Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals: Don’t Be Afraid to Push Yourself Too Hard

Five Reasons to Set Impossible Goals by Laura Stack #productivity

"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible."— Sir Arthur C. Clarke, British science and science fiction writer. If you never dare to dream the impossible dream, you'll never know how much you can achieve. We all know this in our hearts, but many of us never apply it to our work lives. There's a saying that goals are just dreams with deadlines; so why should you ever hesitate to set impossible goals?  (<-- Click to Tweet.) No matter how impossible they may seem, goals offer solid targets for you to shoot at. They also stitch together intention, planning, ability, talent, execution, process, teamwork and more into a fabric of productivity you can constantly and consistently tweak higher, through the application of more and newer go … [Read more...]

6 Ways to Succeed Despite Unpleasant Coworkers

Overcoming Human Obstacles

"Before someone can treat you like a doormat, you have to lie down first."— Dear Abby, American advice columnist. One thing we often forget about teamwork is that you don't have to like everyone on your team to work effectively with them. It helps, but in any group, you'll probably find someone who rubs you at least slightly the wrong way. One of humanity's greatest strengths, however, is ability to put aside our differences to further a greater cause—whether that means building a wall 13,000 miles long or building a world-class corporation. You'll almost always have coworkers you simply don't like (click to tweet). This doesn't mean they can't do their jobs well; we've all known curmudgeons who were geniuses, or smug apple-polishers who did award-winning work. Indeed, high talent a … [Read more...]

Four Ways to Facilitate Inter-Team Teamwork

Four Ways to Facilitate Inter-Team Teamwork

"Good things happen when you meet strangers."— Yo Yo Ma, Chinese American cellist. One thing you can count on when working for a large organization is working with people from other teams (click to tweet). Each team has its own dynamic, processes, procedures, and level of team trust; so when you're thrust into a situation where you have to cooperate for the first time, there may be uncertainty until you build bridges leading you all to common ground. Usually, this happens naturally over time; but life is a lot less complicated when you make a concerted effort to set aside your differences, emphasize your commonalities, and engage smoothly with the familiar strangers who happen to be your co-workers. So do what you can to smooth the transition, even if you fail to understand the r … [Read more...]

What You Stand For: Building a Team Philosophy and Code of Conduct

"Success or failure depends more upon attitude than upon capacity. Successful [people] act as though they have accomplished or are enjoying something. Soon it becomes a reality. Act, look, and feel successful, conduct yourself accordingly, and you will be amazed at the positive results." – William James, American philosopher. What makes a team successful? In many ways, building a team is like constructing a building. While most of us aren’t engineers, we understand the basics of their work. We know, for example, that constructing a building requires basic resources, fasteners to hold the pieces together, protective elements, and more—but it’s all built on a foundation, proceeding from the bottom up. A Solid Substrate In my Christian Bible, Jesus Christ once declared to the Apostle Pe … [Read more...]

Sincere Teamwork: Identifying and Avoiding False Cooperation

Sincere Teamwork

"Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't." —Bill Nye the Science Guy, American scientist and educator. Every major accomplishment in history—from figuring out how to make a rock into a spear point to the construction of the International Space Station—has resulted from people working together, often in great numbers over a long period of time. Even the "lone wolf geniuses" we idolize usually have a talented team around them or a devoted support group, if not both. While I would argue that traditional teams have begun decentralizing due to technological and cultural evolution, this doesn't mean teamwork will be any less valuable in the future. If anything, it will become more important than ever. Dealing with Poseurs In the biological world, there are symbionts, … [Read more...]

Time Management Lessons Learned from a Fortune 25 Leadership Team

A few weeks ago, upon the invitation of an officer in a Fortune 25 corporation, I spent the day with his leadership team discussing the concepts in my newest book, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. With many new initiatives in the pipeline, his leaders were facing time management challenges around getting everything done, personally and within their respective teams. While much of our conversation is confidential around specific business strategies of course, I can share some of the insights we discovered. I shared my 3T Leadership Model, which describes where leaders divide their time: Part I: Strategic Thinking (Business) Acting as the organizational strategist, with the focus on business goals. The leader monitors the big picture and makes sure … [Read more...]

Improved Communication: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

Improving Communication

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said. — Peter F. Drucker, Austrian-American father of management theory. One of the things separating us from the animals is our ability to communicate easily and clearly. If fact, communication has helped us greatly widen that gap in the millennia since the first meaningful words left a human throat. We've even adapted to speech biologically, with a special bone (the hyoid) that exists mostly just to support the tongue. If a clear communication method had never come about, we might never have invented writing, and our culture would have stalled in the Neolithic—if not earlier. Every day, communication methods continue to improve, in ways both cultural and technological. (Tweet this!) In this blog, I'll suggest thre … [Read more...]

Stand Up for Your Team: 3 Ways Leaders Put Their Teams First

Stand Up for Your Team - 3 Ways Leaders Put Their Teams First by Laura Stack #productivity

No doubt you've seen too many self-serving maneuvers over the years to be surprised when a leader slinks off into every-man-for-himself territory. So why not surprise your team by facing your in-house rivals like a team player? Keep these things in mind when the going gets tough. 1. Present Your Needs Clearly. Who gets the resources he or she needs: the shrinking violet or the fighter who asks for them? Too often, I've seen people curse the darkness when they could just flip the light switch. If you don't get what you want, ask for it. See your superior(s) and outline your needs, especially if you've just landed something new and urgent. Don't make demands, but don't shy away from your duty to provide for your team, either. At the same time, make sure those you compete with for … [Read more...]

Rational Persuasion: An Effective Tool for Turning Your Ideas into Our Ideas

Rational Persuasion: An Effective Tool for Turning Your Ideas into Our Ideas

"Persuasion is often more effective than force." – Aesop, ancient Greek writer. Personal power comes in a number of different forms, from the positional power of the manager and high-level executive to personal power, where you use your individual influence to help accomplish team goals. Influence itself comes in a variety of flavors: for example, collaboration, consultation, inspirational appeals, rational persuasion, and a number of less team-friendly options. All have circumstances where they represent the best choice, but the best overall influence pattern for team use—especially if you're not the official leader of your team—is rational persuasion. Rational persuasion is exactly what it sounds like: without making threats, misusing your position, or ingratiating yourself to your te … [Read more...]

The Triumph of Substance Over Style: 5 Ways to Prove Your Worth

The Triumph of Substance Over Style: 5 Ways to Prove Your Worth by Laura Stack #productivity #leadership

Perception creates reality in most people's minds, but this tendency can lead you astray. You set the tone for your team, so make a commitment to putting substance over style. Refuse to lock your team into rigid ways of thinking and doing, in which the company line matters more than the bottom line. Within ethical, moral, and legal limits, do what benefits your organization most and gets you closer to its goals. To wit: 1. Break Free from Bureaucracy. Many organizations settle on what they consider "best practices" and stay there indefinitely. But "best" changes with technology and culture. Don't become so hardened that you refuse to take advantage of new "bests" as they become available and the old bests become outdated. 2. Stop Confusing "Busy" with "Productive." Who cares how many … [Read more...]