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”.


Clear Intentions Clarify Actions by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Most of us suffer from having too much to do in a day. Prioritizing all those tasks can sometimes seem overwhelming. As you’re working through your plan for the day or week, don’t forget that thinking through your intentions can help you to clarify exactly what actions you need to take and help you determine which actions have the highest priority.

Think About the Resultsimages

This means beginning with the end in mind. Decide first what you are trying to accomplish today. Then rank those plans in order, marking your “must dos” first. Once you’ve determined the goals that must be met today, you can get a much better idea of what actions you must take to complete the day’s intentions.

Beginning your day or week with this sort of focus really clears the clutter from your mind and helps you to stay on task. You’re less likely to find yourself working on whatever someone puts in front of you or asks of you, and more likely to work on the tasks that really make a difference to your business.

Plan for the Unexpected

Of course, it is important to factor in some time for distractions each day. In any business, unexpected things come up that must be attended to. When you plan some time in your day to handle these issues, you are less derailed when these happen. You can handle the surprises and then get right back to the work you’ve already identified as most important for the day. This kind of plan minimizes the risk that an “emergency” will ruin your day.

This intentional focus on the day requires a change of mindset. It means you’re creating your day, rather than letting the events of the day control you. It may take some special focus in the beginning to learn to structure your day this way, but once you have mastered this routine, you’re certain to find that you not only accomplish more, but accomplish more of the really important tasks each day.

What Does it Mean to be Resilient? by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Leaders and entrepreneurs need several character traits in order to be successful. The willingness to adapt, take advice and be persistent are all critical to achieving big goals. However, many experts have suggested that there is one trait even more important than any of these. The trait that will most benefit you as you grow a business or take on any other serious professional or personal challenge is resilience.

Resilience, simply put, is the ability to bounce back. Resilience works side by side with persistence, but is different. Persistence refers to not giving up, while resilience is the trait that keeps you positive and ensures you don’t lose your passion for the goaresiliencel.

People who have resilience are not only focused on achieving their goals even after suffering through failure after failure; they are also stronger and more focused because of those failures.

Resilience takes many forms in our personal and professional lives. It helps us continue to love an imperfect spouse even after he or she has hurt us. It keeps us believing that our children will turn out to be contributing members of society even after they have gone astray. Resilience prevents us from giving up on life being everything we want it to be.

Developing resilience requires having some failures to bounce back from. It also requires having a goal that you are passionate to pursue. As you see persistence pay off, resilience becomes more natural. Like many other positive character traits; resilience is developed through trials in life and personal setbacks.

Once you’ve developed some resilience, you’ll find that you are happier simply because the failures in life don’t affect you so dramatically. You bounce back easier, with your eyes continually focused on the prize.

Over the next few weeks we will talk more about resilience and examine its benefits more closely. This is one character trait you must work to develop in order to realize your most important dreams.

Three Keys to Giving Feedback Without Stress by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

So often, leaders cringe at the thought of giving feedback to employees. The first idea that comes to mind mafeedback3y be that you anticipate a negative response from the employee. If you shake your head “yes” to this idea, it usually means that, for you, giving employee feedback really means giving “negative employee feedback”. You’re talking about coaching an employee on performance or behavior that is undesirable. This is a trap that often makes feedback sessions uncomfortable for both the giver and the receiver. Here are three tips that can help reduce the anxiety associated with providing feedback to employees.

1) Feedback should be frequent. When employees receive regular feedback it becomes a normal part of the routine. When feedback is a “special event”, or worse, an annual event, it naturally produces stress. Talking regularly with employees about how business is going, both in general and in regard to their own work makes the event more natural and less likely to create a “what have I done wrong” thought in the employee’s mind.

2) Feedback should be good, too. The biggest trap that leaders fall into is getting so busy that they only get around to feedback when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. When you take the time to talk with employees regularly about both the good and the bad, you make employees more comfortable, and more motivated to continue good performance, as well as correct bad performance.

3) Feedback should be immediate. When there is a problem, it is not unusual for leaders to fail to address the issue, believing it will “work itself out”. While this may be the case sometimes, when it isn’t the case, you have allowed an employee to continue with an action you don’t like for far too long. At this point, their failure to perform is just as much your problem as theirs. When you do address it, don’t let any frustration you might harbor about the continued behavior get in the way. People can only correct what they are aware of. Address the issue fairly, and then resolve not to let future issues linger.

It sounds very cliché, but “catching people doing something right” really is the best way to motivate employees to perform. When you regularly point out the things they are doing well, they are far more receptive when you have a criticism. It may sound very counterintuitive to suggest increasing the frequency of something you already dread, but more regular feedback leads to more comfortable feedback for both parties.

NOTE: for the next 4 weeks we will be drawing the name of a lucky winner of a copy of our Alliance Partner’s book “Blind Spots – Solving Hidden Business Problems”  To enter simply put your first and last name in the subject line of an email and send to cstradling@athenatrainingandconsulting.com – Winners will be announced on the Friday of each week. Enter NOW!

Ways to Create a Shared Vision by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC


Ways to Create a Shared Vision by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

As I shared in my blog last week, I experienced what it was like to work on a team that had a shared vision for the project and it although things didn’t always go exactly as planned, the synergy was incredible.  onevision

I often connect senior executives to connect them to a facilitator that can support them in creating a vision for their company. Having a vision/mission/values statement is one thing and living it is quite another.  Publishing your vision and hanging it in the lobby, on your company website or on various promotional items will help bring awareness, but that alone is not enough. How does it get integrated into the culture?

They key is in how the vision is shared with management and employees by the leaders of your organization.

Studies show that how the vision is shared by the leader makes a huge difference in how it is adopted.

I have included a few tips on the qualities needed to powerfully communicate your vision:


  • It needs to be CLEAR – it needs to be spoken in everyday language that people easily understand.  It needs to be simple and easy to remember. Think of NIKE-Just Do It.  When someone says “Just Do It” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?  That’s clarity.
  • The leader needs to be INSPIRED when they deliver the vision.  Everything must be congruent, body language, words, facial expression, tone and level of enthusiasm will go a long way to inspire and excite the management and employees. An inspired leader can be infectious.
  • WALK the TALK. It is critical the leader lives the vision if they want other to follow their lead.  Leaders who are authentically connected to the vision and walk the talk have much more success than those who  do not.
  • INCLUSIVITY is very important.  The language a leader uses will help to unify the team to the vision.  Words like “we, our, us” are needed in all communication
  • There needs to be an element of CHALLENGE. Like anything else we do, when there is an element of challenge it can lead to a more exciting and collaborative journey. When a leader passionately speaks about the vision and shares how the team can work together to move through challenges, will also lead to inspired action.
  • Actions need to be SPECIFIC.  Having a vision statement itself is not enough.  Leaders need to identify specific actions and behaviours that will integrate the vision into day to day activities.  Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, in their Harvard Business Review article called “The Knowing Doing Gap,” suggest that organizations use the act of creating and discussing mission/vision statements as one of the most common substitutes for actually taking action. The trick is to create a solid vision statement that is easily translatable by everyone in the organization into actions on their day-to-day job.

Self Leadership (Know Thyself)


“Self Leadership” By Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

I have written about the subject of self leadership in previous blogs and I think it is an area whselfleadership2ere we all need reminders from time to time.  What I am referring to by self leadership is to know yourself (your areas of strengths and also the areas where you need additional support) so you can put structures in place to help when you get off track.

So much of what we do is habitual and unconscious and when we want to make positive changes we can be challenged if we are not aware of the choices we are making.  Have you ever had the experience where you have done or said something only to question yourself later “what was that all about?”  I know I have and it becomes a nuisance when it happens repeatedly.

In all of my training programs we spend time looking at our choices. My philosophy on this is that we only have two choices: we can choose reasons or results.  Participants will often push back and say they have good reasons for not meeting their objectives.  I challenge them to look closer and when they do they often agree they are excuses, not real reasons.

Over twenty years ago I attended a workshop led by Jack Canfield and I can remember a phrase he used “if it is to be, it is up to me.” Simple phrase, lasting impact.  To this day I remember that saying and it motivates me to keep taking the actions I know to do so I can achieve the results I want in my life.

Here are five tips to help develop more self leadership:

1)    Know who you are and take full responsibility for your life.  This includes how our think, speak as well as how you ask.  Be a role model for others.

2)    Clarity – be clear about what you want to accomplish and how you will spend your time. Focus on the activities that align with your values.  Develop the confidence to say “no” when the request doesn’t serve you.

3)    Live with integrity and authenticity.  Say what you’ll do and do what you say not only helps build self esteem and self leadership, it gains respect from others.

4)    Manage your emotions and exercise empathy.  I love the Buddhist’s saying “This too shall pass.”  When we have developed powerful self leadership skills we are able to manage our emotions appropriately and at the same time have empathy for what others may be going through.

5)    Develop the grace of gratitude. Be thankful for what you have accomplished and you will radiate self confidence and experience higher levels of self esteem.

I wish I could say I am perfect at being my powerful self, but I can’t.  I am a work in progress.  I have come a long way and feel very grateful for what I have accomplished. I get up excited each day for what the day will bring!  I know my success will be directly in alignment with the choices I make and I will continue to check in with myself to make sure I am getting the results I want.

What about you?  What do you want Reasons or Results?

Leadership Development

leadership development - change, communications, personal growth, inspiration

For the month of September I thought I would make it “Ten Tips Month.”   I will share with our readers ten tips to enhance team building ideas, customer service skills, leadership development and sales coaching skills.  Some of these tips may be new ideas to you and others may be reminders of the importance of the things you are already doing.  As I say in my workshops “We all know things, what is most important is what we do with what we know.”

Leadership Development

leadership development - change, communications, personal growth, inspirationThere many books, articles and programs on being an effective leader.  I think that this is an area where most of us have growth opportunities.  We are all leaders in our own lives and the following tips on effective leadership can apply in both personal and business situations.

1)      Be the Change  – it is very important to walk your talk and model the attitudes and behaviors you want to inspire and have demonstrated in others.  Be true to your vision/mission.

2)      Listen more – the greatest gift you can give to anyone is the gift of listening.  Giving someone the experience of being heard is a very powerful way to build rapport and respect.

3)      Clear Communication– the ability to clearly communicate your message is paramount to being a successful leader.  One needs to ensure their message is understood.  I often think about the number of mistakes that could be prevented if all of us were more careful with our communication and taking responsibility that the listener has understood us.

4)      Can-Do Attitude – having a positive attitude is much more than thinking positive thoughts.  (although that is extremely important) It also important to consistently communicate what you want versus what you don’t want.  Often people focus on what is missing or what they can’t do.  Focusing more on what you can do is very important and can yield surprising results.

5)      Know yourself – we all have our areas of strengths and areas for improvement.  Take the time to understand yourself and learn the most effective ways of doing things and look at effective ways to manage those areas that you are less proficient in.

6)      Inspire others – we all have leaders that inspire us.  Ask yourself.  “What is it about that person that touches me?”  Then look at ways to develop those attributes in yourself so you can also inspire others.  Most people are inspired by leaders that are authentic.

7)      Open to new ideas – sometimes we can get stuck in a rut in our thinking or our actions.  Often we can stretch ourselves more when we are open to new ideas that may take us out of our comfort zones.

8)      Give regular feedback – letting people know how they are doing is very critical to encouraging employees to continue more with what is working and change what is not.  I frequently hear that the supervisor/manager doesn’t provide any feedback to an employee.  This can be one of the causes of an employee becoming disengaged.

9)      Have  fun – personally I think work should be fun.  As a leader if employees see you smiling, laughing and enjoying your job it can send a strong message that although everyone works hard, it is OK to have fun at work.

10)   Celebrate – publically celebrate and acknowledge the day to day victories of your employees.  I was recently in the lobby of a large organization waiting for an appointment and noticed a large TV screen on the wall.  A video was playing and it was acknowledging employees various contributions during the last month.  Big happy smiling faces on the screen communicated to me that this company looked like an engaging place to work.

By Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC