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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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