How To Be An Inspiring Leader (Even If You’re Not in a Position of Authority)

How To Be An Inspiring Leader (Even If You're Not in a Position of Authority)

You don’t need to be in charge to be someone others look to for guidance and leadership. Managers are constantly looking for standout colleagues they can trust who can command the reins while away from the team on pressing business. Here are a few specific ways you can become an inspiring leader.

Help Others Detach Fear From The Unknown

When there’s an apparent lack of leadership, imagination may run wild, leading to destructive speculation about what disasters await failure should a decision or project go awry. Instead of feeding the fear. Be the inspiring leader who diffuses those fears. Keep everyone focused on the task and the positive outcome that awaits the team once the work is done. You’ll become the person people approach for guidance when they experience unfounded fears over unknowable outcomes. 

Be The One Who Listens 

Everyone likes to hear themselves talk, especially when there’s no clear focus in the room, like a team leader or manager. Instead of competing to be the loudest voice in the room, listen. Qualify the ideas of others who speak up and bring others into the conversation by prompting their thoughts on the matter. By bringing everyone together through active listening and supporting your colleagues’ ideas, you’ll grow to become an anchor people look to for support when they’re trying to relay their ideas to the rest of the team. 

Quell Dissent

We’ve all been in a meeting where the second the manager in charge leaves the room; someone starts bad-mouthing their decision-making or directives. The time to nip that destructive talk is the first time it happens, but it’s never too late to step up and remind everyone to exercise a little professionalism. There are productive ways to disagree with management, but once a direction has been chosen, it’s the team’s job to deliver, and being the glue that holds a group in unison by dispelling destructive talk makes you someone who can be trusted to say what needs to be said.

When You Notice Greatness In Others, Say So

It’s encouraging to hear you’re doing well from your peers. Most people can spot a shallow or self-serving compliment from a mile away. Still, you’ll genuinely connect with your colleague whenever you can zero in on a specific, work-related job done exceptionally. Beyond that, tell their superiors what a great job they’re doing, especially if you’re on the same upward trajectory within the company! Doing so expresses confidence that others will value and look to whenever a genuine opinion is needed come performance review time. 

You Don’t Have To Be in a Position of Authority To Be A Great Leader

Ultimately, someone has to take the lead in group work settings to maintain focus, direction, and cohesion when the boss leaves her team to achieve their goals. That leader may as well be you. Consider these ideas, and when you see an opportunity to flex your leadership muscles, go for it! It takes time and lots of practice to become a great leader. Every opportunity is another chance to grow into the type of person others look to for guidance, inspiration, feedback, and reassurance. Get out there and cultivate your leadership qualities in your next team setting!

5 Ways To Stand Out In Team Meetings

5-ways-to-stand-out-in-team-meetings

Team meetings can become battlegrounds where colleagues jockey for position, jousting with words, experience, and presence for approval and consideration for advancement and accolades within companies of all sizes. Navigating tense meetings can often feel like make-or-break moments where careers are decided, and trust is forged or shattered with every contribution. 

So how can you stand out as a valuable, essential member during team meetings? Here are several great ways to make your mark during your next team meeting:

Be The Most Prepared Person In The Room

Study up on the meeting agenda before the meeting itself and come prepared with answers to questions you think others may ask. If the plan is vague, send a quick email to your manager or the meeting organizer asking for a quick rundown of the main topics they’ll bring to the table. 

Knowledge is power. When you arrive prepared, you’ll appear confident and reliable just by having a few choice contributions waiting in your back pocket compared to team members who just waltzed in late and are more concerned about their venti latte. 

Whenever you’re able to speed up a meeting by offering information immediately to answer a question or set up a topic of conversation, you’re showing you value everyone’s time enough to come prepared. In today’s high-speed corporate world, you cannot buy or fake this kind of trustworthiness. 

Those Who Are Loudest in Meetings Often Have The Least To Say

Being the person who jumps in the most during meetings often has a negative social effect overall, as teams will often equate that to “spotlight syndrome,” where they’ll feel an over-speaker is talking just to be heard and not for the good of the team. 

You do not have to be the one who answers every single question, nor do you need always be the first to offer up responses during pauses in the conversation to be noticed. Those who choose this strategy come off as selfish or attention-seeking for their efforts. The key is to speak efficiently when you do have the floor, stay on task, and treat those you’re talking to with a respectful benefit of the doubt. When you encounter teammates who are overstepping just to be noticed, let them. More often than not, they will fizzle themselves out as they flounder, trying to appear relevant, and when the conversation lulls as a result, you can swoop in with a concise talking point to bring everyone back on track, which will endear you to management and your colleagues for righting the ship.  

Kill Them With Kindness

Empathy is at a premium, and those who can not only maintain their composure during stressful meetings but help their colleagues do the same, are regarded with immense value by management during group meetings. Fear is a powerful motivator; it takes real emotional fortitude to see past the negative possibilities and focus on what is possible with earnest collaboration. 

If your contributions rally people toward the common goal, that’s the epitome of being a team player! Nay-saying and baseless argumentative “what-ifs” may sound productive on the surface but are usually fruitless fear-mongering that wastes valuable time and sows unnecessary worry throughout the team. Focus on being a thoughtful, positive contributor by uplifting others while reinforcing your positive contributions to the conversation.

Review The Previous Meetings And Thank The Presenter

While not necessary after every meeting, it is a thoughtful gesture to send a timely message of thanks to whoever championed the meeting and offer a few uplifting comments about specific insights you gleaned from their contributions. Most people will be surprised at first but will welcome a quick note of appreciation for the work they put into presenting in front of the whole team. 

Building connections this way will often open the door to collaborating or asking for your thoughts in the future, which is a great networking opportunity that can lead to projects and even promotions or future job opportunities!

Summarize The Expectations Going Forward Prior To The Wrap-Up

When the meeting is winding down, be the one who asks for clarification on the expectations for everyone between now and the next meeting. What are the expected goals team-wide? Who has to focus on which core responsibility? Does everybody understand what they must do between now and your next meeting? Are there any points of confusion that need clearing up before everyone breaks for lunch? 

By championing points of clarity for your team, you’re looking out for both individuals and the greater good of the entire team, which saves time and confusion for everybody and helps everyone hit the ground running!

Team meetings can feel treacherous, but if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be much more helpful, trusted, and welcomed during your next meeting.

4 Secrets For A Productive Workweek

4 Secrets For A Productive Workweek

Time has a habit of getting away from us. Before you know it, the week is over, and nothing we’ve planned to accomplish got done. Sure, a bunch of last-minute emergencies got pushed up to the front of the line, but the plans, projects, and personal time you hoped for always seem to get shoved over to the wayside.

The real secret to a productive work week isn’t planning: it’s preparing.

Sure, you can plan to tackle an entire week’s worth of tasks. But have you PREPARED for those tasks? If not, you’re defeated before you even start.

Prepare Yourself For A Productive Workweek

Plan your weekly self-care routine:

  • Food.
  • Moments for mindfulness.
  • Making to-do lists.
  • Honoring your space

It’s easy to think you’re “making extra time” for your daily tasks, but if you don’t take care of yourself first, how will you put your best into your projects? The truth is you’re not, and skipping your morning self-care is a great way to sabotage your projects before you even start!

Prepare Your Meals For A Productive Work Week

Last-minute meals when you’re starving devolve into air-fryer chicken fingers and fries. If you prepare a greek salad at the top of the day, you can sneak some at-the-ready vegetables into your last-minute meal, and you’ll feel a whole lot more refreshed and ready to tackle your self-care routine the following day!

A good tip is to take some time right after you’ve stocked your fridge to break down some of your favorite food items into ready-to-go snack packs in containers you can grab and go throughout the week: veggie sticks with hummus and dip, along with fresh pita is a PERFECT quick snack. Toss some cheese cubes and a cut-up summer sausage, and you’ve got a picnic on the go! But you’re never going to do that for yourself if you’re tired and already hungry; you’ll eat whatever’s quickest and easiest to prepare. Trust me when I tell you you’ll feel brighter and more energetic if you enjoy prepared meals more often, and those rewards pay actual world dividends on your productivity!

Prepare Moments Of Mindfulness For A Productive Work Week

Moments of mindfulness are times throughout your day when no one can reach you, ignore your cell phone notifications, and you can decompress for a moment to catch your breath and reassess the day. You can plan these moments into your routine, or you can cultivate awareness with your family and colleagues that sometimes you’ll take moments to yourself and will be available shortly.

It sounds like a waste of time. Just like self-care, giving your mind everyday moments to relax and decompress sets you up to be more fortified and resilient when you return to the task. Everyone, no matter how focused or determined, has an upper limit for stress and energy. When you let yourself reset and recoup with a moment’s peace to yourself, you often return with new solutions or compassion that may not have otherwise been possible when you power through with no breaks.

Moments of mindfulness look different for everyone, but the common goal is to let your mind rest for a few minutes every few hours (at least) without absorbing new information or experiencing sensory overload. No phones, no distractions. A walk around the block, a quiet snack and some fresh air, or even a dedicated silent prayer and meditation can all be excellent examples of a moment of mindfulness. Taking space for yourself is one conscious way to avert over-exerting yourself and create boundaries that people worth respecting will respect. It turns out this is also a great way to discover who among your family, friends, and colleagues are used to draining your energy, as they are the ones who will be immediately put off and opposed to your request for a moment’s peace.

Preparing To-Do Lists For A Productive Work Week

Most of us are quick to scoff at the value of a to-do list as though they’re only for people who have trouble keeping track of their lives. The truth is, it’s completely natural and human to be derailed by new ideas, distractions, and even crises throughout the day. To-do lists let you plan and prioritize, they help you quickly return to tasks when you’ve found yourself distracted, and you even get a little dopamine hit whenever you check off a completed job! To-do lists offer clarity and peace of mind at the start of a task-heavy day and take the stress of remembering a dozen or so tasks at a time for hours on end. Studies have shown that we can only keep track of between 4 to 9 unique ideas in our short-term memory at any given time! The truth is that leaving the fate of your plans up to chance by relying on your memory to keep track of everything you’re supposed to do in a day is a great way to sabotage your efforts right from the start. Make regular to-do lists for an entire week and see how much more you can accomplish!

How to Leave the Office and Set Yourself Up for Success the Next Day

How to Leave the Office and Set Yourself Up for Success the Next Day

How many articles have you read about how leaders of today start their day? Yes, it is crucial to have different routines throughout your day. Starting off your workday on the right foot with a few different habitual routines is definitely a proven way to set yourself up for success. What most people don’t think or talk about is a “leaving the office” routine. Some people have no more routine than every day they get in their car at 5:05pm. Some leave their offices tidy, some leave it in a haphazard mess. 

Why This Routine is Important

Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert is quoted, “How you end the day is critical, as it has much to do with how you start the next day. It’s half of the puzzle of being productive. Both pieces are like bookends that carry extra weight relative to what happens in between. They’re like first and last impressions that hold tremendous impact on your view of your work, attitude and productivity level. The end of your day sets the stage for tomorrow, and the start of your day sets the stage for today.”  (Source)

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author, says another reason to have a leaving the office routine is that it, “has huge effect on the level of stress and happiness you carry home, which in turn can impact your health, your marriage and family life, your ability to sleep and your overall level of happiness.” (Source)

3 Things to Think About When Creating an Evening Routine

1. Review your schedule and to-do list for the next day.

This tip is especially helpful if you have projects that spill over into the following day. Whether you keep a physical or digital planner/calendar, update it accordingly. This is also a great time to help you see your day/week/month as a big picture. Notice what’s eating up most of your time. If it’s not your top priority, what can you delegate or what meetings can you miss/cancel in order to align your priorities with how you spend your time.

2. Tidy up your physical and digital space.

Before you groan at this tip, it really works. Study after study has found that a clean workspace helps our brains function at top levels and be more productive. You may need to acquire a paper sorter or figure out a way to organize things in a way where you can start off every morning with a relatively clean desk. 

In terms of your digital space, make a daily check to ensure that your files are saved in an organized fashion. The other place where digital clutter ensues is our inboxes. Do your best to weed out your inbox of spam/promotions, reply to emails that take three minutes or less, and write a prioritized list of which emails need your urgent attention for the next day. 

3. Leave on a positive note.

“Take note of something that went well, compliment a co-worker on an accomplishment, or drop a thank you note to a client, Woodward says.”

Whoever reports to you, try leaving them with an encouraging comment before you walk out the door. Taylor agrees. Workers always want to feel valued and like their work is making a difference in the long term.
The attitude in which you leave the office will eventually match your attitude in which you arrive. Leave with a smile, and you may be a happier person as you walk in the doors the next day.

When forming new habits and routines, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Maybe you’ll stick firmly to the course for 3 days, but then get derailed and never return to it. Instead, pick one habit to start doing at the end of your workday. Make sure to prioritize that time in your schedule, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes. When you’ve done that small routine for at least 3 weeks and you feel comfortable, add another part of your leaving routine, adding extra time to your exit strategy. In no time, you’ll be arriving to work ready to tackle the day without the loose ends of yesterday lying all over your office distracting you.

Celebrate Your Accomplishments — Why It’s Important and How To Do It

Celebrate Your Accomplishments — Why It’s Important and How To Do It - Catherine Baskin

When was the last time you took a moment to celebrate your accomplishments? When did you last give yourself a big pat on the back? 

If the answers to those questions weren’t in the very recent past, this blog is for you!

As a leader, you’re likely focused on learning from mistakes of the past and moving forward with your eyes on a bright future. While these mentalities certainly have a seat at the table, it’s important to remember the value in the present moment — especially when it comes to pausing and taking the time to celebrate your accomplishments. 

To many leaders, this mentality can seem prideful or haughty, but celebrating your accomplishments actually have long term benefits for you, those you lead, and the overall health of your business. 

Did you know that celebrating your accomplishments will help you avoid burnout? 

One of the most common issues leaders face is burnout. As a leader, you’re likely pouring so much of yourself into your success of getting results and leading well Celebrating your successes actually releases endorphins, improving both your physical and mental states. These endorphins, paired with the celebration of successes, also create a connection of positive feelings and emotions to your work. 

By acknowledging your success and doing something to celebrate, you’re creating a reminder to your brain that your work is exciting, making you more enthusiastic about the work ahead. 

Celebrating your successes will help you identify what’s working! 

When you take the time to acknowledge your wins, you’re simultaneously reinforcing what’s working. Ask yourself, “What led to this win?” and “What made this so successful?” 

There’s definitely time to identify what didn’t work, but now is the time to give yourself and the team you’re leading a big pat on the back for the important steps you’ve taken towards your overall business development goals. 

When you celebrate yourself, you’re more likely to celebrate others. 

We’ve all encountered leaders who do a lot of celebrating themselves and very little celebrating others. On the other hand, there are many leaders who fail to recognize their successes and the successes of those they are leading. These leaders likely have a bad case of tunnel vision and are too focused on the future that they are unable to pause and celebrate themselves and those around them. 

One key to being a good leader is the ability to celebrate your own successes and be on the lookout for members of your team who deserve the same celebration. Creating an environment of celebration is key to creating a good place to work. 

Struggling to identify your own successes? Ask yourself some of the following questions:

“What have my major ‘wins’ been this past week/month/year?”

“What is my greatest accomplishment to date?”

“What important steps have I taken toward my bigger goals?”

“How did I surprise myself this past year?”

Take some time to jot down your answers in a notepad or journal. Star your top three accomplishments. 

Once you’ve identified your biggest wins, ask yourself, “How do I want to celebrate my success?”

Many leaders find it difficult to walk the fine line of celebrating success in a healthy way. It’s actually a good thing to be concerned with how you’re coming off when celebrating your own successes, and thankfully, there are many ways to do this tastefully. 

Depending on the success, it could be a big celebration or a small celebration — the difference between a nice cup of coffee at your favorite cafe or a trip to Hawaii with your spouse. 

What you do to celebrate your success is also highly personal. The idea is what is meaningful to you on how you want to celebrate your success. It doesn’t matter how small or large the celebration is as log as you celebrate to commemorate your success on some level. 

Maybe you want to include your family, your partner, or your team at work. Again, this is all up to you, after all, it’s your success! 

You can also choose to use this celebration as a motivation towards your goal. If you choose to do so, write down your goal and how you’ll celebrate if you achieve it and put it somewhere you’ll see it on a daily basis. There’s nothing like a tropical vacation to get you motivated in your work! 


Whether big or small, your successes are worth celebrating! So how are you going to celebrate your accomplishments this spring? 

Looking for guidance when it comes to leading a team? Learn how Aspirations Coaching Servicescan help you be a leader with a lot to celebrate!