The most important quality of a good leader

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Strong leaders need several important qualities to help them inspire and motivate their teams. The ability to effectively listen is likely most important. Why is is so important for leaders to acquire and maintain this skill? Read on to find out 🙂

Voices
Leadership is about leading a group and providing them with direction, solutions and motivation. However, people in positions of power also need to know how to take suggestions from other individuals. Whether it’s at a job, for a sports team or in another environment, one person alone is usually unable to stand alone on every task. Instead, leaders can and should listen to the suggestions that teammates have. This will create a sense of unity among the team, promote new products to customers and more.

Criticism

Of course, listening to criticism is difficult for anyone, but doing so is very important for a leader. While constantly critiquing leaders might lead to trouble for employees, students or team members, they should be able to express their concerns. For example, let’s say that a new policy in the workplace isn’t working for you. Customers are verbally expressing their concerns with the procedure, and business seems to be suffering as a result. When employees bring these concerns to the leader, they should never be scoffed at. Leaders needs to realize that cause for concern exists among those who matter more than anyone else!

Insularity
Leaders also need to pay attention to what is happening in the world beyond their organization. Let’s consider an educational example. Say you are the head of an academic program at a community college. Other schools in the area are intensifying their science and mathematics programs, but your peers at home don’t want to hear about it, because your system seems to be working. Well, without evaluating whether this is truly the case, this could lead your school to fall behind.  This is why it’s your duty as a leader to fight insularity – it never leads to anything good.

Respect
Listening is a surprising but sensible tool for showing respect. Indeed, followers are supposed to respect their leaders, but the reverse needs to be true as well. If employers (or other kinds of subordinates, of course) feel as though they’re being respected, they’ll be much more willing to work harder for communal goals. If a leader never listens to the people who are a part of his or her team, they simply aren’t going to feel respected. This means that actions necessary, rather than words, and it’s your responsibility to prove to your employees that you respect them!

Lana Martinez is a life coach that writes about self-help, leadership and personal growth. Her recent work is on the best online counseling degrees in the US.

Three skills managers need for effective decision making

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Often times, being a manager means that you are the one making the unpopular decisions that affect the people that you care about and spend every day around. This is why being a manager is something that not every person is suited for. There are traits and skills that tend to make people better managers. Generally those skills center around how well someone can make decisions, especially when they are under large amounts of pressure or stress. Take a look at these skills that allow managers to be effective decision makers:

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1. Put your emotions aside.

As manager, it is likely that you spend time with your employees all day every day. It is probably always in the back of your mind that the decisions you make have to do with all of those people. If you are afraid that the decisions you will make will affect the emotions of the people you work with, then you are looking at problem solving and decision making in the wrong light. When making a decision, think about the effect your decision will have on the job aspect of your employees, but not strictly on whether or not it will make them like you more. Do, however, keep in mind ethical and kind treatment of your workers.

2. Weigh out the pro’s and con’s every time.

Big decisions should never be made in haste. Be sure to take the time to explore all of your options. When your options are determined, you must then think about the outcomes of each and every one of these decision options. Decide which will be better for the long term as well as the short term. Also take a look at what will be best for your employees and what decisions the higher ups would be most happy with.

3. Be willing to accept the consequences.

Generally as the manager, people will look to you and your decisions for stability. Managers are expected to make the best decisions for their employees, for the bottom line, for their own bosses, and for the company’s future. Sometimes, however, these people will feel that the decisions you have made are not in their best interest or the best interest of the company. This may cause your employees to be upset, and sometimes even cause them to confront you with a less than positive tone. If and when this happens, you as the manager need to be willing to accept responsibility while standing by your decision. If you waver with your decision every time you are questioned, people will not respect your authority. You do, however, need to be prepared to listen to the concerns of your employees and try to make them feel better about the decisions you have chosen to make. Explain to them your thought process and try to help them to understand why this was the best option for all involved.

Author Pam Johnson uses her online bsn programs degree to effectively manage a nursing staff. She uses these three managerial skills every day.

Four differences between managerial & leadership skills

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The terms managerial skills and leadership skills are often used interchangeably. In some situations, switching between the two terms does work. Ultimately though, they bear slightly different meanings. What are the nuisances that set these two apart?

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Professional vs. Casual
Generally, managerial skills is the more professional of the two terms. Having leadership skills is often more associated with taking on a position in a scout troop or a local soccer team. This certainly does not mean that the skills lack importance. However, if you are applying to a job at a top business firm, you would likely want to list that you have managerial skills as opposed to leadership skills.

The Actions
Managerial skills and leadership skills also have different meanings when it comes to the actions that people take to accomplish them. For example, let’s think about the president. When it comes to leadership, he needs to make the decisions that are the best for the country. As a result, he is leading the people into choices, but he also has to act as a manager. Once he decides what the best choices are for the country, he needs to find a way to put them into action. This is where managerial skills come into play; he has to figure out the best people for the job, how funds will be allocated and so forth.

Learning the Skills
The ways in which people learn these two diverse skill sets also varies. Have you ever heard of the term “natural born leader?” Leaders often have the skills to lead people ingrained within them, and such talents are generally not ones that can be taught in the classroom. A person can learn to be more of a leader through acting, but an instruction manual really does not exist. On the other hand, plenty of people opt to major in business management. These types of talents have been studied, and people have written plenty of fancy books on them. In the traditional classroom, it’s generally easier to teach management skills.

Tangible vs. Intangible
Going along in the same train of thought, managerial skills are often more tangible than are leadership skills. With the former skill set, specific instructions and methods exist for accomplishing a task. As mentioned above, they can be taught. Even if a person has a meek personality, he or she can act as a manager. A big and bold personality is often required for a leader though, and these traits can come in many different forms. It’s harder to define a leader because people can lead in so many different ways, whether it be spiritual, physical, emotional, mental and so forth. When it comes to management, specific roles are defined for certain industries.

Explaining the differences between managerial and leadership skills is no easy task because they are so closely connected to one another. However, when you start to break these two apart, you begin to see that they have more differences than you necessarily thought upon first glance.

Author Jason Harter enjoys blogging and is a contributing writer for most affordable online business schools.

Two things you need to be a great manager

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The moment you believe your job is to manage ‘people,’ you are already on the wrong track. Books and seminar speakers may give you endless tips and tactics when stepping into a managerial role, but there are really only two important tips to remember for successful, genuine leadership.

1. Ask. 

Being a manager or a leader isn’t about you. It’s about everyone else. It’s about helping them excel in their position. Your ‘style’ of managing may not work with everyone. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all job. So, ask. An article on Inc.com recommends the following:

In your first (or next) meeting with each direct report ask:

  • How do you prefer to be managed?
  • What can I do to help you excel?
  • What types of management annoy you?

2. Listen.

Many managers feel great after completing the first step, but real progress can be made only if you truly listen to employees’ responses. Do this genuinely and respectfully while trying your best to adapt your mentoring, motivation, etc. to suit their needs and desires.

The common perception of a higher-up is that s/he will be offended if an employee speaks out about how they thrive. Break through the stereotype with genuine conversation and authentic leadership. You may experience some hesitation, and employees may not feel comfortable enough to express their true feelings, so make it a point to observe them regularly, get to know them, and remain patient while you discover how you work together best.

Do you have any tips on managing effectively? Or, if you are not in a managerial position, would you feel comfortable expressing your opinions to your manager or boss? Why or why not?

Three things a ballet recital taught me about selling

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This is a guest blog post by David Trapani of Sandler Training – Thank you, David!

Wow, it seems that each family event is a reminder of what we should all be doing in sales and business development.

This past weekend I was at my daughters’ ballet recital. Typically, a two- to three-hour show with kids from 3 – 18 years old. In years past, the time has been spent keeping my sons focused on the show. We bring a few snacks, and the show always has some memorable moments. This year, things were a little different.

Year after year the show goes off without any issue – it is one of the most organized events you can attend with so many kids. The issue: None of the lights in the auditorium worked. This started 45 minutes before show time and lasted 45 minutes past the expected start time.

Finally, the show starts. Act after act we are entertained by these different kids of different ages and different skills. Thirty different acts! Forty-five minutes late for the start and guess what… no issues with my kids.

Then it hit me, there was something different about this year, and somehow I am able to relate it back to selling…

1) Breaking Through Your Comfort Zone
First, during the delay it was so dark that the only light was from cell phones. However, the microphone worked. So the MC asked if anyone knew some jokes. And guess what? My seven year old climbed onto stage, in front of 300 people and told some jokes. He is not a shy kid, but to get in front of 300 people — just awesome. And when he came back to his seat he was so proud.

2) Practice Does Make Perfect
It always surprises me how well these kids do on stage. And then it hit me… practice. These kids go to class for nearly three hours a week. They start in September and finish in June. By my calculation (excluding holidays) they practice 75 hours for a three- to four-minute act. How many professionals put in that much practice time? Not many.

3) The Show Must Go On
No lights until the four stage lights started working – and that was it until the end. But the show went on. And every parent was patient, supportive and couldn’t applaud loud enough. The show went on – they practiced, got prepared and delivered. They had worked for this event for over 75 hours and nothing was going to stop them. And if it didn’t go as planned, it didn’t matter.

No difference in sales – how often do you really get a second chance at an opportunity?

These were my lessons: Break Through. Practice. Deliver.

Because the show must go on!

10 ways to protect your digital life

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Last week Jeff Bedser, CEO of Princeton Internet Crimes Group (PICG), spoke at the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s July Membership Luncheon. Throughout his time with PICG, he’s seen it all. The mistake most people make, he said, is viewing the virtual world as fun, private and without consequences.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you post photos from your phone? Does your Facebook profile show that you’re married, and to whom? Do you tweet when you’re on vacation?

If you said yes to any of these, then you may be in danger of an attack. Take the following precautions before you update your status, tweet, instagram, pin, or whatever else you people do these days in the crazy expansive world of social media.

1. No geotagging. Geotagging often occurs on cell phones because they have global positioning software installed. Geotagging does not usually happen with digital cameras, so try to upload photos from a device other than your phone. You can disable the geotagging feature on your phone, but you may have to check it often, as updates often enable it without warning.

2. No personal information. Your name? Okay. But your address? Where you ate dinner last night via foursquare? Your birthday? Maybe not. Hackers can easily guess the answers to security questions through the information that you’ve publicly posted.

3. Create obscure passwords. It may be super annoying to sift through a messy stack of papers until you find ‘FjF#!jklowI128’ written on a notepad, but a complex password will deter hackers from working their black magic on your account.

4. Lie. When accounts require answers for personal questions, such as your address, simply lie. Create fake information when possible to maximize security.

5. Use a fake name. When purchasing and setting up a new computer, tablet, smart phone or wireless router, name it something other than, well, your name. Once again, the more ambiguous, the better. Bedser says that the device’s identity is tagged in meta-data, which is then attached to things like pictures and documents.

6. Delete all spam. DO NOT OPEN IT. By simply opening an email your computer or network could be at risk. Play it safe, and if you sense something fishy, just delete it.

7. Use anti-virus programs and update regularly. Self explanatory.

8. Do not connect to unsecured wireless networks. Mooching off of a wireless hotspot during your layover is mighty tempting, but resist. Hackers can access your personal information if you use their network.

9. Never send personal information via email, even if the sender looks legitimate. This is a common online scam that can come across as totally official. Hackers will copy bank statement letterheads and logos to trick online users into verifying information like social security numbers and addresses.

10. “If your children are on Facebook, you should be on Facebook.” Watch out for your kids and create acceptable use policies for your family. Keep security measures in check and don’t be too prideful to ask for help when you feel over your head.

Did you attend our July Membership Luncheon? If so, what did you think? Do you feel like you got a lot out of it? What would you like to see at lunches in the future?

Mac: really virus-free?

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 This is a guest blog post by Anisha Gupta, President of Stellar Phoenix Solutions

Mac’s reputation for being virus-free has outlasted the reality.

For decades, Mac users enjoyed a major advantage over Windows users ‒‒ a general immunity to viruses, worms and Trojans. Apple Inc., in fact, has long cashed in on its reputation for being largely invulnerable to security breaches.

But times have changed. In recent months, Mac users have become familiar with the Flashback virus, a malware program that has infected more than 600,000 Macs worldwide ‒‒ about 1 percent of all Macs, according to an article on eWeek.com. Apple quickly came under fire for failing to foresee a set of flaws in Java that failed to detect malicious code.

Complicating things is the rising popularity of various handheld Apple products ‒‒ most notably the iPhone and iPad ‒‒ that put the Internet directly into consumers’ hands.  And, Macs have risen to a vital plateau ‒ they now account for more than 5 percent of the market, which, according to the U.K.-based tech website IT Pro, is the threshold that makes the development of viruses, worms and Trojans worthy to scammers.

Mac’s reputation for being virus-free has outlasted the reality. Over the past year, Mac users have become increasingly familiar with malicious codes, such as the Trojans Tsunami and Revier/Imuler, and the phony antivirus program Mac Defender. And though the number of reported Flashback infections has sharply dropped, the fact is, Mac systems are vulnerable to attack and will continue to be so. Apple has taken the threat seriously and implemented new security features designed to ward off infectious software. And the company has told its customers to keep its anti-virus software up to date.

But many Mac users continue to have a false sense of security. As far back as 2005, Toms Hardware reported that a major Mac virus was inevitable. A year later, the first breakout of OSX/Leap-A, a worm written specifically for Mac OS X, hit the scene. By the end of 2008 Apple confirms, You Need Anti-Virus For Your Mac. Apple says the following in a technical note: “Apple encourages the widespread use of multiple antivirus utilities so that virus programmers have more than one application to circumvent, thus making the whole virus writing process more difficult.

One of the problems is that many Mac users are former Windows users who have not learned how to effectively operate Mac platforms. So they install Mac-usable Windows programs into their systems, opening themselves up to attack. According to IT Pro, approximately 1 in 5 Macs harbor some kind of Windows Trojan and as many as 1 in 36 Macs harbor Mac OS X-specific malware infections.