Walk the walk and talk the talk “Why the path to being a leader means acting like one”

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When you think about “leadership” do you think about Top-level Executives? Politicians? Coaches? Now what about Customer Service Workers, Mechanics or Landscapers? Why does the concept of leadership seem to only apply to those with fancy titles or bigger pay cheques? Unfortunately if you picked the first group as obvious leadership material you’re not alone, so what can you do if you’re in the second group? Taking a page from Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “David and Goliath” you can use your underdog status to your advantage! How you ask?

By displaying leadership skills on the job, everyone around you will start to think of you as a leader and when that happens, well….you get the picture!

Steps that will show others that you are leadership material:

  1. It seems counterintuitive but some of the best leaders listen to the team. Those who talk over others or try to push their agendas come across as pushy when true confidence comes from taking all ideas into consideration and coming up with a solution that satisfies everyone.
  2. Lead by example! True leaders do what they say and follow through on commitments.
  3. True leaders aren’t afraid to get dirty! The business owners and high level executives that get the most respect from their staff are those who are willing to get outside their job descriptions to get things done.
  4. When push comes to shove true leaders lend support to their team when times gets tough, this shows they are in it for the long haul.
  5. Learn about others. I’ve met a few business owners over the years who’ve impressed me with their knowledge regarding their employees. I’m not talking about gossip or prying into their personal lives but rather displaying kindness and interest that shows they value people beyond what they can do for them.
  6. If you don’t always know the answer don’t be afraid to say so. But be willing and gracious enough to ask others or find out.

If you want to find out more about leadership check out some great books on the subject:

“Drive” by Dan Pink

“The Orange Revolution” by Godstick and Elton

“Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath

“The Goal” by Eli Goldratt

“Servant Leadership” by Robert Greenleaf

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins

“On becoming a leader” by Warren Bennis

“The 21 Irrefutable laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

If you want to lead, read these ten books

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Are you an employee superstar or a new hire dud?

Take this quick quiz to find out!

1. When an employer asks you to tidy the lunchroom,

A) I say yes but after I check my job description I realize that it isn’t listed so I get another co-worker to do the job instead.
B) I immediately do the job since I’m a new employee and I should try to show that I’m a team player and can do duties that don’t necessarily fit within my job description.

2. You just started your job; within a few days you’ve gotten a cold, you

A) Figure that it would be better to stay home, besides I don’t want to infect my co-workers or customers
B) I come to work anyway. It’s my probation period and not coming in just because of a cold will reflect badly on my motivation.

3. I know that I have a 15 min break every 3 hours but I see that regular staff stays outside for longer then that, so I figure…

A) If they are outside for longer, it must be ok
B) I can take a break (I don’t want to seen as anti-social) but promptly return to my work station before the 15 minutes are over

4. It’s a slow morning on the job so I quickly…

A) Check Facebook I figure that no other staff are in yet and it’s just for a few minutes so it should be ok
B) Look around and see if I can tidy up or do some other task, I’m being paid to work NOT do personal things!

1. I hear a group of co-workers talking about another staff member in a disparaging way. Should I go and tell the supervisor?

A) Yes, I want to show the supervisor that I can be trusted.
B) No I don’t, since I’m new I don’t yet know the office politics. The supervisor may already know this information so telling would waste their time and if the other staff find out they will immediately ostracize me for what could have been a one-time incident.

2. I’m invited to my first office meeting and a new project is announced. I immediately offer to lead the team

A) Yes, I want to appear that I’m eager and willing to contribute.
B) No, I can offer to be a part of a team but leading a team immediately unless explicitly asked to do so can make me appear to be a “know–it-all” to other staff members, besides someone else may be in-line for the project that I don’t know about.

If you answered mainly:

A) RiA7azKiLYou might want to brush up on your workplace social skills to make that new job last!

B) You are ready for work and will no doubt make a great impression on your supervisor and co-workers

How to survive your first day of work and live to talk about it!

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So you’ve just been hired, Congratulations! Now that the interview jitters are behind you, you’re probably eagerly anticipating your first day of work. No doubt, much like your first day of high school your mind is spinning as you try to envision every possible situation that could happen, both the good and the bad, during your first day on the job. Some questions you may be asking yourself are…

Do I have the right time and location?

Who will I be working with?

What will I be doing exactly?

Will I be able to do what’s expected of me?

Rest assured you’re not the only one who’s had questions on their first day! Just keep a few of these Do’s and Don’ts in mind

DO:

  1. Clarify the date, time, place and who you’ll meet and always arrive at least 10 minutes early.
  2. Find out if you need to bring specific info such as your SIN #, a blank cheque and/or photo ID.
  3. Know if you’ll need to wear any particular piece of clothing or equipment ahead of time. For example, steel-toed boots or black dress pants. As well, always bring a notepad and pen to write notes during training.
  4. Introduce yourself and smile when talking with supervisors and colleagues.
  5. Ask questions. If some of your skills are a bit out of date find out who could quickly get you up to speed. Flatter them into sharing by considering the importance of their knowledge.
  6. If you have some extra time on your hands offer to help out co-workers. You do have to be a bit careful because you don’t want to step on any toes so tread lightly!
  7. Turn off your electronic devices during working hours.

DON’T 

  1. Assume they already have all the information needed to complete your hiring paperwork.
  2. Pretend you know something you really don’t especially with regards to safety! It will backfire at a later point and you may be called out for it.
  3. Get too familiar with your new co-workers; you want to be social but first understand office politics before you end-up in a group with a “bad” reputation.
  4. Be too casual in your dress and behavior. It’s easier to dress down later once you’re more aware of the workplace culture.

For more info:

The first of two articles on Monster.ca covers tips to keep in mind for your first day on the job, while the second article covers proper dress attire for both office and retail environments. http://career-advice.monster.ca/In-the-Workplace/Starting-a-New-Job/how-to-survive-your-first-day-on-the-job/article.aspx & http://career-advice.monster.ca/In-the-Workplace/Starting-a-New-Job/dresscode-when-working-in-retail-ca/article.aspx

 This article by David Roos covers 10 easy to remember tips for your first day on the job, such as planning your commute and knowing when to listen and when to speak. http://money.howstuffworks.com/business/starting-a-job/10-tips-for-your-first-day-of-work.htm#page=10

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to your boss!

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One of the drawbacks to the so called “selfie” culture is the loss of the true meaning of RESPECT.

Numerous times I’ve heard this common interview blunder…

Question: “What kinds of traits would you most like to see in a manager or boss?” or “What would your expectations be from a supervisor?”

Answer: “Someone who respects me”

WRONG!!

There are 3 reasons why this answer is incorrect:

  1. Respect is a strong word that gives the impression that you’ve felt a lack of it in a previous position. They’ll read that you have a “chip” on your shoulder so whenever possible leave past feelings at the interview room door!
  2. While the lack of respect may have been true, it invariably screams “entitled” or “self-centered” and therefore not a team player.
  3. Most employers are old school and had to work their way up the ranks the hard way. Therefore, they inevitably see respect as something earned NOT given

Remember, when answering these questions you need to think from a manager’s perspective and how you’d like to be viewed by your employees.

So, how should you answer this question?

You can say:

 “Someone who’s knowledgeable”

 “Someone who has an open-door policy”

 “Someone who’s fair”

What boss or manager wouldn’t want to be seen as approachable or equitable? As well, since these are “soft” traits they are less likely to elicit strong reactions, which is definitely something you want to avoid!

To read more about how the so-called “selfie” culture is affecting workplace dynamics check out this blog post:

From “Selfie-ism” to Teamwork

Etiquette in the Workplace Part 3

How NOT to leave a Phone message for your Professor…..   

“please call me back”

There are many ways of reaching your Professor (or other Professional), and with the increased use of cell phones, voice mail messaging is still a vital part of communication in the workplace. 

When leaving a voice mail message, you will need to speak clearly and slowly to have a better chance of being understood.  

Be precise and leave a message that indicates why you want your Professor’s help.  It is imperative to leave your name, your student number, your problem (or reason for the phone call) and how you can be contacted. 

None of this information is important unless you speak CLEARLY and   S  L  O  W  L  Y.  (need to repeat that – cannot be emphasized enough!)

Humour is fine in a voice mail message if it is appropriate, but be sure that your voice messaging is professional.  You do not want to be embarrassed by your Professor hearing it, or give him/her the impression that you are not someone to be taken seriously.   

 

Here is a better sample of a voice message:

 

Hi Julie,


This is Meaghan MacDonald.   My student number is ZERO, ZERO, ZERO, ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX and I am going to be away from school on Friday due to an important appointment.  I understand that I am not missing any tests, but could you please tell me how I can get a copy of the assignment that you were going to hand out in class?

Please feel free to e-mail me at my MoCoMotion or e-learn account, or call me on my cell phone at NINE, ZERO, FIVE, FOUR, ONE, SIX, SEVEN, SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE.

I hope to hear from you soon.

 Bye.

 

Act like a professional and you may begin to feel like a professional.  This may give you the confidence you need to succeed.

 One thing is true, that being treated as a professional will only be attained by acting like one.

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