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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

Become a Better Manager: 20 Leadership Examples to Inspire Your Team

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Become a Better Manager: 20 Leadership Examples to Inspire Your Team

People are inspired by positive leadership examples. The average American cannot name their congressional representative, but they know the name and story of Mother Teresa. Few people have been inspired enough to pack their bags and live a life of servitude in Calcutta, but Mother Teresa’s sacrifices made many treat their fellow man with more dignity and grace.

Managers have a spectrum of tools for getting employees to do what needs doing. All too often, managers lean on authority – direction, intimidations, bullying – which inspires nobody.

When directed and not inspired, employees will work the minimum number of hours and make the least amount of effort required to keep their jobs. Conversely, an inspired employee can’t wait to get to work, will be highly motivated, infinitely creative, and work until the task is done very well.

Here are a number of ways you inspire and lead by example:

1. Be totally honest and transparent no matter what

Trust is the foundation of every relationship. A lack of trust breeds a lack of everything else.

Trust then becomes an imperative in the workplace. When you are openly honest, even when it hurts your own prospects, you sow the seeds of trust and that in turn grows a garden of commitment by your employees.

Dishonesty is an herbicide in that same garden.

2. Be a willing listener

Some people listen unwillingly and it shows. The speaker feels marginalized and unimportant. People who feel like that simply do not care enough to try.

When listening, absorb everything the person is saying, including how they are saying it.

Understand their communication holistically, including emotional nuances. When you do, your employees feel that you genuinely care… because you do.

3. Be their friend

Some folks say to not get too close to your people. I have found the opposite to be true.

Think of someone you know and like, who has shown a true interest in you.

Next, think of a casual acquaintance.

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Now imagine both of them asking you to help them move.

Who would you help haul a sofa down a flight of stairs?

4. Praise often and genuinely

I do not mean inauthentic, smarmy compliments. I mean watch what your employees do and be sincerely grateful for jobs well done.

It is gratitude that makes praise authentic.

5. Be humble, not arrogant

Humility is the modest view of one’s own importance.

The fact is that you, as a manager, will only be as successful as your team makes you. That means your employees are more important than you are, at least in terms of corporate performance.

Lording over those who will make or break you is arrogant and will lead to you being humbled the hard way.

6. Manage by walking around

Leadership is getting things done through people. If you are not connecting with your people often, in person, in their environment, then you cannot know their issues, their concerns, and their problems.

Getting out of your office and onto the shop floor will make employees feel you are part of their world because you are.

7. Set the example of work ethic you expect from your employees

This does not mean suffering 12-hour work days. This means demonstrating the qualities you want to see from your employees, be it precision, innovation, frugality, or even politeness.

All elements that involve work are part of the ethic and will not be held dear by your employees unless they see it in you.

8. Dress in the manner that you expect employees to dress

I ran a semiconductor company, and many of our employees wore “bunny suits” because they worked in an ultra-clean environment. These exceptions aside, people will adopt the local dress code.

You set the tone. Very few employees would dare show up to work in torn blue jeans if the boss normally wears a jacket and tie.

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In every team, there is a minimal level of professionalism, and that is expressed in part by how one dresses.

If you want the right professionalism from your team, wear the clothes that reflect that professional appeal.

9. Be kind and empathetic

Bullies do have followers who are mainly other bullies, and they only stick around as long as the power of money flows from the top.

But a great leader knows that kindness generates loyalty that lasts. To be kind requires empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another (you can be polite without empathy, but being kind starts with understanding the person within).

10. Never use vulgar or condescending language

You cannot inspire people through harshness. Vulgar language, regrettably in vogue these days, is harsh and has one of two effects on employees – it either makes them harsh themselves, or it makes them not want to engage you.

Either way, you lose.

The same applies to condescension. Combine the two and you will have a very high employee turnover rate.

11. Treat everyone with the proper dignity and respect

Dignity and respect are intertwined. If you do not respect someone, you are more apt to not treat them with dignity.

Start with the idea that everyone gets 100 percent credit up-front. Then don’t reduce that credit except for serious matters.

In this way, everyone you want to inspire automatically receives the dignity they want and likely deserve.

12. Ask, “How can I help?”

“How can I help?” communicates a number of things in four words. It says you care about them and their needs. It says you want to make them successful. It communicates that their needs are important, and thus your employees are important as well.

If your employees trust you – and if you follow the previous examples they should – then they will tell you what they need, and that allows you to make them successful.

As a side effect, it will make you successful too.

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13. Act with Integrity

Integrity is doing what’s right even when no one is watching. But people are always watching.

When you act without integrity, employees become motivated to watch out for themselves, not for you and not for the company.

Likewise, when you demonstrate integrity, it communicates that it is expected.

14. Be the optimist

Who follows a pessimist? Nobody.

So, smile a lot, talk about what is gloriously possible, and how your teams will make it happen.

JFK was optimistic, and his outlook caused mankind to leave the planet and land on the moon.

15. Have a can-do attitude

A defeatist is a person who expects or is ready to accept failure. If you, as a leader, expect failure, why would anyone on your team want to work toward success? They would not.

So even under the toughest situations, stay positive and assume that success can be had.

When employees see an optimistic leader, one who says, “This may be tough, but we can do it,” they will indeed do it.

16. Be the visionary

You need to have an objective and communicate it clearly. Let employees see the mission, why it is good, and why they are essential to achieving it. This crafting of the vision need not be expansive.

An IT department might make a mission of zero downtime. A marketing department might establish a vision for creating an unbreakable brand. Your production facility could strive for 10 percent more output.

Make the vision good, achievable and most of all, understood by all.

17. Guide them, not drive them

Anyone who has worked cattle – and I have – knows that if you push a herd too hard, they will spook and stampede. But gently guiding a herd toward a corral works pretty well.

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Employees are not cattle, but they also do better when you set frameworks and expectations (guidance) and then get out of their way.

18. Promote doing whatever it takes, no excuses

Aside from maintaining ethical employee behavior, letting your team know that the mission is important enough to require their ardent efforts is a reflection of your commitment to the company.

The best way to do this involves you doing whatever it takes. Putting in visible extra effort shows that you are in the game for keeps, and that your team should be as well.

19. Don’t just criticize a mistake

One old adage says to never complain unless you have a better idea. Likewise, criticizing an employee for making a mistake, but not helping them learn from their mistake is merely complaining.

We all make mistakes, and we all should learn from them.

A great example for you to set is showing that as a team, we help one another learn, including learning when we mess up.

20. Do the tough things first

It is important to tackle the difficult and unpleasant tasks right away, every day. I call it “eating the ugly frog first.”

People tend to procrastinate, and do so very well for big, complicated, onerous tasks. But no great project ever progresses until the big, complicated, onerous tasks are completed.

When your team sees you assaulting the elephant in the room, they gain the conviction and courage necessary to do likewise.

The type of employee you have is a reflection on you. The example you set and the integrity you demonstrate determine how inspired your team is. Start leading by example and lead your team towards success!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Ray Zinn

Ray Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, investor, angel, bestselling author and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways Become a Better Manager: 20 Leadership Examples to Inspire Your Team The Secret of Success: 10 Tough Things to Do First 18 Ways to Have Effective Communication in the Workplace 4 Effective Ways to Motivate Employees During the Busy Holiday Season

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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