Monday, September 13, 2021

COVID-19 Has Changed Everything

 


COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our lives and changed everything!  We went from a booming economy to great uncertainty in what felt like a blink of an eye. We have seen illness, death, job loss, social unrest, increased anxiety, and a loss of normalcy in our lives. Let’s face it, we are all grieving over many things, including the sense of security many thought we possessed. This is the truth of it - the only things we can control are our own reactions and attitudes to what is put before us! 

As we start to wind down in 2021 and set our mind to a better 2022, I think we should seek to live out the universal commandment to love others.  The golden rule says, to treat each other as one wants to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in almost every religion and culture. 

No matter your faith perspective, there are seven key concepts to this principle:  to be patient, kind, trusting, truthful, unselfish, forgiving, and dedicated.  In this article I would like to explore three that are most needed right now:  being patient, kind, and trusting.   

It seems in 2021, we have lost our ability to have constructive conversations with those of opposing views and opinions.  This is a troubling trend. Disagreement does not have to equal conflict. With our words, we have the power to stop the negative dialogue offline and online. Let’s return to constructive dialogue. Remember to listen more and talk less. Engage in discussions that seek the truth, always try to find common ground, and in the end, be respectful.  

COVID is just downright depressing most of the time. Be more encouraging to family, friends, and those around us. You can do this by writing notes of encouragement or saying kind words for others. In turn, this kindness will impact you as well.

Years like 2021 make it harder to trust.  It is harder to trust our government leaders, to trust the future of our society, and to trust our own judgment. If you struggle with trust or having hope in the future, try to keep a broad viewpoint. I would encourage us all to remember there have been many times in history that seemed to have little hope. And yet, the world went back to thriving again. We will too.

Put patience, kindness, and trust into action in your life. 

Best, 

Manal


Monday, August 30, 2021

When You Think of Leadership

 When you think of leadership what do you think of? Who do you think of?  


I think of a leader who can inspire a vision of the future and move others to it.  


Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. – Dwight D. Eisenhower


According to the idea of transformational leadership, an effective leader is a person who does the following:

  1. Creates an inspiring vision of the future.

  2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.

  3. Manages delivery of the vision.

  4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things. Let’s look at creating a vision for the future first. 


Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future

In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker, so that you can tell that you've achieved what you wanted to achieve.


To create a vision, leaders focus on an organization's strengths by using tools such as Porter's Five Forces, PEST Analysis, USP Analysis, Core Competence Analysis  and SWOT Analysis  to analyze their current situation. They think about how their industry is likely to evolve, and how their competitors are likely to behave. They look at how they can innovate successfully, and shape their businesses and their strategies to succeed in future marketplaces. And they test their visions with appropriate market research, and by assessing key risks using techniques.


Leadership is proactive – problem solving, looking ahead, and not being satisfied with things as they are.


Once they have developed their visions, leaders must make them compelling and convincing. A compelling vision is one that people can see, feel, understand, and embrace. Effective leaders provide a rich picture of what the future will look like when their visions have been realized. They tell inspiring stories, and explain their visions in ways that everyone can relate to. Leadership combines the analytical side of vision creation with the passion of shared values, creating something that's really meaningful to the people being led.


Best, 


Manal




Monday, August 23, 2021

Taking Care of Your Tribe's Mental Health

 


In the world we live in, leaders must care about their team with mental health too. In the past, mental health was a very taboo subject everywhere—in the home, in schools, and especially in the “professional” workplace. The common misconception was that, if someone is experiencing mental health issues, they must be unstable, or volatile, or of unsound mind. 

This has all come into extreme focus in the last year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “at the end of March and in early April, [a] nonprofit organization, Mind Share Partners, conducted a study of global employees in partnership with Qualtrics and SAP. We found that the mental health of almost 42% of respondents had declined since the outbreak began.” 

Check in with your people. Show them that you care by consistently checking up on them in meaningful ways. Try to understand their context and the struggles they might be facing. Uncover those, and offer support in those areas. Just knowing that you’re there for them can make a huge difference. 

Be honest about the situation. As a leader, it’s typically a no-no to show fear to your team, but in cases like these, it helps your team when you as a leader can be vulnerable. Be honest about the struggles you’re facing as a company, and don’t sugarcoat things. However, make sure you infuse a spirit of hope into your messages, so that you’re “shooting from the hip” doesn’t turn into being a cynical realist. 

Be honest about YOUR feelings. You’re not impervious to emotions, and you’re certainly not impervious to stress. Show your team that you’re a real person, too, who is having difficulty in facing these issues. There is solidarity in knowing that people aren’t alone in suffering. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but it helps to let your people know you’re in it together. 

Offer resources to your employees. Include in the health insurance plan options for mental healthcare providers. This also helps with the next point.

Open the dialogue. Let your people know it’s alright not to feel okay, and that there is no shame or stigma in that. Let everyone in the company know that resources are readily available to them and that they’re not alone. 

With these strategies, we can each try to be a little bit of a better, more empathetic boss, and make sure our employees are taken care of in their mental health.

Best, 


Manal


Monday, August 16, 2021

Hiring and Leading During COVID-19

 

The hiring landscape has changed for leaders. 

Let’s take a look at what is happening in the employment sector of business. 

First, jobs are rebounding fast. Second, many jobs are going unfilled as workers try to avoid jobs that might put them at risk of contracting Covid-19. Third, many Americans are moving out of areas with the highest employment needs. Leaders today must go out of their way to try to attract talent.

After the Great Recession of the previous decade, we had hiring managers who expected candidates to bend over backwards for a role. These hiring managers became less accommodating, often asked potential recruits to go through additional rounds of interviews, and generally paid less interest to how job applicants perceived their process.  Often, they “got away” with this behavior because candidates were, indeed, desperate for an opportunity.

But several factors indicate that this downturn is different. And there are warning signs that leading this way may destroy considerable value for their firms.

The Covid job market is not like 2008, nor really like anything anyone has observed or seen since the birth of modern capitalism.

In classical business cycles, the number of openings decrease and the number of applicants increase, or vice versa. But this crisis is one of disequilibrium and structural change. Some industries and firms are devastated while others thrive, are unaffected, or have been able to rebound exceptionally quickly. The job market is experiencing something resembling an accelerated rate of a high rate of jobs disappearing and reappearing at the same time, mixed with an unusual economic downturn.

So leaders today must look at hiring and leading their teams in new ways. I would suggest they take the time to understand how much the right talent is worth. Calibrate this with how Covid is impacting talent availability for critical roles you are trying to fill. Go back to making candidates feel valuable.

Once you have your team, be the leader that also retains them. 

Best, 

Manal


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Delegation and Empowerment

 The servant leaders I know have mastered the art of empowerment.



So how do you empower a team, not just delegate tasks to them?  In my experience, I learned the leader should delegate with these six behaviors:

  1. Offer Guidance - Give your teammates the training necessary; cast the vision and educate them on the purpose of the assignment. Understanding the context of their work will enable them to innovate and find alternate solutions to problems themselves. It's also likely you'll need to provide some course correction along the way.

  2. Provide Resources - Don't assume your team has the knowledge and access to get what they need. Your perspective, and perhaps position, may allow you to see more of the landscape; anticipate potential needs and acquire what's needed.

  3. Lay out the Timeline - Establish a deadline and milestones along the way for which the team will be accountable to you, with the understanding that ultimate accountability for success remains with you.

  4. Mitigate Barriers - Your team will encounter problems along the way. Issues with organizational processes; conflicts with other interests and internal friction are just a few of the realities your team may need you to address.

  5. Demonstrate Confidence - If you believe in your folks, they'll believe in themselves. Your team will also be keenly aware of how you feel about the value of the initiative and whether you are confident about success.

  6. Acknowledge and Support Efforts - Keep pace with your team's progress with appropriate recognition and reward along the way. Genuine and specific acknowledgement of milestone achievements will encourage more of them.

Without these six actions, any intended empowerment is really just delegation.

Once you've got empowerment down, you're striding easier down that now not-so-rocky path; you've got a handle on secure, self-confident leadership and you're turning the corner toward the golden milestone of true servant leadership.

Best, 

Manal



Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Diversity - Why is it critical to your organization?
















Promoting diversity is the first step to not just “tolerance” but true inclusion and acceptance. Through growing contact with, exposure to, and communication between people who are not like us, we can learn how to relate to difference in a way where difference doesn’t have to be a problem, a barrier, or a threat. And accidentally, we might also see that the people we assumed to be so different to us may actually have a lot more in common than they thought. Increasing familiarity with these differences (and commonalities) can shape and shift our perspectives, cultivate an acceptance that facilitates belonging, and diminish the misconceptions and prejudices that fuel discrimination.


If you experience diversity in your everyday life, you will have regular exposure to people, cultures, traditions, and practices that are unlike your own. Hopefully you will learn the skills to communicate and interact with communities, concepts, and belief systems that you are unfamiliar with and therefore gain a more worldly, balanced, and informed perspective. Not only will you enhance your own social development, but you will also increase your true understanding of the world. This will prepare you to be a part of a global society, whether you are traveling to a new country, working with people from diverse backgrounds, or just reading about events in the news that heavily impacts a population different than your own.


Hearing about another’s experience can shed light on a life different from your own and provide you a new perspective. When you contrast your struggles, needs, and values with someone else’s, you can really begin to comprehend where an individual is coming from and empathetically understand their attitudes, behaviours, and beliefs at a deeper level (through which you can more deeply understand your own). Perhaps talking to someone new will change your mind or challenge your values which on a subconscious level can seem scary for our brains, or the pay off for flexible thinking is a life where we get to see through many different lenses and experience the kaleidoscope that diversity of perspective has to offer.


To take your workplace and life to a whole new level, having diversity be a part of your plan will help you see things in a different way. 


Celebrate diversity! It helps you grow. 


Best, 


Manal


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Employee Engagement - Part II

 

As a leader it’s tempting to believe one or more of the following half-truths. Each of these half-truths relies on the assumption that the people you lead know your intentions. And in the busy life of a leader that is a very tempting assumption. Unfortunately, they are half-truths – so you might have great intentions – your people will judge you by your actions and your engagement with them! 

Last week we talked about the first five half-truths, here are the rest:

Half Truth #6: My people understand that I give feedback when I can.

As a leader, you may feel like you’re too busy to give feedback. However, feedback is an important tool in demonstrating that you value your people. Leaders can increase engagement in the workplace by thinking of feedback as the norm, not the exception.

Half Truth #7: My people understand that I give coaching when I can.

Coaching your people is an invaluable experience for both yourself and them. However, it can be challenging for leaders to find the time to conduct formal coaching sessions. Instead of allowing coaching to fall by the wayside, it’s important to take advantage of real-time opportunities to coach.

Half Truth #8: My people understand that I make the decisions.

Your people will always expect you to make the final call on any decision. Even so, encouraging members of your team to step up and brainstorm winning ideas means that they will be more fully engaged in working towards the ultimate decision.

Half Truth #9: My people know they can trust me.

One of your most important goals as a leader is to consistently and intentionally increase trust between yourself and your team. Trust is hard to build but easy to break, which means that you can never assume you’re done working towards trust.

Half Truth #10: My people know that I’m here to help them.

From the perspective of your team, there’s a difference between knowing you exist as a resource and watching you actively look for ways to help. That might mean setting your people up for success with clients or putting in a good word when somebody’s up for promotion.

By letting go of these half-truths and instead focusing on intentional communication, leaders can tune in fully to their teams and promote high-level engagement.

Best, 


Manal



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Employee Engagement - Part I

 As a leader it’s tempting to believe one or more of the following half-truths. Each of these half-truths relies on the assumption that the people you lead know your intentions. And in the busy life of a leader that is a very tempting assumption.



Unfortunately, they are half-truths – so you might have great intentions – your people will judge you by your actions and your engagement with them! 

Here are the first five: 

Half Truth #1: My people understand that I have a very demanding job.

From your own perspective, it may be clear that sometimes, you are too busy to spend time with your team. However, your workload might not be immediately clear to your team, and if they’re looking for more of you than they’re seeing, your team might feel undervalued.

Half Truth #2: My people know that I need them.

Team members who feel valued are more likely to stay with your company, but it can be hard for leaders to meaningfully demonstrate their importance. One way you can accomplish this is by practicing active listening by putting away your phone or laptop and making a point to be fully present.

Half Truth #3: My people know that I care about them.

The way you demonstrate care to your people may not necessarily be the way they understand care. Demonstrating care in a way that’s meaningful to each specific member of your team is a valuable skill to hone, whether that means giving constructive feedback or asking questions about weekend plans.

Half Truth #4: My people know that I appreciate their need to be autonomous. 

As a leader, it can be challenging to delegate tasks and risk a result that falls below expectations. That might mean you’re giving your team less freedom than you think. To mitigate that issue, it can be helpful to bring focused instruction to each task before granting autonomy.

Half Truth #5: My people are clear on my expectations that I have for them.

Consistently expressing your expectations promotes a higher level of engagement within your team, no matter how well your people already understand those standards. What’s more, this type of dialogue nurtures accountability, allowing you to grant your team greater autonomy.

Our goal is to help you be the best leader you can be.

Best, 


Manal


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Visionary Leadership

 


News about Virgin Galactic's successful space flight is everywhere - in the news, in newspapers, and soon to be in magazines as a history changing event. 


This British millionaire, Richard Branson,  first took tourists to the sky back in 1984 flying aboard a US jumbo jet repainted with the logo of his upstart company Virgin Atlantic airlines. He called that the dawn of a new space age, aiming to send tourists there too. 


On July 11, Virgin Galactic made a giant leap toward commercial suborbital spaceflight. The company launched its first fully crewed flight of its SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity with a special passenger on board: the company's billionaire founder Richard Branson.


Branson says, “I have dreamt of this since I was a kid, and honestly, nothing could prepare you for the view of earth from space.”


Richard had been dreaming and envisioning this moment since he was a kid. He started his company as a private space tourism company that aims to fly well-paying tourists to space — as soon as next year.


Not only did he create a vision and make it come true but there were 60 civilians at the launch that have been chosen to go on his first tourism flight to outer space. Without a vision that was executed and communicated well, there would not be followers who believe in the vision too. 


So whether you have a dream in your heart, you are running a company or you are trying to figure out how to inspire those you lead - take note of Branson’s example.


Some of the leadership lessons we can learn from Sir Richard Branson are those of having a passion and pursuing it, not quitting when obstacles stood in his way and enroll others into the vision of the end goal and there will be a line of people waiting to jump on board.


I am excited to hear what vision you are envisioning.


Best, 


Manal



Tuesday, July 6, 2021

How to be more Empathetic

 

Empathy, or our ability to understand each other’s feelings and perspectives and show compassion toward them, is one of the building blocks of healthy relationships.

When we are able to stand in another person’s shoes and see life from their point of view - a situation, a belief, a struggle - we are then better equipped to connect, without reactivity, on a human level.

It is, in a way, a sign of generosity; not in the material sense, but rather it’s a spirit of generosity. By leaning into this generosity and learning how to be more empathetic, we cultivate an attitude of openness, and we train our minds to be less judgmental. No wonder empathy can positively impact our relationships, with ourselves and others.

As Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, puts it: “Empathy does not require that we have been through the same thing as another person, simply that we meet them where they are now.”

Empathy may seem like an all-or-nothing emotion; in a way, that is true. Being able to recognize and relate to the feelings of others does not come in degrees. Like any skill, it is there, or not. But the good news is that empathy is a quality that can be nurtured and learned. Discovering how to become more empathetic is a life skill with benefits extending across all areas of life. Once you master how to have more empathy, you are better able to connect with and understand partners, loved ones, colleagues, and even strangers. 

 

Existing in the world can come with a bit of sensory overload. A lot is going on out there, and it’s no wonder that we become preoccupied with our mind’s chatter. So often, our thoughts and emotions take over, leaving little space for those around us to feel seen or heard. And when we do migrate toward social interaction, we tend to stick to our birds of a feather.

All these behaviors can lead to an empathy deficit — where we’re only exposed to those similar to us — and being able to show compassion for people and perspectives that are different than ours becomes difficult, if not impossible. It can all seem a bit frustrating and disheartening. 

 

Empathy has multiple components: the cognitive, where you understand the person’s thoughts or feelings; the emotional, where you can share these feelings; and the compassionate, where you go beyond sharing concern and actively try to reduce someone’s pain.

If you’re in the process of learning how to be more empathetic in a relationship or everyday life, the main thing to do is give your interactions a makeover: Talk to new people from different backgrounds and walks of life. Actively listen to those around you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable in relationships. Focus on the interests and needs of others. Try not to make assumptions about those around you. 

 

You’ll have stronger relationships, be happier, have higher emotional intelligence, and do better at work.

 

Best, 


 

Manal



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What Happens When You Can’t Be Present?



As a leader, you can not be physically present all the time. Sometimes you have to be elsewhere or you want to take time off. It is important to take the steps to prepare for a leadership absence. 


In order to avoid unmet expectations, it is important to outline availability.  If not you, you can outline who they can talk to in your absence. 


Every great leader knows they are only as good as their team. This is a great time to share responsibility with your team. This lets you know that you trust them. Learning to let go and trust in your team is key to being able to run your business. This is a great opportunity to document your process and make sure they are up to date. 


This does a few things, it grows trust and you can build a leadership team. Leaders who develop a leadership team are adding value in three ways. They are sustaining their effectiveness, for the team will continue advancing shared goals despite their absence. They are diversifying their strengths by tapping diverse perspectives and experiences, and they are scaling their impact by developing leaders and achieving more with and through others than they could achieve alone.


Effective leaders empower others to make decisions. Otherwise, power is centralized and scaling your leadership is impossible. To empower others, help them understand how you make decisions. Is there a framework you use? What values drive your consideration? Teach them what you do. 


Letting go of perfectionism will help you and your team grow faster. Effective leaders empower others to make decisions. Otherwise, power is centralized and scaling your leadership is impossible. To empower others, help them understand how you make decisions. Is there a framework you use? What values drive your consideration?


Be absent in your absence. When you are not really gone, the team can not step in and do their best. Trust them to do a good job. This will allow you to be physically present where you are at.


Enjoy your time away.


Best,


Manal


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Communicating Effectively is the Job of a Leader


Leaders set the pace and the standard for how everyone else should communicate. 


In studying human communication and how genders communicate, there is a wide variety of things to consider. For example, you have heard people say that men/women communicate differently. And you have certainly experienced those literal communicators and those indirect communicators.


Direct communication happens when a speaker's true intentions are communicated in his/her verbal message. It expresses the speaker's/sender's needs and desires explicitly. Indirect communication happens when a speaker's true intentions are hidden.


When you mix up gender and communication types, there can be a lot of miscommunication between parties. Then when you mix in generational factors, communication can get just downright messy. 


As a leader, having good communication skills is all about being able to convey information to people clearly and simply, in a way that means things are understood and get done. It's about transmitting and receiving messages clearly, and being able to read your audience.


Good communication skills are essential to allow others and yourself to understand information more accurately and quickly. In contrast, poor communication skills lead to frequent misunderstanding and frustration.


A leader must master the ability to understand and manage  emotions so as to communicate effectively, avoid stress, overcome challenges and empathize with others.


Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh I said the wrong thing?”. That happens to us all. Good communication is much more than saying the right thing; it is about communicating messages clearly and concisely.


The right words aren’t alway the magic to solid communication. You can say the right thing but in the wrong tone and everything can go haywire. In any type of communication, make sure that you set the right tone. A friendly tone will always encourage others to communicate with you.


Good communication takes practice. This is why it is important to be around others and master the skill.


Your followers, customers, clients and tribe (along with your friends and family) will appreciate your effort towards mastery. 


Best, 


Manal