Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player
These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you've got great teamwork skills.

Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player

In our last post, we talked about how managers can understand Millennials, as well as build strong working relationships with them. Working relationships and respect are a two-way street. This week we’ll talk about how to be a great follower and team player. This is important for everyone, no matter what generation. Whether you’re Millennial, Boomer or Gen X, these tips are going to help you be a great team player. Even if you own your own business, you are still responsive to customers, clients, and possibly even investors. These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you’ve got great teamwork skills.

Followership Tip #1 – Know Your Organization’s Mission

We all get really head-down sometimes working on our tasks. Sometimes we divert in a direction that’s not really productive because we’ve lost focus on our mission. We focus so much on details, we forget we’re serving a larger purpose. That’s why we’re part of a team, to achieve something that we couldn’t do on our own. Recognize what your organization’s mission is. Focus your efforts on enhancing that mission. Don’t be afraid to speak up if an idea doesn’t align with the mission. Work with the people around you to ensure all your ideas and efforts serve your organization’s mission.

Followership Tip #2 – Know What Your Boss is Held Accountable For

Do you know how your organization measures your team for success? You may all be working towards a stated mission, but your team leader might be accountable for things outside of what your awareness. Your boss’s boss may be measuring the success of your team and your leader on other factors. What is your boss held accountable for? It may not just be what’s going on your team. Understand the metrics used to measure your team. Keep track of the metrics that senior leadership uses to measure success for the whole organization. You will learn how your leadership makes decisions as well as how to present your ideas so they will be well received.

Followership Tip #2 – Show Initiative

There’s always a lot of tasks to do in any organization. We all appreciate the people who step up and do them. Those people show strong leadership potential and we select them to be team leaders in the future. Find uncompleted tasks and do them. Don’t worry if it’s not in your job description. Or put together a small team inside your team to get it done. This comes back to what your boss is held accountable for. If there are things that are falling by the wayside, show some initiative and get them done. Show senior leadership you’ll be a great leader by exhibiting good followership.

Followership Tip #4 – Present Fully Formed Ideas

Last week we talked about how leaders should be coaching and mentoring young Millennials to fully form ideas before presenting them. Ask for mentoring and coaching, but also try to meet your boss halfway. Be as thorough as you can when you put together ideas to pitch to your boss. Recognize what the impacts will be, not just to you, but to your team as a whole. Also, consider impacts to other stakeholders outside of your team. Define those impacts in terms of money, time or any other important metrics, as well as solicit the perspectives of others. Talk with the other teams and find out how your proposal will impact them. Will they support your proposal? Bring all the relevant information and perspectives together and present it in a clear and easily understandable format. This will help you make a very strong case for your idea to your boss.

Followership is the core of leadership. In the Air Force, we worked very hard to create great followers that understood the principles of good leadership and became great leaders later on. and I hope that works for you too. Next time you want to propose something to your boss use these tips to make a strong case. Show initiative and put together a really well thought out plan. By meeting your boss halfway, you’ll have more conversations about great ideas, instead of just getting quick yes or no answers.

One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look at opportunities that come from the way millennials look at the world.

Managing Millennials – 4 Tips for Leading Millennials

We’ve heard a lot about the “millennial problem” lately and there is no shortage of opinions on it. My first experience working with millennials was in the Air Force in the mid-2000s. That was a bit different situation than dealing with it in a civilian environment. Despite the differences, we found some successful leadership principles that can help with managing millennials in the civilian world too. One piece of general advice is not to think of leading and managing millennials as a problem. Instead, look for opportunities that come from the way millennials view the world. How can that mindset benefit your team? If you lead millennials or are millennial and you have a different experience, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to learn from your experience if you have different advice and share it with other leaders.

Managing Millennials Tip #1 – Recognize What Millennials Want

Millennials really want 3 things when it comes to their career and life in general. They want to be heard, to participate in the decision-making process and for their work to have meaning. This isn’t unique to millennials. Pretty much everyone in every generation wants these things in their work experience.

From a very young age, millennials have been encouraged to pursue their dreams. They were also much more included in decision-making with their families. This is far different from my experience growing up as a Generation Xer. Older generations were raised differently as well. We “paid our dues” in the workplace before we got a seat at the big table. Millennials view this differently and this can create that generational tension. We shouldn’t assign any blame here, just recognize the different mindset. Recognizing that millennials want the same thing as every generation does, but have a different mindset on how to get there, goes a long way towards building a strong team relationship with millennials.

Managing Millennials Tip #2 – Be Flexible Where You Can

Millennials love flexibility especially when it comes to schedule and being able to use the latest technology. Look for opportunities to be flexible on how your team does work. It’s important to maintain the standards of excellence that your organization demands. For example, who cares when your team is in the office if they can do the work remotely? What events or activities do they really need to be present for? Where you can, let your millennial team members experiment with new tech, new methods, and alternate schedules. Enforce deadlines and standards on work products even as you give them new freedom.

Managing Millennials Tip #3 – Give Millennials Objectives, Not Tasks

Give your millennials problems to solve and let them figure out how to do it. As above, set clear standards that their results have to meet. Identify any legal or regulatory frameworks they must stay within and let them work inside that framework. If you’re new to letting your team have this much freedom, schedule in a few vector checks. These checks let your team update you before they proceed and are a great opportunity to give them further guidance.

Managing Millennials Tip #4 – Be a Coach and Mentor

Here at Evil Genius Leadership we believe one of our most important jobs as a leader is to develop the leaders coming up behind us. It’s especially important with millennials who are looking to have a coaching and mentor relationship with you. Sometimes a team member will have an idea for an improvement. Often it’s not quite fully formed or doesn’t take into account the whole situation. Rather than just saying no, sit down and discuss how they can make their proposal stronger. We all had mentors who took the time to invest in us. We should do the same for our team members.

You may recognize that these tips are all basic good leadership principles. We were talking about these ideas 20 to 30 years ago before millennials ever entered the workforce. As I said earlier, if you’re leading millennials, or are a millennial, and you have a different experience, leave us a comment and let’s continue the discussion. I’d love to hear what you think and refine these tips to make them valuable to even more people. Rather than looking at this as a “millennial problem” let’s just recognize that every generation comes with its own worldview. If we follow good leadership principles we can get past the tension from differing worldviews.

Managing up isn't just about getting our boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

Managing Up – 3 Tips for Managing Your Boss

Often, as leaders, we get wrapped up in day-to-day problems and leading our own team. We sometimes forget how important managing up is. We need to build strong relationships with our boss and our boss’s boss in order to lead effectively.

Effective leaders do more than just manage their team. They build strong working relationships their leadership up the chain. Managing up isn’t just about getting the boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

When I was a young Air Force Captain, I was working on a project and had to go see the Wing Commander. I had put together a few options but wasn’t really sure which one to choose. I went to the meeting and asked him what he wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Jason I’m a Colonel, you’re a captain. You’re the project officer. Figure it out.” He then explained that he wasn’t trying to be harsh, but rather that he trusted me. As the expert, I should be recommending to him what the best alternative is. That experience taught me what managing up is all about. Bring solutions to the boss instead of just bringing problems or questions.

Managing Up Tip #1 – Bring Solutions, Not Problems

Effective leaders will go to the boss and present the problem, their thought process and their preferred solution along with several alternatives. Go to your boss with some solutions in mind. Don’t just bring more problems. The boss already has plenty of problems on his plate, we don’t need to bring him more. You show initiative by providing several solutions and build trust by showing that you have the best interests organization at heart.

Managing Up Tip #2 – Solve Your Boss’s Problems

Don’t just solve your own problems. Solve your boss’s problems. When you talk to the boss about a problem and how you’re going to solve it, think about the way your boss thinks about it. Consider their concerns they have across all of the groups they manage, not just your team. Also, be aware of the requirements that are placed on your boss from above. If you can solve your boss’s problems they know they have one, you’re effectively managing up. Your boss is going to trust you and see that you have that initiative to accomplish the mission and do what’s right for the organization.

Managing Up Tip #3 – The One Challenge Rule

What if your boss completely shuts you down on the solution you presented? That happens sometimes and we need to deal with it tactfully. In this case, you can use the one challenge rule to effectively manage up. You don’t want to argue with your boss over the right thing to do. After the decision, if you believe they are making a mistake, take one opportunity to say so. Lay out your case respectfully and calmly in a logical way. The boss may change their mind or decide to go with the original decision. Either way, you made your case and the boss will respect that you tried to do the right thing for the organization. Once the decision is made, go execute according to the boss’s guidance even if you didn’t get your way.

Next time you’re getting ready to pitch one of your ideas to your boss even further up the chain, think about these three tips before you go into the meeting. Remember, we’re trying to build a strong working relationship with our boss and all of the leaders in our organization. We want to build trust by showing them that we’re focused on our mission as well as what’s in the best interest of the organization.

Many of us often feel like we are prisoners to some of the day-to-day aspects of our jobs. Almost every day, I find myself talking about how much time administrative tasks take away from the aspects of my business that really excite me. We know that as leaders we need to be delegating, not just to free up our time, but to develop our team members' leadership skills as well. Delegating is an important skill to have, but to do it effectively we need to be truly empowering others.

Empowering Others to Get Your Time Back

Many of us often feel like we are prisoners to some of the day-to-day aspects of our jobs. Almost every day, I find myself talking about how much time administrative tasks take away from the aspects of my business that really excite me. We know that as leaders we need to be delegating, not just to free up our time, but to develop our team members’ leadership skills as well. Delegating is an important skill to have, but to do it effectively we need to be truly empowering others.

Considerations Before Empowering Others

In order to empower others successfully, we need to think deliberately through a few questions before delegating. If we aren’t thorough about setting expectations, we might find that we’re spending more time supervising instead of focusing on the priorities we wanted to free time up for in the first place. Here are 6 questions we can ask ourselves before assigning priorities to one of our team members to help ensure that we’re freeing ourselves from the task and not creating an even bigger time sink:

  • What is the task, project or responsibility we want them to take on?
  • To what degree are we going to hold them accountable?
  • What resources will they need to accomplish the task?
  • What decisions are we willing to let them make on their own?
  • How much autonomy are we willing to give them?
  • How will we measure progress and success?

Trust is the Key to Empowering Others

It quickly becomes apparent that empowering others depends on trust. If we don’t know them well or trust is low, we’ll be reluctant to give them more autonomy and authority. If we have a strong relationship with them, we’ll be much more willing to let them run without a lot of supervision.

To reap the benefits of empowering others, we need to build trust with our team members from the very beginning. Waiting until we are task-saturated before delegating guarantees we’ll be spending more time supervising than focusing on more important priorities. Empowering a team member today starts freeing up our own time as well as builds strong leaders for the future.

Acting with courage can be difficult when the time comes, especially if we know that our decision will be unpopular with our team or other stakeholders. Courage, like other leadership traits, can be developed but it is very much like trying to build up a muscle. We need to exercise our courage frequently in everyday situations so that it is strong and well-developed for the occasions when we really need it. One of the ways we can start building up the muscle for courage, or any other leadership trait, is by developing a courageous mindset that helps us to know what acting courageously is and gives us a guide and example to follow.

Courageous Mindset – Video Guide

This month we’ve been talking about courageous leadership and how important it is to step out of our comfort zones or use courage to make decisions and take actions consistent with our core values. Acting with courage can be difficult when the time comes, especially if we know that our decision will be unpopular with our team or other stakeholders. Courage, like other leadership traits, can be developed but it is very much like trying to build up a muscle. We need to exercise our courage frequently in everyday situations so that it is strong and well-developed for the occasions when we really need it. One of the ways we can start building up the muscle for courage, or any other leadership trait, is by developing a courageous mindset that helps us to know what acting courageously is and gives us a guide and example to follow.

Developing a Courageous Mindset

In the video Jason goes provides some tips to help develop a courageous mindset. He goes into detail on how we can all help ourselves think and act more courageously when we are in the middle of making a decision. We can approach a difficult or unpopular decision by keeping some of the following ideas in mind while we work through our decision-making process.

  • Remember the mission
    • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • Who are you trying to accomplish it for?
    • Why is it important?
  • Keep Core Values in Mind
    • Personal
    • Organizational
  • Intellectual Honesty
  • Treat others with respect and dignity

It can be really challenging to make a decision or take an action that requires courage, especially if we have to face our teammates or peers afterwards. By taking an approach to act courageously in all of our decisions and actions, we start to build that courageous mindset and exercise those muscles so that we are prepared to make tough decisions and be held accountable for them in the future.

As we continue with our May theme of Courageous Leadership, this week Jason talks about the idea of intellectual honesty and how it is different from simply telling the truth. Intellectual honesty has a basis in problem solving but can be applied to make well-informed decisions in a variety of leadership situations. Striving to be intellectually honest helps us ensure that we have considered all factors when making a leadership decision. Developing our team members to be intellectually honest gives them the ability to provide depth to their work that will lead to solid decision making. In the video, Jason talks about how to differentiate between our interests and our positions and how that distinction relates to intellectual honesty.

Intellectual Honesty – Video Guide

As we continue with our May theme of Courageous Leadership, this week Jason talks about the idea of intellectual honesty and how it is different from simply telling the truth. Intellectual honesty has a basis in problem solving but can be applied to make well-informed decisions in a variety of leadership situations. Striving to be intellectually honest helps us ensure that we have considered all factors when making a leadership decision. Developing our team members to be intellectually honest gives them the ability to provide depth to their work that will lead to solid decision-making. In the video, Jason talks about how to differentiate between our interests and our positions and how that distinction relates to intellectual honesty.

Components of Intellectual Honesty

  • Not letting beliefs interfere with seeing the truth
  • Including all relevant facts in our decision
  • Presenting facts to others without bias or misleading
  • Giving credit to others for their work

Source: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intellectual_honesty

Being aware of these concepts as well as our own biases helps us to make decisions based on all of the relevant facts and not just on the ones that support our position while leaving out facts that go against our argument. Even if we are not the decision maker, we can apply the principles of intellectual honesty when we present information to others who are making a leadership decision.

Jason goes on to talk about some practical tips you can use from Good to Great by Jim Collins in order to help you and your team adopt the principles of intellectual honesty in your day-to-day activities. Applying intellectually honest principles to our information gathering and decision-making processes helps us to make better decisions that stand up to external scrutiny and stand the test of time.

Photo Credit: By European People’s Party [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

developing a culture of initiative on your team where your team members solve problems and address situations before they come to you us a great way to keep these monkeys off of your back. Every problem that a member of your team can solve without having to come to you for guidance is one less monkey for you to handle.

Initiative & Keeping Monkeys off Your Back – Video Guide

One of the most widely read Harvard Business Review Articles ever written is from back in 1999 and talks about how leaders often assume problems that members of their team should be taking care of. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here. The article has a lot of great rules to implement for what to do as a leader if someone tries to let one of these monkeys jump off of their back and on to yours, but developing a culture of initiative on your team where your team members solve problems and address situations before they come to you us a great way to keep these monkeys off of your back. Every problem that a member of your team can solve without having to come to you for guidance is one less monkey for you to handle.

Ways to Develop Initiative

  • First, don’t just assign your team members tasks or duties, give them problems to solve or areas of responsibility
  • Give each team member appropriate authority to handle their assigned problems or responsibilities.
  • Encourage creative and innovative solutions and allow your team to pursue these solutions within the authority you have given them
  • And it’s really important to allow your team to make mistakes and learn from them. People can learn more from a few false starts than from immediate success. It also can help refine their ideas into the best possible solution by seeing what doesn’t work

The key to following all of these tips is to understand the degree of trust that you have in your team members and the amount of trust they have placed in you. in the video, Jason discusses both of these kinds of trust in detail and how you should take the amount of trust between you and your team in order to apply the tips above.

 

Photo Credit: By Patricedward (Personal Photo) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the ideas we embrace most passionately Evil Genius Leadership Consultants is that as leaders we need to take the time to get connected with our communities and find ways to listen and understand what challenges people are facing. One of the ways we build this connection is through gathering young, ambitious leaders and business owners as well as aspiring leaders to talk about the leadership issues and problems that you face every day. To make this conversation a reality, we are hosting our next Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum on Wednesday, March 16 at Ricardo's Mexican restaurant from 7:30-9:00 PM.

Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum – March 16, 2016

One of the ideas we embrace most passionately Evil Genius Leadership Consultants is that as leaders we need to take the time to get connected with our communities and find ways to listen and understand what challenges people are facing.   One of the ways we build this connection is through gathering young, ambitious leaders and business owners as well as aspiring leaders to talk about the leadership issues and problems that you face every day. To make this conversation a reality, we are hosting our next Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum on Wednesday, March 16 at Ricardo’s Mexican restaurant from 7:30-9:00 PM.

Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum

Would you like to have a voice in how future leaders are developed in your industry? We invite you to bring your challenges, pain points, successes and insights to our leadership forum. Meet other young leaders from the Las Vegas area and enjoy appetizers and drinks as we together discuss the key principles to make ourselves more effective leaders in the Las Vegas community. Our goal is to create an open dialogue about the challenges you face in your workplaces with the managers who lead you, your peers and those you lead and supervise. We really want to make sure that we’re doing good work for the community and addressing the challenges you actually face as leaders, not just what we think you might be dealing with. We’d love to hear about any challenges or successes you can share with us and some areas we’d like to learn more about from you are:

  • What leadership styles are present in your organization and how do they affect your team?
  • What is the leadership culture in your organization and does it help or hinder success?
  • Does your organization communicate effectively?
  • How does your organization manage and resolve conflict?
  • Does your organization provide effective training of communication and public speaking skills?
  • How does your organization approach problem solving and decision-making?

The discussion will help us understand where we as a company can create better programs, workshops and content that will help young Las Vegas leaders better meet their challenges, achieve their goals and advance their careers. Please join us on March 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM for the Las Vegas Millennial Leadership Forum at Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant in Las Vegas. Seating is limited so reserve a spot today with us on Facebook or by emailing us at jason@evilgeniusleadership.com. We’ll be in the event room with some refreshments and are looking forward to hearing your insights and questions!

Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant
4930 W Flamingo Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89103

Directions

Ricardos Map

There is nothing more rewarding than helping young leaders successfully navigate the challenges they face every day and providing that kind of assistance is exactly why we started Evil Genius Leadership Consultants. We love it when you send us your questions and we try our best to provide you with thoughtful answers and practical steps you can use to solve the problem. This week's video answers a question by Felix M. who would like some advice on starting difficult conversations with his team members. In the video we show the steps you can take to plan any difficult conversation to help it go more smoothly as well as some key tips for execution of the conversation.

Starting Difficult Conversations – Video Q&A

There is nothing more rewarding than helping young leaders successfully navigate the challenges they face every day and providing that kind of assistance is exactly why we started Evil Genius Leadership Consultants. We love it when you send us your questions and we try our best to provide you with thoughtful answers and practical steps you can use to solve the problem. This week’s video answers a question by Felix M. who would like some advice on starting difficult conversations with his team members. In the video we show the steps you can take to plan any difficult conversation to help it go more smoothly as well as some key tips for execution of the conversation.

Starting Difficult Conversations – Building a Plan

  1. Figure out exactly the message you want to get across. Think through all of the main points that you want or need to make as part of the conversation.
  2. Determine who needs to be part of the conversation or hear what you have to say.
  3. Consciously choose the location for the conversation. Find a place without any distractions like active work spaces or high traffic areas.
  4. Timing of your conversation is also critical to keep the other members of your conversation focused on your message.

You can find more details on how to build an effective plan for your difficult conversation in the video. We also talk about why these kinds of conversations can be difficult to help get you in the right mindset to craft your message and the tone of your discussion. Also check out the end of the video for a few key tactics to use during your difficult conversation to keep it moving smoothly while addressing the concerns of your team and getting your message across at the same time.

 

Photo Credit: By Lourdes S. (Day 14: I Don’t Know ANY of This!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the reasons we become leaders is to influence others in a positive direction to make the world a better place, but we often underestimate our ability and feel that we are not important enough or experienced enough to have much sway over what others think. The reality is that we have an influence over those around us every day but just don't consciously think about it. Most people care about their organizations and are open about discussion and debate about how to best achieve the results we want. If each of us really thought about it we all have at least one or two areas where we have some extensive knowledge or perspective that we can use to help shape others opinions about how to move forward successfully. Being conscious of the influence we have on others and using it wisely to promote positive change is one of our most important responsibilities as leaders.

Influence – Video Guide

One of the reasons we become leaders is to influence others in a positive direction to make the world a better place, but we often underestimate our ability and feel that we are not important enough or experienced enough to have much sway over what others think. The reality is that we have an influence over those around us every day but just don’t consciously think about it. Most people care about their organizations and are open about discussion and debate about how to best achieve the results we want. If each of us really thought about it we all have at least one or two areas where we have some extensive knowledge or perspective that we can use to help shape others opinions about how to move forward successfully. Being conscious of the influence we have on others and using it wisely to promote positive change is one of our most important responsibilities as leaders.

Positive Ways to Influence Others

  1. Find the knowledge and expertise that you have that no one else has
  2. Figure out who the audience is or the group of people who this topic is important to and share your thoughts and ideas with them
  3. Tell your story – use real examples and experiences from your own life to emphasize the points you’re trying to make
  4. Pick your moments wisely – sharing  your thoughts and experiences at the appropriate moment is often more important than what you share

Setting ourselves up with a positive mindset about influence before we share is critical to getting our message across. Approaching conversations from the perspective of sharing and being open-minded is often received better than if we are seeking to portray ourselves as an expert or persuading others to get our own way.

Photo Credit: By West Midlands Police from West Midlands, United Kingdom [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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