales, etc.).”
  4. Say thank you! Don’t let their kindness go unnoticed, if you can’t write a recommendation back for them see if there is anything else that you can do for that person.

Recommendations are a great way to build your career portfolio, whether you use them solely on LinkedIn, or add them into your resume; a few good words about your ability can go a long way.

Managing Change: Making Friends with Your New Boss

There generally comes a time in our career when things are rolling along just fine, and then all of a sudden a boss, manager or other “higher-up” makes a change. Whether they move into a new position within the company, or make some other move, their decision ultimately leads us to a face a change in our own career. Here are few ways to manage the adjustment when a change rolls around your way.

1.  Don’t expect your old boss, to be your new boss. People are inherently different. Their communications styles vary, their leadership styles will be different, and even their expectations of you can change over time. The first rule in managing this change is to get to know your new boss. Find out their likes and dislikes, what’s important to them, and what they expect from you. Don’t be afraid to have a tough and open conversation to further understand your new leader.

2. Be clear about what you do. You will want to let your new leader know what your role entails. Perhaps you are doing things that aren’t expected, or that contribute to the team in a greater way than one would know about. Don’t be shy in letting this person know what you have going on and what tasks are on your plate.

3. Give change time. It often takes awhile for people to find their “groove” when working together. Since expectations and personalities differ, give the new leader the benefit of the doubt by not comparing them to your old boss, being accepting and understanding of their ways and requests, and being open minded about change.

Overall, making friends with your new boss will always pay off in the long run. Despite being resistant to change, many times change presents a great opportunity to grow and expand beyond your normal comfort levels. Furthermore, it can also show you are the kind of person who can thrive in any situation, which is exactly the type of person your boss wants on their team.

Mentoring Helps Ease Executives’ Transitions

A new study conducted by the Institute of Executive Development shows that as many as one third of all executives moving to a new company, and one fifth of those moving to a new job within the same company do not transition well. A failed transition for a senior leader can result in lost work hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It is in an organization’s best interest to evaluate the transition process for senior leadership positions to make the transitions both smooth and effective.

A widely held belief among companies is that it only takes a couple of months for an executive to transition to a new company. A recent survey tells a different story, showing that 36% of the respondents said it took six to nine months to be fully functional in a new position.

Money is invested in the search for and hiring of new executives, but often companies stop short of making sure their new leader is successful.  Orientation to a new company is a normal procedure, but only 11% of those interviewed for the study found the process to be helpful. The most effective way to make the transition is to have a customized plan along with a mentoring or coaching relationship.

Here are ways organizations can make transitions easier for top executives:

  • Begin thinking about the transition during the interview process.  Use evaluation techniques that help the hiring team and the potential executive see how he/she fits into the new job.  Technical and business skills as well as interpersonal skills should be addressed.
  • Begin coaching the executive immediately after the hire, assigning key people to help resolve issues as they come up.  Although only 32% of respondents had a coach, 49% of those who were coached said it was the most effective resource for a smooth transition.  Coaching checkpoints at 30-60 and 90 days into the job can help uncover areas of weakness, leading to  immediate action steps to create more success for the new hire and the company.
  • Create a customized plan outlining the specific requirements of the job. What one thinks the job entails and what the actual job is comprised of may be different.  Currently 31% of the 150 executives in the study use customized plans and 34% of those respondents said the plans were the most helpful resource in an effective transition.
  • Use mentors, such as current and retired executives and board members, to help the new leader navigate through the organization, learn the culture, and network with key people.

A thoughtful and consistent process including mentoring, coaching and a customized plan will lead to greater success for an organization’s new executive. Additionally, taking these extra steps could keep you from losing your new hire, and save you time and money over the long run.