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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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Published on July 17, 2018

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

How Productive People Compartmentalize Time to Get the Most Done

I’ve never believed people are born productive or organized. Being organized and productive is a choice.

You choose to keep your stuff organized or you don’t. You choose to get on with your work and ignore distractions or you don’t.

But one skill very productive people appear to have that is not a choice is the ability to compartmentalize. And that takes skill and practice.

What is compartmentalization

To compartmentalize means you have the ability to shut out all distractions and other work except for the work in front of you. Nothing gets past your barriers.

In psychology, compartmentalization is a defence mechanism our brains use to shut out traumatic events. We close down all thoughts about the traumatic event. This can lead to serious mental-health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if not dealt with properly.

However, compartmentalization can be used in positive ways to help us become more productive and allow us to focus on the things that are important to us.

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Robin Sharma, the renowned leadership coach, calls it his Tight Bubble of Total Focus Strategy. This is where he shuts out all distractions, turns off his phone and goes to a quiet place where no one will disturb him and does the work he wants to focus on. He allows nothing to come between himself and the work he is working on and prides himself on being almost uncontactable.

Others call it deep work. When I want to focus on a specific piece of work, I turn everything off, turn on my favourite music podcast The Anjunadeep Edition (soft, eclectic electronic music) and focus on the content I intend to work on. It works, and it allows me to get massive amounts of content produced every week.

The main point about compartmentalization is that no matter what else is going on in your life — you could be going through a difficult time in your relationships, your business could be sinking into bankruptcy or you just had a fight with your colleague; you can shut those things out of your mind and focus totally on the work that needs doing.

Your mind sees things as separate rooms with closable doors, so you can enter a mental room, close the door and have complete focus on whatever it is you want to focus on. Your mind does not wander.

Being able to achieve this state can seriously boost your productivity. You get a lot more quality work done and you find you have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. It is a skill worth mastering for the benefits it will bring you.

How to develop the skill of compartmentalization

The simplest way to develop this skill is to use your calendar.

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Your calendar is the most powerful tool you have in your productivity toolbox. It allows you to block time out, and it can focus you on the work that needs doing.

My calendar allows me to block time out so I can remove everything else out of my mind to focus on one thing. When I have scheduled time for writing, I know what I want to write about and I sit down and my mind completely focuses on the writing.

Nothing comes between me, my thoughts and the keyboard. I am in my writing compartment and that is where I want to be. Anything going on around me, such as a problem with a student, a difficulty with an area of my business or an argument with my wife is blocked out.

Understand that sometimes there’s nothing you can do about an issue

One of the ways to do this is to understand there are times when there is nothing you can do about an issue or an area of your life. For example, if I have a student with a problem, unless I am able to communicate with that student at that specific time, there is nothing I can do about it.

If I can help the student, I would schedule a meeting with the student to help them. But between now and the scheduled meeting there is nothing I can do. So, I block it out.

The meeting is scheduled on my calendar and I will be there. Until then, there is nothing I can do about it.

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Ask yourself the question “Is there anything I can do about it right now?”

This is a very powerful way to help you compartmentalize these issues.

If there is, focus all your attention on it to the exclusion of everything else until you have a workable solution. If not, then block it out, schedule time when you can do something about it and move on to the next piece of work you need to work on.

Being able to compartmentalize helps with productivity in another way. It reduces the amount of time you spend worrying.

Worrying about something is a huge waste of energy that never solves anything. Being able to block out issues you cannot deal with stops you from worrying about things and allows you to focus on the things you can do something about.

Reframe the problem as a question

Reframing the problem as a question such as “what do I have to do to solve this problem?” takes your mind away from a worried state into a solution state, where you begin searching for solutions.

One of the reasons David Allen’s Getting Things Done book has endured is because it focuses on contexts. This is a form of compartmentalization where you only do work you can work on.

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For instance, if a piece of work needs a computer, you would only look at the work when you were in front of a computer. If you were driving, you cannot do that work, so you would not be looking at it.

Choose one thing to focus on

To get better at compartmentalizing, look around your environment and seek out places where you can do specific types of work.

Taking your dog for a walk could be the time you focus solely on solving project problems, commuting to and from work could be the time you spend reading and developing your skills and the time between 10 am and 12 pm could be the time you spend on the phone sorting out client issues.

Once you make the decision about when and where you will do the different types of work, make it stick. Schedule it. Once it becomes a habit, you are well on your way to using the power of compartmentalization to become more productive.

Comparmentalization saves you stress

Compartmentalization is a skill that gives you time to deal with issues and work to the exclusion of all other distractions.

This means you get more work done in less time and this allows you to spend more time with the people you want to spend more time with, doing the things you want to spend more time doing.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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