October 2018
Ladysmith Chamber Business Essentials


2nd Annual Chamber / LDBA Christmas Social

Celebrate the Holidays with fellow business people!  Members and guests are invited to the 2nd Annual Chamber / LDBA  Christmas Social at Cottonwood on Tuesday, December 4th from from 12 pm to 2 pm.  Book a table for you, your staff and guests!   Silent Auction donations are welcome. Please RSVP by Friday, November 30th.   Read More...

Leadership Strategies


Leadership Strategies

Last month (October 2018) we looked at different leadership styles. Now you know your style and its strengths and weaknesses, think about how you might employ the following four strategies to improve your leadership skills.

These four strategies will help you lead your team through the various projects and systems that are part of running your business. Each has its own merits in specific situations, depending on the circumstances or the project at hand.

  1. Relegating Leadership-This type of leadership implies, "They'll be fine on their own. They'd prefer I didn't interfere." The leader abdicates their responsibility to make things happen. It is characterized by the leader doing the least amount of work to get the job done, while still maintaining the foundation of the group. Generally, this is an ineffective strategy. However, if you have a team member you believe is competent to perform tasks but whose confidence is low, you may use this approach cautiously to allow them to achieve success on their own, praising their efforts when they succeed. Gradually, you can then employ more direct methods of leadership and delegation as their confidence grows.
  2. Friendly Leadership-This type of leadership implies, "As long as they're happy, they'll be productive." It puts more emphasis on whether the team is happy, comfortable, and working in a friendly atmosphere than on achieving goals and objectives. This strategy has some merit, since it's true that people respond positively to positive environments. However, if taken to the extreme, it does not produce effective task completion. People are too busy having fun and productivity suffers. This strategy can be useful, if you're working on a group project that requires lots of energy and where the outcome doesn't depend on your input (e.g. planning a company picnic).
  3. Autocratic Leadership-This type of leadership says "You're here to do a job not to enjoy yourself. Do it my way and we'll all be happy." This strategy may get the job done, but not without sustaining casualties along the way. You'll need to be careful when employing this strategy and use it sparingly. It works best when very specific outcomes and tight deadlines are integral to the project's success, where your supervision is required, and where accuracy and deliverables are paramount.
  4. Coaching Leadership-This type of management implies, "We're in this together. Let's support each other so we can get the job done with excellence." This strategy places a high emphasis on both the people involved and the task at hand. It emphasizes working together to produce a collaborative outcome. Coaching is generally the most effective and consistent leadership strategy in the day-to-day operation of a business.

The well-known business writer Seth Godin said, "Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work." Wise words, but your leadership style and the strategies you employ will determine the success of the platform you create.

Leadership Strategies


Finding Your Rhythm

Are you the type of person who enjoys getting up at dawn, but fades quickly after dinner? Or, do you find your brain doesn't really engage until mid-morning after several cups of coffee, but you can work well into the evening? Or, perhaps you find your most creative and productive times are late at night?

Do you prefer to work in silence, or with music, or the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop? Is your desk cluttered or tidy? We all have a rhythm to the way we work-a way that works for us but might seem strange to others.

If we are self-employed we can sometimes schedule what we do to fit our natural bio-rhythms. But if we work in a more structured environment, it can be difficult to be in sync with the rest of the world.

Here are a few ideas to help make your daily routine more productive, no matter what your natural style is:

Morning People

  • Schedule difficult, or high-concentration/high energy, tasks for the first few hours of the day when you're most alert and productive.
  • Postpone returning phone calls, checking emails, sorting through mail, and other low energy tasks for later in the day.
  • Plan your day when you first arrive at work, during your high-energy time. Take stock of what you've done the day before, what needs to be done that day, and what your priorities are. This allows you to dive into the tasks ahead of you with high energy and enthusiasm.
  • Whenever possible avoid attending, or scheduling, meetings late in the day-you'll find it difficult to concentrate and retain what's being discussed. If you can't avoid a meeting, make notes. This will help you stay alert and assist you to remember what occurred.

Mid-day People

  • Schedule low energy tasks such as returning phone calls, answering emails or sorting through mail for first thing in the morning. Avoid early morning meetings and allow yourself to warm up to your day rather than hitting it full force.
  • Use early mornings to plan your day, and schedule and prioritize your activities. Create your to-do list so you have a plan for the day.
  • Schedule difficult and high-energy tasks for right after lunch. Work with your body's natural desire to get moving at that time. Afternoons are your "power" times. Utilize them to their fullest.

Late Afternoon/Night People

  • Try to arrange your work schedule so you can sleep longer and start later in the mornings.
  • Schedule low energy tasks for mornings. Do things you don't need to gear up for, early in the day e.g. paperwork, emails and phone calls.
  • Schedule meetings for after lunch.
  • Plan your day the night before. This will help keep you on track during those sluggish mornings.
  • Save some of those difficult, high-concentration tasks for evenings when no one else is around-either at the office or home. Of course, in order to maintain balance, you should try to take a similar amount of time off elsewhere in the day.

It's not always possible to schedule tasks and activities to match your natural rhythm; things happen that require your attention and it's not always realistic to reschedule them to a more preferable time slot. When you're facing days like that, here are some general things that might help:

  • Eat a good breakfast containing protein—it stays with you longer and you won't be reaching for sugary snacks half way through the morning. Protein also assists with concentration, so if mornings aren't your best time having protein early in the day will help.
  • Identify your peak work environment—busy or quiet-and do high-energy tasks in that environment. For example, if you work best when it's quiet, you might schedule writing that difficult proposal before everyone arrives, or when they're at lunch. If you work best during busy, high-energy times, schedule your difficult tasks during those times.
  • Take control of your workday—it may be difficult at first, but it's possible to manage your days to take advantage of your natural work rhythms and become more productive. Don't be afraid to say no to certain things, and don't let other people's opinions make you feel guilty. Keep a log of how you spend your days for two weeks, and then examine if there's any way to reorder those days to accomplish more during your peak times.
  • Let your staff know what you are trying to do—the more people understand your objectives, the greater your success will be. For instance, tell people you don't want to be interrupted while you're concentrating on difficult tasks and direct them to more suitable times.

Life is unpredictable, and going with your natural flow isn't always possible, but identifying your particular work rhythm and attempting to work with your body rather than against it, will help increase your productivity.

Leadership Strategies


Setting Expectations Effectively

Often when coaching, the question of setting expectations for staff is broached by my clients. Inevitably the conclusion is reached that clear expectations are important in any relationship between a leader and their team.

What happens when our expectations are not clear? Even if we think that our expectations are clear in our minds, often we do not see them reflected in the day-to-day actions of our staff. Often what is perfectly clear to us, is murky at best to those who have to deliver on our expectations. This leads to frustration on both sides; management is upset that certain things are not happening, and staff is confused as to what is really expected of them.

One of my observations is that there is a division between real and perceived expectations. People cannot read your mind. You need to have conversations with members of your team to ensure you are all on the same page with respect to your expectations.

Here are three thoughts on how to ensure expectations are clear and understood throughout your company or department.

  1. Clearly define the expectations you have of your employees. What is important to you? What is important to the company? What is the reason behind each expectation? As the leader it is your responsibility to articulate your expectations clearly and logically. You need to clearly think through, very specifically, what you are asking of your staff.
  2. Realize that simply posting a list of expectations does not ensure they will be followed. To truly incorporate them into the daily routine of your organization, expectations need to be repeated numerous times, so they are fully understood and become a habit for your staff.
  3. Ensure your expectations are contributing to a positive culture for both your staff and your clients. It is important to revisit these expectations from time to time. Engage in regular conversations with your employees and discuss your expectations. What is working for them and you? What is not working? Allowing give-and-take feedback about the expectations opens up a dialogue and creates a respectful environment.

Creating, and then communicating clear expectations takes time and in the end leads to a more productive workplace with everyone working together in the same direction, towards common goals.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 598, 33 Roberts Street, Ladysmith, BC V9G 1A4
Phone: 250-245-2112