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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Margaret Smith professional speaker

For the past few years, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has been a hot topic in the workplace. Companies have pledged billions of dollars to DEI initiatives (although they haven’t necessarily followed through with those pledges), have hired DEI directors and consultants, and have declared their support of DEI efforts. While these intentions are good, not all of this work has been effective or impactful. It’s easy to talk about doing something, and far more difficult to follow through in a meaningful way. When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s not enough to make surface level changes; this work requires collaboration, strategy, data, and the will to take meaningful actions. Here are 5 actions you, as a leader, can take:

1. Create a Diversity and Inclusion Council

Creating a diversity and inclusion council is a great way to involve a variety of employees at different levels of the company in the work of promoting diversity and inclusion. This council can help develop and implement diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the company, and help ensure that different perspectives are represented. Remember: make an effort to invite a wide variety of people to serve on this council. It can be counterproductive for a fairly homogenous group to make decisions that will affect others with very different backgrounds and experiences.

2. Collect Data

If you don’t have data about diversity metrics, how will you know when and if your DEI initiatives are working? This data could be quantitative (stats about demographics, numbers related to hiring practices, promotion rates, etc.) or qualitative (responses to surveys, complaints or negative feedback, testimonials from either private meetings or forums, etc.). Collecting diversity metrics can be a powerful way to identify areas where the company is excelling and where improvements can be made. Once the data is collected, use it to inform strategies and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion.

3. Embed DEI Principles into Performance Goals

Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into performance goals can help ensure that these values are front and center in the work that employees do every day. When employees see that DEI work is valued and rewarded, they are more likely to take it seriously and make it a priority in their own work.

4. Review and Update Policies

Policies that are not inclusive can have a negative impact on diverse employees. Reviewing and updating policies to ensure they are inclusive is a crucial step in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This includes policies around hiring, promotion, performance evaluations, and workplace accommodations.

5. Foster a Culture of Inclusion

Creating a culture of inclusion requires effort from everyone in the company. Leaders can set the tone by modeling inclusive behavior and encouraging others to do the same. This includes listening to diverse perspectives, actively seeking feedback, and ensuring everyone feels valued and respected. It also means creating opportunities for employees from diverse backgrounds to participate in decision-making and leadership roles.

While it’s beneficial to conduct diversity and inclusion training, don’t stop there! And don’t make this a one-time endeavor. DEI work must be ongoing and embraced by people at all levels of the company, from the leadership to support staff.

Incorporating meaningful diversity and inclusion actions in the workplace is necessary for creating a more equitable and welcoming environment for all employees. It requires a strategic and collaborative effort from everyone in the company—all voices and contributions make a difference. While these five actions are a good starting point, they should not be the end goal. Companies must continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion and be open to ongoing adaptation and improvement. True progress requires ongoing effort and a willingness to adapt and improve.



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You might be immersed in holiday stress right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few minutes to ponder the year ahead. After all, it is right around the corner, and it’s better to be at least a little prepared than to have it sneak up on you. By putting in even 10 minutes of planning, you can add a little focus and direction to your year, rather than having it lead you around by the nose!

Take charge of your year by sitting down (perhaps with a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine), pondering the year ahead, and going through the following 8 steps. You could undertake this activity in about 10 minutes, but I encourage you to take all the time you need.

1. Write down all your goals

Jot down whatever comes to mind. Don’t edit; don’t pause. Just write down everything (big and small, personal and professional) you would like to accomplish next year.

2. Rate your goals

Once you have your list, go through it and consider which items are the most crucial and which are not. You could give each entry a 1, 2, or 3 rating with 1 representing your most important goals/aspirations, 2 being goals of middling importance, and 3 representing less important goals.

3. Focus on your “1” goals

Take a look at your most important goals (i.e., the “1s”). Hopefully you only have two or three “1” goals (if you have much more than that, consider relabeling some of them) so you can place your focus on these particular objectives. You can still accomplish your 2s and 3s, but they might not be the center of your focus.

4. Work backwards

For each of your top goals, set a specific date for when you’d like to accomplish them. From there, work backwards on your calendar. How can you break up your goal into bite-sized pieces? What are some of the major milestones you need to accomplish? Fill in your calendar accordingly, working backwards from your deadline.

5. Highlight important milestones

Once you’ve completed step 4, consider your important milestones. What needs to be done by certain dates to accomplish each milestone? Starting thinking about the support/resources you’ll need, the tasks you’ll have to accomplish, and the time you’ll devote to reaching each milestone.

6. Create a derailment plan

Life happens. If you don’t happen to meet one of the deadlines for your milestones, what will you do? What’s your derailment plan? Will you sit down and rethink your schedule? Will you commit to working one evening each week (or part of the weekend) until you get back on track?

7. Think of an accountability partner (or several)

List a few people who would make good accountability partners—people who could occasionally check in to help keep you on track. Be sure to list people who will not necessarily let you off the hook if you miss a deadline or are getting sidetracked. Rather, choose people whom you respect and do not want to let down. Once you have your list, reach out to one person at a time until someone agrees to be your accountability partner for the year. If they ask, be sure to return the favor.

8. Set a “go” date!

You have a plan. You’re ready to blast off into the New Year. Now, all you need is a “go” date—a time to begin your launch. This could be the first of the year, or it might be a date further down the road—whatever makes sense with your plan.

Too many people get bogged down by day-to-day life instead of stepping back and taking a bird’s eye view of their work or personal life. It can be immensely helpful to see the forest, instead of staring at the trees. By planning the year ahead, you partake in big-picture planning. You chart your course through the forest, instead of getting tripped up by the roots and brambles that everyday life tends to deliver.



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For many people, the holiday season can be an absolute whirlwind. You move from commitment to commitment—work parties, holiday shopping, meal prep, volunteer activities—all while trying to juggle your normal work and family life. It can be a lot.

Sometimes the holiday season is so chaotic and stressful, you scarcely enjoy it, but instead end up feeling like you need a break to recuperate. That’s a shame because, at their core, the holidays are meant to be a time of togetherness, family, friendship, and kindness…and all of that gets diminished when we’re running around, feeling busy and stressed.

I don’t necessarily suggest canceling all your plans and having a quiet holiday season (although, if that’s what you need to do, who am I to stop you?). What I do suggest is slowing down from time to time, tuning in with how you’re feeling, and practicing a little self-care.

If self-care seems indulgent, you might be exactly the type of person who needs it most! Besides, if you don’t take care of yourself, your fuel tank will run dry and you won’t be able to effectively care for anyone else.

Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming. Instead, it can be taken in 5-minute intervals. Here are 10 ideas for 5-minute self-care:

1. Try a breathing exercise

If you don’t have a go-to breathing exercise try this one from my blog OR download the Headspace app.

2. Stretch

You can stretch at your desk, while you’re waiting for the turkey to cook, or even in bed before you get up in the morning.

3. Make yourself a hot chocolate

Don’t forget the whipped cream!

4. Indulge in a 5-minute dessert

You’d be surprised what you can whip together in just a few minutes. Bonus: Several quick dessert recipes are kid-friendly, so you can also provide a little entertainment for little ones.

5. Have a foot soak

Maybe you don’t have time for an all-out bath, but you probably have a few minutes for a relaxing foot soak. Fill a tub or a basin with hot water, add some Epsom salts and/or essential oils, and give your feet a little pampering!

6. Read a few pages of a book

It’s helpful to download an eBook app on your phone so you’ll always have quick access to a book.

7. Doodle

Let your mind wander for a few minutes as you sketch with a pencil, pen, colored pencils…whatever you have handy.

8. Journal

Jot down whatever’s on your mind in a notebook. Or, choose a writing prompt (like these), set a timer, and write.

9. Walk around the block

Enjoy the scenery and appreciate your neighborhood.

10. Dance!

Take a 5-minute dance break. You never know, the whole family may want to join in!

Self-care is possible in brief intervals. The real trick is remembering to pause and having a quick self-care activity at the ready.

Wishing you a relaxing, fun, and joyful holiday season!



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