Each week I read leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. Click on the title of the article to read the full text. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
If You Can’t See It, How Can You Make It Better? By Seth Godin
It doesn’t pay to say to the CFO: These numbers on the P&L aren’t true.
And arguing with Walmart or Target about your market share stats doesn’t work either.
You can’t make things better if you can’t agree on the data.
Real breakthroughs are sometimes accompanied by new data, by new metrics, by new ways of measurement. But unless we agree in advance on what’s happening, it’s difficult to accomplish much.
My Comment: This morning I spent several hours with a company that appears to be making good progress toward their goals. They’ve clearly defined what success looks like. They’ve made several important changes to help everyone achieve the desired results. But when I asked them about their progress, they said things like “I think so…it really looks like it…it feels like we’re making great progress.”
“That’s what you think or feel. How do you know?” I asked.
What does success look like for your team or organization? How will you know when you’re achieving it? You can’t lead without the answers to these questions.
You Can Lead a Horse to Water…But Can You Make an Employee Engaged? By Jonathan Villaire
There’s an old proverb used by many to describe the leader/follower dynamic with respect to employee engagement: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” This is a way of saying ultimately people will only do what they choose, even if you show them the way. In other words, just as a horse has to choose to drink, an employee must choose to be engaged.
Well, yes and no. Getting the horse to drink is the desired outcome, but what happens up to and during that point will influence his willingness to do so.
My Comment: In conversations with owners, executives, and senior managers, we often have to explain that employee engagement isn’t something you do. Engagement is a result. It’s the result of good leadership, great culture, purpose, growth, encouragement, and efficacy. Stop trying to engage people and create the environment that produces engagement.
These Are the Secrets from “Best Places to Work” Any Company Can Use by Gwen Moran at Fast Company
Perhaps few things can make your workplace feel more inadequate than those annual “Best Places to Work” lists. They list posh benefits, campuses with dry cleaning services, and training programs that give employees leadership experience. How is a smaller company with a smaller budget supposed to compete?
The good news is that there are ways to take cues from what those companies are doing, scale them, then adapt and adopt them for your company…
My Comment: I think it’s safe to say that no employee ever engaged with their work or gave extra effort because of a dry-cleaning service. These sorts of perks, which are often unique to a specific company or environment, are the icing on a very good cake. Don’t focus on the icing. First, focus on baking an excellent cake. Then you can add the perks that are meaningful and available within your business. Moran shares essential elements from these best places to work that you can certainly ensure happen in your organization and team. For example, the first item on the list is something every leader can do, whether you lead a Fortune 50 business or a three-person team: help them grow.
9 Ways to Work with Difficult People (Infographic) by Emily Conklin at Entrepreneur
Co-worker tensions account for about 80 percent of workplace difficulties, but fortunately, there are many simple tactics to make life at the office easier.
Psychologists have found that a threat to a person’s self-esteem can quite literally feel like a threat to survival, so it’s important to encourage open and positive dialogue with colleagues to get your point across rather than igniting a flame.
Plus, staying in control of your emotions won’t only improve your mood at the workplace, but help you advance your career.
My Comment: This is an excellent list to address a common problem. I had to learn many of these tactics through trial and error and they work. People will usually treat you the way you allow them to. If you’re struggling with difficult personalities at work, check out this infographic and give yourself time (and grace) to practice.
What To Do When High Performers Take On New Challenges by Dan Rockwell
One of your best team members took on a new challenge. Performance plummeted. Now what?
My Comment: This is a great look at an issue that is frequently ignored. I’ve even watched executives punish high-performers who took on a new challenge and, predictably, didn’t perform as well while they learned how to master their new reality.
The thing is, you’ve got to challenge your high performers if you want them to stick around. In our Winning Well confidence-competence model, someone who is confident in their abilities and highly competent at what they do is ready to grow. But that necessarily means that they will move around the model to a place of lower competence…and maybe lower confidence too. Rockwell gives you excellent strategies to support your high performer in their new challenge.
What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite leadership article this week? Leave us a comment and let’s hear from you.