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Presidents Day

3 Management Lessons Past Presidents Can Teach Today’s Leaders

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3 Leadership Lessons from Lincoln, Kennedy and FDR

Every year, Americans celebrate Presidents Day as a day of remembrance — a day to look back and learn from our nation’s leaders. In today’s competitive market, business leaders are looking for the edge that will put their organization and workforce ahead of the curve.

This Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 20, it might be time to dust off your history books and delve into the wisdom of the past. Here are three leadership lessons past presidents can teach today’s business leaders.

  1. Welcome critical feedback.

Leading comes with perks. People respect you, listen to your opinion and, sometimes, agree wholeheartedly just because you’re in a place of authority. But that last “perk” is actually not a benefit at all. Tempting though it may be to surround yourself with like-minded, agreeable people, doing so can prove detrimental.

The name Abraham Lincoln is synonymous with honesty. However, Lincoln also is known for his willingness to surround himself with individuals who weren’t afraid to disagree with him, rivals included. In historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 Pulitzer-winning book, Team of Rivals (the basis for Steven Spielberg’s 2012 Oscar-winning film, Lincoln) she recounts how our 16th president filled his cabinet with those who originally competed against him for the Republican presidential nomination.

Lincoln seemed to understand that finding common ground and considering all sides of an argument was more important than propping up his own ideals. The American Civil War brought death and destruction for many soldiers, but Lincoln’s staunch dedication to the eradication of slavery and his willingness to listen to those with whom he disagreed, helped foster eventual peace.

Leaders today should take a page from Lincoln’s book when hiring and promoting employees. Instead of asking, “Who do I get along with? Who will help me push this idea?,” perhaps they should ask, “Who can bring new ideas to the table? Who will benefit our company’s growth in the long run?” 

  1. Be passionate.

In a recent Entrepreneur article titled “22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader,” the authors tout passion as one of the most important attributes. Evidently, it is crucial for leaders to love what they do and feel a deep commitment to their purpose.

As the longest-serving American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt helped lead America during both the Great Depression and World War II. His passion for helping every American was overt. FDR’s deep desire to support his ailing nation helped propel him through physical illness (i.e., polio) and political opposition. A supporter of government assistance and for the unemployed and elderly, FDR once said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” In 1935, he signed the Social Security Act, a culmination of his passion and focus, and what he considered to be one of his greatest achievements.

Politics aside, having passion for your vision will help you focus on what matters most. People naturally gravitate toward passionate individuals, and authentic, well-intentioned passion can help unify your workforce and inspire employees to achieve your company’s ultimate goal.

  1. Bounce back.

Most experienced leaders know that anything worth having comes with a little — or a lot — of struggle. The best narratives in history take place after a hero fails and then rises back through the ranks to succeed. Underdog stories inspire us because they provide a message of hope, even in the darkest times. For managers, leading after failure can seem like a daunting task, but overcoming obstacles with grace is one of the cornerstones for developing wisdom.

Our first President of the United States, George Washington, was no stranger to failure. In fact, during the French and Indian War, he experienced failure at Fort Necessity when he surrendered to the French. The defeat was embarrassing for the 22-year-old lieutenant colonel, but instead of wallowing in failure, Washington learned from his mistakes. More importantly, he consulted others, pursued the colonies’ freedom-driven mission and ultimately became one of America’s most admired presidents.

Another beloved president, John F. Kennedy, experienced a devastating setback after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion on Cuba. The futile attempt to overthrow the communist island resulted in his critics calling Kennedy inexperienced and weak.

Not long after this misstep, the Cuban missile crisis began, thrusting Kennedy to the helm of a precariously positioned ship once more. Instead of allowing his past failures to define the future, he learned from his failure and helped guide our nation away from the brink of destruction. Kennedy knew that leaders must have clear vision and a willingness to accept and learn from past mistakes.

Conclusion

Lessons taught before the internet and, in some cases, even the telegram, still apply to today’s business leaders. While many teachings are contingent upon the context of the history, others are universal and stand the test of time.

In the words of President John Quincy Adams, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

 

 


Jim Quillen

by Jim Quillen


Author Bio: As director of business intelligence at Paycom, Jim Quillen is responsible for a team of analysts, survey professionals and product strategists who handle reporting, analysis, client feedback and internal product development. Quillen, a CPA by training, has worked in many fields during his career, including finance, auditing, recruiting, sales, business development and software implementation. Prior to his current role, Quillen has served Paycom as the director of new client implementation and director of recruiting.

Just 2 Steps to Being More Productive

You Are 2 Steps Away From Being More Productive

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You Are 2 Steps Away From Being More Productive

Productivity often is touted as the Holy Grail of today’s workforce. Countless books and apps are packed to the brim with tips promising to make you more efficient, while today’s managers scour for — and promote — candidates with past episodes of grand productivity.

You would think that with such pushes, a steady increase in individual and workplace productivity would exist. You would be wrong.

The Myth of Productivity

In a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the productivity change between 2007 and 2016 in the nonfarm U.S. business sector increased 1.1 percent, an all-time low since the 1940s. Scholars give a myriad of reasons for this dip, ranging from a decrease in innovation to repercussions from the Great Recession; however, this stark stat likely makes even the most motivated worker feel defeated

But the thing about leaders is they have something others lack: foresight. Leaders see the bigger picture. They believe that their actions actually matter, and in fact, that those actions can inspire others.

You can’t control the changes that come with working in a knowledge economy, but you can control what you do each day. Below are two proactive ways to incite productivity in your daily life.

  1. Prioritize Time

Think back to a time when you felt like you were crushing it.

Perhaps you were working on a report or managing a team, and you were completely engrossed in your task. Now think through your typical day: Likely, there are moments of productivity … and then you get a text or an email or a meeting request, perhaps all at the same time. Information is everywhere; it clouds our lives. A 2015 Deloitte study noted that in a single day, people exchange more than 100 billion emails, yet only one in seven of those emails could be qualified as extremely important.

Although technology has made space for innovation and ease, it also has been a metaphorical shock to the U.S. workforce’s system. Indeed, many experts who study time management have changed the ubiquitous phrase of “multitasking” to the more apt “rapid toggling” to communicate the futile effort of doing multiple things at once, even when technology promises we can.

Studies have shown that if you want to do deep work that puts you in a state of flow and ahead of your competitors, then you must prioritize uninterrupted, focused time. In fact, a recent article in Harvard Business Review outlined the importance of restorative silence for busy individuals: “Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work and lead.”

You may ask (while frantically scanning your bursting inbox), “How do I do this?”

Start by identifying a time during your day when your presence isn’t really required. Perhaps you need to attend that recurring weekly meeting only every other week, or maybe you can send an employee in your stead. Assess your daily rituals — maybe that morning stroll around the office where you chat with everyone could happen later in the afternoon so your mornings are free from distraction. Is your office door always open? See what happens if you shut it for 30 minutes. Chances are no one will notice that time you’ve stolen away for yourself, and you’ll have space to focus on what really matters.

  1. Prioritize Values

There is a reason that successful companies put such stock in their values and vision: Clarity makes space for progress. In 2015, General Electric executive took time to verbalize the company’s values, after feeling the business was becoming too complex. Known as “the GE Beliefs,” those values acted as a road map for them to plot out and execute their top priorities.

A Deloitte University Press article noted, “The GE Beliefs play a large role in leadership development and are also used to change how GE recruits, how it manages and leads and how its people are evaluated and developed.”

GE is just one example of many companies putting emphasis on clearly articulating core values in order to spur output. And if successful companies are doing so, why wouldn’t you?

According to Inc. 500 entrepreneur Kevin Daum, “Much like company core values, your personal core values are there to guide behavior and choice.”

How do you craft a list of personal values? Glance over your job description, reassess your passions and future goals, and then put pen to paper. The list of values doesn’t have to be long, but it must be clear. To spur ideas, look at examples from companies like Zappos and Facebook.

Once you have your values nailed down, certain tasks that have been consuming your time likely will lose their urgency. For example, if innovation is part of your purpose, but the last time you researched new advances in your field was six months ago, then it’s time to reassess either your values or how you’re spending your time.

Productivity can be tricky to quantify, but creating a conducive environment is a great place to start. Making crucial space and aligning your daily tasks to your vision are two steps in the right direction.

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Posted in Blog, Featured, Leadership, Talent Management


Author Bio: Oden-Hall is an award-winning public relations, communications and marketing professional with over 20 years experience driving corporate strategy for Fortune 500 companies. Her Oklahoma roots and passion coupled with her global experience and creative flair have helped her drive numerous successful strategic initiatives. She joined the Paycom team as Chief Marketing Officer in April of 2012.

What do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

What Do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

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What Do Millennials and Today’s CEOs Have In Common?

HR industry experts have devoted a lot of time and research into demystifying millennial employees, only to discover that this younger generation has more in common with mature, seasoned employees than once thought.

This is especially true when it comes to the desire for day-one productivity. The C-suite values new hires who can become contributors faster; millennial employees, who were born between 1981 and 2000, crave the opportunity to do just that.

So, the goal they share is desire to be immediately productive – to be a valued contributor as soon as they walk through the front door.

Getting an early start

Growing up when technological advances made instant gratification a way of life, millennials have come to expect it in almost every aspect of their lives, including work. Young employees want to feel purposeful in their jobs, and nothing meets that need quite like getting the chance to work on the first day, instead of filling out form after form and memorizing the alarm code.

One way to get there is by designing an onboarding process that gives new hires the ability to complete onboarding tasks efficiently, either on or before day one. Consider incorporating the following strategies into your plan:

  • “Preboard” new hires.

    Allow them to complete new-hire paperwork and train electronically, via an employee self-service portal. They can get the groundwork done before they even start in order to hit the ground running on their first day.

  • Assign goals and expand training.

    According to Gallup, half of employees don’t understand what’s expected of them at work. To prevent this type of uncertainty from affecting a new hire’s productivity, include training on his or her individual role, and what his or her job looks like when done well.

  • Introduce your culture.

    Understanding what your company values can help new hires feel confident about making smart decisions. Not only can this boost early productivity, but it can help build long-term engagement, too.

Just a few tweaks to the traditional onboarding process can help new hires devote more time and attention to the activities that will help them become a valued contributor sooner than later. And that’s something both your C-suite and millennial new hires will love.

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Posted in Blog, Employee Engagement, Featured, Leadership, Pre-Employment, Talent Management


Author Bio: Oden-Hall is an award-winning public relations, communications and marketing professional with over 20 years experience driving corporate strategy for Fortune 500 companies. Her Oklahoma roots and passion coupled with her global experience and creative flair have helped her drive numerous successful strategic initiatives. She joined the Paycom team as Chief Marketing Officer in April of 2012.

Oregon State Retirement Plan

Oregon Creates Landmark State Retirement Plan

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Oregon Creates Landmark State Retirement Plan

This year, the state of Oregon will launch a landmark, statewide retirement program: OregonSaves. This program requires private employers to automatically enroll employees in retirement accounts. The goal is to benefit almost 1 million Oregonians who currently lack access to employer-sponsored retirement programs.

OregonSaves has been in the works for the last few years and will officially kick off in July 2017 with a volunteer pilot phase. Full program implementation is scheduled to begin in November 2017, starting with employers who have 100 or more employees.

What This Means for Oregon Employers

Employers that do not offer retirement plans are required to inform employees about the program and automatically enroll them. Additionally, they will have to:

  • Provide employee data to the state to allow the state to set up accounts for the employee.
  • Setup payroll deductions for employees participating in OregonSaves.
  • Track employee decisions as to contribution levels or to opt out.

Employers who already provide retirement options do not have to offer OregonSaves. Those employers will complete a simple certification process.

What’s Next?

Oregon is the first state to offer a program of this nature. California and Illinois likely will launch similar programs by 2019. It is important to note, however, that there are currently bills pending in the federal legislature to overturn rules that make it easier for states to create such plans. If these bills pass, state programs could be stalled. Oregon does plan to move forward with its retirement plan regardless of how the legislature acts, so employers should be prepared. Paycom’s Benefits Administration Suite can help employers accurately track the data they will be required to transmit to OregonSaves.

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Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Alyssa Looney

by Alyssa Looney


Author Bio: As a compliance attorney for Paycom, Alyssa Looney monitors laws, rules and regulations to ensure that the Paycom software is up to date, specifically regarding immigration law and state law developments in the Western United States. She holds a JD and an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University. Outside of work, Alyssa enjoys cooking, being active, playing with her puppy and exploring Oklahoma City.

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