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Revealed: How to Be a Great Leader That Everyone Wants to Follow

Revealed: How to Be a Great Leader That Everyone Wants to Follow

They say that good leaders are born, not made. But no matter how great a leader we think we are, we can all stand to foster and improve our leadership and management skills from time to time. Here are 10 of the very best qualities that will help propel you into great leader status, all backed up by some of the most trusted leaders in business.

Time Is Never Wasted on Listening to Others.

“Resonance – this is one of the lowest rated qualities in leaders and one of the most needed in business today. It’s how we connect with people and make them feel understood. Resonant leaders are attentive and attuned to the thoughts, emotions and feelings of others. They take time to watch, listen and absorb what is said and unsaid.”

~ Suzanne Bates, CEO, Bates Communications[1]

“I find that the key to great leadership is time commitment dedicated to the people side. Business flies so fast and it is very easy to see days and weeks be absorbed by projects and deadlines, but at the end of the day, the true quality of performance and career satisfaction comes from the growth and commitment from the team. To do this effectively, leaders must meticulously review and prioritize their time. I expect all of my direct reports to map out the week tactically, strategically, while being mindful to set aside the time to foster strong relationships and company/team commitment.”

~ Shawn Bushouse, EVP, Chief Financial Officer, J Skinner Baking[2]

Feedback Is the Shortcut to a Better Team.

“Understand how they want to grow their careers and take time to coach them, giving ongoing feedback (BOTH positive and improvement feedback) to help them get there. This will also help inform what you delegate to whom. Know what your team members value as individuals – is it autonomy? Recognition? Collaboration? Challenge? Then do your best to provide these things.”

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~ Rebecca Zucker, Partner, Next Step Partners[3]

No One’s Left Behind. Involvement Is Indiscriminate.

“I had a great mentor in my first manager, who showed me that it’s not only alright to share your thought processes and mistakes, but that this is key to building a successful team. There are so many choices to be made when you’re building a business and, by sharing your approach with co-workers, you’re empowering them to more clearly understand your company vision and develop their own skills.”

~ Rashmi Melgiri, COO and Co-Founder, CoverWallet[4]

“I have a staff retreat every year off site with my staff, where we work on our goals for the next year. We mix the day up with fun stuff and serious stuff. After the retreat, the staff creates a chart to track our goals on a weekly basis and they update it. Then throughout the year, I meet with each staff member individually and talk about how we are doing. I try to make at least one of those meetings a casual lunch meeting.”

~ Edrie A. Pfeiffer, Managing Attorney, Hampton Roads Legal Services[5]

Always Be Gracious And Grateful.

“Say please and thank you – a lot, and authentically. Teams that are appreciated outperform those that don’t by incredible margins. Just saying please and thank you goes a long way to helping your team understand you appreciate them.”

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~ Lee Caraher, Author[6]

Interactivity Is the Key to Bringing Everyone Together.

“Great leaders are great communicators. Communication should be a two way process: you should be able to relay clear instructions to your team but also listen attentively and responsively to all that they say.”

~Helen Smith, Community Manager, Mature Berkshire Dating[7]

“Interactivity – this is the art of fostering a deeply active, conversational style of dialogue that puts people at ease and enables them to speak up and feel heard. You have to use the right channels, communicate with the right cadence and frequency, and of course not rely too much on written communication.”

~ Suzanne Bates, CEO, Bates Communications[8]

Power Is Shared Among Everyone, Not on a Single Person.

“I feel empowerment and encouragement goes a long way, making team members feel their value to the overall mission of the team and it’s continued success. By empowering our team members and trusting them, we see our team members rise to the occasion, elevate themselves, and feel pride in what they’re achieving on a daily basis.”

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~ Steve Ryan, Founder & CEO, RyTech, LLC[9]

There Is Always Wise Words from Others.

“Being the leader doesn’t always mean that you’re the authority, and that’s coming from an owner of a company. There are instances where details are missed out. I always make it an effort to give every member within my team a chance to speak up during our internal meetings. I’d like to believe that they appreciate having the opportunity to pitch and implement their ideas and approaches for our clients. It builds a strong foundation of mutual trust and respect, and when there’s trust in any given relationship, they will have no qualms about following you into the abyss.”

~ Aaron Lin, Managing Director, Ignitive[10]

With a Clear Aim, No One Goes Astray.

“In order to form your team into a united front working together towards a common goal, it’s important that the team understands your vision as the team leader. By having the ability to inspire your team, you are giving them a better understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing. You’re giving them a sense of purpose, a clear motivation to strive for success. This inspiration will help you work better together as you are all aware and on board with the vision.”

~ Evan Harris, Co-Founder & CEO, SD Equity Partners[11]

Responsibility Delegation Is the Way to Unleash the Team’s Full Potential.

“Many bosses have a “I’ll just do it myself” mentality. Just because you’re a boss does not mean you’re a leader. By taking on all the work, you’re preventing your team from demonstrating their true potential. A great leader trusts in their team and demonstrates this trust by giving their team more responsibility. When you give your team members an opportunity to excel, more often than not you will be surprised at what they can achieve. Trust in your team, and they will succeed.”

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~ Evan Harris, Co-Founder & CEO, SD Equity Partners[12]

Feedback Builds Trust and Enables Continuous Improvement.

“Often times this feedback comes from others through reviews – I still ask all of my people for feedback. Being open and honest builds trust within a team, helps me improve and makes real our promise that we all seek continuous improvement.”

~Dick Burke, CEO, Envoy Global[13]

Being Respectful Isn’t Just An Etiquette.

“Something to always remember is to always talk respectfully about members of your team, whether they are present in the room with you or not. Be transparent at all times and do not go behind people’s backs. This will ensure that all members of the team feel safe and happy about working in the team.”

~ Jason Dobson, Berkshire Dating[14]

Now you are ready to lead your team with trust, confidence, strength and compassion. A great leader has a mix of qualities; they are not superhuman, but rather people who are able to connect with members of their teams on a compassionate and human level, whilst also maintaining discipline and authority at all times.

Reference

[1] BatesCommunication: Home
[2] SkinnerBaking: Home
[3] NextStepPartners: Home
[4] CoverWallet: Home
[5] HamptonRoadsLegalServices: Home
[6] LeeCaraher: Home
[7] MatureBerkshireDating: Home
[8] BatesCommunication: Home
[9] RyTechLLC: Home
[10] Ignitive: Home
[11] SDEquityPartners: Home
[12] SDEquityPartners: Home
[13] EnvoyGlobal: Home
[14] BerkshireDating: Home

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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