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10 Ways to Succeed in Any Job February 04 2016
We often switch between leader and follower many times in a single day, and success in any job depends just as much on being a great follower as it does on being a great leader. Here are 10 ways to do just that:
- Seize the Initiative: Today's leader desperately needs followers that bring fresh ideas not passive worker bees waiting to be told what to do.
- Create their Own Job: When in a new job, identify quickly a quantifiable goal that you can achieve in a reasonably short amount of time. Then write up a plan for achieving that goal along with a weekly reporting process. Most importantly, present your plan before your boss asks for it. In this way, you will demonstrate that you can lead yourself.
- Be Coachable: Always be ready to learn and grow from the leaders around you. It is important to demonstrate that you are coachable and are paying attention.
- Anticipate Needs: One of the most humorous bits from the TV series M*A*S*H is Cpl. "Radar" O'Reilly consistently anticipating Col. Blake and later Col. Potter. They can barely open their mouths before Radar finishes their sentence by assuring them that whatever they are looking for is already done. Like Radar, great followers stay a step ahead of their boss by proactively asking: "If I were my boss what would I want next?"
- Learn to be a Great Communicator: If your boss ever has to ask for a status report, you are failing as a follower. Great leaders are great worriers. Great followers preempt worry by proactively communicating in writing.
- Be Goal Driven: Your boss is not paying you to "stay busy" or even to "work hard." He is paying you to strategically deliver on clearly defined goals that materially impact the mission. This is true no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.
- Show Don't Tell: Human beings are wired to value action and discount verbiage, use this trait to your advantage.
- Earn Trust: My number one goal upon taking a new job was getting my boss to relax. The sooner I earned his trust, the quicker he would spend his most valuable asset, time, worrying about something other than me. People who keep promises can be trusted. Those who don't cannot. Great followers keep promises. It is critical, especially early in your relationship with your boss, that you deliver on every commitment no matter how trivial.
- Offer Solutions: Any damn fool can turn his problems into problems for his boss. Great followers solve problems. If they cannot they always offer their boss solutions along with the problem.
- Be Compassionate: Often referred to as "managing your boss," great followers are sympathetic to the enormous pressure that leaders must endure. Great followers not only empathize but look for ways to reassure their boss that at least one person understands his pain and can be counted on to alleviate it.
As I hope you've noticed, many of the same traits I describe to great followers apply to great leaders. Great leaders not only acquire these traits as followers, but model them for their own subordinates. But most importantly their interchangeable nature makes my point: Just as the distinction between noble and serf is a thing of the past so are the distinctions between leaders and followers.
Time is a scarce commodity for most people today. A recent poll of Americans found that nearly half (47%) feel like they didn't have enough time between the daily demands of their family, job and personal errands. This time-crunched feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it has been linked to some undesirable side effects like trouble sleeping, extreme stress, poor diet decisions and postponing seeing a doctor when ill. Sound familiar?
Thankfully, researchers from Stanford and the University of Minnesota have found just what all of us impatient, over-worked people need—a dose of awe. Their study (PDF) found that when we experience awe—which they define as that "feeling we get when we come across something so strikingly vast in number, scope or complexity that it alters the way we understand the world"—you focus more on the present moment, which expands your sense of time. Which means after you catch an epic sunrise, take in the majesty of a mountain or helicopter over a Hawaiian island, you no longer feel like life is quickly passing you by. You become less impatient and more interested in taking care of yourself and others.
What's more, you don't have to jet off to some exotic locale to revel in a vast, awe-inspiring view. You can experience awe from a particularly powerful film, natural events like a rainstorm or by paying attention to things you might've missed before like a rhythmic flock of birds flying or peering up at a skyscraper. It's different for each person, but you'll know it when you see it. After all, it's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see.
Why Smart People Make Bad Entrepreneurs January 05 2015 1 Comment
One of the most counterintuitive traits that can hurt entrepreneurs is smarts. Yes, the more successful you are and the more talents you have, the harder it is to run a business.
While you may think that being smart, motivated and talented would logically make someone the best possible candidate for entrepreneurship, unfortunately, this is often not the case.
The 'I'm better than everyone at every task' challenge.
The smart-people problem starts back in school when the dreaded “group projects” are first assigned. Knowing the 80/20 rule for work (80% of all work is done by 20% of the people), what do you think happens in every group project? The smartest and most talented people in each group decide that they are going to do the lion’s share of the work. They don’t want to risk their grade in the class by dividing the work equally and hoping that Timmy (the guy who is absent from class two days a week on average and sleeps through class on the other three days) does his part well, if he remembers to do it at all. In school, there isn’t any benefit in trying to get Timmy up to speed quickly. Forget that -- the smart people just take over and do the whole project themselves.
And thus begins the smart-people work cycle. The smartest people do just about everything better than most everyone else. They write better, plan better and reason better. They are better, until it comes to running a business. Then, they are not better; they are screwed.
There are only 24 hours in each day and a person does need to sleep, eat, shower and do certain other things. So, each day, this smart person tries to do everything himself, because he can’t stand someone else doing a job badly. Then, he is stuck with the one-man band “job-business” and ends up not being able to grow.
Why slackers can reign supreme as entrepreneurs.
It is interesting, but actually, some of the slackers are better suited for entrepreneurship than the “smart” people. Why? They figured out early on to surround themselves with smart people who would do the work. They know how to delegate and sometimes, how to manipulate other people into doing things that they don’t want to do.
You’re only as smart as you can automate.
Ideally, smart people would just be able to convey their talents to others. But since the smart people are so used to doing everything themselves, they don’t learn the key skills for making their business successful, including automating and delegating as many tasks as possible. As a smart person, you need to use your smarts and talents to boil down their essence in an easy to follow format that anyone can replicate.
Too smart for your own good.
Smart and talented people also often have a flair for the unusual, complicated or different. They don’t like to follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid), which is required to make a business succeed.
If you think of the assembly line in a fantastic manufacturing plant or the global presence of McDonald’s, they both seem complex, but in reality, they are a series of incredibly simple functions. Every single task is broken down into easy-to-follow steps. The assembly line worker repeatedly performs a few tasks that are specifically defined. So does the McDonald’s cook, cashier and drive-thru order taker. There is little input from these individuals, as everything has been standardized for them.
Some of the largest, most successful businesses in the world aren’t staffed in their majority by the smartest people. They are actually staffed in large part by regular, average (and sometimes, stupid) people. These successful entities have just a few people who are smart enough to standardize, automate and delegate the majority of the tasks in a way that can’t be screwed up by their average employees.
So, being smart or talented isn’t going to help you unless you can use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify those tasks that will make a business successful. This isn’t easy, because it goes against everything that you have ever done and is counter to how you were taught to think. However, it is necessary for a business to succeed and why smarts and talent alone don’t predict entrepreneurial success.
Too much to lose.
Another issue with the smart people starting businesses is that they often have the most to lose. The smarter you are -- unless you have the social graces of a wild ape -- the more options you have available to you. You will be able to make a lot of money in a variety of fields and have room in your career to become promoted and make even more money.
This means that when you start a business, you have a lot more to risk than someone who makes less money and has fewer career options. This is often referred to as the “golden handcuffs” dilemma. Because you have more to risk, this means that you need to have a business opportunity that is going to provide an even bigger reward for it to be worth it to you.
If you make $250,000 a year (or have an opportunity to do so), your business is going to have to be five times more successful than the business of someone making $50,000 a year to get the same return. Additionally, it is a lot harder to found a business that will double your yearly profit when you make $250,000 a year than it would be if you make $50,000 a year.
So, with the most to lose, a wide range of other options available and the penchant for more intricate, complex endeavors, don’t be surprised when the person “Most Likely to Succeed” from high school ends up in corporate America and it is one of the more average students that finds success in his or her own business.
-From Entrepreneur.com 2015