You Wouldn’t Fly with a B Player Pilot so Why Have One on Your Team?

Posted on August 21, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

LeBron James

While we all want teams full of “A Players” we seem to be saddled with lots of B and C players. Instead of resigning yourself to that fate of mediocrity, be more demanding and fill your roster with A Players instead.

Today’s post is by Rick Crossland, author of The A Player (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In many businesses, managers are often resigned to the thought that having B and C Players on the team is just the way things are. The B and C players are meant to round out the team, and not everyone can be an A Player, right? Besides, isn’t it impossible to find all A Players anyway?

Well not so fast on throwing in the towel and tolerating B and C Players on your team! Let’s look at it this way: would you want a B or C Player surgeon performing your next surgery? Didn’t think so! How about a B or C Player piloting your next trip? No way! The point is, when the situation is critical or life threatening, we demand that A Players are doing the work. Why then do companies tolerate B and C players on their teams? Isn’t the work they do for your customers critical as well?

Leadership begins with the role of building a team to make the business thrive. When looking for team members, each company needs to establish their own set of qualifications and expectations that define the A Player in its industry. Upon deciding who to add to their team, leaders need to select only candidates that meet these criteria.

The question is: are you actually settling for B and C Players in the rush to fill a role? The key to having an awesome team is defining A Player performance and demanding it from 100% of your team members and new hires.

Let’s start by laying out the basics: What are the differences between A, B, and C Players?

An A Player can be described as a top performer in the top 10% of the industry for the specific compensation offered. An A Player is wholesome, driven, and possesses a strong work ethic. The A Player is the person who gives it all to the job. This person strives to have passion for their job and to be successful. In short, these are the employees you would enthusiastically rehire.

The B Player is someone who has trouble meeting deadlines, regularly failing to meet expectations, and providing more problems than solutions. In other words, their performance just skates by. Most companies and leaders tolerate the Bs and accept them as average. This leads to only mediocre company performance. As someone aspiring to be an A Player leader, your job is to coach these Bs into becoming A Players.

The C Player is the employee who just works for a paycheck and does not see a goal or possess pride for what they do. C Players also fail to meet expectations and deadlines. Just like the Bs, your job as the leader is to coach them up to being a full-fledged A, or coach them out to find a role where they can become an A Player.

Most companies think that B and C Players are needed to fill out their team based on the law of averages. Some executives have the misconception that they actually need B and C players to offset their A Players. Nothing could be further from the truth! A Players are the ultimate team players and exist at all levels in the organization. A Players crave being in the presence of other high performers. It’s the B and C Players that drive the A Players away. Here’s why:

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Which analytical challenge does your organization predominately face?

Posted on August 17, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Which analytical challenge does your organization predominately face?

– Analysis paralysis — We never stop running the numbers: 38%
– Weak analysis — We draw conclusions based on limited data: 35%
– Confirmation bias — We only look at data that support our idea: 20%
– No challenges — We’re great at analysis: 8%

Paralysis and Weakness Dominate Analysis. It seems folks are on both ends of the spectrum. They’re either doing too much analysis and being paralyzed in the process or they’re not doing enough analysis and are making decisions based on weak fact sets. There are ways to break out of these dynamics. Taking a hypothesis-based approach to problem solving and making recommendations can help you focus on the necessary analysis required to prove your case. This approach stops analysis paralysis because it focuses your work on the most important analyses. The approach also ensures rigor because it points out what analyses are required for making a decision. The next time you go to solve a problem, try a hypothesis-based approach to how you conduct analysis.

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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Overcoming the Fear of Giving Tough Feedback

Posted on August 14, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Nervous Woman Biting Her Nails in Fear

Tough feedback is difficult to deliver so leaders avoid doing so. That leads to negative dynamics for the person who needs the feedback, for the leader, and for the company. Overcome your fear of delivering tough feedback with a few simple techniques.

Today’s post is by Angela Sebaly, author of The Courageous Leader (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Beth is an employee who toggles between meets expectations and underperforming. Over the course of 4 years, she has been bounced around internally from one team to the next – working for 3 different teams altogether. Yet she has not been provided much clarity about why. First, she was told that her strengths would be better leveraged in a role that was not customer-facing. Next, she was informed that she would be more successful assisting another team. The third time she was moved, Beth learned that a different team needed her skills.

When I met with her, she described feeling bounced around like a beach ball, not sure where she’d end up next.

In fact, Beth was underperforming. Yet instead of saying so, her colleagues passed her along from one team to another hoping someone else would have the courage to deal with the situation more effectively.

How often do we buffer others – and ourselves – from this type of situation, holding back
valid and useful information and giving messages that are diluted at best?

Too often to count.

That’s because honest feedback is difficult – even painful – to give and to receive. It’s so much easier to shirk these uncomfortable situations by just avoiding them.

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What do you believe is the most effective form of growth?

Posted on August 10, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll, Sales, Strategy

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What do you believe is the most effective form of growth?

– Organic: 49%
– Acquisition: 15%
– Geographic expansion: 10%
– New product introduction: 23%
– Other: 3%

Go organic. The large majority of you are fans of growing your existing business and taking it to new customers or growing customer bases you already have. While there’s a lot to be said for organic growth, it can be slow and it leaves you vulnerable to large changes in the market like competitors making acquisitions or launching new products that leave you in the dust. Evaluate your growth strategy on a regular basis. Be rigorous about understanding your growth options and choose the one most appropriate to the market environment. Sticking only to a “slow and steady wins the race” approach exposes you to other risks that can damage your business.

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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Is Your Team Built to Last?

Posted on August 9, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership


Our teams are under tremendous pressure. That pressure creates stress which diminishes performance. You can build a more resilient team through some simple leadership behaviors.

Today’s post is by Jon Wortmann, thoughtLEADERS instructor and author of Hijacked by Your Brain. He’s our primary instructor for our Building Leadership Resilience course.

Let’s imagine that you are in a unique position. Your team has the talent it needs. Your organization has a strategy that continues to work with a plan that will adapt to your competitor’s actions. You have enough cash to handle the changes in your markets. Your team is ready to work hard and the energy in your offices has never been better. There’s only one question left to answer: is your team built to last?

The problem with our global economy, political uncertainty, and reactive media is that too many of us are living at our edges. We work hard. Our kids’ schedules make us look like our schedules are calm. We play a lot. We travel constantly. We are on our phones frenetically. This means that our brains are always paying attention to something—until they can’t.

In the hot seats of Humvees looking for IEDs or the turrets of tanks, our service men and women rotate out every half hour to 90 minutes. Most of us can only concentrate for 40 minutes at a time, but we expect our teams to start early with staff meetings, handle conference calls on international schedules, and respond to emails at all hours. Our brains are not built for the constant stimulation.

So how do we stay focused and mentally healthy when our expectations of ourselves and our teams to produce keep us under constant pressure?

Give people freedom

Your ideal schedule may not match the people on your team. In a study where students were given control over their time, they reported higher happiness, more role clarity, and less overload. How much would happy teammates who knew their job and felt like they could handle it be worth to your organization?

Learn to measure stress

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Dealing with the Me, Me, Me Millennial at Work

Posted on August 7, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Millennials at Work

Millennials are easier to lead and manage than you might believe. You just need to understand their needs for more frequent coaching, feedback, and mentoring if you want to get the best performance out of them.

Today’s post is by Lianna Willoughby, managing director of Open Mind Strategy, LLC.

Millennials are me me me maniacs.

Millennials were told by their parents that they could have whatever they want, be whatever they want and given trophies for everything from being excellent to showing up. They took their parents focus to heart deciding it was all about “me me me,” therefore in a professional setting one might assume they think that everything they do is perfect and they only want praise.

However, they actually crave critique. In the workplace, millennials desire constant feedback and constructive criticism to feel they are on the right course. 42% of millennials want feedback EVERY WEEK at work. More than TWICE the percentage of any other demographic according to Harvard Business Review. In addition to regular feedback about how they are doing on specific jobs, they want advice on how to advance in their career, and they highly value mentoring relationships.

Their desire for professional constant connection may also be fueled by their “always on” tech orientation. Coming of age with social media and text messaging, it is not a complete surprise that they have become accustomed to immediate responses of all kinds – good and bad – and expect it in all aspects of life, including in the workplace.

Understanding this aspect of the millennial mindset is essential to their job performance and overall happiness at work. Constant feedback, including constructive criticism, can be leveraged across many situations in the workplace – while activating a team, when communicating throughout the project process and after completion, debriefing what went well and the areas for improvement.

An example of an ineffective managing technique would be if a manager briefed a millennial employee on an assignment and then provided ample space and time for him or her to figure out how to handle the request. While the manager may feel that they are demonstrating their trust in the employee, the employee may be left feeling uncertain and uncomfortable.

Often, managers and leaders of millennial talent think a top-level overview of a situation is enough, however millennials’ desire for understanding “why” requires a constant flow of detailed, in the moment exchanges.

That said, millennials do not need to be hand-held and babied. They just need to be supported and acknowledged via regular check-ins- both on a project level and on a career path level.

There are many ways to help satiate millennial’s craving for constant feedback. As a leader of a research and consulting firm that spends a lot of time with millennials in the office and in the field, I recommend considering the following:

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4 Questions to Make Difficult Switching Decisions Much Easier

Posted on July 31, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Customer Service, Guest Blogger, Sales

Two White Doors on a Gray Brick Wall Illustrating Choices

In an age of too many options, four simple questions can provide a clear approach to making those frequent decisions in a way that saves us time.

Today’s post is by Jack Quarles, author of Expensive Sentences (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

We live in a time of unprecedented options. Those of us in developed economies of the 21st century, even with average incomes, have more choices than ever before in what we eat, what we wear, our jobs, where we live or travel, our entertainment and education… and the list goes on.

Our ability to customize the details of our lives is dazzling, but it is not free. Abundant options require abundant decisions, and decisions require energy. Life’s never-ending buffet brings byproducts: too many options can paralyze us, and fear of taking the wrong option can haunt us.

We can benefit from thinking about how we make decisions, and intentionally adopting practices that help us manage the cost of decision-making and feel more confident in the choices we do make.

Let’s examine a class of decision that we face every day: stay or go, fish or cut bait, keep on the same path or change direction. More specifically, we’ll consider people and companies we pay, whether at work or at home:

Do I like my accountant, or is it time to switch?
Should I change gyms?
Do we need a new marketing consultant?
Is our lawn care guy charging us too much?

There are both cost and benefit components to these questions. If your gym is nearby and your friends go there, it may be worth twice the price of a different gym with the same equipment because you’re more likely to go and use it. That’s an easy case. Other decisions aren’t so easy, and sometimes those questions of “Am I paying too much for this?” keep lingering in our mind without a clear answer.

Replacing Gray with Black and White

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How comfortable are you being vulnerable with your team members?

Posted on July 27, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How comfortable are you being vulnerable with your team members?

– Very — I have no problem being seen as vulnerable: 43%
– Somewhat — I’ll occasionally make myself vulnerable in small ways: 40%
– Not very — It’s rare that I make myself vulnerable: 13%
– Not at all — I play everything close to the vest and expose nothing: 4%

Vulnerability builds trust. Opening up to your team members and sharing who you really are helps them understand why and how you make decisions as well as what you value. Armed with that knowledge, they can better predict your behaviors which is a foundation of trust. If you make yourself vulnerable first, they’re also more likely to share their thoughts, hopes, and fears which enables you to lead and serve them better. When thinking about making yourself vulnerable, focus on simplicity and share who you really are. The easier it is to understand you, the easier it is to trust 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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What’s Your Leadership ROI?

Posted on July 26, 2017 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

Leaders need to do a better job of how they invest their time and energy. You can’t get a return on those investments if you’re not mindful of where you’re investing and the results you’re getting from those investments (your leadership ROI).

You make investments every day, likely without realizing it. You’re investing time and energy in the members of your team. The often-unanswered (or even unasked) question is what is the return you’re getting on that investment?

Allow me to introduce the concept of “leadership capital” which is one of the core concepts in my book Lead Inside the Box which I co-authored with Victor Prince. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the topic of leadership ROI Chris Taylor on Actionable Books’ podcast The 21st Century Workplace. During our conversation, we covered “how smart leaders guide their teams to exceptional results”. During our chat we dive into many areas, including:

– What it was like co-authoring a book virtually with someone I hadn’t met in person

– Triaging where you invest your time as a leader

– The Leadership Matrix performance approach (and how we can best use it to drive performance)

– How much time should leaders allow between performance reviews?

– Defining Leadership Capital

– Why if something you say during a performance review surprises your direct report, you’ve failed as a leader

At first blush some of the ideas discussed in this conversation may sound a little counter-intuitive, but I’m certain they will help you better invest your time as a leader.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Reach Out to Young Employees about Leadership Skills

Posted on July 24, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Woman Working Alone in Office at Night

Research shows that young employees feel solely responsible for developing their leadership skills. This is how you can make them feel empowered and less alone.

Today’s post is by Thuy Sindell, a principal at Skyline Group International.

When I was younger and less experienced, I made the same mistake as many professionals early on in their careers: I never asked for help. I was surrounded by employees who had years of insights from which I could learn, but I was worried asking questions would be a sign of weakness.

I felt if I was going to progress in my career, it was up to me. I alone would have to learn what I needed to do to succeed. Over time, I did gain skills and experience, but if I’d asked more questions, it would have shortened the learning curve significantly.

What’s unfortunate is that this feeling of responsibility isn’t uncommon in young people. Recent research from the University of Gothenburg found that employees between 24 and 30 tend to believe they’re the only one who can impact their career. They think they have to have all the answers and solve problems alone in order to become a leader.

This creates a rift between young employees and leaders who could be useful resources for them. And as the one who knows better, it’s up to you to create a work environment that shows young employees you have their best interests at heart.

Here are three ways to show young employees you can help them and develop their leadership skills:

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