5 Things Successful Leaders Do in a Crisis

A lot of people believe that the true leadership capacity of a person is tested during times of crisis. Performance under stress can show how quick witted or level headed a person is, or on the contrary, it can show where their weaknesses lie. As a business owner or as an entrepreneur, it’s important that you always keep your wits about you and stay cool in difficult situations. These are the five things that every successful leader does in times of crisis, and traits to you should always keep in mind when running a business.

Successful Leaders Don’t Let Their Emotions Get In The Way

The most important thing to do during a crisis is to maintain an example for your employees by keeping cool, calm, and collected, which will allow you to think about the curveballs being thrown your way.

Successful Leaders Are Brave

Many people respond to a crisis by being overwhelmed by stress, which turns to fear. It is easy to be afraid when you have a crisis situation in your business, as it is your entire livelihood on the line, but if you remain brave, then your employees will be too, and together a strong team will be able to turn anything around.

Successful Leaders Are Accountable For Their Victories And Their Losses

Good leaders own up to when they make mistakes. After all, we are all human, and someone who is too proud to admit their own mistake is not likely to be someone that others will follow. Taking responsibility for any actions that you have taken that could have contributed to the crisis will be a good way to prompt your employees into working on the situation with you wholeheartedly, instead of just because they have to.

Successful Leaders Don’t Take Failures Personally

By separating your personal feelings from the matter at hand, you are better able to focus on what is happening and take care of it in a manner that is going to be most successful for you, your employees, and the rest of your business. Crises can also bring out power dynamics in the workplace, and a successful leader does not let those office politics get in the way of taking care of business!

Successful Leaders Possess Positive Attitudes From Start To Finish

The end of the crisis is not just when you pull yourself out of the muck that it had put you in. The end of the crisis is when the team has started to recover and is moving on, which might take a bit. Keeping a positive attitude on your face and pushing the excellence of your team will keep morale high, which will put things right back on track in no time at all, and will also earn you the trust and respect of your employees.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Are You a Good Leader? (Infographic)

Once, it may have been enough for a company to find something that works and keep doing it over and over again. Today, in a marketplace of continual innovation and change, a company needs strong and strategic leadership to truly thrive. But what does strong leadership mean?

Fifty-three percent of corporations placed growth as their number one priority in 2013. To achieve this growth, companies have turned to ethical leaders to pave the path of innovation. Eighty percent of top-quintile companies aim to adapt ethics to changing business needs, while only 36 percent of bottom-quintile companies do the same.

Along with ethical leadership, companies are in pursuit of leaders who can use their power wisely, manage crises and cultivate a culture of change. The infographic below, compiled by NEC’s Online Master of Science in Project Management, offers key data and statistics on leadership in an evolving marketplace.

Check it out.

Are You a Good Leader? (Infographic)

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

5 Steps Toward Building Influence as a Great Thought Leader

Do you have something to say about a topic you are well versed in? If so, you could become an influential thought leader in your field of expertise.

Thought leaders are CEOs, businesspeople, entrepreneurs and other individuals who are respected for their knowledge and expertise and who have something to say and know how to say it. Thought leadership can spread awareness about the individual’s company while he or she develops a personal brand, influence and credibility. Just like building a business, becoming a recognized thought leader requires dedication and a strategy.

Here are five steps to take to help you build a strong thought-leadership campaign:

1. Clarify your purpose.

The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.

Do you want recognition? Do you want to earn credibility and respect from your peers and from the public? Do you want to offer advice and help people?

Figure out your purpose and why becoming a thought leader is important to you. Then build a strategy to support that purpose and your goals.

2. Identify your voice.

Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.

If you want to develop a strong voice and brand, ask yourself: What are my values? What do I stand for? What can I offer that isn’t obvious? What can people learn from me? Be clear and concise about your voice, your stances, your ideas and be sure that everything you do and say aligns with that.  Remember to stay true to who you are because the most successful thought leaders are authentic.

3. Write.

One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing contributed articles, op-eds and blog posts.

This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.

Do you have advice and tips for other entrepreneurs? Can you provide lessons that you learned while creating and running your business? Figure out how you can turn your experience and background into a learning opportunity for others and start writing!

4. Build an active online presence.

Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. A great thought leader understands how instrumental social media is in developing their voice. He or she looks for opportunities and groups to join and uses different platforms to talk about his or her expertise and becomes a part of relevant conversations.

Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Therefore, provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.

Be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.

5. Be a mentor.

Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.

Do you remember how much of an impact your mentor had on your life? Your mentor influenced who you are today as an entrepreneur and how you run your business. You have vast experience and are full of lessons and a wealth of knowledge that you could share with others to make an impact on their life and your own.

Great thought leaders are influential and affect the trajectory of popular topics and conversations. They have gained t he respect of their peers and the public and use their credibility to offer direction that others can benefit from. They understand the importance of building a sphere of influence and being recognized as an expert. Most important, thought leaders look for strategies to strengthen their position and share their views with others.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

4 Hiring Techniques Needed to Build a Stellar Team

One of the benefits of establishing your company culture first is that it gives you the opportunity to build your team to fit the culture. Managing a team takes much less energy and attention when you have people who intrinsically embrace the culture you are trying to build. As I said before, successful entrepreneurs hire for the long run — not just for today — avoiding the temptation to settle for people who aren’t “A” players and don’t fit the culture.

One great way to avoid that temptation is to require a sponsor for each person you hire. The sponsor has to stand up and say that he or she is going to be responsible for the person’s success and integration into the company. If you can’t get someone to sponsor a candidate, the person doesn’t get hired. Sometimes the hiring manager acts as the sponsor, and other times it might be someone else in the company.

I like to put potential candidates through a lot of interviews, typically with 8 to 12 people. No matter how much time you spend with a potential candidate you are never going to know that person as well as you could, or as well as he or she knows themselves. The real point of putting the person through so many interviews is to help the candidate get to know the company culture and empower them to make the decision about whether or not it’s the right place for them.  

Another way to help ensure you are hiring the right person is to start everyone on a form of trial for some period of time, say 30 to 90 days, sometimes as long as 180 days. At the end of that period, the team they work with then must vote for the person to stay — it’s not just the manager deciding or a formality.  Obviously, in hot job markets or for certain job categories that might be in tight supply, you may not be able to take this approach.

In addition to having the candidate interview with 8 to 12 people, consider a group interview as a hiring technique. By making the hiring process very robust, you are really ensuring you get someone in your company with the highest probability of fitting in and being successful.   As a side benefit, I’ve seen it prove out numerous times that challenging interview processes create stronger buy-in and commitment  and generally result in faster starts by the new employee – they worked hard to get accepted, and they want to capitalize on that investment!

Finally, involving the CEO and/or founders in the interview process has a powerful effect on the candidate’s perception of the company and the opportunity (as well as the culture).  It really makes them feel special, appreciated, and respected.  And there is nothing like a candidate going home to their significant other and bragging that they got to meet with the CEO or founders during their interview!

Bear in mind, not all of these approaches, and others you may learn about, may be right for the culture you are building – embrace what fits and don’t force things that don’t.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

What Successful Leaders Do in Challenging Times

If there is one thing consistent about business it’s the inconsistent dynamics of business. Great leaders can navigate turbulent business climates just as well as they can sail a calm sea of activity. Often they use those frenetic circumstances to capitalize and strip away competition. Sure, some of the successes that come from chaos are pure luck, but once you dig in to the stories you find out there were intentional key decisions that launched the team to exponential success.

Success or failure during times of peril depends on your ability to get your team moving with strength and confidence. Following are 8 examples where strength, focus and resolve will help you avoid the temptations that lead to failure in difficult times.

1. Temptation: To spread your sense of urgency and panic.

When a state of panic sets in, reactive leaders will ramp up the energy and stress. Some problems do need to be solved IMMEDIATELY. But if the boss is frantic and emotional, everyone else will be too, and efficiency will diminish.

What great leaders do instead: Learn to break the news calmly, while making the seriousness of the situation clear. Take a breath and carefully assess the situation so you can work with the team to clearly set the appropriate priorities. Then you can be effective and efficient internally as you deal with the outer chaos.

2. Temptation: To lay blame.

When something goes awry, people naturally start to ask, “Who did this? Whose fault is it?” It is good to know the root of the problem, but this often descends into counterproductive finger pointing. While everyone is focused on avoiding the burden of guilt, the situation may be going from bad to worse. A leader who allows or participates in the blame game ends up with a diminished team full of distrust.

What great leaders do instead: Help the team focus on moving forward. Ask “What do we need to do to recover quickly?” and then get the team working together to make those things happen. A team will be more successful by creating heroes who inspire others to step up.

3. Temptation: To let your emotions drive your response.

It may feel better to yell or bawl someone out when you’re angry or tense…at least it provides a momentary sense of release. But it does more harm than good in the long run. Your people become resentful or fearful and less likely to give you their best efforts, or bring you news that might trigger a tantrum.

What great leaders do instead: When your emotions flare, give yourself a moment to let your rational brain step in. Excuse yourself for a moment if you have to, or just take a few deep breaths. Find productive ways to channel the negative energy into positive results.

4. Temptation: To make assumptions.

In moments of small vexation or serious crisis, people often scramble to identify a cause, sometimes allowing existing assumptions to drive conclusions rather than facts. Do you actually know the reason the reports are not in the box? Are you sure the marketing people missed the deadline? Is IT really being lazy? If you have existing concerns or criticisms, it is especially easy to jump to conclusions that may or may not be accurate.

What great leaders do instead: Ask more questions that frame the big picture. Calm, value neutral questions allow you and others to diagnose what’s truly going on. Sometimes they know what caused a breakdown, sometimes they don’t, especially when there are a lot of moving parts in a lot of departments.Often a small issue that seems to be a choke point is only symptomatic of systemic issues that are largely hidden. Careful analysis with the team may surface core issues that can lead to exponential efficiencies.

5. Temptation: Topubliclyspeak critically of an imperfect employee.

Sometimes we all need to let of steam or grumble a bit when someone frustrates or lets us down. Doing that in front of the rest of the team spreads dissatisfaction and mistrust.

What great leaders do instead: If you really need to kvetch, do so privately, in a journal or with someone unrelated to the office. When you’re feeling calmer, approach the employee directly and politely but firmly share the truth about how they have fallen short.

6. Temptation: To withhold information.

If the truth is scary, it can be hard to share it with everyone for fear that panic will ensue and everyone will desert the ship. But if you leave them in the dark, your people are likely to fill in the blanks with even scarier conjecture. Most people will paint a more desperate picture when uncertainabout their own future.

What great leaders do instead: Give your people as much good information as the situation allows. Promise to keep them updated, and keep them focused on the work they CAN do, rather than worrying about what they CAN’T. That way you can lead them to success instead of managing their fears.

7. Temptation: To softball criticism.

Employees are people with thoughts and feelings, and it can be painful to watch them wilt under criticism. So rather than address their failings directly, it sometimes seems easier to drop oblique hints or bury suggestions under insincere praise.

What great leaders do instead: Tackle the hard stuff first, directly and without hesitation. If they don’t know they are creating a problem, they won’t know they have to fix it. You can follow up with encouragement and praise to soften the blow without muddling the message.

8. Temptation: To draw comparisons between employees.

“Try to be more like Tim.” “Adriana never leaves a customer on hold for more than five minutes.” We love our star players, and we want others to emulate them. Your employees probably know exactly what makes their co-workers shine. That does not mean everyone wants to be continually compared to the office favorites.

What great leaders do instead: Evaluate each employee on their own strengths and weaknesses, using a clear rubric that is fair and equal for all. Base your comparisons on an ideal, not any one person, as your standard. Then take the time to work with each team member to perform at their personal best. Sure you are busy, but showing the person they are a priority will motivate them beyond their fears and concerns.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

7 Habits of Remarkably Happy People

Want to be happier?

Great–but don’t just wish for a greater sense of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. Do something about it. Take a different approach. Adopt a different mindset.

And then let those beliefs guide your actions.

Here are some of the habits of remarkably happy people:

1. They choose (and it is a choice) to embrace who they really are.

None of us really likes how we look. So we try to hide who we really are with the right makeup and the right clothes and the occasional Mercedes. In the right setting and the right light, we’re happy.

But not when we’re at the beach. Or when we’re at the gym. Or when we have to run to the grocery store but feel self-conscious because we’re wearing ratty jeans and an old T-shirt and haven’t showered, and we think everyone is staring at us (even though they’re not). So we spend considerable time each day avoiding every possible situation that makes us feel uncomfortable about how we look or act.

And it makes us miserable.

In reality, no one cares how we look except us. (And maybe our significant others, but remember, they’ve already seen us at our worst, so that particular Elvis has definitely left the building.)

So do this. Undress, and stand in front of the mirror. (And don’t do the hip-turn shoulder-twist move to make your waist look slimmer and your shoulders broader.) Take a good look.That’s who you are. Chances are, you won’t like what you see, but you’ll probably also be surprised you don’t look as bad as you suspected.

If you don’t like how you look, decide what you’re willing to do about it and start doing it. But don’t compare yourself with a model or professional athlete; your only goal is to be a better version of the current you. (Remember, you can have anything, but you can’t have everything.)

Or, if you aren’t willing to do anything about what you see in the mirror, that’s also fine. Just move on. Let it go, and stop worrying about how you look. Stop wasting energy on something you don’t care about enough to fix.

Either way, remember that while the only person who really cares how you look is you, plenty of people care about the things you do.

Looking good is fun. Doing good makes you happy.

2. They never mistake joining for belonging.

Making connections with other people is easier than ever and not just through social media. Joining professional organizations or alumni groups, wearing company polo shirts or college sweatshirts, or even putting a window sticker with initials such as “HH” on your car to announce to the world you summer at Hilton Head Island… People try hard to show they belong, if only to themselves.

Most of those connections are superficial at best. If your spouse passes away, the alumni organization may send flowers. (OK, probably not.) If you lose your job, a professional organization may send you a nifty guide to networking. (OK, probably not, but they will send you the invoice when it’s time to renew your membership, so there is that to look forward to.) Anyone can buy, say, a Virginia Tech sweatshirt. (I didn’t go to Virginia Tech but I do have one. It was on sale.)

The easier it is to join something, the less it means to you. A true sense of belonging comes from giving, self-sacrifice, and effort. To belong, you have to share a common experience–the tougher the experience, the better.

Clicking a link lets anyone join; staying up all night to help meet a release date lets youbelong. Sending a donation gets anyone’s name in an event program; scrambling to feed hundreds of people at an over-crowded soup kitchen lets you belong to a group of people trying to make a difference.

Remarkably happy people do the work necessary to earn a group’s respect and trust–and in so doing truly become part of that group.

A genuine sense of belonging provides a sense of security and well-being even when you’re alone.

3. They accept they can have anything but not everything.

We can’t be everything we want to be. We can all achieve amazing things, but we can’t doeverything we set our minds to. Ability, resources, focus, and, most important, time are unavoidable limiting factors.

Remarkably happy people know themselves, know what is most important to them, and set out to achieve that. The rest they’re satisfied to do well–or to simply let go.

Pick a primary goal. Do your best to excel. Then accept that you can have other goals, but that “good” where those goals are concerned is truly good enough.

Try to have it all and your inability to actually have it all will make you feel like you have nothing.

4. They know business success does not guarantee fulfillment.

You can love your company, but it will never love you back. (Trite, but true.) No one lying on their death bed says, “I just wish I had spent more time at work…” Business success, no matter how grand, is still fleeting.

Fulfillment comes from achieving something and knowing it will outlive you: raising great kids, being a part of a supportive extended family, knowing you have helped others and changed their lives for the better…

Work hard on your business. Work harder on things you can someday look back on with even more pride–and personal satisfaction.

5. They have someone to call at 2 a.m.

Years ago, I lived in a house beside a river. Then a flood caused my house to be in the river. I had about an hour to move as much stuff as I could, and I called my friend Doug. I knew he would come, no questions asked.

I’m sure you have lots of friends, but how many people do you feel comfortable calling in the middle of the night if you need help? How many people do you know whom you can tell almost anything and they won’t laugh? How many people do you feel comfortable sitting with for an hour without either of you speaking?

Most of us wear armor that protects us from insecurity. Our armor also makes us lonely, and it’s impossible to be happy when we’re lonely.

Remarkably happy people take off their armor and make real friends. It’s easier than it sounds, because other people are dying to make real friends, too.

Don’t worry; they’ll like the real you. And you’ll like the real them.

And all of you will be much happier.

6. They never mistake structure for control.

Most of what we do, especially in business, is based on trying to gain control: processes, guidelines, strategies. Everything we plan and implement is designed to control the inherently uncontrollable and create a sense of security in a world filled with random events. (Did I just go all philosophical?)

Eventually, those efforts fall short, because structure never equals control. No matter how many guidelines we establish for ourselves, we often step outside them–otherwise we’d all be slim, trim, fit, and rich. Diets and budgets and five-year plans fall apart, and we get even more frustrated because we didn’t achieve what we hoped.

To-do lists and comprehensive daily schedules are helpful, but you only make real progress toward a goal when it means something personal to you.

Deciding what you really want to do and giving it your all is easier. Plus, you’ll feel a real sense of control, because this time you really care.

And when you truly care–about anything–you’re a lot happier.

7. They never stop failing.

Most of us do everything we can to avoid failure, a natural instinct that leaves an unnatural byproduct–we start to lose the ability to question our decisions.

And we lose the ability to see our business and ourselves from the employee’s point of view. The ability to run a company and lead others is compromised when we lose perspective on what it’s like to not have all the answers–and what it’s like to make mistakes.

So go out and fail, but not in the way you might think. Forget platitudes such as, “In business, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying.” Business failures cost time and money that most of us don’t have. (My guess is “Failure” doesn’t appear as a line item in your operating budget.)

Instead, fail at something outside your business. Pick something simple that doesn’t take long. Set a reach goal you know you can’t reach. If you normally run a mile, try to run three. If you play a sport, play against people a lot better than you. If you must choose a business task, pick something you hate to do and therefore don’t do well. Whatever you choose, give it your all. Leave no room for excuses.

Remarkably happy people often try things for which they can only be judged on their own merits–and are often found wanting. Why?

Failure isn’t defeating; failure is motivating. Failure provides a healthy dose of perspective, makes us more tolerant and patient, and makes us realize we’re a lot like the people around us.

When you realize you aren’t so different or special after all, it’s a lot easier to be happy with the people around you–and, just as important, to be happier with yourself.

 

-Courtesy: Inc.com

The Unexpected Trait That Moves Leaders From Good to Great

In the popular imagination, successful leaders are not shy flowers. Confidence and bluster–sometimes in excess–are more likely to be associated with executives and other top business leaders.

But, it turns out, what we imagine we want from a leader and what actually makes one effective in real life are often at odds. Now a new study has confirmed what other researchers have been insisting–quieter, less remarked on traits determine the success of those at the top more often than highlyvisible qualities like charm and conviction.

The latest research published in Administrative Science Quarterly looked at the leaders of 63 Chinese companies and their employees and discovered that, when it comes to high functioning teams, the humility of leaders is key.

The Power of Being Humble

In case you need a working definition, the study authors note that “humility is manifested in self-awareness, openness to feedback, appreciation of others, low self-focus, and pursuit of self-transcendence. Humble people willingly seek accurate self-knowledge and accept their imperfections while remaining fully aware of their talents and abilities. They appreciate others’ positive worth, strengths, and contributions and thus have no need for entitlement or dominance over others.”

Accepts feedback? Appreciates others? Focused on service not self? Clear-headed about their limitations? Appealing qualities all, so perhaps it’s no wonder than humility, though undersung, is so powerful. But what exact effect did it have? PsyBlog sums up the researchers’ findings: “CEOs who were humble were more likely to empower the top management team, which in turn enabled the management team to be better integrated. The empowering organisational climate then trickled down through the middle managers which increased their job performance, commitment and engagement with work.”

No Shortage of Evidence

Lest you think this is only true in culturally distinct China, PsyBlog also stresses that earlier studies here in the U.S. uncoveredmuch the same thing. One study of Fortune 1000 executives “found that one important factor which lifted leaders from ‘good to great’ was modesty,” for instance.

This isn’t the first time humility has come up as a leadership essential here on Inc.com either. We’ve featured experts insisting the key to bringing out greatness in your team is to stop acting like a stereotypical leader and focus on letting others shine instead, quoted Harvard professors on leading less and following more, and covered research out of Google showing one of the most essential traits of successful leaders is also one of the most boring–being predictable and getting out of people’s way.

-Courtesy: Inc.com