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How willing is your organization to go above and beyond to take care of its associates?

Posted on June 21, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How willing is your organization to go above and beyond to take care of its associates?

  • Extremely. We’ve done amazing things to take care of people: 10.1%
  • Very. We’ll go well above expectations for our people: 26.9%
  • Kind of. We’ll do special things in extraordinary circumstances: 34.9%
  • Not very. It’s rare that we’d go out of our way for our people: 19.2%
  • Not at all. I’m surprised people are still willing to work here: 8.9%

Putting people first. It’s a tired old trope that “our people are our most valuable asset.” What makes that ring hollow is the fact that we don’t do all we can to help our associates. While a solid portion of poll respondents state that their organizations do a lot for their people, a scary number of you say that you don’t go out of your way to take care of your team. While you don’t have to take on extraordinary gestures to make your team members feel important and valued, some gestures do help. Consider that your employees know there are other organizations out there that will take care of them. Factor that into your decision on whether or not to go out of your way to help that person. If not, they might not stick 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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Optimizing Supervisor Training for Business Success

Posted on June 20, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Speakers Giving a Talk at Business Meeting

The ongoing, effective coaching, training and managing of supervisors should be a part of every organization’s performance management program

Today’s post is by Marta Moakley, JD, MA, Legal Editor at XpertHR.

Conscientious employers emphasize comprehensive supervisor training in order to minimize the organization’s overall liability risks. However, the depth and breadth of supervisor training options must be carefully considered for strategic, compliance, performance, and financial impacts.

For example, merely mimicking a peer’s practices could result in a laundry list of training “needs” that result in paltry returns on the organization’s investment. In addition, overbooking training sessions in a way that does not allow the material to truly sink in for supervisors could result in a trainee’s surface-level understanding of concepts.

This may be perfectly acceptable for a limited number of subject areas (for example, a supervisor need not know the intricacies of wage and hour law so long as he or she can respect a rest break). However, for some crucial concepts (e.g., the understanding of a supervisor’s role within the organization), a supervisor’s firm grasp of what is truly at stake is essential for an employer to be able to ensure compliance with legal and ethical responsibilities.

Surface-level comprehension of a supervisor’s role may result in a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario, where a supervisor may:

  • Know something about coaching, but not excel at it;
  • Be aware of a corporate policy on workplace romances, but ignore it; or
  • Fail to pass on to HR important information regarding a safety violation, until it is too late.

For an organization to succeed, it should adequately invest in its supervisors in order to support and advance employees. Developing customized training curricula, which furthers business mission statements and goals, for both new and seasoned managers will assist in those individuals achieving mastery in their leadership roles.

Achieving Mastery

Avoiding an organization replete with “Masters of None” demands that decision makers focus on what is truly important to the organization. This includes:

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The Networking Opportunity You’re Missing

Posted on June 18, 2018 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Sales

Two Men Shaking HandsIn a connected world, opportunities are more about who you know than what you know. Whether it’s a job, making a sale, or finding your next great new hire, you’d be a fool to miss some great opportunities to build your network.

With the growth of platforms like LinkedIn, it’s easier than ever to connect with folks. Unfortunately, we’re lazy and pretty much suck at it. It’s become too easy to click a “connect” button and try to build your network absent a real connection. Every week I get a bunch of requests to connect. Unfortunately they have zero context. No note. No explanation as to why someone wants to make the connection. That prompts a really fast “ignore” response from me.

But what about connecting outside of social media? It’s a lost art. Our noses are in our phones all the time and we miss opportunities to make great connections all around us. With a little effort, though, you can forge some great connections and build a network of people you actually know personally.

There’s one place I’ve found that’s better than anywhere else to build my network: the airport.

I spend a lot of time in airports. A lot. I recently spent 21 hours on planes to come home from Singapore. And that was just the return trip home. I could treat that as dead time (and many times I do – I watch movies, read books, and sleep). But if I have the energy, I look at it as a chance to build my network.

For example, when I was going from Chicago to Tokyo on the first leg of my trip, I stopped in the United Club to ask where their international business class lounge was. The guy in line in front of me was asking the woman at the counter the same thing. When she told him where it was, I remembered the location. He seemed confused though. I told him to come with me because I knew where it was.

While we walked, we chatted. It turns out he’s an executive at a global corporation. Hmm… most of my clients are global corporations. I asked what he did and what he was working on. He was headed to Africa to work on some major projects. When he asked what I did and I told him I ran a leadership training firm, his comment was “That’s funny… I was just speaking with my HR and L&D team about some leadership training needs we have. I’d love to learn more about your services.”

We had a nice conversation on our way to the lounge. I gave him a brief overview of our firm but then steered the conversation back to getting to know him as a person. There would be plenty of time in the future to send him information about our services. I was much more interested in getting to know him and the work he does. Once at the lounge and after a short discussion about how good the food was, I left him to his work. He went and took a seat in a quieter area but still where I could see him. I hopped on my laptop to do some email. A few minutes later, I received a LinkedIn connection request from my new friend. We looked up, smiled, nodded, and went back to work.

Now, I have no idea if anything will ever come of our chance meeting. But at least there’s a chance something could come of it. All because I decided to have a conversation with a fellow traveler.

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Will you lead a revolution when you see change that needs to happen?

Posted on June 14, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Poll, Strategy

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How likely are you to lead a revolution when you see change that needs to happen?

  • Extremely: I’m the first one to call for big change: 18.4%
  • Very: I often take up new causes: 39.6%
  • Kind of: I’ll lead change but only if I’m really passionate about it: 39.0%
  • Not very: It would take a lot to get me to step forward: 2.8%
  • Not at all: I’ll always let others lead big change: 0.3%

Rebels with a cause. It’s encouraging to see 60% of you taking up causes you believe in. The question to ask is if your cause is having the desired effect. Does it pick up momentum and lead to real change, or does it tend to sputter out and be forgotten when you move on to the next cause? To have a real impact, nail down the core components of a revolution: find a big problem, find other people sick of the same problem, define the future state and galvanize the masses. If you’re going to take the risk of starting something, put the conditions in place to see it through.

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 do You do when the Career Punches Come?

Posted on June 13, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Boxer Getting Punched in the Face

The ability to receive feedback, even when it’s critical, and bounce back from adversity are just two of many characteristics that make for a great leader. How many of these traits do you possess?

Today’s post is by Tim Cole, author of The Compass Solution (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Here’s an interesting litmus test to apply to the headlines as you sip your coffee this morning or watch the evening news tonight. If you look for it you’ll see a common strain. Someone somewhere will be under attack, criticized for a failed policy, facing an indiscretion that has come back to haunt them, or for making a misstatement that is now being roundly assailed in the media.

Someone once said that the essence of story is and always has been conflict. If that’s the case then the daily news is the petri dish for great stories because it is rife with conflict.

I grew up in the corporate world and made my career there. I learned a thing or two about conflict and how to survive it. I learned even more about people and what distinguished a limited few from the masses when it came to how they dealt with adversity or more specifically, criticism.

Here is the insight I eventually gained (and unfortunately this was not an overnight process.)

Everyone is at their best when they dictate the game. Far fewer are effective when the game is being dictated to them. Said another way, if you really want to know the character of an individual, watch them when the bright lights of scrutiny, criticism, or adversity are being directed toward them.

Many lose their way then. I liken it to the same phenomenon I see in combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts. The offensive dynamo that withers when the opponent punches back often suffers from what experts describe as the proverbial “glass jaw” meaning that part of the cranium shatters when it’s tapped very hard.

It is very, very real in the business world and I suspect in most careers. That poet laureate Mike Tyson might really have said it best: “Everybody has a plan until they get hit in the face.”

I’ve seen it in leaders at every level and in employees of every type and eventually coined the term, the Iron Jaw Seven to distinguish the truly resilient career travelers from the masses. The characteristics that distinguished this amazing minority are:

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5 Levers for Building Your Desired Culture

Posted on June 11, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership

Five Levers

Building the culture you want is a matter of modeling the right behaviors, investing in your people, training your team, and communicating the culture effectively.

Today’s post is by Soyini Coke, Managing Principal at Annona Enterprises.

In over 130 interviews with high-performing CEOs, across a wide variety of industries, culture was almost universally cited as the single most important factor contributing to company success.

Why is culture so important? Because culture drives how employees feel about working at your company. And this drives productivity, discretionary effort, and customer experience.

A recent Aon Hewitt study shows that engagement does drive financial performance. According to their study, “a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.”

Here are five approaches to bringing your desired culture to life in your business. It’s a lot more than putting platitudes on the wall in your breakroom. It takes strength, honesty, and an intentional strategy.

Model the Behavior

It’s simple and effective (and cheap!). Culture is very much a conversation. It’s very much monkey see, monkey do. For example, Emory Johns Creek Hospital is a committed to removing the “us vs. them” from their culture. Their CEO, Marilyn Margolis – a former nurse – explained her approach to establishing this as a cultural norm. “One of the ideas is a program we instituted a while ago called Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” she said. “What we do is: everybody in leadership takes time every month to go upstairs, what we call upstairs, and work with a department.”

For Margolis, it’s a chance to demonstrate want she wants from others through using herself as an example. “We go to the pharmacy, we go to accounting. We just find out what everybody does,” according to the CEO, and with that, comes a level of input that staying secluded in your office can’t provide.

Throw Money at the Problem

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Would you rather be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?

Posted on June 7, 2018 | 2 Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Would you rather lead as a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?

  • I like leading as the big fish in a little pond: 48.7%
  • I like leading as a little fish in a big pond: 51.3%

Different ways to swim. It seems folks are very evenly split on preferring to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big one. Each has their benefits and drawbacks. For you big fish, the leadership challenge is making the pond bigger for the benefit of everyone. If you have a position of importance or power, think about how you can expand growth opportunities for everyone around you. For you little fish, consider focusing on your own development and growth. Explore more of that big pond and build your skills and perspectives as you do so. In both situations, it’s not really about your environment or your position in it — it’s about what you do with the opportunities presented to you.

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 effective are you at establishing trust with a new team?

Posted on May 31, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: When you take on a new role, how effective are you at quickly establishing trust with the team?

  • Very: I can build trust quickly: 58.8%
  • Somewhat: it takes me a little while to build trust: 37.6%
  • Not very: I struggle to build trust with the team: 2.8%
  • Not at all: I don’t know that they ever trust me: 0.8%

Building trust takes time and effort. Getting your team members to trust you needs to be a deliberate endeavor. If you leave it to chance, it’ll take a while to build that trust. The trust you build serves as both a foundation for the efficiency of your team and a way to improve loyalty and morale. There are plenty of great techniques for building trust. Find other leaders who do it well, and ask them how they’re doing it. I can almost guarantee it’s something they focus on and take action toward on a regular basis. The faster you build trust, the more you can empower your people and expect them to deliver great results.

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 Three R’s of Conflict Resolution

Posted on May 30, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership

Man and Woman Shouting at Each Other

Conflict is an ever-present part of life. The more comfortable you are with dealing with it, the more effectively you can resolve it. Conflict resolution requires you to know the three R’s – recognize conflict, respond to conflict, and resolve the conflict.

Today’s post is by Jon Wortmann, thoughtLEADERS principal and author of Hijacked by Your Brain. He’s our primary instructor for our Conflict Resolution course.

The meeting had been going so well until Josh brought up the org chart—again. The firm had made some changes recently and he didn’t like the new structure. The room went still. Kate, the most senior leader in the room, spoke up. “Josh, let’s finish our planning and we can talk about structure later.”

“I am talking about planning,” Josh said. “How can we plan the roll-out if we don’t know how our new structure will execute it?” Josh was a pro at reframing any issue to bring up his agenda. If he weren’t such a talented designer, he would not have lasted this long.

What should Kate say next?

Conflict is like the weather. No matter how many good days you have in a row, eventually it will rain. And as rain is essential to the earth, conflict is actually crucial for every team and organization. The conflict Josh is creating may feel pointless, even manipulative. Well handled, it can be the kind of moment every leader and manager welcomes. It is better to see frustration and resolve it than have it buried. Teammates that hide their true impressions don’t engage real problem solving. Open conflict resolved consistently builds trust.

What Kate says next will either be a reaction based on the stress conflict causes, or it can be an intentional, practiced approach. The fear of conflict doesn’t come from our apprehension about differing opinions or disagreements. Most of us like the learning that comes from new ideas and being intellectually challenged. Our anxiety comes out when we don’t know how to manage and resolve the heated conversations and meetings that stop us from working well with the people on our teams.

In every conflict scenario, the first skill is to recognize it. When people experience conflict, we get triggered. As lions roar, rabbits run, deer freeze, and geese flock under stress, we’ve discovered that people revert to four reactions in conflict. We become passive-aggressive, confrontational, avoidant, or compliant.

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Courage in Crisis

Posted on May 28, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Firemen Putting Out a Fire

When your organization faces a crisis, your initial reaction and subsequent follow-through set a tone that determines your success in navigating the challenge. That tone will also dictate your legacy after the crisis passes.

Today’s post is by Constance Dierickx, author of High-Stakes Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

One of the biggest cyber breaches in history, in which highly sensitive information for a staggering 143 million consumers was exposed, still has Equifax reeling. The response of the company, its executives and board has been lackluster to say the least. An investigation regarding the timing of insider sales of shares found no wrongdoing. The announcement of this finding was met with a solid thud, not because the results are suspect but because the company still fails to distinguish between being right and doing the right thing.

When this breach was revealed, the shares of Equifax immediately plummeted by 30 percent. A loss of value of this magnitude indicates significant lack of trust and confidence in the company. In a crisis, what a company, or an individual, does immediately sets them on a path. Equifax’s response was very poor and hasn’t improved since it was made public.

In stark contrast, just after Frank Blake, former CEO of The Home Depot, announced that he would be retiring and the board named Craig Menear to succeed him, the company experienced a major breach of its IT system. Blake could have said to Menear, “Well, what a shame for you to have this happen so soon. Good luck.” He didn’t do that. Instead, his behavior provides a model:

  1. Admit the problem. Do it quickly and without excuse.
  2. Apologize to those impacted.
  3. Support those who will be in the cross-hairs while you look for cause.
  4. Organize a response and stay close to it.
  5. Show that you take responsibility. Don’t just say it.

When data breaches occur, customers want to know one thing: What does it mean for me? The answer came swiftly. In a Fortune article, writer Jennifer Reingold said it beautifully, “Within a few hours of that initial phone call, the company apologized to its customers in a statement – mercifully free of mealy-mouthed corporate jargon – on its website and assured them that they would not be liable for any fraudulent charges.”  A few days later, Frank Blake sent out a personal message apologizing for the breach.

If we scan the history of organizations, it is easy to see how quickly things go terribly wrong when we sidestep, hide, or fool ourselves. Richard Feynman, a Nobel winner in physics, was speaking of very different technology when he made this remark, but his comments are valid: “Reality must take precedence over public relations.” Most leaders would agree with Feynman in principle but when a crisis hits, fear and advice (most meant to be protective), can overtake good intentions.

First, Know You are in a Crisis. Second, Act like You Know

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