9 Traits of the Best Leaders

Great leadership requires a set of interrelated competencies – core competencies such as effective communication, leadership competencies such as vision setting, and professional competencies like accountability. Mastering these interrelated competencies might make you a great leader. However, remarkable leaders, do things that we don’t always see.

Haden, Jeff, “9 Subtle Traits Of The Most Talented Leaders,” Inc., February 4, 2013.  http://www.businessinsider.com/9-traits-of-the-best-leaders-2013-2
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How to Assess Your Leadership Skills

As a CEO, department head, or work group leader, are your leadership skills as effective as they can be?  To evaluate (and hone) your leadership style, use these seven steps.

1. Clarify what your job is.  Be sure you fully understand your roles and responsibilities.  Are you doing what’s familiar rather than what’s needed?  Write down your responsibilities and expected outcomes and ask team members what they expect or need from you.

2. Invite feedback.  Ask for constructive feedback about your performance.  It can be formal or informal, as long as it is confidential and respectful.  Ask your key staffers or group members open-ended questions, such as: ‘What could I do better to support your success?’

3. Define goals.  Establishing goals and milestones for performance is important.  The people who work closely with you will pick up on the tone you set, which will then be reflected in your department or work group or, if you’re the CEO, throughout the company.

4. Refine your storytelling skills.  Once you define your goals, articulate them.  An effective leader is a chief storyteller.  Tell team members where the organization or department has been, where it is now, and where it’s going.

5. Check in.  It’s important to find out if the messages you are relaying are reaching team members. You can do this informally by asking around, or by setting up a more formal process.

6. Look into leadership training. Take advantage of the leadership training courses offered by training firms, hire a leadership coach, or attend a management or executive retreat.

7. Expand your circle.  Networking can enhance your leadership skills and make you a more effective leader at every level.  It can come in the form of industry associations, community involvement, or regular meetings with peers.

To read the full article with complete descriptions of the seven steps to help you assess your leadership skills, use the link below.

Serafin, Tatiana, “How to Assess Your Leadership Skills,” Inc., August 15, 2011.  http://www.inc.com/guides/201108/how-to-assess-your-leadership-skills.html

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What Leading with Vision Really Means

Leading with vision requires articulating a successful future and performing a set of specific behaviors to drive business results.

Andersen, Erika. “What Leading with Vision Really Means” Fast Company, November 21, 2012. http://www.fastcompany.com/3003293/what-leading-vision-really-means
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Ask the Right Questions

Determining the type of problem you’re dealing with is the first step in discovering the best solution.

Searcy, Tom. “Problem-Solving Trick: Ask the Right Questions” Inc., July 19, 2012. http://www.inc.com/tom-searcy/problem-solving-trick-ask-the-right-question.html
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How to Become a Best Company to Work For

From great leadership to creative benefits, to inclusive environments and effective talent management, the best companies to work for take a strategic approach. The following strategies will help you become the best of the best.

Corporate culture: Encourage employees to act and think independently. Focus on long-term success. Allow employees to act on their convictions.

Hiring and retention: Offer opportunities to advance. Maintain low turnover. Establish a plan for identifying future leaders.

Performance standards: Create challenging but attainable performance goals mutually agreed upon by managers and employees. Conduct evaluations that are updated regularly. Inspire employees to do well. Encourage team spirit. Respect employees and their opinions. Promote diversity. Encourage employees to take leadership. Build strong relationships based on trust.

Responsibility and decision-making: Foster an environment of accountability. Give employees latitude and authority. Encourage problem solving and teamwork.

Rewards and recognition: Provide competitive and equitable salaries. Implement performance-based compensation. Provide bonuses for excellent performance. Regularly recognize individuals and groups.

Training and education: Promote employee development. Train mentors. Encourage employees to share expertise and experiences.

Benefits: Provide a comprehensive benefits package. Offer a comprehensive retirement plan, paid vacation and sick leave, flexible hours, telecommuting and job-sharing opportunities.

Communication: Share good and bad news about the business. Make management accessible to employees and encourage feedback.

Work environment: Encourage creativity and brainstorming in a comfortable and safe setting. Provide balance between work and personal needs.

Horton, Nick. “100 Best Companies to Work For 2012” Seattle Business Mag, July 2012. http://www.seattlebusinessmag.com/article/100-best-companies-work-2012
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8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. According to Geoffrey James, the best managers understand systems, appreciate the power of community and see management as service. These are just three of the eight core beliefs of extraordinary bosses.

James, Geoffrey. “8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses.” Inc. SALES SOURCE, 23 April 2012. http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.htm
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Washington State Endorses Lifelong Learning Benefit for Workers

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has signed a bill into law creating the Lifelong Learning Program. This program encourages workers to continue their education with assistance from their employer. The program legally defines Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLAs) as savings accounts funded through matching employer-employee contributions and dedicated to covering the education costs of the participating employee.

“Washington State Endorses Lifelong Learning Benefit for Workers.” GrowSeattle Office of Economic Development, Daily Digest. 19 March 2012. http://seattle.gov/economicdevelopment/oed_daily_digest1.htm
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How to Thrive: Five Critical HR Practices

The shifting economics of the last several years has altered human resources thought and practice. Many companies continue to experience shrinking revenue, constant change, and tough people related decisions. Out of necessity, leaders and human resources professionals find themselves focusing on immediate operational challenges. These challenges deserve attention, yet leaders and human resources professionals must not ignore critical human resources and organization development practices. Companies (and leaders) that intend to survive and thrive should: 1. Clearly communicate aspirations, expectations, and goals, 2. Add, engage and develop peak performers, 3. Invest in talent management, 4. Avoid fear based human resources decisions, and 5. Create a culture that can’t be copied.

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4 Traits of Great Leaders

It is often said that hindsight is 20/20. By looking to the past we can learn how better to adapt and achieve in the future. By learning from lessons of old we can accomplish great things if we only listen to what we have been taught. Great leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Sam Budnyk mastered the four traits of great leaders.

Swyers, Matthew. “4 Traits of Great Leaders.” Inc. THE TRADEMARK ADVOCATE, 19 January 2012. http://www.inc.com/matthew-swyers/4-traits-of-great-leaders.html
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Nine Things That Motivate Employees More Than Money

The ability to motivate employees is one of the greatest skills a leader can possess. The thing is, you don’t need cash or bonuses to achieve it. In fact, these nine things are probably a better way, and they will help create a better work culture and environment.

Pozin, Ilya. “9 Things That Motivate Employees More Than Money.” Inc. DECODED, 28 November 2011. http://www.inc.com/ilya-pozin/9-things-that-motivate-employees-more-than-money.html
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