All these skills apply regardless of your current job status, role, title, or position. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting an entry-level position, a manager, or the Vice President of your company. All levels can benefit from these 6 leadership skills.
- Embracing Politics
I know what you may be thinking… Yes, politics in an office can have a negative connotation associated with it, but it can be used for good too. At it’s core, it’s about building relationships with the people you work with. There are many different types of power and influence that exists in an organization, but there are three that stand out when talking about politics in an organization.
- Role Power
This is also referred to as “legitimate power” and is very hard to change in a company. It refers to where you sit in an organizational chart. It asks the questions; who reports to you, who do you report to, and who does your yearly performance evaluation?
- Expertise Power
This refers to who perceives you to be knowledgeable about a certain subject they care about. The key word here is, “perception.” You could be really knowledgeable about a subject but if people don’t perceive you to be knowledgeable in that subject, then you do not have “expertise power.” There may be times when you wonder why a certain individual received a promotion or how that person got into that position. This happens all too often. At some point, someone who had the “role power” to make that decision, perceived these people to be experts, even though they might not be. A lot of times this happens because the person had a relationship with the decision maker, which brings me to the third power,
- Relationship Power
This is the most important power for you to develop, because it transcends the organizational chart. You can develop relationship power with anyone, at anytime. The first step to get them to follow you is to get them to like you. Take the time to get to know other people even outside your own department. Use the people you get to know, but don’t “use” them so that the relationship is one-sided. The relationship should be a reciprocal relationship. Think about yourself as being a service to others. The goal is to fundamentally lift them up to help them succeed. The energy you put out, will come back to you. When you adopt that kind of service mentality, that’s embracing the good kind of office politics.
- Role Power
- Picking Your Battles
This skill goes hand-in-hand with office politics. You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. You can gain political capital by building relationships, but you can just as easily blow it all by choosing to fight too many battles. Save the political capital up for the times that really matter and those times are when they directly contribute to advancing your priorities. Don’t sweat the small things, instead focus on the things that allow you to get you where you want to go.
- Crafting Your Vision
Battles you choose to fight all depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Great leaders have a plan and need to establish a clear set of goals. It’s important to have a sense of purpose, know what it’s going to take and how to articulate it simply to your team. If you can’t articulate it correctly, they may not jump on board. Remember, just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean it will make sense to them. Be Bold. Leaders are meant to inspire people and if you accomplish that, they will be more likely to show up and do their best work.
- Build Alignment
Great leaders bring other people along with them. Companies gain buy-in from different levels of people within the organization. That means communicating the big picture to everyone who needs to be involved. This ensures that everyone who wants to be involved has that chance to be included and anyone who doesn’t, can opt out. Include the reasoning behind your methods and really encourage questions. A lot of people are going to have a lot of ideas and make good points and so it’s important for you to remain open-minded. This is also a chance to look for opportunities to collaborate with them or refine your vision.
- Inspiring Execution
At this point, you know where you’re going, you have your group of people, and now it’s time to see your vision through and to do that, you have to create a tactical execution plan that illustrates what’s expected from each person. Make sure to give feedback along the way and set the example through your own behavior.
- Learn To Give Up Control
How you execute a vision or a plan is critical, but don’t mistake it for micro-managing. Leaders set goals and empower the people around them with the resources and support they need to get the job done. Even if you see them doing something different then what you would do, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong and it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Don’t control them into doing it your way. Instead, ask questions and try to see it from their point of view.
If you don’t achieve your goal or see it through like you thought, you have the opportunity to learn from it and make improvements for the next time around. The only failure that really happens is the one we don’t learn from. Even if you let your people execute it the way they wanted, bring them along with you. They will learn something they didn’t know before. That’s going to set them up for future success. That, at the core, is what being a leader is really about.
Borysenko, Karlyn. “Human Strategies Podcast #11: Six Critical Leadership Skills That Will Take Your Career to the next Level.” Audio blog post. Zen Workplace. N.p., 3 Jan. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
If you are self-employed, you normally carry on a trade or business. Sole proprietors andindependent contractors are two types of self-employment. If this applies to you, there are a few basic things you should know about how your income affects your federal tax return. Here are six important tips from the IRS:
- SE Income. Self-employment can include income you received for part-time work. This is in addition to income from your regular job.
- Schedule C or C-EZ. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet certain other conditions. See the form instructions to find out if you can use the form.
- SE Tax. You may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if you made a profit. Self-employment tax includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure the tax. If you owe this tax, attach the schedule to your federal tax return.
- Estimated Tax. You may need to make estimated tax payments. Try IRS Direct Pay. People typically make these payments on income that is not subject to withholding. You usually pay estimated taxes in four annual installments. If you do not pay enough tax throughout the year, you may owe a penalty.
- Allowable Deductions. You can deduct expenses you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business.
- When to Deduct. In most cases, you can deduct expenses in the same year you paid, or incurred them. However, you must ‘capitalize’ some costs. This means you can deduct part of the cost over a number of years.
It will be a festive and fun day for many as we keep an eye out for leprechauns. But if we aren’t careful, our Pot O’ Gold, may suffer by not following some simple tips for Saint Patrick’s Day when it comes to work.
1. No Green Beer
Simply put: alcohol and work do not mix. So save the green beer and Jameson for your personal time after hours! A green tinted non-alcoholic punch or drink would be a great way to celebrate with your co-workers!
Be mindful of what you are representing when picking out your attire. It is always imperative that your attire stays within the realms of your company’s dress code. That being said, why not sport a green top, tie, or socks?
3. No Pinching Zone
Legend has it that if you don’t wear green on St. Paddy’s Day then you get pinched. This is one thing that we need to leave in the school yard. No green pinch is worth a sexual harassment claim!
4. Irish Flu
The day after St. Paddy’s Day has long been a day of high absenteeism. As an employee, do you have a PTO day you can schedule? As a boss, are you prepared for scheduling problems?
With those for things in mind, be ready to sport your shamrocks, eat your corned beef and cabbage, and have a festive day!
Employers should be careful how they deal with absenteeism by exempt employees.
Don’t dock an exempt employee’s paycheck for missing less than one full day of work because it could destroy their exemption and entitle them to time-and-a-half for all overtime they have worked in the past or work in the future. However, the FLSA does allow for partial day absences to be paid through an employee’s accrual bank of PTO, Vacation, or Sick hours. The only exception for docking a salary exempt employees pay for a partial day absence is if the absence is covered by the FMLA, and the employee has exhausted their accrual bank hours.
Full Day deductions of pay from a salary exempt employee are allowed only under the following circumstances:
- During the initial or final week of employment the employees pay may be reduced to reflect the actual hours worked.
- Full-day absences for personal reasons.
- Full day absences for disciplinary suspension for safety violations.
- Full day absences in which an employee has exhausted their entitled Paid Leave plan balances.
- FMLA Absences.
Two other attendance issues protected by law are employees called to jury duty and employees who request time off for religious reasons. State and federal laws generally require employers to give workers leave when called to serve on a jury. And employers may have to bend their attendance rules to accommodate a worker’s religious practices or beliefs.
A key to curbing abuse is to have an absenteeism policy that clearly sets forth which absences are allowed, and what behavior will subject the employee to discipline.
Each year, people fall prey to tax scams. That’s why the IRS sends a list of its annual “Dirty Dozen.” Stay safe and be informed – don’t become a victim.
If you get involved in illegal tax scams, you can lose money or face stiff penalties, interest and even criminal prosecution. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be on the lookout for these scams:
Identity theft. Identity theft, especially around tax time, is at the top of the “Dirty Dozen” list again this year. The IRS continues to aggressively pursue criminals who file fraudulent returns using someone else’s Social Security number. The IRS is making progress on this front. Remain vigilant to avoid becoming a victim.
Telephone scams. Threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat. The IRS has seen a surge of these phone scams in recent years as scam artists threaten taxpayers with police arrest, deportation, license revocation and more. These con artists often demand payment of back taxes on a prepaid debit card or by immediate wire transfer. Be alert to con artists impersonating IRS agents and demanding payment.
Phishing. Phishing scams typically use unsolicited emails or fake websites that appear legitimate but are attempting to steal your personal information. The IRS will not send you an email about a bill or tax refund out of the blue. Don’t click on strange emails and websites that may be scams to steal your personal information.
Return Preparer Fraud. About 60 percent of taxpayers use tax professionals to prepare their returns. While most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, there are some dishonest ones who set up shop each filing season to perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams. Be on the lookout for unscrupulous tax return preparers. Choose your preparer wisely.
Offshore Tax Avoidance. Hiding money and income offshore is a bad bet. If you have money in offshore banks, it’s best to contact the IRS to get your taxes in order. The IRS offers the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program to help you do that.
Inflated Refund Claims. Be on the lookout for anyone promising inflated tax refunds. Also be wary of anyone who asks you to sign a blank return, promises a big refund before looking at your tax records or charges fees based on a percentage of the refund. Scam artists use flyers, advertisements, phony store fronts and word of mouth via trusted community groups to find victims.
Fake Charities. Be on guard against groups masquerading as charitable organizations to attract donations from unsuspecting contributors. If you are making a charitable contribution, you should take a few extra minutes to ensure your hard-earned money goes to legitimate and currently eligible charities. IRS.gov has the tools you need to check out the status of charitable organizations. Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally-known organizations.
Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns. Don’t give in to the temptation to inflate deductions or expenses on your tax return. Think twice before overstating deductions such as charitable contributions, inflating claimed business expenses or including credits that you are not entitled to receive, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit. Complete an accurate return.
Excessive Claims for Business Credits. Don’t make improper claims for fuel tax credits. The credit is generally limited to off-highway business use, including use in farming. It is generally not available to most taxpayers. Also avoid misuse of the research credit. If it doesn’t apply to your business and you don’t meet the criteria, don’t make the claim.
Falsifying Income to Claim Credits. Don’t invent income to erroneously claim tax credits. A scam artist may try to talk you into doing this. You should file the most accurate tax return possible because you are legally responsible for what is on your return. Falling prey to this scam may mean you have to pay back taxes, interest and penalties. In some cases, you may even face criminal prosecution.
Abusive Tax Shelters. Avoid using abusive tax structures to avoid paying taxes. The IRS is committed to stopping complex tax avoidance schemes and the people who create and sell them. Be on the lookout for people peddling tax shelters that sound too good to be true. When in doubt, seek an independent opinion regarding these complex situations or offers. Most taxpayers pay their fair share, and so should you.
Frivolous Tax Arguments. Using frivolous tax arguments to avoid paying taxes can have serious financial consequences. Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying taxes. The law is crystal clear that people must pay their taxes. For decades, the federal courts have consistently upheld the tax laws. The penalty for filing a frivolous tax return is $5,000.
Tax scams can take many forms beyond the “Dirty Dozen.” The best defense is to remain alert. Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTubeand Tumblr, where you can search “scam” to find all the scam-related posts.
The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.
13 Ways to Beat Distractions and Stay Focused at Work
- Pinpoint the problem. What causes you to lose focus? Is it fatigue, hunger or a Twitter addition? Figuring out the issue is the first step toward trying to fix it.
- Plan ahead. Envision what the workday will look like before it happens. Write down what things need to get done or what you want to accomplish. Setting goals can help people stay on track.
- Eat a good breakfast. A bowl of oatmeal may do more than jump start metabolism. Studies have found that eating breakfast can improve attention and concentration, too. Here’s what the experts say you should eat in the morning.
- Meditate. Scientists have discovered that meditation may enhance certainbrain functions linked to attention. It can’t hurt to try shutting everything off to get more done in the long run.
- Work offline. One survey found nearly 60% of disruptions at work come from email, social networks and cell phones. So for tasks that don’t involve the Internet, try using old-fashioned paper and pen — perfect for brainstorming! Put your phone on silent and check email only occasionally (try once every hour). Limit time on social media too. You can “like” your friend’s picture of his dog later.
- Do smaller tasks. Some psychologists suggest that our brain works way too hard to process incredible amounts of information. So working on one large project can be overwhelming — like trying to plan a whole event at work in one afternoon. Split up projects into individual tasks so they’re easier to accomplish.
- Time box. Work on one project for a specific amount of time, rather than working until something is finished. (Write emails until 2 p.m., instead of stopping at inbox zero.) This way we know we can work hard until a certain time, and then be able to take a break.
- Clean up. Anything from Post-Its to pretzels and family photos can become a distraction. Clear off the workspace and have out only what’s needed (laptop, notebook, water-bottle — check!) to help stay in the zone.
- Try an app. Discard anydistractions with a little help from technology. Certain apps can block websites (so long, Pinterest) or black out computer screen backgrounds so only one program is in view at a time. There are web tools that can calculate how much time is spent on websites, too. (Now that could be scary.)
- Reward yourself. A little motivation can go a long way. Say, “After I finish this page, I’ll go buy a cookie!” (Try these vegan delicacies.) Watch that to-do list vanish in no time.
- Take little breaks. Getting to the office early, working through lunch and staying late doesn’t necessarily mean getting more stuff done. Short bursts of hard work followed by quick breaks can be more beneficial than never taking a breather, since the brain may just burn out.
- Wear headphones. At Greatist we practice the “headphone rule”: no one’s allowed to talk to someone who’s wearing ear gear. It’s a great way to show you’re working on something important and don’t have time to chat. (Sometimes I don’t even have music playing — my secret!)
- Try caffeine. Coffee or tea may help people feel more alert and able to concentrate in the cubicle. If iced coffee isn’t your cup of…coffee, try chewing gum, which may help increase alertness too.