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Leadership by Design: Leadership

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Finding HappineLeadership by Design: Leadershipss at Work

By Dotun Merino

Few people are actually born to leadership. Most people have to learn how to become good leaders. One important aspect of good leadership is knowing what you are trying to lead others to. This involves careful consideration beforehand.

Having a plan means that you know what the end result should look like. This can apply to your work environment, the culture, or what you expect from your employees. By having a clear idea of what you want from your employees and what you want from yourself, you put yourself in a better position to plan how to meet your goals.

In addition to company-wide goals, each leader of a team should have specific goals for their team that complement the company’s goals. These goals can inform how you make policy and what kind of team culture you foster. If you have ever been involved in meetings or team building exercises that have seemed to be fun but ultimately pointless or a waste of time, you can understand the need to have clear goals to strive for. Then activities such as meetings, exercises, or other activities assume a greater importance. In order to be effective at setting and reaching goals, it is helpful to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym:

Specific. When you establish specific goals for your team rather than general goals, you are far more likely to follow through.

Measurable. One of the reasons for making a goal specific is so you can measure what the successful completion of that goal looks like, an important aspect of beginning with the end in mind.

Achievable. If a goal is too easy, it can also be easy to justify giving up on it because it’s not important enough. Make sure you set goals for your team that are challenging but achievable.

Realistic. While being ambitious can help you to achieve large goals, being too ambitious can often lead to rebellion, both in your team and in yourself.

Time-targeted. When you decide on setting a goal, you must also decide on when you expect your team to achieve that goal. You must be specific. This allows you to organize your goal-achieving behavior with a deadline.

In addition to being SMART about goal setting, there are some other steps you can take that will help you remain committed to achieving your goals.

Tell someone else about your goal. This will help to keep you accountable and committed.

READ ALSO: Why We’ll Stay In Power For Another 32 Years – APC

When appropriate, divide your team goals into smaller milestones. When you collectively reach a milestone, reward your team. Small rewards can help your team to stay enthusiastic.

If your team fails to meet a milestone, don’t use this as an occasion to beat them or yourself up or to give up. Instead, determine where and how you failed and how to avoid doing so in the future. Most importantly, don’t give up.

Perhaps the single most important step is to choose a goal that is meaningful to you, your team, and to the company.

Setting goals for yourself, your team, and in some cases your company are important aspects of developing a plan for your leadership. However, on another level, these goals are actually not as big picture as you can get. To really understand how you can lead others, you must account for your own values and the company’s values as well. When you have a good grasp on what is important to you, this can clarify when to stand your ground and when to relent when you disagree with others, which is a position you will find yourself in often as a leader.

Values are not the same as morals and ethics. In fact, what you value is both unique to you and can change over time. How can you know what you value? The following steps can help:

Identify one of your happiest moments in your life. Who were you with? What were you doing? What factors contributed to your happiness?
Identify one of your proudest moments in life. Was this a shared experience? With whom? What elements in the experience made you feel proud?
Identify one of your most fulfilling moments. Rather than a happiest moment, this would be when you felt the greatest sense of satisfaction. What need was fulfilled?

When you work on determining your core values, identifying anywhere from 5-10 values should be sufficient. More than 10 can make decision making too confusing.

When values are in conflict, identifying which ones take precedent can help clarify your thinking in these moments.

Since your values can change, reassessment on a regular basis can help you to determine if these values still apply. Ask yourself if you are proud, happy, and fulfilled by these values. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable identifying your core values to another human being. If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you should probably reassess.

While it is both possible and likely to value other people, this may not be as helpful as valuing abstract principles which exist outside of individuals. Principles such as honesty, adventurousness, etc., can serve as signposts for your behavior and decisions throughout your life.

Develop a leadership mission statement. Imagine you are somehow able to listen in at your funeral. What will everyone say about you? What would you like to be said about you? Now that you have taken the time to identify some specific goals and some core values, the next step is to write out a mission statement. Think of the mission statement as a kind of personal constitution.

Just as the US government uses the US Constitution as a guide toward decision making, this mission statement can help to serve as your guide. This can be your own personal mission statement, but it is also helpful to work out a mission statement with your team.

However, the most important step in making these mission statements is that you have identified what you truly value and understand why you have set the goals that you have set, both for your team and for yourself. Keep in mind that the activities in this module are first steps, and a mission statement that is of any true worth takes more than just a week to put together.

So use these worksheets as beginning points in developing your goals, your values, and ultimately your mission and purpose, both professionally and personally.

Prof. Akindotun Merino is the CEO of Jars Education Group; a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California.
Share your successes and challenges:
drmerino@jarseducation.com
Text: 0705 629 0985
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (3) (16)

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Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
When you find yourself excessively self-oriented, this is a sign that you need to deepen your humility and refocus on serving others. Here are some ways to help you foster a greater sense of humility:

Allow others to be first and foremost. Insisting on being the first in line, the first to raise your hand in a class, the first to get the parking spot, and so on, has a tendency to inflate one’s sense of self-importance. However, when you allow others to have the spotlight or be first, it gives you a better vantage point to appreciate their gifts and what they are able to bring to the table. And when you can do this, you actually find yourself in a better position to lead others because you understand how they can best contribute.

Don’t insist on being right. Nobody likes to be wrong, including other people. When you are wrong it puts you in a vulnerable position, which can be scary. However, vulnerability is often what makes a person beautiful and appreciable. Allowing others the legitimacy of their beliefs without correction from you is a charitable act.

Listen to what other people think more than telling them what you think. Dale Carnegie once said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own voice. Really paying attention to what other people have to say without having to correct or undermine them helps you to stay oriented outward rather than being self-absorbed.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)

Try not to judge others. An old saying goes like this, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” While it is tempting to judge another person, to assess what they are doing and how they are doing it, when you do so, you are presuming that you know better. Unfortunately, unless you have lived the experiences of another person, you cannot know what is best for them. Your grasp on another person’s situation will always be incomplete because you don’t have the complete picture.

Finally keep your balance. Throughout the whole process of becoming a more effective leader and a more effective human being, two tools can help smooth the way. The first is developing a greater sense of gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, or while you drink your coffee or eat breakfast, either write down in a notebook or type on your computer a list of five things for which you are grateful. If you keep this gratitude journal every day, it will have a cumulative effect on your keeping a positive outlook.

The second tool’s importance cannot be understated. No matter how much you have on your plate at any given time, it is important that you take the time to play. Whether this is a hobby such as painting or an activity such as playing video games, make a point of scheduling play time for yourself at least two to three times a week. This will help you to balance out all the stress you have in your life.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams 2 (15)

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Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
Often you may want to give team members a break from working on their normal projects to meet as a team and improve team morale or functioning. Sometimes getting a team together for a meeting or a team building activity can actually be an exercise in futility. In order to use meetings and team building exercises effectively, it is helpful to have specific goals in mind, to identify those goals to your team members, and to follow up. For example, doing a trust building exercise after a time when team members were at each other’s throats is helpful, but if you only do the trust building exercise the one time, after a while team members may forget the point or lose the benefits they gained from engaging in the exercise the one time. When planning a meeting, for instance, identify why the meeting is necessary and plan an agenda to keep the meeting organized. Sometimes the necessity is quite simple. For example, scheduling time for team members to play together can help them to recharge after a particularly grueling project. It can also help them build more of a rapport with each other. Having specific goals for an activity does not preclude having an activity achieve multiple goals.

When planning team-building exercises, make sure that you don’t undermine your attempt to improve your team. Here are some suggestions of what to avoid in team building:

  • Make sure that your team-building goals are relevant to your team’s needs, so that they are worth taking regular time away from other work to improve.
  • Make sure that your team-building activities are not simply one-time affairs; but that they are consistently worked on to reinforce your goal for the exercise.
  • While athletics can be fun for many employees, they can also be destructive towards building team morale, especially if they are focused simply on competition and winning.
  • If you use team-building exercises, try to incorporate them more frequently than once or twice a year. Incorporating these exercises monthly or weekly helps to reinforce your goals.

If you cannot lead yourself effectively than you will never be able to get others to follow you. The most important habit that effective people can have, whether they lead others or not, is to be proactive. Think of proactive as the opposite of reactive. Instead of having the world act upon you, you take action to make yourself into the kind of leader anyone would follow.

If you have been working on your mission statement and identifying your core values, this question is probably not too difficult to answer. If you understand what you value in both yourself and in others, then you can work at shaping yourself into that kind of leader. Keep in mind that developing into the kind of leader that you would follow involves constantly re-assessing where you are at in terms of your values, your goals, and your overall mission. The further you go down the path of leadership, the more necessary it becomes to refine your skills and improve yourself. This requires both detachment and self-honesty. Being detached means that you are able to dispassionately observe where you are strong and where you are weak. Self-honesty is the capacity to identify personal strengths and weaknesses.

READ ALSO: Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

In order to be an effective employee, an effective leader, and an effective person, you must have the capacity to reflect and be aware of yourself. Being self-aware involves multiple dimensions of the self. Taking care of physical needs through exercise and maintaining a good diet are factors in being aware of your physical self. Disciplining your mind through meditation that allows you to manage your emotions effectively is an example of developing your emotional and psychological awareness. You also want to have a good idea of the big picture. Are you satisfied with where you are and where you are going? Imagine once again that you are at your funeral. How would you imagine the things people have to say about you would square with your life’s goals and your mission statement?

Self-improvement is a long term game, but as you work continuously on improving yourself, it is important to keep certain pitfalls in mind.

  • Navel gazing can occur when you become overly focused on yourself. This means that you become self-absorbed and self-centered.
  • Another pitfall of working to improve yourself constantly is that you can become overly convinced of your own self-importance.
  • Finally, if you are always working to improve yourself, you may find that you have gotten stuck in this sense that you are never good enough. A better way to frame this is to think that where you are is always good, but that there is also always room for improvement.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

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Building And Reinforcing Teams (14)

By Akindotun Merino
Teams don’t immediately come together and experience success overnight. In fact, it takes a good leader to work at turning a group of people into an effective team. This module explores the various aspects of building and improving your team.

One of the most important activities that you will need to engage in as a leader is constantly assessing the state of your team, each individual employee, and yourself. Before you can put employees in positions to succeed, you have to have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here are some guidelines for how to assess team and team member strengths and weaknesses:

Include other team-members in the assessment process. Allow each member of the team a chance to identify both his or her and other team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this can be done privately so that no team-member develops resentment towards another for perceived unwarranted criticism. This also allows you to compare your assessment with others.

READ ALSO: Trusting Your Team 2 (12)

When an employee or the entire team experiences a failure or a success, try to identify why this came about, and who was most responsible. In the case of failure, identifying the responsible person is not about casting blame, but it is about identifying what went wrong, so you know where and how to improve. When you are analyzing a success, however, it is good to give credit when someone (other than yourself) was particularly instrumental in that success.

Determine how consistently an employee performs in a given role. If that employee is consistently unsuccessful, try to find another opportunity and role for that employee to be successful. Identify the skills necessary for success in certain roles, and when an employee is consistently successful in a role, note these skills as part of that employee’s skill set. If an employee fails to perform consistently, you may also identify these skills as weaknesses in that particular employee.

Observe employees when they act alone or outside of the team structure in order to determine how their strengths and weaknesses might change in different contexts. Perhaps it is not a lack of a particular skill that is the weakness, but an inability to apply that skill in a team setting, or vice versa.

Dr. Meredith Belbin identifies nine team roles that can help make up a balanced and effective team.

The Plant. The plant is the highly creative and unconventional member of a team. They tend to be strong in thinking outside the box but their primary weakness is a tendency to be forgetful.

The Monitor Evaluator (ME). This person is good at providing a logical and dispassionate view of the range of decisions before a team. They tend to have difficulties with being overly critical and slow-moving.

READ ALSO: Trusting Your Team 3 (13)

The Coordinator (CO). This employee (often it will be you) helps the team to focus on goals and to delegate work effectively. They tend to either over-delegate or under-delegate and end up micromanaging.

The Resource Investigator (RI). This employee will tend to understand how your team’s work can best translate to the rest of the world. They will be good at understanding the competition and developing connections with others outside and inside the team framework, but they can have difficulties with following up on or getting in-depth information.

The Implementer. This role involves someone who is good at taking theory and putting it into practice. They try to find strategies on how to make an idea work in the most efficient manner. Implementers have difficulty considering alternative approaches and may be slow to give up on a favored idea.

Completer-Finishers. These team members excel at the end of a task. They make sure everything is functioning ideally. These employees act as a kind of quality control. Their strength, having high standards, can also be their weakness, in that they tend to be perfectionists.

Team workers (TW). These employees are really good at smoothing over the tensions and difficulties that come up when people are working hard on creative endeavors. They excel at working and playing with others, but they can be indecisive when it comes time to make team decisions about the best course of action.

Shapers. These employees act as a kind of engine for the team. They can effectively get others going and create momentum. Typically shapers are highly driven and enthusiastic individuals. Their weakness tends to be being overly aggressive and temperamental in their desire to get the team’s work done.

The Specialist. The specialist of the group might only know how to do one thing, but she or he is an expert at it. Their focus is narrow and in-depth, which can be both their strength and their weakness.

An ideal team will be balanced with all nine roles being expressed. Since many teams are smaller than nine people, you may find that different team members excel at multiple roles. When you identify a key strength in one of your employees, for example, an employee who is highly energetic, then you can help them fulfill one or more roles on your team. The energetic employee for example might be good at being a shaper as well as being a resource investigator. Someone who is highly critical can be either a completer finisher or a monitor evaluator or both.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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