5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of March 7, 2016

Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

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How to reduce the sugar rush of organizational life by Jennifer V. Miller at SmartBlog on Leadership

It’s a familiar lament at work: We can’t get anything done because we’re all so busy interacting. Open-office plans, project teams and the incessant ping of our devices lay siege to any possibility of extended mental concentration. The modern workplace, with all its interruptions and distractions, is like an unruly kid on a sugar high at Chuck E. Cheese’s, moving frenetically from one activity to the next. It’s all fun and games until the inevitable sugar crash.

Organizational leaders are both peddlers of the sugar (forwarding countless texts and emails to team members) and overwhelmed kiddos (being summoned yet again to lead a time-suck of a project.)

My Comment: I love Jennifer’s characterization of workplace distractions as a sugar high. I’ve worked with many leaders and managers who cite this as one of their biggest challenges. Jennifer’s suggestions will help you return to healthy and stop the inevitable crashes.

The Question No One Asks Leaders  By Dan Rockwell at Leadership Freak

It was a moment of authenticity that I’ll never forget. I was shocked when General Dempsey, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “The question I wish people would have asked me is, ‘How do you feel?’”

My Comment: Dan’s post is an incredibly important observation about the role of feelings and emotion in leadership. He starts with the leader’s desire to have their own emotions acknowledged, then continues with a poignant observation: “Leaders who don’t have feelings look down on those who do.”

3 Ways to Rebuild Trust by Marlene Chism

Building trust is a foundational skill of successful leadership. Wherever you see lack of initiative, low morale, or no engagement, ask yourself if the root problem is really a lack of trust or a lack of leadership integrity. Here are three ways to shore up your integrity to start rebuilding trust.

My Comment: I shared this article under the title ‘Building trust means being willing to say you’re sorry’ and I believe that’s true (spoiler alert: it’s also one of Marlene’s top 3 ways to rebuild trust.) If you’re lacking trust from your team, start here (and then check out Winning Well where we give you dozens more ways to build trust.)

7 Leaders vs. Managers: 17 Traits That Set Them Apart [Infographic] by Lisa McKale at ResourcefulManager.com

Let’s set the record straight. Everyone who is a great leader isn’t necessarily a great manager. And great managers aren’t necessarily great leaders.

So when it comes to the Leaders vs. Managers debate, where do you land? Here’s a list of 17 traits that separate the two. Go down the list and check off which ones match you. Most of us have some qualities of each. For example, do you have 10 Leader traits and 7 Manager traits? Or the reverse? Are you happy with the answer?

My Comment: In my experience, the most successful frontline and midlevel supervisors both lead and manage. They have a robust set of tools and are able to use different approaches when circumstances warrant.

Deadlines and Dinosaurs: Leading Accountability by Mary Kelly, PhD.

Why do professional, smart, highly motivated, ambitious people need other people for accountability?

Because we do.

Our Paleolithic, survival-motivated, dinosaur brains tell us that life is short, so enjoy today. Don’t do anything difficult right now because you might need that energy to escape the dangerous wooly mammoth that is chasing you. Conserve your energy. Why stand up when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down? Take it easy. Whatever you need to do can probably be done tomorrow.

My Comment: Paradoxically, a common problem faced by highly driven leaders is that they fail to give their people clear due dates. Their internal urgency says ‘I needed this yesterday’…but not everyone has that same clock. Be clear about finish line and energize your people!


Time’s Running Out

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“I’d choose Winning Well as the top leadership book for the 21st century, full of actionable insights, practices, and principles for your lasting leadership success. Take charge of your team, your career, and your results. Read Winning Well with a highlighter and pen in hand, and then buy a copy for everyone on your team. Yes, it really IS that good.” -David Newman, author of Do It! Marketing


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