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6 Ways to Improve Your Influencing Skills

From the publication in 1936 of Dale Carnegie’s best-seller, How to Win Friends and Influence People, to the marketing world’s current exploitation of social media influencers to gain market share, the ability to influence has been considered key to success in business for decades.

 So, what exactly is influence and why does it matter?

 Merriam-Webster defines influence as “the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways.” In the business world, that boils down to getting people to do what you want – not because you told them to, but because they are convinced it’s the right thing to do.

 Dorie Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You,[1] says that when you have the ability to influence, “You get more done and you advance the projects you care about and are responsible for.” According to Clark that translates into you being “more likely to be noticed, get promoted, and receive raises.” And while the ability to influence can benefit you personally, it also helps those you lead because they feel collaborated with and listened to rather than ordered about.

 In today’s world of myriad digital distractions, taking the time and energy needed to build influence is harder than ever. We, and our colleagues, work so quickly and are often stretched so thin that learning how to build constructive influence sometimes falls by the wayside.

 Below are a few suggestions that might help you build your influence as a leader in your company or firm.

1.     Build Trusted Relationships. Building trust requires honesty and transparency. If a colleague does not trust you, they won’t be open to your influence. Share as much information as you can with co-workers. Don’t keep them in the dark or hoard information. When you share information, including your honest thoughts and opinions, you are not only showing colleagues that you are above-board and can be trusted, you are telling them that you trust them too.

2.     Listen.  Make sure your co-workers not only feel heard but are heard. Give people undivided attention. Ask detailed follow-up questions indicating that you are listening to everything. Put away your phone. Face colleagues when you talk to them and look them in the eye.

3.     Be Consistent. If you are consistent in your work ethic, your abilities, your attention to detail, and in taking time to engage with colleagues, you will gain a reputation for being reliable. Unpredictability will chip away quickly at your ability to influence. In addition to trusting you and your judgment, colleagues need to know that you are dependable and that they can count on you.

4.     Be Confident. When you present your ideas with confidence, people listen. If you hem and haw, implying that you’re not sure about what you’re saying, no one else will be either. By doing your research, knowing what you’re talking about, and being prepared, you will find it much easier to project confidence and self-assuredness. Note: arrogance is not the same as confidence, and there can be a fine line between the two. Do not let justified confidence become unjustified arrogance.

5.     Compromise When You Can. Having influence doesn’t mean always getting your way. It means you know what matters and how hard to fight for it. Choose your battles. When you can adapt to the needs of others in a particular situation, you will gain their respect and appreciation. Plus, if you show a level of flexibility in your dealings, others are more likely to as well.

6.     Be Personable. The old adage “you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar” has a great deal of merit. Be amiable. Don’t drag the mood of the office down. Show an interest in your coworkers. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone or schedule unlimited social events outside of work, it simply means you should be enjoyable to work with. A little kindness goes a long way. If you are approachable and pleasant, colleagues will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when processing your opinions and ideas.

 Of course, many of the above suggestions seem fairly obvious once you think about them. The problem with so many of us today, however, is that we don’t think about them. We wander the halls of our offices looking at our phones. We multi-task when we are in meetings with colleagues. We can be curt or aggressive when we are overwhelmed.

 Give yourself the luxury of time whenever you can. Fully research issues. Focus on co-workers when they are talking to you. Be consistent, friendly, reliable, and confident. You’ll soon find that you’re spending a lot less of your valuable energy trying desperately to sway people to your point of view because you have already done the groundwork and gained influence.

[1] Clark, D. (2017). Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive. Harvard Business Review Press.

Are You a Sponsor or a Mentor?

We talk a lot about the different ways in which leaders can improve their effectiveness. The ability to manage toxic employees, the focus required to ensure a diverse, inclusive and equitable environment and the capacity to deal appropriately with mistakes are just a few of the skills that strong leaders develop to help move their organizations forward and keep them competitive.

 But what about ‘one-on-one’ leadership? Ensuring that employees thrive frequently requires more than creating workspaces that are conducive to success.  Encouraging employees to engage directly with those who may be in a position to help them succeed, and vice versa, allows for a level of support that goes even deeper than valuable overall organizational leadership.

 One-on-one support is generally provided to employees in two ways: via mentors and via sponsors. It is important to understand the difference between the two roles, and how they each help foster success for the employees they benefit. While both mentors and sponsors are focused on helping those who are junior to them in their fields, they rely on different means of doing so.

 Mentors

First, let’s address the role of ‘mentor.’ A mentor is someone with experience who advises a less-experienced professional with respect to general career-related issues. While mentors are usually older than mentees, they do not necessarily have to be. They simply must have more experience in a particular area, industry or the business world than their mentees. In fact, a mentor may not even work in the same company, or industry, as their mentee.

What do mentors do?

·      Act as advisors with respect to day-to-day issues

·      Assist mentees in shaping professional goals

·      Help mentees build confidence

·      Help mentees navigate challenging work situations

·      Reduce feelings of isolation or solitude

·      Act as a sounding board

 Basically, mentors offer advice and wisdom gleaned from having years of experience the mentee cannot yet claim.

 So what is the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? As economist and Columbia professor Sylvia Ann Hewlett describes it: "Mentors advise. Sponsors act."[1]

 Sponsors

Sponsors are much more proactive and ‘hands-on’ than mentors. They do more than advise: they advocate. Not only are they in the same industry as their protégés, they work at the same company and take a direct role in their protégés’ careers and how they progress. A sponsor is someone who uses their position of influence and power in an organization to fight for a protégé’s professional prospects.

What do sponsors do?

·      Push for their protégés to receive raises and promotions

·      Use their connections to move their protégés forward

·      Ensure their protégés maintain or update the skills necessary to move ahead

·      Help protégés gain the experience required for upward mobility in their jobs

·      Put their reputations on the line to help protégés succeed

 Sponsorships in particular can have a remarkable influence on an organization, especially when it comes to fostering diversity. Often, unconscious bias can keep minority candidates from achieving a certain level of success. But intentionally ensuring that such employees have one-on-one sponsors actively looking out for their interests and taking ownership of their careers goes a long way toward countering and nullifying such biases.

 Good leaders will use all the tools in their arsenal when it comes to creating a work environment that cultivates success. Promoting mentorships and sponsorships within a firm or organization is one of the best tools available.

[1] Hewlett, Sylvia Ann (2013). Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor: The New Way to Fast-Track Your Career   Harvard Business Review Press.

Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in the Workplace

Most employers are by now keenly aware of the benefits derived from actively pursuing diversity in the workplace. Diversity among employees has been shown to result in a variety of different perspectives, increased creativity, higher innovation, faster problem-solving, better decision-making, higher employee engagement, reduced employee turnover, better company reputation, improved hiring results and increased profits.[1]

 If the above benefits are indeed real, then why do some firms and companies that vigorously – and successfully – strive for diversity often see little or no progress with respect to those benefits?

 The answer is likely that they do not supplement their diversity-in-hiring practices with the equally important practices of equity and inclusion.

Diversity

What is the difference among diversity, equity and inclusion? Let’s begin by discussing the term with which the majority of us are most familiar: diversity. Merriam-Webster defines diversity as “the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.”

So, companies that are focused on diversity in their hiring practices will try to hire a “diverse” mix of people – i.e., employees of different ages, races, genders, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.

Diversity in hiring is the right first step. But what should companies do to ensure that their laudable hiring efforts result in the desired benefits to the company? First, company leadership needs to create an environment that fosters inclusion.

 Inclusion

Even if you have an astonishingly diverse team of talent, there is no guarantee that you will instantly begin seeing benefits like increased creativity, reduced employee turnover, and increased profits. Diversity is a bit like a seed that then needs to be nurtured. 

“Diversity is being asked to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”[2]

Inclusion means creating an environment in which your diversity of talent will be respected, accepted, appreciated and able to thrive. Without inclusion, diversity efforts are practically pointless.[3] It seems obvious to state, but inclusion simply means that all employees are, in fact, included in every area of your business.

If you look around a meeting and notice that everyone in the room is strikingly similar in perspective based on race, gender, age, or otherwise, you are not being inclusive.

 Inclusion involves enthusiastically welcoming the input, perspectives and involvement of every team member, while avoiding tokenism (i.e., relying on one or two people to represent an entire community at your firm or company).

Equity

So, you’ve succeeded in maintaining diversity in your hiring and you’ve actually included that diverse group of employees across the scope of your business. Now what?

 The next step is to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. The notion of equity accepts that biases and obstacles exist for many that do not exist for others. Essentially it means realizing that we don’t all begin on an even playing field and then working to compensate for that fact. Achieving equity in the workplace requires actively correcting for the disparity – or inequity – of advantages enjoyed by some and not others.

 To be clear, equity is not the same thing as equality.  “The goal of equality is to make sure that everyone has the same things to be successful. It is similar to equity in that it is seeking fairness for everyone, but it assumes that everyone starts equally as well.”[4]

 While employees should be treated equally when it comes to rewards based on merit and work, helping various employees get to the point at which they can do their best work may require the implementation of a variety of support systems.

 Thus, if your firm or company has implemented a diversity-in-hiring program but you feel that you are not seeing the anticipated benefits of that program, you are likely falling short in the areas of inclusion and equity. Focus on incorporating those elements into your workplace structure and you will create an environment that benefits your firm as a whole and each of your diverse array of employees.

[1] Martic, Kristina. “Top 10 Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace.” Talent Lyft, 19 Dec 2018 www.talentlyft.com/en/blog/article/244/top-10-benefits-of-diversity-in-the-workplace-infographic-included

[2] Myers, Vernā. Retrieved May 20, 2019 at https://learning.vernamyers.com/

[3] Sherbin, Laura and Rashid, Ripa. “Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion.” Harvard Business Review, 1 Feb 2017 hbr.org/2017/02/diversity-doesnt-stick-without-inclusion

[4] Smiley, Leah. “Equality vs Equity.” The Society for Diversity, 17 Jul 2017 www.societyfordiversity.org/equality-vs-equity/

How to Handle Mistakes at Work – Yours and Others’

Most of us have experienced that sick feeling in our guts when we’ve realized that we made a mistake at work. And not just a little mistake, but a mistake that is going to take some work to fix. A mistake that we worry will forever affect our credibility going forward. One that we think at best will blow over in a little while or we decide at worst will cause our peers and our clients to lose trust in our judgment.

 Certainly some mistakes are quite serious. Some are the consequence of extreme carelessness or ineptitude and the results can be career-ending. But those are not the mistakes we are talking about here. We want to address the vast majority of mistakes: honest errors that can eventually be rectified. The real impact of an honest mistake is largely determined by how it is handled in the aftermath – whether the mistake is yours or a team member’s.

 So, what should you do when a mistake is made?

 Maintain Perspective.  The first thing to do is to keep things in perspective. Perfection is often expected in professional settings, but no one is infallible. Unless you or your colleague made an error while charged with the safety of human life, e.g., as a pharmacist or a bus driver or a nuclear power plant manager, the mistake was not deadly and can probably be corrected.

·      If the mistake is an employee’s, don’t overreact. Don’t scream or lose your cool. Stoking fear is never the answer, especially if you hope to develop the employee and have them bounce back. “[Stoking fear is] counterproductive because humans don’t perform to their optimum level when the brain becomes preoccupied with fear and uncertainty,” says Don Rheem, a leadership expert and author of Thrive by Design: The Neuroscience that Drives High-Performance Cultures. [1]

 So, once you’ve taken a breath and put things in perspective, what next?

Take Responsibility, Apologize and Correct.  Don’t make excuses or allow an employee to make them either. Accurately assigning responsibility for the error to the correct party not only allows them to own it and move on, it helps pinpoint how the mistake happened so similar mistakes can be avoided in the future.

·      If the mistake is yours, acknowledge it, sincerely and concisely apologize for it, whether to a co-worker or a client, and go about fixing it. Many times the reaction to a mistake will be the key to how others view the mistake in the first place. Don’t add unnecessary drama to the situation. Take care of it and move on. If you seem to have things under control, you will retain the trust of your colleagues.

·      If the mistake is an employee’s, encourage them to take responsibility, apologize and correct as well. While in some instances you may need to apologize on behalf of your company or firm to a client, when possible you should allow the employee to do so directly. Giving the employee power over managing the aftermath of the mistake helps with accountability and fosters an environment of trust – i.e., if the employee feels that you trust them to make things right, they will be able to move forward productively without worrying about never-ending repercussions for their error.

Learn from the Mistake, Move On and Perform.  Once you’ve acknowledged the mistake and, when possible, corrected it, ask what can be learned from the mistake, let it go and move on. When you do move on, make sure you dependably generate stellar work product. A mistake once in a blue moon will likely be forgotten if it’s overshadowed by excellent performance 99% of the time.

·      If the mistake is an employee’s, allow them to move on and give them the tools to excel. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the mistake and check for similar errors in the near future if needed, but don’t hold the error over the employee’s head forever. Foster a culture in which everyone is encouraged to learn from their mistakes, and then sincerely allow employees to do so. If you isolate them or cut them off, employees will never be able to put their learnings into practice. Either you trust them with their work, or you don’t. Most employees will remain well aware of their prior mistake(s) and try earnestly to avoid them in the future.

As noted earlier, there are certainly some mistakes that are nearly impossible to correct, let alone rebound from. But most errors at the office are correctable and, when handled with the right perspective, become opportunities to lead, learn, promote accountability and improve performance.

[1] Quoted in AdWeek, (August 22, 2017) What to Do When an Employee Makes a Mistake. Retrieved at https://www.industryweek.com/leadership/what-do-when-employee-makes-mistake.

Dealing with a Toxic Colleague

No matter your industry, you’ve likely had the unfortunate experience of trying to cope with  negative or otherwise toxic colleagues. You know who they are. They’re the coworkers who backbite, gossip, bully, undermine, complain, and generally suck the energy from you and your team. They’re selfish and exhausting. Some are truly unethical or corrupt. They change the tenor of a room the moment they enter. When a toxic colleague’s name appears on an incoming call, you think twice before answering – if you answer at all.

 While dealing with toxic colleagues can be a daily challenge on a personal level, according to a recent Harvard Business School Study,[1] “even relatively modest levels of toxic behavior can cause major organizational cost, including customer loss, loss of employee morale, increased turnover, and loss of legitimacy among important external stakeholders.”

 If you’re like most people, you’d be astonished to know how much time you waste even thinking about toxic people at work, let alone dealing with the repercussions of their poisonous conduct. So it’s well worth understanding how to deal with, and eradicate where possible, such destructive behavior.

 If you are not in a position to terminate a toxic employee yourself and must contend with him or her as a colleague, there are some ways you can respond and set boundaries that will allow you to remain productive and diminish personal strain.

·      Keep your distance. Create physical and emotional space between you and your toxic coworker.[2] Engage with them as little as you are able, depending upon your job. Toxic people are often just seeking attention, so keeping it from them may serve to minimize their provocative conduct.

·      Counter negativity. If you feel comfortable defending a colleague who’s being undermined or gossiped about, or supporting a team member’s decision or action, do so tactfully. Letting a toxic coworker know that you find their comments off-base might cause them to think twice before sharing them further.

·      Respond with brevity or even silence. If you don’t feel comfortable countering negativity, then don’t. Simply don’t engage in caustic conversation and avoid responding at all to inappropriate comments – particularly those made via text or e-mail. Even a smile and a hurried “Excuse me, I have a meeting” can get you out of an unwanted breakroom interaction if necessary.

·      Reward positive behavior. If, by chance, the ordinarily offensive coworker behaves in a supportive or positive manner, acknowledge it genuinely.

·      Don’t stoop to their level. You won’t be happy if you roll around in the mud, so to speak, with a toxic person. Maintain your own high, personal standards when dealing with them, and with the rest of your colleagues, that serve as an example.

Of course, some colleagues are so toxic that the only way to decontaminate a workspace entirely is to eliminate the poison. If you have tried as best you can to improve your relationship with a particular colleague, or at least minimized your engagement, but have had little success, seek the advice of an HR professional. Leaving your job to get away from a toxic coworker should be a remedy of last resort.

If you are in a position to make an employment decision about such a person, don’t wait until they’ve caused irreparable damage – including the loss of valuable team members – before you take action. Regardless of a toxic employee’s skill set or experience, behavior that negatively impacts an entire team of people is bad for business.

Ridding your team of a toxic employee, as you might suspect, has its challenges. Be as detailed as possible when documenting the events justifying the termination. It’s relatively straightforward to justify termination for provable ethical violations or corruption. But what about less egregious behavior? Avoid vague claims like “you have a bad attitude” or “you’re too negative.” Rather, cite real examples of toxic behavior – e.g., “you screamed at Susan in a meeting” or “you claimed Dave’s work as your own”, etc.

 Sadly, the conduct that has made the employee toxic to begin with can make terminating their employment a more delicate undertaking than usual. In today’s ruthless online world, unhappy, insecure ex-employees seeking revenge can do a lot of damage to individuals and former employers on company sites and across social media. (This can be more immediately damaging than an eventual legal action by the employee.) So, in addition to the standard practice of managing the termination in the presence of an HR representative, you should request from the employee a legally binding separation agreement that protects the company from slander.

 The above are a few ways you can manage the unfortunately all-too-common presence of toxic colleagues in your office. The list is not exhaustive, but will hopefully serve as a starting point to help make your team as healthy and mutually supportive as possible.

[1] Housman, Michael and Minor, Dylan (2015) Toxic Workers. Harvard Business School Paper No. 16-057. Available at: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/16-057_d45c0b4f-fa19-49de-8f1b-4b12fe054fea.pdf.

[2] Burkus, David (2018, November 2) How to Deal with Toxic Coworkers, Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-leadership/201811/how-deal-toxic-coworkers.

 

 

Achieving Diversity in the Legal Profession

ACHIEVING DIVERSITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION

Most of us know intuitively that diversity in the workplace is important. We hear repeatedly about companies striving for gender, ethnic, racial, and LGBT diversity in their hiring practices. Endless numbers of task forces and committees have been formed for years to address the issue.

But social justice and the desire to foster inclusivity are not the only reasons to broaden the ethnic and cultural composition of a company or firm. Research has shown that businesses of all types in the top quartile for diversity are more likely to outperform their competitors.1

Diversity, it turns out, is good for the bottom line.

So, if we know workplace diversity is a laudable goal (for a number of reasons), and we are committed to creating it, why is it so hard to achieve – particularly in law firms, and especially in the upper echelons of the legal profession?

While things have improved in the past few decades, they are not changing as quickly as they could be – especially at the top.

Nationwide, nearly 65% of active attorneys are men and 85% of active attorneys are white.2 And the National Association for Legal Placement’s annual report, issued in January, indicates that the percentages of minority partners and women partners each grew less than 1 point from 2017 to 2018.3

The good news is that your firm can make meaningful change. Below are some ideas to help you work toward a more diverse workplace at every level.

* Think Outside the Recruitment Box. Are you focused on the ostensibly limited pool of diverse candidates and not your recruitment process? Shift that focus.

o The pool is less limited than you think. The ABA concluded that nearly 20% of law school students in the past twenty years have identified as minorities, and that the percentage has recently increased to 30%.4

* In fact, many top-tier law schools, including Harvard, have recently reported that minority students comprise over 40% of their incoming classes (the Harvard Law School class of 2021 is 49% women and 44% students of color).5

o Really look at unconscious biases in your firm that may be creating barriers. Where are partners meeting clients and/or potential recruits? If they are socializing or golfing solely at exclusive clubs with a low minority presence, that must change.

o Who is part of the recruitment decision-making process? They should reflect the diversity you are hoping to achieve in hiring.

o Are you in a law school rut? Broaden the law schools from which you recruit. Law degrees from big-name schools are impressive, but you should take care not to confuse a candidate’s potentially privileged background with their real abilities. Star students at smaller schools can be hidden gems.

* Recruit with an Eye to Retain. Recruiting a diverse group of associates is only the beginning. Retaining them and keeping them on the road to partnership is equally important, otherwise those minority percentages we looked at above will never change.

o Let new hires know that you will accommodate cultural and religious holidays and office-appropriate, ethnically-based clothing choices.

o Develop mentoring programs for new associates that specifically focus on making new hires comfortable and aware of opportunities for advancement.

o Work with local cultural institutions to help new hires who’ve moved to the area make community connections that will deepen their ties to the region.

o Ensure your firm fosters acceptance and genuinely values employing a variety of people. Avoid quotas and avoid being accused of using minority lawyers as “diversity props”6 – i.e., hiring them to trot them out at meetings and in front of clients, but not mentoring and developing them into senior attorneys and partners.

o Think long-term. Focus on diversity in all employment matters, not only when you’re filling a position.

o Does your firm meaningfully acknowledge events like Black History Month or International Women’s Day? Think of ways to celebrate or recognize a variety of holidays or cultural touchstones,

* Be Willing to Invest. Invest time and money in sincerely training partners and associates as to the value of diversity in the workplace. Avoid if possible those sometimes excruciating on-line ‘classes’ offering awkward office scenarios and then requiring employees to pick the ‘best’ answer. By investing in face-to-face, mind-expanding programs, you will expose all members of the firm to points of view not ordinarily seen by them.

Above are just some of the things your firm can do to attract and retain a diverse group of talented colleagues. Achieving real diversity in your firm will require playing the long game.

We welcome your ideas and success stories!

References:

1 Hunt, Vivian, Yee, Lareina, Prince, Sara, and Dixon-Fyle, Sundiatu, Delivering Through Diversity (January 2018), https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity 2 ABA National Lawyer Population Survey 10-Year Trend in Lawyer Demographics, (2018), https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/market_research/National_Lawyer_Population_Demographics_2008-2018.pdf

3 Flaherty, Scott, Law Firms Took Steps Forward in Diversity in 2018, Not Leaps: Report, (January 9, 2019), https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2019/01/09/law-firms-took-steps-forward-in-diversity-in-2018-not-leaps-report/ 4 Various Statistics on ABA Approved Law Schools, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/statistics/

4 Various Statistics on ABA Approved Law Schools, https://www.americanbar.org/groups/legal_education/resources/statistics/

5 HLS Profile and Facts, https://hls.harvard.edu/dept/jdadmissions/apply-to-harvard-law-school/hls-profile-and-facts/ 6 Flaherty, Scott, Ex-Associate Alleges North Carolina Firm Used Her as 'Diversity Prop', (March 6, 2019), https://www.law.com/americanlawyer/2019/03/06/ex-associate-alleges-southeasts-robinson-bradshaw-used-her-as-diversity-prop/

Does Your Company Culture Welcome Fresh Ideas?

Does Your Company Culture Welcome Fresh Ideas?

Innovation is the driving force for most successful businesses. If you rest on your laurels and lean heavily on convention, your company is never going to grow—and in fact, it may become stagnant.

As a leader, part of your job is coming up with new perspectives and forward-thinking ideas. Even more importantly, is your willingness to consider ideas from your team, and to create an environment in which people feel comfortable brainstorming, thinking out loud, and trying new ways of doing things.

The question is, are you doing what is needed to nurture this culture?

Building a Culture That Welcomes New Ideas

Allow people to make mistakes. If there’s no room for error then there can be no room for innovation. Your team members need to feel like they can take big swings and not be penalized if things don’t quite work the way they planned. Instead of berating employees for failed efforts, commend them for trying—and help them figure out what went wrong and what can be learned from the experience.

Let people disagree. Nobody likes tension in the workplace, but sometimes there can be value in letting a couple of your employees debate the merits of particular ideas. Allow your team members to sharpen one another and have productive conflict. Give them space to bounce ideas off one another, without feeling like you have to rush in and play the role of peacemaker.

Have an open-door policy. Simple: Let your employees see that they can come talk with you individually any time they have an idea. Welcome their feedback, and give them a space to share ideas away from the larger group.

Ask for input. Again, it sounds simple, but you’d be amazed by how few leaders actually ask their employees for feedback and for ideas. Always be vocal in saying that you want to hear from the team. And, when you hear a new idea, listen with an open mind. That doesn’t mean you have to act on it, but at least show it some respect.

Embrace Ideas from Your Team

The most successful companies are the ones that embrace new ideas. Your team members probably have a lot of those—but are you receptive to them? Make sure your culture is one that rewards innovation and creativity.

We’d love to talk with you more about ways in which you can welcome new ideas at your company. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group and let’s talk together about team- and culture-building!


How to Keep Talented Employees on Board

Losing a star performer always hurts. Not only because it is a blow to our own egos, it can also have a substantive impact on the organization. Pragmatically speaking, identifying, hiring, and training a replacement can be cumbersome and expensive.

That’s why managers strive to increase employee retention, especially where A-listers are concerned. And yet, these can be the very employees you’re most likely to lose. Big talents who have little trouble finding good offers elsewhere, and who may be itching to take on more responsibilities and new challenges.

With that said, there are some ways in which you can show these employees you value them, and to illustrate they have long-term opportunities on your team. Here are a few strategies.

Keeping Your Best Employees in the Fold

Practice active listening. It may sound facile, but it’s really true: Listening makes a big difference! Your employees have ideas and opinions, and they want to be heard. As a manager, work on active listening skills, providing genuine engagement when they are expressing their ideas.

Don’t be punitive. Even your star employees will fall flat sometimes. In fact, they’re more likely to fail because they’re the ones who take risks and try new things. Encourage that attitude; don’t punish employees who show initiative by demonstrating innovation, but ultimately come up short. This is a great opportunity to guide them in a constructive manner. This also illustrates your commitment to their growth and development.

Be mission-minded. One thing that all employees want is to feel like their work matters. Communicate openly with your top performers to show them what the big picture is, and how their work is critical to the team as a whole. Make sure they know they make a difference, and are part of something bigger than themselves.

Foster education. Look for opportunities to educate and train your team—whether that means sending them to a conference or arranging in-house training opportunities. Let them know that you want to help them grow, flourish, and become the best they can be.

Give responsibility. Finally, remember that top performers like to be challenged and stretched. Do not allow them to be complacent, as they may grow restless and look elsewhere. Provide new opportunities for them to show leadership and take the lead on big projects.

You can’t make your top performers stay, but you can provide an inspiring culture that will encourage them, make them feel valued, and part of a shared mission. These steps can point you in the right direction.

If you’re having a hard time with retention, there may be some shifts required in your management approach. We’d love to offer some suggestions. Reach out to Loeb Leadership Development Group today and let’s talk!


Can Introverts Be Great Leaders?

We tend to think of leaders as people who are naturally gregarious, charismatic, and outgoing. In reality, you don’t have to be an extrovert to be an inspiring and effective leader. In fact, people of all personality types can exhibit good leadership qualities.

If you’re someone who tends to be quiet and inward-focused, you are not precluded from becoming an engaged leader. Here are some guidelines we recommend for transforming your introversion into savvy leadership.

How Introverts Can Become Effective Leaders

  1. Focus on relationships. Extroverts tend to do well in big groups, but introverts can be comfortable and successful facilitating one-on-one relationships. Get to know the people you’re working with as individuals. Spend time with them, getting to know their goals and challenges. Foster trust in these one-on-one relationships.

  2. Be a good listener. You might be surprised by how powerful this can be. Your team members want to feel like their ideas are really heard—and if you can practice active listening, that goes a long way toward building trust and earning buy-in from your employees.

  3. Ask lots of questions. Introverts don’t always like to do the talking—and the good news is, you really don’t have to. Often, asking some open-ended questions to get other people talking is all you need to do. Allow your team members to do the heavy lifting, weighing in with their own ideas and perspectives.

  4. Take it offline. In many team settings, brainstorming happens all together, in a big group—but if you’re an introvert, that can be overwhelming. Encourage “offline” brainstorming with individuals or small groups. Have everyone work on ideas before the big meeting to make things more manageable, and to ensure contributions from people of all personality types.

  5. Set boundaries for yourself. Introverted leaders can often be overwhelmed by the needs of their employees, so create some boundaries around your time. Encourage people to email you or make an appointment, rather than showing up unannounced. And schedule some time when you can be alone in your office for some quiet work time. Just make sure to also schedule some open office hours, ensuring you’re accessible to your team members.

  6. Know how to recharge. Finally, make sure you know what recharges your batteries—whether that’s half an hour at the gym or simply 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation in your office—and take advantage of it. It’s okay to need a little time for personal replenishment!

With these tips, you can be an able leader even if you tend toward introversion. To learn more about perfecting your leadership approach, contact us at Loeb Leadership Development Group today.