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5 TED Talks That Will Mold You Into A Competent Leader

5 TED Talks That Will Mold You Into A Competent Leader

Whether you’re a business owner or a leader of any kind, these 5 TED talks will inspire you to break free of old expectations and lead from a wiser, more informed perspective. Watch each talk at the links below for a fresh set of ideas on leadership and problem solving in the workplace.

1. Productivity doesn’t happen when you think.

Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work, by Jason Fried, unravels a surprising trend in the workplace – not getting work done. Fried asked several professionals where they went when they needed to get some work done. The responses he received included places like the kitchen, the bedroom, the train, and the coffee shop. But not one person said “the office.” This led Fried to the assertion that “M&Ms” (managers and meetings) are screwing with workers’ productivity. He cautions against pointless meetings, insisting that if everyone had a little more alone time at work, we’d all get a lot more done.

“Businesses are spending all this money on this place called the office, and they’re making people go to it all the time – yet people don’t do work in the office. What’s that about?”

Watch it

2. Money isn’t always the best motivator.

The Puzzle of Motivation, by Dan Pink, breaks down a scientific experiment that showed the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. While you’d think that money and other extrinsic motivators spur workers to achieve more, this is not always the case. According to the research, these incentives work well for basic tasks that require narrow focus. But when it comes to complex problems, the rules totally reverse.

“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”

Watch it

3. Companies are investing in leaders, but not producing them.

What it Takes to be a Great Leader, by Roselinde Torres, delves into what we can call a “leadership gap.” The puzzling fact is that companies are investing in leadership more than ever, but not seeing the results. Torres claims this is happening because companies are not growing a diverse enough network, or changing strategy when they need to.

“Prepare yourself, not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday, but for the realities of today and all of those unknown possibilities of tomorrow.”

Watch it

4. It’s not all about you.

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe, by Simon Sinek, covers a rarely discussed aspect of leadership: safety. Sinek discusses how great military leaders put themselves second, sacrificing their comfort zone to support and instill confidence in their troops. For business leaders, It’s not just about utilizing the best startup resources, grabbing the right talent, or working within the perfect budget. Rather, it’s about gaining the trust of your subordinates, so that they, in turn, feel empowered to do their best work.

“This is the reason so many people have a visceral hatred for banking CEOs with disproportionate salaries…It’s not the numbers. It’s that they allowed their people to be sacrificed to protect their own interests.”

Watch it

5. Nurture your first followers

How to Start a Movement, by Derek Sivers, dissects a hilarious YouTube video of a spontaneous dance party that grows from one individual to dozens. The takeaway of this talk is the importance of early followers. As a lone leader, you must recognize that the only true way to gain credibility is to gain your first follower. This person or group of persons sets the stage for others to feel comfortable joining your movement. It grants you credibility. By treating your early followers as equals, you show them (and others) that joining you is a safe decision.   

“it’s the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.”

Watch it

Featured photo credit: urban_data via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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