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Have you ever struggled transitioning from one level to the next?

Posted on March 23, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: Have you ever struggled transitioning from one level to the next, like from manager to director?

– Always – I’ve struggled every time I’ve changed levels: 14%
– Sometimes – I’ve had a couple of bumpy transitions: 49%
– Rarely – Most of my transitions have been smooth: 28%
– Never – I’ve never had trouble making a leap: 9%

Expectations have changed. You got the promotion because people believe in you. It’s time to start believing in yourself. When changing levels, look at behaviors that need to change and be honest with yourself about insecurities you have about the next level. The keys to transitions are embracing the new expectations, spending time preparing to contribute in new ways, and acting “as if” you’re supposed to be at that table – because you are. The faster you can wrap your head around the new expectations and practice those new behaviors, the smoother your transition will be.

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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A Leader’s Need to Overcome Self-Limiting Beliefs

Posted on March 22, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Woman Climbing WallYou have a limited amount of time yet you have unlimited potential. What is getting in the way of you achieving it? Self-limiting beliefs are one of the biggest obstacles you face as a leader but you can overcome them.

Could your issue be what you believe and have convinced yourself of? Could it be how you present yourself – posture, stance, body language? Possibly you are allowing your emotions to get in the way and need to learn how to control them.

Quite often we are our own worst enemies, but within is a Superman or Superwoman screaming to come out. You are a leader because of what you have done in the past, yet to move to the next level requires something different. Learn to summon your inner super power and get ready to take a giant leap.

Here at thoughtLEADERS, I’m fortunate to work with some incredibly bright people. Marcy Schwab is one of them. Marcy recently discussed the topic of these self-limiting beliefs and behaviors with Steve Caldwell at Manager Mojo. They got together on his podcast to discuss how to overcome these challenges. Listen to the podcast here:

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Successful Leaders Do These 3 Things to Reach Outside Their Comfort Zones

Posted on March 20, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Tennis Player Returning a ServeReaching outside your comfort zone is critical for success in business and in life. If you want to be successful, follow these three tips.

Today’s post is by Andy Molinsky, author of Reach (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

If you play tennis, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “second serve.” In tennis, you have two chances to serve the ball, so on the first you can really put everything into it, with little risk since you always have that second one to fall back on. The key is how you approach the second one.

When I was much younger, I learned that it was OK – critical even – to learn how to hit a powerful second serve – something that would be nearly as effective as the first – with lots of spin to it. But that took time and effort and many, many failed attempts – even in game-time situations.

The easy solution in the moment would have been to tap that second serve right in – risking little, but also not developing for the future. But I’m very glad I got the advice I did to risk it early on, and learn from experience and failure, because now I actually have a second serve I can use effectively – something that’s actually an asset –a weapon – and something I can use in real game time situations.

And, as I’ve learned from my own experience, as well as from the experiences interviewing managers, executives, and entrepreneurs for my new book Reach, having the courage to take a leap is just as important in business as it is on the tennis court.

So, what are the best practices for willing yourself to take that leap and do something you know will help you in the long run, but which feels risky, awkward, or uncomfortable in the short term?

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What’s the balance between “thinking” and “doing” on your team?

Posted on March 16, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Innovation, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: What’s the balance between “thinking” and “doing” on your team?

– We do too much thinking and not enough doing: 38%
– We have a good balance between thinking and doing: 28%
– We do too much doing without enough thinking: 34%

Balancing thinking and doing. Many of you face the challenge of too much thinking without enough doing or too much doing without enough thinking. Either one of those can cripple your organization. If you’re doing too much thinking, it’s likely because you’re not breaking big problems into smaller ones with more actionable solutions. Have a bias toward action. A smaller problem is easier to solve and act on. If you’re not doing enough thinking, consider changing your decision making style to make it more inclusive of other perspectives. Doing so will help you avoid mistakes you should have known you’d make before you made your decision.

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 Powerful Leadership Tool You’re Not Using Enough

Posted on March 13, 2017 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Brightly Colored Yellow RobotMost leaders feel enormous pressure to be a rock for everyone they oversee – calm, composed, and unfailingly clear-headed. But, too often, they confuse ‘being strong’ with being unemotional robots.

Today’s post is by Brandon Black and Shayne Hughes, co-authors of Ego Free Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Though countless studies verify that compassionate leadership yields better business results, many leaders still refrain from showing genuine emotion and vulnerability in moments when their teams actually need to see it most. That lack of sincere expression often alienates employees and makes already difficult situations even more volatile.

First, let’s state the obvious: It is never easy – or comfortable – to let others know you feel upset, awkward, uncertain, or even incompetent. But in the right situation, honestly reflecting that reality can be a truly powerful (and unifying) display of strength.

Doing the right thing is often difficult

Just such an event occurred at Encore Capital Group during a difficult layoff of 110 employees. In today’s tumultuous global economy, it’s impossible for companies to guarantee employment. Hard calls sometimes get made. But just because it’s the “right decision” doesn’t make executing that decision easy.

CEO Brandon Black and his executive team wanted the process handled with care so that departing employees could walk out with their heads held high, knowing they weren’t abandoned by the organization. The leadership team agreed to make themselves accessible for every question that came up – and to be patient when people got angry or cried.

The largest headcount reduction was to occur at their Phoenix office where about thirty three percent of the employees were being let go. Encore’s SVP of Operations, Jim Syran, went there to personally deliver the message. On the day of the layoffs, the leadership team had a call at noon to report progress at each site. In Phoenix, things went as well as could be expected.

No one wants to look like the “bad guy”

Jim did an amazing job of delivering the message in a way that didn’t come across scripted or distant. Instead of blaming the change on industry challenges or a corporate mandate, he took ownership for the decision.

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How do you view deferring important training to future dates?

Posted on March 9, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Leadership, Poll, Training

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How do you view deferring important training to future dates?

– Totally unacceptable: When there’s a skill gap, fill it immediately: 14%
– Not a good idea: Only defer training if there’s a critical reason: 80%
– Not a big deal: It’s OK if it’s deferred. We’ll get to it eventually:  2%
– Totally fine: Training is pretty low priority: 2%
– Who cares? Training is just a waste of time: 1%

Waiting causes issues. If there’s a skill gap in your organization, it’s clear the consensus is to fill it and conduct the necessary training. While many of you believe that, in my 12+ years of providing training programs, all too often I’ve seen folks not walk this talk. Budgets, “I’m busy,” and other arbitrary metrics get in the way and cause delays on a consistent basis. The next time you’re facing a deferral of training, think hard about how suffering with the skill gap your facing for another three to six months will impact your organization. Ask yourself if it’s worth the wait. If not, go to bat for holding the training and resolving the skill shortfall sooner rather than later. I’ve pushed this point in the past and some leaders have gotten the message. Unfortunately there are many others who bow to the pressures of delaying required training.

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 Leaders Can Learn from Logan

Posted on March 8, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Leadership

Logan the WolverineLogan (the Wolverine for the uninitiated) isn’t just a bad-assed comic book character. He’s a leader who can teach us all about sacrifice, perseverance, and how to productively channel anger.

Have you seen Logan yet? If not, go. Now. I’ll wait. It’s required watching if you are a reader of my blog.

Okay. You’re back. Wasn’t that AWESOME?!? Holy crap. Amazing movie.

Note: don’t worry – this post will not contain spoilers. I’m not a jerk like that.

Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of everyone’s favorite clawed hero isn’t just a cinematic masterpiece. It’s also a great depiction of leadership skills that can set you apart. Logan’s willingness to sacrifice for others, persevere in the face of staggering odds, and his ability to channel his anger into productive work are traits all leaders can learn from.

Here’s a quick synopsis so you don’t get lost: Wolverine (Logan) is a mutant with healing powers. He also has unbreakable adamantium claws that he uses to shred opponents. The year is 2029 and mutants have been all-but exterminated. Because of that, Logan’s on the run from baddies who are trying to capture him and his mutant friends, Charles Xavier (Professor X who is 90 and has psychic powers) and Caliban (an albino mutant who has the power to sense and track down other mutants). A young mutant girl comes along and Logan, Charles, and Caliban try to get her to Canada where she’ll be safe. Cue pursuit by baddies and ensuing slaughter.

Sacrifice for Others

Even though he has super mutant healing powers, it still hurts when Logan gets shot, punched, kicked, clawed, and smacked with a lead pipe. His healing powers aren’t what they used to be and it takes longer for him to shake off a shotgun blast to the chest. He knows this. Despite all of that, he constantly throws himself in between danger and his less shotgun-resistant friends.

Logan also has no desire to travel or get caught up in mutant-hunting games where he’s the prey, not the predator. He’d prefer to lounge around in the desert with Charles and Caliban instead of schlepping all the way to Canada as some sort of superhero Uber for mutant kids.

Even though he’s a bit of a homebody, he still throws his pals in the car, gets behind the wheel, and strikes out on a long road trip. Driving long distances is bad enough. Doing so with a moody kid, a nonagenerian (Charles), and an albino who requires SPF 9000 isn’t fun. Add to that being pursued by evil mutants and mercenaries who have an arsenal Schwarzenegger and Stallone would be jealous of and it’s clear why Logan’s road trip isn’t exactly a picnic. Yet he still drives on.

The lesson for leaders: It’s easy to be selfless when there’s no pain or sacrifice involved. Ask if you’re truly selfless when you know you’ll suffer. Are you willing to risk professional harm to protect your team? Will you fight through stress and physical exhaustion to help your team accomplish its mission? Will you do all this knowing there’s no reward in it for you whatsoever other than knowing you helped protect your people and enabled them to reach their goal?

Perseverance in the Face of Staggering Odds

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Walking the Talk Can Be a Cliché – How Do You Make It a Reality?

Posted on March 6, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Empty Pair of Shoes WalkingAny transformational change requires the support of senior leadership. They have to demonstrate the culture they’re building by reflecting it in their daily actions.

Today’s post is by Kay Kendall, author of Leading the Malcolm Baldrige Way (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The first category in the Baldrige Excellence Framework is “Leadership,” with the emphasis on the senior leaders. We have often remarked that organizational transformation cannot be successful if it’s being led from the middle. All eyes of the organization are on the senior leaders to assess whether their personal actions and behaviors match the words about the change that is being promoted.

In our interviews with more than fifty senior leaders of more than thirty Baldrige Award or Baldrige-based award recipients, this fact was reiterated by nearly everyone with whom we spoke. These senior leaders emphasized the need to personally demonstrate the organization’s values in highly visible ways. Scott McIntyre, Managing Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice, talked about his participation in teaching part of New Employee Orientation. He told us, “It’s easy to talk about what you will or won’t do because of our values. I give very specific examples where short-term opportunities have been foregone to stick to our values.” In a highly competitive and crowded marketplace, having the senior-most leader telling new employees about turning away revenue to remain true to the organization’s values is very powerful.

We also had examples where senior leaders demonstrated their commitment to the organization and its values when faced with very tough times. Paul Worstell, retired CEO of PRO-Tec Coating Company, described the precipitous downturn his organization faced in September 2008 with the near collapse of the automotive industry – a the company’s sole customer base. Utilization of its production capacity plummeted from a record 115 percent to less than 40 percent. The company had never had a layoff, and Paul and his senior leaders were committed to maintaining that accomplishment. They were very open in communicating the stark situation to their employees and appealed to them to come up with ideas for cost savings, which they did enthusiastically. The company also eliminated all outsourcing. People who had been working on the production lines took over security, grounds keeping, and other tasks. Paul personally demonstrated his commitment by taking on the job of cleaning the men’s restroom on the second floor of the administration building. The company operated in this austere fashion for more than eight months and didn’t lay off a single employee.

When organizations adopt improvement methodologies such as lean, six sigma, or some customized approach, it is critical that the senior leaders are knowledgeable about them, developing a facility in using them, and participating in related activities. Jack Welch demonstrated this when GE launched its six sigma program. He quickly announced that henceforth directors and above would be expected to be at least certified six sigma Black Belts. At Mary Greeley Medical Center, senior leaders and physicians regularly participate in Rapid Improvement Events.

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How authentic are you as a leader?

Posted on March 2, 2017 | 4 Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How authentic are you as a leader?

– Extremely – Everyone knows pretty much everything about who I am: 28%
– Very – My team knows the “true” me with a few exceptions: 54%
– Kind of – My team knows me but not as well as they could:  13%
– Not very – I tend to wear a “work face” most of the time: 3%
– Not at all – I’m a totally different person at work than who I really am: 1%

Show them the real you. Authenticity boils down to stripping away pretenses and making yourself vulnerable. Until your people know the real you, they won’t fully trust you. Take a risk. Share something personal. Tell them about a time you failed, things you’re afraid of, and what you feel strongly about. Don’t let them walk around thinking you believe you’re infallible because we all know every one of us has flaws and failings. Strip out the buzzwords and eliminate the “corporate aura” if you want to make powerful connections with your team members. If you’re afraid to try this, start small. Tell them about a failure and see how the conversation goes. It’ll be more impactful and hurt less than you think.

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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Why Working Backward is the Key to Getting to Yes

Posted on March 1, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

House with Sold Sign in Front Yard

It’s a terrible feeling to put a ton of effort into crafting a recommendation only to have it shot down in front of all your coworkers. If you want your idea approved, you should try doing things backward instead.

Think about how you craft a recommendation. Typically it goes something like this:

Identify problem.

Gather data.

Do analysis.

Get an idea.

Do more analysis.

Figure out how to implement idea.

Do more analysis.

Write a big presentation that includes all the data.

Share the idea.

Get shot down.

Drink.

Repeat.

It doesn’t work folks. It just doesn’t work. Notice nowhere in there is there an identification of true stakeholder needs. No confirmation of the issue itself. No understanding of what the narrative should be and what stakeholders or decision makers will find exciting. Notice how much analysis is conducted – 80% of which will never see the light of day. Does this sound familiar?

I encourage you to try something different. Start with the end in mind. Be hypothesis driven. Before you gather and analyze data, take an initial guess at what an answer could be. Once you have that idea, start involving stakeholders. Yes, involve stakeholders before you gather data? Why? It’s simple.

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