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How to Find the Ladybadass in You

Posted on January 15, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Strong Woman Flexing Muscles

A ladybadass is formidable, strong, fearless and willing to push through real and perceived barriers. Start manifesting your own ladybadassery by not giving away your power.

Today’s post is by Joanna Bloor, CEO of The Amplify Lab.

“How do you choose who to feature as a Ladybadass?” Such a simple question at such an auspicious moment.

My dinner guest and I had just attended an evening event with Former First Lady Michelle Obama as the Keynote Speaker. Mrs. Obama challenged us not to “give away our power.” The impact of that call to action dominated the evening conversation. In talking about women and our power, the discussion lead to an idea that started a year ago.

Ladybadassery began as an experiment. At the time, I was making both personal and professional decisions that were completely changing the course of my life. I had no road map, no guidance, no rules. I instinctively knew I was doing the right thing. However, I felt alone, vulnerable and, frankly, terrified about the future. I had friends and mentors I could call for clear and staunch support, but I realized I needed more. I needed inspiration.

During my research, I found that the overwhelming volume of content was written by and about men. It was then that my idea grew legs. I knew there were tons of amazing, inspiring women spearheading transformational projects. We just weren’t hearing about them and should be. Why not create that content myself? Why not create the content I was looking for?

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How successful are you at getting business cases approved?

Posted on January 11, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How successful are you at getting business cases approved?

– Extremely – My business cases always get approved. 8.3%
– Very – I get most of my business cases approved. 66.9%
– Somewhat – I occasionally get business cases approved. 20.3%
– Not very – It’s not often I get a business case approved. 2.3%
– Not at all – My business cases never get approved. 2.3%

Getting to “yes” requires focus. Business cases are the heart of investment decisions. While many of you get most of your cases approved, there are likely opportunities to make your cases more effective. Three key components of your business case — defining the problem, explaining your idea, and articulating the benefits — do more to get your case approved than anything else. The more clearly you can spell out these three sections, the higher the likelihood of idea approval. Reflect on cases that weren’t approved. Look for flaws or weaknesses in these three areas. Understanding what you missed in a disapproved case can help you craft a more effective case the next time around.

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 Importance of Setting Quantitative and Qualitative Goals

Posted on January 10, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Sales

Man in Front of Heads Up Display with Metrics

When you set goals, there’s commonly two types: quantitative and qualitative. By setting both types of goals for your organization, you can achieve a balance of results driven by people focusing on the behaviors that matter.

Quantitative Goals and Driver Metrics

When you set quantitative goals, they’re going to focus on things like financial results, operational metrics, customer dynamics, or quality. You can typically track these types of goals pretty easily. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be thoughtful about these metrics. A focused set of critical driver metrics is more valuable than a broad set of less relevant metrics that your team can’t affect. Let me share an example.

Let’s imagine you have a sales team. The overall goal for the division is to grow revenue. The driver metrics that affect revenue are price and volume. We’re talking about the sales team here. They have no control over product price. If you just give this team a revenue goal for their business unit, it won’t focus their efforts appropriately. It could lead them to argue or complain about pricing policy. That’s just not productive. The business unit also doesn’t control customer service. Using total revenue for this team’s goal isn’t fair because they don’t control all of it.

When you set the sales team’s goal, focus their goals on what they can control. In this case, it’s new sales volume. Think about that sales team going out and trying to get more customers. The driver metrics, for their ability to acquire customers are things like the number of prospects they talk to, the number of sales calls they conduct, and the conversion rate from a prospect to a paying customer. By focusing on these driver metrics for this sales team and focusing it on what they can control, you’re going to get better results.

When you think through your metrics for your business unit, think through the drivers. Consider the team’s ability to control those drivers. And make sure the goals you allocate to them are only focused on that which they can control. If you build your goals this way, you’re going to get a more concrete set of goals that your team feels empowered to actually drive.

Qualitative Goals

In addition to setting quantitative goals, which are pretty easy to set, a lot of times you’ll have to set qualitative goals. You can look at things like major project completion or milestones in completing that project. Milestone goals are relatively easy to measure and focus your team on driving a specific outcome. Just be sure you have counterbalancing goals like quality to prevent the team from cutting corners to hit a time-based milestone goal.

Sometimes, you want to measure things that are difficult to measure. You’ll have to infer from indirect quantitative metrics whether or not you’re making progress on that desired outcome. Things like culture are hard to measure, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to measure it. You can construct a set of indicators that let you know if you’re moving culture in the right direction. You can look at things that’ll tell you if you’re succeeding in reaching that higher-level end goal.

Let me offer a couple of examples:

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The ROI of Having Fun

Posted on January 8, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Group of People in Office Having Fun

Making fun an essential part of your business strategy and adding meaningful breaks to the work day can improve productivity and have a positive impact on the culture.

Today’s post is by Dave Crenshaw, author of The Power of Having Fun (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

According to a poll conducted by Harris and the University of Phoenix, 59% of American workers wish they were in a different career. For employees in their thirties, that number is right around 73%. Employees disliking their jobs may be nothing new, but pushing to make the workday more enjoyable is something employers should take action on. Unfortunately, making the workplace fun simply isn’t a top priority for most employers. They don’t yet realize what they stand to lose.

Having fun at work isn’t about employees goofing off. It can lead to so much more. A study by the Harvard Business Review and the Energy Project found that when a supervisor encouraged team members to take regular breaks, employees were 81% more likely to stay with the company and had a 78% increase in their sense of healthiness and well-being. Additionally, those who took breaks at least every 90 minutes reported a 40% increase in creative thinking and a 28% improvement in focus.

Having fun at work will lead to increased productivity and happier employees.

How Does Fun Apply to the Workplace?

Making the workday more fun starts by taking meaningful, bite-sized breaks during the normal work schedule. Whether a company is a multinational behemoth with tens of thousands of employees or a small start-up, fun breaks at the office are vital to a team’s productivity. These small breaks should take place every 90-120 minutes each workday. Occasionally the company may want to consider a “next-level” or extended hiatus once per week or so.

While the employee is ultimately responsible for taking their own breaks, the leadership of the company and mid-level managers can do a lot to encourage breaks. That begins by talking openly about the shift towards more meaningful breaks, and scheduling longer, monthly breaks will motivate them even more.

Time is Money

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When you’re feeling burned out, how do you handle it?

Posted on January 4, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: When you’re feeling burned out, how do you handle it?

– I take time off. 36.7%
– I power through the burnout and know it will pass. 32.3%
– I say “no” and prioritize better. 18.6%
– I look to change roles or jobs. 8.4%
– I delegate more work. 4.0%

Breather or burnout? There seem to be two distinct camps here: those who take time off and those who power through those difficult times. The third camp says “no” and prioritizes more diligently. Each approach has its pros and cons. Those taking time off run the risk of coming back to a larger crisis or being further behind when they left. Those powering through could run themselves into the ground and completely burn out. The middle path of prioritizing more rigorously seems to be a prudent balance between those two extremes. The next time you’re feeling burned out, evaluate what’s on your plate. Assess how much time you can afford to take off to recharge. Ask if you really have it in you to power through the painful period. If not, maybe it’s time to try an approach of more rigorous prioritization.

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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When “I’m sorry, we tried everything” Just Won’t Cut It

Posted on January 3, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

Indian Boy Wearing Mask in Hospital Bed

Sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost all control over the situation. Great leaders go beyond the obvious controllable circumstances and ask what they have the power to influence.

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

What can business managers learn from a 5-year-old boy with Down syndrome, an unsympathetic insurance company, and a leadership team willing to take matters into their own hands? A lot, it turns out, about self-empowered, and self-reliant behavior – something most executives would admit they want more of from everyone in their organization. And a man who knows that better than most is Mohit Das.

Mohit was born in India, but is now a permanent resident of Singapore. In 1999 his wife gave birth to their first child, a son they named Ritvik. The couple soon learned that Ritvik had both Down syndrome and autism. They knew at that moment that much of their life would be devoted to his care.

And as difficult as it is to raise a child with both Down and autism, things got even harder. When Ritvik was five years old, he was diagnosed with leukemia, a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Ritvik started treatment immediately, which eventually included radiation and chemotherapy. And in cases like his, that treatment can last for years. It can also be frighteningly expensive for a young couple. Fortunately, Mohit had a professional job at a big, global company with good insurance benefits. Or at least that’s what he thought.

About a month into the treatment, he got a letter from the insurance company that said the claims for Ritvik’s treatment were being denied because the policy didn’t cover “pre-existing conditions.” That, of course, didn’t make any sense. But here was their logic: While Ritvik’s leukemia wasn’t pre-existing, his Down syndrome was. And children with Down are more likely to develop leukemia – ten to twenty times more likely, as it turns out. So even though only one in three hundred children with Down ever develops leukemia, the cause was assumed to be the same genetic makeup that resulted in his Down syndrome. Ergo, it was pre-existing.

So, Mohit and his wife started to plan for the inevitable avalanche of medical bills. Then a few weeks later, when Mohit’s boss heard about the situation, she contacted the human resources department to see if anything could be done about it. After checking the policy and appealing to the insurance carrier, the answer they got back was the same. Ritvik’s condition was pre-existing and would not be covered under the policy.

For the vast majority of situations like this that play out every day all over the world, that’s where the story would end. Someone somewhere feels wronged and appeals the company policy. The policy wonks debate the situation and issue a decision. All that’s left is for the middleman, the messenger, to deliver the bad news to the employee. “I’m sorry, your appeal was denied.” Case closed.

But fortunately for Mohit, that’s not where this story ended.

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Why We Have Extension and Escape Fantasies and What to Do with Them

Posted on January 1, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Guest Blogger

Bent Bars in a Fence for an Escape

Fleeting images of extending a deadline or escaping the situation can accompany emotions that motivate successful task completion.

Today’s post is by Mary Lamia, Ph.D. and author of What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions, and Success (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Highly successful people, according to what I have found, rarely extend a deadline or withdraw from a project, even though they may contemplate doing so. Extension and escape fantasies are simply our mind’s way of trying to find a solution for our discomfort. Even so, those who imagine the possibility of extending a deadline are often limited by anticipating humiliation about asking for more time. Instead, they give it up, and as a solution they will take action regarding the task at hand.

High achieves have learned that an extension is just another deadline at which time they would likely muse about yet another extension. Unfortunately, some people repeatedly make extension fantasies a reality, and they are more likely to fail as a result. They may also blame their failure on procrastinating rather than explore what’s really going on within them.

Contrary to popular belief, procrastination does not necessarily interfere with success, and early action does not inevitably result in a favorable outcome. Thus, procrastination should not be linked with failure, just as early action should not be tied to success.

Fantasies of escape might take the form of a natural disaster, a weather-related obstacle, or a physical ailment that might get one out of what one has to do. If only it would happen. Yet, achieving success necessitates eventually giving up our fantasies of fate or illness helping us escape the situation and get to work. Lindsey, for instance, described the enormous stress she experienced around a keynote presentation she was to deliver. She imagined being relieved of the task by circumstances beyond her control—a power outage or a broken leg. Ultimately, she refocused her attention on the presentation, imagining her prideful enjoyment as well as her relief when it was over.

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How important is it for a leader to have a good sense of humor?

Posted on December 28, 2017 | 3 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How important is it for a leader to have a good sense of humor?

– Critical. Great leaders need to laugh. 48.4%
– Very. Humor is a core leadership trait. 42.4%
– Kind of. We’re here for work but laughs are OK, too. 8.4%
– Not very. Humor doesn’t add a lot at work. 0.3%
– Not at all. Get back to work. 0.5%

Learn to laugh. A vast majority of you see a sense of humor as a key leadership skill (90%+). Humor is a great way to alleviate stress, make work enjoyable and build a sense of team. Don’t be afraid to laugh and have a good time. Just realize your sense of humor may not be the same as someone else’s. Be careful with jokes, pranks and gags, especially if they’re at someone else’s expense. One of the best forms of humor you can employ is the self-deprecating kind. Learn to laugh at yourself and stop taking yourself so seriously because, candidly, no one else does. Lighten up and let the laughs roll.

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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End of Year Thoughts on How to be Successful

Posted on December 27, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Strategy

Focus on a Movie Screen

Another year is in the books. How was it? Did you achieve what you wanted? If not, what are you doing about it going into next year? Try improving your focus, prioritization, and perseverance. Those are three keys to success you can implement immediately.

2017 has been a great year for me and my firm. I’m hoping the same holds true for you. If not, we’ll cover that in a few paragraphs.

This year was another record year of growth for our firm. We added clients, courses, and instructors. We went to interesting places and worked with wonderful people. Our results followed suit.

But it wasn’t luck. Not by a long shot.

How does this happen? How does an organization continue to grow and thrive?

Focus. Prioritization. Perseverance. That’s it.

Focus

People ask me all the time “What have you been up to?” My response is “Nothing new. Just more of the same.”

Oh Mike… how boring.

Not boring. Focused. We know what we’re great at. We know where we compete (and where we don’t want to). That means we say “no” to a lot of things. New courses that aren’t core to our business? No. New industries where our courses don’t fit? No. New delivery models with dramatically different operational requirements? No again.

Focus is hard. It means walking away from cool new opportunities that could prove to be lucrative. The key is remembering that a great core business can be even more lucrative and at worst, can suffer if you let too many distractions take you away from what you’re great at.

I’m not saying we haven’t grown and changed over the years. We have. But we’ve always had a singular focus on what we do and what we’re great at. That serves as a guidepost to stay on a path we’ve found to be successful.

Prioritization

You simply don’t have the time or energy to get everything done. You don’t. I’ve had two heart attacks trying to prove that I could do everything. I couldn’t. I’m not conducting that test again.

The only way to manage through the myriad of tasks you have to perform is brutal prioritization.

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How do you allocate your time and energy across your team members?

Posted on December 21, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Business Toolkit, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How do you allocate your time and energy across your team members?

– I give everyone equal amounts of time and energy. 30.6%
– I spend my time and energy on the biggest crisis at hand. 30.2%
– I spend most of my time and energy with my high performers. 28.1%
– I spend most of my time and energy on poor performers. 11.1%

Increase your leadership ROI. Time is one of the most valuable resources we have, but we don’t think about investing it with the same rigor we think about investing money. Simply spreading your time evenly across all team members or being reactive to crises won’t get you a great return on your time investment. Instead, consider how you invest your “leadership capital” differentially and deliberately. For team members who need less time because they’re high performers, give them less time. Reinvest that time in your lower performers before their poor performance becomes a crisis. A more deliberate approach to investing your time requires focus, but the rewards of doing so can be tremendous.

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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