Are You at Risk of Losing Your Rising Stars?

Posted on March 4, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Leadership

Shooting StarRising stars are great performers while you have them.  But if you’re not careful with how you lead them, you might lose them to another organization.

The following is an excerpt from Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy here). This post focuses on how to lead high performing team members and retain them in your organization.

Erin joined your team about a year ago. She came in with many other candidates for a job opening and she impressed you in the interview. She was far and away the best candidate. You knew you would be lucky to get her to join your team.

Since her first day of work, she has lived up to the high expectations she set in her interviews. She took over ownership for an important process on your team, and has not only mastered it quickly but she’s demonstrated the initiative to improve it. She reduced the time it takes to deliver her service while improving her output’s quality. Since she reduced the time she needs to complete the main job you hired her to do, she’s been identifying new projects she can take on to help the team.

Erin is the first to offer to fill in when someone else is out of the office, as she views that as a great opportunity to learn about other business areas. You feed off of her enthusiasm and enjoy working with her. If everyone on your team was like Erin, you would have the most amazing team in the company.

Erin is a joy to lead, but she presents you with a big leadership challenge. Her talent makes you realize she could move on to bigger roles. In fact, Erin has made a good impression with your colleagues. You’ve heard several of your peers have tried to recruit her away from your team. “Rising Stars” like Erin are fantastic team members – while you have them.

Approaches for Leading a Rising Star

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How to Solve Your Biggest Leadership Challenges in Less than 10 Minutes

Posted on March 2, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Story Road SignToday’s post is the second in a series by Paul Smith, thoughtLEADERS instructor and bestselling author of Lead With a Story. Read Part 1 here.

You’re busy as a leader. You don’t always have time to invest in learning new leadership skills. I recognize that and I’m here to help. Below are 7 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 as they learned their most important leadership lessons – sometimes the hard way.  They feature stories from executives at Proctor & Gamble, Dollar General, Hewlett Packard, Kellogg’s, Dun & Bradstreet, Saatchi & Saatchi, Verizon, and many more. Each episode brings you an important leadership lesson through a single compelling story.

These next 7 episodes will help you solve problems more creatively, develop a better sales story, create better employees and happier customer, learn how to respond with transparency in a crisis, meet two best-selling authors and hear their personal leadership lessons, and finally get your audience to embrace your idea as their own.

Here are the stories that can help you solve similar challenges:

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How often do you delay big decisions out of fear?

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

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How often do you delay big decisions out of fear of being wrong?

– Never — I always make decisions promptly: 28.72%
– Sometimes — I’m occasionally afraid to make the call: 62.05%
– Often — big decisions are hard for me to make: 7.86%
– Always — I get stuck between fear and making the call: 1.37%

Overcoming your fears. Fear and decision making go hand in hand.  We could be wrong.  We could look silly.  We could get fired.  That said, the mantle of leadership requires us to take those chances.  You can get over these fears pretty easily.  Simply adopt an approach of understanding the true risks and know where your uncertainty resides.  Once you’ve done that, the big decision will seem much smaller.  A final point that can help you overcome these fears is that most decisions can be undone.  Sure, it requires swallowing your pride but wouldn’t you prefer to make the right call rather than continue being wrong?

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 Reasons No One Listens to Anything You Say

Posted on February 25, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Sales

Jack Russell Terrier Not ListeningHave you ever had the feeling that you were moving your mouth but no one could hear the sounds coming out of it? They go about their day as if you’re not there. There’s a reason this is happening: they’re really not listening to you.

There. I said it. People are tuning you out.

What are the warning signs of this dynamic? When you speak with people, they nod politely but are looking for the exits while they do. They check their Blackberry and have “urgent” calls come in every time you’re talking to them. Your emails never get replied to. Most importantly, the things you want to get done never seem to generate traction.

Don’t worry – the problem is not you personally per se. It’s the information you’re putting out there (or not putting out there for that matter). What I’ve found is there are three major reasons people aren’t listening to you. I’ve personally been guilty of all of these at one point or another. You probably have too.

The good news is there are some simple things you can do to solve those problems.

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6 Ways Leaders Step Back but Don’t Step Away

Posted on February 23, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Number 6Today’s post is by Al Bolea, author of Applied Leadership Development (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In our book, Applied Leadership Development: Nine Elements of Leadership Mastery, Leanne Atwater and I take readers through a leader’s journey.   One might ask, “What does it look like at the end of the journey?” The first thing a leader notices when they have completed the journey is a unique “space” around them—their “space”—as a leader. Their “space” includes a robust direction for the organization. It was created by their efforts to constantly interrogate reality, by working to understand environments, proactively managing risks, establishing clear priorities and pace, and powerfully communicating the direction. Leaders sustain the direction through their thoughtful messages that ignite employees’ flames of passion about a compelling future. Messages are clear because the leader is sensitive to varying content and context throughout the organization.

High performing teams have been built. The leader realizes that his/her personal effort made the difference in shaping the team—by building diversity within the team, nurturing the team to high performance, and by confronting conflicts as they occur.

The leader also notices a compelling need to support the teams by assuring that things are getting done. Leaders understand performance management and monitoring processes, and see their job as building potential in the organization, eliminating interferences, and keeping people focused on activities that really make a difference for the long term. Goals, metrics, measures, and targets are absolutely clear from the executive levels above them, down to the front line where people make decisions and take actions.

Organization structure is clear and stable. Leaders realize the important influence structure has on employee behavior and relationships. From time to time a leader might tweak structure, but never implements a massive change unless there is compelling evidence that the organization’s culture needs transformation.

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How well do you solve complex and ambiguous problems?

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

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do you solve complex and ambiguous problems?

– Very well — I’m a great problem solver: 49.9%
– Well — it takes a lot of effort though: 42.39%
– Not well — I could be much better at it: 7.1%
– Poorly — I have trouble with ambiguity and complexity: 0.61%

Ambiguity is Challenging. Half of you put substantial effort into solving complex and ambiguous problems.  The typical reason big, ambiguous problems are challenging is because we try to tackle the entire problem at once.  In doing so, we often chase many low impact ideas or worse, we miss the true root issue.  The easiest way to solve those complex big problems is to turn them into smaller ones.  In breaking the problem down, the true causes become clearer and you can focus on big impact solutions while ignoring smaller ideas.

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 You’re an Enabler of Your Team’s Poor Performance

Posted on February 18, 2015 | 4 Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

The EnablerIf you’re frustrated with your team members not delivering high-quality work to you, you might be the root cause of the problem.  It’s time to stop being an enabler of bad behavior.

The following is an excerpt from Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results (you can get your copy here). This post focuses on how you need to change your behaviors if you want your team members to change theirs.

Alan leads a team of highly-intelligent scientists. While most of their time is spent on scientific work, a portion of their roles is administrative. Before Alan took over the team, many of these scientists hadn’t been trained on these responsibilities because their previous leader tended to do all this administrative work himself. Alan fell into that same habit when he took over the team.

During a hectic period, Alan and I spoke about how stressed out he was. “I don’t have enough hours in the day to get all this stuff done.”

When I asked what he was working on, he shared that he was performing these administrative tasks. As I pressed him for an answer as to why he was doing this work instead of making his team members do it, he said “They’ve never been trained on it and they screw it up pretty often. I then have to fix those errors. When they do try to do it, they’re constantly in my office asking me for answers to the problems they need to solve. It’s more efficient for me to do the work myself rather than spend time I don’t have trying to train them on how to do it properly.”

I told him he was causing all the problems.

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The Power of Teams: From Everest to the Pinnacle of Business Success

Posted on February 16, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Mount EverestToday’s post is by Susan Ershler, co-author of Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In 2002, while relaxing at Everest Base Camp, I fell into conversation with Dan, a fellow climber about to make his fifth attempt to reach the summit alone. Dan was determined to be completely self-sufficient, carrying all of his own gear and climbing without a guide. I wondered why anyone would take on such a huge challenge without accepting even a modicum of help. But I wished him luck and rejoined my team to prepare for our climb of the treacherous Khumbu Ice Fall, the first major obstacle on our route to the summit. A week later, at Camp III, I found Dan camping alone and stopped by briefly to offer him a cup of tea and an energy bar. Cordially but firmly, he refused, reiterating his decision to rely exclusively on the supplies he had carried up himself from Base Camp. Later, I heard that Dan’s fifth attempt to reach the summit of Everest had failed. His determination to climb the world’s tallest mountain alone had defeated him.

Creating a successful business is like climbing one of the world’s highest peaks. One moment, the way ahead is clear and the summit seems tantalizingly within reach. Then, without warning, an icy storm descends, battering you with howling winds and near whiteout conditions. At times like these, climbers depend on the expertise and experience of their mountain guides and fellow climbers for their very survival. We don’t climb high mountains alone.

The same is true in the business world, where global market forces and turbulent economic cycles pose ongoing threats to the viability of a fledgling business. New technologies may be introduced seemingly overnight that render your products and services obsolete. A former partner with deep pockets may suddenly decide to compete and wrest away your clients. At times like these, your company’s survival depends on the experience and expertise of your team and the contacts and advice furnished by members of your personal and professional networks.

My friend and fellow climber John Waechter and I have been repeatedly struck by the remarkable similarities in skills and attitudes shared by elite mountain climbers and peak performers in business. Over the years, we frequently asked ourselves what made it possible for us to reach the pinnacle of our professions while ascending the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. Neither of us ascribes our success to the vagaries of fate or believes we possess unique or special talents. Instead, we’ve concluded that high achievement is a carefully honed skill; a strategic approach to problem solving that anyone can learn to cultivate with practice and dedication. This insight led us to share our experiences on the mountains and in business as co-authors of a new book, Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: From Everest to Every Business, that examines the habits of success that we believe anyone can master to achieve peak performance in entrepreneurship and leadership.

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What is your style for moving a team toward making decisions?

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

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What is your preferred style for moving a team toward making a decision?

– I push and drive until we get there: 14.44%
– I build consensus through influence: 65.81%
– I remain quiet and keep the group on track: 18.46%
– I let others drive the decision: 1.28%

There is power in silence. Clearly most people have a bias toward building consensus by directly influencing people.  The approach works and can be effective but consensus-based decision making can also take a lot of time.  And while you’re pushing to influence others, they might dig in and push back.  A different technique to try is being silent and only asking questions to keep things on track.  In so doing, you’re letting others come to the conclusion by simply steering the conversation.  The method can work faster than influence-based consensus in that you get less push back from those involved because you’re making the idea their idea.

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!

These results were originally a SmartPulse poll in SmartBrief on Leadership which tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. Get smarter on leadership and sign up for the SmartBrief on Leadership e-newsletter.

7 Steps to Implementing Analytics Programs

Posted on February 11, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership, Project Management

Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics ProgramsToday’s post is by thoughtLEADERS instructor Maureen Metcalf and James Brenza, co-author of the Innovative Leaders Workbook to Implementing Analytics Programs. (CLICK HERE to get your copy)

According to Thornton A. May, renowned futurist, “Change is accelerating (relative to data growth and computing capacity to harness it), and you need to take action at the inflection points. Former Intel Chairman Andy Grove said, that an inflection point ‘occurs where the old strategic picture dissolves and gives way to the new.’ Organizations must look for new methods to harness this opportunity. They must truly transform their thinking to embrace more responsive strategies, align teams more dynamically and creatively solve resource shortages. Big data paired with analytics is one solution to harness these opportunities.”

How are you using analytics to differentiate your organization? Are you creating strategic advantage? Are you creating strong financial returns?

We use the same seven step process to implement analytics programs as other large scale implementations yet within each step, analytics projects have significant nuances not seen in other programs.

Analytics Programs Process Flow

Create a vision. The success of analytic initiatives hinges on starting with a strong vision and realistic assessment of the organization’s ability to structure the effort. It also hinges on the leader’s ability to prepare the stakeholders for a journey, rather than just a traditionally structured implementation project. The transformation vision needs to focus on using data and analytics to provide a business outcome that is not currently available.  That outcome is best described in financial terms or customer-centric metrics.

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