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Four Leadership Tips to Bring Out the Best in Your Team

Four Leadership Tips to Bring Out the Best in Your Team

Creativity is the life blood of any organization. It’s what ensures the continuous innovation necessary to help a company stay ahead in a competitive world.

But creativity is not a process that always happens by itself. In a working environment that is not designed to promote and stimulate creative thinking, employees might be hesitant or even afraid to offer their ideas. Your organization might be missing out on a wealth of ideas that will promote growth simply because the right culture for creative thinking doesn’t exist.

To avoid this, you need to create a work environment that allows for novel ideas to be born and developed. As a person in any position of leadership within an organization, there are four key areas that should be addressed.

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1. Establish clear goals, but let your employees find their way to reach them.

The people working for you have to be intrigued by and interested in what they are doing in order to be motivated and have an open mind towards improving the projects they are working on.
This can’t be achieved if you are always looking over their shoulder and trying to micro-manage every small detail, not allowing any freedom in decision-making.  People tend to become hesitant, uncomfortable and even unconfident about their work in these kind of environments, which leads to little creativity and a lost opportunity to find new innovations as a project progresses.

2. Monitor their work, but remain at a distance.

When your team is working to achieve the goals set out for them, you should keep tabs on how they are progressing, but never go overboard.

There’s a thin line between being interested in their progress and intruding on their personal working approaches or trying to do their job for them. Allow them the freedom to work at their own pace, and try not to force any methods. Listen to what they need and help them overcome any hurdles they might face while progressing.

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Careful and thought-out advice might be very helpful and will help evolve ideas, but over intruding can lead to stunted creativity.

3. Make your team’s job easier, not harder.

If you want to maintain good morale and a positive outlook among your staff, be wary of criticising and controlling their efforts too much. It’s better to support their creative processes—provide them with the tools necessary and help “sell” their work to other departments, if that is needed.

This all serves to remove as many hurdles from their progress as possible, helping them to achieve their goals as fast as possible. It also enhances their confidence, knowing that their manager or superior is behind them and their ideas.

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Try to be their advocate in the organization—you have the tools to make their work easier so that they can focus on the project at hand and not worry too much about structural obstacles and issues.

4. Create and separate idea-generation and idea-evaluation processes.

Both creating and evaluating ideas are paramount to the innovation process, so there are key steps that need to be taken in order to achieve success. Don’t make the common mistake of mixing idea generation and idea evaluation. This can have a detrimental effect on the innovation process.These two must be separated because they are completely different processes.

Idea generation is a process that has to focus on quantity—at this stage, there are no bad ideas. Simply put, it’s better to have fifteen ideas to choose from than five. Additionally, if an idea is shut down at its early stages, it is not given a chance to develop into a potential breakthrough solution.

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Idea evaluation process is quite different—it focuses on working with the pool of generated ideas and evaluating their positives and negatives, trying to figure out if an idea is feasible and is compliant to the company’s resources, policies and long-term goals.

In order to achieve a creative environment in a company, leaders must acknowledge the importance of the input of their employees and always look for ways to help them generate and develop new ideas. Even if some level of oversight must be maintained, employees should be given as much freedom as possible to work towards achieving set goals using their own methods and should be encouraged to do so.

After all, a well-developed creative environment is what helps distinguish average companies from the best. In the long run, having a well defined system to ensure that employees come up with innovations is critical for a company in any competitive marketplace.

Featured photo credit: Kerry Jardine via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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