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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Communication

Quick-thinking and the ability to command attention in a crowd–it’s no surprise that when people mentally assign roles in the workplace, they often place extroverts at the top. Introverts, however, have their own set of unique strengths that can allow them to become exceptional leaders, their natural listening and observation skills offering a peaceful and inclusive environment. Despite the positives of the introverted personality, sometimes the line between the “quiet-listener” and the “disinterested and imperceptive wallflower” can become blurred in the eyes of colleagues, so here are a few tips to remain at the top of your game as you excel in your field.

SCHEDULE ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS

Large meetings with multiple voices can feel overwhelming for many introverts, but workplace leaders need to ensure they’re actively building genuine, solid relationships with each member of their team. Consider scheduling semi-regular, individual meetings with colleagues to affirm that you’ve heard, processed, and had time to reflect on their ideas while preparing feedback and new ideas to share with them in a more casual, relaxed environment.

PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME

Whether it’s an all-staff meeting or an important presentation, advanced preparation can make a huge difference in the way you come across to your audience. Asking for the meeting agenda in advance can allow you time to gather your thoughts and write them down! Introverts tend to struggle with on-the-spot thinking, so going into engagements with key points already established can help to ease the anxiety you may feel with being the center of attention.

BE ACCESSIBLE AND APPROACHABLE

While it may be tempting to retreat to your office and shut your door after a particularly taxing meeting, finding a balance between accessibility and personal time is necessary. With leadership comes the necessity for open lines of communication between you and other members of staff, so finding a healthy balance is important. Try communicating about when your door is open and when you’ll be unavailable.

EMBRACE YOUR STRENGTHS

There are many positive traits introverted leaders possess. Insightful and empathetic, introverts have the ability to stay calm and step up and gain control in a crisis situation. The observant and introspective nature of introverts allow them to be great problem-solvers when needed and creates space in group discussions for all voices to be heard.

BROADEN YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Stepping outside your comfort zone can be difficult and uncomfortable, but there is value in challenging yourself to expand your skills. In most leadership positions, public speaking and managing conflict are largely unavoidable, so lean into them! Set a goal to speak up at least one time during team meetings or finesse your public speaking prowess by taking courses designed specifically to help people in your shoes; best of all, you’ll likely learn alongside people with similar struggles and find that you’re hardly alone.

SELF CARE IS KEY

Commit to setting personal and professional boundaries to maintain your physical and emotional health. Block out some space in your calendar throughout your week where you’re unavailable to take meetings and phone calls, and focus instead on recharging and getting your work done. Remember to leave work at work; maintaining a strong work/life balance and practicing self-care rituals will make a world of difference.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented changes to nearly every aspect of our lives including the ways in which companies, both small and large, conduct their work. Out of necessity, many businesses made the shift from the traditional 9-5 “in-office” workdays to a less rigid “work from home” model. The remarkable benefits of increased flexibility, non-existent commutes, and the elimination of expensive childcare for many working parents has swayed organizations to continue with this arrangement in the post-pandemic world.

Despite the plethora of advantages, this new work style has the potential for the lines of communication between colleagues to become frayed as people complete their work independently and on their own schedules. The need for workplace mentors has not changed, however, and you’ll need to find creative solutions to bridge the distance between yourself and the people you advise.

BE FLEXIBLE

Remote work allows for people to be more intentional about how they plan their calendars and how and when they interact with people. Consider creating a document in the cloud for you and the people you work with to share thoughts throughout the week asynchronously, so when you come together in your virtual meetings, you have thoughtful talking points and ideas to build on. This ongoing effort allows for you and your mentee to closely collaborate in meaningful ways even without the face-to-face options.

BE CONSISTENT

While some aspects of your schedule may be more flexible, the need for regular, dependable check-ins with your mentee(s) should be non-negotiable. Weekly meetings can provide comfort for workers who may be struggling with balancing responsibilities remotely. The assurance that you have carved out time specifically for their questions and ideas promotes employee well-being that benefits them personally and professionally. If urgent questions arise throughout the week, or you can’t make a regularly scheduled meeting, communicate that, reschedule, and follow-up with answers to questions promptly.

BUILD INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS

Honest and open communication is key. Ask your mentee to identify any areas that they would like to grow, and work in tandem to create a realistic plan that can be put into action. Remember that since your mentee won’t physically see you in the office, you’ll want to find inventive ways to be visible, accessible, and approachable. Reaching out to people outside of regularly scheduled meetings for quick “check-ins” can be a great way to offer support in the online world.

ACKNOWLEDGE ACHIEVEMENTS

Recognize professional accomplishments that your mentee has been working hard to attain. Give people unprompted shout-outs in meetings and highlight the value that person brings to your organization. Be sure to celebrate both the small successes and the big victories equally. Consistent recognition makes people feel noticed and appreciated and promotes a strong sense of community and optimism for everybody.

The relationship you build with your mentee should have just as much value for you as it does for them. Consider this a mutual exercise in building trust, extending your professional networks, honing your communication skills, and sharing new, diverse perspectives and experiences with one another. With these tips, you’re sure to build lasting relationships with the people that you work with.

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. 

HER NEW EBOOK IS CALLED A QUICK GUIDE TO COURAGE
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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With the Great Resignation and a nation-wide worker shortage, employers are scrambling to both hire new staff and retain the people they already have. It’s an employee’s world right now, so why not use this opportunity to ask for a raise?

If you’ve been with your company for more than a couple years, you are a valuable asset that cannot easily be replaced. You know your company’s systems, goals, visions, and approaches. You’re familiar with your co-workers, as well as the resources you can use to get your job done. On average, it takes $4,000 to hire a new employee, and that doesn’t include all the expenses associated with training and/or mentoring. Your company would rather retain their current employers, especially if they’re performing well.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to ask for a raise if you just earned one OR if you’re underperforming OR if you’ve only been working at your company for a matter of months. However, it does make sense to ask for a raise if:

  • You are a high performer or active contributor
  • You are taking on more work than ever
  • You feel you are worth more than what you’re paid
  • Fellow employees in similar roles are paid more than you
  • People in your field are receiving better pay at other companies

These are all reasons to ask for a raise.

If you feel like you’ve earned it, you probably have. So, why not ask for it? According to Ramit Sethi, author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.com, “Just one $5,000 raise, properly invested, can be worth $1 million over your career.”

Sounds great, right? But you can’t just waltz into your boss’ office and demand an extra $5K a year. You have to develop a thoughtful, thorough plan. Here’s how:

List the reasons you deserve a raise.

Take time to evaluate the work you’ve done over the last year or two. What projects stand out? What are some specific instances where you’ve truly shined? When have you added to the profitability of your organization? Collect as many specific facts as you can (Of course, it helps if your boss already knows about your accomplishments, but that’s a subject for a different blog post). Practice talking about your accomplishments in the mirror or with a close friend or spouse. Why? You want to sound as natural as possible when you have this conversation and not like you’re rattling off a list.

Arm Yourself with Confidence.

Don’t be shy about asking for a raise. Believe you’ve earned it and demonstrate, with confidence, the reasons why you should get it. However, don’t overdo it and let confidence turn into cockiness. Just be authentic, sincere, and assertive in your request.

Have a specific dollar amount in mind.

Do your research. Know what other people in the company are making and know what other people in your industry are making. Don’t be outlandish in your request, but don’t sell yourself short either.

Talk about the future.

It’s a good idea to demonstrate you are ready to continue to do great work for the company. As Carolyn O’Hara writes in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Lay out your contributions, then quickly pivot to what you hope to tackle next. Assure your boss that you understand his or her pressures and goals, and pitch your raise as a way to help achieve those goals.”

And if your boss turns you down? That’s a possible outcome and you have to be prepared to accept it. But don’t get discouraged. The fact that you asked for a raise shows initiative, career-mindedness, and tenacity. It also demonstrates to your boss that you know what you’re worth and he or she will have to give you a raise at some point down the road or risk losing you. So, be fearless! You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

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