Communicating Strategy is as Simple as Creating a Map

Posted on September 26, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Strategy

Old MapStrategy doesn’t have to be something reserved for executives or communicated in a secret language that most people don’t understand. By creating a simple strategy map, you can effectively communicate your strategy to your entire organization.

Today’s post is by Sanjiv Anand, author of Execution Excellence (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

A few years ago, I visited a client who was the CEO of the subsidiary of a major French firm. Waiting in his conference room, I saw not art, but power point slides decorating his walls. When he walked in, I asked him what was going on. He said he had the slides up there because he had a significant number of employees take a walk through the conference room each week and read the slides. He felt it was the most effective way to communicate his strategy to his team. I know it sounds funny, but it’s not. Look at what extremes people go to to communicate strategy.

For too long strategy has been the like the keys to the executive washroom. Those who have the keys know what the strategy is. Unfortunately, those who have to execute it have no clue. Town halls, the quintessential American invention of CEOs sharing their wisdom on the direction of company and key themes, don’t do justice to the topic of strategy.

Many firms have attempted to deal with this by expanding the involvement of a large number of employees in the strategic planning process, supposedly a more democratic process as it’s bottom-up. These initiatives are clearly pushed by HR professionals seeking employee empowerment.

The reality is none of this works. Not decorating the walls with power point art, nor the bottom-up approach. The bottom-up approach doesn’t work because as one goes deeper in the organization, the role becomes less strategic and more operational. And the tendency of management taking a bottom-up approach is to then think operationally and what the potential strategy could be keeping current processes in mind, while good strategy is about change and innovation.

So what works?

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How prevalent is “analysis paralysis” in your organization?

Posted on September 22, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How prevalent is “analysis paralysis” in your organization?

– Not at all — We do a great job of avoiding it: 12%
– Somewhat — We occasionally get sucked into the data: 37%
– Very — We spend too much time analyzing versus deciding: 38%
– Extremely — We never make decisions because all we do is analyze: 13%

Get out of the data. The good news is, we have tons of data. The bad news is we drown in it. There’s a simple approach for staying out of analysis paralysis or for breaking out of that dynamic when it rears its ugly head: ask if that incremental analysis changes the answer. If the results of the new analysis won’t change your recommendation, don’t do the analysis and move into decision making mode. Analysis paralysis is a symptom of risk avoidance. You get paid to take calculated risks. So put down the calculator and take the risk.

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 You Can Lead with Influence

Posted on September 20, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Communications, Leadership, Upcoming Events

Definition of the Word InfluenceThe notions of perception, visibility, and influence are the keys not only to better performance for your organization but they’ll also help you advance your career to the next level.

Today’s post is by Joel Garfinkle, one of our great thoughtLEADERS instructors.

How often have you looked at a situation in the company and thought of a better way to do it? Or felt that change was needed… but didn’t know how to make it happen? Sometimes we feel frustrated that we aren’t in a position or job title that has the power to make those changes.

But there are some techniques and methods designed to turn you into a strong influence in your company regardless of your title or position. Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level introduces the value of Perception, Visibility and Influence.

When you understand how to use perception, visibility and influence – the PVI model – you can lead from where you are right now. Those around you recognize your value. They respect your opinion and you have the skills to influence decisions and changes.

Start with Yourself

Sometimes advancing in leadership means changing cultural patterns and beliefs. You may have been taught to “not push yourself forward,” or “don’t ever volunteer for something.” You’ll need to push aside these well-meaning teachings in order to gain an unexpectedly powerful way of taking leadership.

The first step in perception is to examine how you see yourself. It’s not uncommon for people who want to be leaders to feel insecure – feel like a fraud. Here’s the secret. You’re likely better than you think.

So how can you raise your perception of yourself?

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How to Spot and Handle Red Flags with Your Leadership

Posted on September 19, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Red FlagsLeaders sometimes mistake form for function without truly understanding and appreciating the impacts on their teams. Failure to do so can lead to major issues. You need to think through what you want your team to deliver versus focusing on how they’re delivering it.

Today’s post is by Robbie Hardy, author of Upsetting the Table (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

RED FLAG. This was the text I received from a woman I had been mentoring for a year or so. She had recently been promoted to a senior management position in the software division of a large technology company. We had developed our own language for when she had a serious professional problem. Texting RED FLAG was a call to action.

We met that evening and she shared the reason for her text.

Eighteen months ago, her division had adopted the Agile methodology, which is basically a set of principles for software development where requirements and solutions progress with collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Agile introduces a new way of thinking, speaking, and acting with its own vocabulary. Her division had fully committed to it and they had experienced extraordinary results.

Unfortunately, not everyone evaluated the results the same way. The chairman of the company had come to the last board meeting, very frustrated with her division explicitly. He told the CEO that there was a serious problem due to the lack of a solid roadmap for each customer. He proceeded to share a bound set of client and technology specifications, written in excruciating detail, from another company where he is a board member.

His colleagues were impressed and so the board, determined to have their own set of bound, detailed product roadmaps, voted unanimously to make it happen.

The RED FLAG text came after the senior management team was informed of the Board’s decision. The CEO was implementing quarterly all-day meetings to produce a similar set of customer and technology roadmaps to share with the board. The CEO reminded everyone that the chairman was also the lead investor, so it was VERY critical that this be given top priority. He then proceeded to announce that these all-day quarterly sessions would be mandatory and held on Saturdays.

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Do you have a reliable “right-hand person” on your team?

Posted on September 15, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: Do you have a reliable “right-hand person” on your team?

– Yes — they’re always there to back me up and watch my back: 63%
– Kind of — sometimes they back me up, but I wish they’d do more: 18%
– No, but I could really use one: 19%

Find Your “Second.” 37% of you don’t have a reliable “second” there to back you up and be your right-hand person. That’s a huge gap and a big opportunity. Not only is it good for you to have that backup, it’s good for that person too. It can be a developmental and stretch role for them to learn from the boss and be involved in things “above their level.” Ask yourself why you don’t have a second. Is it fear of delegation? Lack of talent on the team? Whatever the reason, make finding and grooming this person a priority. They might surprise you with some unexpected skills and benefits.

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 Biggest Professional Development Mistake Leaders Make

Posted on September 14, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership, Training

Hand Giving Out Card that Says InvestLeaders often do a great job of investing in their people’s development but more often than not, they make a huge mistake when they do so – they forget to invest in themselves.

I’m passionate about training. Good, applicable leadership training. I spoke with my good friends Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos of The Leadership Podcast and discussed the shortcomings of how leaders view their own development.

The format for this particular podcast was a little different – it was less of an interview and more of an open conversation like you’d overhear three guys having over a coffee (or, in my case, green tea on account of my heart attacks).

Give the podcast a listen while you sip your coffee this morning. I’m hopeful it will change the way you look at your own professional development.

If you enjoyed that podcast, here’s the one I recorded with Jan and Jim previously. Enjoy!

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Peeling ‘Pineapple’ Problems Requires a Proven Process

Posted on September 13, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership, Upcoming Events

Sliced PineappleIf you have a challenging problem to solve, approaching it in a methodical and structured way can make you more efficient and effective in your search for a solution.

Today’s post is by Mike Lynn, thoughtLEADERS instructor and  featured speaker at Executive Insight 16.

Brazilians have a Portuguese idiom that we should have in English…”Descascar o abacaxi”, which literally means “to peel a pineapple.” It’s commonly used as a way to express “to tackle a big problem.”

Too often, we get overwhelmed and daunted by tough, thorny problems put before us. Without a sharp tool and a proven approach, we see that pineapple and wonder how we will get at the fruit inside.

If desperate, we might try to messily smash it open or scrape up our hands trying (and usually failing) to peel the rough, prickly skin. Good luck. Hint one: You need something sharp. Hint two: cutting (not peeling) a pineapple requires following a precise proven pineapple paring process – a let’s call it “5P.”

Problem-solving is similar. The sharp instrument is your brain. Wise Brazilians and wise problem-solvers have to be able to take a step back from the mess and frustration of pineapple smashing or hand scraping to recognize that there has to be a better way.

If you lack this problem-solving sharpness, you’ll repeatedly end up wasting lots of time, going down bad analytical paths, spinning your wheels, “boiling the ocean.” and never getting to any solutions.

Sharpen your machete mind, and prepare to face that pineapple with the power of “5P” – five steps to problem solving.

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How to Build Trust and Drive Performance by Setting Your Edge

Posted on September 12, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Straight Razor EdgeSetting an “edge” as a leader solidifies your position in the group and spurs on solid performance. You need to set your edge hard and you can ease up over time once your people are performing like they should.

Today’s post is by Colonel JV Venable, author of Breaking the Trust Barrier (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

An edge is an attitude, a tone, an expectation of accountability that compels your team to act on your authority and follow your lead. Many leaders think of themselves as co-directors of a movement and lead their teams more or less as peers. They equate an edge with creating an environment of intimidation, coercion, and fear, and shouldn’t we be well above that?

While there is certainly good reason to avoid the extremes, be careful not to be swayed by the notion that anything that compels another to act on your direction is wrong. Even charisma is defined as the “compelling” attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others. Folks revel in warmth when they please a charismatic leader, and warmth can be a huge unifier. But the fear of falling out of favor with a charismatic leader can be a powerful driver, and that can create an effective edge.

You have been around leaders with an edge your entire life. Think back to when you were a member of a sports team going through preseason training. If you disappointed your coach, he or she very likely reshaped your drive, technique, or willingness to listen by having you run extra laps or knock out a few extra pushups. Meet or exceed that coach’s expectations, and you avoided the extra laps and occasionally were rewarded with praise or a position of leadership on the squad.

Whatever method of praise they offer or punishment they inflict, good coaches embed the belief that you will receive a warm and fuzzy sensation for doing well and a cold and prickly one for not giving your all. The edge is established when your team knows where the extremes of praise and punishment lie — and when they have confidence that you’ll hold the line in between.

The point is that you are who you are, and your style has led you to the successes you’ve achieved in life. But if it hasn’t happened already, life on the point will test your mettle. When those moments arise, your team has to know that you value success over popularity.

Establishing Your Edge

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How well do you take on the role of being an informal leader?

Posted on September 8, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How well do you take on the role of being an informal leader without direct authority?

– Very — I regularly step into leadership roles and lead informally: 74%
– Somewhat — I occasionally step into informal leadership roles : 23%
– Not very — I tend to shy away from assuming informal leadership roles: 1%
– Not at all — It’s rare that I’m in the role of informal leader: 1%

Leaders don’t have to be appointed. Leadership opportunities abound every day. The question is whether or not you step into the role. Those who step into them without being appointed or asked embody the definition of leadership. These roles, however, are not without risk. Three keys to successful informal leadership include taking risks, being direct, and taking action. If you’re going to step into one of these roles, do it wholeheartedly as your odds of success go up when you do.

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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Are Great Leaders Born or Bred?

Posted on September 7, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership

The Word Great Showing Through Ripped PaperAre great leaders born or bred? Or is it some combination of the two? What are the defining characteristics that set great leaders apart and, more importantly, how can you build those capabilities in yourself?

I had the pleasure of speaking with the great folks at Quality Digest recently. We discussed whether great leaders are born or bred as well as the characteristics that set great leaders apart. Rather than me doing a lot of typing to summarize our conversation, I’d rather share the interview with you in its entirety. It’s only 8 minutes long so grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and learn what I think sets a great leader apart from the pack.

As far as the conference I mention in the interview, it’s Executive Insight 16 on November 10th and 11th in New York. My team and I will be covering topics related to the characteristics that set great leaders apart. I hope you’ll join us. We’d love to have you in attendance. Take a minute to head on over and look at Executive Insight 16’s agenda to see what the topics are then get your registration in. Early bird pricing doesn’t last much longer. I hope to see you there.

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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