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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Better Business

It’s easy to let a few things slide. It’s easy to ignore a few missed deadlines, a few late meetings. But little mistakes can easily snowball into major issues, and soon you might find yourself having some tough conversations to straighten things out.

That’s why it’s best to draw a line in the sand right away and hold your team members accountable for their actions.

As a leader, enforcing accountability is part of your role. Not only does it help projects and tasks run smoothly, it also improves relationships among team members. Those who always complete their assignments and meet their deadlines might begin to feel bitter toward those who do not. It is up to you to convey that everyone is on the same level and will be held to the same standards.

To hold your team accountable, follow these Do’s and Do Not’s:

DO make your expectations clear. Set clear deadlines and make sure everyone understands their task or role.

DO act swiftly and fairly if someone falls short. Call that person into your office, ask them why they failed to meet expectations, and discuss disciplinary actions which fit the violation (failing to complete an assignment for a client is much different than showing up two minutes late for a meeting).

DO make reasonable exceptions. If someone spaces on a Zoom meeting because their child had a medical emergency, that’s understandable. If, however, this becomes a repeated pattern, it’s a good idea to have a frank and honest conversation with this person.

DO NOT play favorites. Everyone should adhere to the same set of expectations.

DO make consequences clear. Failure to deliver might directly affect a person’s bonus, lead to a restructuring of their responsibilities, or (in worse-case scenarios) lead to a dismissal.

DO NOT hold yourself to different standards. You are also part of the team.

DO hold one-on-one meetings to convey the seriousness of the matter.

DO convey that accountability is an important part of teamwork, and set your expectations right away.

Accountability is a crucial component of any effective team. Team members should not only feel accountable to their team leader and clients, but also to each other. The best teams are like a rowing crew—they’re all in the same boat, and need to work together to make it move forward.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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work from home

With the COVID pandemic, many of us have had to adjust to working from home (WFH), but unfortunately, not everyone has fallen into a groove. Some people still feel out of sorts or less productive at home than in the workplace. With the pandemic still lingering AND many companies thinking about making WFH a permanent state, it’s a good idea to think about amping up your productivity.

Here are 6 practical Work From Home tips to help you get on track:

1. Find Your Morning Groove

When working from an office, you naturally fall into a morning routine. You get dressed, perhaps make a cup of coffee, and commute to work by car/bike/public transit. With WFH, that comfortable routine gets obliterated. You might wake up later or stay in your pajamas or eat breakfast at odd hours.

This week, commit to following a strict routine. Get up at the same time, eat your meals on a consistent schedule, exercise at a set time during the day. Following a routine can help get your brain in “work mode” right away.

Another helpful tip: Do NOT check your email right away. Instead, tackle the one project that demands the most concentration. Work on it for an hour or 90 minutes, THEN check your email. You’ll find that you’re able to accomplish more during the day when you practice this healthy habit.

2. Get Dressed

Okay, sure. Maybe you DO get dressed in the morning when you work from home, but you probably don’t dress like you do when you go into the office. If you find that you’re feeling less attentive and less productive at home, try dressing in office attire this week. Notice how it makes you feel. Are you more productive? Do you feel more professional?

Dressing for the office can put you in a work mindset and make you feel more in control of your day.

3. Cut Distractions

If you find that you tend to check social media or hop onto YouTube during the day, try installing a browser extension to temporarily block those websites. Search for “block social media,” and you should find many different blocking programs.

If you’re distracted by your surroundings instead (dirty dishes, for instance, or laundry), try keeping yourself on a strict time schedule. For instance: From 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 you can only do work, but between 1:00 and 1:30, you’re allowed to take a short break to tackle a household chore or two.

4. Set Timers

If you’re having trouble concentrating during the day, trying focusing on a single project for a set amount of time. Pick a project, close your email, and set your timer for an hour or 90 minutes. ONLY work on that project. Do NOT multi-task! You might be amazed by how much you can get done when you’re singular in focus.

5. Take Charge of Emails

If you tend to get derailed by emails throughout the day and feel like you’re always trying to stamp out little fires (Urgent request! I need your help with XYZ! Please respond, ASAP!), practice setting healthy email boundaries. Try only checking your email three times per day–once in the morning, once midday, and once toward the end of the day–or even twice per day, if you can get away with it.

Taking charge of your emails can help free up your schedule so you can pay attention to the crucial projects that you have on your plate.

6. Set Your Own Schedule

If you’re feeling disjointed and fed up with all the video meetings, emails, and phone calls that seem to command your day, resolve to take charge of your schedule. If you keep a public e-calendar, be sure to set aside blocks that are strictly YOUR time–time for you to focus on the projects you need to complete.

(For more tips on setting healthy boundaries, take a look at my recent blog post.)

Part of controlling your own schedule means saying NO to certain requests. If you already have too much going on in a given day, don’t be afraid to draw a line in the sand and turn down a request to meet. You can always suggest meeting on a different date.

Developing good habits while you WFH will not only help you successfully navigate working out of your house, but can also assist you when you begin working out of an office. Many of these tips are applicable to work both in and outside of a traditional workplace. It’s all about establishing an effective routine and creating healthy boundaries.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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“Silence is usually seen as agreeing.” –Sonya Parker

You probably know it when you see it. Something feels off or problematic. Something feels unethical. We encounter these situations in our daily lives, as well as in the workplace—instances when our morals are put to the test. It’s easy to assume that if you “see something, you’ll say something,” but it can be difficult to take action when you’re put on the spot.

How, then, can you gather the courage to speak up? Start with these methods:

Understand Your Power

When a situation is unethical or potentially harmful, one strong voice of dissent can make a huge difference. Chances are, if you’re not okay with something, others are not okay with it either. If you take a stance, others will hopefully gain the courage to follow suit.

Develop Your Approach

It can be intimidating to face your peers or your supervisors and let them know what you think. You might worry about retaliation or not being taken seriously. To combat these fears, it pays to 1) Plan and 2) Talk to others

Your planning might involve laying out bullet points to argue your case. Pinpoint the problem you perceive and explain why you think it’s a problem. Then, prepare some potential alternatives or solutions.

Talking with others helps to build an alliance around your plan. You certainly don’t want to create an “Us vs. Them” mentality, but it is helpful to talk to one or two trusted colleagues to let them know your stance. They might help you refine your plan, offer alternative solutions, or simply provide support.

Determine Your “When”

When you speak out is nearly as important as what you say. If, for instance, you interrupt during a meeting and begin telling everyone about your view, that might not go over as well as, say, setting up a private meeting with the decision-maker or respectfully speaking out during a meeting.

Face Your Fears

It can be frightening to take a stand, but I would argue that it’s even worse to stay silent. If you neglect to say something, you’ll have to live with the unethical or problematic situation, day-in, day-out. It won’t magically go away, unless another brave individual takes a stand.

If your workplace retaliates against you for speaking up, is that really the kind of environment you want to work in? I know that switching jobs sounds daunting, especially in this uncertain economy, but it’s certainly not impossible. Talk with a career coach if you’re thinking about making a switch.

Your voice has power. If something is making you uncomfortable, take a step back, make a plan, and speak up. Tap into your reserves of courage, trust yourself, and take action. Doing so can make a big difference and it will likely help you build confidence in yourself.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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