5 Personal Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Daughter

Posted on November 4, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership

Mike Figliuolo and Danielle Figliuolo FishingDaughters are awesome. They’ll also make daddies insane. I’m blessed with two of them. I’ve learned a great deal about leadership from them and have grown personally a great deal from having them in my life. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my eldest.

My eldest daughter Danielle just had a birthday. She’s also my first-born. On the day of her birth, I find myself reflecting on many of the things she’s taught me over the years. Today I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about how to be a better leader and a better person based on my relationship with her over the past couple of decades.

1. Find a passion and hurl yourself at it. Danielle found crew (rowing) in high school. No one in my family had ever rowed but for some reason, it fit for her. She threw herself at it wholeheartedly. The result of her commitment was some fantastic performance and wonderful memories. She taught me that even if you’ve never done something before, if you want it bad enough and truly enjoy it, you can achieve amazing things in a short period of time. I’ve shared some of her perspectives on leadership and rowing in previous blog posts. Give this one a read.

2. Know when your passion has waned. When she entered college at The Ohio State University, she became a member of the NCAA Women’s National Championship Rowing Team. Talk about stepping your game up a notch! For the first two years, she continued throwing herself at the sport. But the combination of rigorous academics (taking classes like molecular genetics and organic chemistry) and a brutal rowing practice schedule forced her to make a choice. One day she said “Dad, my passion for it is gone and I need to focus on the rest of my life. My academics need to come first.” It was the toughest decision she ever made. Her time on the team taught her amazing things. Her decision to leave it and focus on her academics and the next stage of her life taught her even more. The strength and courage that decision took was tremendous. I couldn’t be prouder of her for making it.

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Be Careful Which Bus You Get On: Having a Fulfilling Life and Career

Posted on November 2, 2015 | 2 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

If you’re not mindful of the direction your life is headed, you might end up somewhere you’re unhappy with. Be deliberate and intentional about where you’re headed. Answer this set of four questions to get a better sense of your direction.

Today’s post is by Donna Stoneham, PhD, author of The Thriver’s Edge (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

We all face crossroads moments in our lives and careers, those times when we feel compelled to change direction. Those choice points most often arise because we feel inspired to embark on a new adventure or we’re desperate to change the situation we’re in. One of my biggest choice points came seventeen years ago, when I realized that if I didn’t change the bus I was riding on, I might not even be around to have a life and a career.

At the time, I was in my late thirties. I was running my own coaching and consulting practice, starting a new women’s leadership company, and I was going to graduate school, consistently working seventy to eighty weeks. I was employed as a consultant on a change management project for a division of Fortune 500 Company, partnering with a Vice President named Ellen to help to “humanize” her organization. Ellen and I had developed a close friendship over the two years we’d worked together on the project. She’d become a corporate mentor to me and I, an informal coach to her.

One day in late September, Ellen and I met for lunch. She was reeling from her performance review earlier that morning that hadn’t gone well. Working 24/7 with little support, Ellen had single-handedly attempted to change the culture of her organization. Her efforts threatened her boss and some of the senior leadership team as their hierarchical and dictatorial approach to power was exposed and beginning to break down.

I’d never seen Ellen look so hopeless or physically drained. She was sweating profusely and was having a difficult time focusing on our conversation. Led by my concern for her well-being, I told Ellen how concerned I was about her health, then proceeded to tear a piece of paper off the top of the tablecloth and wrote, “Rx for Ellen. Take 3 days off, leave your cell phone at home, and go to a monastery and rest.”   Ellen read the note, wadded up the paper, shoved it her purse and said, “Stop worrying about me, Donna, I’m fine! I don’t want to discuss this anymore!”

I paid the check and we said goodbye. Although I knew something was terribly wrong, I had no idea it would be the last conversation I’d ever have with Ellen. Read More…

How well do you motivate your people?

Posted on October 29, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do you motivate your people?

– Extremely — they’re constantly fired up: 7.74%
– Fairly — they’re motivated most of the time: 78.64%
– Somewhat — I have to push to motivate them: 9.6%
– Not very — it’s a struggle to motivate them: 4.02%

They look to you for motivation. Motivating and inspiring your people is one of the primary services you provide to your team. Sure, their paychecks matter but they need to see where they fit in and how their work contributes to a greater goal Given that, learning new ways to motivate and inspire your people should be high on your list of skills to build. While “most of the time” is good, the incremental value of “constant” motivation makes the difference between “good” and “great.”

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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Get More from Negotiations through Proper Anchoring

Posted on October 28, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Sales, Strategy

Anchor with Rope (2)Most negotiations have an opening bid. That bid becomes the anchor that the rest of the negotiation centers upon. If you’re good at setting anchors – and at avoiding being anchored to a number you won’t like – you’ll get more out of your negotiations.

There’s an interesting dynamic that can happen in negotiations. It’s called anchoring. Anchors are initial points from which you are going to negotiate. They can lock you into a position and unfair anchors can kill a deal. If you’re presented with an unfair anchor, consider walking away. Also understand if you give the other party an unfair anchor, they may walk away.

When you got to set an anchor, base it in reality with data or assumptions. If I tell you I want to sell you a car and it’s $75,000, that can come across as an unrealistic price. If instead I tell you “the Blue Book value of this car is $100,000 because it’s a one-of-a-kind limited edition but I’ll start the negotiation at $75,000” my initial anchor seems a lot more reasonable.

Many times the final offer in a deal will end up within a reasonable distance from that initial anchor. For example, if you anchor your deal at $100 upfront and that’s your first offer, more often than not, you’ll end up between $80 and $100. If instead, that first anchor was $500, you’ll end up between $400 and $500. That anchor can drive the final deal price a great deal.

Now understand that anchor also has to be based in reality. You can’t just throw a huge number out there without some basis in fact. If you receive an anchor from the other party and you don’t like it, change it! Go from one metric to another and that’s an easy way to switch the anchor. For example, I know a software company that was going to launch a platform. The customer wanted to pay them $10,000 for the software but they also wanted unlimited use of the software – forever.

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Are You Stuck In The Manager’s Dilemma?

Posted on October 26, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Manager's DilemmaA by-product of our “overworked economy” is that it is increasingly easy to inadvertently slip into unproductive habits that make it hard to get great work done. However, one quality that distinguishes the good leaders from the truly great ones is the capacity to recognize and shift those patterns in real-time.

Today’s post is by Jesse Sostrin, author of The Manager’s Dilemma (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The Manager’s Dilemma, a phenomenon that affects roughly 80% of all managers, is one such pattern that is riddled with deceptive tendencies that make it difficult for leaders to change the subtle, but destructive habits that cause even the highest-achievers to get bogged down.

The dilemma gets triggered when your demands and responsibilities increase, yet the resources you have available to meet them do not. The problem with this inverse equation is that when demands outpace capacity you end up negotiating with yourself about which fire of the day you will put out while others are painfully neglected. I call this set of imperfect choices the manager’s dilemma because it is truly a no-win situation without an obvious solution.

How a manager approaches his or her dilemma becomes the crucial pathway to either breakthrough and success or burnout and failure.

The dilemma is more than your everyday stress. There is a big difference between episodic stress where you might say “I’m feeling maxed out!” and the consistent form of stress caused when you are stuck in the manager’s dilemma. For one, stress increases when you have too much work, too little time, and too few resources to do it. A temporary imbalance of these factors triggers normal stress in the average person. If you are in an industry that has peak periods where your workload fluctuates significantly, then you may even be able to predict spikes in your level of stress.

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Is your work life out of balance?

Posted on October 22, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What best describes the mix of work you do?

– I like every bit of my work: 15.18%
– I like most of my work but dislike a portion: 70.68%
– I like and dislike my work in equal proportions: 6.7%
– I dislike most of my work but like some of it: 6.55%
– I dislike all the work I do: .89%

A generally happy workforce. You spend more time at work than you likely do with your friends and family. Given that, you’d better enjoy what you do. We always hear about “work-life balance” but there’s also “work-work balance” – having enough work you enjoy doing to balance out the work you dislike. If you find yourself out of balance, realign your priorities, look for ways to eliminate unattractive work, and discuss your role with your boss. If you’re truly miserable, think seriously about finding a new role – life’s to short to be out of balance at work too.

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…

6 Reasons Your Offsites are Terrible

Posted on October 21, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Leadership, Project Management, Training

People Sleeping in MeetingYour offsites and training programs aren’t effective because of a few typical planning mistakes. With a few tweaks and openness to changing your approach, you can run a great offsite.

Offsites are a great way to share focused content, build relationships, spend time away from the office discussing key issues, and re-energize your team. More often than not they turn into rushed, mind-numbing wastes of time filled with forced fun. Why do they devolve to this so often?

Planning. Plain and simple. Poor planning.

I’ve seen and run my fair share of offsites. Sometimes I’ve been a participant. Others I’ve been in charge. Still others I’ve been the content being delivered. After over a decade of doing this, I’ve identified a few common issues that make for terrible offsites. I’d like to share those issues and more importantly offer some thoughts on how to rectify them.

Issue 1: You Put Ten Pounds of Crap in a Five Pound Sack

“Hey we’ve got 8 hours of offsite time. Let’s have eight one-hour sessions.” Fail. People see offsites as a rare opportunity to get everyone together and as a great way to share a ton of content with that group. Unfortunately we try to share too much information during the offsite.

Let’s talk planning math. If you have an 8 hour offsite, you can have 5.5 hours of content. No more. Why? 1 hour for lunch, 30 minutes for breaks (one morning and one afternoon), 30 minutes of “meeting friction” in the morning as people arrive late and 30 minutes of “meeting friction” in the afternoon as folks leave early because they have a flight to catch. 5.5 hours. Period. And if your offsite is more than 50 people, take off another 30 minutes because the breaks will take that much longer because you only have two restrooms. Stop jamming too much content into the allotted time. You won’t get to it all and if you do, it’ll be rushed and won’t stick.

Issue 2: You Rely on Time Warps

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The Importance of Hiring for Outcomes

Posted on October 19, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

The New Game ChangersBy identifying your organization’s critical outcomes, you can find star performers who can consistently produce the desired results for your organization.

Today’s post is by Greg Long and Butler Newman, coauthors of The New Game Changers: Driving Performance by Focusing on What Matters (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

On June 17, Mike Figliuolo wrote about the three secrets to hiring stars for your high-performing team. In that post he advocated hiring based on skills rather than experience. We agree. To put it in other words, to build high-performing teams, you need to select people with the skills to produce at a high level. That’s the working definition of stars: people who can consistently produce the desired results that further an organization’s goals.

To dig just a little deeper into this topic, allow us to highlight one of the practical challenges you are likely to face: how to identify the specific skills you need in those stars. We’ve found that identifying the right skills and knowledge needed for someone to succeed is not nearly as easy as one would think.

To meet that challenge, we must first understand the concept of outcomes. Not business outcomes, but job outcomes. We define job outcomes as those things that an individual performer produces that the organization values. The idea of things is important because things are left behind as the result of the work someone does. For example, building on the financial position Mike discussed, a job outcome may be a valuation of a company being considered for acquisition. Or it may be a comparative analysis of different office equipment leases. Both require specific financial skills but different skills from each other. Knowing what you want people to produce makes it easier to decide what skills they require to produce it.

In our experience, most jobs consist of five to seven major outcomes. For example, a project manager job could look like this:

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How well do you set aside time to do things for yourself?

Posted on October 15, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do you set aside time to do things for yourself?

– Very well — I regularly carve out time for myself: 15.56%
– Well — I carve out some time but could do more: 38.77%
– Not well — I don’t often carve out time for myself: 30.12%
– Poorly — I rarely set aside time for myself: 15.56%

If not you, then who? Almost half of you confess to not doing well taking care of yourself by carving out time for you. If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s doubtful anyone else is. There are some easy ways to carve out time for yourself. It’s simply a question of having the discipline to do it. For those of you who are doing it well, I ask you to go the next step and make sure your team members are taking care of themselves too. Getting that message from their leader should give them the push they need to carve out that time and make sure they have some balance.

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 to Keep from Being Thrown Under the Bus

Posted on October 14, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications

School BusOffice politics suck but they’re a fact of life. The risk you face is someone “throwing you under the bus” to protect themselves politically. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of this happening to you.

Office politics can be nasty. People have their own agendas and, unfortunately, those agendas aren’t always above board. There will be times when a boss, a stakeholder, or a peer gets themselves in a jam. Rather than facing the consequences of their errors, they’ll look to “throw someone under the bus” to take the fall for them.

Sometimes that person being sacrificed is you.

When you get thrown under the bus and blamed for problems caused by someone else’s incompetence, you risk receiving poor reviews, losing promotion opportunities, or even being fired. No, it’s not fair and yes it’s ugly.

You can either ignore these possibilities and be intellectually pure by saying “this is a logical organization and our culture wouldn’t tolerate that type of behavior” or you can protect yourself. If you take the former approach, you might be making those comments from the unemployment line. So let’s focus on protecting yourself.

Know Who’s Doing the Throwing

There are a lot of folks out there who could look to throw you under the bus. Your boss (or their boss), a peer, a project team leader/member, and a senior stakeholder in another department are all candidates to shove you into oncoming traffic. They all face risks if things they’re working on don’t go well. Many of them could have new advancement opportunities created if you weren’t around. Anyone who stands to personally gain if you fail or anyone who can deflect blame in your direction is a candidate for throwing you under the bus.

Once you know who these folks are, assess their possible motivations. If they can sidestep blame and have it land directly on you, they have motive. If they can advance if you’re no longer around, they have motive. Once you understand their possible motivations, you know which direction a bus might be coming from.

Last, assess the likelihood they’ll throw you under the bus. The guy you’ve been friends with for 15 years? Not likely. The new boss who joined the company a year ago and he’s struggling with his new role? Prime candidate. That peer who you’ve beaten out for promotions three performance periods in a row? Watch out. The strength or weakness of your relationship with the individual is an indicator of how possible it is that they’ll harm you.

Know Who’s Driving the Bus

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