Are you Leading from the Front or Back?

Leadership is so critical today. Poor leadership is one of the top reasons for employee disengagement and turnover. Many who get into leader roles often do so through attrition or are put into their roles in a quick manner. But are they truly prepared for the role?

I don’t think most who aspire for a leader role truly take the time to decide on the type of leader they want to be and determine the skills and traits they want to portray. Especially considering that people follow those who they identify with, i.e. traits, or characteristics. This means that those already in this role have a responsibility to self-assess and ensure they are portraying skills attributed to leadership, such as drive, determination, integrity, and sociability (Northouse, 2010).


Those who aspire, or are new in leader role, can also do the same and work to develop their skills. One other area is to know is if you are leading from the front or the back. I had a client who was fairly new in their role and discussed that they needed to lead from the back, feeling that leading from the front was a negative position. I’m not sure this person understood the meaning but it did give me pause and consideration.

The client felt that leading from the front means it’s all about them and their needs, and does not take individual workers into consideration, while leading from the back means that the leader takes a ‘back seat’ and let’s employees steer the ship. I don’t know if either of these is correct, although I think it depends on one’s point-of-view.

To lead from the front, in my opinion, is to be the guide for workers; leaders set work goals and then allow their people to work autonomously while providing support and encouragement. Daniel Pink, in his book Drive (2010), says that autonomy is one of three motivators that drive performance (the others being purpose and mastery). Front leaders don’t abdicate their power but they don’t use it to be oppressive (micromanaging).

Leading from the back, to me, means the leader allows their people to shine while being there to uplift and help to problem-solve, as needed. The best leaders I’ve worked for have led from both the front and the back – they’ve recognized the strengths and skills of their workers and allowed them to work in their own way, which got work done faster and with more quality; they were there to motivate through affirmations and recognition. These leaders are often comfortable being in the background but their presence is felt by all. Essentially, their ego does not get in the way but they know their position.

Whether you are in a formal leadership position or not, you are leading in some form or fashion, i.e. leader in your family, leader in a group you belong to, leader of yourself). Take time to be more aware of how you are leading in both your work and your life – these skills apply not just in one area so it means you need to recognize and use them to  be a leader. Keep developing your skills – read, work to master them, and look to inspire others to do their best; this is truly leading from the front!

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! or

How To be a Leader in Your Workplace: 5 Skills to Get You There

How to Be a Leader in Your Workplace: 5 Skills to Get You There

Many jobs require that employees be “team players.” You may hear that so often that it becomes meaningless. But it isn’t – being a team player is a fairly broad term, and it can include an important attribute that employers appreciate: leadership.

Being a leader in the workplace does not necessarily mean being a boss, manager, supervisor, or other “official” position, although it can mean that. Being a leader in the workplace can also mean setting a good example for others and/or heading up office programs and projects. Assuming the role of a leader might come easily for some people, while for others not so much.


I’m sure you’ve seen them (perhaps you’ve been one) – the employee who things seem to come to easily; you pick up skills quickly, achieve daily tasks timely, and people gravitate to them. These individuals are the ones who get promoted quickly or get more notice by upper management. What is it about them? Sometimes they naturally possess the right aptitude and skills but they also continually work on their own development, both personally and professionally.


Here are some tips and ideas that you can begin to work on, to follow the example of these high achievers, and how to be a leader in the workplace, so you get noticed and have more job satisfaction and engagement in the work you do:


  1. Be Confident


There’s a saying that can serve you well in the workplace: “Never let them see you sweat.” Of course, no one is perfect; but appearing confident inspires others to trust you and take your advice. One way to ensure that you appear self-assured is not to talk too much about your fears and concerns. Talk to friends outside of the workplace about your uncertainties. Identifying and owning your strengths and values will lead to self-belief and more confident. As simple as it sounds, walk with confidence – pull your shoulders back, or put your hands on your hips and see how much more empowered you feel.


See the Good in Others


Being able to see the good traits in others is a useful leadership trait in the workplace. If you need to put certain people in charge of certain tasks, it pays to know who will do well with what task. You also may see potential in a co-worker and “stretch” him or her by requesting a task that might be a bit challenging. This improves the overall skill set of the workforce, and helps build self-esteem in your co-workers. It also can lead to forming better relationships among team members so more gets done, which is something good leaders do.


Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate


There’s a difference between being a people person and being a people pleaser. Being a people person means you have a genuine love for people, but you’re not afraid to ask people to do things. Being a leader doesn’t mean just doing everything yourself; it means you are comfortable giving up some control and delegating tasks to others. Confident leaders aren’t afraid to let go and allow their staff to take over and lead.


Appreciate Co-Workers


No one wants to work for or with someone who doesn’t appreciate them. If you let everyone know you appreciate what they’ve done and how they’ve given their time and talents, it can go a long way. It’s always good to remember that there would be no leaders if there weren’t any followers. People who are appreciated may be more likely to follow your lead next time. Being recognized is something we all desire and leads to more satisfaction and overall happiness.


Problem Solving


If you step up with ideas on how to solve dilemmas, problems, and so forth, and have resourceful ideas about how to accomplish something, then speak up. Employers value the ability to think through a problem and find a creative solution. This is a valuable leadership quality as it shows you are part of a team and thinking of how to meet the needs of both customers and the organization overall.


These traits are highly desired by organizations as it puts the one who displays them in the high performing category, something which organizations invest in.



How to Handle Layoffs More Effectively

I was talking to a friend of mine, the other day, who didn’t sound like themselves; upon further inquiry, they told me that they were just informed that their division was going to be closing. Merry Christmas – bah, humbug. Which begs the question: is there ever a good time when laying off employees? Are there ways to handle layoffs more effectively?

During our discussion, my friend related that they felt blindsided by the news; they denied having any suspicions that this was coming – no heads up, no ‘water cooler’ talk. Nothing. But my friend still has to go to work, and ‘show up,’ until the last day. I was the listening and supportive ear they needed.

But it begs the question: is there ever a good time when laying off employees? From the employee perspective -NO! But I think employers can do better at this- there are more effective ways to handle layoffs.

To start, being open and communicating would ease the ‘sting’ and leave employees feeling better about the organization; it would allow them to plan better for their next step while ensuring a smoother transition.

It also will sustain a positive environment; well, as happy as it can be, under the circumstances.  I worry for my friend, who already feels defeated, stressed and anxious about what the future holds; having to go to a workplace where everyone is feeling the same does not make for a productive environment.  I wonder how many will be using company time to work on their resumes or surf job boards for their next position.

I think there are ways that employers can do better at this. I’ve spoken with leaders who have said they didn’t want to let their workers know about a layoff ahead of time as they “didn’t want to worry or upset them.” Really? So how did they think their  workers would react upon the news? Letting workers know their may be possible layoffs, and the reasons why (fiscal, going in a different direction, etc.) could let workers understand that these decisions are good for the company.

They would not take it personally but see it from a business perspective, which creates buy-in to the  decision.  Managers should have one-on-one conversations with each worker to give feedback and let them know if there are any potential opportunities elsewhere in the company, or just to hear their thoughts. I also think employers should offer to help them to get their next job, which can be through: recommendations or referrals, offering a month or two of career coaching, or giving them some career planning to map out a strategy for their next steps (after all, manager know their progression and are great assets to have in this area).

Another steps to offer is through a severance package of some type so there is  a ‘bridge’ for workers, who then won’t feel kicked to the curb; it would show that they are thought of and valued. This can a win-win overall.

Layoffs are never fun but are often necessary for an organization to sustain and thrive. Workers should see them in this light so they can accept and move on. Leaders of these organizations can be more open, communicative, and offer helping ways to ensure workers survive after.

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! or For more great tips, visit our other blog at

Decision-Making: A Trap Some Business Owners Fall In

A trap I often see some business owners fall into involves  decision-making: particularly, making the wrong decision. “I want to expand my business but…” “I think this idea will work but I don’t know…..” I could go on with more reasons that I’ve seen business owners hold themselves – and their business- back.

Why is decision-making so hard for some people? Well, I see people not making a decision because:

  • they are worried they will fail
  • they worry about the response they may get (criticism, getting yelled at)
  • they don’t trust themselves enough
  • they don’t think they can live with the decision (even though they don’t know the outcome)

Do any of these sound familiar? I’ll admit I’ve wrestled with one or two of those so I know how real the struggle is. But, the good news is that it’s fully possible to move past any of these blocks, and be more confident in making decisions that are good for your business.

To go back, fears arise from our past experiences that may have started when we were younger, such as getting yelled at for something we did or didn’t do; depending on how we’ve perceived the situation, it will form a belief around that thought which then leads to our actions (or inactions).  The more we think those negative thoughts, the more entrenched those beliefs become which, then, hold us back in some way.

The fundamental fear we all have is the fear of not being good enough, which comes out as the fear of failure, the fear of being rejected, or even the fear of success.  When faced with making a decision, one of those fears will rise if we believe we will make the wrong one. This, then, starts the cycle of having a decision to make, which then elicits a fear, which then prevents making a decision, which then leads to frustration/anger at yourself and then the cycle repeats itself over and over.

So how can you move past any fears around decision-making and move into embracing the very things you say you want? How can you feel more confident when making a decision, so you won’t hesitate when faced with an issue? Here are some suggestions:

  • Begin by identifying fears you’re experiencing when faced with making a decision; look to see how you respond when faced with both big and small decisions. For instance, a small decision would include what tie to wear today, or what to eat for breakfast, while a big decision would be expanding on a service or creating a high-end program. You can rate your level of fear around these, which can help you to see progress you make and for which one(s) you will tackle first
  • Identify the outcome you believe is going to occur with the decision you want to make; as I said earlier, we often let a past event predict our future so what do you believe is going to happen: will someone yell at you, ignore you, criticize or laugh at you; also identify your response if one of these were to occur – shame, guilt, anger, etc. Once you’ve identified your beliefs, then…
  • Challenge those thoughts – how do you know that the outcome you worry about is going to happen with absolute certainty? As we are not mind-readers, challenging those thoughts disrupts the negative pattern so you can ‘see’ that the thought is maladaptive, an then ‘see” that whatever decision you make can have a positive outcome
  • List possible outcomes of the decision on a piece of paper, both positive and negative. This is a great exercise to do as, by identifying an negative outcomes, you can now see any potential ‘mistakes’ and come up with potential solutions for dealing with them if they do occur; it also validates your reasons for wanting to make the decision in the first place
  • Use your most powerful sense, your visual field, to imagine the best possible outcome. This activates dopamine, which elevates the mood and more positive thoughts and gives more mastery to actions you take. It also raises your confidence. Professional athletes use this in their training – as the football player is running down the field and catches the ball in the end zone, he has visualized and practiced it thousands of time: if it works for them, it will work for you (with consistency)
  • Fail – as counter-intuitive as this seems, we need to see that failure is not the end of the world. If you think about it, we all have failed in some way along our life journey but we have survived, even when we thought we couldn’t make it through. Going back and looking at times where things did not go well but that we overcame it helps to see that we will pull through. (I’d recommend doing the opposite and remember times when you did have success to validate your efforts). Also, earn from any failures so you won’t make the same mistakes in the future.

Leaders, of which small business owners are in this category, are faced with making hard choices to grow and sustain; don’t allow your fear around making them hold you back. Decision-making is one of the critical skills a leader needs to possess – you can get better at it so you can be more confident and successful in doing so. The steps above will help you get there.

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! or For more great tips, visit our other blog at



6 Ways to Deal With a Disrespectful Employee

Do you know how to deal with a coworker or, worse yet, an employee who is disrespectful to you? This would be an employee who feels they can:

  • yell
  • withhold needed information
  • make ‘snarky’ comments
  • refuse to acknowledge you

The workplace today is stress-filled, as workers are dealing with more tasks which are leading to longer hours. It’s also filled with very differing personalities, each with their own perceptions, expectations, and way of working. Putting some of these differing personalities together can be a recipe for disaster.

But does this give someone the right to intrude on others, either in their actions or words? If we entertain that the disrespectful employee is dealing with a personal problem, perhaps an ill family member or having financial difficulties,  it could lead to such behavior. After all, each of us deals with our stressors differently.

However, this does not justify such bad behavior. So how do you deal with an employee who exhibits one of the behaviors listed earlier? Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Document the behavior: remember the rule “if it wasn’t written, it didn’t happen,” so keep a record of the situations as they occur, including:  the day/date, time of day, place occurred, the issue involved, and who else was an observer. Look at the situation from an outsider’s perspective to ‘see’ the bigger picture; we won’t see it when we’re thinking off emotion.
  • Communication is the best route, but when you (as the boss) are calmer; have the employee come to your office to discuss the events as they occurred and to hear their side of the story, asking what led to their adverse behavior (not why), which can uncover the basis for it.
  • Set rules and boundaries: reiterating and reinforcing workplace expectations and policies for insubordination will put the worker on notice, so to speak, so it is mutually understood that there will be repercussions if the adverse behavior occurs again.  Give the employee clear expectations for how they will make improvements, but include them in this plan and, then, have them sign it.
  • Find out what the employee needs to improve in their work to see if you can provide them; for example, if the employee has an ill family member at home then can you allow a staggered shift which would allow help to take over; can the employee take a break if they are feeling at the breaking point. You may not be able to accommodate them but trying goes a long way to feeling cared about.
  • You can refer the employee to seek formal counseling, through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) your organization contracts with; this can be either formally or informally, meaning that you can recommend them to go or make it mandatory. Both have differing workings as well as expected outcomes. The other option is to put them on formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), with formal steps that goes through your Human Resources (HR) department.
  • Be emotionally intelligent (EI)  – you don’t have to respond how the employee might be drawing you in to; you also need to check your own behavior and attitude towards that employee as you may be treating him or her differently or coming across defensive.

Dealing with workplace behaviors is never easy but it needs to be done; remembering that emotions come into play when adverse behaviors occur will go a long way to curbing them, but it also includes being empathetic and setting good boundaries. After all, other employees are being affected in some way, as well so stopping this type of behavior should never be tolerated, and it ends with you.