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How To Motivate Others? Be a Leader Worth Following.

Think back to the best boss you’ve ever worked for. How would you describe them? Often, words such as inspiring, motivating, caring, and authentic come to mind. It’s these leaders that employees want to follow and who make a lasting impact on their career.


Outstanding bosses are able to combine their interpersonal and communication skills to inspire the people they lead. It’s these skills that motivate others and creates within them a desire to follow, or be part of, their vision. Although interpersonal and communication skills are often considered to be something people are born with, it can be broken down into different techniques that can be learned, making it possible for every leader to be one that others want to follow.



There are ten traits that together combine to create a leader that has the ability to motivate and draws others to be part of their team.

1. Be Happy.

It projects a sense of personal confidence and well being and tends to make others feel positive about the culture and excited about the team they find themselves on. Employees want positive work relationships and when their leaders foster a happy environment it increases motivation, morale, and stronger bonds.

2. Be Decisive.

Others will be confident in your leadership, the direction, and actions being taken if decisions are made quickly and those decisions are well-informed. Most importantly, a decisive leader makes decisions that are clear and final.

3. Be Knowledgeable.

Being well-prepared breeds confidence. It allows the decisions that are being made to be done so decisively, and on the basis of relevant information and facts.

4. Listen.

Everyone appreciates being heard and being listened to. When employees know that their thoughts are being considered, they feel freer to express their ideas, opinions, and perspective. One study found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel motivated and empowered to perform their best work.


5. Have Innovative Ideas.

Being prepared with ideas, alternatives, and new solutions that others have not considered, naturally allows people to turn to the one with ideas for suggestions and direction. Be prepared by thinking in advance of possible ideas which are creative or innovative, and certainly different from those which are usually put forward.

6. Communicate Clearly.

Acquiring the ability to communicate in a way that can be understood by others is an essential leadership quality. Leaders who communicate clearly help teams understand expectations, give feedback and coaching that results in performance improvement and develop deep, authentic connections with others.

7. Be Encouraging.

Everyone wants to know if they’re doing a good job. Encouraging others is demonstrating the ability to spot something positive in the midst of a task, or at its completion, and then speaking encouraging words. When you’re a leader, your words are magnified and hold immense power. When you positively affirm an employee, that encouragement motivates the employee to continue.

8. Create an Atmosphere of Fun.

People enjoy working in a fun-filled environment, and often a little bit of creative thought and energy focused on creating an environment that is a pleasant one to work is worth the effort. For example, one of our leaders at Eagle’s Flight has a kids bowling set at the end of a long hallway. Any time a team member has a “win” they get to take a bowl. This motivates the entire team, creates an atmosphere of fun, and celebrates that employee’s success.

9. Tell the Truth.

We may believe people would rather not be told the truth, however, this is rarely the case. In most instances, people appreciate the truth if it is delivered clearly and kindly. This in turn creates trust that people are able to rely on what you say.

10. Be Enthusiastic.

Attitudes are contagious. When you’re enthusiastic this energy overflows to others. Remaining positive, outgoing, and excited about the future will result in others wanting to be part of that excitement and follow your leadership.

Leadership traits are learnable and by consciously making an effort to exhibit these ten traits, your employees will be more motivated and inclined to follow your lead. By doing so, one day, when your employee is asked to think of the best boss they’ve ever worked for, hopefully, they describe you.

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The Four Secrets to Sustaining a High Performance Culture

high performance culture is at the top of many companies’ wish lists, with good reason — when colleagues contribute fully to the best of their abilities (and even stretch those abilities to become better), the company benefits. Unfortunately, leaders are facing an uphill battle in implementing a high performance culture since, according to one survey, just 10 percent of employees define success at work through high performance.

Successfully implementing a high performance culture is most certainly a reason to rejoice, given the obstacles that are in the way when creating it. However, developing the culture isn’t a “set it and forget it” exercise; to continually reap the benefits of a high performance culture, you must find ways to sustain this culture through all of your company’s ups and downs. Here are four keys to sustaining the high performance culture you’ve worked hard to put in place:

1. Leaders Must Model High Performance Behaviors

Sustaining a high performance culture starts with leaders. A company’s leaders should be the living embodiment of the company’s values, and how leaders act — and how often they show their faces outside the boardroom — has a tremendous impact on the behavior of their teams.  Researchers have even found that nonverbal cues from leaders (how they stand, how often they smile, whether they cross their arms, etc.) dictate whether their team members open up or shut down when approached.

While the leadership team may say they value honest feedback, their body language itself may tell employees something completely different. For a high performance culture that lasts, leaders must consciously embody the values and behaviors they hope to see in their own employees.

2. High Performance Culture Requires High Performance Training

A high performance culture supports the development of skills and knowledge through engaging, impactful training programs. Unfortunately, after we learn something, we all experience “learning decay” — we remember less and less of the lesson over time.

To ensure you’re fostering a high performance culture, invest in high performance training strategies that improve the likelihood that the training will stick. For example, experiential learning, where training participants take an active role in a training experience (instead of listening to a lecturer or reading a manual) greatly minimizes learning decay in comparison to more traditional training programs, like “show and tell” presentations which require minimal engagement. High performance training exercises that simulate the real-world workplace scenarios that participants often encounter make it far easier for participants to remember and apply the training lessons in their day-to-day work lives.

3. Confidence, Not Perfection is the Goal

In a culture of high performance, teams still make mistakes — the difference is how quickly they bounce back from those mistakes and continue to move forward. Colleagues in a high-performance culture will analyze what went wrong and make adjustments, rather than abandoning a plan completely in a fit of passion (or embarrassment). Plus, a hallmark of a high performance culture is a focus on collaboration: if one colleague makes a mistake, another is there to pick up the slack and keep a project moving. Empower your colleagues to collaborate, not compete, and to tackle problems (even problems of their own making) with confidence, not a sense a failure.

4. High Performers Focus on Building Strengths, Not Eliminating Weaknesses

Continually focusing on what colleagues are doing wrong results in a culture of demoralization — it’s hard to keep your head up and perform to your fullest potential when you’re constantly being berated! Instead, the focus should be on identifying and further developing strengths. In fact, a study found that when individuals are able to use their strengths on the job every day, they’re six times as likely to be engaged in their work than those who do not — and you cannot sustain a high performance culture without sustained engagement as well.

Inevitably, over time a pillar of your high performance culture may show signs of cracking. What strategies have you implemented to avoid crumbling and continue to sustain an engaged, high performance culture at your company?



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Getting Started with Employee-Driven Development

When you think of organizational development, you might imagine a team of high-level managers gathering a few times a year to create and implement a strategy that includes training programs, benchmarks, and reporting systems. While this is certainly a valuable approach, it’s not the only one. Many organizations are discovering that employee development can—and should—be driven not only by leadership, but also by the employees themselves.

Employee-driven development is beneficial to organizations of all sizes. When individuals define their own paths at an organization, they tend to stay longer because they know where they are headed and that their destination is in line with their career aspirations. Employees also stay more engaged when they are active participants in their own development. A recent study showed that almost half of employees in the U.S. are not engaged at work, primarily because they wanted to learn something new. If that need isn’t met in your organization, chances are employees will find it elsewhere.

If you’re not already factoring individual goals into your organizational development plan, it might be time to introduce employee-driven development. Here’s how to get started.

Let Employees Lead the Way

Collaborate with individuals as they set their own goals for career development. When managers set goals for employees, it can lead to missed opportunities because they don’t necessarily know what employees want or what their capabilities are. On the other hand, when employees are given the latitude to define their own paths, the result is a higher level of engagement and more people in the right roles doing what they enjoy.

Of course, the majority of these individual goals must also benefit the organization and support the business objectives. Start by clearly stating the organization’s goals and asking the employees to set their goals to support these.

Provide the Necessary Resources

After defining individual goals, the organization should offer support by providing access to the necessary resources. These might include:

  • Funds for outside training
  • Internal training programs
  • Membership in professional organizations
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Recommended resources
  • Peer discussion groups

Knowing how to provide meaningful feedback and accepting honest evaluations from others are essential skills for employee-driven development. Providing training for these fundamental competencies will give individuals a strong foundation for participating in their own development.

Maintain a Dialogue

Employee development is not a single training event or feedback provided during an annual review. The plan should consist of short- and long-term goals with realistic, achievable milestones. Ongoing communication is also essential for the success of any type of development program. Even when employees are leading the charge by setting their own career goals and being proactive about accessing resources, they need coaching and feedback from their managers about their progress.

It’s important for the organization to have a two-way communication process that allows both employees and managers to voice their desires and concerns. It’s not enough to assume that employees will speak up when they have ideas or criticisms. Open communication has to be built into the company culture and employees must be provided with mechanisms (surveys, 360 evaluations, and so forth) for providing feedback.

Build it into Your Hiring Process

Before an employee is even hired, you have the opportunity to set expectations about learning and development. If self-learning is an important company value, that should be communicated to candidates during the interview process. This approach brings self-starters to the forefront because they will be seeking opportunities for growth. Employee-driven development will help you attract and retain the high-potential individuals who want knowledge and a level of control over the future of their careers.

Of course, employee development is not a one-sided equation. Leadership still needs to guide the overall strategy so that any development programs align with and support business goals. Striking the right balance between what each employee wants and what the organization needs is crucial.

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How-To Increase Employee Engagement In Healthcare

The overarching goal for healthcare organizations is to deliver patient care that heals and saves lives. With advances in technology and a highly skilled workforce to deliver exceptional patient care, healthcare organizations also need a highly engaged workforce that is productive and committed, in order to reduce turnover and gain a higher patient satisfaction. In fact, in a study conducted by Gallup of 200 hospitals, it was found that the engagement level of nurses was the number one variable correlating to reduced patient mortality, even more important than the number of nurses per patient. In other words, patient outcomes improve when employees in healthcare are engaged with their job.

While it can be challenging to tackle employee engagement in healthcare, it is a realistic and achievable goal. The key is to focus not on engaging those that are disengaged, but to focus any efforts on improving the engagement of those who already are engaged. There are three ways you can begin to increase employee engagement in your organization:

  1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes
  2. Provide Training for Leaders
  3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

Now, let’s discuss these in more detail.

1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes

The data and results these assessments show have the potential to identify and execute improvements related to employee engagement. However, the issue is often too much measurement with too little action. To highlight this point, 80% of executives say high engagement (the employee experience) is critical to their organization, yet only 22% have a plan on how to improve it. If healthcare employees are to feel that their opinions are valued and it was not a waste of their time, actionable steps must be taken.


2. Provide Leadership Training

According to a study conducted by Gallup, leaders account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement. So while the importance of technical skill programs is not to be underestimated, a great deal of the patient and employee engagement has a human element involved. By training leaders with people skills, such as communication, conflict management, and collaboration, they are more likely to be successful for their employees and patients. These skills are also important so healthcare leaders can work through any challenging situations and provide the best customer service to their patients.


3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

The most engaged nurses have only been on the job less than six months. In those months they are enrolled in a carefully crafted onboarding program and are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the culture and the job. When this time comes to an end, engagement begins to fall.

Counteract this with a program that gives them coaching, networking, and mentoring opportunities. When employees in healthcare are paired with people that have a track record of success, they can learn valuable lessons about the nuances of the job and the organization they are just beginning to work for. Mentorship also allows for further on-the-job observation and in-the-moment coaching so questions or challenges can be handled effectively and efficiently.



For healthcare employees, excessive or unpredictable overtime, a stressful workload, and lack of workplace flexibility can all contribute to low engagement. Though you can increase employee engagement in healthcare, improve retention rates, and improve patient outcomes, by starting with these three things.


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Why Great Leadership Requires Conviction

Leaders are often responsible for implementing change, promoting a new approach, generating enthusiasm for a given course of action, solving a problem, or seizing an opportunity. All of these actions have one thing in common: they require conviction. Can a person be a leader without conviction? Possibly, but they can’t be a great leader who motivates and inspires others to change. Although senior leadership sets the strategy and the course for the organization, it is up to mid-level leaders and supervisors to execute it. Without conviction from leadership, it is difficult to maintain the momentum necessary to capture hearts and minds at every level.

Put simply, conviction is a prerequisite of effective leadership. Let’s discuss why.

Conviction Breeds Results

Conviction serves as the foundation for any type of initiative, whether it’s changing a culture or executing a strategy. When an initiative starts without conviction, the team often has to double back and reassess, reducing productivity and delaying deadlines. On the other hand, when leadership has personal conviction about the plan, they are far better able to lead their team and instill the same conviction in their employees.

Conviction allows individuals and teams to overcome obstacles when they arise because they have a strong belief in what they’re doing, regardless of the struggles and challenges faced along the way. Without this conviction, obstacles can quickly become permanent barriers to success. Conviction also sparks passion, which is a great energizer because passion and energy are infectious to those around you. Conviction helps overcome resistance, both external and internal. Resistance comes in many forms, but having a foundation of conviction allows you to persevere in the face of it.

All of these benefits of having conviction—overcoming obstacles, sparking passion, and overcoming resistance—lead to results.

A Formula for Conviction

Although it’s true that conviction can come naturally to some leaders, it is also a concept that can be taught and nurtured. From a kernel of passion, conviction can be fully developed by ensuring that these four elements are present:

1. Knowledge

Conviction must be built on a foundation of knowledge. This can come from a variety of sources, such as research, observation, experience, and judgment. Leaders must have deep subject matter knowledge to support initiatives that require conviction, whether it’s a product launch, culture change, or market expansion. Without this solid foundation, there is very little to build upon. Knowledge lays the groundwork for conviction because it gives a reason, most often based on data and metrics, for change.

2. Passion

Passion is the essential element of conviction that enables leaders to inspire others. Passion is persuasive and it has the power to ignite conviction because building an inner fire helps light the fires of those around you. However, in order to be effective, it must be genuine, deep, and heartfelt. Passion is the emotional element of conviction. It gives people a reason to care about the greater strategy. One way leaders use passion to get their employees to care is by relating how achieving a shared goal will affect them on a personal level.

3. Purpose

In order for a leader’s conviction to transmit to others in the organization, there must be a clear understanding of the reasons, rationale, and benefits of the expected outcome.

  • Reasons demonstrate why we are taking a specific action or adopting a certain approach.
  • Rationale explains why we were motivated to take action. This serves as a window into the leader’s thinking that led to their personal convictions.
  • Benefits describe the value of this course of action and what consequences we should expect.

Passion alone will not keep others excited about initiatives; there must also be a purpose. Purpose is the logical, intellectual element of conviction. It gives everyone something to work toward and a basis for holding each other accountable, even when things get tough.

4. Belief

Leaders don’t always know for certain that the approach they are taking is the right one, but a key element of conviction is that they believe that it is. However, belief can’t stand alone when building conviction. It’s not enough to just feel that something is a good idea; it has to be backed up with knowledge, passion, and purpose. Without the belief that a new, different future is possible, conviction can fall flat. Leaders must believe that the untested, unproven, untried approach will work because they can visualize its success. Belief is the visionary element of conviction.

Proceed with Conviction

All four of these elements are necessary for conviction in leadership. Without one, the others can falter. The combination of knowledge, passion, purpose, and belief is a powerful one, and the leaders who master it will drive organizations to success. When a leader shows conviction that they’ve chosen the best course of action, they create certainty in everyone who follows them and allow them to absorb this belief and the accompanying emotional state. The next time you find yourself in a position of leading change in your organization, ask yourself if you have the knowledge, passion, purpose, and belief to inspire others to follow you.


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3 Leadership Activities That Improve Employee Performance at All Hierarchical Levels

One of the leaders’ top priorities – whether they manage a small team or an entire organization – is to find ways to improve performance. Technology upgrades and improved processes certainly lead to productivity and quality improvements. However, we cannot underestimate the value of simple and easy-to-implement leadership activities that bring the team together and teach important and necessary skills in the workplace.

Use these three leadership activities to improve performance.

Communication: coaching of builders

Effective communication is essential to maintain high productivity and generate results that meet expectations. Executive leaders, supervisors and employees can benefit from better communication skills. This exercise highlights the importance of listening to and using succinct and clear language to avoid misunderstandings and errors. Follow these steps:

  1. Divide participants into groups of 4 to 7 people. Offer each group two sets that have at least 10 mounting blocks (Lego, for example). Before the exercise, you must assemble a simple object (such as a house) with one of the sets of blocks.
  2. Assign a leader, a dwellee, a builder, and a person responsible for taking notes. The latter should observe and document how people behaved during the activity, what seemed to work and when participants made mistakes.
  3. Give the leader the item you’ve assembled, taking care that only he can see the object. Mark 10 minutes on the clock. When the activity begins, the leader will pass instructions to the delegante on how the constructor should mount an exact replica of the object. Remember that the delegante should not see the object and the constructor should not hear this conversation.
  4. The delegante hears what has been said and then goes to the builder and repeats the leader’s instructions. The delegante can return to talk to the leader as many times as he deems necessary during the 10-minute period.
  5. The constructor uses the other block sets to construct exactly the same object that the leader can see, using only the delegante statements as guidance. The delegante should not see the object during construction.
  6. After 10 minutes, compare the leader object with the constructor’s to confirm that they look alike. Discuss what was frustrating or easy during the process and discuss what each person would do differently to get better results next time.

Accountability: clarity on objectives and expectations

When expectations and deadlines are not met, we sometimes attribute these results to lack of accountability. Often, however, this is not because the individual responsible for the task did not try hard enough, but because the expectations of this individual were unclear. If team members start work without actually understanding the purpose or objectives of a task and also the desired outcome, they will make mistakes that can be costly and cause delays.

This leadership activity teaches employees how important it is to clarify the issues before starting a task to increase accountability. Here are some scenarios in which this activity can be useful:

  • Meeting with managers organized by an executive.
  • Daily quick meetings conducted by supervisors with their direct subordinates.
  • Teambuilding session with all employees.

Here’s what to do:

At the beginning of the meeting, tell the group, “You are sitting the wrong way for today’s meeting. You have 60 seconds to improve this organization.” If team members ask for more information, repeat the instructions. Perhaps some of them will keep insisting, while the others will already start moving the seats. Note what they do, but don’t give other information, feedback, or instructions. After a minute, ask them to stop and ask these questions:

  1. “Have you achieved the goals? How do you get it?” Talk about how the team might not have achieved the goals because they weren’t clear.
  2. “Who asked for an explanation? How did you feel when I refused to give you more details?” Explain that when participants do not ask for an explanation and when the person responsible for the project does not clarify the doubts, everyone runs the risk of making mistakes and not being able to complete the task.
  3. “How has the pressure of time changed your behavior?” Tell them that when people are stressed or under pressure, they usually start work in a hurry, without confirming if they understand what was requested, which often causes problems.

Finally, this activity will show how employees should handle a task that generates questions. It will also show the leader how to set clearer expectations and create a culture in which communication is clear and accountability is the rule.

Ability to solve problems: team collaboration

When facing a new challenge or dealing with an idea or project, teams need to know whether to organize on their own, create an action plan, solve problems, and work together to achieve a common goal. With this exercise, you’ll encourage participants to test their creativity and ability to solve a team problem:

  1. Offer a variety of materials such as paper, cardboard, wooden blocks, pencils, paper clips, canudos, and more.
  2. Divide participants into teams of four to eight members. If the group is smaller, teams of two or three members are sufficient.
  3. Explain that the goal is to build the tallest tower in 20 minutes using any of the materials offered.
  4. Then talk about each group’s strategy and ask:

○ Who planned before it started and who started the task in a hurry? What were the results of these two approaches?

○ How did the groups define who would do what?

○ Was there a leader? Or did everyone do their part?

○ What was the hardest part of the task? And the easiest?

○ How can you apply these learnings to the projects you are currently participating in?

Depending on the type of group that participated in the activity, the following questions may be different. For instance:

  • For individuals of any hierarchical level: based on this activity, which communication strategies of the leader were most useful?
  • For supervisors: in this activity, when did communication failures occur? How have they harmed the creation process?
  • For executives: As a builder, what would you need to receive from the leader but didn’t? As a leader, have your instructions been followed accurately? How could you improve accuracy and understanding?

These three activities help develop some of the most important leadership skills: communication, accountability and problem solving skills. They are important for individuals of any hierarchical level in the organization, from the executive team to the employees. With each exercise, they learn to work more efficiently,both individually and as a team. With this, the performances improve throughout the organization.


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How to Be a Great Leader Through a Merger or Acquisition


Organizational changes come in all stripes and many flavors. Some changes are small, such as moving your office, which ranks at about a two on a scale of one to ten. Implementing a new accounting system ranks about a five. The changes encountered during the merger and acquisition process are, on a scale of one to ten, hovering right up there near the double digits. With the merger and acquisition comes a culture transformation and the overall sense of identity within the organization. Individuals may even be worried about their job status. A merger or acquisition is a time of uncertainty and adjustment. Clearly, it’s a time that calls for not just good leaders to guide your organization through merger and acquisition, you need a great leader.

Here are seven things great leaders do to shepherd organizations through the unique changes organizations undergo during the merger and acquisition process.

1.  Decide on Your Approach to the Culture

Most M&A teams are great at thinking through the legal, financial, and operational components of a transition but what can be missed is the people who are undergoing this change asking: Will I fit? How do I fit? Do I want to fit?

These question will always be in reference to their previous experience of the culture they worked in before the merger or acquisition. As a senior leadership team you must have one of the 3 basic approaches clear in your mind.

  1. Transform one of the cultures to align with the other.
  2. Amalgamate the two cultures leveraging the strengths of each
  3. Create a new culture free of the stigma of either of the previous cultures

2. Create a Compelling Vision

A compelling vision will be the North Star and set the direction for the majority of actions to be taken. A vision is broad sweeping and encompasses dreams and hopes. A vision is a motivating force, though action steps must be drafted to move toward that vision. Your vision will most likely encompass the mission and the culture of your organization following the merger and acquisition.

Once the vision is clear, ensure the articulation paints a clear distinction between current reality and desired future state, especially in regards to the culture you will ask people to fit into. This will help people fill in the blanks required to answer the “fit questions” they are asking. It will also clarify the expectation of the type of things that must be different.


3. Set a Series of Goals

Goals translate the vision into reality. Reach your vision by setting, then executing, a series of sequential goals that will result in the overall vision for your company, following the merger and acquisition. When goal setting, keep in mind each goal must be:

  • Specific: Goals should have a specific, deadly-accurate deadline–not a fuzzy or flexible one.
  • Measurable: A well-thought out goal is one in which there is some way to measure the outcome.
  • Crystal Clear: Goals should be expressed so simply and so clearly they are truly “crystal clear” to everyone. Any questions should be addressed and the goal statement clarified.
  • Action-oriented: Goals describe what is to be done; they should not be expressions of intent or desire.

4. Manage the Project

Managing this transition is a lot like managing any other project. Think of it, in fact, as project management. Working back from how the merger and acquisition will look and function when fully implemented, create incremental goal steps—and a timeline for completing them—that will get your organization there.

  1. Get buy-in from managers and teams affected by the changes.
  2. Based on your goals, assign tasks to managers, departments, and teams.
  3. Keep managers, teams, and yourself, accountable. Hold weekly check-in meetings with managers to assess progress.
  4. Continue to gather feedback. Make changes to tasks or timelines if necessary.
  5. Take responsibility to ensure your managers and their teams meet their assigned goals.

5. Collaborate

The secret to collaboration is the willingness to listen and seek input, making sure those on the journey with you feel heard and esteemed. For clear collaboration, follow these steps:

  1. Listen to others’ opinions and even frustrations. The most effective solutions come out of overcoming the criticisms of those who haven’t yet bought in.
  2. Be willing to change tactics after getting feedback early in the process.
  3. Provide opportunities for team members to contribute to the discussion.
  4. Ensure effective dialogue around new assignments prior to them being finalized so that people work on outcomes they feel they can be successful in delivering. Nothing will erode trust more than people perceiving they are being set up to fail.
  5. When working with managers and team members, be willing to voice your thoughts and opinions in a proactive way.
  6. You become a great leader by being willing to listen to others, to give them their chance to lead the discussion while you listen quietly and incorporate feedback.

6. Engage Every Function and Level

During massive change, a significant percentage of people will default into a “victim of change” mentality and not proactively seek to do what is needed to succeed and bring the new culture to life. Skilled M&A teams intentionally build events into the transition period that create conviction around the new behaviors that must be adopted. The best initiatives deputize every employee as soldiers in the battle for the new culture as opposed to people who must be converted.

Engagement is accelerated when the achievable benefit is experience. Smart leads are diligent at ensuring early, visible wins that are relevant to front line employees, middle managers and support staff.

7. Develop Change Leadership Capacity

Feeling overwhelmed by the task? The majority of executive teams are, which is why smart leaders ensure that they and their teams are developing themselves both individually and collectively. This investment helps accelerate the adjustment period of the merger but also serves as an organizational asset post-integration. Winning companies in today’s market place are increasingly agile and able to rapidly adjust to change and effective leaders are the lynch pin of this agility. Nothing transforms a company culture quite like a merger or acquisition. The question is whether the new entity is transformed into a stronger organization delivering on the improved synergies and profits promised pre-M&A or whether it is transformed into a less productive bureaucracy that underperforms relative to what your team envisioned when you started this process. Where you end up is largely a function of your team’s ability to enhance the collective leadership skill to cause others to positively and rapidly adapt to change from the C-suite right down to the front line manager. This doesn’t happen by accident but requires a well-structured approach.


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How Different Management Styles Affect Business Outcomes

The way a manager leads a team is a driving factor behind what their team accomplishes and produces. It can impact the productivity of their staff and the overall output of the organization. Organizational efficiency is a byproduct of each department, which can be significantly influenced by the different forms that management can take.

Unfortunately, there’s no universal standard or approach, when it comes to management styles. The most appropriate approach ultimately depends on the structure of your team, including your people—their experience and expectations—and situational factors such as short- or long-term growth and organizational goals.

While there is no definite way that managers can apply every organizational style to their management technique, it’s best for leaders to at least be aware of a range of leadership characteristics so that they can appropriately apply facets of the techniques to specific situations.


Also known as the coercive style, the directive management technique has a primary objective of obtaining compliance from employees. This authoritarian approach closely monitors employees, motivates employees through discipline, and generally positions the manager at the center of the organizational structure. While this management technique is effective when there is a crisis or potentially perilous situation in the mix, it is not effective as a long-term management strategy if you wish to further develop employees.

Ultimately, this managerial style is useful when deviation from the norm is a risky decision. In highly litigious industries or situations, the directive manager drives their team to success. However, if employees are highly skilled, or you’re looking to develop certain skill sets, this management preference can stifle growth. Little to no learning happens within this style, and employees often become frustrated and unresponsive to the micromanagement that occurs.


Authoritative managers lead with the idea of implementing long-term direction and foresight across their teams. Also referred to as visionary leaders, these managers embody the “firm but fair” mentality. While they provide employees with clear explanation and direction, they may choose to motivate by persuasion. These leaders include a large amount of feedback on their employees’ performance.

Authoritative leaders are effective when clear direction and standards are needed. These leaders lead by example and manage with a high level of conviction. When leaders are credible, employees are apt to follow their guidance. While this leadership technique works in some situations, like directive management, it does not develop employees to their fullest ability. Because management provides guidance, employee insight and opinions often take a backseat, which can limit collaboration.


Affiliative leaders work to develop strong teams. This style of management is concerned with creating harmony between employees, management, and departments. These leaders promote open communication and place an emphasis on building cross-departmental, interpersonal relationships. Often, managers work hard to avoid conflict and motivate their employees by keeping them happy.

This management style generates positive results across companies that rely on structured teams. When combined with other management styles, affiliative leadership can help coach employees. Leaders manage and mitigate conflict, which ultimately fosters a collaborative work environment that produces results. While this management technique does build harmony, it does not create much accountability. Therefore, this style is most effective in work environments in which tasks are routine and performance is reliable.


Commonly recognized as democratic leadership, participative management has an overarching objective of fostering commitment and consensus across a team. In this style, management actively encourages every employee to voice their opinions in the decision-making process. As opposed to directive and authoritative leadership—in which management emphasizes individual performance—participative managers motivate by rewarding team effort.

This honest, transparent work environment can inspire employees to feel involved and part of their organization. It’s especially effective when an organization has a structure in which experienced, credible employees work together in a steady, stable environment. Participative managers can foster collaboration and drive creative solutions. However, much like affiliative management, this style does not work well in environments that need to be closely monitored.


The coaching technique is a self-explanatory style that centers on learning. Much like the authoritative leadership, this management style has a primary objective of fostering long-term professional growth and development. Managers spend significant time training, evaluating, and coaching employees. By encouraging employees to develop specific skill sets and strengths, managers can positively influence the performance and output of their team members.

While this style doesn’t directly contradict team-driven approaches such as participative and affiliative management, it does tend to drive a one-on-one mindset. Taken to an extreme, managers that deploy coaching techniques can be misinterpreted as micromanagers. In this regard, it’s important for managers to offer coaching opportunities to every employee, which, in some situations, may be time-consuming.

While each of these leadership traits has something different to offer, not every management style will suit your organization. How would you describe your own management style?


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The Importance of Emotional Intelligence When Leading Change

Organizational change is happening all the time, especially during times such as these. It can bring about a range of emotions in people, including fear, resistance, frustration, and confusion. Leading change successfully in the midst of those emotions requires the ability to define and communicate a vision that inspires others. It also requires helping others to adjust their thinking and behavior in the workplace so that they can successfully navigate change.

One powerful tool that helps leaders guide their teams through change of any kind is emotional intelligence—the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy and good judgment. Not only is emotional intelligence a strong predictor of overall job success (research has found that it accounts for 58 percent of success at work), but it also influences individuals’ ability to successfully navigate the emotions and behavior of others during times of change. Here are four ways emotional intelligence helps leaders guide their employees through changing times.

Helps to Overcome Resistance

Resistance to organizational change is common for many reasons. Some individuals may want to avoid certain changes to their responsibilities and work processes, and others may simply resist being pushed outside of their comfort zones. Because emotional intelligence involves understanding others’ emotions, it requires listening and asking questions rather than simply telling employees what they should and should not do.

Leaders can leverage emotional intelligence to hone in on the source of employee resistance to change and can offer ideas, strategies, and coaching that will help to overcome feelings of resistance. Some key activities that can support getting at the heart of resistance to change include:

  • Q&A sessions that allow employees to air their frustrations and fears about change
  • One-on-one discussions that provide opportunities to talk about specific employee experiences with change
  • Employee surveys that ask individuals to describe their experiences and share feedback on company change initiatives

Encourages Continuous Learning

Change implies that there will be an ongoing requirement to think and behave differently in order to be successful in the future. Change in the workplace requires the same—that individuals will acquire new knowledge and skills to help them navigate the waters of change. Research points to emotional intelligence as a key factor that drives the willingness and desire to learn because it helps to encourage both curiosity and an openness to learning lessons from successes and failures.

Leaders who possess emotional intelligence and model behaviors that demonstrate their support for continuous learning can encourage those behaviors in others. Leaders can further instill a dedication to continuous learning by encouraging employees to participate in training that helps them develop healthy attitudes toward change.

Improves Decision-Making

When navigating organizational change, individuals must be equipped to use their judgment and make decisions in the midst of uncertainty and shifting circumstances. Because those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more self-aware and also more socially aware of others’ feelings and emotions, they are better equipped to make well-informed decisions when solving problems or determining a course of action.

Leaders who employ emotional intelligence can help themselves and others become better decision makers during times of change. Instead of making a decision based solely on assumptions or a single person’s interpretation of the facts, emotional intelligence helps leaders consider the emotional needs of others when leading their team through important decisions.

Supports Healthy Relationship-Building and Trust

During times of change, individuals need support from leaders and need to feel like they’re not alone. Emotional intelligence allows leaders to provide the understanding and empathy that builds confidence and trust in others. Through active listening, patient conflict resolution, and mentorship, emotionally intelligent leaders build healthy relationships with others and allow employees to trust them as they lead the team through change successfully.

Emotional intelligence is a valuable tool in all aspects of working life, but it is particularly important when leading in times of change because it helps individuals take the emotions and feelings of others into account. When leaders take the time to provide support, training, and coaching to help individuals manage their emotions during the uncertainties of organizational change, there is less chance for resistance, fear, and distrust to derail organizational change efforts. With a combination of leading by example, providing opportunities for employee learning, and establishing forums for communication and feedback, it’s possible to fully leverage emotional intelligence to successfully lead others through change.


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9 Essential Leadership Skills That Build High-Performing Teams

There is no doubt that teamwork is essential to the success of any organization. No single individual can do all of the work on their own. That is why leaders must cultivate high-performing teams and lead them effectively.

Think of teams as the two essential components of a brick wall: the bricks and the mortar. Individual employees (the bricks) must have integrity and quality in and of themselves in order for the wall to be structurally sound. If you have weak bricks, you’ll have a weak wall. Leaders (the mortar) must also be strong and have the right mix of skills and abilities. The leadership provided is what holds the team together and allows each brick to do its job.

With this in mind, the leaders who develop these nine leadership skills are able to build the most effective teams.

1. Communication

Teams can’t perform to their fullest potential without strong communication, and it is up to leaders to model communication based on these three factors:

  • Style: The way you communicate must be appropriately matched to the person you’re interacting with to help put them at ease so that they will be receptive to what you have to say.
  • Facts: Some people are very responsive to facts and information. If you don’t provide the level of information they are seeking, they are less likely to engage because they feel that something is missing.
  • Passion: Some people will be persuaded more by convictions and passion than they are by facts, so it is important to know when you must communicate with enthusiasm.

The key is to find the right balance for each individual. Find the style that mirrors theirs, include enough facts to satisfy their desire for information, and be passionate enough to engage them.

2. Time Management

High-performing teams are able to successfully juggle multiple assignments, and leadership can provide the training and tools to help them manage their time effectively. In addition, however, leaders must also create an environment that enables their teams to use the training and tools effectively.

One of the most important skills leaders must master to make time management easier for their teams is the ability to delegate effectively. When assigning tasks to a team or an individual, it’s important to be clear about the expected deliverables and due dates and to provide opportunities for them to obtain clarification. This enables the team to accurately prioritize their workload, do the necessary planning, and execute the task efficiently.

Leaders can also help by being proactive. The ability to be responsive to shifting priorities is a great quality for teams to possess, but constantly changing course due to a lack of planning—or worse, the whims of a few people—is exhausting and makes it impossible to keep up. But if leaders anticipate organizational needs and prioritize effectively, their teams will be able to function proactively, and reactivity will be the exception rather than the norm. Along with delegating effectively, fostering a proactive approach will enable your team to consistently manage their work and deliver on their accountabilities.

3. Empowerment

Like that brick wall, a team is only as strong as its weakest member. In the context of the workplace, strength often translates to empowerment—each member of a high-performing team must feel empowered, and leaders are responsible for achieving this.

Leaders can choose to be autocratic—telling people what to do—or they can engage others and allow them to have more input and involvement in decisions. Involving others tends to be more effective than an autocratic approach because in an empowered workforce, hearts and minds are engaged.

Many employees want to contribute to the success of the organization, but if they’re not empowered to do so, the company misses out on their valuable skills, knowledge, and experience. If leadership doesn’t allow participation, the team’s skills are squandered and they become disempowered and disengaged. Empowerment is good for both the company and the individuals and teams that work in it.

4. Decision-Making

The decisions that leaders make have a ripple effect—they have the power to influence many aspects of the organization and impact how teams perform. The scale of the decision directly relates to the consequences it will have. Because decisions from leadership have such power, it’s important to ensure that they are the right decisions.

Strong leaders get input, especially when making significant decisions. The people who will be implementing the decision often have ideas about the best path forward, more experienced leaders can share lessons learned, peers in the organization might have had similar experiences, and external sources may provide a fresh perspective. All of this information allows leaders to make better decisions and gives them more confidence to enforce accountability.

5. Openness to New Ideas

Success breeds success, but leaders cannot have tunnel vision about the things that are currently working, especially if they want to unleash the true power of high-performing teams. They must stay open to new ideas to maintain a competitive edge and consider other alternatives to embrace.

Leaders don’t necessarily have to seek out innovation or new ways of doing things, but they do have to maintain a mindset that allows them to see opportunities when they arise. One way to cultivate this mindset is to be continually learning by trying new hobbies, gaining new skills, and seeking out new experiences that will train the mind to automatically absorb new ideas and incorporate them when appropriate. Being receptive to new ideas is a discipline that can be rewarding both personally and professionally.

6. Teachability and Accountability

Leaders who are building high-performing teams should look for individuals who have both teachability and accountability.

Teachability is not the same as good listening skills and the ability to pay attention. Being teachable means understanding feedback and new information and then applying it on the job. Leaders and employees who are teachable are valuable in any organization, which is why it’s so important to recognize them and help them grow.

Personal accountability is demonstrating that when you say you are going to do something, others can rely on you to do it. When an individual has the combination of teachability and accountability, they can be trusted to understand the tasks assigned to them and follow through on their commitments.


7. Passing on Strengths

Leaders at every level have a lot of responsibilities, and they must ensure that all of them are delivered as promised. This often requires working with high-performing teams to complete the work, and leaders need the individuals on those teams to be as effective as possible.

It is up to leaders to work with individuals to make them better. This can be done through training programs, but one of the simplest ways is for leaders to share what they know. Passing your strengths on to your team allows them to build their skills, allowing for increased responsibilities and personal growth. Do this by allowing them to observe. Inviting them to participate in meetings and sharing experiences with them will expose them to the possibilities as they build their skill sets.

In addition to encouraging observation, it’s also important for you to explain to your team why you do things the way you do them. This helps teams understand the thinking behind your actions and allows them to replicate them more effectively. The combination of observation and explanation allows individuals to build stronger skill sets, which ultimately leads to better performing teams.

8. Employee Productivity

Employee productivity is a common goal for leaders at all types of organizations, and it’s a big topic to address, especially when building high-performance teams. One of the most important elements is understanding how much freedom each individual can handle with the tasks that are assigned to them.

Some people need a lot of direction and coaching when taking on a particular task, while others just need a few key pieces of information before running with it. What any given employee needs depends on how much experience they have with the task at hand. If they don’t have enough knowledge and experience, too much freedom will lead to lower productivity because they will be trying to learn along the way. On the other hand, if they have a high level of experience and are not given enough freedom to do the work, they will become disengaged. When maximizing the potential of a team, leaders must allow the appropriate amount of freedom to match the experience and competency of the individuals in the team.

9. Candor and Empathy

Leaders have an obligation to the organization to ensure that individuals and teams are able to contribute to their fullest. Maximizing all of their talent, capability, insight, innovation, and ideas requires delivering useful feedback.

To do this, leaders must employ both candor and empathy. Candor builds trust, which is vital when engaging employees and motivating them to work to their potential. Leaders with empathy demonstrate that they actually care about and identify with the individuals on their teams.

These two competencies work hand in hand—being candid with employees requires empathy. Hearing a difficult truth becomes easier when it’s clear that the individual delivering it has your best interests at heart. Leaders who can cultivate these two skills will be effective at building high-performance teams.

Strong Teams Need Strong Leaders

The performance of a team depends on both the individuals on the team and the leaders behind them. Without strong leadership, even the most skilled employees will not function to their highest potential on a team. On the other hand, the leaders who develop and hone these nine skills will unlock the potential of their teams and contribute to the success of the organization.


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