When it comes to leadership and management style there are two categories most people fall into. Those are sledgehammer or velvet hammer leaders. 

If you’re reading this post, you are likely a high-performing professional who takes pride in your work, and you’re extremely attentive to your own personal and professional development. 

You are the type of woman who wants to climb the ladder and be a part of a team that works together to achieve greatness. 

I’m also going to bet that many of you have likely had a boss at some point in your career who has pushed you beyond what you thought you were capable of — and the outcome was either one of two things. 

1) You felt that you were likely smarter than the boss and could do a much better job of leading the team and getting the job done. OR 

2) You felt your boss was the most awesome, compassionate, and highly intelligent (both emotional and academic) person in the room and you looked forward to the next interaction. 

The first boss is what we call a sledgehammer leader. The second was a velvet hammer leader — and that’s the goal to shoot for in your professional development. An effective leadership style uses a velvet hammer approach to bring out the best in a team. 

These experiences definitely set the tone for how we end up leading our own teams and businesses. If you missed out on having a velvet hammer leadership example, that’s okay. I’m going to give you three practical tips to develop this effective management style. 

THE VELVET HAMMER LEADER VS. THE SLEDGEHAMMER LEADER

How many of you consider yourself to be a sledgehammer or a velvet hammer leader when it comes to your leadership style? 

Let me break this down for you. 

The sledgehammer leader tells it how it is, regardless of their audience. I’m talking about no filter – what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of style. The sledgehammer doesn’t consider what other people might be thinking or feeling, nor does this person care to hear another perspective. It’s more of a my-way-or-the-highway approach.

(Haven’t we all had a boss like that in our past lives?) 

The velvet hammer leader takes into consideration the audience and actively listens to them. They think about how people may perceive a message. They ask themselves questions like: How would this person feel if I said things a certain way? What would that audience think if I approached things a certain way? The velvet hammer leader puts themselves into the mindset of their audience. 

3 TIPS TO BE AN EFFECTIVE VELVET HAMMER LEADER 

As the leader of your business or organization, you have three primary functions:

  1. Listen to others

Even if you decide to stick with your original message or plan, if you sincerely listened and genuinely took into consideration a possible alternative, that’s what matters. People want to be heard. 

  1. Develop a high level of self-awareness

This is critical to your success. Your team is relying on you to understand where they’re coming from and to know their strengths and weaknesses. They want you to lean on them and solicit their input. They want to please and give you great results. But, the only way you’ll really achieve this is to have a thorough understanding of your own tendencies and leadership style. 

  1. Communicate with empathy

The most beloved leaders are those who communicate with clarity and take into consideration how a message will be perceived. I love how Brene Brown writes in Dare to Lead, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” 

The fact of the matter is, when you’re not clear about your expectations or requirements, you’re not leading with integrity and ultimately will not garner the results you desire. Remember, being clear doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. 

Your team takes its cues from the leader. If you come across like a sledgehammer — they will too over time. If that happens, don’t ever expect to build community and camaraderie as a sledgehammer. It’ll never happen. 

The velvet hammer, on the other hand, tends to win people over, tends to build community better, and tends to retain excellent staff and clients too. 

Take this opportunity to review what leadership style you have been using and make adjustments where needed to listen, be self-aware, and communicate with empathy as a velvet hammer leader. 

About the author

Heather Lisle is a professional problem-solver, business coach, and entrepreneur with 20 plus years of experience helping business owners and leaders identify their biggest pain points and develop a fast track for growth and success.

Get to know her at @heatherlisleco on FB and IG and at http://www.heatherlisle.com


Each year, Christmas always seems to sneak up on us and we adore this time of year. We especially love it because it’s the perfect excuse to recognise the women in your life and extend your gratitude for their support and care. However, sometimes finding the perfect Christmas presents sure can be daunting.

Luckily, we’ve got you! Here’s the perfect Christmas present for your:

Colleagues

Opt for something professional, classic and functional such as a Meeting Notebook or elegant rollerball pen.

Women who work from home

If you’ve got an entrepreneurial bestie, or someone who has recently started working from home, items such as wireless headphones, a membership to an industry group or a new print for their home office would surely be appreciated! ❤️

Inspirational friends

Do you have special women in your life that truly inspire you? Help them reach their goals with these 12-month planners that are full of practical features to help them pave their own paths!

Secret Santa/Kris Kringle (these are always the toughest Christmas presents to pick!)

Looking for a gift on a budget? Go beyond the usual chocolates with our Weekly Desk Planners, Sticky Notes or To-Do Lists. They’re small, classy and the perfect stocking filler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your friend who loves to learn

A Master Class or Linked In Learning (previously Lynda.com) subscription is the perfect gift for someone who loves to learn. They’ll get to watch content on thousands of different topics that relate to their professional or personal life and interests.

Someone extra special

Anything personalised! Whether it’s a custom illustration of their favourite group photo, an engraved piece of jewellery or one of our monogrammed products, going that extra step lets them know you’ve really thought about them.

What are your go-to ideas for Christmas presents? Let us know in the comments below!


At Leaders in Heels, self-care is something we not only recommend, but deem essential. As such, we have compiled a great selection of our favourite positive quotes about self-care! Use them as a reminder that you deserve and need to prioritise things that are good for your wellbeing.

PS – screenshot your favourite quote cards to an album on your phone and read them anytime you need a blast of motivation.

1. “When you say ‘yes’ to others make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” – Paulo Coehlo

2. “The best health care plan is a self-care plan.” – Nina Leavins

3. “Taking care of yourself isn’t about trying to become perfect. It’s about realizing and honouring, in every moment, that you already are.” – Vironika Tugaleva

4. “Sometimes self-care is exercising and eating right. Sometimes it’s spending time with loved ones or taking a nap. And sometimes it’s watching an entire series of television in one weekend while you lounge around in your pyjamas. Whatever soothes your soul.”

5. “Self-care is not a luxury. Indeed not. It allows us to show up in this tumultuous world as the best versions of ourselves.”

6. “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn

7. “Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

8. “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott

9. “If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don’t, you’re simply ducking your responsibilities.” – Ann Richards

10. “Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts… good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful.” – Michelle Obama

What are your favourite positive quotes about self-care? Let us know in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram for your daily dose of motivation!


During your career as a manager, you may encounter sensitive situations with colleagues and employees. Often these problems don’t resolve themselves on their own and employees may be upset, confused and the list of potential situations you may face is endless.

When difficult situations arise it often falls to the manager to have the hard conversation with their direct report. No one told me this when I became a manager and I have had to teach myself this skill, apply knowledge gleaned from others, and consolidate what I have learnt on the job. It’s my hope that with this post I’ll leave you with tips you can use the next time you find yourself in a “what the heck do I do with this?” type of dilemma.

My top five strategies for having tough work conversations:

  1. Ask someone you trust for their suggestions and approach.

Ask them what they would say given the scenario. You can ask your HR department, your supervisor, a mentor or a colleague in another department. Sometimes, though, your workplace resources aren’t enough. After consulting my colleagues, my go-to person for management advice is my mother who held a high-ranking position at a chemical company for decades before she retired last year. Over the years she managed several unique personalities and encountered every situation under the sun. Whenever I have an issue with a direct report, I change the details and don’t reveal any personal information, but I ask her how she would handle the situation. Usually, the advice from people around you is spot-on, but needs to be tweaked for the specific matter at hand.

  1. Consult free literature that exists on the topic.

Harvard Business Review has a lot of articles that cover this very subject. HBR has a great Management Tip of the Day newsletter that covers a myriad of sticky issues that can be reviewed when needed. I also love Alison Green’s Ask a Manager web site which is my personal favourite. She has tons of archived content about every personnel issue you can think of; it’s easy to search by topic. Forbes and LinkedIn are also good resources.

  1. Schedule a time to chat with your employee and write up your talking points a few days in advance.

This isn’t a conversation you want to wing. You need to have a plan and make sure you hit on your key points. Are they showing up to work late and not completing their assignments? You better decide which is the larger issue you need to tackle. Are they being offensive to colleagues or harassing their own direct reports? Again, you want to come armed with specific examples and provide strategies or suggestions for them on how to handle themselves according to your standards and/or company guidelines. You want to be perfectly clear about what the problem is, why it’s a problem, and provide your employee with ideas on how to fix the problem. You can also ask them how they would address the issue.

  1. Practice the conversation out loud.

It can be to the wall or to your dog, but saying the words as if you are having the conversation will help you identify what parts of your script need work and what should be eliminated or added. Are you focusing on the wrong things? Wasting time with small talk? Stumbling over clunky wording? Is your message getting lost? Make sure to do a run-through a couple of times to find weak spots and smooth them out.

  1. Have your notes handy, but don’t recite them word-for-word.

Employees want to know that you’re being sincere and not just giving them the party line during these types of discussions. If they think you’re phoning it in they won’t understand the magnitude of the situation and what performance issues need to be corrected. Remember, no matter how difficult this conversation is for you, it’s undoubtedly hard on your employee, too. Let your employee ask questions and if needed, promise to schedule a follow-up meeting in two weeks to revisit the discussion and review what steps the employee has taken (or not) to address the issue you discussed.

In the end, if you take adequate time to prepare yourself for difficult conversations it will make them that much smoother and hopefully create an environment that fosters open communication. Do you have your own tips for tackling difficult conversations at work? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

About the Author
Deanna Cabinian is the director of consumer marketing for a global media company. She has six years of management experience and twelve years of experience working in the corporate world. When she isn’t working, she loves to write. She’s the author of a series of novels for young adult readers and is represented by Aevitas Creative Management. Find her online at https://deannacabinian.com/

 



Whereas once the web was a drab, text-based world, there has been a revolution in download speeds over the last two decades that means that now mobile devices are equipped with 4G networks that have images and videos appearing in a flash. This speed revolution has had huge consequences for internet content and in 2020 the video rules all.

Video marketing means using video content as part of an overall digital marketing strategy to promote your brand or product. Both small and large companies are launching video content on a daily basis with huge success. Video content is fun to make and consume and requires little effort from an audience. Communicating your marketing message through video content leaves a strong impression on viewers and will set you on the road to meeting your business objectives. At first, it can be tough to come up with creative and engaging content but worry not – here are some great ideas for engaging your viewers with effective video marketing.

How-To Videos

It’s a rule in content marketing that content should add value and that holds true for video marketing as much as anywhere else. Instructional videos are great because they teach the audience something, and no matter what industry your brand sits in, the specialist knowledge you hold will be of interest to your audience. By promoting thoughtful content that teaches an audience you’ll become an industry leader and a household name.

Product Videos

It takes a lot of work to bring a new product to market, so why not show it off? Product videos can inspire your audience and help them understand your product better, so they’ll know just how valuable it is. People love to hear some backstory, so building a strong narrative that explains the development process can be a great way to connect with your audience. Emphasising how the product can improve their life will build a buzz around the product before it even launches, ensuring your new product will be a success.

Corporate Videos

Corporate videos can be a great way to introduce your business to the corporate world, explaining in an engaging way to potential recruits, investors and customers exactly what the vision is behind your brand, and how it makes you special. As the brains behind a brand it’s important for you to get in front of the camera and articulate your vision. You can use a video like this on the front page of your website and use it on LinkedIn and other social networks to appeal to the best workers in your industry.

Explainer Animation Videos

Many people find visual aids to learning exceptionally helpful and often incredibly complicated ideas can be expressed simply through a graphic representation. That means that people are drawn to well-expressed animations that demystify complex ideas and instrumentalizing this habit can be an excellent strategy in video marketing. Ideas that would be impossible to demonstrate with real actors and props can come to life through animation – give it a go!

App Videos

Google Play and the App Store are exceptionally competitive marketplaces where oftentimes near-identical products vie for supremacy. In this world an app can live and die by its visibility and an app video can ensure your app gets out there. With so many faulty apps out there, people need to know an app works before they click “download” – an app video that shows true functionality will ensure you shoot up those rankings.

Website Videos

Having your website feature a video on every page is the best way to ensure that visitors to your site stick around. It has been demonstrated that the longer someone stays on your website, the higher the likelihood of converting them into a sale, so an autoplaying video that captures their attention can mean a big return for your business.

Testimonial Videos

Nothing is more effective at converting potential customers into actual ones than a good review and the big smiles in a testimonial video speaks for a thousand words. Testimonials provide the opportunity to show a trusted voice, someone that customers will relate to, singing your praises. Often this is the last thing a customer needs to hear before they commit to buying from you.

The Last Word

Producing great video content can be fun and at the same time have a huge impact on how people respond to and engage with your brand. Video marketing is the present and the future for businesses large and small, and now you know exactly how to get started. That’s a wrap!

About the Author

Beatrix Potter is a writer at Studydemic who is excited about all things digital marketing and thinks video content is the most dynamic way to engage an audience.