How To Become Successful With Toastmasters

Robert Kennedy Speech
Image Credit: Robert Kennedy Speech by WikiImages (Pixabay.com)

 

Public speaking skills are the hallmark of many successful leaders, managers, executives and entrepreneurs. Yet, the practice fills many people with fear and uncertainty. It doesn’t have to be that way! Learn how to rapidly develop your confidence and competence in public speaking with Toastmasters.

Key Facts About Public Speaking and ToastMasters

Given the challenges and benefits of Toastmasters, you might think that membership is highly expensive. At the time of this writing, an annual membership costs less than $100. Compared to many other organizations, that is a bargain! Affordability is only one reason to consider Toastmasters. The organization’s educational materials and supportive culture are also very helpful. The opportunity to give short speeches and presentations surrounded by people who give you encouragement and useful feedback is one of the top benefits of participating in Toastmasters.

My Toastmasters Experience

Several years ago, I joined a company sponsored Toastmasters club. I joined the club because I wanted to develop my skills and expand my internal network at the company. The club I joined had been in service for over ten years. That long history meant a robust leadership – every leadership role was filled. Even better, average attendance at club meetings was a dozen people or more. The club staff did good work in welcoming both as a guest and a new member. Over the course of a year, I gave ten speeches and completed the Competent Communication program. A few years later, I still remember two speeches with pride: a speech about a successful negotiation  I led with my Internet service provider and one about what I learned from the book Decisive.

How To Develop Your Career With Toastmasters in 6 Steps

As the research at the top of this article shows, there are many benefits to developing your public speaking and presentation skills. While you can study presentation technique to a degree by reading books and observing great presenters, there is no substitute for personal experience. Use this process to build your public speaking skills.

1. Locate A Club Near You

Many cities and towns have multiple Toastmasters clubs so you are likely to find a club that suits your location and schedule needs. In fact, many Fortune 500 companies have in-house ToastMasters clubs including Apple, Disney, Google, Microsoft, and Bank of America. I joined a corporate club and had a great experience but that is certainly not your only option. For example, the New York City area has over 200 clubs (the majority of these are open clubs that anybody can join). Over in the UK, London has approximately 60 clubs. San Francisco, CA has over 100 clubs.

Tip: Use the Find A Club tool on the Toastmasters International website to locate in your areas. You can also use the search tool to find clubs that with meetings that suit your calendar (e.g. find clubs that meet on Saturdays).

2. Attend A Club Meeting As A Guest

Most Toastmasters clubs permit guests to visit their clubs once or twice as a guest. As a guest, you have the opportunity to see the club in action, meet members and talk with the club’s leaders. If you are looking into several clubs, I recommend attending two sessions to gain a better understanding of how they work.

Tip: Ask a club leader about the club’s history and any special events coming up. For example, the area may have a humorous speech competition coming up – a fun way to develop your speaking skills.

3. Join A Club

If the club makes a good impression, it is time to join! You can join Toastmasters online or speak with one of the club’s leaders to confirm the process. If you are unsure about whether the organization is for you, membership is generally offered on a six month basis.

4. Deliver A “Table Topics” Speech

Many Toastmasters clubs encourage their members to deliver short (60 seconds or less) remarks during meetings. These short speeches are designed to help you think on your feet as you only have a minute or so to prepare. Delivering one of these speeches is a great way to get your feet wet.

5. Obtain the “Competent Communicator” Manual

Toastmasters offers a range of manuals and programs to help people develop communication and leadership skills. An excellent entry point is the Competent Communicator manual (your club may provide you with a free copy – ask the club before you buy your own). With this educational program, you will deliver ten speeches to your club. Each speech is a project that develops different speaking skills. Some of the skills you will learn include research, speech organization, vocal variety and using visual aids.

Tip: Review Toastmasters Speech Series: Your Guide to the First 10 Speeches by Andrew Dlugan for an introduction to the Competent Communicator program.

6. Deliver Your First Speech

Why not speak about your career development and lessons learned? You could also give a speech about stress management techniques. Remember to practice your speech at home a few times before you speak at the club.

Tip: Feedback on your speaking is a key benefit of Toastmasters. Look for specific feedback you can use to improve your speaking.

Further Reading and Resources For Public Speaking

Public speaking and communication skills have been the subject of study and analysis by many experts. Here are a few additional resources you can use to build up your skills. For the best results, put these ideas into action with actual presentations.

 

Rise To The Top By Developing These 7 Habits

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In your rise to the top as a leader, you have many challenges to overcome and skills to develop. As you continue to grow your leadership, you need to leave behind old habits and practices. Specifically, you need to start with improving your inner game. With that foundation in place, you can improve your outer game.

The Inner Game

Why does the inner game matter as you work toward becoming an excellent leader? It comes down to the simple fact that you bring yourself everywhere you go. Even more, these practices can be applied and add value no matter your industry or rank.

1. Practice The Art of Saying No

Without no, there is no focus. We have all seen leaders who spread themselves too thin with new projects starting each week. In reading “Essentialism,” earlier this year, I was reminded of the vital importance of this principle. If the negative nature of this principle bothers you, look at it with a new perspective. Saying no to a given request or project allows you to say yes to another priority.

2. Develop Your Eulogy Virtues

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote about the distinction between resume virtues and euology virtues. As Brooks explains, most eulogies focus on a person’s character and how they cared for other people – these are the enduring eulogy virtues.

Here’s the good news  – a strong character improves your work performance, especially if you are a leader. According to leadership researchers James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, people around the world look for the following qualities in their leaders: honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent. Choose one of these traits to develop.

To make serious progress on this front, consider the example of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). The noted American publisher, scientist and diplomat had a daily practice where he reviewed his virtues. His virtues list included industry, justice, humility and moderation. Each day, he would note whether or not he had observed the virtue. Keeping a notebook to track your virtues is a long established method to improve performance.

Resource: If Franklin’s approach interests you, look into the Ben Franklin Daily Virtues Journal.

3. Develop Daily Habits That Sustain You

In 2013, I read an article about former Lehman Brothers Chief Financial Officer Erin Callan  in the New York Times. The pressures of that role were incredible. For example, last minute international travel was a frequent obligation. She decided to resign because the demands undermined the rest of her life. Consider this comment from Callan’s article:

At an office party in 2005, one of my colleagues asked my then husband what I did on weekends. She knew me as someone with great intensity and energy. “Does she kayak, go rock climbing and then run a half marathon?” she joked. No, he answered simply, “she sleeps.” And that was true. When I wasn’t catching up on work, I spent my weekends recharging my batteries for the coming week.

By 2008, she had enough and left the role behind. In some situations, that may be your only choice. For the other 95% of situations, I suggest developing daily habits to sustain you. One of my daily habits since July 1 has been to write 500 words a day to build this website. It has gone very well so far. On the health side, I have also developed the habit of completing 100 pushups a day since July 1. For over 90 days, I have completed both daily habits. I encourage you to think of a daily habit you could develop to reach your goals faster.

4. Build On Your Strengths

As we go through school, we receive report cards that summarize our learning performance. You may receive an A in English, History and Geography. On the other hand, you may receive lower grades in math and science. The traditional reaction is to work on repairing your weaknesses. There is a better way.

In the professional world, you will receive greater rewards by further building on your strengths. There are several ways to identify your strengths. To understand your perspective on the world, use DISC or StrengthsFinder 2.0. To understand your strengths in terms of performance, take note of your past achievements. It is best to look at several achievements so that you can understand the general patterns.

The Outer Game

The outer game of success are the habits, activities and achievements that are visible to everyone else. Reaching success in this arena brings greater income, status and recognition. Unless you master the inner game first, those achievements may ring hollow.

5. Track Your Wins

Tracking your results as an individual and a leader is essential habit as you grow in your career. As an individual, you can use a brag sheet to track your results. What about leaders? Why does tracking results matter for them?

It matters because leaders need to communicate success stories to their people and other stakeholders. At the start of a new project, you will likely create the big picture vision that will motivate your team to create results. At the end of the project, it is vital to return to that vision again. By giving credit to the team and sharing their success story, you will gain a greater standing.

6. Work Your Lifelong Learning Plan

Lifelong learning is no longer an activity limited to reseaerchers, doctors, and accountants. For example, Project Management Professionals (PMP credential holders) are required to earn a certain amount of continuing education units in order to maintain their certification.

As I explained in The Most Important Trait To Boost Your Productivity article, professionals often pursue broad strategies when they begin a new learning plan. Problem based learning is based on learning skills and knowledge so that you can solve a specific problem in your career. In contrast, goal based learning involves thinking up a future state you want to achieve and then finding learning resources to help you reach that goal.

Note: I wrote an overview about PMI’s new continuing education framework a few months ago.

7. Follow Your Personal Vision

Giving thought to your professional legacy gives shape to your efforts and the projects you choose to work on. Early in your career, you may few choices about your assignments. As you develop, you have more options about what you choose to work on. The projects, assignments and jobs you accept combine your legacy. While there will always be some degree of surprise, give some thought to choosing at least a few signature projects.

Note: My inspiration for this article comes in part from Marshall Goldsmith’s classic business book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. For the concept of Inner Game and Outer Game, I am inspired by Warren Buffet’s observation.

Question & Action:

Which of these habits and attitudes have you struggled with in your rise to the top?

How To Develop Yourself With Volunteer Leadership: Insights from the Project Management Institute

PMI Talent Triangle_2015 (1)

As project managers, we are called on to lead our project teams and take on increasing responsibility. Given that need, the Project Management Institute has developed a range of excellent leadership programs for project managers. In today’s Q&A interview, Brian Weiss, PMI’s Vice President – Practitioner Markets, shares an overview of the Institute’s programs. Brian Weiss has been with PMI since 2007. His prior experience includes leading marketing at Aramark and business development roles at consulting firms.

1. How can professionals develop their leadership skills with PMI? 

PMI’s Leadership Institute Program is specifically designed to equip volunteers with the well-rounded combination of skills that employers need: leadership skills, strategic and business management skills, and technical project management skills.  The demand for these skills, which are illustrated by the PMI Talent Triangle, has been confirmed by years’ worth of PMI research. PMI Leadership Institute Program events give volunteers a chance to work outside the box, so to speak, and gain a much broader skill set and perspective than they often have access to in their day-to-day jobs. Year after year, these skills, along with “networking” and “knowledge building,” top the list of benefits that PMI volunteers report when sharing their experiences with their peers and program leaders.

 2. How does volunteer leadership improve one’s visibility? How can this visibility be translated into career development?

PMI volunteer leadership improves one’s visibility at two levels:

  • With their peers in the project management profession. The nature of PMI’s volunteerism, along with its face-to-face events and regular online interaction, help people build a global professional network of leaders and like-minded professionals that they can’t build behind a desk.  The international contacts they meet and global perspectives they learn on top of the professional skills and certifications they already have make them exponentially more visible partners and job candidates.
  • With leaders in their own organizations. PMI’s volunteers tend to be career project and program managers who have held very specific project-based roles within their organizations. By volunteering with PMI, they learn about strategic planning and execution, business management, and marketing, as well has how to navigate governance issues, legal issues, and strategic financial situations.  Essentially, they’re learning how to speak the language of executives, so when they engage with various levels of management with their own organizations, they can communicate with understanding of their business’s intricacies and complexities. PMI volunteers are true examples of the next-generation project manager that today’s organizations require – project managers with proven strategic business management, technical project management and leadership skills.

 3. Can you provide a few examples of the most popular leadership roles available through PMI?

There are a number of ways for PMI’s 8,000 to 10,000 active volunteers to become PMI volunteer leaders, and they vary based on interest and professional experience.  PMI’s three categories of volunteer roles include:

  • Strategic – The role of the strategic volunteer is first represented with the Board. Volunteers that monitor on-going activities of PMI for the purpose of providing input, advice and recommendations that ultimately sets the strategic direction for the institute. Through the collective wisdom, experience, diversity and passion of this group of volunteers, strategic initiatives and fiduciary responsibilities are established and executed.
  • Operational – Volunteers that are primarily leaders of areas of the Institute and its activities. The three most common are Community Leaders, Member Advisory Group (“MAG”) Members, Mentors and Standards development committees. These volunteers lead critical development and delivery functions within PMI. They are focused on providing operational input, advice and recommendations both on programs, products and services at the GOC level and also at the local level.
  • Content/Independent Contributor – We characterize the last group of volunteers as “At-Large” and will include professionals engaged in project, program and portfolio management and connect with PMI via opportunities for “volunteering” that arise from either in the Global Knowledge Portal, that are unstructured and arise organically as members participate in discussion forums or offered through PMI global or community opportunities. This group represents the individual contributors to institute programs and in roles that are not necessarily focused on leadership, but on contribution and building influence.

4. What is the goal of PMI’s Leadership Institute?

PMI’s Leadership Institute Program is our investment into the enrichment of our most valuable resource – our volunteers. The sole purpose of Program is to develop PMI’s members into stronger, more effective volunteers and leaders both professionally and personally.  The program, which started in 1994 with 75 volunteers at a single Leadership Institute Meeting, supports 3000 volunteers annually through multiple live and virtual events provided all over the world, and our goal is to keep growing.

5. If a project manager is interested in learning more about the Institute’s programs, who can they contact?

More details on the programs are available through the PMI website.

6. What are project managers saying about their experiences with the Institute? 

“LIMs provide a forum for leadership and learning.  I get great ideas, develop long-lasting relationships, and learn from others.  It’s all value add!” – Connie Plowman, PMP (Chapter Member Advisory Group:)

“The quality of sessions at LIMs is very high.  I now have  a professional network that is more diverse in both global spread and industry than most people could dream of developing over their whole careers. I regularly speak with people I’ve met at LIMs and have developed many strong friendships that will last a long time. When you attend your second LIM you will find the event feels like a reunion with friends and family!”” –  M Muhammed A.B. Ilyas, Registered Education Provider Advisory Group (Four-Time LIM Attendee)

7. What are project managers saying about the Institute’s Master Class? 

Here are a few of the comments we have received about the Master Class:

  • “It was a life changing experience and yes we have good strong connections. As far as learning is concerned, it is a life time learning experience. This class has changed our lives, our working styles, our leadership styles and efforts.”
  • “This is an amazing journey with a unique set of people…and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it!”
  • “I think the selection criteria and process of identifying such diverse and talented group is a credit to the PMI Leadership. I am hoping the relationships we have made continue and only get stronger.  It truly has been a privilege to be associated with the Master Class program!”

8. What programs and plans do you have for 2016?

Four Leadership Institute Programs events are scheduled to be conducted in 2016:

  • Leadership Institute Volunteer Planning Meeting
    20-23 January 2016
    Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Latin America Leadership Institute Meeting
    2-3 April 2016
    Lima, Peru
  • EMEA Leadership Institute Meeting
    6-8 May 2016
    Barcelona, Spain
  • North America Leadership Institute Meeting
  • 22-24 September 2016
    Location to be announced
  • The 2015/2016 Leadership Institute Master Class
  • A variety of virtual development programs offered throughout the year.

How To Onboard Yourself In 5 Days

Image Credit: Business Meeting by Geralt (Pixabay.com)
Image Credit: Business Meeting by Geralt (Pixabay.com)

Your first day in a new organization or department is exciting. There’s great potential for growth. There are many new faces and names to learn. There are also new commutes, new security procedures and more. On-boarding new employees successfully is a practice that some companies have mastered, especially for new graduates. What about a leader who is joining an organization?

If you’re fortunate, you will have a guide to help you learn and adjust to the new department. What if you don’t have that support? The answer is an self-directed on-boarding process. This approach is an excellent way to learn a new organization. Over a few days, you will learn the basics of a new organization. By developing your knowledge and relationships, you will be able to become productive in the new organization more quickly.

When To Onboard Yourself

There are several situations where you will need to be your own guide. If any of the below scenarios sound familiar, you can use this self on-boarding strategy with good results.

1. Project Manager Starting A Brand New Project

. You are assigned to a new project with people and processes that are completely new to you. For example, you may have a strong background in Oracle database projects. However, your organization may ask you to to lead a project to build an customized database from scratch. Note: If your current project involves many of the same players as previous projects, remember that some of your team members may be new. In that case, you can use the 5 day strategy to help them get started.

2. Newly Promoted Leader

Congratulations! You have been promoted! Once you finish celebrating, you will learn that you have a great deal of work ahead of you. Even if you are promoted within the same organization, new leaders face new challenges and goals that may be completely different from their previous role. (Tip: Make sure you avoid these bad habits that quietly kill promotions)

3. New Volunteer Leader.

Joining a volunteer organization, especially as a leader, is an excellent way to grow yourself while improving the community. However, many community organizations have limited staff. As a result, new leaders need to bring their own drive to the table, rather than dragging staff away from their core responsibilities.

4. Joining A Rapid Growth Organization.

In a high growth organization, there are regular promotions, new departments and new offices being opened. In this situation, it is unlikely you will be supported. Instead, you will be expected to “hit the ground running” and come up with your own approach.

The above examples are some of the situations where you will be called upon to be your own guide to a new organization.

Onboard Yourself In 5 Days

Over the space of a single week, you can onboard yourself successfully. This program assumes you have at least some discretion on how you use your first few days. Based on my experience and observation, most new hires have significant time on their hands when they first get started. Instead of waiting for an assignment to be handed to you, use this approach to get started. For those under an extreme time crunch, you can compress this program into a single day (allocate 1-2 hours per day).

Day 1: Logistics & Background Reading

The first day in a new role is exciting! Use these tips to make the most of your first few hours on the role.

  • Verify Access. Check that you have all the access and permissions you need (e.g. security card, passwords, user accounts).
  • Test Technology. Experiment with your assigned technology (e.g. send yourself a test email, verify access to collaboration tools such as Microsoft Sharepoint or Slack)
  • Complete Background Reading. Learning the vocabulary, goals and problems of the organization starts with reading. Ask for copies of Townhall PowerPoints, quarterly memos and other similar messages. If the organization is completely new to you, consider reading the annual report (e.g. directory of annual reports from the Public Register)
  • Take Notes. Expect to be drinking from a fire hose of information! Take a few notes during the day rather than attempting to rely on your memory (Tip: Use “A Notebook and A Pen” podcast from Career Tools to refresh your note taking skills).

By design, day one is meant to be light and easy to manage. The notes you take and reading you complete will help you later in the process.

Day 2: Management Meeting

You cannot hit a target you cannot see – you need to seek clarity on your goals. In your first meeting with management, use these tips to seek clarification on your goals.

  • Adopt Beginner’s Mind. As you bring yourself up to speed, you will have a lot to learn. In your first meeting with your manager, come prepared to learn from them. For added insight, use the observation strategy to better align yourself with your manager’s goals.
  • Prepare A Few Questions. Some managers will present information to you while others will ask you to start the discussion. In either scenario, bring 3-5 relevant questions to the meeting. Your questions should focus on clarifying your goals and metrics. The homework you did in Day One will make it possible for you to ask high quality questions.
  • Ask For First Week Suggestions. In the final few minutes of the meeting, ask for suggestions on how you can make the most of your first week. You may be told to meet with a certain person

Day 3: Peer Meetings.

Meeting your peers is the next stage of the process. While your manager is important, you will accomplish much of your day to day work with your peers. You can get started in the following way.

  • Remember Names. The most important task when you meet your peer is to make an effort to remember their names. One hack I have used to write down the person’s name and one identifying physical quality about them (e.g. glasses, height etc). You may also want to look up your peers on Linkedin at home to refresh your memory.
  • Learn Their History At The Company. Understanding two details about their history at the company is helpful. As you meet your peers, ask how long they have been with the organization and when they got started in their current role. This information will help you identify who is likely to understand the company best.
  • Look For Supporters. Often, there is one person who informally takes on the task of helping a new person reach success in a new job. As you meet people, pay attention for comments such as “For logistics and set up, you can ask me anything.”

Day 4: Organization Networking

Day 2 and 3 have given you a social foundation in your new role. If you are at a large organization, there are many more people to meet. Meeting people outside your immediate unit is a major factor in your success especially if you are a project manager. Use these two tips to get started.

  • Company Committees. Look for one company committee to join. Common examples include health and safety, a social/party planning group and community of practice groups focused on specific professions.
  • Company Directory. In large organizations, the company directory is an invaluable resource. Ask where you can find it on the intranet and start searching through there. As you meet new people in the organization, and look them up in the directory. I have seen some managers who often ask new people about who they report to (and which executive they report to). Reporting relationships can be found using the directory in many cases.
  • Company Announcements. If your company has an intranet (i.e. internal website), read through recent announcements. In particular, look for information on awards, press coverage and other positive developments. You can then contact the staff mentioned in these articles and start to build a relationship. Introducing yourself by congratulating someone for winning an award is a great move.

Day 5: Identify Quick Wins

By Day 5, you will start to have ideas and some understanding of your new team. That means it is time for you to start looking for some quick wins. In this context, a quick win is a small accomplishment you can complete in a matter of days or weeks. There is risk in implementing quick wins in a large organization. However, it is well worth attempting to make a difference!

  • Develop 10 Ideas For Quick Wins. As James Altucher explains, developing the habit of coming up with 10 ideas each day will help you become an idea machine. In this context, develop 10 ideas for ways YOU can improve the department or company. Focus on ideas that you can lead to completion with your existing skills.
  • Meet With Management. Meet with your manager now that you have a list of ideas. Review the ideas with your manager and ask for input and/or approval to move ahead. If you are in a high growth or small organization, you may have greater authority to make changes on your own.
  • Start On One Ideas. On Day 5, start the work of putting your quick win idea into action.

Resources To Help You Achieve Success In A New Role

After the first week, you may still be finding your legs in the  new environment. That’s completely understandable. You can use these resources to continue the process.

  • How to succeed in a new job by Penelope Trunk. A thought provoking article that suggests everything you told in the job interview is wrong. If you are moving to a new company, it is vital to remember that many of your normal working assumptions will need to be revisited.

Leadership Through Coaching: An Interview with Susanne Madsen

Photo Credit: Susanne Madsen

With experience leading projects at Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and private clients, Susanne Madsen is an acknowledged expert in leading projects. In this interview, we explore building trust in projects, how to use coaching in your leadership and more.

1. How did you get started in project management?

In the 1990s, I started my career working with a new media company. I quickly found myself in the role of bridging the gap between the customer, internal staff and other groups. Leading all these groups toward success was my first experience with project management and I enjoyed it.

2. Tell us about a time you made a mistake as a leader. What did you learn from that experience?

In 2005, I was managing a large project for a global bank. At a specific moment, the project badly needed to have a business analyst in order to move forward. With the time pressure, I decided to act quickly to hire a contract analyst. I moved through the interview and hiring process very quickly. Unfortunately, the person was not suited to the role and had to leave the organization.

I learned several lessons from this experience. First, it is vital to take your time in making hiring and staff decisions. Second, take the time to ask deep questions that explore whether the person is truly capable of performing the work. Assuming a person is qualified and competent is a costly mistake.

3. How have you built connection and trust with a new project team?

I use the principle of “be approachable” when I am getting started with a new team. Some project managers, especially those who are highly task oriented, are perceived as unapproachable by the project team. In addition, I view it as a leadership responsibility to trust the team until proven otherwise. You can always be proven wrong and change your view later, but it is best to start off by demonstrating trust in the team.

 4. What are your best practices for leading virtual project teams?

In several of my projects, I have worked with virtual teams in several countries. I have had projects with team members in the USA, UK, India and other locations. Bridging the cultural gaps in such a project is challenging. In working through that experience, I developed two approaches that made a difference. First, look for ways to bring offshore staff to your location. Second, I organized a PowerPoint presentation that included a photo and a personal summary from each person. Going through that PowerPoint file helped everyone to better connect.

I also found it helpful to have a team lead from the Indian group stationed at our office in London. It made a big difference to improve communication and understanding on the project.

5. How do you applying coaching as a leadership style?

There are many ways to apply a coaching approach to leadership. One approach is to lead a person by using questions. Let’s take a project management situation: someone on your team asking for advice on presenting to the project steering committee.

The standard approach would be to issue a series of directions and perhaps provide some resources. The coaching approach emphasizes helping the person discover their own approach. I would ask questions such as “who are you presenting to?” and “what action do you want the committee members to take after your presentation?” Through a process of questions, you help the person to discover their own approach.

Leaders who practice a coaching approach experience other benefits. In my own coaching practice, I find that I learn a great deal from the people I coach. As a coach, you can learn a great deal from the people you coach. You may be experienced and knowledgeable yet people may surprise you with an even better approach.

6. What advice would you give to an individual contributor seeking a promotion to a manager role?

The basic principle is to act as if you are already a manager. I sometimes encounter people who are holding themselves back at work because they are waiting to be promoted. Instead of waiting to be promoted to a management role, ask yourself “how would a manager act in this situation?” Most effective managers use a few key ideas: they are proactive, they understand what matters for the business and they know when to challenge the status quo.

By demonstrating the attitude and behaviors of a manager, you will be much closer to obtaining a promotion.

 7. Which leaders inspire you and why?

Two different examples come to mind from different areas of society.

I recently attended the U.S. Open and I was impressed by the performance of Serena Williams. As a top tennis athlete, Williams has considerable influence on other tennis players, young people and the public. To perform at that level, she has developed considerable endurance, skill and the ability to manage her mindset. Those are impressive qualities we can learn from.

In the political world, I have been impressed by Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. During her 2011-2015 term, she led Denmark through a very difficult economic situation. I’m impressed by her ability to make tough decisions and work with opposing parties in Parliament to achieve results. She is a leader who understands the importance of solving difficult problems and is not afraid of making unpopular decisions.

8. Which resources do you use to develop and improve your leadership knowledge?

My favorite leadership resource is Harvard Business Review. The editors and writers have an outstanding commitment to quality and research. In the course of my practice and working on my books, Harvard Business Review has been an excellent resource.

In addition, I also found TED Talks to be useful because they are focused presentations that communicate important ideas. One of my favorite TED Talks is The Puzzle of Motivation by Dan Pink.

9. If readers are interested in connecting with you and learning about your work, where can they go?

There are two websites you can find out more information about me. For an overview of my coaching services, and other writing, visit the Susanne Madsen website. I also have a website about my latest book The Power of Project Leadership.

How To Lead Virtual Teams

Globe Image
Image Credit: Globe by Geralt (Pixabay.com)

 

Every year, more project managers are called on to lead virtual project teams. This trend is driven by several factors including the outsourcing, organizations operating at a global scale and improved technology. However, virtual teams pose special challenges for the project manager. Unless you take certain precautions and measures, a virtual team may end up costing more money and achieving fewer results than a traditional team.

Before we go further, let’s look at a few points showing the extent and importance of virtual teams and related trends such as telecommuting.

  • Top Problems Facing Virtual Teams. Poor communication, lack of access to expertise and ineffective management were identified as top challenges facing virtual teams according to research reported at Projects At Work.
  • Remote Teams Perceived As Less Effective. Researchers have identified the following problems in virtual teams: low individual commitment, role ambiguity, absenteeism and social loofing. In addition, some customers perceive virtual teams to be less reliable than traditional structures (Source: Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams).
  • Over 1/3 of US staff telecommute to work. 37% of U.S. Workers are telecommuting in 2015 compared to 9% in the 1990s according to  the Gallup organization. The average amount of telecommuting is two work from days per month.
  • Remote Workers Are More Productive. The Globe & Mail reports, based on a summary of 2000 studies, that telecommuting workers are often more productive because of fewer distractions. More than 50% of telecommuters apply some of their commuting time to getting work done.

There is a lot to be gained from working with virtual teams and telecommuting. If you are excited by the benefits, use the following tips to reduce risk and set yourself up for success. As with any change to working arrangements, expect to encounter problems. That “expect principles” also applies if you are leading people who are brand new to the virtual team arrangement.

The Foundation To Prevent Virtual Team Failure

Setting the groundwork to lead an effective virtual team takes some planning. The best practices for your project will develop over time. By using these concepts, you will be able to avoid the the disconnect and disengagement that afflict some projects. This approach can also be used for an organization that is introducing or increasing work from home arrangements.

1. Review Team Experience With Virtual Work

As you prepare to lead a virtual work team, give some thought to the team’s experience. Look for tips and techniques that the experienced team members can share. In addition, remind yourself what it felt like to adapt to virtual work for the first time. Novice virtual workers are likely to face a challenge in becoming productive with the new arrangement. Make sure to ask your team whether or not they have experience with remote work, working with international staff and other key aspects of your project.

2. Check Tools and Training For Virtual Work

Virtual work arrangements require a certain set of tools in order to be successful. The tools need not be elaborate. For example, you may provide a 1-800 toll free phone number for conference calls. Offering that option will give your team members the chance to connect while avoid large phone bills. Developing the skills to be successful with these tools does take some practice. If you are going to use one of these tools to complete mission critical work, introduce the tool a few weeks ahead of the big meeting. That will lower everyone’s stress level.

Virtual Work Tools

  • Skype. One of my favorite communication tools which I have used for years. I have found Skype helpful for 1-on-1 conversations by audio and video. You can also use it for group discussions and messaging. I have not used Skype for group discussions so I cannot speak to that point.
  • Google Hangouts. This video broadcast tool is a simple way to broadcast video. If you are already using other Google services, this may be a good solution. Over the past year, I have made much use of the “free phone calls within North America” feature. The call quality isn’t perfect but one can hardly complain given the price point.
  • Google Docs (or Microsoft Office 365). Are you still documents back and forth by email? That’s a frustrating way to operate when you have a virtual team. I have found Google’s spreadsheet and word processing applications to be a great solution. Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud based office productivity suite. While I am a long time Microsoft Office user, I have not used the “365” edition.
  • Go To Meeting. As one of the longest lasting virtual meeting providers on the Web, there is a lot to be said for Citrix’s Go To Meeting. The product is compatible with mobile devices, supports HD video and permits you to record meeting sessions. I recently used Go To Webinar, also made by Citrix, and found it useful. I also had a good experience with Citrix’s customer service department when I phoned in with a few questions.
  • Slack. This messaging and collaboration platform is becoming more and more platform. Notable Slack users include Harvard University, NASA, BuzzFeed and Dow Jones. It looks like an interesting tool. That said, I would be wary of relying entirely on a text based communication solution.

The above list of tool is a very short list of the many tools you could use. If your company already has certain collaboration tools in place (e.g. Microsoft Lync is becoming more widely available in many organizations), then start with using those. Ultimately, good habits and a commitment to communication make more of a difference than any specific technology.

3. Take The Lead By Testing Tools And Methods

Leadership researchers James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner found that leaders who go first earn greater respect from their teams. In that spirit, go first when you are starting a virtual work project. That means experimenting with all the technology yourself before you go any further. For the best results, here are three ways you can go first in testing your virtual work environment.

  • Set Up Your Virtual Work Office. Whether you are working from home or a traditional office, your set up matters. Take the time to make sure all of your connections and hardware are fully operational. This step is particularly important if you are bringing company issued computers into your home office. In that case, additional testing and training may be needed to satisfy corporate security requirements.
  • Test Your Virtual Work Applications. If you use any type of specialized applications in your work, it is vital to test those applications from different locations. I have seen corporate firewalls that block IP addresses and other restrictions. Often, these restrictions are not made clear until you attempt to use the service. If you are using applications beyond `off the shelf` productivity tools like Microsoft Office, testing is vital.
  • Test Your Technical Support Service. Managing a group of people beyond the traditional office also means that accessing technical support is more challenging. For example, you have to speak with a specialized help desk regarding remote work or install specific software prior to starting the work. One great tip is to create a contact for your organization’s technical support department on your cell phone.

Taking the time to test the environment and support system will give you greater confidence in supporting your the rest of your virtual team.

Question:

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in leading virtual project teams?

Keep Projects Moving Forward As A Leader: An Interview With Leadership Expert Richard Rierson

Richard-Rierson-Headshot

Richard Rierson’s leadership perspective is shaped by a number of influences including leading lessons in the U.S. Marines Corps, flying for American Airlines and as a leader at a multi-billion dollar global engineering company. Through those experiences and his own studies, Richard has developed a compelling leadership vision that empowers people and achieves results.

In today’s interview, Rierson shares his perspective on leadership and how project managers can become more effective leaders. You will also learn how to make a positive impression as a new leader, leadership mistakes to avoid and Richard’s recommendations for leadership books.

1. How did you get started in leadership?

As I came up through the U.S. Marine Corps, I learned a number of important leadership principles. That experience taught me to empower people closest to the problem, help the people who report to me and stay calm under pressure. The organization emphasizes that everyone is a leader – a key lesson that I carried forward.

When I moved into the civilian world, I experienced a key leadership moment when I held a position as a shipping supervisor. When I walked into the warehouse, it was like walking through the set of Sons of Anarchy and I didn’t feel like I fit in. Connecting with my staff was a challenge. However, I asked a key question, “What is it you need?” In resposne, a forklift operator asked for some dry erase boards so better organize shipments. I made that happen and that effort improved my credibility with the team. I immediately understood that my staff knew their problems up close and it was my responsibility to support him.

As a leader, I have learned that I don’t need to have all the answers. I can ask for input and suggestions for my team and then work to support them.

2. What mistakes do you see new leaders make?

Assuming your position, credentials or experience are enough to be a leader is the classic mistake I see. In the case of project managers, it is assumed that you have project management knowledge and/or that you have earned the PMP certification. Spending a lot of time talking about yourself and bragging about your accomplishments is usually not effective.

3. How can project managers become better leaders from day one on a new project?

I have worked closely with project managers for years. I encourage project managers to take the view “I am accountable and responsible for the project.” Even if you are operating in a matrix environment, that attitude is helpful. With that mindset, you are focused on solving problems. In addition, I encourage project managers to always ask themselves the question, “How can I remove obstacles?” from the rest of the team.

With these principles in hand, the fact that a project manager may have limited formal authority is less important.

4. How can project managers add value to people on their teams?

I worked on a project to certify aircraft that involved over a dozen different functions. Two groups – engineering and flight operations – often had conflict because they approached the work from a different perspective. The engineers are the experts who write tests. The flight crew then has the responsibility to test the aircraft in the world. The engineers are often focused on achieving perfection while flight crews focus on a 75% or 80% solution.

The project manager in that context heard the comments and perspectives from the various teams. In this context, a key way to add value is to focus everyone on the question, “What is the outcome we are working to produce?” That question – rather than project management metrics and plans – often helps refocus the team and move everyone toward success.

5. For leaders interested in seeking a mentor, what is the best way to start that relationship?

At first, you start by simply asking the question of leaders you admire and want to learn from. I recommend starting the relationship by asking yourself, “How can I add value? What can I do for them?” Over time, you will learn more about their approach to leadership. To deepen the relationship, become a master of asking good questions.

[Editor’s Note: In your first email to a potential mentor, show that you have done some research on them. In the past, I have searched Linkedin for managers that have won a specific award. I can then reference that award and ask how they won it in my first email to them.]

6. What leadership books do you recommend?

There are a few books that have been valuable to me. Here are a few of the books I recommend and why:

  • The Compound Effect By Darren Hardy. This book helped me to understand the value of making daily progress and improvement in my leadership. I recently interviewed Darren Hardy on the podcast and learned a lot from him.

[Editor’s Note: If you would like to learn more about Richard Rierson’s leadership philosophy, you can receive a copy of Leadership Guide when you subscribe to his email newsletter.]

7. For readers interested to know more about you and your work, what is the best place to go?

I host the Dose of Leadership podcast where I have interviewed over 200 leaders in fields such as the military, business and other fields. For information on my coaching and speaking, you can visit RichardRierson.com.

Here are a few podcasts that may be particularly interesting to project managers:

 

6 Leadership Hacks From The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt as Governor of New York (Image Credit: Government of New York)

Few leaders can match Theodore Roosevelt’s record for productivity, writing and excellence in multiple fields. In August, I finished reading “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmund Morris. It was an outstanding biography. As I read the book, it occurred to me to share some of the leadership hacks I learned. In today’s article, I will share how Roosevelt developed himself and become a leader before entering the White House at age forty two.

Building The Bull Moose: The Origin Story of Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt at Harvard (Image Credit: Harvard University)

By the time he reached his 20s, Theodore Roosevelt was a model of strength and health. His endurance in hunting, hiking and other pursuits astonished many of his friends and associates. However, he did not start that way. As a child and teenager, Roosevelt suffered from constant health problems including asthma. Fortunately, he was determined to improve himself through study, exercise and discipline.

1. Developing Health and Fitness

As a young boy, Roosevelt was in poor health. He struggled with asthma and other health limits. Based on his father’s advice, Roosevelt embarked on an intense physical training program. Unfortunately, the early results were not encouraging. Following an unsuccessful fight with several other boys, Roosevelt resolved to change. Morris reports the moment:

The humiliation forced him to realize that his two years of body-building had achieved only token results. No matter how remarkable his progress might seem to himself, by the harsh standards of the world he was still a weakling… There and then he decided to join what would later call ‘the fellowship of the doers.’ If he had exercised hard before, he must do so twice as hard now. (pg 35)

Fortunately, he persisted with his efforts to develop himself physically. Building his strength and physical skills laid a foundation for his remarkable levels of energy and productivity that carried him through to success in future roles.

Fitness Hack: As a leader, it pays to start with yourself before you seek to lead others. Roosevelt’s experience shows that that self leadership takes several forms including improving your health and fitness. Committing to a daily program of improvement is an excellent approach. An inability (or disinterest) to manage yourself well tends to undermine

2. Developing Curiosity About The World

As Roosevelt explored New York State and Europe during his travels, Roosevelt dedicated a keen eye for detail and description. When he was a teenager, Roosevelt and his family went for a long trip through Europe and the Middle East. During his travels, he made detailed notes about the people and places he saw. As a teenager in the 1870s, he wrote in his diary about Egypt: “How I gazed upon it! It was Egypt, the land of my dreams.. A land that was old when Rome was bright.”

The Curious Hack: Adopting a curious view of the world will help you to become a better leader. Staying curious also keeps you in the beginner’s mindset. A leader who doesn’t care about new developments and challenges will soon be left standing alone.

3. Complete Your Priorities By Waking Up Early

Starting in his youth, Roosevelt had a wide range of interests including history, boxing, natural science and reading. In order to accommodate the sheer variety of his interests, Roosevelt changed his routines. During his Harvard studies, he would wake up early and put in several hours of work on his studies. That left the afternoons and evenings free to pursue other activities. He lectured at the Nuttal Ornithological Club and presented papers to the Harvard Natural History Society.

The Time Management Hack: Rising early was one of the secrets of Roosevelt’s life. To get the most out of your morning, start a morning ritual or consider the Miracle Morning method.

Lessons From Roosevelt The Early Leader

Seeking elected office remains one of the world’s most greatest leadership challenges. As a young man, Roosevelt faced challenges in confronting corruption across the board. His decision to fight corruption and to refuse such enticements were hard decisions that enhanced his credibility.

Theodore Roosevelt In The New York Assembly (Image Credit: www.theodore-roosevelt.com)

4. Roosevelt Finds A Cause

Shortly after entering th eNew York Assembly, Roosevelt found his first great political cause: fighting corruption. It was a great cause to target because corruption was everywhere in the political world at that time. For years, Roosevelt focused his attention on public servants who abused their jobs for financial gain. He attacked cases of people misusing their expenses accounts, receiving bribes and those who handed out promotions to their friends. Unlike some other causes of the day, corruption was also an easy to understand issue for the public. Roosevelt built much of his early political career on a foundation of fighting corruption.

The Inspiring Cause Hack: To reach success as a leader, you need to work toward a goal larger than yourself. For Roosevelt, that cause was fighting corruption.

5. Roosevelt Changes Direction

Following his graduation from Harvard University in 1880, Roosevelt began law school at Columbia Law School. Enrolling in law school is a common move for those interested in a public career. Despite that alignment, Roosevelt decided that legal studies were not right for him. He decided to leave Columbia and work on political affairs.

The Change Directions Hack: If your current studies or pursuits are not engaging you, don’t be afraid to make a change. Roosevelt’s example also shows that you can achieve success as a leader without formal credentials.

6. Roosevelt Builds His Reputation Through Research, Publishing and Writing

Published in 1882, Roosevelt’s first book – “The Naval War of 1812” – won wide acclaim from reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic. He began work on the book while he was a student at Harvard and continued afterwards. In this work, Roosevelt brought several strengths to bear including a dedication to research (“to collect and analyze, in terms of comparative firepower, thousands of ballistic and logistic figures required the brain of a mathematician – which Theodore did not have. So he had to double-check his calculations until every last discrepancy had worked itself out” – pg 120). Publishing this book helped Roosevelt connect with historians, admirals and statesmen.

The Publishing Hack: Publishing original research remains an excellent way to contribute to your field and position yourself as a leader.

 

How To Lead Yourself Bright and Early: An Interview with Jeff Sanders, 5am Miracle

JeffSandersInterview

How do you start your day each morning? Are you rushing out the door with barely a bite of breakfast? Or do you have a deliberate process? Over the course of 2015, I have learned the value of following a morning ritual. It puts me in command of my day. Starting the day on my terms also makes me happier. It’s one of the best ways I have found to lead myself to success.

Today’s featured guest on Project Management Hacks is Jeff Sanders, founder of The 5AM Miracle. Sanders has a great podcast (listen to the podcast here) and has written many great articles. Of his articles, I have found his Mornings 101 series, the how to train for your half marathon article and the 7 Essential Elements of Productivity series to be helpful. In this interview, Jeff shares his advice to become more productive by taking charge of your morning.

1. What Is The 5am Miracle And How Did You Start It?

The 5am Miracle Podcast focuses on early mornings, productivity, healthy habits, and personal development. This project started a few years ago when I registered for a marathon. I had a full time job and a side business – it seemed like there was no time left to train for the event. I started waking up at 5am so I could get my marathon training done.

After I completed the marathon, I adjusted the focus. I started to work on the theme of waking up early in order to work on important projects (e.g. How To Improve Productivity With Personal Projects or Your Guide To Starting A Summer Project At Work). I then wrote an ebook based on what I learned and started the podcast. Over the next few years, the podcast has focused on the question – how can you domination your day before breakfast?

2. What approach do you recommend to start a morning ritual?

There are generally two approaches to getting started with an early morning. For most people, the most effective strategy is to gradually adjust your wake up time. For myself,. I have adjusted my wake up time in 20 or 30 minute segments: smaller changes are usually easier to manage. The other approach is to change your wake up time tomorrow to 5am (or whichever earlier time will help). This approach does give immediate results. The downside is that you will likely be very tired for several days as you adjust.

As you build the early morning habit, there will be bumps along the road. There will be weekends, some late nights and that’s fine. You’re seeking to instill a general pattern, rather than meeting the habit 100% of the time. Over time, you will start to want to get to bed when it gets dark. For more consistent results, create an evening routine that includes a set bed time and put away your technology. At 8pm, I turn off my computers, phones and other material and start to prepare for bed.

3. What habits make the difference for leaders who want to become more effective?

Highly effective leaders come to work with energy and focus. Without energy, there’s no way to get work done. That’s why I emphasize health and fitness habits. I start the day with exercise, drinking lots of water and preparing yourself mentally for the day. How you treat your body directly impacts your ability to think and work productively.

4. Handling distractions during the work day is a major challenge for many project managers. There are phone calls, emails, and people asking questions. How can we overcome these distractions?

The first point is to identify how exactly you are being distracted. In my experience, I distract myself most often. I will check my phone, visit Facebook and so forth. It makes sense to understand yourself because it is easier to change. By changing your environment, distractions can be managed. You could turn your phone off for an hour or use software to block social media.

Regarding working with distracting people, proactive communication is the way to go. If you are someone who needs focus time to get significant work done, then simply explain that point. You could say something like, “The interruptions are making it hard for me to focus. Can you please schedule a short meeting with me when you have something you would like to discuss instead?” That approach strikes the balance between individual and team productivity.

5.  How can project managers communicate effectively and persuade people at the office who do not report to them?

In one of my previous jobs, I faced this challenge. My approach was to emphasize open communication and goals. I would sit down with people one-on-one, tell them about my goals and ask about their goals. Those conversations made it easier to work together. Without that kind of interaction, there will be a lot more conflict and disagreement.

6. What approach do you recommend for career goal setting?

In career advancement, there are certain factors you can control and certain factors you cannot. You cannot control whether or not the company has an open job that suits your goals.

If you are seeking a new job, first you need to clarify it – the job title, the pay level and the organization you are interested in. Next, look for the factors you can control such as earning a certification. Finally, look for factors that you can influence such as how you are perceived at the office. Taking all of these steps will move you closer to your goal.

7. On your podcast, you have advocated the concept of 12 week goals instead of annual goals. What are the advantages of working on 12 week goals?

In podcast episode 88, I covered Fewer Goals and Better Results with a 12-Week Year. Working a goal with a deadline twelve months away is challenging for many people. A better approach is to use the “12-week year” approach to make progress on an annual goal. Let’s say you had the career advancement goal of earning your MBA degree. Your first 12 week goal could be to study for the GMAT exam. Your next GMAT exam could be to research and apply to several business schools. In that case, the 12-week goal is a milestone that shows progress toward a long term goal.

The 12-week goal system works because it feels limited and encourages a sense of urgency. If you follow this process each quarter, you will make significant process through the year. It’s a great way to prevent procrastination.

8. What apps, websites and other resources do you recommend to enhance your productivity?

I switched over to an all digital system a few years ago. I use three main productivity tools: Google Drive (for documents), Evernote (for notes) and Nozbe (for task management). I have also heard good things about Asana and Ominfocus. Nozbe also has the capability to support a team environment so it could be used on projects.

9. For readers who want to know more about your work, where should they go?

The best place to find out about my work is JeffSanders.com – the blog, the podcast and everything else. In December 2015, my first book will be published by Ulysses Press. For more information on the book, sign up for updates at 5amBook.com.

How To Lead By Example

Image Credit: Suits by Unsplash (Pixabay.com)
Image Credit: Suits by Unsplash (Pixabay.com)

September is leadership month at Project Management Hacks. I will be publishing a variety of articles including interviews with thought leaders who have ideas, habits and inspiration to help us become better. It’s going to be a great month and I’m looking forward to it.

Leading by example is a well known leadership concept. I know that it is not a new idea. As James Clear recently explained old ideas are powerful. Leading by example is worth revisiting because I know I can do better on this front. I would guess that many of us, if we reflect on our work, could think of a few ways where we could lead better by example. As you improve the art of leading by example, your credibility will dramatically improve.

Leading By Example: Lessons From History

As long time readers will you, I have been a student of history for many years. Last year, I wrote Project Management Ideas From The First World War and project management techniques from the history of the telegraph. Continuing that theme, let’s consider a few examples of leading by example from history.

Winston Churchill: Leading On The Front Lines

During the First World War, Winston Churchill served in the British government. Unfortunately, some of his strategy decisions did not produce results. When he left Cabinet, he made a decision that surprised many of his former colleagues.

Churchill rejoined the Army and went to serve on the front lines of the Western Front. His war service included personally leading his soldiers into the combat. This decision gave him a deeper understanding of the meaning of modern warfare.

John D. Rockefeller: Leading By Managing The Books

Today, many of us equate the name of Rockefeller with great wealth and philanthropy. None of that wealth would have been possible without Rockefeller’s commitment to business. As a young clerk at Hewitt and Tuttle in Cleveland in the 1850s, Rockefeller closely managed the books.

Rockefeller biographer Ron Chernow summarizes Rockefeller’s approach to his work. “He closely reviewed the bills, confirming the validity of each item and carefully adding up the totals. He pounced on errors of even a few cents and reacted with scornful amazement when the boss next door handed his clerk a lengthy, unexamined plumbing bill and blithely said, ‘Please pay this bill.’ Rockefeller was appalled by such cavalier indifference.” (Page 46, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr by Ron Chernow)

Steve Jobs: Leading By A Passion For Great Products

When I read “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson, a theme came up over and over again. Jobs deeply cared about the design and quality of Apple products. His passion shone through in several ways. He paid close attention to the design of the Apple Store. That attention meant Apple Stores become a destination, in contrast to most retailers that sold technology products.

His passion also came through in his memorable product launches. For many Apple fans and students of presentations, Steve Jobs 2007 iPhone launch demonstrates passion and excitement for one’s product.

 As these examples show, there are many different ways to lead by example. Churchill’s example shows that one can recover from leadership setbacks by taking on surprising assignments. Rockefeller’s attention to financial details resonates with me because of my expertise in the banking industry. Jobs shows how passion and excitement for great products makes a difference.

Get Started Leading By Example

How exactly do we get started with this leadership strategy? Your approach will depend on your context. As a project manager, you will have certain options. As an individual contributor, you may not have a formal leadership title. Yet, there are still plenty of ways you can lead. As we head into the fall, use these ideas to improve your leadership.

Choose A Principle

The starting point in leading by example is to choose a principle. One approach is to look at problems your department is facing. If your company is facing problems with expenses, you may choose the principle of “close financial management.” If meetings are constantly delayed because people do not show up on time, you may choose the principle of punctuality.

Action Step: Choose the principle that you will live.

Live The Principle For 30 Days

As Matt Cutts explains in a TED Talk, Try something new for 30 days, thirty day challenges are a great way to improve your life. Changing yourself is difficult, but many of us can manage a change for a short period of time. If the principle you have selected feels daunting, start small using Tiny Habits. As you get started, expect to face some problems. At this stage, there is no need to share what you are working on.

Tip: Use an Excel file or a notebook to write a few notes each day about your progress.

Action Step: Live your principle for 30 days

Share The Principle

After you have finished your thirty day challenge, you can start to share your insights with other people. You could give a short speech about your success at your local ToastMasters club. Or you could share what you have learned with a colleague. Sharing your example at this point is powerful because you will have a thirty day track record. As a personal example, I set the challenge to do 100 pushups a day starting in July. I completed the challenge and have kept up the habit.

Action Step: Share your principle with another person you work with.

Notice Other Leadership Examples

The final step of this process is to notice how people are leading by example around you. This practice is valuable for three reasons. First, this practice encourages you to look for leadership around you. Second, this practice gives you further ideas you can use to improve yourself. Finally, this practice gives you recognition ideas.

In management roles, there is a common practice to only notice problems. Sometimes, some people act like they are playing Whac-A-Mole – constantly hitting problems. By noticing good examples, you will be able to recognize people. You can send thank you cards (I buy mine at Indigo), send emails or thank someone for their good work in a meeting.

Action Step: Notice and show recognition for someone in your organization who is living a good principle.