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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Improving Leadership

build a good reputation

Your reputation may sound like something that’s out of your control. It’s the way others perceive you, right? It’s the culmination of every interaction, victory, failure, good deed, and (criticism?) harsh word, all rolled into one. How can you contain this many-armed monster and make it your own? Start with these six steps:

1. Pay attention

Although this may seem like a basic concept, it’s an absolutely crucial one. Pay close attention to how you treat others, from your co-workers to your boss to the custodian staff to your barista at Starbucks. Every interaction has the potential to either build-up or tear down your personal brand. Start seeing yourself through the eyes of others and work on a vital little skill called empathy.

2. Be consistent

When you consistently put your best foot forward, you will find that your reputation will fall under your control. If, for example, you show one side of yourself to certain co-workers and another side to others, you’re bound to run into problems somewhere down the line. Be your best, authentic self, no matter if you’re having a conversation with a potential new client, chatting with a co-worker, or posting on social media (yes, that matters too!).

3. Be on time

Whether for meetings, projects, or the start of the work day, BE ON TIME. Punctuality matters and your timeliness can boost your credibility in a big way.

4. Stop making excuses

No one likes an excuse-maker. If you make a mistake or fail to deliver on a project, own up to your error and ask how you can set things right. If you vow to be excuse-free (more on that in a past blog post), you’ll also tend to be a better planner so that you won’t feel the need to make excuses in the first place.

5. Don’t gossip

Nothing kills a good reputation faster than gossip. People will quickly begin to distrust you and may be hesitant to confide in you or entrust you with a team project. And if you find yourself surrounded by gossiping co-workers, do your best to change the subject or simply remove yourself from the conversation. You are above that.

6. Extend small kindnesses

Whenever you see an opportunity for a kind gesture, make it. Say thank you, offer to help, or ask about someone’s day. Make sure your gestures are authentic and heart-felt. You should actually want to help and uplift your co-workers and clients.

 

Are you in control of your reputation? Although credibility takes a long time to build, you can start taking steps immediately to build a healthy, promotion-worthy reputation. Feel free to contact me for more ways to build a stellar reputation.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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shaking-hands

Ever witnessed a child being told they must share their toys with another child? Their reaction to this news wasn’t too pretty, was it?

Although we’ve grown to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around us and we don’t always get our way, that small child’s voice is still inside us, protesting whenever things don’t go how we want them to.

But the truth is, in order to lead in any real sense of the word, you must learn the art of making compromises. It’s easy to say that, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but how do you actually do it?

1. Express yourself fully, and listen intently. Explain your reasoning behind your viewpoint. Often our views are skewed by our emotions, which make it harder to make effective decisions. Articulating your view to another person forces you to take a good long look at your position, and in many cases this allows you to see where your view may not be perfect. By the same token, listen to what the other person is actually saying, not what you think they’re saying. Hear them out before you rush to judgment. Open communication is crucial to getting things done.

2. Think from the other person’s perspective. If it continues to be difficult for you to accept the other person’s position, do your best to put yourself in their shoes. What’s the reasoning behind their thoughts, ideas, and opinions? Even if you disagree, can you see why they hold these views?

3. Be committed to results. Compromising pushes two opposing viewpoints past a gridlock into a region where they can move from ideas into actions. In this way, compromise is one of the most powerful tools we have to getting results. A compromise is a mature way of acknowledging that we can never fully get what we want all of the time, but we can get more of what we want if we work together to achieve it.

4. Be prepared to be disappointed, but give it time. At first, you’ll only see what you didn’t get out of a compromise. This is understandable, but don’t give up on it just yet. In the longterm, compromising pays off for both parties, as you’ve established an alliance and proven to one another that you are capable of working together and taking steps forward.

Have a great week!

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critic

If you’ve noticed more than one voice in your head, fighting for your attention, don’t worry: you’re not crazy. In fact, it’s quite normal to experience these different voices popping up at random moments and influencing how we perceive ourselves and the world around us.

To be more accurate, these “voices” are thought patterns we form over a long period of time. Oftentimes, we can tell what circumstances prompt one voice to start talking. Our inner cheerleader comes out when we accomplish something we’re proud of, for instance. Other times, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint what exactly triggers a certain thought pattern, and if you’re not careful here, it becomes difficult to discern between what’s real and what’s a lie the voice in your head is telling you.

I want to talk about the worst liar of them all. In my book, I call it the “self-saboteur.” He/she is the voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough. Nobody will trust you. Nobody will notice you. It won’t work, it never does, you might as well stop trying, it’s hopeless.”

The self-saboteur is crafty, resilient, and an almost universal phenomenon. How do you keep this negative voice in check?

In his article on negative thinking patterns, life coach John-Paul Flintoff advises that we externalize the self-saboteur. The brain is flexible, and continues to develop past childhood. We can take advantage of this and disrupt negative thinking patterns. “The first step,” says Flintoff, “is to become aware of your automatic negative thoughts–and for me, anyway, that’s much easier (and more fun, actually) if I personify the inner critic, with a sketch, and give him/her a voice.”

Flintoff’s inner critic is shriveled and bald, with dark shadows under his eyes. He looks worried and avoids eye contact. He stays in the shadows but comes out to whisper hurtful things.

By creating such a detailed image of his self-saboteur, he is able to distance himself from this bad thinking pattern. It’s not him talking, it’s the shriveled liar in the corner.

Externalizing your self-saboteur takes practice. Old habits, and thought patterns definitely count as habits, take time and effort to break. But once you begin distancing yourself from your negative inner-critic, this thought pattern loses an incredible amount of power. As you continue learning to identify when and how the critic starts talking, you’ll get better and better at learning how to stop listening.

Another suggestion of Flintoff’s (which I find quite wise) is to think of someone in your life you greatly admire. The next time your self-saboteur takes the floor, imagine that this person is defending you. What would they say? If you’re honest (this is your defender’s turn to talk, so don’t allow the inner-critic any influence here), you’ll find that your defender has a great deal to say on your behalf. By doing this simple mental exercise, it becomes clear that most of the time, your self-saboteur is talking utter garbage, and you’re giving him/her a platform to let it get to you. Don’t do that! You’re so much more valuable, so much more loved, and so much more worthy than your saboteur will ever give you credit for, so stop wasting your time listening and put a sock in that liar’s mouth.

 

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creativity

Here’s a scenario: You bolt awake at night, with the solution to a problem clear as day in your mind. Familiar with this type of experience? If so, congratulations, you’ve had an epiphany.

Now, you must show your coworkers–and more importantly, your boss–what makes your idea so great. Here is where many people stumble. It’s great to have ideas. It’s even better to believe in yourself and be convinced that your idea will really work. But the hard part is pitching it to those who have the power to either make your idea a reality, or push it off into the reject pile.

So, how do you sell an idea to your boss?

1. Know Your Boss

What are your boss’s priorities? What are they passionate about in the business? What are their hot button issues? By knowing your boss, you’ll know how to pitch the idea in a way that makes the maximum impact on them.

2. Know Your Business

How does your business run? Do you know the in’s and out’s of how things get done? Familiarizing yourself with the entire business–not just your part in it–will make your proposal much more appealing.

3. Timing Is Key

Do you approach your boss while their busy with five other projects, or do you wait for the opportunity to have their undivided attention? Of course, different bosses work differently, so you know better than I do when the optimum time to approach them is. Don’t mention your idea until you’ve found that perfect time to do so, because you want the idea to have the biggest impression possible.

For tips on drafting a proposal and presenting it, you’ll have to stay tuned for next week’s post!

 

 

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Leadership_Scrabble

I stumbled upon a great blog post this week by life coach Chris LoCurto on what leadership is, and what it is not. As I’ve discussed before, effective leadership depends on support, compassion, and trust, not on strict rules or fear tactics.

According to LoCurto, leadership is:

not a title

not a dictatorship

not selfish

not a blame game

Okay, so that’s what leadership isn’t. What about what it is? LoCurto says leadership is:

-Selfless

-Visionary

-Accountable

-Rewarding

What are good descriptors of leadership that come to mind for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a great week!

 

 

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july-4th-tempe-town-lake

On this Fourth of July, I hope you’re taking time to get outside, enjoy time with friends and family, and see some fireworks. But the holiday also offers us a chance to look back on the country’s history and see what kind of lessons and insight we might take from it. In particular, what can we learn about leadership from the first American leaders?

This is the topic of a blog post from Harvard Business review blog: here’s the link.

In contrast to the way we see the Founding Fathers–great, infallible men who did no wrong–the article points out that each founder had both brilliant areas of expertise, but also glaring weaknesses. “Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was superb with a pen,” writes Jeffrey Gedmin, CEO of Legatum Institute. “He was a notoriously poor public speaker, however.” Similarly, John Adams was extremely intelligent and courageous, but suffered “extreme mood swings” that made him difficult to work with.

So while we may view the Founders in a heroic light, the truth is they too were normal people with normal strengths and weaknesses. The success of the country came not from strength or genius of individuals, but from the power of cooperation and complementary skill sets.

Just a little food for thought. Have a great holiday weekend!

 

 

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time to adapt

I once collaborated on a project with a few people from my department. We all had different areas of expertise, so we relied on each other equally in order to get it off the ground.

The problem was, our visions of not only how we were going to execute the project, but what the project even looked like, were all over the board. It took weeks of frustrating debate just to come to an agreement on the project itself.

Then, there was the tug-of-war between us at every step of the process. One person wanted to draft specific, detailed assignments for each of us to follow verbatim. Since a few of us worked better in a more fluid, open style, that became a point of contention. Another member of the team insisted we meet in person multiple times a week, while there was one individual who thrived working on her own time.

Of course, we eventually got the job done. Once we had time to settle down and look back on the project, we admitted we could have all been more flexible.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision in situations like these. So easy, in fact, that I’ve witnessed the calmest, most professional leaders become almost hysterical when they’re in the middle of a collaborative project. Why is this?

I think it’s mainly due to pride. When we have a task before us, we all visualize how the end result will look, which is very necessary. But we unintentionally force our personal vision onto everyone else, even when we’re unaware that we’re doing it.

Think of a time when you resisted a suggestion from someone in a collaborative situation. I’m willing to bet that your resistance to their suggestion wasn’t necessarily because it was a bad idea. I’ll go so far as to say you objected because deep down, you were convinced that your vision was inherently better than theirs.

This is where the tunnel vision happens. Assuming that you have the better vision, you are unwilling/unable to truly give their idea a fair chance. Often, you’ll realize after the fact that they actually had a great idea, and you may scratch your head and wonder, “Why didn’t I see that at the time?”

The remedy? Remind yourself every step of the way that your vision isn’t inherently perfect. Remind yourself that you are one person, working in a team. Listen to your collaborators. Accept that the product won’t ever be exactly as you envision it. Allow yourself to change your mind and see alternatives.

The good news: having this skill enhances your end product. Flexibility leads to innovation and dynamic results well past what you expected. This is because the ability to be flexible unleashes the awesome power of collaborative work between many talented minds.

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