TIME Careers & Workplace

Here’s What Basically Everybody Gets Wrong at Work

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The one quality you need to make your mark

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Ever wonder why some managers just can’t get along with their teams? Or have you seen a boss who’s lost touch with reality?

Maybe you’re the leader, and you’ve noticed a slow-but-sure disconnect from your team. What can you do about it?

You’ve heard the advice time and again: Learn to show more empathy.

Empathy is considered by many to be a basic human quality. So why is it often still missing in our day-to-day work?

Many persons confuse empathy with its closely related cousin sympathy. The two qualities are definitely related, but the key to demonstrating empathy is knowing the difference.

According to Merriam-Webster, empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s feelings and emotions.”

Whereas sympathy involves feeling sorry for someone, empathy requires us to go a step further, and it lasts longer. Here’s an example:

Imagine a colleague goes through a difficult situation; let’s say he loses a close family member in an accident. We naturally feel sympathy for him. We may even write a card or express those feelings somehow. For the most part, though, we move on with our lives.

But when we show empathy, we take more time–time to remember how we felt when we lost someone close to us (or how we would feel, if we haven’t had this experience). We think about how this affected our work, our relationships with others.

Even further, we try to imagine specifically how our colleague feels in this situation. We recognize that he (like every individual) will deal with the trauma in his own unique way.

Empathy has been described as “your pain in my heart.”

The problem is, despite the fact that we crave for others to try fitting into our shoes, we’re often not ready to do the same for them. We see this every day: broken marriages, strained parent-child relationships, deteriorating communication in the workplace. (Author Mike Robbins illustrates this perfectly here.)

If a leader can demonstrate true empathy to individual team members, it will go a long way toward encouraging them to perform at their best.

It may even inspire the team to show empathy for the leader.

That’s right—empathy begets empathy.

So how do you get your company leaders—and employees—to be more empathetic?

  • If you’re a manager, the next time an employee comes to you with a problem or complaint, resist the ‘Not again. What now?’ attitude. Try to remember: You once had a similar problem. If not, someone you respect did. Ask yourself: Why does this person feel this way? What can I do to make the situation better?
  • If a specific task or process is causing problems, try to work alongside a disgruntled team member, to better understand the person’s point of view. Showing empathy in this way takes time, but you will often motivate the one(s) you are trying to help. Not to mention the benefits this will bring to your working relationship.
  • If you are an employee who feels your manager is being especially unreasonable, try to understand why. Maybe the manager is dealing with extreme pressure of his or her own, or maybe there’s a problem at home, or maybe … you get the drift.

Simply put, empathy starts with giving others the benefit of the doubt.

Once, I learned the value of showing empathy firsthand. I had been working a number of years for the same organization, and was now engaged to my fiancée from Germany. As we were trying to determine where to start our new life together, my office made it clear that it was reducing personnel, and my department was being reorganized. I was being considered for a new position, and my fiancée and I decided that if I got it, I would remain in New York City and she would join me. If not, we would move.

I was told I would be informed of the decision within four to six weeks. Six weeks came and went. Then seven. Eight. Nine. The wedding date was getting closer, and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take the suspense—I didn’t care anymore what happened; I just needed to know something.

After going through the normal HR channels, I decided to try something different. I wrote an email directly to Mr. Pierce—a member of the executive board who was the head of personnel (whom I had never met). Since our organization had about 6,000 staff members at the time, I wasn’t sure how he would take this: I was traveling to Germany to see my fiancée in a few days, and I thought it would be great to have some news to share with her personally. (Call me a romantic. Or call me stupid–I’ve heard both.)

After two months of anticipation, it took exactly two days after my email to get a decision. I then boarded a plane to Germany, and less than 12 hours later, my fiancée and I were planning our new life together—in New York City. We couldn’t have been happier.

Sadly, Mr. Pierce passed away some months ago. I’ve often wondered how many similar emails, letters, and requests he read throughout the years. A press release issued by my former agency made the following statement:

Mr. Pierce served on various committees … [and] his organizational responsibilities required that he travel extensively … Despite his workload, he was well known for never being too busy to listen to those needing assistance or advice, and he put others at ease with his warm smile and good sense of humor. His closest associates noted that people from different backgrounds or cultures were naturally drawn to him.

When Mr. Pierce read my email all those years ago, he wasn’t just reading the random request of a junior manager. He was reading my deep concerns and feelings. The problem was important to me, so it was important to him.

Mr. Pierce knew empathy. My pain in his heart.

Employer or employee, empathy makes us more flexible and compassionate. It makes us easier to work with, and in the eyes of others, it makes us more human.

So the next time you realize that the relationship you have with a colleague is not what you want, take the time to show some empathy.

It might be just what the person needs.

One day, it’ll be what you need, too.

TIME advice

How to Feel More Empowered on a Daily Basis

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The most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

The word “power” can conjure up a lot of opinions and reactions, especially for women.

Many of us, when we think about powerful women, imagine (best-case scenario) Olivia Pope in all her white-wardrobe glory or (worst-case scenario) Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada—no-nonsense, borderline-aggressive, delegating pros wearing power suits and designer heels.

While I’m all about great shoes and bold women, the distinction I want to make here is that powerful does not need to mean power over other people. In fact, the most truly powerful women are those who are self-empowered.

So what does that actually mean? I think the word “empowered” has become so overused that it’s almost lost its meaning. To me, empowered means feeling charged, confident, proud, inspired, and passionate. It’s feeling like you’re in the driver’s seat of your life (instead of in the back seat, watching your life pass by through the window).

Sadly, most of us don’t feel empowered on a daily basis… maybe not even a weekly or monthly basis.

What can you do to feel more powerful and in control of your daily life?

Consider the areas of your life that currently feel disempowering.

Maybe you feel trapped, stuck, or unfulfilled at work. Or maybe some of your relationships are making you feel undervalued or invisible.

Feeling disempowered can make you feel completely out of control and at the mercy of your situation. Most people’s default reaction to feeling disempowered is to either 1) shut down and want to give up or 2) to blame someone or something else. In both cases, you relieve yourself of responsibility, which only serves to make you feel more powerless.

So how can you take back your power over one small (or large) piece of this situation?

Here’s a great example:

I was working with one of my life-coaching clients recently, and she was feeling completely powerless about her work schedule. She really values freedom and flexibility, and she hated that she had to sit at her desk until 5:30 or later every afternoon, regardless of whether she’d finished her work for the day or not.

Every hour that she sat at that desk, with no work to do, she felt increasingly more resentful. It got to the point that she was considering quitting because she was so frustrated.

I asked if she’d talked to her boss about having a more flexible schedule, based more on productivity rather than arbitrary hours. “Oh, no, I can’t ask that. That’s not how my company works. Plus, I’m afraid my boss will think I’m lazy.”

(MORE: The Power of Power Poses)

But eventually, her misery outweighed the discomfort of having that conversation with her boss. She decided to take action and ask for what she wanted; we even planned out, in advance, how she could frame it as a win-win for her and her company.

The result? Her boss was completely open to the idea, and now she has a much more flexible work schedule. She feels valued and unrestricted at work now, and her resentment and powerlessness evaporated.

That’s exactly what I mean about getting back in the driver’s seat of your life.

Consciously relive your wins on a regular basis.

When was the last time you feel completely charged, confident, proud, inspired, and capable of anything?

Whether it was yesterday or six months ago, you probably haven’t thought back on that moment much since it happened.

But the criticism or negative feedback you got about your last project? That’s probably running through your head on repeat.

As humans, we’re wired to hone in on the negatives and quickly forget about the positives in our past. It takes consistent effort to consciously rewire your brain to relive your past wins more often than your failures.

One way to do this is to create a personal “Brag Sheet”—I’m not talking about a résumé, here. This is a list of all the things that you’ve done that have made you feel proud and amazing, big or small. No one has to see this but you, so you get to include anything you want.

Keep your brag sheet somewhere visible—on your computer desktop, the notes app on your phone, or the nightstand by your bed—so you can see it regularly and continually add to it.

Bam, instant internal power boost.

Challenge yourself to face your fears regularly.

A while back, I wrote an article called Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You, which was inspired by the book, My Year With Eleanor. In the memoir, the author, Noelle Hancock, released her social anxiety and regained her confidence and passion for life by facing one of her fears every single day for an entire year.

While I’m not necessary suggesting you to go extremes like she did, I do believe that deliberately facing down your fears (whether it’s speaking up in a meeting or going skydiving) is an instant confidence booster. It puts the other stressors in your life in perspective and makes you realize, “If I could do that, then I can do anything.”

(MORE: Is Short Hair the New Power Move?)

TIME

10 Essential Habits for Working at Home

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Working from home is a luxury, and you have to work hard and work smart if you want to make the most of it. Integrate these habits into your at-home work life

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular option, with employees from secretaries to CEOs utilizing the advantages of a home office at least part of the time. While there are still some lingering critics who insist that working from home leads to stunted professional relationships and lower productivity, the majority of employers in the United States are becoming more lenient with the alternative work environment.

Regardless of whether you work at home once a month or every day, there are a handful of crucial habits you’ll need to adopt if you want to work effectively. Working from home is a luxury, but you have to work hard and work smart if you want to make the most of it. Integrate these habits into your at-home work life:

1. Establish a designated working area.

It’s called a “home office” for a reason. Working from your bed may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to sleep or relax. Working in your living room in front of your TV may not be a great idea because you’ll be tempted to watch it. Instead, create a designated working space; it doesn’t have to be a whole room, but it does have to be a distraction-free setting that isn’t used for any other purpose. Arriving at your designated “home office” will set a tone of diligence and focus on work for the rest of the day.

2. Dress for the job.

The prospect of working in pajamas is appealing to just about everybody, but there is a real psychological benefit to dressing for your job even when you’re at home. You don’t have to wear a full suit and tie every day, but it pays to take the time to get dressed professionally. It will help get your mind into “work mode” and avoid the temptation of staying in sloppy “pajama mode.” Plus, it looks a lot better when it comes time to use Skype or a similar video-chatting platform. Speaking of which…

3. Learn different mediums of communication.

Phone calls, emails, text messages, instant messages, and face chats are all available means of communication for telecommuters. Deep down, you probably have a strong preference for one of those methods–we all have biases. However, in order to function efficiently as a telecommuter, you need to learn several of these mediums and how to use them practically. For example, there are times when a phone call would be a waste but an email would work perfectly. There are also times when instant messages have no advantage over a video chat. Use each medium wisely and be open to different forms of communication for different coworkers.

4. Set hours and stick to them.

Be strict with yourself. Set the start of your day and end of your day at very specific times, and adhere to those times. It’s not just about making sure you work a certain number of hours–it’s about maximizing the time you do have. Starting at 8 a.m. sharp will give you a specific initiation point, rather than a fuzzy period of procrastination and distraction. But ending at say, 5 p.m. sharp, is also beneficial. Working from home can cause your personal life and work life to bleed into each other, so it’s important to draw firm lines between them for your mental health.

5. Specify tasks for each day.

Creating a task list for each day you work from home can help you stay focused and give you a measurable indication of how well you’re performing in a work-from-home environment. It’s a good idea in general to create task lists, but using them for your independent work is especially critical. Organize your tasks by priority, specifying which tasks must be done by the end of the day. Then, at the end of your day, look back at your list and review all the items you were able to complete. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate your performance and set new tasks for subsequent days.

6. Take breaks.

Just as it’s important to wear clothes like you would in an office, it’s vital to take breaks like you would in an office. It’s another advantage to having a designated work area in your home; when it’s time for a break, you can leave and relax in the kitchen or in the living room for a while. Taking a break clears your mind and gives you a refreshed perspective, so instead of allowing your day to bleed in with your personal time, make a clear distinction between “work time” and “break time.”

7. Avoid interactions with family or friends.

This habit is a bit misleading–you shouldn’t ignore your family members if they need you, obviously, but don’t make working from home a group activity. Close yourself off, if necessary, and tell your family and friends to treat you as if you are in a real office. Conversing with friends or family regularly throughout the day can lull you into a casual state of mind and distract you from your focus on work.

8. Don’t sacrifice face-to-face interaction.

That being said, face-to-face interaction is still important. If you’re working from home all day, every day, for an extended period of time, it’s important to meet with your co-workers and clients in person. Get out and go to an office lunch to commune with your teammates, or try going back to the office one day a week, if possible. The physical interaction is important for your psychological health, and just video chatting isn’t enough to fulfill that need. It’s easy to get lost in the digital world, but try not to let yourself.

9. Create mini-routines.

Routines can be annoying or tedious, but they provide an easy structure to your day. Create specific routines in your work-from-home days that help you get into the flow of work. For example, in the morning you could read your emails while eating breakfast and spend 15 minutes outlining a task list for the day. If you do this every morning, it will become easier and easier to fall into that habit and seamlessly transition into your work schedule. The same type of routine can be applied to your breaks and midday habits as well.

10. Reward yourself.

When you do a good job, you deserve a reward. Don’t hesitate to make yourself a fresh pot of coffee after overcoming a major hurdle, or to take a long break after finishing that burdensome task. Rewarding yourself appropriately throughout the day gives you positive feedback for your accomplishments and keeps things from getting stale. Your home environment has many more opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment than your office, so use them to your advantage by pursuing them after you’ve done something worthy of reward.

Keep these habits strong in your work routine, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of working from home without sacrificing your productivity or your satisfaction. If you’re just getting started working from home, keep in mind that everybody works differently, and it will take some time to find a structure that works best for you. Stay committed to your goals, and eventually you’ll create a near-perfect system.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How Steve Jobs Broke All of Richard Branson’s Rules

Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at a conference on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at a conference on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

The iconic entrepreneurs had very different management approaches. Richard Branson shares why Jobs's style worked for Apple, but it's unlikely to work for your company

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

What do the management styles of Virgin founder Richard Branson and Apple’s Steve Jobs have in common? If you said, “absolutely nothing,” then you’re on the right track.

“I have enormous admiration for what Steve Jobs achieved, but it was a very different approach,” Branson tells Inc. president and editor-in-chief Eric Schurenberg in an interview. While Branson delegates the day-to-day details to someone else high up in the company so that he can focus on the greater vision for Virgin, Jobs was the exact opposite in the way he ran Apple.

“He was very hands-on, to the extent that every little single detail of an advert he was second-guessing,” Branson says. “Somehow it worked. Sometimes my rules are meant to be broken.”

Jobs also was known for his brusque behavior with employees and for getting heavily involved in product development and design, something that would not be an effective leadership strategy in most other companies, according to Branson.

“He was brilliant himself at a whole variety of different things, but he was not the best delegator or the best motivator of people,” Branson says. “Personally, I think his approach for the vast majority of people running companies will not work.”

To hear more from Richard Branson about how his approach differs from that used by Steve Jobs, watch this video.

TIME Careers & Workplace

3 Most Important Things to Know When You’re Hiring Somebody

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Hiring is about more than finding qualified candidates, it’s about building a winning team

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This story was originally published on StartupCollective.

Your team is critical. Not only do you spend more time with them at your fast-growing company than you do with your own family, but a very large part of your success will depend on the quality and mindset of these individuals. So when hiring, remember that these candidates are not prospective employees, they are new teammates.

At Trunomi we are trying to create a whole new paradigm, where our customers have control of their own personally indentifiable information (Pii) and they control the use of it over their mobile device. We’re getting rid of Big Brother and making it “Easy as Pii™.” Given the extent of our intellectual property, our velocity as a company and our desire to have fun while doing what we do best, our team is everything.

As such, we’ve reinvented our approach to team building. Our goal is to find and develop Trunomians: team members who live, breathe and love Trunomi and its ideals. I’d like to share some of the key parts of that process here, which you can adapt to your own culture:

Leave Compensation Out of It (At First)

In the highly competitive landscape of finding the best additions to your company, amazing potential hires don’t just make their decisions based on compensation, but on factors well beyond it. These days, compensation rates are a well-defined commodity, so we leave money out of it for as long as possible. This shows them what matters most to us is something much more important than money.

Do a “Share and Invite”

Additionally, rather than asking questions, we use a process called “share and invite.” It starts with us sharing openly and fully, and then inviting prospective team members to comment on what we just shared. This unique approach achieves the dual goals of ensuring that expectations are clearly set for both parties and helping to figure out if this is a mutual fit — all with a foundation of transparency in communication. This saves an immense amount of time, money, frustration and opportunity cost, and leaves a great impression while helping you build a winning team. It’s also very conversational, which sets them at ease and makes the most of the short time you have together.

I usually start by sharing a compelling high-level overview to communicate the scale of our vision, and then pause to see how they react and if they have any comments. I move on to the importance for us of our team working together as collaborators, inviting them to respond there as well. I will often speak openly about our culture — sharing the most important aspects which truly matter most in our culture deck. After another pause for them to contribute their own thoughts, I talk about our open standard: that everyone in our company is seen as an innovator (another pause for comment), and that our default response to any ideas of Trunomians is YES — any NOs have to be substantiated.

Once they’ve responded, I move on with more about how our team functions. Like the fact that we bring problems and proposed solutions to our town hall meetings. After hearing their response, I move forward with how through collaborative analysis we as a team can tease out of any ideas as well as the most relevant and useful bits. I wait to hear their comments on this approach before I talk about my personal passions and how we value individuality. After another pause for them to interject about their own passions, I share how hard we all work and the corresponding freedoms that we all earn as a result. I also share things I am trying to improve at, or failings we recognize which we are trying to overcome — showing humanity and learning and trust.

At each opportunity — between topics and the things I’m sharing – the invitation for them to share opens up the conversation in a compelling way. The natural fit (or not) will become evident. In the best case it’s a true fit. If not, at a minimum they leave feeling that you shared and listened. They know you took the time, and as a result they will recall a great experience.

Remember: It can be a small world and they might just refer a friend to you.

Conduct a Behavioral Assessment

Finally, if things have gone well, we invite prospective team members to conduct a Predictive Index (PI), which gives amazing insight about their strengths, goals and habits. We then share the results with them afterwards. If we proceed forward with the candidate, we can also use this to place them better within our team.

If we don’t, they then have a valuable takeaway – which leaves a lasting positive impression of our company.

As a final note, one of the more compelling ways to ensure the success of your company, especially when it is in growth mode, is to ensure that you have a repeatable process in place for hires. This takes out the guesswork and makes sure that each addition has the same opportunity and expectations. Following this conversational, finding-a-good-fit model has worked well for us; you can develop your own specific processes to suit your goals.

Good luck finding your own Trunomians!

TIME Careers & Workplace

Top 5 Reasons You Should Still Believe in Email

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These five research-backed stats will convince you to start sending email content

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

When the Internet was new to consumers, everyone loved email. One of the best parts of logging onto AOL was the knowledge that after minutes of agonizing squeals, you’d be treated to that wonderful phrase, “You’ve Got Mail!”

But after a couple decades of Nigerian prince schemes, Spanish lotto scams, and mountains of unsolicited spam (which is never a good marketing tactic), how do people feel about email now? Is it still a worthwhile tactic for small-business owners and marketers to pursue?

The simple answer is yes. But you came here to learn, so here are the Top 5 research-backed reasons email marketing is vital for businesses of all sizes:

1. Email is an easy way to reach mobile customers.

One reason email marketing has value for business owners is that it’s an easy way to start reaching consumers on mobile without investing a lot in new technology or software. According to an April report from Pew Research Center, 52 percent of US cellphone owners access their emails from their phones. Email marketing also works with other mobile devices. In July, Forrester Research released a study that found 42 percent of retailers’ email messages were opened by consumers on their smartphones and 17 percent were opened on tablets. This means that nearly three out of every five email marketing messages doubles as a mobile marketing message. Using email is better for mobile marketing than SMS because:

  1. It works on mobile devices other than phones
  2. Emails are free for the consumer, whereas texting may incur a charge
  3. Emails have far more space for content than text messages, allowing for better marketing pieces.

2. It’s an effective way to keep customers informed.

Email marketing isn’t something marketers do just because they can and it’s easy. The tactic is very effective at helping business owners and consumers stay connected. In fact, consumers often seek out email marketing campaigns from their favorite brands and local stores. This goes beyond coupons (which we’ll discuss next). Nielsen reported that 28 percent of US online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to stay informed. A study from Loyalty 360 stated that 59 percent of US moms would sign up for email updates from brands if rewards were offered. And email marketing can be used as a way to deliver content to consumers. A 2013 study by the Relevancy Group noted that marketers who add video to their email campaigns see an average rise in revenue of 40 percent. There is a real value to staying connected to customers and email marketing makes that easy to do.

3. Email coupons drive online and in-store sales.

The Nielsen study mentioned above also found that 27 percent of US online shoppers subscribe to store or product emails in order to save money. This conclusion is backed up by recent data from Deloitte that found 65 percent of consumers say email coupons are important when grocery shopping online. Similarly, Shop.org reported 64 percent of US Internet users have printed a coupon from an email. Though consumers are looking to save money, it can turn into increased revenue for the retailer. E-coupons are big business, and email marketing is at its heart. The number of mobile coupons used is estimated to double over the next five years to reach 1 billion people. Email marketing is a good way to start reaching the growing number of online bargain hunters. The big brands are already using this tactic for that purpose. BIA/Kelsey reports that 36.6 percent of national businesses use email marketing for local promotions.

4. It’s easy to customize and integrate into other marketing tactics.

The versatility of email marketing is another reason marketers should keep the tactic in their marketing toolbox. Depending on the depth of the email database and the skill of the crafter, email marketing messages can range from simple to very complex. Emails can be personalized to include the name of the user and even more. A small study of 139 marketers from Retention Science found that websites use several kinds of personalization tactics that can easily be applied to email. Nearly half of US online retailers used personalized product recommendations (44.9%), about a third added the customer’s name and/or a unique welcome message (31.5%), and a quarter of the respondents reported adding shopping cart reminders (27.6%) to cover all of their personalization bases. Email marketing can also be utilized with just about any other marketing tactic, which makes email an important part of any integrated marketing campaign.

5. Email marketing is inexpensive.

To sum up the best reason to use email marketing: It’s easy, effective, and inexpensive. Email marketing allows business owners to reach a large number of consumers at a rate of pennies per message. For small-business owners on a budget, this makes it a better choice than traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, or direct mail. You don’t have to take my word for it. A joint study from Shop.org and Forrester Research found that 85 percent of US retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics.

The point of all this is that email may be an old tactic, but it remains a vital one. It’s relatively easy to get started with email marketing, so there’s no excuse for business owners to not be taking advantage of the tactic. Understandably, business owners may be too busy to handle the email marketing on their own, but this is something that any Web marketing professional (wink, wink) can help with. For more information on email marketing, read 10 more stats that show email marketing is still worthwhile and 5 stats that will make you a better email marketer.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Justifiable Ways to Be Completely Ruthless

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Want to get to the top? You can't be nice all the time

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

It’s often said that even the most respected leaders are considered by many to be ruthless, even brutal at times. Of course, often when leaders are perceived as merciless, that hard perception belongs to those who did not deserve any mercy.

Great leaders have to be tough and decisive. Often their decisions will displease many, but they can’t effectively lead if every decision is the result of democracy or consensus. This is the difficult path for the leader. It’s easy to stay popular when you appease everyone, but rarely will that drive a large organization to success. They must make the best decision taking all the needs and wants into account. Ultimately, they have to lead the way or step aside.

Here are five ways a leader must be uncompromising and perhaps ruthless in order to benefit a loyal following. See if you have the strength to be tough when needed.

1. Drive the vision.

Despite the arguments from proponents of flat management, most companies can’t move forward without strong vision and a leader ready to move the organization forward despite the risks and stress. Great leaders know when to push or pull the team down the road in order to break the inertia.

2. Protect the team.

Not everyone is a great fit on every team. Well-meaning people can be disruptive and difficult given the wrong set of circumstances. A great leader understands when dysfunction is beyond repair and must make the cut so the team can survive despite individual consequences.

3. Weather the storm

Business can be unpredictable. Just when you think things are calm, something like the financial crisis of 2008 comes along and destroys every bit of safety you built over decades. Great leaders know that this is the time to make decisions that may hurt the few in order to save the many. They must maintain strength at the expense of collateral damage so that all don’t perish.

4. Maintain morale.

Great leadership requires strength, structure, stability and decisiveness. When a team is surrounded by chaos, inaction and indecision productivity drops along with morale. Strong leaders know that running a tight ship allows for the team to be more carefree and opens the door for enjoyment and, ultimately, the kind of innovation that breeds genuine excitement making small personal sacrifices of freedom worth the price.

5. Preserve the culture.

Not every team can survive a wide variety of personality traits. Companies that scale tightly define their culture and use it as a tool to weed out those who may cause growth to slow. Great leaders continuously define and refine the culture to reward those who can conform and excel while ruthlessly eliminating those who won’t be a fit for the long haul. On the bright side, those people will be free to find an environment where they can thrive and be happy rather than living in frustration and mediocrity.

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Horrible Habits You Need to Stop Right Now

Author Tim Ferriss suggests some common bad habits you should definitely add to your not-to-do-list


This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

For the full list, click here.

MONEY Careers

The Best Way to Come Out to Coworkers and Bosses

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on stage during an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California.
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Inspired by Apple CEO Tim Cook's announcement that he's gay? These strategies can help you open up with your colleagues.

On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out to his entire customer base.

In a column for Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook wrote: “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

The Apple chief’s column continued to say while he had wanted to maintain “a basic level of privacy,” he felt that this was holding him back from helping others.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook wrote. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Coming out to anyone is a big step. But for many LGBT individuals, informing professional relations of one’s sexuality is just as challenging—if not more so—as telling friends and family.

Despite rising public support for LGBT rights and the increase in state laws recognizing those rights, a majority (53%) of LGBT workers in the U.S. hide this part of their identify at work, according to a study released this year by the Human Rights Campaign.

According to the survey, the reasons for not being open at work range from feelings that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is “nobody’s business,” to fear of being stereotyped, to concern that bias could have a negative effect on one’s career and professional relationships. What many don’t realize, however, is that remaining in the closet can itself have negative effects: Many LGBT workers report feeling exhausted and distracted at work from all the time and energy they spend hiding their identities, according to HRC.

“Often fears are overblown in our minds,” says Sarah Holland, an executive coach who formerly headed the Visibility Project, a national organization that helped corporations address issues of sexual orientation in the workplace. “The world is more receptive to LGBT individuals than it’s ever been before. More often then not your colleagues have already made assumptions about your sexual orientation, especially if you never say anything about your personal life.”

There’s no need to share your orientation if you don’t care to, experts say. But if you decide that it’s finally time to let your guard down—as Cook did—here’s the best way to go about it:

Assess the Risks

Before doing anything, you want to make sure that you won’t put your career or personal security in any kind of jeopardy by saying something.

Start by checking whether your state has a non-discrimination law that would protect you from being fired, harassed, or discriminated against. Currently 21 states have such laws in place regarding sexual orientation, and 17 of those for gender identity as well. (No workplace protections exist in federal law.)

While it’s a reassuring backstop if your state is among those that offer protections, it’s arguably more important to assess your company and department culture to get a sense of how your news will be received, suggests Deena Fidas, director of workplace equality for the Human Rights Campaign.

Does your employer have a written non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation and/or gender identity? The vast majority (91%) of Fortune 500 companies have workplace protections in place on the basis of sexual orientation and 61% on gender identity. Does your company offer domestic partner benefits? Is there a support or affinity group for LBGT individuals, or is anyone in your department openly gay? (If so, you might want to talk to people to learn about their experiences coming out and for their insights.) Is your company ranked highly on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index?

On the other hand, have you heard anyone at work make derogatory comments about LGBT people?

Should you get the sense that it wouldn’t be comfortable to come out, you might want to rethink your corporate affiliation, says Holland. “Consider why you want to be at that company. Do you really want to spend your work life being closeted for fear?”

Start with Your Closest Colleagues

Once you determine that your workplace is LGBT friendly, begin by sharing more details of your personal life with a trusted coworker whom you know is LGBT-supportive, recommends Fidas.

Having an ally will make you feel more comfortable opening up to the rest of the workforce, and can help you deftly handle any conversations that get awkward or too personal.

For the other folks in your social circle, “use the Monday morning coffee talk as a chance to be more forthcoming,” suggests Holland.

Chances are, you’ve been ducking out every time the social chatter turns to relationships or dating—and 80% of straight workers say that these conversations come up weekly or even daily, according to the HRC survey. But now use them to your advantage: “When asked how you spent your weekend, don’t change the gender of your partner,” says Holland. “Say if you went to a function for gay rights.”

By speaking about your LGBT identity casually, you can help coworkers to follow your lead and treat it the same way.

Let Everybody Else Figure it Out

While coming out to family and friends often happens with a discrete announcement, “in the reality of the workplace, coming out is more of a daily process, not an announcing that one is gay,” says Fidas.

In other words, you need not go around to everyone from the IT guy to the mail clerk to formally and awkwardly inform them about your sexual orientation. There are many subtle, discreet ways you can clue in coworkers with whom you’re less likely to talk about these topics.

For example, putting photos of your partner on your desk or having your loved one pick you up at the office allows coworkers to make the discovery themselves without you hiding any aspect of your identity.

Fidas also recommends using an opportunity to correct a coworker’s mistaken assumption as a way to make your sexual orientation or gender identity clear: “If you’re staring a new job, and a coworker asks if you moved from Boston with your husband, you can say you moved with your wife, rather than saying your spouse moved with you.”

Remember most of all that “you do not need your coworkers’ approval,” says Judith Martin, author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business. “You only need them to be respectful of you, which your workplace probably already obligates them to do.”

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