How to Lead with Purpose During Times of Change

When times are challenging, employees look to the leadership in their companies for direction. Companies that give direction and hold strong values are able to motivate their employees to work together and rally around the company during challenging times. Continue reading to learn how to lead with purpose during times of change.

Communicate the Purpose and Values of the Company

First, it is important to share the purpose and values of the company with the employees. You need to make sure that they understand what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it, and why it is important. You can provide tangible examples so that they have a clear picture, and this gives them a meaningful purpose to work to achieve. It will bring them together as a team working towards a common goal.

Help Employees Connect

It is important to find ways to help employees connect with others from work. Remote working has proven effective, but the isolation can take its toll on some and leave employees feeling isolated and disconnected from work. Organize virtual happy hours, coffee time, or lunch. You can also have virtual work sessions so that people are still seeing others during the day. This helps employees feel connected throughout the day.

Show Employees That You Are Flexible

Show employees that you are empathetic to their needs during these trying times. When you are more flexible, they have the chance to balance work and life. They can deal with concerns brought about by the pandemic while delivering work and staying involved.

You can work with people to help them determine the best way to balance their personal life with their work life, especially if they are working from home or working in a hybrid schedule. It is important to show them that you trust them to make the right decisions as long as they continue to deliver value for the company.

Make Decisions That Show Value

Every decision you make when you are managing employees should be made with value. The values of a company are how they treat their employees, their customers, and their product. It is important to make sure that every decision is made with the core values of the company in mind. 

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Three Important Reasons to Gather Feedback During Disruptions

Disruptions are unpredictable, and it is hard to know exactly how long they will last or how it will turn out. Employees will be anxious to know what is going on and what to expect, and you need to find out what they need to work through it.

Companies often cut down on unnecessary expenses, but make sure that your employees play a role in determining what is essential. Continue reading to learn three important reasons to gather feedback during disruptions.

  1. Waiting for Feedback Magnifies the Crisis

When you have a crisis, you may be very busy managing it. It is easy to put getting feedback from employees on hold while you attend to more pressing matters. In fact, it could make things worse if employees are used to giving feedback and there is a disruption.

When you don’t make time for feedback, employees may feel as though their opinions don’t matter. This can devalue them, and it can create insecurity in the workplace. Finally, it feels indefinite to employees. These are reasons that it is important to make sure you get feedback right away.

  1. Gathering Feedback Sends Out a Positive Message

One of the most important times to seek employees’ feedback is during a time of crisis. The leaders need to make decisions quickly, and getting feedback helps them consider how employees are feeling and can make the decision process easier.

Even when the decisions break from what employees want, it is better because the managers know what to expect once it is implemented. Most importantly, employees feel as though their opinions have value, and they accept consequences that aren’t necessarily those they want easier when they have had a chance to give feedback.

  1. Gathering Feedback Helps Produce Positive Outcomes

Gathering feedback from employees may benefit the employees, but it leads to a more positive outcome for the entire organization. The company knows better where their employees stand, so they are prepared when they make a less popular decision.

In addition, employees who are asked for their opinions feel valued and work harder during difficult or challenging times. It helps to ensure that employees have clear expectations, a chance to share what materials or equipment they need, and the opportunity to do what they are best at.

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Improving Communication with Employees Regardless of Where They Work

Today’s hybrid work culture is a mixture of physical and virtual work. It’s not unusual for employees to be dispersed globally, working from home, public spaces, or temporary locations such as hotels.

Mobile technology has made it easier for people to connect virtually. Tools such as video-conferencing systems and instant messaging applications make workplace communication more accessible than ever before. However, these technological advances can make it difficult to know if employees are truly engaged in work-related conversations.

What steps can companies take to improve communication between dispersed employees? The following strategies may help.

Maintain Accuracy in Your Communication Styles

When employees are working in different locations, make sure that each location can easily communicate with the company.

If your business uses email to communicate, train remote workers to separate work and personal emails. Discuss additional steps they can take to ensure that their communications remain professional and appropriate at all times.

Encourage Openness in Communication

The use of modern communication technology allows for more frequent communication with remote employees, but it can also be overwhelming.

Be careful not to bombard your employees with so many messages that they feel overwhelmed. Include some methods that your employees can use to control the amount of communication they receive from you and their co-workers.

Focus on Timeliness in Response Time

Be aware that the time it takes to deliver a message can be different depending on the location of your employees. 

When communicating with remote workers, anticipate how long it may take for messages to arrive at the other end. If important communications are expected quickly, make sure that everyone in your company is well aware of this time constraint.

Cultivate Effective Communication

Be aware that technology can sometimes make communication more complicated if it is not used properly. Ensure that everyone in your company understands the proper etiquette for communicating by email and other methods so messages remain effective and clear.

By taking the right steps, you can improve communication between employees in different locations. This will allow you to make sure that you effectively reach your team members no matter where they are.

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Benefits of Embracing Vulnerability as a Leader

When we think of leaders of the past, we think of these stoic, strong presences who feel that they should never be questioned. But flexibility and understanding are becoming calling cards of the modern leader.

Simply put, we are all human beings. Knowing that the person in charge is just like the rest of us can help us to relate better. That sympathy for another person can give us the tools we need to push forward and improve the way we work.

Here are a few reasons why being vulnerable as a leader is becoming more important.

Being Vulnerable Drives Trust

People tend to trust in those who seem authentic. When employees do not trust their superiors, they tend not to stay at that job all that long. That trust, that “realness” can build a bond between leadership and employees.

Sometimes leadership can feel disconnected from “the common man.” Knowing they are going through the same kinds of issues the rest of us are can close the gap and make everyone seem more real and personable.

Relatability

Building on that last point, being a great leader is not necessarily saying or doing the right thing at all times. It means giving the team someone to look up to and to inspire them. But if a leader becomes unrelatable, there is no inspiration to be had.

Leaders who can show that they are human and have their own problems to deal with, more often become more relatable. Knowing both parties are really striving for the same thing can provide that inspiration.

Inspiring Continued Growth

Being vulnerable not only makes you seem more human and approachable, but it can also allow both sides to grow substantially. By being vulnerable, it allows us to be more open to solutions and options that might not have been used previously.

A leader who can admit that they do not have all the answers gives the team the chance to not only contribute but feel more valued as well.

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Why Curiosity Is an Essential Leadership Trait

Curiosity and the willingness to learn and grow are essential to any successful leader. After all, there are goals to constantly strive for, new innovations and materials to be studied, and information to be learned.

Moreover, there are plenty of benefits to being curious as a leader. Here are just a few of those benefits.

Innovation

Curiosity is what encourages employees to look for critical information not only from one another but from leaders. By being curious about developments in the industry, you show them that you are invested in learning and growing.

Curious leaders also tend to take the challenging situations on with a more creative eye. That curiosity ultimately fosters a better performance by encouraging people to find new and different solutions to an existing problem.

Motivation

One of the most critical aspects of being a leader is inspiring the team, right? Well, one of the best ways to motivate the team is to show that you, as the leader, are trying to grow and improve as well. Perhaps something such as a workshop would be beneficial. Task each staff member to think up a viable solution to the problem at hand.

Curiosity is also seen as being just as essential as intelligence. Curiosity is what helps leaders to improve and innovate the existing methods. It is also what helps leaders capture the proper information to drive their team forward and achieve the tasks and goals laid out before them.

Encourages Learning

No matter what role we play, both in work and in life, we should always be striving to learn. By learning and growing through experiences, we become better at what we do. Not only that, but we tend to learn new and more creative methods for problem-solving.

Curious leaders ask themselves all the time what unique challenges they face. They ask questions that relate to the problem. They listen to their team members, inviting constructive discussion. They know there is always new information to be gleaned.

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The Importance Of Humility In Leadership

A leader’s strength can be measured in various ways and means, but what allows a leader to be successful can be challenging to calculate.  There are plenty of traits that successful leaders exhibit daily, whether it’s good communication or respectful critique.  When assessing the leadership qualities of those around you, whether to promote an individual or review your connection to your boss, you must account for the leader’s humility.

 

Humility has various uses for a leader and has secondary and tertiary effects that the leader might not be aware of existing.  One of the best benefits of humble leadership is that it produces a more energetic team atmosphere.  No one accomplishes anything alone, and having a team working cohesively and for each other is the surest way to stimulate a productive environment.  When you are humble as a leader, you empower your employees to be the best and most comfortable version of themselves possible.  They will respond to your attitude, and everyone appreciates a leader who recognizes that the team accomplished something, not the individual.  Humility is the first step in recognition of the capacity others have to impact your workspace positively.  

 

When you have employees who feel empowered, the benefits are innumerable.  The most significant benefits tend to belong to employee engagement and innovation.  Employees who feel as though their voice matters are more willing to share their voice and take shots at ideas that might be mildly risky.  You want to have a culture that is willing to experiment and explore new ideas.  Humility means knowing that just because you’ve operated one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way.  Employees always respond well to an employer who does not know it and engages with their ideas and goals.  Take the time to show employees you care about their concepts by finding some of your ideas your willing to let go of to allow another idea to flourish.

Humility also brings a sense of humanity to the work you are trying to accomplish.  We all err, and we all make a struggle to do our best from time to time.  Having the humility to recognize the humanity in each of your employees will always benefit your company culture in the long run. When you take the time not just to say but show your employees that their wellness matters, you display that you value their personhood above the company.  That can be an incredibly humble decision to make, as the company could be essential to a leader.  Showing your subordinates that they are more important than profit will always produce a cohesion that can’t be replicated or reproduced.

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What Differentiates A Business Owner From An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship and business ownership are often conflated and mixed into being one thing.  Plenty of people associate the two because each role is part and parcel of creating a business.  While there may be many overlapping skillsets for entrepreneurs and business owners, there are also plenty of apparent and delineated differences between the two roles.  When starting your own business, you must understand the difference between these positions before you begin so that you can effectively hire the appropriate candidates.  Knowing what you’re looking for in a candidate is of utmost importance to fill up your company with proper help.

Set Definitions

It can be helpful to understand that even the words have disparate definitions despite their constant confusion.  According to the oxford dictionary, entrepreneurs are “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses taking a greater than the normal financial risk to do so.”  This differs significantly from a business owner defined by “an individual or entity who owns a business entity in an attempt to profit from the successful operation of the company.”    Even in the textbook declarations of what each role is, it’s relatively straightforward the immediate differences. 

 First, note that entrepreneurship tends to include greater financial risk.  Those who work in the world on entrepreneurial activities tend to be willing to take risks and always have skin in the game when it comes to the companies development.  Sometimes this comes with potential back-end benefits, so when working with an entrepreneur, be clear upfront about what they can expect to receive should the company succeed (and it’s probably best to have that agreement be legally binding).

Where you want someone more willing to take risks as an entrepreneur, you may want someone a little more conservative as a business owner.  A business owner tends to center on profitability and sustainability and maybe more risk-averse than an entrepreneur.  As their job is to sustain the business, risks come across as more dangerous to these individuals.  Further, entrepreneurs tend to have big ideas and want to plan, while business owners tend to focus on sustaining one great idea in the present.  

Legal Differences

There is also a legal difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner.  Business’s legal status’ tend to be the difference-maker here.  Entrepreneurs tend to be incorporated, while small business owners tend to be unincorporated.  In the process of determining your legal status, remember that “incorporated business owners reported an increase f $6,600 in median annual earnings compared to their previous salaries when they became entrepreneurs”.

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How to Remain Productive While Working From Home

Working from home can make for a more comfortable working environment, and a far more distracting one. These quick tips can make it easier to focus even at home.

Add More Structure Into Your Routine

Without the external structure of working in an office, maintaining a structured day on your own is more important than ever. A clear to-do list, complete with time blocks dedicated to specific tasks and breaks, makes it far easier to focus.

Structure is also important when creating a work-from-home environment. A designated working area makes it easier to avoid distractions. Structuring a work routine in a way that mimics the one in the office, such as waking up early and changing out of pajamas, also makes it easier to focus.

Have an Accountability Partner

Humans are social animals so an isolated working environment can feel unnatural. Luckily, technology allows for social connection even when people are far apart. Checking in with a coworker or even a friend can make it easier to stay focused on your to-do list.

Many technological tools, such as messaging apps or video chats, can help accountability partnerships prosper even when they are far apart. Some choose to message each other when they complete a task while others work together on camera.

Focus on Clear Communication

Confusion about directions is likely to kill productivity as employees feel insecure about what they are doing. Thus, clear communication is more important than ever during remote work. Tools such as screen sharing make sure that everyone is clear about their tasks.

Good communication goes beyond just sharing information. It also includes acknowledging each other’s needs. Some employees may be struggling with remote work more than others because of their work style or home environment. Especially if you are in a management position, make the effort to provide team members with the extra support they may need.

While some welcome remote work, others find it difficult to focus. With these tips, hopefully even the reluctant remote workers will return to their old productivity.

 

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The Role of Empathy in Leadership

Many business leaders neglect empathy because they perceive it as a soft skill. However, understanding how other people perceive the world allows leaders to improve their relationships with their teams and the public.

Empathy Allows for Accurate Analysis

Sometimes, leaders make decisions based on what they think other people should want instead of respecting their actual wishes. If employees feel that their manager will not listen to them, they will become disengaged and withdraw from their work. Thus, a lack of empathy becomes a failure in leadership.

On the other hand, leaders who practice empathy have a better understanding of their employees’ strengths and weaknesses. They are able to meet the needs of their employees and help them achieve their best work. Practicing empathy can also help a leader develop accurate analysis in other matters, such as finances, instead of falling victim to confirmation bias.

Empathy Allows for Better Problem Management

Leaders who demonstrate a blatant lack of empathy can worsen corporate gaffes. During the BP oil spill of the last decade, CEO Tony Hayward complained that he wanted “my life back.” His statement angered the public, who thought Hayward was not empathetic to the 11 men who died in the explosion and thousands who lost their livelihoods, and fueled the movement to boycott BP.

Mistakes will happen in business. An empathetic response will prevent the damage from worsening, especially in terms of public opinion and consumer behavior. Empathy in the workplace can also prevent problems such as harassment and exploitation, which harm employees.

Anybody Can Practice Empathy

Some people are indeed more empathetic than others. However, empathy is similar to a muscle that anybody can strengthen. Leaders who recognize that they struggle with empathy can intentionally take time to slow down their responses in meetings to avoid making hasty, curt statements. They can also ask an accountability buddy to help them.

Empathy, as with other so-called soft skills, is irreplaceable in the workplace. Leaders who practice empathy improve their problem-solving skills and earn the respect of their employees.

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What Differentiates A Business Owner From An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship and business ownership are often conflated and mixed into being one thing.  Plenty of people associate the two because each role is part and parcel of creating a business.  While there may be many overlapping skillsets for entrepreneurs and business owners, there are also plenty of apparent and delineated differences between the two roles.  When starting your own business, you must understand the difference between these positions before you begin so that you can effectively hire the appropriate candidates.  Knowing what you’re looking for in a candidate is of utmost importance to fill up your company with proper help.

 

Set Definitions

 

It can be helpful to understand that even the words have disparate definitions despite their constant confusion.  According to the oxford dictionary, entrepreneurs are “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses taking a greater than the normal financial risk to do so.”  This differs significantly from a business owner defined by “an individual or entity who owns a business entity in an attempt to profit from the successful operation of the company.”    Even in the textbook declarations of what each role is, it’s relatively straightforward the immediate differences. 

 

 First, note that entrepreneurship tends to include greater financial risk.  Those who work in the world on entrepreneurial activities tend to be willing to take risks and always have skin in the game when it comes to the companies development.  Sometimes this comes with potential back-end benefits, so when working with an entrepreneur, be clear upfront about what they can expect to receive should the company succeed (and it’s probably best to have that agreement be legally binding).

 

Where you want someone more willing to take risks as an entrepreneur, you may want someone a little more conservative as a business owner.  A business owner tends to center on profitability and sustainability and maybe more risk-averse than an entrepreneur.  As their job is to sustain the business, risks come across as more dangerous to these individuals.  Further, entrepreneurs tend to have big ideas and want to plan, while business owners tend to focus on sustaining one great idea in the present.  

 

Legal Differences

There is also a legal difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner.  Business’s legal status’ tend to be the difference-maker here.  Entrepreneurs tend to be incorporated, while small business owners tend to be unincorporated.  In the process of determining your legal status, remember that “incorporated business owners reported an increase f $6,600 in median annual earnings compared to their previous salaries when they became entrepreneurs”.

The post What Differentiates A Business Owner From An Entrepreneur first appeared on Dan Idhenga | Leadership.

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