3 Delegation Best Practices for First Time Managers

Sometimes we avoid certain conversations not because we don't want or need to have them, but because we don't know how to. As a new manager, a conversation about development is one you need to be having with your direct reports. The people you lead are now looking at you to help them get to their next step. If you’re a first-time manager, it’s time to develop your delegation muscle. When carried out effectively, delegation allows leaders and their teams to expand professionally and develop a greater sense of accountability. It also allows you to free up some of your time and energy so that you can focus on the areas where you’re needed most. A common misunderstanding among leaders is that delegating is about giving away tasks you don't want to do and increasing everyone else’s workload. We often refer to this as “dele-dumping.” Instead, the delegation conversation is...
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4 Barriers to Personal and Professional Growth (And How to Tear ‘em Down)

Throughout our lives, we experience moments of momentum where we feel like we're expanding, moving upward, and spreading our fierce little wings. Other times, we feel like our own growth has become sluggish or blocked in some way. When this stagnation occurs, it's an indication that it's time to get curious and shake things up. As a leader, you are not exempt from the reality that growth requires conscious effort. You spend a lot of time focusing on the growth of those around you, and while this is a critical focus for anyone in a position of leadership, it's important to maintain an awareness of your own development and make adjustments as needed. When your own development becomes stagnant, it can be quite comfortable in the beginning. It feels safe and secure, at least at first. The natural progression of an individual involves continual growth. Once basic needs are met,...
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4 ESSENTIAL STEPS FOR LEADERS WHEN ADDRESSING A TEAM PERFORMANCE ISSUE

As a leader, you’ve ideally built a relationship with each of your team members. You’ve likely swapped stories about your families, collaborated on successful work projects, and built the emotional capital necessary to have a successful team. However, being a leader means that sometimes you are confronted with the challenge of how to best handle delicate situations, such as addressing a performance issue among your team. Even great teams, for one reason or another, don’t perform to the expected standard. You may try to avoid the situation and hope it goes away on its own. The reality, though, is that the problem does exist, and the longer it goes on without being talked about, the worse it will get. On a company level, the performance of each individual team impacts the organization’s overall production and revenue goals. As a leader, you are accountable for your team’s performance, and it’s critical...
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Delegation Isn't Just for Managers, It's Integral to Individual Contributors’ Development

At the heart of personal and professional development are two key factors: empowerment and delegation. You could consider these two factors to be on-par, because to delegate is to empower your individual contributors to take on new responsibilities. On first thought, the concept of delegation may not strike you as a skill that employees in non-mana...
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How to Propose a New Idea in a Closed Environment

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” -Steve Jobs Anyone can be a leader within an organization. Whether or not your role has the “leader” title assigned to it, you can be someone on the forefront innovating. Organizations that encourage everyone, from individual contributors, managers, all the way up to the CEO, to take on a leadership mindset create cultures that don’t settle. Few companies are really in this place. Many choose to abide by an old rank and file hierarchy that squashes creativity and inevitably disengaging employees. So what can you do if you work inside a culture where new ideas are not welcomed? Do you have to accept it for what it is and keep your creativity to yourself? No. The beauty of culture is that it is made up of the people who inhabit it. Meaning, everyone impacts how things operate, not just those at the...
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Leadership Tips: Engage with an Opposing Point of View

One of my favorite Bob Dylan songs is “A Satisfied Mind”. In the lyrics he says, “How many times have you heard someone say, if I had his money I'd do things my way.” I often think of this line when I look at leaders, and make a judgement of what I might do if I were in their position. When you look from the outside in, it can be easy to pass judgment when it’s all hypothetical. This week’s tip challenges all of us, whether you are in a formal leadership role or not, to participate in one of the more difficult aspects of being a leader: Engage , with an open mind and heart, with an opposing point of view. Leadership is more than a job title - it’s a state of mind. We can all participate and see how we handle the pressure of being someone who...
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5 Ways to Improve Employee Development at Your Company

This week’s Friday resource comes from HuffPost and offers five ways to assist employees in their personal development. Many companies, especially start-ups, are often focused on short term growth to assure the business can stay afloat. But if businesses are to stick around for the long-run, employee development should be approached with a long-term mentality that comes with both short and long-term ROI benefits. Employees want to know their leaders have their best interests at heart. And for millennials, opportunity for development is a workplace necessity. Per David Hassell, “Your people are your company.” Here are 5 ways to improve development amongst your employees: 1. Professional Training “Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Depending on the role, formal employee training may be required to ensure competency and even excellence. Create a knowledge-base of critical information and best practices to pass on to new hires as you grow...
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Lack of Clarity in the Workplace is Costing Your Organization

“Clarity affords focus.” –Thomas Leonard If things are foggy or ambiguous on our way to success, any actions we take will require more time and resources, or may fail altogether. Especially if we’re not sure where we’re going. Clarity matters. Each small clarity problem within an organization may seem insignificant at first, but gradually, they lead to big problems. Fortunately, miscommunication issues can be resolved before we arrive at a sudden “ Oh, crap! ” Effective conversation is the way to clarity. There are no alternative fixes. When a conversation is effective, miscommunications are either resolved or prevented, and employees feel clear on their roles, goals, and action items. You’ll know a miscommunication has occurred if anyone is unclear. A miscommunication has also occurred if a conversation hasn’t taken place that in fact needs to take place. Here’s what these common miscommunications are costing organizations: 1. Engagement Survey findings in...
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Up is Not the Only Way: Rethinking Career Mobility

When we think of career growth, we tend to think about “moving up” the ladder. However, in today’s workforce, much is changing. Organizational hierarchies are less commonplace, jobs are more mobile and flexible than ever, and individuals are in a position to truly own their careers. Earlier this week, authors Beverly Kaye, Lindy Williams, and Lynn Cowart released their book titled Up is Not the Only Way: Rethinking Career Mobility . The book presents an alternative way of looking at our careers and presents tips for navigation that can advance our personal and professional growth and development in somewhat less-traditional (yet equally rewarding) ways. This book guides its readers into thinking about career mobility in a way that can lead to more options, and show how managers, coaches, and employees can partner to determine what's best and what's next. To give you an inside peek, here’s a content preview from...
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You Cannot Motivate Your Team, But You Can Inspire Them

This week’s Friday resource comes from Forbes and lists ways leaders can inspire their teams. There are two types of motivation: external and internal. External motivation often comes in the form of rewards, money, fame, or praise. Internal motivation, on the other hand, is driven by our deeper values and needs. Leaders can create external incentives, but these efforts are short-lived once the reward has run its course for the receiver. The best way to produce sustainable results within an organization is to tap into each individual’s internal world and inspire in a way that leads to long-lasting and self-directed action. When leaders have the right kind of conversations with their team members, it can inspire, engage, and drive employees to act. Here’s what to address in these conversations, according to Frances McIntosh, Forbes Coaches Council: 1. Connect with their core values. “By identifying what’s important to them and what...
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7 Empathetic Traits that Exceptional Leaders Share

This week’s Friday resource comes from Entrepreneur and lists seven traits empathetic leaders have in common. When empathy is present in the workplace, it has the potential to create higher amounts of understanding, clarity, and trust. Widely considered one of the most beneficial attributes a leader can possess, empathy gives leaders the ability to see and feel the experiences of other people, including the individuals who comprise their teams. However, empathy can be considered an umbrella term—within it are several positive attributes that are widely shared among effective leaders. So what all does empathy entail? Per psychologist, author, and speaker Sherrie Campbell, here are some of the traits great leaders share. 1. Self-awareness. “Great leaders are deeply knowledgeable about themselves and committed to their own personal development. To be great we must do the same. The most influential people on earth, those who have left the most significant impact, led...
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Leadership Tips: Ask What Else

  In our coaching model, we instruct you to ask “ what else? ” at least 3 times in different parts of the conversation. Each time you ask, you are going deeper into the question. You are exploring – unlocking new territory.   The need to ask “ what else?” is everywhere.   For example, think about when someone asks you: How’s it going?   How do you usually respond?   When I ask people this, the initial answer is usually very surface. Examples: Work is busy but good. Family is good. Vacation was good.   This conversation is always different when I ask “what else?” after they give me the first, ceremonial answer. Only after the “ what else” does something juicier come out. It is almost like “ what else” translates to “ no, really, I want to know.”   This week’s tip is to concentrate on where...
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How to Establish a Performance Improvement Plan

This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by SHRM and explains how organizations can establish a performance improvement plan to give struggling employees a chance to succeed. A performance improvement plan (PIP) enables managers to address a team performance issue and holds the employee accountable for turning around their performance. There are dozens of reasons why an employee may have poor performance. It could be a personal issue they are dealing with at home that is bleeding over into their work, or a miscommunication on expectations of the role. Per SHRM, there is a six-step process that when followed will help identify gaps in training and skills, create recognition of the performance issue, and will result in performance either turning around or not. If it is the latter, actions such as demotion, job transfer, or termination can result with no surprises. 1. Document performance issues. By documenting the areas that...
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Getting to the Root Cause: Performance Problems in Revenue-Producing Roles

A widespread belief exists in the world of performance management that the assessment of revenue-generating roles should be pretty cut and dry. You are either hitting your targets or you aren’t. And if you miss them too many times, you are out. I agree this perception is true, and , often leaders aren’t digging deeper to understand the root cause of the performance issues within teams. I am not advocating that we stop holding the bar high, nor am I suggesting we keep poor performers beyond the appropriate period of their performance assessment. I am suggesting there are common pitfalls that front-line leaders, especially those newer in their roles, can succumb to when evaluating revenue-producing roles. Failing to reach this deeper level of understanding can become costly, resulting in everything from excessive turnover to missed conversations. Traditionally, revenue-producing roles have been associated with the sales function. However, as business models...
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Why Trust Requires Transparency (And How to Create Both)

“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest.” –Seth Godin We often hear about the need for transparency in personal and business relationships via TED Talks, articles, and gurus. But what exactly makes it so important? Can you recall a time in your personal or professional life when you discovered crucial information that wasn’t disclosed to you when you feel it should’ve been? Was your trust and loyalty for the person or people jeopardized as a result? Most of us have been there at some point. According to Tolero Solutions, 45% of employees say lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting their work performance. That’s huge. Lies and secrets break trust. On the contrary, honesty and transparency build trust. And when trust is created, it leads to a heightened sense of security and better employee performance . Although timing can be an...
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7 Mistakes Most First-Time Managers Make at Least Once

This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by The Muse and explores common pitfalls of the first-time manager. The days of relying solely on yourself to get the job done are gone – as a manager you need to ensure you are providing your team with the resources they need to complete their jobs . Success is now measured by what your team can accomplish and requires consistent coaching, supervising, and guidance. Oftentimes, one of the hardest habits to break is to get out of the weeds and look at the big picture. As a manager, you are in charge of guiding your team or department towards long-term goals. Part of that is letting go of the tiny details and trusting your team to accomplish their individual goals (don’t become a micromanager – no one likes that). Getting into the cadence of a managerial role can take some time to...
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6 Steps for Building a Company Culture of Accountability

This week’s Fierce resource was originally published by Inc 500 and details six steps that can lead to a company culture of accountability. In his article, Gleeson defines six steps, some of which may seem obvious but are often overlooked at organizations. Things like getting feedback, creating ownership, and consistency. Leaders within organizations continually identify empowering their employees as a critical piece to organizational success, and employees constantly seek to be empowered within their roles. So why is the issue of workplace accountability so pervasive? In short: Accountability can be a difficult thing to track. As companies grow and teams are spread out over state lines or even countries, this task becomes even more problematic. Accountability is often defined by a job description and whether an employee is meeting or exceeding the standards set forth in it.  This is all wrong. Accountability needs to come from the top down and resonate...
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2 Big Don’ts if You Want Accountability in Your Workplace

Do you feel that people in your workplace don’t do what they say they are going to do? Are you guilty of overcommitting…or under delivering? Or both? Accountability is a huge problem. The Workplace Accountability Study recently revealed that 82% of respondents have  no ability to hold others accountable , but 91% of people rank accountability as one of the top development needs they’d like to see at their organization. Two don’ts when you want to create more accountability in your workplace. Don’t give advice. Giving advice is one of the worst things you can do when people come to you with problems. Yes, you read that right.  When someone comes to you with an issue and you go straight to advice giving, you are training people to not do the problem solving and work themselves. This has huge consequences to a managers’ time. It can feel so good to...
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Roselinde Torres - What It Takes to Be a Great Leader

This week’s Fierce resource was originally published on Ted.com and uncovers the three simple but crucial questions would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future. A recent leadership study conducted by The Conference Board found that 4 of the top 10 challenges that CEOs face are focused on leadership. Yet, many organizations lack a well-developed leadership pipeline. CEOs know their organizations cannot retain highly engaged, high-performing employees without effective leaders who can manage, coach, develop, and inspire them. So I ask: How do we address the every-widening leadership gap? First, we need to start by distilling the characteristics of great leaders.         Read the complete transcript here.

Leadership Tips: Delegate, Don’t Dele-Dump

What does “delegate that” mean in your organization? For most organizations, that statement means get rid of a task you currently own as fast as possible. Often times, this is more of what one of our clients fondly calls “dele-dumping”. This is when you say, “ Let me take all of these tasks that waste my time and throw them on your desk.” This may be accomplished without making eye contact as you run away as fast as you can. It is almost like a drive by. The thing is: Delegation is an often misused or under-utilized form of development – whether in the office or at home. When you look at delegation that way, it may get some juices flowing. What is currently on your plate that if someone else had that responsibility, you would be freed up to take on something else? In that circumstance, both people have...
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Why Managers are the New Trainers

The adage “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” might apply to skill building in the office. Managers and company leaders are taking a more proactive role in training their own teams. “It began with managers using their own budgets and not relying on the formal training budget,” said Halley Bock, CEO of Fierce Inc., a leadership development company. Brock said her company has seen an increase in the number of leaders within organizations looking for tools to advance their teams. That makes sense. A University of Phoenix survey released in 2013 found 68 percent of respondents had worked in dysfunctional teams, which soured their interest and ability to lend their skills to teams in the future. By having managers deliver training, it not only ensures that all team members are competent enough to contribute the way their leader wants them to, but also managers...
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Courage as a Skill

This week's Fierce resource was originally published on HBR.org  and was written by Kathleen Reardon. An oldie, but a goodie, Courage as a Skill  recognizes the importance of making decisions and having the courage to have the conversations. A timeless skill and a valuable ability, how do you prepare yourself to have the conversations that change your role, your business, or your marriage? Do you wake up with the courage to have the most difficult conversation about your hairiest business challenge? Why or why not? " In business, courageous action is really a special kind of calculated risk taking. People who become good leaders have a greater than average willingness to make bold moves, but they strengthen their chances of success—and avoid career suicide—through careful deliberation and preparation."

No Excuses: Have the Conversation

How many times do you find an excuse not to have an important conversation? What excuses do we give ourselves? As a principal I had conversations all day. Conversations about student learning and achievement. “All conversations are with myself and sometimes they involve other people.” – Susan Scott A lot of the conversations I wasn’t having with others, I was having with myself. They kept me up at night. I thought about how the other person would react, then what I would say.  During my morning commute to work, I would think about the conversation I needed to have with a teacher and how it was going to play out, it never ended well. I gave myself the excuse that I had too much to accomplish that day , so I pushed it out another day. We all have these conversations with ourselves. I had them all the time at...
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The Generational Divide: Recruiting Millennials and Boomers

In this current landscape, the talent war is on. So we ask you: What are you pretending not to know about recruitment? We often hear from clients and partners about assumptions they have about talent. So Chris and Stacey came together to debunk four myths about recruiting millennials and boomers. Two common recruiting myths about millennials – debunked by a millennial. 1. Millennials want to only work with other millennials. I often hear people make comments about how millennials only want to work at places like Google, Facebook, and Uber, where the average employee age is below 30 aka millennial mecca. While it may be attractive in the way that it is for any other generation to work together, it is a gross exaggeration to think millennials only want to work with millennials. As a matter of fact, one of the core desires in most generational research is millennials’ desire...
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Forget SMART Goals, Set CLEAR Goals Instead

This week's Fierce resource was originally published on 99u.com  and was written by Hamza Khan. Forget SMART Goals, Set CLEAR Goals Instead  highlights a new way of setting goals and achieving them. Farkas shares that SMART goal setting is static yet, CLEAR goal setting allows for the individual to refine goals in an ever changing and fast-paced environment. What's the most important thing you should be working on? How often do you check in with yourself to determine if your goals are still relevant? "No matter where you’re setting a goal (in your personal life, or in the workplace), Economy says that it must be a “clear and compelling” one. One that can be realized, embraced, and acted upon by every member of the team. Safe to say, clear is the new smart. " Read the full article.

Leadership Tips: Give Positive Feedback

Thanksgiving is this week in the United States. Many of us take time off work and share meals with family and friends. We often pause on this holiday to express our gratitude ( here is a conversation my family has). So, how can you focus on gratitude in your workplace this week? An easy way is to give positive feedback. Positive feedback is essential for creating a healthy working environment. Everyone is responsible for giving it – not just designated leaders. This week’s tip is to share positive feedback with at least three people in your organization.  Think about it. Has your colleague gone out of his or her way to help with a project? Are you grateful for how someone is showing up? Has your team hit it out of the park? Share that. When giving positive feedback, make sure to describe the actions with plenty of details. Then...
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3 Delegation Best Practices for First Time Managers

Sometimes we avoid certain conversations not because we don't want or need to have them, but because we don't know how to. As a new manager, a conversation about development is one you need to be having with your direct reports. The people you lead are now looking at you to help them get to their next step. If you’re a first-time manager, it’s time to develop your delegation muscle. When carried out effectively, delegation allows leaders and their teams to expand professionally and develop a greater sense of accountability. It also allows you to free up some of your time and energy so that you can focus on the areas where you’re needed most. A common misunderstanding among leaders is that delegating is about giving away tasks you don't want to do and increasing everyone else’s workload. We often refer to this as “dele-dumping.” Instead, the delegation conversation is...
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Is Leadership a Thankless Job? 3 Ways to Change That

When doing research for this blog, I looked for studies and articles that focused on the importance of telling leaders thank you. Truth is there’s not a lot out there. The dialogue around employee appreciation and the role leaders need to play in recognizing their staff was tremendous; however, when it comes to telling leaders their doing a good job the conversation was nonexistent. A Fierce Survey conducted last year, that focused on the relationship between leaders and their direct reports showed that, in fact, 80% of respondents reported a positive working relationship with their boss. So if most of us appreciate the job our bosses are doing, the question then becomes: Are we telling them? Some are, and with employee engagement at an all-time low , my guess is the praise is thin all around. The truth is leadership should not be thankless job. When leaders feel under appreciated...
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Leadership Tips: What is the Next Step in Your Succession Planning?

If someone within your company, who holds a top leadership role, left tomorrow, do you know what skills and strengths you’d need to look for in order to replace him or her? Perhaps more strategic, do you have someone internal you’re grooming to take the job? When you talk about succession planning, it can create some negative feelings from current leaders. Who wants to feel like the next generation is nipping at their heels to replace them? However, this week’s tip is about helping to reshape that perspective. An easy thing you can do right away is to have conversations about the tangible and intangible issues that cause succession planning to be ignored. Run a beach ball meeting to gather perspectives and find out how to make the process the best for everyone involved.

2 Perspectives: Tips for Adding a New Team Member

Adding new members to a team is full of emotion and opportunity. Here, we explore two perspectives on the topic: the leader's and the team member's. As a leader, adding a new team member is an exciting and important time. It is an opportunity to revisit goals and achievements with your current team, while reiterating the vision and direction for the future. Be strategic and open. Oftentimes, leaders do not take the time to fully prepare for the change. Here are three tips for a leader to keep in mind when on-boarding a new team member: Set clear expectations for success. There is nothing worse than feeling frustrated that you are not on the same page with what is needed and wanted from new team members. This is on you. Invest the time to write down expectations and describe what success looks like, so everyone can feel grounded.   Celebrate...
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3 Ways to Create an Ownership Mentality Within Your Team

This week's Fierce Resource was published yesterday on The Daily Muse , and was written by Fierce President & CEO, Halley Bock . 3 Ways to Create an Ownership Mentality Within Your Team , explores how, you as a leader, can create a culture of personal accountability by empowering your employees to really take ownership over their work. "A culture of personal accountability, where employees possess the freedom to make appropriate decisions and the courage to take ownership, is the single most powerful, most desired, and least understood characteristic of a successful work environment." To read the full article, click here .

The Danger of an “It’s not me, It’s you” Attitude

Have you ever said to yourself, "If they were different, my life would be better"? Even if there is truth to the statement, where does it leave you? When the power for change is outside of yourself, it doesn't leave you with many productive options. You could waste your whole life imagining how different things could be if a certain person changed the way he or she acted. However, when all is said and done, the only thing that you can change is you . In Fierce Accountability , we explore the idea of falling into the victim cycle. We all dip our toe into the water of victimhood, it’s normal. However, immersing yourself in it can be destructive. Having an “It’s not me, it’s you” attitude is how many people get stuck living in victim . When we place all of the blame and ownership outside of ourselves, it...
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Leading from the Ground Up

Recently, a friend shared with me how awesome her boss is. She explained that she thought this was because her boss had slowly, over the years, worked her way up through the company, held several different positions, and understood on a very personal level how each job contributed to the organization. The others all agreed that in their work history, bosses who knew what everyone did on either a personal level or because they had taken the time to learn, were some of the best leaders they’d had. As a leader, should you know how each job functions within your company? To me, the biggest benefit of a leader having this knowledge is having a keen awareness of who to invite to the table in the decision-making/idea creation process. Our team model looks at an organization like a beach ball. Each employee represents a different perspective, or different color "stripe",...
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Effective Delegation = Active Accountability = A Decision Driven Work Place

I am not a math major. However, I like this equation : effective delegation = active accountability = a decision-driven work place. We are living in indecisive times.  From the government to the stock market, we can’t decide if it’s right or left, up or down, black or white, and this stalemate process is slowly bleeding into our workplace.  When did everyone stop wanting to own a decision? As a leader you are charged with the task of looking at the big picture, and then sharing that vision with those  who you are leading. Delegating responsibility is an integral part of the process, yet delegation is more than just assigning projects. Effective delegation is about knowing how to have the conversations with your team that are candid and clear, and allow your employees to hold themselves able to accomplish what they’ve been tasked to do. At Fierce, we use the...
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New Report: The 3 Pillars of Leadership Development and Training - How to Build a Foundation for Measurable Results

We’re pleased to let you know about a new report from Fierce, Inc. that explains how businesses will see greater results and realize more measurable return on their training dollars if they focus on three pillars: sponsorship, strategic deployment and transfer of learning. “The Three Pillars of Leadership Development and Training: How to Build a Foundation for Measurable Results” now available for complimentary download , explains that leadership development and training opportunities are brought to an organization for number of reasons, the goal for all training initiatives are the same: results. This paper offers an important perspective on how delivering popular programs is not enough; leadership development and training is not successful unless it makes a positive and sustained impact on business. It takes you through a step by step process on how to begin to understand the three pillars by using supported research and by giving a strategic deployment...
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Taking a Cue from Kids on Creating an Environment of Personal Accountability

Can you imagine a school where kids are responsible enough they get to make all the rules? They get to choose what they study, when they study and for how long they study. Moreover, as a collective, they make all the decisions that impact their school. Are you picturing mayhem? Recently I heard a story on one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life , about a school that operates just like what I mentioned above. The Brooklyn Free School (BFS), located in Brooklyn New York, is modeled after the democratic process this country was founded on. According to their mission statement; “BFS is a true democratic school for children of all ages. Each child and staff member will have an equal voice in major decisions (and minor ones) affecting the day-to-day running of the school.” The radio program focuses on how BFS operates, and what really struck me...
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Effective Delegation is a Leader's Best Friend

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” — General George S. Patton Jr. If you think about what makes a successful leader, the ability to effectively delegate can sometimes be overlooked. Yet delegation might be the toughest nut to crack. It requires constant conversation about where a team, or person, might be in their professional development. You want to grow your reports but aren’t quite sure where they are at in their growth pattern; will giving them that crucial aspect of a project bomb the whole thing? Or will the plan to lessen their input backfire leaving the employee feeling frustrated by his or her great ideas not being executed? Effective delegation is rooted in trust amongst you and the people who you work with and that trust is built through you, as a leader, staying in rhythm...
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