Five Ways to Lead Your Workplace in 2012

Cross-industry tips for setting the standard, regardless of your role.

Wednesday, Dec 28, 2011  |  Updated 1:32 PM CDT
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Five Ways to Lead Your Workplace in 2012

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This article is sponsored by Harris Bank, providing retail banking in the Chicago area and corporate banking services to corporations, institutions, non-profit and government agencies. Find out more at HarrisBank.com.

Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes, and it's a skill that's visible from corporate boardrooms, to sales floors, to assembly lines and cubicles. In other words, you don't have to be a leader to exhibit leadership. 

In fact, you can lead others by simple example, setting the standard for workplace behavior and expectations. As long as you work hard, leading by example will show your teammates and your managers that you can be trusted to have everyone's best interests at heart.

Below, five ways to set the leadership bar in your workplace in 2012.  

It's the Little Things: Stop Cursing
It sounds like basic etiquette, but you'd be surprised at how many employees use foul language -- either to differentiate themselves and their outlook, or simply to shock. The problem: cussing takes the focus from an employee's merits and puts it on their personality. 

Focus on Will, Not Won't
Attitude, as they say, goes a long way. When trying to achieve a goal, too often we focus on the obstacle more than the behavior that gets us around that obstacle. If you're trying to change a bad habit, concentrate on what you will do to change it. For example, instead of saying to yourself "I spend too much time on Facebook," say "If I start spending too much time on Facebook, I will close my browser,  get up and take a short walk to get refocused."

Be as Specific as Possible
Executing on goals is tough, especially when the goal is big and complex. To help yourself and others, make a habit of writing down the next smallest step in your plan. For example, instead of "make end of year sales powerpoint", your goal could be "ask research for the latest sales figures." Then make several subsequent small goals that will lead to achieving your larger goal.

Stop the Vicious Pavlovian Cycle
If you work in an office, you've probably lost hours responding to every email, tweet, and instant message as soon as it comes in. While immediately rewarding to your brain -- you actually get a dopamine "reward" every time you respond to a stimulus -- this cycle can be a very inefficient use of time. Take the time to prioritize tasks, and carve out time for responses. Don't try to do everything all at once. If you're leading teams, make sure to communicate that good work is more important than work done quickly.

Manage Your Free Time
Schedule free time into your work day, and make sure your co-workers and employees do, too. Studies show a relaxed worker is more productive than one who's constantly and furiously typing away.

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