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Do you consider your team to be “high performing?”

Posted on January 29, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Do you consider your team to be “high performing?”

– Absolutely — they’re consistently excellent: 26.32%
– Kind of — they’re good but have room to improve: 60.15%
– Not really — they’ve got their share of issues: 11.09%
– Not at all — I’m in disaster-recovery mode: 2.44%

Driving High Performance. The high performing team is elusive.  It requires a special chemistry among the team members and you are the chief chemist.  If your team is currently high performing, beware of throwing off the mix with new hires, role changes, or revised priorities.  If you’re trying to elevate your team, step back and list what’s working great and what’s holding the team back (caveat – you might be on that list of things holding them back).  Building a high performing team is about leading, following, and getting out of the way.  Try changing one variable at a time and see how it affects performance.  Time thinking about your team far outweighs time in many of the meetings you attend.  Prioritize accordingly.

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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Improve Your Team by Leading Inside the Box

Posted on January 27, 2015 | 3 Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

Lead Inside the BoxThe phrase “think outside the box” makes me physically ill.  It’s trite and isn’t at all applicable.  But inside the box?  That’s where great leaders go to get more out of their teams.  You can too with a simple assessment tool that provides insights as to how to most effectively lead the unique members of your team.

Preface: I’m an idiot.  My friend and fellow thoughtLEADERS instructor Victor Prince hoodwinked me into co-authoring a new book: Lead Inside the Box – How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results.  It comes out in July (but is available for pre-order! CLICK HERE to reserve your copy).  The premise is you need to evaluate the amount of output you get from a team member and compare that to the amount of time and energy you have to invest in them to get it.  We call that second piece “leadership capital.”

The result of those comparisons is the Leadership Matrix (or “the box” for short).  Within that matrix, we define behavioral archetypes from Slackers to Rising Stars and everything in between.  The real insight lies in practical advice on how to lead those folks to improve their performance.  By understanding the behaviors your team members will demonstrate and how you invest (or don’t invest) your time and effort into them, you’ll get a clearer picture of the 8 archetypical behaviors that can show up in the box.  With that understanding, you can begin leading differently which will improve your performance.  Those archetypes are as follows:

Read More…

4 Faulty Assumptions You Have about Giving Feedback

Posted on January 26, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Feedback ImperativeToday’s post is by Anna Carroll, author of The Feedback Imperative: How to Give Everyday Feedback to Speed Up Your Team’s Success (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

If you are a manager, the chances are great that you dread giving honest feedback to your team members on a frequent basis. And yet it is at the top of the list of what employees today want and need from their leaders. This is particularly true for younger and highly skilled employees who can and will leave your organization if they can find better opportunities and development elsewhere.

This trend is building steam

In Gallup’s massive longitudinal study on the employee engagement of workers at all levels and across the globe, there was no more important indicator of satisfaction and willingness to stay on the job than whether or not someone in their workplace (usually a manager) had talked with them recently about how they were doing on the job. A quarter of global employees in the same survey reported that they received no feedback at all from their supervisors, and this was a major factor in their workplace dissatisfaction.

In a study of more than 3,600 employees, 51 percent of them said that they received too little constructive criticism from their boss, and 65 percent of those who did receive feedback, either positive or negative, said they didn’t receive enough information to know what to repeat or change. People want to know exactly what they need to do to perform well on the job.

In 2011, Jay Gilbert conducted interviews with Millennials that revealed just how serious they are about their feedback; he received many responses similar to this one:

“If I get feedback from above as to if what I am doing is ok or needs changes, and whether I should do more or less, etc., I do not care about the message. I am very receptive even to quite negative feedback, but I like knowing where I stand, and I like knowing what the expectations are and how I’m stacking up.”

“Tell it like it is—Don’t BS me!” Read More…

How good are you at giving difficult feedback promptly?

Posted on January 22, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How good are you at giving difficult feedback promptly?

– Great — I share difficult feedback immediately: 21.53%
– OK — I give tough feedback with some hesitation: 60.76%
– Not good — I struggle with giving tough feedback: 16.64%
– Poor — I rarely share difficult feedback: 1.07%

Prompt feedback matters. You should never hesitate to give tough feedback promptly.  Not doing so is a failure of leadership.  You’re not only letting that individual down – you’re letting down the rest of the team too.  Invariably they see the person’s shortcomings and they wonder why the boss isn’t taking corrective action.  It’s a slippery morale slope from there.  Not giving tough feedback promptly can lead to disastrous results and damage your credibility as a leader.  That failure also impairs your team’s overall performance.  So swallow hard and go deliver the tough messages – it’s much easier to do than you might 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!

These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

When it Comes to Strategy, are You Sitting at the Kid’s Table?

Posted on January 21, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Strategy

Kid's TableLooking back on past holidays, you may remember what it felt like to be stuck at the kid’s table. But you’re a grown up now – so how come you’re still sitting at the kid’s table at work?

I was recently interviewed by Anita Bruzzese for the Intuit blog. I figured you folks would like the perspectives from that interview. Here you go:

Take a look at comments posted on workplace blogs or on social media sites, and it won’t be long before you find an employee complaining that they’re often left out of the loop regarding business decisions.

These employees complain that their boss doesn’t keep them informed of strategic business decisions, what’s in the pipeline for the next year or even how their work is part of the bigger picture. Senior leaders are even worse, they contend.

It’s a frustration Mike Figliuolo has heard before, and he has a simple response: “That’s crap.”

Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, says that employees who complain that they don’t know what is going on within their company simply aren’t trying hard enough.

“If anything, it’s easier than ever,” he says. “Just look at your company’s organizational chart and find someone about two levels above you. Send that person an email and ask them to send you their department’s latest strategic plan.”

With that information, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and then be able to ask additional questions to determine how you or your department are affected by pending plans or possibly involved in a new initiative.

“It’s just pure laziness to sit back and say, ‘I’m not being included,’” he says. “If you can’t take the initiative then sure, you’re going to sit at the kid’s table and eat chicken nuggets.” Read More…

5 Reasons Surveys Do Not Reveal Your Organization’s Culture

Posted on January 19, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Above the Line by Michael HendersonToday’s post is by Michael Henderson, author of Above the Line: How to Create a Company Culture that Engages Employees, Delights Customers and Delivers (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

A company’s culture plays a significant role in driving performance, retaining staff and influencing customer experience. If you agree, then it might be time to look into how your organization identifies its culture. If you’re simply relying on an annual staff engagement survey, you might be surprised, and not necessarily pleased with the results.

Many organizations use staff engagement surveys for establishing the status of employee morale or as a means of positioning an organization as an award-winning place to work. However many organizations are increasingly falling into the trap of relying on their engagement survey tool to define and describe their workplace culture. It’s as Abraham Maslow once noted, “If you only have a hammer as a tool, then every problem is a nail.”  In other words, just because you are already using an engagement survey to assess employee morale doesn’t mean the survey is designed to measure culture.

Engagement surveys may indeed measure many variables within an organization, but culture isn’t one of them. The following are five reasons why engagement surveys are ineffective for revealing your organization’s culture:

1. Opinions are not culture. Engagement survey questions are designed to ask employees their opinions on such topics as; their boss, the warmth of their workplace atmosphere, or whether they perceive they have friends amongst their colleagues. But an opinion of a culture is not the culture itself. For example, if I travel to France and develop a less than favorable opinion of French culture, that does not mean that I have understood or defined French culture, but only that I have formed a biased opinion of the culture. Many organizations fail to make this important distinction and, in doing so, often make decisions about the culture – or the changes required in the culture – based on opinions and not through understanding the cultural dynamics themselves. Most engagement surveys are superficial in their explanation of culture. If you truly want to understand your workplace culture watch it in action in real time on the job and you are likely to see where it works or doesn’t, or whether it leads to collaboration or creativity or not. Rather than asking employees for their opinion on culture, try asking if they find the culture to be collaborative or creative.

Read More…

What’s your perception of a leader who has an “interesting” title?

Posted on January 15, 2015 | 5 Comments
Categories: Career, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What is your perception of a leader who has an “interesting” title with words like “guru” or “ninja” in it?

– It’s awesome and fun: 3.71%
– It’s OK: 4.3%
– I don’t care what they’re called as long as the work gets done: 23.28%
– It’s silly and I view them as less credible: 68.72%

Stop being a guru ninja! Clearly most folks find self-given titles like “guru” or “ninja” to be silly and you lose credibility for having it on your card or signature block.  At best, you get apathy over it and clearly it drives a very small percentage of people to think you’re more highly of you.  Now while you may not have a silly title like that, you must realize this dynamic applies to every aspect of your “signature block persona.”  You need to ensure your don’t fall into the typical traps of  a bad electronic calling card.  Your first impression and credibility depend upon 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!

These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

Why You Should Burn Your Ships for Motivation

Posted on January 14, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Leadership

Painting of Burning ShipToday’s post is by bestselling author Paul Smith. It’s from his newest book Parenting with a Story: Real-life lessons in character for parents and children to share (CLICK HERE to get your copy). He’s also the author of Lead with a Story – the basis of our course on Influencing through Storytelling.

When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico in 1519, he famously burned his ships. With no way home, his men were more motivated to accomplish their goal, which was to conquer and colonize the interior of Mexico. Cortez knew that with such a dangerous mission, his odds of success were much greater with the complete commitment that comes from knowing that neither failure, nor retreat, was a viable option.

There’s a lesson in Cortez’ wisdom even for smaller and less gruesome objectives. I put that wisdom to the test myself as a 16-year-old high school junior. And it taught me a lesson that’s served me well ever since. Here’s what happened.

A high school track team typically fields their best two runners in each event. If you’re not one of the best two, you don’t make the team. I had the number 2 position for the mile run. By my junior year I’d been to several meets, but hadn’t finished in the top three in any of them. Only the top three finishers earn a ribbon and points for their team. And the only way to earn a letter jacket was to score at least one point in a sanctioned meet. Halfway through the season, I was ribbonless, pointless, and still wanted desperately to earn my letter jacket.

I decided my best odds of scoring in a meet was to compete in a shorter race. I told my coach I wanted to switch places with Matt Copper so I could run the 880-yard event—a half-mile race. He agreed, but explained the risk: if Matt ran a better time than my best in the mile, and I failed to beat his best time in the 880, then Matt would hold the number 2 spot in both events. And I would essentially be off the team. I’d never run a better time than Matt in an 880-yard race. But I really wanted that letter jacket.

I decided to take the risk.

Read More…

Work-Life Out of Balance: 7 Steps to Finding Your Comfort Zone

Posted on January 12, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Guest Blogger

Candy Precariously BalancedToday’s post is by Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess! and author of But Are You Making Any Money? (CLICK HERE to get your copy)

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, long blond-haired girl and her life was in perfect order. She religiously worked 9-3 so she could be lead minivan in the carpool line promptly by 3:10 (5 minutes early), paid all bills a minimum of seven days prior to their due dates, was the first to have her Christmas cards out, depicting perfectly grosgrain-bowed children, the golden retriever and a white picket fence. Her husband (they were high-school sweethearts, natch), was a corporate executive with a substantial salary and a matching 401K, wonderful health insurance and three solid weeks of vacation, most of it spent in Hawaii where they frequently ran into many local friends who happened to favor the same high-quality spots.

Halloween involved all the young neighbor children in the most wholesome, delightful costumes (handmade, by, you guessed it, MOM!), politely knocking door to door and greeting each neighbor with the appropriate: “Trick or Treat, Mrs. Johnson!” Her children’s birthdays were marked with homemade cupcakes delivered to their classrooms and Valentine’s Day favors were always homemade, but of course!

In terms of work-life balance, little miss blond beauty seemed to have it all, and most importantly, by all appearances, have it all TOGETHER, when it was supposed to be together. Sound pretty idyllic? Not to me.

In fact, I’d rather barf and die than have any kind of structure, let alone a 9-5 or three weeks set up of anything. Me? Divorced twice, live in a loft, can’t make it to carpool on time if my life depended on it, and as for Hawaii, how about going to some unknown part where, dare I say it? a volcano might erupt or something exciting.

Net/net? We’re all different. Barbie wouldn’t be able to last five minutes in my fast paced, fly by the seat of my pants, home today, Belize tomorrow-if-I-feel-like-it lifestyle. Nope. No way. And you know what? That’s fine. Because a work-life balance is something that we all get to decide, for ourselves. In case you’re looking to create your own roadmap somewhere in between Goldilocks and the table dancing-wanna-be-party-animal, here, take a look at my little homemade 7-step formula and see if it helps:

Read More…

What’s the biggest mistake you see during a formal presentation?

Posted on January 8, 2015 | 2 Comments
Categories: Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when they’re giving a formal presentation?

– Too much content, not enough time: 24.69%
– Too focused on the slides versus the desired meeting outcome: 35.69%
– Poor stage presence: 7.6%
– Not reading the audience well: 7.33%
– Not having a clear and compelling story they’re telling: 24.69%

PowerPoint is Evil. Well, the program itself isn’t evil – just the way we use it and rely too much on it is.  Too much focus on too many slides and failing to have a clear and compelling story is a recipe for disaster.  It’s easy to fixate on the presentation because it’s something tangible that we can manipulate.  We seem to feel that if we include more content, we’ll be more compelling.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Focus on having a clear message, clean visuals, and remember you’re there to get to an outcome – a “yes” from your stakeholders.  If you don’t want your presentation to be a disaster, be sure to remember the purpose of the meeting in the first place and avoid the big, common presentation mistakes at all costs.

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…

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