Leaders are healers: Leaders must heal themselves

When we read the papers these days or watch television, or consult social media we can easily be filled with sadness and even despair.

We seem to have “leaders” who have no boundaries to the hurt they impose on others.

On Leadership Failures

If we made a list of the hundred worst leaders who do more harm than good, the list would be a horrible summary of humanity’s disgrace. The list would include men and women from all over the world; some from under-developed countries and some from so-called developed countries.  

When we confront the evil lives of those who start wars, displace millions of people, abuse and oppress the needy, destroy jobs and families for a better bottom line, use others with no respect for their dignity, we cannot but be overwhelmed by leadership failures.

Certainly we need leaders who can heal others instead of harming them, but first and foremost it is increasingly obvious that leaders must heal themselves.

On Regretful Leadership

 History and contemporary experiences show us leaders who have led followers to atrocities, violence, hatred, division, and polarization.

But even locally many leaders diminish and become less than they could be because of their own leadership styles.

Some leaders are immersed in denial, arrogance, and deceit, and their leadership makes them inhuman. Domineering, arrogant, greedy leaders create victims everywhere. In many organizations, the boss who is responsible for vision, values, and standards cause regretful leadership.

They have:

  • No sense of responsibility
  • No vision
  • No values
  • No standards

Much contemporary organizational disease that cries out for healing results from leaders’ inauthentic, that is, sick ways of thinking and desiring. Other leaders, at least become aware of a gnawing sense of regret for their leadership failures.

Leaders must heal themselves of their own failures and bring harmony into their own lives.

On Healing Leadership

The primary focus of healing leadership is the self-healing of the leader, who like everyone else yearns for wholeness. So much pseudo-leadership today is a festering wound that must be cleansed and disinfected before it will ever heal.

An individual leader must always appreciate that he or she needs healing in order to effectively serve others and the organization.

Perhaps, leaders should take an oath similar to the physicians; first do no harm.

Some so-called leaders could only have a healing influence on the organization by resigning. There are situations that cannot be healed, such as those that arise from deliberate evil and unethical decisions of a controlling boss.

Moreover, individuals who have been absolute jerks for years and years need psychological counseling before change is possible. Healing self from greed, ambition, and controlling attitudes need:

  • Self-discipline
  • Temperance
  • A focus on others
  • A new view of self
  • A new commitment to integrity

On Appreciative Leadership

A leader who wishes to heal others needs self-care, a healthy lifestyle, and behavioral changes where appropriate. He or she also needs to appreciate the meaning of life, have some personal understanding of suffering and sickness, appreciate the benefits of personal healing, and be open to the healing effects of others.

Once a person understands his or her own need of healing, he or she can then appreciate the advantages of healing for others.

A leader then hopes for his or her own change and for others’ too.

The Hopeful Leader

A leader of hope must also deal with the negativity and pain that come with leading others. At times, leaders work with awkward and difficult employees, suffer the stress and even agony of decision-making, and face the anguish of attempting to resolve gut-wrenching situations.

They must cope with the personally felt consequences of job stress, burnout, accidents, others’ harassment, terminations, losses to the organization when workers retire, and even the pressures of success.

Leaders frequently need to deal with their own pain and with the pain of others, and find that leadership can impact one’s health, relationships, sense of purpose, and fulfillment. They can be dedicated to community and feel lonely. Of course, a sick organization makes good leaders of hope sick too, unless they can steel themselves against it.

Personal Transcendence

Healing self in these situations is part of the ongoing conversion of a leader. It means overcoming personal sin, even the small tendencies to selfishness that tend to weaken one’s wholehearted commitment. A leader’s journey is away from self-centeredness to self-transcendence and to a focusing on the importance of others.

This includes:

  • Removing prejudice
  • Being open to others
  • Listening more
  • Talking less
  • Being more attentive
  • Less distracted
  • Valuing others more
  • Judging others less
  • Centering on the legacy of others

Healing of Self

It will also include working for trust and never presuming it, telling the truth and living the truth in love, communicating well and clarifying positions and values, guaranteeing others their own space, maintaining a vision of high hopes amid the mini despairs.

The training of leaders to self-healing includes integrity, honesty, breaking down barriers, releasing others’ potential, being magnanimous in dealing with others.

Healing of self is a redirection of one’s mind and heart and is an integral component of successful spiritual leadership.

So how are you doing at taking an honest look at your personal leadership flaws and identifying where you are broken? How can you work to find remedies to replace areas of trouble. With whom can you seek advise and coaching to improve you personal leadership effectiveness? i would love to hear your thought!

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Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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Part 3: Leaders, Turn Your Informed and Engaged Employees Into Advocates

Leading a team of informed and engaged employees is extremely rewarding .

Everyone seems to get along, people are motivated to do their jobs well, and your business appears to be running like a well-oiled machine. (For more on that, see my first article or second article in this series.)

But if you stop there, you’re doing yourself and your team a huge disservice.

You’re missing out on the key next step: creating advocates.

Employee Advocates as First Responders

As a leader, creating a team full of brand advocates is beneficial for a number of reasons. Most of all, it adds a human element to your public relations. When your employees are the ones promoting your brand, your audience is much more likely to listen.

In fact, 84 percent of people say they trust recommendations from their acquaintances over those that come through traditional advertising.

Employee advocates are also your first line of defense against those who may be uninformed about your brand (or unhappy with it). In a social media-driven world where people are digitally communicating 24/7, this is especially crucial.

In one study, 56 percent of employees said they’ve defended their company via a public platform — and raising this number is the ultimate goal of employee advocacy.

Acting as a Brand Megaphone

The best employee advocates are proud, vocal, savvy, and educated about what they do. They take their jobs seriously and understand the importance of their roles — both within their departments and for the company as a whole.

Advocates are driven and career-oriented, and they place a high value on their personal brands.

Their ability to be vocal creates enormous levels of engagement. Not only do they show their enthusiasm for their jobs internally, but they also want to share their appreciation with the world.

That said, a love for the job isn’t enough. To be effective advocates, they must also get the proper guidance, training, and tools to share their knowledge with their audience of followers and connections.

That’s where you, as a leader, come in.

Creating Employee Advocates

Here are five techniques that will help you create employee advocates:

1. Put Parameters in place

Informed, engaged employees need to know what they can and cannot say about their companies on public platforms. For instance, someone might be dying to celebrate the positive outcomes of a corporate rebrand, but he isn’t sure whether it’s OK to share that information with the public.

To avoid this, create and distribute a list of best practices for communicating about the company, as well as a social media policy. This might seem like a no-brainer, but one survey revealed that fewer than half of all companies currently have policies in place. Without clear parameters, employees will likely share too much or too little, causing their advocacy to be ineffective (or to backfire).

2. Collaborate to Identify Goals

As you build your advocacy program, be sure to include your employees in the process. They’re the ones who will carry it out, so work together to determine your goals and definition of success.

For instance, are you looking to improve HR and company culture? If so, your ambassador program should be more internally focused. But if you’re striving to improve social selling and lead generation, then your program will be largely social and built on employees’ existing connections.

Either way, your employees have a valuable perspective that should be factored into your plans.

3. Incorporate Technology

To ensure ease of use, simplicity, and adoption, implement technology that supports your advocacy goals. Studies show that employees’ usage of social media, smartphones, and after-hours Internet directly correlates with their performance as advocates.

In addition, employees of socially engaged companies are 57 percent more likely to align social media engagement with more sales leads.

4. Level the Playing Field

To encourage participation, you must give employees a reason to opt in — and an easy method for doing so. Some employees aren’t natural advocates and have no interest in participating; don’t force them. That will only lead to bad things for both of you.

Instead, recognize and reward employees who are talking about your organization and spreading your brand’s message.

Create toolkits for managers to share with their direct reports that detail your program, the opportunities it offers, and the benefits of joining. Announce it during all-hands meetings, share success stories, and give employees more than one chance to sign up.

5. Dive Into the Data

Once you’ve defined success, identified measurable goals, and launched your employee advocacy program, make sure to continuously gather and analyze data.

Over time, this information will uncover what’s working and what’s not, and it will allow you to make necessary adjustments down the road to maximize your program.

Creating Positive Impact

Informed and engaged employees are prime candidates for brand advocacy because they’re already intrinsically motivated to collaborate and make a difference for your company. They want to have an impact on both your culture and your bottom line.

Employee advocates can be your most valuable assets — but it’s up to you to provide them with the framework and tools to get there.

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Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
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6 Steps to Creating a Leader-Focused Growth Plan

Growth Arrow

Getting a new member on your staff can be extremely exciting. This new staff member can bring needed energy and enthusiasm to your team.

When you get a new staff member or employee, it is extremely important for you and the staff member to establish a growth plan within the company.

Engineering Success

Your company works hard to actively recruit people who want to grow and managers want to see that growth help the company, as well as the talent you have recruited. In order to ensure that your new employee is able to grow their talent and become better at their job, consider establishing a growth plan with him or her.

Establishing and following through on a high quality growth plan are critical not only for your retention rate, but for the success of your employee as well.

Creating a Winning Growth Plan

Here are simple steps to creating a winning growth plan.

1. Get to know your new team member

The first step should take place during the first week the employee is hired. You should meet with your new team member. Ask them why they want to be here and what they are hoping to accomplish with their time here.

Find out what goals they have for their future life, both professional and personal goals. This early conference is very much about finding out what your new employee values and finding out how you can both help each other.

2. Create goals

After the first meeting you should take about two weeks to think about what you learned from this meeting. Tell your new employee to think about some short and long-term goals that they would like to set. Prod them to open up about what they are truly interested in, if pay drives them, coach them on what’s a reasonable payroll.

You should also take some time to think about some potential goals for your employee as well. After the right amount of time you should sit down with your new employee and talk about the goals that you each want for the employee. Be sure to listen carefully for what the employee wants for themselves.

During this meeting, you will set up some goals for the coming months and for the next year. These goals will help you and your employee focus on his or her growth and give you something to work towards.

3. Observe what skills they already have

The next thing you need to do is to assess what skills your employee has. You have some data on your employee from his or her resume. Take some time to pay attention to the way your employee performs in the office. Develop a list of skills that you notice that your employee has. You should also develop a list of skills that your employee needs to develop as they continues to grow.

4. Take advantage of performance reviews

After about a month of observing your employee, you should sit down with your employee. Give them some time to reflect on how they have performed in the last month. Ask your employee what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are.

Based on your observations and your employees strengths and weaknesses, you should be able to set a list of skills you would like for your employee to work on. List out three different skills you feel that your employee could get better at and tell your employee that you plan on supporting him or her in their quest to become better at what they do.

5. Offer training

Next, support your employee in their ability to get more skills. Arrange some professional development and training for your employee. This may require you to schedule video conferencing for your employee with experts in each of these skills, or maybe send them to a conference.

Skill development is extremely important for your employee, so you should take your time to invest in professional development for your employee. Most importantly, be transparent with your employee. Tell them that you send them to training activities and conferences because you value them and want them to get as much out of it as they want to.

6. Reflection

The final step in developing your employee as a professional is to reflect. After a year, you and your employee should conference. Reflect on the goals you set a year ago and decide to what extent the employee was able to meet those goals.

If your employee was not able to meet the goals, then you should ask the employee what they felt kept them from meeting their goal. This will form the base of next years goals. You should also reflect on the professional development the employee has received over the last year.

Continued Development

This is also a great time to talk about new strengths and weaknesses. At the end of the meeting, discuss with your employee and establish new goals for the next year as well as new skills. This will allow your employee to develop continually.

Investing in the development of your employees is critical to the success of your business in the long-term as well as the success of your recruitment efforts. Start developing your employees today!

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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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Part 2: How Leaders Can Create Engaged Employees

It’s every leader’s dream to have employees who ask what they can give to an organization rather than what they can get from it.

The differentiating factor between these two mindsets is actually quite simple: the level of engagement employees feel.

Boosting communication and informing employees is the first step (for more on that, see my first article in this series). But engaging them to the point that they follow through with action is even more critical to a company’s culture and success.

The Perks of Engagement

When informed employees become engaged, their productivity, attitude, and willingness to collaborate all increase. This means they will do their jobs better and have a positive effect on their co-workers and work environment. Further, research shows that employee engagement doesn’t just correlate with bottom-line results — it drives them.

Disengaged employees, on the other hand, can be dangerous. Whether they’re in the wrong role or in the wrong company, they likely do not care about their work and will be detrimental to company culture.

Unfortunately, disengaged employees are all too common. Fewer than one-third (31.5 percent) of U.S. workers were engaged at work in 2014.

Shifting From Informed to Engaged

Engaged employees have a can-do attitude. In one study, 84 percent of highly engaged employees believed they could positively impact the quality of their organizations’ products, compared with only 31 percent of disengaged workers.

Here are five crucial leadership strategies that will help move your employees from merely informed to actively engaged:

  1. Keep it real. Be authentic — and make sure employees know you’re a real person. As a leader, it’s your job to set an example and demonstrate the highest moral standards and ethics in everyday life so your employees follow suit.
  1. Be accessible. Make sure employees can directly communicate with the C-suite. One study revealed that leadership is the primary concern of 90 percent of employees, followed closely by culture and engagement (86 percent). Being available for two-way conversation can do wonders for fixing this.
  1. Join in. Believe it or not, building trust in executives is more than twice as important as building trust in immediate managers. It’s crucial for you to collaborate with frontline employees to truly prove your authenticity. Get in the trenches to work alongside them.
  1. Make it matter. Give employees meaning in their projects so they have something to work toward and track progress against. It’s important that they feel they’re making progress on a daily basis, and they also need to see that their work contributes to the greater good of the company. Otherwise, they’ll see their work as meaningless.
  1. Say “thanks.” Recognition goes a long way toward inspiring good work from good people. Identify when employees go above and beyond — positive reinforcement will encourage them (and others) to continue doing so.

Adding Meaning to Work

Once you’ve informed employees about company goings-on, it’s time to engage them by adding meaning to their work. They need incentive and a means to take that next step, along with an understanding of why they’re asked to do the things they do and how it impacts their daily lives.

This isn’t something that happens naturally — you, as the leader, play a major role in making it happen. Once your informed employees become engaged, the next step is to turn them into advocates.

To build those internal advocates, stay tuned for the third and final part of the series. Check out the first part of the series here.

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Russell Fradin

Russ Fradin is the founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal
He is a Digital Media industry veteran and an Angel Investor
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Who is Coaching Your Team?

Who is Coaching Your Team?

This is a question that every leader of a midsize company should be asking. How are you optimizing performance and ensuring focus? This is even more crucial for your customer facing teams, such as sales, customer service and marketing.

To use a sports analogy, you are the owner and or general manager, but who is on the field and in the clubhouse leading the team?

Getting Out of the Weeds

A common reality for most midsize companies is that leaders are by necessity also functional managers. Like any member of the team, they get swept away frequently and find themselves in the weeds.

The challenge becomes keeping the foot on the accelerator while being pulled in numerous directions. Gaps begin to grow and performance suffers.

Teams need coaches and here are 7 reasons why:

  1. Prioritization: We live in an information age. We are constantly being bombarded by data. For peak performance, we need to filter that information and prioritize. It is critical to segregate the needle moving activities from that which is just busy work. When your head is down and you are just pushing forward it is hard to make that delineation. Another pair of eyes is invaluable.
  2. Focus: Many people are like squirrels in search of their next nut. Zigging and zagging not really getting anywhere. Having someone to keep them on the right path is vital. It is just so tempting to go chase something, the hard work is to remain steady and resolute. Having someone along side them to keep them focused is essential.
  3. Motivation: Work is hard, tiring and at times frustrating. A coach breaks things down into milestones allowing progress to be seen and felt. They push and support and help to maintain the needed drive. They bar the door so complacency cannot enter.
  4. Accountability: Personal accountability is key. Everyone struggles at times to do what they intend to do or say they will. It is helpful to have a mechanism in place to ensure that people are held to their commitments and are responsible for their deliverables.
  5. Improvement: Habit energy is incredibly strong. Unchecked, bad habits form and solidify making them much harder to break. Having someone who can be a mirror, reflecting back those habits in their early stages and helping the individual determine steps that can be taken to break them down is key to driving optimum performance.
  6. Validation: At the end of the day, we all want the same thing. To be heard, cared for, valued and respected. Busy leaders who are also functional managers can fail to find the time to put forth the effort to validate their team members. That lack of affirmation or inspiration can be demoralizing and deflating.
  1. Retention: Good players want to play for a well coached team. When individuals know they have the support and are appropriately pushed and challenged, they feel more fulfilled. Further, well coached people perform better and performance is typically rewarded, which also lends to higher retention rates.

Creating High Performance Teams

These 7 reasons are interrelated. They are all indicative of a high performing team. I have laid out the case as to the value of making sure that at the very least your client facing teams are being coached. What I have not answered is how.

Here are 3 suggestions:

  1. Delegate some of your functional duties to create time and space so you can actively coach your key client facing teams.
  2. Identify someone else in your organization that could fill the role of the coach.
  3. Hire a coach. If you can absorb a fulltime coach into your current organization that would be optimal. However, for many that is not possible. So lean on the services of an external coach who can work virtually with the team members and report back to you. If you find someone with a good process and who fits well with the organization, the ROI can be huge.

Please share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below. I will do my best to respond to each one. I would also be happy to discuss in more detail this concept, please feel free to reach out to schedule a time to talk.

Thanks for reading.

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Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
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