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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Margaret Smith business coach

Woman at desk

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!


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Business woman at meeting
Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

If you’re looking to land a promotion, it’s a good idea to start with YOU. At the end of the day, the decision makers will dole out promotions to people and personalities they like, in addition to recognizing accomplishments. You’ll want to stand out (in a good way!) and be consistent in your behavior. You’ll want to build and master your personal brand.

How do you develop a personal brand that will help you stand out?

Start with thinking about your end goals. Where do you want to be? What skills and personal attributes do you need to get you there? These are the building blocks of your personal brand.

Once you have your big-picture goals identified, consider how you’ll need to act and what you’ll need to accomplish in a realistic sense. What will your day-to-day look like? Your actions matter, and they are the most important part of your personal brand.

Your appearance and your words pale in comparison to what you DO. You might be the sharpest dresser in the office, but if you fail to turn in your work on time, you’ll be perceived in a negative light.

So what does make a quality brand? What are some of the factors you can put into place to elevate your personal brand in the eyes of others?

Consider these four…

1. Be authentic

As you begin developing your personal brand, being authentic should be your number one priority. Others can see right through a faux personality. Let your best self shine!

2. Check your ego

As much as you’d like to take credit for the success of an entire project, be sure to give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge the achievements of your team members and be sure to tell them you appreciate their contributions.

Additionally, keep in mind that your ideas are not the only ideas. Build a positive personal brand by being inclusive of others and open to their thoughts and opinions.

3. Genuinely care about others

Whether co-workers or clients, make sure you consistently pause and consider others. What are their needs? How can you best help them? Listen carefully to others’ concerns and frustrations, as well as positive experiences. Constantly ask questions and begin to develop an understanding of those with whom you work (be they your customers, team members, or boss).

4. Be bold with your ideas

Individuals are more likely to be successful if they are innovators. If you have a bold new idea, talk about it! Create action. Present your idea to your boss and ask permission to pursue it. This kind of bold, self-starter behavior is what many bosses look for when considering who to promote. Just make sure to present your ideas in a respectful way that opens the door to a discourse…not a “my way or the highway” speech.

5. Focus on the day-to-day

How you act, what you say, and what you do every day can either build or detract from your personal brand. Don’t underestimate the importance of your daily interactions. Your consistent, positive presence is important for building and maintaining your brand.

Make sure your daily actions are, in general, supporting your big-picture goals. If you’d like to, for example, rise to a leadership position, think about how your typical to-do list offers opportunities to achieve that goal. What can you do to put your big-picture goals in the center of your day?

As you work on building your personal brand, remember: success doesn’t usually come over night. Focus on small actions and interactions. Everything matters.


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Image by Анастасия Гепп from Pixabay

Many of us have opportunities to meet new people regularly. Whether at a conference, seminar, or simply a gym class, we may be brushing shoulders with others who could prove to be value networking connections. But oftentimes we’re either A) too timid to strike up a meaningful conversation or B) bad about following up or keeping in touch once we do make a new acquaintance.

Let’s change that pattern! It’s time to turn potential alliances into solid connections. Start by following these five steps:

1. Speak Up

So many of us miss opportunities to connect with others because we’re nervous to strike up a conversation with someone new. At a conference or workshop, it’s so much easier to stick with the group of people you already know and not venture outside your comfort zone. It’s also easier to stick your nose in your phone or laptop during breaks, and not bother to seek out new acquaintances.

I challenge you to dip a toe out of your comfort zone and start talking to strangers! It may be intimidating at first, but honestly, what’s the worst that could happen? The other person may not be receptive to your efforts…so, you move on.

2. Ask Good Questions

If you’re attending a business event, you might consider coming up with a few questions ahead of time to ask would-be connections. Go over the day’s agenda, and think of relevant questions you could ask.

Another way to engage new acquaintances is to be genuinely curious about them. Go beyond “What do you do?” Dig deeper and ask questions about their client base or how they became interested in their work in the first place. Or, connect on a more personal level and ask about their background and interests (without being too nosy, of course!). If you’re going to go this route, you probably want to offer something of yourself first. For example, “I’m thrilled about all the book recommendations we’ve been getting at the conference. Do you like to read too?”

Asking questions creates bridges between people. Just make sure you’re mostly asking open-ended questions (not ones that can be answered with yes or no), and you truly listen to the reply. You don’t want to completely miss what someone says because you’re thinking up a response.

Asking questions creates bridges between people.

3. Demonstrate Your Value

When you’re connecting with a professional acquaintance, it’s a good idea to think about how you can help them, instead of focusing on what you can gain. Make it clear that this relationship is a two-way street, and you have valuable skills and services to offer.

4. Connect Within Three Days

Be sure to follow up with new acquaintances within three days, while your interaction is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Send a short email and/or connection request on LinkedIn. You might also give a brief reminder about how you met, saying something like, “It was great talking about data collection methods at the ABC Conference on Thursday. I’d love to continue the conversation sometime…”

5. Create a Follow-Up Schedule

Designate time to follow up with new acquaintances. Set your dates and plug in a calendar reminder to make sure you follow through. Don’t be too pushy, especially if you don’t get a response from your acquaintance, but do make an effort to reach out. Consider framing your message like this:

Hi Rachel,

You crossed my mind the other day because [FILL IN A REASON]. I wanted to reach out and see how you’re doing with your XYZ business. Have you had any more issues with [FILL IN DETAILS]? If you’d like to grab a cup of coffee sometime soon, please let me know. I have some free time at the end of next week.

Take care,

You worked hard to make your new acquaintances; don’t let them fall between the cracks! Your connections could prove to be fruitful, both for you and the people you meet.

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