15 Years and 15 Lessons Learned

What defines today’s workplace is definitely not micromanagement

Effective leadership has changed dramatically since I founded TalenTrust in 2003, because workplaces themselves have evolved. Gone – or going – are the unbendable rules, inflexibility with how and where to work, micromanagement, pedestals and hierarchy, controlled time-off and virtually all predictable details about work. What defines today’s workplace is the opposite.

It’s humanity.

Effectual leaders today are learning to live and thrive with constant change and uncertainty. Without a new mold for what a leader should be and do, we have opened the door to expressing our own humanity as well as creating more humane workplaces. Rather than a recipe for chaos, leaders in companies of every size and industry are seeing greater engagement and satisfaction, increased teamwork, more innovation and productivity.

In celebration of TalenTrust’s 15th anniversary, here are 15 lessons I’ve learned that you may find helpful as you consider who you are as a leader and who you want to be looking forward. Rather than feeling constrained and unemotional as in the past, today’s outstanding leaders – the ones who attract and retain top talent and beat the competition – embrace their humanity and bring it to work.

  1. BE KIND

It will come back to you hundredfold and costs nothing.

  1. BE GRATEFUL

You’ll be perpetually in awe of all that you have, rather than what’s missing.

  1. SPEAK YOUR MIND

There’s no other path to building trust and relationships.

  1. GET REST

Figure out what you can do to charge your batteries, do it often, and take breaks throughout the day.

  1. BE CURIOUS – ASK QUESTIONS

The most effective leaders are lifelong learners who consistently ask “why.”

  1. SHARE YOUR STORY

There are so many reasons why you should share stories: It’s the way people understand and remember; how they are inspired; how they learn from what worked and didn’t. Truth reveals vulnerability and allows others to share theirs, promoting and nurturing honesty.

  1. CHALLENGE THE STATUS QUO

There’s lots of norms that need challenging, especially as it relates to people and workplace culture. Leaders should continually challenge the reasons why things are the way they are and encourage employees to do the same.

  1. MAKE YOUR OWN DECISIONS

Don’t let fear control your decisions about issues of debt, growth, experimentation, innovation or anything else. Get input from advisors, employees and relevant others. That’s important. But you are ultimately the one who must make the decision – and you have to own it.

  1. CONSIDER MISTAKES GIFTS

Imagine an environment in which you and everyone else can take risks and fail. That’s where innovation thrives.

  1. FIND CHANNELS FOR CONNECTION

Build business relationships that go wide and deep, so you can know your audiences, market to them and build credibility around your brand. Join a peer-to-peer organization for advice and support. Vistage International has been a great investment for me.

  1. GIVE BACK WHAT YOU CAN, EVEN IF IT’S ONLY SMALL AMOUNTS

There are others in the world who are in need. Giving is an all-around win: for you, for the recipient and employees who find purpose in your generosity.

  1. CONTINUALLY INVEST IN YOUR COMPANY THROUGH INNOVATION + COLD HARD

Investing in your people counts as an investment too – in a big way.

  1. ASK FOR HELP

With inspiration from Aristotle, I believe that the sum of us is greater than any one of us. You cannot do everything alone. You may find help in many quarters if you just ask; and mentors matter at any age.

  1. BE TRUE TO YOUR VALUES

When you’re not, you are shattering trust, encouraging hypocrisy and giving others permission to do the same.

  1. LOVE YOUR PEOPLE

Yes, you should express your admiration and appreciation at work and everywhere else.

The changing expectations of younger workers mean that you have no choice but to opt in to a new kind of leadership. Use the 15 lessons learned from my experience as food for thought, and I hope a strong contribution to your personal leadership journey.

Categories: Management & Leadership