Be A “Taker” and Take That Next Promotion

Take That PromotionWe are all looking for opportunities to advance our career and earn more money.  Waiting on that well deserved promotion can be very frustrating.   You cannot control the timing of when a position becomes available.  However, you can make yourself the obvious choice when it does.  Here are 3 ways to be a “taker’ and take that next promotion. 

Take Care of Your Company

Senior leadership searches for talent that will look out for the best interest of the company.  Ensure the daily decisions you make have a positive impact on the organization as a whole.  When facing important decisions reflect on each option and how it will move the organization closer to fulfilling its mission statement.  You will be promoted based on your decision making ability and how you take care of the company.

Take Care of Your Team Leader

When you have an opportunity to be considered for a promotion the person who will have the most influence will be your current team leader.  Make their recommendation a lock by taking care of them.  Your team leader reports to someone. If there is one thing team leaders hate it is surprises.  If there is a potential problem make sure your team leader knows about it first.  Do not let them hear it from the big boss.  Take care of them by ensuring they look good in front of their team leader.

Take Care of Your Team

It is very difficult to earn a promotion without team building skills.  You build a strong team by first earning their trust.  Trust is built over time and through experiences.  When someone on your team makes a mistake use the opportunity to coach and mentor.  When they do a great job make sure to recognize and reward them publicly as well as in private.  Once your team understands you have their best interest at heart they will take care of you and each other.

Usually when we refer to someone as a “taker” we are saying they will use and abuse others in order to get what they want.  In this instance we are taking care of others above ourselves.  A truth of this life is if you want something for yourself then make it happen for someone else.

Integrity: Doing What Is Right

IntegrityOver the Memorial Holiday my family traveled to Florida.  During our trip we stopped at a Chick-Fil-A in Tifton, Georgia for dinner.  This Chick-Fil-A, like most, was very busy.  As I waited in line I observed a teenage young lady making her rounds to customers at each table.  She would engage in small talk as she cleared used napkins and empty food containers.  It was obvious from her interactions with the families this was not her first visit to their table.  I continued to watch this young lady as she went about her work with a smile enjoying her time with each customer.  As one of the families was preparing to leave a father said thank you for her great service and placed some folded bills in her hand.  She looked down and immediately handed the money back.  “Sir thank you but I cannot accept this.  It was my pleasure to serve you today.” she said with a big smile.    The father stated, “No, I want you to have this. You did not have to treat us the way you did.”  The young lady repeated herself, “No Sir, it was my pleasure to serve you and I cannot accept this.”  I am sure that Chick-fil-a has a policy against accepting tips from customers.  Since there was not another employee around she could have easily taken the cash and said thank you.  However, her integrity would not allow her to do so.

As a leader there is not always a clear-cut answer to every question.  There will be decision points that will cause you great stress.  Every decision you make will testify to your level of integrity.  In the story above the young lady made an immediate correct decision.  There may be times that your immediate decision is wrong.  If you make a wrong decision, go back and correct it.  It can be very difficult, even embarrassing, to admit you made a bad decision, but those around you will gain the utmost respect when you admit you were wrong and make it right. 

Integrity is about doing what is right.  When you find yourself thinking through an important decision, contemplate how you want others to see your integrity.  As a leader what example do you want to set?  Ask yourself if you would be proud if your action was videotaped and played during a company meeting.  Consistently having integrity is no easy feat but it is a rewarding one!

Six Things The Best Leaders Do…

How do the best leaders get optimal results out of their team? Below are six things great leaders do to engage their teams toward success.

Inspire:     The best leaders inspire us to stretch to reach our full potential. Most people have an innate desire to be better. The best leaders tap into that desire by inspiring us not to settle for average but to push toward greatness. In order to inspire others you must take the time to understand what motivates them. It may be a promotion, public recognition, financial incentives, or learning a new skill. Once you discover their motivation, use it to inspire great performance.

Coach:     The best leaders coach us to be better. When someone makes a mistake or fails to reach a goal the best leaders see an opportunity to coach. Keep in mind coaching requires that each team member has the desire to succeed and the skills/experience necessary to do the job. As the leader your goal is to get the best performance from each team member. When you formally address a performance issue it is still a coaching session. Have the mind frame of not punishing but using the discussion to help the team member improve.

Clearly communicate the vision to your team.

Clearly communicate the vision to your team.

Communicate:     The best leaders communicate the vision and goals to their team members. These leaders ensure everyone understands how important their role is to the success of the team. The best leaders set clear expectations and provide continuous feedback. Make time to discuss with your team the vision you have and the important role they play. Provide them with the information they need to successfully reach your expectations.

Listen:     Listening may seem that it should go along with communication. In reality it should. However, some leader’s idea of communication is telling others what to do. The best leaders excel doing more listening than talking. It is vital for leaders to listen to their teams for two reasons. First, team members who are carrying out an important task will have input on how to make procedures more efficient. Second, listening to your team will help you discover communication breakdown. Take time to ask team members questions about their work experiences. Ask the questions and then listen. You will reap vital information that will help you improve.

Trust:     The best leaders hire the right team and trust them to do the job. They communicate the goals, set the rules and guidelines, and monitor progress. They allow their teams to perform. You cannot micro-manage your team and then complain no one takes initiative. Build a strong team by creating a frame work of trust that allows your team to take initiative and have ownership of their work.

Recognize and reward great performance.

Recognize and reward great performance.

Recognize:     The best leaders understand that if they desire great performance repeated then they must recognize and reward it. On the contrary challenged leaders see their job as seeking out poor performance and punishing it. The problem with that view is you never get around to communicating what constitutes great performance. The only feedback your team receives is what not to do. This does not mean ignore a performance issue. (Refer to coaching section above.) One of your primary functions as a leader is to recognize great performance. Recognizing others in front of peers rewards them and communicates to others the standard of excellent performance. Look for opportunities to recognize and reward great performance.

Take time to think about how you are doing in each of these areas.  Incorporate each one into your leadership style.

Employees Are Customers Too…How Is Your Customer Support

Often when you talk about customer service, you are referring to external customers that purchase your products or services. But you have another customer…your employees. What are they purchasing? You are selling a pay check in exchange for their time, skills, and experience. The problem: There are an infinite number of organizations that offer a paycheck. In order to retain and attract the best talent you will have to separate yourself and your organization from the competition. Below are some benefits that will enhance your customer support and keep your best customers spending their time, skills, and experience with you.

Company/Team Culture: Build a strong culture that is centered on having fun while working hard to fulfill the mission statement. Ensure that each team member understands their vital role in the success of the organization. Foster an environment of sharing ideas, coaching versus punishing performance issues, and celebrating individual and team success. Create opportunities for team members to socialize and team build. Developing team relationships will pay dividends during stressful work projects and create loyalty to each other and the team.

Career Development: A paycheck and health insurance is not enough to retain and attract the best talent. The top talent is searching for an organization that will invest in developing their skills while providing opportunities to enhance their career. It is very important to recognize the career ambitions of each team member. Support those ambitions through coaching, mentoring, and training opportunities. When employees see the team leader is vested in helping them succeed professionally it builds loyalty.

Personal Development: Team leaders should be working to understand the personal goals of each team member. Identify ways you personally or the organization can support their efforts. This support can be as small as allowing them time away from work to volunteer for their favorite charity. You may discover a way to have the entire team join. This will create a team building opportunity while supporting an employee’s personal goal.

Building a great company culture that allows team members to have fun, develop their careers, and reach their personal goals will provide the customer support you need to retain and attract the best talent.

Been Thrown Under The Bus Lately?

Have you ever been thrown under the bus? We all have. I certainly have spent some time under the bus. I recall a time I was thrown under the bus by my team leader through an email. I cannot recall any time in my career where I have been angrier. In that moment I am sure if I had opened my mouth fire would have come out! After I read the email I immediately grab my keys, went to my car, and exhaled. Several questions raced through my mind.

  • Why would my team leader not come speak to me directly?
  • Why would my team leader not get all the details first before making this accusation?
  • Why would my team leader copy everyone?
  • Why would my team leader exaggerate the situation?

What I realized in that moment is this had nothing to do with me but everything to do with my team leader.  According to the Urban Dictionary the term “throwing someone under the bus” can be defined as:

To sacrifice some other person, usually one who is undeserving or at least vulnerable, to make personal gain.


Is there a person in your office that is a “serial thrower?” You see them roaming the hallways looking for unsuspecting pedestrians. This is the person that if someone makes a mistake or there is a hint of a problem they make sure everyone in your office knows about it. The serial thrower lays it on thick, exaggerates the story, and pushes all the right buttons. Now, I want to be clear. There is nothing wrong with identifying problems or catching mistakes. In order to get better organizations must identify problems and alleviate them. However, our serial thrower takes it to the next level. They do not go to the person that made the mistake or that can solve the problem. Determining all the facts to understand what really happened would be too easy. They are in search of the big audience. Here it comes, the email with everyone cc’ed and blind copied including the guy who was there to fix the copier earlier today. You are walking down the street enjoying the scenery….BAM!!!! You have just been thrown under of the bus. Ever experienced this?

Let’s delve into the psyche of a serial thrower. In the definition earlier we said they do this for personal gain. What is it that they have to gain? Well, they are trying to do one of two things; serial throwers are focusing attention on or away from themselves.

First, let’s deal with the person who is trying to attract attention. They want everyone to know they are looking out for the company. “I am just trying to make us better”, they say. They may indeed want the company to be better. The reason for throwing you under the bus is they need everyone to know how good they are (or at least how good they think they are). It is more about them than the company. You are just an innocent by-stander. If they truly cared about the company above themselves they would first get all the details surrounding the problem. Once the details have been collected they would go to the person(s) directly involved and look for a solution. If a solution is not found then a decision could be made on what additional team members need to be involved to solve the problem. This would do two things. First, it would ensure that someone is not cast in a bad light because the situation was misunderstood or exaggerated. Second, it would foster a culture of trust and strengthen the team.

Equally as dangerous to organizations are serial throwers looking to focus attention away from themselves. They throw others under the bus to divert attention away from their own mistakes, lack of follow-up, or miscommunication. They blame others instead of taking responsibility for their actions. These serial throwers are most likely under performers. They have an excuse for everything. It is always the other person or department’s fault.

Serial throwers erode trust and destroy team spirit. The effects are multiplied when that person is in a leadership role. A leader who is a serial thrower will never build a strong team. They will set an example that will encourage others to embrace the same behavior. Leaders should not allow their team to throw others under the bus. We all know when someone is throwing another under the bus. As the “thrower’s” team leader you should go to them directly and address the issue. Ask them if they attempted to speak to the person before sending the email. Tell them directly that the behavior is unacceptable and is not the proper way to solve issues. Speak with them about how your company’s mission statement, core values, and culture dictate how to address issues. When issues, problems, and mistakes are handled correctly it improves communications, collaborations, and team dynamics.

The next time you find yourself “under the bus” here are some tips on how to recover.

  1. Do not react in anger or get defensive. Take a breath and be the adult.
  2. Research the full scope of the problem or issue.
  3. Go speak directly in person with the “thrower” to discuss problem and agree to solution.
  4. Then respond to the email originally sent fully explaining the issue, accepting any responsibility necessary, outlining your discussion with the thrower (do not call them “the thrower”), and summarize the solution to the problem.
  5. Take pleasure in the fact that you took the high road…That is where great leaders travel!

Share this with your colleagues. If you are worried about sending this to the serial thrower on your team; send me a message and I will make sure it mysteriously shows up in their email box!!!

Let me know what you are thinking!

Comment below.

Are You A Problem Solver?

I still remember my first promotion to a manager’s role. I was promoted to Property Manager of Savannah Sound. Savannah Sound was a 120-unit apartment community in Florida. I had a team of three employees. I was extremely excited. That excitement did not last long. As soon as I was announced manager there was a line including residents, vendors, other departments, my team, and my supervisor ready to list all the problems associated with the property. It did not take me long to realized my job was to solve problems. More importantly, if I did not solve problems I would not be the manager long.

Young Businesswoman
I quickly narrowed the list down to my three biggest threats and ranked them in order of importance.

  1.  Team Morale: Previous manager was not very friendly or supportive
  2.  Low Occupancy: Occupancy percentage was in the 80’s
  3.  Missing Budget: The property was not generating the proper cash flow

You may be questioning why I ranked missing budget as my third priority. Most people would attack this first. Let me tell you why it was last on my list. Without a happy team that enjoyed working with each other there was no way we were going to be able to wow our residents and prospective renters with great customer service. If we could not make our residents happy and close on prospective renters our occupancy was not going anywhere. With low occupancy there was no possible way for me to generate cash flow. I had to solve my morale and occupancy issues first.

Along with my team, we identified solutions and formulated a plan. My team flourished and we reached our goals. I gave them all the credit for our success. My reward was my next promotion. I use this approach in every job I take on.

How others measure you as a leader will be based on your ability to solve problems for your team and organization. Over the years people have asked me how to earn promotions and further their career. My answer, simply be a better problem solver. You become extremely valuable as you improve your ability to quickly identify and lead teams to solve problems. Below is a list of six steps to solving problems.

Six Steps To Solving Problems

  1. Narrow down to the highest priority problems/threats
  2. Clearly communicate the problems and consequences to your team
  3. Brainstorm with your team for possible solutions
  4. Formulate your solutions into a plan
  5. Provide continuous follow-up and status updates
  6. Reward team for accomplishing the mission

Leadership is about identifying problems; then, coaching and inspiring others to solve them as a team. Whether you are managing a team of two or two thousand, you were hired to solve problems. If you want to increase your value within your organization and open up the doors of opportunity become an effective problem solver.

I can’t wait to hear from you! What problems are you facing? How do you solve problems? How much of your day is consumed with just solving problems? As a leader how valuable is a problem solver on your team?

Leave A Comment!

What Is The Purple Approach?

It never fails…as soon as I tell people the name of my company I know what the next question will be.

“What is The Purple Approach?”

Let me tell you a story. What would you do if you lost your ability to increase/pay salaries or promote within your organization? This happened to then General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. As you could imagine it would be very difficult to convince a group of soldiers, many volunteers, to continue to wage a war when you could not pay salaries or promote their military career. General Washington was faced with a problem only leadership could solve. The General decided to inspire them with the mission of the war, independence, and recognize them for their excellent service. So in 1782 he established The Purple Heart by writing the following:

“The General ever desirous to cherish a virtuous ambition in his soldiers, as well as to foster and encourage every species of Military Merit, directs that whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward”

US Purple Heart The Purple Approach is about leadership. It is about an organization or you as an individual rallying your team around a central goal, the mission. It is about creating a culture so magnetic that you attract and retain the best talent and customers.  My personal mission is to help others connect to the leader already within them.

Your team is looking for a leader that will inspire, coach, train, protect, and lead them. Will you be that leader?

The best talent is searching for an organization that understands the best investment they can make is in their people. Will you be that organization?

Coming Soon: Coffee With Kareem

Looking to grow your leadership skills. Coming soon is an opportunity for you. You must check out a “Coffee with Kareem” group coaching session. There is nothing Kareem likes better than talking about Leadership over a nice cup of coffee. “Coffee with Kareem” is a hour and a half early morning leadership session. During these sessions Kareem will present a leadership skill or issue, followed with smaller break-out activities using a new skill, and then lead a group discussion about how you can implement that skill today in your current position.


These sessions are fun and highly interactive. Each time you walk away with a new ideal or skill that will help you be a better leader today. Do not miss out on this opportunity to grow your skills and network with other leaders.

Click here to learn more about “Coffee with Kareem Sessions”

Mission Statements Matter

Who cares about a Mission Statement? It’s just words. Just words! When a person decides to create a property management company to produce apartments for the market place there is something special that happens. That entrepreneur has seen a need that they want to fulfill. While they want to make money, if that is their only reason for being in business they will have a tough road ahead. Great leaders realize that it requires more than a desire to make money in order to build a lasting property management company that will reign at the top of the industry and be known for producing a great community with excellent customer service. They write a mission statement that speaks to their dedication to their customer and employees. The mission statement embodies the vision of the entrepreneur and defines the way they will go about conducting business. The mission statement confirms that while they are in business to make money it will not take precedent over delivering value to its residents, partners, and the community at large.

Vision concept with other related words

In the early days of building an organization the entrepreneur is working alone or with a few key individuals. It is very easy to ensure the high quality of product and service to the end user. This high quality drives success and increases business. As the company continues to expand the entrepreneur is now a business leader and becomes more disconnected with their employees and customer. As the organization continues its growth the entrepreneur/business leader will become totally disconnected from the majority of their customers and employees. Out of necessity they have delegated the entire management of their dream to people in some cases they have never met. Can you see the problem here? They now use policies and procedures in an effort to produce the same level of commitment and results. Let me be clear, policies and procedures are essential. But policies and procedures cannot replace the vision and passion that created such a great organization.

This is why Mission Statements matter. Mission Statements can be used to communicate to each employee the vision and spirit of that young entrepreneur that started this now full grown organization. As a leader of an organization you want every team member working the same way that small group worked together years ago when the business first started. They may not have access to the Founder/CEO like that smaller group did but they can understand their passion and reason for starting the company. They can understand the commitment to the customer, to the partners, to each other, and to producing a great community.

Become A Better Leader

What are your career goals? Do they include earning that next promotion to manager, regional manager, vice president, or president? Do you want to be a better leader to your current team. Improving your leadership skills will open the doors of opportunity.

Businessman career concept

Why are leadership skills important? As you climb the corporate ladder the ability to lease an apartment or improve occupancy become less important and your ability to inspire and engage others to accomplish the goals of the organization become more important. Here’s an example. One of the most difficult career moves in property management is moving from a property manager role to a multi-site role like district or regional. Property managers across the industry become frustrated with how difficult it is to earn that promotion to regional manager. Look at the failure rate of regional managers and it easy to understand why VP’s and Directors are skittish. Great regional managers have similar traits. They have a good understanding of property management protocol(which most of us do) but more importantly successful regional managers have great leadership skills. They are great trainers, communicators, team builders, and deal well with conflict resolution.

So if you want to grow your career or be a better leader you must focus on enhancing your leadership skills. The good thing about leadership skills is that they can be learned. You can get better at time management, delegation, conflict resolution, team building, decision making, etc.