Are You a Leader?

Big QuestionI’m often asked, “Do you think anyone can be a leader or do you think some people are just born leaders?”  I am quick to answer that “leadership is more than charisma that is given at birth to a small handful.  Many people have it in them to be exceptional leaders.”  What does it take?  It’s a combination of circumstance & commitment.  In the right circumstance, they have to hear the call, and rise to the occasion.  They also have to be willing to make a commitment to leadership over ego.

Being a leader is all about the being, not the doing of leadership.  The doing?  Anyone can do that, it’s a checklist.  The being is completely another matter.  Here’s three questions to ask yourself if you have it in you to be a leader.

Do you focus your energy on relationships?  Spreadsheets, conference calls and meeting after meeting are generally what takes up the day.  However, leaders turn them into opportunities to connect, recognize, praise, and brainstorm.  Without other people, leaders do not exist.  The heart of leadership lies in relationship.   Relationship is what calls people to give 110% and be their best.

How do you show that others have your trust?  Leaders, like most of us, have to-do lists that are 100 miles long.  Leaders are faced with a choice: crank through the endless list of priorities or delegate some of the important pieces to others to bring a fresh perspective and new energy to the job at hand.  Once they delegate, true leaders guide, support and help to remove roadblocks instead of mandating the course.

Have you sharpened your listening skills?  Many senior people assume that they were promoted because they have the answers.  In fact, a large percentage of those same people have fallen into the habit of directing vs. listening.  Directing other’s work at a micro level not only negatively impacts employee engagement but also misses key opportunities to empower future new ideas 2) more people take ownership for the work 3) future leaders are mentored and stretched to grow 4)leaders have the opportunity to learn something new too.

The being of leadership starts with something well within your reach – self-knowledge.  Stretch yourself!  Ask for feedback from peers, superiors and subordinates.  Ask how you’re doing with relationships, trust and listening.  Ask trusted advisors to hold you accountable for being the leader that you most want to be.  If you’re willing to take what you learn and commit to always growing you have it in you to be an exceptional leader.


Alli PolinCoach, Facilitator, Employee Engagement champion, Employee Retention & Development obsessed, Blue Sky Dreamer and Mom Extraordinaire.  Alli Polin coaches and empowers leaders to live their personal leadership adventure with power and purpose from her homebase in Alice Springs, Australia. Follow her on Twitter @AlliPolin.  You can also find her at

Leaders Are Learners!

Mark Hopkins - Shortcut to ProsperityGuest Post By Mark Hopkins

Experience (and a lot of it) is how you gain the knowledge you need to set you apart from the crowd. It’s essential to working your way up or leading your own company or achieving your personal vision. But . . . but there are shortcuts to earning this level of experience. One of them is proving yourself worthy of learning opportunities. Here are some tips for doing so:

Say yes!

People (managers, professors, entrepreneurs, coworkers, teammates) are always looking for help. You can either be the person who looks at the ground when somebody is looking for help with a new project or you can be the one who says, “I’ll do it!”

Don’t be afraid to ask.

The type of people you have the most to learn from are likely to get great satisfaction from helping others and sharing what they’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to ask questions.

Take it on the chin.

In order to learn from the best, the best have to be willing to teach you. Much of the “teaching” is going to come in the form of constructive feedback—personal feedback on things that you do well and probably even more on things you don’t do well or knowledge that you don’t have. The right mindset (open and accepting) makes it easy for your more experienced colleague to give it to you straight.

Now, go learn something!


Shortcut To ProsperityMark Hopkins earned engineering degrees from Cornell and Stanford and then spent the next twenty-five years deciphering the factors that make some people prosperous, successful and happy After building a leadership career with companies like Hewlett Packard and Emerson Electric, Hopkins founded Peak Industries, a medical device contract manufacturer, which he grew to $75 million and later sold to Delphi. He then founded Crescendo Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Catalyst, a private foundation supporting Colorado-based nonprofits and micro-lending in the developing world.  He is the author of  Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap For An Exceptional Career.

A Slice of Gratitude



What an opportunity to have a positive impact on enhance their experience.

Gratitude can be simple

It doesn’t take much – it just needs to be sincere. A smile is simple, but it can convey many different signals. People can see right through an insincere, empty smile. On the other hand, when your smile says, “Wow! We are totally on the same page. I can really relate. I love what you’re doing. I love what you’re saying. You rock!” – that’s a smile of appreciation, and it’s felt, not just heard. Chances are they’ll smile right back at you with that same sincerity. Bingo – you’ve made a real human connection, you have mutual appreciation and gratitude. It feels better this way.

I am honored to have written this as a guest post on Scott Mabry’s excellent blog, ELUMN8.
Click HERE to read the rest of the post.


Entrepreneurship and Leadership

The world is constantly asking for more innovation, more creativity. You have it, you’ve found it, and you want to provide it – and you certainly can. This is where the genuine leader and the entrepreneur in you get together.

Your Leadership is Challenged

If there ever is a time when your leadership – especially where it applies to yourself – can really be put to the test, this is it. At first it is fast-paced, it is exciting, you are energized, and it is amazing. Then, all of the sudden, things come to a grinding, screeching halt. What is it? You cannot move forward until you’ve worked through things that can and/or will be holding you back. This is when things come crawling out of the woodwork – things that you may not have known even still lurked there. Things that you may have forgotten about – or at least had hoped to.

You have to get to the source. You may already know some of the things that need your attention, some you may not. Self-awareness, my friend – you have to look inside and get aware, get fully aware. You can’t tackle it until you know what it is.

You have to face these things straight on. It takes courage, and lots of it. It takes perseverance. It may not seem like it in the heat of the battle, but you will manage to get through it. You have a vision, you have the passion – keep these with you throughout.

Your Leadership Shines

You’ve chunked up the problems and worked through them bit by bit. You’ve made tough decisions and you’ve learned more than you ever thought you would. You’ve gained skills and knowledge that you have discovered are necessary for your journey. Your endurance was put to the test, but your integrity is still intact.

Congratulations – you are well on your way to success. You are a stronger, faster, more intelligent leader than when you first set out, and you did this through your own leadership. No matter how you slice it, no matter what happens from here on out, you’ve already won a major accomplishment. At this point, your leadership truly shines.


Are You a Full-Time Leader or a Part-Time Leader?

Do you carry your leadership with you wherever you go?

Being a leader is what you do, it is part of what makes you who you are, it is what you are. This means that leadership is full-time – it is this way by default. In the office, it’s probably a given, probably almost automatic – you put on your leadership hat, but this is only part-time. Your integrity, your character – these hang with you all of the time, and we need to keep them respectable no matter where we are.

It Begins with You

Leadership begins with ourselves. We need to constantly tune into our own self-awareness. We can always learn and improve. We can always look within ourselves to find the things we need to work on. We can ask ourselves questions. We can journal to tap our subconscious.

When you are alone, do you treat yourself fairly, as you would others? One thing I often neglect is that everyone needs a break, a little time to recharge, and maybe even do absolutely nothing but to take the time to sit and think – this includes ourselves! You are an important member of the team, too.

It Includes Your Loved Ones

Work, home, play – we need them all, and we need to be inclusive and mindful of the ones we love. The people that live with us, the people that we play with – they usually aren’t part of your work day, so balance is essential. We always need to give them the respect, love, and attention that they deserve.

Everyone Needs Some of That

Did you give a smile at each person that passed you by in the hall? Did you say hello or give a friendly wave? Maybe you just stopped to give someone a compliment. If you’re in the habit of doing these kinds of things, you’re doing great, you’re spreading the joy, and remember – happiness loves company. People..they love being around the genuine leader that is you.

Let’s Have a Look Inside

Have you ever taken a really deep look inside yourself…what did you see? Did you like what you saw?

I know that a lot of people – myself included – need to do this more often. Lately, I have been trying to consciously develop and improve my awareness – especially my self-awareness. I decided to start by taking a deep look within.

In order to make room for growth and positive change, I need to be sure that I do not ignore things in my past, but rather look to see if things from the past might be showing up in the present, and what kind of impact they are having. Are they hindering me from moving forward in some areas? Are they having an impact on my current behaviors?

Taking a look at the present, I need to see if what I am doing now is working towards where I want to be. Are my actions and thoughts furthering my development? Are they balanced? What do I have now that needs improvement? Extremely important to me – do my actions and what I present to the world align with my core values?

Now, I need to take a look at me from a different perspective; be someone else for a bit. What do others see? I think that this is important because it reflects what I think that others perceive. I can use this as a metric when I ask someone else what they see – was their answer what I thought it would be?

I can learn a ton from examining myself in detail. Afterward, if I look for reflections of myself in others, I can see if my core values are properly embedded in the messages that I am communicating, and how effectively I am communicating. I will also be subconsciously more aware – this will affect my actions and decisions in a more positive and balanced way.  I can do this because I am now equipped with some inner knowledge.

Why Leadership

In the 21st century, the way we communicate has changed drastically. Through this, society has changed drastically right along with it. I personally feel that we have advanced. As more and more things have become commodity, enabled by technological advances, the way we interact with each other on both a business level and on a personal level, has become extremely important.

We are at a juncture where several generations of people must interact and do business with each other. Strong leadership is crucial in order to sustain and to continue to advance our global society. Leadership development is crucial to create strong leaders.

For me, the “why” is somewhat in the “how“. For me, the how is leadership by serving others.

Serving others is positive

Positivity is simply a good policy – it attracts good things.

Serving others promotes trust

Trust is a major factor in any relationship. How can you have a meaningful relationship without trust?

Serving others is respectable

A great way to gain someone’s respect is to genuinely want to help them succeed.

Serving others makes people happy

What can I say – happiness is where it’s at.

Serving others is a purpose in and of itself

It’s all about a purpose, right? A vision, backed by passion and purpose. Helping others to find their passions, to formulate their vision, and ultimately develop that into their success – is simply gratifying. Along this journey, we reinforce and better ourselves in the same ways. We reap what we sow.

What is your why ?