Positive and Ethical Leadership Qualities

Positive and Ethical Leadership Qualities

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. Everything we teach here at The I in Team series helps current and aspiring leaders understand what it means to possess positive and ethical leadership qualities. Being an ethical leader has an immense influence on your team; it can be the difference between building a high performing team and going out of business.


Being present and available is one of the key qualities of ethical leadership. This means your physical presence is necessary. Absent leaders (leaders who do not show up to work, are late for work, or who do not engage with their employees) are considered unethical leaders. The foundation of leadership is being present to lead your team. For those who are leading a remote team, being active and checking on your team frequently will show your presence. If you’re leading a remote team, try to communicate with them often as you would in a traditional office.


Communication is often the hardest aspect of leadership, but it is vital to building a high performing team that rallies with you to meet organizational objectives. How you communicate your thoughts and emotions will determine the communication culture of your entire organization. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but it does mean that you need to work to communicate effectively with yourself and others. Ethical leaders are not ones who are perfect; they are ones who know they can grow, learn, and adapt.

Growth Mindset

Having a growth mindset means that you believe you and others are capable of growth, as opposed to a fixed mindset where you would believe that you and others are stagnant and unadapting. When you adopt a growth mindset, you believe in and empower yourself and your team members. This makes an ethical leader because they know their team possesses the skills necessary to complete organizational objectives, as well as one who understands that failure is inevitable. Coming to terms with the fact that failure will happen is imperative to being an ethical leader because you and your team will fail but it’s how you move on from those failures that defines your organizational culture. Having a growth mindset combined with a heavy dose of objectivity will allow you to remain ethical when helping your team recover and learn from failure.


Objectivity is required to be an ethical leader, especially when you are dealing with multiple people who have diverse lives. If you are not naturally objective, it will take some practice and patience with yourself as you learn this new skill, but it is imperative to gain the ability to be objective so that you can make equitable decisions. Being objective means overcoming bias and bigotry; it means slowing down, remaining present, and growing your ability to be emotionally intelligent so that you can respond to situations appropriately. Leaders who are objective are ethical because they create a culture of accountability and compassion.


Compassion is a necessary trait in life; it is the understanding that everyone deals with difficult situations combined with the wish to alleviate the negative consequences of those situations. While we can’t help everyone, we can have compassion for them. Having compassion for yourself and your team allows you to communicate with them effectively and objectively, knowing that they are a human being with wants, desires, and motivations just like you. Compassion builds an ethical leader because it allows you to treat your team with respect. In combination with all the ethical leadership qualities listed here, any compassionate leader can compel their team to reach even seemingly impossible goals.

While this list is certainly not exhaustive of what it takes to be a positive and ethical leader, they are some of our top five ethical leadership qualities. In contrast, unethical leaders are ones who are absent, dishonest, corrupt, unfair, manipulative, and more. Unethical leaders can deteriorate teams and cause high employee turnover, low engagement, low creativity, and more. The negative effects of unethical leadership can severely impact an organization’s ability to grow and be successful. If you wish to create a company that thrives, you must be an ethical leader.

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. If you think about current and past leaders of organizations, do any of them possess the same successful leadership qualities? Several studies have shown that leaders are different as much as they are similar. However, there are six qualities that are shown to be possessed by the most successful leaders. The leaders who possess the below six qualities run organizations with team members who are more driven, creative, enthusiastic, productive, and positive.

Being Goal Driven

Leaders should be results oriented; this is how organizations thrive and strive. Successful leaders who are goal driven do two things:

1) They set and achieve their own goals

2) They help others set and achieve their own goals

Part of being a successful leader is ensuring everyone on your team is aware of your organization’s goals, as well as encouraging them to set their own goals. If their goals align with the organization’s goals, that’s great! When everyone on the team is aware of the current goals and is striving to meet those goals through their own goal setting, organizations will almost certainly succeed in their industry. Leaders must motivate their team to set and achieve their goals, as well as giving them the tools necessary to do so.

Having Excellent Communication

Employing excellent communication skills is imperative for any leader, especially if they are going to successfully aid in their team’s goal setting and achievement. Leaders who know how to communicate with a diverse set of individuals while ensuring everyone stays on the same page requires practice, patience, creativity, and energy. One of the most powerful tools successful leaders have is their spoken word, privately and face-to-face, with an employee. One-on-one communication followed up with supportive action can reap tremendous results. Consider establishing an open-door policy, if you don’t already have one; if you need focus time, schedule that time for yourself consistently and communicate to your team why you need the focus time and when you will be taking it.

Empowering Others

Empowering others, in part, means making them feel good and like they are valued. Some people possess the quality of being able to transfer positive energy to others, thus, empowering them. Behavioral experts refer to this as positive energy transference, and this brings out the best in others. When your team feels empowered in their abilities and understands that they are valued in the organization, they will strive to meet their and the organization’s goals. Successful leaders can empower employees by getting to know them, understanding their dreams, and helping them link their dreams to the organization’s vision, mission, goals, or values.

Having Empathy

Having empathy for your team aids in successful leaders’ ability to communicate and empower their team, and vice versa. Empathy is the ability to recognize, categorize, and understand an emotion another individual is feeling, as well as being able to communicate or demonstrate that understanding in a way that makes the experience positive for the team member. One of the keys here is avoiding toxic positivity and not making the conversation about yourself. Show your team you care about them by being empathetic to their needs, feelings, goals, and current situation.

Being Pragmatic

While it may seem that being pragmatic goes against having empathy, this is not true. In fact, being pragmatic can aid successful leaders in their pursuit of empathy and empowering their team. When leaders understand that part of human nature is emotion, coupled with the fact that life is messy, they can use pragmatism to communicate more effectively. Being pragmatic doesn’t mean doing away with emotion, it means the opposite. It means taking into account all the variables, understanding your team, and making decisions that are practical. Being pragmatic combined with empathy is a step towards high emotional intelligence. To be practical, leaders must have a wholistic understanding of their team.

Having Structure & Being Organized

Without structure or being organized, leaders couldn’t possibly create successful organizations. Leaders must be structured in their work, remaining consistent and organized to maintain order within the team. If leaders can help their team remain structured and organized as well, their team members will stay on target for deadlines, be more likely to meet their goals, and remain productive.


Successful leaders are ones who employ positive habits for both their own and their team’s benefit. The above six qualities are shared by nearly all successful leaders. To be a positive influence on yourself and your team, you must continually grow, learn, and develop positive habits. If you are lacking any of the above, identify what you would like to work on and ask for outside accountability to help you develop your goal. If you require leadership coaching, contact our team at IA Business Advisors. We would love to help you find, be, and build your positive influence.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Hi team, Mary here! With 2021 right around the corner, now is the time people start considering their New Year’s resolutions. Personally, I prefer to call them New Year’s goals because I think goals are easier for people to deal with, they are less likely to be given up on because they are adaptable, and they can feel more rewarding when reached. Additionally, I think New Year’s resolutions have a negative connotation to them; roughly 80% of people give up on their resolutions by February, so it seems societal norm is to create resolutions but not stick to them. If we start planning goals, perhaps we won’t give up on them. With the new year right around the corner, let’s start creating our S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals now.

Choosing Your Goal

Some of the most common New Year’s goals are:

  • Go to the gym regularly
  • Lose weight/diet
  • Work on mental health
  • Get a new job
  • Buckle down on finances
  • Manage stress
  • Improve a relationship
  • Quit smoking/drinking

So, does that mean you have to set a common goal? Heck no! Choosing your goal is personal and should relate to how you want to grow. It can absolutely be a common goal, because making our minds and bodies healthier is a great way to grow, but it can also be an obscure goal that means something to just you. You may want to learn a new style of cooking, read a book series, go back to school, climb a mountain, run a 10k, practice or learn a new art, or anything you want it to be. Your goals should reflect who you want to be and how you want to grow.

My 2020 goals were to figure out grad school, read for an hour every week, write and release one song, and finish my crochet blanket. I’m happy to say, I did figure out grad school! With the help of some trusted friends and loved ones, I enrolled for my master’s in organizational leadership. However, once I realized how hard learning to write music was, I adjusted my goal to continue learning about music. When my hand started cramping up from crocheting, I adjusted my goal to work on my crochet blanket (it’s massive, like king-sized, so finishing it is going to take a long time). I didn’t read fiction for one hour every week, but I didn’t give up on the goal; I still read every week for at least one hour and read my fiction book when I can fit it into my schedule. Don’t be afraid to adjust, but don’t give up.


Once you have decided on your goal, it’s time to make your goal specific! Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Who is involved in this goal?
  • What do I want to accomplish with this goal?
  • Where will this goal be achieved?
  • When do I want to achieve this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?

It’s vital that your goal is specific, otherwise you might lose sight of what you are working towards. It also needs to be specific enough to follow the rest of the S.M.A.R.T. process.


If you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. Making sure you have metrics to measure your goal will help you reach your goal. It will also propel you forward towards the end. If you don’t have a way to measure your progress, you may become discouraged half-way through and give up. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, what would your metrics be? For one, you can weigh yourself and tangibly see your weight loss, but you can also measure your calorie intake and how many calories you burn during exercise.

Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • How many/much X will I need?
  • How will I know I have reached my goal?
  • What will I use to be an indicator of progress?


Your goal should stretch your abilities without stretching you so thin it makes the goal unattainable. For example, I could set the goal of becoming an astronaut. Becoming an astronaut is certainly attainable. In the S.M.A.R.T. process, attainable and realistic go hand-in-hand so be sure to keep a close eye on these sections. Yes, becoming an astronaut is technically attainable because other people have done it, so I could do it too. But is it realistic?

Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Do I have the funds/resources/capabilities to reach this goal?
  • If not, what am I missing or how can I get it?
  • Are there any roadblocks that could prevent my goal from being attainable?


Setting a realistic goal means setting a goal that can be achieved given the resources and time you have. So, continuing our example above, I could, technically, become an astronaut. However, am I in a position to become an astronaut? Am I astronaut material? Am I willing to go back to school, start my career from scratch, and spend more than a decade trying to reach my goal? Probably not. It’s not a realistic goal because I’m not willing to dedicate the time to achieve the goal, I probably wouldn’t be that good at advanced science and math, and even then I may not even get up into space so I would have to be content simply working for NASA or another space related company.

Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Is my goal realistic?
  • Is this goal worth my time?
  • Is this goal worth my money?
  • Is this the right time to try to reach this goal?
  • Does this goal match other efforts/needs?


All goals need a definitive start and end date. If there is no timeline, there will be no sense of urgency; hence, less motivation to reach the goal. When I set my 2020 goals, they all had a deadline of the end of the year. Looking back, I didn’t create all my goals around S.M.A.R.T. or I would have known that releasing a song would be nearly impossible. However, my hand cramping up during crocheting is not something I could have foreseen, so I adjusted my goal’s timeline. Your timeline should be in line with what you need from that goal.

Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Does my goal have a deadline?
  • When do I want to achieve my goal?
  • What else is going on in my life that could prevent me from hitting this goal in this time frame?


Now’s the time to start planning for your 2021 goals and I want you all to feel like achievers in reaching your goals. Don’t follow society and set goals for yourself just to never see them fulfilled. Doing so will just make setting goals harder and more discouraging because you train yourself to not meet your goals. You literally program yourself to think it’s okay to set goals and not meet them. I promise, once you set a goal and meet that goal, you’ll be changed. Looking back at your past self and knowing you made it is a reward worth having. Trust me, I’m so happy to be in school and at the beginning of 2020, I was sure that was a goal I would give up on.

Take Control of Your Influence

Take Control of Your Influence

Hi team, Mary here! Now is the time to take control of your influence. If you have been following us for a while, you know that Brian and I have the philosophy that your influence is your single greatest responsibility as a human being. If you’re new, welcome! We want to help you find your influence, use your influence in a positive way, and develop that which makes you unique. We recognize that each individual has something to offer this world that separates them from the rest, and the world needs your unique, positive influence!

Find Yourself

In order to tap into that which makes you individual, and therefore which makes your influence individual, you must first find yourself. I wish I could tell you there is an easy path to step on for you to do this, but, alas, there is not. I can only offer my wisdom on how you can find yourself. Finding yourself always starts with two things: slowing down and being honest. If you can slow down and be honest with yourself while you are trying to find yourself, down to your very core being, your journey will be easier.

Our first book, Individual Advantages: Find the “I” in Team, takes you on this extensive journey of finding yourself. To keep it concise, for blog purposes, you need to do some self-reflection. Slow down, bring your senses into the present moment, focus on the now, and start to reflect. My hope is that the following list of questions will help you start to ponder who you are as a unique human being. Take the time that you deserve to do this because Brian and I both truly believe that you are doing this world a disservice if you do not choose to influence it with that which makes you wholly individual.

  • Who do you think you are?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Who do you want to be perceived as?
  • Who do you think you are perceived as now?
  • What makes you feel happy?
  • What are your core, personal values?
  • What do you like and dislike most about yourself?

Be Yourself

Once you have found yourself, who you are and who you want to be, you finally have the chance to be yourself—to be a positive influence on the world around you. Being a positive influence, even to yourself, doesn’t require you to change anything. It only requires that you think pragmatically, as a leader should, about situations and people. We cover being a positive influence extensively in our second book, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team, due to be released in January 2021.

Being a positive influence means understanding how you communicate and trying to understand how others communicate with you. It means taking the high road, weighing your choices to make decisions, being accountable for those decisions, finding balance and striving to keep that balance, staying humble, and staying positive. This certainly doesn’t exhaust the list, however, being yourself and being a positive influence means looking for ways to stay true to yourself that also benefits as many people as possible.

Your Greatest Responsibility

Your influence is your greatest responsibility. How you choose to treat yourself, the people around you, and your environment all play a pivotal role in your influence. Your influence is comprised of your actions, words, and thoughts. How you treat yourself in your mind influences who you are and how you treat others. As we like to say, “What’s inside influences what’s outside.” Treat yourself kindly and you will be more inclined to treat others kindly. If you can understand your worth and what you can contribute to this world just by being yourself, you will feel the full weight of your responsibility on your shoulders. How you choose to wield that responsibility is yours alone, we hope that we can influence you to choose to use it positively.

10 Steps for Achieving Goals During COVID-19

Written by: Brian Smith & Mary Smith
Original by: IA Business Advisors

Setting and committing to personal and professional goals takes a lot of time, thought, and planning. It’s not typically something that is done on a whim or very easily. Deciding what your goals are, or what your company’s goals are, is a process. It can be difficult to stick to goals or set new goals amidst a pandemic due to the uncertainty. However, it is vital to your health and your company’s health to set new goals and see old goals through to the end. The IA Business Advisors team put together these steps to help you continue pursuing your goals.

Step 1: Take Care of Yourself

Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Whether you are stuck at home or considered essential, it’s important to be mindful of your current state and wellbeing. You cannot be your best self if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Ensure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep by setting alarms for bedtime and waking up. Going to bed and waking up at consistent times will ensure you receive the proper rest to support your psychological and physiological needs. When you have enough sleep, you have an increased ability to stay focused.

Schedule your meals in advance to ensure you are eating enough, but not too much, and that you are eating the best foods you can. Scheduling your meal plans in advance helps curb the boredom walks to the fridge. It also reduces the amount of anxiety in a day by allowing you to see exactly what your day is going to look like. In the midst of uncertainty, having a schedule can help us feel more stable.

Be mindful of scheduling time to be social. Facetime a friend, call a family member, or take your dog for a walk. Don’t isolate yourself from the world just because you have to be at home. Taking care of your full psychological and physiological health during this time is imperative to reaching your current and future goals. A lack of balance in your life will jeopardize your ability to stay on track.

Step 2: Understand the Costs

When setting new goals or evaluating old ones you need to determine and understand the different time, financial, and emotional costs associated with reaching each specific goal. How does that goal provide value to you?

Step 3: Double Dip

Use your goals to combine something you want with something you need. Commingling your wants and needs can help move you closer to your goals and help keep you motivated towards reaching them.

Step 4: Weigh Your Options

Make sure to weigh your options before committing to moving forward. Risk assessment can be as simple as asking yourself or others simple questions until you come to an objective conclusion. Some questions you can ask are:

1) Am I being objective? (Or, is my team being objective?)

2) How will these goals help me become a better human?

3) Are my goals S.M.A.R.T.? (Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely?)

4) Am I mentally ready to commit?

Step 5: Affirmations

Be sure to notate how you will benefit from each step of your goal and how each step adds value to your goal. Understanding the influence your goal will have on you and the steps it takes to reach that goal is imperative for success. If you aren’t committed and motivated to the goal by understanding how it will benefit you, you will likely abandon the goal.

Create visual reminders of these affirmations as sticky notes, notes cards, or digital reminders. You can place these on mirrors, desks, walls, nightstands, or anywhere you will be able to see them daily. These affirmations will help keep you positive and committed to your goals, as well as reminding you why you started them in the first place.

Step 6: Designate Goal Days

Pick a specific day (or days) that you will commit to working on your goal. It doesn’t have to be the entire day, it could be Mondays from 5:00 – 6:00 pm, or every Saturday for three hours. If you set specifics around the times you will work to meet your goals, you are more likely to stick to them.

Step 7: Overcoming Temptations

You need to understand the temptations that can derail you from meeting your goals. Temptations can make us abandon goals completely, so understanding what makes us tick will help us combat this issue. We all have temptations, and these temptations are usually repetitive behaviors that have challenged us in the past. This will require us to be honest with ourselves as we reflect on our past. By understanding what tempts you, negatively, you can anticipate your ability to get in your own way. Hide any physical temptations out of reach. If there are people or immobile temptations that challenge you, make them difficult to access or as scarce as possible.

Step 8: Outsourced Accountability

Ask your friends, family, or peers to help you stay on track for your goals. Their positive influence and kind nudges could be what keeps you on track. If you have obvious temptations, be honest about those with your outsourced accountability team. Try to find someone who has self-discipline to help you. Ask these people to share with you how they overcame their own unique temptations and how they stay self-motivated.

Step 9: Willpower

Do you find your tank of willpower running out? Drink a favorite drink to increase your willpower! Remember step 1? Taking care of your psychological and physiological needs can help maintain or increase your willpower. Lower glucose levels have been shown to cause a decrease in willpower (energy). We recommend hot water, lemon, and honey or agave (or another sweetener of your choice).

Step 10: Learn to Live with Exceptions

Adapting goals you set at the beginning of the year to fit our current situation may be challenging, but we urge you to find the positive side. If your goal was to workout more, your gym might be closed, but there are tons of apps, videos, and online classes that can keep you safe in your home while reaching your goals. You must adapt your goals to living with change and exceptions rather than abandoning them completely.


We are all in this together. We are all adjusting, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on ourselves and our goals. Now is the perfect time to focus on ourselves, adjust our strategies, and come out of this pandemic as better humans. Planning for your future, taking care of yourself, and working to be better will all help contribute to your psychological wellbeing. If you need any help or guidance, IA Business Advisors are here to help you. Just send us an email: support@iabusinessadvisors.com

© Individual Advantages, LLC. 2020

Managing COVID-19 as a Leader

Written by: Brian Smith & Mary Smith
Original by: IA Business Advisors 

When tragedy strikes, we are often bombarded by both inspirational stories and those of disappointment. With COVID-19, we have witnessed this bombardment across every sector of business. We consult business leaders, managers, and employees all day and—nearly—all night about the various aspects of life being interrupted by this amazingly challenging time in history. IA Business Advisors offer this advice for managing the effects of COVID-19 as a leader.

Understanding the Effects

First, its important that leaders realize that different people have different ways of dealing with stress. In addition, people will have different stress and trigger points. For example, not everyone is concerned about finances or where they work from. Some people have family and friends that are being more negatively affected than them, creating a different kind of stress that can be misunderstood or dismissed by people who don’t find themselves influenced by such issues. Others find the entire COVID-19 crisis ridiculous or feel the world is overreacting, supported by phrases like, “What’s the big deal? The flu is worse.”

We had a few team members who thought this might be an overreaction. We read influenza statistics and compared them to the statistics for COVID-19, feeling the data supported this conclusion. However, we were wrong. We owe our families, team, and clients a more thoughtful and deeper review of the risks this crisis is bringing rapidly into our lives and are happy to have changed our position quickly enough to get just a touch in front of the ball. As a business leader, you owe it to yourself and those you influence to remain strong, objective yet stern, and positive in your influence.

Your Positive Influence

Honest and open communication is a vital part of any viable business, becoming critical during times of stress and crisis. Remaining objective yet positive will help you and your team remain in a mindset that can be the difference between your organization maintaining its viability and falling prey to negative emotional shut down. Having an honest discussion with your team about the status of your environment can alleviate stress from the unknown.

Use your influence to provide simple guidance. Don’t assume that everyone on your team is following directives such as social distancing and limited interactions. Challenge your team to remain prudent and observant about their situations, especially when dealing with people. This requires you to remain consistent in your messaging; habits are formed by consistent action and this is a perfect time to establish healthy habits.

There will be times when your positive influence is challenged by someone’s negative influence. Don’t exacerbate these issues with a negative response; now is the time to employ some empathy for the myriad of negative situations people are facing right now. We previously mentioned that people handle stress in different ways; one of those ways is being negative. Empathetically challenge them with facts.

One of our previous social media posts, regarding disaster loan assistance for COVID-19 from the U.S. Small Business Administration, has been challenged by people replying that the SBA is a government entity and do people really want to be indebted to the government. Our reply is simple: It depends on the business. Businesses faced with losing their company versus getting a disaster loan to save it may mean that being indebted to the SBA is the better choice. However, it’s a decision that each leader will need to make after reviewing the current and future status of their company.

Learn more about applying for disaster loan assistance by watching this video.

Situational Awareness

Preparing your team to be situationally aware is another habit you can train by remaining consistent in your communication. We must be prudent and teach our teams to remain aware of their surroundings. Having situational awareness requires us to slow down and pay attention; acting out of emotion or desperation may force us to take action that is poorly thought out and may become counterproductive to the threat we are facing.

Situational awareness is emotionally and physically important as we work from home, visit the grocery store, or visit with others. Maintaining a healthy body and mind is imperative, especially for those of us who will be isolated at home. Keep a regular schedule: wake up at your normal time, schedule breaks in your day, call a friend or family member, and do some yoga or go for a walk. Don’t forget to keep your mind engaged in fun activities. Start an art project, do a puzzle, play a game, read a book, or start on that personal to-do list you’ve been meaning to get to.

When you’re out of the home, keeping people at safe distances (at least six feet) is as much your responsibility as it is theirs. If you find that people around you are violating social distancing, be mindful that you maintain at least six feet of space between you and them. Remind others if they begin to encroach on your space. You can do this kindly, and from what we have seen in public, people will be perceptive and kind.

A side positive note: We have noticed that people are calm and kind in stores; don’t be afraid to be kindly assertive to protect yourself and others.

When and if you are out in public, maintain situational awareness of your surroundings as well. There will be people who will become opportunists and take advantage of the current crisis in a negative way. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to remain aware. This is also true of your home. Keep doors locked, don’t leave valuables where they can be seen from the outside, and remain safe and cautious. It’s better to be safe and take precautions.

Support Your Team

As a leader, sharing prudent and pragmatic information about COVID-19 can help to get your team through this crisis. Empathy will get you even further. Be responsive and mindful of people’s emotions, even if that means monitoring their body language or non-verbal communication. Encourage your team to open up about the challenges they face and maintain an open line of communication that can support them.

Communicating with your team openly, honestly, and frequently about the status of your organization will help them better understand the short- and long-term consequences of this crisis. Support where you can and ask for help when you need it; understand that we will all make sacrifices and try to set a positive example for those you influence. Help your team get through this challenging time and establish a solid foundation for the future. If you have any specific questions, reach out to us: support@iabusinessadvisors.com

© Individual Advantages, LLC. 2020