Category New To Leadership?

The Essential Leadership Skills Needed To Catapult Your Career

Leadership is a concentrated experience. Everything you do is immediate, definitive and inexorably tied to your eventual success.

It’s critical that to be successful in business is to understand leadership. That means real leadership, not some watered-down TED Talk or watered down the flavour of the month corporate leadership fad.

You can read the summary below or watch Steve’s video:


Here are the five skills you need the most:

  1. The skill of self-awareness

 Success begins within. When you have a sense of who you are, it invites you to do something about it. Having self-awareness amounts to be better advised. The more you know yourself, the closer you can become to being all you can be.

  1. The skill of business acumen

Success begins with keenness and quickness in understanding and dealing with a business situation in a manner that is likely to lead to a good outcome. In the competitive environment of business, being the best at what you do is good, making good decisions is great; but a clear, comprehensive understanding of the business environment you’re operating in is invaluable.

  1. The skill of relationship-building

Building lasting relationships is the cornerstone of all business success, and respect is at the heart of building business relationships. It is the glue that holds together the functioning of teams, partnerships, and managing relationships. Even with the best products and business practices, you still need strong relationships to succeed.

  1. The ability to create an inspired culture

A culture of inspiration and motivation influences others to perform at their best. One of the most important assets of any enterprise and every business is the employees and its culture. Together they create a system of shared passion and commitment, which creates an environment that breeds, talent, growth, development, and creativity.

  1. The skill of agility and adaptability

Adapting to change requires the willingness to manage change and to stay open to new ideas, it means to be adaptable to new situations, handle unexpected demands with aplomb, and be ready to pivot at any moment. To maneuver through changes is to learn to be adaptable and agile. So where do you stand with your leadership skills?

Ask yourself the following: What do I need to do to keep up with the pace of business with the increasing complexity of today’s workplace? What can I do today to hone in on my leadership skills to be successful?

There are many leadership skills and competencies that, when combined and applied, go toward making you an effective leader. It is best to remember you could develop each of these skills within yourself. It’s always up to you.

I know—too well from firsthand experience—that being good at your job doesn’t qualify you to be the boss. You have to learn how to lead. That’s why I’m offering to share some of my years of around-the-globe-in-some-pretty-wild-situations experience

7 Simple Shifts – Your Checklist To Being A Better Leader

“We become what we repeatedly do.”
― Sean Covey


This is a checklist of seven simple shifts that can lead to exponential gains.

To gain benefit: print it; post it; and, do at least one action each day.

1. Take the time to say good morning to someone & thank them for coming in

2. Ask someone for their opinion on something & listened to what they have to say

3. Ask someone what is happening in their lives outside of work

4. Tell what is happening in the larger organization to keep people connected to the big picture and the higher purpose of their work

5. Write a personal thank you note to a team member or colleague

6. Make rounds, to stay in touch and talk about your expectations, so your team knows what matters

7. Take time to pursue or read something to enhance your leadership

Attracting people who’ll believe and trust you doesn’t happen overnight. You have to stick with it and continually learn to be a better leader.

Sincere & simple leadership actions draw people’s attention and are the most effective tactic for generating trust and engaging team members.

Click to download ‘7 Simple Shifts – Your Checklist To Being A Better Leader’

6 Things You Can Do To Show You Care For Your Employees

Recently I was interviewed for a leadership podcast, and the question that caused me to reflect on a lifetime of leading was: How do you show you care for your employees?

I landed on 6 key actions:

One, the easiest and most important is to connect them to the organization and the mission and the objectives of the organization in a very simple, articulate way.

How: Explain in respectful and appropriate language how each person’s work contributes to the success of the entire team

read more about the Mission

Two, show a high level of trust and confidence in them and in return you will get that back.

How: Explain what’s happening. I think most leaders, not because of ill-will don’t want to worry anybody, so they’re not going to tell the full truth about what’s happening around them.

And one of my consultancy clients were laying off people, because of economic reasons, there wasn’t enough work. But they stopped telling people what was happening and why people the project ended and there was no work.

People saw that the people in charge had stopped communicating and their coworkers just disappear. They began to assume that the company was in big trouble. The company was financially solid, still making a profit, had good sales and lots of potential work in the pipeline.

I coached the president to hold town halls and open the books as much as possible that was happening to give people confidence that the company was solid.

read more about talking to you people in tough times

Three, get off your butt, get out of your office and go see how people are working and ask them what’s going on in their lives, and in their workplace and show a little empathy.

How: Find out what’s going on, fix the little problems, be empathetic with people and that’s as equally simple and as complex as that.

During one of my walk arounds, I learned that a young lady working for me had a chance for a scholarship to go to nurses’ school. She couldn’t afford to travel, so the company paid for a hotel in Vancouver attend the application interview.

I didn’t have to do that, but trust me, that the word got spread that I helped her with this and, suddenly, people thought “If they’re going to do that for her, they’ll help me out,” and morale loyalty and trust goes up.

Four, deal with poor performance. Nothing will demoralize you people quicker than seeing a coworker get away with poor performance.

How: Pull your big boy or girl pants up and deal with poor performance.

No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job, create the desired expectations, provide the resources required for that person to improve, and monitor, mentor and support the behaviours you expect.

You are the Boss and eventually you will have to bring people up to the standard of performance or move them, respectfully, out of the organization.

Learn more about performance agreements

Fifth, have a little class and dignity.

How: People are not stupid or unrealistic, they understand that when times get tough layoffs may have to happen. But that is not license to treat people like so much trash being kicked to the curb.

Even if you have to fire somebody make sure that everyone sees that person being treated fairly and with respect.  That translates onto the shop floor or the rest of the office or the rest of the team, or they go “You know what, they treated that guy okay, so maybe they will look after me.

Finally, do the things no one would miss if you didn’t do it.

How: When I learned that someone on my team had a death in their family, I always send flowers from the organization and the team.

The cost? $30

… $30 for a little bit of caring.

It is those low cost yet important little things that become exponentially important to that person and the rest of your team.

The Eight Skills You Need For Success As A Leader

I have a coaching client who was promoted from a specialist engineer to the dizzy heights of team-lead without the company investing in the skills she needed to transition from specialist to leader.

Because her boss and company did not recognize that they were promoting her into a new profession and invest in her accordingly, their accomplishment was to turn a fine and capable engineer into a poor supervisor!

The difference:

  • Specialists use their skills and experience to create a product
  • Team leaders need management skills, a knack for problem-solving and the ability to plan and manage the work – NOT to do it!

So, what is a team leader’s skill set?

1 Balancing between leadership and management

These are two separate skills:

Leadership is communicating a common vision of a future state; gaining agreement; then, motivating others in a forward direction.

Management is results driven and getting the work done.

Your job as a good team leader will constantly switch from a leader to a manager as situations require.

2 Be a Team Builder and a Leader

The leader sets the “tone” of the team to lead them through the various team development phases to the point where they begin to perform.

Read about teams

3 Be a Problem Solver

Identify the possible “causes” that lead to the problem, then analyze possible options and alternatives, and determine the best course of action to take.

4 Be a Negotiator and Influencer

Negotiation is working with others to come to a joint agreement. To avoid power struggles, develop influencing skills. Influencing is the ability to get people to do things they may not do otherwise.

5 Be an Excellent Communicator

Being a communicator is a two-way street as. A good way to get a grip on managing the information comes and goes is to ask yourself the following questions: who needs this information? Who gathers and delivers it? When or how often do they need it? And, in what form?

Read about communicating

6 Be Organized

Think of what you need to organize; project documentation, contracts, emails, memo’s, reviews, meetings, etc. It’s almost impossible to stay organized without developing good time management skills.

7 Become a Planner

The skill of planning can’t be underestimated. There are known and logical steps in creating plans. You may well own your team’s plan, but others depend upon your success.

8 Manage Budgets

At the heart of this is the skill is managing the budget, particularly costs. You will need a knowledge of financial systems and accounting principles.

If you are new to team leadership, don’t be overwhelmed by all this. There are well-understood methodologies, tools, guidelines, and procedures to help you on your way to developing the life-skill of leadership.

The first thing you need to do is book time with your boss and ask what their performance objectives are; what does he need you to do to help them be successful; and, then what professional development do you require to be successful.

Read about partnering with your boss

3 Things You Need To Do So Your First 90-days Aren’t Your Last Days

So you have been hired as a CEO or other senior role.

The first thing you need to understand is that your job is to achieve the organization’s strategic goals.

As the person holding that position, you will need to demonstrate superior management skills and leadership expertise to connect all facets of the organization to the mission through open, honest and transparent communication.

First 90:

I am not a huge fan of the 90-day plan, but you better have a sense of what you are going today when you show up for that first day of work.

Here is the focus of the first 90-days of your tenure will be to establish a solid base from which you can achieve your strategic goals by gathering information and setting a strong leadership tone:

1. Before Day One: First step is to get over yourself and commit to the organization you have chosen to lead. You should devote time to becoming familiar with the organization and its situation through informal meetings with the Board Chair and Executive Committee.

2. People: Attend to the fundamental “people processes” and leadership basics of getting to know your new team and identify items requiring immediate attention or any on-going legal issues. After confirming that these have been properly addressed, turn your attention to team evaluation, its performance and to team building.

3. Your Boss’ Priorities: Your most important relationship is with the Boss. Review recent business and reports, the status of the strategic objectives and most importantly establish parameters of your authority.

Read about Partnering with your boss


  1. Listening: Talk with (and listen to) everyone, starting at the top and working down through the organizational hierarchy. These conversations will build relationships with key individuals, staff, and stakeholders and will serve to build credibility.

Read about using silence to listen better

2. Assessing the Staff team: This includes evaluating both the team members and organizational structure relative to meeting our goals and would involve spending time with team members to understand their history, focus, roles and what is in their mind.

Do not feel compelled to resolve structural problems within 90 days, but assess the issues. Your new staff team may be fragile and would naturally be worried about a new Boss. Be on the lookout for team members who may require careful attention or those who are, perhaps, no longer fully committed and consider performance management plans as needed.


  • Easy Wins: By addressing the easy, noncontroversial activities, which can be fixed quickly and successfully will make an important statement about trust and leadership.
  • Get Out: Interacting with colleagues and stakeholders will increase your credibility, but not to the neglect of the business at hand.
  • Communicate: Change is difficult. So, for even the smallest changes consider a change management plan that would clearly and consistently communicate the change to those impacted, including those who may have only minor interest.
  • Set the Stage: People will be watching your activities carefully, and perceptions are important. To those watching, time spent on an activity will signal its importance and will set an example of work ethic.


Develop the Long Plan

As you do what I suggest, share your findings and thoughts with the Board as a sounding board and to receive advice and guidance.

As you close in on the 90-day mark, develop a strategy and begin to craft your plan to lead and achieve our strategic goals and results.

5 steps to get your boss off you back and make everyone look good


It was a dreary day 10 years ago, when a Cessna plane carrying 10 people crashed, shortly after taking off from Pelee Island. On Jan. 17, 2004 Georgian Express Flight 126 crashed into the icy waters of Lake Erie. The pilot, his fiancée and eight hunters from the area were killed. Without a doubt it was a huge tragedy for the family and friends of the 10 casualties, but in the big scheme of world disasters and crises it was a relatively small event.

That said there were over 10 agencies involved with the response: Ontario Provincial Police; local fire departments; emergency medical services; Red Cross; 2 municipal governments; provincial agencies; national transportation safety board; coroners; and, more. Each of these agencies had their own mandate & mission and they are all lead with by people with bosses & organizational agendas and all had HUGE egos.

How was this managed and led in a way that achieved all of the goals of all of the organizations? It was done by using the established emergency management systems and with communication with our organizations.

But the single most important thing that happened that day was the development of a team charter that laid out the game plan & role of each agency. And the most important part of the team charter was the definition of a clear MISSION.

I worked hard with the Police Inspector in charge of the response to define that mission that was posted prominently across the wall of the operations centre: To recovery the bodies and investigate the crash with the utmost respect & dignity to the casualties and their families.

Once your mission is defined then complete your charter by adapting this time tested 5-step military tool – SMEAC – to build your team’s charter.

  1. Situation.
  2. Mission and Objectives.
  3. Execution.
  4. Administration.
  5. Command & Control.


This is the introduction to the charter and should answer the following questions:

  • What problem is being addressed?
  • What result or delivery is expected?
  • Why is this important?

Mission and Objectives

By defining a mission, the team knows what it has to achieve as in the Pelee Island crash: To recovery the bodies and investigate the crash with the utmost respect & dignity to the casualties and their families.


By negotiating the execution phase of a Team Charter ensures that everyone understands:

  • Why the project needs to be carried out;
  • What the objectives and measures of success are;
  • Who is doing what; and,
  • With what resources.

Administration and Support

This section lists the resources available to the team to accomplish its goals. This includes:

  • Budgets;
  • Time;
  • Equipment; and,
  • etc.

Command, Control & Communications

Teams are most effective when they have members with:

  • The skills and experience needed to do the job;
  • They know where they fit into the organization;
  • Who is in charge;
  • What is expected of them; and
  • That they not get bogged down in communication.