Month: April 2014

15 Traits of a Good Leader

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In my life I had the privilege to work for a few good people with great leadership skills and I also realized that in the midst of it all, I came across some managers with practically no skills, who happen to be in their positions for reasons unbeknownst to me (eg. right connections at the right time, etc). The problem for them was they either failed to realize or were in denial about their lack of skills. This resulted in the team(s) they led failing to produce the expected results since the leadership vision and the right goals were not there from the beginning. It never stops amazing me how some organizations operate with so many basic principles not in place.

But, let us talk about some of the main traits of effective leaders and what organizations should aspire to when they are looking to fill a position, whether promoting from within or looking outside the organization for talent.

1) Confidence – A leader should exude an air of confidence. They should come across as being experienced and knowing how to handle the position as well as the people entrusted to them.

2) Vision – They should be able to show their teams where they’re going, why they need to get there and how they’re going to achieve it through goal setting and the right strategy.

3) Effective Communication – They should be able to get their message through clearly and in a timely manner to both the people they manage as well as to their higher-ups.

4) Honesty – They should come across as genuine and honest in their communication and how they relate to everyone. People can understand easily if leaders mean what they say or are going through the motions as part of the job requirements.

5) Inspiration – Great leaders should be able to motivate employees through inspiration. A leader should get the team(s) interested toward the common goal. People always need that extra push to reach their potential especially when life and other tasks interfere.

6) Fearlessness – A leader should be fearless. Most times in life things do not go as planned. Life happens, unexpected scenarios occur and the right person should be able to handle pressure and stress well and not let distractions or interruptions get in their way.

7) Focus – A leader should always have the eye on the task at hand. No matter what happens, he or she must be able to be organized and handle anything head-on and leading by example.

8) Effective Delegation – A leader should be able to conceive the idea at a high level and delegate accordingly to the respective team members the ways to contribute towards its completion.

9) Creativity – A leader should be creative coming up with ideas and alternatives, thinking outside the box and having the innate intuition to act on something at the right time.

10) Fairness – Not coming across as a know-it-all individual. A leader should be able to give credit to the members of the team for a job well done.

11) Respect – By being respectful of employees, a leader will earn their respect.

12) Flexibility – A good leader will be open minded and adaptable to changes. In the business world as well in life everything is in constant flux. Everything changes. In addition be able to tweak existing strategy, recalibrating and adjusting accordingly is a necessary, without missing a beat.

13) Responsibility – Learn from mistakes and accept responsibility without passing the blame to others. The team realizes that the person in charge is human and this individual should have the humility to declare that something was wrong and is reevaluating by redesigning and building better alternative options and efficiencies.

14) Positiveness – An effective leader should be positive and enthusiastic. Always starting a meeting with something positive to say and not constantly warning and reprimanding people.

15) Empathy – Last but not least, a good leader should show that the person cares for the team genuinely. Setting time for employee suggestions and issues. In addition, when things are going according to plan, a good leader should acknowledge that and offer some measure of reward.

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 28, 2014

© 2014 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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The Trouble with Quality of Life

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How do we compare with the rest of the world and the issue? Some do not see anything wrong with working constantly enjoying your week or two weeks off unless you have invested 10 to 20 years into your place of employment. There is nothing wrong with working hard, it is an admirable quality, something bestowed to us since the early days of the Protestant work ethic. In addition many of us of ethnic background are proud to work hard to provide for our families and reach a point as the years pass that we are able to reap the rewards.

Things have changed unfortunately and not always for the better. Although, I try to be positive on life, we all need to be able to adjust to the conditions presented (economy, benefit cuts in healthcare, pensions, retirement, class inequality, etc.)

The name of the game is not to be rigid. For some of us being around for some years, change is not easy. I understand completely but if we do not change and adjust to our environment what then?

Case in point: Vacation time in the US is some of the lowest of the developed countries. Unfortunately at times, people do not understand vacations, or even that time off from work is not a luxury by any stretch, but actually important for health and well-being. Employers believe that they should get the most out of their employees.  Somehow it works for them.

When Americans start traveling abroad, not just reading about it but immersing themselves into the different other cultures, seeing how other people live, how they manage even with a lot less to have better quality of life, some start realizing that they would rather do many things different. We are not made to just work.

I do not know where this whole concept evolved into this “work and no play”. Yes, the upwardly mobile enjoy better lifestyles but what about the rest of the people? Why do their lives revolve around work as the center of the universe? People not only live to work and not only one job, but two or more, with declining incomes, lower salaries and increasing commission related positions. Even physicians these days are judged on production and their incomes are proportional to how many patients they see per hour versus having the time to do a good diagnosis by having the time to ask the pertinent questions they need. Sometimes corners are cut working within the time limitations and quotas imposed. Many people are overworked underpaid and stressed out to the max.

People consume exorbitant amounts of medications – doctor prescribed, over the counter or even holistic just to get through the day. My point being that we were not made to just work. Although many might argue that the human body is resilient and can get through some of the most punishing regiments, the question we should be asking is “But, is that healthy?” Is this the way to lead your life?

Isn’t there something more to life? Employers should realize that happy employees stand for productive employees, which translates into less absenteeism, more loyalty, healthier work environment that leads to more profitability. I have asked a number of Europeans while traveling abroad as well as in the States, for example, how they feel about their vacation time. How much time they take, and it never fails to already know their answers.

Europeans love their extra time compared to their US counterparts. Their vacation is so important that if they do not take the amount of time allotted they might lose some of their benefits since they would be considered at a higher-risk for developing health issues (heart problems, elevated blood pressure etc). From the employer side they have happier employees working for them, lower costs for employee retention.

Although, I cannot solve these issues the only thing I am aspiring to bring you is some awareness. I want you to ask yourself, is work all we are worth? What can we do about it? Where do we start? I also want to challenge employers to learn to be aware of what people need. Everyone deserves time to devote to their loved ones and to themselves so we can live fuller lives.

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 21, 2014

© 2014 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Take The Plunge, The Water is Not That Cold

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This is for those who want to find their inner child and for those brave souls who, despite what life is throwing their way, still dream big. You may be working somewhere but you’re looking for a change. You might be looking to start your own business or even travel and experience the world.  Perhaps you want to live overseas or you want move out of the town where you live.

 

Life has a way of happening to you or because of you. It doesn’t wait. When you want things to happen, sometimes they don’t. And when you least expect things, life happens. Somehow, it always seems that “now” is not the best time for changing things. Tomorrow will be better, but somehow tomorrow never comes. When I am looking to make a change, I tend to write down the pluses versus the minuses and that helps me determine my next steps. If you happen to be the analytical type, I would recommend you go through this process because seeing it in writing helps you visually see the pros and cons.

 

But, be careful of paralysis of analysis. Over-analyzing change often leads to no change at all. So, a more thoughtful and less stressful way to handle things before you embark on your dreams and trying to turn them into reality, would to test the waters a little. Think it over, research, but put a plan together and a timeline. Determine calculated risk. Again, I do not suggest that you disappear to the Pacific all of a sudden or invest every penny of your savings on the idea of starting a business. These are not calculated risks. But in the beginning, take smaller steps to realize the dream, determining the best thing for you and if it is something you can handle without jeopardizing personal relationships with loved ones will go a long way to ultimately making it happen. And, as results unfold, measure progress – accept failures, make adjustments and then continue to execute on your larger plans.

 

Of course you know your priorities but realize this, if you don’t follow your soul and your calling, who will? If not now, when? I can also tell you this – the experiences you would live and the regiment you would follow, will make you grow and that is a necessary ingredient in life. And, the feeling of personal freedom – to trying to lead some part of your life on your terms – is priceless. All of this does not come easy. I wish, I could tell you otherwise. You probably will work harder than you ever did, but you would be working for you toward your goals and dreams. It is a great feeling for those who can act on their dreams and turn them into reality.

 

Fear is natural, but you have to take a step and let it be OK because the alternative would probably be to never try. 

 

There are so many things to explore – starting a side business, losing yourself on a trip to Italy, enrolling in a cooking class in France and starting to learn French. Or perhaps going to Barcelona and checking out the Spanish culture, staying on a Greek island and writing a book, or while at a convention in South America adding a couple of weeks to strictly explore Buenos Aires and learn how to tango. Try it, don’t let it get erased from your memory because it will only become more difficult to act on it later – someday. Again, often, “someday” never comes. 

 

No one knows what life will bring us tomorrow. As Louise Erdrich wrote, “And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 9, 2014

© 2014 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
 

“If you’re going through hell, keep walking”

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Let’s talk about persistence, determination and overcoming objections and how they relate to every day living.

In case you don’t know my background, I have been in sales in a variety of ways for many years. I have sold everything from hotel properties and yachts to concepts and ideas. I started in my career selling shoes in Europe. Although I might bring business into the conversation a couple of times, the goal is really to inspire you when dealing with different situations in life. So take persistence, for example. In life we are all conditioned since an early age to say “no”. Parents teach us to say “no” to strangers. When we walk into a store and the sales person asks, “How can I help you?”, the first thing we mutter is, “Just browsing”. “Are you looking for something?”, the sales clerk asks. We reply, “No”.

In our sales transactions – and oftentimes in our day-to-day dealings – we tend to say “no”, at first. But, in reasonable everyday situations, can it be an invitation to go deeper and start pealing the onion layers? In my experience, that first no is where the work begins. That’s where you need to dig deeper and find those dominant buying motives. Professional sales people know, that this is a core principal as to the reason why someone is converted from a prospect to a buyer.

However, in life everything is selling. In case you had some doubts – from an early age when a baby cries to get the attention of a parent, to the time when someone is going on a job interview and they are talking to the hiring manager, to the time a manager is motivating the work team, to a new a campaign to hit company goals, to asking someone out on a date or convincing someone to go someplace when they prefer to stay home. Everything is selling.

Do we accept “no” for any answer every time we hear it?

In relationships, we disagree often with each other’s point of view, and sometimes we may reach an impasse. Ideally, when that happens both parties try to agree to something by having to compromise a little. So, let’s expand on this. Anything you want in life badly, you have to typically fight for it. Rarely does it just come to you. You will hear many “no’s” along the way. The question here is, do you just quit or stay the course with persistence and determination to tackle the task at hand?

Although rules have changed and life can be difficult, especially when you are aspiring to greater goals, life is still beautiful. It is worth all of the fighting to reach your goals – whether in your career or your personal life.

But how do you stay determined and persistent when you constantly hear “no”. Essentially, you need to stoke the fire inside of you that tells you to keep going and don’t listen to that voice that may be in your mind telling you to quit. You need to visualize that job that you want, or that trip that you want to take but you continually find excuses to avoid taking that first step. And, if you keep getting doors slammed in your face, then keep figuring ways to get to that goal – even if it means going through the window instead of the door. You need to be very clear with regard to what you are looking for out of life. What is the goal? And, if it matters, then you need to keep fighting like that boxer who is pummeled in the 8th round but will not lie down. Sometimes, you will lose that battle. Sometimes, you will fail. But, it’s part of the journey to the overall goal. Defeat, failure or rejection and “no” do not define who you are as a person.

When objections come – and they will come – acknowledge and address them. Life is a negotiation. Be ready to give a little to get closer to what you’re looking to achieve. There is no sin in the word “compromise”. There are times when everything seems to be going against you, objections galore on everything around you.  That’s when you have to summon your inner strength, no one else can do this for you, and you need to keep looking it in the face and finding a way to overcome.

Stop for a second, cut the noise, isolate the issue at hand and get your point across. Many people will give up when they get resistance, but always remember, that’s where the real work starts. That’s where you show your determination. Do not retreat from the task – even if you fail at first. Keep engaged and keep going. As Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep walking”.

You might at times take a step back, that’s OK. You can then advance three. Don’t be rigid. Be flexible. Adjust your stance and get your message across. In life, assertiveness is an important survival skill.

And finally, try to add some fun along the way. Even when it is a tough sell, you need to be able to laugh and keep perspective. Try to live life every day. Pay attention to yourself. Don’t forget to live just because you are busy. But, that’s another story. That’s a whole other chapter. Don’t let busy get the best of you because “busy” will ultimately deter you from your goals.

Let’s all try to be more in tune to our lives as human beings. Let’s not lose our humanity because we’ve got somewhere to go, something to do. Let’s be there for our families, our friends and others in need.

Please don’t forget to follow my blog at Life on Your Terms and like my Facebook Page.

Posted: April 3, 2014

© 2014 Savas Vikos all rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Savas Vikos with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.