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LME014/015 Leadership Mistakes! The Top Ten and how to avoid them!

Leadership mistakes happen. People make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. But the main thing is to realize your mistakes, analyze them, and then try to change your behavior to avoid making them again in the future.

But that is easier said than done. When trying to improve, the first step is decisive: You have to realize your own mistakes.

That is why today I would like to share with you the WORST 10 leadership mistakes. Probably many of the mistakes will already be familiar to you. Perhaps you remember some of your own bosses who you had to endure.

But more importantly, think about whether you, as manager, have made these mistakes yourself. I have made a few of these mistakes as manager. The effects they can have on employee motivation can be devastating.

Leadership MistakesSo let us take a closer look: Here are the WORST 10 leadership mistakes, which you should watch out for and avoid:

No 1 of the top leadership mistakes: Avoiding making decisions!

Decisions need to be carefully considered. But to wait as long as possible because of this, until you think you have every last bit of information, is usually the wrong way to go. Accept the fact that you, as manager and leader, must make decisions even when you don’t have a complete overview because you still haven’t got all the facts.

As leaders and entrepreneur you need to make swift and clear decisions, and you have to live with the risk of making the wrong decision.

One of my bosses once laid it out for me really clearly:

“As manager you bear all the risks in the decision! So let’s make one thing clear: To be a manager means accepting that you can get fired!”

The higher you are in the hierarchy, the more unpleasant the decisions that you must make will be. Some examples which come to mind are firing employees or shutting down plants, for example.

If you continually put off making decisions because of anxiety or for political reasons – if you even keep out of sight of your employees and simply don’t reply to emails on the subject anymore – then you will frustrate and demotivate your employees, especially those who are very motivated and committed.

As manager it is your job to make the decision.
What are you like? Do you avoid making decisions?

2 Being non-committal!

Many managers don’t trust themselves to tell it like it really is. They don’t want to commit themselves. They want to keep all options open.

Their non-committal nature can often be recognized in their speech. Phrases get mangled, and weak expressions are used, such as:

  • Synergy effects
  • A new-orientation to bring things into focus
  • Proactive downsizing

Some of these managers don’t even notice anymore that they only emit meaningless mumbo-jumbo – but their employees sure do!

That’s why I say don’t skirt around the subject. As manager you want to be understood. Get to the point. Commit yourself. Formulate goals clearly and tell your colleagues exactly what you expect from them. Be decisive and dependable, because that will make you consistent!

Are you decisive and consistent?

3 Not listening!

Many misunderstandings in daily exchanges can be prevented, if only managers would take the time to simply pay attention.

Why do managers find it so difficult to listen actively?

I believe it is for the following reason: Most managers want to be perceived as active doers. I know that because I went down this path! It#s a very common leadership mistake. Often, activity seems to give you a supposed feeling of being in control. In contrast, listening is wrongly equated with passivity and subordination. That’s why many managers concentrate more on speaking than on listening. After all, the boss has the final say.

But: People who don’t listen and pay attention are more likely to make the wrong decisions!

Unfortunately, many people only listen briefly and form their own opinion much too early on. The technical term for this is “premature assessment”. Many managers suffer from making premature assessments. They form judgments on statements by their staff much too quickly.

But when they do that they are not actually really listening to their staff. They are already engrossed in their own ideas for solving problems, and don’t even take the time to really understand the problem and the point of view of their staff. When this happens, misunderstandings and wrong decisions are inevitable.

Do you listen enough? Or do you judge and react even while your people are still speaking? Click here to learn more about how to become a better listener.

4 Micromanaging!

Micromanagement is a classic example of demotivating manager behavior. The micromanager assigns tasks and then controls them in minute detail, without permitting his subordinates to participate in decision-making. The manager not only specifies the goal, but also the detailed plan of how to achieve it.

By their behavior, micromanagers demonstrate their lack of trust in their subordinates. This frustrates, demotivates, and paralyzes subordinates’ ability to think on their own.

Do you want to know if you have micromanagement tendencies? Then answer the following questions:

  • In every project do you constantly have to have an overview?
  • Do you want to know everything in detail for every project?
  • Can you take responsibility for all the work of your subordinates yourself?
  • Do you believe that you, as manager, know more and can do more than your subordinates?
  • Do you suffer from email overload?

If you answer even one of these questions with yes, then you should take a closer look at whether you are micromanaging in your daily work.

Ask your staff if you allow them enough freedom to do their work. If not, learn how to delegate instead of only controlling.

5 A conceited view of yourself!

Managers don’t have much time. Their schedules are hectic because they have a lot to get done. They are very committed, and bustle from meeting to meeting. Ultimately they are really important, after all things would collapse without them.

That is why they often think that they can take the liberty of doing things that their subordinates would never do, such as coming to a meeting too late (after all, there was that critical telephone conversation with a major customer…). Such managers also have so much to do that they naturally think they must read their emails while a colleague holds a presentation. But woe unto the employee who reads his/her emails during a meeting while the boss explains the new company strategy!

Some bosses are so important and have so much to do that there is no area where they don’t try to save time, even when it comes to saying please and thank you. After all, they can streamline things even more by leaving out the formalities, can’t they? And when the stress becomes unbearable, one has to accept that a guy just has to fly off the handle sometimes – which can get pretty unpredictable!

If you demonstrate through your actions to your staff that “I am important, you are not so important!”, how do you think that will affect their motivation? How would you feel?

You have to act as a role model first for whatever you demand from others. It is important to treat your staff like you yourself want to be treated. Do you do that?

6 Acting unfairly and unjustly!

Fairness is an important basis for a good company culture, but some managers seem to forget this in the midst of hectic day-to-day activities. They are so pre-occupied with themselves and their work that they don’t take the time to put themselves in the position of their staff.

Often they are not even aware of how they hurt their subordinates with their conduct and words. This happens, for example, when the boss gives preference to a few favorite staff members by giving them all the interesting projects. Or if an employee makes a mistake and the boss gives him/her a dressing down in front of the whole group. Such behavior is unjust and unfair, and that is exactly how it is perceived by all the other employees. This leads to frustration and demotivation among them.

A really critical issue is remuneration. It is very important that the boss behaves justly and fairly.This is especially true in the case of the salary. Don’t be stingy when determining payment.

The salaries you pay must be appropriate and plausible. That is especially true in the case of the internal salary structure.

More important than the actual amount of the salary is the relation of salaries to one another. Are the differences in the salaries of your colleagues fair? Imagine if the salaries would be revealed for all to see. Would you be able to explain in good conscience the differences in the salaries of all your employees? Are these differences in salary justified?

If you are convinced that performance based bonus and performance based salaries is a good idea, you better read this post: “What you ought to know about performance based bonus“.

7 Not standing by your word!

Leadership only works with trust. But trust is something you have to earn. The only way to build trust is to actually do that which you also say.

If you make a promise, then keep it! Not only in the big things, but especially in the small things. If you tell your colleague you will forward the report in an email today, then he/she should get it today, and not tomorrow! After all, you promised this. What you have said is your word of honor!

Have you ever heard this typical sentence;

“Especially now, in the current crisis, we need to communicate credibility”?

What nonsense. You don’t have to communicate credibility. 
You must be credible!

Take a clear stand; keep your promises – and as manager you need to act consistently.

You will lose your credibility very quickly when people expect something of you and you let them down. That’s why you shouldn’t make any promises that you can’t or don’t want to keep! Building trust takes time. But you can lose people’s trust in a matter of seconds!

How credible are you?

8 Only trusting numbers, data, and facts!

Another typical leadership mistake you should avoid by all means. If something goes wrong in your company, don’t only concentrate on numbers, data and facts. You have to really get to the bottom of things. But you can only do that if you understand the underlying emotions and motivations of people, and to do this you need to ask questions and listen – but you have to do it right.

Especially in the case of difficult colleagues, it is important to understand their emotions and motivations. Why does the colleague behave exactly like this? How does he/she see the matter? What is his/her view of reality?

Avoid drawing premature conclusions. When you convey respect you will gain trust. This way you can gather valuable information, assess the situation better, and thus avoid misunderstandings.

Do you only trust numbers, data, and facts?

9 Demanding zero mistakes!

The new manager who was just hired just made a fatally bad decision. This bad decision will cost the company a million dollars.

The company owner then calls him in for a meeting. With head lowered and sagging shoulders, the manager enters the owner’s office.

“I expect you are going to fire me.”

But the owner replies:

“Do you think I’m crazy? After I just invested a million dollars in your training?”

This anecdote wonderfully highlights how managers should deal with the mistakes of their colleagues.

Mistakes are permitted – as long as one learns from them and doesn’t make the exact same mistake a second time. Demanding zero mistakes is absurd. Everyone makes mistakes – me and you too, just as much as your employees. Managers who demand zero mistakes, get zero mistakes, too. That is because either their staff don’t report mistakes anymore or because they act according to the following saying:

“If you work a lot you make a lot of mistakes.
But if you don’t work a lot you only make a few mistakes.
And if you don’t work at all you don’t make any mistakes!”

Do you really want your staff to make no mistakes?

We all are human beings and we learn by making mistakes. Noone wants to be treated by a “Darth Vader Boss”.

How can you as a leader create a failure tolerant culture without allowing your employees to make lots of mistakes? Mistakes which may compromise safety and security of your company?

In this video I’d like to give you 3 tips on how to deal with employees making too many mistakes:

10 Giving employees no opportunities to develop!

Most people want to improve. They want to develop themselves. They want to grow and become better at what they do.

Naturally, you should give your employees an opportunity to take extra training and learn new things. But if you really want to help your employees to improve, you shouldn’t set any unrealistic goals, and you should put them to work according to their skills and strengths.

Feedback is extremely important. People need criticism and praise. Anyone who wants to improve him or herself needs sincere, constructive feedback. As manager you should recognize the work of your colleagues in a sincere way, and give them constructive feedback.

Do you do that? Do you support the development of your employees, in their efforts to improve themselves?

 

BONUS: 3 ways how employee motivation gets destroyed!

This video is a bonus for you: As a leader don’t focus on motivating your employees but take care that you don’t demotivate them!

 

The inspiring quotes

“In some South Pacific cultures, a speaker holds a conch shell as a symbol of temporary position of authority. Leaders must understand who holds the conch—that is, who should be listened to and when.”

Max de Pree

 

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.”

Daniel Kahnemann

LME008 – Performance Based Bonus – What you ought to know about it.

Performance based bonus

Performance based bonus:
image: zastavkin/ resource: www.bigstock.com

Does a performance based bonus really work?

Of course, as a manager and entrepreneur you are constantly looking for new ways to improve your operation. Your employee’s job is to support this and to pull on the same string with you.

For this reason, nearly all large companies pay their managers performance based bonuses.

Their annual income is split into a fixed and a variable portion. The company intends to motivates with the variable compensation. Therefore, they link it to the attainment of individual objectives.

Does performance based bonus work for small companies?

You may now be asking yourself:

“Should we not also pay our sales team performance based bonuses? There must be something to it since all the other successful large companies are doing this as well.”

Wait a minute. First, let’s take a look and see whether variable compensation truly delivers on its promise:

Objectives of performance based salaries

Variable compensation is often referred to as performance based salary or performance related pay. What is the underlying idea behind it?

The company or the supervisor and the employee agree to objectives. The intent is to get the employee focused on the objectives.

To ensure this, the company only pays a portion of the employees income if he attains his objectives. The company hopes to motivate the employee into acting in the company’s interests. If he is particularly diligent, he can even outperform his objective. The employee then receives even more than 100% of the agreed to variable income portion.

The proponents of performance related pay primarily list the following benefits:

  • The variable portion motivates the employees.
  • The company pays the employees for performance.
  • Compensation management effort costs little, but gets good returns.

Do you also believe that variable compensation allows you to get more out of your employees? Well, let’s take a look at this in detail:

Employee motivation

I find it astonishing that companies feel that they need to motivate their employees to act in the interests of the company. I thought, the employee has an employment contract. In this contract he signed the obligation to perform this service. The company pays him his salary for it.

Now the company assumes that the employee is likely to only perform a portion of his productive output. The company’s position is that the employee will not honor his contract. Why would the company even employ someone who is very likely to not honor his contract?

Compensation structures in large companies

But it gets even more confusing:
Let’s take a look at the compensation structure in a large cooperation. This is how it works:

The higher the employee within the hierarchy, the higher their income, and the higher is also their performance based pay.

For instance, the variable income portion of a department head is typically between 10% to 20%. However, the variable income portion of an Executive Board member can be 50% or more.

Watch my YouTube video on performance based salary of managers:

Motivation of CEOs

Performance based bonus for a CEO?

Performance based compensation for CEOs? Photo: goodynewshoes/ Resource www.bigstock.com

It gets even more extreme for the variable portion of a Chief Executive Officer working for a company listed on the stock market. The stock options and other bonus payments are in the millions.

Come on: Does somebody like that really have to be motivated to do his job properly, and to honor his contract? Is this truly necessary?Amazing: The CEO already earns a base income of EUR 500,000 and still has to be “motivated” with a variable income portion, stock options and other bonus payments to the tune of several million dollars.

Please do not take this the wrong way: The company should generously compensate the CEO  if he is doing a good job. This should even be several million EUROS. But a person like that does not have to be motivated! Either, he is intrinsically motivated, or he should be sent to hell!

Motivating lower-level employees

They are doing an outstanding job – although their organisations only pay a small fraction compared to the base pay of a CEO. Never mind a bonus and variable income portion.

Performance based bonus for elderly care takers?

Elderly caretakers are not paid performance based!
Photo: alexraths/ Resource: www.bigstock.com

What’s about the motivation of nurses, elderly caretakers, police men or soldiers? To the best of my knowledge variable income portions don’t motivate these people. Much more likely, these people are frequently highly motivated on their own.

As an aside: Even Presidents and Cabinet Secretaries are not motivated by variable income portions. That would really be beyond the pale!

Agree to objectives

During my 9 years as an employed Managing Director in a large international industrial cooperation, my compensation also included a variable component. My employees as well were paid based on performance.

Originally, I too was convinced that this performance based salary is fair and correct. But over time I became increasingly suspicious that something wasn’t working properly:

At the beginning of each year, I had a long meetings and objective discussions with each of my department heads. The meetings were always very important to me. Ultimately, we wanted to use these discussions to jointly paint a picture of the future, and to explore the options for the company’s and department’s direction. The idea was to find out what is feasible. The objectives from this were intended to be challenging but attainable.

The discussions actually went quite well with several employees. But in many cases the meetings were difficult because the employees sandbagged the objectives. They were not genuinely interested in finding out what was possible, and to set motivating objectives. Instead, they wanted to lower the bar for their personal objectives, in order to be assured of a maximum income with the least amount of effort.

Objective discussions turn into income negotiations

The more of these employee discussions I conducted, the clearer it became to me:

If an employee has a variable income portion,
every objective discussion is also an income negotiation.

This is counterproductive. As soon as the own income is dependent on objectives, most people are not motivated to even consider challenging objectives. I don’t even blame them. This is ultimately not in their interest. It even violates their underlying personal goals.

Employees become income optimizers!

Today, I am convinced that tying variable income to personal objectives is a waste. It frequently demotivates employees. In many cases, this linkage even has a more negative impact.

Let me tell you a terrific example for the damaging effect of a well intended objective that is coupled to income:

The Executive Board for a large telephone company issued a new customer bonus. Sales employees were to receive an additional bonus if they generated sales revenues with new customers.

What did the salespeople do? They prompted their long-standing customers to cancel the contracts, in order to sign them up as new customers. Instead of focusing on actual new business, they preferred to benefit from easily realized pseudo-new business.

When you create financial incentives you should not be surprised if your employees do not focus on the company’s success, but rather on how to maximize the incentive.

When bonus systems can be useful

The expectation of a bonus is only motivating and purposeful when routine assignments are processed according to 3 points:

  • Simple rules apply.
  • A clear-cut objective is set.
  • The path to attaining it is clearly described and easily understood.

But this is rarely the case especially in todays world. Here, you need employees who are creative, who think on their own feet and contribute, accept ownership, and are reliable.

You therefore need employees who are self-motivated, i.e. intrinsically motivated. They need to understand the purpose of their work. You should therefore not attempt to increase employee motivation with a compensation scheme! The individual sense of purpose will fall by the wayside. Do not attempt to compensate for deficient leadership by means of a compensation scheme!

How should you structure an alternative compensation scheme?

Treat your employees fairly and pay fairly and avoid common leadership mistakes.

Especially in a small company, you don’t need a complicated compensation scheme for this. All you need is common sense and empathy.

Take the following rules to heart regarding your employee’s incomes:

  • Lead with objectives, but don’t tie the income to the objectives!
  • Agree to a fixed income that correlates with the employee’s performance!
  • If the employee demonstrates consistently good performance, you can increase his income!
  • If the employee consistently underperforms in spite of support, you should reduce his income or separate from the employee.
  • At the end of the year, pay a bonus to all employees if the company made good profits. If the company is doing well, then the employees should participate in this. That is fair. If the company is doing poorly, then it is also clear that a bonus cannot be paid.

LME001 – What is leadership and how can you find time for it?


 

If somebody asked you to explain what is leadership? How would you respond?

It’s hard, right? The concept of leadership is vague – and the funny thing is as long as we don’t have a good definition how can we talk about leadership?

What is leadership?

What is leadership?Let me give you my definition of leadership. For me, leadership means defining where to go. Who leads deals with the future of the company and with the people in the company.

If you are  in leadership mode, you work on the vision of your company, you formulate goals and strategies. You reflect on innovation, positioning and customer benefits. You improve the processes in your company. And most important: You talk to and with your employees, you discuss, inform and inspire. All this is leadership.

If you are only managing

In recent years I’ve seen many managers who work hard – but they are unable to execute because they are trapped in their day to day work. These managers often feel frustrated and demotivated.

If you are in such a situation you start feeling like in a rat race. You work and work, but nothing important gets done. Your company is not growing, sales are stagnating and the mood of your workforce is low.

The reason for this is often, that most executives focus on management but not on leadership. They manage a lot but they don’t lead.

What is managing?

If you manage you focus on processes, you don’t work on the future and you don’t focus on people: You have no time for it. Managing is more about day-to-day business, administration, resource allocation, budgeting, costs and risk management, control, keeping deadlines. There is no time for other things. Numbers, data, facts! Pam!

Don’t get me wrong. Of course you have to do both: you can’t just lead. You have to lead and manage. But as a leader – above all – it is your job to keep track of the big picture. You have to deal with the future direction of your business and with taking care of your people.

If you don’t lead, who does?

I know many CEOs and managing directors who work around the clock and still feel they don’t really do their job. Many are trapped in the rat race of day-to-day operations.

They work a lot, but don’t take enough time for the real leadership tasks. Are you one of them?

The problem for most managers

The question is, why is that? Why do a lot of managers deal with so much operational stuff and administrative work instead of focusing on the most important tasks: leadership? I admit, that I also struggled myself with this problem for a long time.

This isn’t just a problem of CEO’s and managing directors. It doesn’t matter if you are a group leader, a team leader or if you were just promoted into your first managing role. Every manager seems to have more work to do than he has time for.

In my view, there are several reasons why managers think they don’t have time for leadership. The biggest challenge can be summarized in one sentence:

Leadership is important, but rarely urgent!

Developing a business strategy, talking to an employee, discussing the vision statement, thinking about customer benefits or improving processes – these leadership tasks are important, but they are not urgent.

If you develop the strategy today or only tomorrow, will not be a big difference. If you have this one-on-one meeting with your direct report today or only later next week, this doesn’t change the bottom profit line, does it?

In contrast, management tasks are usually urgent and have a deadline. But are they always that important? Not really.

Why is that so?

Management tasks are determined by others and they have normally a due date – a deadline. For example, the tax office needs documents at a given deadline, the participation in a trade fair must be decided until the end of the month. A customer urgently needs an offer by this evening. All these tasks have deadlines which were defined by someone else.

On the other hand, leadership tasks are generally self-determined and have no fixed date – at least, if you don’t define one.

Most people – and managers are no exception – have a tendency to focus on urgent tasks with a deadline and postpone tasks, which are really important, but not urgent.

Important or urgent? What is leadership?

As a result, many executives realize at the end of the day that they worked only on urgent tasks. This means that they didn’t find time to work on any leadership tasks. Too bad!

“But there are such a lot of urgent management tasks. They need to be done! They are all urgent and important.”

Really? Yes, a management task normally has a deadline. But keep in mind: Mostly this just means that someone else made it urgent. You may argue, that this management task is urgent and important, but very often it’s important for someone else – not necessarily for you.

If you’re a manager you should –  on a daily basis – question, if and what kind of management tasks you have to do. Ask yourself everytime: Is it really necessary to do it? If yes: Is it necessary that I do it? If you can delegate then do so. I know this can be difficult sometimes and we will talk about how to delegate successfully in one of the following episodes: “LME002 – How to delegate successfully”.

But for now: Keep in mind, that management tasks don’t need to be done by yourself. You need time for the important leadership tasks.

Is leadership really so important?

This question often comes up when managers are convinced that facts and figures are most important in business. I agree that facts and figures are important but you miss out if you only focus on them.

What about the vision and the purpose of your company or your department? Not important? Be careful. Some managers think that the purpose of any company is easy to define. It is clearly to make profit. What else?

In my opinion, these managers are wrong. They have never experienced how motivating a big vision can be, how important values are and that the ultimate purpose of a company is not to make a profit. No, the purpose of a company is to create customer benefit and then the profit will come.

We will talk about this in one of the next podcast episodes. If you want to be successful, it’s important that you have a clear answer to the question

“Why? – Why does your company exist?”

and your answer should not be just to earn money.

Only when managers have a clear vision and a bigger goal, they can communicate with their employees in a way that they carry their employees along. If they do, their employees work on the right things. Why? Because then your employees  know what is important. They understand what ‘s expected from them and only then will your employees be able to work independently. A true leader has a clear vision.

The problem is that managers often don’t believe this.

“Independently working employees? Forget it. Employees need to be told what to do in detail. Otherwise nothing gets done.”

The problem with micromanagement

That’s why this kind of managers are often at the mercy of “micromanagement“. Frustrated, they complain about the demotivation and inability of their employees. But they don’t understand: it’s their own fault.

If you don’t take the time to think and talk about vision, strategy and goals, how can your employees work towards these goals? How can they make decisions in your interest, if they don’t know your expectations?

That’s why you need to find the time for leadership.

3 tips how to find more time for leadership

You know by now, what is leadership. Here are three helpful tips to find more time for leadership.

Tip 1:    Track your time.

If you want more time for leadership in your daily work, you first need to be aware of how much time you are currently spending on it.

Most managers only have a very vague idea of ​​how much time they really spend on leadership. We all often underestimate the hours we spend with unproductive management instead of leading.

That’s why you should determine daily how many hours you have spent on leadership and how many on day-to-day management or on normal work.

You only have to log two numbers at the end of the day. Not more! Do this for 2 weeks and you have a good idea how much time you really spend on leadership.

Even if you managed all day long, if you write it down at the end of the day, you will at least realize that you did not spent any time on leadership that day. Realizing is the first step toward improving.

Just log your time. It costs you nothing but 2 min max at the end of the day. And it’s worth it. Just write it down on a piece of paper: How much time did you spend on leadership and how much time did you spend on management?

Tip 2:    Set yourself a goal.

Set yourself a measurable goal. What percentage of your working time do you want to spend on management tasks over the next 3 months? This motivates yourself. But don’t overdo it. If you have only spent 10% of your time for leadership, it will probably be difficult to reach 50% in the short term. However, an increase from 10 % to 20 % is quite realistic.

Experience shows that there is no point in planning significantly more time for leadership tasks as early as next week. Your schedule is so full, it’s hard for you to make it. Therefore, set yourself the target for a 3-month period. By the way: When you have reached your goal, reward yourself. You deserve it.

Tip 3:    Make important tasks urgent.

Since leadership is usually important but not urgent, we postpone it. Therefore, let’s outwit ourselves. Set fixed deadlines for leadership tasks in your planning and put them into your calender and your ToDo List. This automatically makes your leadership tasks urgent.

But sometimes you may find that this is not enough. After all, the appointment is self-determined and not determined by others.

In such cases it helps if you commit yourself to others. For example if you’ve always wanted to work on the important strategy for your company, you promise to present the results to your employees at the end of next month. Here’s the deal: a deadline for your important leadership task, which you just made urgent. It goes without saying that you must keep this promise. Stand up to your word. Through scheduling and commitment to others, you make an important leadership task urgent and the likelihood increases that you will actually complete this task on time.

 

This should help you to get started with leading more and managing less.

 

The inspiring quote

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter F. Drucker

 

Best funny leadership videos! Enjoy and have a good laugh!

Funny LeadershipMaybe you think, that there is no funny leadership. But I believe your are wrong.

Laughter helps you to cope with stress, conflicts and pain. That’s why a leader should have a good sense of humour.

Nothing works faster to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Laugh at yourself. That’s best.

Remember Monty Python’s song:
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“?:

“…You’ll see it’s all a show.
Keep ’em laughing as you go.
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.”

Laughter promotes performance

Not only your own performance gets better, but also that of your entire team. Various studies have shown that people who have humour generally appear more likeable and are perceived as more competent.

Humour improves the working atmosphere, which leads to better functioning of work processes.

Better dealing with difficult situations

Managers who humorously defuse difficult situations enjoy great acceptance. Using humour as a means of communication in everyday work is a strategy for success. Because studies show wherever people laugh, employees feel comfortable and work is usually more and better.

Laughter, joy and happiness are terms that convey a positive and satisfied view of the world. People who surround themselves with a humorous aura are always perceived as positive by others.

Funny Leadership Videos

Below you’ll find the business videos on YouTube I find most funny. Enjoy and have a good laugh!

Sales are up

Truth is not really welcome in some companies.

Change Management

You can be certain: Your employees want to support your company.
But if you want an organizational change you have to explain correctly what you want.

Back Up Strategy

Can you really rely on your back up strategy?

Video Conferences

Leadership is not about technology, it’s about people.
Most managers have the employees they deserve.

Team Work

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a great team?

Thinking outside of the box

Brainstorming solutions

How to avoid Death by Powerpoint

What makes a good business presentation? Should you use Powerpoint?  This video is for you, if you ask how to give a great business presentation.

 

Do you want to know how real leadership works?

Consistent leadership is key to success: How to act and stay consistent as a boss.

Consistent leadership is one of the most important strength of successful managers. As a business leader you are in charge of establishing a consistent culture and value system in your company.

Why consistent leadership often fails.

Consistent Leadership

Consistent Leadership can be exhausting!
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The manager is annoyed: The business goals are not reached, decisions are not implemented and deadlines with customers are not met. It’s enough.

“We need to implement what we have agreed. We need to be more consistent in what we do. As a boss I must and will be more consistent! From now on I will consistently check results and take action if needed!”

Employees hear it and they understand the reaction of the manager. Inconsistency is a waste of time and money. A company can’t afford it long term.

Everyone agrees – but after a while everything is as it was before. The manager has failed to act and stay consistent. This is unfortunately a typical leadership mistake.

The question is why? Why is it so hard to be consistent as a boss? What can you do as a boss in order to be consistent in your daily activities?

Punctuality

The Managing Director called his 8 department heads for a meeting for 10 am. Now it is 10:15. Everyone is there – only he is missing. Suddenly the door of the meeting room opens. The Managing Director enters the room and apologizes briefly:

“Sorry for the delay, but I had to talk to John about the production figures for tomorrow.”

What goes through your head when you read that? You might think:

“I understand that. As a boss, I have so much work to do. My employees sometimes also have to wait for a few minutes.”

This short wait can be quite expensive. In the above example, each of the 8 department has 15 minutes to wait idly. At an assumed hourly rate of $ 150 for each head

$ 150 x 15/60 x 8 = $ 300 !

are wasted in this 15 minutes!

Perhaps you’re thinking now:

“$ 300 is not that much. That can happen even once. The meeting with John regarding production numbers was surely important! “

The point is: It is not about the $ 300 loss. It is crucial that the manager acts a role model. If you demand punctuality of your employees – and you should – then you need to be on time as well – always. No excuses.

If you want consistent leadership in your company you have to act consistently. The first thing is to be consistent with yourself. Walk the talk! The fish always stinks from the head!

Act consistently!

As an executive you have to act consistently. What does it mean? You must define the goals properly, agree measures and actions with your staff and check the outcome, control the results.

If you don’t control results regularly, you aren’t consistent – and you and your emplyoees aren’t neither effective nor efficient. You give a wrong impression. It looks like you do not care about the results. It look like that the work of your employees doesn’t really matter to you. That’s fatal!

But don’t act as a micromanager. Control results, but not the steps towards the result. Avoid micromanagement by all means.

How can you avoid being inconsistent in your day to day work?

7 Tips to achieve consistent leadership!

1. Your commitments are a word of honor!

Your deeds must follow your words. Little things count.

Keep your commitments – always – no matter whom you gave it, and no matter how seemingly unimportant it may seem to you. You gave the commitment voluntarily. No one put the gun to your head, right?

If you tell one of your employees, you send him the e-mail on Wednesday, your employee should not receive the e-mail on Thursday! Otherwise you destroy employee motivation. You don’t want that, do you?

Take any of your commitments seriously – as serious as a word of honor. That’s what true leaders do!

2. Focus! Ask only what is truly important!

If the boss wants to become consistent, he wants this change immediately. He changes his behavior and wants his employees to change immediately as well.

But change is mostly not working that quickly. It takes time to get all on board. The new rules must not only be heard but also understood and accepted. Your employees need time to realize that your behavior change is serious and will stay long term.

So do not change everything at once, but go to the things that are really important. Name the important things by name and be there consistently. But do not get bogged down with consistency in unimportant trifles.

3. Keep a written record of agreements!

If you make arrangements or give a commitment, write it down. No need for a comprehensive protocol. A short e-mail just mentioning the results is fine.

4. Define objectives and actions verifiable and transparent!

Qualitative goals can become a great danger. Pseudo Goals such as:

“We will improve our communication!”

“We will increase our supply rate!”

do nothing if they are not quantified or if at least measures and actions with deadlines and responsible are derived.

General calls for greater customer focus and for increase of competitiveness will not do any good. These calls are getting lost in the daily operating business. The manager has to make sure goals and actions are clearly defined: Who is doing what until when? Only then he can control the results later on.

5. Plan the dates for reviews well in advance!

As a manager you should regularly check milestones. Have the objectives been achieved? It is helpful to develop your own appropriate control structures to remove your own inconsistency and inefficiency.

One problem is often that managers understand that the regular control is important, but they do not classify them as a matter of urgency.

A customer call or a problem in the production is urgent. It appears suddenly. Are these things strongly important? Mostly not. In contrast, regularly checking results is crucial important, but has mostly no urgency. Therefore it often falls by the wayside.

You can change this. Just make important things urgent! How? Assign dates for important things – do it months in advance!

For example: Fix a date once a month for a review meeting. In that meeting your employees report on the progress of their projects and you review the departmental goals regularly.

With the start of the year fix all these monthly meetings for the next 12 months in advance. Instruct your secretary that these dates are important and should not be canceled or postponed.

In this way these review meetings will become a habit for you. Believe me you will make a big step towards consistent leadership if you do this.

6. Put sanctions for seemingly mundane missed deadlines!

A Meeting must start on time. You need to make that a habit. To force all participants – including yourself – to be on time you can do the following:

Have a piggy bank in the meeting room. Anyone who is late must interject $ 1 per minute he is late. You as the executive have to throw in $ 5 per minute!

If the piggy bank is full, donate all the money to a charitable organization.

You will be surprised how quickly you and your employees get used to be on time.

7. Celebrating Success!

If your team and you have achieved important goals, celebrate. This doesn’t need to be expensive. It can be a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant or just a chocolate cake that you bring to the meeting.

The celebration of success will not only strengthen the team spirit. Rather, it also means that you and your employees connect positive experiences with the consistent checking of results – and that helps to be more consistent.

Employee efficiency! How to create efficiency in the workplace.

How’s your employee efficiency? How is your efficiency in the workplace around them?

A lot of managers are unhappy with the performance of their employees:

“My employees often do not focus on the right things and they simply do not work efficiently!”

Many think that this can be changed just with proper training of the staff. Well, it’s mostly not that simple. It is rarely purely the fault of your employees.

Efficiency in the workplace? To be efficient or to be effective?

employee efficiency and efficiency in the workplace

Efficiency in the workplace depends not just on your employees.

It is crucial to distinguish between effectiveness and efficiency. If you are effective you are doing the right things. If you are efficient you are doing the things right.

In other words, effectiveness is the goal and efficiency addresses the way!

Effectiveness asks the “what” and efficiency asks the ‘how’.

Why is this distinction important?

First things first: First think about being effective and then being efficient. First ask what needs to be done and then how.

Let me give you an example:

You want to cut down a tree in the garden. Then it is not effective starting to cut off the branches or to mow the lawn around the tree. It helps you not eventually come closer to your goal – namely to cut the tree.

However, it is effective to cut the tree with a blunt axe. This may take some time, but eventually you will cut down the tree. Surely it makes more sense to use a sharp axe or even better to use a chainsaw.

All three methods are effective because they serve the purpose. The methods differ, however, in terms of efficiency.

What does that have to do with my employees?

If your employees are often working on the wrong things, they do not work effectively. If this is the case, usually the objectives are not clear.

Whose job is it in a company to have the vision and to set the objectives? Exactly: That’s your job as the executive.

If you complain, that your employees are doing the wrong things, make sure that the vision and the objectives of your company are clearly communicated and understood by all your staff. Otherwise they don’t know how to prioritize their work.

But I cannot specify everything…

You don’t need to specify everything. But you need to set the direction. You need to say what is important, otherwise employee efficiency will suffer.

Do your employees really know your company’s vision and the business objectives? Don’t answer with “Yes, of course” so easily.

Ask your employees. You will probably be amazed how little the answers coincide with your vision and your goals.

Prioritize only works if you know the goals!

If you want your employees to act in your best interests, business vision and goals must be clear. If your employees have to work on multiple tasks, they need to prioritize. You can help them to stay focused on their goals. But that is only possible if they know what the purpose of their work is, what is most important for the company.

As an entrepreneur and executive it is your task to define the business vision and goals and constantly talking about it.

Employee efficiency: But they know their goals …

OK, Now if vision and goals are clear and understood – but you still have the problem that your staff does not provide the expected output. What can be the reason?

In most cases the reason is not laziness of the employees. Think about the following three situations employees may have to cope with:

1. The desire to be efficient

Sometimes, an employee strives to be particularly efficient. Therefore he thinks he needs to work very quickly. This can be the case if the boss repeatedly stresses that the team needs to be more efficient. The result is that the employee starts to work in haste without first to clarify the goal.

An example:

The employee gets a new project. He just skims the description for the new project briefly. He successfully worked on similar projects for several other customers. In order not to waste time, he starts immediately.

It is just a pity that this project differs from the older projects slightly in a few points. Unfortunately he overlooked this. In the following days, he works very efficiently on the project. But the result is unfortunately not what the customer ordered.

His desire to be particularly efficient made him doing the wrong things. When he realizes that after a few days, he needs to put a lot of effort, time and money into correcting and reworking. Finally he is successful with the project – but was he efficient? Not at all!

2. Missing helicopter view

Many people find it difficult to cope with frequently changing requirements. If a new project gets on their desk, it is important that they do not ignore it and work on with their existing projects. They need to step back, get an overview about their new situation and clarify what is now important:

  • Does the project they are working on is still No1 priority or does it need to be postponed?
  • Having a new responsibility for the new project will they still be able to meet all the deadlines they committed to?
  • If not, do they raise their hand and tell their managers about it?

Often employees don’t change from their detailed work view into the helicopter view. They are bogged in details and try to work harder and quicker. They want to improve their situation by working more efficiently. But it would be necessary to firstly think about effectiveness.

Getting into helicopter view and thinking about effectiveness can be difficult – especially if you’re pressed for time and lost in details. But everyone can learn to regularly take the helicopter view.

As a Manager you can coach your employees to get into helicopter view. But take care that you don’t just tell them what they should do, but let them suggest their priorities. Discuss it with them. In that way you really coach them and they will improve their effectiveness over time.

3. Wrong priorities

Sometimes people just work based on wrong priorities. You may know it from yourself – at least I do. Instead of starting with the most important task, I often prefer to work on the ones, which are most fun or give instant rewards. Reading my emails seems to be more fun and joy than working on my tax declaration.

Acting like this is obviously not effective. Again, it helps to regularly take the helicopter view and to question actions and priorities regularly.

Do your employees know exactly your business vision and the business goals?

Are you a true Leader? Do you encourage your people?

True Leader

True Leaders!
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Are you just a manager or are you a true leader? As a leader you must focus on

  • People not on transaction
  • Success and not on failure
  • Future not on the past

If you are a true leader you are a people person. A leader encourages and rewards people. A leader pays attention to people.

Ask yourself the following 5 questions and check if you are a true leader:

1 How do you handle phone calls?

Do you really give your employees undivided attention?

Assume you have a meeting with one of your employees: Does your employee have your full undivided attention? What if your phone rings?  Do you take the call during the conversation? What’s your answer?

A lot of managers respond:

“It depends who is calling and if it is important!”

Others say:

“No, of course not. I don’t take the call”

You know what a real leader says?

“My phone is never ringing when I am in a meeting with one of my employees. I will always turn it off. Calls are forwarded to my secretary. If it is really important she will let me know.”

How you handle phone calls in a conversation shows if you really are a leader. So, turn off your smartphone when you are in a conversation – always!

2 How do you handle emails?

I know managers who process emails during meetings on their Smartphone. Are you doing this as well? What is the point of this?

If brain research has taught us anything in recent years it is that multi-tasking is neither effective nor efficient. I can either read my emails or I can participate in the meeting!

If the meeting is not important, if it is not an effective meeting – why the hell are you as the manager present at the meeting? If the meeting is useless, why not cancel it?

You may say:

“Well, the meeting is important but some emails are important as well! I need to read them!”

What? I assure you: Urgent and important issues will never be sent by e-mail. If someone has an urgent matter for you that is also important, they will always contact you in person, or they will call your secretary.

Believe me: You will not be notified by email if your house is on fire. If you suffer from email overload click here.

3 How do you communicate?

True leaders inspire their people. How do they do that? True leaders take care that their message is understood. That is the most important key to the success of a business leader. A true leader communicates clearly.

Unfortunately lots of managers talk to their employees like that:

“The financial uncertainty and lack of confidence in the market place has been increasingly challenging, but due to our strategic fit, our synergies achieved and our core competencies we think outside the box to add more value and have a win-win situation with our customers to sequentially leverage our efforts and to improve our bottom line. – Let’s go for it!”

Lots of managers just talk but they don’t really say anything. In business presentations they use buzzwords to sound intelligent, but in the end it is just boring and blah blah.

A true leader tells it like it is and he gives complete, understandable information. True leaders are specific and they use plain English! They want to be understood.

Clear communication is the most important key to success of business leaders. So to grow into a true leader, you must learn how to be crystal clear in your communication.

Don’t use buzzwords! Be specific and use plain English.

 4 How do you manage your day-to-day tasks?

How much time do you spend with operative management like administrative stuff, budget controlling, day to day work? Most managers tell me that they spend about 90 % of their time with these operative tasks.

So they only spend 10 % of their time with leadership tasks – with the future of their business, with vision, goals and strategies with talking, informing and inspiring employees.

Why do these managers only have 10 % of their time for leadership? Most of them do not understand how important it is. They do not delegate. They want to be involved and to be in control of everything.

But as a manager you have to delegate most of the operative tasks to your employees. That is why you are a manager. Otherwise you do not have the time for the important tasks: the leadership tasks.

Try to spend at least 50 % of your time with leadership tasks. Therefore, think about which of your daily tasks can you delegate?

Do you really need to

  • decide how many pencils your company need to purchase?
  • control all company bills in detail?
  • read and sign every paper?

Don’t be a micromanager, but strive to be a true leader!

5 How do you earn trust?

Leadership is about trust. But trust has to be earned.

Some managers think their employees will trust them because they are the managers. Other managers behave in a friendly way and talk nicely.They think that this will help them to earn the trust of their employees. – But all of that is nonsense!

The only way you earn trust is by walk the talk! Do what you say you would do, don’t make empty promises. True leaders don’t break their word!

Now, lots of “wanna be” leaders tell me:

“I know that and of course I behave like that: I am a true leader. I always stick with my commitments.”

Really? What’s about that promise you gave to your employees about the 5 % salary increase?

“That is not my fault. My boss in our headquarter refuses to make any salary increases this year.”

Aha, so why did you promise something which is out of your control?

If you want to be a true leader: Don’t take the easy way. Only promise what is under your control and what you can keep.

Work hard to keep your promises all the time – even if the action you promised seems to be not important.

If you promise your employee that you send him an email feedback on Monday, you better make sure that he receives that email on Monday and not on Tuesday morning.

Always keep in mind:

“Most people give trust away slowly but they take it back quickly. It often takes years to build trust and it can take seconds to destroy trust.”

So, if you want to be a true leader:

“Keep your promises – always – even the very small ones! Only make a promise if you can keep it.”

But there is more about true leaders…

True leaders need disagreement

It is quite natural: If you have a great idea, it feels good when others telling you:

“Waoh, That’s a fantastic idea.”

It is so good for your ego, isn’t it?

But be careful: If your employees tell you always how great you and your ideas are, something is going terribly wrong.

Avoid the Yes-Man-Mentality

Managers often tend to surround themselves with people who agree with them and who think like them – or at least always saying “Yes” to all what the boss presents.

That is dangerous. True leaders do it differently. You need people in your team who are not like you. You need people who challenge your ideas, who think differently and who may suggest even the opposite way of your presented direction.

Do you really need redundancy?

Gen George Marshall said once:

“If you and I agree all the time, one of us is redundant!”

Good disagreement is central to progress. If you don’t allow dissent, you produce a company culture of stagnation, fear and frustration. The result: Employees with good ideas leave your company or they mentally resign. They sit back and protect their jobs by agreeing with everything you suggest.

If that’s the case you have surrounded yourself only with “Yes–Men!” That’s not what you and your company need. Avoid it by all means.

You need controversial discussions!

Ideas need to be discussed – controversially. You need to encourage your people to challenge you and your ideas. Encourage disagreement and use it to empower collaboration and decision making.

Disagreement vs Disrespect

There is a difference between disagreement and disrespect! Don’t confuse the two.

As the manager or as the subordinate: Be honest and tell what you think, but do it politely. Disagreements should not become personal.

However, if the decision is made after discussions and balancing pros and cons, dissent must stop. Once the decision has been made, the employees need to understand that they have an obligation to support the decision – even if they disagree with the decision.

 

A true leader asks the right questions correctly

Any salesman worth his salt knows: He who asks questions leads. This is old news. But in spite of this, many managers are not aware how important and helpful, but also powerful correctly placed questions can be.

The controlling nature of questions is impressively put on display during interrogations, as shown in crime dramas.

For instance, a suspect is questioned by a police officer. The police officer applies increasing pressure by asking short questions in rapid succession. The suspect is increasingly pressed into a defensive position, from which he desperately attempts to explain himself. The same happens to the poor employee who has to defend himself against the staccato of pressing questions from the Chairman after a presentation.

Questions as a demonstration of power

Some managers use these pressing questions intentionally to demonstrate their power. But others are not even aware that they present themselves as far too dominant, and are perceived as a threatening inquisitor and attacker. This is very damaging. Such behavior is perceived as showing little regard, and will frequently trigger fear, demotivation and frustration. True leaders don’t do this.

When a behavior pattern of authoritarian questioning becomes part of the company culture this results in submissiveness and sandbagging. These companies can forget about innovation, out of the box thinking and commitment.

How can questions be defused?

How can multiple topics be explored by questions, without the questions feeling like an interrogation? Several options exist. The most important point is: allow the other person to finish, and insert pauses between the questions. Consider: The shorter the question is formulated, the more pressing it is perceived by the counterpart.

You can attenuate your questions by preceding some of your questions with a personal statement. Instead of asking:

“Why did you make the decision this way?”

try saying:

“I can see that you were in a tough situation. What led you to make the decision this way?”

You can also briefly introduce the background of your question with one or two sentences before asking the actual question. This keeps you from constantly badgering your employees with short questions.

Avoid countering with “why”

Pay attention to the classic “why” question. In combination with a pointed question, this is almost always perceived as an attack. Posed as a single word question, “why” achieves maximum confrontation. In the end you can counter any response with “why?”. Avoid this at all costs.

Expressing esteem with questions

Questions can be used to structure and control conversations. Focused questions can also be a terrific way to get others to think. But this will only work if your counterpart feels that you hold him in high regard. You will not achieve this with a barrage of questions.