How Remote Working Can Enhance Leadership

remote-workers

The fear of hiring remote workers is if left unsupervised people won’t finish their work. But at the heart of that argument is a lack of trust.

As a leader with your subordinate nearby, you still shouldn’t micromanage him/her. Often we don’t manage the way we would like to be managed.

Here is how remote workers can enhance your leadership.

As a manager, focus on the outcome, not the process. Translation: be concerned about people getting their work done, not how they complete it.

Working remotely relies on trust. Leaders trust their workers to get the work done and until they don’t, they’ve earned autonomy.

Remote working is teaching us that location shouldn’t determine practice. If we limit ourselves to talent nearby, we miss out on the global resources accessible by technology. In order to harness the best talent around, managing remote workers is a necessity.

The concept of working remotely isn’t a pipe dream for workers anymore. Once technology bridged the gap between locations, it opened the portal for virtual connections.

Leaders sometimes forget how it feels to be managed. The golden rule applies here: lead others the way you want to be led.

Today’s leader is a coach. You coach by leveraging individual strengths to help optimize the team. Motivating, guiding and supporting are the leadership skills needed to manage from afar. The beauty of managing remotely is that it is built on the foundation of trust.

Trust means respect and what makes us all feel “safe” at work. That’s what we all want from our leaders.

How Working Remotely Benefits Your Health

Employing remote workers increases the pool of talent for your company. Telecommuting, once thought of as a perk, now levels the playing field.

Theoretically it can pose challenges to management but if done right, supervision shouldn’t vary much. At the heart of managing remote workers is trust. It is literally impossible to micromanage remotely, yet there’s the temptation to in person.

There are several books and online articles that cover managing a remote staff, but few address the benefits health-wise. Here are three ways:

1. Lack of germs – Experiencing the flu can make you a germaphobe, but in a shared workspace it’s almost impossible to avoid the common cold. Working remotely means you’re communicating virtually, but working independently. Not only does the lack of commute save time, but eliminating travel and interaction equates to less trips to the doctor annually.

2. Increased efficiency – Meetings are a waste of time, especially when they’re run poorly. Two brains are better than one, but distractions decrease performance rapidly. No matter how social of a person you are, working alone produces a much higher rate (and usually with less mistakes). With less scheduled interactions, more quality work gets done.

3. Self-leadership – Strip management from the room and there’s a fear of completed tasks. But shouldn’t you be motivated to get stuff done without someone breathing down your neck? As an entrepreneur, the first thing to go is structure when free from the corporate world. Your responsibility is to create order or risk wasting time. A hard lesson to learn initially, self-accountability means you can be trusted.

More and more companies choose to hire remote workers meaning new leadership practices must be implemented. Quality of lifestyle is becoming the most important factor professionally. The more you are informed about the benefits of working remotely, the easier the transition will be to make. Your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it later.

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Your Dreams

dream-killer

Before you label me a dream killer, hear me out…

It’s inspiring to pursue your passions, but it’s not practical. I’m not trying to sound like your parent(s), but a voice of reason.

The more important question you should be asking yourself is: “How can I monetize my dream?

Shark Tank, Pitch Fests and Startups have us obsessed with chasing what we love, yet the problem is the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow is usually empty.

I’m as guilty of this as you. I think of a great idea, my mind (and heart) starts racing. I think of all the possibilities, but rarely about the obstacles. I chase the future, but am not always rooted in the present.

Only in the past 10 years have most professionals started saying: I want to do something I love.  That’s awesome, but not realistic.  If I can teach you anything, it’s to study how to make money from your idea from the beginning. There’s enough information on: TV shows, You Tube Videos & social media to get you started (no, you don’t need to go to school for a degree…experience beats education every day).

You learn by doing. Make mistakes. Ask experts. It’s smarter to launch your idea as a side project initially and if it takes off, make it your main thing. If not, lesson learned and at least you’re not depressed and unemployed. I’ve seen too many people chase potential only to be living at their parents house into their 30’s waiting for lightning to strike.

If I could go back to college, I’d give myself the following pieces of advice:

– Intern to learn a sales model then try to better it.

– Sell something, a product or service because it doesn’t matter how great your idea is until someone else sees the value in it and buys it

– Network like your life depends on it. The world is about who you know, not what you know. Remember that.

So my message to you for 2016 isn’t to settle for a corporate gig, it’s to find work that can support the lifestyle you desire. Success is defined by you and you only. Chase your dreams, but work relentlessly at the process.

How to Create Strong Content

Content-is-like-water

If you read enough digital marketing posts a common theme emphasized is creating strong content for your readers. Writing is a developed skill, but you may be surprised how to improve it.

Put a time limit on it.

Wait, wouldn’t that pressure you into making mistakes? How can your creative juices flow on demand? What if I can’t come up with new ideas?

Let me address those concerns.

Any form of communication is a discipline. If you want to be a better writer, write more. When I first started doing an e-newsletter almost 10 years ago, it took me hours to perfect it. But over time what I noticed is I gave myself less time to complete the task. Now I spend closer to 30 minutes to do an article and if I don’t schedule a time; I just write when an idea pops in my head. Your best work should be ahead of you. You don’t want to publish crap, but you’re also not aiming for perfection.

Creativity simmers best under pressure. People learn best through stories. If you can use a personal example to illustrate a point do it. Here’s some advice that benefitted me: watch this TED Talk. Believe it or not, creativity happens usually two ways: when you not thinking about it and within structure. I get my best ideas in the car, so I carry post-its and a pen on hand. Also I schedule times in my iPhone to write regardless if I have ideas. Whatever I learned recently or pops in my head first initiates the typing. Try it. You get better over time.

Let’s face it there are no new ideas, just recycled ones. Take for instance Uber. They didn’t invent driver-free transportation, but they did disrupt the industry. In fact, it’s better to re-invent off a familiar context rather than attempt to create a new category. People have a hard time understanding a new concept if they can’t build schema off a previous idea.  When it comes to content people are attracted to the way you think (that’s your voice). The clearer you can articulate that, the better chance you have connecting to a wide audience.

So if you want to create strong content, just start. You know you’ve made progress when you can look at your old work and laugh at how far you’ve come.

How To Sell Yourself

Selling-Yourself

Face it. Selling is hard. If it were easy, we’d all be rich.

You may sell products or services during the course of your career, but what everyone sells is: themselves. After selling services for a while and now transitioning to a physical product (a bit easier), one lesson I’ve learned is: in order to be successful in sales, you have to be confident with what you’re selling.

As a relational person, I prefer to connect vs. sell. If you listen close enough in a conversation, you can identify a pain point. If you can relate to it, trust is gained much more rapidly.

A practical example is on a job interview. Your resume may qualify you for an interview, but what you say and how you say it will validate if you have a chance moving forward. Most people get nervous before interviews and that’s normal, but what you don’t want to do is be unprepared or panic. Think about your body language, tone and message you are communicating. Are you being authentic or trying to be someone you’re not?

As a career coach, the advice I give is: understand your strengths, know how you add value to the organization and be yourself. It’s difficult to know exactly what an employer is really looking for, so instead of worrying what they’ll think of your answers, focus on where you fit in.

Leaders are self-aware about their weaknesses and strengths. Not everyone is meant to lead others, but you should be able to lead yourself. One goal I set with every networking opportunity is to try and get the other person to like me. You’d be surprised how much people brag and show off just to look good, but the person on the other end leaves disgusted.

Life is a game of who you know. The less you worry about being the smartest, the better. In fact, too much knowledge can come off as intimidating or arrogant.

Selling yourself comes down to: interests, passions and values. Connect on one of those points and your chances increase dramatically.

Would you buy what you’re selling? 

Why Goals Are Overrated

goals-are-overrated

Coaching is much more like personal training than therapy, yet goals shouldn’t be the focus.

Let’s take your next career move as an example. If you’re looking for a new job, you’re normal. But the question is once you achieve that goal, will you be happy?

Research says short-term yes, but long-term no. The average tenure in a position is under 2 years for Millennials and rapidly shrinking. It has a bit to do with short-attention span, but mostly because of lack of purpose and challenge.

A job can fulfill that, but ultimately a combination of lifestyle and utilizing strengths is what matters. Let me explain.

People don’t work just to make money anymore. They want a job to provide their desired lifestyle. I’ve worked with plenty of clients who hate their job, but won’t leave because it supports the lifestyle they want to live. There’s also many people who stay at a low paying job because it allows them to pursue their passions on the side or make an impact at work.

Now moving on to strengths. If passion + strengths + experience = purpose, then strengths is the most important aspect. Passion and experience combined is the American Idol candidate who can’t sing. You have God-given talent, but it’s others who validate your strengths. The prime example are professional athletes. Paid extremely well to do one thing.

You might be saying, “But what if I’m not a professional athlete?” Well neither am I and here’s my answer: You may not get paid to play sports, but there’s 1 – 2 things you do really well. Find those things and do them over and over.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful at one thing (approximately 10 years if you’re wondering). That means there are no overnight success stories. Here’s my overall point:

Goals are like checking off a to-do list. Habits create the lifestyle you want. If you want to have a successful career you better figure out what tasks you should be doing on a daily basis, regardless of your job. I tell my clients after the initial session, finding your next career move will be easy…but understanding your strengths, knowing where you best “fit” and building confidence is what I really want to see flourish.

So stop worrying about setting and accomplishing goals. Instead identify the successful habits that will fulfill your desired lifestyle and do that, daily.

Why College Has Lost Its Mojo

lost-mojo

Someone recently asked me, “If you could go back and give yourself advice what would it be?

My response: drop out of college

With a perplexed reaction to my comment, I began to explain:

A college degree isn’t worth much anymore…just ask your next employer. Experience matters, where you got your degree from doesn’t. The sad reality is most college grads take a job outside of their major and spend the next 5 or so years working just to pay off student loans.

Also college doesn’t teach “real world” skills. I spoke to USC freshmen and sophomores in a career workshop before and said the 3 most important skills to learn in college are: networking, gaining experience (usually through an internship) and learning how to sell (product, services and yourself). Ironically, those tasks aren’t taught in college unless you take advantage of resources as a student.

Lastly, flexibility is the new definition of success. Money isn’t as valuable as controlling your time. Millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation because they want to make an impact and be happy doing it. Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Kevin Rose prove college isn’t for everyone.

Trade schools and incubators are on the rise because if you have an idea that can potentially make a lot of money, why put it towards an education that doesn’t translate to much? As a Bachelor’s & Master’s degree holder, I may sound like a hypocrite, but if I could do it all over again I’d pass college and jump directly into entrepreneurship.

What An Employee Wants, What An Employee Needs…

christina-aguilera-

Enter Christina Aguilera…just kidding.

There’s two ways to look at this scenario: through the eyes of an employee or the mind of an employer. The good news is the answer is the same.

Treat employees like entrepreneurs.

Employees want to feel valued. Give them objectives, but let them choose how to accomplish them. Coach them through the process, but ultimately give them freedom how to complete their assigned tasks.

Employers tend to micromanage. It’s more generational than anything else. It’s how they were taught, so they do the same. The reason flex time is valued by workers is because life outside of work is more important. That doesn’t mean you have to offer work remotely, it just means treat employees like people first, not workers.

Millennials are the most entrepreneurial generation in history. All aspire to be entrepreneurs, even if they never make the jump. As an employer, your best retention tool is to treat them like intrapreneurs. You want workers to take ownership and responsibility, so give it to them. Have consequences if they don’t finish the job, but it’s better to give trust initially then respond accordingly to the results.

Entrepreneurship should be available to all. What do you think?