Leading By Example by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Leaders often do a lot of talking. We speak at meetings, we train, we motivate and encourage our employees. We also spend time talking about what we expect from those employees. images

If you want to have those expectations met, however, you must, as the saying goes “walk the walk, not just talk the talk”. It’s not uncommon for people in positions of power to expect others to behave in a certain way, yet fail to behave that way themselves.

If you’re a business leader, there is simply no substitute for “walking the walk”.  When you behave the way you expect others to behave you immediately gain credibility with others, who will see you as being more authentic. You will gain the respect of your employees. You demonstrate that you are the “real deal”.

You’ll also find that when you model the behavior you’d like to see in your team, they are more likely to display those behaviors, too. Leading by example motivates your employees to be the best version of themselves. Employees become more of a team when everyone begins to model the appropriate behaviors, too.

When employees have a boss who leads by example and expects nothing of others that he or she would not do himself or herself, they become more open to taking on new challenges. They strive to do the best job that they can, because demonstrating their capability and loyalty becomes important.

Take a hard look at your own behavior at work, and list those things you expect others to do, but fail to follow through on yourself.  It’s not always easy to see our own shortfalls, but doing so is the only way to grow as a leader and a person. Whether it’s something as small as ensuring you get to work on time, or something bigger like structuring your calendar or devoting time to an outside charity, you will begin to become the best version of yourself when you consistently model this behavior. You’ll feel it, and others will see it.

We’ve all known a legendary leader at some time in our life. They were honest, hardworking and dedicated to their cause. These are the people we remember and respect. Do your best to become one of those leaders by making sure you always “walk the walk”.


CASE STUDY: Excel Training

The case studies outlined in the “Athena In Action” series are being shared as examples of the variety of solutions we have provided to our clients for over a decade. 

TOPIC: Excel trainingAIA 600x314 (2)

INDUSTRY: Manufacturing

ASSESSMENT/SITUATION:  I received a call from the VP of Human Resource of a manufacturing company.  I had introduced them to other Alliance partners in the past and she felt confident that I would be able to help her with this particular need.  She wanted to run a one day course on Excel training for 12 of their employees.  These employees were from a variety of departments and had varying degrees of experience in working with the program.  My client`s concern was finding one course for everyone both novice and intermediate at the same time.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING:  I have several partners that offer outlook training and the one I chose for this client was one that did an assessment up front to see where everyone`s skills level was.  Often participants are not 100% sure of their skill level and this assessment determines exactly where they are and it identifies areas for growth. This particular Athena Alliance partner also includes the option for participants to ask questions up to 30 days after the training.

SOLUTION:  A one day program was delivered and it was designed to teach the participants at both the novice and intermediate levels. The Athena Alliance partner always delivers very interactive programs and each participant was encouraged to bring in a project they were working on to work on so it was very relevant to their jobs.  Having the program designed so each person gets the tools they need regardless of their skills level really helps deeper learning take place.

RESULTS:  This Athena Alliance partner spends a lot of time during the session interacting with the students, showing them tips and techniques that can save them time (I always get positive feedback on her ability to engage the participants). A few people did use the option to contact the Athena Alliance partner with questions after the session, which also went a long way to enhance the learning.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in these case studies in compliance with our Privacy Policy.


Change it Up by Cindy Stradling CSP< CPC


No matter how much you love your job, there are undoubtedly parts of it that you don’t particularly like. It’s inevitable that every job comes with some routines that you find to be boring or annoying. Yet, you know that the work cannot be accomplished without performing these mundane tasks.

None of us can avoid having the mundane tasks that go along with our jobs, and we can’t always delegate these to other people, either. So, to make the job a little better, find ways to change up your routines, so that these don’t seem so daunting.Change-it-Up-Version1-1080x675

There are several ways to change up your routines. Some are as simple as performing the tasks in a different location or at a different time. For example, how awful can it be to look over the accounting records for the month if you can do it from your back deck instead of your desk in the office? Maybe staying home one morning a month to perform this routine task in one of your favorite spots is enough to make it more palatable.

You may also look for new ways to perform these tasks that you don’t enjoy. Finding a new process for your routine tasks can make them easier to stomach. In addition, finding a new process may also help you to find ways to increase efficiency. The simple act of reevaluating a routine may be exactly what you need to discover a new, more efficient, or simpler way of getting the job done. When you can find a new way to handle an old process, you might find it’s no longer so daunting. Since new technologies are introduced to the business world every day, there may even be automation you can apply to a task you currently perform manually.

Don’t get bogged down in the details of tasks you don’t enjoy. Yes, these tasks are required, and, no, they’re not your favorite part of your job. But, when you reevaluate them periodically, and change up your routines, you may find ways to make these mundane tasks a little bit easier to accomplish.

Are Your Employees Really Engaged? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Every employee has good days and bad ones. But, too many bad ones may mean that your employee has lost their mojo. It’s not unusual to find employees experiencing a bit of burnout and failing to be as engaged as usual.index

As a business owner or manager, it’s important to quickly recognize when your employees are less engaged than usual. You may notice habits like missing work more frequently, or you may notice an employee making more mistakes than usual. It can even be as simple as the employee not having their usual positive attitude or failing to provide the customer service you expect from your employees.

Once you have identified that an employee is less engaged than normal, it is important to address the issue quickly. The longer the problem persists, the more the employee is to grow dissatisfied with their job. In addition, their lack of engagement will affect your business, either through sales, quality or customer satisfaction.

Sometimes the problem can be solved with a little time off, or a simple change in tasks. Once employees become bored with their day to day routines, a break in that routine can be very welcome and can be just what is needed to get them back on track.

In some cases, the employee is ready to move to a different position permanently, in order to grow as an employee. As a boss, it’s part of your job to try and recognize when employees are ready for more responsibility and to provide regular challenges to help them grow in their careers. Employees who know they will be constantly challenged and rewarded for their efforts are less likely to be disgruntled.

Offering an incentive or a contest may help if you have several employees who are feeling bored with their job routines. Such programs can generate excitement and healthy competition that makes the workplace a little more interesting.

Keeping your employees engaged is one great way to ensure your business provides your customers with the experience they desire. It’s also a great way to ensure your employees stay happy at work, so your team thrives on all the challenges you’ll face as you grow.

CASE STUDY: Coaching for Results

The case studies outlined in the “Athena In Action” series are being shared as examples of the variety of solutions we have provided to our clients for over a decade.

 TOPIC: Executive CoachingAIA 600x314 (2)

INDUSTRY:  Advertising

ASSESSMENT/SITUATION: I had met with the HR Director of this organization several months before I received a phone call requesting a coach for one of their managers. The HR Director was looking for someone to work with this very high-potential woman and help her develop her communication and leadership skills, as she was being considered for a promotion as part of their succession plan.  I knew immediately that the coach would be a perfect fit.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING:  I connect the HR Director to the Athena Alliance partner  who had extensive experience working with managers in this situation.

SOLUTION: The most important thing when selecting a coach is the fit. It is imperative that there is trust and that there is a connection.  I arranged for my partner to meet with the manager, and they had an instant connection.  My partner outlined a 1-year program that started with an assessment and included a combination of face-to-face meetings, Skype calls and books that needed to be read.  Everyone agreed that in order for the manager to make the necessary changes, it would take time and practice. The manager was grateful for the opportunity and expressed her commitment to do what needed to be done.

RESULTS:  This match was incredible! The manager embraced the coaching and did above and beyond what any of us expected.  She has now been promoted to a Director level, and there is even talk of her moving to a VP position in the next few years.  She still works with this coach on a less-frequent basis; in fact, she is now coaching some of her managers.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in these case studies in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

Conquer the Mid-Day Lull by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Do you find yourself hitting a bit of a “wall”’ around 3:00 in the afternoon? This period, about halfway between lunch and dinner can be one of the most difficult times of the day for many people.images2

The lull you feel at this time of day can reduce productivity and make you feel bad, as well. You can waste a lot of time staring at projects and struggling to complete them. Here are some simple ways to conquer this mid-day lull.

Take a walk. If you’re like most people, you know what time of day that wall will hit. Before you feel overwhelmed by it, get up and get out of the office for a few minutes. A little fresh air and exercise may be all it takes to help you feel refreshed.

Schedule an activity. If you have something interesting planned for your “off” time of day, it can be easier to get through. For example, schedule your absolute favorite task of your job during this time of day, so that you begin to look forward to it, rather than dreading it. Whatever you do, don’t schedule a boring meeting during this time of day.

Ensure you’re well rested and well fed. Sometimes, your mid-day lull is a result of fatigue. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t be your most productive at any time of the day, and you’ll particularly feel it during your mid-day lull. You’ll also exacerbate the mid-day lull if you don’t eat regularly. Be sure to eat regular meals, but don’t eat a heavy, carbohydrate laden lunch, as this may make you feel even more tired.

Change up your routine. Mundane tasks can make any time of day seem like a lull.  new ways to complete your least favorite tasks can help you stay more positive about the parts of your job you don’t love. If you have any of those mundane tasks scheduled during your mid-day lull, move these to a time of day when you feel more positive.

The mid-day lull is normal, but it doesn’t have to ruin your afternoon or make you less productive. When you know the lull is coming, and plan ways to overcome it, you can ensure that tiring time of day is as productive and happy as any other part of your work day.

CASE STUDY: Productivity

AIA 600x314 (2)TOPIC: Productivity

INDUSTRY: Manufacturing

ASSESSMENT/SITUATION: My client, with whom I have been working with for over 6 years, called me one day, frustrated at the lack of productivity within her HR team.  They had a very in-depth in-house program for the other departments and company leaders that was working very well.  Over the years, she had used several of the Athena Alliance partners to complement their internal programs. This day, my client was particularly concerned about the amount of missed deadlines and generally what seemed to be the lack of commitment within her own department.  We talked about various possible solutions; we knew they needed to have a shift in how they were working.  I interviewed a few of the team members, and it became clear that they needed help in learning how to prioritize their heavy workload.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING:  I had the perfect partner for them. This Athena Alliance partner had 20+ years’ experience in leading people on how to become more productive in their day-to-day activities.

SOLUTION: The Athena Alliance partner recommended a one-day productivity program to start with and with two half-day follow-up programs over the next six months.  He also recommended that each of the participants join with an accountability partner who would support each other on a weekly basis. They agreed to a 15-minute call once a week to check in and support each other.  The Athena Alliance partner provided the participants with a template of questions they would ask to each other.

RESULTS:  Just before the final half-day follow-up session, I was speaking with my client.  She said she was very happy with the way things had shifted over the past few months.  Although they were not perfect, the department had formed some new habits and positive mindsets that were producing tangible results. My client said she knew that over time, they would get better, and she was very pleased at how everyone embraced the training.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in these case studies in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

Why Vacations Are Not Wasted Time by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Recently, when dining out at a restaurant, I overheard the man at the table next to me comment about how he hadn’t taken a vacation day from work in three years. I use the term “comment” loosely, as the tone of his voice indicated he was actually bragging about this fact. He wore it like a badge of honor, as though it made him a better employee, or a better person.

Success at work is important to most people. However, it’s important to have a definition of success that goes beyond how many hours you put in at the office. In fact, some would argue that those who work incessantly are inefficient, as well as lacking the balance in their lives that help them see an alternative of perspectives.summerfun

Taking regular vacations is one of the most important things you can do for your sense of balance, your perspective and your overall well being. Here are three reasons taking a vacation can be good for your work life.

  1. You get physical rest. People who don’t take vacation are more prone to fatigue and have a weakened immune system. Even if your vacation is spent at home, you’ll get the chance to rest up and rejuvenate your body.
  1. You get a mental break. Your mind will benefit from the rest you receive by thinking about things that aren’t work related. This break can give you renewed focus and enthusiasm when you return to work.
  1. You gain perspective. Taking vacation gives you time to see the world outside the focus of work. This can often open your mind up to the kind of “thinking outside the box” that helps you to solve problems creatively and develop innovative ideas that can help your business.
  1. You increase your own level of happiness. There are people who love to work, and who thrive on getting the job done. However, the healthiest people from both a physical and mental perspective are those who have interests and relationships outside of work and who make nurturing those a priority. When you increase your own level of happiness, you will become more productive at work and you will be a person that others want to work with.

So, if you’ve neglected to take your vacation time, schedule some time off right away, and make a plan to use that time for mental and physical rest and relaxation. You’re sure to find that you’re even better at your job after some time away.

CASE STUDY: Sales Training

TOPIC: Sales Training


ASSESSMENT/SITUATION: During an introduction meeting, I was asked if I did sales training. I said that I did and proceeded to learn more about this need. Once I had all of the details of what they were looking for, I booked a follow-up appointment to meet with their VP & Director of Sales.  This program was for a group of newly-hired mortgage advisors who had never worked in a role that required them to be their own bosses. Some had sales experience, but the majority of them did not.  The VP and Director of Sales wanted them to learn sales skills, plus gain an understanding of what it is like to work as an entrepreneur.

ATHENA PARTNER MATCHING: On occasion, when the need is a fit for my offerings, I will submit my personal proposal.  This was the case for this client.

SOLUTION:  I designed an interactive program that included sales skills, networking skills (including a mock networking event), objection handling (including practice in handling their most common objections), designing their unique selling propositio, understanding their mindset and how it affects their results, the importance of tenacious self-leadership and continuous follow-up.  I included exercises that had them identify their centres of influence, as well as new and creative ways to prospect.  Both the VP and Director thought I hit the nail on the head with the program content.  We decided to run a pilot first before rolling out across Canada.

RESULTS: The feedback from the pilot program was fantastic; as a result, for the next 1.5 years, I delivered the program at locations across Canada.  I often get comments on LinkedIn from some of the attendees, thanking me for what they’ve learned and how implementing those techniques have made a difference for them in their sales results.

Confidentiality is very important to us at Athena Training and Consulting Inc.  The case studies outlined in the “Athena In Action” series are being shared as examples of the variety of solutions we have provided to our clients for over a decade.  The company names and individuals have been kept private in compliance with our Privacy Policy.

 About the Author:  Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

I have an unquenchable passion for life-long learning and continuous improvement. I am a Training Agent, Certified Coach and Sales trainer. I work with organizations to simplify the process and reduce the risk of outsourcing training, coaching and HR Consulting.  I provide a one-source solution to finding the “Perfect Fit” training solution for sustainable results.   I believe contributing to the strengthening of my client’s most powerful asset, their employees, is today’s most valuable investment.






Are You Getting Enough? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Sleep, that is. Many people look for all sorts of ways to improve their productivity without ever realizing that they might be inadvertently reducing their productivity by burning the proverbial candle at both ends. sleep4

Sleep deprivation can cause a lot of problems, and can interfere with out ability to get things done. When we’re tired, we work more slowly and we make more mistakes. We can also be indecisive, feeling that every decision we make is a big deal. In addition, we may have poor judgment, so those decisions we make may not be good ones. Lack of sleep significantly affects our brains, causing lack of focus and clarity.

Over time, lack of sleep can also lead to health problems. When we don’t get enough rest, our immune system is compromised, so we’re more likely to catch colds and other viruses.

Lack of sleep also negatively affects our moods, making us irritable and cranky. We find ourselves unable to enjoy the things we used to, which leads to further stress, and, potentially difficulty sleeping.

Our bodies need between six and nine hours of sleep each night. Experiment with both the short and long end of that amount, and see how much sleep makes you feel best. Once you’ve determined where your body functions optimally, aim to get that amount of sleep each night. A good sign that you’re getting the right amount of sleep is when you wake up just before the alarm goes off.

If you don’t get enough sleep because you suffer from insomnia, try natural remedies, like essential oils or breathing exercises to help you fall asleep more easily. If these don’t work, talk to your doctor about other methods to help you get back into a natural sleep pattern.

Ensuring you get plenty of sleep is a simple way to help ensure you stay healthy and productive. You’ll think more clearly and make better and faster decisions. You may have become accustomed to being tired, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t suffering negative effects because of it. Take the time and the steps you need to get enough rest to ensure you function at your very best.