Simple Techniques for Creating a More Respectful Workplace

Posted on April 23, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Respect Written on a Wall

When the lines between personal and professional get blurred or people use language that makes others uncomfortable, workplace morale and performance suffer. Fortunately there are some simple phrases you can use to deal with those situations.

Today’s post is by Cornelia Gamlem and Barbara Mitchell, authors of The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Once, the lines around public and private were clear. Certain personal issues weren’t discussed or disclosed in a public, much less a business setting. Modern technology has blurred those lines and the respect for boundaries is eroding. Modern workplaces have become more relaxed. Boundaries and individual privacy are currently being chipped away in the modern world, not just on social media but in other forums and situations as well. Yet boundaries – those invisible lines that help define roles and manage interpersonal relationships at work – are important. They define limits – where you end and others begin.

Consider this situation. While meeting with a client, she closed the door to her office behind us. No sooner had we sat down when there was a knock on the door and it immediately burst open. The individual behind the knock didn’t wait to be invited in or be greeted by my host. He started talking with no regard or respect for my client’s privacy nor the business she was conducting. She could have been engaged in a discussion of a sensitive or proprietary nature. The intruder didn’t seem to care.

Boundaries also define limits for language and communication. In the lobby of another client’s building, I observed and heard an employee talking on her cell phone, having what sounded like a personal call. As soon as she turned the corner I heard her scream an expletive, presumably into the phone. All I could think was, “What if I were a client of this firm? Would I think twice about my business relationship?” I only hope someone counseled her.

Even in non-hierarchical organizations, boundaries at work establish clarity for job responsibilities and relationships. They define who’s responsible for giving job assignments and feedback and help to foster accountability. If leaders in an organization are committed to building a corporate culture where fairness and respect for people is a central tenet, then they will encourage boundaries because they lead to civility and professionalism in the workplace.

Organizations should take heed of this trend of eroding boundaries in workplaces and in society. When boundaries are crossed, it can have detrimental effects on organizations. When boundaries are not clearly defined or are violated, the result could be an unhealthy working environment with poor performance, reduced morale and motivation, workplace bullying, harassment and legal liability.

What should you do when boundaries are crossed? Here are some phrases that employees and leaders can use:

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How well do you remember to treat your team members like individuals?

Posted on April 19, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do you remember to treat your team members like the individuals they are?

  • Very – I treat everyone like an individual.: 70.1%
  • Mostly – sometimes I forget to treat them as individuals.: 27.9%
  • Not very – I often treat them like cogs in a machine.: 0.8%%
  • Not at all – I tend to treat them all the same.: 1.1%

No one wants to be a cog. The more you treat people like individuals, the more likely they are to commit to your leadership. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is failing to understand this principle. It doesn’t take much to make someone feel like a cog in the machine. Common mistakes like referring to people by title or role rather than name can signal that you don’t see them as an individual. It’s these small daily behaviors that set the tone for how your people feel. Be aware of these habits and fix them if you find yourself making those mistakes. Diane, Kendall, Buddy, Elroy, and the rest of your team members will appreciate you knowing who they are as individuals.

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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Key Leadership Traits that Help You Through a Crisis

Posted on April 16, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Hurricane Harvey

When facing a crisis, collaboration, flexibility, empathy, and resiliency are the hallmarks of leaders who successfully navigate turbulent waters.

Today’s post is by Ron Schutz, author of American Fathers (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The true colors of leaders appear during a crisis and Hurricane Harvey was a shining example. From the Mayor and County Judge to the neighborhood volunteer, there are lessons to be learned on how to lead others when their world has turned upside-down.

Decisiveness, collaboration, flexibility are all needed when lives matter and there’s no time for extended analysis. Leaders who can take time to show empathy to those affected instead of just barking directions or demanding results create a culture where every person, every home, and in this situation, every pet matters.  And, don’t forget the resiliency of Texans to survive this and come back stronger. Right leadership shines along with the true spirit of caring.

I am writing this exactly 7 days after it started to rain in Houston. It’s a city prone to flash flooding and hurricanes and we made our preparations as if it were going to be a “normal” storm. We checked our batteries and water supplies. We started making extra ice. We filled the bathtub with water. We moved the lawn furniture and anything that could be a projectile. By Thursday night, there was no bottled water at the store and the eggs were sold out. The guy in front of us in line was stocking up on beer.

Fortunately, I live at a higher elevation and I happen to have a new roof. I was dry and safe the whole time. But just down the street from where I live, the bayou was cresting its banks and flooding neighbors’ houses a few blocks away.

I’ve had some time away from the office to reflect on the leadership skills to cope with a disaster of such proportions. County Judge Ed Emmett exhibits many of these. Decisiveness is important in dealing with a crisis. Judge Emmett performed admirably as we took in refugees from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He put these lessons to use. He didn’t allow the media’s second guessing about whether we should have evacuated to distract the rescue efforts. Note: Forecast models were scattered and many areas that have never flooded before were inundated. No one could have anticipated who to send away and who to have shelter in place. Houston had experienced a nightmare of evacuation when Hurricane Rita came through a while back.

On a more granular level, I watched my daughter exhibit decisiveness when tackling the clean-up in her home that took in about 10 inches of water. It would have been easy to stand there and be overwhelmed with so much to do. She just keeps putting one foot in front of the next and making decisions that move the progress forward. You can’t look back.


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Has your boss ever sabotaged your efforts to take on a new role?

Posted on April 12, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Has your boss ever sabotaged your efforts to take on a new role?

  • Absolutely. They ruined a good opportunity for me.: 49.6%
  • Maybe. They didn’t support me the way they should have.: 28.3%
  • Never. They’ve always encouraged me to take new roles.: 22.1%

Talent hoarding is career sabotage. Unfortunately the majority of you report you’ve had a boss who has stymied your attempts to take on a new role. The likely reason behind it is talent hoarding on the part of that boss. If you’re a solid performer, they don’t want to go through the pain of losing you. That means they’ll sometimes go to unsavory ends to keep you around. If you’re worried about being sabotaged, a few simple techniques like getting a written reference and alleviating their concerns about your transition can help them get comfortable with your departure. If that doesn’t work, sometimes you just have to either confront them about it and make the leap for that new role. I also encourage you to ask if you’ve ever held back someone on your team and if so, how can you prevent that from happening in the future.

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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Leadership Lessons Learned from the Avengers

Posted on April 11, 2018 | 2 Comments
Categories: Leadership

Avengers Infinity War LogoThe Avengers can teach us a lot about leadership. Leading a team of high performing and high potential individuals carries with it a unique set of challenges. If you overcome those challenges, you can unlock something special.

In the spirit of Avengers: Infinity War hype, I figured I’d resurrect this post I wrote several years ago about the first Avengers movie. Heck, if Marvel can resurrect dead superheroes, I can resurrect the occasional blog post. The points made about leadership lessons from that first movie still hold today. Enjoy!

I saw the Avengers for the third time last night.  It gets awesomer every time (be sure to stay until the VERY END of the end credits – there’s a nice little treat there but I won’t spoil it).  Anyway, as I watched the Avengers in action, I couldn’t help but think about how you can build and lead a team of incredibly high-performing individuals.  Yes, this is another post about superheroes (click here for a fuller rundown of superhero leadership posts – they’re a lot of fun to read).

Hiring high performers can be problematic (as I’ve discussed in this post).  I’ve written about how you can lead high performing teams before and how you have to get out of their way.  All that said, I think the Avengers have added some interesting new thoughts to how you can build and lead that team.

The team members are mighty, incredible, and invincible.  They can handle themselves solo pretty well.  They all have huge personalities (which can destroy your team if you let them get out of control).  Nick Fury understands all of these dynamics of his team and he manages them masterfully.  And every member of the team eventually figures out how to be an outstanding team member (even Tony Stark – hmmm… maybe he read this post…).

How does he do such a wonderful job of getting the Avengers to gel and succeed?  He uses a few simple principles.

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Occam’s Razor and Leadership Excellence

Posted on April 9, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Straight Razor

Simplicity can drive outstanding results. Providing your organization simple guidance and a clear desired outcome enables your people to spend more time executing instead of wasting time on unnecessary activities.

Today’s post is by Gary Morton, author of Commanding Excellence (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The principle of Occam’s Razor has influenced many of humanity’s most powerful scientific breakthroughs. “Other things being equal, simpler explanations are generally better than more complex ones” is a powerful approach to problem solving, learning, and discovery. It is also a formidable principle when applied to organizational leadership.

Extraordinary businesses have applied “the Razor” in defining an absolute clarity of purpose for the enterprise, often with a mission stated in just a few words.  Notable examples are Apple under former CEO Steve Jobs: “Insanely great products,” and GE under former CEO Jack Welch: “Number 1 or 2 in any business.” Institutions that endure similarly follow this simple principle, for instance, the US Military Academy at West Point’s creed: “Duty, Honor, Country,” or even the United States of America’s constitutional foundation: “We the People.”

Leaders in such extraordinary organizations further apply the power of “the Razor” by adopting straightforward approaches to the most critical activities. Example case studies include US ARMY Task Force 4-68 (TF 4-68) and Medical device maker Stryker both of which accomplished what experts in their fields thought impossible. TF 4-68, a 600 soldier military unit, won an unprecedented nine of nine force-on-force engagements at the US Army’s grueling National Training Center (NTC). Stryker, now a Fortune 100 business enterprise, grew earnings at a consistent pace of 20 percent or more for an unprecedented 28 consecutive years. Simple three-word goals expressed their overarching purpose, and uncomplicated operating procedures defined the methods and approaches by which they achieved it.

Absolute Clarity of Purpose

TF 4-68’s commander, Fred Dibella, set a crystal-clear goal to go 9-0 against the indomitable Opposing Forces (OPFOR) at the NTC. He then ensured that this absolute clarity of purpose pervaded every activity. The simple 3-word goal was in the backdrop of countless decisions, large and small, made every day and at all levels.

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Should you focus on great technology or a great operation?

Posted on April 5, 2018 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll, Sales

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Which is more important: having a great technology to sell or a great operation that sells it?

  • It’s all about the tech. It’ll sell itself. :15.5%
  • Operations and execution is where it’s at.: 84.5%

The tech is the easy part. No matter how great your technology is, if you can’t sell it and execute your business plan, the tech is worthless. Ensure you invest appropriate time and energy in thinking through your operating model and managing execution. It’s much more important to get the basics right: define a strategy, hire the right people, sell like crazy, execute your plan and give up control to let the talented people you hire do their jobs. If you stay too focused on the tech, you’ll find you own 100% of a cool code base or product that no one uses.

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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Strengthening Thinking as a Mechanism to Building Resilience

Posted on April 4, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Leadership

Man Meditating by a Lake

The ability to manage and strengthen your thinking goes a long way toward making you more resilient and better able to deal with the daily challenges you face.

Today’s post is by thougthtLEADERS principal Maureen Metcalf.

During a time when we are facing natural disasters and geopolitical uncertainty, many of us are trying to find a balanced path to respond to what is happening on the global stage, national stage, local stage, and in our own personal lives. Who we are at our core can really shine through during times of challenge when we take care of ourselves first.

This blog is a bit counter to cultural beliefs. Most of us were cautioned against selfishness. We were taught to believe that it connotes self-centeredness, and that anything “selfish” is wrong. Yet, having a sense of self and knowing when and how to care for yourself is the antithesis of being selfish. If we don’t care for ourselves, there is no way that we can care for others. I think of the inflight announcements on planes: “In the event of an emergency, please put your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” As leaders, we need to attend to our own resilience foundation so we can respond to our environment on a consistent basis in a manner that is consistent with our values.

Let’s do a small exercise, think about a time you pushed yourself to meet a deadline. It may have meant you didn’t get sufficient sleep. You may have been caffeine-powered, or maybe augmented by your favorite sugar source. Can you recall a time you did this and responded to someone more harshly than usual? Did you need to do damage control later?

We all have these moments of stress-related responses. The challenge for all of us, especially in an environment where civility seems to be in short supply in some circles, is to find our own path to sustain our own sense of balance so that we can be the source of civility when it is lacking in our environment. It is during these times that leadership is most critical.

Take Care of Your Physical Well-Being

We know insufficient sleep and a poor diet take a toll on us. Do your best to draw boundaries that will allow you to recharge. I do walking meetings when possible so that I can get some physical activity and sunlight during the work day.

Manage Your Thinking

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How to Find Your Company’s Core Values

Posted on April 2, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Man Holding Crystal Ball that Says Core Values

Your core values define the behaviors you treasure and demand above all others. Investing time in defining them increases the likelihood they come to life and become part of everyone’s daily behaviors.

Today’s post is by Trevor Throness, author of The Power of People Skills (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Lots of time is wasted by executives crafting bland, committee-driven ‘values statements.’ They hang in frames in beautiful calligraphy, and don’t mean a thing to employees. Real core values are best described by outlining three simple behaviors that define which behaviors are okay, and which are not. Assemble your executive team, and you’ll complete this exercise in about an hour.

List the Traits of Your Best Employee

Think of a real life employee. What is it about her that makes you and others love her performance? What are the qualities that make her so special? Is it her cleanliness or the way she treats her co-workers, or her productivity? Maybe it’s the passion she brings to her work or her accuracy and thoroughness. Write a list of these qualities, and be as specific as possible in your description.

Now ask yourself if the things you love about this person have wider application to your workforce. Are these the attitudes that many or perhaps all of your most successful employees share? If so, you have found one of your company’s core values.

Reflect on What Makes You Angry

You’ll know you’ve hit on a core value when the thought of someone violating it makes you angry. Think back to the times that you’ve felt angry at work over the last six months. Was your anger sparked because a core value was being violated? If so, your anger can be a major clue to finding what your core values are.

I learned this principle one hot summer afternoon from the management team of a very successful company as we tried to puzzle out the company’s right attitudes. Read More…

Have you ever considered starting your own business?

Posted on March 29, 2018 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: Have you ever considered starting your own business?

  • Yes, I’ve started my own business and currently run it : 24.6%
  • Yes, I’ve thought about it but never made the leap: 52.8%
  • No, I’ve never seriously considered starting a business: 22.5%

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. A long time ago I heard a quote that stated “an entrepreneur is the only person I know who’s willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” It’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re one of the 53% of people who have considered running your own business but haven’t made the leap, be sure to seek out real-world perspectives on what it takes to run your own firm. The challenges are numerous and you’ll be tested well beyond your expectations. That said, the rewards can be tremendous – ranging from control over your schedule, financial benefits, and job satisfaction. If you’re seriously considering taking the leap, an informed perspective can help you see how far you’ll really have to jump.

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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