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What’s your opinion of people showing emotions and crying at work?

Posted on December 18, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What’s your opinion of people showing their emotions and crying in the workplace?

– It’s acceptable as long as it’s not affecting performance: 17.72%
– It’s OK sometimes but only in extreme circumstances: 61.13%
– It’s not OK and can seem disruptive and unprofessional: 17.97%
– It’s completely wrong — keep your feelings to yourself: 3.19%

Empathy matters. Eighty percent of you understand and accept crying and emotions related to it as a natural part of the human experience. Furthermore, that realization and your acceptance of it in the workplace (as long as it doesn’t affect performance or disrupt the organization) is laudable. Too often we seem to try to segregate emotions from business. That’s impossible to do, given that business is composed of humans who run through thousands of emotions a week. If you’re not open to understanding and empathizing with the feelings of others, you might want to reconsider your desire to lead people.

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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Setting Team Standards with a Simple Phrase

Posted on December 17, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Customer Service, Leadership

Two Call Center AssociatesAs you lead your team and set direction, you have to first set standards. Let people know these are the expectations that you have of them for how they’re going to perform, especially when you’re not around.

These standards will typically take one of two forms. First, there are context-specific standards. Those relate to the role that you’re in and the role your team is operating in. The second type of standard is more behavioral standards that you’ll carry with you across roles. I’d like to focus on the context-specific standards today because those can rapidly improve and standardize the performance of your associates.

Allow me to offer an example of a context-specific standard. A long time ago, I ran in a large customer service organization and our associates were talking to customers by phone on a daily basis. I couldn’t be there to supervise them to listen in on every single call, nor could their managers.

We had two choices – either we could give our call center associates a long laundry list of “here are all the talk-offs that you should have for a specific customer and the situation they have” or we could have given them some rules for how we wanted them to behave. That rule was a leadership maxim (a principle or rule of conduct). The maxim I used was, “Is this right for the customer?” It was a very simple question.

We had it printed on mouse pads so it was right in front of that associate all the time. When they were on the phone with a customer, they could ask themselves “Is what I’m about to do right for the customer?” If the answer was yes, we wanted them to do that. If the answer was no, they needed to think of a different solution they could offer the customer that would satisfy the customer’s need.

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4 Strategies for Coping with Entrepreneurial Stress

Posted on December 15, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger

Pulling Hair Because of StressToday’s post is by Pete Campbell, the lead Content Strategist for Gompels.

Zuckerburg, Branson, Jobs, Hoppen; the self-made and super successful occupy a glittering place in our society. These super wealthy entrepreneurs are symbols of what is possible with a good idea, a little innovation, some business acumen and a good dose of hard graft. They’re something to aspire to and their personal successes seem seductively achievable, even for the smallest start-up CEO.

Yet beneath the strong, confident surface of our entrepreneurial heroes there could well lurk incredible levels of stress, anxiety and mental health issues. The life of an entrepreneur is certainly not a stroll in the park, no matter how great the ultimate success.

Whether you’re an established serial entrepreneur or planning to launch your very first start up, this article will highlight the substantial amount of stress many of the world’s would-be and existing entrepreneurs suffer – offering a few coping tools to help support you through those frenzied periods along the way.

Stress under the surface

It’s difficult to admit weakness when you’re in business. In order to win confidence, win funding, win support, win customers and ultimately achieve success, it’s crucial to present a cool, collected and confident front. Looking even remotely frazzled could prove disastrous for your venture. Yet concealing stress can be an incredibly painful and harmful experience. One important lesson to remember is: you’re not alone.

Entrepreneurial stress may still be kept relatively quiet, yet increasing numbers of self-made business people are now coming forward to talk about their personal battles with stress, self-doubt and anxiety. Ben Huh, the man who founded the humorous online “Cheezburger Network,” published a searingly personal account of his battle with depression back in 2011. A year previously, omnipresent digital marketing tycoon Neil Patel published another deeply personal blog detailing his experience of handling incredible levels of stress.

The truth of the matter is, entrepreneurship is stressful by nature and, frankly, if you’re not feeling the pressure, you’re either completely atypical or not pushing yourself hard enough. Haywire entrepreneurs may not seem to be everywhere, but stress and start-ups? They’re very, very rarely mutually exclusive.

Are you riding a lion?

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How candid are you with job applicants when they don’t get the job?

Posted on December 11, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How candid are you with job applicants when they don’t get the job?

– I’m completely honest with candidates as to the reason they didn’t get the role: 25.44%

– I’m straightforward but a little vague when I tell them the reason they didn’t get the role: 48.6%

– I’m evasive when I tell them the reason they didn’t get the role: 7.02%

– I let Recruiting break the bad news and explain the reason they didn’t get the role: 18.95%

Can we be a little more direct? It’s hard to stomach that 75% of people who interview and don’t get the job really don’t know the reason they weren’t selected. As difficult as it might be to tell them the reason they didn’t get it (poor interview performance, a better candidate, lack of training, etc.), put yourself in their shoes. All they know is they didn’t get it, and they’re wondering how they can perform better next time. We’re all tired of hearing about unemployment numbers — how about we try leading those seeking a job, too? Otherwise, they’re left to their own devices and to reading blog posts about the real reason they didn’t get the 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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Best of thoughtLEADERS 2014: Seriously Our Awesomest Stuff Yet

Posted on December 10, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Sales, Social Media, Strategy

Mike Figliuolo TrophyIt’s time again for our annual year in review list of the BEST posts we’ve published in 2014. Welcome to the 2014 edition of The Figgies (our SIXTH of em!  Wow!) which are the awards we give ourselves for writing awesome blog content (here are the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 editions of those awards).

This is an annual event at the thoughtLEADERS Blog. This list is comprised of our most viewed, most forwarded, quirkiest, most provocative work. Enjoy. Share. We’ve loved writing them. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. I don’t ask a lot of you folks so I have two small requests as your holiday gift to me (you are getting me something, right?):

1. Invite all your coworkers, friends, and family to come check out the blog and become readers. The only way we all get better is by raising everyone’s game. I’m not asking a lot here. If you found this blog helpful at all this year, here’s your chance to return the favor for all our hard work. Just email folks and tell ‘em to come take a look.

2. Pick up a copy of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful Personal Leadership (especially if you’re looking for last-minute holiday gifts for bosses, team members, or your mom – she’ll love it). I talk a lot about the book because I’m evangelical about the topic. Buy it. Read it. In the words of Roland Smith (former CEO of Wendy’s/Arby’s) “It could change your life.” To get a sense for what the book is about, read this free ChangeThis Leadership Manifesto which is based on the book. If you like the manifesto, you’ll love the book.

Thanks for your incredible support in ’14 and best wishes for ’15! We hope to be a part of your future success!  Now on to the best of list!

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How Leaders Can Avoid the Risk of the Head Nod

Posted on December 8, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Beauty Queen by Deborrah HimselToday’s post is by Deborrah Himsel, author of Beauty Queen: Inside the Reign of Avon’s Andrea Jung (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The GM “head nod” is common symptom of leadership malaise that seems to be spreading from one organization to the next.

If you’re not familiar with this symptom, it’s documented in the recent General Motors report conducted by outside attorney Anton Valukas in response to their ignition switch defect problems. The report notes that GM employees would nod their heads during problem-solving meetings in acknowledgment of actions they needed to take even though they had no intention of taking them

This head nod is becoming endemic in organizations, a kind of passive-aggressive response to certain organizational objectives. While GM’s management must have given lip service to the importance of quality and safety standards, the rank-and-file knew what really mattered was keeping costs down, meeting deadlines and delivering short-term results. The head nod helped maintain the illusion that these issues were being addressed.

GM isn’t alone in this head-nodding response. In the years I was at Avon Products, most managers knew that the company had to create more centralized control over offices in various global markets such as China and Brazil. Andrea Jung, the CEO from 1999-2012 communicated this requirement clearly. Yet few actions were taken to address problems such as country leaders acting in ways that didn’t fit the culture or the larger business strategy; or selling products that were no longer part of the company’s product mix; or unethical actions that may have been standard operating procedure in other countries but were unacceptable practices in the Western world.

Just like at GM, Avon managers nodded when these problems were raised and solutions proposed. The nods acknowledged that these were serious issues and they agreed that something should be done about them. But there were more immediate concerns and higher priority issues. And so, while some efforts were made to centralize control and impose uniform standards, these efforts were only sporadically effective. Ultimately, the company was devastated by a Chinese bribery scandal and Securities Exchange Commission investigation, and Andrea Jung left the company because of it.

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How good of an example of living a balanced life are you?

Posted on December 4, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How good of an example of living a balanced life are you for your team?

– I’m a perfect example. My life is very much in balance: 13.61%

– I’m a good example. I’m mostly in balance but sometimes work too hard: 37.58%

– I’m a fair example. Sometimes I’m in balance but not as often as I’d like: 29.48%

– I’m a weak example. I’m out of balance most of the time: 12.53%

– I’m a terrible example. I’m never in balance and work consumes me: 6.80%

Half in balance. Living a balanced life is important both for you and for your team. For you, managing stress and balance in a fast-paced global economy is tough, but if you don’t, you’ll burn out and be worthless. More importantly, your team takes their cues from you on how hard they should be working. It’s hard for them to reconcile you telling them to leave by 6 p.m. when they’re still getting e-mails from you at midnight. Sometimes you have to set a pointed example of what balance is because you might find, as I did in this particular scenario, taking time out for yourself sends a strong signal to your team as well.

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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11 Commandments of Outstanding Client Service

Posted on December 3, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Career, Communications, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, Sales

Moses and the Ten CommandmentsIf you’re looking to run a successful business that takes great care of its clients, you’d do well to read the following commandments of client service.

These are values, beliefs, and rules I’ve picked up in over a decade of running a client-facing organization.  And I serve some pretty outstanding (and demanding) clients!

Lately I’ve had a lot of friends and colleagues ask for advice on things they should do or think of as they get ready to strike out on their own and start their own businesses.  Since I’m getting tired of saying the same thing on the phone every single time, I figure I’ll get efficient, write it here once, then refer anyone else who asks to this blog post.  Being an entrepreneur is all about being efficient.

1. Never keep a client waiting.  Honestly, if you show up late, don’t expect them to stay a client very long.  Sure this means spending a lot of time in waiting areas because you got somewhere early.  Bring a book.  Read a blog.  Collect your thoughts before the meeting.  Heck – I actually started writing this very blog post while I sat waiting for a client to arrive.  Just do not be late.  Ever.  You would be shocked and appalled at how many people violate this all the time.  No.  It’s not all right to do so.

2. The client is always right unless they’re wrong.  Clients aren’t always right.  Many times they are.  Sometimes you’re both right.  Ask yourself if it’s worth falling on your sword to be right.  If not, shut up.  But if they are wrong and being wrong is going to be harmful to them, see the next commandment.  Don’t always tell the client what they want to hear.  Tell them what they need to hear.

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12 Steps for Managers to Become Leaders

Posted on December 1, 2014 | 6 Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership

Brass Number 12 SignToday’s post is by Andrew Cravenho, CEO of CBAC.

It’s true! All managers are not leaders. The fact is, most managers achieve their position without ever aspiring to it. They become managers because they are good at the job they are doing. Their bosses view a promotion to manager as a reward for excellent work. Bosses tend to assume that these newly minted managers will be adept at managing for no other reason than the fact they excelled at performing the tasks they are now charged with supervising. Sometimes it works out just that way, but more often than not, it doesn’t.

Why?

Leadership has much less to do with knowing how to do a job than it does with inspiring others to do the job. Do you think Time, Inc.’s Laura Lang ever wrote a news article or sold a print ad? She hasn’t! Similarly, Lakshmi Mittal never toiled in a steel mill yet, he is at the reins of the largest steel producer in the world—ArcelorMittal.

The good news is, managers who have been awarded leadership roles as a result of superb job skills actually enjoy advantages over leaders like Laura Lang and Lakshmi Mittal. Managers who know the jobs and processes they have been asked to manage also understand what they can reasonably expect from their team. Managers in this position can always learn to become great leaders.

Insights for Would-be Leaders

Define the goals

The team you lead needs to understand the vision. There is little point in assembling a team if the goals for the team are not articulated. Leadership is, first and foremost, exemplified by the ability to lay out a clear vision that defines what you are trying to accomplish and what the goal’s achievement will mean to the business.

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How well do leaders in your organization compromise with each other?

Posted on November 27, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do leaders in your organization compromise with each other to achieve the best result?

– We always negotiate and compromise very well, and put the business first: 27.20%

– We often put the business first, but sometimes personal interests prevail: 50.29%

– We often put personal interests ahead of business interests: 15.46%

– We always put personal interests first, and don’t compromise well at all: 7.05%

Business first (most of the time). It’s encouraging to see the interests of the business tend to come first in the vast majority of circumstances but it’s troubling to see how often personal agendas enter the equation. Imagine how much more productive we’d be if we set aside personal interests and instead focused on making our businesses better. In the long run, doing so should reap larger rewards for each of us because our organization will perform better and be able to reward us more easily. For a week, try setting aside your personal interests (and encourage others to do the same) and see how much more “real” work you get done. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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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