Can having fun make you a better leader?

by Dave Crenshaw

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Employees, whether they know it or not, tend to play “follow the leader. They may admire your ingenuity or just want a little more spending money. Whatever it is, they mimic your behavior because they think it will make them successful. The problem is that leaders often exhibit unhealthy behaviors that cause them to work late nights without taking crucial breaks that recharge their batteries and improve their performance.


According to the Kelly Global Workforce Index, seventy-four percent of employees feel less loyal to their employer after the first year. What’s more, according to the University of Phoenix, nearly 60 percent of all American workers wish they were in a different career.


There are also studies that show that workaholism isn’t just unhealthy, it’s detrimental to the productivity of both yourself and others. In my upcoming book The Power of Having Fun, I discuss ways to improve this by finding a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly “Oasis.”
An Oasis?


Imagine you’re in the Mojave desert. You are hundreds of miles from civilization. You’re rationing food and water and you need to make it to civilization before you starve. Your lips are beginning to chap and you’re sunburned beyond belief.


Then, inexplicably, in this barren wasteland, you are greeted by a pool of the bluest drinking water you’ve ever seen. There’s papaya juice, fresh seafood, and a chase lounge comfortable enough to rest any weary traveler.


This oasis is exactly what you need to continue the journey and to get where you’re trying to go. As a manager, your Work Oasis is exactly what you need to get through your day. Only it’s not a mirage. It’s very real.
You Come First


Establishing an Oasis is incredibly simple. The first step is to schedule this time with yourself every day. Literally, put it on your calendar. Your Oasis can be whatever you’d like it to be. Maybe you enjoy taking a bike ride through the parking lot or a quick trip down a YouTube wormhole.


One of my regular clients scheduled an appointment each day to visit Bessie the Cow. She’d leave her office, walk up the hill to a local pasture, pet the cow on the nose and then head back to work. Whether your moment of relaxation is of the bovine, canine, or alone time variety, any type of Oasis can work―as long as it’s meaningful to you!


Your employees should notice a change in your behavior and a change in the culture and mimic you accordingly.
The Institutional Oasis


If the free market of workplace behaviors doesn’t move the needle for your team, it’s your responsibility as a leader to institute and encourage taking breaks.


However, instead of setting the parameters for what constitutes a break, ask them what kind of break would be meaningful to them. Ask them what they like to do for fun. You shouldn’t encourage them to read when what they really want to do is play video games. You shouldn’t send them TED talks when what they really want to do is take long walks.
Taking Things Up a Notch


Eventually, you may find an opportunity in your budget for a more expensive Work Oasis, such as a company picnic. In my coaching experience, I’ve found leaders get the best results when they make these breaks less about the activity and more about self-directed fun. For example, company off-sites to the local bowling alley don’t appeal to everyone. Between the bowling shoes and the loud noises, you stand to turn some people off. The same can be said for a golf day, a video game day, or any other fun daytime activity. In the land of fun, flexibility is key.


Consider instituting a day like LinkedIn’s monthly InDay. Each InDay, employees engage in personal projects meant to reflect their own personal goals and to create a positive impact.
Winning Your Employees


By becoming an advocate of employee fun, you are more likely to turn the tide of the negative workplace stats I listed earlier. As a leader, your goals are often focused on performance result―as they should be. Always remember that getting stuff done and having more fun go hand-in-hand. By taking more time for yourself, setting a fun-positive example, and granting that privilege to others, you become a more productive leader.


Millennials, Professional Feedback and the New Performance Review Model

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by Warren Wright

If Millennials had their way in the workplace, the “annual performance review” would go the way of the fax machine and punch clock.

Millennials grew up with “Google” as a verb, as in “to google” virtually any answer to any question. More recently, services like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other digital concierges make finding information even more effortless.

But technology is not the only catalyst that has conditioned Millennials to receive instant and frequent feedback: Ever since they were young, Millennials were tested and graded at an alarming frequency, all to track their short and long term goal attainment.

Millennials are uniquely conditioned, more than any other generation, to expect speed and frequency– especially as it relates the their performance goals. The dreaded Annual Performance Review, which was never very popular, is fast becoming an antiquated relic, especially for Millennials who crave real time feedback.

Studies have shown that Millennials appreciate hands-on guidance and direction from their supervisors on a more frequent basis, unlike employees from older generations. In a recent LifeCourse Associates’ survey, “69 percent of Millennials say they like their supervisor to provide them with ‘hands-on guidance and direction.’ Only about 40 percent of Boomers and older Gen Xers said the same.”

Providing frequent and tight cycles of honest and open feedback will more-than pay off in productivity and employee engagement. Engaged employees feel valued and have more professional satisfaction, tend to be more motivated, more likely to meet their goals, and more likely to stay with a company in the future.

Some of the top-rated companies and best places to work for have all but ditched the traditional, top-down annual performance evaluation in favor of more frequent, 360-degree reviews. These includes GE, Adobe and Deloitte.

How to Be The Leader Of Your Own Life

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When people talk about leadership, they the focus is most often on others–how leaders serve them, empower them and motivate them.
What if we turn the tables, though?
What if instead of thinking about leadership in relation to others, we concentrate on the leadership we can take within our own lives? What would that look like?
Here are 12 ways that becoming the leader of your own life will make a big difference:
1. Set goals for your life.

Set daily, monthly and long-term goals tied to your visions and dreams. Don’t be afraid to go for something big–remember, nothing is impossible if you believe you can achieve it. Once you’ve set your goals, ask yourself daily what you’re doing to reach them.
2. Lead by example.

Every day, you’re setting an example for those around you–whether you realize it or not, positive or negative. Your life is your message, so to be leader of your life you need to decide what message you want to send.
3. Be fearless.

Too many people coast through life without ever taking the initiative to find greatness within themselves. Instead, teach yourself to be daring, bold and brave. Be willing to fall down, fail and get up again for another round. To lead in your life requires that you do things that make you afraid–because life will unfold in portion to your courage.
4. Honor others.

Others will tell you to make sure you get all the credit and validation that are due to you. But being the leader of your own life means learning to be humble and give away the credit. Going out ahead of others is only part of leadership; you also have to go with them. Instead of seeking recognition for yourself, show that you stand with them and that you recognize and appreciate them.
5. Embrace new ideas and opportunities.

Don’t shy away from anything new, whether it’s an opportunity, an idea, or an experience. Turn every day into an adventure and work to turn all the programs, projects and processes in your life into possibilities. Everything was impossible until the first person did it, so work to always be that first person.
6. Question everything.

Become the person who’s constantly asking questions. The more you question, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you know. If you weren’t born with it, develop the drive to increase your knowledge, skills, and understanding. Ask yourself questions to stay focused–simple questions to clarify issues and facts, and complex questions for deeper insights into concepts and beliefs. Curiosity is an important way to become the leader of your own life.
7. Do what’s right, not what’s easy.

There are some things you simply don’t take liberties with. When it comes to integrity, honesty and ethics there is no room for compromise. Make sure that what you say and what you do are always in alignment; keep integrity at the heart of your character and you will never lose sight of it. We’re all human, and humans aren’t perfect. But you can always make the effort to choose what’s right over what’s convenient or personally beneficial.
8. Find goodness and beauty in everyone and everything.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the negativity and ugliness that exist in the world. But if we spend our time seeking out beauty in everything and in everyone, how different life becomes. It’s up to us to see, appreciate and share the beauty that surrounds us every day.
9. Actively reject pessimism.

There will always be something to be negative about. Instead, practice zero tolerance for negativity. The more you reject things that are defeatist, critical, fatalistic and apathetic, the more room you leave in your life for positivity. As leader of your own life, you have the power to either make yourself miserable or happy with the choices you make every day.
10. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Everything you want begins with you. It starts within. To live in the world of your dreams, you must, in Gandhi’s famous words, be the change you want to see. Dream big and start small.
11. Surround yourself with mentors and teachers.

You can’t grow when you think you’re the smartest person in the room. Always be on the lookout for teachers and mentors who are smarter and more experienced than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something and learning about everything. Encouraging growth and development is as important to leading in your own life as it is with your employees at work.
12. Care for and about people.

Make sure that compassion and empathy are a central part of who you are, and you’ll stay connected to your basic humanity. When you do, you’ll not only become a better leader of your own life but also someone others choose to lead them.

Expert Advice for Gen Y Managers

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By Lindsey Pollak

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As members of Generation Y (a.k.a. Millennials) continue to enter the workforce in droves, plenty is being written about how to manage these young employees.


I’d like to take a different angle and talk about the fact that Gen Ys are now starting to do the managing. More than a few workplaces — from start-ups to nonprofits to Fortune 500 corporations — are promoting twentysomethings into management roles every day.


To help this new cohort of Gen Y managers, I reached out to some of the best managers I know — from all generations — and asked them what they wish they’d known when they first became leaders. Here are some of their answers:

“I wish I had realized the true impact I could make on people’s careers versus being concerned about whether I was ready for the challenge of managing others. [The people we manage] expect our best efforts, so focus on the needs of the individual you are managing and use the skills that have gotten you to this point. You will always be a work in progress.”
Robert Daugherty, Retired HR Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers
“The key to managing others is to put yourself in their shoes. Make sure you understand what their long-term goals are, so that you can structure the day-to-day tasks to support the person’s career development. If you can do that effectively, the person working for you will do a great job and be more willing to go the extra mile.”
Lauren Porat, Co-Founder, Urban Interns


“I wish I had spent more time getting to know my employees and what motivates them. Playing into different people’s motivations is the best way to manage them to success.”
Evan Gotlib, SVP Advertising Sales & Creative Services,


“It is sometimes difficult to ask others to perform when you have never done it before. Don’t apologize for asking people to do what they are paid to do. Be clear about expectations and what constitutes a job well done.”
Susan Phillips Bari, President Emeritus, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council


“I wish I had known how important it is to get to know everyone you can in an organization, not just stay clustered with your specific team. Relationships drive so much of business, so the more authentic relationships you can make across departments, the more effective a manager you’ll be.”
Manisha Thakor, Personal Finance Expert & Author


“I’ve managed people who were 20 years younger and, in some cases, 30 years older. I never focused on their age, but rather sought to tap their passion, a particular experience or skill as a means of engaging them and forging a strong relationship. I don’t get threatened by how much someone may know on a particular topic. I’m willing to listen and learn from them.”
Linda Descano, CFA, CEO, Women & Co. (a service of Citibank)


“I wish I had known about the ‘praise sandwich’ — delivering constructive criticism between two pieces of positive feedback. No one wants to work for a boss who is hypercritical or insensitive. By acknowledging the good things as part of a difficult conversation, it makes negative feedback more palatable.”
Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, Co-Author, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Hired, Noticed & Rewarded at Work


“I wish I had not been is such a rush. Listening to your team and observing their behaviors before determining how to lead them is really critical.”
Joan Kuhl, Associate Director, Managed Markets Training, Forest Laboratories


As an avid reader, I also asked my expert panelists for their recommendations of the best books for new managers. Here are a few of their selections:

The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael Watkins

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

You’re In Charge — Now What? by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin


What’s your best advice for new managers and what books would you recommend? Please share your comments!


Learn to Manage Your Stress As an Entrepreneur

By JR Dominguez
View original publication on Millennial Magazine

Today more millennials than ever are skipping out on the traditional 9 to 5 and going into business for themselves. The alluring concept of being an entrepreneur, calling the shots, and starting a career in a field they’re passionate about has driven many to start their own small businesses. Being the boss does have its advantages, however, becoming the head person in charge doesn’t come without some stressed involved. With more obstacles ahead than many are aware of, it takes a plan to manage your stress and be successful at running a business.

Common Stress Factors

How much stress could there be? You get to decide what you want to do for a living, you determine how much you’d like to make, you’re in charge of hiring, and you have no one to answer to. It would seem that being a business owner is a piece of cake, however, it won’t take long to encounter the factors which can lead to an undue amount of stress. Below are some you might experience and how to get through it.

  • Finances – One of the biggest stress factors for business owners is having enough capital to sustain their startup. From choosing an entity and company name to covering operating costs, you’ll need to have cash upfront to keep things running. As most entrepreneurs are coming from their traditional jobs, most don’t have enough capital and many don’t even make an income the first few years of business.
  • Time – There is a lot to do as a business owner and time is often a commodity they don’t have enough of. Many new entrepreneurs end up working 10-15 hours a day, which is a far cry from the eight-hour shifts they’re used to.
  • Too Many Hats – There are a lot of facets to running a business and the climate is always changing. It can be a lot for one person to take on. However, to save money in the beginning, many entrepreneurs take on all the responsibilities. The quality of business suffers as a result.

This is only a small portion of the stress factors that entrepreneurs have to deal with. There are also stressors to consider like lack of control over the success of the business, competition, and the inability to properly balance their personal and professional lives. This can lead to burnout or chronic stress which can manifest in ways that include substance abuse, lack of concentration, mood swings, fatigue, body aches, high blood pressure, and more.

Manage Your Stress With An Action Plan

The number of new businesses each year continues to climb and the dream of becoming an entrepreneur has not subsided, therefore, it is safe to say that starting your own business isn’t impossible. However, to get through the first few years, it will be necessary for you to find a way to reduce your stress.

  • Seek Treatment – If you’ve started abusing drugs and alcohol to deal with the stress of starting your own business you should seek treatment. There are rehab centers that have an alcohol rehab timeline for inpatient or outpatient programs that span 30, 60, or 90 days to make it easy to balance with your professional and personal obligations. These treatments will also teach you how to deal with stress and mental health issues in a healthy and sober way.
  • Tap Into Financial Resources – There is a lot of financial help out there for startups. Apply for a small business loan or grant, create a budget, and look for other revenue streams to help you sustain a living until you start turning a profit.
  • Hire Help – To save you time in a day and reduce the amount of stress you’re dealing with from being the jack-of-all-trades, you should hire help. If money is an issue, consider outsourcing, hiring temp staff, working with interns, or bartering.

It takes a special person to run a successful business. This person must not only have great leadership skills and have a passion that motivates them to excel, they must also know how to deal with the downside of being the boss. By reducing the amount of stress you’re under, you can get through the most difficult years of starting a business and start to live the life you always dreamed of.