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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 January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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