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unCon 2013 Session: Mindful and Authentic Leadership at Work

Moderator: Matt Bellows, CEO, Yesware and Jim
Rosen, Executive Coach 
Authenticity and transparency are company
culture buzzwords these days, so it wasn’t a surprise to see this corner
session quickly fill up with people wanting to hear tips and tricks on being a
mindful leader. The interesting part was that the conversation quickly shifted
towards assembling an incredible team.
Here are some of the key points, I gathered
from the conversation.
Hire the right people. Whether your company
is 40 people or 400,000 people, trying to enforce culture from the top down and
posting up a set of values on the wall, won’t help much if you don’t have the
right people who already embody some of that culture. How do you bring the
right people on board? Be honest during the interviews. Jen Falasca from Smart
Bear related hiring to dating. Everyone shows up to the first date with that
perfect outfit and all the right things to say, but what about the third date?
Be real about expectations and hours, but also toe the line. You don’t want to
scare away a great candidate!
Ask if anyone has questions, and mean it. Have you ever rushed
to another slide and then backtracked, “Oh, did anyone have any questions
about that last point?”, then waited half a second before continuing on?
Make sure when you ask for questions, you are ready and willing to answer them.
What if people aren’t asking questions? Scan the room. Call on people that look
concerned or who you know are directly affected by what you’re talking about.
Make sure you’re talking TO your team, not at them.
Speak the same language. As one of the
participants noted, it’s easy to be authentic when everyone’s getting along and
there’s no disagreement. What he does at the beginning of each project, is
define a lexicon and way to handle issues when they come up. That way there’s
some ground rules that allow people to be themselves when tackling problems.
Empower your team. It’s easy for a team
to look to the CEO to make all the decisions, but that’s when a bottleneck
forms. Ben Carcio, CEO of Promoboxx, says that’s why you need to have a team
that feels empowered to run on their own. Next time someone says, “wouldn’t it
be nice if we did this”, don’t take on that task. Tell them to run with it on
their own. Offer help, but let them own the project.
Show vulnerability. Great leaders show
that they’re not perfect. I love when a leader admits that they’re not the
smartest person in the room, or tells a story of a mistake and how they
rebounded from it. Acknowledge team members that have better expertise in areas
that you don’t.
Ask how you can help. Show your team you’ve
got their back. Josh Bob, from Experian, shared that he knows what his entire
team wants to do in 15 years. How? He asks them. What do you want to do in 15
years? 10? What will you do in the next 5 years to get to there? How about in
the next 2? Let your team know that you’re invested in them not only as team
members, but as people.
 – By Trish Fontanilla, @trishofthetrade

VP of Community & Customer Experience, Vsnap

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