Why Respect is the Cornerstone of Effective Leadership

Posted on January 18, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Guest Blogger, Leadership

Respect Spelled Out with Scrabble TilesTo get respect, you’ve got to show respect. Without respect, leaders become tyrants. Earning respect is easier than you might think.

Today’s post is by Dean Vella who writes on behalf of the University of Notre Dame and Bisk Education.

Imagine being a minimum-wage employee and working for a boss who consistently sits in his or her office, barking out commands. Whenever something goes wrong, the volume and vitriol from the boss increases.

Imagine having a boss whose sole management plan is to do as little as possible. A boss who makes empty promises of incentive rewards to employees who go the extra mile, promises that never materialize. A boss who refuses to relate to employee issues and needs, such as time off requests.

What if that boss approached work differently? What if he or she came in early and stayed late, offering to help with menial chores after closing in order to expedite the process and get people home earlier? Or simply took the time to talk to workers, to joke, to learn about them as people?

This situation, which centered on a series of restaurant managers, and was detailed by the website Respect and, sums up the toughest part of being a boss and a leader.

It’s the quintessential quandary of how to manage people and make sure they work to a certain standard, while also finding a way to make them respect you and your authority in order to help the business succeed.

Great leaders have to be respected in order to be successful, but earning that respect takes time and effort. When employees respect you, they are more likely to work harder to accomplish a shared goal they believe in.

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How effectively do you resolve conflict with others?

Posted on January 14, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How effectively do you resolve conflict with others?

– Very — conflicts don’t last long as I resolve them quickly: 32.83%
– Somewhat — some conflicts are difficult to resolve: 62.92%
– Not very — I have more conflict than I can handle: 3.04%
– Not at all — my work life is nothing but conflict: 1.22%

Guiding versus driving conflict resolution. While none of us enjoy conflict, we have to resist the urge to resolve it. Your job as a leader is to teach others to resolve conflict on their own. If you’re constantly mediating disputes, you’re an enabler of bad behavior. Everyone will keep arguing and coming to you to solve their problems. They’ll never learn to resolve things themselves. So the next time people come to you to resolve an issue, guide them on how to resolve it versus driving resolution yourself.

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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The Key to Snapping Out of Analysis Paralysis

Posted on January 13, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Data Streaming ByAnalysis paralysis runs rampant in our organizations. The mountains of data available to us are a blessing and a curse. You may find you’re constantly doing more analysis but never making a decision. There’s a simple question you can ask to break out of this dynamic.

Making executive-level decisions requires you to exercise judgment. You’ll never have perfect data. Gathering data takes time and effort. While you’re gathering incremental data, the world changes while you wait, and you’ll need more data to reduce those new sources of uncertainty. Your job is to manage the trade-off on risk, certainty, reward, and speed of making the decision.

When you go to gather incremental data, or the members of your team are saying “we need more information,” ask yourself “Does it change the answer?” If that incremental data you’re going to gather won’t change the decision, just make the decision. This simple question can break you out of the data’s grip on your throat.

One situation I was involved in, as far as using data but exercising judgment and speed, was an acquisition. We were looking at buying a business that had a fleet of trucks. Truck maintenance costs were in question because they were a driver of some of the economics of the deal.

I spent a lot of time gathering and analyzing data and discussing that data for what the maintenance costs would be. Ultimately, I baked an assumption into the model. When I discussed that assumption with some senior executives, we got into very fine detail on what those costs would be. The conversation devolved to the level of “When was the last oil change for this truck? How old were the tires on this one vehicle?” I found myself gathering more and more data about every truck in the fleet in order to answer these questions.

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The Secret Key to Maximizing Your Productivity

Posted on January 11, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Top Secret FoldersA great executive assistant is only half the equation. Learning how to work with him or her effectively is the real key to maximizing your productivity.

Today’s post is by Jan Jones, author of The CEO’s Secret Weapon (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

For my new book, The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness, I interviewed the world’s #1 leadership thinker, Marshall Goldsmith and management guru Ken Blanchard, who expressed a deep appreciation for the value executive assistants bring to the lives of time-constrained executives. Business leaders Richard Branson, Donald Trump and others echoed their sentiment.

Yet, despite the ringing endorsements of assistant’s capabilities by these and other business luminaries, many executives don’t capitalize on this resource that can help smooth out their day and relieve them of untold minutiae.

By not capitalizing on the advantage assistants bring to the table, executives are cheating themselves out of an abundance of talent. While a minority of executives do this because they just can’t let go, many executives are oblivious to the expertise of their assistants because they’ve never learned how to utilize an assistant, or experienced top quality support before. But you can have this support if you consciously recruit and develop an assistant who can take on a leadership role and serve as your “right arm.”

To find your exceptional assistant, start with a candid analysis of yourself. What is your work style – big picture, or myopic? Do you prefer someone whose work habits mirror yours? Are you a micromanager? If so, you will be irritated with a self-starter who takes the ball and runs with it. If you don’t want to be bogged down with details, a self-starter will suit you just fine.

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How effectively do you get your team the resources it needs?

Posted on January 7, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How effectively do you get your team the resources it needs?

– Extremely — they always have everything they need: 8.7%
– Very — I get what they need most of the time: 49.13%
– Somewhat — I get them the most important things they need: 26.52%
– Not very — I have trouble getting them resources: 13.91%
– Not at all — I hardly ever get them what they need: 1.74%

Making a Case for Resources. Asking for resources simply isn’t enough. You need to make a compelling case for getting them. This means laying out the list of your organization’s priorities first and getting your boss’ agreement on the priorities. Once you have that, articulate the resources needed to accomplish those goals. When your boss sees you’re not getting down the priority list as far as they’d like, the only choice they have is to give you the resources to make it happen.

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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The Simplest Sales Boosting Technique EVER

Posted on January 6, 2016 | 4 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Sales

Old Black Rotary Dial TelephoneSales are the lifeblood of any company. No sales, no company. In a cluttered, competitive world, it’s hard to get through to your prospects and make the sale. The good news is there’s an incredibly simple technique that should immediately boost your numbers and you can start doing it right now.

Strap yourself in. You’re about to have your mind blown.

Ever since grade school when I sold anything that wasn’t nailed down, I’ve been drawn to sales. It started with pencils I painted with custom designs and people’s names on them. I then graduated to selling comic books. Then I sold table space at comic book conventions I put on myself (at age 14). Over the years I’ve migrated to other sales roles and, in the day to day running of thoughtLEADERS, I’m the head of sales.

I won’t lie – sales can be a grind especially when facing competitive situations or making big ticket complex sales. Long lead times, budget constraints, and prospects who are tough to get a hold of make selling efforts difficult.

But I’ve found a secret. I’ve found a way to get in touch with clients and prospects and engage them in a sales conversation 100% of the time. Not only that, they’re excited to talk to me about it and they’re usually ready to buy by the time we finish talking. I’ve been astonished with how effective this technique is and it’s beyond simple. I’m going to share it with you now and it will change your life.


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Dealing with a Crisis Absent a Leader

Posted on January 4, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Male Silhouette with Question MarkWithout a leader, the team will founder and fail. The difference in any endeavor is having a leader who is willing to step up to the challenge.

Today’s post is by Hap Klopp, founder of the North Face and author of ALMOST: Twelve Electric Months Chasing a Silicon Valley Dream (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Let’s get the facts straight first, we can distort later.

It is the person who says, I will! And then does. The leader, a giant among society. On the shoulders of such people the human race is carried forward. The quantum leaps are not made by committee, but by the indomitable will of the single individual. The individual who steps up to be the leader.

For sure, there is good leadership and there is bad leadership. There are great leaders who do bad things (think Hitler). But, there are no bad leaders who do great things. Because to win, to be the best, and to make those quantum leaps – excellent leadership is essential to every enterprise. Great leadership never wavers.

Leadership is leadership is leadership – be it in business, sport, politics, military or church. The concepts are the same and absolutely interchangeable.   The bad news is there really aren’t many good leaders. The good news is that since leadership is the same across so many fields, you have a lot of places you can look to come up with examples of what is the right thing to do.

Trust me, looking to others to get examples of what to do is much better than reinventing the wheel making all your own mistakes. That can be fatal. Fatal to your career and fatal to your enterprise. The smart way to learn your lessons is to learn observing OPM – Other People’s Mistakes using Other People’s Money. And learn from people who do it right as well.

You need look no further than mountain climbing to find one leadership axiom that applies to every field of endeavor. Namely, while there are a number of different and successful approaches to leadership in every day business, in a crisis there is no time for delegation or consensus.

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How effectively does your organization manage reorganizations?

Posted on December 31, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How effectively does your organization manage reorganizations?

– Very — our reorgs are smooth and effective: 6.44%
– Mostly — our reorgs go well but not without issues: 35.25%
– Somewhat — we don’t do a great job with reorgs: 27.12%
– Not at all — our reorgs are painful and problematic: 31.19%

Disorganized Reorganization. Why are we so bad at this? Organizations need to change and people need to be put in new roles. Those shifts turn into disasters for several reasons. First, poor communication. The rationale for the change and everyone’s new responsibilities aren’t clearly articulated which leads to confusion and frustration. Second, poor talent assessment and role definition. Reorgs can be a great opportunity to put talent in bigger roles but more often than not, we fail to assess talent properly and instead frustrate some of our best performers. Think through the reorg and roles then communicate more effectively as you go through the process.

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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Why You Need a Wookiee on Your Team

Posted on December 30, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Leadership

ChewbaccaLeaders can learn a few things from Chewbacca the Wookiee. Leaders who have team members who are loyal, team players, skilled, and action-oriented will be more successful than leaders who don’t.



Every great leader needs their own Wookiee.  They’re extremely useful.  They can carry around robots, knock out stormtroopers, and co-pilot wicked awesome smuggler spaceships.  On top of that, they usually have long, luxurious brown hair (how has Chewbacca not landed a Clairol endorsement yet?).

Some of you longtime readers have seen this post before. I couldn’t help myself with all the Star Wars hysteria – I had to repost it from the archives. Read it again. It’s good stuff. And it’s my vacation. New readers – read it. This is one of my favorite posts ever.

No, I haven’t lost it.  All leaders need their own Wookiee.  First, allow me to explain the characteristics of Wookiees that leaders will find attractive and helpful.  Second, I’ll explain how you can unleash those Wookiee talents for the good of your team.

When you figure out who your Wookiee is, let them know that.  You should share your assessment with them so they understand what you expect from them and how valuable they are to you as a member of your team.  If you want to expand your Star Wars leadership skills beyond managing a Wookiee, you can read this post about what Han Solo can teach you about leadership.

There are five things you’re looking for in your Wookiee:

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Understanding and Managing Conflict Styles

Posted on December 28, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Businessman Wearing Boxing GlovesIn order to manage workplace conflict, it’s important to be able to understand and adjust to each situation and to the preferred conflict style of those involved.

Today’s post is by Cornelia Gamlem and Barbara Mitchell, co-authors of The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Everybody has a conflict style preference and knowing our own style preference and those of others can really help us manage workplace conflict. Here are the style definitions:

Competing attacks and likes to argue and debate. This type is competitive, assertive, and uncooperative, and can be threatening and intimidating, causing others to give in to avoid the argument. Competing means “standing up for your rights,” defending a position you believe is correct, or simply trying to win.

Accommodating is unassertive and cooperative, and is the complete opposite of competing. Accommodating may yield to another’s point of view or give even when h/she believes h/her ideas are better.

Avoiding is unassertive and uncooperative and neither pursues h/her own concerns nor those of others. This type will not commit and is unsure where h/she stands on issues.

Collaborating is both assertive and cooperative and takes a win-win stance in an attempt to work to find a solution that fully satisfies both people. This style approaches conflict with skill and balance, understands the value of positive conflict, and often acts as a mediator.

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