Shared Leadership for Personal and Collective Growth

There are few successful bodies that operate as a total hierarchy – with one single leader. We lead with others, in partnerships or managing teams, and these dynamics affect the way we lead, for better or for worse.

As shared leadership gains a bigger role in institutions, the need for improved co-leadership skills becomes greater for both businesses and individuals. As Michael D. Kokolowski explains in his study of the emergence of shared leadership in the present day, more and more, businesses are operating with teams of interactive minds who influence one another in their decision-making. He highlights three components of shared leadership that form a team environment: shared purpose, social support, and voice.

Cohesive Teams

Sharing a vision is always the first step toward building a successful, cohesive team. A stampede of wild animals is powerful; a school of fish is beautiful. A collective of individuals running toward different targets is just chaos. Shared purpose is the magnet that helps groups maintain strength and direction when day-to-day operations take their toll on team togetherness. By sharing a vision and dividing roles and responsibilities among leaders, goals become less obscure and more obtainable. Fewer toes are stepped on, and more eyes are set on a single prize. When individual roles and a common purpose are clear, personal achievements become group successes.

A culture of support in the workplace is a crucial dimension of successful shared leadership. Empowering team players to act, to work together, to lead together – must be paired with a support system that fosters trust and teamwork. Social support is the safety net that gives team players the courage to act upon the empowerment that shared leadership creates, allowing for a sustainable shared leadership dynamic.

Praise and Taking Responsibility

Leaders can foster such social support in the workplace by allocating praise to team players and taking responsibility for failures, offering support to fellow leaders in addressing problems and solutions. Working together to identify opportunities for growth—and supporting one another in developing strategies to take advantage of such opportunities—develops mutual trust among team members and empowers co-leaders to reach higher potentials.

Voice might be the single-most important dimension of a successful team. Shared leadership is useless if in practice, one leader’s perspective drowns out the rest. For businesses to reap the benefits of co-leadership, each leader must be encouraged to speak, and provided with a platform of listeners. Such a platform can only be built by a group of co-leaders who value the voice as a tool for individual contribution and self-expression. The voice, as a translator of inner qualities and dedication, should be understood as such and treated with support and respect.

Organisational partnerships have great potential to forge products and outcomes that are innovative, unique and lasting. By investing in these partnerships through business leadership training sessions that value shared leadership as an effective means for group progress, co-leaders can take their teams to new heights, both personally and collectively.

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3 Questions to Ask Your Inner Leader

Business, in today’s world, is more about bringing people together than ever before. With such global interconnectedness, advanced technologies and high-speed communications, leaders have been relinquished of some of the leg-work that has vanished with the past. Similarly, our world has shifted away from mainstream culture toward niche markets and tight-knit communities.

Combine the two, and leaders now face a new objective: to support team players in their endeavours whilst keeping an eye on the prize. What’s the prize?: infiltrating the niche markets that now have more access to your company’s product than ever before.

As a leader upholding your business’s vision, you play a central role in connecting the many ways that innovative employees might contribute to building networks of support to your company’s overarching goals.

With this shifting role of the leader, it might be time to reassess your inner leader to see if he is up to the challenge. Here are 7 questions to ask yourself, to keep your inner leader on-track for the 21st century:

1) Are you investing in the relationships between you and those you lead?

Every day, the lines between the personal and professional, the virtual and the actual, get blurrier. Online social networks like LinkedIn and Google+ provide virtual platforms for our professional lives; e-mail inboxes are meccas for both casual conversation and official exchanges. As the boundaries of workplace culture transform, you don’t want to be stuck behind hard lines of what we once thought of as professionalism. Now more than ever, good relationships between co-workers make for good business.

2) Are you open to learning and listening?

As small networks and communities come into focus as targets for business, it is crucial to remain open-minded and open-eared. Business leaders are no longer working for the masses: Our visions, goals and products are now intended to reach specific groups of people with unique and tailored concerns, visions and goals of their own.

Not only do business leaders need to listen to their audiences, but likewise to their team members. In today’s world, perspective is everything. Where there is a consumer who wants a triple-shot non-dairy cappuccino with fair trade nutmeg served in a mason jar, there is someone who knows just how to give it to them. You cannot be everything, so use the resources you have by staying open-minded and listening to those you lead.

3. Are you taking risks?

While these fast-changing technologies and sub-cultures are daunting at times, they also provide us with some wiggle room for taking chances. Today, it’s the innovative who succeed big, because they are willing to risk a certain amount of failure. Think about your comfort zone, and the willingness of those you lead to take risks, to see if you’re taking advantage of the trial-and-error mentality of this technological age.

Most importantly, don’t let your inner leader get bored or complacent. Ask yourself questions that make you think about your decision-making strategies, your motivational skills and your ability to conjure up support for your own business endeavours and those of your team members. Ask your inner leader to consider new ideas and perspectives that will bring people together to succeed.

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How Can Leaders Spark Passion in Their Employees?

If passion was a skill, or a certification, employers would have one half of the interview process taken care of. Unfortunately, passion at a former job does not necessarily mean there will be passion at one’s current job. Conversely, a lack of passion at a former job does not mean that one does not have the possibility of finding the most meaningful position they have ever had at a future job. So how can leaders spark passion in their employees?

Many companies have a mission statement that expresses their objective of offering the best customer service or the highest quality product. Whatever the objective, without a passionate employee, companies will never really attain that promise.

In seeking new employees, employers must determine if there is a shortage of talent in the market, and if the salaries they offer are competitive enough to recruit the type of passionate employees they need to grow their business. Thankfully, employers have resources they can use when selling the benefits of their companies to prospective employees.

One key tool in an employer’s toolbox to market to potential employees is word of mouth recommendations from friends, neighbors, and other employees. This is an especially successful recruitment method when one is targeting the 18 to 29-year-old demographic.

Importance of Culture

A good leader understands the importance of the culture they create in the workplace and how important that culture is for current employees as well as potential employees.

Take the case of Dan Price, founder and CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle who recently announced that he was taking a cut in his own pay, and every employee’s starting salary would be $70,000 per year.

But, just a few weeks after the big announcement, two of Price’s “most valuable” employees quit proving that salary alone is not all that sparks a passionate employee.

A Gallup survey of employees in the United States and Canada showed that only 29 percent of those surveyed felt engaged in the workplace with 18 percent specifically reporting that they were disengaged. The survey went on to show that 26 percent of the respondents said that engagement and meaningful work was the most important factor that contributed to their job satisfaction. Based on that survey only about one third of the workforce feel engaged in their current positions.

So, how does one bridge that disconnect and create a culture of employee recognition? Creating an atmosphere that grows passion is something that can be learned and implemented by simply listening to what employees are saying.

The Need for Motivation

Disengaged employees need motivation from their leaders. Strong leaders make sure that every employee, regardless of their job title, knows how important their job is to the overall success of the business. That knowledge makes an employee proud of their contribution, and passionate about the role they play.

A strong leader also can ignite passion through open communication within their organization.

J.W. Marriott, executive chairman of Marriott International, explains this concept through an encounter with President Eisenhower. At the time, Marriott was a young student at the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School, and he asked the president a question about policy. The president asked him, “What do you think, Bill?”

Marriott says those four words are the most important for any leader to use to be successful. An employee who knows he has a voice is far more likely to find his work meaningful.

A group of people who spend 40 hours a week together are going to see each other on both good days and bad days. Most employees understand the boss has bad days, too. But, good leaders realize that the way they handle the bad days can be even more inspiring than how they handle the good ones.

In the end it is really a very simple equation, engaged employees are passionate employees. Passionate employees love coming to work. Having a passionate team who is invested as much as management is in the overall success of the business is not just a great idea to consider. It is a great necessity to create.

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How to Motivate Under Performers

Even the greatest company can fail if its employees are under performing. Morale, confidence, skill level and more can all have a drastic effect on an employee’s performance. Underperforming does not necessarily mean that the employee is poor at their job. It can have just as much to do with management and the company as a whole as it can with the individual. In order to help motivate under performers excel at their job, follow these steps.

Understand why they’re underperforming

The best way to tackle any problem is by understanding the cause of it. Every employee is different, and each has their own problems with varying impacts. Get an unbiased overview of the person’s behavior and work from someone like a manager or fellow co worker. In addition to obtaining some useful and unbiased information on the employee, you may also get some insight as to why they may be underperforming. For instance, a coworker could mention that the employee has been very distracted lately due to issues at home, or they’re having difficulties understanding a new software.

HR software can also be perfect to understanding just how the employee is truly performing. It allows you to see a breakdown of their performance through analytics involving their met goals, current projects and more.

Open lines of communication and provide encouragement

Once you’ve gathered some information, it’s time to sit down and have a conversation with the employee about their performance. Start off by letting them understand how valuable they are to the company and what they’ve achieved there so far. Many employees simply don’t feel like they’re appreciated, and even merely hearing these words from their boss can have a very positive effect on their work. If anything, it will likely provide them with some drive to try to improve.

Explain all of the details that you’ve collected on their performance, and offer a helping hand in rectifying the situation. If you haven’t collected enough information to pinpoint why they’re underperforming, discuss why both you and they believe this may be happening. There could be more than one reason. For instance, if you believe they’re frustrated over not understanding a new software, offer some helpful resources for learning about it, or suggest they work alongside someone else who knows the software very well for a while. They may then suggest that the reason they’ve been getting frustrated with the software is due to hardware issues in their work laptop. This could be fixed with repairs or a new computer.

Set clear goals and provide coaching

Some employees aren’t aware that their performance is lacking, and some employers and managers simply don’t provide clear goals for their employees. Lay down some clear performance goals for the employee, and offer some coaching to help them improve. Be wary of employees who refuse coaching or any sort of help. If they don’t want to equip themselves with the proper tools and resources to improve, they may not be worth keeping around.

Follow up

Just like how employees may under perform when they believe their work isn’t being appreciated, employees who are working to improve also benefit from fairly regular follow ups as well as praise and acknowledgment when they are visibly improving.

Reward improvement, analyze further performance issues

At the end of a reasonable time period of coaching and work, analyze how the employee has done overall. If they have made great strides in improvement, reward them in some way. Show them that their work has paid off, and assure them that hard work and great performance are recognized, even when mistakes are made along the way. If the employee hasn’t improved much or has stayed the same in their performance, you’ll need to evaluate whether they’re worth keeping around. Are the improvement methods ineffective, or is the employee simply not putting much effort into it? Is it worth it to try to continue with other improvement methods, or is it best to let the person go and try to find someone else for the job? Put deep consideration into this as firing someone can have a very large effect on everyone in the company.

Most people have it in them to be good employees. It just takes a little hard work, patience and understanding to help under performers achieve great things in your company. There will be instances where you may be forced to let someone go, but these tips will prevent you from losing a valuable employee and doing undue damage to the company or even someone’s life.

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How Can You Get Individual Superstars to Work Together?

When you have a small business, you need to have the best hire to be part of your tram. However, it’s not always a piece of cake to gather aces and put them on their best places and get them to work altogether.

Most managers are then faced with the question on how to combine their talents, skills, and brains for one project and lead them to work harmoniously.

Vince Lombardi believes that the secret to building a team of superstars is to motivation them to work towards a common goal. But even if we’re not talking about sports, the same motivation is quintessential in any team, especially in the workplace.

In the Team Effectiveness Review led by Elaine Yew at Egon Zehnder during the late 90s, she discussed the six critical team competencies that can make an A-team thrive.

Let’s explore the six ingredients that make individual superstars work great with a team.


It’s not enough that the team understands the importance of diversity of skills and strengths. They should be also willing to incorporate them. Dan of The Leadership Freak noted about 13 reasons why teams lose momentum and one of them is dominant members who cause others to feel insignificant.

As the leader, you are responsible to help your members understand each other’s skills and strengths despite the fact that superstars tend to be “me-focused”. By identifying each superstar’s motivation, you can work around how to best motivate and inspire them to work with others without feeling the need to be always be on the spotlight.


An ambitious team thinks about long-term momentum at a high level. Superstars are naturally driven individuals who always have the thirst for victory and excellence and each member’s enthusiasm would easily rub off on others.


Do your team members understand the larger team purpose? If not, you may want to direct all theirefforts on one central objective. It’s time to leverage their thinking. TribeHR Staff said businesses are most successful when employees’ personal goals are aligned with that of corporate goals. Yes, while each member may have personal goals and priorities, team leaders should aim to make the business thrive and ensure that each team player’s goal aligns with that of company’s.


Author Margaret Heffernan said that social capitals make a group resilient. By that, she means trust, knowledge, reciprocity, and shared norms. If you are a team leader, it helps to show your team the outcome of their collected efforts. Writer Glenn Llopis said one of the ways to inspire a team is to make them feel that their hard work makes a difference beyond just profitability.


One of the biggest challenges to teams is how to deal with pressure not only individually, but also as a team. You may encourage your team to try a few quirky de-stress hacks such as photography contest activities or simply employee’s day out. After a super-busy week, your team deserves relaxing and reenergizing activities to keep them motivated and happy at work.


Do the team members’ value engaging with the broader organization? When each member has connection to one another, it becomes effortless for them to share ideas, concerns and contribute towards the common goal better.

Having great individuals work together as a team is a great opportunity and a challenge to focus on the over-all and high level goals. By focusing on the over-all objectives, one can minimize the potential clashes within the team and make the best use of individual talents, skills and take advantage of the adversity of the group.

Having aces on their best places allow each team member to feel significant without having the need to be constantly on the spotlight and think more of the common goal as opposed to focusing solely on individual ones.

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8 Leadership Mistakes to Avoid

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”

– John Wooden

We all make mistakes. However, it is important to realize that every mistake has a take-away from it. Get that right and the mistake can turn out to be a great learning opportunity. But nothing is better than not making mistakes and doing things right from the very start.

Being a good leader isn’t easy. It never has been and probably never will be. With so many responsibilities on your shoulders, there are bound to be times when you feel overwhelmed resulting in panic and mistakes, despite your best efforts and intentions.

Irrespective of how much you hate to admit it, not all your decisions are going to be good ones. Of course, as a leader you’ll have to take risks, with or without the complete knowledge of all the factors involved. Some mistakes may result in temporary setbacks, others may put a full stop to your career. But what largely matters is how you deal with the mistake and its consequences.

The best leaders are those who accept their leadership mistakes and use them as stepping stones to success. They believe in learning and growing not only from their own errors, but also of others.

Mentioned ahead are a few common mistakes that leaders make, but can be easily avoided.

1. Trying To Do Everything Yourself

Good leaders know their teams well and understand the importance of working with them rather than doing everything by themselves. They make the effort of figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and delegate tasks accordingly. Not only does this help in the timely and successful completion of the task, it creates better team dynamics.

Leaders who think they know everything, or that they need to do the task themselves in order to get it right only end up antagonizing their team in the long-term. Irrespective of how smart you may think you are, know that nobody likes to be led by someone who thinks he’s omniscient and show little faith in his team.

Good leaders know how to get the most from their team, that there is always more to learn and actively look to gain new knowledge every day.

2. Poor Communication

Poor communication or the lack of it can lead to major miscommunications and/or communication gaps. There are, however, solutions like time tracking, collaboration tools, and scheduling applications, which if utilized optimally, can help alleviate the road bumps that can possibly occur.

While it can be difficult for leaders (who are perpetually swamped with work) to send out and receive messages all the time, it is important that they set aside some time to do so.

Good leaders make it a point to convey to their teams all the information they need to do their job quickly and efficiently.

Further, good leadership comes from good communication skills. Simply getting your message across without verifying the content may lead to its misinterpretation, which can be detrimental to your growth. Remember, it’s not just your words that can be taken out of context; your actions invite just as much scrutiny.

3. Not Setting Goals

Your team looks up to you for providing them with direction and purpose. This can come only when you set realistic goals which are in alignment with the organization’s objectives. This is a key job of any leader. Without a proper goal, your team is bound to go off-track.

4. Avoiding Change

Change is the only permanent thing, so any attempt to resist it will prove to be futile. If you think you can keep the business environment from changing, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Technology changes, people and processes change and so do organizational goals and objectives. It, therefore, makes sense to prepare and adapt (or even become harbingers) of change, and make the necessary arrangements to address it before or as soon as it comes into effect.

5. Not Providing Feedback

The only way to ensure that your team stays on the right track is by constantly monitoring them and providing them with timely feedback. Feedback can be positive or negative, depending on their performance.

Positive feedback may be followed by rewards and recognition, whereas negative feedback should be followed by corrective measures. Doing so regularly will result in improved employee morale, performance and loyalty.

6. Looking for Shortcut Solutions to Every Problem

Most problems come with solutions which may be quick, but these solutions are not always the best. As a leader, it is your duty to provide ideal solutions to problems.

However, in your zeal to solve problems quickly, do not make a hasty decision or do anything that you will regret later. Some problems take time to resolve.

7. Not Being There for Your Team

There’s no denying that leadership is a people job. You need to stand with your team when they need you in order to gain their trust and confidence.

You may be their leader but when it comes to work, it’s not about you, but about the team. If the overall performance is as a team consistently meets or exceeds expectations, then you’re doing a good job as a leader.

8. Not Making Work Engaging

One of the greatest responsibilities of a leader is to make work fun for his team. Doing so is important to keep them engaged and look forward to coming to the workplace.

Keep in mind that your people spend the better part of their day at work. It is, therefore, important to make the office a pleasant place for them.


Being a leader is challenging, but being a great leader is even more so. The good news, however, is that everyone can learn from their mistakes, improvise on them and avoid making errors in the future. Leading a team can be an extremely gratifying experience, but it takes time for everyone to settle into their role. Remember, leaders before you have made their share of mistakes too. It is true that mistakes can provide learning opportunities, but taking the time to recognize and avoid common mistakes can help you become more productive, successful, and highly respected by your team.

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A Guide to Employee Motivation

As a business owner, staying on task and ahead of schedule will directly determine whether your company will sink or swim. One of the biggest problems within companies today is small inconsistencies that turn into large problems in the future. Once they get to that point they are even harder to fix because no one really remembers where the problem started in the first place. Use this article as a direct guide to employee motivation and help keep your employees motivated and honest with their work on a daily bases.

1. Give constructive criticism, but don’t run them into the ground

This is the number one reason employees would ever be dishonest about an incident happening because of how they are directly treated by their employer. Nine times out of 10 employees will shy away from you and try avoiding confrontation at all costs, even if it hurts the company. It has been proven that good support to people who do something wrong has an overall better effect that the opposite. Say things like “that’s not quite right, here try doing this instead” then following up with “you are giving great effort; just remember to turn in your work at the end of the day”. Starting or ending the statement with a positive feedback will almost guarantee that the employee will get a sense of acceptance and want to try to impress you in the long run.

2. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel

Show some incentive or a reason to do better at work. It can be either profitable or just recognition throughout the workplace. Some great ideas for profitable incentives could be things like a pair of baseball tickets, a bigger bonus at the end of the term, or even just something as simple as lunch on a Friday. If you do not have extra money for incentives give your employees something they can be proud of. For example you could have an employee recognition program, such as employee of the month. It leads to good office morale and motivates employees to do better work.

3. Feed the hungry

It was touched on in the step above, but if you have the revenue to do it, people love free food. For instance, it might be easier to rally the troops for that 2:30 p.m. meeting if they know there will be free donuts and coffee available. Also as a side note, caffeine will be your best motivator. Whether you can afford to buy coffee for everyone once a week or even get a vending machine that has cheap caffeine sources in it, caffeine will help give your employees that small energy boost they need to finish out the day.

4. Trick them into thinking they are not working

One of the easiest motivators will occur without the employee even knowing it. Be spontaneous and change things up around the office. Instead of having your weekly meeting in the small boring office, try having it outside or renting out a hotel suite once a month. Another great example would be let them all work from home one day and only require them to participate in a free conference call. This works well because employee will feel like they are not at work and the creative juices start to flow, hence making them more productive.

5. Let them be heard

If you really want your company to thrive, let your employees know that what they do has a direct impact on the outcome of something major. Give them something to work for and be proud of. There are many ways of doing this, including having a meeting where they give suggestions on different topics to better help or change the company. Also, sitting an employee down that may be struggling more than the others and explaining to them the overall importance of that person’s job may help boost their self-motivation. Showing that there job can directly affect the lives of others is a good motivator that will help them to work harder.

Whether you own your own small business or manage a company with 10000 employees, if they do not perform the way they should, nothing will get done. Use the above steps as a general guide to help better motivate your employees in a more positive manner.

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