Inspiring Leader Support For Health & Well-Being

HealthWell-Being_billboardKaren Lawrence KencoAs an experienced and dedicated manager, you want to do everything possible job to help your employees to be the most efficient and productive that they can be.  You mentor them, you develop their talents, you constructively criticize them and help them to see how they can do things better the next time.  You provide training programs so that they can understand their jobs and develop into higher skilled, more productive parts of your department.  You fight for pay increases for them and make sure that they are doing the things that best match their strengths.

What more can you do for them?

You can take care of their basic health.  Yes, that may sound like a tall order, but there are a few things that you can do today to improve their health and make them happier and healthier people.

Key into your organization’s Wellness program.
Use the challenges that your wellness representative provides or make up your own step challenge or sleep challenge.  Employees can compete to see who gets the most steps or the most zzzzzz’s.

Learn about what is already available to your employees.
It is possible that your organization’s health care provider or employee assistance program has opportunities for your employees, for example, weight loss coaching, financial guidance or stress management. Perhaps a discount to a weight loss program or local gym is already available to you and your team.

Consider providing standing desks.
There are affordable models that sit on the desk and allow the employee to sit or stand at a comfortable height. If they express interest in standing, you will also want to invest in mats for your employees to stand on. A mat designed for standing at a kitchen sink is affordable and will serve the purpose. Suggest that employees ease into standing for a good part of the day.  Like any new exercise, employees shouldn’t expect to be able to stand all day long on the first day.

Encourage employees to get up and walk around.
The newest catchphrase in wellness is, “Sitting is the new Smoking”.  Propose a widget be installed on their computer or smartphone that reminds them to take a stretch from time to time. (one free option: Big Stretch Reminder). Give them the autonomy to participate in company-sponsored programs, use break time to take a walk, or spend their lunch at a local gym.  Make sure they understand that they are encouraged to visit their doctor for their annual wellness/preventive visit.

Lead by example.
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself!  Let them see you making healthy choices at lunch. Lead walking meetings. Make sure exercise is part of your weekly routine.

When your employees see that you care about them and their health, you will be impressed at how much they respect and appreciate you.





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What Kind of Decision-Maker Are You?

decision making for leadersYour decision-making process and leadership style can make a direct impact on employee job satisfaction and overall happiness. While it’s important to lead your group and make decisions in a way that works for you personally, you’ll also want employees to avoid unnecessary union organizing as a reaction to job dissatisfaction.

With that in mind, familiarity with different methods of leading your team and making decisions can help. Here’s a guide to some of the most common methods of leading and making decisions, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

1. Autocratic

Autocratic leadership style involves maximizing employee performance by motivating employees to achieve goals without mistakes. This leadership style often conveys an image of an iron-fisted, authoritarian figure with the only correct direction the group should follow. However, this method is effective when quick decision-making without discussion or negotiation is necessary. It also offers the advantage of keeping projects on task and can be helpful during stressful or confusing situations that require an immediate response. Despite advantages, the autocratic leadership style can also be unproductive because it’s prone to abuse by inexperienced or power-hungry leaders. It can also stifle open communication and creativity, and it isn’t the best choice for a group of modern-thinking employees who thrive on these aspects of the job.

2. Consultative

Consultative leadership style embodies similar principles as the autocratic leadership style but differs primarily because it involves the leader requesting input from her subordinates. Leaders who use this approach demonstrate interest in employees’ opinions, and while they may not necessarily use the suggestions subordinates provide, consultative leaders show they have enough time to listen, which employees appreciate. This leadership style can be effective for employees who want to be a part of the decision-making process but don’t want to be responsible for the decisions that are made. Despite its advantages, this method is ineffective when decisions have to be made on short notice since consultation time with subordinates may be limited.

3. Democratic

Using a democratic leadership approach means involving the group in the decision-making process. A leader who uses this approach usually maintains the final say but is able to take advantage of the different perspectives his employees may have. This leadership style is advantageous in practicing better decision-making skills and for helping employees feel they’re a part of the team. Despite that, this leadership style becomes problematic when too many opinions are involved and the leader loses control of the decision-making process.

4. “Laissez-faire” Leadership Style

Frontline employees may see issues or trends that your leadership team may not be able to spot first-hand. Without this knowledge, leaders may make off-base decisions that can adversely impact the company’s bottom-line. The laissez-faire leadership style can help alleviate this issue. With this leadership style, leaders empower employees by giving them the ability to take responsibility and make decisions, which can help employees develop into leaders, provide employees with leadership experience, and remove the need to delegate tasks to specific individuals. However, this leadership style is ineffective for employees who don’t want the responsibility, and employees may need to perform work for which they’re not suited. Plus, shifting leadership responsibilities isn’t possible within this framework.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line, a leader’s decision-making methods directly impact employees’ feelings of satisfaction and job security. Where did you recognize your own style in the methods outlined, and how can you avoid the potential negatives of your natural decision-making style? Your choices make the difference in taking the right steps. And assessing which leadership style (or combination of styles) fits your organizational culture and works best for your employees can guide you to the best path for the future.




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Who Makes Better Leaders: Introverts or Extroverts?

better leaders: introverts extrovertsWith a full 40 percent of executives considering themselves introverts, there’s plenty of evidence that suggests both personality types can be excellent leaders. Extroverts may excel at motivating certain types of employees, but introverts often have superior planning skills. If you want to become a leader, you’ll need both skills, plus other traits that may not come easily to you. Knowing your personality type will help you identify which skills may need refining – and where you’re likely to excel.

Common Introvert Leadership Qualities

If you’re an introvert, you need to have alone time to recharge after a tough day. You may be perceived as shy or quiet, and you work well alone or one-on-one with other colleagues.

As an introverted leader, you’re likely to excel at planning and you value long-term goals. It’s easy for you to stay focused on a single objective. You have a tendency to be a good listener, which helps you glean ideas from various members of your team. You’re also good at managing employees who can take initiative, and you appreciate differences of opinion.


In a crisis, you’re often calm and collected. You tend to think first and then speak, which often makes your opinion more valuable. You’re also, most likely, an excellent written communicator.

Common Extrovert Leadership Qualities

If you’re an extrovert, you feel more invigorated around others, and attending parties and group collaborations leave you energized. People may label you as outgoing, and it’s likely you can strike up a conversation with just almost anyone.

If you’re an extroverted leader, you’ll do well managing people who like to follow. You can inspire people with your vision, and you probably have superior oratory skills.

Due to your ability to easily relate to people, you’re likely to have an extensive network of friends and acquaintances who can help in a crisis. You’re also prone to be assertive and high-energy.

Introversion Vs. Extroversion in Leadership

Introversion and extroversion may affect how you naturally relate to other workers, but good leadership requires that you’re able to manage different types of workers. In one study, introverted leaders were able to better lead a group of proactive employees than an extroverted leader. Extroverted leaders were more likely to be threatened by suggestions from their team; however, these same leaders were able to better motivate team members who were natural followers.

To be a good leader, you’ll need to lead a variety of workers with varying personality types. That’s why you’ll need the emotional intelligence to read the room and use different approaches to motivate different people. You’ll also need to understand your own leadership weaknesses and work to strengthen those skills. Avoid using only those leadership skills that come naturally, or else you may not be able to reach every member of your team.


Traits All Leaders Need to Cultivate

There are plenty of good qualities that aren’t tied to a specific personality type. Good leaders demonstrate honesty and are quick to admit their own flaws. They’re also passionate about what they do and are optimistic when presented with challenges. Successful leaders are able to use their own creativity and intuition to help direct the team in new directions. Overall, leaders must be decisive and courageous enough to avoid fear-based business decisions.

While you may be born an introvert or an extrovert, no one’s born being the perfect leader. To learn how to build the leadership skills for your employees by delivering fresh training every month, visit A Better Leader for more information.

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How Using Social Media Makes You A Better Leader

Social Media for LeadersEngaging Employees With the Power of Social Media

Imagine sending a tweet to employees with this question: What one thing could we do to improve employee engagement? It’s a question traditional leaders aren’t likely to ask because they rely on antiquated employee communication systems. This involves tiers of managers submitting information via emails and formal reporting procedures in which getting unfiltered employee feedback isn’t possible. It’s a communication system perfectly designed to drive millennials and Gen Z talent away.

Power of Inclusion

Social managers, on the other hand, understand how important active communication is to employee engagement, a concept that could be called the power of inclusion. Development Dimensions International (DDI) conducted a fascinating study on leadership that included research on executive social media use. Compared to the non-social leader, the social CEO is 89 percent stronger at empowering other people, 52 percent stronger at delivering compelling communication and 36 percent stronger at cultivating networks. There are earlier studies producing similar results, like the HootSuite and LinkedIn research project, which found a 40 percent increase in employee engagement in companies headed by social CEOs.

Given the leadership advantages social media offers, it’s surprising the DDI statistics show a mere 20 percent of current CEOs employ social media. In contrast, 51 percent of upcoming CEOs utilize social media — a better number that still leaves plenty of room for improvement. One of the most effective employee engagement strategies that leaders at all levels can employ is gathering direct employee feedback on working conditions, the company’s direction, barriers to workplace inclusion and innovative work, and suggestions for doing things more efficiently or effectively. Employees who have a direct communication line to organizational leaders are more engaged, productive and able to make the connection between their work and its impact on company success.

In addition, a critical strategy for union proofing a business is developing strong employee engagement and that requires active, honest employee-employer dialogue. Ask employees, “What one thing could our managers do to improve employee engagement?” and get ready to discover a myriad of ideas. Employees may respond with a variety of different suggestions, such as “offer more training,” “add an ERG for Asian employees,” “change the grievance procedure” or “revise scheduling policies.”

With one question, the social leader uncovers multiple ways to improve employee engagement. These kinds of responses should generate a deep dive to investigate training gaps, identify groups of employees feeling excluded and pinpoint Human Resources issues.

Communicate With Employees in Their Space

Managers have a choice of six major social media sites, although most just use LinkedIn. Question: Do your employees regularly use LinkedIn? Probably not, but they are likely active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and any internal social media system your organization has in place. Social media communication systems also include company blogs, websites, intranets, mobile communication programs and interactive eLearning.

The most social of leaders use an expansive set of internal and external social media tools, and develop appropriate skills to ensure the cyber-dialogue is as effective as possible. These skills include creating compelling multimedia content, like tweets and video blogs that encourage feedback, and building a leadership network that encourages employee participation in the social media system.

Having a dialogue with employees, locally or in remote locations, is critical to creating an engaged workforce. The most successful leaders understand they need a means for communicating and networking with all employees in an engaging manner, and that is precisely what social media offers. Social leaders use social media to make the business more attractive for current employees while doing a better job of attracting highly desired job candidates. It enables leaders to gain insights they would otherwise miss.

Powerful Tool for Powerful Engagement

Social media dialogue is also used to motivate teams, channel strategic workforce efforts and share information. It can create company advocates, recognize employees, build morale, inspire productivity and generate positive employee relations. Social media is a powerful employee engagement tool, and the managers who can harness that power will become better leaders in a networked world.


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Leadership Succession Planning: 5 Great Tips!

Leadership Succession PlanningThere is a widely held belief that businesses benefit from a combination of internal promotions and outside recruitment. While securing managerial talent from competitors is usually straightforward, developing people from within an organization to rise through the ranks can be a little tricky.

Unfortunately, developing individuals within a team and building on their managerial potential is not an exact science. People develop professionally at different speeds, and they don’t always react to developmental initiatives in the same way. But if you can put in place an effective succession plan that looks to the future, you should always be in a position to nurture your top talent through to a management position.

1. Implement Regular Talent Review Meetings

It is important to have an overall strategy to nurture and bring through the best talent within an organization. To that end, regular talent review meetings dedicated to succession planning are essential. Managers and decision-makers need an open and honest forum in which to discuss candidates for future advancement. Individual, bespoke development plans can be put together collaboratively in these meetings — listing the measures and steps required to fully develop potential.

2. Stretch Individuals with Gradually Increasing Responsibilities

Potential is all well and good, but you — and your colleagues — will never know how an employee works under pressure until you see him or her in action. Give the people you feel have potential a taste of managerial responsibilities and accountabilities. Do this gradually; if they cope, slowly add more responsibilities to their role. Those ready for advancement will shine. However, don’t rule out those who struggle at first. Succession planning is all about coaching, development and nurturing, but some people will take longer to respond to these strategies than others.

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3. Create Incentives for Advancement

Incentives for advancement are important for one main reason: they stop your employees from looking elsewhere for opportunities. The most obvious inducement is a raise, but that’s not all you can offer. An incentive may involve the promise of future development and training at the company’s expense. Or it may involve working on a prestigious project that could enhance the individual’s resume. Communicate the incentives for progression from the outset, and this alone could provide the motivation your employees need to thrive.

4. Implement Work Secondments for a Broader Knowledge Base

To be a rounded, inspirational leader who commands respect from subordinates, a manager needs to have a degree of empathy with different roles — and the challenges they entail. This is not only an essential part of performance managing others, it is crucial to getting the most out of people. Introduce short secondments into a candidate’s schedule to broaden their knowledge base and make them sympathetic to the challenges faced by others. These secondments might involve just a day or two in different departments or divisions of your organization, but they will instill sympathy and a more detailed understanding of the business.

5. Instill a Culture of Transparency Within the Organization

In order to get ahead, your employees need to raise their concerns — and ask for help when it is needed. Perhaps a candidate’s training schedule isn’t going to plan. Or, maybe an employee with potential is lacking in confidence in certain areas. Only by fostering a culture of honesty and transparency will you be able to get the best out of your prospective managers of the future.

Developing a person from the lower echelons of the career ladder to the top of their profession isn’t impossible. However, it takes planning, a commitment to developing talent and a transparent working environment.

Great leadership habits

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7 Ways to Motivate Your Managers

Motivate Your ManagersYour managers are responsible for keeping employees productive, for building team morale and even goal-setting. Yet, we often neglect that the fact that managers themselves can reach a place of disengagement. Wondering how to motivate your motivators? Here are seven great ideas you can use to create better leaders right away!

1. Communicate Consistently

Policies that are vague, guidelines that often change and overall spotty communication can dampen even the most enthusiastic manager. It’s up to you to set the tone and provide clear and consistent communication. Hold regular meetings and make sure you have daily communication with each of your managers. This could be digital, by phone or even a brief face-to-face for a few minutes each day.

2. Promote Independence

Managers that are constantly being micromanaged can quickly become demoralized. Entrepreneur magazine states that if you’ve made good hiring choices, you shouldn’t need to micromanage. But if mistakes were made in the hiring process,  you need to find out as quickly as possible and correct the mistake. Providing independence doesn’t necessarily mean giving a manager a project and then completely backing away. Using a measured approach and loosening the leash little by little is often the best way to know just how much independence your managers need.

3. Allow Work-Life Balance

The best leaders don’t just want to succeed in their career, they also want healthy personal relationships and time spent with friends and family. Managers who know they won’t be penalized for working from home or working unconventional hours will be more motivated and focused on their work. Make sure your culture emphasizes an understanding of things such as childcare issues, medical appointments, and a good work-life balance. The old adage is true: if you take care of your people, they will take care of you!

4. Provide Adequate Education and Resources

Managers who are stuck in the same position doing the same things for several years are less likely to stay motivated. Most managers want to learn and advance their skills. According to The Balance, providing training for your leaders not only increases motivation but retention. Your training programs can be tailored to suit your company needs, and can include everything from online leadership training to tuition reimbursement programs. It’s important to take the time to cater education and training to individual needs and company goals. Sending everyone to the same training is a one-size-fits-all approach that may hinder instead of increase motivation.

5. Get Down in the Trenches With Them

When your leader see upper management invested in a project a goal, they’ll be inspired to put forth the extra effort as well. Working with your teams on tough assignments and stretch goals, however, is just part of the equation. Being available on a day-to-day basis and responding to their emails and texts in a timely manner also shows that you have their backs and are there to remove roadblocks and provide the support they need when necessary.

6. Set Realistic Goals

Stretch goals are one thing, but few things will discourage an individual faster than realizing they can’t possibly meet the standards set for them. Unfortunately, setting unrealistic goals is not uncommon in the business world. Not only will this ultimately discourage employees and create a toxic work environment, but it could indirectly encourage employees to behave unethically. CNN Money reported how Wells Fargo employees endured years of pressure and unrealistic sales goals. Make sure the goals you set are achievable and celebrate the wins when you reach them!

7. Reward Results

Finally, it’s imperative to reward a job well done. Whether it’s financial incentives, extra vacation days or ultimately a promotion, your leaders need to know that someone is paying attention and their hard work will be worth it. The Association for Talent Development states that it’s also important to reward by providing internal motivation as well. This could include giving managers a choice of assignments to increase their sense of self-direction or simply giving them more freedom to problem solve and develop solutions.

Keeping your managers motivated usually isn’t difficult – but it does take planning and effort. Making and following a plan to motivate your managers will create a positive corporate culture, increase retention and build your future leaders from within.




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How to Grow New Leaders in your Organization

How to grow new leadersOne of the most important aspects of organizational development is succession planning and, in particular, growing new leaders. There are lots of ways to develop a positive culture in your place of work that will nurture and grow the leaders of the future. Here’s how to turn your workplace into an organization that grows the leaders of the future and makes your department a stellar place to work.

Close the Gaps

Take a look at the skills and experience in your department. Is there someone you are highly dependent on with particular skills? If they resigned or were ill tomorrow would you be left with a huge gap? Developing staff to be able to step up is vital, not only for their personal development but to increase the resilience in your organization so it can operate effectively if a crisis occurs. Offer buddy opportunities with other staff, encourage sharing of ideas at team meetings and enable co-working on projects to help increase that knowledge and experience in leadership. Make sure that your aspiring leaders are able to deputize for you as well. Examples are encouraging them to give board presentations, stand in for you at meetings or lead a key project. Succession planning enhances the culture within your organization, creating a positive working environment.

Be Aspirational With Objectives

All employees need clarity in their jobs and with their objectives. In partnership with writing the standard objectives that address everyday corporate issues, think of creative projects and opportunities to stretch into new territory at work and enhance personal development. Employees can also learn about different leadership styles and when to use them. Secondments open up opportunities to lead and learn from other teams. Offering development and secondments to employees and making the opportunity available in your own department grows new leaders through their new experience. All these help someone reach beyond their current surroundings to learn new skills, get out of the comfort zone and gain confidence. It also makes your department an attractive place to work for the existing staff and those looking for a job.

Leadership Succession Planning

Encourage Coaching

A coach helps employees work through challenges and experiential learning. They facilitate a learner to develop through practical experiences. Having a coach is an excellent way of developing employees and enhancing leadership qualities in an individual. Having a network or list of potential coaches for employees is an effective way to start developing those skills and shows your team you care about their future. Coaches help people learn from mistakes or challenging situations. These are both areas where employees can gain insight into their behavior and deal with situations that grow leadership abilities.


Review the Culture

Doing a cultural audit to explore the characteristics of your organization is an excellent way of ensuring the values and behaviors are open to leadership development. By having an open and transparent culture where people can develop, talent and leadership will thrive. By getting your staff to think about the importance of culture in an organization, they are able to walk the talk with leading teams and model the values and beliefs of that workplace.

Growing a new leader is an exciting aspect of managing a department. By setting out opportunities and challenges within your team, you’ll develop the leaders of the future and be the go-to place for inspirational development in the workplace.


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How To Mentor Better Leaders – The Right Way

how to mentor leaders the right wayMentoring is not a modern construct. If you can recall your high school Greek mythology, the goddess Athena disguised herself as Mentor, the original “wise and trusted counselor,” to become the teacher of Telemachus, Odysseus’ son. In today’s world, we find mentoring in almost all forums where learning takes place – some of it excellent, some of it forgettable. Most of us can recall having a “faculty adviser” in high school or college. This was education’s version of a mentor. But there is a difference between an adviser and a true mentor.

What is a mentor?

Broadly speaking, a mentor is a co-worker charged with helping another employee develop into a better worker. In education, a mentor takes on a more advisory role. In business, mentoring is more a personal and professional relationship. Regardless of the professional environment, a mentor and mentee must have a common goal in order to be successful.

Mentors should be available to help their mentees learn to manage the routine, daily challenges and mundane grind that can come with any profession. Mandatory mentoring isn’t necessary; it can be a voluntary process with the goal of guiding fellow professionals toward greater job satisfaction, fostering solid work habits and encouraging the growth of better leaders.

Mentoring for better business

A school is only as good as its teachers. Likewise, a business is only as good as its employees. Mentoring new teachers has become a standard practice in the education field, especially with employees who aspire to leadership roles. The same practices used in education mentoring are applicable to a business model. The goal of business mentoring is the grooming of a better leader for the business.

We offer here some common skills found in the best mentors for growing businesses:

  • Commitment to mentoring role. To be successful, a mentor must commit to the process of mentoring fellow professionals. The mentor’s goal should be to help their mentees be successful in their roles within the business.
  • Good mentors have empathy for their charges. To have empathy for another means to be accepting of that person without being judgmental. Personal beliefs and values must be set aside for the benefit of the mentee and the business as a whole. Mentors should practice critical reflection on their own performance in the mentoring role.
  • A mentor must provide leadership support. Mentors to future business leaders must know how to bring out the leadership potential in fellow professionals. A better leader is one that has been properly groomed for the role within the business setting. Mentor training programs should prepare mentors with the skills, knowledge and dispositions needed to foster leadership skills in their mentees.
  • Good mentors work well with varied interpersonal dynamics. All employees are not created equally. Mentors must be able to work with a multitude of personality types, cultural behaviors and levels of professional aspirations. Mentors must be able to reflect on their own objectivity toward mentees and make needed adjustments to their communication styles in order to meet the needs of their mentees.
  • Projecting optimism is important. Mentors should project optimism to their mentees that they are capable of overcoming any challenges encountered and prevail in their goals within the business. This is especially important when mentoring a potential business leader. A positive outlook for the company is a pillar on which a better leader can build his or her leadership skills.

A Better Leader

Building a better leader starts with mentoring programs that can help identify employees with leadership potential. Focusing on mentoring can foster a working environment in which employees feel comfortable in letting their ideas and personalities emerge for the betterment of the business. Giving new employees the opportunity to receive guidance from some of the best professionals within your organization is a great way to ensure continuity of your business.

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From Fox to Hedgehog: Training Managers to be Better Leaders

 A Better Leader from Fox to Hedgehog

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
— Archilochus, 700 BC

In the global economy of today, competition can be tough. The success of a company is often rooted in how effectively department heads take the lead. Effectiveness can be tied to whether one is more like a fox or more like a hedgehog. This approach, known as the Hedgehog Concept, can be used to help managers (foxes) complete a transformation that leads them to become better leaders (hedgehogs).

What Is the Hedgehog Concept?

Jim Collins, best-selling author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t,” uncovered common characteristics found in businesses that made a transition from simply being good to being a great company. As a result, his research team came up with the Hedgehog Concept, which was inspired by a line from Greek poetry about a fox and a hedgehog.

Metaphorically, the quick, cunning fox represents a good company that tries too many things at once, lacks focus and acts scatterbrained. A fox limits its own progress in the long run. In contrast, a hedgehog is a great company that is slow, calculated and focused on an overarching vision. A company that behaves like a hedgehog is able to excel and overcome challenges. Good-to-great companies learned strategies to transform from a fox to a hedgehog.

Three Dimensions of a Hedgehog Concept

Organizations succeed when they take advantage of a business strategy that properly aligns with three key areas: passion, talent and economic drive.


Passion is a unique focus of those companies that become great. It is not something to be created in someone, but something that is revealed. Leaders who take the time to uncover what they are most passionate about find themselves one step closer to discovering their hedgehog concept.


The best companies were those that hired talent rather than trying to change underachievers. When individuals consider their own talent, it’s important to discern what they can do best from what they cannot do best. When leaders are able to apply their talent, they become more engaged.


Finding out what common denominator effectively drives the economic engine of a company can be the difference between being good and being great. Sustainability is key when it comes to longevity. Individually, managers should tap into their own drive to support a company’s goals.

Creating Better Leaders

An intersect of passion, talent and drive means that a business has acquired a Hedgehog Concept. Achieving this state helps to guide company-wide efforts. The same approach can be applied to a team of individuals.

It’s important to openly communicate with all team members, ensuring that they are on-board and fully understand the concept. Not only does strategy alignment help each leader to be more focused, like a hedgehog, but it also positively impacts customers, vendors and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line.

At A Better Leader, we make it convenient and easy to transform your teams from foxes to hedgehogs. Our online leadership courses are designed to help you train your managers to become better leaders. We offer many courses that aim to show your team how to motivate, connect, support and improve employees. Take a look at some of the course previews, and decide for yourself.

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Assumed Leadership: Why Better Leaders Don’t Seek Permission!

Assumed Leaders Are Better LedersFinding and developing the leadership talent required to navigate an increasingly complex and demanding business environment never seems to get any easier.

Despite that, there’s no doubt that many great and gifted candidates exist out there; and one of the saddest tragedies of all is to fail to recognize this talent, especially when it’s hiding away unnoticed within your own organization.

To meet this challenge, a new approach to recruitment and training is being developed — an approach that seeks, fundamentally, to empower prospective leadership candidates to assume leadership roles within their workplace outside of, or in parallel to, any formal or procedural recognition of such a position.

This model of leadership promotion attempts to democratize and distribute management potential in such a way that those with the capacity and skills to take on these roles are able to do so, unencumbered by the lengthy and, at times, needlessly bureaucratic HR filters that can stifle the flourishing of capable employees.

One such provider of development training packages is the U.K.-founded Common Purpose organization. In the words of Julia Middleton, Common Purpose’s Chief Executive, the company seeks to equip individuals with the ability to “lead beyond authority.” But what does this mean in practice, and how can you implement this ethos into the structure of your own business operation?

Categories of Influence

The first paradigm to grapple with when it comes to liberating leadership talent is to recognize that your employees, both those in management and those at staff level, operate in what can be thought of as circles of authority. These are:

The Inner Circle: Typified as situations where the individual exercises often large amounts of personal authority within the company hierarchy.

The Outer Circle: Intra-organizational authority, which is normally substantially less than in the Inner Circle.

The Circle of Society: Everything outside of the Inner and Outer Circles, where actions are mandated through civil and cultural norms, and authority is not normally a part of relational activity.


The dilemma that these circles of authority present is that success in one sphere of influence does not necessarily translate into success in another. This is highly problematic in a world in which globalization is ascendant and traditional hierarchies within the work-space are reforming or becoming completely obsolete.

Breaking the Boundaries

To effectively initiate change in your organization — and the wider world at large — it means dissolving the barriers between these spheres of influence and becoming the vanguard of leadership that your assumed authority demands.

This breaking of boundaries can be achieved in many ways. Cultivating a workforce with individuals that are passionate about their mission, courageous in their drive to see change and able to reflect on their own source of power — whether it be down to their personal qualities, the networks they’ve created or the colleagues they surround themselves with — are all valid ways of doing this.

One real-world example of this approach is the role of “brand ambassador,” and the world-famous drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola has its own Coca-Cola Enterprises Ambassador program.

Empowering workers to transcend their own Inner Circle of responsibilities, the initiative allows them to take their message into the community — the Outer Circle, if you will — and engage with customers, would-be-customers and essentially anyone who’s willing to hear their message on a one-to-one basis. Confidence in the scheme is high, and reports suggest that trust in the brand “radiates to the outside world” through its outreach and educational endeavors.


If you think this way of working would suit your organization and you’d like to apply the principles of assumed authority to your own business, visit us at A Better Leader today to find out how to grow great leaders!

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