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The Power of Emotional Appeal

Posted on November 7, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

USA 1980 Hockey Miracle on IceLeaders use emotions, not logic, to inspire their teams to do great things. By following a few simple principles, you can create an emotional appeal that resonates with your audience.

Today’s post is by Chuck Garcia, author of A Climb to the Top (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

When the United States Olympic hockey team glided onto the ice to face the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York, on Feb. 22, 1980, Cold War tensions had reached a boiling point.

A year earlier, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, rekindling simmering tensions between the two superpowers. The winner would advance to the finals to play for the gold medal, but there was far more at stake in upstate New York in 1980 than mere Olympic glory. The game came to take on a great deal of symbolic importance. It was Communism versus Democracy. Centralized Control versus Free Markets. East versus West.

Before the match, things looked bleak for Team USA. Having lost to the Soviets ten to three in a previous exhibition, the Americans were given zero chance of winning by the media and hockey pundits.

The Soviets were the most dominant team in the history of Olympic sports. With a win-loss record of sixty-two to six, they arrived at Lake Placid having won four straight Olympic gold medals.

The odds makers had them easily skating their way to a fifth. They practiced eleven months of the year and played with a remarkable unity of effort. The Americans were amateur college athletes, cobbled together by a combination of opportunity and circumstance.

Luckily, Team USA felt that this time they had an advantage. Their coach was an inspiring leader named Herb Brooks. A two-time Olympian himself, he was considered a “driven perfectionist” by his players. According to one of his players, “he treated us all the same, rotten.” Some hated him; some loved him. But this much was undeniable: everyone on Brooks’ team respected him. Still, hope for Olympic glory seemed beyond their grasp.

Fifteen minutes before the big game, Brooks walked into the locker room and came face to face with a team that looked as if it had conceded victory. Yet, he had a keen sense of situational awareness— an ability to take the pulse of his players by reading nonverbal cues. His players looked defeated, nothing more than a collection of slumped shoulders and vacant stares.

Knowing he had to capture their attention, he then did what great leaders do. He gave his team a call to action: win this game. But he did it in a way that relied more on emotion than reason. You can watch Brooks’ speech depicted brilliantly by Kurt Russell in the movie Miracle.

In the film, the actor walks into the locker room, pauses for several moments and then says with tremendous confidence and conviction:

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What’s the biggest challenge you face on projects?

Posted on November 3, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Leadership, Poll, Project Management

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: What’s the biggest challenge you face on projects?

– Our teams or leaders are disengaged: 20%
– Scope creep: 33%
– Internal politics: 33%
– Loss of resources mid-project: 8%
– What we build simply doesn’t work: 1%
– Other: 5%

Politics, Scope, and Disengagement. The big three killers of projects are all controllable factors. Reducing political issues on a project is a function of aligning goals and building consensus on project goals and resources. Managing scope creep requires rigorous chartering and change management processes. Preventing disengagement comes down to showing team members how their contributions matter and putting the right incentives in place. Don’t let your project fail because of things you can control. By taking a rigorous approach to managing these issues, you can prevent your project from becoming the next corporate dumpster fire.

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 Persevere When Facing a Work Grind

Posted on November 2, 2016 | 3 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership

Man with a Grinder on a Steel BeamIt’s called “work” for a reason. Most days we’re able to “work” through it and find enjoyment in what we do but occasionally we’re faced with a grind that saps our strength and threatens to derail us. Fortunately there are simple techniques for working through that grind.

I love writing this blog – except when I hate writing it.

Most people think writing is easy. Sit down, make up an idea, type, and viola! You’re done!

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. I’d wager that many of you have elements of your jobs that look simple from the outside too. The thing is, too much of those “easy” things can turn into a massive grind.

That grind wears on you. It saps your energy. It can even lead you to hate the work you love to do. Honestly right now I’m writing this in the middle of one such grind. I’ve written this blog since 2008. That’s a lot of blogging. I’ve been pretty religious in sticking to my posting schedule.

But lately it’s been a grind. There have been work and personal crises that have drained a lot of my spare energy. It’s gotten to the point where I almost dread Sundays because that’s when I traditionally write. I’ve found every excuse available to say “oh, I didn’t get to it this week and that’s okay.”

Sure. It’s okay. A couple of times. But when it becomes a pattern, you’re in a grind.

We’ve all been there – wondering how to get unstuck and get out of that grind. Here are a few suggestions on how to break the cycle.

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Are You an Arrogant Leader but Just Don’t Know it?

Posted on October 31, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Arrogant WomanAre you an arrogant leader? Not sure? There are some hallmark behaviors for recognizing arrogance. Fortunately, it’s a trait that can be reversed if you focus hard on changing specific self-absorbed behaviors.

Today’s post is by Peter Stark and Mary Kelly, authors of Why Leaders Fail (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. When leaders are confident, they have a deep belief in their ability to make a difference in the world. Confidence is an important competency in leadership, and it’s critical to leadership success. Confidence is motivating and inspirational to others. It gives them the ability to take the risks needed to stay innovative and push the team or organization further ahead.

Arrogance crosses the line of confidence. Arrogant people believe they no longer have a need to learn, grow, or change. They wholeheartedly believe they’re right and others are wrong.

Arrogance destroys the valuable, and absolutely essential, relationships a leader has with other team members. Even more devastating is the feeling arrogant behavior creates in others. People have no desire or motivation to follow an arrogant leader. Sometimes the arrogance is so repugnant that people cheer when arrogant people fail, even if it means they suffer, too.

Arrogant leaders embody several traits and behaviors that are detrimental to their leadership success.

Believe They are Smarter

Arrogant individuals truly believe they are the smartest person in the organization.

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How well do you differentiate performance in performance reviews?

Posted on October 27, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How well do you differentiate performance in performance reviews?

– Very well — I achieve a great distribution of performance: 32.2%
– Well — I could do a little better differentiating performance: 51.71%
– Not well — most people end up with the same rating: 12.2%
– Poorly — there’s little to no differentiation in reviews: 3.9%

Differentiation Matters. Failure to invest in letting people know where they stand in a candid way causes all sorts of problems. High performers feel slighted. Their morale drops and they may search for other opportunities. Low performers get a false sense of security and don’t improve their work. You’re the leader because you have the ability and responsibility to deliver these messages and ensure the ratings match the performance. There are many proven techniques for tackling the difficult task of fighting grade inflation. Don’t get weak knees when it comes time to differentiate – you’ll pay for it in the long run.

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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5 Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Employee Wellness

Posted on October 24, 2016 | 3 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Apples and BananasCompanies that focus on employee wellness derive benefits like increased productivity, lower healthcare costs, and higher morale. Your organization can get these benefits by taking a few simple steps.

Today’s post is by Dan Colgan, CEO of Rock Paper Team.

Company wellness doesn’t stop at providing health insurance. Taking a more holistic approach to corporate health can provide a number of positive results, such as increased employee participation, a reduced number of insurance claims and better chronic disease management. Research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization has shown that employees who eat healthily are 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance, and absenteeism is 27 percent lower for employees who eat healthy and exercise regularly.

There are a number of ways corporations can implement a more holistic approach to wellness in their offices. Providing some healthy office snacks during meetings, or just to have in the breakroom, is a small, easy first step. Employees will appreciate the free snacks, and they’ll be more likely to reach for the apple or banana on the counter than to trek down to the vending machine for chips. Larger companies also tend to have an easy time putting together accountability groups for employees who enjoy particular types of exercise (like a jogging club or a yoga group).

Companies based in cities are often able to take advantage of joining adult sports leagues for everything from tennis to kickball — and putting together a company team is a great way for coworkers to blow off steam and form relationships outside of work! Another good option is to invest in team building activities on a regular basis. Not only will employees be able to relax and enjoy themselves, but they’ll have a chance to build upon skills they can bring back to the office with them.

When it comes to happy and healthy employees, a full-scale approach can provide a number of benefits the office can enjoy all year long.

Increased Productivity

When workers are more productive, there’s no limit to the compound benefits an office can see. Employees who complete tasks more efficiently are able to take on more tasks without becoming overwhelmed and run-down. What employer doesn’t want that?

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How familiar are you with the concept of being a “net exporter of talent?”

Posted on October 20, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How familiar are you with the concept of being a “net exporter of talent?”

– Very — I’m a great example of how to do it well: 14%
– Somewhat — I know the term but don’t actively think about it: 14%
– Not very — I understand it but don’t know how to do it: 8%
– Not at all — What does that even mean?: 64%

Build them and get rid of them. Being a “net exporter of talent” means you bring people onto your team, help them grow and develop, then send them off to the next big opportunity on another team in your organization. You’ve exported more talent than you’ve brought in therefore you’re a “net exporter” of talent. This is a technique that’s very straightforward to apply. It’s good for your team members, good for the organization, and good for you. You build a reputation for being a leader who’s more interested in building people and the organization than you are in hoarding talent.

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 Questions Lead to the Biggest Insights

Posted on October 19, 2016 | 11 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership

The word why spray painted on a red brick wallOne of the shortest words in the English language can generate tremendous insights if you simply keep repeating it. Asking “why” can help you get to root causes and create ideas for fixing the biggest issues you face.

One of the most effective critical thinking tools I’ve ever come across is the five why’s.

When I was a young consultant, I was at a client engagement and I was responsible for doing a lot of analysis. One morning, I did a bunch of analysis around some items my client was purchasing.

When I went to lunch with my project manager, he said “What have you been doing today?”

I said, “Well, I was doing the analysis on this one category of spend.”

“Okay, what’d you learn?”

“Well, I think this is happening.”

“Okay, well, why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“Well, why is that happening? Why do you think that’s happening?”

I said “I don’t know. Maybe it’s this.” I then proceeded to offer my thoughts on what was causing the issue.

“Okay, well, why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“Well, why would that be happening?”

I stopped and I thought and I said “Well it might be this.”

He said “Well, why?”

I said “Oh my gosh! What’s with the why’s?”

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How to be a Mentor to Your Millennial Recruits

Posted on October 17, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Millennials Spelled Out in Scrabble TilesMillennials work differently than other generations. The way you onboard them, give them assignments, and hold them accountable needs to match how they work best if you want to get the best out of them.

Today’s post is from Matt Arnerich, from graduate jobs & internships specialists, Inspiring Interns.

One of the most important parts of leadership is making sure that all your staff are being managed properly, and a particularly difficult area of this is how to manage entry level recruits.

This could be one of the biggest problems facing older managers, as millennials are now the largest generation in the working population.

Many managers struggle to find a balance between using the same one size fits all policy that works on older recruits and being patronizing. This makes it difficult to communicate and engage with new recruits and ensure you get the most out of them.

The truth? We’re not that different. Much like generations before we’re concerned with job security, and working in a role where we feel challenged and for a company that we’re proud to represent.

Yes, there is a tendency for job-hopping, but many millennials entered into a stagnant job market and had to make compromises on their first role. Now, in a thriving and ever-changing world, opportunities are bound to come knocking, but mentor your recruits properly and you’re far more likely to keep the top talent that can help your company to grow.

Introduce two-way feedback systems.

One of the clear traits among many millennials is the importance placed on feedback. For most, this comes from the desire to grow, learn and improve and supplying your workforce with feedback should rarely be avoided.

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How effective are your team’s staff meetings?

Posted on October 13, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How effective are your team’s staff meetings?

– Very — We are efficient and get a lot done: 20%
– Kind of — We get some things done, but they can be painful: 48%
– Not very — We don’t get a lot done, and we waste a lot of time: 21%
– Not at all — Our staff meetings are horrible, and I hate them: 10%

Simplify and Streamline. Staff meetings are terrible because we’re lazy and we allow them to be. The laziness aspect is attributable to not being thoughtful and planning what content will or will not be discussed. Invest the time thinking through the agenda and strip off items that can be covered in an email. Manage by exception. Focus on the decision at hand and don’t rehash old history everyone knows. Finally, if there’s no need to meet, don’t meet. Just because it’s on the calendar, that doesn’t mean it has to happen. If you follow the core principles of good staff meetings, you can make them much less painful than they currently are.

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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