Five Skills You Need to Make it to Partner

Posted on August 21, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

20190807 Stairs

Becoming the partner at your particular firm or company is the goal of many people, here’s a couple things you need to make it there.

Today’s post is by Victor Prince, a principle here at thoughtLEADERS.

Reaching the partner level is a career goal for many a new lawyer, consultant or other professional. It often requires several years of getting promoted through the ranks, from an individual contributor to a manager. Many a successful manager has failed to make the leap to the partner level, however. The skills required to become a good manager are required to become a partner – but they are not enough. Here are the five skills that high-performing managers need to demonstrate to make it to the partner level. The first two are easy to measure and are often set as clear expectations. The last three are tougher to measure. If you have demonstrated the first two skills but still haven’t made it to partner, then you still need to focus on these last three skills.

1) Selling – Managers often are expected to sell new work to existing clients. That helps demonstrate selling skills. But getting new clients is essential for revenue growth, and partners have to be able to attract and close deals with new clients too. Opening doors to new clients requires different skills than closing deals with existing clients. Managers have to demonstrate that they can use their networking and promotional skills to bring new clients in. This is often the first clear hurdle that a successful manager has to cross to show partner potential.

HOW TO BUILD THIS SKILL -> Practice selling wherever you can. Find training. Ask the successful partners for advice and books you could read to learn how to sell. (SPIN Selling is the one I recommend the most.)

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Turf Wars: Why Your Management Job Is Filled with Whiny Children

Posted on August 19, 2019 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Tug of War

Employees having internal wars on work distribution and work load shouldn’t be the problem you’re dealing with and your management style might be the cause.

Today’s post is by Ed Muzio, author of Iterate (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

It’s happening again. Employee A is in your office asking you to force Employee B to provide some help.  “I can’t succeed without this and my work is more important.”  Of course, you’ve heard this before.  Come to think of it, last week Employee B made making a play for Employee C’s budget.  And the week before that, A and C showed up together to talk you out of funding B’s newest program.  “We need those resources for our work,” they sniveled, “it’s so important.”

But at the moment it’s Employee A telling the story. And to be honest, this one sounds reasonable. If you’re reading things correctly – that is, seeing the truth behind the attempt to convince – Employee A faces some real challenges.  A little nudge from you on B would take care of much of the problem, and it’s fair to say that A’s work represents a critical part of your commitment to your own boss.   You certainly don’t want A failing.  It’s so compelling, you muse to yourself, it’s tempting to grant the request.

Of course, that’s a problem too. Make an exception and you appear to be favoring one division over another, or one person over another. Just one opens the floodgates for every other request your team can dream up. Besides, you worked hard to assign heads and budgets and such, using the most careful consideration and the best planning you could muster.  And you don’t want B failing either.  Revisiting one part of who-does-what means revisiting it all, psychologically if not operationally. Who has time?  Maybe it’s better not to change anything until the next planning cycle, whenever that is.

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How closely are your priorities tied to your company’s strategy?

Posted on August 15, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll, Strategy

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks:  How closely are your priorities tied to your company’s strategy?

  • Very. Everything I work on links directly to the strategy: 41%
  • Somewhat. Links exist, but I also have some unrelated priorities: 38%
  • Not very. Most of my work has no clear link to the strategy: 10%
  • Not at all. I don’t even know what our strategy is: 11%

Aligning activities to strategy. It’s encouraging to see 80% of you have a direct link between many of your priorities and the company’s strategy. For the activities that don’t seem aligned, ask why you’re doing them. Some are out of habit. Some are required by regulators. Some should simply be stopped but no one has ever said anything about it. Trim unnecessary activities on a regular basis. For those of you who don’t have a clear link to or understanding of the strategy, ask for it. Spend time reading your company website and annual report. Ask your managers and leaders to give you an update on the strategy. The better you understand it, the more effective you can be in your job.

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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What Sales Leaders Need to Know about Sales Enablement

Posted on August 12, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Hand Reaching Out

Sales leaders should leverage marketing content, channels and campaigns to accelerate sales engagements. Think sales enablement beyond training and development.

Today’s post is by Pam Didner, author of Global Content Marketing (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Conventionally, sales leaders view sales enablement as onboarding and training. It makes sense to enable salespeople by training them with relevant knowledge and tools to ensure they are ready to talk to prospects and existing customers. This is especially true in technology, or complex sales, where products require education, explanation, and persuasion before customers are ready to make a buying decision.

BUT, the “enabling” part of sales should not be limited to sales training alone. Here are 3 examples of how marketers can also “enable” sales:

Incorporate Messaging and Content into Sales Training

Map Select Marketing Content to the Sales Process

Incorporate Marketing Elements into Sales Discussions

Incorporate Messaging and Content into Sales Training

Sales leaders are fully aware of how important training is. In general, training managers work with sales leaders to design the training with objectives, a training roadmap, and success metrics. Most training content is created from scratch. To save time, training managers can also reach out to marketing. Content such as product demos, show-and-tells, messaging, and pricing guides can also be included as part of training.

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How much exposure does your entire organization get to your customers?

Posted on August 8, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Customer Service, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How much exposure does your entire organization get to your customers?

  • A lot. Every function of our company regularly interacts with customers: 34%
  • Some. Occasionally customers will meet with specific groups they have to interact with: 29%
  • Little. Only sales, marketing, the front line and support really interact with customers: 38%

Know your customer. Just because a function is “behind the lines” that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expose them to customers. Bring a customer in for a team meeting. Invite customers to speak at your off-sites. The more clarity everyone has around who the customer is and what matters to them, the better your organization can serve them. It doesn’t have to be frequent and it doesn’t require a lot of effort but it can yield huge results. New ideas and opportunities can come from those interactions. It will also help ground your team in why the work they do is important. Take advantage of the opportunity to know your customers more closely.

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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The Ten Stories Great Leaders Tell

Posted on August 7, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

20190807 Glasses on a Page

Leadership isn’t just about standing up and speaking, it’s about weaving a story so compelling to bring everyone along the journey with you.

Today’s post is by Paul Smith, thoughtLEADERS principal and author of the new book The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell. (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Good leaders ask, “How do I tell better stories?” Great leaders ask, “What stories do I need to tell?”

Does that mean how you tell a leadership story doesn’t matter? Of course not. But if you tell an irrelevant or unimportant or self-serving story, it doesn’t matter how well you tell it. The story is more important than the delivery.

And while great leaders need hundreds of stories, not all stories are equally important. I’ve interviewed over 300 CEOs, leaders, and executives in 25 countries around the world about their use of storytelling in business. Here’s my conclusion about the most important ten stories any leader needs to be able to tell at a moment’s notice:

ONE:  Where we came from (our founding story) – Nobody ever quit their job and started a company for a boring reason. Find that reason for your company’s founder and tell that story. It will infect everyone with the same sense of purpose and passion.

TWO:  Why we can’t stay here (a case-for-change story) – Human beings are creatures of habit. Change is an unwelcome visitor. This story provides the rationale for why change is needed and a real human reason to care. Read More…

What is so Hard About Listening and How Can Leaders Get Better at it?

Posted on August 5, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Sculpture Listening

Leadership Skills That Inspire Incredible results author Fred Halstead explores the barriers to listening leaders face.

Today’s post is by Fred Halstead, author of Leadership Skills Inspire Incredible Results (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Strange, isn’t it—how we can listen to some people and not so much to most people. My job is dependent upon listening, not only to the words that are said, but to the meaning of what is said. My clients would comment favorably on my listening skills. Yet, apart from my coaching, it is easy for my listening skills to slip, sometimes sharply.  When listening to someone who you respect or is important to you, listening is easier. But what can we do to more consistently listen when it is challenging?

What will motivate you?

Setting the foundation of active, focused listening is essential. The first element in making any difficult change is to understand what will motivate us. Motivation that will drive significant change goes deeper than the surface. It’s not casual, easy to push off. It reflects who we are and who we want to be. What will motivate you to become a consistently better listener? For me it is a strong drive to respect others, independent of whether I believe they deserve it. That motivation is resolute in both my mind and heart. What will it be for you? It will pay great dividends if you know what motivation resonates in your gut, your mind, and your heart. Ultimately, you are the one who will figure that out.

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When filling open roles, what is your company’s hiring approach?

Posted on August 1, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: When filling open roles, what is your company’s hiring approach?

  • We always try hard to hire and fill from within first: 66%
  • We give a cursory look within but often hire externally: 28%
  • We never look at internal talent and always go external: 6%

You’ve got the talent, but are they ready? A significant portion of your hires are coming from within. The obvious benefits here are the person is a known quantity and they fit with your culture. The unknown we forget to consider and prepare for is they are an unknown quality in terms of how they’ll perform at the next level. Just because they were a good individual contributor, that doesn’t mean they’ll be a good manager. Nor a good manager a good director, and so on. What are you doing today to prepare these leaders for tomorrow? Training and developing them after you’ve put them in the new role might be too late. Don’t just build a succession plan and leave it at that. Actively find development and skill building opportunities for these next-generation leaders before you put them in that next level role.

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!

Read More…

Conveying Your Idea in the Right Way

Posted on July 31, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Strategy

20190731 Presenting

Getting your point or idea across to important stakeholders in a concise and simple way is the difference between getting approval and not.

What makes a presentation unsuccessful?

When you have a recommendation you’re trying to get approved within your organization, there are going to be a lot of stakeholders you have to get your idea in front of. You’ll have to put it in front of your manager, maybe their boss, a director, some vice presidents.  Some of your ideas may even go all they up to the C-suite, and there’s something I like to call Figliuolo’s Law which states, an individual’s annual compensation is inversely proportional to the number of slides to look at before they have a stroke.

I’ve worked with a CEO who said, “If it has a staple, I won’t read it.” I worked closely with another CEO and we went in to present. The other team went to present first. He picked up their presentation, he felt it for heft, and it was only about 25 pages long, he threw it across the room and said, “Talk to me, what do you want? I’m busy.” Now, we knew better, we had presented to him before. Our presentation was three slides long. Effective communications is one of the most critical skills out there, but so many times we’re just flat-bad at it.

This isn’t about PowerPoint. This isn’t about presentations. This is all about the thinking that happens before you start writing that presentation. So let’s look at how we typically do things today.

First, we’ll start by doing a bunch of analysis because we have the data. We can slice it, we can dice it, we can create graphs and pivot tables. And once we get done with our analysis, we look for an insight. The graph went up and I thought it would go down. There must be an insight there. We then write a thick, incomprehensible, 80 page long presentation because we want to show everybody how rigorous we’ve been and how hard we’ve been working. We then go to share that presentation in a two-hour meeting, and people are watching the clock go round and round and round. And about 20 minutes in, you’ve lost them. People are falling asleep, people are on their phones. You don’t get your point across.

The negative impacts of this approach are huge.  First, poor communication is inefficient. Most of that analysis you’ve done will not see the light of day.  Most of the slides you put together for a presentation will never be shown. And after that meeting people walk out scratching their head and saying, “I don’t know what we just decided.” Well, you have to have another meeting. It’s a complete waste of time. It’s also ineffective. Your ideas don’t get approved if you’re not thoughtful about how you’re going to communicate, and what information you’re trying to get across, as well as what information you’re not going to share. The method is broken. We have to get better at communications.  So what I’d like to offer is a very different process for thinking through how you’re going to construct and ultimately share your recommendations.

The structured thought process Read More…

How to Improve Your Workplace for Female Leaders

Posted on July 29, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Group of Women

Making the workplace better for all employees is a constant work, but how can you make it better for the female leaders of your business.

Today’s post is by Alexandra Levit, author of Humanity Works (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

I recently met a psychologist who studies gender dynamics in the workplace, and she told me that she can’t imagine a world in which the gap between male and female leaders is totally closed. Apparently, there are too many biases and other factors involved—many of which we can’t control. For instance, she shared that I might be held back in business because I am a short-statured, relatively young-looking female. It’s too bad there’s not a thing I can do about this except wear heels and let my hair gray (and I don’t especially want to do the latter!).

But what about the things I can make an impact on? As leaders are there things we can do within our workplaces to facilitate the growth of female talent? These five suggestions are a good start:

Move Toward Equality in Hiring

Your recruiting efforts should aim to achieve an employee ratio of at least 30 percent women to 70 percent men, in all groups across your organization. Make sure your hiring tools (online job ads, website, etc.) are welcoming to female applicants.  Examine your roster over the last 15 years—you should be hiring more women over time. You will find that the stronger your female presence is already, the more easily you will draw more skilled talent into your ranks.

Read More…

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