The Power of Leadership: Bringing Out the Best From Introverted Employees

The Power of Leadership: Bringing Out the Best From Introverted Employees

As a business leader, one of the core requirements of your job is to make sure that you’re bringing out the absolute best in your team at all times. Every employee working under you not only needs to excel on their own terms but must also be contributing towards the larger whole at the same time. Having quiet, introverted employees can certainly make this difficult, but therein lies the challenge. If you want to use your leadership skills to bring out the best from your introverted employees, you’ll certainly want to keep a few key things in mind.

Work on Your Pace

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in terms of dealing with introverted employees is trying to force them to adapt to the way you like to work. Introverted employees typically don’t like fast-paced, high-stress situations. They need time to think, to plan, and to ultimately prepare for the task ahead. Part of the way you can help bring out the best in these employees involves embracing this idea wherever possible.

Say you’ve got a big meeting coming up and you know that an introverted employee will need to contribute as much as possible. Instead of springing this on them at the last minute, let them know as soon as possible. Give them time to get their thoughts straight and make sure you give them a clear, actionable agenda to work from. If you allow them to build up to the meeting, you’ll find that they’ll be much more engaged than you probably thought they would.

Acknowledge Accomplishments

One of the most important things to keep in mind about introverted employees is that they will rarely, if ever, take outward pride in their own accomplishments. They typically don’t like attention, even if it’s positive, which means that a lot of the hard work they’ve been doing will likely go unnoticed. As a result, it becomes your job to take pride in those accomplishments for them. If an introverted employee absolutely nails a project, make sure everyone on the team knows it. Make the announcement on their behalf, allowing them to feel great while embracing their personality at the same time. Just make sure you spread the love – all team member accomplishments should be acknowledged equally, both for introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Another factor to consider about introverted employees ultimately comes down to communication. An introvert doesn’t necessarily like to keep in constant contact either in person or by phone, but luckily, technology has made it easier than ever to adapt to this idea. Utilize virtual communication for projects when possible, either via text messages to your team or instant messaging conversations, e-mail threads and more. This will allow your introverted employees to not only contribute to a larger project but to do so in an environment they feel the most comfortable in.

These are just a few of the ways you can bring out the best from your introverted employees all day, every day. Remember that just because someone is quiet and prefers to work in a solitary environment does NOT mean that they aren’t contributing. In the same way, a loud, boisterous attitude doesn’t make someone a good employee either. Your primary goal is to strike a balance. You need to provide ALL employees, regardless of their personality type, exactly what they need to thrive.

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Change Your Leadership Style to Match Your Company’s Vision

Change Your Leadership Style to Match Your Company’s Vision

Nobody likes being told what to do. It rarely matters who is doing the telling, you just feel that tension rise in your neck and a little rush of adrenaline as your inner 2-year old shouts, “You’re not the boss of me!” Then, that thought that you’re an actual adult enters your mind and you usually do what you’re told, because inevitably, the person telling you what to do is technically the boss of you in some fashion.

When it comes to getting things done in business, someone has to be told what to do, otherwise, nobody would know what to do, right? While this statement has some truth to it, there are effective ways that you can direct people without channeling your inner dictator and incurring the seething wrath of your employees.

Successful leadership styles are not the same as they were twenty years ago. Employees no longer respond favorably to top-down directives. They want a more collaborative environment where their ideas are valued. They want to feel as though they have some sort of stake in the game. If you see your company as the next Google or Zappos and want to attract and retain the talent to match, you may already have that inkling that autocratic and directive leadership styles just will not do.

Today’s employees are more responsive to a democratic and more participative leadership style, where creative thinking and individual ownership of projects is emphasized. With this type of leadership style, it is not the leader or boss who is central to the decision-making process, rather, it’s the group. Think podium dictatorship versus collaborative round-table.

For an example of this, imagine your company designs and builds laptops:

Podium Dictator calls a staff meeting and tells everyone that this year they want the new model to be something no one has ever seen before. Something game-changing. That is why this year you are going to build triangular-shaped, green laptops. Collective eye-rolling ensues and everyone files back to their desks like prisoners in a chain gang. These employees will either polish up their resumes or begin the soul-sucking task of putting a bad idea into production.

On the other side of the coin, the round-table leader asks for a meeting and describes the grand vision – the design of a game-changing laptop. Regardless of how badly this leader wants a triangular-shaped, green laptop, this leader understands that they have a creative and powerful team of designers who know what game-changing really means. This leader asks for ideas. The designers around the round table feel empowered and their creative juices start to flow. Concepts are thrown up on a white board. Truly revolutionary ideas begin to form. There may even be some green involved…

You can see the difference pretty clearly, right? The collaborative leader has just empowered the group to create while the dictator has told the group what to do. Who will have the happier employees and the better product?

This new generation of leaders is able to hire talent that fits well within this new working model. They are able to clearly articulate their vision, manage expectations, and keep the project on track within that vision. They also have the self-control to allow the process to happen with the team that they’ve built. Micromanagers need not apply. When employees feel they have more control over their working environment and schedule (within the confines of the greater vision, of course), they truly want to make the company’s vision a reality.

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Employee Engagement: The Most Important Aspect of Your Business You’re Not Paying Enough Attention To

Employee Engagement: The Most Important Aspect of Your Business You’re Not Paying Enough Attention To

As a marketing professional, one of the core qualities that drives success in nearly everything that you do ultimately comes down to creativity. The employees that you’ve hired have to be free to let their creative juices run wild, turning in the types of materials that establish a direct link with your target audience in bold and innovative ways on a daily basis. Making sure that they have the tools necessary to unlock that underlying creativity is no doubt something that you think about daily. A related point that is just as pressing (if not more so), however, is just how engaged those employees are in the first place.

You could hire the most objectively creative or hard-working employee that you could find and it ultimately won’t make much of a difference if they are actively disengaged from the environment they’re working for in the first place. Employee engagement, in general, isn’t just one of the most important things to concern yourself with, but it’s arguably the MOST important thing for a number of fascinating reasons.

The Employee Engagement Problem

Many recent studies have been done that were designed to provide valuable insight into not only how important employee engagement is, but what happens if you’re a business owner with an uninterested workforce. According to a study that was completed by Dale Carnegie Training, only 29% of workers in the United States are actively engaged with their jobs. Roughly 45% are not engaged in any way and, to make matters worse, a full 26% are actively disengaged.

When you’re dealing with a disengaged workforce, you’re dealing with people who aren’t giving 100% of their time, energy, and creative effort to the task at hand. You’re dealing with people who aren’t doing their best because, to be quite frank, what’s the point? You’re also creating a situation where you can’t hope to accomplish your own goals and the goals of your business because the people you depend on don’t see the same value in moving your business forward. Rest assured, this is a problem that you need to address at all costs.

How to Fix Employee Engagement

According to another study that was conducted by Towers Watson, 79% of highly engaged employees also reported that they had both trust and confidence in the people who were leading them. A survey given out by the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program (PHWP) indicated that employees who felt that their contributions were truly valued by their employers were 60% more likely to report that they were doing their very best inside and out of the office on a daily basis.

If you’re a business owner with an employee engagement problem, it stands to reason that the first step to take involves looking inward for the solution. Employee engagement is almost intimately tied to morale, so what is the true nature of the issue you’re dealing with, here? Is it that your employees feel like you don’t know what you’re doing? Do they feel like you have unreasonable expectations? Do they feel unappreciated?

These are the important questions that you’ll need to answer in order to drive employee engagement as high as it will go. Employee engagement is absolutely the key to unlocking the true productive workforce that you need and to create an environment where “creativity” is the name of the game, thus allowing you to create the best possible marketing materials and establish the best possible connection with your target audience moving forward.

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Rule-Breaker or Not: Which Type of Leader are You?

Rule-Breaker or Not: Which Type of Leader are You?

“Following all the rules leaves a completed checklist. Following your heart achieves a completed you.” This quote by author Ray A. Davis may be a bit of an oversimplification, but it carries some significance, too. Some people are attracted to breaking rules and live their lives accordingly. They are typically acknowledged as either highly successful people or scoundrels. But in any case, they are people who choose their own paths instead of following the well-beaten trails of life. Many times they are revered as leaders. However, not everyone is cut out for rule breaking.

This may be the key difference between two very different types of leaders. One is devoted to organizing procedures and processes and directing operations and the systems that make them functional. The other is primarily engaged in creativity and the positive influence of others. As such, these two types are differentiated as managers and visionaries. Some individuals are fortunate enough to have both of these capacities, but most of us, if we are leadership material at all, fall into one of these two categories more so than the other, and that is not a bad thing. The world needs both types of leadership.

Perhaps the most important difference between these two is that one of them is routinely devoted to following the rules, or at least helping to make and institute those rules. The other is largely committed to finding ways to circumvent the same rules, exploring new ground instead of restricting one’s latitude to a structured set of limitations. One follows the rules; the other seeks to break them.

Looking at these two individuals we can see some very clearly defined differences. The one who seems born to be a manager is focused on technical aspects and structural adhesion. She is committed to smoothness in operation and well-practiced efficiency. Everyone usually acknowledges that she is quite good at what she does.

The other is visionary in his approach to problem solving, so his solutions are not always popular. He is, instead, a bit of a maverick. But his ideas can be so very convincing sometimes, usually due to his emotional involvement and vision. In a word, he is passionate, and his passion is contagious. He is an idea factory.

Successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey said, “Everyone has an idea. But it’s really about executing the idea and attracting other people to help you work on the idea.” The idea for Twitter was amazingly simple. It was also untried. The “idea people” attracted some management types to make it happen…and the rest is history.

Successful organizations usually require both types of leadership, the idea generators and the systems people who build and pattern the formula. Successful World War II general and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” That, in a nutshell, is the path of the idea creator, the entrepreneurial genius, the visionary leader who starts the engine and motivates it to keep running.

The running of the engine requires the attention of those most capable of coaxing from it the power that is needed. The engine must be tuned to perfection. Systems experts keep it running and running in the right direction. Without them, the visionary’s idea could easily die on the vine.

True leadership may begin with a breaking of the rules, but it can only truly succeed by virtue of learning one’s real limitations and finding help in those areas of relative weakness. Break the rules to get started, but then find help covering your weaknesses from another kind of leader, and your chance of success is increased.

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What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

What Captain Kirk Teaches Us About Business

Even among those who haven’t followed the Star Trek franchise, Captain Kirk and William Shatner (the actor who played him) are household names. Whether you’re a lifelong Trekkie or only know the character’s name in passing, here are six Captain Kirk/William Shatner quotes we found particularly inspiring for marketing and business professionals.

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis… You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”

When starting out or working your way up in business, you must acknowledge that you don’t know everything there is to know about your industry. You’re not going to wake up one morning with the experience to be an industry leader. Instead, you must be willing to study and learn as you go.

“You either believe in yourself or you don’t.”

Running a business is never a sure thing. Chances are when you start your own company you’ll find yourself facing skepticism from many different people. If you want to be successful, however, you have to believe in yourself. You must be honest about the faith you have in yourself. If you truly think you can do this, then develop your business plan and prepare to jump in feet first.

“There’s another way to survive — mutual trust and help.”

Building a business is not a single-handed endeavor. If you want your business to thrive — and not just survive — you must be willing to trust those running the business with you. When starting out, make sure your first hires are trustworthy people who share your vision. Choose candidates you know you can trust completely to have the good of the company at heart.

“Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”

Sure, predicting the right moment to launch a company or introduce a new product or service involves studying trends, but it also requires a finely tuned intuition. Sometimes, all you have to go on in business is a gut feeling. If you have reasons to support those instincts, don’t be afraid to listen to them.

“If I can have honesty, it’s easier to overlook mistakes.”

This quote speaks to the importance of transparency in everything a business does. No business leader is perfect. Sometimes you’ll make mistakes. You’ll make the wrong call. When you’re transparent with your employees about what happened, they’ll be far more likely to continue to trust you and your judgement.

“A captain of a ship, no matter his rank, must follow the book.”

Even if you’re the founder and CEO, you don’t want to place yourself in a separate category than everyone else at your company. Sure, it might be easier to circumvent particular processes or rules, but when you do so, everyone notices. People naturally struggle to feel connected to and loyal to leaders who play by different rules than the ones they set for everyone below them. Show your employees you’re all on the same team by following the same rules. The result will be far greater coherence within your team.

Building and successfully running a company can be a challenge for anyone. Those who enjoy the character of Captain Kirk, however, will find a considerable amount of wisdom about how to be successful in the quotes from the captain and from the actor, William Shatner. Consider some of the wisdom above and see how you can apply it to your own company. If you’re interested in improving your marketing efforts, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you get started.

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Give Them Something They Can Believe In

Give Them Something They Can Believe In

In an increasingly noisy world, people are looking for businesses to believe in. The business world is filled with hype, over-commercialization, and marketing nobody can believe. Fortunately, there’s one simple, yet overlooked way your business can stand apart from the muddled masses: by having a strong company vision statement.

A strong vision statement isn’t just for putting on the walls of the company lobby or the back of business cards. It clearly communicates that this business lives what it preaches.

Why having a clear business vision is important

Vision starts with a belief… specifically the belief that your business exists to make a difference in the world. The specifics of that belief could be simple or more complex, but whatever your vision, it must clearly state the core values and purpose of why your business exists and what it wants to accomplish.

A vision is an ideal your company strives to achieve. There are many benefits to creating a company vision. But first and foremost, a clearly written and communicated vision helps define your company’s values and guide the behavior of all employees.

A vision statement acts as the guide and cornerstone for everything you do. It needs to be specific enough to say what you will do but can also state what you will not do.

Without a clear vision, a business can drift aimlessly from task to task without understanding the purpose of the organization and the destination it wants to reach.

Here are three guidelines for creating a vision or evaluating your current one:

  1. Your vision must be clear, concise, easily understood, and give a sense of purpose for your business.
  2. It should motivate everyone in the business toward achieving a common goal. It should be ambitious and challenge everyone to embrace the ideals stated in the vision.
  3. A great vision helps link actions to the company’s strategic goals. Actions will come from a clear understanding of the value created by following the vision.

A strong vision identifies the core values of the business, understands the purpose of the business, and envisions the future of the business. Often you can immediately identify a company that has a clear sense of purpose and vision from ones that don’t. A motivated team working together creates a positive energy not seen in aimless businesses. A clear, memorable, and effective vision points everyone toward a common goal of making a difference in the lives of those being served.

A stimulating vision compels everyone to act, to change, and to become something that stands out in a skeptical world of me-too imitators. You can attract customers by hiring a guy in a clown costume to hold a sale sign in front of your building, or you can gain customers by providing out-of-this-world service from motivated employees driven by a worthy vision. One brings you customers for a day. The other brings you customers for a lifetime.

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Where are the budding stars at your company?

Where are the budding stars at your company?

The answer is simple: They’re everywhere. And it’s up to you to find them.

In his biography of Bill Russell, author Murry R. Nelson writes about the NBA legend’s athletic struggles in high school and about one teacher/coach who helped to bring out the best in the young man others had overlooked and taken for granted.

After failing to make the school’s football team, Russell decided to try out for basketball instead. There were 15 spots available on the junior varsity team, and Russell, who had never played organized basketball before, was number 16 on the depth chart. But his coach “saw something in him as a person” and allowed him to split time with another player in order to make the team. He also helped Russell join the local Boys Club, where he could “practice his game on an indoor court.”

“In return for the faith and ‘investment’ [the coach] made in him,” Nelson writes, Russell “provided a constant drive and energy on the basketball court.” What’s more, he began practicing hard throughout the year and was able to make the varsity team his senior season.

Bill Russell would go on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career in the NBA, where he led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA titles over the course of 13 years.

Just as faith from a coach helped to mold a young Bill Russell’s career path, guidance and mentoring are valuable training tools in business, too. Providing team members with the resources and skills training needed to succeed at their jobs can make a difference not only for the individuals you’re helping but also for the company (and team) as a whole. After all, who knows what potential “all-stars” might be waiting to be discovered on your team. All they need is a chance to shine.

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Are You the One?

Are You the One?

Are you in control of your life, or does it feel like life is tossing you around like a boat in a storm?

Only one person in a hundred may look ahead, picture in their mind what they want, and set a plan to work toward their goals. The other ninety-nine may think about what they aspire to, but that vision will quickly fade, as they consider all the reasons why they can’t make their dreams a reality. So they settle for what life throws their way. That’s why life for the ninety-nine feels out of control and chaotic.

In order to go from the ninety-nine to the one, you must answer three important questions:

  1. What do you really, really want out of life?
  2. What is your plan to get there?
  3. What is your next step?

All three of these are critical steps to get off the out-of-control merry-go-round and take control of your destiny.

Some people will take the first step and stop. Some will even go to step two. But very few get to step three. The people in the “one percent” group take step three and continue on until their goals are achieved.

Ninety-nine people will read this and believe they knew all of this already. Yet they still won’t do anything about it. One will take action.

Life throws challenges in everyone’s paths. The ones who are not easily discouraged and remain resilient because they believe in their dreams are the people who end up as the one in a hundred.

Which are you?

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It’s 11:30. Are You Ready?

It’s 11:30. Are You Ready?

Deadline Lessons from Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live (SNL) producer Lorne Michaels once said, “I say it every week: We don’t go on because we’re ready. We go on because it’s 11:30.” He went on to say that being “ready” is a state of mind, one you can condition yourself to overcome with regular deadlines.

SNL is a long-running late-night live television sketch comedy created by Lorne Michaels. The live aspect of the show requires an absolute commitment to being ready to go on air at 11:30 eastern time every Saturday. It’s a hard deadline. No excuses can be accepted or tolerated. The show begins with a topical sketch, at the end of which someone breaks from the skit and shouts: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

But before the show airs each Saturday night, an entire week’s worth of preparation has gone into making that episode a reality. Monday starts with a production meeting where ideas for the following week’s skits are pitched. On Tuesday, the ideas chosen are turned into skits, and on Wednesday they’re reviewed to pick the best ones to move forward.

On Thursday, the skits are tweaked and adjusted as needed. The winning skits are rehearsed on Friday and then once more before a live audience on Saturday at 8 PM before the actual live performance at 11:30.

Whatever project you’re creating — whether large and elaborate or small and simple — you likely follow a similar process. Your ideas are put on paper, the best survive, an action plan to move forward is chosen, and deadlines are given. Everything is ready, so then why do some ideas and projects never get done?

Over-thinking, doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism are the enemies of deadlines. Each one can play the role of devil’s advocate in your head to delay and destroy deadlines.

The cure might be to learn from SNL and Lorne Michaels. Take imperfect action when necessary. When you delay, nothing can move forward. You can always correct course and improvise as you move toward your goals, but nothing can happen unless you make that leap of faith to take the first steps.

SNL has aired some 730 episodes since its debut and began its 38th season this year, making it one of the longest-running network television programs in the United States. It has produced countless stars, created immense wealth for the creators, and entertained several generations of audiences over the years. The live aspect of the show creates a certain drama that most other shows lack. Some of the jokes fall flat, and there are unexpected surprises in many shows that had not been rehearsed. But the actors improvise as needed, and the show always goes on.

SNL doesn’t go on air at 11:30 every Saturday evening because they are ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30. You may never be “ready” enough if you don’t commit to a deadline to go live. Set aside your fears and worries. Time is wasting, and you may never get another chance to go live again.

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Measure twice

Measure twice

There’s an old adage among carpenters: “Measure twice, cut once.” A moment spent verifying a measurement can save the time and frustration of having to re-cut, sand, or replace a board if the size is off by even the smallest amount. Taking shortcuts can literally lead to “short cuts,” which require more time, resources, and expense to fix and make right.

The same idea holds true for pouring a slab of concrete, laying tile, hanging a door, installing cabinetry… and running a business. Sometimes, in the rush to get things done, we all forget to “measure twice” before pushing forward on a project or policy. We think we’re working smarter, when in reality our shortcuts are short-circuiting our efforts and making us spend even more time, energy, and money fixing mistakes we would never have made if we had just taken the time to do it right from the start.

Of course, measuring twice doesn’t mean delaying decisions indefinitely or dragging our heels for fear of making a mistake. That could prove even more harmful than moving too fast. What it does mean is taking a step back, verifying our course, and then moving forward more confidently than before.

So the next time you’re tempted to cut corners, just to get things done, stop for a minute, assess the situation, and make sure those corners aren’t important to the structural integrity of your project before you pull out that blade.

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