Do You Lead Your Team By “Age”, By “Stage” Or By The Seat of Your Pants?

Do You Lead Your Team By “Age”, By “Stage” Or By The Seat of Your Pants?


By Paula Morand

How can your corporate leadership style fit everyone in your group when your employee base ranges from wired-in-20-somethings fresh out of school to seasoned professionals with decades in your industry?

No doubt your organization benefits from this range of talents, but keeping them all connected and motivated can be a monumental challenge. You can’t even generalize all that much because the range of personal communication styles and work preferences in each age group today tends to fluctuate wildly.

So how can you as a leader get across the priorities of the day to such a wide base and keep the full team moving in sync, motivated and on target? Why not try this radical approach: meet your workforce at the “stage” they’re at, not the “age” on their driver’s license?

Let’s look first at communication. Technology rules the day regardless of what you may personally prefer, so it’s time as a leader to fully embrace all the systems you have at your fingertips. The “age” of your employees is not as important as the “stage” of technology each of them have embraced. Become the kind of leader who is equally comfortable using a combination of types of messaging, but ensure that each message conveys the same order of priorities and clear expectations.

This approach might call for duplication of effort, and some rather creative crafting, but think of the benefits. Anyone who likes bite-size 140-character missives is happy to hear from you. Those who like a full email message to refer to and respond to also get what they want. Internal message blasts or succinct posts to your intranet – yes, they got it!

In other words, post where people see it, using a range of media options so everyone feels connected. Just keep it consistent, timely and responsive. Maybe this creative approach is not your thing? Then assign a communication specialist to help you with crafting, posting and tracking interaction because communication today goes both ways. Be prepared to react to feedback immediately.

So the message is out but what’s next? How about motivation? As you probably know already, what’s appealing to the 20-somethings, mid-careers, and your mature workforce can be as different as night and day. Then you find out that not every 20-something is like their peers, and mature employees aren’t all about retirement dreams and exit strategies.

When it comes to motivation, everyone seems to click to different things. So again my advice is to think less about “age” and more about “stage”. The “stage” someone is in at work reflects their state of mind and their stage tells you more than their birth date ever could.

If someone is building career skills in a specific area, they will be motivated by opportunities to grow and ways to learn more. If someone is settling down in their personal life, regardless of their age, they’ll appreciate perks that work for their new lifestyle and which allow them sufficient time with their partner and to enjoy a satisfying personal life.

For people who have committed 10 or more years to your group, regardless of their age, many of them are at the “stage” where they are looking for upward mobility and ways to gain position and prestige. If you don’t offer enough progress for them, they’ll look elsewhere, and they’ll soon be looking at you and your company through their rear-view mirror.

The solution is to develop motivational strategies to meet your valuable employee assets at the “stage” they are at. Offer incentives that are geared to motivate them at the current point they are at in their career or lifestyle, and build on what works best.

Anyone might love an á-la-carte benefits list, flexible time-off, or remote work options but they do so for very different reasons. Perhaps they’ve got their eye on a mission trip overseas before their 30th birthday. Or they need a little extra time off each month to take care of an aging parent or a spouse going through cancer. Might be that they share childcare duties with a spouse on shift-work and coming in at 9:30 a.m. improves their life drastically, keeping them very highly motivated.

In summary, today’s technology and lifestyle choices have trumped the demographic divide so it’s time to ensure your leadership style meets the stages your employees are at, and doesn’t just program to the years spent on this earth.

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Being Liked And Respected And Building Leaders

Steven Lay (October 08, 2015)

Abstract Popularity Concept. Many Yellow Balls with One Red Ball in the Center.

Having spent a portion of my life in the Navy I have always been intrigued with leadership styles, skills and whether effective leadership can be acquired or whether it is an innate attribute. The fundamental discussion about leadership is: Would you rather be liked, respected or feared? Coincidentally, my interest is around wine tasting room experiences and team building in general.

Before the question is discussed and hopefully answered consider the following discussion points.

  • Are good leaders recognized differently within various industries? For example, would a person appreciated as being a good leader in one industry/company, let’s say a company that drills for oil, be a good leader in a software development company? Such considerations are not far fetched as businesses in America reach out for leaders in disparate industries. In this case we are not addressing business sectors but rather industries.
  • Culturally, are there different desired leadership criteria applied to women versus men? In a recent article that appears in Yahoo! News, there was a discussion around the special leadership skills of women that are leading companies and their successes. Not surprising, the author was commenting on Ms. Marissa Mayer who is the CEO of Yahoo. E-bay, HP, GM, and IBM, just to name a few others, have women heading up large companies with complex structures.
  • Do skill sets have a bearing on who is recognized as a great leader? For example, in industries where the majority of people possess creative skills (art, acting, and music for example), do they have a different standard for good leaders? The music industry would probably put a different set of values on leaders who understood the idiosyncrasies of creative people. Further, there are occasional reports on how various performers (in movies and on stage) are respected, but not liked and might go so far as to be hated. We have just touched upon the concept that leading personalities can be respected but not liked. And, some of those opinions may not be universally accepted within an industry.
  • It is obvious that not everyone in an organization will like a leader, no matter what he/she would or could do to ingratiate themselves with their team. These feelings can be rooted in a person’s values, culture, age, work history and the list can go infinitum. Leaders that chase the “wan ‘a-be liked by everyone” theorem will find it to be self destructive; it will never happen.
  • As roles within a team change, expect opinions relative to a person’s likability and respect quotient will change. The interpersonal dynamics within an organization are always different when viewed as-employer by employee, and conversely, employee by employer.
  • The effort expended within an organization to be liked and respected, can those attributes translate into improvements in the sales effort? Ask in another way: Are sales people more successful by being liked or respected.
  • Is charisma part of the leader’s skill set? Charisma does not seem to be as universally accepted or recognized as being liked and respected. It can be a fine line between that and arrogance and disrespect. Mostly, it is a personality trait that can be tenable.
  • Can a majority on a team that respects and/or likes their leader influence a minority group in a team who hold their leader in less regards. Intimidation can be the glue that binds in negating opinions of the minority.

Back to the question-as a leader of a team/organization, would you rather be liked, respected or feared? As discussed earlier, let’s discount the use of fear as a leadership tool because once it is used by a leader it is akin to un-ringing a bell. Fear as a leadership style is not a foundation a successful company is built upon by good leaders.

Being left with likability and respect, based upon military and corporate experiences, I would say good leaders have both skills. The percentage mix between the two will change based upon economic environment, industry, changes in objectives and strategies, workforce changes and the function the leader is in charge of (sales, manufacturing, operations, finance, etc.). This being said, there are still some fundamental rules that apply to being liked and respect and both are acquired/required skills.

As a leader of a team, it is generally agreed that we want to be liked and respected. We also recognize not everyone will like us but should respect us, and the environment will dictate leadership style. But, there are some general rules relative to how to interact with people on a day to day basis that build likability and respect.

Always try to make people feel good about their relationship with you, their leader. Be accessible to all members of the team. This means treating people equally, which is different than the same. New people to a team require more leading than veterans on a team. But, veterans respect being treated a little more hands-off and respect a leader delegating more.

Transmit via actions and words to the team that they are collectively and individually appreciated and they are respected. It is not enough to tell team members you see their successes even if you don’t comment on them. That is a cheap way of saying you don’t care to go out of your way to comment and show appreciation.

By deed show people they do matter to the team within the organization and even beyond. Develop ways to recognize a team member individually for achievements outside of work.

Work on being a good likeable and respected leader daily. In the Navy I liked and respected a specific senior officer because every morning he came aboard excited about the day, the mission and his staff. He made sure he said good morning to everyone and ask how they were doing. He really listened to their answers. He would write personal notes to spouses and families who were experiencing joy and defeats. He was a good leader everyone liked. He sounded gruff but everyone knews it was an act. In later years it was a skill I tried to develop.

I also learned that you do not intrude into someone’s job. Senior leaders are respected more when they lead and not come down to team members level to try and prove they are just the same and willing to “get their hands dirty”. People want to be lead and respect their leaders with pride. Senior leaders fight for their teams and hand out justifiable corrective actions fairly.

Leadership is fun, requires a lot of daily effort, requires being involved, must recognize that there is maintenance time involved to keep things in balance and in the end it is rewarding. This is why I am a big fan in saying that team leaders require team building events also; because change is inevitable!

Now we can call attention to some specifics. Some of these are in every management 101 course but still worth reviewing because of contextual changes in teams and organizations. Creating and building likability or respect requires some thought.

Use a person’s name. I have written a lot about winery tasting rooms and some changes in that activity. Let me give you an example of a recent experience my wife and I had at a tasting. We did have a reservation and when we arrived we were not ask for our name, we were ask the time of our reservation. At that point the hostess called us by name, wrote our name on a table tent card and took us to our table. When the concierge came to our table (we were outdoors) he saw our name and commented on the spelling and asks about the origin of the name. He always referred to us as Mr. and Mrs. Lay. Very classy and made us feel important, and yes we bought wine and gladly paid for the tasting also.

Ask people questions to let them talk about themselves. When they reply make eye contact and listen to them respond. Never let outsiders or distractions take away from listening to a team member or customer.

Smile at people as a way to acknowledge you are interested in them and are listening to them.

Include new arrivals into the personal space of a small group discussion. This can be done by stepping to the side to make room in the circle or simply touching a person on the shoulder or arm.

Volunteer to help others outside of your own team. Such a move will not only be recognized as giving of yourself but it reinforces your standing within your own team.

Stay positive in supporting all management. Everyone has faults and differences of opinions, which are fine. But, piling-on is not helpful to a team leader building likability or respect and does not help with clients or customers.

Be genuinely interested in the customer, the team members and vendors. Their opinions do matter in building a leaders reputation as a good leader that is respected and liked.

The active and passive feedback you will receive from your personal contacts will also allow you to put the right people in the right job. This will allow you to make good delegating decisions. From all feedback you will be able to make the right decisions on training and team building events. And keep asking your team what you can do for them to make their job or life better at the company and in their home. Remember, the majority of a team member’s time is at and thinking about their job.

Being likeable and respected is asking for peoples input, accepting input and putting it into a plan and recognizing individual and team performance relative to the plan. When the team wins, the fans win also. A lead is likeable when they are the biggest fan of the team.

In the final analysis, I agree with an author I once read that put it very succinctly: Respect is linked to competence and productivity, and I add, likability without respect is less effective.

I got on this subject because leaders are also made, yes, some are also born. But somewhere along the trail inherited DNA allowed them to bring it out due to some triggering events. I believe the simplest of wineries can employ leadership, likability and respect skills to help sell wine and build a winery operation.

Think about likability and respect and how these power tools are available to you and don’t get esoteric about thinking about it.

Let me leave you with a “rubber meets the road” story.

I first met a one man winery owner, with a small vineyard, and he does it all; prune, crush, bottle, greet visitors and sell his own wine. His wines are great. His tasting room is small, quaint and unassuming. I see him maybe once every year or so. He always comes out from behind his counter when my wife and I come in and greats us both warmly with a hand on the shoulder. He never forgets to ask about our health and reminds us that wine is good for health. He genuinely wants to hear about our young granddaughters and our son and daughter-in-law and his eyes are as intense as his smile when you talk to him. Everybody in his tasting room gets the same greeting. He is liked and respected. He says what he means and means what he says and it is always positive. I would say he is a very smart, real leader, who is willing to share his secrets to fine wine.

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Handling Work Intentionally Done Wrong?

By Lance Winslow (September 27, 2013)


If you are an employee of a company, let me give you some advice; you should never do any work intentionally wrong. Sure, that good career advice and I suppose you don’t see yourself ever doing anything like that, but I am also certain you’ve seen someone else do it. Not long ago, I was having a conversation about this with an acquaintance of mine who works in a manufacturing type industry.

He specifically asks how I have dealt with “handling work intentionally done wrong?” Intentionally done wrong, questioned the question. Well, I’d want to find out why! Disgruntled employee, cutting corners, malice, or sabotage? That’s a scary thought. I’ve seen union employees do this to get back at a company, and angry workers purposely do something like that. In my own company I’ve caught people doing things incorrectly – on purpose – suffice it to say I was not amused in the least.

In the fleet truck wash business we gauged production bonuses for units completed – following my ancestor’s model “Fredrick Winslow Taylor” and sometimes in their haste to hit bonus numbers they’d cut corners, quality slacked, and customers got upset. For me that was a BIG DEAL, because one office for a trucking terminal, if that manager was on a conference call and mentioned we did a crappy job, terminal managers in 6-10 states might know about it, and that hurt other team members, franchisees, company owned units and my reputation as well, screw that.

Can proper bonuses work to keep people doing it right – sometimes, but not all the time, the motivation to do things wrong is a personal issue, and emotional decision – and almost always a bad decision. Now then, when it comes to bonuses – the bonuses must be individual based, special team based, customer satisfaction based, production based and quality based, so do them the best of any company on this planet.

Not number two, screw number two, be number one, that’s what this company is about and if you are not about that, you are in the wrong company! That was my motto. Vince Lombardi rocks! I am not saying everyone has to be a Clark Kent, but they should be striving to be, work in progress and walking the talk.

So, it’s not just units produced, units produced without flaws, the 99.8% Six Sigma way. Give bonuses for ideas to increase efficiency, streamline work flows, ask for ideas, give those ideas their proper due, a simple color coding of materials could speed up the fork lift loader by 2-minutes searching for the right metal grades, or could help those looking for the next job order clip-board a few seconds, every little bit that makes sense (cents) makes dollars too.

Yes, as you can see, I think a lot about this. Production, efficiency, quality, customer service, team work, winning = profits, and profits are good! They represent proof of efficiency in free-markets. No they aren’t all of it, but the score board matters. Bureaucracies run a little different, different goals, but whatever those goals are – truly are – there is no excuse for not achieving them in the most efficient and expeditious manner, and before you take on new challenges, have that foundation running like a Swiss Watch first!

If someone purposely is doing something wrong, you need to know why, remove that employee for cause, reprimand them, or get them to do it right from now on without waiver – then trust but verify. Communication during this process is essential. Please consider all this and think on it.

Leadership Style and Employee Engagement

11 Nov 2013 – Jappreet S – Featured –


Employee Engagement & Leadership style go hand in hand. Everyone knows that an inefficient leader produces a dissatisfied, unproductive employee. On the other hand, good leaders produce committed, engaged and productive employees.


Is Employee Engagement Important?

A study of 160,576 employees working under 30,661 leaders in different organisations around the world showed that the average commitment level of employees under bad leaders was very low whereas the average commitment level of employees under the best leaders were very high.

The ratings were given by bosses, colleagues, etc. using 360 assessment of leadership abilities. The workers under bad leaders were also unhappy and the ones working under good leaders were more committed than most of their counterparts.

According to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, the world leaders in leadership development consulting, there are two different styles a leader can adapt to engage employees. In one approach the leaders are called the drivers and in the other approach the leader is called the enhancer.


The Driver Style of Leadership & Employee Engagement

The Driver sets high standards for excelling for the employees. They make the employees expand their goals and aspire to things that are beyond their original goals. They keep the employees focussed on the highest priority goals and objectives and also help them in achieving those goals and objectives.


The Enhancer Style of Leadership & Employee Engagement

The Enhancer type of leader helps in solving the issues and concerns of the employees, and also acts as a role model for them. They give essential feedback in an honest and helpful way, develop people and build trust.


Which Style of Leadership Gives Higher Employee Engagement?

Which of these two approaches to employee engagement works best? In an informal survey about this, the Enhancer type of leader got the most approval. Also, most leaders believe that employee commitment can be enhanced if the leader is a nice person.

But the numbers show a different story. In a survey, the employees were asked about their level of engagement on a scale of 1 to 5, and also if their leaders were enhancers or drivers. Those leaders who scored 75th percentile were judged as effective drivers or enhancers.

From this data it was found that 8.9 % of employees who judged their leaders to be effective drivers, and not enhancers, rated themselves in the top 10% in terms of employee engagement.


One Style of leadership is not Good Enough, Go for a blend

This analysis shows that being a just driver or an enhancer is not sufficient. Both approaches of leadership are needed for successful employee engagement.

68% of employees under leaders who were both enhancers and drivers scored in the top 10% in satisfaction and engagement in the organisation.

So it is clear that it is not enough to determine which approach is better. Instead, leaders should include both approaches to create highly engaged employees and also be considerate, trustworthy and collaborative in their interactions with employees.

So a leader who is a driver should try to be the nice guy, and the leader who is a nice guy should be firmer and set more demanding goals for his employees.

Both the leadership styles should be used together like the oars of a boat,with equal force so that maximum employee engagement is achieved.

Managing Remote Teams: Working Together To Achieve Common Goals!

08 Nov 2013 – Shaambhavi Pathak – Featured –


Before the era of virtual presence, it was of essential importance that the teams needed to be in the same workspace for effective working. However, with advent of technology, similar goals can be achieved by people even when they are thousands of miles apart.


Technology has brought us closer. The team members may be in different continents; speak different languages and may be from different cultures but are driven by same urge to excel.


Although, this sounds like something which benefits organisations vastly, yet, management of such teams is challenging even for the most experienced leaders.


However, these challenges can be overcome by keeping these simple points in mind:

1. Work with the right team members

A right team works from galaxies afar. Lookout for the following traits before short-listing candidates for your task:

The team members should be self-motivated. They should be able to work independently on their own.

The individuals should have good communication skills. This is because the contact is not frequent, so, workers must have good people skills. They must also be fluent with web-technologies such as webcams or skype.

The team must be result-oriented. They should set real-time objectives and be able to achieve them. They must be comfortable when evaluated against key performance indicators.

The team members should be honest and open. They should be reliable when it comes to problems and their solutions and feedback.


2. Defining the team purpose

It works wonders with geographically dispersed team to work around a common objective to achieve. All team members should agree to the team goals.

The creation of a team charter works perfectly for this purpose. It is basically like a roadmap for team and ensures that everybody is focused right from start.

The team charter works on SMART framework. It comprises of following attributes:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

The team charters come in handy when there are obstructions. For example, working from remote locations can build in stress and loss of focus. The team charter will boost up morale and get workers on board again.


3. Developing strong team dynamics

Whether it’s a new team or recruiting members to an existing team, team dynamics must be kept in mind. Managing team relations is already difficult in shared office space but it becomes all the more challenging when team is dispersed across globe.

If you want to improve team dynamics, stay tuned for these warning signs:

Reduced output
Short and indifferent emails
Avoidance to participate in conference calls
Shortage of new working ideas

If you are facing such problems, then you need to take steps immediately. There are various measures which can be undertaken. For instance, most teams abide by:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing

This strategy is followed as soon as team creation. Identify the stage where you team is and work accordingly.


4. Feedback and performance reward

Feedback is an essential tool for improving team moral and performance. It assumes more important role in case of geographically dispersed employees.

Stay in touch with your team members. In a shared office environment, it is easy to keep a check on the employee’s work and compliment him on good work. However, if the same employee is working from another continent then, the feedback portal is more formal. For instance, a phone call can be scheduled or feedback via email is more prudent.

The feedback process must be fair as well as consistent.

Make sure your incentives are fair and equal. This will ensure loyalty and boosted performance from your team.


5. Team bonding

The team should be close knit. This is as important as it is to choose right workers. The team members must be united by the same cause. As a team leader, the manager must ensure creative ways to bring the team closer.


Here are some suggestions:

  • Set up a forum page on the intranet. Include the photographs of team members to make the workplace more personalised.
  • Develop a virtual team room. It is the equivalent of the coffee-break space of your office. The employees can share information and some fun time in getting to know each other.
  • Be tolerant to the linguistic barriers. Make sure there are language guidelines during con calls and keep checking if everyone is able to follow the discussion.
  • The geographically dispersed teams offer huge incentives. They are efficient, cost cutting and you get to choose from the best quality and best skills around. Value your team members and let them know they are worthy even though you cannot meet them frequently.