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Creating Successful Leaders

Category Archives: Leadership

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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What do many effective leaders have in common? They believe in continual learning and development. Big-name CEOs like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are avid readers who are constantly gobbling up books. Former president John F. Kennedy said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” And the legendary Henry Ford believed that, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Strong leaders are avid, continual learners. They don’t stop seeking new opportunities after they’ve graduated or once they’ve landed a job; they treat every day as another chance to acquire knowledge and skills.

Why is lifelong learning so essential for leadership? How does curiosity and exploration build character, aid in personal development, and position you as a leader? Here are four ways:

1. Continuous Learning Makes You Adaptable

Today, the workplace landscape is shifting and evolving at a lightning-fast pace. We never know what tomorrow will bring and how our team will react. Therefore, effective leaders must be highly adaptable, quick on their feet, and innovative.

To remain relevant, leaders must endeavor to continually learn. New challenges are best faced if the leader is willing to gain new knowledge and adapt/adjust their thinking. There’s a reason medical doctors are required to continue their specialized education long after they graduate from medical school. Could you imagine going to a surgeon who was using standard practices from the 1940s?

The same is true in any office setting. Standards change; innovations occur. Capable leaders stay on top of those changes, adapt, and guide others to adapt as well.

2. Well-Rounded People Make the Best Leaders

To become well-rounded, you, as a leader, need to learn a wide array of subjects, disciplines, and areas of expertise. You don’t need to be an expert in everything, but it’s important to have a working knowledge of the world outside your niche, as it broadens your perspective, helps you understand others’ viewpoints, and gives you foundational knowledge in unfamiliar areas. Dare to step outside your comfort zone. Read history or philosophy if you’ve always been a numbers person. Take public speaking classes if you’re shy (Toastmasters is a great club for this). Learn a language. Focus on areas you’ve told yourself that you’re bad at, and give it another go. You may surprise yourself.

3. Learning Helps You Problem-Solve

If you’re constantly making an effort to learn new systems, programs, ways of thinking, etc., you’ll be more creative and mentally nimble when it comes to problem-solving. If you train your brain to perform many different tasks (no matter what they are), you’re enabling yourself for outside-the-box thinking.

4. Your Actions Will Encourage Others to Keep Learning

As a leader, you set the standards. Your pursuit of innovation and discovery will encourage your team to also prioritize continual learning. Demonstrate that you’re willing to dive into uncharted territory, get your hands dirty, and make mistakes. Your example will help develop a team that is willing to get creative, take a few risks, and figure out innovative ways to overcome obstacles.

How will you commit to continual learning? What will you do this week to help expand your horizons or learn a new skill? Start today!

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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