slidedown

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…

Driving Strategic Change by Focusing on Fundamentals

Posted on July 28, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Brass Chess Pieces CloseupToday’s post is by James M. Kerr, author of The Executive Checklist – A Guide to Setting Direction and Managing Change (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

How does a company position itself to respond to the changes that the era of business globalization holds in store? Certainly, we can attempt to define the next “big thing” in strategy development. But, if we fail in our attempt, and most of the time such attempts fail, we will not deliver the value that stockholders seek. Instead, why not return focus to the fundamentals, much like a slumping athlete would when trying to return to world-class form?

By embracing what might be called a “Simply to Win Philosophy” that focuses attention on sound fundamentals, businesses can begin to introduce new, and extend existing programs, that position them to be nimble and quick, while still growing and evolving into broad-reaching and highly profitable organizations.

From my perspective, there are five essential areas of focus:

1. Strategic Planning – You need a vision and a plan to get there. Planning should be active and managed and maintained on a daily basis;

2. Employee Engagement – The people responsible for delivering products and services to the marketplace must be engaged and involved in the work of the organization. Deliberate effort must be expended to inspire and gain their commitment to success.

3. Transparent Communications – Communications channels and devices must be designed and available that allows stakeholders, from both within the enterprise and outside of it, to get accurate and timely information;

Read More…

How quickly does your organization react to challenges?

Posted on July 24, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How quickly does your organization react to challenges?

- We see challenges as they get close, then we act reasonably quickly: 46%

- We don’t see challenges until they become crises, then we react in emergency mode: 27%

- We see challenges coming way in the future and plan for them long in advance: 19%

- We don’t see challenges until it’s too late, then we go into damage control and recovery mode: 8%

As leaders, you are responsible for pulling up from your day-to-day operations and looking beyond the horizon. Based on the poll results, many of you are more in reactive mode than proactive. The 20% of you who see challenges way into the future are shaping the environment to which your competitors must react. (Congratulations! I’ll bet you’re winning, too!) For the rest of you, build the discipline of looking into the future regularly, and get your teams out of reactive mode.

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…

5 Phrases that Make You Sound Ridiculous

Posted on July 23, 2014 | 28 Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership

Sunset at the End of the Day “At the end of the day…”

You sound ridiculous.  You just don’t know it.

Word choice matters.  We spend countless hours in meetings with colleagues discussing big, important ideas.  We write hundreds of documents making our case for one initiative or another.  We write thousands of emails.  We give dozens of presentations.  And you know what?  We sound ridiculous.  Using buzzwords can make us sound like hypereducated idiots who swallowed a thesaurus.

In our efforts to sound more intelligent and compelling, we use big words and bigger phrases we hear other smart and compelling people use.  The problem is, those words and phrases didn’t mean anything in the first place.  By adopting those vapid phrases as our own, we’re saying things that are just as meaningless as the first person who uttered them.

Stop.  Please stop.

Speak plainly.  Speak simply.  Speak directly.

Doing otherwise is a disservice to you and your audience.  There are two reasons you’re likely using these words and phrases: either you’re using them as verbal pauses (instead of “um” and “uh”) or you think they sound really intelligent.  If it’s the former, get comfortable with silence and simply collect your thoughts.  If it’s the latter, it’s having the opposite effect but your coworkers are too polite to tell you so.

Here are a few of my (least) favorite ridiculous words and phrases:

Read More…

Tuning Up Your Strategy so the Wheels Don’t Fall Off

Posted on July 21, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Strategy

Mechanic Performing Wheel AlignmentToday’s post is by Rich Horwath, author of Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

We’ve all heard the phrase, “The wheels came off,” to describe a situation where things went bad. Meetings, projects and even relationships all have the potential for “the wheels to come off.” Ironically, cars are the vehicles we most often use with wheels and they very rarely come off. This is in part due to the alignment of their tires using the camber angle. Wheels with a positive camber angle have the top of the wheel farther out than the bottom. Wheels with a negative camber angle have the bottom of the wheel farther out than the top. Wheels with a camber angle of zero are vertically straight. And if the wheels aren’t aligned with one another with the proper camber angles, they may literally fall off.

Consider the alignment of strategy in your business, across functional areas and from a hierarchical perspective. Does your strategy align vertically and horizontally like a Formula One car or a jalopy with the wheels about to fall off? There are three elements to consider when optimizing the alignment of strategy for your business:

1. Goals. Not having clearly defined goals across the business is a key obstacle in creating sound strategy alignment. Not having clearly defined goals in business is like two World Cup soccer teams being sent onto the pitch without being told which goals they are shooting at and defending until after the match was over. A universal understanding of the goals is an essential but often overlooked aspect of business planning. Is the goal to grow profits, increase market share, drive gross revenue or harvest the business? The means of achieving these goals can be dramatically different. The first step in aligning strategy is to find common ground on goals. If no common ground exists on what you are both trying to achieve (goal), then how you’re going to get there (strategy) will never be aligned.

Read More…

How clear is your organization’s mission and vision statement?

Posted on July 17, 2014 | 3 Comments
Categories: Poll, Strategy

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How clear is your organization’s mission and vision statement?

- It’s crystal clear, simple and compelling: 43%
- It’s generally clear but could be better worded: 25%
- It’s full of meaningless buzzwords or we simply don’t have one: 21%
- It’s not clear and it’s hard to rally behind: 12%

Where are we going? About a third of you aren’t clear on where you’re going or why it’s a good place to go. Get your team in a room and discuss why your organization exists. Cut the buzzwords and speak in simple, compelling terms. Tell folks what you do, why you do it, who you do it for, and why you’re better at it than your competitors. If you can lay all that out in a couple of sentences it will be much easier to galvanize and excite your organization to achieve your vision.

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…

  • ©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.