Breaking Bad News: Telling Someone They Didn’t Get the Promotion

Posted on November 30, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Sad Businessman Reading Bad NewsEmployees who did not get a promotion they hoped for can turn sour. Here are some leadership ideas to help you handle the situation.

Today’s post is by John Walston, ResourcefulManager-in-Chief at

Deciding who should get a promotion – and who should not – is a tough business.

It isn’t so much deciding who is best qualified – that’s a pleasant task and communicating to the lucky candidate that he or she is getting the job can be a real lift for both parties.

But then comes the hard part. Someone is not getting the job they wanted. That conversation is waiting for you, and it is much more difficult.

It’s easier if the winning candidate is already working for your organization, while the loser would’ve been an outside hire. This often happens when you have one leading candidate who’s already inside the company, but for the sake of competition you post the job and interview a few candidates from the outside, just to have a look-see.

But in the end, your inside candidate looked pretty good against what was available from the outside, so you decided to stay with the devil you know instead of the devil you don’t know.

You don’t owe much to the outside candidates, so telling them they didn’t get the job isn’t emotionally trying.

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Are you an enabler of your team’s poor performance?

Posted on November 26, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How often are you an enabler of your team’s poor performance?

– Never — I hold everyone accountable for their work: 14.89%
– Sometimes — I occasionally let them get away with things: 75.84%
– Often — I clean up their messes and they keep making them: 7.58%
– Always — I struggle to hold them accountable for their work: 1.69%

Give them an inch… You’re the guardian of the standard. When you let your team members slide by and fix their shoddy work (or even worse – do it for them because it’s “easier for me to do it”) you’re an enabler of that bad behavior. Sure, it’s hard short-term to teach them and get them to fix their work but long term we all know it’s worth the effort. So take the time to shift from being an enabler to building your team’s skills. It’s best for everyone involved.

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 Secret Method for Getting Your Recommendations Approved

Posted on November 25, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

The Elegant PitchGetting to “yes” is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face on a daily basis. Whether you’re making a case for more budget, more people, more time, or approval of an idea, you’ll need to communicate in a clear and compelling way. Here’s the secret method for doing just that.

“We’re sorry but your recommendation wasn’t approved.”

We’ve all heard those words; it’s a sentence that slaughters your hopes and crushes your confidence.

Getting ideas or projects approved and securing the resources needed to implement them is one of the greatest challenges business leaders face. With multiple stakeholders, constrained budgets, and competing agendas, it’s difficult to cut through the clutter and garner the required support.

I’ve been teaching folks this method for years as part of our Structured Thought & Communications Course (and if you’d like me to come teach you and your team, I’d be delighted to do so – just contact me and we can discuss the program). After teaching the method for over a decade, I’m finally putting pen to paper to make it available as a book. The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved will be published this coming August and it’s on presale now on Amazon. I’m tremendously excited to get this method out there to try to make people’s lives easier. If you’ve ever been a participant in our Structured Thought & Communications Course, the book is a wonderful complement to what you learned in class.

The Elegant Pitch provides a simple, proven process to go from idea to approval more quickly and effectively than ever before. This is the same method used by elite strategy consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co. and Bain Consulting. But you don’t have to be a high-priced consultant to master a process that promises:

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4 Ways to Unlock the Innovation Power of Your Team

Posted on November 23, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership

Four Lenses of InnovationWant to be a more effective innovation leader? Use these four ways of thinking—called “The Four Lenses of Innovation”—to bring out the best ideas from your team.

Today’s post is by Rowan Gibson, author of The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Your company may have taken on innovation as a strategic priority or a corporate value, but what if you feel more comfortable improving execution than with being the creative leader of your team? Let’s face it: generating new ideas, recognizing those with breakthrough potential, and then mobilizing your team to drive those ideas from the mind to the market – often in the face of substantial risk and uncertainty – is not something every leader feels cut out to do. But in today’s value-based innovation economy, it’s precisely these leadership skills that need to be learned.

So let’s get started. Here are four proven ways to unlock the innovation power of your team and to generate the kinds of new products, services, strategies, and business models that have the potential to drive top line growth and perhaps even revolutionize your industry.

1. Challenge Orthodoxies

Remember, innovators are usually contrarians by nature. They are people who tend to question common assumptions and overturn conventional wisdom inside a company, or across a whole industry.

Recall how James Dyson fundamentally reinvented the vacuum cleaner by asking why it needed a bag, and why it couldn’t be a sexy design statement instead of the ugliest thing in your home. Or how Tesla’s Elon Musk reconceived the automobile by challenging the conventional wisdom of Detroit’s seasoned executives about the viability of electric cars. Just over a decade later, every car company—and even Apple, too —is asking itself how it can learn from Musk’s playbook.

So try to work with your team to identify and challenge some of the dogmas that represent the dominant thinking in your industry. What are the broadly-shared and deeply-held beliefs about the “right” way of doing things? What if you systematically challenge these assumptions? What new innovation opportunities might present themselves?

2. Harness Trends

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How analytical is your organization?

Posted on November 19, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How analytical is your organization?

– Highly — we analyze everything sometimes at the cost of action: 42.71%
– Very — we balance analysis with judgment: 27.62%
– Somewhat — we do some analysis but act quickly: 19.44%
– Not at all — little analysis, mostly action: 10.23%

Analysis Paralysis. Doing more analysis is often a stalling tactic to avoid making a decision. There’s a limit on how much data you can gather to predict the future. Your ability to make decisions based on good data is also a function of how strong your organization’s analytics program is. If you’ve created a solid analytics team, the likelihood of making faster decisions with better data goes up significantly. So try to build a solid analytics program and once you’ve gathered sufficient data, make your decision and move on with life.

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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7 Tips for How to Use, Not Lose, Your Power at Work

Posted on November 18, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Lightning in the Night SkyGetting promoted comes with an increase in power. Use that newfound power wisely. If you do, your leadership position will improve. If you don’t, it could spell disaster for you.

Today’s post is by Victor Prince, one of our thoughtLEADERS instructors and co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Congratulations! You just got the big promotion to management. People now report to you, you have some budget, and you have some decision-making authority. In short, your new role comes with power.

Just like electricity, power is a very useful asset but can be dangerous if misused. Here are 7 tips for how to use your power so you don’t abuse or lose it.

1. Don’t Use it for Personal Gain – Some potential pitfalls are easy to spot but many are more gray than black or white. What starts as “relationship-building” with vendors can slide into contract-steering after a few too many fancy dinners. What starts as “team-building” in the office can slide into inappropriate requests outside the office. Now that you have power at work, you have to keep a firewall between your work and personal needs so you aren’t seen as using your work power for personal gain.

2. Don’t Play Favorites – Now that you have power, people will ask you to use it to help them. They want a decision to go their way. They want more staff or a bigger piece of the budget. Whatever it is, you know and like some people more than others so you may unintentionally factor that into decisions. Favoritism is a slippery slope to trouble. People not getting favored treatment will notice and criticize you for it. People benefitting from your kindness may come to expect it. Stick to the facts and merits. Whenever making a decision, think about how you would explain your decision if someone accused you of favoritism. 

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How to Inspire Your Team to Embrace a Sense of Urgency

Posted on November 16, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Light a Fire Under Your BusinessYour team needs to move with a sense of urgency. This doesn’t mean moving fast – it means moving with purpose. A group of firefighters can provide great insight into what moving with a sense of urgency means.

Today’s post is by Tom Pandola, author of Light a Fire Under Your Business (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

One of the big issues in business today is how to motivate a young workforce. Anyone in a leadership position knows how difficult it can be to instill a certain level of engagement within their employees and associates. This can be a difficult task, but if you are in a leadership position and accountable for accomplishing important work through the efforts of others, you need to start leading as though it matters.

Much of what I have learned to be true about the subject of leadership was learned during my 25 years of firefighting in Los Angeles. The topic of motivating a sense of urgency within a workforce reminds me of one of the first greater alarm fires that I responded to as a rookie fresh out of the fire academy.

Try to picture a large commercial building in flames, with smoke billowing high into the sky. Imagine all of the actions taking place by the multitude of firefighters carrying ladders and hose lines in every direction, fire engines pumping large amounts of water, and the continuous roar caused by the fire consuming everything inside the building, including the structure itself. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins, and I was certainly taking on every task given to me with what I would consider an enormous sense of urgency!

Running toward the burning building tasked with delivering a piece of important equipment that was needed inside, I was confronted with an obstacle: a large pile of fire hose which resembled spaghetti on a dinner plate. I was moving fast with no time to slow down! So, I attempted to leap over the pile. As I caught my foot on a loop of hose, tripped, and fell face down onto the concrete sidewalk – my helmet along with that important equipment I was carrying all went flying. Everything that I was trying to deliver was now skidding across the ground with such a noisy clatter that it caught the attention of everyone within a hundred feet of me.

Stunned, I looked up and realized I had landed sprawled out at the foot of the deputy fire chief, who was in command of operations. Read More…

Which type of person is harder to lead?

Posted on November 12, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Which type of person is harder to lead?

– Slacker — they have talent but won’t apply themselves: 24.31%
– Steamroller — they apply themselves but harm relationships: 48.91%
– Stowaway — they avoid work and hope to go unnoticed: 26.78%

Steamrollers need to be restrained. These folks are clearly tough to lead. A Steamroller gets momentum and gets things done which makes them especially challenging to deal with. The hard part is their accurate belief that they’re getting results so they don’t need to change their behaviors. The trick with leading them is helping them understand their rating is based upon results and relationships. As far as Slackers go, it’s about unlocking their motivation. For Stowaways, the key to improving their performance is holding them accountable and you investing more effort in changing their behaviors. The most critical step in leading any of them correctly is first getting an accurate assessment of what their behaviors truly are.

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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4 Things Leaders Need to Understand About Veterans

Posted on November 11, 2015 | 3 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Leadership

Mike Figliuolo and His Tank CrewVeterans come in all shapes and sizes, from varied backgrounds, and with unique personalities. The one thing they all have in common is sacrifice. Your organization could likely benefit from having a veteran or two around. Here’s why.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to serve my country. It was 20 years and 20 pounds ago. The only fighting I ever did was in a bar (and it was totally justified). While my military experience differed from those of many others, I came to understand one thing about those who serve – they’re all willing to sacrifice of themselves every day.

Your organization could learn a few things from vets. So today, on Veteran’s Day, I’d ask you to take a moment and reflect on the sacrifices vets and their families have made and think about how you can give something back to them (and get a lot more back in return.

1. The Sacrifice

Just because someone doesn’t serve a combat tour, it doesn’t mean they haven’t made huge sacrifices. Veterans give up a great deal every day. Their pay is nowhere near what they could earn in the civilian sector. Their career progression is dictated to them. They’re asked to move to new locales on a regular basis. They spend protracted amounts of time away from their families even during peacetime.

They work long, hard, physically demanding hours. They put themselves in harm’s way even during routine training. They’re celebrated and ostracized depending upon which side of the protest line they’re walking on. They give up a lot to serve.

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Debunking the Myth of Work-Life Balance

Posted on November 9, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Gold Unicorn StatueWork-life balance is a myth. It’s actually all about work-life choices. Once you understand you have choices and make them intentionally, it’s much easier to be satisfied with your career and your life.

Today’s post is by Nigel Dessau, creator of the 3 Minute Mentor. 

One of the most famous mythical creatures in history is the Unicorn. Appearing in countless books and movies, the legendary animal can be drawn, painted, and animated, but no one has actually seen one. That’s because they’re not real. Similarly, the concept of a ‘work-life balance’ is a myth.

Everyone strives to attain a work-life balance. Countless books and websites try to teach you how to find that perfect sense of stability. But here’s the catch: it doesn’t exist. However, before putting aside the utopian dreams of the HR team and falling into depression, there is hope. While you will never achieve a work-life balance, you will find work-life choices.

According to the dictionary, choice is the “act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities.” Unlike balance, which implies an equal amount of weight on each side of the scale, choice means you allow one side of your scale to be heavier than the other. Instead of finding that state of equilibrium, sometimes we need to choose our career, and sometimes we need to choose life or family. But you can always switch course and change your mind later.

When younger, many people tend to focus on their career. They work longer hours and dedicate more of their effort to fast-tracking their career. As family and community involvement increase, many choose to dedicate less to work and more to life. While some people make these choices mindfully, others do not, and are surprised by where they end up. That’s why about half way through a typical work-life, around 40 years old, many people start to have a ‘mid-career crisis.’

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