How you end your work week: Friday afternoon.


How you end your work week will not only have a huge impact on how productive you are the following week, but also may determine how relaxed you are over the weekend.

“Successful people tend to adhere to routines in general, so it’s no surprise that the most successful people I know maintain a Friday afternoon routine,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work.”

Here are 10 things successful people typically do on a Friday afternoon:

1. They reflect on their accomplishments from the week.It’s far too easy to wallow over what you didn’t accomplish, Kerr says. “Successful people tend to flip that around and remind themselves of just how much progress they did make, even if it’s only ‘small wins.'” Acknowledging and appreciating your accomplishments not only boosts your happiness levels, but it fuels momentum. “A great ritual for team leaders to create is to turn this into a Friday afternoon team huddle tradition, wherein everyone shares their top three accomplishments for the week,” Kerr suggests.

2. They figure out their priorities for the following week. Successful people take time on Friday afternoon to reflect on their professional and personal lives and determine three to five major priorities they want to accomplish for each, says Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”

3. They establish a schedule and to-do list for the following week.They don’t just prioritize; they plan, Vanderkam says. “If you assign each priority a deadline, things are likely to get done. You want to hit Monday morning knowing what you need to do, so you’re not wasting that time figuring this out.” Having a plan for Monday also results in a more relaxed weekend, she adds. “Your to-do list won’t be nagging at your brain for two days.”

4. They carve out downtime for the following week. Kerr says driven, successful people can easily fall into the workaholic trap and lose sight of “the long game,” but they always prioritize and plan for downtime. “They think about how they can maintain their work-life balance the following week. They understand that for them to be at their best, to be most productive, and to accomplish everything they need to during the following week, they need to have some free time.”

5. They get organized. “Many successful people I know take 15 to 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to clean out and organize their email files and to clean and organize their office, so that they know they are returning to a fresh, organized start the following week,” Kerr says. “Some find it therapeutic, as it can help clear the psychological clutter as well, and it has become a ritualistic way of capping the end of the week.”

6. They let people know how accessible they’ll be that weekend.Successful people set technology ground rules before leaving, both with themselves and key people around them, Kerr says. They let their staff and coworkers know whether they plan to respond to emails or voice mails over the weekend, and if so, when.

7. They think about their weekend plans. Vanderkam says if you don’t already have weekend plans by Friday afternoon, you should take some time to think about what you’d like to do. Perhaps you’ve been dying to try that new restaurant; you really want to spend time with your kids at the park; or you have errands you’ve been putting off. Take a few minutes, before it’s too late, to make reservations, check the weather, find a babysitter, etc.

“You don’t have to plan every minute, but having a few things you know you’ll enjoy means you’re ready for a weekend of real rejuvenation,” she says.

8. They plan a fun Friday activity. Some successful people have a fun ritual that helps them create a definitive divide between their workweek and weekend. “It may be an afternoon cocktail with a group of friends, an hour of volunteer work, or a regularly scheduled gym workout or game of tennis,” Kerr explains. “What’s key is that it be something they look forward to, so they view it as a reward for reaching the end of the week, and that it’s something that gives them a complete mental shift.”

9. They acknowledge others’ accomplishments and hard work.“One leader I know uses Friday afternoons to either phone or drop by employees’ offices in person to thank them for the work they did during the week,” Kerr says. “She says doing it on Friday afternoon not only helps her employees go home feeling appreciated, happier, and more relaxed, but it also helps her feel better and happier, as well.”

10. They say goodbye to people around the office. A simple, “have a nice weekend” can go a long way. “This is especially important for leaders to do, and especially important on a Friday afternoon to give both yourself and the people you work with a sense of closure to the week and a chance to connect, if even briefly, before everyone departs,” Kerr says.


Five Leadership Qualities: You need to drive you business

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For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me, there’s a powerful tendency to overcomplicate the whole notion of leadership: what it is, why it matters, and how it manifests itself.

I’m not saying it’s a simple concept to master; quite the contrary. We see the evidence of this all around us in our daily lives: whether in business, politics, sports or other endeavors large and small, it’s not easy to find effective leaders who’ve built an enduring record of success.

In my own career, and with the great executives on my team now, I try to keep the leadership formula pretty simple. And yes, I know that scores of business books have been written about leadership, and it’s been the subject of countless courses and seminars in MBA programs. That’s great, and I’m sure each of those offers some value.

But I’ve found that the best way to be a leader, and to help shape high-potential young people into the leaders of tomorrow, is to ensure that these five abilities are always the focal points:

1) Getting the strategy right.

2) Executing that strategy.

3) Putting the right people in the right places.

4) Managing dual priorities that others see as conflicting.

5) Keeping everyone focused on what matters.

Let me explain a little bit about each of these and why I think they’re so important—and why I think that efforts to add more and more layers onto the definition of leadership can be distracting at best and harmful at worst.

1. Getting the Strategy Right. While this has always been a top priority for CEOs, it’s taken on an even greater significance in the past few years because of the highly accelerated pace of change in today’s world. Consumer tastes and needs are shifting faster and more dramatically than ever before—do you have a sustainable strategy for product development and customer engagement and employee engagement that lets you keep pace with this relentless upheaval? Or do you find you’re always playing catch-up with competitors, always struggling to find new sources of revenue, and all too frequently seeing market share taken by competitors that are far more in tune with customers, opportunities, and structural trends?

I am a huge believer in brilliant, razor-sharp operations and execution—but unless those outstanding qualities are being applied to a world-class strategy, that company’s ability to compete and win and grow will diminish.

2. World-Class Operations and Execution. Some consultants and B-school professors are fond of saying that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That conclusion totally misses the point: if the strategy’s right but the company can’t execute, then the problem isn’t an overly hungry culture – it’s weak or incomplete leadership. That’s why I describe my leadership formula as simple—not easy, but simple: the CEO’s got to be able to not only set the right strategy but also drive operational excellence that brings the strategy alive with dynamic new products, sales teams that are highly intelligent and engaging and brilliant new talent that sees the company as a terrific destination.

Operations aren’t just supply chains and automated systems; they are the optimization of people and process across every part of the organization—front office, back office, product development, finance, engineering, customer service, sales, etc.—that allow them to work with the shared purpose of delighting customers, winning new business, creating fantastic new products, and identifying and exploiting opportunities well ahead of competitors.

3. Put the Right People in Place. I know, that sounds pretty simplistic. But again, the margin for error in today’s always-on business world is shrinking rapidly—and in spite of the fantastic applications and systems that are available to companies today, brilliant technology in the service of sub-par managers will yield nothing but sub-par results.

That’s why the business leaders of today have to be able to master this third indispensable discipline: after formulating and communicating the right strategy, and optimizing operations to execute that strategy, CEOs and other top leaders then must be able to build management teams that truly understand the big picture, that understand how their teams must engage inside and outside the company to deliver maximum value, and stay laser-focused on making that strategy come fully alive for customers and prospects.

4. Recognize Business Isn’t an “Either/Or” World. In addition to those three absolutely indispensable qualities outlined above, I want to mention two other attributes that are essential for leaders. We all occasionally get questions like this: “Are we more concerned with long-term vision or short-term execution?” Managers will seek to pick one or the other, but leaders will instinctively know that the answer is “Both!” When asked if employees should focus on cost and efficiency, or growth and innovation, leaders will instinctively answer “Yes!” Another variation is, “Is our primary focus new products or new revenue?” And again, leaders will know that the answer must be both. For most people, those answers can sometimes be counterintuitive—but leaders in today’s turbulent business environment have to be able to not just answer the question but also build teams in such a way that both outcomes stand a high likelihood of success.

5. Stay Focused on those 3 Big Things. I’ll never forget something FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith once said: “In business, the big thing is making sure the big thing stays the big thing.” And to me, the Big Thing is made up of those top 3 qualities: the ability to set the strategy, the ability to harness operational excellence to bring that strategy alive, and the ability to pick the right people to drive relentless execution.

For CEOs and aspiring leaders, distractions abound: the temptation to get caught up in important but non-essential discussions and projects; the tendency to fall back on what you’re comfortable with rather than what needs to be done; and the understandable but dangerous attraction of shiny new toys and trends in today’s remarkably fast-paced world. So I’d add that a second key supporting attribute is one of focus: “The big thing is to make sure the big thing stays the big thing.”

Would you like to hear that, Boss you are Fired !!

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What is lousy leadership? Here are a few of the most common ways leaders can get it wrong and too often do.

The first and perhaps most frustrating way that some people blow leadership is by being know-it-alls. They can tell you how the world works, what corporate is thinking, how it will backfire if you try this or that, and why you can’t change the product one iota. They even know what kind of car you should be driving. Sometimes these blowhards get their swagger from a few positive experiences. But usually they’re just victims of their own bad personalities. And you and your company are victims, too. Because know-it-all aren’t just insufferable, they’re dangerous. They don’t listen, and that “deafness” makes it very hard for new ideas to get heard, debated, expanded, or improved. No single person, no matter how smart, can take a business to its apex. For that, you need every voice heard. And know-it-all leadership creates a deadly silence.

If know-it-all are too in-your-face, a second kind of lousy leader is too remote. These emotionally distant bosses are more comfortable behind closed doors than mucking it out with the team. Sure, they attend meetings and other requisite functions, but they’d rather be staring at their computers. If possible, all the messy, sweaty people stuff would be delegated to HR managers on another floor. Like know-it-alls, this breed of leader is dangerous, but for a different reason. They don’t engage, which means they can’t inspire. That’s a big problem. Leaders, after all, need followers to get anything done. And followers need passion for their fuel.

A third category of lousy leadership is comprised of bosses who are just plain jerks—nasty, bullying, insensitive, or all three. As one reader wrote us recently: “My boss is abusive, by which I mean disrespectful, finger-pointing, and sometimes even paranoid.” Such leaders are usually protected from above because they deliver the numbers. But with their destructive personalities, they rarely win their people’s trust. That’s no way to run a business, which is why these types of leaders typically self-destruct. It’s never as quickly as you’d hope, but unless they own the place, it does happen eventually.

The next type of lousy leadership is at the other end of the spectrum: It’s too nice. These bosses have no edge, no capacity to make hard decisions. They say yes to the last person in their office, then spend hours trying to clean up the confusion they’ve created. Such bosses usually defend themselves by saying they’re trying to build consensus. What they really are is scared. Their real agenda is self-preservation—good old CYA.

Which leads us to a final version of lousy leadership which is not unrelated: bosses who do not have the guts to differentiate. The facts are, not all investment opportunities are created equal. But some leaders can’t face that reality, and so they sprinkle their resources like cheese on a pizza, a little bit everywhere. As a result, promising growth opportunities too often don’t get the outsized infusions of cash and people they need. If they did, someone might get offended during the resource allocation process. Someone, as in the manager of a weak business or the sponsor of a dubious investment proposal.

But leaders who don’t differentiate usually do the most damage when it comes to people. Unwilling to deliver candid, rigorous performance reviews, they give every employee the same kind of bland, mushy, “nice job” sign-off. And when rewards are doled out, they give star performers not much more than the laggards. Now, you can call this “egalitarian” approach kind or fair—and these lousy leaders usually do—but it’s really just weakness. And when it comes to building a thriving enterprise where people have an opportunity to grow and succeed, weakness just doesn’t cut it.

Surely we could go on, but we’ll end here with a caveat. We hardly expect lousy leaders to read this column and see themselves. Part of being a lousy leader, no matter what the category, is lack of self-awareness. But if you see your boss here, take heart. When it’s finally your turn to lead, you’ll know what not to do.