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8 Team Building Tips for Leaders That Actually Work

8 Team Building Tips for Leaders That Actually Work
By Richard Lepsinger

Great teams are the building blocks of any organization. A great team has shared goals, clear roles, transparent processes for solving problems and making decisions, and the ability to deal with conflicts constructively. A good team may have some of these elements; a great team will have them all. It is up to you as a leader to make sure all of these elements are in place.

Like all coaches, a successful team leader needs a playbook to guide them. If you are leading a new team or want to enhance the performance of an existing one, follow these eight tips.

  1. Emphasize Common Interests and Values: Getting group members to agree on objectives, strategies, and the need for cooperative effort greatly facilitates a strong identification with the group. Great leaders emphasize mutual interests rather than allowing members to dwell on their differences.
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Managing Change: Secrets of Adaptable Leaders

Managing Change: Secrets of Adaptable Leaders
By Richard Lepsinger

Why do some companies consistently outperform their peers? When companies that face identical circumstances are compared, one variable stands out among the winners- leadership quality. The best leaders are able to effectively influence three determinants of organizational performance-adaptation, efficiency, and human resources.

Adaptation involves changes made to cope with external threats and to exploit opportunities created by new technology, changing markets, and the shifting needs and expectations of customers. The ability to adapt becomes even more important when the external environment is turbulent and uncertain, yet it’s often more difficult the larger the size of an organization.

Here are seven things leaders can do to better manage change and ensure their companies are able to adapt amid uncertainty.

Start with a Culture That Rewards Change

The many difficulties involved in fostering adaptation in large organizations make it essential to have a culture with firmly embedded values and beliefs that support innovation and change. Read the Complete Article

Enhance Strategy Execution by Making Better Decisions

Enhance Strategy Execution by Making Better Decisions
By Richard Lepsinger

We’ve all made a bad decision.

Everyone is subject to biases that impact our judgment and cause us to make mistakes. A recent study recent found that Major League Baseball umpires demonstrated biases and frequently made errors when determining whether a pitch that is not swung at is a ball or a strike. It seems umpires tend to favor the home team, calling a strike when the pitch was actually a ball more frequently for the home team than for visitors. An umpire was also about 16 percent more likely to erroneously call a pitch outside the zone a strike for an All-Star than for a pitcher who never appeared in an All-Star Game. This bias toward All-Stars was even stronger when the pitcher had a reputation for precise control as measured by the career percentage of batters walked.

You may be surprised to learn that these biases and shortcuts are not all bad – they help us make sense of a complex world with more information than we can handle. Read the Complete Article

Flexible Leadership: Learning to Lead And Manage

Flexible Leadership: Learning to Lead And Manage
By Richard Lepsinger

It’s time to put an end to a decades-long debate.

For years, leadership consultants have discussed the differences between leadership and management and which approach is more effective.

Some contend managing and leading are mutually exclusive roles that require different values and traits. This conventional way of thinking says managers value stability, control, and efficiency, whereas leaders value flexibility, innovation, and adaptation. Managers are practical, analytical, and rational, whereas leaders are visionary, creative, and emotional.

Another perspective is that leading and managing are distinct roles, but both roles can be enacted by the same person. Managing seeks to produce predictability and order, whereas leading seeks to produce organizational change.

Both roles are necessary, but problems can occur when one role is overemphasized. Strong management alone can discourage risk taking and create a bureaucracy without a clear purpose. Strong leadership alone can disrupt order and create change that is impractical. Read the Complete Article

4 Essential Elements to Building Trust Within Your Team

4 Essential Elements to Building Trust Within Your Team
By Richard Lepsinger

Trust is the essential ingredient that binds every successful team together.

Building trust takes time, especially within virtual teams where face-to-face interactions are few and far between. And as many of us have learned the hard way, it takes only a moment to destroy.

To build trust within their teams, leaders must first understand the four components that create it.

  1. Credibility

    Credibility is the extent to which your team believes in what you have to say about a given topic. It’s demonstrated through experience in a particular area and a proven track record of achieving results. If you lack credibility as a leader, it can be difficult to build trust within your team.

    In this instance, it’s important to acknowledge your limitations and consult someone else within your team or outside the team for an expert opinion.

    Other ways to improve credibility within your team:

    • Avoid exaggeration
    • Answer direct questions with direct answers
    • Offer to help find a solution
    • Build partnerships with team members at different locations and rotate them
  2. Reliability

    While credibility is demonstrated by your words, reliability is demonstrated through actions.

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New Perspectives on Millennials in the Workplace

New Perspectives on Millennials in the Workplace
By Richard Lepsinger

When it comes to what matters most in the workplace, are Millennials really that different from the rest of us?

Among leaders, human resource managers and researchers, there seems to be no clear consensus. Some researchers have concluded those born before 1980 learn differently and have distinct leadership development needs. Others contend there’s no real evidence of that, aside from perception. Much has been written about how to engage Millennials at work; just as much, if not more, has been written about why Millennials are failing in the workplace and why employers shouldn’t give them special treatment.

Whatever employers think of them, at least one thing is certain: they can’t be ignored. In the next five years, Millennials will make up nearly half of the global workforce, and many of them will be in leadership roles, whether they are prepared to lead or not. Read the Complete Article

Developing Leaders Who Excel at Strategy Execution

Developing Leaders Who Excel at Strategy Execution
By Richard Lepsinger

In 2006, the NBA introduced a new basketball made of synthetic material. Spalding designed the new ball to be easier to handle and bounce better on the court. Despite the upgrades, many NBA players began experiencing cut fingers and torn ligaments, and the ball was sticking to their hands during games. What tested well in the manufacturer’s lab did not work well on the court.

After complaints from stars like Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Steve Nash, NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted it was a mistake not to consult with players before making the decision to change the ball’s design. The NBA went back to using the leather ball after just a few months of using the synthetic one. The strategy was well-intentioned, but its execution did not play out well. Had the league solicited input from players during the process, it would have saved a significant amount of time and money. Read the Complete Article

Managing in A Matrix: How to Lead When You Lack Authority

Managing in A Matrix: How to Lead When You Lack Authority
By Richard Lepsinger

When General Electric’s leaders pioneered the matrix more than four decades ago, they acknowledged they were setting themselves up for challenges.

In fact, the company called them out right in its Organization Planning Bulletin from September, 1976:

“We’ve highlighted matrix organization, not because it’s a bandwagon that we want you all to jump on, but rather that it’s a complex, difficult, and sometimes frustrating form of organization to live with. It’s also, however, a bellwether of things to come. But, when implemented well, it does offer much of the best of both worlds. And all of us are going to have to learn how to utilize organization to prepare managers to increasingly deal with high levels of complexity and ambiguity in situations where they have to get results from people and components not under their direct control…

Successful experience in operating under a matrix constitutes better preparation for an individual to run a huge diversified institution like General Electric-where so many complex, conflicting interests must be balanced-than the product and functional modes which have been our hallmark over the past twenty years.”

These insights were groundbreaking at the time, yet they still ring true today. Read the Complete Article

3 Signs Your Productivity Problems Are Linked to Poor Collaboration

3 Signs Your Productivity Problems Are Linked to Poor Collaboration
By Richard Lepsinger

Anyone who has worked on a project that involved leaders from multiple departments or functions knows how quickly progress can come to a halt.

When various staff across different departments and locations are focusing on inconsistent requests and tasks from various leaders, the process can become messy, counterproductive and cumbersome. This lack of collaboration can hinder the execution of your product or service and ultimately impact your profit.

How can you tell if your company has a collaboration problem? Here are three key symptoms.

  • Misaligned Goals

    The marketing director and sales director often find themselves at odds regarding what metrics they use to measure success. If the marketing director is tasked with boosting brand awareness and engagement, he’s going to put a greater emphasis on the things that show results for him, such as producing and sharing a popular video.

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Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer

Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer
By Richard Lepsinger

Companies that try to implement a significant change are successful only about three times out of 10. Just let that statistic sink in for a moment.

As a leader managing change, it’s clear the odds aren’t in your favor. We say this not to discourage you, but because it’s important to know what you’re up against. Once you acknowledge the difficulties, you can begin to address them so your initiative becomes one of the 30 percent that do succeed.

One of the biggest challenges leaders face in managing change is dealing with the uncertainty it produces.

The conventional wisdom is that many changes fail because of employee resistance. Yet we found that this is often not the case. Our recent survey found that most employees understand that their organization needs to change in order to remain competitive and believe people can overcome their fear of change. Read the Complete Article

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