Leadership Tips to Live By

An Interview with Dave Herda Sr.

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During a college course on leadership in the workplace, one of our assignments was to interview a prominent leader of any organization. At the time, I worked for Ameritech when Dick Notebaert was CEO. I tried to get in touch with him, but to my disappointment (and his) he would be in Europe on vacation for several weeks.

There are leaders all around us. They don’t have to be the president of a large corporation, or have a big title. What they do need is the experience of being a good leader in which their reputation attests time and again that they are worthy of recognition and greatness. Therefore, I chose to interview David Herda, superintendent of the Northern Illinois Gas Company.

Below are 8 interview questions on leadership that I asked Mr. Herda.

1. What is your philosophy on leadership?

“To lead by example. You can’t ask subordinates to do something that you wouldn’t do.”

“You can’t compromise your scruples or morals.”

“You must encourage your subordinates and support them.”

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Manager’s Bad Advice Could Lead to Dismissal

managerHere’s one for the books. I know someone who works for a major food chain here in the Midwest. I’ll call her Jane to protect her identity. Jane is just reaching her one year anniversary as a part time florist. A few times she has had to clarify certain procedures and protocols with her boss. Naturally.

Due to Jane’s boss not being able to extend her more working hours as a part-timer, she asked her boss if she could arrange her schedule should she be called to work at another occasional part time job – given enough notice. The boss told Jane that if that opportunity landed on a day she was scheduled to work, she should just call in sick that day. Jane took offense to the advice of lying and calling in sick because she has a good work ethic. Not only did Jane’s immediate boss tell her to call in sick but so did the store manager who has years of experience with this particular food chain.

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Squirrels Strike at Squirrely Co in Squirrelville

A nutty case study

Squirrelville

Letter-O-60pt-Castellarnce upon a time, there was a little village known as Squirrelville, USA. The inhabitants were real squirrels and they were quite efficient as hunters, but mostly gatherers in their community.

For years, the squirrels worked in harmony with each other because they were very well-organized and everyone had a role to play. Each role was described in great detail so that there would be no mistake as to what each squirrel had to do. Life was good.

There was a company called Squirrely Co, which was quite popular and only the brightest and smartest of the squirrel community could work there. At Squirrely Co, the squirrels produced nut jam, nut butter, nut soup, and nut meg. These were specialty items that only the hoidiest of toidiest of squirrels could afford. Squirrel Co operated efficiently and as a result, was very prosperous.

Squirrely Co was successful because the work environment was well-structured. There was a CEO, managers, administrators, and various departments of workers. The CEO told the administrators what to do, the administrators told the managers what to do, and the managers told the workers what to do.

Squirrel Co had great benefits too, which included medical, dental and accidental road kill. Not all squirrel companies could afford accidental road kill as they considered it too risky of a health hazard. The company also allowed their associates to buy stock in nuts. The only risk here would be a rise and fall in market value on a daily basis and it was also a seasonal risk.

Everyone at Squirrel Co was very happy… or so it seemed.

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Non-Bosses Bossing

Is this happening to you?

bossingJust like the clown post I wrote the other day, it seems like there’s one of these in every crowd too. There are some folks out there who consider themselves a manager though they do not possess the proper title in order to actually manage anyone. Some lines you just don’t cross.

It is one thing when a coworker asks for your help with something, but another if he or she demands it as an order, thus assuming your manager’s role. You should only report to one person, and that’s your immediate manager/supervisor. He or she should know what your work load is and whether or not you can be “lent” out to help someone else.

Some advocates advise assuming a role as a manager in order to actually obtain the position. This hardly means that you start supervising others on your own. You should only assume certain tasks that your current manager approves.

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Tip 5 – Encourage Teamwork

Intro: This blog is written to further elaborate with my own views on the  “8 Tips to Engage Your Employees” booklet written by our experts.

Football Team in a Huddle

Energy begets energy. It’s amazing how energy from other humans can be so contagious. I love it!

While working on my bachelor’s in Applied Behavioral Science at National-Louis University, not only did the interest of the study itself draw our class together, but the energy and team spirit we experienced was amazing. Great things were accomplished from our conglomerated visions, and bold, fresh ideas were born. Truly, energy begot energy in those good, ole’ night courses. So much so, that when I got home after school, I could hardly settle down to sleep.

Teams in the workplace are no different. With the right chemistry and guidance, people in teams can be energized and motivated to do great things. They also say there is “power in numbers.” Power and energy… what a dynamic duo!

Smooth running machine teams are organized and systemized on top of having great energy and ideas. Without organization, you could have chaos and people will eventually abandon the team if it becomes a toxic environment and a waste of time.

In order to get the most from teams, as with meeting tips, my advice is…

  1. Assign an unbiased leader – someone other than a manager
  2. Keep organized by recording highlights from meetings – these used to be called “minutes”
  3. Adhere to agendas
  4. Tap into individuals’ expertise by allowing everyone a say via “round table”
  5. Brainstorm for solutions and record them for future consideration
  6. Inform superiors that your goals are accomplished and implemented

Tip 3 – Develop Your People

Age should not be a factor

HappyToLearn

Intro: This blog is written to further elaborate with my own views on the  “8 Tips to Engage Your Employees” booklet written by our experts.

Tip #3 from our new booklet, “8 tips to Engage Your Employees,” discusses developing people in order to achieve success as a manager. “Opportunities for growth and development are a key driver of employee engagement as well as organizational success.”

Just when you think you have all the experience you need to be successful in your career, you might find yourself needing more education and training. Ugh! The thought of going back to a classroom may be pretty daunting in your forties and fifties. I remember my father having to go to management school for 3 years while he was in his forties in mid-stream of his working career with the Northern Illinois Gas Company. My father had no formal education other than high school. The Gas Company cared enough about him to send him to college for management training. He forced himself to read book after book on management and writing assignments every night until he graduated. The hard work paid off. The education was a great boost to his career and eventually led him to a much better stipend and a company vehicle.

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Tip 2 – Provide Basic Training for Your Employees

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Intro: This blog is written to further elaborate with my own views on the  “8 Tips to Engage Your Employees” booklet written by our experts.

In your job search these days, have you noticed the lengthy job descriptions and qualifications? No doubt the recruiter is taking no chances that you misunderstand what they will be hiring you to do along with the required experience and education.

The job description indicates what you will be doing, but not necessarily that you start doing it without training. During the interview process, that should be made clear by the interviewer as well as the job candidate. “Will I receive training for A, B, and C on the job?” Or “Do I have to know how to do A, B, and C before hire?” The hiring manager if different from the initial interviewer should be able to answer your questions about training before onboarding you.

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Tip 1 – Get to Know Your Employees

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Intro: This blog is written to further elaborate with my own views on the  “8 Tips to Engage Your Employees” booklet written by our experts.

“My supervisor cares about me as a person.” Our research shows that highly engaged employees respond favorably to this survey item by 83%, compared to 4% of the disengaged. I wish there was an item which states, “I can’t wait to get home each day so that I can talk to my loved ones about my work.” If this were an actual survey item, and if it were answered, “Strongly Agree,” then it leads me to think that the person does not confide in others about work or anything else to his or her supervisor. If one were to answer “Disagree,” to that statement, it might be an indication that he or she is satisfied with leaving work at work, and feels free to discuss matters with his or her supervisor without fear of retribution. What kind of a supervisor allows you to feel that way? The answer is one that cares about you as a person. At one time or another, most supervisors were subordinates too, so they should know how the shoe feels on their other foot.

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Good Leadership Drives Employee Engagement

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I read a great “bloggicle” (blog-article) written by Justin Locke which posted today, May 21, 2014. It’s entitled, “The Flip Side of Employee Engagement.” The title tells me a lot already and then after reading it, learned just how vital leadership’s role is.

You can have plenty of engaged employees but if management cannot or will not foster a healthy work environment in order for engagement to thrive, you will soon have a toxic environment that can lead to exiting employees.

Yes, good leadership drives employee engagement, and as Locke puts it, “…’engagement’ is no longer a nice thing to have, it is now essential to your bottom line.” To that end, wouldn’t it be wise to train managers to acquire more people skills? Nowadays, many managers not only have to manage their people, but they too, are doing the work alongside them. Do they have time to work on people skills? Perhaps they should make the time. Even having a manager’s forum or meeting once a month to discuss issues with HR or the organization’s top leaders could provide them with the soft skills required to invoke employee engagement.