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3 New Books to Help You Lead This Fall

Fall often feels like more of a fresh start than the New Year. For those working in academia or attending graduate programs, whose fiscal calendars begin again in October, or folks with kids that recently started their school year, the fall is a time of new beginnings. In many places, the weather shifts and there’s a certain crispness to the air that puts a pep in the step and increases focus and motivation.

 

Now is a great time to refresh your leadership as well. To add to the excitement of fall, here are three new book releases that will help you rejuvenate your leadership.

 

1. Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You by Heidi Grant

Somehow, asking for help is the hardest thing in the world, especially for Type-A leaders. In her new book, author Heidi Grant, Ph.D., explores that while we hate to ask for help, most people would like to be helpers. She uses storytelling to deliver an extremely practical take on how to manage your team so they are contributing in the most helpful ways that feel meaningful to them, and effective for you.

 

2. Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most by Steven Johnson

Oh, decision-making. This can be either a natural skill for one leader, or a fear-inspiring one for another. In his latest work, Steven Johnson dives into what tools are needed to conquer the complexities of decision-making, particularly for creatives. The key piece that Johnson explains and explores is that impactful decision-makers don’t just go with their gut all the time—they have a future-focused mindset that informs their decision-making process that will transform their organization.

 

3. Why The Best Are The Best: 25 Powerful Words That Impact, Inspire, And Define Champions by Kevin Eastman

After nearly 40 years in basketball, 13 of which in the NBA, Kevin Eastman has seen teams and leaders rise and fall. In his newest book, he details what has made these champions and championship teams effective, and translates that to everyday leaders. Through up-close-and-personal stories and practical strategies, Kevin will inspire you to give your team and personal leadership a jumpstart.

 

Recommendations received from Leadercast

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Strong Mentorships

If you were to ask yourself who were your best mentors in your life, I’m sure several people would come to mind from your childhood to even a person you currently see on a daily basis. Perhaps they were a great school teacher, a coach, an academic program advisor, or a supervisor from your first summer job. When you think about those mentors, can you truly remember what exactly they said to you that made you feel ...Supported? Inspired? Captivated? Chances are you don’t remember what they said, or what their hairstyle was, what they were wearing or their overall mannerisms. Often what shines though and has us thinking and reflecting about our time with them is how they made us FEEL. They encouraged, inspired, motivated, and enabled us to see a part of the world that we had not yet been exposed.


Now I’m going to ask you to reflect on another mentoring note – who were your WORST mentors in your life? Who were the tedious teachers, the exhausting coaches, the leaders with lack of patience or who showed favoritism to team members and did not foster teamwork? Those are unfortunately the people who had a large effect on your life in terms of your goals and your career choices. They may be a current co-worker or employer who doesn’t like to your ideas, micro manages you, and frustrates you to the point that you can’t focus on your actual work tasks. Fortunately, there is a silver lining to these negative individuals whom you have crossed paths in your life. It is the negative influence leaders who you should remember, and strongly take note of the choices they make since their role in your life demonstrates an exact OPPOSITE model of who you want to be when you are a leader, a mentor and a role model. Harness the energy, emotions and time you have had for these individuals and in turn, know that you will make choices as a leader to promote the passion of life-long learning, engage in new ideas and be patient as everyone cultivates into professionals and agents of change at a different rate.


I share these thoughts on positive and negative influence leaders in our lives because it is a great responsibility to be a mentor to others. It’s also a privilege. I have had the opportunity to not only mentor fellow colleagues but also be linked with a post-graduate school to be a preceptor to a specific student for 4, 6, and 8 week placements at a time. These weeks can feel more exhausting than a normal work week because all of your moves are being watched by a young professional starving to grow and make a contribution to the real world. Being a professional leader is often focused on the student in training yet what happens in a positive mentor/protégé relationship is that the mentor is the one who learns just as much as the student. I love when students/young colleagues ask me questions such as “Can you tell me why you decided to complete that task first?” or “How did you come to make that decision?” because these are the questions that we often forget to ask ourselves on a daily basis in the midst of our busy lifestyles and careers.


So the next time you are asked to take on a student or a new colleague in training, please don’t hesitate to help as you will benefit in your career as well. Mentorship is a beautiful experience full of reflection and engagement of both parties, bringing everyone to a level of asking more questions and deeper understanding of their careers – and quite possible themselves.  Remember, you could be that positive, influential role model that this young professional needs.
 

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Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace

As a young professional there are many challenges that one faces, not least of which is the reality that most of us nowadays work in a multi-generational environment – and it is probably only going to continue to get even more crowded. What I mean by this is right now you probably work in an environment that has at least one: baby-boomer, Gen Xer, Gen Yer and Millenial.


There are two main thinking points I want to start this article with before we continue, please consider:

  • Life expectancy is rising, people are living longer and so need to secure more income now to cover retirement costs later
  • Cost of living and inflation are out sync – meaning each generation has had less disposable income to help their offspring than the generation before (and you’ll have even less to help your children)

Quick explanation on that last point here:


http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2014/07/23/what-does-the-consumer-price-index-measure-inflation-or-cost-of-living-whats-the-difference/

 

“As Bryan explains it, the cost-of-living concept arises from the role of money as a medium of exchange. When we say the cost of living increases, we mean that it gets harder to maintain a given standard of living on a given income. Either we have to be satisfied with fewer goods or services, or save less, or work harder. In the language of economics, a change in the cost of living is a real phenomenon.


On the other hand, we can best understand inflation as a change in the value of our unit of account, the dollar. When there is inflation, the value of the unit is smaller each day than it was the day before, for all transactions.”

 

So in essence, because each generation has been given less help, each generation has had to provide more for themselves, and what this really leads to is more profound sense of urgency when beginning your first career. Millenials, for instance, are seen as much more ‘pushy’ or ‘impatient’ by their older colleagues – which may or may not be true of ones personality on an individual basis – but when the group is looked at as a whole this is a general impression that is formed.


Take a step back and have a talk with your grandfather (or great-grandfather if you are so lucky) and ask them to tell you about their early professional life. I’ll be a good majority didn’t even attend a post-secondary school for one reason or another, meaning less initial debt when entering the work force, where as you are much more likely to hear that your parents did (and in those cases, you can rest assured that you definitely went to College or University – or at least that it was heavily expected of you).


This is really what Navigating the Multigenerational Workplace is all about – realising the differences in situations not just at the current point in time, but the differences from every other generations point in time at the initial stages compared to your current stage. My personal belief is that before you can have effective dialogue with someone, you need to be able to see how you are perceived from their point of view.


That’s probably the longest intro to a blog post I’ve ever written – so I’ll try to be briefer the rest of the way, feel free to stretch your legs and come back and finish the rest of this.


So the purpose of this post was to try to offer suggestions on how to go about handling the different generations so maybe I’ll list a few out and then get into more detail; these suggestions by the way are targeted at the Millenial group:

 

  • Go slower with your communications and be more exact
  • Communicate with people based on how they like to communicate
  • Be prepared to have the same information in different formats for different audience members
  • Remember that while you like to move fast, it took those ahead of you a long time to get where they are
  • Everyone loves sharing their own story


These five points are probably the five strongest points that have helped me in my careers, they may not all apply to you in every situation but here’s a breakdown of what I mean by each:
 

Go slower with your communications and be more exact


The #1 thing our CEO hates is when he has to reply to an email to extract more details on a particular subject. It results in an increased number of communications and a slower overall turn-around time. Remember, everyone above you in the chain of command probably makes more money than you do – so not to be trite, but that means their time is more valuable than yours. Take 5 extra minutes of your time to save them even 1 of theirs, and it’s worth it – even if they don’t notice. Because trust me if you try to save 5 minutes of your time and end up wasting 20 of theirs, they will notice.


Communicate with people based on how they like to communicate


I still remember the first time I had to send my grand-father an email, I work for a family owned business so at one point we had all three generations here at the same time – you can imagine the communication challenges that presented. About 5 minutes after I had hit send, he was standing over my desk, email printed out in hand, with sections highlighted that he wanted to discuss. I quickly learned that email was probably not the best way to communicate with him if I was hoping for a quick turnaround time.


Be prepared to have the same information in different formats


One of the positions you might find yourself in one day, if you aren’t already, is being a mid-level manager and having a few people that you “report” to in a sense. One of the best books I’ve read about how to deal with the expectations of various levels of management and staff is John Maxwell’s The 360 [degree] leader. If you have a chance I recommend picking up a copy and giving it a thorough read through. Some people are purely analytical, some people are purely visual – most are somewhere in the middle. Be prepared to provide arguments, charts and graphs in different formats, sometimes as simple as having several different ways to word the same information is good enough.
 

Remember that while you like to move fast, it took those ahead of you a long time to get where they are


This point speaks more to the fact that often times us youngsters are perceived as impatient (mentioned above). Most companies that are large enough have clear guidelines as to how long you have to be with the company or how long you have had to have been in your current role before you can apply for a different role or a promotion. Focus daily on being the best at what you’ve been assigned to do and when it comes time to fill other roles you’ll be in a much better position to be asked to fill it rather than applying to every opportunity that comes up.
 

Everyone loves sharing their own story


Human beings are natural story tellers. That’s not to say that everyone feels comfortable standing in a room of 500 people and giving a speech or lecture – but find a quiet relaxing environment to engage with those of different generations around you. This can be especially effective if you spin it in a way that makes it look like you’re asking them for advice in a situation you’ve found yourself in and, because you value their expertise, you would like their opinion on how they would deal with the situation or if they ever encountered a similar situation in their early careers. Above all else when considering this as a strategy you need to be sincere in your request to learn from them.

 

So, if I haven’t completely bored you, you may be wondering why I started the article off with two points:

 

  • Life expectancy is rising, people are living longer and so need to secure more income now to cover retirement costs later
  • Cost of living and inflation are out sync – meaning each generation has had less disposable income to help their offspring than the generation before (and you’ll have even less to help your children)
     

First, so long as you maintain a moderate lifestyle, you will probably be around for many years to come and you may in fact need to plan to work well past the age at which your fathers-father worked until to support that (I could go into the whole CPP fiasco.. but that might turn political, a side lesson here is try to avoid politics in work environments).


Second, you’re entering the work force with different stresses than those ahead of you, and alternatively when you become the “old guy” at the office, those entering will have different stresses than you. While it’s probably not likely that coworkers will begin assisting one another financially, be mindful of others situations and how much you would have liked extra help at your current age when you’re older (I sure hope I do) – and remember, advice and guidance is always free no matter what generation you grew up in.


Sources and / or resources:

 

http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2014/07/23/what-does-the-consumer-price-index-measure-inflation-or-cost-of-living-whats-the-difference/

 

http://www.adecco.ca/EN/knowledge-centre/employers/Documents/whitepapers/managing-multigenerational-workforce.pdf


https://www.johnmaxwell.com/store/products/The-360-Degree-Leader.html


 

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Secrets of Successful Leadership

Being a leader may come natural to some, being a successful leader is an entirely different story. Orrin Woodward once said, "Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar." Below, I will share what I believe to be the secrets of successful leadership:


Lead by example – a successful leader is a person of authenticity, a role model, an influencer, someone that others follow because they want to, not because they have to. So, make an example out of yourself and demonstrate the energy and passion that you have for the work you want your team to do.


Communicate – a successful leader never assumes, instead they paint a really clear picture for the team to ensure that they are up to speed and in the know. Keep the momentum going, by re-visiting goals and encourage your team to share their successes and their challenges with each other, giving them every opportunity for growth.


Anticipate obstacles – a successful leader is ready for any road bump along the way, because there will always be road bumps! Be prepared to conquer obstacles and keep the team moving in the forward direction; a successful leader will not allow the team to lose momentum when a crisis occurs.


Keep your team engaged – ROLE PLAY if and when possible, and have some fun! If your team is not a close knit team, allow them to get to know each other. Trainings and team meetings are perfect opportunities for team building activities; present them with a challenge and allow them to work through it, and be excited about what they have just accomplished… together! 


Acknowledge - John Maxwell says, "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." Successful leaders always acknowledge their team and give credit whenever possible. A little ‘thanks’ and ‘great job’ goes a long way! Say it often.


Becoming a successful leader is not easy, being mindful of the attributes and actions listed above will definitely get you on the path to becoming one. For anyone still doubting that they can go from being an average leader to a great one, I will leave you with one last thought from Donald McGannon, "Leadership is an action, not a position." So what are you waiting for? It’s time to take action!
 

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Brian Rodnick
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November 1, 2019
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