What makes a Great Leader…well, Great?

Business Partners Shaking HandsBy JoAnne Foist

Think for a moment about the greatest leaders you know…what makes them stand out from the pack?

While many adjectives can be used to describe a great leader, and our definitions of leadership might differ, we all know a great leader when see one. Think of the leader you most admire…how do they make you feel and what skills do you think they possess?

Do you want to be known as an exceptional leader? I sure hope so. You don’t have to run a company or start a revolution to be a leader; leadership is demonstrated by how we live our lives everyday. Below are seven habits of great leaders that, with practice, you can master.

Seven Habits of Great Leaders

  1. Confident – Great leaders have confidence in their ability to get things done. And when they do not have previous experience with an initiative or challenge, they have the confidence to know they will figure it out and/or procure the right resources to do so.
  1. Inspirational – Great leaders inspire action. They inspire their team to be the best they can be and they help them get there. They do what it takes to set their team up for success.
  1. High-Integrity – Great leaders lead by example. They have strong values and can be counted on to be consistent, honest and fair. They make ethical choices, they practice what they preach and support their team in doing the same.
  1. Communicators – Great leaders are kind, smart and courageous in their communications. They are proactive and inclusive communicators who go the extra mile to create clear (and often concise) messages in order to ensure everyone understands the vision, goals, direction, etc. Great leaders listen to their team and establish systems and habits to ensure ease of communications throughout their organization and customer base. Great leaders also realize that revolutionary ideas can come from anywhere and so they communicate with everyone!
  1. Positive – Great leaders use optimal thinking to motivate others and focus on a successful future. They see the opportunity in every challenge and keep everyone focused on overcoming obstacles and continual growth.
  1. Tenacious – Great leaders demonstrate perseverance when pursuing their goals. They hold firm to their vision and see it through to completion. They accept roadblocks, pitfalls and hurdles as obstacles to overcome – not reasons to quit.
  1. Supportive – Great leaders follow the platinum rule. They support their team the way the team needs to be supported and they provide a safe environment to work and share ideas. They encourage and support risk taking and challenge the status quo. They care about the well-being and success of each team member.

Using these traits as a barometer, how great is your leadership? A quick way to up your game is to select a few areas where you aren’t so successful and practice the behaviors indicated. Pay attention to the changes you witness.  Leadership is about leading ourselves as much as it is leading others and developing your leadership skills is an investment that pays dividends through the course of your life.

Take the first step in building leadership muscle by registering for our free training class on Building Incredible Confidence. You can start by downloading our free eBook, “The Confidence Habit.” It’s full of tips for developing your confidence and, by applying just a few of the techniques mentioned you will begin feeling more bold and seeing the response to your improved skill.

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If you are a high-performing professional who is interested in being more successful in EVERYTHING you do; then check out Excelerate’s Powerful Presence Program. It is a very unique program designed for people who have a track record of success and who want to exponentially grow their business or advance their career to the executive level.

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When You Communicate Your Goals, Help Is On the Way!

KS113267-2By JoAnne Foist

The past few weeks we have been talking about goals. In fact, it’s the trending topic at the start of each New Year. Why? Because this is the time when most of us feel motivated to set new goals. Unfortunately, come February, most of us give up on our goals. Surprisingly, one of the reasons for this failure is lack of support.   Sometimes we simply fail to communicate our goals and thus do not have support, or worse, those around us do not understand why we’re changing and respond negatively, which can sabotage our success.

You can avoid this pitfall by simply communicating and generating support for your goals.

Tell Your Peers, Friends and Family…

Whenever you want to make changes, it’s important to let those around you know of your plans and goals. You need to communicate why you want to make this change and the importance of having your peers, friends and loved ones’ support. Otherwise, those around you will be confused and could react negatively to your new behaviors. For instance, if you are trying to lose weight, you should let your friends know this and schedule fun activities that support your new healthy lifestyle instead of the usual calorie-heavy lunches or cocktail hours. This sets you up for success and begins establishing your friends as your support group. Also, if you normally go to lunch with your team and now you’re going for walks instead, invite them to join you. Communicating your goals goes for your household too. When one person makes a change, it affects everyone in some way. This would be a good time to not only communicate your goals, but to set family/household goals. Using the example of losing weight, if you’re now coming home later in the evenings because you’re going to the gym after work and cooking lower fat meals at home, it’s important to explain this to your family. This is also a great way to bring the family in on meal preparation and perhaps group outings.   Even when we change for the positive, it can be scary for our loved ones since they love us the way we are. When you bring those around you in on your plans, they can become your biggest supporters and might even join in your goals. Now you’ve got a new lifestyle.

Tell Your Leadership, Colleagues and Employees…

Developed an amazing vision for your organization? You can’t realize it if your organization does not clearly understand it. Think about it…how can others follow you if they don’t know where you’re heading? If you find your vision and goals inspiring, you should be able to inspire your team. And if they are inspired, they are more likely to support you. You should talk about your goals for the organization all the time so they remain front and center. Also, help your team members take ownership of your vision. This constant reminder and ownership will ensure the goals remain the priority over the other day-to-day distractions. You’ll build momentum toward success and the culture will start to shift.

All this being said, in spite of your best efforts, not everyone will support your goals. In these cases it’s important to stick to what’s right for you. Hopefully, as they see your increased success and progress they will begin supporting you. And if not, it’s time to access their future role in your life and/or organization. Often times when we change, our professional and personal social circles change as well.   In both old and new circles communicating your vision and what’s important to you will be key to your success and happiness.

Are you feeling like you need a positive change? Join our FREE Fast Pass To Success. It’s a four week planning course where you’ll create your vision, set your goals, determine and work with your strengths and develop your plan for success.  Also, we have life-changing workshops that focus on helping you be your best self.   Above all, we hope that you communicate your vision and goals with confidence so that you’re getting the support you need for success.

Where Would We Be Without Trust…Where Could We Go if We Had More of it.  

KS113261By Kimberly Gerber

Stop and think about how you go through your day as it relates to trust. You’ll quickly realize that most everything you do and experience is based on trust and being trustworthy.  We trust that other drivers will stay in their lanes, we trust that our cars will work, we trust that the school will teach and protect our children, we trust that our phones, computer and internet will work, and on and on.  When things don’t work, or our expectations are not met, we lose trust.  If these breaches happen often, we make changes to avoid and/or stop the breaches.

It’s the same for our relationships.  If we are trustworthy, we have solid relationships.  If we breach their trust, our friends, colleagues, etc. will go elsewhere.  Therefore, our personal and professional success comes down to building trust.  Below are four elements to building trust.

  1. Integrity – Trusting the character and principles of the person.
  2. Competence – Assessment of the person’s knowledge, skill, experience or authority to do what he/she is promising.
  3. Reliability – Based on experience, our assessment of whether we trust the person to fulfill the commitment they are making.
  4. Benevolence. Our assessment that the person cares enough about us to help, or at least not harm us.

Building trust is a process of extending trust, meaning trusting that someone will do what was committed to.  And protecting trust, which is meeting commitments.

Practice these four elements of trust in your interactions and pay attention to the process of extending and protecting trust and you’ll find that your relationships will become more solid and rewarding.  For a more in-depth look at the elements of trust, please read my “The Currency of Trust:  The Difference between Flourishing and Floundering”article published in Training Industry Magazine.

If trust is an area of opportunity for you, then we invite you to meet with communications experts and learn more about building trust!  There are many ways to connect with us – follow us on Facebook, signup to receive tips, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop, or contact our offices to find out more about how we help successful professionals every day.

Believe It or Not, Success and Happiness Require You to Say “No!”


By Kimberly Gerber

Last week I posted about how to rebuild trust and clarified that, while it’s possible, it’s even better to not put ourselves in the position of losing trust.  So how do we do this?  One way is by keeping healthy promises and learning how to recognize and prioritize the boundaries on our time.  This means saying “no” to the things that we either do not want to do, or that we don’t realistically have the capacity to do.  We put our priorities first, which oftentimes does not leave room for other things.

It sounds easy, but saying “no” can be a challenge.  Many of us struggle with holding boundaries in an attempt to be helpful, show initiative or create harmony.   We don’t want to disappoint others.  But trying to do everything will lead to feeling overworked, resentful, stressed, and/or unfocused.  And, it can keep you from accomplishing what’s most important to you.

The balance between being available for others, and creating healthy and fulfilling lives is a tough one.  And, sometimes we can make it more difficult than it needs to be because we don’t have strong skills in asserting our boundaries by saying “no.”

To help, here are two simple tips that you can use to strengthen your skill in this area and bring some balance back into your life.

  1. Be intentional about what you are saying “yes” to.   Whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you are inadvertently saying “no” to something else.  If someone makes a request, take some time to think through the implications and determine what you want to say “yes” to, and respond with confidence.  If the answer has to be a “no,” then you’ve let the other party know so they can make other plans.   A quick “no” is much better than saying “yes” to something that you can’t do and/or resent doing.
  2. Tell people what you “can” do, then tell them what you can’t do.  This serves to act as balm on a paper cut.  When you bring solutions that solve at least some of the problem, you communicate to the other person that you have been thoughtful and made an attempt to be helpful while still holding your boundary.

Saying “no” can be a challenge – but it doesn’t have to be!  Having clarifying priorities and being realistic about time helps.  If this is an area of opportunity for you, then we invite you to meet with communications experts and learn more about asserting your boundaries for success!  There are many ways to connect with us – follow us on Facebooksignup to receive tips, attend our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop or contact our offices to find out more about how we help successful professionals every day.

Want to Get Noticed? You’ve Got to Brag a Little!


By Kimberly Gerber

I know many of you just said . . .”What???”  When it comes to getting noticed, bragging is a big deal!  You’ve got to be willing to self-promote if you want to be promoted, or selected, or elected.  Self-promotion is the act of promoting yourself and it doesn’t have to be obnoxious.  In fact, graceful self-promotion will build self-confidence, your personal brand and help you achieve more in your career. There is an art to effective self-promotion, which is why we’re going to explain how to effectively use self-promotion to propel your personal brand image and get you noticed!

1.  Send Updates – This is the easiest way to start getting noticed. An update can be a simple email to your leadership team sharing some great news regarding the progress you’re making on a project, a project’s completion, results of an initiative, etc.  Updates like these keep your leadership in the loop and let’s them get some good news. Plus, your leadership might share it further with other members, which further promotes your accomplishments.

2.  Seize Opportunities – When the opportunity presents itself, be prepared to share some positive and impressive information about yourself.  Too often we think that our work should speak for itself, but it’s not always obvious to those around us.  So, if we want to get noticed, we’re got to talk about it.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to be obnoxious.  A short and simple statement is all it takes sometimes to create a positive impact. An example would be running into someone on your leadership team or a desirable client and they ask, “How are you doing?” Don’t just reply, “Doing well, how are you?” Instead say, “Doing great – I just finished a 6 mile training run. ..It’s going to be a great day,” or “Fantastic– we just launched the new company website and everyone is thrilled with the initial response!” Then you’d follow up with “how are you doing?” Did you notice how short and to-the-point that was? That’s all it takes to create an impact, and there’s no need for more unless asked.

3.  Accept Compliments Gracefully – When someone compliments you, say “thank you.” Too often people deflect or, even worse, reject compliments. When a compliment is deflected or rejected it makes the compliment giver feel affronted.  Meaning, they were insulted in return for their compliment.  A simple and gracious “thank you” will do wonders for your interactions.  Also, be sure not to down-play or self-deprecate yourself.  Downplaying a compliment such as “great job on this” would be something like, “It was nothing.”  A response like this communicates that you don’t value your own contributions.  A self-deprecating remark would be something like, “Anyone could have done it.”  This again takes the value away from your contributions and will damage your own self-confidence.  Instead just say something like, “Thank you, I appreciate your saying that.”  This is a more productive way to accept a compliment and it shows appreciation to the person you’re talking with.  Talk about a completely different interaction experience!

Practicing these three techniques will help you promote your accomplishments in a graceful way.  It’s so easy that you can begin today. And don’t be surprised at how fast you start getting noticed.

If you’d like to meet with communications experts and learn more about self-promotion and getting noticed, sign up for our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop.

Show Some Courage – Go Ahead and Assert Yourself


By Kimberly Gerber

Assertiveness is the ability to have your voice heard in a clear and confident manner. Assertiveness gets people to notice and actively listen to you. While Assertiveness is often bold, it should not be confused with being aggressive.

Aggressive behavior is often angry and destructive. People who are aggressive generally intend to subordinate others in order to get what they want with the least amount of interference or challenge. That is not assertiveness. Ultimately, it is not effective and it damages relationships.

An assertive person projects confidence and self-control. They are perceived as poised, articulate and fair, and they are able to hold solid boundaries as well as lead the thinking of others. A great leader is an assertive leader. It’s having the courage to communicate our thoughts, ideas and contributions.

Learning to be assertive is a skill that you can master.

And, it is important that you do because, without the ability to effectively assert your voice, your success will be limited. The more often you’re able to assert yourself by demonstrating your ability to think strategically, solve problems, generate ideas and create solutions, the higher value you’ll have with those around you.

Here are three ways to assert yourself for greater success:

Self-promote – Send updates to your team and leadership on what you’re doing. Congratulate the team on your mutual successes. Don’t let the work speak for itself and don’t assume your boss knows all that you’re doing. The only way to ensure your work gets the credit it deserves is to let others know about it.

Seize opportunities – Reveal flattering information about yourself in your conversations. Be prepared to share some positive information about yourself the next time you run into leadership or others that you need to impress. But don’t go on and on, which would bore your audience. Instead, give a few facts and move on. I’ve always liked the motto: “Be brief, be bright, be gone.”

Accept compliments elegantly – When you say “thank you” for a compliment, the giver feels appreciated and so do you. Plus, it allows you to own the compliment.

Practicing the above three tips will allow you to have your voice heard as you promote your strengths, abilities, and successes in a professional and effective way. These assertiveness techniques will increase your recognition and your perceived worth to those around you. You’ve already done the hard part by doing the work, so promote it as a way to celebrate your success. The rewards will be worth the effort.

Look for more advice regarding the above three tips in future posts. If you’d like to meet with communications experts and learn more about communications and building your self-confidence, sign up for our next 3-Day Intensive Workshop.