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10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

10 Things Good Leaders Say to Their Teams

Good leaders know that communicating the right ideas and messages is key. What we think becomes what we say, and what we say becomes what we do. If you want to lead your team to success, start using these words and phrases to get their thoughts – and then their actions – moving in the right direction.

1. Thank you.

A good leader is quick to acknowledge the help and contributions from the team. Leadership is not a one-man show, and it’s definitely not about hogging the attention or grabbing the spotlight. People need to hear an acknowledgement of their effort, even for small things. It’s encouraging and shows them that their work is noticed and appreciated. That kind of encouragement not only builds unity in a team but also helps each individual want to contribute more.

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2. I’m sorry.

There’s no such thing as a flawless leader, which means that even the best of leaders will make mistakes from time to time. That’s okay if you know how to handle yourself when you make a mistake: admit it, and apologize for it. Then do what it takes to make it right. A good leader will be quick to acknowledge her own mistakes, even if it does seem embarrassing or humiliating. Trying to cover up mistakes only leads to bigger mistakes. Saying “I’m sorry,” on the other hand, is the best way to start fixing your mistake and moving forward again.

3. Our purpose is…

Don’t assume that your team is crystal-clear on their purpose. Maybe they all started out that way, but it’s surprisingly easy, over time, to get a little fuzzy about the team’s purpose. But a team without a clear purpose is a team without unity or any cohesive way to make decisions and plans. Work out a short, memorable way to state the purpose of the team that you’re leading, then say it every day, to yourself and to your team.

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4. What do you think?

A good leader is eager to get help and insight from his team members. He’s not interested in being a know-it-all, but in getting the best information and creative ideas and working with his team on great solutions. Your team is full of experts that you’ve hand-picked. Let them know you value their expertise and insight by asking for it, and then listening when they tell you what they think.

5. We did it!

Anytime you lead your team past a challenge, over an obstacle, or to another milestone, stop and acknowledge it. Acknowledge verbally what’s been done, and that the team, working together, did it. It’s not about your leadership but about the people you’re leading. Celebrate the accomplishments and you’re likely to be making more.

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6. Our focus right now is…

Though your team’s purpose is something that stays fairly stable from month-to-month, the focus can shift dramatically. You may be nose-down on a project, then have to swerve to handle a crisis. It’s important to communicate on a weekly or even daily basis what the focus is for your team. You can’t expect them to read your mind. Clarify what matters most, right now, and your team will know how to pull together and get the most important work done.

7. Let’s talk about it.

Sometimes you’re going to have to deal with interpersonal conflict. Sometimes you’ll be looking at a problem that is so new and daunting no one knows how to start. Sometimes you will all feel like you’re out of ideas. Sometimes you will think you have the perfect solution and be eager to launch the team forward without a glance backward. In all of those situations, a good leader will say those magic four words: “Let’s talk about it.” Pulling your whole team into an open discussion, or sitting down privately to talk about an issue, will result in everyone on the team being heard. Your team can point out flaws and problems, and can also present ideas and solutions. A good leader doesn’t try to produce all the magic; she just helps bring it out in the people around her.

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8. This is our challenge…

When you are facing a potential problem, an obstacle, a big deadline, an impossible client, a huge project, or any combination of the above, it’s time to say these words. Clarify the challenge. Name it. Define it. Get it out there and look at it from all angle. Pretending it’s not there or letting it seem bigger than it is are both marks of poor leadership. There’s no need to be afraid of what you’re facing as a team. There is a need to clearly define the challenge so you can all think about the best way to tackle it.

9. Let’s review…

Every day is a day to learn. A good leader is always looking for the lesson, for the insight, for the new data or method that will make next time an even greater success. Did something go wrong? Let’s review the whole process and figure out what we learned. Did something go right? Let’s review the whole process and make sure we know what made it successful.

10. You did a great job on…

A good leader will hand out congratulations generously and specifically. Praising the team as a whole is a good thing to do; it’s also important to single out contributions at an individual level. The most powerful praise is both specific and sincere. As you work with your team, make note of what each person does well, and be sure to offer them acknowledgement for that the right time. When’s the right time? Well, whenever you want to be an even better leader than you already were.

Featured photo credit: Gruenemann via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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