A stack of books on top of each other.

“The Leadership Challenge” 5th Edition by Kouzes and Posner

51ad5JQyiqL._AC_US160_[1]For more than 25 years, The Leadership Challenge has remained one of the most widely read, and trusted sources on how to become an extraordinary leaders. Now in its 5th edition, Kouzes and Posner have sold morethan 2 million copies in over 20 languages.Based on Kouzes and Posner’s extensive research, their newest editioncasts their enduring work in context for today’s world. This is a highly recommended read, and hasan abundance of resources available.

“Decisive” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

41Dma69iHnL._AC_US160_[1]Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick and Switch, have a new book out this year that is practical, relevant and user friendly. Another home run by the Heath brothers! The cool thing about this book is it outlines a decision making process that can be used in a variety of situations – both personally and professionally. The four steps to better decision making include: 1) Widen your options; 2) Reality test your assumptions: 3) Attain distance before deciding; and 4) Prepare to be wrong.

The authors help us remember the steps by using the acronym, WRAP. And by the way, these steps are meant to be applied in sequential order. I’ve used this process numerous times, and it works well. But beware it does take practice (like anything) before it becomes second nature.

Interesting new research on why people dread Mondays!

According a recent article in USA Today 75% of you indicate the worst and most stressful part of your job is your immediate boss. According to Robert Hogan, a psychologist and expert on personality assessments, the consequences are significant ““ from disengagement to health issues. Hogan goes on to say that “bad managers create enormous health costs and are a major source of misery for many people.”

So what’s the antidote? They say better training for managers, and a more intentional focus on employee engagement.

We are not experts in employee engagement, but we are experts in the learning and development area and so we felt compelled to comment on this recent workplace research. Based on our experience in developing leaders, we do know the following management practices will drive employee engagement and increase your effectiveness as a manager.

Following are three simple practices that will increase your team’s engagement and the perception of you as an effective leader:

  1. Communicate the “Big Picture” frequently. Ensure your employees understand the big strategic picture of what you’re trying to accomplish including how their contributions fit into that bigger vision. In other words, make sure your people understand the big goals of the organization, and how their contributions enable those big goals to be achieved. According to Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, people need a clear purpose for why do they do what they do. If managers regularly communicate business strategies, then people are more likely to link their daily contributions to those bigger goals and are more connected to purpose.
  2. Recognize small achievements. According to research by Teresa Amabile, a management professor at Harvard Business, progress is very important when engaging employees. Having small goals that are achievable and attainable, and then recognizing those achievements will greatly affect employee engagement. Craft small goals, then be relentless about attaining success with those goals.
  3. Develop your team. Professional development is another engagement driver that we as managers can affect. People, and particularly the younger generation, place great value on their development. Take the time to meet with your employees on a quarterly basis, and to discuss what they’re doing well and what they want to change. Twenty plus years ago, I worked for a leader who understood the importance of development. Each month she’d meet with me and we’d have a focused discussion on my development – her development tool? A blank sheet of paper. She would fold the sheet in half, and on the top section we’d make notes on my strengths and what I needed to continue doing. On the bottom half she would discuss what I wanted to work on that would help me be a better leader. My point is don’t overthink development ““ some of those best practices are simple and very user-friendly for both you and your employees.

Honestly, I was shocked at the USA Today article and that 75% of people dread Mondays because of their immediate supervisors. Bottom line – it doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe you’re not in the 75%, but we all could do a better job of engaging and motivating our teams. So my question is what have you found to be effective tool to engage your employees? Are there simple practices that you use regularly? How have you made sure your team understands the big picture of where you’re going strategically? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please provide your comments in the section below.