This week we discuss the reasons behind why so many of us wait to lead, how we can recognize our abilities to lead by addressing our fears and how to transition successfully into a leader without the need for a management job title
It’s common to think “I don’t have the job title which warrants me to be a leader”.
Early in my career I struggled with this exact mindset challenge. I thought “if I don’t have a title which gives me the power to lead, how and why would anyone listen to me in the first place”. This mindset is especially true and often found with people who are in individual contributor roles. We use the excuse “I don’t have the title to lead” as our justification for not stepping up to taking action, even in times when we know it’s what is needed.
I was well into the third year of my career when a senior partner in our office pulled me aside and gave me some much needed advice. Let’s put it this way, it was a thump on the head in a caring way. What he said was simple, yet incredibly eye opening:
“Your job title doesn’t give you permission to lead or make you a good leader people will respect, it’s more about your ability to help others achieve their goals while having their backs. We can lead from any role in the company, there’s no need to wait to be told you can lead or given a title which means people have to listen to you. So, why are you waiting?”
Urghhh, he had a point, even though in the moment my ego still wasn’t allowing me to hear it. After a couple days of digesting this feedback I had to admit I felt pretty dumb about the way I was thinking about leadership and my role within the company. I had to get over my ego and the thought that I needed a title to justify my ability to lead when the reality was, and still is, good leaders are those who take action and help others. They listen, guide and influence because they’re passionate about helping others, first. This in turns builds trust, respect and comradery – these are the building blocks and keys to being a good leader. Titles aside, those who can build trust with their colleagues gain respect which leads to healthier interactions. These things are possible and certainly most achievable even if your job title doesn’t reflect management.
Whether you have the leadership job title or not what’s important are your actions and the intent behind why you do them. Follow these steps to help guide you down the path of leading successfully:
1.Let Go of Fear – the basis for our lack of leadership is fear; fear we won’t do it right, fear people will reject us, fear we’ll look stupid in the process, etc.; once we acknowledge fear is what holds us back from doing what we know is right or what we want we then can go about changing our perspective to improve the situation
2.Build the Foundation - for what successful leadership is by reading “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann
3.Reflect - on who you are as a person, professional, peer and employee of your company
a.What skill sets or areas of influence do you possess which you could use to positive impact, support or mentor others within the organization
4.Channel Your Vulnerability – good leaders understand this truth, to be trusted as a leader we must be vulnerable. This doesn’t mean crying because the creamer when bad and ruined your coffee, it means being honest and open with your intent, your struggles and perspectives to help people see who you really are. No leader is perfect.
5.Be a Coach – listen and guide as this is the pathway to good leadership; like the old proverb says “give a man a fish and they will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
6.Act - start small and pick one person or department you believe you can positively impact; talk with that person or department to share with them your ideas and why you believe this would be of value to them, get their buy in before moving forward
7.Inform Management - Share with your manager the idea you have to help support and mentor others within the company, .Be prepared to provide specifics on how this could positively impact the company
8.Consistency - implement a schedule you and your new mentee can follow which keeps you on track helping them achieve their goals, key thing here is to keep it natural don’t overdue it with processes and procedures
The number one reason people opt out of entrepreneurship, which includes starting a business, being a solopreneur or even independent consultant, is fear. The wild west of entrepreneurship can come with a lot of unknowns as ambiguity and uncertainly is often synonymous with starting a business. It can be especially distressing for first time would-be-entrepreneurs to make the leap into small business as a result. The transitionary period from corporate life to entrepreneur, even the thought of this transitionary period, is marked with great concern and fear which keeps people from making the jump. For some it may be security at the current job, others it may be a lack of know-how in starting a business or simply a lack of self confidence in ones’ ability to make it on their own. Regardless of the reason, fear is a factor all potential and current entrepreneurs must overcome.
I’ve found the best way to overcome fear is to confront it head on. Fear grips us all, regardless of occupation, experience, background or capabilities. The difference between the people who let fear own them versus those who use it as a tool to achieve comes down to two things: acknowledgement and action. Rather than worry, it’s important we address our fears and understand them. When we take the time to acknowledge our feelings and emotions it allows us to better process why we’re feeling this way, at which point we can begin to build a strategy for using those fears as a motivating force towards success. Taking action against our fears comes in the form of slowing down, identifying your feelings, understanding the situation and then planning accordingly. If time is on your side rest easy knowing that you can plan to be an entrepreneur first before you ever jump in the ring. Create an attack plan, identify potential challenges and solutions on how to deal with them. While you won’t be able to plan for everything taking a proactive approach to dealing with fear and using it as a tool perhaps may be enough for you to finally make the leap into the world of entrepreneurship.
Key Take Away: Address your entrepreneurial fears head on, understand them and own it!
Action Item: Use your newly addressed fears as a guiding force to plan your entrepreneurial transition into being your own business owner. Build alliances, or peer groups, with other business owners to help with the transition while learning from their experiences along the way.
Interested in learning more about entrepreneurship and hearing stories from people who have made the leap into business ownership? Check out this event in Irvine, CA on 10/24/18: https://www.devicealliance.org/event/entrepreneur-event/
Have you found yourself saying ‘Yes’ to something at work and as you said it you wished you had said ‘No’?
This sound familiar:
Coworker: “Hey Jezebel, we’re starting a new project team to [insert mindless crap you don’t want to do] and we need an extra person. I know you’re swamped, it’s last minute and a bit outside your work but we could really use the help.”
Jezebel: [yes, this is you] “Oh I don’t know, I’m really busy with a lot of other projects. I’m in over my head already.”
Coworker: “C’mon, we really could use your help. We don’t have any other options and we can’t do it without you. Plus, you’re good at running projects. I’ll buy you lunch too!”
Jezebel: [still you] “Ughhh, okay fine. Just let me know when we’ll start.”
Coworker: “Right now.”
Let’s be honest here – this has happened to all of us at one point or another, and I’ve been Jezebel on more occasions than I’d care to admit. So why do we have such a hard time saying no at work?
Here’s are the nine most common reasons why we say yes at work when no is what we’re screaming from the mountain tops, silently in our heads of course:
Saying yes when you really want to say no is indeed a problem. According to the Harvard Business Review many of us say yes to avoid conflict at the office. When we experience this it leaves us deflated, frustrated and stressed. It can also lead to resentment between coworkers and an unhealthy work environment. Sounds fantastic!
So how do we go about saying no while doing so professionally and politely?
Dr. Travis Bradley, author of the best-selling book ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’ and contributor for Forbes Magazine, summarizes the art of saying no beautifully in 5 steps:
When we say no our “ability to communicate ‘no’ really reflects you’re in the drivers seat of your own life. It gives you a sense of empowerment.” – Vanessa Patrick, Prof at University of Houston
In theory this sounds fantastic. It’s a new sense of self. We’re walking tall and not going to take crap from no one. We’re almost begging for an opportunity to show off our new ‘No’ skills. Before you go off dodging and ducking everything that comes your way at the office make sure you keep in mind two things before you consider a ‘No’:
If the answer to either of these questions is yes be sure to purposefully slow your decision making down and get introspective.
Making decisions about your career, involvement in work at the office, supporting your boss or other management and professional opportunities up for considered is no easy task. It’s rarely a black and white decision as moments like this love to play in the gray area. When you’re confronted with a tough decision and you feel like you want to say no quickly think about the two questions above, assess the situation then move forward with your answer. If ‘No’ is still the right choice be sure to follow Dr. Bradberry’s advice to ensure your no lands as best as possible with your audience.
If you’re hiring or plan to hire this year it’s important you know two truths about present day hiring:
After a decade of working in the technical services and recruiting industry I’ve had few experiences, less than I can count on one hand, with companies that had onboarding programs which I would classify as amazing. Most companies fall short, way short, when it comes to providing a good onboarding experience to their new employees.
There’s an important note to be made here. When people hear ‘hiring’ and ‘onboarding’ they have a tendency to think that those responsibilities fall on our partners in HR. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The leaders who make the actual hiring decision have much to do with this process and good leaders know firsthand that their involvement can make or break the success of that new employee.
Employees, regardless of age, are looking for an ‘experience’ at work. Of course having a job is important to them but increasingly important, arguably more important, for a large majority of the professional workforce is the need to work at a place that provides an experience of comradery, meaningfulness in work, giving back, etc. and the list goes on.
Part of that experience is a company’s onboarding program and these programs shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Does your current employee onboarding program communicate the right message to the best candidates in the market?
Forbes estimates as high as 20% of employee attrition occurs within the first 45 days on the job as a result of poor employee onboarding. In fact, new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding orientation program were 69% more likely to remain at a company up to three years.
That’s a huge impact!
According to iCIMS, a software company specializing in recruiting systems and software, identified that new hires meet their first performance milestone 77% of the time when a formal onboarding program is in place versus only 49% of the time when one ceases to exist.
What that tells us is that when a good employee onboarding program exist BOTH individual performance and job tenure improve dramatically. I would also dare to say that the employees’ happiness and appreciation for the job are improved as well.
What do you do if your employee onboarding program lacks an experience to capture the best of the best?
Look no further – this article provides a complete overview of the only onboarding program you will ever need. Be prepared. There’s some work to be done here before you can just go hire someone and plop them in their bean bag cubby, or dungeon, whichever you’re working with. For the purposes of this article the ‘onboarding experience’ refers to the entire spectrum from when a job posting first gets released straight through to the new employees sixth month on the job.
The SQR1 Six Month Onboarding Program:
Step 1: Candidate Identification
This is the employees’ first glimpse into your company, their experience during this time matters greatly as to whether or not you will have an employee for years or for a matter of months.
- Job Posting – make them friendly and exciting; talk less about performance expectations and more about the opportunity and experience they will have in the role; create enthusiasm in candidates by sharing with candidates exciting things to come like new technology, new services, positive changes within the company, company culture or philosophies, etc.
- Call Backs - ensure people receive call backs to their application; there’s nothing worse than when people apply to a job opening and don’t hear anything in return; automated responses acknowledging the resume submission are at a minimum a necessity, at which point an acceptance or notice of decline is appropriate and certainly better than not saying anything at all and sending people into a black hole.
For the rest of the article click here...
Thanks to the cult classic movie, Office Space, many of us now have a name to apply to that feeling of waking up on a Monday morning overwhelmed about what lies in front of us – a whole new work week.
Having a “case of the Mondays” can be a real mood killer and certainly doesn’t lead to starting a day or a week off on the right foot. In 2014 the online career company Monster produced some staggering numbers on this subject as a result of a survey they did with their millions of job applicants and employers. The facts – upwards of 78% of people suffer from some form of the “case of the Mondays” aka ‘Sunday Fear Syndrome’.
Like many Americans I also dealt with it for years. I woke up, not just on Monday mornings but on most mornings, dreading the responsibilities that waited for me in my 7AM – 6PM job. (I didn’t even know what 8-5 meant and still don’t but that’s another story altogether) As my “case of the Mondays” continued I started paying more attention to what was causing it and how it affected my attitude and outlook on the day.
I wasn’t doing anything for myself to start the week or morning off on the right foot. Like the saying goes, “you woke up on the wrong side of the bed”, when we start the day with negative energies we allow that to carry us through the rest of the day. Starting a day in this fashion produces all sorts of unfortunate outcomes, many of which we aren’t even aware of but all of which negatively impact our experience in that day and week.
Then I discovered the cause of my morning blues!
Most people blame their job as being the culprit for the “case of the Mondays”. As it turns out I was it wasn’t my job after all, the reality was that I liked my job very much.
My discovery led me to realize that it was my mindset that was negatively impacting my mornings. I was struggling to stay focused on being positive and doing things that aided me in keeping a positive outlook with the start of the day.
As a result, I embarked on a mission to see if I could proactively change the way I greeted the world each morning.
The result of my little mission to fix my morning funk produced some amazing results. After making some minor changes I began to wake up eager to greet the day with lots of natural energy and optimism. I also found that my general outlook on things that were work related was much more positive which allowed me to deal with tough situations better. The best part was I started sleeping better because I didn’t have the stress of the coming day weighing on my mind.
Here’s how I did it with four easy to implement steps:
Give these four steps a try for five days to boost your morning mindset and be sure let me know how it worked.
When we choose to be in control of our life experiences, rather than allowing them to control us, we begin to experience life in a whole new way…the way it was meant to be.
About the Author
Travis Smith is the founder and managing director of Square-1 Engineering, a life sciences consulting firm, providing end to end technical project services to companies which design, develop and or manufacture products in Southern California. He successfully served the life sciences marketplace in SoCal for over 15 years specializing in engineering services, consulting, project outsourcing and leadership development. In 2019 he was recognized as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree by the Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce as a top leader in Orange County, CA.