The One Skill Every Leader Needs To Master

What are you like to work with? Have you ever wondered? Are you moody? Inconsistent? Intense? Approachable? Do you think you know? Have you ever asked someone? I was recently re-reading a favourite article (if it were a paper copy, it would be heavily earmarked) on the six habits of highly empathetic people. And it occurred to me that a lot of the ways we talk about “leadership” (developing it, being it, honing it) presumes a one-size-fits-all view of ‘who’ a leader is… Sure, the best leaders generally share a number of traits: Good communicators Trustworthiness Experience Knowledge Visionary …But with every team being made up of a number of personalities, I wonder: Am I a different leader for each of my staff? Am I a tailored coworker for every teammate? The article, which I highly suggest you read, defines empathy as “the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.” That’s where empathy takes its leap from kindness or pity  (i.e. making small talk with the new marketing coordinator is friendly, not empathetic). Bill Drayton, founder of social entrepreneurship and the Ashoka Foundation, believes that “in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership.” No doubt, the word empathy is buzzing for a reason – people are figuring out what works in the modern, team-oriented, open-space office – and interpersonal relationships are key. Here are some of the top empathetic traits laid out in the article and how you can apply them to work: 1. Be Curious About Others You’ve spent a lot of time strategizing the best roles for your department. You’ve made some bang-on hires and now...

Is It Time to Fire Your Boss? Dec05

Is It Time to Fire Your Boss?

Do you have a boss that’s never present—a vacant chair (physically and metaphorically) that’s unavailable to answer questions, share advice, and doesn’t pick up their phone when it rings? Or, possibly worse, do you have a boss that’s always present—unnecessarily inserting themselves in situations, breathing down your neck, and never empowering team members to discover success on their own? Last week we introduced media guru Tom Giersimczuk’s novel adage “would you hire your own boss?” The answer is (unfortunately) not always yes, and it could be for a number of reasons. We do a lot of interviewing and we hear about a number of Horrible Bosses.  In this second blog series, we’ve combined Tom’s insights with some of our own to share 10 signs that you should consider firing your boss: Ursula Un-Present Do you walk by your boss’s office ten times a day trying to catch them between meetings to get approval on a project? Do they blow off your weekly check-ins week after week? Do you send emails with no response? “Ursula – you’re fired.” Peter Platitudes Does your boss act like there is an “I” in team? Do they take credit for your work, undervalue your contributions or steal your opportunities to lead projects? “Pack your things, Peter.” Stacy Status-Quo You know that leader that is either not physically or mentally present? While they are hanging out keeping a seat warm, you struggle to push through new initiatives. Their go to answer is “this is how we have always done it” which can be extremely frustrating.  “We’re terminating your position, Stacy.” Alex Always-Working Do you receive calls from your boss before your morning Nepresso? Or does your boss send through last-minute requests when you are cuddled up with a glass of...

Would You Hire Your Boss?

It walks into a room before you do and occupies your office chair while you’re away. It precedes you but also follows you from one boardroom to the next. Your ‘Boss-Factor’. ‘Boss-Factor’: aka – Your Leadership Quotient — measured by your ability to influence, communicate, inspire, assess, learn (from mistakes), empower and connect.  Central to this equation is the intersection of your IQ and EQ. In an always-connected, citizen-journalism era, your Boss-Factor provides more attraction power than salary or bonuses. And, in an on-fire, fiercely competitive job market, your Leadership Quotient can be the difference between a team-member signing-on, staying-on or moving-on. After all, “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.” If you don’t want your employees leaving faster than NHL trades, then you need to nurture (and refine) your Boss-Factor. Meet Tom G. (Or Gierasimczuk, if you’re brave enough to try). Polish(ed) publisher, editor extraordinaire, media maven, and hopefully a lover of alliteration. Tom’s office at TC Media sits at the foot of South Granville (atop Pottery Barn), with one window on the Pacific and the other on the shadows of neighbouring concrete buildings. Tom’s had a few bosses in his time. It’s Tom’s experience navigating various boss styles that has put him where he is today: sitting as General Manager and Publisher for TC’s Western Media Group with enough leadership lessons and wisdom to fill a book. Tom determined early in his career, if your boss is a problem – you need to fire them. Tom now has a mantra to measure his own (and others’) leadership quotient by: “Would I hire my own boss?” If the interview tables were turned, would my employees extend an offer to me or would they pass for someone better? Here are Tom’s 5 things to...

New Principal at Smart Savvy Nov13

New Principal at Smart Savvy

Jaylene Crick. Head hunter by day and super mom by night. And now, Principal at Smart Savvy and Associates. After spending 3 years juggling many different responsibilities and constantly keeping her hands full, Jaylene has been recognized on the corporate podium and been promoted. With her unbreakable determination and drive, she adds exceptional value to every search she’s a part of. Jaylene will now take over the talent research team and lead them with her effervescent, enthusiastic, “kid in a candy store” attitude. If she ever gets a chance to breathe from her constantly-filled schedule, make sure you give her a big congrats in the comments below for her to...

Billionaire Branson Grants Unlimited Holidays Oct02

Billionaire Branson Grants Unlimited Holidays

This past week, headline-maker Richard Branson once again graced business news sites everywhere with his unleashing of unlimited holidays. Virgin employees are now granted undocumented, uncounted, and unlimited vacation days. It was all triggered by Branson’s daughter Holly, stating her friend’s company “experienced a marked upward spike in everything – morale, creativity and productivity” after adopting a have-your-own-holidays buffet. Virgin’s policies are modeled after those of Netflix: a place where employees are wholly responsible for their vacation time and no one is officially tracking holidays. (Except, maybe, the co-worker beside you who’s noticed that you’ve taken much more time off than they have.) There is one pre-requisite for vacationing: you can’t leave behind a laundry list of to-do’s for others on your team and your work must be completed before you jet-set off. However, “completed work” is a fairly subjective standard to qualify someone for “I need a day/week/month off to snooze under a palm tree in the Bahamas.” Unlimited holidays is certainly a great measure of trustworthiness in the workplace. Employers are placing the company’s success and reputation in their employee’s hands; some will be responsible and take appropriate holidays, but will everyone? Leaders must put (absolute) faith in their employee’s honesty and judgment calls. On the other hand, holidays are no longer what they used to be. Technology follows us wherever we may go and we can easily work from our smartphones or tablets at a beach-side tiki hut in a tropical destination. Vacay days no longer necessarily mean leaving all work behind but perhaps bringing work alongside us in our pockets or our purses. (The question is whether we want to or not…) Valid points have been made about Branson’s ground-breaking adoption of this policy. Who says 40 hour weeks is...

Work Friends Beat Out Free Massages

Working hard or hardly working? Turns out if you want the former, you should encourage your employees to have a best friend in the cubicle next to them. Rather than distracting them with small-talk or chit-chat, workplace friends actually boost employee engagement and loyalty. Officeteam recently released survey results that may make managers think twice about the makeup of their teams. They show that employees prefer having an office BFF to a fantastic benefits program. That’s right: people surveyed prefer meaningful workplace relationships over a free flossing at the dentist. Employees who have friends waiting for them with open arms rate their job satisfaction 50% higher than those who only have friends waiting at home. One may assume having a best friend at work would simply mean merrier employees: whistle-while-you-work, “give world peace a chance” types. But while visiting the water cooler in my own office, a new reality struck me: friendships at work display whether there is trust or a lack of trust in the workplace. It measures faith in co-workers—will they support each other when they take a risk or do they have to watch your own back? Strong relationships encourage patriotism both to and within the company. Best friends at work make for employees that are best friends with their work. Even BuzzFeed agrees, sharing the ’21 joys of having a work BFF.’ Do you agree with the survey results? Do you think employees are more likely to stay at an organization if they have a work BFF? Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag:...

Love Monday #35 – Where’s the pause button? Nov04

Love Monday #35 – Where’s the pause button?

Fall back earned us an extra hour this weekend – what are you doing with your returned time? We’re taking pause and doing things a little slower around the office this week. We’re becoming editor-in-chief of our own emails. And we’re taking second looks at the people we manage and how we manage them. We’re also thinking about what it means to take a corporate step back. Can you? Is there room to relent on the forward motion of our career paths and re-evaluate everything? Are you on the right path? These questions and more explored in the #LoveMonday links below. There’s lots of chatter of about ways to improve the email experience, but this is the first complete strategy I’ve seen for writing each and every email better.  Geoffrey James, author of Business without the B**shit, lays out the rights and wrongs of writing emails that get the job done. … Managers deal with a multitude of personalities – and the challenge of how to bring out the very best in each.  Here’s some great advice @qz on never underestimating the power of your teams’ most introverted players and some solid ideas on how to give them space to shine. One we particularly like: “be sure to offer opportunities for introverts to start the idea generation process before team meetings and allow points in the conversation where they can jump in.” … Does your marketing program create unforgettable experiences? Good example: that time a mob of 100 zombies erupted from the giant Xbox on the corner of Nelson and Seymour. … You’re young. You’re building your career. And the next steps keep coming. But you feel like there’s barely time to evaluate the opportunities – even as you’re taking them. Do you charge ahead? Or, is this a good time for a corporate pause? This ex-Fortune-500 exec...

Managers: Lead Thyself Jun10

Managers: Lead Thyself

anagers: Don’t forget to Manage Yourself You’re not an assistant. You’re not CEO. You are solid middle management – and you love it. It took a lot of work to get here. And you know that, if you do it right, you’ll go even further. So how do you make sure you’re managing the ladder-climb with finesse?  For starters, you have to keep in mind that your success is now measured by the success of others – and maybe the most important person you’re managing is yourself.  Here’s 5 #LoveMonday links for leading managers: …  When it comes to total world domination, even Internet giants need to sweat the small stuff. For Google, managing “visual polish” means empowering their designers with pristine, no guesswork guidelines. Here’s a “rare peak into the guidelines that dictate Google’s graphic design.” Are you providing your own employees with all the details necessary to meet your high-standards? … Stuck in a management rut? You might feel re-energized by these 5 simple ways you can stop managing and start leading. … Alexander Fernandes, founder of Vancouver-based Avigilon, got his early management experiences as a big cog in a small wheel with start-ups. Here he shares how he drove his video surveillance company to 50,000% growth in just five years, and how they plan to take over the world. … Turns out that employee you promoted for excellent work isn’t exactly an excellent manager too. Is it their fault or yours? How are you supporting your star performer to make the transition from top talent to top leader? If you don’t have a strategy in place for supporting your newly minted managers, you might benefit from these six tips. … You’ve been dreaming of the day and now it’s here. You’ve made it.  You’re CEO. But...