Tips: Simple, on-the-job self
improvement ideas to strengthen your leadership skills
A dozen strategies to reduce on-the-job stress
Articles: Leadership and team development insights by Jeff
Management: Strategies and activities to help business leaders
manage their time
Styles: Overview of the frameworks, theories, and styles of
Power: Six types of power for business leaders
Understanding the skill of delegating effectively
Making: Understanding sound decision making
Growth Plan: Design and begin a personalized leadership growth
Tips: Leaders know how to communicate effectively
Power of Praise: Meaningful
praise is a powerful and important motivator
Feedback: There are five main categories of feedback
Responsibilities: A team leader's responsibilities to his or her
Tension: Leader behavior that can weaken team cohesiveness
Framework: A process outline for achieving results
Planning: Determine where your team has been and where it
wants to be
Development: Guidelines for developing the talents of your team
Misconceptions: Twelve misconceptions about employee engagement
for busy business leaders the best way to strengthen leadership ability is
to intentionally exercise simple, on-the-job self-improvement
strategies. Provided below are
dozens of self-directed exercises that you can do as you move through your
regular work day. For best
results, keep the following in mind:
each suggestion with a clear purpose in mind.
the exercises listed below with a spirit of experimentation.
Not all will work equally well and some may have to be
adapted to meet your unique needs and situation;
time to reflect on how well each exercise went.
Consider questions like the following… What changes did you
see? How did you feel
about each exercise? How did your reports react? Etc.
The developmental exercises are grouped into nine different categories:
Meaningful Work Relationships
Write a thank you note or “job well
done” memo everyday for a week.
Be certain your notes are sincere and specific.
Make note of how recipients react.
Offer at least one sincere compliment a day.
Practice common courtesies: apologies,
hallway greetings, thank you cards, get well messages, sympathy notes,
Increase visibility by maintaining a
visibility log. Use this
log to keep track of the percentage of your workday that you are out
of your office and talking to team members.
Make a point to ask team members more about
themselves, not only about work related interests but also about their
Make a list of ten questions about work
performance that interest you. Then
make a point to ask all ten over the course of a two-week period. The
point is to engage your team members in personal and meaningful
Identify the team members who you have the
most trouble with or who you know the least.
Make a point to engage in a friendly one-on-one conversation
with each of them.
Make a list of the traits that you believe
interfere with your management relationships.
Work to “correct” each one as you interact with others.
Identify team members with whom you have
your strongest relationships. Make
a list of traits that the relationships have in common.
Work to nurture these traits with others.
Go a full day listening without interrupting
five paper clips in one pocket. Each
time you compliment or meaningfully connect with a team member, transfer
one paper clip to another pocket. At
the end of the day all the paper clips should have moved.
Write an “open letter” in which you
extol the achievements of your team.
Be certain to use specifics.
Establish peer coaching partnerships to help
inexperienced or stressed team members.
Arrange open forums in which volunteers
exchange ideas and encouragement in order to support and motivate one
Design and administer a team “morale”
Initiate a simple rewards program that
offers prizes or recognition—even if you just draw names out of a
hat. Explain that the
process symbolizes how you appreciate their hard work.
Note that the prizes can be humorous or donated by team
members. It is the
symbolism that counts.
Go a full work week without using attacking
or discouraging language when dealing with your team members.
Strategize for Improvement
Work with a small group to create a “stop
doing list.” These are
procedures, actions, or policies that are outdated, cumbersome,
redundant, or annoying.
Set a few minutes aside each day to reflect
on how things are going professionally.
You may want to ask a few team members to reflect with you.
Make a point to recognize team members who
successfully implemented positive change.
Make a list of procedures, functions, and/or
policies. With a committee
of key players, grade each from A to F.
Then talk about improvements.
Make a point to talk to numerous team
members one-on-one and ask them the following two questions: What is
quality?” and “How do we achieve quality?”
Review your current process of delegating.
Then develop a list of guidelines for the delegation of tasks.
Ask yourself how you can do it more effectively.
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Give selected individuals short but
pertinent readings on professional strategies.
Ask them later what they thought of the reading.
Meet with individuals and identify personal
goals. Ask them how you
can help them achieve their goals.
Form “new hire” focus groups to discuss
Form Learning Circles.
Conduct open meetings—no agenda, just open
Don’t forget the easiest strategy of
all—ask team members … “How are things going?”
Help Drive Positive Work Values
Engage team members in casual conversations
around the question…”What is a values driven team?”
Discuss ethical standards with your team
Develop a matrix that shows the relationship
between your values and your management behavior.
Research managerial ethics.
Report your findings to the team.
Identify and clarify team norms or rules of
Link professional behavior to workplace
Write down the workplace values that define
your approach to leadership. Share
them with your team members.
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Work with a small group and identify
“trust busters.” Discuss
ways to avoid or eliminate trust busters.
Identify three team members who you trust
the least and list those things that you distrust about them.
Are there some common threads in all three? What is it that
drives you to react to them cautiously?
Over the next few weeks try at least one strategy to build a
positive connection with each of the identified team members.
Find a short article on trust and give a
copy to each of your team members.
Ask them to discuss it with you over lunch or before or after
Establish a feedback group in which you
discuss the level of trust on your team.
Identify positive things that you can do to build trust.
If you made a leadership mistake, admit it
and discuss it with your team. Note
how the team reacts.
behavior for yourself. Set
some standards for authentic behavior and hold yourself accountable to
Make a short audio tape in which you affirm
your commitment to building stronger levels of trust.
Listen to this tape periodically for motivation and
Survey your leadership peers to discover
what they do to build trust with their teams.
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Conducting Better Meetings
Develop a list of things that you can say to
let meeting latecomers know that tardiness is unacceptable.
Complete the following metaphor: “My style
as a meeting facilitator is like
At your next meeting tell the participants
that you are working on one or two meeting facilitation skills.
After the meeting ask the group how you did with each.
Ask for suggestions.
Identify three to five adjectives that
define your style as a meeting facilitator.
Then ask selected team members to identify your strengths and
weaknesses as a meeting facilitator.
Any Patterns? Similarities? Surprises?
At your next meeting stop mid way and ask
the participants how the meeting is going.
Ask for suggestions to improve your meeting facilitation.
Establish an assessment group and identify
ways to keep meetings focused and on track.
Make a list of ways to replace meetings with
other forms of communication.
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Create a committee clearing house to
identify, define, and prioritize team issues.
Carry a small notebook to jot down
information, opinions, and ideas that you hear from team.
Identify a personal mentor or coach who you
can meet with regularly to talk openly about leadership issues.
Establish a feedback group to get insights
into your leadership style and behavior.
As you gather opinions and viewpoints on an
issue, make sure you get a diversity of ideas from diverse people.
Stop on occasion and identify those things
that you feel are working well and those things that are causing
List the major issues that you have
confronted over the last two years.
Is there a pattern? Is there a type of issue that keeps
Keep a log of the time it takes you to
handle an issue. Determine
if you are handling issues in a timely and efficient manner.
Hold informal “round tables” to discuss
the future of your team.
Keep a professional journal in which you
focus on four aspects of visionary thinking: needs, wants, desires,
Write out the “best case” scenario for
what you want your team to become.
Give it to your team and ask for responses and additions.