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Navigating Change through Mindfulness

Posted on September 10, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Young Woman Meditating on a Cliff

Calm, compassionate, and creative leaders make for peaceful, productive, and purposeful organizations. Practicing mindfulness equips us to thrive in the face of change. As you become more mindful, you are more emotionally agile and able to shift your mindset.

Today’s post is by Laurie J. Cameron, author of The Mindful Day (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Challenging situations are a part of being human and a seemingly never-ending part of our lives at work. Working on leaner teams, dealing with expectations of being “always-on,” and being a part of multiple teams and projects often results in employees feeling stressed, anxious, and distracted – when they need to be calm, conscious, and focused.

Many of us are used to driving ourselves hard, and might think of mental training as a way to try to force change – to push, pull, and pressure ourselves into becoming something different. Mindfulness offers a different approach.

“Mindfulness is about paying attention to what is happening in the present moment in the mind, body, and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.” In other words, mindfulness is a way of being that is wise and purposeful with whatever you are experiencing, both inwardly and outwardly. Strengthening your innate capacity to be present in a kind, open and curious way can profoundly transform how you respond to challenging situations in life and work.

Mindfulness is a skill that allows you to deliberately direct the beam of your attention – both to what you are paying attention to and how you pay attention. Instead of being tossed around by racing thoughts and turbulent emotions, you learn to choose your mindset and to shift how you relate to your experience. The end result: you have less stress and more joy.

People often ask me about the difference between mindfulness and meditation. The two are distinct, yet tightly connected. Meditation is a body of mental training exercises — and there are many forms — designed to develop skills, strengthen your mind, and produce immediate states and long-term outcomes. Mindfulness is the outcome, the state that you can generate by meditating as well as the capacity to be mindful in the moments of your day.

Think of it this way: Meditation is to mindfulness as sports is to fitness. You can be mindful without meditating, but research shows that mindfulness meditation is the surefire way to become more mindful.

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Which resilience-building technique do you use most frequently?

Posted on September 6, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Which resilience-building technique do you use most frequently?

  • Building a strong support system: 21.3%
  • Defining a sense of purpose: 16.3%
  • Improving emotional intelligence:15.9%
  • Taking care of your physical well-being: 24.3%
  • Managing your thoughts proactively: 17.6%
  • None of these approaches: 4.6%

Try many different resilience approaches. Folks are trying a variety of resilience-building approaches, and I’m sure most of you are doing more than one of these. That’s great! In turbulent and stressful times, it’s easy to put our own well-being on the back burner and forget to take care of ourselves as leaders. There’s a clear rationale for resilience-building. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. If you’re in that 5% of folks who aren’t using any of these approaches, I hope you’re doing something to take care of yourself. If you’re not, try some of these techniques and see if any of them work well for you. Your life could very well depend on it.

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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To Lead Across Generations Leaders Must Look in the Mirror

Posted on September 3, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Millennials at a Flip Chart

If leaders want to solve the challenges of the 4-generation workplace, they need to look in the mirror. Leadership is not generational, it’s relational.

Today’s post is by Kelly Riggs and Robby Riggs, authors of Counter Mentor Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Generational conflict in the workplace is an almost universal topic of discussion. Typically, it goes something like this: “What is wrong with these [expletive deleted] Millennials?” Usually from a Boomer manager who is oblivious to the real issue at hand.

The truth is every “new” generation is perceived by the older generation to be “different” and likely to lead the world off a cliff! Imagine what managers must have thought when later Boomers (born after 1950) began to enter the workplace. The Woodstock generation made the word “different” seem inadequate!

The challenge is not that there is something wrong with Millennials (or Gen Z, now entering the workplace). The seemingly Herculean challenge is how to adapt as a leader to a changing workplace in order to create a culture that will allow anyone – from any generation – to thrive.

That requires that leaders look in the mirror. Translation: You need to transform. #truth

The alternative, of course, is to continue wondering what is wrong with Millennials. Let’s see… Change and thrive, or whine and complain? And you’re thinking Millennials have issues with entitlement?!

Of course, those Millennials are going to have to adapt as well. We’re not talking about the tail wagging the dog, but, if you’re interested in transforming the potential of your younger workforce into serious results, you will have to initiate the change process as the leader.

You are the leader, and YOU define what the organization (or team) will look like. You are responsible for how your team performs. After all, you hire your people. You train them. You lead them.

So, if your team is floundering, whose fault is it?

The good news is that all of these things – hiring, training, and leadership – are skills that can be learned. Although leadership is anything but easy, the truth is that most managers are ineffective as leaders for one very simple reason – they have never been introduced (much less intentionally taught and developed) to many of those critical skills.

In Counter Mentor Leadership, we provide visibility to the critical leadership skills that corporate managers must acquire if they are to successfully adapt to the chaos of the new Millennial driven and dominated workplace. Here are three of those critical leadership items:

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Which efficiency mistake do you most commonly see leaders make?

Posted on August 30, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Which efficiency mistake do you most commonly see leaders make?

  • Spreading their time evenly across people (peanut butter approach): 4.8%
  • Taking the path of least resistance and avoiding issues: 37.4%
  • Being reactive and dealing with issues as they arise: 54.8%
  • Most leaders I know are pretty efficient: 3.8%

Be more deliberate and less reactive. Many of you noted that you see leaders commonly take the path of least resistance by spending time with people who aren’t causing problems as well as being reactive and dealing with issues as they crop up rather than preventing them. Taking a more deliberate approach to how you invest your time and energy can help you avoid these mistakes. Time is your most valuable resource. Consider how you invest it just as rigorously as how you invest your limited budget dollars. Proactively planning your time can get you out of reactive mode and nip issues in the bud.

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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Overcoming Impediments to Innovation

Posted on August 27, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership

Traffic Barricade

Innovation, or the lack thereof, is a function of how well leaders overcome common obstacles like insufficient time, effort, or risk tolerance. If you want to see the ideas start flowing, tackle the common obstacles to innovation first.

Today’s post is by Paul Sloane, author of The Leader’s Guide to Lateral Thinking Skills (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Is innovation critical for your business survival and success? Are you dissatisfied with your ability to bring new products and services to market? Surveys show that most business leaders would answer both questions with a ‘yes’.

If you want to make your organization more agile and innovative where should you start?

You could launch a big initiative with grand statements, training classes and an idea generation scheme. But I believe it is better to begin with a brutally honest assessment of what is preventing innovation from happening today. Organizations unwittingly develop internal impediments to innovation in terms of their corporate culture and practices. There is no point in running supercharged brainstorms in order to fill the funnel with ideas if there are blockages which prevent good ideas from being implemented.

In my innovation master classes, we start by discussing what innovation is and what its benefits are. I then ask delegates what is impeding innovation in their businesses today. The most common answers I get include:

  • We do not have enough time to try new things
  • There is no budget for experimentation
  • We are risk averse
  • There is a fear of failure
  • Approval processes are long-winded and difficult with many sign-offs
  • It is not in our objectives or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • There are no rewards or incentives
  • Departments work in silos
  • There is no vision or strategy for innovation

I asked one delegate who ran his own business in entertainment, “What was impeding innovation for your firm?” He thought for a moment and then responded, “Nothing.” There was silence in the room. Most, if not all, of the impediments given by the executives and listed above are excuses. All of the cultural and process barriers can be overcome by determined and courageous leaders. We have plenty of people who talk the talk but not many who are prepared to tackle the people and process issues which are preventing entrepreneurial initiatives.

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When is the last time you participated as a team member instead of leading your team?

Posted on August 23, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: When is the last time you participated as a team member instead of leading your team?

  • I’m acting as a team member right now: 67.46%
  • I’ve done it within the past month: 16.10%
  • I’ve done it within the past year: 10.96%
  • I’ve never stepped out of the leader role and into a team member role: 5.48%

Roll up the sleeves. Getting out of the leader role and into the team member role has many benefits. It brings you closer to your people, helps you understand and appreciate the work they do and it can be rewarding. If it’s been a while since you’ve worked side by side with the team, make a point of scheduling time to do so. Put reminders on your calendar so it happens more frequently than a few times a year. Stepping out of the leader role is easier to do than you might think.

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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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Impromptu Speaking

Posted on August 20, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Man Giving a Speech on Stage

Speaking spontaneously can be a powerful way for leaders to communicate with their teams. But such spontaneity comes with many pitfalls that can derail the speaker’s message. Beware of rambling on, using inappropriate humor, and not staying attuned to your audience.

Today’s post is by Judith Humphrey, author of Impromptu: Leading in the Moment (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

A senior vice president I know had just joined a firm and was asked to speak at the next town hall. He was excited about the opportunity to address the company’s 3,000 employees and carefully prepared a scripted speech. But when he began to rehearse, the CEO took one look at the script, and asked,

“What’s that?”

“It’s my speech,” the new executive replied.

“Oh, we don’t give speeches here,” the CEO said. “Just talk to our employees.”

Fortunately, he had time to mentally master the thoughts he had written out, and he spoke without a text – to rave reviews.

Such spontaneous dialogue is the new normal for business leaders. No longer hidden behind podiums as their predecessors were, today’s leaders are far more likely to engage their audience in dialogue. These conversations might be interviews, town halls, elevator conversations, corridor exchanges, or brief remarks sparked by “Do you have a minute?”

As casual as these extemporaneous situations seem to be, they can be high stakes situations for leaders.

If you want to speak as a leader in impromptu situations, avoid the following pitfalls:

Pitfall #1: Not Preparing

Many leaders think of impromptu speaking as “winging it,” but doing so will lead to many stumbles – and who wants to be known for that track record?

Winston Churchill had fun with speakers who talk without thinking. He observed: “Before they get up, they do not know what they are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said.”

As counterintuitive as it may seem, you can prepare to be spontaneous. There are times when you know you’ll be part of an impromptu event – a client chat, a conversation with a team member, a networking event, or a Q&A. Take whatever time you have to prepare notes, or a mental outline of what you will say. Even if you only have a few seconds, pause and decide what your message is.

Pitfall #2: Talking Too Much

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Have you ever considered running your own consulting firm?

Posted on August 16, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll, Sales

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Have you ever considered running your own consulting firm?

  • Yes, but I haven’t done it yet. 46.5%
  • No, I’ve never considered it. 30.2%
  • Yes, and I’m currently doing so. 13.6%
  • Yes, I once ran a consulting firm but don’t anymore. 9.8%

Get the revenue model right. Many of you have considered hanging out your own shingle and running your own consulting firm. One of the most important questions you have to answer is: what’s your revenue model going to be? If you don’t get the revenue model right, you’ll be spending too much time working and not getting paid enough for it. You might also miss out on lucrative alternate sources of revenue if you’re not thoughtful about what assets you have to sell. You must understand the different types of consulting revenue models and choose yours deliberately. It can be the difference between working like a dog and retiring early.

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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A Simple Sales Tip for Maintaining Great Relationships

Posted on August 15, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Sales

Two Men Shaking Hands

How effective are you at maintaining client relationships? Do you stay in touch with them or do you lose the relationship over time? Do your clients and prospects respond to your messages or do your emails end up in a black hole? Here’s a simple tip for maintaining contact with your clients and prospects.

Client relationships are the lifeblood of any business. Be deliberate about maintaining them. Regular contact will keep you top of mind.

Find meaningful “excuses” to reach out to them. Some of my favorites include “Hey I read an article and I thought of you” or “I heard about a cool new technology and I thought you might be interested in it.” Send these notes and leave it at that. Don’t try and sell during those interactions. They know you eventually want to sell them something. Beware of excessive contact, they’re going to ignore you or block you if you’re in their inbox too much. Focus on being helpful and good things are going to come.

I have one client who I’ve had a great relationship with over the years. Every once in awhile I’ll see something that I think would be interesting to him and I drop him a note and I said “I read this and I thought of you.” He always writes back and says “Thanks for the information. Interesting. I appreciate it… not that you’re trying to sell me something.” This has become a running joke with us that at the end of every interaction one of us says “not that you’re trying to sell me something.” He understands the nature of the relationship because he is a great salesman too. He and I both know the deal but he doesn’t mind my outreach. He actually welcomes it because he knows I’m trying to be helpful. These interactions help me stay top of mind, so anytime he has a need that my firm can fill, he’s going to call me first.

Some reasons you might wanna reach out to connect with your clients and prospects include things like:

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Change Management Is Dead: The Rise of Progress Leadership

Posted on August 13, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Word Change Spray Painted on a Wall

The way we traditionally define what it means to be brave can be our greatest obstacle. Simply shifting our focus can be the gateway to powerful results.

Today’s post is by Dean Lindsay, author of How to Achieve Big Phat Goals (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Change Management is a business term relating to initiating change within an organization. This could include anything from a change in work culture to increasing employee engagement and morale. The problem, however, with the term change management, is that no one really desires to change. Instead, we desire to plan to progress and we want leaders to lead us – creating Progress Leadership.

Committed leaders or Progress Agents, should not be apologizing for the change, but instead, they should focus on inspiring the progress of their organization. If Progress Agents include others in the process, they can shape and sustain the thoughts that in turn lead to desired results.

Companies are most successful when the goals of the company connect personally with the employees. If the goals don’t connect on a personal level with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely a change and will be resisted or at least not acted on.

Back in 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, and its wisdom still speaks to this point today. Packed with insight on leading strong relationships by lifting people up, the book encourages readers to genuinely care about people and their feelings. Not only does this encourage us to take actions for the benefit of the people we are respecting, but it makes clear that caring about others is good for the person who cares.

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