How to Be a Motivational Leader

Motivational leadership is all about providing inspiration to other people in addition to motivating them to achieve their goals. Motivational leaders are not born competent persons, as most of them have to work hard to gain much-needed qualities. Since becoming a motivational leader is something that one can train for, here are some key tips on how to become a motivational leader.

Becoming a better listener

Motivational leaders are often involved in providing guidance and leadership to employees. More often than not, motivational leaders will find themselves handling different employee issues. The quality of being a good listener is thus indispensable. Generating such a good relationship between the leader and the employees requires a commitment to strong building relationships based on trust and understanding.

Communicating effectively

Feedback control is crucial for motivational leaders and their employees. Good motivational leaders should, therefore, be competent in communication, just as much as they are good at listening. Such leaders have to be competent in self-articulation and should have a good understanding of the audience. When communicating, a motivational leader should understand the audience in terms of its needs and qualities.

Competency in problem-solving

An excellent motivational leader will often find problems to solve every now and then. To add value to the employees having such problems, it is an added value to be competent in problem-solving. For them to solve problems, motivational leaders are required to have a good understanding of these problems and come up with potential solutions.

Leading by example

Every competent motivational leader should be able to theoretically outline and chart the way forward and lead in that direction. To become a good motivational leader, one must be willing to take the risk and put to practice the theories that he or she advocates for. For a motivational leader, leading from the front increases his or her reputation. Leading from the front does not mean going at all alone but rather involves providing good incentives for the rest of the employees to follow.

Transparency in leadership

Trust and transparency are two important virtues for motivational leaders. To be trusted by the employees, the leader must earn their confidence. Such trust is largely based on the leaders’ commitment and should thus be cultivated.

This article was originally published on Matt Walker of Kansas’ entrepreneurship blog.

Successful Delegation: 101

At a certain point in any leader’s career, delegation will be inevitable. Moving up in position, experiences, and skills means many tasks will become so easy that you are wasting your time and expertise. If you want to tap into better productivity and save energy for higher-level responsibilities, it’s time to delegate.

How to Successfully Delegate

Delegation is not just a way to free yourself from tasks you are well-versed in. It is also an opportunity for another person to build their own skills.

What Tasks Should You Delegate?

Choosing what tasks you are better off clearing from your agenda requires several considerations. First, how high is a task on your priority list? Is the task easy enough for you that you could quickly train another to complete it? Speaking of, how much time do you have to spend in another’s training, progress, and ongoing support? Finally, does the task come up enough times that it is tedious at this point?

Picking the Right Person

Once you have the task(s) you want to delegate, it’s a simple process of matching it up with a team member’s skills, goals, experiences, and readiness. This part is important because you want delegating to be just as beneficial for the other person as it is for you.

Usually, the best person is someone with enough experience that you could trust to quickly pick up the task, but not enough practice in the specific skill set. That way, the task becomes a vehicle for growth: the perfect balance of expertise and challenge.

Moreover, consider the person’s own responsibilities. Make sure their work allows space, time, and resources to welcome the task. Finally, it’s always preferable that the task can offer

The Delegation Brief: How to Communicate

When handing over the task, it’s important to be clear from the beginning. Address the basics: What the task entails, why you chose this person to undertake it, how much time it requires, and how you expect ongoing communication to go. Hit all points of uncertainty: scheduling, how monitoring will work, what resources are available to them, and the level of involvement you will have with them.

Remember to maintain a balance between handing over the responsibility, nurturing independence, and your own authority.

Post-Delegation: Support and Continual Monitoring

After the learning curve, don’t be quick to assume the team member has it all covered. Continue to be a beacon of support, by reviewing their work immediately and being honest about the quality. Critical feedback is necessary for their own gain. At the same time, be forthcoming in praising effort and improvement.

Delegation may take some work at the beginning. However, done right, it leads to dividends for both leaders and team members in expanding their potentials.

This article was originally published on Matt Walker of Kansas’ Entrepreneurship blog.

Harnessing The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Certain aspects of work and life just cannot be taught. Everyone has unique personality traits that evolve over time and make us who we are, and the entrepreneurial spirit is a special characteristic. Entrepreneurs build things from the ground up, possess immense determination, and are not afraid to fail before succeeding. Thus, the entrepreneurial spirit is a quality that leaders want to surround themselves with.

Every successful business in every industry can harness the entrepreneurial and use it to their advantage. Creative people are necessary for all sectors so that businesses can compete in the marketplace and remain relevant. How can a company use the unique characteristics of entrepreneurs to improve the business

First, hire the right people. Besides finding a “good fit” recruiters have to avoid bias while also considering what each individual will bring to the table. It’s a no-brainer that a prospective hire has to have the necessary skills and be qualified, but more than that they should bring something special to the company. Businesses need people willing to rock the boat and provide new ideas and perspectives.

There is much more to entrepreneurship than the startup that comes to mind when we consider the occupation. The most important aspect of entrepreneurship is collaboration. In a startup, all team members are valued and included in the decision-making process. The term “sleep business” stems from problems at Fortune500 companies. These businesses, while successful, often have issues with employee retention, engagement, and overall satisfaction. When the engineers never communicate with the marketing professionals or the customer service representatives never communicate with the tech team there are sure to be issues. Communication and collaboration are essential. 

If leaders want to truly harness the entrepreneurial spirit they must promote innovation. Use emails in place of unnecessary meetings to avoid burnout. Create sessions for brainstorming and hold meetings for such every week. Leaders should take advantage of great hires and pick their brains, not just use them to fill a specific role. Allow different departments to get together and work and encourage everyone to share their ideas and speak their mind. 

Many people move through life unaware that they possess the entrepreneurial spirit, however many of the most successful businesses are founded by entrepreneurs. If you find yourself questioning everything and pondering how to improve processes, taking risks, and following passion, congratulations, you have the spirit!

Originally published on Matt Walker Kansas’ website.

Top Venezuelan Destinations

Venezuela is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world, however, it usually gets overlooked by tourists. The country is often overshadowed by a few of its larger South American neighbors. The lack of tourists makes Venezuela the perfect destination for someone looking for a tranquil vacation away from large crowds. The gorgeous landscapes do not hurt either. These are the four best destinations everyone must visit during their time in Venezuela.

Angel Falls

Angel Falls is easily the most iconic destination in the entire country. This stunning sight is found in Canaima National Park. The beautiful waterfall drops more than 3,200 feet, which makes it the highest waterfall in the entire world. You will not be able to access Angel Falls on foot, so you will need to book a sightseeing flight or boat to see the popular landmark. In order to get the best view, it is best to avoid making the trip in the winter.

Margarita Island

If you are looking to spend a relaxing day on the beach, then your ideal destination is Margarita Island. The entire island is filled with peaceful beaches containing soft white sand. Once you leave the beach, you will not have to go very far to find a delicious meal. This is the perfect place to start or finish your trip to Venezuela. Just be ready to encounter a little more tourists than the rest of the country.

Roraima

Roraima is a stunning table-top mountain that is the highest point in the Pacaraima Mountain range. It will take a demanding hike to reach the top, but the view will be well worth your time. The mountain overlooks the beautiful scenery of Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela. You can expect to see bizarre rock formations, waterfalls, and carnivorous plants on your way to the top of Roraima.

National Pantheon of Venezuela

While the main draw of Venezuela is its natural landscapes, the country also has some very impressive buildings including the National Pantheon. In addition to being a premier example of architectural genius, the National Pantheon also holds the remains of Simon Bolivar and several other important Venezuelan figures. You will find this must-see attraction in the heart of Caracas.

Originally published on Matt Walker Kansas’ website.

Fostering Employee Well-Being While Working Remotely

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a unique set of challenges to fostering employee well-being while working remotely. One major source of social interaction in people’s lives is found in the office environment. With many in-office employees now working remotely, this source of interaction and feeling of community has been jeopardized. In the pre-COVID era, those who chose to work remotely did so of their own volition and still were able to connect with others on their own timeline. Now, more people are working remotely due to the threat of contracting coronavirus rather than choosing a more conducive schedule. With this major source of social interaction stripped away, many employers are searching for resources to foster employee well-being and mental health.
 
The sense of isolation that may be experienced by remote employees can easily be exacerbated by burnout. In working from home, the lines between personal and professional lives may become blurred, with no sense of an “off” button. Previously, once an employee left the office their workday ended. However, with homes becoming offices, there is a lack of distinction between work and personal endeavors. Some employees have children at home who were previously in school, creating a greater chance of burnout due to divided attention and priorities.
 
However, there are several key things employers can provide their employees to help prevent burnout and feelings of isolation. One key component to fostering employee well-being is to promote a sense of connectedness through utilizing technology. For example, video conferences and team calls can provide social interaction with other employees and a sense of unity.
 
A second suggestion is for employers to suggest ways for employees to set boundaries, a firm schedule, and definite breaks. Devising a routine that includes breaks helps employees to set boundaries that create a demarcation between professional and personal lives. It provides that “on” and “off” switch that arrives at and leaves the office previously provided.
Finally, access to telemedicine is an important part of fostering employee well-being and mental health. Telemedicine provides employees access to licensed professionals that can discern and help all who may be suffering from anxiety, loneliness, isolation, and depression. With these simple tips, employers can help ensure that their employees receive proper support.

Originally published on Matt Walker Kansas’ website.

Spring Break Destinations for Families

There are so many different options that families can go to as far as vacations are concerned. This is the case for families that plan to go on any vacation during any time of year. However, the options really open up for families due to the fact that kids are usually off during spring break. In this piece, we are going to go over some of the best ideas for families as far as spring break is concerned.

A great destination for a family to consider is Yosemite National Park. It is a great spot for those who are adventurous and are big fans of outdoor activities. Spring is the season of new life. It is also the season in which Yosemite National Park functions at its best. Expect to see a dramatic increase in wildlife and seasonal flowers. The granite walls at the park are an attraction to visitors worldwide.

Another great option for a location is Yucatan, Mexico. Besides the beautiful time that one will have on the beach, individuals will notice that there is a significant amount of greenery in the area. A good idea for individuals looking to travel to this location is to visit the Mayan ruin known as Chichen Itza.

For individuals that are into architecture, it’s a good idea to visit the town of Merida. There are also plenty of parks to visit in the area in case one brings kids along.

When it comes to spring break destinations, there are fewer sites that are more iconic than the Grand Canyon. In addition to witnessing the Grand Canyon in all of its glory, kids can have a great deal of fun here. This location has a Junior Ranger program and kids of various ages and skill levels can enjoy a good hike.

In addition to the incredible amount of nature and the incredible scenery at the Grand Canyon, there are some awesome things that one can do. For those that are planning to stay for a while, the area has a grocery store as well as a bank. Adults can enjoy great activities such as camping and biking. In addition, families can enjoy picnics as well as a wide range of dining options.

Originally published on Matt Walker Kansas’ website.

How to Save for Retirement in Your 30s

When it comes to saving for retirement, the sooner you begin to invest, the better. Ideally, you should start savings for retirement in your 20s, but there’s always time to get started. While you might need to be more strategic with your saving, there are plenty of ways to kickstart your retirement plan. The tips below will help you get started on savings, even if you’re starting a little later in life. 

Open a Roth IRA

The maximum amount you can contribute to an IRA varies per year, but usually varies from $4,500 – $6,000. They are simple to open, are a low-risk investment, and allow your investments to grow tax-free. Your earnings can grow as long as you want and you’ll never be forced to cash out after a certain amount of time. 

Prioritize Your Spending

You might have been able to get away with more nights out and spending half your paycheck on items you didn’t need in your 20s, but that’s not possible in your 30s. Without a retirement plan in place you need to prioritize your spending on what truly matters. 

Analyze your finances and see where you can cut spending to start contributing to a retirement fund. Use the 50/30/20 rule to save well while also maintaining balance in your life. Spend 50% of your paycheck on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings. 

Consistently Add to Your 401(k)

In an ideal situation, you want to make the maximum allowable contribution to your 401(k) plan. If you can’t afford to do that immediately, dedicate a small portion of each paycheck to deposit in your 401(k) account. As you become more financially stable, gradually add more each paycheck until you reach the maximum amount each year. 

Create an Emergency Fund

Nothing derails your finances quite like emergency expenses. That’s why it’s essential to create a fund dedicated solely to those unforeseen expenses. To start, create a separate account from your savings and retirement funds and add $500. This creates a stable base to which you can add. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to have 3-4 months worth of income in this account at all times just in case the worst-case scenario becomes a reality. 

Pay Off Your Debt First

Many people in their 30s are starting to build or expand their families. However, many are still trying to pay off their own debt. Focus on paying your school or credit card debt before starting a college fund for children. It’s best to pay down existing debt before worrying about funds like these that won’t be needed for many years to come.

Tips for Retaining Great Employees

Your business is only as effective as your employees make it, so it’s essential to recruit and retain competent and talented employees. It’s not only up to you but your company and team as whole to do everything they can to make everyone feel welcomed and valued. 

Once you’ve attracted and hired stellar team members, the work doesn’t stop there. Keeping talented professionals is harder than it looks and takes work, but it always pays off in the end. Use the tips below for simple ways to retain great employees. 

Offer Competitive Benefits

When it comes to employee satisfaction a competitive benefits package cannot be underestimated. It’s your company’s stance on how much their health is worth to you, so make an effort to provide many elements that can truly make a positive impact on their health. Instead of a one-size-fits-all package, use targeted packages to please groups based on their specific needs. 

Allow Flexible Schedules

Does your team genuinely need to be in the office 8 hours a day? Such rigid schedules can be off-putting for many people, especially those with children and other commitments. Prioritize a work-life balance and allow some flexibility either by telecommuting, working from home, or having the option to spend half the day in the office and the other half elsewhere. 

As long as productivity, communication, and collaboration remain high, it’s a simple but effective way to show your employees that you care and will incentivize them to stick around. 

Recognize Quality Work

Is there anyone who doesn’t like to feel appreciated when they’ve worked hard on a project? Keep your employees engaged by recognizing the work they’ve done either publicly or with a quick email. People who feel their work is routinely unrecognized or not valued will start to look for a job where they can connect with their team more and earn the recognition they deserve. 

Prioritize Professional Development

Your talented team might be operating at the top of their game and consistently deliver quality work that is the envy of other departments. However, that doesn’t mean your team is satisfied. While they might be excelling at many aspects of their jobs, most people have bigger dreams for themselves. 

Provide opportunities to let your employees express their professional goals. Brainstorm ways you and your company can provide or guide them towards their continuing education or development. A company that shows it’s willingness to propel their employees towards their goals instead of gluing them to their current position shows commitment that they won’t want to leave. 

Promote from Within

Seeing a manager consistently overlook their team members to hire a newcomer for a position is demoralizing, especially when those employees have put in years of hard work. Before a position is opened to the public, send out the position to the in-house team. 

Doing this shows your team that you believe the work they’ve put in is valued and they will continue to have opportunities to grow within the company.

Tips for Traveling with Children

Tons of people say you have to give up traveling once you have kids, but that’s just not true. While traveling with your children will add more time to your preparation and, maybe, some stress, it’s 100% possible to have an unforgettably amazing trip with your kids. 

The tips below will help you plan your dream trip with the entire family in tow. Not only will it make the trip run more smoothly, but it will be a vacation everyone will enjoy. 

Avoid Postponing Travel

There is no single reason you should have to postpone traveling while your kids are young. Travel as soon as possible to get your kids used to the process, allow them to gain exposure to other people and cultures, and to create unique memories. 

You might have to wait to do certain activities, but there are always plenty of options for family-friendly activities. 

Adjust Your Expectations

You might want to take hour-long hikes and long tours of art museums, but your children probably won’t have the stamina or excitement for those activities. Keep your young family members in mind when planning activities. 

Focus more on activities where kids can play, touch, and immerse themselves in the experience. Lots of museums have areas dedicated to children so you can explore and learn together by visiting your favorite sections as well as theirs. 

Plan Well In Advance

Knowing exactly how you can travel with your children and all of your backpacks or bags is essential. You’ll also have to plan around school schedules, the holiday season, or the busy tourist season. 

The more prepared you are for all aspects of your travel itinerary, the fewer unexpected obstacles can throw a wrench in your plans. You’ll be able to spend more time having fun instead of searching for solutions. 

Prepare Your Children

It can be hard to convince your kids to do what you want them to. When planning your travel, it’s essential to also prepare your children. They should have clear expectations of what traveling will look and feel like and clear boundaries for their behavior. 

Perhaps more than anything else, they should be excited about the trip. Use a picture book to show them the places they’ll visit or let them pick out an activity they can look forward to to keep their spirits high during the time it takes you to get to your destination.

How to Foster Creativity in the Workplace

Employees tend to enjoy creative work environments where they feel they have the freedom to be imaginative. These are some suggestions for how to foster creativity in the workplace.

Give employees the chance to brainstorm.

Some employees have great ideas that could potentially change a company for the better. However, many employees may be too shy to speak up and share their ideas with their coworkers and superiors. Creating specific times for employees to brainstorm in a comfortable environment with pens and paper for those employees who may not want to vocalize their thoughts can evoke excellent ideas.

Get to know each employee.

Employees who feel that their bosses understand their unique personalities will be more likely to share their honest thoughts and opinions. Superiors can get to know their workers by taking a few minutes each day to have short conversations with employees and ask non-intrusive questions to get to know them.

Consider the workspace’s sounds, colors, temperatures and lighting.

These are all crucial factors for creating an engaging work environment. When it comes to sound, the workplace should never be too loud to the point where employees cannot hear themselves think, but a dead silent atmosphere can be off putting as well. Sectioning off different spaces for working together and thinking to themselves can create the right blend of noise and quiet. Regarding color, employees will most likely feel bored when everything is neutral. Adding splashes of color throughout will boost motivation and creativity among workers. In terms of temperature, the goal is to keep employees comfortable by avoiding making the workplace too hot or cold. Also, the lighting should be as natural as possible.

Use suggestion boxes physically and virtually.

Ideas often come to people at random times, so employees should have the opportunity to share their suggestions at any time instead of only at brainstorming sessions. Doing this will let workers drop an idea into the suggestion box in person or online at off times such as when they first walk into the office, return from lunch or wake up in the middle of the night.

Following these suggestions and making sure to have a diverse workplace will make for a creative work environment.

Originally published on Matt Walker Kansas’ website.

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