5 Keys to Overcoming Interpersonal Conflict

Posted on January 5, 2015 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Fortune Cookie About ConflictToday’s post is by Jim Dethmer and Diana Chapman, authors of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

In a recent executive coaching survey conducted by Navalent and co-sponsored by Stanford Graduate School of Business, senior executives and directors said the area with the greatest need for improvement was conflict management. These results lead to the question: When serving multiple constituencies, how do you navigate conflicting agendas and the relational conflict that ensues?

In our experience, the need for conflict management skill is not unique to CEOs. It is a master skill of all conscious leaders (and conscious people). We offer five keys to navigating conflict for those who strive to become a transformational leader who moves herself and her team to a whole new level of effectiveness.

1. Hold your story lightly and encourage others to do the same. Destructive conflict occurs when stakeholders fight to be right. Conscious leaders learn, at a deep level, that ego driven leadership is built upon the need to be seen as being right. Being right is not the issue. Needing to be seen by everyone as being right is what causes dysfunctional conflict. Everyone has an opinion, a belief, a way of seeing the issue, and leaders are confident that their way of seeing things is right. Great leaders go beyond this. They actually develop the ability to have an opinion, yet hold the opinion lightly. This doesn’t mean that they lack conviction. What it means is that they can suspend their conviction in order to really listen to others, learn and create an encompassing solution.

Key Question: How is the opposite of my story as true or truer than my story?

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Have you ever gone ballistic during a workplace dispute?

Posted on January 1, 2015 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Have you ever gone ballistic during a workplace dispute and completely lost your composure?

– Never: 43.29%
– Once or twice: 49.8%
– Several times: 5.7%
– Often: 0.9%
– All of the time: 0.33%

Losing your cool is OK. Sometimes we all get pushed over the edge and snap. With the stresses we face, it’s no surprise. Sometimes being deliberate about when, where and how you snap can have its benefits. If you’ve been on the wrong side of mistreatment or a power struggle, deliberately losing your cool can help put things back in order. It lets people know where your line is and what happens when they cross 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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The Secret Power of Doing Absolutely Nothing

Posted on December 31, 2014 | 5 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle

Dog Relaxing in SunSometimes the key to getting a lot done is to actually do nothing at all.

I’ve been dreading writing this post. Massive writer’s block. “I have nothing to say” said the tired little voice in my head (no comments from the peanut gallery).

Normally I write on Sundays. Writing is relaxing for me. Unfortunately I didn’t get any writing done recently because I’ve been slammed with work and preparing for another onslaught. I have spent most of my days of late writing, working, and meeting.

My day today has been packed with meetings and calls. I’ve been silently freaking out about this post being later and later in terms of posting time. And then inspiration hit while on a call with a client.

The client was bemoaning not having enough time to do everything. Too many meetings, calls, projects, and crises were consuming all available free time. It was getting harder and harder to recover because they were getting deeper and deeper into burnout each time they tried to take a break.

Then I made the fateful comment.

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Managing Teams More Effectively Using the Rule of 3

Posted on December 29, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Project Management

Digital number 3 written in red lightsToday’s post is by Külli Koort of Weekdone.

Have you ever wondered why the number 3 is so magical?

I am not talking about magical in terms of its unnatural abilities. I am talking about the importance of the Rule of 3 from a business perspective, from marketing people to development geeks. For example:

– in business overall, the Rule of 3 is a rule of thumb suggesting that there are always three major competitors in any free market situation;

– in computer programming, the Rule of 3 is a code refactoring rule of thumb to decide when a replicated piece of code should be replaced by a new procedure;

– in your brand communications, the Rule of 3 suggests the number of messages you should use, since your target market is most probably able to remember only 3 key things.

According to Carmine Gallo, a popular keynote speaker and bestselling author, Steve Jobs applied the Rule of 3 in every presentation and product launch he ever made. For example, when he first introduced the iPad, he told the audience it would come in three models. A year later, he introduced the second version as “thinner, lighter, and faster” – the three adjectives that soon after ended up in thousands of blogs and newspaper headlines.

The Rule of 3 is often used in diverse areas of life and business. It’s about time we bring it to team leadership and team collaboration.  Here’s how…

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When your people are on vacation, do you respect their time off?

Posted on December 25, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: When your team members are on vacation, how good are you about respecting their time off?

– I don’t contact them unless there’s an emergency: 88.36%
– I contact them when I need important things from them: 9.28%
– I contact them frequently and leave it to them to respond: 1.55%
– I contact them constantly and expect timely responses: 0.81%

Gone fishin’. Time off is just that, and bravo to the overwhelming majority of you for recognizing the fact that your people need their R&R. We operate under enough stress as it is. Robbing people of the little peace they’re afforded on the occasional vacation borders on criminal. Not only does doing so deprive them of time to recharge their batteries, but it also adds stress because you’re likely causing conflict between the demands of their work and their desire to spend time with friends, family or just enjoying some quiet. Before you send that “urgent” e-mail to someone on vacation, ask whether it’s really all that important.

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 Critical Importance of Making Time for Yourself

Posted on December 24, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career

Woman Making Time Out Hand SignalIf there’s one thing we consistently fail at as leaders and professionals, it’s living a balanced life. We always say we’re going to – usually at 11 PM after we finish up with email. Everyone knows balance is a critical aspect of being able to live a successful professional live (so much so that I’ve even dedicated entire posts to how living a balanced life is a key leadership principle – go read that post here).

There are a few reasons we fail at achieving balance but there are also a few tactical things you can do to keep your professional gyroscope in balance.

First, let’s define balance. In it’s simplest sense I’m going to cover taking time away from work to spend some time relaxing. That relaxation can come in the form of time with family, time on vacation, time doing something you love (for me, it’s fishing), or simply chilling out on the couch watching football and hoping your team becomes bowl-eligible for the first time in decades (GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!). A lot of times balance is simply about taking a day to do nothing other than recharge your batteries as discussed in this post – go read it).

The reason you fail at achieving that balance is you’re driven. You likely enjoy your work (I hope so). You believe that the world will fall apart if you’re not there to hold it up. And the biggest reason you don’t achieve balance is you don’t focus on it because it’s not on your work progress review. But remember – it is on your life progress review so you might want to stop failing in that arena.

A helpful way to think about how to achieve balance is to consider it putting yourself in time-out from work. When a child misbehaves, a great tool is taking them away from whatever they’re focused on and sending them to a place where they’re not allowed to continue demonstrating the dysfunctional behavior.

Too much work? Dysfunctional behavior. Time-out? Time away from that work.

But you’re big boys and girls now. There’s no one to put you in the balanced lifestyle time-out chair so you have to do it yourself. Fortunately there are a few simple, tactical things you can do to successfully achieve some extra balance in your life.

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The Importance of the Leap, the Why, and Persistence in Leadership

Posted on December 22, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Man LeapingToday’s post is by Kevin Fickenscher, MD, the author of Toto’s Reflections: The Leadership Lessons from the Wizard of Oz (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Early in my career I had the unique experience of serving as the President of the American Medical Student Association. Like any association of professionals, there were lots of politics involved and my path to serving as President was not without its difficulties. In fact, I barely made the electoral cut in my first effort. It’s a story that – in retrospect – taught me much and is filled with lessons.

The story begins with an understanding of the political environment of the times. One of the issues faced by the association was the high rate of leadership turnover. At first blush, the reasons were obvious. The first two years of medical school are taken up with extensive work in the basic sciences of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and other hard sciences. In such a situation, who has time for external activities? The end result was limited involvement by basic science students. The clinical years are not much different and only last two years as well. As a result, the leadership pool for the association had been historically a bit limited.

It was because of the churn in leadership that the organization decided to alter the leadership structure to provide for a little more continuity. Despite the time limitations, I was a rather atypical student and was involved with the association through our community-based activities and programs and served on the task force that created the new leadership model. One of the positions we created was President-elect. I had the unique opportunity to serve as the first and only President-elect of the association.

I ran for office unopposed; I forget why. In retrospect, it was probably the combination of several factors. First, students didn’t become highly engaged in the association until their clinical years. And, second, I was widely known in medical student circles at the time as a student activist so I had high name recognition. At the convention that year, I gave the usual speeches and engaged in the circuit of meetings with the various geographic regions.

Even though I was unopposed, I barely won Read More…

What’s your opinion of people showing emotions and crying at work?

Posted on December 18, 2014 | 2 Comments
Categories: Communications, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What’s your opinion of people showing their emotions and crying in the workplace?

– It’s acceptable as long as it’s not affecting performance: 17.72%
– It’s OK sometimes but only in extreme circumstances: 61.13%
– It’s not OK and can seem disruptive and unprofessional: 17.97%
– It’s completely wrong — keep your feelings to yourself: 3.19%

Empathy matters. Eighty percent of you understand and accept crying and emotions related to it as a natural part of the human experience. Furthermore, that realization and your acceptance of it in the workplace (as long as it doesn’t affect performance or disrupt the organization) is laudable. Too often we seem to try to segregate emotions from business. That’s impossible to do, given that business is composed of humans who run through thousands of emotions a week. If you’re not open to understanding and empathizing with the feelings of others, you might want to reconsider your desire to lead people.

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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Setting Team Standards with a Simple Phrase

Posted on December 17, 2014 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Customer Service, Leadership

Two Call Center AssociatesAs you lead your team and set direction, you have to first set standards. Let people know these are the expectations that you have of them for how they’re going to perform, especially when you’re not around.

These standards will typically take one of two forms. First, there are context-specific standards. Those relate to the role that you’re in and the role your team is operating in. The second type of standard is more behavioral standards that you’ll carry with you across roles. I’d like to focus on the context-specific standards today because those can rapidly improve and standardize the performance of your associates.

Allow me to offer an example of a context-specific standard. A long time ago, I ran in a large customer service organization and our associates were talking to customers by phone on a daily basis. I couldn’t be there to supervise them to listen in on every single call, nor could their managers.

We had two choices – either we could give our call center associates a long laundry list of “here are all the talk-offs that you should have for a specific customer and the situation they have” or we could have given them some rules for how we wanted them to behave. That rule was a leadership maxim (a principle or rule of conduct). The maxim I used was, “Is this right for the customer?” It was a very simple question.

We had it printed on mouse pads so it was right in front of that associate all the time. When they were on the phone with a customer, they could ask themselves “Is what I’m about to do right for the customer?” If the answer was yes, we wanted them to do that. If the answer was no, they needed to think of a different solution they could offer the customer that would satisfy the customer’s need.

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4 Strategies for Coping with Entrepreneurial Stress

Posted on December 15, 2014 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger

Pulling Hair Because of StressToday’s post is by Pete Campbell, the lead Content Strategist for Gompels.

Zuckerburg, Branson, Jobs, Hoppen; the self-made and super successful occupy a glittering place in our society. These super wealthy entrepreneurs are symbols of what is possible with a good idea, a little innovation, some business acumen and a good dose of hard graft. They’re something to aspire to and their personal successes seem seductively achievable, even for the smallest start-up CEO.

Yet beneath the strong, confident surface of our entrepreneurial heroes there could well lurk incredible levels of stress, anxiety and mental health issues. The life of an entrepreneur is certainly not a stroll in the park, no matter how great the ultimate success.

Whether you’re an established serial entrepreneur or planning to launch your very first start up, this article will highlight the substantial amount of stress many of the world’s would-be and existing entrepreneurs suffer – offering a few coping tools to help support you through those frenzied periods along the way.

Stress under the surface

It’s difficult to admit weakness when you’re in business. In order to win confidence, win funding, win support, win customers and ultimately achieve success, it’s crucial to present a cool, collected and confident front. Looking even remotely frazzled could prove disastrous for your venture. Yet concealing stress can be an incredibly painful and harmful experience. One important lesson to remember is: you’re not alone.

Entrepreneurial stress may still be kept relatively quiet, yet increasing numbers of self-made business people are now coming forward to talk about their personal battles with stress, self-doubt and anxiety. Ben Huh, the man who founded the humorous online “Cheezburger Network,” published a searingly personal account of his battle with depression back in 2011. A year previously, omnipresent digital marketing tycoon Neil Patel published another deeply personal blog detailing his experience of handling incredible levels of stress.

The truth of the matter is, entrepreneurship is stressful by nature and, frankly, if you’re not feeling the pressure, you’re either completely atypical or not pushing yourself hard enough. Haywire entrepreneurs may not seem to be everywhere, but stress and start-ups? They’re very, very rarely mutually exclusive.

Are you riding a lion?

Read More…

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