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Master Leadership: 3 Steps to Engaging Hearts & Minds


Employee Development Systems, Employee EngagementElevating performance is an ongoing challenge for leaders of all stripes. Trust us, you’re not alone. After 30 years at Employee Development Systems, Inc. (EDSI) we have worked with organizations of all sizes and across many industries. Regardless of whether you’re in the health care, energy, legal fields, or any other industry, here is one set of best practices for engaging your employees.

Get back to the basics! Are you meeting their three intellectual needs of Achievement, Autonomy, and Mastery?

"It's not enough to be busy. The question is, what are we busy about?"

When you fulfill these needs, you create a self reinforcing cycle of improvement, growth and performance. Intellectual engagement is like a muscle-if you don’t use it, it will go away. Don’t let that happen to your team. The more they engage intellectually, the better their ability to perform.

Everyone needs to feel like they are moving ahead in their professional and personal lives. EDSI takes on the professional realm. We have trained over XXX people. In that time, we can say with confidence that if people are moving ahead and engaged at work, they also will take the same concepts with them to their personal lives. It’s a marvelous side benefit of increasing engagement.

“Thought, not money, is the real business capital.”

What You Can Do
Elimate any barriers to achievement. Make it easy for your employees to succeed. Provide resources, give authority that matches responsibility, and be decisive with your decisions and timelines. If you don’t take your direction seriously, neither will your employees!

Involve team members in defining and improving their work processes. Some of them will contribute to major changes, others might just tweak a small routine in your workplace. Either way, People support what they create.
Determine the appropriate boundaries and defend them. Guidelines can help establish priorities. Broadly define the playing field, so employees have a strong understanding of the setting and organizational culture.

Find a good fit between natural abilities and job requirements. Make this an ongoing responsibility of yours, as a leader.  One of the strongest human desires is to become a master -to know that they do something very well. Once this is fulfilled, minds are engaged and inspired. Consider combining tasks that require similar levels so you can more easily match the person’s skills to their job requirements. Automate as many routine tasks as possible. As much as possible, take the mindless work off the table entirely. Streamline inefficient processes that burn up your employees’ time and take away from their ability to master a critical skill. Outsource tasks that require significant effort but have little impact on the organizational culture.

The Most Important Element
YOU are the most important and powerful element in engaging your employees. Regardless of leadership style or organization, you are a coach for your team. Find opportunities to coach them in post-project reviews, customer meetings, conflicts with other departments, changes in priorities, miscommunications, and mistakes. Ongoing feedback increases engagement and keeps it at a higher level.

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” -Anne. M Mulcahy

"There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

“Our newest competitive advantage is our oldest one-our employees’ minds and hearts.”

At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 

Give Us Your Toughest Performance Management & Productivity Questions

Suzanne Updagraff, author and business leader

Dear Suzanne,
I have been the human resources director of a mid-sized law firm for three years. It’s a position I’ve been working toward for many years, and it I like the firm I work for. I’ve had three years of a high-stress environment, where I’ve worked with our CEO to tackle major changes in the firm.  I’ve met many of my personal and professional stretch goals in this position and don’t want to give it up.

In the last year, I’ve become much less effective, and haven’t been able to get traction on any of the projects and goals that moved ahead so quickly in the first two years.  I’m completely burned out, and my effectiveness seems to have drained away, along with my physical, mental, and emotional reserves. How can I get back on track and gain traction on my professional (and personal) goals?

Austin, TX

First of all, congratulations on reaching your goals. You’re clearly on a great career path. I can understand why it has drained much of your energy. It’s time to get yourself back on track, and here’s how:

  • There are times when we all need to pull out the stops for a big project. This isn’t sustainable for the long term, so you need to normalize your schedule and workload. Decide that you don’t have a scheduling problem, you have a priority problem. It seems like everything on your list is important, but if you give it careful consideration, you’ll realize that some things really ARE more important than others. Carve out those projects and make the hard choices about what you can accomplish.
  • Take baby steps. You will feel much less overwhelmed if you break down your projects into daily tasks. While it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, that wide angle lens will not serve you on a day-to-day basis.
  • Wait and watch. You’re obviously a very ambitious and smart person, and those are the qualities that have gotten you this far. However, sometimes plowing forward on a project only digs you deeper in the wrong direction. Carefully consider what you decide to take on, and be up front about it with your colleagues. Trust me, they’ll respect you for your candor.
  • Flex your goals. Goals can be changed, and it may be time to give yours another look. You don’t need to keep a firm grip on every goal and project if its priority and role in the firm (and in your life) have changed.

I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes. I’m sure you’ll recalibrate and reenergize!



Are you ready for more Dear Suzanne? Here are two more letters, where Suzanne tackles the real problems faced by your peers and colleagues.

Emergency Intervention for Performance Management

Dear Suzanne,
I  manage employees for a law firm in San Antonio. I know that star employees who leave an organization are often leaving the manager not the job itself. Recently I have had a few  resign, so I can’t help but ask myself if they are leaving because of my management style. If you had to make a short list for an emergency intervention of performance management, what would it be?

Find Out Suzanne's Advice


Impact Performance Now

Help! My Team Building Atmosphere Has Completely Broken Down!

Dear Suzanne,

As the general manager of a law firm, I am responsible for building and maintaining multiple teams, depending on the client and project. These days, law firms include many more roles than simply legal services. We often include an accountant, project manager, and outside content experts, depending on the case.

We have the age-old problem of how to build an effective team, and I'm looking for new insight and energy, so we can inject a true positive team atmosphere. Can you give me some advice?

Find Out Suzanne's Advice

At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 





10 Steps to a Happier Workplace & Increased Effectiveness


Employee EngagementWhile we all know that a positive work atmosphere leads to higher retention, productivity, and increased effectiveness, sometimes you may find that you are stressed and in a rut yourself. How can you foster a happy workplace for your employees when you are overextended and running dry? Here are some quick reminders for how  maintain the happy, motivated workplace you envision.

  1. Give people control. Research shows that people’s happiness is affected by their sense of control over their lives. Being able to do your own work in your own way, or to influence your environment, gives a big boost in satisfaction.
  2. Make yourself available. This can be a tough one to maintain, but take 15 minutes out of your day to talk with one of your team members who is not on your calendar.
  3. Manage everyone individually. Everyone is different, but some are so different that they may require a personalized management style. Knowing your employees on an individual basis is the only way to know how to manage them effectively.
  4. Decrease time spent in meetings. One study compared decisions made by groups where members stood during the meeting compared to decisions made where members sat. Groups that stood took 34% less time, with no loss in quality. Why not give it a try? It could shake up the tenor of your office and the weekly meetings that never seem to end.
  5. Create a growth path for every employee. People have a strong desire for growth and advancement in their lives. Confirm that the plan is aligned with their personal and professional goals. Create benchmarks and a provide opportunities for training, to create a sense of accomplishment.
  6. Support new ideas. Even if you think your office is in a rut, if people are still coming to you with ideas, then all is not lost. They may be stressed, but at least they are still engaged. As much as possible, give people the chance to run with their ideas.
  7. Embrace change. Fighting change is harder than embracing change. If you are open to change, employees will feel free to give their input and throw out innovative ideas.
  8. Shake up the typical routines. People fall into a routine and as they are lulled into boredom, innovation and workplace engagement plunge. Get it back on track by changing up the schedule, giving everyone a turn to run the department meeting, or change up the physical space.
  9. Celebrate personal milestones and acknowledge professional achievements. Take time to note birthdays and other personal milestones. Celebrate them as a group, and you’ll see the levity (and therefore the happiness) increase in your workplace. Acknowledge a job well done with just as much energy as a birthday or other occasion.
  10. Provide ongoing feedback; don’t wait for a standard review cycle.  This is a core habit of an effective manager. Ongoing feedback keeps you connected to your employees, their challenges and successes -even the small ones. Get comfortable with both positive and negative feedback, so you can integrate them both seamlessly into a conversation or typical workday.

Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person- not just an employee- are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Enlist the steps here for a happier workplace!

At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 

Employee Engagement on Steroids-Market Basket, The Real-Life Parable


EDSI MarketBasketThe Story of the Two Arthurs
Market Basket, a grocery chain with 71 locations throughout the New England area boasts over 25,000 employees. It is known for reasonable prices, a no-nonsense approach to business, and a unique customer culture. It’s the only grocery where customers regularly chat in the aisles, sharing recipes and news about the best sale items of the week. What most people didn’t realize until recently is that Market Basket employees are even more engaged than their customers

Market Basket is a family business that was originally started in Massachusetts by two Greek immigrants, in 1916. Now in its third generation as a family business, much strife and in-fighting recently resulted in a surprise takeover by one of the two managing cousins. Of the two cousins who ran the company, Arthur T. and Arthur S. Demoulas, Arthur T. was the active managing executive, cared deeply about his employees, showed empathy, rewarded them well, and was universally loved by the workforce.

Before the takeover, no one, including the board of directors, knew quite how engaged and dedicated Market Basket employees are. After almost two months of employees and distributors refusing to go to work, thousands of them holding regular rallies, demanding reinstatement of Arthur T., and living without a paycheck, Arthur S. and the board gave in, sold the entire company to Arthur T., and as of this writing, thousands of employees have gone back to work, trucks are delivering food to stores, managers are rushing around getting their stores back on track ...and the rest of us are left with the most inspiring, authentic employee engagement parable in recent history.

Impact Performance Now

Can you imagine any other company where (non-unionized) employees take to the streets, put their jobs on the line in support of an ousted leader? This real-life parable demonstrates so clearly what employees are willing to risk for jobs they love and a leader who inspired the culture behind it.

The Meaning is the Message
As this dramatic, real-life tale demonstrates, engagement and a sense of purpose is integral to keeping your star players who will go to bat for you, your department, or your organization, even in the tough times. How do you instill a sense of meaning and purpose?

  • Build and maintain an ongoing regular one-on-one dialogue with every person you manage.
  • Clarify expectations with I-statements.
  • Regularly give positive and corrective feedback.
  • Immediately acknowledge ideas.
  • Foster a culture of accountability.

These is a snapshot of the topics we delve into in the EDSI Communicating to Manage Performance program. We have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years., and would welcome the opportunity to work with your organization to help you develop an engaged, accountable workforce that is ready to go the extra mile for your organization.

The powerful words of Arthur T. Demoulas distill the sentiments of an effective leader who has fostered an engaged workforce:

“Words cannot express how much I appreciate each and every one of you (employees). You are simply the best. As I stand here, there is very little that I could ever add to your brilliant work, your extraordinary display of loyalty, and the power of your enduring spirit over the past several weeks. You taught everybody that ... Market Basket is a place where respect, honor, and dignity is a way of life. This was not about a family conflict or a Greek tragedy, but more about fairness, justice, and a solid moral compass that united the human soul. Because of you, I stand here with a renewed vigor and a sense of purpose."

Contact us to talk about how we can help increase, accountability, engagement, productivity, and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374

3 Practical Takeaways for Improved Organizational Leadership


Improving Organizational EffectivenessImproving organizational leadership can seem like an ambiguous goal, difficult to pin down. Here are three practical ways you can improve your organization leadership this week -or even today!

1. Know your target audience. According to a recent Forbes article, New Approaches to Customer Data Can Improve the Effectiveness of Marketing “We are entering an era of marketing where effectiveness will depend on creating highly personalized experiences at every touch point. To do this, marketers must have both the processes and tools needed to operationalize coherent views of prospects and customers.”

The same can be said about improving organizational effectiveness and leadership. The greater understanding of the target audience (your employees or team members), the better equipped you will be to help them improve their personal (and professional) effectiveness, accountability and most of all, productivity.

“Operationalizing coherent views” of your employees translates easily into learning their personality style and flexing it according to the person and situation. It also means fostering an awareness of the important role personality and work style play in the success of almost every project, meeting, or initiative. The DiSC (or a similar tool) can help you and your employees make great strides in active listening, effective communication, employee motivation, and engagement.  

2. Take stock of your network resiliency. Whether managing remotely or in a traditional corporate setting, network resiliency is usually overlooked. How many players are in your business network? Do you always communicate with the same core group of people? If you continually go to the same people for problem solving assistance, you’ll get a canned set of solutions. Instead, start to interact with more people across the organization (or more tangential contacts, if you’re working remotely).  

Consider “Network theory” that was first researched by the sociologist, Mark Grenovetter, in The Strength of Weak Ties, a paper that has been republished many times and has been cited over 27,000 times, according to Google Scholar. Grenovetter has shown that weak social ties are responsible for the majority of the social networks in society as well as the transmission of information through these networks:

“Specifically, more novel information flows to individuals through weak rather than strong ties. Because our close friends (and colleagues) tend to move in the same circles that we do, the information they receive overlaps considerably with what we already know. Acquaintances, by contrast, know people that we do not, and thus receive more novel information.”

Essentially, we need to always expand our cache of resources and connections, both in and outside of our own organization, to keep ideas flowing and fresh perspectives, leading to more effective organizational leadership and a more robust organizational culture. What can you do this week to start expanding your “weak” ties and using the power of a network to increase your effectiveness?

3. Foster a culture of accountability. Accountability for one’s professional presence, work results, and communication effectiveness is the hallmark of a robust organizational culture. When every member of a team feels 100% responsible for the outcome of a project, they will not spend time point fingers or damaging their relationships, should the project not go according to plan.  Instead, they will quickly regain composure and start to look for solutions. The ultimate and most powerful type of accountability is accountability for oneself. Many attendees of our programs, such as Increasing Personal Effectiveness have walked out of the program with a newfound freedom - the freedom to hold themselves accountable for their position, performance, and career. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Accountability creates response-ability.”

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.”
(Henry Cloud)

At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization. 800-282-3374 

3 Barriers to Professional Success & Personal Effectiveness


Employee Development Systems, Inc. Personal EffectivenessIncreasing self-awareness is the bedrock of many EDSI programs. Whether we’re addressing the 5 Habits of a Cohesive Team, Increasing Personal Effectiveness, Improving Professional Presence, or any of our other initiatives, self-awareness is at the core of adult learning and personal change in an organizational setting.

Many of us trudge through our days -and therefore our careers- behind one of these barriers. Do you see yourself in any of these?

Low Confidence
Do you believe in yourself, or are you constantly fighting off the fear that you aren’t able to measure up? Or maybe you have experienced a measure of success, and feel like an imposter in your own life.  Get comfortable seeing yourself as a successful person. Self-promotion, the ability to be assertive and talk about your achievements, are critical to your future success. Being timid or displaying self-doubt will encourage your employer to choose someone else when the next big project comes along.

Ongoing Communication Issues
We all think we’ve mastered successful communication, right? How are your feedback skills? Are you able to:

  • Understand how to manage different behavioral styles when dealing with conflict.
  • Learn the difference between assertive, aggressive, and non-assertive communication.
  • Realize the importance of non-verbal communication.
  • Identify clarity in your communication and learn to build it into your day-to-day speech.
  • Use the tool of I-statements to reduce conflict and defensive communication.
  • Discover an alternative to critical feedback.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers consistently rank communication skills as a top skill in prospective employees. When employees and supervisors communicate effectively, there is an increased chance of promotion and retention. If you consistently have communication issues at the office, then it’s time to reflect on why these same problems keep occurring, and what you can do about them.

Getting Sluggish
Many of us remember Stephen Covey’s advice to always “sharpen the saw.” This rule applies even more than it did when he first said it, as the workplace is changing every day. Employee expectations, new roles are being created, companies are forced to change and become leaner at any given moment. Do you feel too comfortable in your current position? If it feels like you could do it in your sleep, it’s time to do something more. Set new goals, learn some new skills, and challenge yourself to be a step ahead at work.

Impact Performance Now
If you have been in a rut, have had ongoing communication problems or have confidence issues that are holding you back, commit to resolving them and making your own professional (and personal!) success happen!

At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization.


3 Steps to Creating Successful Habits for Your Personal Effectiveness

Employee Development Systems, Habits, personal effectiveness“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
-Foster C. McClellan

Your habits determine your future. In the words of Horace Mann, “A habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last we cannot break it.”  We all face defining moments that can transform our careers and lives. Personal effectiveness and personal accountability are all part of developing and maintaining the habits that will lead to your success. Develop the habit of enthusiastic focused action, and your path to for personal effectiveness will become clear and unobstructed.

Look closely at the habits that are holding you back from reaching your peak professional presence and personal effectiveness. You can probably think of a few right away. Here are some common habits that negatively impact professional presence, courtesy of The Power of Focus, by Jack Canfield.  Do you see yourself in any of these?
  • Not returning phone calls on time.
  • Being late for meetings and appointments.
  • Poor communication between colleagues and staff.
  • Never updating your website.
  • Not allowing enough travel time when going to meet clients or prospects for outside appointments.
  • Not attending to paperwork quickly and efficiently.
  • Wasting time on the Internet.
  • Allowing bills to go unpaid, resulting in high interest penalties.
  • Not following  up consistently on long overdue receivables.
  • Talking instead of listening.
  • Forgetting someone’s name sixty seconds (or less) after being introduced.
  • Hitting the snooze alarm several times in the morning before getting out of bed.
  • Working long days with no exercise or taking regular breaks.
  • Not spending enough time with your children.
  • Having a fast-food meals program that often is Monday to Friday.
  • Eating at irregular times of the day.
  • Leaving home in the morning without hugging your wife, husband, children and/or dog.
  • Taking work home with you every day, or working all hours, every day, without conscious breaks for the rest of your life.
  • Being glued to your phone when having dinner with your spouse.
  • Making reservations at the last minute.
  • Not following through on requests as promised.
  • Not taking enough time off for fun and family-guilt free!
  • Not cleaning up your emails. Remember, that’s just a virtual task queue!
  • Controlling every decision, especially the small stuff you need to let go of!
Procrastinating on everything from filing taxes to cleaning out your garage.
  • As we often have talked about here at EDSI in our blog, our materials, and programs, is that your outward behavior reflects the real you. Your inner perception of yourself can’t be recognized by others if your behaviors and habits don’t reflect who you are (or who you think you are).

Successful people develop successful habits, and here is how they do it.

Clearly identify your bad or unproductive habits.
Be brutally honest with yourself about your professional and personal habits, and how they are likely impacting your personal effectiveness and professional presence. Do you need to improve your active listening skills? How are you doing at giving consistent, positive feedback to your staff? Does your physical presence accurately convey your professionalism and potential? 

Define your new successful habit
Your success is dependent on filling your current bad habit space with a good habit. What will yours be? If you talk over others in meetings, what will you do next time you get the urge to interrupt? If your habit is to only give negative feedback in negative situations, how can you start to recognize opportunities to consistently inject positive feedback?

Create a three-part action plan.
Make a decision about which specific  actions you are going to implement and when. You must take action. Start with one habit that you really want to change and focus on 3 immediate action steps and put them into practice. Remember, nothing will change until you do.

4 Ways to Improve Personal Effectiveness & Professional Presence


Accountability and professional presence4 Ways to Dig Yourself Out of a Rut & Get Your Career Back on Track

Are you in a funk? Maybe it's because of outside forces that are beyond your control, but once you recognize that your work-life has become humdrum, you have the power to change your mindset and so your situation. The first step upward is to realize that the solution isn't likely to be provided by anyone or any event outside yourself. The ability to climb out of your rut lies within you.

So how do you move yourself? Ruts come about because of a pervasive resistance to change. The stairway out of a rut is created by increasing your personal effectiveness, shaking things up a bit—seeking change. Once you've made the decision to help yourself put the following 4 suggestions to use to lift your mood and maybe even to lift the mood of those around you.



GRIT: Your Professional Development Secret Weapon!

Whether you are a recent graduate or are already mid-career, the two main predictors of success are the same. Hard skills give us the baseline for any project or job. But what two traits give the most successful business leaders the edge that gets them ahead? Professional presence and grit are the traits that set you apart.


 Personal Effectiveness

4 Ways to Open Career Doors & Improve Personal Effectiveness

Learning and understanding professional culture is critical to personal effectiveness in the workplace and professional presence. It’s also the smoothest way to forge your professional credibility. 

“Most organizations define their cultural values by a strategic imperative. If the initiative is to focus on clients, the behaviors and actions must reflect that. If building market share is valued, the alignment must be on challenging the status quo.” 

~Suzanne Updegraff, CEO, Employee Development Systems, Inc. 

Organizational culture is the DNA of a company. Just like individuals, every firm is unique. On the top layer, it includes things like dress code, and flex time policies.  Under those initial policies? That is where you find the even more important cultural morays of an organization. Think about your current workplace. What behaviors are recognized and rewarded? How are people managed, motivated and developed? Think about how employees succeed or fail, regardless of their ability. If not ability, then what is determining those outcomes? Asking those questions will reveal the heart of your corporate culture.


Increase Your Personal Effectiveness!

The Only REAL Accountability Starts Here

Regardless of how important we say accountability is, organizations tend to only bring up the term when there is a complete break down, and an obvious lack of accountability in a team, department or organization. That’s when we tend to unpack the overused business speak, and the Human Resources Department starts a new round of metrics, analytics and evaluations to increase accountability.

As questioned in a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Who should get what data about physician success rates, hospital effectiveness, student achievement, or school performance? What should be measured or tested, and what should be done with the data? Should physician reimbursement be outcome-based, and what factors should be part of outcome measurement? Should teachers be held accountable for the academic success or failure of their students?” 

Those efforts are ultimately in vain if they are not working hand-in-hand with self-accountability.  Once change is initiated in your employees, you will see it spread throughout the workplace.


At EDSI, we have been resolving employee development, leadership, generational, professional presence, and personal effectiveness issues for over 30 years. Contact us to learn how we can help increase productivity and profits in your organization.


Great Resume? Here's What You May Be Missing-Professional Presence!


Professional Presence, Employee Developemnt Systems, Inc.“The next time you are heading out the door, pause at the mirror and make sure that what you see reflects your purpose and value.” Amy Spiegel, author and business leader

Fact: You will be judged by your physical appearance. How you choose to dress is one of the first things people will notice about you and shapes their perception of you. 

“The most basic mistake new employees make is underdressing,” says Randall Hansen, a professor of business at Stetson University in Deland, Fla. “If unsure, dress conservatively. The best way to avoid a problem is to understand the corporate culture.”

Making the right impression at work isn’t hard if you keep in mind three basic points when buying clothes for the office: 

1. Presentation counts. 

2. Casual shouldn’t mean slovenly. 

3. Dress as you want to be seen: Serious, professional, upward-bound and ready to meet clients.

Dress for your next position, not your current one! Take notice of the professional presence of people who are currently in your “goal job.” Take a look at the rising stars in your department or organization. How do you compare?

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Even though most companies have a dress code, there is plenty of room for interpretation. Make your presentation reflect your professionalism and your personal style. In the words of one style expert, “Understated elegance beats flash and trash five days a week. That means men shouldn’t dress like aspiring rock stars, and women should shun the Paris Hilton look.”

As a leader or emerging professional, your future depends on taking the 3 core concepts of professionalism seriously:

  • behaviors
  • personal presentation
  • business presence

What Distinguishes Individuals with High Professional Presence?

  1. Confidence in their abilities to perform the functions they were hired to do.
  2. An ability to solve problems and focus on solutions.
  3. They make decisions that are sound and responsible and impact the good of the organization as opposed to self-serving.
  4. Confronting or eliminating fears from their thinking. Focusing on positive outcomes instead of negative results is their operational method.
  5. Taking risks. Professionals take calculated, measurable risks  in order to challenge themselves, create movement and change the organizational culture.
  6. They take care of themselves through effective self-management. They exercise, they eat the right foods, they nurture themselves and create an environment that is positive and motivating instead of one that is filled with stress.

Pay Attention to First Impression Impact!
Numerous studies support the premise that within the first 30 seconds of meeting someone they have formed an impression of you based upon the behaviors that you’ve chosen to give them. Impressions are powerful beliefs that are difficult to change.

Increase Your Personal Effectiveness!
Not Just Another Nice Suit!
Appearance can create credibility. You know this from your own experience watching TV food-fight shows focusing on politics and other chin-pulling topics. Think of the number of times experts from opposing sides of an issue have made good points during an exchange, but you remember what one said simply because that person was better dressed and came across better on screen.

You’ve probably read plenty of articles about a basic professional wardrobe, and how you can never go wrong with these basics:


  • A button-down shirt.
Polished black shoes. 

  • A blue, black or gray jacket. 

  • Slacks that complement the jacket. 

  • Don’t forget the socks! 


  • A skirt that hits just above the knee
  • Slacks and perhaps pantsuits.

Simple jewelry. 

  • Just a hint of makeup. 

  • Polished flats or moderate heels. 

  • Sweaters. 

Here’s the Secret
Most people master clothing, the obvious professional presence hallmark. Many downplay or even forget that grooming, personal habits, accessories, and your office, desk, or cubicle are also part of your professional presence. Pay attention to your hair, fingernails, nose and ear hair, breath, nail biting, facial hair, and anything else associated with your body.

Do you bite your nails or have any other personal habits? Overcome them to improve your polish. You want to take your career (and life) to the next level, and mastering habits is the bedrock of your current and future success. You are dressing to reinforce your professionalism and competence. Some young professionals don’t understand the difference and damage their careers. 

In the words of Mark Twain, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”
Do not go naked (or inappropriately dressed) into that good night.

Executive & Professional Presence: Do You Have What it Takes?


Employee Development Systems, Inc. Professional PresenceThe aura of leadership that some people exude seems to surpass all of the typical outward indications, of the best suits and shoes worthy of an executive. According to a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, executives that successfully convey their current (and likely future) position act self confident, strategic, decisive, and assertive.

These days we have less time to convey an impression to others. Several big businesses have recently launched programs in professional presence that open the eyes of their attendees, giving them an increased sense of their professional selves, how they address others, their communication style, their behavioral patterns, and more. The typical outcome of these programs is a set of employees who embrace self-accountability and have a clear sense of themselves, their impact on those around them, and how to be their most effective self, both personally and professionally.

A solid understanding of professionalism in a contemporary setting differentiates you from everyone else around you who are following a career path and following a life at home, versus creating one. Increase your professional presence to stop following and start creating!

Impact Performance Now

What distinguishes individuals with high professional presence?

  • Confidence in their abilities to perform the functions they were hired to do.
  • An ability to solve problems and focus on solutions.
  • They make decisions that are sound and responsible and impact the good of the organization as opposed to self-serving.
  • Confronting or eliminating fears from their thinking. Focusing on positive outcomes instead of negative results is their operational method.
  • Taking risks. Professionals take calculated, measurable risks in order to challenge themselves, create movement and change the organizational culture.
  • They take care of themselves through effective self-management. They exercise, they eat the right foods, they nurture themselves and create an environment that is positive and motivating instead of one that is filled with stress.

Perfect Your Presence!

  • Be honest with yourself about your own challenges; how you communicate and convey yourself to others.
  • Practice active listening skills
  • Never interrupt!
  • Avoid interruptions by counting to four before you reply
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Stand or sit large to demonstrate you take up space
  • Use few qualifiers as they imply lack of confidence
  • Don't clasp your hands behind your back (you'll look deceptive)
  • Practice a firm handshake
  • Clarify your purpose and how it serves others. This will improve your performance.
  • Pay attention to the existing culture in your workplace. Does your behavior and outlook match that? If not, modify your behaviors to succeed in that environment.
  • Learn the competencies that you will need for the future and get started with self-training. Remember Covey’s words of wisdom to always “Sharpen the saw!”

Get Your Copy Now!

When was the last time you sharpened your skills in these Professional Competency areas?

  • Organization awareness for strategic imperatives
  • Leadership skills
  • Technological innovation & literacy
  • Personal accountability for performance
  • Change management & resiliency
  • Verbal & written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Global application & understanding
  • Presentation skills
  • Collaborating

Consider choosing at least 4 of these areas where you could build your competence, and make it a professional priority to begin sharpening your skills in those areas. Can you work with your manager to develop a career plan that is inclusive of the areas you identified above?

Most people get stuck in one set of skills. They don’t push, they don’t try harder, and therefore, they don’t excel. Here is the good news: You can be different!

At Employee Development Systems, Inc., our programs been helping companies increase productivity and effectiveness for over 20 years. We invite you to take a look at our programs and what our clients have gained from working with us.

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