Every one of us has role models in life; icons whose leadership we ardently admire. These role models hail from different backgrounds no less. They could be politicians, athletes, celebrities, distinguished professionals and so on. Regardless of who they are, chances are we look up to them for one fundamental reason, they get things done. They exemplify success. They show us what it looks like when someone actually sets their mind to accomplish something ambitious, and actually realizes their goals to completion.

There’s a simple expression for this quality in a leader. It’s called follow-through. Leadership devoid of follow-through is nothing but an exercise in wishful thinking. Any person who aspires to become an effective leader must possess the basic initiative to tangibly execute their plans for success. This may sound easy enough, but the sad truth is that not everyone practices meaningful follow-through in their approach to life. In fact, arguably every last person knows what it feels like to grapple with the problems of procrastination, hesitation, and second-guess after second-guess. If you are looking for ways to strengthen your resolve and become the type of leader who finishes what they start, here are six foolproof strategies to inform your thought-process.

  • Accept Uncertainty as a Part of Life:

Fear of the unknown is one of the most paralyzing emotions in existence. If this fear doesn’t discourage people to the point of inaction, it intimidates them into over-thinking in the name of preparing for the worst. It is an absolute fact, especially when it comes to business, that it’s impossible to make a rewarding decision without assuming some risk. Living to avoid uncertainty only intensifies ambivalence. Learning to accept and adapt to it as a part of life on the other hand, emotionally immunizes oneself against fear of the unknown.

  • Give yourself a Deadline:

When used reasonably, deadlines are actually profound behavioral motivators. Consider filing taxes for example. Every year, the IRS sets a strict deadline for the public to file returns. Even though they may procrastinate, the majority of people scramble to meet this target within time, so much so that accounting professionals count on tax season as a guaranteed period of income. Even if it’s an unofficial one, setting a deadline for desired tasks provokes initiative and commitment. It reminds leaders not only to make the most of their time, but also to be accountable for how they use it.

  • Take the Plunge:

Making plans is easy. Sometimes it’s even fun to brainstorm and come up with idea after idea on how to solve a given problem. However, all the elaborate plans in the world can never accomplish anything without the conclusive will to act on them. Strong leaders recognize that there is a time to plan, and there is a time to act. When the time to act arrives, reluctance and indecision frustrate progress instead of enabling it. The best way to actually gain anything from a decision is to intentionally go through with it in the first place.

  • Set Realistic Targets:

There’s nothing wrong with thinking big. After all big dreams can eventually translate into big success. However, understanding what limitations are insurmountable is in imperative component of level-headed leadership. Strong leaders know how to draw the line between pushing the limits of their potential and biting off more than they can chew. Setting realistic targets is important because it creates the opportunity to accomplish small victories that inspire exponential achievement.

  • Take Things One Step at a Time:

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that offers indispensable advice when it comes to leadership, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” When it comes to completing elaborate tasks, thinking about things in the big picture tends to overwhelm – especially when the stakes are high. It’s good to understand the requirements for success but rather than being the type of leader who tries to get everything done all at once, focus on one task at a time, one day at time. Being moderate is the key to consistency and endurance.

  • Concentrate:

Regardless of how well or how poorly a project evolves, always remember that it’s not over until it’s over. Don’t quit until the job is done, and don’t celebrate until the job is done either. Completion is the single most inherent ingredient of follow-through. A strong leader should always exercise the discipline necessary to disregard all distractions and pursue their plans to a logical conclusion. Interrupting progress without just cause creates a window for doubt or hubris to disrupt any hard work that has already transpired.

Follow-through is all about balance. It’s about figuring out exactly how much to plan, and exactly when to take bold action. It’s about being able to push limits or expectations without settling for less or selling oneself short. Most importantly, it’s about having the commitment and discipline necessary to facilitate closure. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on leadership, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.

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Sales is the single most inseparable component of business . It doesn’t matter who you are, in order to have a successful business, one of the most important things  to  master is sales because sales equals profit. For a long time I avoided anything that had to do with sales. Because of past experiences with unpleasant salespeople I  developed a twisted belief and negative view of sales. I thought that practicing sales meant being pushy and annoying. I thought it meant pestering people into submission and I certainly didn’t want anything to do with that! This belief blocked me from succeeding in business until I heard someone say, “sales is relationship-building”. Such a simple statement  impacted me and changed my perspective. Relationship-building is something that anyone can do and actually enjoy! Discovering that I had the choice to be myself and not be “salesy” really got me excited.

Sales is much more than providing the customer with goods, in exchange for money. Sales requires a relationship not only between sales representatives and the customers, but also with the company and the customer. Customers don’t just blindly look for what they need out of products, they also have an instinct to buy into the person who is selling them a product. Sales is all about capitalizing on this instinct in a balanced way. In sales, we cannot be too weak, insecure  or passive. Neither can we be  too aggressive, pushy and annoying. Where is the balance? The balance in between PASSIVE and AGGRESSIVE, is called ASSERTIVENESS.


There is a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Not only can being pushy and overly aggressive  offend customers, it can also   scare away prospective clients. On the other hand, by being assertive and in tune with the customer’s needs, you can actually draw in more revenue.  

Before you begin asale, try to discern any objections or  concerns the customer may have and be prepared to respond. Provide all of  your supporting data when delivering  your sales pitch. Also remember to always be calm, positive, and honest about the product you’re pitching. This will convey the message that you are an authority in the field.

What do I mean when I say ASSERTIVE? Develop these attributes and watch your sales numbers go up!  

Assertive behavior:

  • Calmness
  • Confidence
  • Positivity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Honesty

Richard Martinez

Transformation Expert

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Emotional Intelligence is such a powerful ability that  always attracts  success  to your doorstep. Having emotional intelligence can save you from a myriad  of social problems and stress, especially when it comes to sales. A  lack of emotional intelligence is guaranteed to prevent you from establishing a connection with potential clients you may encounter in the field.

Do you have Emotional Intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence? It is the ability to identify and control one’s own emotions, and to recognize rather than react  to others’ emotions as well. In short, being aware of one’s emotions and being able to control them, along with having understanding and empathy for others, are signs of emotional intelligence. Emotional Intelligence creates  self-control that puts a stop to frustration about  how others behave. It keeps the power to maintain peace of mind in one’s own hands rather than putting it in the hands of others. It allows us to respond in uncomfortable situations rather than react.

People with high emotional intelligence are usually better team players, better problem-solvers, and overall better people-persons.

People who have high emotional intelligence are very aware of their own emotions. They know their triggers and are capable of controlling their emotions, even in stressful situations. This is a powerful thing! High emotional intelligence also demands  a motivation to understand others’ situations and empathize with them. It’s the ability not making about yourself in order to fully understand another.

This is one  topic that RISE Programs particularly teaches often because no matter what type of business you are in, Emotional Intelligence is vital to interaction. I encourage you to learn and grow in this area. Seek to understand yourself. Seek to understand emotions and where they come from. Seek to develop  awareness of your own emotions and of others. This is true power!

Traits of  high emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Empathy

Improving all of these traits is important to developing  high emotional intelligence.


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In a perfect world, merit would completely decide how, and who, climbs the corporate ladder. Every boss would know what they’re doing, and how to get the most out of employees in a practical and likeable way. The sad truth however is that circumstances beyond anyone’s control often position people in management who aren’t well-suited for a leadership role. Most employees are all too familiar with the nightmare of having to work for a bad boss. Going down the list of traits that qualify someone as a bad boss would probably take years, but here are five general flaws that the majority of bad bosses tend to share.

Failure to Inspire

Being a good boss means having the fundamental ability to motivate a team. The role of a boss is supervision. Inherent in that supervision is having the necessary skills to prevent apathy and underperformance among workers. Even the most talented and capable employees need encouragement and guidance that keeps them focused on achieving their shared mission. When a boss constantly demands work from employees without inspiring any kind of passion within them, fatigue and frustration are likely to derail the overall productivity of their team.

Acceptance of Mediocrity

Beyond getting employees to fulfil the basic duties of their respective positions, being a good boss also means facilitating excellence out of people. Bosses exist to set the standards by which professional performance is judged. When bosses set low standards, workers are sure to deliver underwhelming results. On the other hand, when a boss sets high expectations for a team, it challenges people to push the limits of their abilities in order to deliver results that are exceptional. Mediocrity is a stumbling block that impedes the growth and survivability of an organization.

Lack of Clear Vision and Direction

A good boss should be the type of person who can keep their eye on the prize. When bosses set standards of expectation for employees, these standards must be founded on a greater vision of success for their team. Whereas employees are responsible for concentrating on mundane operational routines, leaders should never lose sight of the ultimate vision that guides the very existence of their team. Bosses who work without this sense of vision or direction are bound to burden the people who count on them with aimless and redundant work.

Inability to Cooperate and Be a Team Player

The authority that comes with leadership naturally instills a sense of power in those who wield it. Good bosses know how to stay humble and dignified when exercising power. In contrast, bad bosses easily fall victim to overly inflated egos when power becomes available to them. It takes discernment and strength of character to overcome the sway of a power-trip. Remembering to be a team player helps neutralize this alienation by keeping leaders grounded on how they relate with subordinates.

Failure to Walk the Walk

Integrity means everything to the reputation of a leader. A good boss should be the type of person who says what they mean, and does what they say. People need to be able to trust that a leader will not betray their word, or obligations. The more a boss lets down public trust from employees, and consumers alike, the less entitlement they have to make important decisions on behalf of others. A boss can only be respected when their actions sincerely reflect the principles which their leadership imposes on employees.

Being a good boss boils down to decency. In the face of every difficult decision, if a boss can remember to treat people with fairness, dignity and respect, there’s no justifiable reason why anyone who works for them should harbor resentment. Treating employees fairly creates an atmosphere of loyalty and mutual understanding. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on leadership, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.

Author: Daniel Otianga

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Change cannot be avoided

Change is an inextricable reality of the human experience. Whether it is personally or professionally, every dimension of our lives goes through a continual process of development that transforms our existence from one status quo, to another, and another. As creatures of habit, human beings are not always receptive to the fact that things can never remain the same forever. In fact, all people have an instinctive tendency to view change as negative, and consequently, resist change depending on how much uncertainty it introduces to our lives.

Within the professional setting, managers have a particular responsibility to overcome the effects of change because if an organization is allowed to react to change without moderation, conflict ensues. Effective leadership requires emotional intelligence in order to recognize how and when employees need help to cope with change. Emotional intelligence, which is having the capacity to empathize by considering other people’s needs before one’s own, makes it possible to circumvent negative outcomes of change through responsible employee engagement.

Predictable vs. Unpredictable change

Circumstances in life can change in two fundamental ways, that is: predictably, and unpredictably. When change is predictable, individuals usually have an idea of how much adjustment is likely to happen to daily routine. As such, advance preparation for the unknown becomes possible in order to soften devastation over unexpected events. When change is unpredictable on the other hand, people do not have the luxury of adapting in advance to the unknown. Every adjustment that happens therefore has to be in reaction to new conditions that create an ultimatum between success and failure.

Whether or not change is predictable, leaders have a duty to build and maintain support amongst employees that makes their organization impervious to the undesirable outcomes of uncertainty. Strong leadership is the foundation for any group’s network of support. Absent of leadership, change can provoke misinformation and confusion that is debilitating to the normal functions of a company.

Support can only be sustained through communication

During times of change, the way a leader communicates is especially instrumental to stability within an organization. Effective communication helps reinforce support among employees, and reduces uncertainty by keeping people informed. Mastering certain principles of communication is vital for maintaining optimism at a level that keeps employees focused on surviving change rather than opposing it entirely. The nature of communication practiced by leaders should also coordinate with whether people are dealing with predictable or unpredictable change.

  1.     When change is predictable: There can never be enough preparation. Preparation helps circumvent friction and uncertainty about the unknown. If a leader intends to introduce change to a group they should:
  •       Actively persuade people about the benefits of change.
  •       Readily answer people’s questions or doubts.
  •       Encourage optimism at every opportunity in order to reduce anxiety.
  •       Regularly provide feedback, especially after change has been introduced, to enhance people’s acceptance of change.
  1.     When change is unpredictable: There can never be too much information. Providing people with information in the aftermath of unexpected events goes a long way towards keeping them focused on surviving, or even thriving under new conditions. When a leader has to maintain a group’s support systems in the face of sudden change, they should:
  •       Provide as much unsolicited relevant information as possible to prevent confusion.
  •       Generate a sense of community to produce a unified front against sudden challenges.
  •       Dedicate resources to provide social support to people significantly impacted by the change.
  •       Always be prepared to listen to people who have insights or questions.
  •       Project determination and hopefulness to withstand any setbacks brought about by change.

Every team, and by extension every organization, should have leadership that is willing and ready to engage its members in a sincere and interactive manner. Communication is the lifeblood every support system that exists in a group. Regardless of the situation, if a leader sets a precedent of transparent communication, it becomes easier to cope with and survive change. No challenge is unbeatable when a team is willing to relate to one another and cooperate.


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It’s a jungle out there
Modern business has become extremely competitive due to technological and cultural advances. Most industries today have virtually no barriers to entry thanks to readily available resources that make it easy to initiate the start-up process. Where companies could once rely on trade secrets and strategic locations to secure market-share, competitors now have the ability neutralize this advantage by tapping into an unlimited market, and boundless information online. This has created an urgent necessity for businesses to develop the capacity to transform or adapt to unpredictable market activity just to ensure survival.
Take newspapers for example. They once held the prestige of being exclusive sources of public information. Today, newspapers are literally going out of business every day thanks to competing services provided by an infinite number of blogs and websites. Taxis were once recognized as an invulnerable transportation amenity. Even with alternative public transportation available such as buses and trains, nobody could ever have fathomed that taxi services would be under threat. Yet the emergence of digital transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft has taxis on the brink of extinction. Even department stores that once seemed colossal are wilting from the red hot competition posed by internet retailers.

Be open and versatile
This intense competitiveness means that change is an inevitable, and unavoidable, process in business. Any company that aims to survive must be prepared to alter either its mission or its fundamental operations at some point in time just to remain competitive. Given the inescapability of this dilemma, managers must be equipped to arbitrate change efficiently whenever necessary. This skill is formally referred to as change management.
Change management should be as scientific a process as possible. Introduction of change to an organization should be based on factual research because the more control is maintained throughout this procedure, the less waste and disruption occur. This isn’t to say that the human aspect of change management should be neglected. Since people are the ones expected to apply new policies and procedures in a company, their emotions and well-being should also be catered to in relation to any changes being introduced. Nonetheless, the more clinically change is presented to a company, the more completely said change will integrate into the character and functions of a company. Here are three guidelines on how to effectively execute meaningful change management:

1. Audit your business climate and performance
Any changes introduced to an organization should be done from a perspective of self-awareness and knowledge. Deciding to alter the functions of a company without any research can result in catastrophic outcomes. Collecting data makes it possible to measure performance precisely, as well as isolate specific variables that need adjustment. Formally auditing performance also helps establish a record that can be used to improve operations beyond final implementation of intended change.

2. Justify any necessary change formally
Ambushing employees with new expectations almost certainly guarantees rebellion. Because it is human nature to resist anything that threatens the familiar, it’s important to remember that people appreciate uncertainty-reduction when it comes to dealing with the unknown. Openly communicating intent to change, as well as providing rationale behind intent to change, creates an environment for employees to reorient themselves emotionally and logistically in order to accommodate new standards or routines. Such preparation cannot possibly be understated considering employee support is integral to the activities of a company.

3. Institute change from the top down
The only people with the capacity to introduce change in a company are its decision-makers. As such, these very same decision-makers have a higher duty to embody adoption of change than any other agents in an organization. Introducing change in a way that demonstrates managers walking the walk engraves respect for said change within a workforce. It permeates the message that employees aren’t just being fed unrealistic instructions blindly.

Change should preferably be introduced to a group cautiously and methodically. Being hasty to achieve desired goals often distracts managers from being considerate about how they treat employees with regard to change. Adopting a formal procedure to conduct change management helps keep perspective on whether or not lines are being crossed in terms of maintaining functional and ethical integrity.

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The process of building a team can be daunting whether it’s being done on a large scale or for small projects. Managers often find themselves wrestling with the various difficulties that arise when trying to establish good chemistry in a team. The fundamental key to eliminating uncertainty throughout this process is knowledge. The more knowledge you have about yourself, and the more knowledge you have about potential members of a team, the more strategically you can make decisions that ultimately realize the objectives of any project you seek to implement. Here are four rules to always remember when building teams in an organization.

  1.     Be Self-Aware: Before heaping expectations upon others as a leader, it is absolutely necessary to understand one’s own leadership-style and personality. Comprehensive and honest self-awareness makes it possible to communicate effectually with team members and make one’s own standards of performance clear. For example, if someone has a Participative leadership style but they try to be Autocratic, they will probably come across as disingenuous to their team. Similarly if someone is instinctively Autocratic and they compromise this identity by trying to be Participative, they will only end up projecting weakness. Practicing an authentic leadership style allows you to be yourself which is the most central principle of communication with others.
  2.     Be aware of Others: Beyond practicing self-awareness, taking the initiative to understand others is also essential to create the right chemistry in a team. The more one learns about others, especially from the perspective of honest self-awareness, the more seamless it is to assemble team members in a complementary way. The most important point is to exercise emotional intelligence about how team members are united. Being mindful of how different personalities in a team are likely to interact sets the stage to prevent undesirable outcomes such as conflict, idleness, or distraction to name a few.
  3.     Define Roles Clearly: One of the most frustrating scenarios in teamwork occurs when team members either don’t know what is expected of them, or don’t know how to accomplish set goals. It’s understandable when this happens because of a complex task, but it is particularly problematic when it happens because of poor decision-making on a leader’s part. Leaders have a responsibility to ensure that employees have a clear and definitive understanding of what they are expected to contribute to an organization. In the absence of this structure, confusion takes hold and causes disruption to a team’s effectiveness. Maintaining clear team-member roles makes it possible to leverage employee strengths and weaknesses in a manner that keeps everyone consciously engaged in accomplishing their mutual objectives.
  4.     Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: There is no better way to gain or share knowledge within a team than through transparent communication. Superiors should communicate with subordinates frequently, colleagues should communicate amongst each other freely and subordinates should have meaningful access to their superiors – especially as pertaining to a shared task or goal. Open communication: sustains excitement about any work being done; builds trust among employees; creates opportunities to neutralize conflict; and fosters synergy in professional duties. Leaders should always be prepared to inform, guide and provide feedback to employees continually. An open channel of communication ultimately results in an ideal social environment for employees.

Building a team the right way is an investment in the people that make up a company. No company can survive without teamwork, and no manager can exist without an effective team to lead. Whether a project is big or small, assembling the right team for the job is an intricate process that should never be done hastily. This is because choosing the right people can make the difference between success and failure. There is too much at stake not to be deliberate in calibrating how teams are put together.


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Because leadership and power are usually intertwined, people have an inclination to view leadership as a position of privilege. When someone becomes a leader, they find themselves assuming some form of influence or power over others. As such, the temptation to view those who are led as menial or expendable becomes amplified. This distancing is one of the most significant impediments to strong leadership there is. It is the root cause of insecurities which generate destructive habits such as

micromanagement, neglect, and favoritism to name a few. Try as one may, it’s impossible to lead successfully under this mindset without instigating conflict amongst employees. To become effective leaders, it is imperative to develop an instinct to facilitate growth in others – specifically in those who are being led.

This is the key to bringing the best out of employees. All leaders have a responsibility to respect, and empower, those whom they lead. They have a responsibility to share knowledge in a way that makes others capable and establishes a legacy of aptitude. The belief that empowering others threatens survival by creating competition for oneself is a defensive misconception. Far from causing threat, empowering others actually furthers survival by reinforcing available skills and potential. If every pioneer refused to share their knowledge for fear of competition, the human race would never have evolved. To illustrate, Thomas Edison would never have invented the incandescent lightbulb without Alessandro Volta’s electricity. Garrett Morgan would never have invented the three-position traffic signal without Thomas Edison’s lightbulbs. And exactly how lost would we all be on the road if Garret Morgan’s traffic system had never been shared with the world?

Let go of the fear and baggage that prevents you from empowering others because sharing knowledge is one of humanity’s cardinal reasons for being. Instead of limiting employees to their resumes or job descriptions, view them each as sources of potential beyond their existing skills. Every human ability can be enhanced through education and practice. Which in turn means that every person is capable of excellence if given proper guidance and attention. Every leader should be aware of this principle as they train and manage employees. Promoting growth in itself doesn’t have to be some elaborate scheme either. All it takes is:

  •       Encouraging others to solve problems without intervention.
  •       Teaching others to analyze problems critically and clinically.
  •       Teaching others to be collaborative and open to empowering others in kind.

These three qualities naturally compel employees to search within themselves and push the limits of their intellect. They also influence people into being receptive to new knowledge while sharing what they already know with others; creating a cascading effect of reciprocated empowerment.

Learn to take enjoyment in helping people develop and grow. Embrace a sense of curiosity about pushing people’s limits to determine what they are capable of. Rather than viewing mistakes as disasters, view them as an opportunity to learn and teach. Empowering others doesn’t just help other people grow, it helps oneself grow because every chance we take to uplift others helps us mature as compassionate beings.


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By: Daniel Otianga 2017

There is a difference between being in charge, and being a leader. Becoming a boss or a manager takes work, but ultimately such promotion can actually happen in the absence of leadership. Being a boss means bearing an official capacity to professionally oversee a group of people. Being a leader on the other hand, means bearing a sense of inherent authority that influences others regardless of one’s title. Bosses learn and follow the rules, whereas leaders make them. Bosses manage people, whereas leaders inspire them. True leadership is guided by the ability to tap into people’s emotions and cultivate sincere devotion in any environment.
Being a rounded leader especially requires mastery of the ability to lead by example. Often when people find themselves assuming positions of leadership, they develop a mindset of entitlement that is triggered by superiority. This entitlement is responsible for the majority of bad habits that diminish the authority that comes with leadership. For instance, when leaders become entitled, they start to rely on delegation excessively. When leaders become entitled, they disconnect and distance themselves from their employees. Actively remembering to lead by example is the strongest way to curtail these outcomes and maintain integrity as a leader. So what does it take lead by example? It takes four basic steps:

1. Adopt a Sense of Determination
Leading by example begins with developing the sheer will to do whatever it takes in order to accomplish set goals. A strong sense of determination is what fuels success. Without determination for instance, marathon runners would never cross the finish line. Without determination, no meaningful invention would ever survive the first stages of failure. It is critical to always be prepared to challenge oneself as a leader so as to push through any obstacles that threaten your objectives. When those who follow you see determination, it emboldens them as well to join the effort and work hard to realize success. When you embrace determination, setbacks become less and less likely to cause disruption in your work.

2. Become Informed
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The more knowledge one possesses, the more aptitude they have to make effective, beneficial decisions. It is important to have as much technical expertise as possible because this will enhance professional performance. But beyond understanding everything about your work, becoming informed about your environment and the people you encounter in it is also necessary. Learn about your colleagues. Learn their strengths and weaknesses. Learn their capabilities. The more you learn, the more strategically placed you will be to draw out exceptional performance from yourself and the people you oversee.

3. Take Initiative
Passiveness and hesitation are poisonous to leadership. The desire to lead by example must be predicated on a willingness to actually set an example. In this sense, having the willingness to take initiative is a quality that is indispensable to strong leadership. A strong leader should always be prepared to make decisive choices. A strong leader should always be prepared to show guidance when it is needed. Rather than asking the question, “Can I?” leaders should step up and ask the question “How can I?” When followers recognize initiative in their leader, it creates a sense of stability and direction in a group that keeps them grounded on their shared mission.

4. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
Optimism is the lifeblood of good morale. When a leader projects positivity towards followers, this encourages productivity by instilling a sense of confidence among the group. Positivity is more than a display of good cheer however. Projecting a positive attitude also involves continuous, conscientious interaction with others. This means being transparent and receptive to communication from employees. It means having a willingness to treat people fairly whether rewarding them, or disciplining them. The underlying goal when it comes to optimism is being able to sincerely demonstrate genuine care for one’s team.

Transforming oneself as a leader takes courage. It takes boldness and discipline to search within oneself in order to make changes and try to improve. As daunting as it seems, change is possible. All it takes is a little courage and discipline to transcend fear of the unknown. If you are willing to be determined, become informed, take initiative and face the future with optimism, nothing can stop you from finding success.

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If you happen to see anyone wearing a teal ribbon, it’s probably because they are observing Sexual Assault Awareness month (SAAM). First marked nationally in the United States on April 1, 2001, SAAM is a time that is set aside to educate people about sexual violence and how to prevent it. This important month has ironically coincided with a series of events that bring good cause to contemplate sexual harassment in the workplace.
Since February of this year, one of the largest transportation network companies in the world, Uber, has faced multiple accusations of systemic sexual harassment and gender discrimination against female employees. Just last week as well, in the wake of harassment scandals that led to the ouster of Roger Ailes as chairman of the Fox News Channel, details emerged of the fact that Fox News has paid millions to settle five separate sexual harassment lawsuits filed against one of its star hosts Bill O’Reilly. If sexual misconduct is a problem that can plague such large and notable companies, it’s worrying to imagine how many people could be suffering in silence under circumstances that have no whistleblowers or media exposure.
Every company has a responsibility to protect the well-being of its employees – especially those vulnerable to harassment. This isn’t just an ethical responsibility, it’s an economic one. Doing business without a comprehensive policy on how to address and resolve incidences of sexual harassment leaves an organization exposed to difficulties such as interpersonal conflict and legal prosecution. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as any unwelcome conduct that is based on gender. Sexual harassment becomes unlawful when victims are compelled to endure it as a condition of employment, or when it is prevalent enough to create an intimidating and hostile environment. When it comes to dealing with harassment, prevention is far better, and far easier, than cure. The following four principles offer a guideline on how to preventatively address sexual harassment in the workplace:

Create a Clear Sexual Harassment Policy
Consulting an attorney is the best way to draft a legally sound anti-harassment policy. Companies do have free reign however to go beyond this measure and craft rules that are specifically relevant to their unique personnel. The most important goals are to: define sexual harassment understandably, have management publicly endorse the company’s policy, and make this policy readily accessible to any and all employees that work for a company.

Regularly Train Employees and Management to Practice Established Policy
Drafting an anti-harassment policy is well and good, but all the rules in the world mean nothing if they aren’t intentionally applied. Companies should take deliberate and active steps to teach employees about how reprehensible harassment is, and encourage them to reject any participation in such behavior. The more training a company provides on the issue, the more instinctively a culture of respect and decency develops throughout an organization.

React to Incidents Swiftly and Decisively
In a perfect world, teaching people rules is all it would take to avoid having to deal with transgressions. Unfortunately however incidents of harassment may occur despite best efforts to avoid them. Should any employees end up carrying out harassment, management should demonstrate no hesitation enforcing either company or statutory regulations that punish said harassment. Companies should especially be diligent to document detailed records of harassment events considering that the frequency of harassment is a determinant of whether a hostile work environment exists.

Monitor Employee Behavior Actively
When it comes to employee behavior, effective prevention starts with simple observation. Management should be careful not to get caught off-guard regarding whether or not employee dynamics are inappropriate. Every company should have an open-door policy and channels that make it possible for any employee, at any level, to report and address isolated incidents of harassment before they multiply into problematic irreconcilable conflicts. Even something as simple as regular anonymous employee surveys can call attention to sensitive situations that require immediate attention.

A company can never be too attentive when it comes to protecting its employees from sexual harassment. When people can go about their work without fear or discomfort over encountering their peers, it becomes easier to focus on what’s important. It should be a fundamental right for every person to live and work in an environment of respect and decency. Striving to accomplish this isn’t an ideal, it’s a duty.

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