Are You Ready To Take Your Leadership Effectiveness To The Next Level? You Can By Applying These 4 Characteristics That Great Leaders Have In Common

As a leader, your attitude is your most important recourse. No matter where you are in your leadership career: experienced, a novice, or working your way there. Your attitude will determine your actions.

The right attitude can be a positive effect multiplier.

The wrong attitude can suck the life out of your people, team, and company.

“Attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, money, circumstances, than failures and success, than what other people think, say, or do. It is more important than appearance, ability, or skill. It will make or break a business, a home, a friendship, an organization.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll

Periodically examining your attitude is essential to the health of your team. Take stock for the following four components:

1. Realize you are responsible for the care of your people

Not your direct reports, not your staff, not your minions. Your people.

Each has unique talents, gifts, aspirations, goals, motivations, communication and learning styles. What will work for one may not work for another.

You’re entrusted to teach them, help them grown, and to evolve into giving their best for the greater good. (Whatever the greater good is from customer experience to creating a life-saving product.)

What are you doing to care for your people?

2. Lead out of eagerness to serve, not obligation

The best leaders are the ones who love to lead. Their idea of leadership is doing, not dictating (see #4). They want to help people get better. They want to make a difference. They want to be the one that removes obstacles for others. They want to be the one that elevates others.

What are you excited to bring to your team in 2020?

3. Be concerned for what you can give, not what you can get

Great leaders do not look at leadership as a necessary evil in advancing in their own career. They do not take a leadership position because it has great perks, but look at the people aspect as a burden.

What new skill, product, plan, project, or perspective can you bring to your team to help them?

4. Lead by example, not force

Shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm, boots on the ground. Great leaders are there in the thick when things are not great. They are also in the background, boosting their people up when things are wonderful.

They remove obstacles, they listen, they learn, they provide the tools or resource their people need to succeed. They don’t blame, they look to resolve.

They don’t command respect with a do-it-or-else attitude. They earn respect by walking the walk and demonstrating the first three qualities. They motivate with enthusiasm and a sense of purpose, not with threats.

How would your team rate you one this? Can you come up with an example of how you lead by example?


We’ve all known a great leader. They are the ones who are the reason you stayed in that crappy job for so long, because you didn’t want to leave them. I’ve had more than one. Mr. Sulllivan, Marty are two of my most favorite leaders who made a huge impact on me.

These concepts apply not only to your people, but to your tasks. How we approach not only our people, but our responsibilities can influence your attitude as a leader and, in turn, your effectiveness.

For me, every once in a while, I have to give myself gentle reminders about eagerness not obligation. Sometimes, when quite busy, details can morph into minutia, which feeds into a mindset of ‘have to’. I remind myself that every piece is important. Without the pebbles in the pea gravel, no foundation can be laid.

As we start this new year, instead of making a New Year’s Resolution, let’s resolve to take a look at our attitude. Is there any room for tweaking to take us from a good to great leader?


As an award winning, published, triple certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Coach & Social Media Brand Analyst I do what I love – help amazing professionals get career happy.


Click here – Career Polish – to find out more or set up a time for us to have a conversation!

The One Question Almost Everyone Asks & Hardly Anyone Answers

Interview - how do they know you are still interested

Building a network, expanding a business, searching for a job or just being neighborly, what is one of the first questions we are asked or ask others?

What do you do?

It seems simple enough and I bet a lot of people would say that they do answer that question. What is your normal response? I’ll bet dollars to donuts it starts with “I’m a …..”

If that is your answer, you are not answering the question. Oh no you are not.

The question is what do you DO, not what is your TITLE.

Titles are boring, snippet summaries. They do not really tell what you do – except in the case of a pediatric neurosurgeon. In that case, yes, it does sum it up nicely.

But for the rest of us not saving the lives of tiny humans, our title does not – or more accurately – should not define us.

What we do is bring value to others in a unique way. It is part of what we are as a person. A title does not reflect a person. It reflects a job.  Many people can have the same title yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of value, style and ability.

Take me for example. To say I am a resume writer is partially accurate. I do write resumes. I also write LinkedIn profiles. So should I say I am a resume and LinkedIn profile writer? Nope, still just the tip of the iceberg. I also coach and train on networking, leadership, communication, interviewing, negotiation, branding….and let’s not overlook that I do not just work with those who are unemployed. I work with leaders going to the next level, those who want to improve their effectiveness where they are, athletes, coaches, trainers, motivators, entrepreneurs, heads of corporations and more. I build confidence, bring out their inner rock star, support, give a little kick in the toushy when needed, challenge, celebrate… Saying I am a resume writer does not encompass all of that.

Oh, and let’s not forget – there are many others that are resume writers, coaches etc. What makes me different? Well, my work is comprehensive not volume based. I get to know my clients. I don’t rely solely on questionnaires. I really give a damn about my clients and their success. Our work is interactive, they have skin in the game. I am tenacious in getting them to where they want to be. I love what I do and bring fun into the equation. I have real conversations, ask tough questions, support them through the process and the best feeling in the world for me is when someone reads what we have put together and they say, “Holy crap – I’m awesome!”

Replying with “I’m a resume writer” really falls short of all that now doesn’t it?

So what is it that you do? How do you do it better than anyone else? And yes, you do what you do better than anyone else. How? By the way you do the thing you do, maybe by your approach or mindset. Whatever it is that makes you awesome, own it by giving yourself permission to say so. Once you figure that out, NOW you can get down to really answering the question.

So tell me, what do you do?




A little about me: I do what I love: help professionals break out of a suffocating job existence and into a career, position and place that renews their brilliance.

As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.

Click here – – to find out more about how we can help you.

★ To get all my latest articles, click the “Yes Please!” button on the right ★



Staying In Middle Management Hell – What Are You Telling Your Staff?

Middle Management Hell
Not long ago I wrote an article about the lessons I learned in my first foray into management. I use that word intentionally – management – not leadership. I had not training, no mentoring and no clue.

The other day someone told me after reading that article they wondered, in applying it to themselves, if it meant ‘suck it up cupcake’ or ‘time to leave’. That is a question that can only be answered by the individual.

To read that article, click here: 4 Lessons Learned Surviving My First Leadership Role – Barely

However, she asked a wonderful question, one that I felt so important that it deserved its own article.

She said, “But what will my staff do if I leave?”

This was not meant as a, ‘they can’t get their job done without me’ type question, it was more of a ‘who is going to protect them’ question.

She is in a situation in which she leads a team and reports to the executive management team. Again, I use these words intentionally.

Her boss and his cohorts are not leaders. They diminish her on multiple layers, deflate her sense of worth, demean her contributions and devalue her leadership. This is done on a daily basis in subtle and not so subtle ways, in front of the executive team, her team and anyone else around.

She is a generous person who truly cares about her staff. She wants them to succeed and be happy at their firm. Her fear is that if she leaves the bad behavior will be directed to her staff without her there as a buffer.

My question to her was what happens if you stay? Not just to you professionally and personally; but more importantly: will they think that being mistreated is acceptable because you accept it?

By being a buffer, how much are you protecting them? They most likely stay in the firm because of her and they like their jobs. Of course, you do not want to see your staff injured in any manner, professionally, mentally or emotionally.

Being the shield between a bad big boss and your staff becomes second nature; a fixer transforms into a buffer. You take punches from above and keep a good staff shielded, productive and happy. You take all the hits and this compromises your professional, mental and emotional health – possibly leading to your physical health. You sacrifice so much to make sure your staff is protected.

But they are not.

They see the punches, the disrespect and the horrible way in which you are treated.

You are not a martyr, you are a punching bag.

If they do not know any better, they may think this is the way management works. They may become conditioned to do their jobs in fear rather than a positive prospective like joy, passion or commitment. They may let go of any ambition to move up in their career for fear of being treated like you are treated. They may lose respect for their direct leader due to allowing bad behavior from the big boss.

Staying in a crappy middle management job is not doing you or your staff any favors. It helps all of you to find an environment that is positive, supportive and in line with your professional mission, goals and aspirations. You get the heck out of there and they have a more clear view that the management behavior is not acceptable. You did not have to put up with it, left and are happy; and they can do the same.


I help identify and set a path to achieve individual career and company goals by using the V Formula:

Your Value + Your Voice = Visibility

Visibility is the leverage to move up or move on in your career; expand your book of business, grow your company and strengthen your team.


Lisa K. McDonald, Owner and Principal of Career Polish, Inc. is a speaker and seminar facilitator at companies and professional organizations speaking to leadership, sales, teams, transitioning/downsized employees and networking groups about career mobility, personal branding, networking, creating executive presence and achieving career movement success. To find out more, visit Career Polish, Inc.

Great Leaders Know Their Mics Are Always On

microphoneOne of the greatest leadership and management lessons I ever learned was to know when to shut up.

That is no easy feat.

To stop talking is hard enough – but to know when to stop talking, that is a whole new ballgame.

The best time to stop talking is just before you are about to say something negative. Keep in mind the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

This sounds simple enough, but how do you stop that mind/mouth connection from firing at all pistons?

Act as though you are wearing a microphone that is always on and broadcasting to everyone.

I heard a speaker tell a story the other day that was a great aha moment. She was talking about walking down the corridors with her assistant on the way to a presentation where she was the featured speaker.

Right before she got to the room her daughter called her cell phone and told her, “Mom, your mic is on – we can hear everything you are saying!”

What would you say before and after team or individual meetings if you were wearing a live mic?

I have yet to meet a leader or manager who has not had to have a dreaded meeting. These could range from meeting with an employee to give an unfavorable performance review to meeting with a higher up to tell them that a project is not going as well as planned.

They might be able to pull off a positive spin in the meeting, but perhaps before or after they let out an exasperated sigh and thank some higher power that the meeting is over. What if the employee or the boss heard those comments?

What about joking with team members? Oh sure, you all know that the comments are not serious and you are all just letting off a little steam. Harmless, flippant comments not meant in seriousness or malice. Yet, what if you were wearing a live mic streaming to the people involved in whatever it is you are talking about? Or live streaming to your clients. Would they think it was harmless?

As a leader, you are held in a different light; to a different set of standards. All the positive encouragement in the world can be torn down in a single moment by one wayward comment. Words are powerful: they can inspire or destroy.

Your mic is always on.

Office walls are thin, cubicles are not sound proof and voices carry in open environments outside the office. Your audience extends beyond your visual, people who overhear you may be connected in some way right back to the person or event that you are discussing.

Your mic is always on.

Walk around for a day with the thought of wearing a live mic and you might just be surprised at how much you say in your “out loud” voice.

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