Thursday, 17 May 2012

When Colleagues Behave as Rivals

As a leader, how do you deal with colleagues who behave as rivals? 

Anyone who has faced rivals at work — colleagues who take all the credit, team members who undermine things — knows how difficult it is to ignore them. Instead, turn your adversaries into collaborators by following these three steps:
  • Redirect. Try to channel your rival's negative emotions away from you by bringing up something you have in common, or talking about the source of the tension in a favorable light.
  • Reciprocate. Give up something of value to your rival — help complete a project or divulge important information — so you are poised to ask for something in return.
  • Reason. Explain that not working together cooperatively could mean lost opportunities. Most people are highly motivated to avoid a loss.

Adapted from "Make Your Enemies Your Allies" by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Get Yourself Ready for Meetings

As a leader, do you use the 3 key steps for preparation? 

With so many meetings, busy leaders don't always have time to think about the goals of those meetings. But showing up unprepared only makes a meeting longer and less effective. Try blocking out time on your calendar for prep work and to think about what you want to accomplish. If a meeting is an hour, you may need 30 minutes to prepare. For critical meetings you may need much more time. If you plan accordingly, you'll arrive ready to accomplish what you've set out to do, not catching up.

Three key steps for preparation...

  1. Establish a clear purpose for the meeting and be sure everyone knows it.
  2. Uses processes for engaging participants.  Avoid talking at them. 
  3. Be sure to include everyone who needs to know. 

Adapted from "Make Time for Time" by Anthony K. Tjan.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Receiving Online Feedback

As a leader, how do you handle online feedback to your school/organization? 

Whether you're a small or large school/organization, feedback matters from those you serve. But it can be tough to navigate online feedback.  Consider the following when dealing with the negative feedback:
  • Seek a solution. Post a response and offer a way to turn the situation around. Always extend an olive branch if you can.
  • Don't treat all comments equally. Anonymous comments should never receive the same attention as authored comments.  In fact, you may wish not to respond to anonymous comments. 
  • Invite comments. If you're open to hearing input, you're more likely to hear positive things. Create forums for discussions about the service you provide.  Allow people to 'have their say' by posting testimonials and keeping social media lines open for their comments.

Adapted from "What Angie's List Knows About Customer Reviews" by Angie Hicks.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Leadership Thought for a Monday Morning

A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better. 

Jim Rohn   

Friday, 11 May 2012

Starting a New Leadership Position

As a leader, how do you enter into a new leadership position? 

Taking on a new assignment is exciting. But it's not easy. Here are three common mistakes people make when moving to a new leadership role and how to avoid them:
  • Forgetting about the people. Most people start a new leadership role with a plan for success. But you can't forget the people. Know who you will need to rely on to get your work done and focus on building productive relationships with them.
  • Failing to listen. You may be eager to introduce yourself and your plan, but don't dominate conversations. Listen to others so their input can guide you.
  • Relying on old power dynamics. Every organization has a way of operating. Don't assume what worked in your last school/organization will work in the new one. Understand the new dynamics and how to establish your authority. 

Adapted from "Get Ready for Your Next Assignment" by Katie Smith Milway, Ann Goggins Gregory, Jenny Davis-Peccoud, and Kathleen Yazbak.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Preparing for a New Leadership Assignment

As a leader, how do you prepare for a new leadership assignment? 

Many leaders know when their next promotion is coming, but few take advantage of this time to prepare. Instead of waiting for an official announcement, start with "phase zero." Use your insider status to become familiar with your new unit's people and performance and to discern the opportunities and challenges of your upcoming assignment. In the weeks leading up to the transition, carve out at least 30 minutes a day for this endeavour. Look through company documents, such as performance reviews and reports on services and operations. Identify problems and develop hypotheses for solving them. Turn to colleagues who have supervised the role, interacted with it, or previously filled a similar one. Ask them questions that will help you understand what to expect for the transition.

Adapted from "Get Ready for Your Next Assignment" by Katie Smith Milway, Ann Goggins Gregory, Jenny Davis-Peccoud, and Kathleen Yazbak.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Leadership: Relationships...not Muscles

I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people. 

Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

When Someone in Your Workplace Doesn't Like You

As a leader, how do you deal with those who don't like you? 

Having enemies in the workplace is often destructive. Ideally you should try to work with your rival instead of against him. But if your collaborative efforts fail, try one of these strategies instead:
  • Find a common ally. Seek a third party whom your enemy trusts. A common ally may convince him of the benefits of working with you.
  • Wait for the right time. Sometimes people need time and space before they can see your side. Put off communication until the right opportunity presents itself.
  • When to go elsewhere. The effort of converting a rival is sometimes so great that you're better off focusing your energy on another relationship.
  • Have a direct conversation.  This is the toughest one of all.  Many of us avoid difficult conversations but when all else fails, you need to.  Check this blog for listings about 'challenging conversations' and 'difficult conversations' to develop some specific strategies for engaging your enemy. 

Adapted from "Make Your Enemies Your Allies" by Brian Uzzi and Shannon Dunlap.

Monday, 7 May 2012

When To Share Bad News

As a leader, how and when do you share bad news? 

When you're privy as a leader to information that your staff isn't, should you share the news or protect them? When deciding whether to divulge bad news, do these things first:
  • Know your tendency. We all have a preferred approach when it comes to privacy. Some keep things quiet, while others are more open. Understand your tendency and find a middle ground.
  • Question your motives. Whether you're eager to share news or resisting a conversation, question your motives. Are you feeling guilty about harboring information? Are you afraid of people getting angry?  What value will be gained by sharing the information? 
  • Tend toward transparency. Lean toward transparency if possible. As long as you're not violating school/organizational policy, give your team the bad news — especially if it's going to impact their work.

Adapted from "When to Share Sensitive Information with Your Team" by Amy Gallo.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Leading Decisive Meetings

As a leader, do you know how to lead a decisive meeting? 

Simply because someone is appointed to a leadership position, it doesn't mean that they automatically know how to lead effective meetings.  To keep momentum in your work, you need to run great meetings. Make your next meeting productive with these three guidelines:
  • Restate the meeting's purpose. Even if you think everyone knows it, it helps to remind them and sharpen the group's focus.
  • Include everyone. If one or two people dominate the conversation and others are shy about leaping in, draw out people through facilitating by saying, "Thanks for those ideas, Carl. What are your thoughts about this problem, Megan?"
  • End well. Close the meeting with specific actions to take and a clear time frame. State the decisions the group has made, who owns what, and when they need to report back to the team. 

Adapted from Guide to Project Management (HBR OnPoint Collection).

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Trust Your Gut When Challenging Authority

As a leader, how comfortable are you challenging line authority or the authority of tradition? 

Most of us are taught to defer to authority in our organizations.  This is true of line authority as well as the authority of 'how we've always done things here'.  As a result, we can often tend to disregard our internal compasses. But your instincts are often right. Here is how to counter your conditioning and question authority:
  • Listen to your inner voice. Take a moment to breathe and consider what is going on. Ask yourself, "Are there other ways to approach this work?"
  • Constructively question. Ask your boss, or important stakeholders: Why do we do it this way?  Can we - as a school/organization be open to different ways? Can we experiment?
  • Reflect. Whether you've followed along or pushed for an alternative, think about what happened. Remember what it felt like to go against authority - or popular will - and think about how you might handle it differently in the future.

Adapted from "Learn to Trust Your Gut" by Ron Ashkenas.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Do Your Staff Exceed the Quality of Your School/Organization?

'The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers'   

(McKinsey  Report - How the World's Best Performing School Systems Come Out on Top).  

A variation on a theme.....

'The quality of an organization cannot exceed the quality of its staff'    

As leaders, if we can accept the above statements as true, what does this mean for us and our leadership?  If the quality of the school/organization cannot exceed the quality of the staff who work in our schools/organizations, it is incumbent upon us a leaders to engage continuously in the development of each and every staff member.  

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Is Your Stump Speech Ready?

As a leader, do you have a stump speech ready to go....just in case?

As leaders, we are often called upon to speak - without advance notice - about any of a number of issues related to our work.  For those who can speak readily 'off the cuff'.....congratulations!  However, for the rest of us, we may not do quite so well without something prepared.  

Think about what's important in your school/organization that you might at some point be called upon to speak about.  There will probably be two or three 'hot topics' or issues that come to mind.  Collect your thoughts on these issues along with your key messages.  Craft them into a few nuggets that could serve as your speaking points.  

Keep in mind that you, as the leader, are the face of your school/organization and people look to you for insight, direction, reassurance when things get difficult or tense.  Be ready with some collected thoughts.....just in case.....