Published date: May 31, 2017
Last modified: May 31, 2017

Words you might want to avoid in describing yourself!

Here are some words that are great when other people use them to describe you–but you should never use to describe yourself, along with a few other words that everyone seems to use (many make annual appearances on LinkedIn’s lists of most overused words and phrases from LinkedIn profiles).

Either way, think hard about swapping them out of your social profiles–and your website, marketing, and other company communications:


Most companies claim to be innovative. Most people claim to be innovative. Most are, however, not innovative. I’m definitely not. And that’s OK, because innovation isn’t a requirement for success. (You don’t have to be new–you just have to be better.)

And if you are innovative, don’t say it. Prove it. Describe the products you’ve developed. Describe the processes you’ve transformed.

Give us something real so your innovation is unspoken but evident, which is always the best kind of innovative to be.


Usain Bolt: world-class sprinter with the Olympic medals to prove it. Serena Williams: world-class tennis player. (Oh, let’s just say it: best female tennis player ever.)

But what is a world-class professional or company? Who defines “world-class”? In your case: probably just you.


Maybe you’re data driven. (Wow, you try to objectively think through decisions?) Or maybe you’re customer driven. (Wow, you try to please the people that pay you?)

Or maybe you’re just plain old driven.

No matter what the form, driven is like “motivated.” Or “inspired.” It’s a filler.

Stop using it.

“Extensive experience”

Say you have “extensive experience in web design.” Fine, but how long you’ve been in business indicates nothing: You could still be the worst programmer in the world.

What matters more is what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)…

Don’t tell us how long you’ve been doing it. Tell us what you’ve done.


Like Margaret Thatcher said, “Power is like being a lady; if you have to say you are, you aren’t.” Show your expertise instead.

“Presented at TEDxEast ” or “Predicted 50 out of 50 states in 2012 election” (Hi, Nate!) indicates a level of authority. Unless you can prove it, “social media marketing authority” might simply mean you spend way too much time worrying about your Klout score. (If people still worry about Klout scores.)


Really? You focus on doing what you get paid to do?


“Responsible” cuts two ways. You can be responsible (but, one hopes, isn’t everyone?) or you can be responsible for (which is just a boring way of saying that you did something).

If you’re in social media marketing, don’t say you’re “responsible for social campaigns”; say you grew conversions by 40 percent using social channels. “Responsible” is a great example of passive language begging to become active.

Don’t tell us what you’re responsible for. Tell us what you’ve done. Achievements are always more impressive.

“Global provider”

The majority of businesses can sell goods or services worldwide; the ones that can’t are fairly obvious.

Only use “global provider” if that capability is not assumed or obvious; otherwise, you just sound like a small company trying to appear big.


Isn’t this an absolute given ?


See particular words often enough and they no longer make an impact. Creative is one of them. (Use finding creative references in random LinkedIn profiles as a drinking game and everyone will lose–or win, depending on your perspective).

Creative is just one example. Others include extensive, effective, proven, influential, and team player. Some of those terms may truly describe you, but since they are being used to describe everyone, they’ve lost their impact.

“Track record”

We all have a track record. It may be good, it may be bad, but we all have one. (And they’re all “proven.”)

I actually like what “track record” implies: You’ve done stuff, hopefully awesome stuff. You’ve gotten results, made things happen, come through in the clutch… so share a few facts and figures instead.

Describe on-time performance rates, or waste percentages, or under-budget statistics; let your track record be proved by your achievements.


This word usually modifies another word: organizational development, organizational optimization, organizational behaviour, organizational values, or organizational communication….

OK, let’s stop there before we nod off.


If you are “vigorously active and forceful,” um, stay away.


People who try to be clever for the sake of being clever are anything but. Don’t be a self-proclaimed “ninja,” “sage,” “connoisseur,” “guerrilla,” “wonk,” “egghead,” etc.

It’s awesome when your customers affectionately describe you that way. But refer to yourself that way, and it’s obvious you’re trying way too hard to impress other people–or yourself.


Museums have curators. Libraries have curators. Tweeting links to stuff you find interesting doesn’t make you a “curator” or an “authority” or a “guru.”


I know many people disagree, but if you say you’re incredibly passionate about, oh, incorporating elegant design aesthetics into everyday objects, then to me you sound over the top.

The same is true if you’re passionate about developing long-term customer solutions. Try the word focus, concentration, or specialization instead.

Or try love, as in, “I love incorporating an elegant design aesthetic in everyday objects.” For whatever reason, that works for me. Passion doesn’t. (But maybe that’s just me.)


Fingerprints are unique. Snowflakes are unique. You are unique–but your business probably isn’t. That’s fine, because customers don’t care about unique; they care about “better.”

Show you’re better than the competition, and in the minds of your customers you will be unique–without ever having said so.


Check out some random bios and you’ll find plenty of further-modified descriptors: “Incredibly passionate,” “profoundly insightful,” “extremely captivating….”

Isn’t it enough to be insightful or captivating? Do you have to be profoundly insightful?

If you must use over-the-top adjectives, spare us the further modification. Trust that we already get it.

“Serial entrepreneur”

A few people start multiple successful long-term businesses. They are serial entrepreneurs.

The rest of us start one business that fails or does OK. We try something else, try something else, and keep on rinsing and repeating until we find a formula that works.

Those people are entrepreneurs. Be proud to be “just” an entrepreneur, because you should be.


A strategic decision is one that is based on the big picture. Shouldn’t everyone be able to make decisions based on more than what is right in front of him or her?

“Strategic” is a close cousin of “strategist,” another buzzword that bugs me. I sometimes help manufacturing plants improve productivity and quality. There are strategies I use to identify areas for improvement, but I’m in no way a strategist. Strategists look at the present, envision something new, and develop approaches to make their vision a reality.

I don’t create something new; I apply my experience and a few proven methodologies to make improvements.

Very few people are strategists. Most “strategists” are actually coaches, specialists, or consultants who use what they know to help others. Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s what customers need–they don’t need or even want a strategist.


You won’t just decide what’s right for me and force me to buy it? Wow.

If your process is designed to take my input and feedback, tell me how that works. Describe the process. Don’t claim we’ll work together–describe how we’ll work together.



Published date: May 24, 2017
Last modified: May 24, 2017

Beware the Pitfalls– don’t fall in!

So, there you are in your management role. You’re excited for sure but maybe have a little feeling of being overwhelmed too. You have learning, knowledge, experience and all your fresh ideas into action, but you already know there will be challenges ahead. It’s a minefield out there, full of potential traps and pitfalls.

If you don’t want to get trapped and fall in, consider the following 10 common ways in which managers are caught out:

  1. Delivery failure

Don’t make promises on things that you can’t deliver. You want to respond positively to your team but be aware of your limits of authority or you may lose credibility with those around you. Don’t be a “yes” person and agree to take on everything thrown at you. You may want to impress but you need to ensure you know your own role and know your team.

  1. “I’m alright Jack”

You want be seen to know all the answers to every question, but weak responses can damage your credibility. Use the team around you and tap into their skills & experience. Over-confidence and refusing to ask for help will adversely affect the respect you need to build with your team and those around you.

  1. You can’t please everyone, all of the time

Of course you want to build effective relationships to engage your team. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or take sides but there will be times when business objectives mean you have to make potentially unpopular decisions.

Sue Binks of Roffey Park Business School says:

“It’s impossible to be an effective manager without, at times, having to make difficult decisions that are going to upset people.”

Binks also highlights that managers will “make the mistake of making (or not making) decisions by thinking about the impact on their team and how it will make them feel about you.”

As the American comedian, Bill Cosby, once said:

“The key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

  1. “Did you hear that…”

Talking, listening and engaging with your team is important & being receptive to their ideas will only help. Gossiping and commenting on team members, sharing opinions and views in a loose way, will be viewed as indiscreet and unprofessional. Remember, this is a trust game where you need to build the confidence of your staff and the perception that you are a person of great integrity.

  1. The praise sandwich

It would be easy to overlook poor performance and put off dealing with it, but acting quickly on such matters will only increase your own confidence and help you make your mark. Your team members will have their beady eyes on how you deal with these issues and being pro-active will only increase the respect & confidence they have in you.

Giving negative feedback is never easy, but constructive criticism with good examples & clear objectives, supported by coaching and regular reviews, will help you take your team to where you want them to be & where they need to be.

  1. Share the load

Many managers avoid delegating because they think they can do and know it all. They ultimately put greater pressure on themselves rather than use the skills of the team around them.

Your role as a leader is to delegate the day to day activities that give direction and provide an opportunity for your staff to learn and grow. You are not alone and you may be seen as weak if you can’t delegate effectively.

  1. “I am what I am”

Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be the “perfect” manager. This will look very different to each person. Nobody expects you to come in disguise and adopt a different persona & set of beliefs. Sue Binks again:

“You can’t expect people to follow you if you don’t behave in a way that is consistent and congruent with what is true for you, your beliefs and values”

The key is to have great self-awareness and to modify & adapt your behaviour as appropriate to the team and the situation. It will give you a better read on issues & develop confidence from the responses & outcomes.

  1. Getting to know you to get the job done

Your “to do list” may seem endless but the number 1 item on that list should be to prioritise building relationships with your team. By doing this and utilising their support & gaining their commitment, they can help you achieve the other targets on your list.

Remember to network and not just with the obvious titles & those seen as the influential personalities. It’s often the quiet ones seemingly working in the background who can have the biggest effect on the business.

  1. Great expectations

The relationship with your reporting line is critical. Understand their expectations of you and be clear about what you expect from them. A healthy working relationship will be a two way street, so make sure you are both heading in the right direction.

Find out how your boss likes information shared with them and agree the parameters & timings for reporting. It’s that trust game again, creating an impression and developing a relationship where your boss knows they can rely upon you completely.

  1. “Are we there yet?”

This isn’t 1 short trip but a continuous journey of learning and growth. Be aware of what you need to work on and seek out new ways of learning. Consider using a role model or approaching somebody to act as a Coach or Mentor. Obtain feedback and regularly review your style, your actions, your successes, your development needs and where you want to go next on the journey.

Becoming and/or being a manager means you haven’t reached the ultimate destination. You are only just setting out on the voyage of discovery!

For the full article:

See Georgina Fuller “Management Pitfalls”: Edge Magazine – July/August 2013.



Published date: May 19, 2017
Last modified: May 19, 2017

Ten things every leader should be teaching and developing

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. – Benjamin Franklin

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” This is one of your functions as a leader. While it may not be in a formal classroom setting it is teaching nonetheless and the lessons are important. Here are ten lessons every leader should always be teaching. It’s not an exhaustive list but these are essential.

How to give praise.

Just as students tend to respond better to praise the same holds true with your team members. When the people in your business or organization receive praise and encouragement from you they come away with the sense that you have their backs. Give them praise and give it generously.

How to listen.

This is one of the most important skills that you will develop as a leader. Many leaders like to talk but you will be a more effective leader when you learn to listen and hear what others have to say. From what you learn you can make better and more informed decisions.

How to say no.

While listening may be one of the most important things to teach saying no will be one of the hardest. Many good ideas from well-meaning people will come across your desk. Be it the timing, the budget, or some other factor, sometimes the answer is no. How you say no is important. Take the time to explain why.

How to work hard.

Your team members will learn more from your example than by your words. If you want them to work hard then they need to see you work hard. Leadership by example is not just a cliché it is real and practical. When they see that you have skin and sweat in the game they will join you.

How to let things go.

As a leader you will face many challenges and many frustrations. People get on your nerves and rub you the wrong way. You have pressures, deadlines, and disappointments. Teach your team how to let things go and not get so stressed out over every little obstacle that comes your way. Not everything you set out to do is always going to go according to plan. But that’s okay. Let it go.

How to confront.

This is one of the least favourite things a leader has to do. We’d much rather be giving out praise. But there are those times as a leader when you must confront others for whatever reason. How you confront needs to be a teachable moment that shows how to be firm, how to be fair, and that you have accountability measures in place that you are not afraid to enforce. How you do it is just as important as why you do it.

How to say thank you.

This one simple act can make a world of difference. Why it’s hard at times for leaders to do I am not sure. But if you want to see the atmosphere in your office or organization improve then take the time to thank those around you for all of their hard work. And while you are at it – make it personal. Hand-written notes are especially nice.

How to forgive.

Hang around in leadership long enough and you will understand the power of forgiveness. You will learn about the necessity of giving it and receiving it. The point is simply this – life is too short to hold grudges and hold on to resentments. Forgive others and move on.

How to set priorities.

Jim Rohn said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” People in your organization need to see that you have a set of priorities that you live by – family, faith, work etc. You teach priorities by your routines and time management. What’s important to you is given priority. It’s that simple.

How to delegate.

Delegation is the key to your success and that involves everyone in the process. Delegation is not just by divvying up work for the sake of having something to do. It’s about matching the right people with the right skills to maximize productivity and results. You were not meant to do it all by yourself. Delegate your way to success.





Published date: May 11, 2017
Last modified: May 11, 2017

10 communication mistakes you might make

As a manager you know you cannot be a success unless you can engage and enable people.

Here are some common communication mistakes that you may wish to reflect on and may be to avoid.

Thinking because you have said it, it will be done. Many senior managers believe that because they have said something once, then the workforce will “get it”. Experience tells me that for big changes (ad little ones that matter), then the communication needs to be told at least 10 times, in different ways, using different channels, for the message to “stick”.

One-size-fits-all communication. When you try to communicate to a group of people, you may notice that some get it right away while others need more explaining. Different people have different needs and expectations. Consider the range of learning styles of those you’re communicating with and plan a communication strategy that addresses them all.

Lack of attention to tone. Often in times of crises, or personal stress, you may have an edgy tone. Tone is important at any time, but especially when in the middle of a challenge. No matter what the circumstances, learn to pay attention to tone. One trick: Before you speak, pause and take a breath. Then communicate what needs to be said.

Avoiding the difficult conversation. Everybody faces conflict, and avoiding conflict does not make it go away. Learn how to plan for and carry out a difficult conversation by providing clear and actionable feedback, even when it is difficult for you.

Holding back what’s on your mind. Speaking up is about stating what you need while still considering the wants and needs of others. Speak clearly and make your requests known, gently but with self-confidence, while maintaining good relationships.

Reacting instead of responding. When it’s your impulse to react with anger and frustration, wait. Take a deep breath and consider all the facts (including those you may not know). When you pause to reflect, you can respond instead of react.

Indulging in gossip. Unfounded talk not only ruins reputations but also erodes trust. Even if it’s not intended to be cruel, it can have devastating consequences. Leave no place for gossip, innuendo, or speculation if you want to be trusted and esteemed as a communicator (and, for that matter, as a human being).

Closing your mind. In today’s workplace, there are all kinds of religions, cultures, and ethnicity orientations. Excluding any of them would reflect a closed-minded point of view. Instead, open your heart and begin to embrace diversity. When you embrace, you improve your communication via a diverse range of experiences and creativity benefiting all.

Speaking more and listening less. To stay on top of any situation, stop speaking and listen. When you listen more than you speak, you open yourself up to learning and empathy–which in turn help you accomplish more.

Thinking you are being understood. Take the time to check that people have understood your message. It seems like a simple thing, but misinterpretations abound and can have terrible consequences.

Communication is a precious commodity. When you can avoid these fundamental blunders, it will benefit you, your communication, your leadership, your effectiveness, your success, and your business.

Published date: May 5, 2017
Last modified: May 5, 2017

7 Must Have Tools: What’s Inside Your Leadership Tool Box?


7 tools that you can deploy as you:

  1. Deal with Difficult PeopleKnowing the best techniques and skills to address difficult situations. For example, it’s important to recognize the difference between a team member’s apparent arrogance and their real insecurity about performing a task.

It is a true leadership art to know when and how to change our perspectives, how to react (or not react) when challenged and to choose the best approach for each situation.

We won’t always be right. But we – and our teams – will benefit from the wise choices we make.

  1. Ask Powerful Questions – It’s a great skill to be able to ask the powerful questions. It is truly an art to develop superb listening skills. The right balance can make a tremendous difference in our professional and personal life. Equally important, it can help determine how quickly, effectively and profitably a project can be completed.
  2. Are Calm in the Storm – Few things can give you a greater advantage in tense situations than a calm and collective presence. It what in many ways separates the good from the exceptional leader.

Remember that there is profound difference between danger and fear. Danger is confronting a rabid dog in a dark alley. Fear of being confronted by a rabid dog in a dark alley is an emotion. It’s not real. When everyone around you is fearful of a situation or potential outcome, ask yourself if the danger is real. It’s probably not.

  1. Have Fun and Be an Evangelist – Harness your powerful presence through fun and positive appearance and interaction with your team. Share your belief and trust in what the company is doing and find ways to demonstrate that belief.


  1. Negotiate Like a Professional – Go for win-win! How? By striving for overlapping mutual interest. This will develop trust and enhance your credibility by helping the parties involved reach an optimal solution. It is magic in action to see smiling faces after hard decisions and challenging negotiations. Show what is possible!

” Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” ~ John F. Kennedy

  1. Create a Company Mentoring Program – Find a way for as many people in the company to have a mentor. The results may astonish you. Higher employee retention, enhanced work satisfaction, motivation, productivity, drive and passion are common. Oh, and the end result is higher profits for the company.

Mentoring can also be used in the on-boarding process. Take a page from the NHL. It’s a tradition that rookie players actually live with veteran players and their families. While I’m not suggesting your new employees bunk in your basement, assigning a mentor to new employees will create greater results quicker.

The key, of course, is to pair the right mentor to the right “mentee”. With a robust mentor program in place, the matching becomes easier and more accurate over time.

  1. Leverage Mastermind Groups – Discover the true power of a mastermind group to keep your skills sharp and gain a new perspective on difficult problems. Many of the greatest minds in business leverage Mastermind Groups to assist them to excel and stay on the top their chosen fields.

Now, with these tools you are equipped to coordinate, communicate, motivate and delegate your most valuable asset – your employees and team members.