Leadership Challenges from Around the World

This article was originally posted by the Center for Creative Leadership.

What are the leadership challenges that organisations face around the world and do these challenges differ around the world? Our researchers went straight to the source to answer these questions, gathering input from 763 middle- and executive-level leaders in organisations from China/Hong Kong, Egypt, India, Singapore, the U.K., the U.S., and Spain.

Our study found these leaders consistently face the same 6 leadership challenges — even if they describe their challenges and specific context in different ways:

1. Developing managerial effectiveness is the challenge of developing the relevant skills — such as time-management, prioritisation, strategic thinking, decision-making, and getting up to speed with the job — to be more effective at work.

2. Inspiring others is the challenge of inspiring or motivating others to ensure they’re satisfied with their jobs and working smarter.

3. Developing employees is the challenge of developing others, including mentoring and coaching.

4. Leading a team is the challenge of team-building, team development, and team management. Specific challenges include how to instill pride, how to provide support, how to lead a big team, and what to do when taking over a new team.

5. Guiding change is the challenge of managing, mobilising, understanding, and leading change. Guiding change includes knowing how to mitigate consequences, overcome resistance to change, and deal with employees’ reactions to change.

6. Managing internal stakeholders is the challenge of managing relationships, politics, and image. This challenge includes gaining managerial support, managing up, and getting buy-in from other departments, groups, or individuals.

Knowing that these leadership challenges are common experiences for middle and senior managers is helpful to both the leaders and those charged with their development, according to our researchers. Individuals can benefit from knowing their experiences aren’t isolated, and can feel more confident reaching out to others for help facing these leadership challenges.

Here are 4 concrete things leaders can do to address these common challenges:

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5 Leadership Styles for Effective Management

This article was originally posted by Tracey Maurer for UVM Outreach.

What kind of leader are you? Do you follow the classic definition of a leader: someone who aims to influence and motivate employees to meet organisational goals and effectiveness?

If you’re doing your job, then this definition might sound familiar. But let’s get more specific. Do you have a particular leadership style that you feel has effective management?

Most leaders generally adhere to one or two preferred styles of leadership with which they feel comfortable. But the challenge is that great leaders have multiple leadership styles in their toolkit, and they are adept at diagnosing situations and using the right leadership styles at the right times, according to David Jones, associate professor of management at the University of Vermont.

Jones identifies five styles drawn from theory and research on leadership for effective management that he thinks are important for all leaders to have in their toolkit:

  • Directive: You’re no dictator, but you’re very clear in establishing performance objectives for your team. You’re adept at providing structure and skilled at clarifying employees’ perceptions of their roles. When needed – and this isn’t always a bad thing because some situations might require it – you tend toward micro-managing.
  • Supportive: If you’re approachable and empathetic, then you’re probably a supportive leader. You show concern for employees, and you treat them with dignity and respect. Your employees, in turn, feel valued and cared for. In times of change, they trust you to help them manage uncertainty.
  • Participative: If you’re someone who works hard for buy-in by soliciting employee input, then you’re most definitely a participative leader. You encourage employee involvement in decision-making and, more importantly, ensure they know that their views will be – and have been – considered. Depending on the situation, you consult directly with employees; other times, you delegate your authority to employees who engage in the decision-making.

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How to Increase Your Workplace Influence

How to Increase Your Workplace Influence

This article was originally posted by Rebecca Knight for the Harvard Business Review on February 16, 2018.

To be effective in organisations today, you must have a high level of workplace influence. Your title alone isn’t always enough to sway others, nor do you always have a formal position. So, what’s the best way to position yourself as an informal leader? How do you motivate colleagues to support your initiatives and adopt your ideas? How can you become a go-to person that others look to for guidance and expert advice?

What the Experts Say

Having workplace influence has “clear value,” says Dorie Clark, author of Entrepreneurial You. “You get more done and you advance the projects you care about and are responsible for,” which means “you’re more likely to be noticed, get promoted, and receive raises.” But gaining influence in the modern workplace is difficult, according to Nick Morgan, author of Power Cues. “It’s never been harder to influence others, because they’ve never been more distracted,” he says. “Information overload and the pace of our digital lives have [led to short attention spans].” And yet, “it’s more important than ever to be able to command influence, because of the increased pressure on getting results.” It all comes down to your approach. Here are some tips.

Build connections

It’s not quite a junior high school popularity contest, but “at a fundamental level, one of the reasons that people do things for you” — support your idea, or approve your budget — “is because they like you,” Clark says. You don’t have to be “the awesome-est person in the room” or make sure “everyone is blown away by your charisma.” You just need to have good rapport with your colleagues. This won’t translate directly into influence, of course, but it does “make it more likely that others will at least hear you out.” So, work on cultivating personal connections with your colleagues, and allow them to get to know you. “That way, they won’t impute negative intentions or motives to you.”

Listen before you try to persuade

The best way to prime colleagues for backing you and your agenda is to make them feel heard. Start by giving them your undivided attention in one-on-one situations. “Most of us walk around with a running to-do list in our heads,” Morgan says, and it shows. We’re fidgety, preoccupied, or ready to reach for our phones. Instead, you should “practice the discipline of focus.” To do this, “turn your body toward the other person, freeze in place, and listen.” Clark agrees: “A big part of workplace resentment is people feeling disrespected and that their voices aren’t being heard.” So, ask colleagues for their perspectives and advice.

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