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What separates you as a successful leader or as a successful professional from the rest? Here are my top 5 things that I strive to do to stay focused and to keep challenging myself.

  1. Follow-up

By now the Building Circles audience knows my golden rule about the 3 keys to following up: follow-up, follow-up and follow-up. The sooner you embrace this and the sooner you make this part of your everyday make-up, the more successful you are going to be.

Are you following up or are you talking about how you follow-up? Check your list today. Ask yourself what are you following up on or a better question to ask is what should you be following up on?

  1. Listen

Sometimes this is easier said than done. I’m guilty from time to time for not listening. Effective listening is a tough and yet important component in communicating with others. What is the other person actually saying or communicating? Listen to them closely, pay attention to body language and choice of words.

Stop talking is one way to listen more effectively. When the other person is talking, most of us are already preparing/thinking about our response. Wait a moment to let what the other person is saying to sink in first. Repeat in your own words what the other person said and ask if you understood them.   Then respond with your answer or comment.

  1. Ask Questions

This one occasionally gets me into trouble! I have difficulty answering a question if I do not fully understand it or do not understand why it is being asked. So I ask a question to clarify. Some people do not like it when you answer a question with a question.

Ask more questions to show you want to learn and understand what the other person is saying. Communication works two-ways. It helps when you ask questions to encourage the other person to share more information.

There are times when it takes three to five questions to get to the root of the situation and fully understand what the other person is trying to tell you.

  1. Take Responsibility

Regardless of the situation, who did what and when, take responsibility for yourself, your team, your company and the situation at hand. Blaming or making up an excuse will quickly result in you losing credibility.

Here is a classic example of being the leader and taking responsibility a few years ago:

We met with a new prospective client for our introductory meeting. When we handed out our proposal, it was then I noticed there was something wrong. Our documentation had the incorrect company name on it!!! It was the name of another company with a similar name as the prospective client. Oh no!   How would you handle this situation?

I stopped the meeting as soon as I noticed it, called it out in the open and took responsibility for the mistake. The other person said they liked everything they heard, up to now, paused (to make me sweat a little) and said to keep going. The other two in the meeting mentioned they noticed the error and did not want to mention it. My partner with me supported my actions and we had a very interesting discussion on the way back to the office.

Take responsibility. Leaders stand up, support their team and take responsibility. It does not matter if I made the mistake or someone on our team did. Everyone in the meeting knew I did not make the mistake but I actually did by not taking the time to proof-read our proposal which I signed.

We were welcomed to continue the meeting because we demonstrated how we handle challenges, mistakes and tough situations.

  1. Just Take Care of It

I know it sounds too simple and yet it is:  “Just Take Care of It”. With Leap Day upon us, I always joke the only thing I do not like about a Leap Year is you get one more excuse to use. There’s always an excuse why you cannot do something or finish something or close a sale.

The good news is to tell yourself you can do it and guess what? Yes you guessed it: Just Take Care of It.   Go out and accomplish it.

Sure, you may fail and you may hear no, get doors slammed in your face. That is part of our journey and part of what builds our character or as some say “gives you thick skin”. Well I have a lot of thick skin. It’s from doing it, right or wrong, just going out and do what you feel is best for everyone.

Learn from your mistakes, learn from the nay-sayers, learn from the negativity and keep plugging along. Learn from your successes and learn from others who have accomplished good things. You will amaze yourself at what you can accomplish when you “Just Take Care of It”. Try it and don’t procrastinate or say you cannot.

What are your top things you do to strive for success?

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