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10 Leadership Tips For The Young Generation

10 Leadership Tips For The Young Generation

Leadership is rarely an innate quality in us. It is a combination of hard work, conviction and instinctive strategy, which needs to be developed and nurtured. When you see someone naturally charismatic and inspiring, you are disregarding an immense amount of work that goes behind the scene. This is precisely the reason why we are witnessing an increasing demand for cultivating this talent at the earliest of ages. Be it in sports, business or entrepreneurship, today’s youth is striving to sow the seeds of leadership in lure of future success.

Without further adieu, here are ten tips for the younger generation to ponder.

1. It all starts with a vision

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. —John Maxwell

The true essence of leadership begins with envisioning a set of goals. Don’t just have a vague image in your mind but define the target with focussed clarity. Think through the final result over and over to make sure you will be committed till the end.

But stating objectives is not enough. Enforcing the purpose and mission are equally important. Provide a clear and realistic path to your team. Believe in you and be persistent when things look difficult. Without John F Kennedy’s ambitious vision, Neil Armstrong would not be the first man on the moon. No dream is too big until you have realized it.

2. Communicate often and clearly

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. —General Colin Powell

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Communication is the fundamental link between vision and reality. Deliver the message concisely and with conviction so that it permeates through all levels of the organization. Your people need to understand why they are working on a task, what they should be doing and where it will lead them to. This entails having good presentation skills, being a good listener and facilitating problem solving. Effective communication skills make a standout leader.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of optimism

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. – Milton Berle.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership program organized by Walt Disney. My biggest takeaway was this remarkable story: It was 1928 in New York, when Walt learned that his distributor hired most of Disney’s animators to start a new studio. He practically lost everything, including his staff, the contract, his income and the hit character Oswald, the Rabbit. He immediately sent a telegram to his brother Roy saying, “Don’t worry. Everything okay. Will give details when I arrive”. On his three day journey back to Hollywood, Walt took out his sketchbook and created the character of Mickey Mouse. Within a year, Mickey was the most popular cartoon in the world.

Optimism helps channel the negative energy of fear and uncertainty towards driving innovation. As a leader, you will be surrounded by skeptics. Reject pessimism and turn the volume up on positivity.

4. Motivate and empower

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. —John Quincy Adams

Without the right kind of stimulus, people produce mediocre work and drain out quickly. Some get inspired by power, some by incentives, some by appreciation and some by interesting work. It is your responsibility to identify specific motivation factors in your employees and empower them. Your effort to nourish the team will also indicate that you care for them, which in turn is a great fuel to boost productivity and loyalty.

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5. Accept feedback generously

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. —John F. Kennedy

One if the best ways to grow and improve is by graciously accepting constructive feedback. Many managers, especially CEOs, by way of their power, find it demeaning to be ‘advised by their juniors’. However, your people hold the key to invaluable information that can make you more successful. So leave your ego behind, and ask what you can do better. You may choose to do that in a more informal setting or through a defined 360-degree feedback model

6. Lead by example

You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey

Teaching by force and directive orders is passé. This is the generation of producing future leaders by walking the talk. Don’t waste hours trying to convince people. Instead, demonstrate the benefits of a particular decision by your own action. You cannot expect others to do what you would not do. Besides garnering respect and trust, you will be able to set higher standards and achieve better results.

The easiest way to begin is by thinking of your role model. Who would you want to emulate? What kind of traits does that person have?

7. Take responsibility and own up

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. —John Maxwell

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Say no to passing blame onto others. It’s the most diminishing quality any leader can possess. Being at the top implies taking ownership of your vision and your team’s actions. In spite of having a robust set of internal controls, any organization will have its share of slip-ups and errors. You will need a whole lot of courage to apologize for mistakes and take measures to improve upon them.

8. Use power to drive change

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. —Publilius Syrus

In the book, Onward: How Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shares his remarkable story, giving us many leadership lessons. Eight years after stepping down from the daily oversight of Starbucks, Schultz returned as CEO in 2008. His aim was to bring back the core values that Starbucks was originally known for. He took some drastic decisions, including closing 900 stores and shutting the remaining 11,000 US stores for a day to retrain 115,000 people. The media questioned the relevance of these changes, but Schultz explained, “It was honest, it was authentic and it was necessary”.

As a leader you are often faced with challenges that require bold and unconventional decisions. Trust your instincts and use your authority to your advantage. Change is imminent to establish an environment for continous growth.

9. Cultivate patience

Patience and perseverance have a magical affect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish – John Quiny Adams

Successful leaders are proactive yet patient. They understand that a lifespan consists of periods of sprint followed by periods of recovery time. Many of us are prone to snap-decisions under deadlines and pressure. Be careful when you are influenced by excitement and wish to see quick results. This especially holds true for small businesses and start-ups, where patience can make or kill. The Dutch often say that a handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains.

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10. There is no ‘One’ leadership style

In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. —Thomas Jefferson

When there are no two people in this word exactly alike, how can there be a single way to lead?  Daniel Goleman studied around 3000 mid level managers, uncovering six different leadership styles – Commanding, Visionary, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting and Coaching. Emotional intelligence being the driver, each of these techniques has a deep impact on organizational climate. While some approaches have a more negative influence, they are apt for certain circumstances and people.

Effective leaders have all these cards up their sleeve and address the demands of the particular situation. They are flexible and keep switching from one style to the other. Which one do you identify the most with? Its time to buckle up and learn the remaining styles.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills

Have you ever thought of yourself as a problem solver? I’m guessing not. But in reality, we are constantly solving problems. And the better our problem solving skills are, the easier our lives are.

Problems arise in many shapes and forms. They can be mundane, everyday problems, or larger more complex problems:

What to have for dinner tonight?

Which route to take to work?

How to fix a project that’s running behind schedule?

How to change from an uninspiring job to a career you’re really passionate about?

Every day, you’ll be faced with at least one problem to solve. But it gets easier when you realize that problems are simply choices. There’s nothing ‘scary’ about them other than having to make a decision.

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No matter what job you’re in, where you live, who your partner is, how many friends you have, you will be judged on your ability to solve problems. Because problems equal hassles for everyone concerned. And people don’t like hassle. So the more problems you can solve, the less hassle all-round, the happier people are with you. Everyone wins.

Why Are Problem Solving Skills Important?

Problem is something hard to understand or accomplish or deal with. It can be a task, a situation, or even a person. Problem solving involves methods and skills to find the best solutions to problems.

Problem solving is important because we all have decisions to make, and questions to answer in our lives. Amazing people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., are all great problems solvers. Good parents, teachers, doctors and waiters all have to be good at solving different sort of problems as well.

Problem solving skills are for our everyday lives.

How to Enhance Problem Solving Skills

Most people believe that you have to be very intelligent in order to be a good problem solver, but that’s not true.

You don’t have to be super smart to be a problem solver, you just need practice.

When you understand the different steps to solve a problem, you’ll be able to come up with great solutions.

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1. Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem

Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem.[1] This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

2. Adapt 5 Whys to Clearly Define the Problem

5 Whys is a problem solving framework to help you get to the root of a problem.

By repeatedly asking the question “why” on a problem, you can dig into the root cause of a problem, and that’s how you can find the best solution to tackle the root problem once and for all. And it can go deeper than just asking why for five times.

For example:

If the problem is “always late to work”…

  • Why am I late to work?
    I always click the snooze button and just want to go on sleeping.
  • Why do I want to go on sleeping?
    I feel so tired in the morning.
  • Why do I feel tired in the morning?
    I slept late the night before, that’s why.
  • Why did I sleep late?
    I wasn’t sleepy after drinking coffee, and I just kept scrolling my Facebook feed and somehow I couldn’t stop.
  • Why did I drink coffee?
    Because I was too sleepy at work in the afternoon, not having enough sleep the night before.

So there you see, if you didn’t try to dig out the root of the problem, you may just set a few more alarms and have it beep every five minutes in the morning. But in fact, the problem you need to solve is to quit Facebook surfing endlessly at night so you’ll feel more energetic in the day time, and you won’t even need coffee.

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3. Simplify Things

As human beings, we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it.

Remove all the details and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

4. List out as Many Solutions as Possible

Try to come up with ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions.

Coming from 10 years in the corporate advertising industry, it is drummed into you that ‘No idea is a bad idea’ and this aids creative thinking in brainstorms and other problem-solving techniques.

Whatever you do, do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

5. Think Laterally

Change the ‘direction’ of your thoughts by thinking laterally. Pay attention to the saying,

‘You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging it deeper.”

Try to change your approach and look at things in a new way. You can try flipping your objective around and looking for a solution that is the polar opposite!

Even if it feels silly, a fresh and unique approach usually stimulates a fresh solution.

6. Use Language That Creates Possibility

Lead your thinking with phrases like ‘what if…’ and ‘imagine if…’ These terms open up our brains to think creatively and encourage solutions.

Avoid closed, negative language such as ‘I don’t think…’ or ‘But this is not right…’.

The Bottom Line

There’s nothing scary about a problem when you start to adapt my advice.

Try not to view problems as ‘scary’ things! If you think about what a problem really is, it’s really just feedback on your current situation.

Every problem is telling you that something is not currently working and that you need to find a new way around it.

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So try to approach problems neutrally – without any judgment. Practice focusing on defining a problem, keep calm and not to make things too complicated.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Planet of Success: Problem vs Solution Focused Thinking

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