“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” – Babe Ruth
Every once in a while you get just the right mix of personalities, creativity, experience, and passion among the members of a team. There’s this perfect moment when everyone and everything just seems to click and “gestalt” – you get a whole which is larger than the sum of its parts. Some call it gestalt, others call it luck. I like to think of it as “chemistry.” Just as a chemist takes great care to mix chemicals properly, leaders must know how to mix their team to create the perfect “chemistry.”
Here are some tips to help your team “click”:
- Do a fun event outside of the office. Plan a beach day, play sports, go camping, take a hike – do something to get your team talking and working together. Make fun memories together. Spending time together outside of the office can build relationships, trust, and camaraderie. Here are some more outing suggestions.
- Quash conflict. When issues arise, deal with them. Don’t wait until it gets out of hand. Even the smallest offense can cause a big problem. Here’s a great post on resolving conflict.
- Make adjustments. Sometimes you have to let go of the good in order to grab the great. If someone on your team just isn’t “clicking,” have a conversation with them. Try to pinpoint why. And if a resolution isn’t reached, you may need to gracefully part ways.
Our technology-driven world offers many resources that can help increase effectiveness and productivity in leadership. Pictured above are five “must have” apps for leaders. And, for your convenience, below are download links.
- Google Drive (free): Apple / Android
- Dropbox (free): Apple / Android
- Pages ($9.99): Apple only
- Evernote (free): Apple / Android
- LinkedIn (free): Apple / Android
The holiday season is here! Are you prepared? Here are a few things leaders should remember during the holidays.
- Communicate In Advance: The holidays are a busy time of year. Usually schedules are full with obligations in and out of the office. Email a “holiday season brief” to your team that outlines any important announcements, big projects, holiday parties, changed office hours, and so on. Also, include a short preview of what’s to come after the holidays. The season can be a hectic time, so consistent communication is key. Keep everybody on the same page.
- Absent Team Members: Many people will request time off. Some people may catch the flu. During the holiday season, there is a greater chance of having MIA team members. Have a backup plan ready to go if (or when) you are missing part of your team. Try to be sensitive to people’s scheduling requests–planning ahead can help!
- Balancing The Busyness: Holiday parties, Christmas dinners, gift exchanges, secret Santa, family gatherings, and more…. Don’t feel obligated to attend everything. Decide in advance which events are the most important and plan accordingly. As a leader, your presence may be required at some [not-so-exciting] things, so be prepared. Also, don’t get too caught up in work that you neglect to spend time with family and friends. Make sure proper priorities are in place. Enjoy the season!
- Show Some Love: Do something special for your team during the holidays. (And, no, sending everyone fruitcake doesn’t count.) Try to spread some holiday cheer by giving thoughtful gifts, a handwritten card, or maybe even a paid day off. Think outside the box.
For holiday party tips, click here!
“Office workers spend an average of 4 hours per week in meetings. They feel more than half of that time is wasted.” – A Survey by Opinion Matters for Epson and supported by the Centre for Economics & Business Research, May 2012
I agree with the findings of this research. I’m in meetings almost every day and most of them are not that productive. Meetings, however, are virtually unavoidable at a leadership level. Every leader should know how to conduct an effective, productive meeting. Below are a few tips…
- Have a plan. Stick to the plan. Prepare a meeting agenda in advance that outlines the topics that are to be covered and the objectives that are to be accomplished. Distribute copies to everyone at the meeting. If the topic starts to deviate from the agenda, take charge and bring it back. Also, don’t try to do too much in one meeting. Make sure your plan is focused to accomplish a goal and not all over the place. [Here’s a good meeting agenda template.]
- Run the meeting. Don’t let the meeting run you. I’ve been in meetings where the person “in charge” just let the conversation wander in circles. Don’t be afraid to speak up and keep your team focused. (Tip #1 can help you do this.) Also, don’t let the “loudest” person on your team get all the attention. If you have a shy person on your team, encourage them to share their opinions by asking them directly.
- Give assignments. I’ve also been in meetings where great ideas were thought of, but the idea died because it was not delegated to someone for follow up. As ideas, suggestions, or questions arise in meetings, delegate tasks (with a deadline!) to members of your team.
- Respect people’s time. Set a timeframe for the meeting and stick to it. Also, remember that not everyone needs to be at every meeting. Figure out who you need at each meeting. Don’t waste people’s time.
For more information on running effective meetings, check out this infographic.
I am not a machine. It’s taken me a while to realize that I’m not the Energizer Bunny. I can only go and go for so long before I crash. On more than one occasion I’ve gotten very sick physically simply because I worked too hard for too long without adequate rest. And so, I’ve learned my lesson: healthy leadership comes from a healthy body. Here are some suggestions to help you tap the breaks…
- Schedule Time Off. I would suggest actually putting it in your calendar. Block off some time each week to do something fun, relaxing, or even nothing at all!
- Don’t Feel Guilty. This is a big one for me. I have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay to take a break. I’ll be a more effective leader if I’m well-rested.
- Stay Accountable To Someone. Ask a close friend or family member to check up on you. Don’t try to do it on your own!
You can only lead well if your body and mind are working properly. “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
If you’d like to read more on the importance of rest in leadership, here’s a great post.
Have you ever said those words? I have. Many times. You don’t want to extinguish the enthusiasm behind the idea, but let’s face it–the idea is dreadful. So, what do you say? “That’s interesting….” I know I’m not the only leader who encounters this situation on a regular basis.
Part of leadership is giving constructive criticism to your team. This isn’t always pleasant, so here are 5 tips from one of my textbooks to help make giving criticism a little more manageable. [My comments follow in italics.]
- Make “I” statements. Own your criticism by saying, “I’m confused by this sentence,” not “You confused me.” [Bringing yourself into the conversation helps soften the blow.]
- Be clear and specific, commenting on the work, not the person. Instead of “Why do you always make the same mistake?” try “This should be written as two separate sentences. Do you remember doing that before?” [I have found this to be key. Often times people feel “attacked” when you critique their work. Making a clear separation between the person and the person’s work is important.]
- Control your emotions and speak in a normal tone of voice. Show some empathy and understanding. [Just be genuinely nice about the whole thing. It works wonders.]
- Offer practical suggestions. Without suggestions on how the work might be improved, criticism is generally useless. [If you can’t offer a solution, or at least a suggestion, you shouldn’t be complaining.]
- Choose an appropriate time and place for this discussion. [My mom always told me, “praise in public, correct in private.” Good advice.]
I’d also like to add one final thought: Your team is like a bank account. You have to put something in before you are able to take something out. Praise = a deposit. Criticism = a withdraw. Make sure you are putting in more than you are taking out.
And remember, you won’t always be the one giving criticism. Sometimes you have to receive it. For a good article on that, click here.
Leadership can be confusing and overwhelming if you are not properly equipped. Pictured above are five “leadership essentials” that have helped me survive and thrive as a leader.