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5 Things You Need to Know to Improve Your Leadership Style

5 Things You Need to Know to Improve Your Leadership Style

Effective leaders have many positive attributes that make them successful—some of those characteristics are common in all great leaders, while others are unique to the individual. Who in your life has inspired you the most? Is it your pastor? A community figure? A beloved teacher? Whoever the person, and whatever the venue, a strong leader is able to make a lasting and positive influence on others.

I have chosen to address the topic of leadership strictly from a business perspective. Accomplished managers and executives can have a tremendous impact on their staff, both on a professional and a personal level. Generally speaking, all professional leaders must learn and develop many skills and talents to achieve success. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of all strengths a leader might need at any given time. It is, however, an overview of elements that are common to every effective leadership style. So what differentiates the successful leaders from the less capable ones?

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They know how to motivate others

Successful leaders have the ability to spur people into action. They have energy and charisma, which they use to inspire others. They are able to set a positive example for those around them and encourage staff to put forth an honest effort. Good leaders do not ask others to do what they themselves are not willing to do. Instead, they “walk the walk”—motivating their team with both words and actions.

They know how to organize

Effective leaders are able to identify and organize all internal and external resources available to them. They consciously avoid clutter of both mind and environment. Strong leaders are able to sort through ideas, make an action plan, and then put the right people in the right roles to get the job done. They are aware of any task that remains undone, are able to retrieve necessary information at any time, and are attentive to detail. For these leaders, it is not a question of if something can be done, it’s how it can be done.

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They know how to prioritize

At the start of any workday, a good leader can check the agenda and know immediately which tasks are pressing and which can wait. Even on days when they feel pressured to give every task and project equal attention, competent leaders are able to maintain focus and identify exactly where to start. They are also confident that, at the end of the day, they have not allowed themselves to be distracted from important issues or defer to anyone else’s agenda.

They know how to educate

Rather than berate, exceptional leaders prefer to educate. Individuals in the workplace can count on a good leader to spend some time explaining the task at hand and providing an appropriate level of guidance along the way. They will not only identify the overall goal, but also ensure that each step of the process is clearly understood.  When a competent leader sees a team member falling short of expectations, he or she will address the error while still taking time to discuss how to avoid future mistakes.

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They know how to delegate

Even the most impressive leaders cannot accomplish everything on their own. Intelligent leaders know the value of cultivating a team they can trust. Appropriate delegation boosts the esteem level of employees, which increases the chance of achieving good results. Confidence in the team is crucial because it allows the leader to focus on the things that only he or she can handle—without feeling the need to micromanage. Savvy leaders know this, and are careful to be economical with their time.

Think back to the bosses, CEO’s, and other workplace authority figures who have made a lasting impression upon you. What was it about them that stood out to you? It’s likely you can identify more skills and talents than were addressed in this article, but odds are that all of the above elements appear on the list, too. The end result is that successful leaders know how to use their abilities and play to their strengths. The best ones will then share this knowledge with you, so that you can reach your full potential as well.

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Featured photo credit: leadership via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why we procrastinate after all

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

So, is procrastination bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How bad procrastination can be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article:

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8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

Procrastination, a technical failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

Reference

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