Are Your Leadership Skills Future-Ready?

Leaders of today are under much greater pressure than ever before. Aside from the usual tasks of overseeing the development of a team and creating strategies to meet a goal, leaders also need to keep up with rapid technological developments. With machines threatening to take over many jobs, advancements such as artificial intelligence and automation pose a potential threat to future leaders. They can’t afford to sit around and wait for the future to unfold. Great leaders prepare for the future by taking steps to further enhance their skills and abilities. The following lists some of the hard and soft skills that will make leaders indispensable even in an ultra-modern world.

Technological Savvy

It is safe to say that now and even into the future, turning away from technology is no longer an option. More than ever, leaders are eager to learn and embrace new technology in order to benefit their team. They eagerly keep track of the latest applications or software that are relevant in their field of work and take steps to understand how they works. Some of the hard skills that experts say will be in-demand in the future include cloud computing, UX design, and mobile application development.

Virtual Management Skills

Technology has made communication and collaboration possible with anyone, anywhere in the world. To take advantage of these benefits, leaders need to know the tools and apps that will help them manage a virtual workplace. They also need to develop the skills that will allow them to deal with a team coming from multicultural backgrounds and industries. As remote jobs become more popular, leaders need to have a more organized and systematic way of leading their teams and executing on business strategy.

Critical & Creative-Thinker

In the future workplace, where analysts are predicting that monotonous and repetitive jobs will be fully automated, a leader should prepare to train and encourage their team members to exercise their creativity. As the world gets increasingly competitive, the ability to think out of the box becomes more necessary. To keep abreast of new developments and stand out from the rest, you cannot afford to stick with the methods and processes that your team is accustomed to. You will lead the growth of the whole team (including yourself) by committing to conceptualizing and trying new innovations.

Leaders of the next generation are strategic thinkers because they think ahead. They do not just settle in following the trend. Instead, they change the rules of the game by presenting fresh ideas. They do not just stay updated with what is the latest, but also predict what will happen next by studying forecasts and insights.

Emotional Intelligence

The onset of a highly sophisticated world can be very stressful and demanding. Leaders need to be able adjust with major changes in the workplace and help their team cope with these changes. This requires a leader that can easily adapt to any situation. They know that there may be times when they need to adjust their leadership style for the betterment of the whole team. They also know how to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. All of these tasks will require leaders to exercise emotional intelligence and develop related skills such as flexibility, empathy, patience and humility.

Great leadership is an endless quest for learning and innovation. Even if you are already on the peak of success, you constantly look for ways to further improve and stay ahead. With a mindset that is geared towards continuous learning, a leader can rise up to any challenge and stay relevant no matter what the future brings.

Brad and Julie DuncanAre Your Leadership Skills Future-Ready?
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How To Be A Better Leader: Improve Your Listening Skills

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say
– Andy Stanley

It is typical for people to associate effective communication traits with a competent leader. We expect the person who heads a team to be skilled in conveying ideas through talking or writing. This is perfectly understandable because leaders frequently share information and ideas. Their words, whether spoken or written, can form a foundation that can move a team upward or build a sharp axe that can crush a team’s spirit. Indeed, everyone knows that being articulate with words is an invaluable trait for thriving leaders.

Still, aside from the ability to speak and write well, there is one more important characteristic in communication that all leaders should have. This is the ability to listen well. Being a good listener is a crucial trait because a team where the leader is the only one who keeps on talking is not likely to succeed. Team collaboration is best when everybody in the team feels free to share inputs because they know that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears. So how can a leader hone their listening skills? The following pointers may be helpful.

Avoid distractions.

Even great speakers get bothered by audience members who do not seem to pay attention while they are giving their speech. Aside from being rude, it can also diminish a speaker’s confidence. For this reason, it is very important for leaders to learn how to listen with great attention to anyone they are talking to. To do this, they may have to eliminate possible distractions that can prevent them from focusing on the moment. They may need to turn off phone and email notifications to listen closely to what the other person is saying. A leader who does this will make someone feel respected and valued, and can even motivate them to work more efficiently.

Be genuinely interested.

You can listen with great focus but if you are not genuinely interested about what the other person is saying, the words can quickly fade into thin air. For words to stick in your mind you have to be interested in other people’s thoughts and ideas. This is something that is hard to fake. Feigning interest is not something you can do and hide from for long. On the contrary, good leaders take time to listen to others because they are excited to discover someone’s strength, potential and even weaknesses. For this reason, leaders who desires growth for the whole team aim for real connection and are are eager to get to know everyone on the team.

Pay attention to body language.

Not everyone can express their thoughts well and great leaders know this. To really understand or hear what the other person is trying to say, leaders sometimes need to read between the lines. They know how to notice subtle signs that show if a person is uncomfortable or scared. A bit of sensitivity can go a long way because it will help the leader show the appropriate response that a person needs in a particular situation. For example, a leader who noticed that a person is shy may respond with words that will encourage someone to open up. If a person seems uncomfortable, the leader may give the person more time to organize his or her thoughts.

Do not judge.

A great team is a team where everyone contributes to the best of their ability and does not feel any apprehension in sharing their feedback. To achieve this ideal status, you have to create an environment where everyone is encouraged to speak up. You can do this by controlling your reaction whenever someone decides to give a piece of his or her mind. You have to learn how to listen without letting your emotions get the better off you. You do not make hasty judgments or display uncontrolled anger. Instead you listen patiently until someone is done talking and assess your reactions objectively.

Efficient communication skills can take you places and can help you achieve your goals. But as you freely express your thoughts, remember to pay close attention to what the others are saying, too. Do not forget that flawless speech and writing may make you a leader, but if you want to be a remarkable one, you need to strive to be a great listener.

Brad and Julie DuncanHow To Be A Better Leader: Improve Your Listening Skills
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Leading with a Teacher’s Heart

Teachers spend their days imparting wisdom through lessons of love, compassion and inspiration. In turn, students grow into more capable, informed and mature versions of their former selves. They take their teachers’ guidance and go on to accomplish more than ever imagined. Entrepreneurial leaders can take those same methods and adapt them for the workplace and net similar results. Here’s how to lead with a teacher’s heart.

Affective Filter

In the teaching world, instructors are aware of a concept called the affective filter. This phrase describes an abstract boundary that plays a hand in a student’s ability to acquire a second language. A high affective filter means the student may feel a combination of self-consciousness, anxiety and tension. Contrarily, a low affective filter is marked by confidence, comfort, assurance and a willingness to take risks. Affective filters can be affected by intrinsic factors but can also change due to the environment or interpersonal interactions. Teachers work to control the second two.

Great teachers foster environments of inclusivity, affirmation and acceptance. They rebuke damaging responses when student mistakes are made and respect each pupil’s preference that affect their ability to process information. Amazing leaders can do the same. Earn your employees’ trust,

New Slate Every Day

Teachers understand that their students are in a constant state of learning, which means they will make plenty of mistakes. When children are in school, they are faced with new challenges every day, some of which causes them frustration and stress. When students feel these negative emotions, they sometimes act out in ways that are not ideal. As humans, instructors naturally feel disappointment and frustration in response, but they habitually try to understand the perspective of their students and offer new mercies every morning. They have high standards and expect the best, but reserve plenty of room for grace.

As a leader of adults in a work environment, your standards will undoubtedly include a smaller margin or error, but that doesn’t cancel out the necessity for patience altogether. Follow the example that teachers set and try to start each day with patience and understanding. Remember that your employees are trying their best and want to perform just as well as you’d want them to. However, everyone has the occasional off-day or noticeable mistake.   

Specialized to Each learner  

In many of today’s schools, teachers are presented with a class of unique learners. No two students have the exact same personality, preferences or learning style. To account for those differences, great teachers individualize instruction. Adept instructors constantly assess and reassess students’ needs and progress, then do what’s best to maintain a balance of challenge and accomplishment. They also make small changes to each lesson to help students thrive. For shy students, they may only call on them when their hand is raised. For active students, they may teach a lesson that intertwines exercise with the academic concept. However they can best serve each student, they do.

On the job, leaders too can specialize tasks. Distribute  a communication style assessment and personality test to figure out how each employee works best, then adapt their environment to fit their needs. Pay attention to their communication style, then converse with them using their favorite methods.

Teachers earn their students’ trust and inspire their best work by remaining attentive and sharing information in a kind and effective way. They pour their hearts into every student, every day, without cease. You too can yield the same results with daily practice. Leading with the heart of teacher is bound to help your employees feel secure and valued, giving them the confidence to outperform even your expectations.

Brad and Julie DuncanLeading with a Teacher’s Heart
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Can Negative Feedback Boost A Team’s Growth? Check Out These Tips!

As a leader, you want to be a helpful mentor to the people under your care. To guide a team to excellence you must make an effort to be with them every step of the way. You have to be present to recognize the achievements of a team. Of course, you should also be ready to give constructive criticism when team members are not performing to the best of their abilities. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, a good leader surely has the best intentions of the team and the members in mind.

However, while giving compliments can be as easy as pie, making negative comments can be a bit stressful and complicated. It is like walking on a tightrope as a slight misstep can drastically send a team’s spirit spiraling downwards. You need to carefully and consciously apply management strategies to ensure that honest criticism will have a motivating rather than disheartening effect on your team. The following reminders can help you elicit a positive outcome from a negative feedback.

Explain the reason for giving feedback.

The reason for giving feedback may be self-explanatory but it still pays to discuss it with your team. Good communication is essential to build a thriving team, so it is best that you explain why you want to bring attention to the weaknesses of the team. It greatly helps if everyone understands that even if feedback may not be pleasant to hear, it has to be discussed because it plays a crucial role in the the growth and development of the team. This is also one way to ensure that negative feedback is not meant to malign or hurt anyone. To prove this point, research done by the Center for Creative Leadership reveals that giving feedback regardless if it is positive or negative is effective in motivating employees.

Allow the team members to assess themselves.

A team’s inability to deliver excellent performance can probably be felt by all members, not just the leader. In the same way, teammates who are not contributing as much as they should probably know it too. So you can talk to the team (or to a difficult teammate) right away to voice your concerns. Or give your team members time to do some self-reflection and evaluate themselves. The latter is a better option because the task of identifying the wrong things in a team becomes a collaborative effort rather than an individual task. By asking your team members to rate themselves in terms of work performance, you can smoothly proceed to discuss ways on how they can improve themselves.

Be specific and honest.

The last thing you want to do is confuse your people by giving vague feedback. Explain in detail the issues you notice and specifically point them out. Team members who cannot understand what they did wrong are likely to feel upset over the feedback. To make your message clear, do not forget to be honest when talking with your team. Do not try to sugarcoat your message with false praises just to soften the blow of a criticism. According to an article that appeared in Harvard Business Review, leaders who deliver negative feedback by starting and ending it with positive comments risk losing the trust of their staff. Another thing, a leader is unlikely to see favorable improvements since positive comments are the ones that will stick out in the mind of the team or the concerned individual.

Create an environment that welcomes discussion and feedback.

To prevent ill feelings about negative feedback, give your team a chance to explain their actions or behavior. It is also important that you are ready to take back negative comments if you realize that you have made a wrong judgment.You also want to improve your leadership style, so allow your team to evaluate your skills as well. If everybody on the team is helping each other to improve, your road to success will be shorter and faster.

Leadership is never an easy role. One of the most difficult aspects of heading a team is when you need to discuss their mistakes. It may be a situation that everyone wants to avoid, but it is necessary. Just like growing pains, negative feedback can hurt, but it can turn your group into a power team!

Brad and Julie DuncanCan Negative Feedback Boost A Team’s Growth? Check Out These Tips!
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Easing The Transition To Leadership: Survival Tips For New Leaders

If you consistently excel in your line of work, you will surely be a top choice for a leadership post. There is no question that you deserve that most coveted promotion. No one else in the team deserves it more than you..But how certain are you that being a top achiever and a great team player will adequately prepare you to be an effective leader?

Leadership will bring in new tasks and more responsibilities. Thus, it is not unusual to feel anxious when stepping up to a higher post. Loads of worries may pop into your mind. Am I capable enough to guide a team? How can I motivate the people under me? What should do I to earn their respect and trust? Your new role will surely not be easy, but the transition to a managerial position does not have to be difficult either. Read on for strategies you can use to quickly adjust and adapt to leadership.   

Make an effort to get to know everyone.

One of the first things you should do upon accepting an offer to lead is to get to know the people in the entire organization. Especially the people that will be under your wing. You want to observe their work ethics and assess their strengths and weaknesses. Adequate information about the background of each of your staff will help you come up with effective management strategies. You can only do this by spending time and closely working with your team. This will be time well-spent because as you get closer to your team, you can also build trust and camaraderie.

Clearly relay your expectations.

Good communication is always a two-way relationship. So just as you know your team, you also want the staff to get to know you as well. You want to carve a clear direction for the team to follow and you can start by letting them know your expectations from each one of them. Aside from avoiding confusion within the team, it is also a gentle reminder of their duties and responsibilities. You can also establish accountability in the group.

Strengthen teamwork.

Instead of focusing on personal growth, your goal as leader will now shift to the development of a team. You want to build a team where the members support each other and diligently contribute to the betterment of the group.You may discover past issues and conflicts as a new leader, but it should not stop you from resolving to create a high-performance team. As the head of an organization, one of your duties is to inspire and motivate everyone to do their best. Setting achievable goals for the whole team to accomplish is one way to do that. You also want to boost the morale of your staff by encouraging them to share insights and ideas.

Take care of yourself.

You need to build stamina in order to cope with the demands of your new position. Take care of yourself by staying healthy. You can easily maintain a positive mindset and be a good example to your staff if you see to it that you get enough rest and exercise. To gain confidence in your new role, you may also want to invest time in self-improvement. You can start by enhancing your look, outfit and style.

Widen your knowledge.

Your scope of work is no longer limited to a specific task or area and this implies a greater challenge. Your desire to rise above competitors and succeed in the industry you are in should also be stronger. So find ways to gain more knowledge by attending training or seminars. You can also join organizations to grow your network and enhance your skills.

Encourage feedback.

The best way to know if your leadership style is working is by directly asking the opinions of your staff. So encourage the team to share their feedback or ask questions. It is important to let them know that you are open to any criticisms because this will help you become a better leader. You can also welcome suggestions and discuss it with the team.

Brad and Julie DuncanEasing The Transition To Leadership: Survival Tips For New Leaders
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