The Top Qualities and Skills of a Great Leader

“Leadership is an obligation and you need to step up every day.”

  • Vince Molinaro

Honesty

If you make honest and ethical behavior a key value, your team will follow suit. Coworkers will trust each other, making the work a lot easier for all involved. Customers will notice, and spread the word about the company’s integrity.

Delegation

Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as a team leader. The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each person enjoys most –  chances are  they will put more thought and effort into it.

Communication

Communication is way more than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the intentions and emotion behind the information we get. Being able to clearly and briefly describe what you want done is very important. If you can’t relate your vision, the team won’t be working toward the same goal.

Confidence

To effectively lead a team, you have to have self-confidence. This will in turn inspire your staff, leading to better choices and decisions.

Commitment

There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss working alongside everyone else. By proving your commitment, you will earn the respect of your team, and also instill the same hardworking energy. Commitments are powerful because they influence how you think, how you sound, and how you act.

Approach

Understand that every person is different and two people may have a different reaction to the same situation. In order to optimize your effectiveness as a leader, customize your approach.

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New Year’s Resolution? Meet New Year’s Action Plan!

The New Year comes full of expectations, ambition to advance even further in your career, and perhaps even a brand new job. Here are five areas of focus to make 2016 your best year ever.

  1. Find Balance

Forming better habits now will mean less conscious effort for the rest of the year. Focus on what you’ve defined as important to you, and measure the amount of time you’re investing in that area. If you find your work is taking up much more energy than the other areas, know that it is going to negatively affect your health and relationships. Adjusting that balance should move to the top of your priorities. The other parts of your life are important, and ultimately your work will suffer for the lack of balance as well. Tired and stressed employees achieve less than their balanced counterparts.

  1. Be Assertive, Not Aggressive

Aggressive employees upset colleagues and create poor working environments no matter how productive they are. Make an effort to be assertive instead, by taking other’s valuable input and views into consideration. Open yourself up to coworkers and speak up for your projects and initiatives without crossing a line into a demanding demeanor.

  1. View Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

You have to be willing to fall and get right back up again. Every crisis, every mistake, and every obstacle can teach you a great deal about what you’re good at and what skills you need to improve. Even when horrible events happen, you can turn your situation around. You have to be persistent and willing to fail in order to move forward after identifying what the valuable lessons were.

  1. Keep a Broad View

We all get tunnel vision at times, it’s only natural. Your attention can only be devoted to so many tasks, but we have a tendency to miss out on the enriching opportunities in life. In a world that’s focused on “googling” everything, there’s still a lot of information out there that can’t be found online, and can only be experienced by broadening what we focus on. Keep your ears open everywhere — coffee shops, restaurants, the water cooler, meetings, and elsewhere. Developments will clearly emerge, so you can take advantage of your new perspective.

  1. Never Stop Learning

Much of life IS routine and habitual, but your mind also needs to be flexed. Anyone in any position can improve what they do, but it takes work. Read, ask questions, or attend the conference you’ve been putting off. Study and learn the cutting edge trends to stretch your network and your mind.

So much of succeeding in your career is about being an evolving person and leader, rather than a different kind of employee. Focus on one or all of these tips for a better year and a better you!

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The New Wave of Executive Engagement: How to Make the Most of Today’s LinkedIn

Though LinkedIn has gone through some distinct growing pains, it has emerged as a dynamic networking platform with clear influences from popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Read on for 4 tips to make the most of your LinkedIn-fueled job search.

  1. Friend or Follow?

One of LinkedIn’s most significant shifts gives users the options to not only connect with known contacts or acquaintances, but to also follow company brands or influential leaders in a given industry. For a job seeker considering a move to a different position, the follow feature can be a great way to keep tabs on important conversations without creating new entries in your digital Rolodex during a time of potential transition. Like Twitter, you can simply click to follow, then read and share content relevant to your interests and expertise.

  1. Coworker Connection

According to a recent blog post on one of LinkedIn’s newest apps, LinkedIn Lookup, 46% of users report using the site to look up coworkers. The new app helps streamline this process, allowing you better access than ever to your internal team. This is a great tool to use for getting a better sense of how different departments in your company operate, especially if you’ve got your eye on an internal promotion.

  1. Share Your Story

A resume tells one kind of story, but if you’re ready to stretch your narrative voice, LinkedIn’s publishing platform allows you to broadcast your perspective and experience to 300 million users. This feature can showcase your ideas, while also serving as a portfolio of your expertise to fellow industry professionals, and potential new teammates.

  1. Message Matters

One of the more recent changes to LinkedIn’s look happened in its message center, a place that now looks similar to Facebook’s popular messaging service. The feature will allow you instant access to your conversation history, which can lend to more informal, quick “chats” with colleagues and networking contacts, as well as easy reference when following up on prior communications. There are several new options available to users when messaging, but before taking advantage of every bell and whistle, be sure to know your audience and adjust accordingly.

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Dealing with Distance: Four Tips for Long-Distance Job Searches

Long-distance job searches can be difficult and stressful. The long-distance job seeker has the potential of being squeezed out of the running by local qualified candidates, and—from an employer’s perspective—why should they look outside of their own city with relocation requests? Your job search is tough, but a company’s ability to gauge potential applicants from a distance can be tougher. Use the following tips to give you an edge around the challenge of qualified local candidates:

Understand Why Employers Opt for Close-Range Candidates

A lot of employers see non-local candidates as a risk. They might leave abruptly, or never arrive at all. The candidate’s family, friends, or even real estate property can interfere with future start dates and increase that risk of the employee never, in fact, starting at all.

Local applicants are attractive because of their flexibility in being able to come into an interview. If a company has a need for a short hiring cycle, they will be less likely to schedule an interview that requires a week delay due to travel time arrangements. In order to address this, be as flexible as possible and make yourself available to meet the interviewing company’s timeline requests. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to a local candidate because you aren’t able to start or interview when they need you to.

Explain Yourself

Employers look for sustainability, security, and dependability. Long-distance candidates may raise a flag of instability—not only are you leaving your previous employer, you’re also moving into a new home that may or may not have a support system such as family in place. In your cover letter, consider sharing your reasons for relocation. Make your motives clear, and your future hiring manager is less likely to question your dedication to the location and the company.

Get Ingrained

Use a local address or no address at all, on your résumé. Family members or friends can be useful “host locations” for addresses if you do decide to include one, especially if you’ll be able to stay with them while looking for your own home. When conversing with the hiring manager, have a commonality and be familiar with the area. If you have spent time in the region, say so, as this will further connect you to the location. Be ready to discuss the situation with your hiring manager, and use the location as a foot-in-the-door technique.

It’s all about the List

Locate your target area’s employers and make a list of opportunities and key contacts. Finding employer hubs aids your research. Creating target areas capable of fulfilling your search guidelines will prioritize big-hitting opportunities—a city with a population of 100,000 is less likely to have opportunities that fit your criteria than a city of 1 million. If you’re targeting a bigger company, find a local office of that company to inquire about opportunities within their larger corporation.

Be flexible, quick, creative, and pursue your job opportunities. Distance is limiting, but you can make up the perceived disadvantage and reduce the risk. A hiring manager will notice the dedication, too.

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How to Respond to “Difficult Situation” Questions in Your Interview

Adversity appears in some form in all jobs. A person’s ability to handle difficult or confrontational situations is important to success in any position. During your interviews, it is likely you will receive some type of question about how you deal with challenges. Preparing an effective response in advance could have a significant impact in landing the job you want.

Question Examples

An interviewer may simply ask, “How do you handle adversity?” Or they may be less direct and ask an alternative behavioral question, “Can you describe a time when you handled a difficult situation at work?” A few other possibilities:

  • “Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation. How did you handle it and what was the outcome?”
  • “Can you describe a challenge you have faced? What did you do to overcome it?”
  • “Can you give an example of a time you successfully dealt with a difficult person?”

What is the Interviewer Actually Looking For?

First, hiring managers like to see that a candidate is genuine and humble. From a skills perspective, a manager wants to hear proof that you can face adversity and still achieve goals. Constructive problem solving is important in keeping a positive company culture, and employers want to make sure each candidate is a fit.

Quality Responses

The worst response to this type of question is, “I have never really faced adversity.” In this case a hiring manager is likely to perceive that you don’t set ambitious goals, avoid challenges, or lack self-awareness. The reality is we all face difficult situations that need to be resolved in some shape or form. Instead, offer a specific, concrete example of a difficult situation that you successfully navigated to achieve a target outcome.

You might say, “In my last job, we were all set to begin a project when everything that could go wrong, did. While some team members panicked and suggested a delay was inevitable, I suggested we all collect ourselves and lay out alternatives for each challenge. We spent the morning taking action on alternatives and were able to start on schedule. It turned into a very successful project.” This example reveals that you have poise under pressure, and a problem solving attitude in the face of challenges.

As a manager or seasoned professional, adversity is unavoidable. In responding to an interview question about handing difficult situations, a well-crafted answer helps you shine. Showcase your ability to achieve goals even when faced with obstacles.

What are some of the adversity questions you’ve had to face?

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How Many Thank You Notes Are Too Many?

When a client recently interviewed with more than 20 people, even I wondered – is it overkill to send a separate thank you note to EVERYONE?

I didn’t have a clear answer, so I went to my “brain trust” – The National Resume Writers’ Association’s e-list. I posted this question and several of my generous colleagues responded with their insights. While no one thought it wasn’t necessary to send a thank you to all, some suggested sending it just to the highest-level person and referencing the others in their department.

Still, the consensus was that there is no risk, but a potential for high reward when you send a thank you to everyone who took the time to interview you. Yes, it can be time consuming. Yet, more than just being a polite thing to do, there are additional reasons why it’s worth your time:

  • EVERYONE has a say in your candidacy. While not everyone is an official decision maker, it’s not unusual to consider the opinions of people across all levels when deciding who to hire. All things being equal between two candidates, the one universally liked will have the edge.
  • You quickly add to your network. If you don’t get the job, 20+ people will remember you positively, and all have contacts outside the organization. They’ll be more likely to connect with you on LinkedIn and refer you to others.
  • You create an instant bond with future colleagues – vital to a new manager, but also beneficial to peers. The thank yous during the hiring process can make your job easier when you’re in the new role.
  • Those who send thank you notes are more likely to get the offer than those who don’t. Enough said.

No one is saying it’s fun, quick, or easy to write multiple thank you notes. But considering all the benefits that can come from this relatively simple gesture, isn’t it worth it?

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5 Salary Negotiating Mistakes to Avoid

Discussing salary requirements with a potential employer can be nerve-racking. Ask for too much and you may not get the job. Ask for too little and you may miss out on a substantial amount of money. Knowing how to avoid the following seven negotiating mistakes can help you land the job of your dreams and get you the salary you deserve.

Failing to research your competition. When you are interviewing for a job, you are competing with other qualified individuals pursuing the same objective. Knowing what skills and experience they bring to the table will help you understand your competitive advantage and allow you to negotiate your salary accordingly. Researching individuals who hold similar positions at your target company or their competitors using LinkedIn or another professional database will help you define your competitive advantage.

Discussing salary too soon. Disclosing your salary expectations too early in the interviewing process can often end a promising opportunity. Most initial interviews are conducted by a screener who is tasked with eliminating candidates. While your skills and experience may make you an ideal candidate for the position, your salary expectations may take you out of the running. Once you have reached the hiring manager you will have the opportunity to discuss how you can fill their needs rather than fill a pre-formed position. You will also have a better opportunity to understand if the long-term benefits of working with the company outweigh their initial offering.

Underselling yourself. Companies spend a great deal of time and effort during the interviewing process convincing you that their company is a great place to work. They are “selling you” on the opportunity. During the interviewing process, you should be “selling them” on how you will add value to their company. When discussing your salary expectation, don’t think about how much money you need, think about how much the company needs your skills and abilities.

Failing to express enthusiasm for the job. Negotiating your salary comes after a job offer. Before diving into the numbers, make sure you let your potential employer know how excited you are about the prospect of working with them. A job offer means they want to work with you. You have achieved your goal and are finally in the driver’s seat. Telling your employer how excited you are about the position will infuse the salary negotiation with a positive vibe that will help you discuss the subject in a problem-solving rather than confrontational way.

Accepting an offer without negotiation. Though there are definitely exceptions, most companies leave some room for negotiation. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. You’ve been negotiating since the first time you asked to stay up late. Why stop now?

Negotiating without a career goal. When you are negotiating your salary or comparing multiple offers, remember to think in the long term. If the salary is higher than other positions you have been looking at, make sure you understand where the job will lead you. Getting yourself into a dying industry with a high salary is a long-term prescription for disaster.

Advancing your career is more than a matter of negotiating the best possible salary. The best way to get ahead is to do something you are passionate about. A great salary and a lousy job is far worse than a lousy salary and a great job. Once you have found your purpose in life, the money will follow.

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