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Fri 17 November 2023
As leaders, every individual has had to work with a difficult colleague. Someone who is counter productive to the team or challenging to get along with. Specifically, many struggle with identifying these difficult personality types in their groups and finding creative ways to pivot these traits to an asset. Within teams, specific behaviors can contribute to counterproductive work behavior, and disturb the natural growth and formation of teams. Across social and professional environments, distinct traits negatively affect development, leaders identifying these traits and shifting them to productive work environment behaviors heavily impacts the efficacy of leaders. 

Tools towards identifying these behaviors begin with intentional observation of your team, feedback from employees and analysis of the psychological safety of your employees. Constantly in work settings, feedback from direct reports and colleagues allow for growth and learning across all positions. 

Also important to keep in mind is that all of the following traits may be represented in team members. Each of these qualities falls on a spectrum, low demonstration may not endanger team success while frequent demonstration of these traits will heavily impact job satisfaction and success of teams. Each of the following traits may even be beneficial in specific workplace circumstances. 

To identify counterproductive work traits, start by identifying these personality types by the following behaviors:

  1. Narcissism
Most detectable through inflated self-esteem, narcissism can be spotted in individuals of all levels. An enhanced ego may lead to lack of empathy for others and a demand for recognition, threatening psychological safety in team environments. Individuals exhibiting these traits may have trouble accepting criticism or feedback. Being a necessity in workplace development, utilizing feedback is crucial for teams and especially, leaders. Managers who identify these traits in their team members should focus on turning these traits into a tool for their team. Consider using this individual as a point person for delegation, or as an “editor” to focus on attention to detail. 

2. Machiavellianism
The second leg of counterproductive work behavior is Machiavellianism. Noticeable through strategic manipulation, machiavellianists  may become identifiable through lack of empathy and focusing on personal gain, beyond a normal level. However, these individuals are often flexible and willing to adapt to achieve their desired outcomes. As a leader, this opens an opportunity for value alignment to impact goal commitment that would strengthen efforts towards a final project. However, without correct value alignment, this individual may endanger psychological safety of others through lack of understanding and care for others. If a manager suspects a member of their team may be a machiavellianist, they should focus on the analysis of psychological safety within the team environment. Individuals who exhibit traits of machiavellianism will negatively impact the efficacy of their teams. 

3. Psychopathy 
The final piece of counterproductive work behavior is Psychopathy. Individuals who are seen as anti-social and demonstrate a lack of remorse can be identified as psychopathic, creating an unstable work environment. In team environments, these individuals will frequently demonstrate a lack of empathy and low control over impulses. Leaders may also notice manipulative habits by these individuals and a disregard for team norms or practiced behaviors or, leaders may not notice these habits at all because these individuals are frequently well-versed in impression management and acting how they think a superior would want them to. Leaders should be cognizant to mitigate any discomfort caused by these individuals as it could further affect team behavior. To spot these behaviors, leaders must depend on feedback from team members to further understand In team settings, these characteristics may be helpful in being unaffected by stressful situations and maintaining a steady level of stress tolerance. 

Recall that the above traits are counter productive in extreme cases but natural in small doses. Managers should also consider the causes of these counterproductive work behaviors which could stem from different points of uncertainty within the workplace such as unclear roles and organizational change. 

As always in professional settings, it is crucial for leaders to evaluate teams on objective measures on a frequent basis to better understand team dynamics. In addition to measuring the success of teams, it is important to receive honest employee feedback on team members to ensure that the psychological safety of a team is not threatened by one individual. 

Finally, managers should be cognizant of these personality behaviors within themselves. Frequently as individuals climb the organizational hierarchy, their objectivity diminishes. Once an individual is near the top of an organization, it is common for narcissistic behavior to foster from lack of constructive criticism. Executives may feel “untouchable” yet, this feeling is counter productive to the work environment. To be a self aware manager in terms of these counterproductive behaviors, ensure that your employees feel safe and comfortable in sharing helpful feedback with you and, consider use of analytic softwares such as AIM Insights that allows for continuous feedback from both superiors and subordinates. 

Overall, managers must utilize their relationship management skills to thoroughly analyze and monitor teams in all work environments. Being a strong leader also means advocating for individuals within a team and fostering a safe environment that allows professionals to prioritize work-life balance. Managers set the tone for the team as a whole through all levels of development. Setting an example of self-awareness, an environment of embracing mistakes and learning from feedback will ultimately lead to the greatest success within a team. In addition to utilizing past leadership experiences, managers should create an environment that promotes adaptability. Every situation may not fall within ideal circumstances and great leaders are able to learn and grow in dynamic environments that fosters creative problem solving and creates strong work relationships and teamwork which in turn, will lead to the greatest successes. 


Fri 17 November 2023
There are many ways to lead a company, but most leadership styles tend to be either transactional or transformational.

Understanding Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is characterized by leaders who inspire and motivate their teams to achieve beyond the expected, encouraging innovation and fostering a sense of collective purpose. These leaders are visionaries, capable of articulating a compelling vision for the future and instilling a sense of passion and commitment among their followers.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., exemplifies transformational leadership. Known for his visionary approach, Jobs inspired his team to create groundbreaking products, shaping the technological landscape and setting new industry standards.

Transformational leaders often require a support system to help them navigate the complexities of their role and maintain their innovative edge. Mastermind groups, consisting of like-minded individuals who collaborate and share insights, play a crucial role in fostering creativity and providing valuable perspectives.

Mastermind Groups for Transformational Leaders

Mastermind groups serve as a forum for transformational leaders to exchange ideas, challenges, and experiences with peers who understand the unique demands of visionary leadership. Ambition in Motion Mastermind Groups, in particular, offer a structured platform where leaders can engage in thought-provoking discussions, receive feedback, and gain fresh perspectives from a diverse group of professionals. This collaborative environment empowers transformational leaders to refine their strategies, overcome obstacles, and stay at the forefront of innovation.

Mentorship for Transformational Leaders

In addition to mastermind groups, mentorship is another crucial element for transformational leaders seeking to enhance their skills. Mentors provide guidance based on their own experiences, offering valuable insights that can help leaders navigate complex challenges. Ambition in Motion, recognizing the importance of mentorship, facilitates connections between experienced mentors and transformational leaders, creating opportunities for personalized guidance and knowledge transfer.

Understanding Transactional Leadership

On the other hand, transactional leadership is characterized by a more structured and task-oriented approach. Leaders employing this style focus on the day-to-day operations, using a system of rewards and punishments to motivate their teams. Transactional leaders ensure that tasks are completed efficiently, and they are often concerned with maintaining order and adherence to established procedures.

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, is a notable example of transactional leadership. Welch was known for his emphasis on performance metrics, setting clear expectations, and implementing a system of rewards for high-performing employees.

Transactional leaders thrive in environments where efficiency and productivity are paramount. However, this style may lack the innovation and long-term vision associated with transformational leadership. While transactional leaders excel in managing routine tasks and achieving short-term goals, they may benefit from a broader perspective to adapt to changing business landscapes.

Mastermind Groups for Transactional Leaders

Transactional leaders, too, can benefit from mastermind groups as a resource for professional development. Ambition in Motion Mastermind Groups provide transactional leaders with a platform to connect with peers facing similar challenges, enabling them to share best practices, streamline processes, and enhance their leadership skills within the context of their operational focus.

Mentorship for Transactional Leaders

Mentorship is equally valuable for transactional leaders looking to expand their leadership capabilities. Ambition in Motion recognizes the diverse needs of leaders and offers mentorship opportunities tailored to the specific challenges faced by transactional leaders. Through personalized guidance, mentors help transactional leaders refine their operational strategies, adapt to changing circumstances, and foster a more collaborative and dynamic team environment.

Understanding the differences between transformational and transactional leadership is crucial for effective decision-making. While transformational leaders inspire innovation and vision, transactional leaders excel in managing day-to-day operations. Recognizing the unique demands of each leadership style, Ambition in Motion Mastermind Groups emerges as a valuable resource, providing a platform for leaders to connect, collaborate, and grow.

Whether one leans towards transformational or transactional leadership, the support systems offered by Ambition in Motion, including mastermind groups and mentorship opportunities, present invaluable resources for leaders seeking to refine their skills, overcome challenges, and stay ahead in an ever-changing business landscape. By leveraging these resources, leaders can cultivate a more comprehensive skill set, ensuring success in their respective leadership roles.


Fri 17 November 2023
As communication has become more immediate, it is also increasingly casual. Receiving emails that are overly aggressive or written in an inappropriate tone are situations that many people encounter within the workplace. Whether it is a message from a team member or a direct report, it is important to be conscious of how to respond to these situations to remain professional while upholding boundaries. 

Here are some steps to help navigate responding to an unprofessional email: 

  1. Maintain Composure 
An initial reaction to an aggressive or rude email is often anger or frustration. It is important to recognize and refrain from acting on this initial response. Taking deep breaths to calm down or even stepping away from the situation and finding a distraction for a few minutes can help to de-escalate initial reactions. 

After regaining composure, reread the email to see if the message still seems inappropriately aggressive. If the message still seems overly harsh, identify the elements that are concerning from the actual context of the message. This will help to complete a more objective analysis of the email and allow for a more constructive response. 

2. Consider the Method of Response 
Depending on the sender of the email, a response may be most appropriate over email, the phone, or in person. If the sender is someone who works nearby, approaching them in person may be the most effective method to handle the situation. Over email, messages can be misinterpreted and words that seemed harsh may not have had that intention. Talking things out can prevent any miscommunications that result from written communication. 

The relationship with the sender may also help determine the most appropriate means of communication. If the sender is a direct report, an in-person meeting to discuss the aggressive message can help to convey the severity of their actions and deter them from communicating with this tone in the future. 

3. Establish Clear Boundaries 
When dealing with inappropriate emails, it is crucial to communicate boundaries to prevent these issues from occurring in the future. Clearly and assertively articulating areas of discomfort and that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Be concise and specific about what is inappropriate within the message. 

Establishing boundaries is an important step to communicate that their tone is not welcome in future messages, however, avoiding escalating the situation is crucial during this step. Communicating with a polite tone can help to prevent the sender from feeling attacked. Discussing the message itself rather than targeting the sender when criticizing the tone can prevent them from feeling the need to be on defense during this conversation. 

4. Proofread 
If the best method of communication is emailing, proofread any response before sending it. Ensuring that there is a neutral tone, concise sentences, and no redundant information will allow the recipient to clearly understand any response. 

Maintaining a professional tone is vital because the situation can quickly spiral out of control if there is inappropriate communication on both sides. Responding aggressively or passive-aggressively may further validate the sender's feelings and encourage them to continue this unprofessional tone going forward. 

5. Document the Interaction 
It is essential to document this interaction in case aggressive emails continue in the future. Save copies of the emails with headers and time stamps as evidence of this interaction. This documentation will be beneficial to submit to supervisors or human resources if the aggression continues. Keeping evidence will help to maintain a clear timeline of events and ensure that these interactions aren’t lost. 

When documenting the interaction, also ensure to document how the situation was handled. Saving any emails that were sent in response to this inappropriate email can help to document instances in which boundaries were set and communicated to the sender. This way if the sender continues to act unprofessionally, there is a record that they were told that this behavior is unwelcome. 

6. Seek Support 
Don’t hesitate to seek support if the inappropriate behavior persists. Reaching out to colleagues, supervisors, or human resource professionals to share concerns can be a helpful resource. Horizontal mentorship groups can also serve as a beneficial resource to gain insights from others who have encountered similar situations. Having this support system can help to navigate this difficult situation and introduce an outside perspective. Additionally, reaching out to these outside individuals within the firm may allow others to find a resolution. 

When seeking support, it is incredibly beneficial to have the documentation available to show them. This will allow these outside resources to have a better understanding of the situation at hand and allow them to provide more direct support as they are aware of what was specifically said. 

7. Learn and Improve 
The final step when dealing with an inappropriate email is to learn from the interaction. After addressing the inappropriate behavior, the next response can be used to gauge the effectiveness of how the behavior was addressed. This can help to improve personal communication skills going forward. Take note of what worked and what may have been unsuccessful to identify areas for improvement going forward. 

Although difficult to navigate, these interactions can serve as a great opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Evaluating how personal communication contributed to the de-escalation of the situation can serve as a beneficial tool for any difficult situations that arise in the future. 

It is important to consider inappropriate messages on a case-by-case basis. The relationship with the person, their position within the firm, and the context of the email, may warrant different responses. The context of the email is particularly important to consider because in some cases, a frustrated email may not entirely be inappropriate. 

For instance, if a team member completed their portion of the project, but the remainder of the project was not completed by the deadline. In this scenario, the team member may be frustrated and rightfully so as they upheld their responsibilities. Validating their emotions and owning up to mistakes may be critical aspects of responding to an email in this capacity. 

When dealing with an inappropriate email, there are many things to consider when assessing how to respond. The most important thing to remember when handling these difficult situations is to remain professional and consider what can be done to prevent this behavior from persisting going forward. 

Thu 16 November 2023
Since 2021, our team at Ambition In Motion has been implementing our AIM Insights program within many companies to help their managers better understand the perception between themselves and their direct reports and provide coaching to help those managers have more effective 1:1 meetings between themselves and their teams.
One area of measurement we focus on is Work Orientation. Simply put, Work Orientation is how a person views work as part of their life. This quick 15-question assessment helps people understand their why for work. Some people view their work as a Job (motivated by work/life balance), while others as a Career (motivated by professional growth), and others as a Calling (motivated by professional and personal mission alignment). We repeatedly measure the work orientation of our participants, and this has revealed a few fascinating insights. 
One finding is that Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it can change overtime. When originally completing the Work Orientation Assessment, 64% of direct reports’ results showed that they were mostly Career Oriented, 20% of direct reports’ results showed that they were Calling Oriented, and 22% of direct reports’ results showed that they were Job Oriented. 
After assessing a sample set of 164 direct reports that completed monthly surveys for at least a year, we have discovered some interesting results. After one year working under a manager using AIM Insights, the results showed that Calling Orientation increased by about +5%, Career Orientation increased by +6%, and results that showed Job Orientation decreased by -12.5%. As people work with AIM Insights managers, we see that their motivation for work changes. 
We have also analyzed over 4,000 individuals’ Work Orientations - observing changes to peoples Work Orientation over the span of year that are not in our AIM Insights program. The results are that Work Orientation is changing for those individuals, but not nearly all in the same direction as direct reports in our AIM Insights program (i.e., increased focus on Career and Calling Orientations).
What does this mean?
The employees who are using AIM Insights and receiving feedback from their managers using AIM Insights are more likely to find their motivation as work to be from a career or calling orientation. This means that employees are more interested in promotions, more interested in the mission/vision/core values of the company, and are more likely to recommend the company to their friends and family for employment or for referring business. This helps them view their work as a career or calling instead of a job. They want to step up and do more than the bare minimum to get by. They are more eager to take on responsibilities and roles for the opportunity to learn. And they are more likely to put more into their work because they see the work contributing to something greater than themselves. 
What could be the cause of these results?
We believe these changes are caused by the training and support that managers receive when using AIM Insights. We know it takes more than luck to build a great team, and these managers are clearly building great teams. Here’s how it works:
AIM Insights has a few important components:
• Direct reports of a manager complete brief monthly surveys assessing how they feel about their performance and their manager’s performance, and then they set monthly SMART goals.
• Managers use the AIM Insights dashboard to review their monthly report and analyze their own perspective on the team’s performance and the individual performance. 
• An executive coach, assigned to each manager for monthly 1-hour 1:1 coaching sessions, helps each manager:
• Understand the perception gaps between themselves and their teams.
• Create an action plan with the manager on how they can approach each direct report to better understand their perspective and communicate their own.
• Oftentimes role play or practice how that 1:1 could go from a best, moderate, and worst-case scenario with the manager.
• Discuss other challenges that manager may be facing from an executive coaching perspective.
Across all the teams we assessed, the only meaningful change to the way the direct reports of a manager experienced their work was how their manager treated them after starting AIM Insights. Here are a few findings that we’ve identified by working with our executive coaches. 
• As opposed to avoiding conflict because managers are uncomfortable with difficult conversations, managers are now embracing those conversations leading to better resolutions.
• As opposed to fumbling through an attempt at having a hard conversation because the manager didn’t practice nor received feedback from anyone, managers are now coming prepared for their 1:1 meetings with their direct reports.
• As opposed to waiting to see if a subtle behavior that irritated the manager turns into a larger problem because the manager doesn’t know how to approach a direct report with constructive criticism, managers are now targeting these conversations head-on and coming into those meetings prepared.
• As opposed to having performance reviews rife with subjectivity and recency bias (e.g. the “what have you done for me lately” effect) managers are now coming into performance reviews prepared with full understanding as to what each employee has been working on over entire period being reviewed.
• As opposed to the dreaded “surprise performance review” where direct reports feel blindsided by their manager, managers are now being proactive and helping each direct report emphasize their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Immediately discussing feedback ensures that managers and direct reports are completely on the same page and nobody is surprised by any feedback given in the performance review because that feedback has been given consistently throughout the year.
• As opposed to managers setting goals for their employees and being a “tactical firefighter” (e.g., “I don’t need to explain why this is important, just do it!”), managers now have their direct reports set goals and give their direct reports feedback on why those goals are impactful or not impactful and why. This empowers employees to have a clearer vision as to how their work contributes to the greater picture of the company.
• As opposed to managers attempting to “read the tea leaves” and going to their local soothsayer to attempt to understand how their employees are feeling about them as a leader, they can directly look at the data and observe how their team feels about them and where there might be perception gaps.
Essentially, managers who use AIM Insights with their teams drive greater feelings of Career and Calling Orientation over the span of year compared to managers who don’t use AIM Insights. 

Fri 3 November 2023
Let's talk about bosses. You know, the ones who command, "Do this now!" without even asking how you're doing. Or the ones who pretend to care but secretly just want you to work harder without considering your feelings. Yeah, those bosses. They might get stuff done, but they're not making the office a fun place to be.

Then there's the idea of Radical Candor. It's about being honest with your team while still being kind. It's like telling your coworker, "Hey, your idea is great, but it might need a little more work." It's not sugar-coating things, but it's also not being mean about it. This approach makes the office a much nicer place to be.

What is Radical Candor?
 
Kim Scott, a former executive for Google and Apple, developed a strategic plan for presenting the radical candor framework with leaders, executives and CEOs in mind. Scott describes the meaning of radical candor as having the ability to care personally while challenging directly at the same time.

The Radical Candor Matrix

  • The matrix categorizes different managerial approaches based on their level of care and directness.
  • Radical candor operates on two axes. One axis stretches from caring personally to not caring at all, while the other axis extends from challenging directly to silence. They each work on a sliding scale.
  • It consists of four quadrants: 
    • Radical Candor: the ideal balance between care and directness (caring personally).
    • Ruinous Empathy: excessive focus on empathy at the expense of honest feedback.
    • Manipulative Insincerity:manipulative approach lacking in both care and directness.
    • Obnoxious Aggression: direct but uncaring and often abrasive communication style. 

Scott’s radical candor model is designed to guide your professional interactions and conversations. The goal is becoming a better communicator while also transforming yourself into a powerful instrument for growth in the teams you lead and the organizations you manage. When explaining the idea behind radical candor, Scott asks you to consider the adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Consider that radical candor goes against this long-standing social teaching and emphasizes open and honest feedback for the benefit of everyone involved. Ultimately, radical candor is best defined as the ability to challenge directly while showing that you care personally at the same time.

In general, radical candor impacts your daily conversations and interactions by changing the way you think about the people around you. The result is a shift in your mindset and behaviors.

The Difference Between Candor and Honesty
How do you show candor within your team? The definition of candor is “the quality of being open in expression, or frankness.” Most executive leaders understand the value of candor in communicating and interacting with their team.

The difference between candor and honesty becomes easily clouded at times. While honesty refers to truthfulness, candor is a quality in people that refers specifically to how openly they express themselves. While candor is often a good thing, it isn’t inherently truthful.

Caring Personally
Using radical candor helps you embrace your leadership traits and empowers you to use them to their highest potential. Often, leaders aren’t afforded the luxury of separating their professional and personal lives.

Having empathy is a valuable trait for any leader, and your ability to identify with your team members is vital to your organization’s success. The success of both the company and the individual is something you care about deeply as a leader, and radical candor offers you a way to showcase that.

Caring personally means you’d feel like you failed someone around you by silencing your true thoughts or withholding your criticisms. Because you care deeply enough about them, you’re doing them a disservice by staying quiet and reserved.

Challenging Directly & Holding Accountability

Offering your most constructive feedback as a way to help others grow is a challenging aspect of great leadership. After all, your ability to teach others, guide their decisions and communicate your expectations of them all go into making you a successful leader. These are the ideas behind challenging directly.

How is radical candor a type of informal accountability? 

Though challenging directly sounds like a negative behavior, it only creates positive outcomes. Challenging directly is taking an active role in the growth and development of your team members and offering your guidance for ways they can improve.

By encouraging open discussions and welcoming diverse viewpoints, leaders create an environment where innovation thrives and new ideas flourish. Team members feel valued and respected, leading to increased morale, heightened engagement, and a stronger sense of belonging within the organization.

However, implementing radical candor necessitates a deep understanding of the nuances of effective communication. Leaders must strike a delicate balance between being honest and providing feedback in a manner that is respectful and considerate. They must be mindful of the emotional impact of their words and actions, ensuring that feedback is delivered in a way that encourages growth and development rather than discouragement or resentment.

Ultimately, the successful integration of radical candor into a leadership style requires commitment and dedication. It calls for a genuine investment in understanding the needs and aspirations of each team member, as well as a willingness to foster a culture of open communication and mutual respect.

And you know those bosses who just yell all the time? Yeah, not great. That's the opposite of Radical Candor. It's like they think they know everything and everyone else is just there to do what they say. No fun, right?

Being honest and kind at work, giving people some say in what they do, and creating a positive vibe in the office can make a huge difference. It's not about being the boss everyone's scared of; it's about being the boss everyone wants to work with. Radical Candor is like the secret sauce that makes it all happen.


Fri 3 November 2023
Jonathan recently got promoted at a Fortune 500 company and will be supervising the team he was previously a member of. The promotion was achieved through Jonathan’s consistent hard work and his dedication to improving his skills. However, many other members of the firm, including some of Jonathan’s team members who were also qualified for the position also applied. Mary, one of Jonathan's teammates, also applied for the role. She and Jonathan have had a poor work relationship for a while - even before Jonathan was promoted - essentially, both Jonathan and Mary are in sales and Jonathan was working on an account that he was assigned to and had been working on for months. Mary connected with an employee of that company at a networking event, didn’t notify the team, and ended up closing the deal. She essentially stole the business that Jonathan had already laid the groundwork for.

Although Jonathan is excited to take on this new role, he has some reservations about how Mary will treat him now that he oversees her. Mary has already made several comments indicating she doesn’t believe Jonathan is deserving of the promotion and that she would be better suited. 

When managers are placed in a situation similar to Jonathan’s several actions can be taken to set them up for success: 

  • Mitigate Problematic Behavior 
Articulate expectations for team conduct specifically as it pertains to supporting one another and working together. Emphasizing to team members that they should direct any concerns they have to their manager can help to prevent gossip from being spread and allow actionable steps to satisfy tangible concerns. Failure to mitigate problematic behavior early on may only lead to continued disrespect and issues in the future. 

  • Consider a One-on-One Conversation 
If any team member is similar to Mary, arranging an individual meeting with said team member can directly address the issue. During this conversation, it is important to ensure it is an honest discussion about the situation and emphasizes the importance of working towards a common goal. Although an open discussion is best, being straightforward when explaining that unprofessional behavior is not welcome will best communicate the severity of their actions. Be transparent about expectations and don’t hesitate to directly address the underlying issues from the past. When doing so, be sure to base this portion of the discussion on direct observations of their actions and remain as objective as possible. 

This change in dynamic can serve as a fresh start for any previously poor relationships with peers who are now direct reports. Articulating hope for a more positive relationship going forward can encourage a better attitude as well as remind them that a manager's goal is to support the development of their direct reports. 

  • Create a Growth Plan 
When dealing with a direct report whose problematic behavior is relatively mild, offering to develop a growth plan can shift the relationship in a more positive direction. Developing a plan to continue to build skills and allow the direct report to be a stronger candidate for promotion in the future will demonstrate faith in the direct report's abilities. Dedicating time to help a direct report fulfill their professional goals also serves as an opportunity to build a foundation of trust. 

  • Recognize that it Takes Time 
It can be very difficult to change someone’s perception, so remember that it may take time for a direct report to build trust and respect. Forcing a relationship with a colleague that there were previous issues, may only harm the relationship more. Allowing time for everyone on the team to be accustomed to their new manager is valuable, however, time is not an excuse for someone to blatantly disrespect their manager. 

Navigating relationships with difficult colleagues and treating them objectively can take time and consistent personal evaluation. Adjusting to different relationship dynamics with friends and work and previous team members can also be difficult because the lines between peer and manager may appear to be blurred. 

Here are five strategies to ease the transition from peer to manager while establishing an authoritative presence: 

  1. Develop a Servant Mentality
Promotion to leadership status is largely based on credibility and demonstrated performance and continuing to build upon this established credibility is extremely valuable when overseeing peers. Adopting a servant mentality recognizes that employees don’t work for their manager, managers work for their employees. Managers shouldn’t operate solely as someone giving orders, they should ensure the success of every member of the team for them to produce the best results. Continuous efforts to support all team members over time will build respect and expand existing credibility. 

2. Hold Individual Meetings 
Dedicate time after being appointed to the new role speaking individually with each member of the team. These conversations can be used to discuss any questions or concerns direct reports may have about the change in leadership. This can be used as a time for team members to communicate any frustrations they have and even specific improvements they wish to see in the team environment. Additionally, these conversations will be beneficial to discuss goals and build trust with members of the team. 

3. Set Boundaries 
After working together as peers, it can be incredibly difficult to encourage direct reports to see their leader as an authority figure. It is necessary to communicate boundaries with team members to ensure that they demonstrate respect going forward. While gossiping or attending happy hours together may have been frequent occurrences, it is important to recognize that a new role requires a new set of behaviors. Leaders should strive to remain approachable without having the notion that direct reports should treat them like a friend. 

Failure to set clear boundaries early on can lead direct reports to act disrespectfully and may encourage them to disregard directions received from their team leader. Implementing these boundaries later on may be difficult to enforce now that team members have gotten acquainted with treating their manager as a peer despite the differing titles. 

4. Establish Open Communication 
There may be a lot of uncertainty for direct reports on how to navigate this new dynamic reporting to a previous peer. To prevent any discomfort or stress for direct reports, new managers must develop systems of open communication. Ensuring that direct reports feel comfortable reaching out to their manager will help build relationships and encourage feedback loops. 

5. Manage Perceptions 
When managing a team of previous peers, managing perceptions can help prevent issues of favoritism from presenting in the future. While it may seem harmless to continue grabbing lunch every day with close friends at work, when a manager consistently gets lunch with certain direct reports it can demonstrate unequal treatment. These special privileges may not be brought to attention by other direct reports, but the unspoken perception of favoritism can be detrimental to team performance. Consider developing habits that are more inclusive to all team members, such as a rotating lunch schedule.  

While it may not seem valuable to adjust habits to change perceptions of direct reports, managers' actions can directly influence if direct reports buy into their manager's vision. Making changes to daily actions to reinforce this promotion to the leadership level can help promote respect and increase team members' trust. 

Adjusting to a new position takes time, but spending time to develop an approach to handling previous colleague relationships can help to ease that transition. When assuming a management role, keep in mind that it is a manager's job to support their team and continue to strive for the development of each individual, regardless of any prior issues. 



Fri 27 October 2023
The rapid evolution of digital technology is making digital literacy a necessity for managers. To effectively direct their organizations through these digital transformations, managers must be well-versed in a multitude of technologies and encourage their teams to adapt as well. Digital literacy is effective in remaining competitive, making informed decisions, and innovating. 

Digital literacy is the ability to understand several digital mediums and effectively communicate ideas through them. To benefit from digital literacy, it is important for managers to not only be able to understand, navigate, and communicate information digitally, but they must also be familiar with advanced technologies and recognize important digital trends that are applicable to their organization. 

Here are some key components of digital literacy that are applicable to managers:

  1. Technology Proficiency
Managers need to be comfortable navigating basic computer applications as well as more advanced software. Utilizing software such as Microsoft Office, data analytics software, and communication software is beneficial for all executives to use their time effectively. Familiarity with more industry-specific software is crucial for managers as well because they can have a better understanding of the resources their reports are using. 

2. Information Management 
When considering digital literacy, information management is a priority because it focuses on the ability to manage, organize, and access digital information. Executives handle copious amounts of information so the ability to manage the information can help reduce inefficiencies. A strong understanding of cloud storage and file management systems can assist in best-managing information.

3. Cybersecurity Awareness 
It is specifically important for executives to prioritize digital literacy for its cybersecurity implications. Being conscious of potential security threats and ways to reduce them can protect sensitive company and customer data. Cybersecurity isn’t solely comprised of security software, it can also be practiced through developing habits such as updating passwords and avoiding suspicious online activity. 

4. Digital Adaptability 
The digital landscape is constantly evolving, so managers need to be adaptable and willing to learn. New technologies and innovations emerge rapidly and can serve as beneficial tools to improve company practices. Executives should be aware of developments and consider the technological applications to the company. 

5. Data Analysis 
Managers must possess abilities to interpret data effectively. When approached with information, executives must have strong analytical skills to examine information and make informed decisions. To develop a complete understanding of data and develop meaningful insights, executives must be familiar with data analytics tools and statistical analysis. 

6. Social Media Understanding
Social media has become a significant part of the digital space and can serve a variety of purposes for businesses. Marketing and networking are great uses of social media in the business world and it is important for executives to understand how to leverage these different platforms. The use of social media can enhance an organization's brand and customer reach. It is also important for executives to be aware of issues that arise within social media when considering interactions with customers and the public as a whole. 

Developing these components of digital literacy can enhance productivity, create more effective communication, improve decision-making, and create a competitive advantage. Through more efficient uses of time, companies may experience cost reductions as well. 

Strong digital literacy skills are increasingly important when preparing for future technological advancements. When large changes occur in the technology space, it can be difficult to catch up for users who haven’t remained up to date with other innovations. 

To ensure a wide breadth of knowledge on digital technology, these are some software tools managers can familiarize themselves with: 

  • Microsoft office suite 
Within Microsoft Office Suite, there is a collection of software including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Word and PowerPoint are tools for document creation and presentation. A strong familiarity with these softwares is beneficial for effectively communicating information across a variety of formats. Excel is a spreadsheet editor that calculates and computes data. Complex functions such as graphing, pivot tables, and macro programming can help to transform, analyze, and articulate data ultimately to aid in the decision-making process. Outlook is an essential tool for communication and management of personal information. 

  • Project management tools 
Project management tools are helpful for overseeing and coordinating team efforts. These platforms can help managers plan, allocate resources, coordinate efforts, track progress, and prioritize tasks. Project management software is particularly useful for teams collaborating remotely. Some of these tools include Asana, Trello, or Microsoft Project. 

  • Performance Management Software 
Tools to monitor direct reports are incredibly valuable tools to track performance and navigate challenges. Software such as AIM Insights can allow managers to set goals with their direct reports and track progress to ensure continued success. Performance management software can also allow managers to gain insights into the sentiments of their direct reports to help improve team functionality. 

  • Business Intelligence Tools 
Tools like Tableau, Power BI, and QlikView can be used to analyze data and convert it into actionable information. Executives can utilize these tools to compile data and create dashboards, reports, and visualizations. Business intelligence tools are beneficial for creating predictions and analyzing potential outcomes. 

  • Communication Software 
Executives can use platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom to facilitate meetings, schedule meetings, share documents, and manage files. These platforms have tools that can automate routine tasks to allow managers to use their time more efficiently. For example, Zoom provides a transcription feature to allow meetings to be documented. 

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) 
AI is rapidly transforming the business landscape and executives should familiarize themselves with it due to its multitude of applications. Natural Language Processing Tools can automate content creation, answer customer inquiries, and assist with analysis through the generation of written content. AI chatbots are another development that can improve the customer service experience for companies by allowing consistent interaction with customers. There are various other applications of AI through predictive analytics, applications to recruitment processes, and even personal schedule management. 

  • Customer Management Software 
Maintaining healthy customer relationships is important for companies and customer management software can help streamline these interactions. Software such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho helps executives to manage these relationships and gain insights into customer preferences. The utilization of customer relationship management software can allow executives to make informed decisions on their marketing strategies and be effective with their resources.

Depending on their responsibilities, not all executives may need to have in-depth knowledge of these softwares. However, it is important to have a basic understanding of the softwares features and how they can be used to increase productivity and minimize the time required to complete different functions. 

Digital literacy provides a lot of benefits to executives, however, there is some barriers executives experience. Resistance to change is a main contributing factor to executives failing to improve their digital literacy. Resistance to change primarily arises when executives are comfortable with their current practices and see no benefit from spending time learning new software. It is important for these managers to consider the added benefit of the new innovations and potential future time savings from using updated technology.

The digital landscape is constantly evolving and leading to new innovations that can assist executives. Executives should continue to follow new innovations within the digital space and consider the positive implications of implementing new technologies within their companies. 


Fri 27 October 2023
Upon the development of new teams, individuals frequently struggle in finding their roles and establishing a sense of cohesiveness team-wide. In this situation, Managers frequently struggle to advise or guide these groups without micromanaging. The fear of the team underperforming causes these managers to watch over their direct reports too closely and not trust that the work will get done properly.

When attempting to effectively establish team connection, it is critical that the team members are able to self-direct and establish roles, norms and expectations on their own. Establishing these roles can lead to better job performance and job satisfaction along with decreased turnover through value alignment in the development of these team environments. 

Throwing colleagues together to work on a project does not always lead to effective teamwork or belonging in a group. Group belonging, value alignment and devotion to the group all need to step from an intrinsic interest and motivation in the employees which will in turn lead to a better end product and efficiency within the team. The challenging portion of this experience for managers is to allow these members to face roadblocks and navigate troubled waters as a team.

To ensure group development, managers should monitor groups in guidance to follow four stages of group development that encourage a team's growth. Originally developed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, here are the four steps of team development and how managers may use them to improve.

  1. Form
First is the Forming stage. In this stage, the team is assembled, objectives are identified and, frequently this stage will consist of relationship oriented discussion. For managers, it is crucial to allow new teams this stage of conversation and, although it may not be directly related to the task at hand, this stage heavily contributes to the team dynamic and therefore, the final outcome. Frequently in this stage, members may seem shy or withdrawn, a strong manager will focus on encouraging relationship building, team bonding and conversation within this group in order to prepare for the next stage while allowing team autonomy. 

2. Storm
Immediately following the forming stage of team development is the storming phase. Within this phase, teams may see first signs of conflict, disagreement or arguments. In this stage, a stable leader should allow groups to challenge each other's ideas and opinions from a hands-off role. Allowing teams to navigate the conflicts that arise will result in team unity and cohesiveness in following stages. Through disagreement and resolution of issues, the team is now experiencing alignment and goal clarity, and ready to move onto the Norming stage.

3. Norm 
After growth and re-alignment in the storming phase, the norming stage grants room to establish coherence and harmony within the team. Within this phase, managers should expect team members to find specific roles within the group and take on responsibilities to move forward with the specific task. Teams will now exhibit self-governance and cohesiveness in completing tasks. Through the norming phase, members will now have an accurate grasp on strengths and weaknesses of their teammates that enables efficiency and agility in problem solving. Development in previous stages will allow teams to experience rapid productivity, efficiency and satisfaction as a unified group in the norming stage. 

4. Perform
Finally comes the performance stage where previous conflict has been resolved, members are experiencing role clarity and the project is given full attention and focus from all members working toward a common objective. The performance stage of Tuckman's model can be classified by motivation and trust within teams in addition to self-management and interdependence. Although leadership styles may vary, managers should consider using servant leadership in this situation, allowing the team to take charge and serving as a resource for the group. This phase will see the conclusion of the project after ebbs and flows throughout the progression of the team. 

A bonus step of this process is the adjourning experience. Once a specified team's objective has been completed, team members are commonly saddened or may experience a feeling of bittersweetness that they will no longer be a part of this group and frequently interact with each other. This is an unavoidable ending to every team yet, managers should find faith in the fact that these team members were able to follow through with a project and this experience can improve camaraderie and belonging in an organization. 

Managers should have a relatively limited role in the evolution of teams yet, they should enable circumstances to provide feedback and address concerns in these teams. Collecting feedback on members allows managers to monitor the progress of these teams and intervene in times of trouble. Managers should be very sensitive to issues of inclusion and equity in these teams, ensuring that even the quietest members feel a sense of belonging and all members feel they are treated with fairness throughout the team and its processes. 

Although challenging, the importance of autonomy in a new team can be a significant differentiator in the success of a team. The roadmap to team development is demanding and requires patience yet rewarding. The development of a trusting team that embraces mistakes, encourages a positive work-life balance and builds a productive culture for its members will yield positive effects across the group and lead to improved organizational and team commitment in individuals. 

Encouraging growth in these teams allows for leadership experience and success and enables teams to face challenges in an adaptable manner with flexibility and teamwork. Through the course of time, these experiences will strengthen team members' ability to lead in effective teams across a variety of circumstances, both personal and professional.  Nevertheless, feedback is the most important additive to this experience, empowering advancement and opportunities for team members to fail in a comfortable environment and establish a productive team culture. 


Fri 27 October 2023
Leadership "happy talk" is a term that refers to the practice of leaders sugarcoating the truth to their teams. They paint a rosy picture, reassuring their employees that everything is going well when, in reality, it might not be. While this approach may seem like a way to protect and motivate the team, it often leads to more harm than good.

Meet Sarah and Mark, both seasoned leaders in the tech industry. They're in charge of two different teams within the same organization, and they face a similar challenge—an impending product launch with multiple technical glitches.

Sarah, a proponent of leadership happy talk, decides to downplay the issues. She gathers her team and confidently declares, "Team, our product launch is on track, and everything is going smoothly. There are a few minor hiccups, but nothing to worry about. We've got this!" She avoids discussing the specific technical challenges, fearing it might demoralize her team.

Mark, on the other hand, chooses a different path. He believes in transparency as a fundamental leadership principle. He calls his team for a meeting and says, "Team, I want to talk about our product launch. We've encountered some technical challenges that are causing delays. It's important that we address these issues head-on. We're working on solutions, and your input is crucial in finding the best way forward."

The Happy Talk Dilemma

Leadership happy talk is a common dilemma faced by leaders across various industries. It stems from the belief that team members may not be able to handle the harsh realities or challenges the organization is facing. Leaders may feel compelled to shield their employees from negativity, thinking that a more optimistic outlook will boost morale and productivity.

The Problems with Leadership Happy Talk
  • Missed Opportunities for Improvement: By glossing over problems or challenges, leaders miss out on opportunities for improvement. Honest discussions about issues within the organization can lead to innovative solutions and better decision-making. Without acknowledging these issues, problems persist and can worsen over time.
  • Disengagement: Employees who sense that their leaders are not being forthright with them may become disengaged. When they feel they are not part of the decision-making process or are unaware of the organization's true state, they may lose motivation and become disconnected from their work.
  • Loss of Credibility: Leaders who consistently engage in happy talk risk losing their credibility. When employees realize that what they are being told doesn't align with reality, they may question the competence and integrity of their leaders.
  • Impact on Morale: Contrary to the intended effect, leadership happy talk can negatively affect morale in the long run. Employees may become frustrated or demotivated when they sense that their leaders are not being honest about challenges.

Sarah's Approach: In the short term, Sarah's team is relieved. They believe that everything is under control. However, as the launch date approaches, the technical glitches become apparent. Team members start to feel that their concerns were not taken seriously, and they become increasingly anxious. Morale drops, and some employees begin to disengage, feeling disconnected from the reality of the situation.

Mark's Approach: Mark's team, while initially concerned, appreciates his honesty. They recognize that their leader trusts them enough to share the challenges openly. Team members start brainstorming solutions together, and a sense of collective ownership emerges. While the product launch still faces hurdles, the team is more motivated, engaged, and determined to overcome them.

While leadership happy talk may offer short-term relief, it often leads to long-term problems, including mistrust and disengagement. On the other hand, embracing transparency, as Mark did, fosters trust, encourages problem-solving, and enhances team adaptability.

Transparency isn't about dwelling on problems or creating unnecessary panic. It's about respecting your team's intelligence and their ability to contribute to solutions. As a leader, you can strike a balance between acknowledging challenges and outlining plans for addressing them, just as Mark did. In the end, it's not about telling the team what they want to hear but equipping them with the truth they need to succeed.

Embracing Transparency

Transparency is the antidote to leadership happy talk. Leaders should strive to be open and honest with their teams, even when the news is less than favorable. Here are some reasons why transparency is crucial:
  • Builds Trust: Transparency fosters trust between leaders and team members. When employees know that their leaders are honest about both successes and challenges, they are more likely to trust their judgment and decisions.
  • Encourages Problem Solving: Open discussions about issues encourage problem-solving. When employees are aware of challenges, they can contribute their ideas and solutions to address them effectively.
  • Fosters Accountability: Transparency promotes accountability within the organization. Leaders and team members are more likely to take ownership of their responsibilities and actions when they are aware of the organization's goals and challenges.
  • Supports Informed Decision-Making: Informed decisions are better decisions. When leaders provide their teams with all the relevant information, they enable better decision-making at all levels of the organization.

A Balanced Approach

While transparency is essential, it's important to strike a balance. Leaders should communicate openly without causing unnecessary panic or anxiety among team members. Effective communication involves not only sharing challenges but also outlining plans and strategies for addressing them.

Leadership happy talk, though well-intentioned, is not a sustainable or effective approach to leading a team. It can lead to mistrust, missed opportunities, and disengagement. Instead, leaders should embrace transparency as a guiding principle, recognizing that honesty and openness are essential for building trust, fostering innovation, and ultimately benefiting the team and the organization as a whole. In the end, it's not about telling the team what they want to hear but equipping them with the truth they need to succeed.


Wed 18 October 2023
Leadership happy talk is the propensity for leaders to paint a rosy picture of how the business is performing to their team when the business is struggling. 

Oftentimes, business owners and executives engage in leadership happy talk because they think it is the more mature thing to do. They’d rather hold onto the stress and frustration of business struggles and not put it on other people. 

This might seem like a laudable motivation: why stress out your team? But refusing to share and be vulnerable with team members ultimately creates missed opportunities for the team to tackle problems together. This leads to poor outcomes like surprise layoffs, outbursts from leaders, and misallocated priorities during crucial periods.

This article covers some of the causes of leadership happy talk, how to catch yourself engaging in leadership happy talk, how to overcome it, and why it is critical to not engage in this behavior. 

Leadership happy talk stems from pressures, both real and perceived, to show the world and one’s team that everything is going great. Many startups engage in this behavior because they need to put on a show and generate “buzz” so investors perceive their company to be the next hot business. Many business owners engage in this behavior because they fear their employees will leave if the business isn’t performing well. From a business owner’s perspective, they would rather wait and hope their business turns around. They’d rather risk a surprise layoff than inform their employees that the business is struggling and engage them in a potential solution. Many executives for large companies engage in this behavior because they have shareholders and quarterly goals to meet, and they would rather keep up an obvious charade rather than risk looking ineffectual. But only luck can save these leaders from near-certain failure if they aren’t willing to open up. 

There’s also the egotistical explanation: They want everyone to think they are a success. 

As a leader, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “what if the news of our business struggling has nothing to do with my employees’ work? How will that help?”

The answer: if this person is at risk of getting laid off, being asked to work reduced hours or for reduced compensation, or having their work impacted in any way at all, they should know about it.

Why? This initial worry assumes that your team can’t handle the truth or that they may leave upon learning the news. That risk pales in comparison to the possible reward from including them in a solution that saves your business. 

By not sharing the truth of the business’s situation with the entire team, leaders are communicating to their team that they don’t trust them to work together on identifying a solution or that they aren’t smart enough to have any good ideas on how to solve the issue.

No business is going gangbusters all the time every day. Businesses tend to oscillate between up periods and down periods. As a leader, it may be tempting to paint the down periods with a rose hue because things could turn around. However, when leaders find themselves in a position of identifying some negative trends, the best decision is transparency and collaboration. 

By being vulnerable instead of stoic, leaders are communicating that they trust their team and that they value their perspective. Sure, some investors may choose not to invest, some employees may leave at the first sign of bad news, the stock price might go down temporarily, but leaders that engage in openness, transparency, and collaboration lead to healthier more resilient businesses. Strong, resilient businesses are much more likely to succeed long-term compared to businesses run by leaders that engage in leadership happy talk and can’t tell their employees the truth. Next time business is slow, take a chance and open up to your team. The solution could be right in front of your eyes, all you had to do was ask. 

 

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