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Everybody thinks they’re a leader – most are far from it[1]. Like anything else, you can learn and practice effective leadership. While they are many paths to leadership, listed in this article are pitfalls ineffective leaders commonly find themselves in.

  1. You’re impassioned about your work and therefore your team.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” – Warren Bennis

Passion and zeal are infectious qualities and effective leaders know how to leverage them. By only focusing on the process rather than your team you fail to unlock the bond great teams share. It’s no secret that teams hit slumps quite often and impassioned leaders will find themselves frustrated. Frustration doesn’t run teams and neither do impassioned leaders. It’s you and your team against the world and not against each other.

  1. You’re not a role model

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
-John Quincy Adams

Transformational leaders are greatly revered[2]. People want to be them, learn from them or work for them. An effective leader exemplify’s the behaviours and characteristics they encourage in their teams. As a result, people admire them and aim to replicate their behaviours.

If you want to become a better leader, work on modelling the qualities that you would like to see in your team members.

  1. You don’t listen thus communicate ineffectively

“When people talk, listen completely.” –Ernest Hemingway

You might have noticed that great leaders aren’t necessarily experts in their fields. Steve jobs was not a computer programmer, Elon musk is not an automotive engineer and Angela Merkel has a PhD in quantum chemistry. Leading is less about you’re acquired knowledge and more about getting people to apply theirs. Effective leaders communicate their visions to inspire their teams.

  1. You’re not clear about your expectations

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

Articulately communication your vision helps employees visualise the end goal. Your team can hardly track their progress if they don’t know where they’re headed. However, transformational leaders go beyond this and have their employees set clear goals serving the bigger vision. This way you can monitor progress and adjust their approach accordingly.

Ineffective leaders will usually expect their team to adopt an entirely proactive approach. This becomes a problem if one or more of them are unclear about your expectations therefore working towards a different goal.

  1. You don’t teach your team

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” -John F. Kennedy

While your team should be made up of qualified professionals, developing their skills even further is characteristic of an effective leader. If people gain nothing from working with you, how can you expect their full commitment? Companies are continually growing so why shouldn’t their employees. Let’s not forget that developing employees results in higher engagement levels and added value to teams.

Effective leaders don’t just bark orders but encourage growth by teaching. Teaching is essential in growing new leaders to take your place.

  1. You don’t know your own motivation

“If you’re not sure where you are going, you’re liable to end up someplace else.” — Robert F. Mager

If a leader views their role as “just a job”, it’s going to show. To be an effective leader, you need the right motivation. Truthfully, you can hardly expect to lead your team if you can’t lead yourself. So just as you would find out what motivates your team, perform a thorough self -examination. Channel the result and tie this into your vision.

  1. You don’t nurture talent

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” –Ralph Nader

If you’re intimidated by the talent around you, you’ll tend to work against it. Real leadership serves as a talent magnet. If you don’t attract talent, you can’t develop it and retain it. You’re competition probably can.

  1. You don’t give credit, you take it

“There is no investment you can make which will pay you so well as the effort to scatter sunshine and good cheer through your establishment.” – Orison Swett Marden

Effective leadership is hardly about the trophies on your shelf. Leadership is not about seeking the spotlight, and it should never be about the recognition. True leadership is about elevating others for their contributions, rather than crediting yourself. You’ll get a lot more out of your team being liberal with praise than selfish with it.

  1. You don’t get results

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” –John Maxwell

This is probably the biggest indicator of ineffective leadership. Where-in poor performance is influenced by the above-mentioned factors. When evaluating your skills, your results are the best place to start. Communicate with your team and get their take on what you can improve.

Do note, results are not necessarily achieved with good leadership. If you get your results by abusing your influence, manipulating or bullying your team – you’re ineffective. The ends do not justify the means. You’re career as a leader will likely end sooner than expected if you place optics over ethics.

If you want to be a good leader, work your team to their strengths and motivate them with your vision. Results will follow.

Having outlined the characteristics of an effective leader, fill in your own gaps and aim to put your team first. Do it right and you’ll see your effort reflected in the results.


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2013/01/23/why-youre-not-a-leader/#1c5bde926fb8

[2] https://www.verywellmind.com/ways-to-become-a-better-leader-2795324#citation-2

5 tools for working remotely

Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goals.

 –Mario Andretti

Dealing with a global pandemic also means that we all must learn to adapt to the changes around us and make the best of things. Government issued lockdowns and curfews have led many companies to switch to remote working to ensure that work still gets done. Luckily there many tools available to ease the transition from the office environment to working remotely. Find out about these handy tools in this blog post.


Skype for Business is a trusted enterprise solution designed by Microsoft to enable efficient communication in companies and connects employers, employees and customers effectively around the globe. It combines phone calls, video conferences and messaging services into one entity to increase efficiency and promote business growth.[1]

Some of its features include:[2]

  • HD video streaming
  • High level security through data encryption to protect valuable company data
  • Video conference options that can accommodate up to 250 meeting attendees

A major advantage of this software is that it does away with travel and communication costs with its video conference option. Additionally, the software is secure, very user friendly and portable – it can be accessed on many devices as long as a Wi-Fi connection is available.[3]


Evernote is a free app for your smartphone and computer that stores everything you could possibly imagine losing track of – a boarding pass, receipt or article you want to read. You can create a to do list, or even a simple typed note. The app works brilliantly, keeping everything synchronised between your computer, smartphone, or tablet. The app is also ideal for managing projects and productivity.[4]

For companies, Evernote Business is available and allows teammates or members of a company to access, upload, share and edit notes from any device. This app is especially resourceful for those who are working remotely because it automatically syncs up with all your devices when you add or upload new content. This means that you are not limited or tied to just one machine.[5]


It goes without saying that running a company results in the generation and collection of large amounts of data. Therefore, companies need a safe and reliable place to store all this data – in comes Google Drive.

Google Drive is a cloud-based software application that lets you create, store, and share documents and data from around the world in one place. This is ideal for companies as it enables teams to access files from anywhere as long as they are connected to the internet. Additionally, it is possible to edit documents and get replies and feedback and therefore increasing collaborative productivity. It is also protected by SSL encryption that operates on both Gmail and other Google services so you can rest assured that your valuable data is safe.[6]


As an employer, when making the transition to remote working, you’ll want software that can keep track of employee’s work hours, progress and productivity as easily as it’s done in the office.  Hubstaff is a time tracking and work management app built to help teams make the most out of their time, build trust, and provide accountability. 

Once the app is running, it monitors which websites and applications your team is viewing, their screen activity, and how much time they spend at their desktop. It then gathers all this data and creates individual reports for all your employees. Your team members can also track how much time they spent on a particular task or project.[7]


When working from home it can sometimes be difficult to disconnect after a long day of meetings and work tasks. Headspace is a meditation and healthy living app that aims to reduce stress, improve mindfulness, and save remote workers from burn-out. It’s important to step away, especially when working from home.

Studies have shown that taking time to practice stillness and meditate using the Headspace app can increase focus by 13%. Meditation also promotes increased awareness, clarity, compassion, and a sense of calmness.[8]

The right remote work tools will make you and your remote colleagues more productive. They’ll also allow you to experience the human connection of office work, while preserving your freedom to work from home. For any companies making the transition to working remotely, try out these efficient tools to ensure success.

Found this helpful? Try this: Working from home: How to do it successfully

If you’re a manager/business owner check this out: How to manage remote employees: best practices

As Usual, The Manpower Company (TMC) is here to support you and your business through this unprecedented time. With innovative consultancy, guiding you is what we’re here for. Let us know what you need in the comments below or email: info@tmc.ke

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/definition/Skype-for-Business

[2] https://www.nimble.com/blog/skype-for-business/

[3] http://www.freedomcomms.com/blog-post/skype-for-business-advantages-and-disadvantages/

[4] https://lifehacker.com/whats-all-the-fuss-about-evernote-should-i-be-using-it-5964285

[5] https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-evernote-3485736

[6] https://www.goskills.com/Office-Productivity/Articles/Google-Drive-features-review

[7] https://hubstaff.com/faq

[8] https://www.headspace.com/meditation/benefits

Remote employees

In light of the ongoing pandemic, many companies have been forced to adopt remote working. The question then arises; how can you manage remote employees effectively? As a manager, what steps can you take to build productivity, motivation and trust and open lines of communication when not everyone is on site or at the office. And how can you help these remote workers feel like they are part of the team? Here’s a few tips to ensure great engagement and productivity from remote employees.


Relationships at work are critical to a high performing team. When team members are comfortable with each other, conversations are automatically easier, direct and more productive. Personal relationships are integral to building trust and reducing unproductive conflict.

To keep remote teams personal and fun begin by taking a few minutes off your meetings to chat about personal interests. The truth is that you would do this in person so why not virtually. Take it a step further by creating dedicated channels to discuss things like sports, movies and activities. This is important because sharing personal stories helps to build empathy which then paves way for trust.

Ensure that you designate specific, appropriate ‘casual’ time in your meetings and have an agenda to stay on track each meeting.[1] Remember to also embrace spontaneous communication. Not only does it foster camaraderie and beat the blues, it’s great for idea generation.


During the hiring process or the transition to working remotely, it is important to discuss exactly what you expect from your employees. Create reasonable and realistic expectations for them. Be sure to cover topics such as hours of availability, communication expectations including responsiveness to emails and phone calls. Your employees must understand the importance of work productivity and how this will be measured.[2]  

Ways of communicating are just as important in streamlining remote working. Video conferencing is a popular and convenient choice.

Consider creating accessible documents outlining all the guidelines and sending links to your employees.


A flexible schedule is one of the best things about working remotely. People working from home will want some flexibility with their work hours, and it is important to allow that. It allows employees to work at their own pace without the rigidity of office requirements. Trying to micromanage them will be a nightmare for everyone involved. Instead keep a record of their work and see what their output is. Are they delivering on time and as expected? Is the quality of their work sufficient and satisfactory? Be forgiving if someone can’t check their email immediately. There’s a good chance they’ll be back at it again later at night when the kids are tucked into bed. Remote working is not always 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.[3]


Working remotely can sometimes make employees feel invisible and like their actions and efforts are going unnoticed. Ensure that you are generous with public praise and acknowledgement of your employees. This will show them that even with the distance, you appreciate the work that they do. Doing this will motivate them to work even harder and produce better results. It will also build a better relationship between you and your employees because your recognition of them will show them that you care about them as well.[4]


Being transparent means informing workers about not only the company’s goals, but also the progress the company is making to achieve them and what it means to the company and its employees to achieve these goals. The best managers use transparency to foster a sense of stability and security among their employees. Ensure that there is an open line of communication between both the employer and employees. This will enable employees to be more comfortable with seeking help, asking for clarifications and even putting forward new ideas.[5]


While you may have been thrown into remote working during this pandemic, there’s no telling how long you’ll be expected to operate remotely. If you expect your team to work for several months and maintain their normal productivity, then be prepared to make an investment in hardware and software.

  • Start with basic necessities – reliable Wi-Fi, desktop monitors & keyboards and, good orthopaedic chairs.
  • Team and project management software like Google Drive or Basecamp.
  • Video-conferencing software like Skype, Microsoft teams and Zoom.

In times of uncertainty, we must all find ways to adapt and make the best out of things. Having remote workers is an innovative way to ensure the smooth running of a company without necessarily having to come into the office. According to business experts it is the future of work. Apply these simple tips to increase productivity and efficiency with your remote employees.

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/05/30/top-15-tips-to-effectively-manage-remote-employees/#3db5df67503c

[2] https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/7-tips-for-working-fsuccessfully-managing-remote-teams.html

[3] https://cultureiq.com/blog/types-work-flexibility-employees/

[4] https://www.appreciationatwork.com/blog/show-appreciation-managing-remote-workers/

[5] https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/11-tips-to-effectively-manage-remote-employees

Striking a healthy work-life balance

Most people aren’t sure what ‘work-life balance’ actually means. Often, they think a little bit of work and a little bit of play, is what’s required to improve quality of life. The truth is, a work-life balance depends entirely on what you want to achieve. It’s conditional on your ability to properly manage your time and reach your goals. In this post, we look at how to strike a healthy work-life balance.


Determine your priorities by reflecting on your work and life goals. Think about what you’d like to do and what you’ve been doing. This list then allows you to consider what you should be doing and what you should stop. Priorities keep you on track with what’s important and help you stay organised.

Prioritising means living in the moment instead of the illusory past and future of the mind. If you prioritise the present moment, all aspects of your life will gain from it. Plan out your tasks based on their level of importance and urgency. Ensure to properly manage your time well and give yourself enough time to complete these tasks and reach your goals.[1]


Striking that perfect balance between career and home-life has always been a challenge for many. This is why it is important to set boundaries on how and what you spend your time on. Ever heard the saying “Don’t take your work home with you”? the same is true for your stress as well. After a long day at the office, many of us find ourselves taking out our stress on friends, children, or significant others. And if we’re not careful, we allow our work stress to become home stress, often at the expense of our families and relationships or our health.[2]

After accomplishing your work goals for the day, ensure that you take some time to work on your personal growth as well. Be it through hobbies or spending quality time with friends and family.


Research has shown that too much technology impacts our physical and mental wellbeing. Especially at this time when everyone is advised to work from home due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. It’s easy to get caught up in your work and forget to be present and mindful. It’s okay if you can’t disconnect completely due to the nature of your work.

However, it is important to establish better habits when it comes to the use of technology. For instance, don’t check your emails up until the late hours of the night. Replace your devices with the people around you so you can build more meaningful relationships.[3]


We are happier and more productive in our lives when we have a strong support system around us. So reach out to your network. Vent to a friend if you need to. Ask a co-worker to help you pick up some slack on an overdue project. Learn to accept that sometimes the demands upon you, are greater than what you can shoulder, and humbly ask those around for help.[4]


At the end of the day, you are a human being. You need to rest and recharge your batteries. Taking a break from work to de-stress and unwind is both necessary and beneficial. Take time every now and then to stretch, go on a walk or even have a short conversation with a fellow workmate. This will reduce boredom and help you become more alert while doing your work.[5] This is where the ‘balance’ in work-life balance comes into play.

Striving to be content and fulfilled in all aspects of our lives isn’t a new concept. And everyone can take these simple steps in order to ensure their work life and social life are in balance. Having a career doesn’t mean that other aspects of your life must be neglected. Try these tips to get the best of both worlds.

Mshimba Michelle


[2] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/320748

[3] https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5244-improve-work-life-balance-today.html

[4] https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-times-you-just-need-to-suck-it-up-and-ask-for-help-at-work

[5] https://sprigghr.com/blog/performance-culture/the-importance-of-taking-breaks-at-work/

How to work from home successfully

Working from home sounds like a dream for many office goers – until you toss in a pandemic  and it’s less exciting. No doubt the change in routine is enough to throw anyone off their productivity game. I searched high and low and threw in some personal experience to bring you the ultimate guide to working from home – successfully.

  1. Pretend you’re going out

A change in routine isn’t an opportunity to slack off. When you get up in the morning, start your day as if you would if you were going to the office. Take a shower, dress like you’re leaving and eat like you’re leaving. Doing this little task will set your day in motion and you’ll kick start your productivity. It’s a lot easier to get into work mode in a suit and tie than in sweatpants and pyjamas.

  1. Separate your workspace from your living space.

Bringing work home is never fun and taking home to work is forbidden. This especially applies when working remotely. Identify a space you’ll make your office during work-time and make sure it’s free of distractions. Most people opt for a dining table or a study. Separating your workspace from your living space is a necessary boundary to successfully work from home. By dividing your space you can easily rest when you need to and work when you’re supposed to. It takes as much discipline to ‘switch on’ as it does to ‘switch off’.

  1. Work when you’re most productive

This is undoubtedly the biggest perk you get when working from home. Naturally, our motivation levels ebb and flow[1]. Learning when your productivity levels peak will allow you to schedule your harder tasks for when you’re most capable of doing them. Save the more routine and easier tasks like answering emails and making calls for when your productivity levels drop. Some people are early risers and can run a marathon first thing in the morning while some can write a thesis at 3am. Find your time and work with it.

  1. Get started early

While we’re not all early risers, getting a start on your work as soon as you wake up is a well-known secret for being productive. If your productivity doesn’t peak until later in the day, that’s fine. Tackle any tasks you can when you wake up – anything is better than nothing.

  1. Plan out your day ahead of time

We’re all guilty of wasting time planning out what we’re going to do – in the order we’re going to do them. It’s massively inefficient to start planning your day when it’s already begun. Ideally, after completing your work day you should spend an extra 15minutes planning where to start the next day. Don’t aim to plan more, aim to do more.

  1. Communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you

Maximising productivity is all about minimising distractions. With lockdowns and mandatory curfews – you’re likely not the only one at home. Establishing boundaries early will save you a lot of heartache. Do this by scheduling your work time and making sure your family/roommates/kids respect your space when you’re working.

  1. Pick a definitive finishing time each day[2]

You’re responsible for protecting your time[3]. Being at home and working are exclusive concepts – you’re responsible for doing each at the right time. While it seems like working from home is the key to a healthy work-life balance – you’re bound to overindulge on one side. You have to be careful not to get caught up on either activity – work when you have to and rest when it’s time. Clear boundaries are the key to a healthy work-life balance.

Try out these tips and let us know how they work for you. Stay tuned for even more advice on working from home.

Also check out: habits of successful employees, How to get hired on the spot

[1] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home

[2] https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-tips-working-from-home

[3] https://medium.com/unsplash/an-introverts-guide-to-working-remotely-68ad78c84575

Tips for effective group meetings

If not properly steered, meetings can be notoriously unproductive and a big waste of time in office culture. We’ve all been there; where one person speaks up and derails the meeting, or where people aren’t quite sure why they’re there and leave the meeting still unsure of what the meeting was about. So, how do you avoid unnecessary and inefficiently run meetings? How do you ensure that all your meetings are productive? Here are some tips to help you out.


It is important to figure out if the meeting is even necessary in the first place. Some things by their very nature, are not a good use of group time. If items are sensitive or require significant back and forth or clarification, then these can be a great use of meeting time.[1]


When scheduling a meeting keep in mind that it will take up people’s time. It is a common misconception that if you schedule say, a one-hour meeting with four people and this meeting ends up being unproductive then you have only lost one hour. This is in fact not the case because, four individual people lost an hour of work time which adds up to four hours of lost time.

With this in mind, it is therefore much easier to decide who needs to be present for the meeting to minimise time wasting and maximise productivity.[2]


Set expectations with meeting attendees and have a clear objective for the meeting. It is important to think about what the purpose of the meeting is. Is the meeting a brainstorming session? Do you need to communicate specific information? Or do you want to make an important decision?[3]

After establishing the purpose of the meeting, ensure that you communicate this agenda to those who will take part in the meeting. This will ensure that even before the meeting begins everyone will know exactly why they’re there and how they should prepare.


Setting ground rules is an integral part of ensuring successful meetings because they establish a safe and productive environment. Ground rules detail the code of conduct for a meeting and the team, explaining the behaviour that’s expected of all participants. Have rules to regulate when meetings begin and end, how participants should handle their responsibilities in the meeting and how they should treat each other e.g. being respectful of each other’s opinions etc.[4]


Even after going through the process of setting out an agenda for the meeting, you still have to actively manage the meeting to ensure that you stay on track. A lot of times people will unintentionally go on tangents and veer off topic. Try to steer the meeting back to the main agenda to avoid wasting time.[5]

Actively managing a meeting also means that you are getting equal representation and input from all the participants. If you notice that some participants are speaking more than others and dominating the discussion, make a point of calling out those who are more quiet and encourage them to share their input. If a usually quiet person speaks, show your appreciation. Try to draw everyone in and not just let the usual suspects speak.[6]


During the meeting, agree on the next course of action and then document this. Take note of the tasks assigned to specific people. After the meeting send out a brief summary of the meeting and what was agreed upon. This will promote accountability and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Doing this also makes the meeting time more actionable and productive. [7]

Meetings are an effective way to bounce ideas around and increase productivity in your organisation. They also help boost team spirit and encourage active participation. It is therefore important to ensure that you do your best to make them as efficient and productive as possible. Apply these simple tips and start having more effective group meetings.

Check out: How to get your team out of a creative rut

Mshimba Michelle

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2014/02/05/seven-steps-to-running-the-most-effective-meeting-possible/#364c656d7a61

[2] https://hbr.org/2015/03/how-to-know-if-there-are-too-many-people-in-your-meeting

[3] https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-lead-a-team-meeting-2275935

[4] https://hbr.org/2016/06/8-ground-rules-for-great-meetings

[5] https://www.skillsyouneed.com/rhubarb/keep-meetings-on-track.html

[6] https://liberationist.org/how-to-encourage-participation-in-meetings/

[7] https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02295-z

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