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Creating Successful Leaders

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We have to turn a profit!

We need to grow and improve!

We have to serve our customers as best we can!

We have to improve our marketing and reach more people!

It’s easy to get wrapped up in big-picture company goals. These are the objectives that drive the day-to-day. They are provide direction for you and your team. However, they are NOT everything.

Even though company objectives are certainly worthy (your organization wouldn’t get very far without them), they don’t always consider the engine that’s driving change: the employees.

Those who work within the company walls, fill out paperwork, brainstorm, attend meetings…they are the ones who make the world go ‘round. They are the force behind any company movement. If you get right down to it, nothing can be accomplished without people power.

So…why do so many companies seem to put their people last?

I argue that employees—team members—should be prioritized. Instead of treating your people as an afterthought, start engaging with them. Find out what makes them tick, what motivates and excites them. Discover what new and out-of-the-box ideas they might have—ideas that could drive change and innovation.

On the flip side, it’s crucial to understand what does not work for your employees. What are their sticking points? What do they believe needs improvement? What is slowly down or impeding their performance?

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure your team feels:

  • Listened to (keep an open line of communication, get to know them, and make sure all voices are heard)
  • Supported (with both people and resources)
  • Motivated
  • Worthy and Important to the overall company mission

People should not be afraid of approaching leadership with concerns or fresh ideas. They shouldn’t be scared of taking sensible risks. They also shouldn’t feel like their leadership is distant and unapproachable.

It’s time to start listening to and empowering employees. They are the backbone of your organization, and if they are motivated and working within a fully-supportive environment, they will thrive.

Want to talk more about improving relationships with and among your team members? I am an Insights Licensed Practitioner and have helped countless teams improve their communication and team dynamics. Let’s talk!


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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When you’re stuck at home all day, with only your cat or a couple other people to keep you company, professional networking may sound like a strange term from a long-ago place!

Not so. Networking is just as (if not more) important than ever. If you’ve recently been furloughed or lost your job, it’s important. If you’re looking to transition to another career, it’s important. If you’re hoping to gain a promotion or move into a leadership position at your organization, it’s important.

What’s more, if you decide to put effort into networking now (when so many people are caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic and not focusing on their careers), you’ll gain an edge over your peers.

How can you approach virtual networking?

Cathy Paper, founder of RockPaperStar, is a professional coach and marketer. She suggests starting your networking with people you already know (those who are well-connected or influential) and expanding it from there. Ask for introductions, so you’re networking won’t be “cold,” but “warm.”

Cathy also suggests going into your networking with a plan. Think about how many people you would like to connect with each week, and aim for that. Also, consider your approach. Will you be emailing? Calling? Sending a LinkedIn message? Keep in mind that not everyone will respond, and plan accordingly.

When you send a message, it is useful to bring up what YOU offer, and not just what you want. Show that you’re useful and willing to help. Otherwise, your invitation to connect will appear to be self-serving. By approaching networking with a mentality of service, you will show that you’re just as interested in helping as being helped. Networking should never be a one-way street.

You may also want to show your creative side when networking. How can you help others remember you? How can you stand out? You don’t want to be tacky, but you do want to be unique. Come up with a catchy phrase that captures what you do, or direct your potential connect to a resource that might be useful for them.

Follow-up and stay connected! New connections aren’t useful if you let them slip through the cracks. Stay connected by sending out regular emails or adding them to your newsletter list (with their permission). You could also post articles on your blog and share them through social media, to A) stay top-of-mind and B) demonstrate that you have valuable information to share.

Virtual networking doesn’t have to be intimidating. Make a list of potential connections, ask for an introduction (if you have a connection), and send a thoughtful email or message that conveys who you are and what you do. And don’t forget to follow-up. In many ways, virtual networking is easier than face-to-face networking because you can sit behind your screen and think about what you’d like to say before you say it.

The real key: Just do it! Put yourself out there, take a risk, and start making connections 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. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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NOW 50% off: MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

During this unprecedented time, it’s normal to feel anxious. With people losing their jobs, confined to their homes, and living in fear of an invisible foe, there are ample reasons to feel scared or depressed. You’re human, after all.

But you don’t have to let those feelings control you. I suggest giving yourself a healthy distraction or two—something to temporary alleviate the tension in your shoulders and the panicked thoughts swirling through your mind. Some distractions, of course, are harmful, but they certainly don’t have to be.

As Amy Cuddy says, don’t “fake it ‘til you make it,” fake it ‘til you feel it. If you practice stress-relieving techniques with some regularity, eventually you will genuinely feel less stressed.

Here are 16 ideas for you to try:

1. Pick up gardening

Taking care of something will help take the focus off yourself. Plus, gardening requires regular time and attention in a quiet setting—a perfect hobby for anyone looking for more serenity.

2. Journal

Buy a fancy notebook that you’ll enjoy opening, and start writing! Don’t edit as you go, just write and see what comes out. If you want to try journaling about the things you are grateful for, you could do that, but if you simply want to release your thoughts, that’s fine too. Do whatever fits YOU!

3. Meditate

If you’ve never practiced meditation before, you might start with a user-friendly app, like Headspace.

4. Pick up your instrument!

If you’re feeling really ambitious (or bored!), you might pick up a new instrument, but if you simply want a bit of a distraction and a healthy release, try dusting off your old instrument and start to play. Did you take piano lessons as a kid? Or learn the guitar at one point? You might have fun tinkering around with these instruments once more (and it’s certainly a good distraction).

5. Walk or hike

Whether in your neighborhood or on a trail, walking is good for the body and soul. Just be careful to avoid over-crowded locales.

6. Crack open an adult coloring book

This was all the rage five years ago, but who on earth had time to sit down and color back then?? Now is the time to open an adult coloring book, sharpen your color pencils, and relax as the colors flow.

7. Tour a museum…virtually!

Many museums, including the Louvre, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the Van Gogh Museum are offering free virtual tours right now. Google Arts & Culture also offers several interactive displays and art info. Instead of sitting down for yet another TV marathon, try viewing some paintings or a sparkling collection of gemstones instead.

8. Watch Some Good News

John Krasinski (famous for playing Jim Halpert in the Office) now has a YouTube channel called Some Good News. In his videos, he highlights the week’s joyful news, interviews celebrities, and goes out of his way to make the day of everyday people (i.e., in one episode he hosted a virtual prom). Find his videos HERE.

9. Paint rocks

You don’t have to be terribly talented to paint rocks with all kinds of cheerful colors and place them around the neighborhood. Paint ladybugs, flowers, or just brightly colored polka dots, and place your painted rocks on neighbor’s front steps or along the sidewalk.

10. Pull out your cookbooks

If you’re like me, you probably have dozens of recipes you marked in a cookbook (or on Pinterest) that you never actually got around to making. Now’s the time! Try something new and be daring—who cares if you mess up?

A few other quick ideas:

11. Do some exercises or yoga on a mat

12. Buy some sidewalk chalk, color your sidewalk, then leave it at your front steps for others to enjoy

13. Organize your junk drawers

14. Sing! Sing on your walks, sing in the shower, just sing.

15. Listen to an audio book

16. Try your hand at quilting, sewing, or knitting

You CAN get through this. Occupy your time with a few healthy activities, and discover what a difference it can make in your life. You’ve got this.

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 50% off: MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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