Conflict in the Workplace

Posted on March 10th, 2015 in Tips and Secrets by Jan Bilgen

It is unfortunate that not everyone gets along. There are multiple personality types and leadership styles that do not mesh with everyone. In order to create an environment that is conducive for everyone, we must learn how to adapt to peoples style and seek to understand the issue.  This post will provide you with 6 tips on how to do deal with conflict in the workplace.

Be positive

This is perhaps the most essential part of conflict resolution.  If you are looking at all problems and conflicts through a negative lens, you are not going to find an efficient and productive solution.  Look for the best in each side of arguments or parties involved and try to highlight these views or ideas so that they can be the foundation of a solution that all parties can agree upon.

Define the issue at hand

Oftentimes conflicts are brought about by misunderstanding or miscommunication.  This is why it is important to define what the problem is, so that people understand why there is a disagreement.  Doing this will make sure no one is arguing unnecessarily and can save time and energy.

Do your homework

Make sure you understand the other person’s views.  As mentioned above, conflict is often the result of a misunderstanding, so be sure you understand why other people feel the way they feel.


Trust is absolutely vital to having a workplace that functions efficiently and productively. It is also extremely important when it comes to conflict management and resolution.

If people trust their coworkers and their superiors to do what is in the best interest of the company as a whole, then people will be more likely to accept resolutions that they did not initially prefer.

Encourage discussion

In situations where people disagree, ignoring people’s opinions or views will only make things worse.  If someone feels as if they haven’t been taken seriously or given a chance to explain why they hold a belief, it will leave them feeling left out or that their opinion isn’t important.

Stick to the facts

Emotions can flare during a conflict, and remembering that the facts are important is essential.  If you handle a conflict based on the facts, and solve it accordingly, emotions will settle because the right decision will have been made.

You do not have to like everyone you meet, but it essential to respect others.  Being that most people work with the same individuals on a regular basis, it is important understand how you function, as well as others.


6 Ways to Be an Inclusive Leader!

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 in Tips and Secrets by Jan Bilgen

6 Ways to Be an Inclusive Leader


Being an Inclusive Leader means creating an environment where everyone feels like they are included, particularly regarding the programs and activities your organization plans. This can be done in many ways. You can have committees for events and include people in important decisions. Doing this, you will give the members of your organization a sense of belonging and have them feel like they are needed.

I see many organizations that just have their E-Board and they are the ones who make all of the decisions. By including your members they will begin to have stronger ties to the organization and it will give them some leadership within the organization.

Here are 4 additional ways to be an Inclusive Leader:

  1. Set the Tone of Your Organization! It all begins and ends with you being the inclusive leader. If you are willing to include others in what you are doing and are asking for others input it will set the tone for the rest of the members of your organization to include others as well. Having an inclusive attitude is all about being non-judgmental, being open, and willing to help others grow.
  2. Understand diversity and include EVERYONE. Many organizations allow anyone to join no matter their race, background, so that means that in order to become an inclusive leader you need to be willing to work with diversity. Everyone is different and being able to include various types of members is a key aspect.
  3. Incorporating Other’s Ideas. Give your members a voice.  When you include your members you are not only including them as a person, but you are including their ideas. Listening to others is a big point when being an inclusive leader.  You can simply do this by having discussion when voting on a subject. Letting your members know they have a voice in the organization will move towards feeling included.
  4. Talk to Everyone.  When addressing the group talk to everyone, not just your “favorites.” There is nothing worse than being in an organization and feeling like there is already a clique and that they get more attention or have more input than you do. Try to make everyone feel like they are your number one and give everyone eye contact not just a certain few.

What ways have you been an Inclusive Leader within your organization?  Spend a couple of minutes reflecting on ways you have been successful at being an inclusive leader and ways that you can grow in this area. Make some specific goals!



7 Tips to become a successful leader

Posted on March 11th, 2014 in Tips and Secrets by Jan Bilgen

7 Tips to become a successful leader

            There are leaders everywhere we go. From teachers to the presidents of student organizations, they are all leaders.  There are many skills that are associated with being a successful leader.  This blog post includes some practical tips that you can implement during your everyday leadership experiences.  As you read through this post, it might be helpful if you take a couple of minutes to reflect on how you are doing with each of these skills.  Don’t forget to set goals for yourself regarding these skills!  Develop a plan of action and see it through.

1.      Respect

Leaders not only have to respect the people they interact with (i.e., employees, customers), but also themselves. Having respect for people can go a long way. It can be hard at times when customers, employees, or partners are not being the most respectful towards you. Leading by example (the next skill on this list) is the key in having people feel respected and inspiring respect amongst others.

2.      Lead By Example

Have you ever heard the phrase, “talk is cheap” or “treat someone the way you would want to be treated”?  Your actions are directly related to becoming a successful leader.  Be the type of person you want those who you lead to be.  Be willing to do the type of things that those who you lead are required to do.  Always lead by example, and ALWAYS own up to your mistakes. It will give others the confidence to become leaders of their own.

3. Take Responsibility

Taking responsibility for your actions and decisions is a great way to lead a group. When you take responsibility you are not only accepting the outcome of your decision, but you are opening yourself up to constructive criticism. Owning up to your mistakes has plenty of benefits. It allows you to correct your mistake and learn from it. Also, taking responsibility right away will have your group respect you more. Taking responsibility not only improves yourself, but it improves the group as a whole.

4.      Be Informative

Have you ever been a part of something and not know what exactly is going on?  There are three main benefits of keeping those you lead informed: gives people a sense of belonging, promotes participation, and it shows that you respect people enough to communicate with them.

5.      Develop Relationships

A successful leader is a person who is purposeful about developed meaningful relationships with those they lead. When people feel connected to something, there is an increase in their level of involvement and the longevity of commitment.  A simple example is when a regular customer came into your store and they were greeted by their first name.  They are going to be more likely to come back to that store because they feel a sense of belonging.

6.      Appreciate others.

Many leaders often overlook the contributions of others. Saying “thank you” or “you’ve done a great job,” can go a long way when leading a group. Giving those you lead who have contributed to the work a private or public recognition will allow them to feel appreciated and will most likely have a positive impact that encourages that person.

7.      Listen

Great leaders are amazing listeners. Don’t you want to have your voice heard and have someone fully understand what you are trying to communicate?  I am assuming that you do.  Make sure that you are giving that to those you lead.  Being an active listener in your role as a leader will create a better environment and have everyone feel like their voice is being heard.

What other tips do you have for future or current leaders to make them more successful?

Thank you,

Faith Karst



The Most Successful Leaders Do 15 Things Automatically, Every Day

Posted on October 21st, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership,Tips and Secrets by John Jensen

Hello Leaders,

I would like to direct you all to a post from Forbes from back in February. It is pretty interesting and I think we all could learn a lot about certain things to make good habits out of when it comes to leadership.

Click Here to read!


Shhhh… Listen!

Posted on September 30th, 2013 in Tips and Secrets by John Jensen

Some of the greatest leaders that I’ve known and certainly some of the greatest leaders in history have had many skills.  The one skills they all have is the invaluable skill of listening.  Listening, taking in everyone’s opinion, and synthesizing the best outcome is an incredibly valuable skill for any leader.  The ability to communicate a shared vision is extremely important when it comes to being a good and effective leaders, however, the only way to figure out what the shared vision of the group is is to listen!


Listening is more than just the ability to sit and listen to someone speak about whatever it is they are speaking about.  It is the ability to engage the person you are listening to, ask questions, gain information, and show the person that you actually care about what it is that person is saying.  The key is to be an “active listener.”


According to there are several “key elements” to being an active listener.

The first step is to pay attention.  Giving the speaker your undivided attention is not only polite, it will help you get the most out of the communication you are having with the person.  You will hear every word and be able to take in the most information possible. Without that information you are at a disadvantage in correctly interpreting their intended message.  Mind Tools says to look at the individual directly, put aside any distracting thoughts, don’t mentally prepare your rebuttal (be natural and spontaneous), avoid environmental factors, and pay attention to body language.  These things will help you pay attention to and communicate with the speaker.


The next step is to show that you are listening to what they are saying.  This should be done using non-verbal communication.  Things like nodding, smiling and other facial expressions, your posture being open and inviting, and encouraging the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” and “uh huh” will keep that person engaged and show that you are listening to what they are saying.


Providing feedback is also extremely important.  This is not to be confused with providing your opinions on the issue.  According to Mind Tools “Our personal filters, assumptions, judgements, and beliefs can distort what we hear.”  As a listener, your role is strive to understand what is being said.  This may require you to reflect and ask questions.”  Using phrases like “what I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying” are great ways not only to show that you are listening, but it will also help you synthesis the information in your own head.  Asking questions to clarify certain points will also help.  Make sure you stop to summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.


Suspend all of your judgements of the speaker’s comments.  Interrupting wastes time and frustrates the speaker.  Allowing the speaker to finish each point before asking questions is extremely important.  Make sure you do not interrupt with counter arguments, as this will dilute the speaker’s point.


Lastly, respond appropriately.  This model is meant to be respectful and understanding.  You as a leader are gaining information and perspective from the people you are trying to lead.  “You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.”  Be vulnerable and genuine in your responses; people want to feel like they are communicating with a real person.  When you do offer your opinions, make sure you do it respectfully and appropriately.  Make sure you are treating the other person in a way that you think is respectable and a way that you would like to be treated.


Listening is an extremely important part of leadership.  If your followers do not think that they are being listened to, you will find that you are leading nobody but yourself.  Sit down with the people around you, ask for their opinion, and listen to what they have to say.  You might learn something.

Until Next Time,


“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” -Bryant McGill

10 Things A New Student Leader Should Know

Posted on September 3rd, 2013 in Perspectives on Leadership,Tips and Secrets by John Jensen

Welcome to the 2013-2014 Academic Year!  I am very excited to once again be back on the Leadership Blog to share with you different views on leadership, as well as tips, lessons, and important skills necessary to be an effective and positive leader.

To start off the academic year I would like to start by sharing with you 10 things that a new leader should know about leadership!  These suggestions are in no particular order and are from different leadership experts, leaders on campus, or myself.


  1. Take Chances – (Brian Goetsch ’13) Taking chances is an extremely important part of being a leader.  The drive to take a chance and take a risk is what sets leaders aside from everyone else.  A leader is willing to challenge the process and put themselves out there.  Take the risk of speaking up in the first meeting of your student organization this semester and in class!
  2. Don’t Assert Dominance – (www.fierceinc.comAccording to the blog at Fierce Inc. “Let’s say you go to your team with a brilliant idea and instead of singing your praises, they push back on it. What do you do? If your answer is to get defensive or pull the “I’m the boss, so there” routine you’ll see less and less people speaking up and more and more people tuning out. There will be times, in your career as a leader, when it is important to let those whom you lead know that you are the boss and you’re not messing around. However, when you assert dominance in the heat of the moment it says one thing: you can’t be trusted.”
  3. Relationships are everything – George Washington once said “Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”  Surrounding yourself with individuals that are going to build on what you contribute and lead to joint success is extremely important.  Successful leaders have a core network of other leaders that are skilled individuals who help them to succeed.  Without other leaders and without followers there is no need to lead.   A leader that does everything of their own will is likely to make mistakes, anger others, and lose their status as a leader relatively quickly.
  4. Listen – Listening to others and making sure that other/variety voices are being heard is an extremely important part of being a leader.   Take the time to talk to others, ask open ended questions, and really listen.  Don’t be afraid of asking for advice or assistance.  No one will see you as week, in fact they will probably thank you for taking the time.
  5. Quick/Little Wins – This is something I touched on in my blog post describing my interview with Dave Kelly.  Look for little wins in your organization to help build up their confidence and your status as a leader.  Leadership does not equal position.  Becoming a leader can be as simple as being the one who volunteers to set up chairs before an event, giving your opinion in a meeting, etc.  Little wins will strengthen you for biggeropportunitities  in the future when you decide to run for a leadership position in your organization.  Do not expect to walk in, do nothing, and get elected; there is no meaning behind a win like that.
  6. Know Your Role Model – Choose a leader that you admire and try to emulate that person.  I think this is best described in Conan O’Brien’s commencement speech at Dartmouth in 2011, “Way back in the 1940’s there was a very funny man named Jack Benny.  He was a giant star and easily one of the greatest comedians of his generation.  And a much younger man named Johnny Carson wanted very much to be Jack Benny.  In some ways he was, but in many ways he wasn’t.  He emulated Jack Benny, but his own quirks and mannerisms, along with a changing medium, pulled him in a different direction.  And yet his failure to completely become his hero made him the funniest person of his generation.  David Letterman wanted to be Johnny Carson, and was not, and as a result my generation of comedians wanted to be David Letterman.   And none of us are — my peers and I have all missed that mark in a thousand different ways.  But the point is this: It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique.  It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can be a catalyst for profound re-invention.”  The drive to be like a leader you admire will make you unique, but will also help you create your own definition of leadership.  In the process you will find out what works for you and what doesn’t.
  7. Chase authentic success – (Corey Ciocchetti) This is an idea that we are going to delve into sometime soon in a future blog post.  You should be chasing a life “filled with genuine contentment, strong personal relationships and a solid character.”  Don’t do something just to add it to your resume or to make the most amount of money.  In other words, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.” – David McCullough Jr.
  8. You are a servant.  By choosing to lead you are part of something bigger than yourself.  For a perfect example of servant leadership please read the blog post “Being Mr. G” from June 18, 2012.
  9. Start With Why – (Simon Sinek) Knowing the values, mission, and purpose of your organization is perhaps the most important aspect of leading a group of people.  I strongly encourage you to Google “Simon Sinek Golden Circle” and learn about how people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  If you don’t know why you do something, what you do becomes meaningless.
  10. Quit the things you don’t care about – Don’t waste your time or the time of others by wasting your time with things you don’t care about.  If you aren’t having fun with what you are doing and you don’t believe in the mission of the organization than anything you do is meaningless.  Joining an organization just to build your resume is a terrible reason to join.  It can be a reason, but not the only reason.  Enjoy what you do!

I hope this helps you start off your leadership journey!  If you have any questions about leadership you may contact me at or come to the Student Involvement Office in the UC.


“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” -Nelson Mandela

12 Great Traits

Posted on June 20th, 2013 in Tips and Secrets,Uncategorized by Jan Bilgen

Check out this list – could they also be traits of positive leaders as well? What do you think?” title=”12 List

Surround yourself

Posted on July 3rd, 2012 in Tips and Secrets by John Jensen


One mistake I continuously find leaders making is surrounding themselves with individuals who hold back their true potential.  George Washington once said, “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better to be alone than in bad company.” If you do not surround yourself with people who complement you, challenge you, and respect you your time as a leader will be difficult and not enjoyable.

Having someone who complements you does not mean having someone that tells you they like your outfit that day, it means someone who makes up for important qualities that you may lack.  Someone who fills in your gaps as a leader is of utmost importance to being successful.  Having someone who challenges you is also very important, because often times you will not think of everything.  Often times having an opponent can spur fantastic innovation that motivates us to be better leaders.  Obviously, it is hard to be leaders without having people respect you.  So always conduct yourself in a respectable manner and earn people’s respect.

Most importantly, find people who fill these roles.  If you surround yourself with people of good quality, there are very few things that can stand in the way of your success.

Until Next Time,

John Jensen

Qualities of a Leader

Posted on June 26th, 2012 in Tips and Secrets by John Jensen


There are several characteristics that are important in order to be an effective leader. There are the obvious ones such as having good & effective communication skills (both verbal and written) and ability to work collaboratively. One that I would also add to the list is fueling your work with your passions.

Being able to communicate your ideas and thoughts to others is crucial to being able to effectively motivate others. These skills are also directly connected to landing a good job. Many employers say that the most sought out characteristic/skill is the ability to work in a team. If you are unable to work with other people, it is safe to say that it’s impossible for you to provide and leadership to the group’s efforts. Additionally, the ability to work with people that are different than you, individually or on a team, is part of successful team and life work. It is a crucial skill to being successful and being an exceptional leader as well.

Let’s visit your ability to communicate – Often we concentrate on our verbal skills, and they are important. However another characteristic that is important is being a good writer. Your ability to write connects and helps create a respect between you and “followers” as well as other leaders. If you are unable to communicate in a competent fashion through writing, your followers will not take you as seriously. So those English classes you took are very practical in these situations. Being able to spell correctly, using correct grammar, and having an effective vocabulary can be extremely helpful when it comes to communicating with other leaders and followers – especially when communicating not only your passion but your connection to others.

In my opinion, there is one characteristic that is more important to being a leader than any other. You must be passionate. It goes back to the quote I shared with you from David McCullough Jr.’s commencement speech, “I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.” If you are not passionate about whatever it is that you do, you are significantly at a disadvantage as you try to lead others. A leader must truly believe in whatever it is that they are doing, that’s why they take the risk of leading. A leader’s job is to motivate others to believe in their cause as much as they do. I challenge you to find a leader that was not passionate about whatever it was they were doing. Martin Luther King Jr. was passionate about the cause of equality. Steve Jobs was passionate about making technology more advanced and assessable. Susan B. Anthony was passionate about women’s suffrage. Our Founding Fathers were passionate about the cause of independence.

As a Political Science major, I like to look at political figures to analyze this. Barack Obama’s Presidential race in 2008 was so successful because he was passionate about “change” and his followers connected with that passion. Ron Paul’s popularity among his followers has been so successful because of how passionate he is about the cause of “liberty”.

Believing in your cause is so important to being a leader, that passion alone can drive the other characteristics on its own. Find what you love, do what you love, and believe in its importance no matter how bleak things may seem sometimes. People will follow when you communicate your passion AND when they see it.

Until next time,

John Jensen

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela 

The Importance of Involvement

Posted on June 20th, 2012 in Tips and Secrets by John Jensen


One of the most common misconceptions about college is that it is all about getting a 4.0.  Students are told that employers are going to be looking at their GPA and students with a 4.0 have a higher advantage over a student with a 3.0.  The part that those individuals leave out is that they assume the student with the 4.0 and the 3.0 were equally involved.

Employers look at a couple of things when reviewing a potential employee.  Employers will look at past work experience, they will look at how well you did in school, but they will also look very closely at the things that you were involved in while attending college. Those involvements are your demonstration of things you know. The organizations that you were involved in and the leadership roles you took on in those organizations can outweigh what our GPA was in college.  Now, in no way am I saying that it is not important to keep your grades up.  What I am saying is, learning to balance getting good grades and being involved is much more important than just focusing on your GPA.  A student who maintained a 3.2 GPA and was involved with organizations and held leadership positions will likely get a stronger look than the student who received a 4.0 and did nothing outside of class.

Being involved in student organizations teaches interpersonal communication skills, leadership skills, managerial skills, and builds experience.  Employers are looking for individuals who know how to work in a team, and being involved in a student organization will help show that you have that imperative skill.  My challenge to you is to find at least one student organization that you want to be involved in.  Get involved with it, take on a leadership position, and perfect your resume to help give yourself an advantage.  Prioritize your work in the classroom, but get involved and apply what you’ve learned.

Until Next Time,

John Jensen

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