Are Your Employees Keeping You From Hiring the Best New Talent?

Engagement and RecruitingArguably, your employees are your business’s most valuable assets. When your employees feel valued and like they’re an integral part of a dynamic team, they’re likely to wow your customers by going above and beyond. As a business owner, you need and want to recruit the very best talent to support your customers, and that starts with nurturing and engaging your existing employees.

Three Critical Words: Word of Mouth

The days of recruiting specialized, professional employees via newspaper classified ads are largely behind us. Thanks to social media, many of your best leads are likely to come from your current employees. If that is, your current employees are happy.

Engaged Employees Are Most Likely to Become Loyal Employees

It costs far more to hire a new employee than to retain exemplary employees you already have. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, it can cost nearly $40,000 to replace an employee whose annual salary tops $60,000. The numbers don’t lie: you’ll save money on recruiting costs by ensuring your current employees love their jobs.

Challenged Employees are Better Leaders

Whether it is or is not a reality in your business, the “glass ceiling” perception is pervasive. Employees of both genders and every age range often reach a point in a particular job when they conclude they can no longer advance to a higher level. Driven to succeed, they move on to a new opportunity. To stop this cycle in your business, offer valued employees leadership training opportunities that will engage them and show them you want them to rise through the ranks. Online leadership training programs such as A Better Leader create positive, optimistic work environments and stellar, loyal employees. What’s more, they can be a snap to administrate, and incredibly affordable.

Candidates Take Their Cues from Current Employees

If your current employees aren’t happy, they may do more than commiserate at happy hour after work. More and more, they’re taking their grievances public – cloaked in the comfort of anonymity. Check out Glassdoor.com It’s a website that, among other things, hosts anonymous reviews from employees about their employers. Odds are high that at least some of the job seekers you’re wooing have heard of it and give it credence. Engaged employees won’t have a reason to post damaging online reviews of your company.

Your Team is only as Strong as Its Weakest Player

Happy employees equal less turnover. Less turnover means that your team is able to work together effectively and that when recruitment is necessary, it’s immediately apparent which candidates will be a fit. Lack of engagement leads to a revolving-door effect and lowers morale and productivity. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to more frustration and more loss of talent. As an employer, it’s in your best interest to invest in your people and to train them, challenge them, and nurture them. You’re the boss, but your business is a collaboration.




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Leaders: Here’s How To Handle Conflict… Without Creating Conflict

Handle Conflict_BillboardThe office is a powder keg and every employee represents a fuse – some are shorter than others, but under the right circumstances, each are capable of being set off. Managers and office leaders are responsible for defusing these situations.

In the University of California – Berkeley’s “Guide to Managing Human Resources,” the author sums up workplace conflict as thus: “Neither party is right or wrong; instead, different perceptions collide to create disagreement.”

It’s a spot-on description of the inherently nuanced nature of conflict, but it’s this very complexity that makes handling it so difficult. And that is where the skilled and delicate hands of a seasoned leader come in.

Yes, There Is a Problem. Now What Is It?

Berkeley’s Guide clarifies the first step in resolving a workplace conflict is simply acknowledging that the situation exists, and that it is difficult. “Acquaint yourself with what’s happening,” the Guide reads, “and be open about the problem.”

Another step is to ask what the actual problem is. Often, conflicts are built on a less obvious foundation – a problem that perhaps existed before the actual confrontation. Rooting out the underlying forces driving the animosity will be a big step in ultimately resolving the conflict, but it’s not something a manager can easily handle on his or her own; rather, the individuals involved need to be allowed to express themselves.

The report reads: “Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged.”

But wading into the thick of a conflict is inviting risk. When tempers are high, people can become volatile. Understanding how to manage that anger separates leaders from over-zealous or over-involved spectators.

Defusing the Tension

Berkeley’s Guide lays out four things to keep in mind while defusing an angry person:

  1. The person wants to vent. They have steam, let them blow it off.
  2. When they’re venting, use body language to let them know you’re paying attention.
  3. React to what they tell you; acknowledge the legitimacy of their emotions and concerns.
  4. Finally, try to empathize and understand the situation. People have a right to feel the way that they do, and sometimes validating that is enough to calm an angry person down.

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Navigating the final stretch of the resolution will mean finding the points between each person where they can stand together in agreement. Even if the space is small and cramped, having something in common is the first board in what could eventually be a strong and sturdy bridge.

If the presiding manager ever hopes to reach the ultimate goal of resolution, determining and outlining attainable solutions will be paramount. Berkeley’s Guide suggests taking a padded approach, in which the office leader comes to the involved parties with several resolving avenues. Together, with the general manager acting is arbiter, the different parties can agree on what actions should be taken.

Want to become a better leader by learning to resolve conflict? Check out A Better Leader’s one minute preview on conflict resolution.

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Feedback Reboot: Turbo-Charge Your Performance Reviews

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Using Strategic Measurement to Understand Performance

Condensing twelve months of employee contributions into one comprehensive annual performance evaluation can be challenging. To make things more difficult, managers run the risk of damaging engagement levels if annual reviews are perceived as “unfair”. Your team counts on you to see a full, robust picture of their performance, including the activities they do well and their opportunities for improvement. Employees want to walk away from a performance evaluation meeting feeling empowered – not embarrassed.

Take Subjectivity Out of the Performance Evaluation Process

The use of strategic measurement to assess employee achievements takes subjectivity out of the equation. Pursuing a fact-based approach to annual evaluations ensures staff members understand exactly where their strengths lie as well as how they can improve, without the appearance of subjectivity. These four tips on using strategic measurement will make delivering feedback more effective:

Align Metrics with Company Goals

Gaining employee buy-in for your selected measurement tools depends on your ability to make metrics relevant to department and company goals. For example, if your business claims to offer world-class customer service, metrics should focus on customer experience feedback. Many puzzled staff members feel frustrated when they are told the company’s primary goal is customer satisfaction, yet they are measured on the speed at which they get customers off the phone or out the door.

Choose Valid, Reliable Metrics

In the world of measurement, the validity and reliability of metrics are the two most important qualities to consider. Validity is the extent to which a metric actually measures the behavior it is designed to measure. Reliability is the extent to which the metric consistently measures the specific results over time and between staff members.

Communicate Expectations Early and Often

Once you have selected the metrics that will be considered in performance feedback, communicate expectations right away. When possible, explain the process at the beginning of the measurement period, then offer regular reminders when appropriate. Employees that understand what they are supposed to do and how success is determined feel empowered to achieve the desired results.

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Provide Regular Performance Updates

Don’t wait until the annual performance review meeting to provide year’s worth of feedback. Regular updates will ensure there are no surprises when evaluation discussions occur.

For more tips on transforming your performance feedback process for increased effectiveness, visit A Better Leader. User-friendly training modules walk you through common errors and how to avoid them, as well as best practices for meaningful, motivational performance discussions.

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Stop This One Bad Habit and Become a Better Leader Right Now

One Bad Habit_billboardLeadership is about displaying the best practices in front of your employees at all times. Unfortunately, one bad habit can ruin all of those efforts. For instance, when your employees let you down, you might be tempted to just do the job for them. But your good intentions of helping the team can lead to long-term problems. To be a better leader, you need to learn how to give your employees the opportunity to succeed without you doing the work for them.

Why Does It Happen?

Organizations and leaders are judged based on results; customer and clients just want it to work. So, in the midst of a project, it is very tempting to do whatever it takes to achieve success. You can’t make excuses for why something isn’t getting done, especially if the reason is that your employees didn’t live up to expectations. So you do what it takes, and you repeat that process without making the necessary adjustments because the priority is the end product, not the process.

What Can You Do?

Becoming a better leader means taking action. You need to delegate effectively, although doing it right can take time. But better delegation will let you provide better service with half the stress. Here is what you need to do:

  • Take time for employees to set goals. Helping your employee take ownership of their work motivates them to do better. It also motivates them to better monitor their own performance and self adjust when their work is not going well.
  • Improve (or create) a feedback loop. Your employees can’t improve if they don’t know what they are doing wrong. Every few weeks or so, check in with your employees. A few moments can allow you to pass on some tips and encouragement that could yield big gains in your teams’ performance.
  • Recognize your employees for good work. You have to balance the criticisms with recognition for good work. Not only does providing public, positive feedback ensure that your employees hear you when you talk about how they can improve, it demonstrates what good habits are to the rest of the staff.

8 Steps You Can Take Right NowWhat Happens If You Hold Onto the Habit?

There are short-term benefits to doing whatever it takes and protecting your employees; you get the job done and happy clients. But the long-term costs can be massive. Your employees don’t improve because you don’t inform them about what they are doing wrong. They can’t take the steps necessary to get better. Also, there is a big emotional cost to you. The more you have to cover for your employees, the more you might resent them. This can lead to significant stress to you, which could affect your health. It also increases the possibility that you might “explode” after the stress becomes too much. This will make you appear irrational, create a less than optimal work environment and just make it that much more difficult to provide a quality product.

To be a better leader, you need to learn how to delegate effectively. Take the right steps, and you will have better products and less stress.

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Can you be TOO Authentic?

authenticity_billboard“Be authentic, be authentic!” Employees don’t often trust those in leadership positions, and the answer to that lack of trust is often instructing leaders to “be more authentic!”  Employees wish for a better leader — a leader who is self-aware, compassionate, transparent, consistent and works towards the greater good. In short, they want an authentic and approachable leader.  But sometimes, in the name of all that authenticity, leaders become insensitive to the consequences of their openness.

To minimize the risk of being too authentic, you should first gauge people’s response to your openness. For example, if your actions have ever caused hurt feelings or misunderstandings, sometimes apologizing to employees – and realizing how the misstep occurred – can do more good for your image than anything else.

Such leaders are rare, and if you’re working toward those things, you are working toward inherent authenticity, an essential trait of a better leader. However, being real and sharing true feelings can have a downside  — people might misunderstand you or take advantage of you – that’s when authenticity can actually become a disadvantage.

Think of authenticity in this way: your department’s achievements in numbers won’t necessarily impress people… but the real story of how your employees contributed definitely will.

Remember that your leadership style reflects the good in you, along with the bad. If your authentic self wishes to satisfy everyone, you can seem shallow and less than believable. If you are cautious and deliberate, you might seem unapproachable. Similarly, you cannot be insensitive and disrespectful in the name of being transparent.

Technology and finances can cause changes at your workplace that you’ll need to embrace in an authentic and positive way; so can co-workers from various cultures. Change to the workplace may correspondingly change your responsibilities, but shouldn’t change your attitude. In your effort toward authenticity, open your mind to differing points of view, changing economic times. This is easier if you view your authentic self as valuing new inputs, embracing change, and responding consistently and ethically.

With the increased use of social media, your life can now be viewed from many angles – not just by those that know and love you, but also by co-workers and employees. Your Facebook profile might be vastly different from your LinkedIn profile, although both are different aspects of your personality. Being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the same person everywhere, but it means making sure your authentic self is aware of the implications of any and every action, including online.

Gaining true authenticity as a leader means not losing the basic qualities that make you unique in each circumstance. For example, in the boardroom, be authoritative and confident, while remaining empathetic and encouraging among employees. Another major authenticity hurdle you may face is self-marketing, as this might not feel genuine, but it’s an important part of opening up your authentic self to others. You might prefer your work being appreciated for its own merits. However, look at marketing yourself as increasing your influence and impact, which can be a step towards helping your employees.

So, can you be too authentic? Authenticity is a little like telling people you have style. If you have to tell them you have it… you probably don’t. Others should perceive authenticity in you because it’s an attributed quality, one that reaches across every aspect of your life.  That’s what it means to be a better leader.

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Don’t Fake It: Here’s How To Be Genuine About Praise and Constructive Feedback

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As a team leader, you use a certain leadership style. You may even adapt your style to better mesh with certain individuals and circumstances. No doubt you know that praise and constructive feedback are two effective means of improving team performance. In fact, these two elements alone can make the difference between exceptional team performance and performance that is just pretty good. But do you know how to use these elements?

How You Can Use Constructive Feedback

One way to look at constructive feedback is to call it constructive criticism, but using “feedback” instead of “criticism” automatically frames it in a more positive light. In order for the feedback to be as effective as possible, you must give it consistently, both when things go right and when they go wrong. Constructive feedback does not focus on a person; rather, it focuses on different, better or alternative ways to achieve a goal. You should welcome it from people at all levels, including interns and chief executive officers. Open communication means fewer barriers and more ideas.

When giving constructive feedback, focus on creating a two-way dialogue. For example, relating to a project where things went well, prompt the team with, “Our team did a good job, but how could we have done better?” and allow them to provide you with ideas for growth, learning and stretch goals. Then, use constructive feedback to make sure the team is headed in the right direction on future challenges of the same nature. Even when things go well, your constructive feedback is the difference between just getting the job done and exceeding all expectations.

How You Can Use Praise

Praise is a key internal motivator that ties employees more to your team. It helps them feel like they belong, like they are part of a greater whole. Praise seems like it would be easier to carry out than constructive feedback, but that is often not the case. The line between praise and flattery can be blurry, and so can the line between praise and insincerity. How do you make someone feel like you are praising him or her for a good reason rather than just doing it for decency’s sake? Keep a few elements in mind as you prepare to deliver praise: fairness, appreciation, importance and a personal touch. In addition, as you praise team members, keep cultural differences in mind. It’s a good strategy to praise a person in the way that is most effective for him or her.

Praise is a missed opportunity for many team leaders. For example, only 51 percent of workers are satisfied with the recognition they get, according to Sirota Consulting. Do you want to take your team to new heights? Check out this video on praise and recognition; your praise gears may be flowing soon!

Sources:

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/giving-praise.htm

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_68.htm

http://blog.sandglaz.com/give-feedback-will-improve-teams-productivity/

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7 Unique Ways To Become A Better Leader

7UniqueWaysBillboardBecoming a better leader today requires training coupled with a new perspective as to how the modern leader should behave. Successful leaders, from senior executives to front-line supervisors, need to be good communicators and actively demonstrate they care about the welfare of employees. They also develop unique leadership behaviors like the following:

1. Volunteer in a Community Where the Business Operates

A leader today must connect with the communities in which the organization operates. One of the ways to do that is to volunteer personal time to a local nonprofit or support local events like job fairs or health fairs. The community will recognize you are sincerely interested in their welfare. It is also an excellent way to attract diverse job candidates and to build a brand of corporate social responsibility.

2. Step Into Another Manager’s Shoes

It is easy to get comfortable in a particular position and fail to understand other people’s challenges. To overcome this very human trait, replace a manager in a different department for a day or two. You will expand your knowledge of the business and broaden your perspective. This act can also break down barriers between departments that are impeding organizational progress.

3. Work a Swing or Night Shift

Unions like to claim that “elite” managers really do not understand how difficult it is to work swing and night shifts. To be a connected and better leader, periodically work odd shifts. Not only will employees appreciate the attention, but you will learn more about employees’ needs and issues. This is also one way to union proof the organization.

4. Walk Around and Mingle With Employees

Emulate successful CEOs and walk around the department or business unit without notice. Randomly talk to people at all levels about their jobs, asking for suggestions and ideas for job or workplace improvement. This small action is a tremendous employee morale builder because it gives people not often asked for their input an opportunity to share their opinions.

5. Step Back and Let Others Shine

A selfless leader is willing to share the glory of achievement, recognizing that it takes a team of talented employees to be successful. Giving other people credit and rewarding them for their contributions in some manner is motivating and engaging.

Rewards do not have to be monetary. You can email to everyone in the organization, praising a particular employee or team for a job well done. Many companies today are delivering congratulatory messages through social media, giving other employees an opportunity to also recognize successful co-workers. These success stories can also be used in a customized, Web-based video for employee training or just to inspire the workforce.

6. Let Employees See the Human Side of Leadership

The co-founder of Twitter, Medium, and Jelly, Biz Stone, believes in making time for family. To show people in his organization that he too must manage work-life balance, he posted “Legos” on his calendar for all to see. It was time he set aside to play with his young son. This unique management behavior humanizes the person at the top.

7. Show You Care About Your Employees

There are many ways for a manger to show caring for employee welfare. There are typical ways, like offering vacation and sick leave, and other benefits. However, when an employee unexpectedly asks to take an afternoon off for a charity event of personal importance, are you willing to accept, even if it means more work for you? Employees are empowered when self-sacrificing leaders work with them to achieve work-life balance. Bottom line: Empowerment increases productivity.

There are many traditional ways to become a better leader, but sometimes the non-traditional strategies are more effective. Millennials have a lot to do with the new leadership approaches because they want involved, inclusive leaders who communicate well and appreciate the efforts of their employees. A better leader today is a very human one.

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How to Become a Better Leader: 8 Steps You Can Take Right Now

8 Steps You Can Take Right NowA leader is not made by a title, nor is one defined by birth. Leadership is a habit, and you can build a better leader by taking a series of actionable steps every day. To effectively lead employees, you need to communicate with your employees, motivate them, support them and improve their performance. Below is a list of things you can do every day to become a better leader.

Communicate With Employees

  • Be a better listener. Too often, a person participates in a conversation by focusing on how to better convey her point than by trying to determine what the other person is trying to convey. It’s about figuring out how to get the other person to agree with you and not about learning something new. Try to refrain from trying to convince your employees of anything until you hear what they have to say. Then, if you still need to convince them, you can make your argument.
  • Show humility. As a leader, you have a higher position in the business hierarchy, which can create distance and make it difficult to communicate. Demonstrating humility, by learning from your mistakes in front of your employees and sharing credit for your successes, can help bridge that gap.

Motivate Employees

  • Don’t micromanage. Employees work better when they have some autonomy. If you actively try to dictate how they should do every element of their job, they will only do the bare minimum and will merely follow the process you laid out. Allow them to be creative and control elements of what they do, and they will work harder to do things better.
  • Ask more questions and give fewer orders. For the bigger business strategy questions, you will need to make the final call. But instead of just issuing orders about what your employees are going to do, ask them for their suggestions. Not only will this process and feedback improve your plans, but it will also make your employees more engaged and allow them to take ownership of what you are doing.

Support Employees

  • Learn about your employees before you engage with them. This doesn’t mean that you need to learn their favorite color or even that you need to spend time with them out of the office. But get a better understanding of what is important to your employees, why they work with your company, and what motivates them to do better. Ask them questions about their motivations, and if need be, write down what you learn and keep it in a file so you can review it later.
  • Learn from your employees. Just because your employees are not doing something the way you are doing it does not mean that they are doing it wrong. Sometimes your employees can find a better way. In those circumstances, learn what they are doing and have them teach that process to others. Not only will it improve your business, but it will also make the innovative employees more open to critiques in the future.

Improve Employees

  • Only train others when you know the topic. As a leader, you might think that, since you are ultimately responsible for your business’s performance, the responsibility for training is on you as well. But just because you are running your business does not mean you have to do everything. Make sure that your best person is teaching a given subject, even if that person is not you.
  • Be clear but not cruel. You need to strike a balance when talking with your employees about how they can be better. On the one hand, they need to know exactly what they are doing wrong and how they can fix it. On the other hand, if they feel like they are being attacked, they will shut down and not retain what you are telling them. Be firm and clear, but make the conversation about actions that they control and can change, and not about who they are as people.

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How Your Leaders Can Build Employee Trust In Your Company

BuildTrust_BillboardMany leaders spend unlimited resources building a level of trust with customers or clients… but fail to take the  time to develop that same connection with their own team. But failing to connect with employees is a crucial mistake – one that can mean the difference between the company’s success and failure. A breakdown in trust can negatively impact employee engagement, hinder teamwork and ultimately reduce productivity. Identifying the factors that damage trust between your leaders and their teams will help create greater engagement, improve motivation and have a powerful affect on the bottom line.

Factors That Break Down Trust

When it comes to building trust with any team, it is important for leaders to remember the old phrase, “actions speak louder than your words.” If a leader consistently says one thing but does another, the trust between that leader and the employee team may be irreconcilably broken. Another major trust deterrent are leaders who take all the credit for a job well done, yet are quick to point fingers when something goes wrong. Make sure leaders work as a team or work on their own – but they cannot have it both ways and be successful.

Other factors that produce a trust deficit include:

  • Lack of communication
  • Inconsistent company values
  • Prioritizing production over employee relations
  • Frequent and unexplained changes
  • Poor working conditions

A Better Leader’s Tips For Building Trust

The good news is that an effective leader can do several things to bridge the trust gap with their team, including:

  • Build relationships – The best way to build trust with your team is to develop a personal connection with them.
  • Communication – Setting up a direct line of communication between yourself and your team is a crucial element to building trust. However, your team must know that you are going to stand by what you say and that they can come to you with their concerns as well.
  • Transparency – Leaders cannot share everything with their team, but they should strive to be as transparent as possible. When left in the dark, your team will often think the worst.
  • Follow Through – Following through with action is an absolute must if you hope to create a level of trust with your team. Otherwise, any steps you have taken to develop trust could backfire and create an even larger trust deficit.

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A successful leader understands the importance of building a solid trust relationship with their team members. They realize that this trusting relationship ultimately will lead to higher productivity and a higher success rate. Those who are confident in their abilities and skills will have no problem achieving a high level of trust management. This confidence can be obtained through education, experience and leadership training, such as “The Better Leader.” A Better Leaders’ online leadership training program helps companies develop leaders with the skills to find success through employee trust in their leadership.

[VIDEO] See “Developing Trust” from A Better Leader

 

 

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5 Ways to Identify & Hire Better Leaders

5WaysToHire_BillboardYour staff can be only as effective as the leaders you bring into your organization. A poor leader can cost your company substantially; not only will you waste time and money, but you’ll also be putting your team’s morale on the line. If you’re ready to hire a new manager or supervisor, it’s important you consider several factors that will boost your chances of success at finding better leaders.

Insist on technological fluency

Remember that today’s customers and your employees are craving interactions with those who are technologically competent. There might be nothing as frustrating as dealing with a supervisor who doesn’t understand the basics of using the relevant software systems and internet applications. Being tech savvy makes your managers better leaders.

Use social media to your advantage

When you’re looking for better leaders, understand that they are not only web-savvy, but they also know how to use various platforms to network and collaborate. Consider checking discussions at LinkedIn, or looking at whether your candidates are following industry leaders on sites such as Twitter or Google+. The degree to which they are connected to their work can help you identify if they are a better leader.

Be forgiving of a choppy work history

Movers and shakers move on when they realize an opportunity isn’t going to help them reach their end goals. If one of your top candidates had a few short-term positions, particularly early on in their career, consider overlooking it. On the other hand, if quitting after a few months seems to be a pattern, keep looking. Better leaders know that change and positive employee relations take time, and you don’t want your company to be just another blurb on a resume in a year’s time.

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Consider the candidate’s personality

You could find the most effective leader in your area, but if he/she doesn’t mesh well with your current team, it will be for nothing. Search high and low for a better leader, who has the correct personality for your workplace. Think about the work culture in your office, and explain it as thoroughly as possible to your potential new hire – perhaps get the perspective of a senior staff member, too. Finally, consider using a personality test to weed out applicants who might not make the cut.

Go with your gut

As a business owner, you know your company better than anyone. If you’ve a nagging feeling that the candidate who looks best on paper is not the right person for the job, then honor it. Similarly, don’t be afraid to give someone a chance if your gut is telling you to go for it, even if the candidate’s resume isn’t the best of the bunch. Choosing better leadership for your company can be an arduous endeavor, but it will be worth it in the end.

Sources:
Six Social Media Skills Every Leader Needs, Roland Deiser and Sylvia Newton, McKinsey Quarterly
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