Thursday, April 27, 2017

Leadership Spotlight: Bill Gates

Bill gates leadership style

William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an internationally-known business leader, philanthropist, and innovator. He is the co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software manufacturer for personal computers.

Starting from humble origins, Bill grew Microsoft into a global force, and is now worth an estimated $86 billion, making him the wealthiest person in the world. Bill has held that distinction off and on for the past twenty years.

Bill’s Leadership Style

Like many of today’s great leaders, Bill Gates is known for his transformational style. In the transformational leadership style, there are several attributes that distinguish it from other styles. These include:

  1. Being able to put together a strong team
  2. Identifying something that needs to change
  3. Creating a vision for that change from thought to reality
  4. Leveraging the power of the team to bring ideas to life
For Bill Gates, Microsoft was the culmination of his love of computing. He was able to “see the writing on the wall” as personal computers were just being introduced to households around the world.

He wanted to make them better and more useful, so he set off to transform the industry. By identifying what needed changing, he revolutionized PCs and the way we use them.

He was also able to assemble a great team who shared his vision.
The primary attribute of any leader, regardless of style, is to be able to work hard until a project is completed.

Bill has developed a reputation for his tireless work ethic. He studied demographics of typical computer users, then sought to develop solutions to make their jobs easier and more efficient. The result was Microsoft’s wide range of software products.

Each product spearheaded by Bill and his company address a specific business or entertainment need. From operating systems to office task software, gaming systems, and educational platforms, Bill and Microsoft were able to develop incredible solutions that resonated with users.

Seeing into the Future

A truly great transformational leader has the ability to gauge the direction of industry futures. Bill Gates embodies this ability, overcoming challenges and pitfalls along the way.

Bill developed a long-term strategy for his work and for his company. He was able to foresee aspects of the computing industry before many of his peers and rolled out solutions in a timely manner.
Bill has a vision that he shares with the team around him. The team is invested in the continued success of the company and continues to dominate the personal computing world.

New products and new solutions are a small part of the transformational style Bill has demonstrated throughout his lengthy career. This applies even to his philanthropic efforts, primarily in providing computers to schoolchildren around the world. The Bill Gates Foundation has been instrumental in preparing the next generation of computing experts.

Bill Gates transformed an entire industry through hard work, vision, and a team that was flexible enough to address challenges as they arose. In short, Bill is one of modern day's great leaders.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Leadership Spotlight: Elon Musk

Elon Musk is an internationally-known businessman, inventor, and CEO with an estimated net worth exceeding $13 billion. He has been ranked by a number of prominent publications as one of the wealthiest and one of the most powerful people on Earth.
What many people don’t realize is that his leadership style differs from other magnates of the business world. Mr. Musk’s style can best be described as “transformational leadership”. His revolutionary approach to a variety of needs has given himself and his companies a firm foothold across market sectors. Read on to learn details of Mr. Musk’s transformational leadership style and how that translates into success.

What is Transformational Leadership?

In any leadership role, the guidance of others is a critical component. In transformational leadership, there is so much more than mere guidance. A transformational leader has several key attributes, including:
  • The ability to put together a team
  • Identifying something that needs changing (the transformation)
  • Creating a vision that takes the change from idea to reality
  • Bringing the change to life with the help of the committed members of the team

In Elon Musk’s case, several of his more ambitious projects were the result of identifying a particular need, whether it was technology-based or was geared toward environmental stewardship. When he founded the company that eventually became PayPal, Mr. Musk had the vision to understand that an online payment processing solution would support the shift toward Web-based shopping. Similarly, his work in space exploration arose from his vision that government-sponsored space programs were often too expensive and too poorly managed from a financial perspective. Musk believed that the private sector could find more affordable ways to launch and recover space vehicles.

Believing in the Vision

A great leader can rally his or her subordinates and inspire them to carry ideas from thoughts to fruition. Elon Musk has received acclaim from his peers as well as his employees by having the ability to get people to deeply believe in his visions. He approaches every project with an infectious passion. He can flesh out abstract concepts to the point that the people working on his team understand the complexities and prepare solutions for overcoming challenges.

Take Tesla, for example. While electric cars were already being produced by several major automakers, Elon Musk had the vision to create affordable cars and the infrastructure needed to support them. Tesla revolutionized the electric car industry, and it plans to sell electric powertrain components to other automakers in a bid to get more electric-powered vehicles on the road. Musk knew that there would be incredible challenges in taking on the large automakers, but he and his team were able to take a vision and prepare elegant solutions. Today, Tesla is worth about $22 billion in total assets, thanks to Elon Musk, his transformational leadership, and his dedication to solving today’s problems.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 Leadership Skills for 2017

In the world of business, trends come and go. This is even true in leadership – what is billed as the “next great leadership trait” one year will fall out of favor the next. With this ever-changing playing field, leaders need to be aware that the operating world around them is also changing. The key is to be flexible, yet still provide guidance and support for the team members who depend on that leader. 

While these are not trends, there are several core skills that leaders need to master. Here are three leadership skills that have risen to an important level in 2017:

Skill #1: Employee Performance Management

Let’s face it: just about everyone hates the annual performance review. It is difficult for managers, especially those who have many employees under them. Employees tend to hate them because the process is filled with stress and fear (“Am I doing an OK job, or am I about to be terminated?”). Because many annual performance review systems are unwieldy, more and more companies are forgoing them.

That being said, performance management is a critical component of the company’s operations. Whether or not you use a formal performance review instrument or not makes no difference – the point is that employees need regular feedback on their work performance and expectations of the company’s management. Good leaders provide guidance and feedback on a steady basis throughout the year. One of the ways leaders can reinforce great performance in their employees is by telling them they’re doing a good job. Regular praise, and gentle correction if there’s a problem, are two time-honored ways to build morale, strengthening the team you’ve worked so hard to develop as a leader.

Skill #2: Managing Telecommuters

The ever-shifting business realm has become global in its scope. Because of global business, employees are expected to travel on work or to work from home in many cases. How does a good leader manage employees who are scattered around the world?

Various studies have shown that employees who are considered “mobile workers” or “telecommuters” are happier than those stuck in an office environment all week. So, there will be increased pressure from employees to gain telecommuting opportunities. One of the best ways leaders can stay in touch with their mobile workers and to keep them happy is by using regularly-scheduled teleconferences. Even a weekly Skype chat to share feedback and updates helps manage the scattered workforce effectively. Your employees will appreciate the feedback, and you can be sure you’re getting the best performance out of them, no matter where they are in the world.

Skill #3: Handling Emotions

Something leaders have struggled with since the dawn of time is the emotional component in employee-employer relations. Recent studies have indicated that today’s employees tend to be emotionally fragile; they don’t respond well to criticism and they don’t readily bounce back from failure. This is referred to as “emotional resilience”. 

Constructive criticism is important, but too few leaders use the tools available to them out of fear that their employees will react negatively. Rather than yelling or accusing, leaders should take the time to understand their employees’ concerns. By providing feedback in a gentle, positive manner, the interaction can avoid any meltdowns and hurt feelings. 

Do you have something awesome to share about leadership? Feel free to submit a post in the comment section!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Why is Leadership Important?

What makes leadership so essential?

In any organization, effective leadership is critical in enhancing productivity and shaping the operational culture. Without a leader, a business or non-profit organization cannot effectively operate over the long term. Great leaders provide inspiration, guidance, and support for the individuals working for the company. No matter the organization, leaders are of absolute importance in the structure.

Leadership Challenges

Natural leaders may make management look easy, but in reality, true leaders understand that it requires the ability to take on any challenge as it comes. Even in the best of times, an organization is made up of many components, and leaders keep things running smoothly. When challenges arise, such as downturns in the market, equipment or personnel failures, or external factors that influence performance, leaders step up to ensure the continued success of an organization. It is how these leaders address challenges that define them as effective leaders; the best ones understand that they are not alone and have a team to rely on to overcome any obstacles.

Team Building

One of the most important components in effective leadership is the strength and vision to create a cohesive team. Lacking a leader, an organization’s employees may not be as productive or as effective; so many moving parts must work together to achieve goals. Strong leaders select team members that can both handle adversity and bring unique skills to the overall operation. Even the best leader doesn’t have all the answers; by choosing the right team members, he or she can make sure that the team is prepared for whatever challenges may occur.
Another aspect of leadership in the team-building effort is that effective leaders help their employees grow. By encouraging new ideas, fresh ways of looking at problems, and instilling a sense of purpose, leaders can influence the daily actions of their employees. These factors strengthen the team model, producing a group of individuals that works together in the most efficient way possible.

External vs. Internal Culture

In most discussions of effective leadership, the focus is often on how leaders influence internal organizational culture. However, external culture can indirectly benefit greatly from a leader. Employees working under a great leader become invested in the business processes. Fostering transparency and the sharing of ideas encourages employees to perform at their peak, and customers of that organization gain real benefits. Employees who believe in the team operation will do whatever they can to please customers, enhancing customer loyalty. These employees, backed by great leadership filled with passion and commitment, can become “brand ambassadors”. In other words, when employees feel good about their role, they are more likely to share information about their business and their team operations with others. This is a powerful marketing tool that can outpace even the most expensive advertising campaign. When you are a leader and your team believes in the big picture you have fostered, great things happen. Productivity rises, sales increase, and customers benefit from a powerful organization that strives to be the very best it can be.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Weekly Spotlight: Thought Leadership

In the world of business, the expression thought leadership is bandied about. The expression means different things to different people, and there can be some confusion about its true nature. There are many misconceptions about thought leadership, both in and outside the workplace. To get to the bottom of what makes a thought leader, and how thought leadership can benefit business, it is important to understand the attributes behind those leaders.

What is a Thought Leader?

In very simple terms, a thought leader is a person or an organization that changes the entrenched behaviors and attitudes of a particular sector. Take, for example, a corporate executive who rewrites the playbook, creating a new way of doing business.
Thought leadership is not a style of leadership, nor is it a part of something else like market research or advertising. Doing something radical or disruptive in a given marketplace does not make one a thought leader; rather, it is the comprehensive approach of a true thought leader to transform all aspects of management, benefiting the company’s products and services.

What Are the Traits of a Thought Leader?

Traditional leadership abilities are traits that a thought leader must possess to be successful. However, there are unique traits that let thought leaders stand out from others. What are some of these traits?

First, a thought leader defines him- or herself, rather than allowing critics to define them. This makes them more appealing to stakeholders and can use their reputations to leverage emerging markets while enhancing performance in existing markets.

Secondly, thought leaders are opinion molders; in other words, their actions and beliefs influence policymakers and media contacts alike. Their actions make changes happen, creating opportunity for the company or organization they work with.

Third, a thought leader is both approachable and discoverable. Thought leaders are masters of networking, leveraging professional and personal relationships for the greater good of the company. They must also be able to share their work; if a leader’s hard work and vision isn’t known by others, it cannot have the proper impact. A thought leader’s credibility and trust is influenced by how many people are aware of the work being done.

Finally, persistence is the key to success, both for thought leaders and others in leadership roles. Not every idea will pan out. Giving up before transformative actions change the way business is done can lead to failure. Thought leaders are known for their intense personal willingness to never give up, even in the face of adversity. Leaders need to have a strong drive to perform and to motivate others to do the same.

With these traits, thought leaders bring innovation and transformation to the companies or organizations they work with. Their actions build brand trust, and their leadership influences others in a positive way. Organizations with known thought leaders can have significant market advantages over competitors, building value for the stakeholders involved in the company.
Watch a great thought leader speech here:

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Leadership Spotlight: Bill Gates

William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an internationally-known business leader, philanthropist, and innovator. He is the co-founder of the...