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We live in a world where kindness is often lacking. We tend to dwell on differences–the things that divide us–instead of finding commonalities or learning to listen to others’ points of view. The tendency to see people as “others” has led to many a fighting match on social media, and that tension is now reaching a fever pitch with the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

In this contentious and often heated atmosphere, it’s easy for people to lose their tempers, become defensive, and begin name-calling and initiating personal attacks. This kind of response will lead nowhere, of course, but it is a natural, knee-jerk reaction.

How do you step back from the fray and choose kindness over maliciousness?

1. See Humanity

Instead of making snap judgments and generalizations, I encourage you to pause, truly consider the other person’s point of view, and begin to develop understanding and empathy. It helps to view that person behind the screen as a HUMAN BEING–someone with a family, pets, a mortgage, grocery bills, and health concerns. Someone with hopes and fears.

When we start to see Twitter usernames and Facebook profiles as people (bots excluded!), we can begin to treat them with dignity. Surely, if you were having a face-to-face conversation with someone at a restaurant, you wouldn’t begin calling them nasty names (hopefully not, anyway!). You would do your best to keep the conversation civil or steer it in another direction.

2. Know When to Fold ’em

Sometimes, stating (or reiterating) your point of view is futile. If someone has demonstrated that they are wholly unreceptive to your perspective, gracefully exit the conversation. End on a high note; something like: “Thank you for your thoughts. I don’t agree, but I’m happy you shared them with me.” Then, leave.

Exiting toxic conversations isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s simply recognizing that you’re talking past one another and going nowhere. Better to excuse yourself and move on.

3. Take the High Road

When others resort to name-calling and shouting, don’t go there. Vow to take the high road and be the adult in the room. Hopefully, your behavior will inspire others to do the same but, if not, there’s no shame in ditching the conversation (see point #2). Better to spend your time and energy elsewhere.

4. Pay Attention to Tone

When you post something on social media, is your tone contentious and one-sided? Or is it respectful/factual? If you’re belittling or putting down a group of people, that will only invite arguments and cause contention.

Rather, stick to the facts and avoid personal attacks. No one likes to hear that their beliefs make them “evil” or “stupid.”

5. Engage Others One on One

The best way to truly understand another’s perspective is to engage them one on one, in private. Start a private chat, or take it a step further and invite them to talk over a video chat or in person (if they are a friend, and if you feel comfortable doing so). Let the person know that you’re aiming to understand, and you hope that they, too, will be open to hearing your point of view.

6. Make Kind Gestures

There is a big, wide world beyond social media. Let your kindness emanate beyond the screen, and practice little acts of kindness. Rake an elderly neighbor’s lawn, pay for groceries for the young mother at the grocery store, donate your time or money to a nonprofit, etc., etc.

If you’d like to show kindness to your colleagues or friends, send them personalized notes, telling them why you are grateful for their presence in your life.

In the world of social media, share uplifting, kindness-focused pieces of news and pictures. You don’t have to sugar coat things, but it IS an act of kindness to give people joy and hope every once in a while!

These actions (whether in person or virtual) have a way of spreading. Make an extra effort to be kind this month, and notice how it tends to comes back to you.

The world needs your kindness. Let’s all make an effort to find common ground. Take the high road. Reach out. Be a kind, decent human being.


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. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Image via Pixabay.com

Adapting is part of being human, so why is it so difficult? For many of us, change is not an easy thing to wrap our heads around, especially when it’s for something as important as a job. COVID-19 has certainly altered how we work–combining our homes with our workplaces–so it’s necessary to adapt along with it. As a result, the changes made right now could be in place for longer than we expect as we await a vaccine. 

In the meantime, here are 5 ways to effectively adapt to change:

Ask questions.

Digital meetings are just one example of a new widespread workplace innovation. These meetings can be hectic and confusing. When confused, the best way to figure things out is to speak up and ask questions. Asking questions shows that you’re really paying attention and that you want to do your best work. If your technology skills aren’t quite up to date, set up a meeting with your IT department to make sure your digital meetings run smoothly. 

Over-communicate.

Your employers may not know how your time is spent when you’re working from home. Communicating often with your boss and/or associates may seem like overkill, but it demonstrates your responsibility and that you’re getting work done. Keep close track of the hours you work and what you’re doing during that time to ensure you’re being accountable. 

Have ideas? Share them!

There will be a lot of uncertainty as we move forward in the midst of the pandemic. Some managers will look to employees for proposals on how to social distance when transitioning back to the workplace. Research is a crucial step to fully forming an idea. Taking initiative to research can go a long way because it saves your boss’ time. Sharing and researching ideas demonstrates that you’re invested in the company’s future AND shows you’re a leader. 

Keep in contact with co-workers.

Co-workers with similar jobs are going through the same thing you are. A great way to cope with change is to ask co-workers if they’d like to discuss what they’re going through. Associates can offer new suggestions, help you problem-solve, and provide new perspectives. Developing workplace friendships can also benefit you in the future by giving you access to new opportunities!

Be open-minded and flexible.

With everything uncertain, we can’t expect things to go back to the way they were immediately. Old tasks might take longer than they used to and can be frustrating. If you’re open-minded you can challenge your belief restraints and you can grow personally. Being flexible to new ideas also shows that you’re in it for the long haul. 

Just remember: “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”  -Stephen Hawking

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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Work team

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

So, you’re leading a team or spearheading a project. You’re so wrapped up in what you’re doing, that you don’t even consider pausing and evaluating your leadership style. You just press forward and hope you’re doing a decent job. But…what if you’re not? Or, what if you can’t even tell?

Either way, it’s time to pause. It’s time to think about your place as a leader, and whether or not you’re supporting and empowering the people around you.

By making a concerted effort to evaluate your leadership, you are making an investment. People respond to good leadership, and when you have a responsive, engaged team, you have the potential to achieve better results with greater efficiency. Not only that, you might find that the office atmosphere improves—solid leadership has the power to make people feel uplifted, supported, and part of a healthy, communicative team.

To begin evaluating your personal leadership, you may want to work with a leadership coach. An experienced coach can help you uncover some of your blind spots and guide you in creating healthy changes. If, however, you want to begin your leadership evaluation on your own, you may want to start by asking yourself the following 7 questions:

1. Do I actively promote open communication?

Creating an open line of communication is crucial. People need to feel like they can bring forth any new ideas, complaints, or feedback. Without open communication, your team could devolve into a gossiping, afraid-to-come-forward mess.

2. Do I understand what motivates each team member?

It’s important to “get the right butts in the right seats.” If you want a motivated, enthusiast team, take the time to understand what makes people tick.

3. Do I understand what each team member dreads?

On the other side of the coin, it’s a good idea to understand what each person on your team does not like to do. It’s torturous for extroverted, sociable people (Yellow Energy on the Insights Discovery chart) to be cooped up in an office by themselves, analyzing data. And it’s not fun for an introverted deep thinker to be forced into making a quick decision.

NOTE: If you’re unsure of the communication preferences of your team members, consider tapping into a program like Insights Discovery. Ask me more about this if you’re interested—I’m a Licensed Practitioner.

4. Does my leadership brand include transparency and authenticity?

Trust is a huge part of leadership. If you’re standoffish or come across as inauthentic, people won’t place their trust in you (and it’s difficult to lead a team when there’s no trust). Instead, aim to connect with others on a human level. Don’t be afraid to be your wonderful, authentic you.

5. Do I make objectives clear?

If your team isn’t working toward a shared vision, they’re going to flounder. Establish your big-picture goals and keep them top of mind. Make sure your team feels involved in working toward your goals.

6. Does everyone on the team have a voice? Is everyone included and engaged?

If certain people on your team are falling through the cracks, you may want to consider how to bring them back to the table. During meetings, ask the quieter team members for their thoughts. Make sure everyone’s voice is represented.

Also: Be a good listener!

7. Am I willing to draw a line in the sand?

If there are people on your team who are repeatedly turning in subpar work or missing deadlines, that hurts the entire team and it makes people upset and annoyed. As a leader, you have to be willing to draw a line in the sand and take disciplinary action when it’s required. It’s never easy to do this, but my D4 feedback model can help.

How is your leadership looking? Does it need a little work? Simply acknowledging the areas in which you need to improve is a huge step! Once you know where to concentrate your efforts, you can begin making any changes that need to be made to become a better, more compassionate leader.

If you’d like to work side-by-side on improving your leadership, please let me know.

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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