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5 Of The Best Project Management Tools On The Market

5 Of The Best Project Management Tools On The Market

I love working remotely. I also love working in a team. So when it comes to project management with teams that are not working in the same place, getting anything done can be complicated. 

Luckily, the internet and all things technology are here to help. Honestly, there are a plethora of project management tools out there at your disposal, but only a few outshine the rest.

So, just for you, here is a list of the project management tools I have used or currently use. Plus one that I hear is absolutely great, but have yet to try out.

 

Slack

My experience With Slack has been nothing but positive. Team communication is smooth, making project management that much easier. You can have chat rooms for individual team members and full teams. It makes separation of project discussion a breeze by allowing you to create new chat rooms for as many topics as you would like.

You can also upload and share files easily through slack. Up until now the majority of the files I trade with team members are google drive docs. If the integration of Google Drive coordination is a sign of slack’s crops-app cooperation, teams using slack will not be left wanting.

 

Google Drive

Google Drive is a great tool to create and coordinate several types of projects. Included in the free tool you have google docs, spreadsheets, and a slideshow presentation tool. All of which allow for multiple users to work on the file simultaneously. For remote teams working on a project, simultaneous task actions is a dream come true.

On top of that, you can upload any file format, in case you have team members with several different operating systems and favorite programs.

Google Drive is a great, free option for teams either remote or in the same room to work on projects quickly and efficiently. Schools around the world are using Google Drive in in their classrooms to teach cooperation and task coordination. Sound like attributes you want in every team? I thought so.

 

Trello

Trello is a communication/project management which helps to streamline project discussion. Using a notecard layout users can separate projects, break projects down, and manage multiple teams simultaneously. Trello’s minimalist design makes navigation easy and fluid.

Trello also includes the ability to add checklists to projects. This is very helpful for keeping closer tabs on the current level of completion within each team.

Trello is also a great tool for discussions about any topic. I use Trello for philosophical discussions with a group of friends. It was a fantastic medium for hashing out the finer points of issues. How can this help with business? Well, just look at the time you spend each day talking about business projections and trajectory. 

Trello also has apps for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. It also has integrated apps for wearables, such as the Apple watch.

 

Skype

Skype is a great tool for adding the face-to-face factor to conversations. If your discussion requires more real-time responsiveness, but your team is working remotely, Skype is a great way to fill that need.

It can work very well in conjunction with any other tool recommended here. Specifically, I have found the Skype+Google Drive process incredibly useful. By being able to talk through what is being completed in real time, the precision of the work accomplished is fantastic.

Skype provides both audio and video calls, group calls, and group chat. With cash on your account, you can even call cellphones and landlines. So, if have wifi but no cell service and you have to make that conference call, try Skype.

 

Asana

Asana is a great project management program for any team. It provides the user with the ability to create teams, add and remove members as needed, and maintain a checklist of all tasks. One great feature of the checklist is the ability to assign each task to individual team members or an entire team.

I have heard many great experiences with Asana. I’m not surprised to keep getting great feedback; it’s a must-have for any team. Oh, and they also provide iOS and Android apps.

 

 

 

While nothing can truly match the benefits of face-to-face interaction, I have found that these are all great tools for getting the job done at any distance. I hope these tools are of use to you and your team!

 

Have you found any of these tools useful for your teams? What tools have you found particularly useful for project management? Please comment below!

 

Inspiring Words: Entreleadership will make you a better leader

Inspiring Words: Entreleadership will make you a better leader

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post about a helpful leadership and entrepreneurial resource. Now seemed like as good of a time as ever to get back on the horse. So this installment of Inspiring Words will be about one of my favorite podcasts for the aspiring leader: EntreLeadership.

EntreLeadership

Hosted by Ken Coleman, EntreLeadership is a podcast built out of Dave Ramsey’s book of with the same title. The podcast discusses various topics within the entrepreneurial world, focusing on developing effective leadership skills. Coleman runs a fantastic show each week, interviewing a wide variety of business executives, marketing gurus, and even military leaders. 

I love Coleman’s ability to ask probing questions which propel the conversation in a way that can teach even the most seasoned veterans. For topics you feel have been reviewed to death, Coleman is able to find a refreshing approach to the discussion. It doesn’t hurt that the star-studded line-up of guests brings their unique approaches to each topic. 

When I am in the mood for EntreLeadership, I find myself deciding which episode to play like I’m at a buffet. Some podcasts lend themselves to a linear process. EntreLeadership provides individual experiences with each podcast episode. Where one day I may be interested in what Tim Ferriss has to say December 12th of this year, the next day I may be interested in Daniel Pink’s wisdom.

EntreLeadership has a topic for any day and any issue in business. I hope it is as helpful for you as it is for me.

 

Do you have any must-subscribe podcasts for growing as a leader? Write your suggestions and thoughts in the comments section below!

Photo courtesy of Viktor Hanacek

How To Get Practical Leadership Advice From Marriage Therapy

We hear people joke that they are married to their job. They spend nearly all of their time at work or working from home, and think of little else outside of their duties. We may laugh at the concept of being betrothed to your place of employment, but there is some truth to the intimacy that we have with our workplace.

In fact, through my experience studying marriages and families, I have found many striking resemblances between a workplace and a family, and employee-employer relationships and marriage. Sounds weird? Just take a look.

The Second Family

Full-time work often requires us to spend about 40 hours completing our responsibilities each week. Some people work less, and many people work more, but the sentiment of a full-time job indicates about 40 hours per week. That is a lot of time to spend at a place without developing some kind of connection with it.

Events at work can often be brought home through stress, anger, depression, or joy, and vice-versa. Relationships develop in workplaces that can last a lifetime. People share intimate details of their lives with their co-workers. In many respects, work teams can become a second family, however dysfunctional.

Everything we experience in a family is experienced at the workplace. And many theories that help improve the functioning of a family are directly applicable to a workplace. Healthy families succeed under democratic rather than authoritarian parenting. Similarly, workplace culture is healthier when employees feel they have a voice as compared to workplaces where orders must be followed without question.

The Second Marriage

The same similarities occur when comparing our relationship with leadership and the functioning of a marriage. A healthy pattern of communication and positive interaction between staff and leadership is vital to the health of a workplace and the longevity of employee engagement.

When there are an unhealthy balance between leaders and their staff, the turnover rate increases. Similarly, in a marriage chance for divorce increases when positive interactions reduce and communication becomes limited and hostile.

Disclaimer

Okay, at this point I can feel a question building up in many of you. Let me take a moment and say that no, not every aspect of the employee-employer relationship is similar to marriage. The most important difference is that a marriage does not have the hierarchy found in a workplace. A marriage is between two equals while a workplace maintains a clear staff-supervisor separation.

This connection between marriage and family theories and workplace culture has its limitations, so don’t go down the rabbit-hole trying to connect every single aspect of a family to a workplace. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s continue.

 

Kinds of Leadership

When it comes to effectiveness, not every leader is created equal. Some demand much and give little, some give too much and demand too little. Maintaining healthy, effective leadership can often seem just as challenging as finding your true love.

Similar to a marriage, you need that perfect balance of care and challenge to be an effective leader. Employees require challenging work that connects them to their job but need to feel supported and safe within the workplace. Leadership needs to be challenged to continually improve the workplace and maintain the vision for the company. Similarly, in a healthy marriage, the two people challenge each other to continually improve and support each other when times become difficult.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 9.46.55 AM*

This grid expresses the outcomes of a leader-employee relationship, depending on the behavior and attitude of the leader, over time. Basically, you have four kinds of leaders, as labeled above. They are separated by how much they care for their staff and how skilled they are in responding to workplace issues and within their interactions with their employees. This is how each of the four leadership styles would hypothetically act within a workplace.

Unskilled and Uncaring

An unskilled and uncaring leader will utilize forceful behaviors to obtain the submission of their employees. Cooperation is not the desired outcome, but rather the unquestioning following of their orders. Their behavior is chaotic and unwieldy; often changing to maintain an immediate sense of control.
For these leaders, not looking like a fool is the most important aspect of their job. They don’t know how to effectively accomplish their job, thus they attempt to distance themselves from their staff by being forceful and unapproachable. Through this behavior, they are able to maintain an appearance of control.

Skilled and Uncaring

A skilled and uncaring leader will use manipulation to gain supremacy over their employees. While these individuals are skilled at connecting with their employees, control is still the main desire. Due to this, they often manipulate their staff into doing their bidding. They lack the empathy to care for their staff’s experiences.

These leaders often seem approachable, but through your conversations with them, they look for ways to improve their standing. If you benefit from their actions, it is often unintentional. An example would be you receiving a promotion after they were to get promoted. Most likely, you were promoted only because there was an opening left by this individual’s promotion rather than any strings they may have pulled on your behalf.

Unskilled and Caring

An unskilled but caring leader will often waste precious time attempting to support their staff. They often struggle to understand the needs of their staff, but sincerely desire to improve their experiences at work. In their eyes, this is the most important aspect of their job; to cure the woes and ease the suffering of their staff. Sadly, they will struggle to effectively meet their team’s needs.

They repeatedly fail to meet the staff’s needs because they are unable to truly understand the issues and they lack the skill required to provide powerful change. This is often indicated by their attempts to fix an issue themselves rather than working with their team to develop a lasting shift.

Skilled and Caring

A skilled and caring leader is able to effectively hear the true needs of their staff. This ability to empathize with those under their care allows them to better connect with them, creating a safe and authentic relationship for the staff to openly communicate with their supervisors. However, the most important quality of a skilled and caring leader is their understanding that they don’t need to hand out band-aids to their staff.

These leaders view the most important aspect of their job as maintaining authentic and open communication. They know that they are not the heroes of the office, saving their staff from the evils around the building. Instead, they understand that their employees want to be included in making decisions that directly affect them. Thus, the collaboration between staff and management creates the lasting change and healthy work culture being strived for in each business.

 

Like I said before, similarities between marriage and family therapy theories and healthy workplace culture and leadership can be striking. There are aspects that absolutely do not translate, but that is the greatness and challenge of personal or professional growth: to apply truths where you find them and leave the inapplicable aspects behind.

 

 

*Grid from: Miller, S., Miller P., Nunnally, E.W., & Wackman, D.B. (2007). Collaborative marriage skills: couple communication I. Evergreen, CO: Interpersonal Communication Programs.

Why Avoiding Blame And Playing The Victim Kills Growth

Life can be a challenge sometimes. You feel like you are doing everything in your power to improve your life, but still, something falls through; pulling the rug from under you. Having this happen only once or twice, you can easily slough it off as a random event. But when those challenges outnumber your successes, it can be tough to keep a smile on your face.

Most of the time, when catastrophe strikes, I encourage people to focus on what can be done now. It can be a waste of time and destructive for morale if we start by pointing fingers and placing blame. Instead, we benefit most by recognizing nothing can be done about the past. What we can do is focus on the present; trying to work with what we have. Most of the time this is the best process to take.

Except when the string of bad luck starts to look like a pattern.

Errors are often caused by a slip of the mind or trying to cut corners for a deadline. But when the same kind of error keeps happening it is important to stop and figure out what is really going on. 

This simple act of review for many of us feels like a direct attack on our character. Rather than looking for our imperfections in order to improve, we deny any part we may have had in the problem. In actuality, this behavior is self-sabotaging of our attempts to be our best selves.

We say to ourselves, “if only they did….” or “I need to work in a place that understands me,” trying to explain any mistake without placing any of the blame on ourselves. This becomes a problem because by making these statements we have now separated ourselves from those on our team. While our assessment of our teammates may be accurate, as a statistician would say: there is only one constant variable in these equations. 

That’s us.

How we work against ourselves

I’m not saying that every failure is our fault individually. That’s rarely, if ever, the case. It simply has become evident to me that we, as a whole, really lack the insight to recognize when our own behaviors sabotage our attempts at happiness and success.

We only exacerbate the problem by denying that we had any part in our own failure. If we ignore any lessons to be learned from our mistakes, then we are simply perpetuating the cycle of failure that keeps us from any sense of fulfillment. The best outcome from this pattern of behavior is that we become stagnant; unable to experience any feeling of progression. The worst outcome is that we burn bridges with coworkers, friends, or even family as we fight to maintain our worldview that any negative outcome that we may experience is everyone else’s fault. 

How can we shift our behavior from playing the victim in our own story? What can we do to end the cyclical pattern of suffering and shift our perspective to achieving a positive outcome? Can this even be accomplished?

Changing our attitude

Getting ourselves out of the rut of self-victimization can be a simple process. That being said, even though the process may be simple, implementation of that process can be incredibly difficult without the proper support.

All we really need to do in order to get ourselves shifted toward a more fulfilling and successful pattern of behavior is to realize and accept all of the effects of our actions. When something doesn’t go as planned, rather than finding who is to blame, take some time to see how your action/inaction affected the outcome and what you can learn from the entire experience. 

One of the biggest reasons this simple practice can be so challenging is because many of us, whether we like to admit it or not, have connected our self-worth to the results of our actions. If we try to accomplish a task but make a mess of it, and our sense of self-worth is attached to our success, then we will automatically start to find a way to pass the blame. If we can find reasons that the failure was not our fault, then our image is still intact.

This is why it’s so difficult to break the habit of self-victimization and avoiding blame. We have connected who we are to the outcomes of our actions. This process takes a long time but is absolutely essential to getting out of our own way and getting everything we can out of every experience. 

When we take an objective approach to our experiences, we are able to avoid feeling threatened by failure. Instead, we can take each success and failure and learn from both equally. As Richard Branson once said, “Do not be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.”

Own your mistakes, learn from them, and allow yourself to grow.

 

5 Of The Most Important Leadership And Management Books

5 Of The Most Important Leadership And Management Books

I don’t read as many leadership and management books as I would like, but when I do I’m picky. Often if the subject matter doesn’t hook me and pull me in, then I’m quick to move on. I really love to read. It’s just that I have a hard time reading anything that doesn’t inspire or incite conversation. More than that, I seem to prioritize everything above reading. But reading is like exercise. It can be hard to get started, but you’re always happy with the time you spent. 

So, how do we become more motivated to read while reading words of substance? Well, this is what I’ve learned.

If you’re trying to improve, then you’re wasting your time reading anything with which you can’t connect. Whether it’s writing style or opinion, find the books that speak to you and challenge you.

To help you get started, the following is a list of the 5 leadership and management books that taught me the most about leadership and success. I’m constantly returning to each one of these books for reference and reminders. Each one of these books helps teach techniques and perspectives to bring out the best in your co-workers and staff.

 

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Written by Simon Sinek, this book changed the way in which I looked at business and effective leadership. This is the first book that I recommend to anyone looking to improve their leadership skills or reconnect with their passion. The book focuses on businesses that have established themselves as more than what they do. The greatest companies in the world are those connected to why they do what they do.

Sinek uses examples like Apple, Microsoft, and Southwest Airlines to drive home the lesson that companies who act out of their purpose make more impact and are more successful than those companies focused on the bottom line.  

The book, while redundant at times, makes a very important point about business. Making ethics-based decisions will more often lead you to success.

2. Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

In this book, the author, Adam Grant, explains his research and findings of our actions with regards to our social environment. He describes in detail that the human race can be separated into three types of people: Givers, Matchers, and Takers. Throughout this book, Adam builds an argument that shows how Givers, due to their interactions with others and how they motivate themselves, are the most successful overall in their professional careers and personal lives.

3. Now, Discover Your Strengths

Written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, this fantastic book discusses the results from a massive Gallup Organization research project. The project identified 34 distinct talents that, when properly encouraged, become essential strengths for a workforce. With this information, Buckingham and Clifton set out to spread their belief that companies must focus on developing the unique strengths of their staff rather than fix their weaknesses.

Developing an online test, they help companies identify the top 5 talents of each employee. They then guide leadership and management in the best ways to lead their diverse workforce. Along with this book, I would strongly recommend StrengthsFinder 2.0. It is an updated explanation of the Gallup research and the strengths finder test.

4. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’’t

Also written by Sinek, Leaders Eat Last is a remarkable look at what it takes to be a true leader. Specifically, Sinek looks at what separates those in leadership positions from true leaders. He uses multiple examples from companies and the military to explain how true leaders are given the immense responsibility to protect those under their care.

It doesn’t take an individual in a leadership position to lead. True leadership is found in the way you take care of those around you and the trust they have toward you.

5. People Styles at Work…And Beyond: Making Bad Relationships Good and Good Relationships Better

In People Styles at Work, Robert and Dorothy Bolton describe how unique our communication styles can be and how many struggles we face in the workplace can be traced back to a misunderstanding of communication. Robert and Dorothy lead the reader through the process of understanding what communication styles are and how to identify your own and those of others. When leadership and management teams are able to better understand the communication styles of our coworkers, we can more effectively communicate our needs and ideas. 

 

 

Do you have any leadership and management book recommendations? Please put them in the comments section below!

How To Transform Draining Stress Into Passion At The Office

How To Transform Draining Stress Into Passion At The Office

Founding father and revolutionary trouble-maker Benjamin Franklin once said, “nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Ben’s wit rings true, but many of us would also say that just as certain is stress at work. Project deadlines and overwhelming workloads keep us bogged down and anxiety levels up. But does it have to be this way?

Stress: The Third Certainty

When looking at an average workforce you can see a variety of skills, education, experience, and cultures. Each staff comes to work experiencing the same environment in different ways. Some dread the day’s list of obligations, while others welcome them.

Stress permeates every second between 9:00 and 5:00 in one cubical, but their neighbor is empowered as tasks are completed. So what is it that cause some of us to feel stress about getting our jobs done while our co-workers are all too eager to step up and take extra responsibilities?

The truth of the matter is simple. Simon Sinek puts it like this: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”

The Impact Of Our Worldview

So what does this mean? Well, our values and beliefs, developed through early life, have provided us with an unconscious sense through which we view the world and our place in it. There are fundamental beliefs that we develop throughout life which help us navigate our understanding of the world. 

Additional reading recomendation: Anxiety, Stress, and the Analogy of the Shoes

As a general rule, these beliefs are fundamentally altruistic due to the social nature of humanity. Basically, we have written into our DNA a survival concept of socially minded behavior. By doing good for others we help our culture, our realm of safety, and our ability to thrive.

Our worldview (ie, our collection of beliefs) then acts as a roadmap for our purpose. If we are consciously connected to that purpose and are able to articulate it, we are able to gain fulfillment by pursuing our passion.

In other words, those who go to work eager and leave energized are doing so by connecting to their purpose. Similarly, those dreading work and leaving exhausted are not connected to their purpose. This is the fundamental separation between stress and passion.

Changing Stress Into Passion

When we are connected to our purpose, and our actions are produced by our purpose, we become intimately connected to what we are able to produce because we have put a part of ourselves into it. We become passionate about our work and how we are able to impact the world around us.

If we struggle through our work, disconnected from why we are doing it in the first place, then we are developing a culture of stress and resentment. However, if we are able to connect our purpose to our occupation, the way in which we approach our responsibilities will be out of passion rather than obligation.

Personal fulfillment does not necessarily require the right job to fit our purpose. Personal fulfillment requires us to live through our purpose, despite the job we do. Understand what drives you; what energizes you. Understand how you can emulate that energy in every aspect of our life. It’s not necessary to have your purpose fulfilled through remarkable actions.

If you like this article, then check out: Inspiring Words: Frankl Will Make You Rethink Your Purpose

Our lives are made up of a multitude of moments. It was calculated that the average person makes approximately 5,000 choices each day. Connect your purpose – your passion – to every choice you make, and see how you inspire those around you. See your fulfillment rise each day.

Stress at a job is a choice we make each day. By reconnecting with your purpose, you can allow yourself to find passion in the work that you do. Allow yourself to be fulfilled. Strive for personal greatness in every choice and action, no matter how small.

 

Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions? Leave them in the comments section below!

Do you need help finding your purpose? We can help! Click here to get in contact with us!

Why You Are Wasting Money On Staff Training

It’s amazing how much confidence some companies place in all staff training events. By spending thousands of dollars on renting a large conference room, booking an expert presenter, giving at least half of a day worth of staff pay, and enough snacks and coffee to keep everyone conscious, the management believes that all their staffing dreams will come true. They think productivity will rise, morale will improve, and the development team will be patenting the next innovation within the week. While there’s merit in continued improvement, the strategy of mass training misses the point of skill development in many ways.

Of course, there are many skills that benefit every single one of us. The ability to communicate clearly, to learn new tasks, and to take feedback with humility are just three of examples. Every staff can benefit from coaching and training in these areas of their jobs. Thus, an all staff training session on these topics can benefit many while saving considerable time.

The Problem With All Staff Training

The issue is that the majority of companies take this statement to mean that any and all skills can, and should, be trained in this manner. Basic skills to complete a task can be trained as a group because there’s little deviation in how you might want a job done. However, developing the skill to become a pacemaker takes more than just basic, universal skills.

In order for someone to stand out in their position, they need to have talents in more areas than just the basics. Unique talents spur on innovation. Differences in approach improve processes and change perspectives. To stand out, we need to have one of these ineffable traits, and group trainings don’t teach us those.

Group trainings don’t train individuals on how to develop their unique talents. That takes deliberate action, individual training, and coaching that focuses on the staff’s unique strengths over any other trait. So why do so many companies fall into this group training trap?

The Allure Of All Staff Training

The greatest lie in professional development is that you improve yourself by correcting your weaknesses.

See, companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on improving their workforce in waht they belive to be necessary skills. They believe that if no one makes mistakes, then production will improve.

This line of thinking does nothing but create a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none workforce. It creates a culture where taking risks is inappropriate, because you’re trained on how things must be done. Any deviation can impact production. While this may mend the perceived cracks in the facade, “exceptional performance” will never be an attributable trait under such a strategy.

How To Achieve Exceptional Performance

Instead of practicing damage-control with your staff by attempting to improve upon their weaknesses, reinvest your time and money into something more productive.  Try to identify the unique talents of each staff member. Then, give them targeted trainings that make those talents into strengths. Recognizing the inborn talents of your staff and devoting your resources to those areas yield a greater return on investment than any attempt to rectify weaknesses. 

Recognizing the inborn talents of your staff and devoting your resources to those areas yield a greater return on investment than any attempt to fix weaknesses. Not only will your staff be providing a better, more consistent performance when they work from their strengths, they will become fulfilled by the work that they do.

As I’ve said before, by connecting with the purpose behind what we do, stress becomes passion and fatigue becomes fulfillment. A company that focuses on a collaboration of strengths is able to focus on continued improvement and success instead of avoiding catastrophes.

Remarkable businesses require remarkable staff. The only way to develop remarkable staff is by identifying their strengths and amplifying them. Successful companies focus their trainings on empowering the unique strengths of their workforce. So be a successful company.

Why The Golden Rule Is Terrible Advice For Leaders

Why The Golden Rule Is Terrible Advice For Leaders

The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself” is a very selfish ideology.

While it may help us navigate good and helpful behavior from damaging behavior, the recognition that in order to be good to others, we must first think of ourselves and our preferences, highlights a tragic aspect of our culture.

Thinking Poorly Of Our Abilities

This perspective of the golden rule comes from a belief that human beings can’t do good without something mandating the good behavior. It’s pretty much saying that we are completely unable to think outside of ourselves. Therefore, to get as close to ‘goodness’ as possible, someone has made a list of rules or laws to show people that, although you can’t be good, at least you can be nice.

This method of pseudo-altruism fails to take into account the moral, ethical, and cultural beliefs of others. The mantra to ‘do unto others as you would wish done unto you’ may aid in guiding routine behavior. For example, “I want others to respect my views” makes complete sense. However, it doesn’t provide guidance on how to respect another’s origins and deeper convictions.

For one person it may be beneficial or culturally acceptable to outwardly challenge another person’s negative behavior, while another person may find such action to be obtrusive and insulting.

I wonder… What would happen if we changed the Golden Rule to read, “do unto others and they would wish done unto themselves?”

Amending The Golden Rule

I’m not saying that you need to discard your values. Rather, this change is recognizing that it’s possible to adapt your behavior towards others in a way that indicates your conscious regard of their life standards.

In the same way that a bilingual individual talking with a monolingual individual would speak the common language between them, this change to the golden rule provides a foundation of altruism instead of egocentrism.

All of this is vitally important in an office setting. This is where we separate someone in a leadership position and a true leader.

True Leaders vs. Leadership Positions

True leaders recognize that, while opinion and conviction can be relative, goodness is universal. A leader acts toward the betterment of others, recognizing that without fulfilling an individual’s convictions any action is futile.

Those lacking leadership abilities often provide support or direction from an egocentric perspective. Thus, they quickly become frustrated as their efforts produce few, if any, positive results. 

True leaders recognize that it’s by acting out of the connection that binds us together that true change is possible. This is only accomplished by understanding each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, and convictions, so as to speak directly to who they are.

These leaders act out of a belief that it’s not about forfeiting our convictions. They believe it’s about rallying others under the greater purpose that connects us all. It’s through the expansion of that sense of belonging, indiscriminately, that true forward movement and success are possible.

Final Thought

Encouragement is an individualized and empathetic practice. Without having the humility to set our perspectives aside and truly experience the world as others do, we cannot begin to provide the support and encouragement each human being deserves.

This amended golden rule allows for the dignity of each person to remain untarnished. It allows for the significance of each person to become amplified as it should be.

 

Have any thoughts, questions, or suggestions? Leave a note in the comments section below!

 

A Breach in The Ranks: When Passion Is Questioned

We all have those moments at our jobs; in our teams. Mutual understanding about each person’s strengths and weaknesses navigates the team through shifts in the industry landscape and large projects that stretch each person to their limits. The flow of the office makes it feel like a second home and a second family.

Until one day.

This Staff Member Struggled

It may be a new hire entering the workplace, a shift in the workforce that adds a new team member to the mix, or a change in leadership causing the work culture to shift in a way that one of your teammates does not approve. No matter what the case may be, your teammate, new or old, now has one main feat to overcome. Above and beyond the orientation process for new staff, learning new vernacular, and finding a way to keep their head above water with their tasks, this individual must now discover how they fit into the team system.

For the majority of staff in the past, the process was smooth; with only a few speed bumps. However, this staff member struggled. Greatly. The struggle became so unbearable that the other members of the team began to feel it.

The Effect of One Person

It can be stunning how much impact one individual’s struggles can impact the entire team system. As a leader, you may ask yourself if you made the right choices, or if this struggling individual is speaking the truth that no one else wants to hear.

Your certainty about your place as a supervisor may falter, making you question even your own abilities. You may even begin to wonder if the culture you have fostered and nurtured is as healthy as you think it is. In these moments, the last thing that will help you is to feed into those thoughts.

Don’t take a teammate’s struggle with the workplace culture as evidence of an unhealthy environment. Rather, use it as an opportunity to confirm that your purpose is still clear and that the team is still functioning on the same wavelength. If you find that adjustment is required to reconnect with your company’s purpose, then appreciate the staff for bringing the issue to light and respond accordingly to rectify the issue. However, if you find that, outside of this one employee, the company continues to thrive, then act as a support for this struggling individual in their discovery that they will be happier in another venture.

If you find that adjustment is required to reconnect with your company’s purpose, then appreciate the staff for bringing the issue to light and respond accordingly to rectify the issue. However, if you find that, outside of this one employee, the company continues to thrive, then act as a support for this struggling individual in their discovery that they will be happier in another venture.

Purpose Creates Passion

When a company is connected to their purpose, passion is produced. This passion causes others to make one of two decisions: Either a) they agree and become likewise empowered by the mission, or b) they disagree and create friction. In the second case, the employee must determine if this friction is something that they can live with and will help them grow, or if the difference is too great and they must part ways. Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are

In the second case, the employee must determine if this friction is something that they can live with and will help them grow, or if the difference is too great and they must part ways. Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are

Occasionally, these individuals will become stuck; jaded against a work culture that drains them of their energy. This unwillingness to acknowledge that they are a better fit elsewhere ends in a resignation that can be painful and challenging to recover from.

How A Leader Should Act

It’s right for a leader to maintain focus in these challenging times. Although disagreement is uncomfortable, it’s better for the company and the employee that both parties remain authentic to themselves; even when it means going their separate ways.

Work cultures willing to disagree foster growth and passion for the work being done. The downside of this authentic workplace culture is that not everyone believes in the same thing. Really, the only way to maintain an agreeable culture is to agree with everything but stand for nothing.

Notice that I described this culture as agreeable but not fulfilling. This is because without standing for something, purpose cannot be realized. We are creatures of purpose so if we took and struggle with no apparent purpose, then there is no fulfillment to be had. Sadly, there are countless companies and relationships that behave in an agreeable manner; stealing away any opportunity for their staff to be fulfilled by the work that they do.

The Trouble With Inauthenticity

Like a budding relationship, the two people are focused solely on getting the other person to like them. So they lie. It’s not to be inauthentic; often it isn’t even realized until later. However, at that point, they have to make a decision to either continue with the charade or risk losing the other person by coming clean.

Many times they fake it because they care more about having the other person like them than being authentic. So goes the life of an agreeable company courting new or struggling employees.

In most ways, these agreeable companies are harder off than the clearly struggling firms. While dysfunction is a sign of an unhealthy business, universal agreeability is a sign of a dead company. Within a struggling agency friction occurs, discussion of the struggles take place, and honest recognition that something needs to change is a daily occurrence. Just as in a healthy company, but perhaps with more wrong turns and off road traveling.

So, if there is a scale from 0-10 (10 being best) where struggling teams, agreeable teams, and healthy teams are ranked, the agreeable team is listed as 0; not the struggling one. This is because struggling teams are past denial and recognize there is dissonance. We don’t fight for one side or another if we are maintaining apathy.

By arguing, we are taking a stand; drawing a line in the sand. If everyone is apathetic toward the issues, then nothing gets done. At least in a dysfunctional system, there is movement; there is passion.

Pursue Passion!

Passion is present in the struggle. When words become sharper, and methods are defended or attacked, passion is permeating the room. When a struggling team is fighting against an issue, an agreeable company doesn’t even realize there is an issue in the first place.

So, use those times when your staff struggles openly as proof of your passion coming to fruition. Determine the health of your company; not by whether or not they argue, but how those arguments take place.

Each company and each team has their own work culture. In these cultures, every employee stands behind the purpose of their work. Not every culture functions the same. And so it is the responsibility of the employee to be honest with themselves – to pursue a culture where they will thrive, and it is the responsibility of the leadership to maintain the wisdom and awareness of the qualities of those who do fit their culture.

Beyond all else, be true to your company’s purpose. It is your compass and your map, steering you toward your final goal.

 

A Reminder From Larry Smith About How To Be Fulfilled

In the desire to provide you with wisdom pertaining to professional fulfillment and leadership development, I have decided to begin a series of posts where I bring you books, videos, and podcasts which I have found to be particularly insightful.

Larry Smith

So, to begin this new topic, I have a fantastic TEDx talk by Larry Smith. Larry is an Economics professor at the University of Waterloo. With such dry and, at times, dark humor, Larry makes a compelling argument for those who leave greatness up to chance and make excuses for why they didn’t pursue their dreams earlier, if at all.  Nearing 3 million views, this powerful presentation will challenge your fear of taking the leap to pursue your passions. I hope you find it as empowering as I do!

 

If you would like to learn more about Larry Smith, you can click here to read an interview done by Forbes.

This video is copyrighted by TEDx Talks. All videos are insightful. Find more here.

 

What are your thoughts about finding a fulfilling career? 

Leave your thoughts, suggestions, and questions in the comments below!

 

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