Tag Archives: Team Leadership

Three Steps to Resolve Conflict as a Leader

Today we have a guest post from Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving and movie related topics.

I believe her very sensible advice will be useful to all leaders and managers.

Three  Steps to Resolve Conflict as a Leader

As a leader, not only will you have to make sure that everyone stays on task and that all business matters are taken care of, but if there is conflict between two subordinates, know that one (or both) people are going to come to you asking for help to resolve the issue. If/when this occurs, you need to know how to approach and deal with this delicate matter the correct way. Below are a few tips that can help you get the ball rolling.

1. First, Meet with Each Party Individually

It’s important that you hear each side of the story before coming to  any conclusions. Get all the facts. You want to know what/who caused the problem. Ask each employee if they have any documented evidence or dates of when the incident(s) occurred. Take the time to piece the story together while also taking note of how each story differs from the other. While speaking with each individual, you want to make sure that you maintain a cordial and objective tone. You don’t want someone thinking that you favor one story over the other but you don’t want them thinking you’re against them either. Do your best to keep your tone neutral. The key here is to listen.

2. Meet with both parties together

After you have a better grasp of what’s going on and you’ve drawn your own conclusions about what the root of the problem really is (and come up with a possible solution), it’s time to meet with both parties at the same time. While still trying to maintain a cordial and unbiased/objective tone, reiterate to them what you think the real issue is according to your own understanding. Ask them if it’s correct. At this time give your employees a chance to state their version briefly if they feel the need to change some details. Listen to what each person has to say, but make sure to pay attention to body language as well. Let each person propose their own solutions but show that you expect them to reach agreement. If the conflict still can’t be resolved, suggest your own approach. Then ask the both parties which solution they’d prefer. Whatever you do, make sure that none of you leave without some sort of resolution.

3. Document Everything

Lastly, you want to make sure that you have a record of the finalized resolution to the conflict. Type out the agreement! Have both parties sign it and make them copies for their own records. Make sure that you give the original copy to the Human Resources Department so that if the same issue occurs again, you’ll have a record of what was agreed. Whoever is in breach of the agreement at a later date may have to suffer some serious career consequences!

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @gmail.com. 

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A Winning Team Makes S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Today we have a guest post from the University of Notre Dame, in partnership with University Alliance. The University of Notre Dame offers higher education opportunities through a variety of online executive certificates, including leadership and management, and negotiations. You can find out more about the courses they offer at this link http://www.notredameonline.com/

A Winning Team Makes S.M.A.R.T. Goals

When applying S.M.A.R.T goals – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound – to project management and organizational team building, leaders should take a deeper look at the application of motivation in the creation of effective work groups. Similar to an established sports team that plays as a cohesive unit achieving goals as a group – that is simply unattainable alone – a strong leader can use motivation to propel the momentum of team goals forward. Keep these tips in mind when building a team of excellence:

1. Motivation is a planned activity

Just as a well orchestrated series of athletic exercises builds the stamina and cohesion of a sports team, a thoughtful goal-setting program sets the pace for individuals and work groups. Each individual should identify clear goals that are precisely aligned to his or her work description. From there, managers take on the role of coach and mentor by providing ongoing feedback. It is important to understand if, and when, “time outs” to make goal adjustment are necessary. Motivation is an ongoing person-to-person activity. On an individual level, the specific needs of an employee should be satisfied, while maintaining focus on the team’s overall objectives.

2. Motivation requires versatility

Any certified and seasoned business process manager can vouch that excellent communication skills are vital for long term success. Effective leaders understand the nuances of each team member’s role and skill set, and how those skills and perspectives fit into the larger picture. Goal-setting, monitoring, and evaluation should reflect ongoing motivation that is specific and relevant to an individual’s position within the company. Every person in the organization needs to feel that his or her contribution is important and valued. Keeping track of progress in the form of reports can help others on the team and in the company celebrate achievements. This also highlights problem areas that require redirection or strategy improvement.

3. Motivation builds collective success, not necessarily a finite “Win”

Effective motivation within the S.M.A.R.T. goals framework recognizes that achieving benchmarks such as increased efficiency, profitability, and marketability is about the process, not the final destination. All effective goals dovetail into more extensive ambitions that involve sustained stamina and a dedication to the values-driven commitment of every level of contribution. Some goals will be tailored, traded for other goals, and some will be so long-reaching that exceptional ongoing motivation is vital to ensure forward momentum. An effective leader needs to understand and apply a versatile skill set when coordinating with other leaders and when energizing employees. When goals cannot be achieved, the learning process involved can be just as significant as the initial goal. “SMART” leaders make the most of teachable moments.

4. Coaches need motivation too

Seasoned team leaders will tell you that one of the secrets to professional longevity is taking time to feed yourself professionally. Every great coach takes time out to recharge. You will be more effective over the long haul if you schedule time to regularly do what you need to do to replenish your motivational reserves. Your team demands your time, energy, and attention. You owe it to yourself and your team to plan – schedule time in a way that is conducive to longevity. Staggered reviews, budgeted down time, and invigorating networking events are all notable ways to sustain motivational skills.

In combination with implementing specific goals that are attainable and are easily tracked, motivating employees requires skill, versatility, and stamina. While your daily coaching life may not be as exciting as traveling the circuit with a professional sports team, carefully examining the many facets of motivation when applying S.M.A.R.T. goals to your team is imperative. Motivation skills that are up to par ensure that your team finds its own special brand of excellence and plays the game with pride, dedication, and commitment for many years to come.

The University of Notre Dame, in partnership with University Alliance, has provided this article. The University of Notre Dame offers higher education opportunities through a variety of online executive certificates, including leadership and management, and negotiations. To find out additional information about the courses offered please visit http://www.notredameonline.com/

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Great group – sad about the leader – mood contagion.

A Mantled Guereza, close-up, looking sad

Mood contagion is the automatic and unconscious transfer of mood between individuals.

It occurs because we tend to mimic others’ nonverbal behaviour.

Research has shown that intense moods are more likely to be transferred.  Joy or distress are more likely to be passed on than calmness or boredom.

Although mood contagion can transfer between any two or more people, leaders probably have an even greater impact on their group mood.  This is because of their importance to the organization.

If you, as a leader, can’t regulate your emotions,  members of your group might often experience stress and anxiety.  This is both in trying to cope with you as the leader and in dealing with the tasks at hand.

Leaders in a bad mood don’t need to be abusive or hostile!  Their mood needs only to be negative. Research shows that even subtle expressions of negative mood can have an impact on followers.

This raises all kinds of issues in the present economic downturn!  This is a time when we all feel miserable sometimes.  But you as a leader have to work to manage down the impact of your own feelings.

Think about those leaders who handle a crisis well. Do they manage their mood and communicate clearly while creating a safe environment for their employees? Or do they just let it all hang out and then deal with the casualties?  Who would you rather deal with and what kind of leader do you want to be?

Remember when you feel down you need to

  • Recognize that your mood will an impact on your group
  • Work to reduce that negative impact
  • Intentionally change your mood – there is a technique at this link that you can learn for this.

I would welcome your thoughts on all of this and your tips for handling your own feelings.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

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Leading Change – Announcing your change!

Transactional Model of Communication

For a significant organizational change, you should develop a communications plan.

It should cover;

  • What you wish to accomplish in communicating the change,
  • Your audience – how they are feeling, what they are expecting and how are they likely to react through the process,
  • Your key messages, strategy and tactics,
  • When you are going to communicate – your activity schedule,
  • How you will measure the results – how will you know that your message is getting across!

You can find guidance on preparing your plan at this link.

Prepare well for the announcement.  Be aware of your own feelings about the change. If you feel anxious take a little time out beforehand to relax – there is a simple breathing technique to help you at this link.

When you can, help your staff prepare for bad news.  But combine all of this with being scrupulously fair.  They will know if you play the favourites game or take the opportunity to pay off old scores when you are laying people off or reducing hours.  You will lose good will and that special contribution you need from those who stay.

In making your announcement, be as honest as you can and above all be fair.

Tell them the real position if you can, but also tell them what you are doing about it.  Tell them why the change is happening and what has led up to this point. Be as honest as you can about the risks but don’t threaten your organization with your honesty – it’s a fine judgment call.  Be careful of your language, don’t mislead them but limit your use of negative and emotive words.

You may not have all the answers at the beginning of the change.  Be honest about the gaps but be very clear about how you will go about filling them

Make sure they understand that you will keep them informed.

If they have a role, explain that role to them.  Involve them as much as you can in the change. How can they contribute?

Show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before!  Challenge them to achieve something remarkable but don’t be unrealistic!

Make sure they leave the room knowing how they can ask questions after the event.

If you have a management team forearm them with as much briefing material as you can and make sure there is access to you for further information

Above all show how you are going to lead and support them through this change.  You are all in it together!

I would welcome your thoughts and hearing about your experiences.  I am very happy to answer your questions and advise you if I can.

  • Leading Change – bad advice and frightening people! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – knowing what a sense of urgency really means!(wisewolftalking.com)
  • LeaderBrief Q&A: Core Leadership Skills (linked2leadership.com)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)786768143

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Can you lead a horse to water?

Natural Horsemanship Demo

I came across a website offering a leadership seminar based on horse whispering.  That looked interesting to me – I like horses.

I gather horse whispering is more about listening than whispering.

The professional horse men and women who practice this skill understand how to read the body language of horses and have usually spent many years studying the psychology of the horse.  I gather nervous horses learn that it is often a wise move to stand still near a ‘safe person’, than attempt to run away from a dreaded situation.  It is all about winning trust!

To gain a horse’s confidence you need to learn when to be still and quiet and just leave things to the horse. They sense the underlying state of mind of a person, so it is impossible to bluff a horse.

Yes, I can recognise this and how horse whispering could teach us something as leaders!

Leadership isn’t about shouting the message to get your vision across.  Yes, you do need to communicate it frequently and clearly.  But it is as much about listening to the responses you get back from your people, as telling them;

  • What signs do you have that the vision in your head matches the one in theirs?
  • Have you listened to their reservations?
  • Have you got answers to the questions they ask?
  • What can you learn from your most valued asset, your own team?
  • What is their body language telling you.
  • Yes, they are telling you they are enthusiastic but does the body language match the words?

As for the nervous horses, well, when faced with significant change we all get nervous!

Horses are prepared stand near a safe person they trust when they are nervous.  Do your team have enough trust to stand with you as you go through your major change?

I hope you don’t try bluffing your people; you won’t get away with it! Don’t even try it!  If horses can understand your underlying state of mind, so can your team.  Times of change are times for authenticity and honesty, otherwise your most precious horses might bolt and you certainly will not be first past your own particular winning post!

So if anyone has been to a leadership seminar based on horse whispering, I’d love to hear from them.  Does anyone know of other courses based on our relationship with animals?  I’m interested in all, but wolves would be a particular favourite of course!


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

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Leaders on the front line – taking criticism

NYC - Brooklyn Museum - Napoleon Leading the A...

As a leader you stand out from the crowd and, guess what, none of us are perfect.

When you are under the spotlight – even when the light is being shone by your own relatively small group – sometimes, you will receive criticism!

Some of it will be fair and some not.

If you learn to deal with it positively you will soon be able to stand back, see what is valid, and ignore the rest.

You will be able to use it to your advantage and that of your group!

There are characteristics that make us better and worse at dealing with criticism.

  • Mental Attitude  – Positive people don’t let criticism take a grip. Instead they look on the bright side, try to learn from it and then move on. When you are feeling negative, you can feel it deeply and begin to obsess about it. It can erode your morale and that of your group, so stay positive.
  • Courage – As Winston Churchill said “It takes courage to sit down and listen”. It will disarm your critics if you listen to them attentively and with openness. In those circumstances they are much more likely to give you a balanced view that could provide valuable feedback.
  • Hierarchy - Be prepared to listen and learn from criticism from any part of your organization and from customers and suppliers. It sometimes helps to regard it as free consultancy! You’ll be amazed how much respect you can gain from quite junior members of your team if you are prepared to listen and respond positively to their ideas including their criticisms. Disappointed customers respond well to being given a hearing and an apology for an honest mistake.
  • Emotional Intelligence – Being able to relate with positive emotion to your team is a key ingredient in inspiring them to success. That includes being able to recognise and acknowledge their emotions even when they are mad with you. Recognize it for what it is; empathise with it. Answer it positively and then move on. Have the grace to say sorry if, as a result of your action, someone on your team has found their work more difficult!

As for me, I have always been pretty thin skinned and found criticism quite challenging to deal with. But over the years, I’ve managed to train myself to take a far more balanced view. I would love to know what your experience has been and how you have dealt the criticism you have encountered.


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

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Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review wordmark

How do leaders maintain morale and momentum when members of their team are close to collapsing in frustration over the obstacles they face? Perhaps the issue is angry customers whose questions are hard to answer, or uncooperative peers from other groups who cause logjams and delay decisions. Team members might grumble and complain, or they might simply appear worn down, ready to drop the ball.

Sometimes leaders are frustrated or annoyed themselves. This is already taking too much time. The complaints sound like attacks, and it’s tempting to become defensive or seethe silently. Tensions are mounting.

Before tensions get worse, leaders should turn down the heat and get everyone back on track. They can use three simple communication steps……

Read more at Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business Review.

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