Building Leadership Skills

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019|

Being a great leader requires more than getting a promotion. Every great leader has a unique mix of skills – wisdom, courage, humility, analysis, empathy, among others. As a manager, you can cultivate and improve yourself as a leader. No matter what field you’re in, what role you have, or what your team needs from you, some principles of exceptional leadership are consistent across time and disciplines.

In 2009, the author William Deresiewicz delivered an address to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point on the topic of leadership. Specifically, he focused on what differentiates great leaders from the rest, and how leaders can learn to buck convention and groupthink and to trust the wisdom of their minds and hearts. The speech has become a classic among those who aspire to the timeless attributes of powerful, holistic leadership.

Deresiewicz’s ideas can help you accomplish your goals, help your team surpass its own expectations, hone your perspective, and make the most of your innate leadership ability in any situation regardless of team size and structure.

Cultivate Focus

To focus means to set aside time for difficult challenges and deep work. It requires eliminating distractions, honing in on what matters, and tackling your biggest challenges head-on. It means learning to apply mindfulness not just as a practice of self-improvement, but as a way of approaching all your important tasks and responsibilities.

Deresiewicz says, “it’s perfectly natural to have doubts, or questions, or even just difficulties. The question is, what do you do with them? Do you suppress them, do you distract yourself from them, do you pretend they don’t exist? Or do you confront them directly, honestly, courageously? If you decide to do so, you will find that the answers to these dilemmas… can only be found within – without distractions, without peer pressure, in solitude.”

Learn To Be Alone

Indeed, the central topic of Deresiewicz’s address is the importance of solitude. The only way to lead others is to get comfortable with being alone.

“I started by noting that solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things,” he says. “But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”

Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or something in between, it is essential that you take time alone with your thoughts and feelings to better know yourself and build trust in your own counsel. This will give you the true bedrock confidence that will let your team relax and know you know what you’re doing. Whatever responsibilities you have as a manager and a leader, perhaps the greatest is to take the time and space you need for yourself.

Build Relationships

Solitude, according to Deresiewicz, “can mean introspection, it can mean the concentration of focused work, and it can mean sustained reading. All of these help you to know yourself better. But there’s one more thing I’m going to include as a form of solitude, and it will seem counter-intuitive: friendship. Of course, friendship is the opposite of solitude; it means being with other people. But I’m talking about one kind of friendship in particular, the deep friendship of intimate conversation. Long, uninterrupted talk with one other person. Not Skyping with three people and texting with two others at the same time while you hang out in a friend’s room listening to music and studying. That’s what Emerson meant when he said that ‘the soul environs itself with friends, that it may enter into a grander self-acquaintance or solitude.'”

As a leader, you must build a network of peers, mentors, and friends who want the best for you, who can see opportunities for you that you can’t, and who can engage with you in infinite games and deep, honest, fearless conversation. These are the relationships that most matter.

We’re All Creatives Now

Technology is changing the structures of business and society at a dizzying pace. We can no longer rely on the safety of convention. Managers and leaders must embrace the necessary skills and mindsets of creativity. We must innovate, improvise, think differently, and think positively.

The essence of creativity is courage. It’s not just for capital-C Creatives anymore. As a leader, you must be free to explore, have the intellectual honesty to critique your own ideas, and have the guts to defend them. That’s the sort of bold, compassionate leadership today’s team needs and wants.

At Artisan Creative, we have decades of experience helping leaders build winning teams and winning mindsets. Contact Artisan Creative today to start the conversation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 541st issue of the a.blog.

Creating Trusted Relationships

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019|

Trust….what does the word mean to you and how does it influence your business and personal life?

All relationships, whether interacting with a partner, co-worker, vendor, or family member rely on trust and will grow because of it, or falter due to a lack of it. As leaders, it’s important to earn and to give trust. Many people work hard to make sure they can be trusted, reliable and someone others can count on. For some, trust is given freely and blindly, until it’s broken. If that happens, they suddenly do an about face and stop trusting. For others, they start from a place of distrust and work their way to trust over time.

In his book, The Speed of Trust Steven Covey says that trust is a function of two things: character and competence.

Character is one’s integrity, intent, and motives. Competence is one’s skills, knowledge, track record, and results.

Both are needed to create and maintain trusted relationships. Covey attributes 4 core principles to building trust – both with ourselves (self- trust) as well as with others. The first two principles have to do with character and the latter two with competence.

Integrity

Do we say and do what we said we were going to do? Do we stick to our core values? Do we have integrity with ourselves? Are our morals and ethics aligned with our core?

Intent

What are our motives? Do we work towards a win-win outcome with ourselves, with our employees and vendors, with our family and friends?

Capability

Do we know how to do what we said we were going to do? Do we have the qualities needed to inspire confidence? Are our skills, attitude, and knowledge aligned so we can grow and establish trust as leaders in our company, family and community?

Results

This is all about getting things done – our performance and track record. If we don’t deliver on our promises, or never do what we say we are going to do, we lose trust.

The next time a situation arises where you get a distrusting feeling about someone or a situation, ask yourself whether it’s a matter of their character or competence?

If it’s a matter of competence, you can ask for data, for certifications, ROI, KPI, you can run assessments. From an on-going leadership and training perspective, it’s important to ask if someone has been given the proper training and onboarding to do their job well. Also, it’s good to make certain our expectations are clear, so they can do what is asked and expected.

If it’s a matter of character, you can check references, and conduct background checks. Julio Olalla of the Newfield Network speaks about the importance of not to assuming all breaches of trust are betrayals—be able to distinguish between sincerity, competence, and reliability.

The first step in building trusted relationships is to lead by example, be authentic, vulnerable and learn to trust. At Artisan Creative, building trusted relationships is one of our central core values. We look forward to connecting with you to build a new relationship.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 519th issue of the a.blog.

Marketing Your Business

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019|

We’re all entrepreneurs now. Whether you’re a creative professional or cultivating a side hustle, your path to consistent and satisfying success is to think of yourself as a business. This means that to get the clients and projects you want, you must master the basics of marketing on a budget.

When you understand the most important principles of marketing, and you’re willing to put in the reasonable amount of effort required, you’ll bring in new business, and you’ll have time to focus on the work you really love.

As you grow your freelancing career, here are a few big marketing ideas to keep in mind.

Build Your Brand

Having a strong personal and professional brand means more than having a concise elevator pitch, although that’s an essential part of it. You must know who you are, what you can do, what values you represent, and how to communicate your identity. When you put your mind and heart into developing your brand, it will pay massive dividends with the people and projects that come into your life.

Work Your Network

As a creative freelancer, some of the most effective marketing you can do is still old-fashioned word-of-mouth. When you provide value to others, attend networking events to engage with your community, and seek out the peers, collaborators, and mentors you wish to cultivate, new resources and opportunities will present themselves in ways you never anticipated.

Prioritize Product-Market Fit

Author Carolyn Tate describes the “four Ps of marketing” – product, pricing, placement, and promotion – and how they’re always interrelated. In the new age of growth hacker marketing, running a business is a constant process of iteration, and great products are built through feedback loops and ongoing processes of community interaction. Remain curious and sensitive to the changing needs of your clients. Let your marketing efforts and your work feed into a constant refinement of improving each other.

Track Your Progress

To better allocate your resources and understand how your marketing is paying off, keep track of your progress and results over time. If you’re not naturally comfortable with numbers, charts, and analytics, you can use one of the many free tools that are available.

Share Your Success

Whether you present your work in an online portfolio, create content to showcase your ideas, or engage with your clients and community through social media, don’t be shy about sharing your best self with the world. It will inspire others, build your own confidence, and bring lots of new opportunities to your doorstep.

Turn Pro

When you start thinking of yourself as a serious professional, something magical happens. If you’re struggling with that transition, or you’re ready to take your creative career or small business to the next level, we can help! Contact Artisan Creative today to take your next step.

We hope you’ve enjoyed issue 518 of our a.blog.

Workplace Trends in 2019

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019|

Every day new talent enters the workforce, with new skills, new experiences, and even new expectations. Various industries will become more diverse, others will hang on as long as they can before they disappear. Innovations in technology will impact our careers and our lives.

A new year brings new changes. Existing currents will strengthen, fade, or continue. Here are five trends that we believe will shape the workplace in 2019 and beyond. These are already in progress.

Emphasis on Purpose, Wellness, and Growth

Surveys of younger workers indicate they feel happier and more accomplished when they work for companies with a sense of purpose, have flexible work schedules and offer continuous learning.

With a greater need for skilled and experienced labor, employers will provide new opportunities for training, upskilling, and mentorship. This will coincide with greater awareness of mental health and the unwavering importance of personal and financial stability. Ideally, these trends will lead toward professional relationships that are more mindful, more respectful, and better built to last. 

Adaptation to AI and Automation

Artificial intelligence and automation will continue to rise. Some occupations will decline, some will become far more powerful, and many people will find themselves partnering with new robotic coworkers. Much workplace activity will involve new training and new priorities to accommodate these new technologies until they become invisible.

Strength In Diversity

Recent controversies in the workplace are reshaping entire industries, making them more welcoming for women, minorities, and others who struggle against discrimination. Creating diverse workplaces and nurturing a culture for all isn’t just good karma; it’s necessary for doing business. Those who embrace changes and opportunities will help define commerce and culture for the years ahead.

Generation Z Goes to Work

The oldest members of “Gen Z” will turn 23, and many will join the workforce, of which this rising cohort will comprise an estimated 36% by 2020. They will usher in new expectations around technological competence. As Debby Carreau of Inspired HR said, “Even if you’re not a member of Gen Z you’ll start seeing software strategies, solutions and training trickling into your workplace; because if your organization doesn’t offer them, Gen Z will find an employer that will in short order.”

Meanwhile, members of older generations will continue to work longer and adapt their wisdom and experience to new circumstances. Chip Conley outlines this beautifully in his article calling himself a mentern (a mentor and an intern simultaneously).

Thus, we come back to the power of communication. If you are the sort of person who knows how to help the members of these different groups better communicate and more effectively work together, you will reap significant dividends in the years to come.

Change is the only constant. At Artisan Creative, we have years of experience in helping creative professionals and organizations thrive in times of change. Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 505th issue of our a.blog. 

Our Top 25 Blogs

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018|

We are thrilled to publish our 500th blog today. As we approach the end of 2018, we’d like to share some of our a.team’s favorite blogs.

These cover a range of topics from self-development and time-management to job search, hiring and much more.

We hope you enjoy this top 25 greatest hits compilation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 500th post.  You can find plenty other tips, inspirations, best practices and advice on our a.blog.

We look forward to connecting.

Project Management Software Review

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018|

 

Choosing a new project management software is one of the most significant and impactful management decisions you can make. The right choice can amplify your efforts, help you achieve and exceed your goals, plus give you what you need to work more efficiently, effectively, and fruitfully.

If you’re close to making a decision, or you’re just getting started on your research, here is a quick inventory of five popular project management software systems, with some of their pros and cons. This may help you stay focused on choosing the right project management solution for your particular team and case.

Basecamp

Basecamp was one of the first all-in-one project management solutions to gain wide popularity, and it remains widely used and loved. Created by the team formerly known as 37signals, it’s designed with a deep appreciation for the culture of business.

Pros: Simple, intuitive, easy to use and to master.

Cons: Lacks some of the slicker capabilities associated with newer entries into the market.

Trello

Based on a system of boards, lists, and cards, Trello has quickly become a favorite of designers and visual thinkers and is now a serious contender in the field of user-friendly project management software.

Pros: Fun to use, aesthetically pleasing, popular with visually inclined users.

Cons: Potentially challenging for users more accustomed to more plain and traditional methods of organization.

Asana 

Sleek, colorful, and user-friendly Asana is currently a pace-setter in the realm of project management software. Designed for detailed tracking, its organization encourages collaboration. It has been gaining wider adoption over the last several years.

Pros: Excellent mobile app, well suited for more fluid communication, collaboration, and goal-setting.

Cons: Requires some training and practice to master, which demands participation from the whole team.

Smartsheet

Smartsheet functions as a sort of enhanced version of Excel. Its spreadsheet-based interface is useful for planning and tracking elaborate projects and breaking them down into specific initiatives, tasks, and goals.

Pros: Highly recommended to those who are experienced with spreadsheets and fond of that organizational format.

Cons: Not as colorful or user-friendly as the modern-minded alternatives.

Airtable

Relatively new on the scene, Airtable is popular with publishers and is gaining steam and broader acceptance thanks to its versatility.

Pros: Highly flexible, easy to use and customize, well geared towards communication, file-sharing, and more.

Cons: Still fairly new, complex, requires some patience to understand and to master.

When choosing a project management system for your team, choose mindfully. This decision will fundamentally affect the culture that you work so hard to develop.

You need a system that works with the quirks, practices, and objectives of your team, as individuals and as a group. The right software should empower you, play to your strengths, be geared toward your goals, and bring you closer together.

As you choose, we recommend further research on collaboration tools and apps, project management software, and the broader thought behind project management systems.

At Artisan Creative, we pool our workplace wisdom and dedicate ourselves every day to finding the best creative talent available and to helping your team be as effective as it can be. Contact us today to learn more and explore your full potential.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 493rd issue of our a.blog.

 

New Hire Onboarding Best Practices

Thursday, September 20th, 2018|

Today, creating and maintaining a great company culture is top of mind for many firms, and is one the highest reasons for candidates to select one company over the other.

Developing a strong onboarding plan is one way to communicate company culture with new hires and potential candidates. However, some companies mistake orientation with onboarding. While they are clearly linked, they serve different purposes and are two sides of the same coin.

Onboarding vs. Orientation and Training

Most companies have an orientation system and training in place to help candidates learn the nuances of their specific roles and meet team members during the first week.

Onboarding is an on-going plan that continues long after the initial orientation period has ended. It’s intended to help a candidate’s long-term success to continually grow in their role.

An additional component of a successful onboarding plan is to give your new hire the chance to talk to their manager about opportunities, challenges, or concerns they might have at the 3 and 6-month points in their new role. Creating an open dialog allows for a safe space to discuss the job from their experience, and share lessons learned and best practices to make them more productive.

Often, unless given an opportunity, a new employee will keep to themselves, fly under the radar, when in actuality proactive communication could improve the situation for everyone involved.

It is also a good opportunity to communicate company expectations, vision and core values, and create clarity around setting short and long-term goals and understanding as to how and when they will be evaluated.

Tips for Onboarding:

  • Develop a real plan–Don’t assume that new employees will find a way to get what they need or want. Make a schedule to meet with new hires at regular intervals and stick to it.
  • Tell them about it–Make sure your new hires know that they will have chances to talk with you about how things are going for them. Ask them to complie a list of  questions to discuss together during your meeting.
  • Follow through–Don’t let your onboarding plan fall through the cracks if a new hire is doing well. Even if it’s just get together to share how great it’s been so far, you can take the opportunity to let your employee know that they are valued and that you recognize that they are doing well at this early stage.

 

New hires need to know how they’re doing, how they are contributing to the team’s success, and that they’ve made the right decision to join your company.  Give all your new hires a chance to feel great about their role and you will reap the rewards of a happy and productive workforce.

 

At Artisan Creative, we believe creating a strong culture helps with hiring and retention.  Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 489th issue of our a.blog.

Giving and Receiving Constructive Feedback

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018|

In order to be constructive, feedback must be mindful, purposeful, well-informed, and well-intentioned. It must also be clearly understood and easy to act upon. The purpose of constructive feedback is not to reward or punish; it is to share valuable information and insights so the entire team will be in a better position to accomplish its goals.

Whether you’re giving or receiving feedback after an interview, portfolio review, annual employee performance session, or client presentation you can benefit from ideas in the highly regarded book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. This book offers a lot of insight, along with a helpful checklist to keep in mind, whether you want to share notes with your colleagues or want to listen more deeply to mutually uncover opportunities for improvement.

“Start With the Heart”

Your observations will be of more value if you practice seeing (and feeling) the world from the recipient’s perspective. Likewise, if you can hear the hopes, fears, and emotions behind the feedback you receive, you may be more able to appreciate it as a gift. If you struggle with compassion or often find yourself on the defensive, the toolkit of Nonviolent Communication can change your perspective.

“Stay in Dialogue”

For feedback to be constructive, both parties must talk to each other, not at each other. Our relevant content on active listening has workable ideas on how to keep the paths of communication open.

“Make it Safe”

Safety is one of the most fundamental human needs; if safety is in doubt, addressing higher-level needs is not as easy. Part of building strong relationships is giving colleagues space, to be honest with each other without anyone feeling threatened. The most constructive moments happen in a calm environment within an atmosphere of mutual respect and only after any tensions or distractions have been dealt with.

“Don’t Get Hooked By Emotion (Or Hook Them)”

Clear communication happens above the noise and static of aggression, manipulation, or games of status. To give and receive constructive feedback, you must work around any emotional tactics and triggers and maintain your focus on what is true, what is useful, and the objectives you share.

“Agree on a Mutual Purpose”

Make sure constructive feedback is shared on a common ground. This means setting your goals upfront, being transparent about what you hope to gain, and recognizing each other as allies on the same journey, headed in the same direction.

“Separate Facts from Story”

We, humans, excel at constructing narratives; we use this skill to find patterns in our experiences and to make sense of the world. To remain open to new information and wisdom, we must practice setting aside our stories and pay attention to things objectively, as they are, in a way both parties can understand and agree upon. Things are almost never precisely what they may seem!

“Agree on a Clear Action Plan”

Every transmission of constructive feedback should conclude with a set of concrete, realistic, shared goals. The best feedback often results in a plan of action, and once the plan of action is followed through to everyone’s satisfaction, then you know the feedback was constructive!

At Artisan Creative, we believe the surest path to professional growth is through better communication. Get in touch today and start the conversation!

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 480th issue of our a.blog.

 

Making Time vs. Having Time

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018|

I realized I had been in a negative relationship with TIME, until now. I was always catching up, falling behind, stressed, and challenged with the ticking of the clock. Time was always running out, and I was always trying to slow it down. Time always had the upper hand, and I felt inferior.

I have read many articles, and listened to many lectures about time, and how we have limited time–only 525,600 minutes in a day or 8,760 hours in a year, etc. Comments such as either “manage time or it manages you” were my mantra for years. However, I was in a losing battle, as time was always managing me! No matter how many time management tools I used and how precise my calendar was, I was always chasing time.

A typical image of time management on any stock photo site shows frustrated, desperate, and frazzled individuals. That used to be me as well until I read Gay Hendricks’ book The Big Leap.

That’s when I decided I’d had enough. No more being the victim of time.  It was time to change my negative relationship with time!

In his book, Hendricks describes the concept of Newtonian time vs. Einstein time.

Newtonian time is the concept of time where time is finite, and it will run out. We either have time or we don’t. This is very much the notion of time most prevalent in society and in business. He says “ The Newtonian paradigm assumes that there’s a scarcity of time, which leads to an uncomfortable feeling on time urgency inside us.”

Einstein time, as Hendricks explains, is the notion that we are time…and we make time. We make time for things that are important, that have meaning or that we must focus on. He says “Take ownership of time, and it will stop owning you”.

He suggests going on a time diet, which I have been practicing as of late.

This move requires a complete end to complaining about time and moving away from the victim mindset as it pertains to time. Start by paying attention to how often you are playing time-catch-up and saying the following:

  • Where did time go?
  • There simply isn’t enough hours in a day
  • I don’t have time right now to…..
  • I wish I had time to…..

Eliminate the above phrases from your daily conversation. Time is not a pressure from outside as Hendrick states..it’s one that we place on ourselves.

Instead, focus on what you want to focus on, and do what you love to do. Focus on your passions, and your creativity and your loved ones and the career you love.

It’s a notion that is simple to grasp—perhaps not as easy to do unless we shift our perception of time entirely.

I now spend each day with an intention and focus to make time for what is a priority for me. If I veer off course, I come back to my intention. My colleague Jen introduced me to the concept of saying a time-mantra “I Am Now” as in “I am now doing xyz”. This time mindfulness has allowed me to make time.

And I discovered that by making time for what I love doing, I have more time for everything else.

Happy time-making!

~ Katty Douraghy

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 475th issue of our a.blogContact us to learn more.

Working with Non-Millennials

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018|

In the last few decades technology has changed the world of business rapidly and profoundly. This rate of change continues to accelerate. To overcome the widening gap in knowledge and to be able to collaborate more effectively, it is essential for members of different generations to understand each other in a spirit of teamwork, empathy, and mutual respect.

With their range of experiences, Baby Boomers, Generation X-ers, and Millennials can often generate more useful and exciting ideas together. Cross-generational diversity and cross-collaboration can become a great organizational strength and lead to expanded creatvity and new solutions to solving challenges.

We’ve explored some of the cultural attitudes that make members of the Millennial generation unique and valuable coworkers. Today, we’ll share tips for Millennials who strive to work more effectively with seasoned teammates.

Respect Their Independence and Set Expectations

Members of Generation X, in particular, are often distinguished by a rebellious, skeptical, and iconoclastic spirit. They grew up mostly before the advent of smartphone communications and always-on social networking. Compared to Millennials, they tend to be motivated less by community and more by a sense of individuality, as do many Boomers.

“When working with an X-er, don’t be surprised or offended if they choose to work alone,” writes Mira Zaslove in Fortune . She adds, “X-ers tend to be hands-off, low face-time managers. So when working for an X-er, ask them to clearly define their expectations. When you do receive a compliment from an X-er, you’ve done a great job.”

Help Them Understand New Technologies and Trends

Many Millennial workers are digital natives, having had access to fast paced technologies and the internet their entire lives. Thus, it may be difficult for them to appreciate how wondrous and strange these innovations can seem to those who did not always have them, or who witnessed their rapid proliferation firsthand from the 1980s through today.

When working with colleagues on new technology, “never say, ‘This is so easy,'” writes Ann Friedman of The Los Angeles Times . “Recognize that baby boomers have a lot of fear and anger about technology, and tread gently.”

It is important to appreciate how glorious our new technological breakthroughs really are. Demonstrating the utility of a new application or device to someone who doesn’t regularly use it may even renew your own sense of delight.

It All Comes Down to Communication

When communication is optimized, almost any group of people can come together to pursue shared goals. Working to achieve that understanding is how we mine the greatest value from our work and our lives.

Appreciating and working with our differences requires well-honed active listening skills, along with an appreciation for different learning styles and preferences in communication and collaboration.

When we respect our shared and individual goals and work together to continuously improve our company cultures, our differences make us much stronger through our diverstiy.

At Artisan Creative, our experience has shown us how great teams are built among individuals from all walks of life. Contact us today to take your career or your business to the next level.

We hope you enjoy our 471th a.blog.