56 Chapters
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#52 Give Back

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Are you grateful? Being grateful is a behavioral style, and so much more than just the giving of thanks over a meal, in response to a gift, or a reaction to kindness. It’s a position, a mindset, a value, an attitude, and a choice. But most importantly, being grateful can be a positive influence to others by giving back and transforming the lens through which people view your organization.

Organizations that give back can build employee pride, fueling motivation for yourself and others. It can also be a lever you can pull to breathe fresh energy into the workplace and give yourself and your organization more meaning. Not every leader or organization practices giving back or incorporates it into his or her company values, yet it is a surefire way to build a stronger organization.

Many of MAP’s clients have purposefully implemented programs that give back. They invest in their community, donate a percentage of profits to charities, or find other meaningful ways to give back. One organization has a very active employee appreciation program and sponsors an orphanage in Mexico. Another puts on an annual walk-a-thon for the disabled, and a third company has an afterschool learning program that buses disadvantaged students to a safe location where they’ve hired a teacher to tutor and care for the children. In the case of this particular company, which also gives 10 percent of its net profit to a specific charity, the culture has totally transformed into a more motivated, highly inspired workplace—and the results from that have been seismic. Within four years, this organization went from being a $5 million company to a $20 million company.

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#32 Check up Daily on Goals

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You now know why holding your people accountable through an accountability system that includes corrective actions and performance recognition is so important to your organization’s success. Now let’s dig deeper into the topic of leveraging daily accountability. Specifically, we’re going to delve into what you can regularly do to reinforce your commitment to accountability and build more discipline around managing performance.

For starters, you want to adopt a “driving” management style and develop tactics that align with this approach. This practice will communicate the importance of managing performance daily, not just whenever your people gather for the next team meeting. Also, don’t just ask your employees how things are going in general—you’ll probably get a black-and-white answer or some watered-down version of reality. Instead, ask them how they are performing against their goals, what they need to do next, and why they are struggling. Pose the tough questions and don’t necessarily let them off easy when they answer. Ensure this conversation becomes an opportunity to coach and motivate them, making this one of your daily habits.

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#37 Advocate for Your Team

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

There are times in business when you need to “go to bat” for your team. It is leadership’s responsibility to provide support to its team members when tough challenges arise that they can’t solve on their own. Whether your team needs resources, training, or other types of support, it is your responsibility to take action that empowers the team to do its job. These situations are great opportunities to show your team members they are your number-one priority. As you demonstrate you have their best interests at heart, your commitment will build respect and loyalty from your team.

At one point in my past, I worked for a boss who did not demonstrate support when it was needed most. This frustrating experience zapped our team’s energy and hurt morale. It affected my confidence to make things happen because I didn’t feel supported. It was also tough because I felt I was on my own, without backup. Perhaps you have worked for a boss who disengaged from you and other team members in a similar way. If so, you probably experienced some of the same frustrations because it’s hard to respect such a complacent leader.

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#18 Write Your Professional Development Plan

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Imagine boarding an old cruise ship setting sail to your favorite destination. As you board the vessel with your loved ones, you are warmly greeted by the crew and staff. You locate your cabin and check out your accommodations. Everything is perfect. You quickly head to the higher deck for a quick toast and to wave bon voyage. You can’t wait for the cast off to sail straight toward your destination. But then the captain comes on the PA system and announces that the cruise is cancelled because he’s discovered the ship has lost its rudder. Without a rudder, there is no way to steer the ship.

Like a ship without a rudder, many of us go through life without any real direction or solid definition of what we want to accomplish. In fact, we spend more time researching and planning for our vacations than our future. But having a professional development plan—a blueprint for where we want to go, what we want to be, and the steps we need to take to achieve it—can make the difference between professional fulfillment and failure. Just like a business plan, your professional development plan should include goals and strategies for success. A solid, yet regularly updated development plan is not only empowering; it fosters discipline for what you want to achieve. It’s a tool that takes you one step closer toward transformative experiences and results.

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#36 Encourage Disagreement

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If the topic of this lesson makes you a little uncomfortable, I’m not surprised. Over the years, MAP has found this particular bit of advice has never been easy for most to embrace. But to develop the best solutions and outcomes in business, you need to be the kind of leader who encourages disagreement from your team. I’m not talking about asking those individuals to disagree on every whim. But you want them to speak up when they do not agree on important matters, specifically when healthy, constructive dialogue with opposing viewpoints can lead to discovery and, eventually, growth and productivity. Done right, this can foster a high-energy yet professional environment that’s rich in creativity, one in which individuals are encouraged and challenged to contribute ideas and solutions.

It’s quite possible you’ve worked in places in which there was too much agreement going on. Such cultures are generally managed by leaders who are uncomfortable with opposing perspectives and don’t know how to handle conflicting opinions and ideas with forward-thinking purpose. It’s sometimes indicative of leadership immaturity. It can also be a sign of leadership weakness, particularly in relationship to managing the team. Regardless of the reason, the “yes-person” culture shuts down and blocks critical thinking, resulting in poor decision making and missed opportunities. Meanwhile, healthy work cultures demand disagreement, which creates viable possibilities for ingenuity, change, and progress. As a leader, your job is to sponsor this latter type of culture, leading by example. You can do that by following a few guidelines:

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