10-minute Leadership Lessons – One Story at a Time

Posted on August 20, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Sales

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

You’re busy as a leader.  You don’t always have time to invest in learning a great new leadership story to help you build your skills.  I recognize that and I’m here to help.  I’ve distilled down 6 great stories into easy-to-digest 10 minute podcasts for your listening pleasure.

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 first 6 episodes will help you grow sales, gain your organization’s commitment to your goals, help your employees find passion for their work, enable you to lead change more effectively, create a more diverse environment in your organization, and learn how to find world-class customer service stories in your company.

Episode 1: A customer-service story gone horribly right

Read More…

8 Tips for Avoiding Your Leadership Blindspots

Posted on August 18, 2014 | 7 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce ShawToday’s post is by Robert Bruce Shaw, author of Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Leaders are faced with two conflicting needs. The first is to act with a deep confidence in their abilities and the strategies they are implementing. This allows them to pursue audacious goals and persevere when faced with adversity. The second is to be aware of their vulnerabilities and the need for a healthy dose of self-doubt. This allows them to see themselves and their situations accurately — avoiding, in particular, the hazards of over-confidence and excessive optimism. Those who fail to do so run the risk of having blindspots — which are the unrecognized weaknesses or threats that have the potential to harm a leader and his or her company.

Savvy leaders understand that blindspots, while they vary in severity and are different for each individual, are not the exception — instead, they “come with the territory.” The question then becomes: How do I surface and address the blindspots that matter? One way is to ask the right questions in the right way. Here are some guidelines for identifying blindspots:

1. Avoid yes-or-no questions. Closed-end questions (those that can answered yes or no) are efficient, but don’t surface information that may be critical to understanding a potential weakness or threat. Questions are called open-ended when they allow for a variety of responses and provoke a fuller discussion. For example, a closed-end question might be, “Are you going to deliver your business plan this year?” while an open-ended question is, “Tell me about the risks you face in delivering your plan and the actions you are taking to mitigate them?”

2. Don’t lead the witness. Hard-charging leaders often push to confirm their own assumptions about what is occurring in a given situation and often want to move quickly to a plan of action. This can result in questions that are really statements, such as, “Doesn’t this mean that we don’t have a problem with compliance in this area and can move forward as planned?” These types of questions, particularly when posed by those in positions of power, often prevent contrary points of view and necessary data from surfacing.

Read More…

Have you ever personally had to fire someone?

Posted on August 14, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Have you ever personally had to fire someone or lay someone off?

– Yes. I’ve done it many times: 49%
– Yes. I’ve done it at least once: 39%
– No. I’ve never been in that position: 10%
– No, but I should have done so once and regret not doing it: 1%

As much as we’d like to believe we won’t be in a position to fire someone, the majority of you have already faced that difficult conversation (and most of you have done so on numerous occasions).

For those who haven’t had to go through that yet, be sure to reach out to those experienced leaders around you before you go into the termination conversation. Their words of wisdom can help that unattractive event be a little less unpleasant for everyone involved. The last thing you want is a disgruntled employee who goes out and trashes your company on the ubiquitous social platforms that new hire candidates review before accepting a job with your company.

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!

Read More…

The Importance of Remembering How to be a Team Member

Posted on August 13, 2014 | 3 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership

Walleye CloseupI was very lucky to be reminded lately of what it’s like to be a team member instead of being a team leader.  It was fun, refreshing, and insightful.  Too many times as leaders, we forget what it’s like to be led instead of doing the leading.

I tried to achieve some balance in my life by taking a few days off to go fishing on Lake Erie with my son.  We chartered a boat for three days – just the two of us.  If you’ve never been walleye fishing on a trolling boat (we hadn’t) it’s a bit different than you would expect – and a lot more work than we bargained for.

The crew consisted of the Captain (Nate), the First Mate (Ed), my son, and me.  When we showed up at 6AM, it seemed like a normal charter – we sat there trying to wake up while Nate and Ed prepared the boat for departure.  We headed out onto the lake in search of the delicious toothy critters and watched the glowing horizon with anxious excitement.

That’s when we got the surprise of the trip.

Nate and Ed got out 10 fishing poles.  By my math, there were only two anglers aboard.  “Gee, that’s gonna be a lot of lines to manage” I thought to myself.  Little did I know…

Read More…

How You can be a Predictive Leader

Posted on August 11, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership

Predictive Leadership by Kirk DandoToday’s post is by Kirk Dando, author of Predictive Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

If only you had seen this coming…

Your business keeps you energized and on your toes. You’ve been enjoying uninterrupted growth, and are now being recognized by peers and competitors in your industry. You’re expanding into new markets, introducing new products and services, even beating your own projections. Sure, there are the normal growing pains; maybe you have even started to think to yourself, this is the biggest team, company or division I’ve ever led.

This should be a time of celebration. Leading is a great opportunity to expand your influence and make a positive difference. You are one step closer to creating the personal wealth and financial freedom that allows you turn your daydreams into daily realities.

Things are going so well that it’s actually hard to imagine how this current ‘up and to the right’ trend could ever end. But, you are smart enough to know that nothing stays the same — you must constantly be innovating, developing and introducing new products, building new relationships and expanding into new markets.

So, on you go. As you continue to grow, you become aware of some stress fractures in the foundation of your team and processes but you chalk them up, once again, to growing pains and instead fix your gaze outward towards the future, as if increased sales and new products or services alone will eventually take you to the next level. In the meantime, you unknowingly delay decisions about the overly obvious and embarrassingly simple repairs your business desperately needs to mature and stabilize.

Fast forward a bit and sure enough, those stress fractures, or “growing pains,” have finally begun to have an impact. What used to seem so simple and straightforward has become complex and even chaotic. Your daydreams of success and financial freedom have turned into feelings of isolation and gut-wrenching decisions.

And it’s killing you.

Read More…

How do you treat employees who have part-time jobs?

Posted on August 7, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How do you treat employees who have part-time jobs outside the job they do for you?

– Supportive: It’s a tough economy so we try to be flexible: 45%
– Agnostic: We don’t care what they do in their free time: 41%
– Unsupportive: We actively discourage other employment: 10%
– Prohibitive: We have strict rules forbidding additional employment: 4%

Tough times demand flexibility. Most of you support employees scratching out a living either by supporting them holding another job or not minding that they do. For the 15% of you who discourage or prohibit people from having employment outside your company, I encourage you to question the reason. If it’s a safety, competitive or performance issue, it makes sense. If not, question the intent behind the policy or approach. If employees have to quit your job to make ends meet by taking a more lucrative position or even two jobs to replace yours, is your policy having the desired outcome?

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!

Read More…

The Strategic Value of Saying No

Posted on August 6, 2014 | 3 Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Strategy

No SignRepeat after me: “No.”

Try it again. This time with conviction: “NO.”

Strategy is inherently about saying “no.” It’s about the choices we make and the choices we don’t. I’ve seen plenty of strategies completely derailed due to an inability to say “no” to that incremental initiative that’s kind of “on strategy” but not really.

Good strategists are great at leading the thinking (and I believe leading the thinking is so critical to leadership that it has its own entire section in my book One Piece of Paperclick here to get your copy). As a leader, your job is to lead the thought processes and strategic efforts of your team. That requires you to invest time in thinking about your strategy.

The more effective you are at saying “no” to non-core work and singularly focusing your team on the end vision you’ve laid out, the higher the likelihood of you achieving your strategic goals. Not saying “no,” on the other hand, leads to dilution of your efforts and strategy by incrementalism (which is rarely effective).

Let’s walk this logical strategic dog, shall we? Take the following points as true:

– You know where you want to end up and what your overarching strategy is
– You have a finite amount of resources at your disposal.
– You’ve defined the 3-5 most critical initiatives to help you achieve your goal.
– There are a substantial number of “cool” opportunities you could pursue in addition to those 3-5 you’ve already identified.

The last point is where things get hairy.

Read More…

Victory through Successful Networking

Posted on August 4, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Up Your Game by David BradfordToday’s post is by David Bradford, author of UP YOUR GAME: 6 Timeless Principles for Networking Your Way to the Top (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The story is told of two woodcutters who decided to compete against one another to see which of them could cut down more trees in an eight-hour period of time. They started simultaneously; but, after one hour, one of them heard that the other had stopped cutting trees.

The first woodcutter, believing that this was his opportunity to gain a competitive advantage, redoubled his efforts. Ten minutes passed, and he heard the second woodcutter had recommenced his endeavors. After about another hour, the first cutter heard that his combatant had stopped again. Feeling confident that he had gained an important edge in the competition, the first woodcutter continued to chop vigorously.

This continued throughout the day with one woodcutter stopping for ten minutes and the other working non-stop. The first woodcutter was completely certain he had won the prize but was dismayed to learn that he finished a distant second to cutter number two. “How did it happen?” he asked his competitor. “Very simple,” answered the second woodcutter.” “Each hour, I stopped my work for ten minutes. And when you were busy continuing to cut trees, I sharpened my ax.” There is no doubt that both woodcutters worked very hard, but the second woodcutter secured his victory by working smart and efficiently.

Building Your Network

Building a world-class network takes hard work, time, and smart organization. With each passing day, one needs to do something to scale up his or her network to make it as efficient and usable as possible. To scale up your network effectively, you have to do two things: work hard and work smart.

Read More…

How clear is your decision-making authority?

Posted on July 31, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How clear are decision-making authority and decision rights in your organization?

– Crystal clear — everyone knows who gets to make which call: 21%
– Pretty clear — there’s some confusion as to who makes the call: 46%
– Hazy — we’re usually not sure whose call it is: 24%
– Mud — no one has any idea who gets to make which call: 10%

Who’s calling the shots? From the looks of it, many of you need to clarify decision-making rights in your organization. If more than 30% of you aren’t clear on who makes decisions, then invariably decisions don’t get made, or confusion and frustration set in when they do. Even for those in the “pretty clear” group, it’s still not good enough to have confusion over who makes the calls. If you can clarify decision-making authority, your organization will move more quickly, experience less frustration and spend more time executing than figuring out what you should be doing.

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!

Read More…

How to Find Your Internal Motivation in Difficult Times

Posted on July 30, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership

Ernest HemingwayAs leaders, we’re always going to go through difficult times. When we were more junior we had other people to pick us up when we fell down. As a kid it was a parent or a coach who would dust us off and say “Get back out there.” We’ve had bosses who have been helpful when we faced crises.

But now, the higher you are in terms of leadership roles in your organization and the more people you’re leading, the fewer people there are to pick you up and dust you off. You need to be in a position where you can lead yourself out of those difficult situations.

Your team is watching you to see how you behave when you face adversity. Having a leadership maxim to help you motivate yourself and lead yourself through that difficult situation to get to the other side can be a very powerful tool to have.

I’d like to ask: when you fall down, how do you pick yourself back up?

For me my leadership maxim is “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed, but not defeated.”

That quote is from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. I read that book when I was in eighth grade. You’re not exactly the most cerebral kind of guy as a 15 or 16-year old boy but I remember reading those words “Man is not made for defeat.” To me, defeat is about giving up. It’s about surrendering. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” That maxim has served me very, very well through some very difficult times in my life.

Read More…

  • ©Copyright thoughtLEADERS, LLC. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast in whole or in part without the EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT OF thoughtLEADERS, LLC. Content may not be republished, reproduced or distributed in whole or in part without the proper attribution of the work and disclosure of its source including a direct link back to the original content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content nor can you modify the content in any way. However, you may download material from this website for your personal, noncommercial use only. Links to websites other than those owned by thoughtLEADERS, LLC are offered as a service to readers. thoughtLEADERS, LLC was not involved in their production and is not responsible for their content.

    thoughtLEADERS, LLC has worked to ensure the accuracy of the information included herein. thoughtLEADERS, LLC is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services beyond training, coaching, and consulting. Its reports or articles should not be construed as professional advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. thoughtLEADERS, LLC is not responsible for any claims or losses that may arise from any errors or omissions in our reports or reliance upon any recommendation or advice provided by thoughtLEADERS, LLC.

    thoughtLEADERS, LLC is committed to protecting your privacy. You can read our privacy policy by clicking here.