Category Archives: Leadership

The seven steps to leadership

I like this infographic from Michigan State university about the habits of successful leaders. Some so-called leaders I’ve met in the past have not even mastered step two, let alone progressed past there. Having Integrity and being able to walk the talk are, in my mind, some of the greatest qualities to inspire staff and gain respect.

Step five is important too – A great work ethic leads to great work results. It is all about being innovated, effective, adaptive and challenging.

There are certainly some leaders that have all of these qualities  — but many many more that fail to make the grade. What do you think?

Habits of Successful Leaders


Eileen is a social business and social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Avoiding team meeting malaise

Have you ever sat around in a team meeting, trying to brainstorm and wondering why things just aren’t going very well?  Well it could be one of several factors contributing to the poor dynamics of the group. It could be the way that the group works together and how each of the individuals in the group produces their best work.


The New York Times reckons that creativity comes from groupthink and that introverts that prefer to work alone are main catalysts for innovation.  But how do you mix the two?

If being on our own makes us more productive, then how can we encourage creativity in teams.  Many meetings are wasted with large teams, together in a room trying to think creatively.

Some folks work better alone, some work better with others.  Often the loudest voice does not have the best ideas. Sometimes the failure could be down to the meeting, other fails might be down to the dynamics of the meeting. 

So how do you get the best out of meetings, and the personalities in the team?

No Goals. Without a goal, the ideas won’t start to flow.  Attendees won’t know what they are trying to achieve by the brainstorm.

Poor preparation. Giving attendees time to think about what the meeting will be about and how you want to progress the meeting giving them time to come up with something on their own that they can add to the mix.  A coffee break before the brainstorming session usually works wonders.

Game the brainstorming session. Turn the brainstorm into a competition with a token gift for the team member that produces the most number of unique  and workable ideas. giving teams a challenge usually adds an extra dynamic into the game.

Split the whole team into smaller sub groups. The brainstorming as a whole will be more productive than everyone sitting round in a large group looking for ideas.  Generate several lists from each sub group and discuss the results, choosing the best sub group idea back with the main group.

Stay uncomfortable. If people get too comfortable with each other they will relax and devolve attention and responsibility onto others. Shake up your group think by changing your sub groups round regularly.

It is possible for Intraverts to thrive in extravert environments but more important to give your teams the tools they need to do their best work.  If they are introverts, then leave them to brainstorm alone, others can work as a group.  Forcing introverts to work with others will stifle their creativity not enhance it.

Letting your team work in they way that each individual needs to work will avoid the team meeting malaise and energise the group as a whole..

Credit: JD Hancock

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Is your leader fake–or authentic?


There are a lot of managers who just ‘talk the talk’, pretending to be authentic, pretending to be a good leader. 

You suspect that they are frauds – but you can’t quite put your finger on exactly what it is that makes you uneasy.

The Eblin group have hit the nail on the head here with this post about authentic leaders and how to spot the fake.  Just like spotting the social media snake oil salesman, there are several tell tale signs that show who is the real deal…

Clichés:  Buzz words are used in every office.  Paradigm Shift, Outside the box, Heads Up, leverage, Pushing the Envelope.  There are hundreds and hundreds of buzz words and clichés.  The intelligent leader doesn’t need to use these buzz words, but explains himself clearly and succinctly

Transparency:  Does your leader share his/her vision?  Do you exist in a ‘need to know workplace or do you feel an integral part of the company?  Obviously certain things do need to be kept quiet – such as financial information in advance of public listing etc. – but leaders that are open, honest and transparent get more loyalty than leaders who keep everything to themselves and expect everyone to follow blindly

Honesty:  If things are bad, say so. If things are good, share the information.  Workers will appreciate your candour and will work together to help where they can.

Authority: Do other leader respect your leader?  Are they a respected member of the community or are they talked about in a negative way.  If you hear less than complimentary comments about your leader, then they might not be leading lights in the business community.

If your leader is not all that you expected, and you no longer have faith in their leadership then there are a couple of things you can do.

If your organisation has an anonymous poll once per year then you can give your feedback on the poll feedback.

You might be brave enough to talk to your manager and express your concerns about the leadership of your company..

Or you could move onwards to another company that values your contribution, where the leader is the right sort of leader for you…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.



Social leadership: Why the CEO needs to step up and start communicating socially

imageA lot of companies are opening their doors to social channels and realising the benefits of being a social company.  And the change is often driven from the ground up as more and more workers use social tools to share information more readily.  There are a few leaders to ‘get’ social and embrace it as part of their communications strategy.

Michael Dell and Richard Branson spring to mind (Richard also blogs regularly).  Both CEOs share their business ideas and personal musings with their followers.  Their daily activities give readers a glimpse into their business, their goals and their activities, their connections and their interactions.  This transparent approach builds trust with their customers which builds customer loyalty.

But unfortunately, CEO’s and leaders of large businesses such as Virgin and Dell are in the minority.  Most leaders leave social communications to the marketing and communications teams, their PR and customer support channels.

Its really important that leaders show commitment to this new way of networking.  96% of Generation Y have joined a social network.

That’s 96% of your Graduate intake, 96% of your interns

96% of your high potential employees, your potential fast track next generation leaders

96% of the next generation of CEOs who already use social tools extensively

So that’s 96% of the next generation of leaders who will change the way that the business communicates with its customers.  But waiting for Generation Y to take the reins of some businesses, might be too late for the organisation.  Company leaders need to become more social to move with the pace of communications change.  They need to know what their customers are saying about them, and they need to respond using the same channels.  They need to be there online and they need to be listening.

Embracing the see change and becoming a social business shows leadership and vision.  Leaders can benefit in several ways:

    1. Enhanced connection to customers, openness and honesty with communication and transparency.
    2. Market insight and research from your customers
    3. Get the right talent by recruiting across the channels
    4. Show potential employees that you use innovation throughout the business
    5. Showcase your product news, company news and update your channels

Using the social channels can get your business more exposure, increase awareness of the brand and improve perception.   Unfortunately whilst CEO’s are convinced that social media = Facebook = flippant communications and privacy issues, they will be are resistant to moving towards enterprise channels of communication such as blogs and video.

It seems like at the moment, we’ve still got a lot of work to do..

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


Image credit: Flickr

A Type personalities: Embracing diverse leadership styles

Its really difficult not to get angry at work if you’re an ‘A’ type personality.  The problem arises when ‘A’ type personalities assume that their behaviour is a good form of leadership.  ‘A’ type and ‘B’ Types are totally different to each other.  According to Wikipedia:

imageType A individual as ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, preoccupied with his or her status, time-conscious, and tightly-wound. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.

Type B individuals as perfect contrast to those with Type A personalities. People with Type B personalities are generally patient, relaxed, easy-going, and at times lacking an overriding sense of urgency. Because of these characteristics, Type B individuals are often described as apathetic and disengaged by individuals with Type A or other personality types

Often Type A’s can get confused and use their behaviour as one of the 6 leadership styles described by Daniel Goleman in his book ‘Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence’

This is the dominant ‘macho’ leadership style. It is appropriate in emergencies and severe situations, but otherwise will tend to disempower and disillusion subordinates.

Good for use when being really directional with junior managers.  Bad for motivation

This style focuses on the goal or vision of the future and inspires others to follow. This is appropriate when a new direction is required or a clarification of the goals to be achieved.

Good for getting the team or organisation back on track.  Bad for junior managers to use with experienced teams

Here there is a focus on people, teambuilding, bonding and forging alliances. This style is useful in creating teams or for healing dysfunctional relationships.

Good for building team morale and promoting collaboration.  Bad for disciplinary situations

This is a useful style to adopt when attempting to involve a wide range of people in decision making or building a consensus.

Good for creativity and flexibility. Bad for giving direction and structured leadership

Using this style, the leader sets an example by working to extremely high standards of performance. This is useful to raise the stakes when a competent and motivated team is working well.

Good for self motivated employees.  Bad for workers who see the role as ‘just a job’

This style focuses on helping to improve people’s strengths, and is especially useful in building skills to develop managers and future leaders.

Good for people focused on self development.  Bad for workers resistant to change.

None of these leadership styles are the ‘right style’, nor are they a function of the ‘A’ or ‘B’ type personality.  These styles can be adopted and used in different situations – although the styles that your leader will choose often depends on their underlying type personality.

When you have an ‘A’ type personality managing a team and operating in the Coercive, Authoritative or Pacesetting leadership styles, conflict can often arise.  A types can by hypercritical of other leadership styles that involve different types of personalities .

They want to take over and do the task / project / job themselves.

When working in teams with B type personalities, they become frustrated, critical and often start political factions to divide and disrupt team working.  They can team up with other A types to criticise B types on the team.

When this happens you need to move into Affiliative and coaching modes, supporting the B types and coaching the A types to recognise that leaders are not always A types and helping them to understand the differences between A types and B types and how best to work together in a diverse team. 

Its not an easy path to follow, working with people who work completely differently to you but as a manager or a leader, you will get significantly better results if you embrace the diversity of thought and styles in your team and use it to your best advantage

Poor leaders hire only in their own image.  And this clone like behaviour can ultimately destroy an organisation…

Worth bearing in mind next time you get frustrated with your colleagues isn’t it?…

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr


WEConnect Europe Advocacy award

Sometimes recognition matters much more than money.

How often have you wished that your manager, or team leader would praise you for a job well done, a task well executed, or a project saved due to your quick thinking actions?  it doesn’t have to be a cheque, or a pay rise either.  Sometimes, an email to the team – or a poster on the wall would be all you need to make you feel that you’ve done a great job.

I’m no exception of course – only running my own business means that I have to get praise and rewarded from the clients I work with and the associations I’m in.

eileenb WEConnect AdvocacyIMG_1611

One of these is WEConnect.  WEConnect connects women owned businesses to corporates.  WEConnect is part of an international organisation promoting supplier diversity.  I attended the WBENC Women in business conference in Las Vegas this year and was wowed by the WBENC event itself.  I’m always promoting the advantages of the strong network in the corporate world where finding the correct person to do business with is often a nightmare. 

So I’m utterly delighted to win the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Advocacy award for 2011.  Its great to be recognised for the work I’ve done so far to get more members to sign up to become WBE’s

And yes – this does mean more than a financial incentive would from WEConnect.  I already benefit from the connection and the extra business connections I’ve made.  So all I need to do is to turn these valuable connections into purchase orders and invoices and complete the connection..

Still smiling.. Smile


Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Being ‘nice’ limits your earnings potential

If you’re nice you earn less money.

I noticed a couple of stories the other week about how nice folks suffer on the career ladder.  That Jerk really does make more than you and Mean people earn higher salaries  pointed to some sobering news.   Research carried out over 20 years and using a sample of over 10,000 workers seems to prove that this is the case.  Its depressing news – especially when women’s groups are fighting to reduce the gender pay gap, niceness is still a limiting factor.

Anti-competitiveness – a trait often found in women in the workplace doesn’t translate into income and earnings. Collaboration is not a good idea if you want to succeed in your goals

Look around your office.  Look at all the collaboration going on.  Then look at the people in the office that are tipped for the top.



Do these people collaborate well in teams?  Or are they individuals that prefer to work alone?  Are they successful?  Are they driven?  Are they potential leaders?

The study titled “Do Nice Guys – and Gals – Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income” certainly indicates that agreeable people do tend to earn less than their more aggressive counterparts.

Being nice seems to have its downside – and nice women come in last of all  in the survey.  But being nice doesn’t seem to reap any benefits.  It’s certainly an interesting study if you’re concerned about gender pay and unconscious bias.  Some of the findings of the survey jumped out at me:

Agreeable individuals place greater value on their interpersonal relationships

People who are low in agreeableness may be perceived as more competent by virtue of their lack of warmth

Women are sorted into lower-earning, less prestigious occupations

Voice behaviours may, … attract rewards, particularly when they are directed toward persuading others of the value of one’s ideas.

It is possible that agreeableness disproportionately affects men’s earnings because agreeable men (as opposed to disagreeable men) are less likely to pursue prestigious work.

Less nice (aggressive?) women earn more than nice women but even the aggressive women earn less than the nice men (who earn less than the less nice men)

Agreeable individuals, being more motivated to “get along” than “get ahead,” may choose to work in lower-status, more service-oriented occupations.

Do you  know anyone with the “6 facets of agreeableness. trust, straightforwardness, altruism, compliance, modesty, and tender-mindedness?”  Do you fall into any of these categories?   Low levels of agreeableness may not be psychopaths – they may just have less of the qualities above.  And if you look around the organisation, I’m sure you’ll find these traits in most of us.

Working in teams – and collaborating well also limits our path to the top – a path we need to forge alone.  This is such a shame for our collaboration efforts across teams, but being collaborative doesn’t seem to help our careers where “Disagreeable behaviours, particularly in settings where competitiveness and aggressiveness are valued, seem to signal ability and promise.” – Does this remind you of the place where you work?


It certainly validates the statistic about Why would you leave your job. People who leave their jobs because of their bosses.  Leading respectfully has it’s benefits. And being nice should be a prerequisite for a leader – not the other way around…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: Flickr