Inclusivity means not "just we’re allowed to be there," but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things. ~Claudia Brind-Woody
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains more widespread traction, the focus on diversity and inclusion has taken on new dimensions for workplaces. Critical conversations within organizations are revealing an undercurrent of toxicity that, while unintentional, has deeply impacted the experience and morale of team members.
"But Julia, organizational culture is one of those things that just evolves organically... right?"
Not at all. Culture in the workplace has to be as intentional and prioritized as your business strategy or your core service/product offering. If you want a workforce that's upwardly mobile and "comfortably in control," you need to view your culture as a key business driver. Here’s how you can do that:
1. Encourage your team to socially connect at...
Once upon a time…
Or (for those like me), a long time ago in a galaxy far far away….
As a child, you will recall that's how many stories would begin. Fairytales and stories seemed to always follow a similar plot of conflict between good and evil. It's no wonder that we carry these same archetypes into adulthood – into our homes and the workplace. But unfortunately, in real life, there is no "happily ever after" when this plot plays out in our organizations. The conflict triangle I'm going to discuss results in low productivity, employee turnover, and lack of trust. But, if we can each take part in rewriting the story in our workplace, we will learn to see conflict differently and find constructive ways to approach it.
So, what is the conflict triangle?
Most children's stories consist of three main types of characters: the victim (a "damsel in distress" or an innocent child), the villain (a witch, giant or dragon), and the hero...
Effective teams don't happen randomly. They are the result of influential leaders who lead by example and build healthy habits into the team's dynamic. But sometimes things go south within a team, and a leader is left wondering, "what happened?" Whether it is a failed project or turnover of talented members in the team, this is a crucial moment of reflection for any leader.
What are some signs your team needs a leader to be more involved? If you can recognize the symptoms of the problem, you can take steps to get your team back on track. Below, are some of the signs you should look out for:
1. Absence of Trust
Trust is the foundation of all successful teams, and the absence of trust is a billboard on the road to dysfunction. Teams that don't trust each other assume harmful intentions, dread spending time together, and don't ask for help from each other. Leaders can start cultivating trust by creating a culture of vulnerability, rewarding honesty, and, most...
Listening is a powerful and magnetic force. Have you ever noticed this? The people who listen to us are the ones that draw us closer. So, it makes sense why improved listening skills can make you a more effective leader. Whether you’re listening to your kids or in a meeting receiving feedback from your employees, it’s essential that you listen carefully and become more mindful of what others are saying between the lines.
As a leader, it’s not always easy to know what subordinates are thinking. It's quite common for those who speak out about their concerns to be labeled as complainers or having a bad attitude. Depending on the culture, there may be fears or frustrations around communication.
But, the leader who can listen clearly will develop relationships of trust and let others know their voice has value.
One of the ways a true leader can listen is by learning body language, being able to discern moods, facial expressions, and knowing behavioral issues....
Is your organization's culture positive? Is it cut-throat?
Organizational culture is often treated as an afterthought. Either you have a good one or a bad one naturally, right? Wrong. Like any key relationships (i.e. marriage, parenting) the best ones don't just evolve organically -- they require intentionality. Yet, as critical as it is, the culture of organizations is rarely prioritized. I have to remind leaders that it's every bit as important and malleable as your business strategy or your core product/service. If you want a workforce that's motivated and empowered, you need to view your culture as a key business driver. Here’s how you can do that:
Encourage your team to socially connect at work
Positive social connections at work result in less mental and physical illness, faster learning, and better performance on the job. Some basic approaches to improving the social dynamics in your workplace include:
The world needs both followers and leaders. But I often get asked by those aspiring to attain roles in leadership, "how can I prepare myself for my next leadership role?"
Depending on your situation, getting into a leadership position might not be that difficult. Becoming a good leader, however, takes time and experience. This article can’t replicate that time and experience, but it can help to get you started.
Know The Requirements For The Next Promotion
The first step to getting a leadership position is finding a job with good upward mobility and keeping an eye out for opportunities. Some jobs only let you move so high without different experience or higher education.
Once you take a job, knowing the next step up and what the requirements are can help you to work toward that next step up by showing that you have the required skills or learning the required skills. Becoming a part time or online student to get any required or preferred degrees can help too.
Let The Boss Know...
Are You A Leader Or A Follower?
It’s a question that is often asked with the implication that there is only one real answer. Either you are a leader, or you are worthless, fit only to be shepherded by the strong, intelligent, and brave.
Before we continue, it is important that you know that this is not the case. Leaders are important, but so are followers. After all, where would leaders be without followers? The world needs leaders, but it also needs followers. It’s also okay to start as a follower with the aim of becoming a leader, or to be a leader today and a follower tomorrow.
Whatever the case, it’s probably easier to break the question up into questions that address the qualities of leadership. This article won’t tell you whether you are a leader or a follower, but it will help you to answer the question reliably for yourself.
Are You Confident With The Situation?
Confidence is important to leadership, both confidence in yourself to lead and...
The morning rush sweeps you up like a speck of dust, relegating your focus to the monotony of management and your enthusiasm to the corner of your mind. You don’t need passion to finish your work, right? No one will notice if you do a half-job. But you notice, and your clients notice, and in time your staff notices. Why does your team look so disappointed? It’s because a leader who can’t find a reason to enjoy their work, can’t possibly ask their staff to do the same. Their various gazes bite into you like a drill powered by their disappointment. But as that thick, caustic bubble of denial rises from your scorching throat, and excuses begin to formulate in your mind, a revelation occurs. You aren’t in trouble of losing your job, but of losing your passion. For a leader like you, there’s nothing worse. So, you’ve accepted that you need to improve yourself as a leader, but how do you begin? You can’t just go back to how you were. You...
Ask any small-business owner what he sees as the major challenges to growing his business, and chances are he'll say: winning more sales. Ask any medium- or large-business owner what her major challenges have been, however, and she'll probably say: structural growing pains -- putting into place the necessary processes and structure to accommodate a higher volume of business. In fact, one of the most common reasons businesses plateau at a certain level is their inability -- or unwillingness -- to develop the structure needed for growth.
But aligning structural changes with sales growth is not simple. It is often more of an art than a science. The systems, processes, staff, and organization changes needed to grow are ongoing and dictated by myriad factors such as the nature of the business, its capital requirements and, ultimately, customer demands. Nonetheless, certain structural growth concerns -- excluding financing and office/production space issues -- are shared among all growing...
It’s hard to believe that May is next week, which means we are almost at the half-way mark for 2018. But, before you get too deep in your plans for the summer, make sure you schedule a mid-year checkup for your company. No, we’re not talking about the height/weight/blood pressure kind of checkup, we’re talking about the income statement/balance sheet/cash flow kind of checkup — a review of your business’s financial operating fundamentals.
If you review your vital financial information only when year-end rolls around, you may not know there’s a problem until it’s too late. The more often you take your company’s “pulse,” the sooner you’ll be able to notice — and react to — changes in your business situation.
Check Your Vital Signs
What should you be looking at? Start with the operating fundamentals. For example, what’s the status of accounts payable? When’s the last time you ran an aging...
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