LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

How to Lead Despite COVID Burnout

By Leadership Resources 03/19/2021
Woman wearing a mask burnt out from COVID-19.

One year ago, when COVID-19 was just starting to acquire its pandemic status, few people could have anticipated what the following months would have in store. The early toilet paper shortages and panic buying seem somewhat quaint compared to the havoc wrought on individuals, families, and businesses between then and now. With effective vaccines and rapid distribution on the way, there is now a light at the end of this tunnel. That said, even when the pandemic ends, the world will have to deal with its consequences for many years to come. 

Business leaders are already looking ahead to what the future may hold while battling the burnout that has plagued everyone, from students, workers, leaders, and owners alike. As we’ve discussed before, the stress of leadership can be daunting enough to deal with during normal times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this pressure. Businesses everywhere have had to lay off or furlough employees, suddenly switch to remote work protocols, reduce hours and customer capacity, adjust their supply chain, implement intensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, and so on. One year in, people everywhere are on their last legs, and leaders are no exception.

How to Lead Your People if They’re Burnt Out from COVID-19

Prioritize Self-Care and Stress Management

When challenging times arise and work piles up, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself past your limits to keep up with deadlines. You might be able to go on this way for a little while, but eventually, your work will suffer — more importantly, so will your mental and physical health. This common situation describes burnout, and it can take a long time to reignite the flame. It’s better to prevent that proverbial flame from burning out in the first place by maintaining its heat and oxygen through self-care. In our previous blog on managing leadership stress, we discussed key ways to take care of your overall well-being, such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation when needed. Encouraging your employees to do the same by sharing your experience with these stress-relieving techniques is key for preventing (or at least mitigating) COVID burnout in your workplace. When everyone feels motivated to take care of themselves first and foremost, they will be better equipped to handle the challenges before them.

Keep on Communicating

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: communication is one of the most important leadership qualities there is. And during COVID-19, strong communication has never been so crucial. At the most basic level, your people should be regularly informed about how the business is navigating COVID-related challenges. Any updates and changes must be clearly delivered, and everyone should feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns. Considering the nature of this pandemic, you may need to convey these messages via virtual meetings, emails, and other means. To keep burnout at bay, your communication style should be steeped in empathy — if you’re feeling burnt out, odds are your peers, partners, and employees are, too. Use your emotional intelligence to understand the shared and unique challenges faced by others to enhance your organization’s sense of community. Hosting virtual and community events will help you maintain and improve your company culture so everyone feels connected and valued.

Simplify Your Processes

If anything good has come from COVID-19, it’s that this pandemic has revealed what matters most, both in terms of everyday life and in business. While the initial shock of COVID sent many businesses into a frenzy, many that have been able to recover have gradually adjusted their priorities and trimmed the fat in key areas. Simplifying your processes by streamlining tasks, delegation, and your broader vision can reduce the risk of burnout and ultimately reshape your business in positive ways. You might, for instance, realize that remote work is a powerful tool for team management and that it greatly reduces overhead costs associated with rent, energy, commuting, etc. Every business and employee is different, of course — while some might appreciate the freedom of working from home, others might require more structure and crave in-person encounters. How you decide to adjust and simplify your processes during this latter portion of COVID-19 and afterward will depend on what you learn during this time. The key is paying attention to what your people are feeling and how it’s affecting your bottom line.

Keep the Big Picture in View

As we stated earlier, the implications of COVID-19 will carry on far beyond its official conclusion, contributing to leadership stress and potential burnout. As such, you must view this situation as a marathon rather than a sprint. The day-to-day doings of your business matter, but thinking too small and short-term can cloud your judgment and impede your view of the future. Of course, looking too far ahead can induce plenty of stress in its own right. To avoid burning out in either sense, you want to achieve a balance between short- and long-term thinking, where the way you handle things each and every day is informed by where and how you wish to steer your team and enterprise. In order to accomplish this, you must focus on becoming more adaptable and resilient, regularly taking stock of what is and isn’t working so you can fine-tune your business for the future.

Providing strong leadership in times of stress and change is no small feat, but it’s essential for alleviating burnout in yourself and your team. Taking care of your own well-being, maintaining emotionally-intelligent communication, simplifying your operations based on necessary changes, and implementing long-term thinking will allow you to lead your organization to a brighter future despite these challenging times.


At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Strategic Leadership: Pros and Cons

By Leadership Resources 02/08/2021
Strategic playing of Jenga

There is no single “right way” to operate a business or poise it for long-term success. Every enterprise is unique, after all. Still, specific approaches transcend these differences, offering near-universal benefits to businesses of all sizes and types. Strategic leadership refers to one such approach to business management that can yield several long-term benefits when properly implemented and executed. Of course, it’s worth noting that the upsides of the strategic leadership approach are contrasted with some downsides, too.

Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of Strategic Leadership

What Is Strategic Leadership?

Strategic leadership can be defined as a leadership philosophy that prioritizes the communication and execution of a particular vision via tangible, streamlined actions and processes. In other words, the strategic leader not only generates and clarifies a business’ vision, but also adeptly leads its team toward realizing said vision one step at a time — the best strategic leaders can simultaneously keep the big picture and key details in mind, which is precisely what allows their business to achieve its short- and long-term goals. The leadership skills required for this brand of leadership include strong communication, a focus on culture, judicious deployment of power, self-control, compassion, consistency, loyalty, and strong motivation.

The Plus Sides of Strategic Leadership

There are several potential benefits that come with the strategic leadership approach. First, strategic leaders are able to unite teams, generate buy-in, and keep everyone on the same page, working toward a collective goal. In this way, the strategic leader keeps departments from losing focus or losing touch with one other, which makes it that much easier to move the business forward. Next, strategic leadership establishes a framework for practical decision-making. When goals are clearly communicated, everyone can better contribute to the collective vision. Strategic leadership also facilitates impartial, long-term thinking, filtering daily decisions through the lens of the broader vision. And lastly, the best strategic leaders cultivate commitment among their teams by acting as models for proficiency and practicality. For all these reasons, businesses should consider investing in strategic leadership training for their top talent.

The Setbacks of Strategic Leadership

A strategic leadership approach isn’t a flawless one, of course. As with all long-term processes and goals, there’s no way to know for certain what the business, industry, or economy will look like in the next year, three years, five years, decade, and so on. In this way, long-term strategic thinking can become a significant expense and source of leadership stress, especially if a seemingly solid plan becomes irrelevant in the face of unpredictable changes. This is why strategic leaders must be as flexible as they are visionary. In a similar vein, strategic leaders can get lost in the bigger picture and start neglecting the business’ present issues and needs, which can cause budding problems to go unresolved and eventually interfere with the very vision in question. Ultimately, this lack of attention to the present moment can halt company growth and even result in long-term harm. Strategic leaders that either take too many risks or are too risk-averse can cause the company to miss out on key opportunities.

Developing a Winning Strategy for Your Leaders

Strategic leadership is not inherently good or bad, but rather a tool that can raise a business up for years to come or sink the ship for lack of seeing the iceberg straight ahead, so to speak. Every enterprise must determine its own balanced approach to strategic leadership development so it’s able to safely navigate the current moment while aiming for the bigger goal in the distance.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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What Makes a Good Mentor?

By Leadership Resources 01/20/2021
Businesswoman mentoring another businesswoman

We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows — the ones that feature a promising young individual who struggles to overcome the external and self-imposed barriers surrounding them until an older and wiser guide enters the fold and aids in the protagonist’s growth. Sure, real life is never as cut and dry as the stories that inspire us, but the student-mentor relationship is anything but fictional. Mentor figures come in many forms and the best ones provide important guidance, feedback, and the occasional nudge that allows their pupils to flourish. But what exactly defines a good mentor? What are the components that allow one individual to instruct another in such a meaningful way?

What Are the Qualities of a Good Business Mentor?

Has Relevant Experience

If you’re not sure how to find a business coach or mentor, a great place to start is by seeking those who have worked in your field for a long time. Those with years of experience are able to naturally impart their wisdom to those with less experience and identify issues and opportunities that others might miss. This isn’t to say that mentors have nothing left to learn, of course — part of being experienced is knowing that the learning process never ends.

Able and Willing to Listen

As we’ve discussed many times before, being a good listener is one of the most important leadership skills one can acquire. Having experience matters, but a good mentor is careful not to hijack the student’s natural growth process. In many cases, an individual will learn more by mulling over a problem on their own and asking plenty of questions. By listening to their pupil’s questions and concerns, a mentor gains a better understanding of their student’s thought processes and can provide answers when needed without simply solving the problem for them.

Passionate about Teaching

Though pop culture gives us many examples of the reluctant instructor, a good mentor must want to fulfill this crucial role. We respond to each other’s energy levels, after all — if your teacher doesn’t seem interested in the subject matter or in helping you out, odds are you won’t feel too enthusiastic, either. The same principle applies in regards to mentoring in business. For the best results, the level of interest must be reciprocal between mentor and mentee.

Respectful

The mentor-mentee relationship is also built on mutual respect. Both parties must retain a level of humility, good faith, and kindness to get the most out of this symbiotic bond. Mentors and pupils can show respect for one another by showing up on time, paying attention to one another, avoiding judgment and hurtful language, and so on.

Eager to Push Their Students

While the best mentors are respectful and kind, this doesn’t mean that they are pushovers. Personal growth only occurs when one steps outside of their comfort zone. Mentors must not be afraid to nudge their students into new and uncomfortable territories every now and then — this might mean having them take on new roles, tackle a challenging project, etc. It’s possible to push a pupil too far, of course, which is why communication is so important — the better a mentor and mentee know one another, the more productive these exercises will be.

Objective and Direct

Lastly, a good mentor doesn’t hold back when delivering feedback. At the same time, this feedback must be free from personal judgments and delivered in a constructive, transparent way. Simply put, we don’t learn or grow without becoming aware of our shortcomings. We might try to ignore our own flaws or downplay our own strengths, which is why it’s so important for mentors to plainly reveal them. Having an external, objective point of view is paramount for personal progress and reducing leadership stress.

In business and in life, everyone should be so lucky to have a good mentor by their side. Fortunately, there are many resources available that help establish these key relationships.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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How to Get the Most Out of the Leaders in Your Office

By Leadership Resources 12/17/2020
Businesswoman walking upstairs

Your leadership team is largely responsible for allowing your business to continually meet quotas, increase profits, and grow sustainably. As such, motivating your leaders to do their best work and maintain that momentum must be one of your top priorities. Of course, all leaders are human beings, and human beings have their limitations. Pushing your people too hard can create massive leadership stress and get in the way of progress. Conversely, loosening your grip too much can result in chaos and stifle productivity. In order to ensure ongoing success, then, you must strike a balance between putting on the pressure when the time is right and letting go when things get too tense.

How to Get the Most Out of the Leaders in Your Office

Support Their Personal and Professional Goals

Even if your leaders inherently love what they do, their job is ultimately just a portion of their lives. Most people are more motivated by the notion of building a better life for themselves and their families than growing the company for which they work. Fortunately, these goals go hand in hand. As your business flourishes, so do the personal lives of your leaders, as long as you maintain an awareness of what your people want out of life and their careers. If you want to get the most out of your leaders, then, take the time to understand what gets them out of bed in the morning and connect those aspirations to the business’ growth. You can further support your leaders by offering ongoing leadership training, providing career resources, and more.

Prioritize Performance Management

No matter how self-aware someone is, no one recognizes all of their shortcomings without some external input. Your leaders won’t be able to progress as quickly or efficiently if they’re not receiving honest feedback on a regular basis. Make it a priority to track your leaders’ performance and go over their strengths and weaknesses at key intervals or on an as-needed basis. Your constructive criticism should also include recognition of all of a leader’s accomplishments — this way, your leaders can continue doing what they do best and work on what they might have missed for the betterment of themselves and your business as a whole. 

Make sure you allow time for your leaders to ask questions and deliver their own feedback as well. Sending out employee surveys is another powerful way to see how your people feel about the workplace and culture.

Leave Room for New Opportunities

One of the primary reasons people part with a company is because they feel stuck, as if they’ve reached a peak and there’s nowhere to go from there. In order to draw out the very best from your leaders (and keep them around), you have to offer ongoing opportunities for growth. You might develop a transparent system for lateral movement, promotions, and raises for leaders to work towards, and/or create new roles for managers with specific leadership skills. It’s important to maintain strong communication with your leaders to see how happy or unhappy they are in their current position so you can come up with ways to best utilize their unique talents, skills, and experiences.

Provide Practical Paid Time Off (PTO)

Everyone needs a break, especially your hardest-working talent. Working around the clock for months on end will inevitably lead to burnout, which can take weeks to recover from and do plenty of damage in the meantime. While paid vacations and extended break periods might seem like a major liability, they’re necessary investments for managing leadership stress and getting the most out of your leaders in the long run. For a deep dive into this subject, read our article, “How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) is Good for Productivity?” At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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Effective Stress Management Techniques for Leaders

By Leadership Resources 12/05/2020
Woman doing breathing exercise at laptop

Taking on a leadership role is a major honor and responsibility. Much is expected of leaders, and many leaders have a habit of carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders to prove something to themselves, their colleagues, their team, or all of the above. However, being a strong leader isn’t about bearing all of your business’ burdens — rather, it’s about lifting up your organization through strategic decision-making, delegation, oversight, and flexibility. When things get too stressful (and this year has certainly been one for the books), your ability to effectively lead can get hampered, especially if you don’t have the resources and habits for handling this stress. In this way, strong leadership and stress management are two sides of the same coin.

With that in mind, let’s outline some effective stress management techniques for leaders of all stripes.

How to Reduce Stress

Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Well-Being

All of your decisions and behaviors stem from your physical and mental state. This means that being a productive leader begins with taking care of your body and mind. The following lifestyle adjustments help both prevent and relieve leadership stress:

  • Get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
  • Maintain a healthy diet (limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar)
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercise regularly (3-5 days a week)
  • Practice mindfulness (meditation, yoga)
  • Read for enjoyment and education
  • Enjoy hobbies and/or mindless activities

Anything that promotes your physical and mental well-being will make you more alert, improve your mood, boost your decision-making capacity, and minimize distractions when it counts.

Get Organized

We’re often told that a messy desk is a sign of genius. While there may be some truth to this statement, a chaotic work space is also a major source of stress. If you can’t easily find folders, documents, utensils, etc., you’ll end up wasting time, causing you to fall behind and undergo even more stress. One of the simplest methods for managing leadership stress, then, is organizing your stuff, which includes not only your physical space but also your schedule. Make lists, label and alphabetize folders and files, streamline your calendar, etc.

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

As leaders, we often feel like we have to do everything. Not only is this an arrogant frame of mind, though, it’s also detrimental to your mental state and your organization. Simply put, some tasks can and should be handled by other people so you can focus on other things. The key to proper delegation is finding the right people to take on certain tasks. By establishing a strong rapport with your team, you can determine their individual strengths, which will allow you to trust the person (or people) you charge with a given task. You can always assess their performance after the fact and determine whether changes need to be made. Delegating tasks to your team members also grants them the opportunity to learn new skills and grow into leaders themselves.

Remember: Perfection isn’t the Goal

One of main causes of leadership stress is the nagging pull of perfectionism. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things done right, but focusing too much on perfection can paralyze your decision-making, slow down your operations, and result in worse outcomes in the long run. You can reduce a lot of stress and work more efficiently by instead focusing on getting things done and smoothing out any rough edges afterward.

Wield the Power of “No”

To be a leader is to have a target on your back (for good or bad). People will constantly reach out to you, ask you questions, seek advice, cast blame on you when something goes wrong, and so on. While it’s important to maintain strong communication with everyone in your circle, it’s also okay to back away and take some time to yourself. You don’t need to attend every single meeting, hop on every phone call, handle every sudden task that crops up, work weekend, etc. Sometimes you just need to say “no” for your own good and, ultimately, the good of your organization. It’s better to deal with one task at a time than to stretch yourself way too thin.

Continue Developing Your Leadership Skills

No matter how long you’ve had your position or been with a company, leadership development never ends — at least, it shouldn’t. There are always new things to learn, new skills to acquire, and new techniques to try out. By continuing to hone your abilities, you’ll get better and better at de-stressing your life and the lives of your employees. Think of it as having more tools in your toolkit to tackle tough problems when they arise. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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5 Phrases to Use for Effective Workplace Criticism

By Leadership Resources 10/19/2020
Leadership resources 5 phrases use effective workplace criticism

Delivering criticism to a team can be a significant cause of leadership stress for many leaders. It’s not always easy to find the proper balance between sugar-coated comment and pointless put-down. But when someone makes a mistake, requires correction, or falls short of their duties, ignoring or obfuscating the issue is more harmful to your workplace culture than addressing it head-on.

So, how can you deal criticism in a way that lets your team member know where they went wrong, and, just as importantly, how they can improve? Let’s examine 5 phrases that can serve as templates or starting points for more effective workplace criticism.

1. “I like where this is headed. Let’s see what we can improve…”

This is a powerful phrase to employ when your team or team member suggests an idea that has merit but plenty of flaws. Rather than starting with the problems, begin with a sincere recognition of the idea’s potential. This will energize the team while also focusing everyone’s efforts on trimming the fat and making necessary changes.

2. “The team could really benefit from more of your input.”

If you’re a team manager, you may experience an occasional imbalance in effort and input from your employees. Sometimes a minority of the team makes most of the calls. Or, perhaps a single team member rarely, or never, contributes to the creative process. When this happens, don’t just tell them to talk more during meetings. Instead, let them know that the team is lacking an important piece of the puzzle. This often motivates a less assertive team member to make their opinion known.

3. “This area seems to be a challenge for you.”

We all have our weaknesses. The key is identifying them so we know which areas we must work to improve. But it’s not always easy to make out our own faults. One of the most important leadership traits is being able to not only identify these problem areas in your team members, but also point them out without hesitation or ambiguity. Using the above phrase provides a solid entry point into this conversation, as it doesn’t personally attack the individual in question but still addresses the concern.

4. “You haven’t been meeting your performance goals/expectations.”

By letting a staff member know in simple terms that they haven’t been meeting their expectations, you accomplish a few important things. First, you reiterate what’s objectively expected of them, as laid out in previous conversations. Second, you open the door for a conversation on why these goals aren’t being met. And third, you can begin crafting a tangible performance management strategy for getting back on track. This is more effective than telling them they’re not doing a good job, or demanding results without a reminder of the company’s expectations.

5. “What do you think could have happened differently?”

Finally, effective leadership depends on reciprocity and communication. If you’re going to lead well, the conversation must go both ways. So, when someone messes up, make sure you ask what they thought of the situation, and how they might have handled it differently. To avoid coming off as patronizing, sincerely listen to what they have to say and give your thoughts as well.

No matter the circumstance, coming up with constructive criticism is a challenge for all leaders, but vital to maintaining an open and productive workplace. The above phrases are just a handful of examples that can help you address important issues without making it personal or sowing seeds of resentment.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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The Secret to Exiting Your Company While Keeping Your Legacy Intact

By Leadership Resources 07/01/2020
Leadership Resources' workers collaborating with company culture

As attached as you might be to your company right now, there will come a time when it is either necessary or practical to make your exit. Of course, this eventuality might be decades away — regardless of when it happens, though, those in leadership roles must consider how the company will change as a result of their absence.

For many, these thoughts provide an ample source of leadership stress. And yet, avoiding them can lead to personal and company-wide problems down the road. If you have no exit strategy in place, you run several risks when you leave: your company might not survive the transition; the organization might radically change its values, mission, goals, etc. (perhaps for the worse); and/or the many efforts you made over the years might be lost.

So, what’s the solution? While there may be no single “secret” to exiting your company while keeping your legacy intact, here are some important ways to leave strategically and graciously.

How to Leave a Company With Good Standing

Identify and Develop Up and Coming Leaders

Your company should spend adequate time and resources developing leadership as a key component of its succession strategy. These efforts will allow current leaders to pass on values, strategies, knowledge, and more to employees who show promise and ambition. And in doing so, these up and coming leaders will be able to fill roles that are left open when someone finally exits. Strategic leadership training can take many forms, but its main focus should be to prepare newer employees to not only take over necessary responsibilities, but to manage them in ways that are commensurate with the company’s underlying values.

Cultivate a Firm Yet Flexible Culture

Every company is different, and therefore so is every company culture. That said, every organizational culture should have these core aspects in common — they should be firm enough to withstand major changes (such as the absence of certain leaders and employees), yet flexible enough to change and improve over time. During your time with the company, then, you should focus on establishing such a culture that, when you leave, the company still represents the core values you helped to imbue while healthily evolving based on societal and internal developments.

Put Financial Incentives in Place (ESOPs)

If you want you and your people to maintain a vested interest in your company, (financially speaking) even after leaving, developing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is one way to do so. It is worth noting that these plans can be quite complex and lead to various issues as well, so it’s important to weigh all of the potential costs and benefits with a certified exit planning advisor (CEPA) before making a final decision. Still, ESOPs can become a key component in your succession planning strategy, encouraging employees to take a larger stake in the company’s outcomes.

Leaving Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Ship Entirely

Depending on when and how you exit the company, you may still be able to play a role in its future success, imparting your wisdom and insights from a distance. For instance, you may be able to work as a part-time contractor or consultant to continue helping with leadership development and guiding the direction of the enterprise without steering the vessel. Your experience can be invaluable in helping employees and leaders deal with difficult decisions, stress, burnout, interpersonal issues, and so much more.

Leaving an organization is never easy, but taking the right steps during and after your time there can help set up the company for future success — success that is partially hinged on the contributions you have made and perhaps continue to make.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.

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The Success Chain: Turning the Past into Positive Outcomes for the New Year and Beyond

By Leadership Resources 01/06/2020
Leadership Resources success chain bricks falling

Within every workplace in the world, employees arrive at work each day with minds that are swirling with personal opinions, perspectives, attitudes, expectations, and assumptions. Each person has a rich background of experiences – not just work-related experiences, but also education, life, and societal experiences that shape their belief systems, behaviors, and even success.

We can’t see straight into our coworkers’ minds … but what if we could? What kinds of things would we see? Maybe we’d see someone who feels totally confused about the future, or a manager plagued by leadership stress. Maybe we’d see someone who feels composed and confident. Additionally, we would see those things change from moment to moment, and situation to situation.

All of these swirling thoughts, in turn, are reflected in each person’s actions and behaviors not only personally, but also professionally. Each thought they experience, each assumption they make, each habitual expectation affects how they interact with others and get their jobs done.

Employers can’t change their employees’ past experiences, but the employees themselves can reframe their past experiences in a fresh way that can drive toward positive outcomes. With leadership development and ongoing coaching, a company can support its employees in identifying these things, understanding how they might be affecting their work, and building a shared future that looks better from the inside out. Establishing that awareness can help them make better decisions going forward.

Help yourself, your employees, and your organization achieve success this new year by getting to know The Success Chain.

How to Use the Past in Business to Your Benefit

The Power of The Success Chain

At its core, the Success Chain is based on your personal life experiences, which can have a significant impact on the way you think and feel, what you choose to do, and ultimately your results, to determine whether success will be achieved.

The Success Chain’s power comes from realizing the strong impact our thinking has on our behaviors and actions. We have the ability to think better, so therefore we can do better. We can think positively, take ownership, be proactive, and our actions will follow from our thinking.

The Success Chain, along with good leadership coaching, teaches us that we can choose to both view and do things differently. This creates better results further up the chain, which means that over time we will see more positive outcomes and increased success in our lives.

Linking it All Together for a Successful New Year

The success of an organization is driven by the success of its individuals and the results they achieve. The results those individuals achieve are built on their actions and behaviors. Their actions and behaviors are dictated by their habits of thought. Their habits of thought are created by their experiences.

With leadership training centered on the Success Chain, you can begin to better understand conditioning experiences to ring in a new, better year. Best of all, each component of this chain interacts fluidly. So, as you adjust your habits of thought and behavior, you will acquire new experiences, which will circle back and influence your thoughts once more, creating a positive feedback loop of true, continuous success.

Read Our Whitepaper: “Ensure Positive Business Outcomes & Results: Leveraging The Success Chain”

In this whitepaper, we’ll look at the Success Chain and its impact on our professional lives. We’ll explore how personal experiences can affect our work identities, and how anyone can use the power of the Success Chain to shift their thoughts and behaviors to achieve long-term positive outcomes and further develop qualities of an effective leader.

Ensure Positive Business Outcomes & Results, Download This Whitepaper

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) is Good for Productivity?

By Leadership Resources 12/01/2019
woman relaxing on the beach

In the highly competitive business landscape, there seems to be little room for respite. As it turns out, though, working nonstop often stifles rather than stimulates a company’s output. Enough research has now been conducted to confidently conclude that paid time off (PTO) promotes productivity and long-term organizational success. 

Developed countries outside the U.S. seem to understand this, mandating a minimum number of days off for workers, usually somewhere between 20 and 30 days. No such regulation exists in the states, however, with the average American receiving about 10 paid days off per year (according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research). 

Some companies, embroiled in a culture of no compromises, might think that 10 days off is plenty, even generous. But, perhaps a better question is this: Are those 10 days of PTO enough to keep a business healthy, dynamic, and reputable? Even knowing that PTO is good for productivity, though, employers might have a hard time determining just how much vacation time to offer its employees, and how to best structure this policy. While no two businesses will devise the same PTO plan, a number of key considerations can inform their decision.

What to Know About Paid Time Off Policy

The Importance of Paid Time Off

Paid time off is crucial for promoting workers’ mental health, cultivating new ideas and leaders, and establishing a workplace culture that attracts and retains quality people.

Plenty of people love their work, but lacking a balance between work and the rest of one’s life tends to undermine both. Ironically enough, when individuals can’t seem to escape their working role, their work suffers as a result. Burnout and stress are major causes of performance management issues in organizations and can take a toll on one’s mental health. Taking time off allows employees and leaders to recharge and shift their thought processes, so when they finally return, they come back with an energetic, fresh perspective that can propel the organization forward.

Businesses who boast a superior PTO policy also benefit from acquiring a more impressive pool of candidates. Many of those entering the workforce actively seek opportunities that offer competitive benefits such as fair PTO. If a company wants to hire the best people out there, modernizing its PTO plan makes a powerful statement.

11 Ways To Create Accountability And Increase Productivity At Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

How Much PTO Is Good for Productivity?

While it may be abundantly clear that offering reasonable PTO is beneficial for business, calculating the optimal amount of PTO is a bit blurry. This number will vary from one company to the next, based on its particular structure, number of employees, the regularity of workload, etc. 

For instance, a company that does most of its business in the summer might mostly hire temporary part-time workers, with only a few full-time staffers on hand. These full-time workers might still have work to do on the off-season, but it might not be as burdensome as the on-season, so their PTO might be extensive but limited to a certain time of year.

Businesses that operate year-round and hire predominantly full-time workers will likely have a different PTO system in place than the one outlined above. Many companies base their PTO offerings on the length of time an individual has served the organization. For example, a new employee might have 10-15 paid days off while someone who has been there for over a decade might have closer to 20-25 days off. This service-based policy both incentivizes employee retention while delivering more time off for those who may require it to cope with leadership stress.

Some newer companies, especially those in Silicon Valley, have actually begun experimenting with an “open PTO” plan. These policies essentially allow employees to take time off as much as they’d like, so long as they meet their deadlines. This system might seem ripe for abuse. However, the opposite may be true. As discovered by a 2017 study conducted by Namely, many employees under this open policy actually end up taking fewer days off than those under stricter PTO plans precisely because they don’t want to take advantage of it. That said, unlimited vacation policies show potential for cultivating high performance culture companies, as long as expectations are made clear and workers feel welcome to take a break when they need one.

Cultivating a Culture That Encourages Taking Time Off

There may be no one-size-fits-all PTO policy, but all businesses can benefit from making sure PTO is properly utilized by workers. According to a 2016 study by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, 54 percent of Americans neglect taking some of their earned vacation time, possibly for fear of losing their job, falling behind on project deadlines, or failing to meet expectations. To ensure that employees get the breaks they need and deserve, companies should clarify their PTO policy and actively encourage everyone to use it fully. 

Leaders within the business can set an example by committing to their vacation time and advocating its value. Additionally, workers should be reminded of how much PTO they’re entitled to, and if they must use it within a given timeframe. Businesses should also have a plan in place to prevent emails and messages from being sent to those using their PTO, so they never feel pressured to check in on work-related matters.

Everyone needs a vacation. No organization can succeed when its people are exhausted, stressed, and unhealthy. In this way, PTO is a major component of proper employee productivity management. As for how much PTO boosts productivity, it all depends on how your business operates. Regardless of the hard numbers, make sure your people use the time off they’re given.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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Can You Terminate Employees Without Crushing Morale?

By Leadership Resources 05/03/2019
Leadership Resources termination document

In a constantly evolving business climate, it is more important than ever to make sure work teams are cohesive, high performing, and agile. A strong culture of strategic leadership and values based hiring processes can serve to create high functioning teams. However, sometimes even the most promising hires turn out to be the wrong fit. After efforts to coach, develop, and train an employee fail, it sometimes becomes apparent that they are negatively impacting your business’ growth, reputation, and/or team morale.

It is almost inevitable that a leader will eventually face the difficult decision to terminate an employee. Firing a staff member can lead to serious leadership stress, which can trickle down to the rest of the organization, causing disengagement, confusion, and discontent. Is it possible, then, to terminate employees without crushing morale? In short, yes, but it takes some effort.  

How to Terminate an Employee and Maintain Morale

Transparency after Termination

A team member who is either underperforming or a bad fit has significant impact on the morale and energy of their coworkers. If you’re responsible for managing team dynamics, you have to bear in mind that even when a termination is necessary to improve working conditions, some employees may still panic at this revelation, thinking they could be next. It’s your job to articulate a clear leadership message before concern spreads. Your communication should reinforce critical company values, and how the team will move forward, without divulging so much information that you put the organization or yourself at risk.

Be thoughtful prior to sending any message to the rest of the team. Be as transparent as you legally and reasonably can. While you shouldn’t share health or sensitive personnel information, the more your team knows, the better they’ll understand what they’re doing right and where they can improve. Clearly lay out the reasons for the change through the lens of mission, vision, and values, and provide opportunities to discuss matters further with individual team members privately, if necessary.  Don’t dwell on specific performance issues beyond this point. This is the time to clear things up, tie any loose ends, and forge a positive path forward with the current team.

Framing is Key

It isn’t just about what you tell your team, but how you tell them. Framing the situation the right way can turn a sour scenario into something beneficial for the workplace culture. The key here is to focus less on the negatives and more on the positives. Don’t ignore the truth of the termination, of course. Instead, leverage this disruption as an opportunity to bring your team back together.

For instance, if an employee was terminated due to a bad attitude or inappropriate behavior, conduct a meeting with your team to reinforce the company’s culture and values. Remind everyone what types of behavior are acceptable and encouraged, and which are discouraged, and point out recent instances where employees did an outstanding job. Bring the focus back to the collective vision, and clearly state what actions are being taken to reinforce this vision and move the company forward.

Terminating a Negative Force Can Actually Boost Morale

In addition to the above, it’s also important to remember that terminating an employee is in the organization’s and the team’s best interest. After all, the decision to remove an employee from the company comes from a careful performance management review process where it becomes clear that the employee is not a cultural match for the organization and may be harming the business in some significant way.  If you have been clear in communicating your core company values, the termination should not come as a surprise to the employee, and it’s likely that the employee’s negative performance or attitude manifested in many forms, such as lowered productivity, violation of company policies, or negatively impacting morale. Purposeful action to preserve and uphold your stated values can serve to increase individual accountability and foster greater teamwork.

While this change in numbers might be abrupt for some, it should ultimately make for a better work environment. In this way, firing an employee should actually serve to boost morale rather than crush it. It might take a while for this shift to occur, of course. But with proper framing and clarity in communication, your team can see a positive change come out of this decision.

Of all the responsibilities a leader must take on, having to terminate an employee might cause the most stress. Many seasoned managers still admit to agonizing over even the most justified cases of termination. Still, it’s necessary for maintaining a positive company culture and promoting growth of the organization. Be open and honest with your team and continue focusing on the good.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.

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