Archive for February, 2011

Expert Power
Lead From the Front

There are many different power bases that a leader can use.

These include problematic ones such as the power of position, the power to give rewards, the power to punish and the power to control information. While these types of power do have some strength, they can put the person being led in an unhealthy position of weakness, and can leave leaders using these power bases looking autocratic and out of touch.

More than this, society has changed hugely over the last 50 years. Citizens are individually more powerful, and employees are more able to change jobs. Few of us enjoy having power exerted over us, and many will do what they can to undermine people who use these sorts of power.

However, there are three types of positive power that effective leaders can use: charismatic power, expert power and referent power.

This article teaches the technique of building expert power.

Using the Tool:

Expert power is essential because, as a leader, your team looks to you for direction and guidance. Team members need to believe in your ability to lead in a worthwhile direction, give sound advice, and co-ordinate a good result.

If members of your team see you as a true expert, they will be much more receptive when you try to persuade them to do something, and when you want to inspire them to make more of an effort.

And if they see you as an expert, you’ll find it much easier to motivate them:

  • If team members respect your expertise, they’ll trust you to show them how to work effectively.

  • If team members respect your judgment, they’ll trust you to guide their efforts in such a way that you’ll make the most of their hard work.

  • If they can see your expertise, they’ll believe that you have the wisdom to direct their efforts towards a goal that is genuinely worthwhile.

Taken together, if your team sees you as an expert, you’ll find it much easier to motivate your people to perform at their best.

So how do you build expert power?

  • Gain expertise: The first step is fairly obvious (if time consuming) – gain expertise. And, if you are already using tools like information gathering, the chances are that you have already progressed well ahead in this direction.

But just being an expert isn’t enough, it is also necessary that your people recognize your expertise and see you as a credible source of information and advice. Gary A. Yukl, in his book “Leadership in Organizations,” details some steps to build expert power. These are:

  • Promote an image of expertise: Since perceived expertise in many occupations is associated with a person’s education and experience, a leader should (subtly) make sure that subordinates, peers, and superiors are aware of his or her formal education, relevant work experience, and significant accomplishments.

    One common way of doing this is to display diplomas, licenses, awards, and other evidence of expertise in a prominent location in your office – after all, if you’ve worked hard to gain knowledge, it’s fair that you get credit for it. Another tactic is to make subtle references to prior education or experience (for example, “When I was chief engineer at GE, we had a problem similar to this one”). Beware, however: this can easily be overdone.

  • Maintain credibility: Once established, you should carefully protect your image of expertise. Avoid making careless comments about subjects on which you are poorly informed, and avoid being associated with projects with a low likelihood of success.

  • Act confidently and decisively in a crisis: In a crisis or emergency, subordinates prefer a “take charge” leader who appears to know how to direct the group in coping with the problem. In this kind of situation, your people will associate confident, firm leadership with expert knowledge. Even if you’re not sure how to deal with a crisis, you’ll lose influence with members of your team if you appear confused.

  • Keep informed: Expert power is exercised through rational persuasion and demonstration of expertise. Rational persuasion depends on a firm grasp of up-to-date facts. It is therefore essential that you keep well-informed of developments within your team, within your organization, and in the outside world.

  • Recognize team member concerns: Use of rational persuasion should not be seen as a form of one-way communication from the leader to members of his or her team. Listen carefully to the concerns and uncertainties of your team members, and make sure that you address these.

  • Avoid threatening the self-esteem of subordinates: Expert power is based on a knowledge differential between the leader and team members. Unfortunately, the very existence of this differential can cause problems if you’re not careful about the way in which you exercise expert power.

    Team members can dislike unfavorable status comparisons where the gap is very large and obvious. And they are likely to be upset by a leader who acts in a superior way, and arrogantly flaunts his greater expertise.

    In the process of arguing for what they want, some leaders lecture their team members in a condescending manner and convey the impression that the other team members are “ignorant.” Guard against this.

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I have observed many people in my professional experience about this. People don’t like if you yell at them or force them to do any work.

Remember: If you want others to listen to you, they should like you first.

Think and do what it takes them to like you. If they don’t, take it for granted that you cannot succeed.

Planning a Workshop
Organizing and Running a Successful Event

Running a great workshop that everyone will remember

Anyone who has ever planned a workshop will tell you that it’s a big job. And planning a good one? Well, that takes organization, focus, and a lot of creativity.

Running a workshop is useful whenever you need a group of people to DO something together, rather than just report on what they’ve done. Examples include bringing experts together to solve complex problems, designing sophisticated processes that need the input of many different people, and making decisions that take into account the views of different individuals and groups.

Some people HATE going to workshops. Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. This is why advance planning is critical.

So how do you prepare for a workshop that will be not only relevant and productive, but memorable as well?

Before the Workshop

Follow these steps to make sure your workshop is a valuable experience for everyone:

  • Step 1: Define the Goals

    Every workshop must have a goal. Do you need to improve your company’s hiring procedures? Do you want to teach managers how to be better organizers? Do you need to do some team building with a newly formed team?

    Many workshops are a waste of time because there’s no clear goal kept at the center of the discussion. Without this clear goal, there’s really no point in getting people together.

  • Step 2: Decide Who Will Attend

    Knowing who will attend directly relates to your objective. For example, if your workshop’s goal is to develop a detailed solution to a problem, then you probably want 10 or fewer key attendees. If your goal is centered on education, then you might be happy with a much larger group, which divides into smaller groups for discussion.

    Make a list of the people who need to be there. Try to be as specific as possible, but leave a few openings for last-minute additions.

  • Step 3: Choose the Right Location

    If you have 10 attendees, then the conference room down the hall will probably be just fine. But if you have 50 people, you may have to find an outside location that’s large enough.

    Think about the logistics and practical details of your workshop when you choose the location. Will everyone be able to see your visual aids? If you need a certain technology, like teleconferencing, will the location support it? Are there appropriate facilities for breakout sessions? Will everyone be able to reach the venue? Will you need to organize accommodation for people who are coming from a long way away? And what catering facilities does the venue provide?

  • Step 4: Create an Agenda

    Now that you know your primary objective and who will attend, you can start to develop an outline of how you’ll achieve the workshop’s goal.

    • Main points – Create a list of main points to discuss, and then break down each larger point into details that you want to communicate to your audience.
    • Visual aids – List the visual aids, if any, you’ll use for each point. If you need technical support, this helps the people providing it to determine where they need to focus their efforts.
    • Discussions and activities – Take time to list exactly which group discussions and activities you’ll have at which point in the workshop. How much time will you allow for each exercise? Make sure your activities are appropriate for the size of the group, and ensure that your venue has the resources (for example, seminar rooms) needed to run sessions.

    Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more you’ll ensure that your workshop will run to schedule – and be successful.

  • Step 5: Develop a Follow-up Plan

    The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunity to share their opinions on how well it went. Although this can be a bit scary, it’s the only way to learn – and improve – for the next time.

    It’s also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. Will you send out a mass email to everyone with the details? Will you put it on your company’s intranet? People need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action, so keep them informed about what’s happening after the workshop has ended.

During the Workshop – Getting People Involved

Once you have a solid advance plan, figure out how to bring some excitement into your event. You know the topics that you want to cover, but how will you make the information fun and memorable for your team?

Getting everyone involved is key to a successful workshop. If you stand up and talk for three hours, you’re just giving a lecture – not facilitating a workshop. Everyone needs to participate.

Creating group exercises is different for each workshop. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Many people are nervous about speaking up in an unfamiliar group. If you plan group exercises, keep the size of each group small, so people are more comfortable talking and interacting.
  • Mix up different types of people in each group. For example, if several departments participate in your workshop, don’t put members of the same department in their own group. By encouraging people to interact with other departments, they can learn to look at things from different perspectives.
  • Determine how you’ll record the ideas from each group. Will participants shout them out while you write them down? Or will they write down their own ideas and then give them to you? This is a small, but important, detail that’s often overlooked.
  • If you have five or fewer groups, spend time allowing the entire team to evaluate the ideas from each smaller group. This is a great way to narrow down your list of ideas, and let the good ones really shine.

Remember, spend as much time as you can creating fun and interesting group exercises. These will likely keep everyone interested and participating.

Overall Workshop Tips

Here are some more ideas for running a successful workshop:

  • If you plan the meeting, you may want to facilitate it as well. Learn how to do this effectively in The Role of a Facilitator.

  • Start the meeting with a few icebreakers to get everyone relaxed and comfortable.

  • If your workshop’s goal is to address a difficult or sensitive topic, it’s especially important to get the group comfortable before starting. One way is to tell a story that’s loosely related to the topic before you begin discussing the difficult issue.

  • Sometimes, not everyone has to stay for the entire workshop. For instance, the CEO might be too busy to attend the whole session. Identify which sections your busiest participants need to attend, and suggest in advance when they might want to arrive and leave. They’ll appreciate your consideration.

  • Where possible, avoid holding your workshop after lunch, between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. For many people, this is their slowest, most unproductive time of day. Your group will probably be more energetic if you schedule the event in the morning or late afternoon. (If you have to run the workshop in the early afternoon, make sure there’s plenty of strong coffee available!)

  • If your workshop’s ultimate goal is to make a decision about something, the more people who attend, the less likely it is that you’ll reach a decision. Here, try to keep the number of people attending to a minimum (for example, by issuing minutes after the event to people who are just interested.) It’s also important to become familiar with the different strategies for team decision making. See our article on Organizing Team Decision Making to learn more.

Key points:

There’s no doubt that planning a great workshop is a lot of work. But if you spend time thinking through the details, everyone will get full value from the event.

The workshop’s goal should be at the center of all your planning. Creative exercises will get everyone relaxed and involved, and don’t forget to follow up afterward: Although it can be scary to hear what people really thought of all your hard work, it’s the only way you’ll improve your next event.

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Changelog:

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AquaSnap is a free software that greatly enhances the way you can arrange windows on your Desktop. It gives you the possibility to snap windows to the edges or to the corners of the desktop simply by dragging and dropping them where you want.

AquaSnap is a great replacement for the Aero Snap and Aero Shake features of Windows 7 and is compatible with every Windows versions and consumes very little memory and CPU.

Today’s computers often have large monitors capable of displaying simultaneously several applications. But arranging those windows in order to properly share your screen between 2 or more applications can rapidly become a laborious task.

Key Features:

Advantages:

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View: AquaSnap Website