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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Margaret Smith business coach

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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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In today’s constantly evolving business landscape, innovation and creativity have become essential for organizations to stay ahead of the curve. As a leader, it’s important to create a workplace environment that encourages and fosters creativity, allowing employees to innovate and progress in their work.

It’s easy to stay safely within the status quo, but “business as usual” is a sure recipe for stagnation and, eventually, falling behind. To become a truly innovative workplace, it is vital to take some risks, test the waters, and re-strategize when necessary.

Here are some strategies to encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace:

Welcome Diverse Perspectives

One of the key ingredients to encourage creativity and innovation in the workplace is to welcome diverse perspectives. A team comprised of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and skillsets will bring unique ideas to the table. Far too often, we silence or discourage diverse voices and “never been done” ideas. But to achieve innovation, we must encourage employees to speak up and share their ideas. Make sure everyone knows their opinions are valued by truly listening and taking their thoughts, opinions, and ideas seriously.

Encourage Open Communication and Feedback

Another way to encourage creativity in the workplace is to foster an environment that promotes open communication and feedback between team members, and between the team leader and their team. As a leader, it’s essential to encourage your people to share their opinions, ask questions, and collaborate with each other. You may even open a couple avenues for anonymous communication (such as through surveys or anonymous forums). When it comes to generating new ideas and approaches to solving problems, communication is vital.

Accept Mistakes

Innovation is often accompanied by mistakes. Famously, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” As a leader, it’s important to foster a culture where mistakes are accepted and seen as opportunities for growth and learning. Encourage your employees to experiment, take risks, and not be afraid of failing. Mistakes are a part of the learning process and we can take away valuable lessons and information from them. By accepting mistakes, you create an environment that is more conducive to innovation.

Provide Support and Resources

Innovation requires resources and support. As a leader, it’s essential to provide your team with the tools and resources they need to succeed. This may include time, money, software, hardware, and other resources. You must also actively seek new ideas and processes to support your team’s innovative endeavors. Providing support and resources is a key way to show that you value innovation and creativity in the workplace.

Test a Few Different Routes

Testing different routes can lead to creative solutions. Encourage your team to experiment and try different approaches to problem-solving. Brainstorming sessions, prototyping, and testing different solutions can lead to unexpected yet effective solutions. Remember to keep careful track of your methods, collect as much data as possible, and analyze that data to make informed decisions.

Encourage Continuous Learning

Innovation requires continuous learning, so it’s important to encourage your employees to keep learning and developing new skills. Provide opportunities for training, workshops, and conferences. Also, encourage your team to access online resources and attend webinars. By investing in your team’s education and development, you’ll create a culture that values innovation and is constantly striving for improvement.

Don’t Micromanage the Process!

Finally, one of the most important things a leader can do to encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace is to avoid micromanaging the process. Micromanaging can stifle creativity and prevent your team from exploring new ideas. Instead, give your team the freedom to take calculated risks, experiment, and innovate.

Encouraging innovation and creativity in the workplace is crucial for staying ahead in today’s fast-paced business world. By following these strategies, you can create a workplace where employees feel empowered to take risks, collaborate, and experiment with new ideas. Remember, innovation is a journey and not a destination. By fostering a culture that values innovation and creativity, you can create endless possibilities for your team and your organization.


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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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