Become a Better Leader in Two Days

Posted on May 10, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy, Training, Upcoming Events

Executive Insight 16 by thoughtLEADERSYou can improve your leadership skills in two days and have a great time doing it. Learn tools and techniques related to leadership, strategy, communication, decision making, problem solving, storytelling, resilience, innovation, and more at Executive Insight 16.

Our firm rarely offers public sessions of our programs. Here’s an opportunity for you to attend one of those events. On November 10-11, we’re hosting Executive Insight 16 at the Waldorf Astoria in my original hometown of New York. We’re delivering 13 sessions on our most sought-after topics and you can be part of that session. Consider this your formal invitation to join us. Here are the details on the event:

Executive Insight 16

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How effectively do you resolve conflict with others?

Posted on July 21, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How effectively do you resolve conflict with others?

– Very — conflicts don’t last long as I resolve them quickly: 32.83%
– Somewhat — some conflicts are difficult to resolve: 62.92%
– Not very — I have more conflict than I can handle: 3.04%
– Not at all — my work life is nothing but conflict: 1.22%

Guiding versus driving conflict resolution. While none of us enjoy conflict, we have to resist the urge to resolve it. Your job as a leader is to teach others to resolve conflict on their own. If you’re constantly mediating disputes, you’re an enabler of bad behavior. Everyone will keep arguing and coming to you to solve their problems. They’ll never learn to resolve things themselves. So the next time people come to you to resolve an issue, guide them on how to resolve it versus driving resolution yourself.

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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3 Tips for Making a Successful Leap to the Next Level

Posted on July 20, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Leadership

Little Girl with Glasses Looking Up at Big TableJumping from one level to another – like going from manager to director – requires a shift in the way you think. The biggest adjustment is recognizing and accepting that you deserve your seat at the table.

I remember my days as a manager. I had multiple layers of bosses between me and the executives in our C-suite. I worked for a director who worked for a VP who worked for an SVP who worked for an EVP who reported to our COO. I was way down the food chain. And life was good.

I had a perception that the members of our C-suite occupied some ethereal world up high on Mount Olympus. You didn’t talk to them. You didn’t look them in the eye. You just respected their existence and appreciated that they chose to let you continue yours.

After a change of jobs, I was a VP. My boss reported to the CEO. When I first took the role, I was in a meeting with members of the senior leadership team including the CEO. I sat there quietly like I was supposed to and I listened attentively to the conversation going on around me. At one point pretty far into the conversation, the CEO looked at me and asked “Hey… You… You just gonna sit there and listen or do you have anything to contribute to this discussion?”

I was caught off guard. Why would he be asking me for my perspective when he was the CEO and there were all these other senior people sitting around the table? Didn’t he realize who he was and how far above me he was in the food chain?

Then it dawned on me. I screwed up.

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Your Brain on Work: How Stress Hijacks Your Health and Happiness

Posted on July 19, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Pulling Hair Because of StressStress is part of our everyday lives. We can either control it or let it control us. The difference between those two situations is how we manage our “alarm” and our reactions to the daily stressors we face.

Today’s post is by Jon Wortmann, thoughtLEADERS instructor and author of Hijacked by Your Brain. He’s also a featured speaker at Executive Insight 16.

As the global head of sales hit the stage, he cracked. He looked out at the audience of colleagues and saw nothing but failure in his people. All his brain could focus on was their missed opportunities, laziness, and a collective bad year. Without thinking he said, “You are simply the worst team I have every worked with.”

For more than fifteen minutes he continued ranting before transitioning into an update of the quarter’s results. No one stopped him. When the CEO assessed the damage after the meeting, he fired his sales chief. At the exit interview, the head of sales didn’t even realize he had done something wrong. I wish it weren’t, but this is a true story.

When stress hijacks your brain, we get stuck on the short loop. The alarm, the tiny region called the amygdala which keeps us alert and out of danger, can misfire after exposure to too much stress. You lead. You manage. You innovate. You solve people problems. You save the day. To say you are exposed to stress is like saying London or Seattle get some rain.

Some days, you crash. Other days, your people call you a grumpy bear. Occasionally, after months of deadlines, events, and emergencies you melt down. Hopefully we don’t melt down on stage or in front of our teams, but it happens and we are not, in fact, crazy when we do.

The answer to stress at work is not actually as complicated as it might seem. While our brains still have some of the same regions as the dinosaurs, we also have evolved to the level of mental capacity where we can intentionally change the way we manage complex and complicated stimuli.

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Using Speed, Agility and Innovation to Beat Your Competition

Posted on July 18, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Jack Russell on Agility CourseInnovation, speed, and agility can be a winning combination if they’re used appropriately. Those elements must be tied closely to your strategy if you really want to win.

Today’s post is by Jeffrey Phillips and Alex Verjovsky, authors of OUTMANEUVER: OutThink, don’t OutSpend (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Every executive knows speed is important. Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard declared recently that “the future belongs to the fast.” But is speed enough? If you can simply accelerate the current activities, products and strategies that your business implements, will that help you win in the future?

Or what about being more “agile.” Agile was originally a software technique, meant to shorten software development times and make the development team more accountable to customer needs. From there, everyone is adopting the concept of “agile.” There’s agile marketing, introduced by thought leaders at CMG. Can agile help you win more? Of course. Is it, by itself, enough? Probably not.

Or, think about innovation. There’s probably no other topic that has the same level of emphasis across industries and geographies. Everyone knows innovation is important. But again, if you can innovate successfully, is that enough? Do any of these factors, by themselves, help your company win?

We believe that each of these factors is important, but left to themselves, implemented in a discrete fashion, without integration or coordination they won’t make a significant difference. But if you could create a framework in which each of these activities were a vital component leading to a completely new way to compete, then you’d see a significant impact on your revenues, profits and market share.

Maneuver Strategy

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How well do you negotiate?

Posted on July 14, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur poll today asks: How well do you negotiate?

– Very well — I always have negotiating success: 12%
– Well — I come out ahead in most negotiations: 65%
– Not well — I come up short in most negotiations: 20%
– Not at all — I almost always fare poorly in negotiations: 3%

Are you doing as well as you can? When 77% of people say they come out ahead in negotiations, that math doesn’t add up. Are you really getting everything you can? Or is it that your negotiating partner is getting the best of you but doing a good job of maintaining your relationship? Learning techniques like anchoring and approaches to managing the relationship after the deal are key determinants of your negotiating success. Always challenge yourself on the notion of whether you’re doing as well as you could – you could be leaving value on the table.

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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Solving Big Problems by Solving Little Problems

Posted on July 13, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership

Dollar Bill Cut into PiecesBig problems are nothing more than a collection of little problems. The faster you can break those big problems down into solvable component problems, the faster you can generate ideas that will resolve your biggest issues.

One of the first steps in any good critical thinking process is taking a big problem and breaking it down into smaller ones that you can actually solve. The time you invest thinking through what the components of the problem are is going to pay dividends on the back end when you look at the possible solutions. You’ll have a better sense for what recommendations and solutions to pursue, and how those solutions help you solve the bigger problem.

Let me illustrate. Let’s imagine we have a problem where our profits are down. That’s a huge issue to solve. We can’t solve that in and of itself. We have to look at smaller components of it. If we have a profit problem, we have two components: either our revenues are down, or our costs are up, or some combination of the two. But those are still very big problems to try to solve.

Let’s break down revenues, and what could be causing our revenue shortfall. Revenue issues are caused by either volumes being down or realized prices being down. On volumes, that’s still a big issue. We may have a smaller issue of current customers are buying less, or we’re selling less to prospective customers.

Now on the cost side, the reason that costs could be up are either prices are up, or we’re buying more stuff. If prices are up in terms of the stuff we’re buying, that could be a function of base prices are up, or we’re getting less of a discount.

Let’s look at the issues we can now try to solve for. We can work on:

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3 Ways to Elevate Women in Your Organization and Win in the Market

Posted on July 11, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Woman Climbing a StaircaseOrganizations that advance women in the ranks of leadership outperform their competition. Here are three ways to advance women in your organization and win in the marketplace.

Today’s post is from Dr. Joelle Jay, author of The New Advantage (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Fortune 500 companies are spending $8 billion per year on diversity initiatives, many of which are aimed at advancing women. Companies with more women in leadership positions are shown to perform the best. Studies indicate that these companies are:

More profitable (18-69%)

More competitive (25%)

More effective because they demographically reflect the market (83%).

Yet with the percentage of women leading Fortune 500 companies stagnating at 15%, it clearly is not working.

The question of why women do not advance at a faster rate is complex and requires change at many levels. One way that has been shown to be effective for advancing women is to put the power for change in the hands of women themselves.

If women want to accelerate their careers, they have to lead themselves.

This approach requires personal leadership. Women need to take ownership and initiative to make things happen for themselves that their companies have so far been unable to achieve for all of the women.

Examples of women whom take ownership and initiative are:

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How well does your organization understand and use data?

Posted on July 7, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur poll today asks: How well does your organization understand and use data?

– Very — we are effective at generating data-based insights: 29%
– Kind of — we generate insights but it takes some effort: 41%
– Not very — we tend to get sucked into analysis paralysis: 19%
– Not at all — we’re overwhelmed by data without insights: 11%

Data versus Information. There’s no shortage of data out there but insights are at a premium. If you want to wade through that sea of data more quickly and effectively, take a hypothesis-driven approach. Before you crunch numbers, identify what it is you’re trying to prove or disprove. Doing so will help you focus your analytical efforts and sidestep distractions. Beware of confirmation bias – only looking at data that confirm your hypothesis – because it can cause you to miss the real insight. You’ll be more efficient and effective if you take a hypothesis-driven approach to data versus blind number crunching.

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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How to Deal with Crazy Policies and Crazy People

Posted on July 6, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Communications, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Word Policy Typed on PaperWe deal with a lot of craziness in the workplace ranging from crazy policies to crazy people. The better you’re equipped to handle those situations before they happen, the more successfully you’ll be able to navigate them.

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

I’d like to share an easy way to learn some new leadership skills. Below are 5 great lessons in easy-to-digest 10-minute podcasts you can listen to at your convenience.

These podcasts are based on interviews with 100 executives and leaders at dozens of companies around the world. Each episode brings you an important leadership lesson through a single compelling story.

These next episodes will help you avoid the unintended consequences of senseless corporate policy, describe what you do in a more interesting way, address the serious issue of workplace diversity, and deal with the irrational and impossible people you have to work with.

Monkeying around with corporate policy

A lesson in how corporate policy really works, and how to make it work for you, from a bunch of monkeys.

A better answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”

Author and consultant Lori Silverman offers advice to help anyone give a non-boring answer to the anxiety producing question, “So, what do you do?”

When a suicide bomber shows up in a Women’s Studies class

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How to Deal with Brilliant Jerks

Posted on July 5, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Jerk SignBrilliant jerks are great to have around because they’re brilliant but they’re equally painful to have because they’re jerks. As a leader, the way you treat these brilliant jerks tells your organization a lot about what you value… and what you don’t.

Today’s post is by Chris Laping, author of People Before Things: Change Isn’t an End-User Problem (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

“We don’t devote enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.” —Bill Waterson

I came across a meme this week that really got my attention. Admittedly, I usually ignore stuff like this, but I opened up LinkedIn and there it was—staring me in the face and practically begging me to read it. Perhaps you’ve seen it, too. It’s a photo of Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, with the quote, “Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost is too high.”

Before I go much further, I don’t personally know Reed nor have I ever worked at Netflix. You see, this is the reason I don’t usually care about memes—it’s hard to confirm they’re true. As I researched the quote on Google, I realized there was quite a negative stir in the marketplace regarding Reed’s term. The truth is, I don’t care. And I don’t care if I’m late to the party on this conversation. I love the phrase, and I think it’s 100% true.

It was 2006, and I was new to consulting. The company I worked for attracted a high-tech startup as a client. My role as a Principal was to manage delivery, keep our customer happy, and provide leadership to the project team. The client’s chief executive, TJ, was my point-of-contact, and I was to collaborate with him on an important initiative. Talk about a brilliant jerk!

From the day we walked into his office, he treated us like trash. He never once made eye contact. Frequently, when any of us asked him a question, he would flip his hand in the air while saying, “I don’t see why that’s important. This is what I think is important…” To make matters worse, he made a clicking noise between sentences that was meant to be audible punctuation. As it related to the clicking, he once told me, “People can’t keep up with me so I help them understand when I am shifting to another idea.” Apparently we were all dipsticks and lucky to have someone as sensitive as him worrying about whether we were keeping up!

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