Category Archives: Leadership Development

The Dysfunction of Toxic Leadership-Guest Post by Stephanie Wimmer

Research suggests that more and more employees are working with toxic leadership in the workplace which has been shown to cause dysfunctional behaviors in the organization, a lack of employee commitment to the organization, and an overall loss of job satisfaction. So what is toxic leadership and what makes someone a toxic leader? The term “Toxic Leadership” was first used by M.G. Whicker in the book ‘Toxic Leaders: When Organizations Go Bad” (Watt, 2016). This type of leadership is defined by the behaviors exhibited within an organization. A toxic leader is not just the typical bad boss who might have a bad attitude or may lack the knowledge or experience to be in a leadership position, but rather a person whose behavior is intentionally destructive and has serious effects on those they lead.

Over the past few years, a number of research articles have focused on a type of destructive leadership called “toxic leadership” (Goldman, 2006; Boddy, 2014; Boddy, 2015; Gallos, 2008; Goldman, 2006; Lipman-Blumen, 2005; Walton, 2011). These articles describe the destructive effects of toxic leadership in a wide range of organizations. For example, authors have suggested that toxic leadership might impair the physical and mental health of employees, invoke dysfunctional group behavior, and may increase absenteeism and employee withdrawal.

A toxic leader is one who uses the power their position awards them to control and manipulate by any means to further their career or to bring more power to themselves and do this without any regard to the individuals that are beneath them. Aggressive tactics such a bullying, threats, and manipulation along with passive tactics such as withholding relevant information or providing incorrect information purposefully are just a few of the ways a toxic leader operates. Toxic leaders have been described by their employees as bullies, narcissists, and even as psychopaths, which any of these personality types can be detrimental to the environment and productivity of the organization. One study (Armitage, 2015) suggests that three in every ten persons in a leadership position could be considered to be a toxic leader. With numbers this high, one could see how this type of epidemic in the workplace could be cause for concern.

According to a study on toxic leadership and how it affected healthcare workers (Ozer, 2017), there are four categories that the behaviors of toxic leaders fall. They are Inapprecitiveness, which includes such behaviors as humiliating employees in front of and behind the employee’s backs, does not value the employee, does not listen, and unsympathetically reminds the employee of past mistakes. Next, is Selfishness, which includes such behaviors as blaming the employee for his or her failures, takes credit for things only when they have gone well, places personal interests ahead of everyone else, and only cares about how they look to superiors. Selfishness is another category that consists of behaviors such as the belief that they deserve the position they are in (or one even higher), the belief that they are more talented, excellent, and deserving than anyone else, and that the organization will only do well if they are in charge. Lastly is a negative spiritual state which consists of behaviors such as if they are in a negative mood it affects the climate of the workplace and the employee’s act according to the negative mood of the leader.

There is a synergetic relationship between the toxic workplace and the toxic leaders who occupy them. As an employee and employer, we tend to follow the natural order in the workplace. There are employees and leaders and the employee naturally looks to the leader for information, training, mentoring, and advice concerning their position within the organization. When there is a toxic leader involved in that natural order, it can cause dysfunction within the organization. As we think about the way an organization functions, it might help to visualize a wheel with many spokes. Each spoke represents a functional area of the organization. When a toxic leader is in control, the spokes of the wheel start to disconnect and break, which causes dysfunction not only to the spoke but the entire organization as a whole. Therefore, the consequences of a toxic leaders’ behavior on the organization are vast. Research has shown that workplace deviance by subordinates who work for toxic leaders has increased (Pelletier, 2010). Employees tend to show counterproductive behavior and even retaliatory behavior in order to try and balance out the perceived scale of injustice. Negative behavior is disadvantageous for any organization and the trickle-down effect causes more dysfunction within the organization.

As an example of a toxic leaders behavior, let us suppose that the leader of an organization while giving an employee a task to do, did not give the employee pertinent information to carry out that task. Consequently, that task is going will be incorrect. The toxic leader can use this to their advantage in many ways, such as pointing out the inferior work of the employee to superiors or coming to the rescue and “fixing” the employee’s mistakes in front of superiors, thus taking credit and making themselves look admirable in the eyes of others. These types of behavior can cause a myriad of dysfunction in the workplace. The employee spends time working on something that no matter how he or she does it, it will be incorrect. Superiors see the employee as incompetent or lazy. And, the employee could either retaliate or have a “why bother” attitude toward the leader and the organization.  With just this one example, one broken spoke on the organization wheel; it is clear that more than just the employee is affected by a toxic leader.

The dysfunction caused by toxic leadership can also lead to a lack of commitment to the employer and the organization. How can an employee commit to an organization that has a leader that bullies, threatens, or interferes with their ability to do a job? Studies have shown that a very large number of employees prefer to leave an organization rather than endure a toxic leader (Thoroughgood, 2012). An employee who is a victim of a toxic leader would have a lack of trust in the organization which would make it more untroublesome to move on.

One experimental study (Boddy, 2011) showed that in reaction to a toxic leaders behavior and the absence of commitment, employees would engage in counterproductive work behavior that they normally would not have engaged in otherwise. Employees interviewed in the survey admitted to deviant behavior against the organization and not just the toxic leader. Purposely doing work incorrectly or slowly, not following instructions, wasting the employer’s materials or supplies, and even damaging equipment or property are some of the ways the employees took out their frustration and lack of commitment towards the organization. Another study (Goldman, 2008) showed that an employee could have a reduction in loyalty towards an organization just by witnessing toxic behavior directed at another employee. An example of this sort of behavior could be one employee overhearing a toxic leader divulging private or personal information about one employee to another or even speaking badly about an employee behind their back while acting pleasant to their face. This kind of behavior can make an employee think that if the toxic leader could do this to one employee, it could be done to them as well. Not only is there a lack of faith in the toxic leader but also in an organization that would allow one of its leaders to behave in this manner. When an organization condones this type of behavior, directly or indirectly, it sets a workplace culture that this type of behavior is acceptable. Asking an employee to put their faith, trust, and commitment into an organization that permits one of its leaders to disrespect their privacy seems unthinkable. Once an employee no longer feels a commitment to the organization the easier it is for them to be able to move on to another organization, thus the higher turn-over rate for an organization with a toxic leader.

When leadership becomes disengaged, unapproachable, dishonest, unsupportive and untrustworthy and the organization looks the other way it is defining the culture of the organization. This type of culture can make the organization just as dysfunctional and toxic as the leaders controlling it. Looking at the organization as you would a personal relationship, one can see why an individual would not want to commit to a toxic individual any more than they would want to commit to a toxic organization.

A lack of overall job satisfaction is another side effect of toxic leadership within the organization. As human beings we have deep-rooted psychological needs to be accepted and to feel like we make a difference. The turbulence caused by a toxic leader can undermine our feeling of importance. As stated by research (Lipman-Blumen, 2005) constantly being forced to confront fears and uncertainty in the work environment could be not only detrimental to the individual’s job performance and job satisfaction but to the individuals mental and physical health. This “sickness” can carry over and become contagious throughout the organization. Toxic leadership can lead to poor morale, decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and higher turnover rates. Employees feel cynical and frustrated, leading to decreased energy, enthusiasm, and self-esteem.

Leadership toxicity is an omnipresent aspect of many organizations, yet few organizations recognize it for what it is. Leadership toxicity seems to be an alluring part of the organizational atmosphere that undermines personal and organizational growth and performance. It could be described as a silent killer among organizations. It can consume individuals, groups, and organizations. Failure to recognize and take action can destroy the organization.

To conclude, toxic leadership is extremely dangerous not only to individuals that are affected by it but also to the vitality of the afflicted organization. Individuals having toxic behaviors and dysfunctional traits should not be allowed to lead an organization under any conditions. Toxic leadership and their behaviors will remain within the organizations unless steps are taken to stop it before it becomes an issue.



© 2017 Stephanie Wimmer



Stephanie Wimmer is a Business Management student at Western Governors University working toward her MBA. She is passionate employee/management relations and communication, writing, and sustainability. Connect with her on LinkedIn at: She can be contacted at













Improving Management Team Performance

“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” —Chris Hadfield

The key to improving management team performance is summarized quite nicely in the Chris Hadfield quote above. When your management team can lay the groundwork for their employees to succeed and then stand back and let them shine, the whole organization performs better. So, what should you be looking at to improve the performance of your management team?

What is their focus?

What are your managers focusing on? It can be easy for them to get caught up in focusing solely on the bottom line and forget about the employees who are contributing to that bottom line. Or, they can become so concerned with gaining recognition for themselves that they forget about the people who are really doing the work. The best management teams focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘who’. When management spends their energy on supporting their employees in determining the ‘how’ for themselves, performance improves at every level of the organization.

How are their relationships?

What kind of relationships are your managers developing? Relationships are built on mutual trust and respect; they cannot thrive in an us vs. them environment. Without strong relationships managers are ineffective. If you want to improve the performance of your management team, help them build strong, trusting, inclusive relationships.

How do they accomplish objectives?

How do your managers accomplish the objectives that you have set for them? Many managers defer to micromanagement as a means for accomplishing tasks and achieving goals. Micromanagement kills employee engagement and does more harm to productivity than good. When you put an end to micromanagement and empower employees to make decisions and take action on their own you greatly improve performance.

As Your Management Team Performs

As your management team performs, so will their employees. Make sure your managers are focusing on the right things. Help them build the relationships that lead to efficiency and top performance. Teach them to empower and support employees in accomplishing objectives rather than micromanaging them. When your management team provides the foundation employees need to succeed and can then stand back and lets employees shine, everyone’s performance improves.

What action will you take today to start improving the performance of your management team?



© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Are You Showing Up Mentally, Physically, and Emotionally as a Leader?

Mirror“Showing up every day isn’t enough. There are a lot of guys who show up every day who shouldn’t have shown up at all.” —James Caan

Leadership isn’t about just being a warm body; it’s about showing up mentally, physically, and emotionally for your people. This is what makes you the type of leader that people follow willingly. So, are you showing up?


When you show up mentally for your employees, you invest yourself into developing them into the best that they can be. As a leader, you need to focus on effective training, developing a pleasant working environment, and showing employees that you value their contributions. When grow your employees, your ability to lead effectively will also grow.


When you show up physically for your employees, you do not look down on them from a lofty office; you roll up your sleeves and get out on the floor. Your front line employees need to see you in the trenches with them, gaining an understanding of what their tasks require and what works and doesn’t work. When employees see you out on the floor with them, not to judge or micromanage, but to learn and support, you will earn their trust and respect.


When you show up emotionally for your employees, you get to know each of them on an individual basis. You start caring about them both professionally and personally. You get to know their strengths, their weaknesses, their aspirations, and their fears. When you show up emotionally for your employees, you become a source of support, understanding, and encouragement for them.

How are You Showing Up?

Just showing up every day isn’t enough. In order to be an effective leader who inspires others to follow willingly, you must show up for your employees mentally, physically, and emotionally. Invest in their development, spend time out on the floor with them, and offer them support on an individual level. So, how are you showing up?



© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Take Your Leadership off Autopilot

autopilot off“Very often, human beings are living like on autopilot, reacting automatically with what happens. What interests me about the life of an explorer is you are in the unknown; you are out of your habits.” —Bertrand Piccard

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Autopilot is about habit. It’s about operating based on habit rather than consciously responding to the situation and circumstances surrounding you. When you are in autopilot mode, it’s like you have blinders on; you miss many signs, symptoms, and opportunities. Autopilot plays a role in every area of our lives. It becomes particularly concerning when it starts to impact the behaviors of leaders. So, how can you take your leadership off autopilot?

Be curious

When you are curious you seek out the new, the unknown, the interesting. To the curious leader, the blinders of autopilot are too restrictive; they are thrown aside and exchanged for a new perspective of curiosity. Curiosity helps keep you from operating out of habit.

Be present

When you are present you pay attention to the details of what is happening here and now. When you pay attention your autopilot is shut down. Being present as a leader keeps your focus on what is happening and this laser focus helps prevent you from unconsciously falling into your ordinary habits.

Be engaged

When you are engaged, you are actively participating. Active participation turns off autopilot. It boosts the energy and excitement in which you approach your leadership. When you are engaged it’s much easier to act purposefully rather than out of habit.

Break the Habit

Step out of your habits and into the unknown. Take off the blinders and start being curious. Become focused and present. Be engaged, becoming an active participant in your leadership. It’s time to break the habit and take your leadership off autopilot.


© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Are You Checking in or Checking Out?

checklist 2


A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. – John Maxwell



Employee engagement is as vital to your success as a leader as ever. When a Gallup survey reports that only 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged in their work what do you think that says about leadership engagement?

The question we would like to pose to you is simply this: are you checking in or checking out as a leader in the way you engage your people? Your answer matters because in it reside signals not just to your leadership style but to the health of your organization.

Here are a series of questions we would like to pose to you for your consideration; a check-up if you will as to your engagement levels with your people and the state of your leadership effectiveness.

Do you know your employees on an individual basis?

Like any smart leader in business you make it a priority to know your customer. Knowing your target audience is critical to your bottom line. If it is important to you to know your customer does it not stand to reason that you should know the people serving your customer?

When you don’t take the time to get to know your employees on an individual basis, it clearly shows that you don’t care. How hard will an employee work for a leader who does not care? You will not get anywhere near the productivity or quality you need from employees if you do not show that you care about their well-being.

Check-In Tip: Get to know your employees on an individual basis. How are their families? What are their hobbies? How was their recent vacation?

Do you know what is happening on the ground level?

One of the dangers leaders can find themselves in is being too far removed from the front lines of the operation. We understand that the responsibilities you face as a leader in part take you away from the front lines so it must be a priority for you to return.

There is no way for you to know everything; when you distance yourself from what is happening on the ground level it’s like putting blinders on. What issues might slip by you? What opportunities might you miss?

Check-In Tip: Get out on the floor; make your presence the norm. Be observant and engaged with what is happening on the ground level.

Do you have the right people in the right positions?

Your effectiveness as an organization is realized not when you have a lot of people but when you have the right people in the right place. When people play to their strengths and are passionate about what they do then your organization will excel.

None of your employees want to be just a warm body, and most of your tasks require some form of specialized knowledge or skill. When you give little thought to where employees can make the greatest contribution to the organization, you are crippling your operations and minimizing the importance of individual contributions.

Check-In Tip: Learn where your employees’ strengths lie. Then place them in positions where they will be engaged and challenged while making the greatest contribution to the organization.

Can your employees count on you?

The people in your organization need to know that you are a leader who is reliable and will have their backs. You foster trust and earn respect not merely by your words but in your day-to-day actions that demonstrate your commitment to their success.

If your employees don’t feel they can count on you, we’d be willing to bet that they won’t go out of their way to be there for you either. If you send the message to your employees that it’s every man for himself, be prepared to be left standing on your own.

Check-In Tip: Show your employees that you have their backs; knowing that they can count on you is a key factor in gaining the trust and respect you need to be an effective leader.

So, are you checking in or are you checking out? As a leader, you are setting the example for employees to follow. If you are not connecting with your employees and engaging in operations at the ground level, your employees will follow suit. And, disengaged employees do not reflect well on any leader and do not benefit the organization as a whole.


© 2016 Liz Stincelli and Doug Dickerson


810_1736Liz Stincelli is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. She holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership. Learn more about Liz by visiting her website:


dougDoug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. He is a contributor for The Las Vegas Tribune, Executive Secretary Magazine, Realizing Leadership magazine, and  The Daniel Island News to name a few. Read more at:

Become an Exceptional Leader


“One rare and exceptional deed is worth far more than a thousand commonplace ones.” —Saint Ignatius

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Exceptional Leadership

Exceptional leadership is not about you, it’s about those who follow you. It is the responsibility of the leader to steer the ship. But, an exceptional leader goes beyond just setting the course, they help their team to shape their ideas into something meaningful and then empower and encourage them to see their ideas come to fruition. Exceptional leaders focus on helping others achieve success. They have a strong sense of purpose and communicate that purpose to others through their words and actions. They develop strong relationships built on trust and respect. And, they engage others in their purpose by providing meaningful work and opportunities that inspire others to become the best they can be. Start working on becoming an exceptional leader today.


Rollo May believed that, “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.” Exceptional leaders understand the value of open communication in building a trusting, safe environment where employees feel their ideas and contributions are valued. This type of environment fosters as sense of community and the collaboration necessary for true innovation and success. Exceptional leaders use conversations to build connections by giving others their undivided attention. They use conversations as a means of provoking questions not providing answers. This allows them to incorporate the contributions from a variety of sources into one, awesome idea.


Stephen Covey tells us, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Exceptional leaders are authentic, approachable, and compassionate. They empathize with others on a deep and personal level. We trust people who share our values, who do what they say they will do, who authentically invest in our relationship, and who treat us as they wish to be treated. Exceptional leaders understand that without trust they have little or no influence.


Ian K. Smith said, “I think happiness is a combination of pleasure, engagement, and meaningfulness.” Exceptional leaders understand that everyone wants to feel engaged and of value. People want to know there is a purpose to their tasks, to be given control over their work, and to be encouraged to make it their own. Exceptional leaders see the value of the skills, experience, and knowledge that employees throughout the organization have to offer. They provide meaning and create opportunities for employee to engage in contributing to a purpose that speaks to them on an individual level.

Become an Exceptional Leader

Exceptional leaders bring people under a common purpose and then allow them to create their own ideas and provide the support they need to flourish. People will follow an individual in a position of authority because they have to; they will follow an exceptional leader because they want to. Commit to becoming an exceptional leader; build open communication, earn trust, and encourage engagement. You will make a difference in the lives of those who follow you and they will reward you with the loyalty and support you need to bring your leadership vision to life.



© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


The Foundation of Leadership: Trust


“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” —Stephen Covey

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM



The most important leadership characteristic is the ability to inspire trust. Without it, teams will never reach their full potential and relationships will suffer. As a leader you must be intentional about building trust in your organization. Trust has to be a two-way street. Set the example; be trustworthy yourself and show others that you trust them. A culture of trust boosts motivation, increases job satisfaction, and results in greater productivity. So, how do you build a foundation of trust?

Speak freely

Frederick Douglass said, “To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker.” Employees, customers, and suppliers should know that they are welcome to speak freely with you. This will result in the sharing information more readily. What valuable information might you miss out on if others do not trust that they can speak freely with you? Provide a safe space where discussion, debate, and problem-solving can happen. Build employee confidence in knowing that you have their best interests at heart. And, always communicate directly with employees; don’t let them hear it from someone else first.

Act without fear

Charles Stanley explained, “Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation.” Employees must know that you trust them to make the right decision and must feel comfortable enough to act without fear. When you develop a solid foundation of trust in your organization, employees will move outside of their comfort zones, feel confident exploring new ideas, will act freely, and be more willing to take on risk. Instill the courage in your employees that will encourage them to make the decisions and share the new ideas that will continue to move your organization forward.

Control over work

Margaret Wheatley tells us, “Even though worker capacity and motivation are destroyed when leaders choose power over productivity, it appears that bosses would rather be in control than have the organization work well.” Pixar is so successful because they have developed a culture that believes that everyone possesses a slice of genius. Your employees have skills and knowledge specific to their work; seek their input in areas where they have the knowledge and experience you are lacking. Delegate as much responsibility and control over tasks and projects as possible to employees and teams. Respect and value the diversity of ideas that employees have to offer. Show that you trust them to have control over their work and then reward great ideas and innovation.

Build the Foundation

Trust builds a strong foundation of leadership that is able to stand the test of time. This foundation supports motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity. As a leader, you must create a culture where employees can speak freely, act without fear, and have control over their own work. Trust begins with you; start building the foundation.




© 2015 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Making a Leadership Difference


“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” —Toni Morrison

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Time to Evaluate

As we approach the end of the year, what a great time to evaluate the difference that our leadership is making. The difference I am talking about is not on the bottom line, it’s in the lives of your employees. Do they look to you for direction? Do they know you have their back? Do they feel that you value them as individuals? Does your leadership last in your absence? Maybe it’s time to hone some of your leadership behaviors.


Communication is one of the most powerful forces in leadership. Yehuda Berg explained, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” How would your employees rate your communication? Your ability to communicate openly and effectively determines how well you connect with others. This ability consists not only of how well you speak, but how well you listen. Are your communications inclusive? Do you approach your conversations with curiosity and engagement? Show employees that you value their input by asking and expressing appreciation for their opinions. Listen with the intent to understand; acknowledge your own biases and keep them in check. When you, as a leader, communicate well, your organization will be more efficient, your employees will give their best efforts, and you will have a stronger culture with higher morale.


Estelle Parsons said, “It is so important to get respect for what you do and at the same time give it.” Is there mutual respect in your organization? Estelle’s quote applies to your employees as well as yourself. As a leader, it is so important that you acknowledge, respect, and appreciate the contributions that each of your employees make to the success of the whole. Show that you are interested and see value in each of them as individuals. Tune into their needs and invest your time and energy to their development. Show that you respect their ideas by inviting them to challenge your thinking. Respect your employees enough to be authentic and open with them. Be willing to share your wisdom, but also to learn from their experiences and knowledge.


How courageous are you as a leader? Robert Green Ingersoll believed, “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” Do you have the courage to stand behind the right decisions made by either you or your employees? Your employees need to know that you have their back. As a leader, you must also have the courage to seek new opportunities and challenge the status quo. You must admit your faults but not let your failures discourage you. Show enough confidence to make the tough decisions while sticking to your core values. Have the courage to let your employees see that you are open to constructive criticism and new challenges.


Mattie Stepanek explained, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration wonderful things can be achieved.” As a leader, don’t just dictate what is to be done, use collaboration to help your team come up with the best solutions. Do you anticipate the needs of your employees and are you proactive in meeting them? When you give your employees the tools they need and put the right people in the right roles, as Mattie said, wonderful things can be achieved. Engage and encourage employees to actively participate in organizational improvements and decision-making. Set an example by placing the good of the whole above your own. Be transparent and keep team members well-informed. Foster debate and value differing opinions throughout your organization. And, make sure you develop a vision that your employees can buy into and work toward together.

Making a Difference

If you want to make an impact as a leader, make a difference in the lives of your employees. Use communication as a means for sharing your wisdom with others while showing curiosity and appreciation for their opinions, skills, and knowledge. Develop mutual respect. Have the courage to stand behind your employees 100%. Encourage collaboration to achieve wonderful things. Engage in these leadership behaviors and you will be making a leadership difference.



© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


Don’t Just Survive as a Leader, Thrive as a Leader



“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” —Liberty Hyde Bailey

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM



Liberty Hyde Bailey’s quote does not just apply to gardening; it applies to leadership as well. You may manage to survive as a leader as a result of good intentions, but to thrive and grow as a leader you must expend purposeful effort. As a leader, you might survive by doing the bare minimum. But, thriving is about being connected, being engaged, giving of yourself, and promoting a positive environment. You must invest in yourself and in your people, in your relationships, and in your culture. You must devote energy to finding and sharing the meaning behind your work.


Angela Ahrendts explained, “Everyone talks about building relationships with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.” Building strong relationships with your employees based on trust and respect should be you first order of business as a leader. Leadership is not about you, it’s about others. You need to surround yourself with talented, passionate, and dedicated people and then focus your energy on supporting and engaging them. It’s your responsibility as a leader to help the people you serve to grow and prosper. Spend time with them and get to know them on a personal basis. Who are they? What are their aspirations? Learn to listen without judgment. Find out where their strengths lie and then give them the opportunity to focus on their interests. Take chances on them, it sends a great message of your trust and confidence throughout your organization.

If you want to thrive as a leader, be open, honest, and authentic in your words and actions so your people will trust you. Ensure that the relationships you develop are not one-sided, but are mutually beneficial. Focus on building a sense of community and belonging throughout your organization. And remember, relationships are all about communication so, communicate, communicate, and communicate some more.


Tariq Ramadan said, “Cultures are never merely intellectual constructs. They take form through the collective intelligence and memory, through a commonly held psychology and emotions, through spiritual and artistic communion.” This applies inside organizations as well as across cultures. Your organizational culture is not a set of policies or procedures; it’s not words in some handbook; it’s deeply ingrained in the behaviors and emotions of our employees. Your culture should illustrate the respect and value you have for the contributions and abilities of others. Develop a reputation for hiring great people, providing great training, and offering great opportunities. Create a culture where everyone thrives. Help those you work with find their voice and confidence. Encourage and value the contribution that diversity offers throughout your organization. Set an example of the collaboration and cooperation that will lead to success team building. Create a safe environment where employees can gain knowledge from failure without fear of judgment.

As within, so without; as you treat your employees, so your employees will treat your customers. If you want to thrive as a leader, exceed employee expectations and they will exceed customers’ expectations. Ensure that employees get face time with customers so they understand their needs. Teach employees, by the example that you set, to aim at improving the lives of customers not just making the sale. Encourage empowerment and autonomy, not conformity. Make the inclusion of employees in the decision making process a priority. Make yourself available to those you lead. Make sure your culture is constantly evolving in positive direction.


Antoine de Saint-Exupery told us, “The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them.” Everyone is looking for meaning and purpose. People thrive when they find their work meaningful. It’s not the work itself; it is the relationship between the individual and the work they are doing. This is where attitude and perspective come in. Make sure every employee understands how truly important their job is. Help them connect the work they are doing to what is important to them and the organization. Employees will be more engaged when they are excited about the work they are doing.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to help those who follow you find meaning and align their work with their values. This makes achieving goals more satisfying. If you want to thrive as a leader, help them construct a positive way to view the world. This provides energy, focus, and fulfillment. Your employees will be more loyal and committed if they feel their work has meaning. Share your passion with them; build and maintain excitement about the journey you are on. Share a purpose that is inspiring at every level of the organization.

It’s Time to Thrive

We thrive and find strength by finding meaning and an inspiring purpose. As a leader, you must not only find meaning and an inspiring purpose for yourself and your work, you must also create meaning and inspire a sense of purpose in those who follow you. If you want to thrive as a leader, you must take an active role in developing yourself and your employees. Built strong relationships, develop an engaging and inclusive culture, and help those around you find meaning in their work. It’s time to stop merely surviving in your role as a leader. Step up to the plate, put forth the effort, and thrive as a leader.



© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at



Do You Need a Leadership Brand?

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”—John Quincy Adams

By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM


Do You Need a Leadership Brand?

Whether to are the CEO of a large corporation or an employee working on the floor, in the trenches, you have the ability to inspire and influence others. This ability places you in a position to serve as a leader, with or without formal authority. Have you thought about your leadership brand? Do you know what leadership means to you? Can you define your leadership style?

As Malcolm X said, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. “ Your leadership must stand for something. When you are purposefully developing your leadership brand you are deciding what you stand for. This is represented by your values and principles. And, these values and principles guide your attitude and behaviors as a leader. Take a good look at yourself in the following areas. How are these areas influencing your leadership brand?


Your values embody what you find important in life. They represent what you truly believe in. Your leadership brand starts with your values. You need to really give some thought to what matters most to you. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?


Your principles provide the rules for your behavior. These rules are based on your values. As you develop your leadership brand, evaluate yourself honestly. Where are you strong? Where are you weak? What do you need to improve on? Your principles should inspire you to become a better leader. Are you setting the leadership example you want others to follow?


What does your attitude say about your leadership brand? How do you treat those your leadership serves? What experience do you want your leadership to provide? Your attitude will exemplify your values. Is your attitude towards leadership authoritative? A servant? Do you believe in allowing employees to participate in leadership? As a leader you must keep an eye on your attitude because you can guarantee that your followers will be.


As you are developing your leadership brand, keep in mind that your leadership behaviors should be consistent; others should know what to expect from you. They should also have a clear understanding of what you expect from them. Be conscious of your behaviors, you are setting the example for others to follow.

Your Leadership Brand

Be purposeful about your leadership brand. Your values, purpose, attitude, and behaviors provide a good starting point for developing a purposeful leadership brand. Be conscientious of your words and actions; make sure they represent what you truly stand for. Ask yourself if you are being the kind of leader you would want to follow.



© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli


Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at