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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Communication

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

As a leader, it’s important to foster a culture of accountability within your team. Holding your team accountable does not have to come at the expense of compassion or empathy. In fact, heart-led leadership can be very powerful, even when you have to draw a line in the sand at times and hold your people accountable for their words, behaviors, and actions. Here are six steps you can take to create a culture of accountability within your team:

Step 1: Clearly Define Expectations

The first step to creating a culture of accountability is to clearly define expectations. Make sure everyone on your team knows what is expected of them, whether in terms of individual goals or team goals (make sure everyone is on board with a shared vision). This can be done through one-on-one meetings or team meetings where expectations are laid out and discussed.

Step 2: Set SMART Goals

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals is an effective way to hold your team accountable. These goals should be aligned with company objectives and should be reviewed regularly to ensure progress is being made. The “M” in SMART goals is particularly important because it ensures that progress can be measured and tracked.

Step 3: Provide Ongoing Feedback

Regular feedback is key to holding your team accountable since it allows you to address any issues early on and make adjustments as needed. Make sure to provide both positive and constructive feedback on a regular basis to keep your team on track. This feedback can be given individually or, if appropriate, during team meetings. I usually recommend using the D4 model, which stands for Data, Depth of Feeling, Dramatic Interpretation, and Do. To learn more about this model, view my past blog post on the topic.

Step 4: Lead by Example

As a leader, it’s important to lead by example. This means holding yourself accountable as well as your team. Make sure you are following through on your commitments and are meeting your own goals. This will set the tone for your team and help create a culture of accountability.

Step 5: Encourage Ownership

Encouraging ownership is another effective way to create a culture of accountability. When someone feels like they truly have a stake in a project AND the power to make a significant contribution, they are more likely to take ownership and be accountable for the outcome. Give your team members autonomy and empower them to make decisions and take responsibility for their work.

Step 6: Celebrate Successes

Finally, celebrate successes! Recognize when your team members meet their goals, achieve a milestone, or exceed expectations. This creates a positive team culture and reinforces the importance of accountability. Celebrating successes can be done through verbal recognition, awards, or team outings.

Creating a culture of accountability is key to the success of any team. By following these six steps, you can start creating a culture of accountability that is both compassionate and effective (you can have both!). Foster growth and success for your team and your organization through intelligent accountability practices.



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Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

Have you ever found yourself at a turning point when you’ve had to make a decision? Maybe that decision was major (switching career paths, moving to a new city) or maybe it was less major but still important (deciding who to invite to a gathering, considering whether to take on a project). Whatever the case, making decisions can be difficult.

When it comes time to choose, we might freeze up and not know which way to turn. Sometimes we end up sticking firmly within our comfort zone, because we’re too nervous to take the plunge and commit to a new course of action.

To get out of a decision-making rut, try tapping into one or more different proven methods to make the best choice possible. Here are five techniques to try:

Map Out Possibilities

When you feel overwhelmed by choice, it can be helpful to create a visual representation of all your options. Mind maps are a great tool for this, as they allow you to see the paths before you in an organized and comprehensive manner. A pros and cons list is another useful tool for sorting out your thoughts and getting an organized view of your options.

Learn how to create an effective mind map by taking look at my past blog post on the topic.

Ask “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

When you plan for the worst-case scenario, you can worry less about making a mistake and start to realize that most of the time the consequences of a poor decision are not as dire as you might fear. Ask yourself, “What is the absolute worst outcome?”, and you will be more likely to act with confidence and a clear mind. Additionally, you’ll be better able to prepare for future “What ifs” if you consider possible adverse outcomes.

I’ve written more about this concept in my “How Bad Could It Be?” blog post.

Use the “Best Friend Test”

Before making an important decision, ask yourself, “What would I tell my best friend to do in this scenario?” This is a test author Daniel Pink recommends in a short, informative video. He says that asking this question is effective because it changes the perspective of the scenario. You certainly wouldn’t want to lead your best friend astray, so the advice you give to them should apply to yourself as well.

Journal About It

Writing is a process of self-discovery, and writing about your decision-making process can offer valuable insight into what you truly want. Keep a running log of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas about the issue at hand and explore different angles.

Get Support

When facing a difficult decision, sometimes it helps to turn to a few trusted advisors for input. Ask one or two people you trust for advice, but be careful not to get “advice overload” where you ask too many people about a topic. As with all advice, take these suggestions with a grain of salt.

Making a decision can be hard, but by tapping into different methods and taking a mindful approach, it’s possible to make the best choice. Taking the time to use these techniques can help you gain clarity and make the best choice for yourself.

Good luck and happy decision making!


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As young children, most of us were taught good manners. Say please and thank you. Ask for permission. If you mess up or hurt someone, say, “I’m sorry.” While these lessons can be very helpful, sometimes they carry over into adulthood a little too strongly. Specifically, many of us end up apologizing for things that do not require an apology.

What do I mean?

Let’s say you’re in a meeting and someone presents incorrect data. You’re very familiar with the data that should have been presented, so you decide to speak up. Your inclination might be to say something like, “Sorry, but I have to weigh in here…” or “Sorry, but those numbers aren’t quite right…”

Who are you apologizing to? And why?

In truth, there’s no need to be sorry. You’re helping out the team by providing the correct data. The word “Sorry” makes it sound like you did something wrong or hurtful, when that isn’t the case. Instead, you might rephrase your statement to, “I’d like to provide some additional information…” or “If I may, I’d like to offer a different perspective…”

You also don’t need to apologize for technical difficulties, asking someone for clarification, or missing work due to an illness (or a child’s illness). Instead of saying, “Sorry, my microphone wasn’t working,” say, “Thank you for your patience while I dealt with tech issues.” Instead of saying, “Sorry I can’t come in today,” say, “I appreciate your flexibility.”

Why Do We Over Apologize?

There are a few different reasons why we might find ourselves overusing the word “Sorry.” We might be apologizing out of politeness or because we don’t want to impose on other people. We may not be sure of ourselves and feel like we need to back our statements up with an apology.

In some cases, apologizing too much can actually weaken our arguments. It gives off the perception that we are unsure of our statements, even if that’s not the case. It also takes away from our confidence and makes us come off as less assertive.

Women are especially guilty of “over apologizing.” A study by the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that women apologize much more frequently than men. The reason, they say, is because men “have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.” Women, take note! Speaking up during a meeting probably isn’t offensive. Having a different opinion, or showing up a few minutes late, or sneezing during a meeting isn’t offensive.

Taking Back Your Power

If you feel that you overuse “I’m sorry” in situations that don’t require an apology, take a step back and analyze your speech patterns. Pay attention to how often you use the word and if you’re using it when it’s unnecessary.

From there, try to change your language. Instead of apologizing, opt for phrases like “Thanks for understanding” or “I appreciate it.” You’ll sound more confident and in control of the discussion. Plus, it won’t take away your power or make it look like you’re trying to diminish your authority.

It is important to understand when an apology is necessary, and when it is not. Being aware of our language and speech patterns can help us realize if we are overusing the phrase “I’m sorry.” Changing our language to sound more confident and in control can be a powerful tool for assertiveness, and re-phrasing our statements with phrases can help us take back the power in those situations. Practicing these techniques can help make sure we know when an apology is truly necessary.


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