10 Top Tips to Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge

by Per Wickstrom on August 21, 2014

Leadership is not a destination point. It is a lifelong journey – one that is guided by a constant effort to set a strong and positive example. Some10 Top Tips To Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge people merely strive for the title and “prestige” that comes with being a leader. That is not really leadership. I’ve got news: Leadership is hard work! A true leader is one who is constantly striving to get better personally while also helping others better themselves. Here are 10 ways that you as a leader – aspiring or established – can stay sharp and on top of your game:

  1. Read

A significant benefit for any leader is a voracious appetite for knowledge. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your knowledge base and gain perspective on innumerable issues that may arise in your organization. Many people in leadership positions read books by other leaders that are essentially “how to” manuals. These can be very helpful, but it is important to also read fiction and other works of literature. Some of the classics can say more about leadership than any book written as a business success story. Reading is a great way to expand your understanding of others and improve your ability to connect.

  1. Be Authentic

Being a great leader is not about being popular. People do not trust those that they do not perceive as honest or authentic. If you have an opinion or value, it is best to stick to that without compromising. Likewise, those in leadership positions should avoid playing favorites. Fairness and sound judgment are highly valued traits in a leader. Obviously it is permissible to waver from one’s previous stance when common sense will not allow any other possibility. It is important for any great leader to be both consistent and reasonable. People will respect those that hold their values even if they may differ from their own.

  1. Understand Your Team

It is important for leaders that wish to be successful to see each of the members of their team as individuals. Those that are not great leaders may see the people on their team as numbers or data that they need to adjust in order to get better results. A great leader understands the individual personalities, strengths, and weaknesses that they are dealing with within their team and uses those for the benefit of the team as a whole. Knowing and understanding assets is an important way to cultivate strategies in order to meet and surpass goals. Any leader worth their salt will come to understand their team members on a personal level and will often end up helping them in their lives while still maintaining a highly professional relationship.

  1. Exercise

One of the best ways to be an effective leader is to be respected by members of the organization. Being physically fit and being active is a great way to help earn that respect. Let’s be honest. It is much easier to respect someone that leads a healthy and active lifestyle than someone who is out of shape and always tired. Exercise helps develop endurance and mental alertness that will last throughout the day. This is why regular exercise is such a great catalyst for effective leadership. You look better. You feel better. You are healthier – all of which is extremely valuable.

  1. You’re Not in a Popularity Contest

It is important to be respected by your team members. But this is not accomplished by “being liked.” A leader who is always making an effort to “be liked” will probably have to go outside of their value system in order to do so. This will lead to inauthentic leadership – not one of the characteristics of a true leader. An authentic leader will not let the opinions of other members of their organization unduly affect their actions. It is thus important that you do not change yourself in order to be liked or win the popularity contest. You will find that when your integrity is on a high plane, people will naturally like you anyway, and those that don’t will be found to be rather self-serving and probably not a good fit for your team.

  1. Establish Long-Range Goals

Any person that wishes to lead effectively must set long-range goals (ideals, objectives, visions) for their group. These goals can change over time as more and more is learned about the process. It is vital to work toward a precise destination so that the unit is not directionless in their actions. When the entire team knows and understands the long-range goals, it will be easier for them to make decisions, work independently, and get the desired results. A great leader has a vision and makes sure that everyone in their group knows and understands what that is.

  1. Set Short-Range Goals

Short-range goals work very well because they are the stepping stones that help any organization get to their desired long-range goal. These short-range goals should be set on a monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly basis within a team. They are the small checkpoints along the way that will guide one and all toward the broader vision. They also serve as a way for a leader to manage a team effectively while he or she works on broad strategic planning. Short-range goals set and met along the way are an effective tactic for goal attainment.

  1. Independence

Everyone needs some level of independence in order to feel like they are valued within their team. A great leader strives to cultivate an environment of independence within their organization. I have found that this helps in two ways. The first way is that team members feel more valued when they are entrusted to work independently and make choices on their own. The second way is that it frees up the leader’s time that would otherwise be spent micromanaging. A balance can thus be achieved with much less stress for the person in charge.

  1. Be Punctual

    10 Top Tips to Help Leaders Maintain Their Edge

    Be Punctual

Failure to be punctual is a great way for anyone to lose respect among their peers. It can be especially catastrophic when it comes to someone in a leadership position. Want to lose the respect of others in an organization? Constantly be the last one in the building in the morning or don’t show up at the time you said you would. Being on time (or early) is something simple that goes a long way in gaining respect and trust and maintaining that edge you seek.

  1. Communicate

This is the most important skill of any great leader. The ability to communicate with your associates, your clients, your superiors, and even your rivals is a priceless ability. This often boils down to getting your intentions across and ensuring that others fully understand the process for getting there. Great communication, accurate and alive, is paramount in the success of any business or endeavor. Like anything else, great communication starts at the top. Set an example and it will be followed.


Those are 10 things that a leader can do every day in order to be effective and increase the “edge” factor. They may seem simple or obvious to some. But often the most simple and obvious actions are the ones that get overlooked. Like a great athlete or musician, a great leader must perform the fundamentals every day to stay on their game, set an example for their team members, and help those team members raise the quality of their work.

Great leadership is composed of time-tested attributes. Fundamental among these are a thirst for knowledge, authenticity, understanding, vitality, integrity, vision, independence, reliability, and the ability to truly communicate!


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The Importance of Companies Giving Back to the Community

by Per Wickstrom on August 15, 2014

Giving back to the community which helped your company grow is always a rewarding experience. Not only are you returning the good faith your community put into your dream, you are building an improved community. You are in effect building a better world.Community

Why Give?

Why would you take valuable time, spend money or utilize employees to give back to your community?

Many of us, just as human beings, want to give back to those who have helped us. When it comes to a company, this often means helping out your local community. Besides pure human decency and a desire to help, giving back can be immensely rewarding and valuable.

Some businesses may simply look at the tax benefits of “giving back.” These are always a great incentive to get started in helping out one’s community. The easiest way to do this is to provide money to worthy charitable organizations.

There is also a marketing aspect related to giving back. In our modern world, we want to see more companies being responsible and taking the time to support charitable causes. Many potential customers want to be sure they are working with a business with a sustainable business model. Additionally, potential clients, associates and partners can be met at charitable events.

But what it really all comes back to is what is in your heart – not just what’s in your wallet. You may not be able to commit billions to charitable causes like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. But you can start a toy drive so that underprivileged children can experience the magic that is childhood over the holiday season. No matter what amount you can give, giving back always benefits others and nourishes your own heart.

Many business owners – me included – see giving back as an important duty. Our community has put their faith and energy into our business. It is part of our job to help that community grow in whatever way we can. This may mean giving back to the environment to ensure we have a planet on which our future generations can survive. It may mean making sure needy individuals in our community are provided jobs and assistance. It may mean providing after school programs for kids to bolster their education and so they don’t wander the streets and get into trouble.

Here are just a few examples of businesses giving back:

  • Wells Fargo gave over 300 million dollars in 2012. One significant organization they contributed to was the NeighborWorks America program which provides down-payment assistance to first time home buyers in neighborhoods greatly affected by the housing crisis. It also gave significantly to the Opportunity Finance Network.

  • The eyeglass company Warby Parker has given over half a million glasses to people in need. They work to provide glasses to the almost one billion people who don’t have access to prescription eyeglasses. They also fund other non-profits so they can train entrepreneurs in developing countries to start their own businesses selling eyeglasses.

  • Walmart gave over 300 million in cash and over 700 million in products. The majority of the food products went to its own charity which works to fight hunger. They also supported 50,000 charities in 2012 – primarily through grants.

  • Chevron Corporation gave over 250 million in 2012. A significant recipient of charitable contributions from Chevron was the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative Foundation, which works to promote economic development and fight poverty in Nigeria. They also supported the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

  • Tom’s Shoes has given more than 10 million pairs of new shoes to children in need and helped to restore eyesight to over 200,000 people as part of their One for One program.

How Your Business Can Give

There are many ways any business can work to give back. Your first step is finding a charity or group of charities which fit with your business or which you feel passionate about. As a business owner it is important that you don’t simply pick from a list. You should research the charitable organization you want your business to support and be affiliated with. Understand their cause. Make sure it’s something you can make your own.

Once you have decided on the cause to support, decide what works best for you and your business model. You may not be able to support the organization with monetary donations immediately. It may be your time and hard work that are most valuable for you to give. There is always a tossup when it comes to giving. You are contributing one valuable asset or another: TIME or MONEY or BOTH.Give Back

Here are a few ideas of how to donate TIME:

  1. Take a volunteer day.

Allow your employees to sign up for a special paid day to volunteer at the charity to which you have decided to donate. Be sensitive and understanding to your employee’s needs – this shouldn’t be a required activity.

  1. Do a donation drive.

Many fantastic charities ask that items like blankets, canned foods, toys, and/or books be donated. You can leverage your business location to host donation drives. Not only are you getting the word out about the charity to your customers and employees, you are becoming a source for new potential customers to drop off items for charity.

  1. Donate what you no longer need.

Restaurants, bakeries and other food production businesses can partner with charitable organizations to help feed hungry locals. But this donation process doesn’t have to stop at industries that create food. You can donate old office supplies, vehicles, computers, furniture, and more to a variety of organizations.

  1. Get involved!

As a local business leader you can help charitable organizations by volunteering your own time and promoting walks, drives, marathons, and other events which benefit the charity of your choice. You can also lend your organizational skills to help grow the charity.

There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community and create a giving atmosphere in your business. Not every method involves spending money. Your advocacy and hard work may help the charitable organization more than your monetary donation could. Whatever path you choose, be sure it is always done in the spirit of goodwill!







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