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10 Ways To Go From Being A Good Leader To A Great Leader

10 Ways To Go From Being A Good Leader To A Great Leader

Good leaders are well… good. But great leaders can do magic; they can kindle passion in those working with them and they can scale new heights that no one has dreamed of before. Going from being a good to a great leader isn’t a piece of cake, but we’ve got some fantastic tips to help you become the greatest leader you can be. So watch out, here are 10 sure ways with which you can go from being a good to a great leader.

1. Good leaders develop themselves, Great leaders develop others

Good leaders try to improve different aspects of their personality. A great leader goes one step further by identifying talented minds and developing them so that they can grow into much worthier assets. Great leaders are willing to make more space at the top positions for the rightly talented people instead of considering younger talents as threats to their own power. Great leaders invest on human capital and take personal care to ensure the growth of valuable minds, for this is surest path to progress for any organization or community.

Great leaders know that genuinely caring for team members has an additional positive effect: it fills their team-members with gratitude and inspires them to ready action for their leader’s commands.

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2. Good leaders are good speakers, Great leaders are great listeners

Good leaders often speak more than their subordinates do. And while a good leader hears what their team members have to say; but they might not be truly listening, i.e., engaging with and processing others’ unique ideas and suggestions.

A great leader, however, really listens, carefully understands and critically evaluates to their team-mates’ individual viewpoints. Depending on the opinion’s validity, the leader might choose to adopt, ignore or offer suggestions to improve the idea, but regardless of the end result, they are genuinely interesting in processing to what their team has to say and appreciate the value of diverse viewpoints.

3. Great leaders work first for the cause, and then for the organization. They understand why they’re there

It is easier to go from being a good leader to a great leader when you’re in an organization whose end results support a cause you are passionate about. When we know that our work will make our world a better place or give us more than just power/monetary benefits, an inner desire awakens to commit ourselves wholly. This brings a new wave of enthusiasm towards our work that’s perhaps required when we want to go from being a good to a great leader. Great leaders truly understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

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So it isn’t surprising that the greatest leaders, like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have all worked towards some greater purpose; they knew why they were there.

4. Great leaders take full ownership during failure and let their team-members shine in times of success

The former Indian president and space-scientist A.P.J Abdul Kalam recounts this as a valuable lesson when he worked as a scientist in Indian Space Research Organization. He recalls how Prof. Satish Dhawan – the Chairman of ISRO under whom he once worked as a space scientist- took full responsibility at the national press conference for the SLV-3 satellite failure, instead of blaming the project’s humiliating fiasco on his team (that included Abdul Kalam himself). Great leaders, Kalam says, must know to manage success, but more importantly, to manage failure.

5. Good leaders stick to safety, but great leaders continuously learn, evaluate and are always open to change

Great leaders accept change for progress and appreciate constructive criticism. They personally are life-long learners; they always evaluate themselves, their organization and the practices in place to look for better ways of being, and doing things. They accept and seriously evaluate feedback, even when it comes from those who work under them.

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6. Good leaders focus on the present, great leaders anticipate

Great leaders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are known for their extraordinary skill in anticipating what the trends for their organization, different fields of investment etc. would look like in the future. To become a great leader we must we constantly be vigilant about the future possibilities, opportunities and risks for ourselves, our teammates and our organization so that we can make the best possible decisions in the present to steer into the right path in the future.

6.  While good leaders seek more power, great leaders seek more responsibility

Great leaders love leading not because of the immense power it gives them but because of the important responsibilities it confers on them. Good leaders focus of clinching maximum power and holding onto it; in the long term, this might prove detrimental to the very organization that they are leading. On the other hand, great leaders seek more responsibility and therefore focus on addressing their responsibilities with their best efforts. This helps them deliver the most optimal results for their company and also helps them to utilize more and more of their potential. Because great leaders genuinely care about the organization and the cause they are working for, and because they don’t waste their energy in merely plotting to accumulate more power, they uplift their organizations to a new, stellar level of success.

7. Great leaders have integrity and therefore, reliability and trustworthiness.

Great leaders are trustworthy because they are honest. As integrity breeds transparency, the systems that operate under a great leader are open and therefore reliable. While good leaders might act honest, and look for the quickest way of getting things done, great leaders actually practice honesty, even if it makes a process longer and more challenging.

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8. A great leader leads by example; their actions, not words set the trail for others to follow

Mahatma Gandhi motivated millions of Indians to be self-reliant by being so himself. He weaved his own khadi cloth on his spinning wheel before encouraging the masses to follow suit; he fasted, led a simple life and participated in non-violent satyagrahas (non co-operation movements) himself before propagating these practices to an entire nation. Great leaders make themselves the example. They don’t ask their team to do what they themselves wouldn’t like to.

9. Great leaders don’t simply ‘head’ the team with arrogance, the serve the team with humility

Great leaders know that to be a leader means to serve and not to boss over those who work with you. By changing their attitude to that of rendering service instead of exercising power, great leaders overcome pompousness and obtain humility. This in turn, inspires and evokes admiration and support from his/her followers, improving the performance of the entire team.

10. Great leaders think radically different. They don’t seek faster horses, they think cars.

Great leaders don’t listen to and merely improvise the idea of the crowd. Instead they think of entirely new ways by which things can be done. Henry Ford once said, “if I had listened to the customers, I would have gone looking for faster horses”. Because though people had for long, been discussing the idea of a horseless carriage for transportation in Henry Ford’s time, they only ask faster horses for better transportation from Ford’s company. But as a great, creative leader, Ford came with an entirely new approach for more efficient locomotion: cars.

Featured photo credit: Marc nozell via flickr.com

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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