Assuming Command: Taking the Lead When You’re Not the Leader

Assuming Command: Taking the Lead When You’re Not the Leader by Laura Stack #productivity

“Lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.”—Traditional American saying, source unknown. In an enlightened workplace, one of the most important aspects of taking initiative is adopting the thoughts and actions of a leader. A decent executive, especially one who cares about succession planning, will ask or encourage different people under his or her authority to take the lead in meetings, specific projects, and certain types of tasks. After all, most of us learn best by doing. These leadership opportunities may be explicit, in that he or she will deliberately give you the opportunity to lead. Or, they may be tacit, where the leader expects someone to step up and do the job without being asked, even if it’s something as small as making a call to ensure a client got a package on … [Read more...]

Team Productivity and Digital Detox

Digital Detox

I love technology—up to a point. There's no doubt electronic technology in particular has boosted our productivity to remarkable levels. But at the same time, electronics appeal so much to some of us that we waste time doing things we shouldn't at work. I've known Internet addicts who couldn't go an hour without checking their favorite websites, and there are legions of workers who babysit their inboxes all day long. If technology has slowed you down, why not try a “digital detox” to get you and your team back on track? You don't have to get rid of anything, just discipline yourself to use your tools as your inventors intended. Talk about ideas in your next staff meeting and see how you could support one another. For example: 1. Leave personal calls for the evening. There used to be … [Read more...]

Keeping Team Productivity Flowing

Laura talks about how to keep things moving in a team environment. … [Read more...]

Are You Part of the Problem, or Part of the Solution? Putting “Lead” Back into Leadership

Are You Part of the Problem, or Part of the Solution? Putting "Lead" Back into Leadership by Laura Stack #leadership #productivity

Many people split the world into dualities: You're either this or that. Positive or negative. On or off. Black or white. But in reality, human behavior occurs mostly in the shades of gray between any two extremes. So when it comes to leadership, I hate to say, “You're either part of the problem or part of the solution.” But it’s easy to see how it could be true. “Lead” means “go first.” So followers look to a leader for examples of how to behave and what to do. According to research by anthropologist Lionel Tiger, most baboons look at their leader every 20 seconds to see what they're doing. My Australian Shepard Lily follows me around the house and even while seemingly dozing, keeps an eye on me for cues of what to do. When we go for a walk, she continually looks at me for signals. … [Read more...]

Fighting Your Corner: Protecting Your Team in a Competitive Workplace

Fighting Your Corner: Protecting Your Team in a Competitive Workplace by Laura Stack #productivity #leadership

"The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above average effort." -- Colin Powell, former four-star U.S. Army general and Secretary of State. As Tarzan liked to remind Jane after a hard day's work, it's a jungle out there. The business world has become more competitive than ever, given the global market and the exploding Chinese and Indian economies. While that also provides more opportunity, because the pie has grown bigger, we still have to scramble for our slices. We all require agility, efficiency, and speed if we're to get what we need. But it's a jungle in here, too. A large organization by necessity consists of numerous teams, often competing for their chunk of the company slice. With limited internal resources, if you don't fight for your team, you … [Read more...]

Consistent Improvement: Four Ways to Take Your Team from Good to Great

Consistent Improvement: Four Ways to Take Your Team from Good to Great by Laura Stack

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."— Voltaire, French Enlightenment writer and philosopher. While perfection may not be possible, there's no reason not to strive for it—as long as you don't focus so tightly on that goal you can't actually accomplish anything. Instead, by continually improving your systems, processes, and productivity over time, you’ll go from mediocre to superior. I realize some readers might look askance at this idea, since just about every CEO in America has read Jim Collins' 2001 book Good to Great. If upgrading from good to great were easy, then why do everyday companies still outnumber the great by a factor of hundreds to one? Surely, if the process worked, we'd have seen a flood of great companies by now—and clearly, we haven't. But … [Read more...]

Cleaning House: Identifying and Rooting Out Team Weaknesses

"Over the years, I've learned that a confident person doesn't concentrate or focus on their weaknesses—they maximize their strengths." –- Joyce Meyer, American speaker and author. As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This principle applies to business "chains" as well as the mechanical kind—and sometimes I’m surprised to see the weak link high on the chain of command. It was the top execs at oil transport company Enron who ruined that company back in the early 2000s, taking the auditing firm of Arthur Anderson down with them. More recently, Hewlett-Packard canned career exec Leo Apotheker for his poor communications skills and bad choices—including the decision that HP would stop making computers—that put them on the verge of mortally injuring their core … [Read more...]

Sowing the Seeds of Hope: How to Boost Team Productivity Through Coaching

Sowing the Seeds of Hope: How to Boost Team Productivity Through Coaching by Laura Stack #productivity

"In both children and adults, there can be a hard-to-deny link between a robust sense of hope and either work productivity or academic achievement." -- Jeffrey Kluger, senior writer for TIME Magazine. Today's leaders communicate a vision for the team and blaze the trail for everyone to follow. They figuratively fire up a bulldozer, clear out the brush, and smooth the way from here to there. Leaders make it easy for people to get where they need to go—and give them hope that they can. Coaching has always been one of the primary ways to achieve this, by offering workers the opportunity to improve. To paraphrase an old Meineke Muffler commercial, coaching can “make them fit.” Coaching isn’t just for executives. A recent article in Forbes magazine pointed out that coaching most often … [Read more...]

Challenging Your Best: Dealing Proactively with the Bright But Bored

Dealing Proactively with the Bright But Bored by Laura Stack #productivity

"We must accept life for what it actually is -- a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature." -- Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist. America has enshrined the concept that we're all created equal into the very foundations of our culture. As such, there’s also “the American Way,” which has unwritten ground rules around certain benchmarks of education, work ethic, intelligence, and drive. However, these expectations of equality doesn’t mean we're all the same, though many people misinterpret it that way. Certainly, some people are unequal, in the sense their average is a notch above the mean. You probably fall into this class yourself, since you’re reading this article. I didn’t say that as an attempt at … [Read more...]

Make Low Employee Productivity a Thing of the Past

Make Low Employee Productivity a Thing of the Past by Laura Stack #productivity

"The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity." -- Tom Peters, American business author. Teamwork rules in the corporate environment. As the leader of your team—whether it consists of a small group, a division, or an entire corporation—the team's success ultimately rests on your shoulders. While the stress of maintaining high productivity may "roll down the hill," so to speak, you can divest yourself of only so much responsibility for your team's performance. Guaranteeing high performance may seem a daunting task, but it basically boils down to prevention and maintenance. Maintenance takes place when you have to jump in and fix something when it goes wrong. Preventive measures are put in place in the beginning to prevent breakdowns from … [Read more...]