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How well do you communicate major organizational changes?

Posted on May 25, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How well do you communicate major organizational changes?

– Very well – Everyone knows what’s going on and why in a timely manner: 19%
– Well – We get most of the information out but occasionally miss some things: 44%
– Not well – We could do a much better job of communicating the reason for change: 24%
– Poorly – People find out about change as it’s happening to them: 13%

Tell them what’s going on. If you don’t tell people what’s going on during a major change effort, they’ll fill in the blanks themselves. Invariably the answers they fill in will be full of doom and gloom. That kind of forecasting on their part hurts morale and distracts them from their job. And don’t just tell them what’s going on – tell them why it’s going on too. If they don’t understand the rationale, they’re less likely to support rolling out your changes. That’s the biggest key to reducing execution risk. Just because you’ve made a decision, that doesn’t mean it will happen. Up your game on communication if you want things to go smoothly.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Build Your Business Like an Architect

Posted on May 24, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Beautiful Architecture

Building your business requires a balance between creativity and pragmatic planning. Architects can serve as a useful metaphor for the skills and techniques required to build a bold and innovative business.

At some point in our careers we’re all responsible for growing our business in some fashion. Whether it’s driving revenue growth, building your team’s capabilities, expanding facilities, or any other techniques for growing your business, we’ll all do it at some point.

When you face the task of growing your business, tackle the challenge like an architect. You know, those people who design buildings, draw blueprints, and use all sorts of sciency-looking devices to make sure their right angles are precisely 90 degrees.

I’ll bet the majority of folks reading this post are thinking “but architects are so boring. All they do is draw straight lines on two-dimensional blue paper. What can they possibly teach me about growth?” A lot.

The Creative Side

Have you ever looked at a building and thought “Wow! That thing is freakin’ cool! How did they come up with that awesome design and actually build it?” Answer: a creative architect.

It’s easy to get sucked into seeing architects as boring, rigid blueprint designers. The thing is, they have to be creative and dream up their designs in the first place. I’d venture to guess that when they’re building something bold and innovative, they start with concept drawings that push the boundaries of the possible. For example, check out this one from Singapore:

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Why Equilibrium is the Key to Achieving True Negotiating Success

Posted on May 22, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Communications, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Sales

Man Sitting and MeditatingMaintaining your cool and being in a state of equilibrium is a huge asset in a negotiation. When the other party loses it, you benefit by staying calm instead.

Today’s post is by Corey Kupfer, author of Authentic Negotiating (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Most negotiating articles, books, training programs and other resources focus on techniques, tactics and counter-tactics. These, however, are often ineffective, manipulative and inauthentic and, even when good, are not the key to true negotiating success. Authentic negotiating is the secret to true negotiating success and there are three keys to authentic negotiating:

Clarity: Authentic negotiators know what will and won’t work for them on every significant term, and what their true bottom line is – from a place of clarity, not ego.

Detachment: Authentic negotiators can walk away from a negotiation with no hesitation – not from a place of anger or upset, but from a place of detachment with no judgment or hard feelings.

Equilibrium: Authentic negotiators don’t let emotions dictate their actions. Instead, they maintain equilibrium during the heat of tough negotiation to stay present and preserve their clarity and detachment.

Although each of the components of this CDE core framework are important, in this post, I am going to focus power of equilibrium – the third key to true negotiating success.

Several years ago, I received a telephone call from an attorney, Henry, who was representing clients on the other side of an unhappy split of a business partnership between three guys. I represented one of the three partners, and he represented the other two. Henry called me up, yelling and screaming and threatening my client with all sorts of dire consequences. My client happened to be a lawyer, although the business he was in with the other two was not related to the law. This bullying attorney was saying, “He’s going to lose his law license” and “He’s unethical,” neither of which was true. Henry was emotionally involved. He had lost his equilibrium.

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How do you view your need for skill development?

Posted on May 18, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership, Poll, Training

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How do you view your need for skill development?

– I’m good to go and don’t need to spend time on my development: 5%
– I have a couple of focused areas I need to develop: 76%
– I have several areas in need of a lot of development: 15%
– I have a huge need for development across many areas: 5%

You don’t grow without investment. The vast majority of you state you’ve got at least one or two focused development needs. The question is what are you doing to grow in those areas? The only way you develop rapidly is through focused efforts. Don’t make the biggest mistake leaders make with respect to their development: they don’t focus their investment. Choose some specific areas to invest in. Lay out a plan to grow. Whether it’s on-the-job training, conferences, books, or training classes, you need to be deliberate about how you’re going to build those missing skills.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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5 Strategy Mistakes That Will Derail Your Business

Posted on May 17, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Strategy

Train Derailment

Dealing with rapidly changing markets makes strategic planning challenging. You don’t need to make it more difficult by making five common strategic planning mistakes. Know the symptoms of a defective strategy to avoid making a mess in the market.

Today’s post is by Paul Petrone, editor of The Learning Blog for LinkedIn.

Once a year (at least), the leaders of an organization usually meet to set their strategy for the next 12 months or so.

These are important conversations. Because the decisions that come out of those meetings will directly impact the day-to-day life of nearly every employee within the organization, as well as where resources and new headcount will be allocated.

So you want to get these strategic planning sessions right. But, too often, these sessions devolve into analysis by paralysis or become too cumbersome or, worst of all, a plan is created but never actually followed.

How do you ensure that doesn’t happen? It comes down to recognizing when your strategic planning is becoming unproductive and then course correcting.

To help you, instructor Mike Figliuolo, in his LinkedIn Learning course Strategic Planning Foundations, listed five telltale signs that your strategic plan is getting off-track. If your strategic plan has any of these five qualities, it might be time to rethink things.

Those signs are:

1. Initiative proliferation

This can be summed up as trying to do too much.

Is the list of initiatives you want to accomplish for the year longer than a page? Than you are almost certainly trying to accomplish too much, which will likely mean you’ll accomplish nothing at all.

That’s not to say there aren’t many areas your organization could improve in. But the reality is your organization can only take on a handful. So it comes down to ruthless prioritization.

Which are the absolute most important initiatives your organization can take on? While there’s no set amount and it can vary depending on the size of the tasks, five or is a good number. That’ll allow your team to focus in on those five and knock them out of the park, as opposed to doing twenty things half-heartedly.

2. Thinking too small

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A Little Learning is a Powerful Thing

Posted on May 15, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Career, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Woman Leading a Training SessionTraining is great as long as you apply it. By taking learning and breaking it up into daily applied tasks, you’ll learn more rapidly and more effectively.

Today’s post is by Wally Bock, author of Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

“The training was great! But there’s a ton of stuff to remember. I don’t know if I can do it. Was it like that for you?”

I knew that Robbie was just back from his company’s management training program, so I asked him about it when I ran into him on my walk. His comment took me back to the time my company sent me to similar training.

It was a two-week program. The days were long and the training was good. But I’d been in exactly the position that Robbie was in. There was so much stuff, I didn’t know what I should do first.

One of the good things about being my age is that you’ve learned some things along the way, so I could share some things with Robbie. Here’s how he and you can get the most out of those formal leadership training programs.

The Problem with Classroom Training

Most corporate leadership training is pretty much like what Robbie and I went through. It lasts several days. The training covers a broad range of things and, even if it’s good, is entirely in a classroom. That’s not how human beings learn best.

We learn best when we’re learning to solve a problem that’s part of our everyday work. We learn best when there are a few specific things to learn. So, for most of us, becoming great at something means becoming a little bit better every day. Here’s how to turn that classroom training into little bits that help you move forward.

Debrief Yourself

As soon after the class concludes as possible, and before you go back to work the next time, debrief yourself about what you’ve learned and what you need to learn. The debriefing process will drive the key learning points deeper into your consciousness. You should also make a plan for trying the ideas from the classroom when you’re on the job. Make two lists.

Make a list of the key learning points from the class you just completed. Go through it and identify the things which are most important for you and the things which you need to work on the most.

Make another list of the things that you want to learn. Start with areas where you need the most improvement. Pick the first thing you want to work on. That will be your starting point.

Find a Partner

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How well do you handle long-term adversity?

Posted on May 11, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How well do you handle long-term adversity?

– Extremely well – I can thrive through years of adversity: 15%
– Very well – I can manage through prolonged adversity: 39%
– Well – I can succeed for a while, but I lose energy over time: 40%
– Not well – I succeed short term but not long term: 3%
– Poorly – I struggle dealing with long-term adversity: 2%

A tough bunch. Many of you say you do well with adversity even for prolonged periods of time. Just be aware of the risks of being “tough” and ignoring the warning signs of issues. Chronic stress can lead to fatigue, lower job performance, and large health issues. As a guy who’s had two heart attacks, I’m qualified to opine on the subject. When you find yourself in long-term stressful situations, learn how to build your resilience – which is one of the 12 traits of great leaders – through focused efforts on taking care of yourself. While you may get the job done, if you don’t survive to get your year-end bonus, it’s not really worth it.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Leadership Lessons from Google, Procter & Gamble, and a Rock-n-Roll Legend

Posted on May 10, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

Olympic Freestyle Wrestlers

Great leaders learn from their failures, no matter where they happen. Below you’ll learn what some great leaders learned from losing a wrestling match, getting booed off stage, a discrimination lawsuit, an unflattering article in Business Week, a one-night stand, and a bar fight.

Today’s post is by Paul Smith, thoughtLEADERS principal and bestselling author of Lead With a Story and  Sell With a Story.

Here’s an easy way to learn some new leadership skills – in easy-to-digest podcasts you can listen to at your convenience.

These podcasts are based on interviews with 100 executives, leaders, authors, and experts at dozens of companies around the world. Each episode brings you an important leadership lesson through a single compelling story.

These next six podcast episodes include my favorite guests from the past six months, including Google President, Kirk Perry, and bestselling authors Todd Henry, Mike Figliuolo, and Jathan Janove.

Google President Kirk Perry’s 3 Lessons from Losing a Fight

Kirk shares a very personal story about a loss on a high school wrestling mat that has both haunted and blessed him ever since.

Bestselling author Todd Henry on Lessons from One of the Worst Failures in Music History

Getting a chance to be an opening act for one of the hottest bands of the time seemed like a blessing at the time… until he got booed off stage.

8 Brilliant Counter-intuitive Steps to Getting to Yes

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Radically Rethinking the Innovation Essentials Checklist

Posted on May 8, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership

People Seated in Beanbag Chairs in Open Office EnvironmentOpen offices, ideas boxes and hackathons don’t automatically lead to innovation and how to do it better.

Today’s post is by Gaia Grant and Andrew Grant, authors of The Innovation Race (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

We were recently given the grand tour of a new office designed to improve innovation.

A multinational insurance giant had set up the space on the top floor of a building in Singapore’s financial district, and the standard ‘innovation essentials’ checklist had obviously been consulted. There were trendy co-working spaces with funky seating pods, Foosball tables and ideas boxes. The staff had completed all the right design thinking courses and were being encouraged to join hackathons.

Viewing the impressive skyline from this lofty vantage point gave us the impression that we were at the pinnacle of contemporary innovative achievement. Yet although the company had invested millions in the endeavor, something was wrong.

At the end of the tour the head of innovation led us into one of the colorful co-working rooms, sat us in a brainstorming hub, and confessed that despite the changes people were not engaged in collaborative co-creation. Everything had normalized. Employees had become just as territorial, individualistic, and competitive as they had been, and the company was not getting the results it had hoped for.

Why would an open and apparently up-to-date approach to innovation like this not be working?

Just ticking the boxes doesn’t make it right

Investment in innovation focused activities in general and in innovation labs in particular has dramatically increased over the last few years. In fact spending on R&D continues to increase by up to 10 percent per year in most regions around the world, and almost 40 percent of the largest 200 multinational companies now have dedicated innovation centers with targeted innovation spaces, strategies and tools.

But does investing in the hardware and following a formula like this really lead to better innovation?

Our consultancy work with companies around the world has given us a unique insight into the realities of innovation strategies in action, and through this work we have seen apparently strong innovation strategies fail over and over again.

Many companies appear to be trying to tick off an innovation essentials checklist to ensure there is the freedom to explore and connect, yet perhaps they are missing the main point.

How to really elevate and accelerate the innovation process

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What’s the biggest obstacle to you investing in your own development?

Posted on May 4, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership, Poll, Training

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: What’s the biggest obstacle to you investing in your own development?

– I don’t have time: 42%
– I don’t have budget: 20%
– I don’t need development: 1%
– I can’t find any good development opportunities: 8%
– My boss won’t let me: 7%
– Some other reason/combination of the above: 23%

Making time for what’s important. I’m sure some of the 23% of “other/combo of the above” involves not having time to develop yourself. I’d argue you don’t have time to ignore your own development. If you’re not doing your job as efficiently and as effectively as you can, you’re wasting time on rework, fixing problems, or generally not knowing the best way to do something. Unfortunately people don’t plan beyond the week ahead. I challenge you to change this dynamic. Carve out some time every quarter to invest in yourself. Allocate the budget to it. Sometimes all it takes is a day or two for you to build that next level of skills. If you don’t set aside the time or the money, it’ll never happen. It’s sort of like retirement planning. It’s not up to your boss to figure out your development plan or make it happen. It’s purely on you whether you choose to invest in yourself or simply be satisfied with how things are going now.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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