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Creating Successful Leaders

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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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working with a mentor

With any job, we all rely on guidance from our supervisors and peers to learn the ropes and develop new strategies for accomplishing tasks. These people serve as coaches and mentors, and can be a principle reason for creative and professional success.

A mentor’s experience is a resource as valuable as any skill in your personal toolbox, but finding the right person for the role can be challenging in a new environment. As you begin your search, you may find a few of these strategies useful:

1. Identify your process and values

As we grow, we try out and exchange work habits and strategies to make ourselves more effective. Finding a mentor who speaks to you starts with understanding yourself and how you work. What are the values that drive you? How do they translate to the type of work you do and which projects or responsibilities you’d like to take on?  What are the pain points and blind spots of your working style that others may need to accommodate for or address? These questions are important to ask and reflect upon when seeking a mentor. Knowing their answers to some degree will help when approaching others for help.

2. Look across disciplines

Everybody brings a unique mix of experience and ability to the table in an organization. A person’s job description doesn’t always tell you everything about the perspective they bring or their ability to teach. If you are worried or intimidated by reaching out to folks in your own department, making connections outside your usual circle and observing how people attack problems may shed a learning light you never considered before.

3. Establish rapport

Mentors are not always our closest friends, but a good mentor will be someone who respects your goals and spends time to observe and understand your learning process. Get to know folks who’ve joined the team before you and communicate your respect for their role and the work they’ve done. If you’re not familiar with these details, friendly chats over lunch or a drink can provide a way to accrue insight casually and over an extended period of time.

4. Develop yourself and network

Professional associations often offer conferences and seminars to learn the ropes of new skills or discuss innovation within a given industry. If you feel like your office lacks the means to provide the guidance you seek, attend trainings and make connections – either with fellow learners or the speakers. Handing out business cards and picking someone’s brain for 15 minutes may be all it takes to find a new teacher.

Finding a mentor isn’t always easy, but the returns for your efforts can be transformative. Keep an open mind, and be honest with yourself if you aren’t getting what you need on the first attempt. If you keep at it, often the right guidance is never too far away . Stay positive and get cracking.

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Lessons from fireworks

Yesterday was Independence Day in the U.S. and fireworks lit up the night sky. It’s a holiday that equalizes and unites us—we can all gather and enjoy the same display, side by side.

What is it about fireworks that excites us? That makes us want to shoot them across the sky year after year? There is something about the very nature of a firework that is inspirational. Here are five reasons you should aim to be more like a firework:

1. Fireworks illuminate

When the mood is dark, be the light-bearer. When your team is feeling exhausted or overwhelmingly negative, be the one to lift others up and energize the room.

Remember, a single firework has the power to light up the night sky. In the same way, you can make a difference with a single kind act, a sentence of truth, or a positive statement.

2. Fireworks are bold

Pop! Boom! Flash! Fireworks are anything but shy. Take a page from their book and practice being bold. Stand up for your ideas and values; be a strong leader; bounce back from rejection. Even if you project confidence when you’re not feeling it, you’ll eventually start to believe in yourself and your capabilities.

3. Fireworks aim high

Dream big. We each only get a limited amount of time, so why not make the most of it? Your goals are worth pursuing.

4. Fireworks are colorful

There is value in every personality type. Whether you tend to be analytical, bubbly, empathetic, or take-charge, you are uniquely equipped to contribute to the workplace. Let your authentic self shine and show your true colors! (Find out more about getting in touch with your deeper self).

5. Fireworks unite us

If you’re in a leadership position, aim to bring people together for a common purpose. Celebrate diverse personalities, talents, and perspectives, instead of demanding that everyone be the same. Strive for unity, but respect differences.

If you’re part of a work team, focus on ways to be inclusive and welcoming. Make an effort to stand up for others and make sure everyone’s ideas and opinions are heard. Reject gossip, and be a positive force on your team.

 

We can learn a surprising number of lessons from fireworks! How will you sparkle this year? How will you live boldly and be a positive force?

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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