Author Archive

Top 10 Leadership Soft Skills

January 29, 2018

Check out this excellent article titled “Top 10 Leadership Skills Leadership Skills Employers Look For” by Gemwaga Ndege originally posted at LinkedIn (link to original article).

Whether one is an office manager or a project leader, all good leaders require a number of soft skills to help them positively interact with employees or team members. Employers seek these skills in the candidates they hire for leadership roles. Here are the top 10 skills that make a strong leader in the workplace.

Top 10 Leadership Soft Skills

1. Communication

As a leader, you need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain to your employees everything from organizational goals to specific tasks.Leaders must master all forms of communication, including one-on-one, departmental, and full-staff conversations, as well as communication via the phone, email, and social media. A large part of communication involves listening. Therefore, leaders should establish a steady flow of communication between themselves and their staff or team members, either through an open-door policy or regular conversations with workers. Leaders should make themselves regularly available to discuss issues and concerns with employees.

2. Motivation

Leaders need to inspire their workers to go the extra mile for their organization; just paying a fair salary to employees is typically not enough inspiration (although it is important too). There are a number of ways to motivate your workers: you may build employee self-esteem through recognition and rewards, or by giving employees new responsibilities to increase their investment in the company. You must learn what motivators work best for your employees or team members to encourage productivity and passion.

3. Delegating

Leaders who try to take on too many tasks by themselves will struggle to get anything done. These leaders often fear that delegating tasks is a sign of weakness, when in fact it is a sign of a strong leader. Therefore, you need to identify the skills of each of your employees, and assign duties to each employee based on his or her skill set. By delegating tasks to staff members, you can focus on other important tasks.

4. Positivity

A positive attitude can go a long way in an office. You should be able to laugh at yourself when something doesn’t go quite as planned; this helps create a happy and healthy work environment, even during busy, stressful periods. Simple acts like asking employees about their vacation plans will develop a positive atmosphere in the office, and raise morale among staff members. If employees feel that they work in a positive environment, they will be more likely to want to be at work, and will therefore be more willing to put in the long hours when needed.

5. Trustworthiness

Employees need to be able to feel comfortable coming to their manager or leader with questions and concerns. It is important for you to demonstrate your integrity — employees will only trust leaders they respect. By being open and honest, you will encourage the same sort of honesty in your employees.

6. Creativity

As a leader, you have to make a number of decisions that do not have a clear answer; you therefore need to be able to think outside of the box. Learning to try nontraditional solutions, or approaching problems in nontraditional ways, will help you to solve an otherwise unsolvable problem. Most employees will also be impressed and inspired by a leader who doesn’t always choose the safe, conventional path.

7. Feedback

Leaders should constantly look for opportunities to deliver useful information to team members about their performance. However, there is a fine line between offering employees advice and assistance, and micromanaging. By teaching employees how to improve their work and make their own decisions, you will feel more confident delegating tasks to your staff.

8. Responsibility

A leader is responsible for both the successes and failures of his or her team. Therefore, you need to be willing to accept blame when something does not go correctly. If your employees see their leader pointing fingers and blaming others, they will lose respect for you. Accept mistakes and failures, and then devise clear solutions for improvement.

9. Commitment

It is important for leaders to follow through with what they agree to do. You should be willing to put in the extra hours to complete an assignment; employees will see this commitment and follow your example. Similarly, when you promise your staff a reward, such as an office party, you should always follow through. A leader cannot expect employees to commit to their job and their tasks if he or she cannot do the same.

10. Flexibility

Mishaps and last-minute changes always occur at work. Leaders need to be flexible, accepting whatever changes come their way. Employees will appreciate your ability to accept changes in stride and creatively problem-solve.

Similarly, leaders must be open to suggestions and feedback. If your staff is dissatisfied with an aspect of the office environment, listen to their concern and be open to making necessary changes. Employees will appreciate a leader’s ability to accept appropriate feedback.

_____________________________________

Be sure to check out books about leadership at the Plano Public Library (link to books about leadership).

Make More Money in the New Year, Without Changing Your Job

January 1, 2018

New Year, Same Job? Here are eight often overlooked opportunities for getting ahead this year without changing your job.

1. If you are very efficient in your role, could you take on a greater workload?Unemployment is low, hiring is tough and training takes time. If you can get more done for your team without the added headcount, that has measurable value to the company.

2. Have you built a strong network in the industry? You can help identify top candidates for internal hiring. Again, hiring is tough these days and internal referrals often make efficient and profitable hires. Some companies have internal referral bonuses. If yours doesn’t, you can suggest starting one and get paid for referring people who are qualified (and that you like) for roles.

3. Have customers who love you? You can create a strategy to ask for referrals. A Texas Tech University survey showed that 83 percent of happy customers are willing to provide a referral, but just 29 percent of customers end up giving one. Try asking more frequently. You don’t have to be in sales to get referrals – you just need to propose to your management team an incentive to keep you interested.

4. Ready for training? Ongoing education and professional development is good for you and for your company. Employees return from training with better skills and a motivated mindset. If you have your eye on development opportunities, ask your company if they will pay for them. The increase in knowledge may also warrant an increase in pay – so you could get a double win.

5. Acquire certifications. If you excel in your profession, look for external certifications that validate your mastery. A certification is a competitive advantage for you and it displays your commitment to professional quality. Certifications also enhance your employer’s brand image. Similar to training, if you ask, your employer may cover the cost of the certification, a pay increase may be in the cards or management might be able to give you work time to complete the process.

6. Trade up your tech. Would a new laptop, a tablet or smartphone help you to be more productive? Write out the potential benefits of upgraded tech versus the costs and propose it. Tech-savvy employees are usually more efficient, leave a better documentation trail and are role models for those lacking digital dexterity. Your boss may have no idea about the latest trends in productivity solutions and software. If the numbers make sense, a “yes” may be forthcoming.

7. Ask for flexibility. If you are a valued employee with a track record of performance, you likely have earned the trust required for flexibility. Although some companies have very explicit remote work policies, many companies are not so rigidly defined (especially small or midsized firms). Of course, not every role can be done from home. But if flexibility would increase your job satisfaction or help you to minimize some of the costs and stress caused by trying to get it all done with a rigid schedule, it’s worth a conversation.

8. Inquire about expenses. Are you spending a lot commuting or paying for a gym? Corporate benefits are constantly evolving based on options available and things required to keep a company competitive. Your company may have options to buy mass transit passes or gym memberships at a bulk discount. Even if that is not an option, they may be able to take out those expenses before taxes, saving you the tax rate.

As the “CEO” of your career, you have the most invested in advocating for the things that can bolster your satisfaction and motivation. Talented, productive employees who are happy are very good for business. Great managers understand this equation – but they may be too busy to think of additional ways to stoke their employees. The old adage is true – “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Parlay your excellent performance in 2017 to advance your compensation and perks for 2018.

Source: USNews: https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/articles/2017-12-04/make-more-money-in-the-new-year-without-changing-your-job