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Can Resilience Differentiate You as a Leader?

Posted on January 23, 2019 | 2 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership

Woman Doing Yoga on BeachResilience is the ability to maintain flexibility and focus when dealing with massive change. Leaders who possess this skill can differentiate themselves and lead their teams more effectively.

Today’s post is by thougthtLEADERS principal Maureen Metcalf.

In times of uncertainty, resilience is one of the most important skills for us to have. I define it as “the ability to remain flexible and focused when facing change.” As leaders, we are facing a higher level of volatility across the business environment than we previously faced. In the U.S., we are still dealing with a major political change. This transition exposed division that was not previously evident on the surface in families, offices and communities. Such division can be healthy if addressed with a spirit of curiosity and grace. Yet, how can that happen when we view our previously trusted colleagues and even family members as “the other,” or worse?

While the political environment is the most obvious example right now, we are also seeing unprecedented volatility in financial markets and uncertainty in many sectors such as healthcare. Some of this is caused by politics, some by technology, and some caused by the fact that we live in a world that is much more interconnected than it used to be. We are dealing with situations we’ve never seen before. There is no return to the prior level of control so as leaders, we need to learn to be more agile.

Take Bill, a university director, responsible for physical and technology security. He came into work on a normal Monday morning, got his coffee, and started to plan his week. At 9:10 his world was interrupted. A young student drove off the road and onto a sidewalk trying to hit other students. The student emerged from his car and began attacking others. It was the job of the director, campus security, and many others to move very quickly in this situation. For Bill, resilience was critical in this moment and in the moments following the event. He needed to respond with his full attention, as people’s lives and their well-being were at great risk.

Today’s leaders must update their leadership thinking and behavior to keep pace with the challenges they face. In this sense, leadership is always self-renewing, and I believe resilience is the foundation of it, because, as we face accelerating change, we also face an increasing occurrence of people who respond to these changes with different perspectives. If we can integrate these differing perspectives in every area of our lives – work, politics, in our communities and at home – to create more comprehensive and durable solutions, we are all served by the process. If, however, we discount others because they have perspectives we disagree with, or, even worse, see them as “wrong,” we lose the value of learning and risk the relationships required to thrive in times of challenge.

Back to our example, if Bill had only considered one facet of security, his team would have been ill-equipped to deal with a complex attack.

So, as a leader, how can you build resilience to navigate the challenges you face in work and life?

Using innovative leadership as the foundation for this discussion, we can parse resilience into four categories:

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11 till Whenever – How to Stay Disciplined when Freelancing

Posted on January 21, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger

Working from Home in Pajamas

The freelancing and entrepreneurial lifestyle seems like it has so many benefits like flexibility, setting your own hours, and doing your own thing. That flexibility, however, presents very real challenges to your efficiency and effectiveness. A few good habits can help you stay on track and get your work done.

Today’s post is by Ed Jones of Inspiring Interns.

To some, the freelance lifestyle sounds like paradise. Late starts, long lunches and working in your jammies? It’s the stuff of dreams. But the perks of freelancing can sometimes inhibit productivity. With no one pushing you on, how can you ensure you stay focused, determined and disciplined?

Keep Office Hours

Ditching the 9 to 5 can reinvigorate your career but it’s important not to lose the sense of structure the working day brings. Starting at 9 means you’ll be in line with most corporate clients and allows you to put down tools at a sensible hour. It’s no use starting at 3pm if you’re then working till midnight.

Keeping office hours will also help you split your time between business and pleasure. Clocking off in the early evening keeps that all important work-life balance in check.

Dress to Impress

While the thought of emails in your dressing gown sounds idyllic, dressing for business installs a sense of professionalism to your day. Even though you may not be dealing with colleagues and clients face to face, maintaining your physical appearance naturally encourages discipline.

Find a Productive Workplace

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Have you ever used online video-based learning for professional development?

Posted on January 17, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks:  Have you ever used online video-based learning for professional development?

  • Yes, all the time both for me and my team: 54%
  • Yes. but just for me: 35%
  • Not for me, but I have for my team: 5%
  • Neither my team not I have ever used it: 7%

Video is ubiquitous, but are you getting the value? 89% of you are doing some form of video training for either yourself or you and your team. It’s important to ensure you’re getting the value from those hours behind the screen. After a course, are you tying the course learning objectives to real-world projects? Are you checking back in on skill development for time periods following completion of a course? Are you holding yourself and your people accountable for using the methods they learn in the videos? If you’re not demanding application and reinforcement, you’re likely just logging more hours behind a screen. It’s important to find ways to put those great video courses into practice if you want to get the value out of them.

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 I’m Kicking My Worst Behavior to the Curb

Posted on January 14, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

I Am Affirmation

How performing simple daily affirmations helped one leader kick her worst habit to the curb, improving her relationships at home and at work.

Today’s post is by Glain Roberts-McCabe, author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In October of this year, it will be seven years since my dad passed away. He was a larger than life personality. As a rugby coach, dad was tough as nails, didn’t suffer fools gladly and was quick to give people around him a strong tongue lashing if he was tired, stressed, or just generally miserable… which seemed to be fairly frequently.

Growing up, I couldn’t wait to get out from under his domineering, authoritarian approach to parenting and ran away from home at 17. I always swore I would never be like my dad and would never speak to the people I loved in the tone of voice that he spoke to my mother, brothers and myself.

Fast forward into adulthood and marriage and where do I find myself? You guessed it… throwing around a “what are you, stupid?” tone of voice with accompanying eye rolling and impatient body language… just like dear old dad. I was actively embracing my father’s emotional bullying tactics! Of course, by my view, nowhere near to the same degree and certainly not all the time.

It’s interesting how we will excuse or dismiss bad behavior as something that we “can’t help” but always seem to be able to manage it when it counts. Feedback at work came along the lines of… you can be intimidating; people may be afraid to disappoint/approach/disagree with you; you’re a bit of a hothead; I think (person X) is afraid of you.

Spouses are a little more direct… stop speaking to me like I’m an idiot! Why are you looking at me with that face?

I truly believe you tend to behave the worst with the people you love the most. It’s not surprising that my husband and, to a lesser extent, my daughter, bore the brunt of my sarcastic comments, dismissive tone and impatient body language. And it all started to take a toll on our relationships.

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What is your view of retirement?

Posted on January 10, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks:  What is your view of retirement?

  • I want to stop working ASAP and do absolutely nothing: 17%
  • I want to work as long as I possibly can:  19%
  • I want to cut back dramatically but still be gainfully employed: 30%
  • I want to pursue a second career in a new field I love: 34%

Keep on keepin’ on. The vast majority of you want to keep working beyond a retirement age. Whether that’s staying aboard in your current career, scaling back, or pursuing something completely new, most of you want to remain actively engaged. For those looking for a new field, ask yourself what you’re doing today to enable that to happen tomorrow. Are your finances in good enough shape to make that jump? Are you learning the skills you’ll need in that future role? Are you building your network in that industry now so it’s ready for when you make the leap later? A career shift won’t happen on its own. The better you plan for it today and prepare accordingly, the more successfully you’ll make the leap tomorrow.

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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Managing the Safari Way

Posted on January 7, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Zebras on a Safari

Plans and strategies get derailed on a daily basis. Unpredictable issues, market forces, and unforeseen circumstances can all throw your plan off track. Being flexible, having contingency plans in place, and trusting others can help you overcome these obstacles and get back on track.

Today’s post is by Larry Ackerman, author of The Identity Code (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

I’m just back from my third trip to Tanzania – a three-week immersion into a startlingly different land, whose people, animals, birds and weather never fail to help me see life more fully than I otherwise might. These safaris give new meaning to the word perspective.

Safari, which literally means journey, is defined above all by its unpredictable nature. Yes, there is an itinerary – a plan, as it were – but the real adventure unfolds in ways that includes a variety of unexpected pitfalls, which need to be reckoned with in the moment. This reality got me thinking about the surprising connections between safaris and managing organizations. Here are five such connections to consider as you strive to help your organization succeed.

Getting stuck in the mud

The safari situation:

Eleven of us are in two Toyota Land Cruisers when a back tire on one of the trucks suddenly slides into a muddy ditch: We’re completely stuck. The second truck comes over, unfurls a tow-rope that can pull five thousand pounds, hooks it to our undercarriage and with a lurch pulls us free so we can safely continue on our journey.

The management situation:

In business, getting stuck in the mud can show up in a number of ways. One is when a company has been very successful. So much so, that it has come to take its success for granted and, unwittingly, has developed myopia about its own vulnerability.

One day, management realizes that its seemingly indomitable market relevance is waning. In short, the company is stuck in a self-imposed muddy rut, unclear about how to move on. Maybe extraction will take a new CEO, or a merger or some other meta-change. Perhaps less drastic measures are possible. In any event, to avoid getting stuck in this particular kind of mud, surround yourself with well-intended skeptics, as well as avid supporters, who won’t hesitate to pull you up by challenging the assumptions that led to your success in the first place.

Changing a flat tire while surrounded by wild animals

The safari challenge:

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Have you ever taken a role you weren’t thrilled with rather than continuing your job search?

Posted on January 3, 2019 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks:  Have you ever taken a role you weren’t thrilled with rather than continuing your job search?

  • Yes. I just needed a job immediately: 45%
  • Yes. I was getting sick of the job search process: 20%
  • No. I’ve only taken roles I really wanted: 35%

Sometimes we have to settle. Job searches are high stress, high pressure situations. Sometimes the need for income far outweighs the desire for a perfect role. While those situations will happen, look for opportunities to create your own opportunities. Constantly invest in building and strengthening your network. When you’re employed in a role you don’t like, see how you can change your role and make it something you love. Look for other internal postings at your company where there’s a better fit for you. Continue networking and job searching constantly. By doing so, you’ll keep your network fresh so when you do need that next role, your search process can be faster, you won’t settle because you’re sick of the process, and your chances of finding a job you love are much improved.

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 willing is your organization to invest in growth?

Posted on December 27, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How willing is your organization to invest in growth?

  • Very. We spend freely to drive the top line: 12%
  • Somewhat. We spend on focused areas only: 60%
  • Not very. Our investments are few and far between: 18%
  • Not at all. We never spend on driving growth: 10%

It takes money to make money. Almost 30% of you report not spending much at all in your growth efforts. I’d venture to guess your companies aren’t growing. While it can be hard to carve out the funds to invest, you have to realize you can’t cut costs to achieve profitability forever. At some point, there’s nothing left to cut. To overcome this dynamic, be deliberate about setting aside funds in your budget for growth spending. With budgeting season around the corner for many of you, think about where your best growth opportunities are and make sure they’re fully funded. Then, don’t make the mistake of raiding those funds to make up for shortfalls elsewhere. Growth won’t happen magically. You need to invest it to catch up with the 70% of organizations out there who are freer with the purse strings.

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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In the Absence of Clarity There is No Accountability

Posted on December 24, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Project Management

A leader’s number one job is to create clarity. Leaders who fail to create clarity will struggle with holding their people accountable because their people will choose to perform the activities that fit closest to their current comfort zone.

Today’s post is by Hamish Knox, author of Accountability the Sandler Way (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Stop reading if you’ve never said or heard this from a leader, “but I thought they knew what they were supposed to do!”

A leader’s number one job is to create clarity in their organization. Lack of clarity leads to lack of accountability and ultimately frustration and conflict.

As much as we’d like to think we aren’t, humans are animals. Social animals. In the wild social animals are led by an alpha who provides guidance (usually in the form of violence) on what is acceptable behavior in the pack.

Animals also have no capacity to process language so all of their clues about what is acceptable and how to be accountable come from the alpha’s behavior.

When an alpha (in the wild or in business) is unclear about the behavior that is acceptable and/or the consequences for not showing the right behaviors, the animals in their group will demonstrate the behaviors that they believe the alpha wants. If the alpha doesn’t punish or correct those behaviors, their group members will continue doing those activities until their alpha erupts with frustration, which they caused.

With humans, our team members filter the behaviors they believe their leader wants from them through the filter of their hopes, dreams, fears, and comfort zone. A recurring theme in my coaching sessions with the leaders I work with is “why aren’t my people doing (behavior expected)?!” The answer is usually “because they didn’t know you wanted them to do that and that behavior is outside their current comfort zone.”

In the context of executing a project, a lack of clarity from the leader creates roadblocks to successful completion because the project team isn’t sure of their accountabilities.

Our clients find the “RACI” structure works well for creating clarity with project teams. “RACI” breaks down to those who are:

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What is the biggest challenge you face with respect to focus?

Posted on December 20, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks:  What is the biggest challenge you face with respect to focus?

  • I simply get too many tasks given to me: 36%
  • I don’t have clear direction from my leaders: 23%
  • I have trouble saying “no”: 18%
  • I don’t have any trouble with focus: 9%
  • I struggle with something not on this list: 7%
  • I’m not sure what our priorities are: 7%

Too much to do, not enough direction. It seems like the lack of focus is the result of too many tasks being assigned without enough guidance from leaders. That leads to the third issue of not being able to say “no” because it’s not clear what should be said “no” to. If you’re having trouble focusing, force the prioritization conversation with your manager. Show them the comprehensive list of tasks you’re working on and let them know what you think the priorities are. Also show them how much you can realistically get done with the resources you have. They’re not going to prioritize your work for you – that’s something you’re responsible for. When you can show them the complete picture and tell them the priorities, it’s pretty likely they’ll agree with your approach which then gives you the ability to say “no” to low value work.

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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