Next Level Blog

How to Manage Your Workload So You Have Time for the Unexpected

Next Level Blog

Most leaders have calendars that are what an engineer would call a tightly coupled system. Their schedules are so packed with back to back meetings and commitments that they have no margin for the unexpected but inevitable problems and issues that pop up. At that point, their calendar gets shredded and they have a fight or flight inducing crisis on their hands as they try to address the surprises while keeping everything else moving.

What I Learned About Leadership from Reading Mad Magazine

Next Level Blog

You may have seen the recent news that Mad magazine is ending regular publication. On the other hand, you may not have known it was still being published (I didn’t) or, depending on your age, have even heard of Mad. I definitely have.

Preparation Is the New Leadership Differentiator

Next Level Blog

In watching and working with top executives and their teams over the past few years, I’ve come to a fresh conclusion. Preparation is the new leadership differentiator. You might argue that preparation has always been important. I would agree with you on that but would contend that preparation is in shorter supply than it used to be.

My Dad The Servant Leader

Next Level Blog

How do you measure the success of a leader? How do you even define what it means to be a leader?

The HR Playbook: Reduce Turnover with Employee Benefits

Companies with the right mix of benefits saw a 138% drop in employee turnover. Learn how you can lower your employee attrition rate and retain top talent.

Would You Rather Be Effective or Be Right?

Next Level Blog

If you’re in a leadership role, there’s a pretty decent chance that when you were a kid, you were one of the smartest kids in class. If that wasn’t you, you probably remember who was. You know the smartest kid routine. They always had the right answer and wanted to make sure everyone else – especially the teacher – knew it. In organizational leadership, being right is less important than being effective. My point isn’t that you should strive to be wrong.

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Three Simple Ways to Take the Big Picture Perspective

Next Level Blog

One of my mentors, Harvard professor Ron Heifetz, likes to say that leaders can either be on the dance floor or on the balcony. In the fast-paced world that we live and work in, it can be all too easy to spend most of your time dancing and not enough up on the balcony observing what’s working, what’s not and what adjustments you need to make to live and lead at your best. In other words, you can be so busy doing things, you don’t see what needs to be done.

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How to Get Your Micromanager Boss to Back Off

Next Level Blog

If dealing with a micromanager for a boss isn’t the number one complaint I hear from high potential leaders, then it’s certainly in the top three. Pretty much every leader I’ve ever coached or spoken to has worked for a micromanager at least once in their career. The question that everyone always asks is a version of, “How do I get my micromanager boss to back off?”. To answer that question, I’ll offer one thing you need to know and three steps you need to take.

Great Leaders Give Direction Not Directions

Next Level Blog

A few weeks ago, I opened a post with a story about one of my favorite questions for leaders, “What is it that only you can do?” Since then, I’ve asked that question again in one of my last keynotes of the year and got an answer back that was so clear and succinct that I just had to share it with you. The answer I received back from an executive in the room is actually the title of this post, “Great leaders give direction, not directions.”

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Three Reasons Your Change Initiative Will Fail

Next Level Blog

When you stop and think about it a big part of leadership is about convincing people to do things differently. It could be persuading customers to buy your product or try your service. It could be getting employees or vendors to raise their game. It could be convincing regulators and other rules makers to support what you want to do. In each of these examples or a dozen others that you could come up with, success depends on getting people to change their behaviors.

A Life Leadership Lesson from My Mom

Next Level Blog

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may remember the post I wrote back in April after my dad, Jack Eblin, passed away. One of the things I mentioned early on in that post was that my mom and dad were together for a total of 69 years. They dated for seven years starting at age 14 and were married for another 62 years after that. So, not surprisingly, I’ve had a lot of friends and readers ask me over the past few months, “How’s your mom doing?”.

How to Build a Competitive Benefits Package

An attractive benefits program can be a highly effective recruiting and retention tool. But to make benefits a competitive advantage, employers must get creative with their benefits strategy or risk losing out on the best talent. Learn how to build a benefits package that your employees will love.

How to Have Your Best Week

Next Level Blog

Let’s face it. There’s way more to do in any given week than you can possibly do. What you can do, however, is manage your week in a way that gives you the best chance of living and leading at your best. For example, I recently talked with an assistant general counsel during a leadership workshop that I was doing for the big company she works for. We were talking about time management strategies and she shared how she organizes her week.

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How to Speak for Your Work

Next Level Blog

A lot of us grew up with the idea that if you just do good work, it will speak for itself. That’s not true in large organizations full of busy people all focused on their own agendas. If you’re a leader in that kind of place, the work doesn’t speak for itself; you have to speak for the work. How do you do that without coming off as an annoying braggart? There are seven questions you need to answer when you speak for the work: What is the work?

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Put Limits on Your Energy Drainers

Next Level Blog

One of my favorite things to talk about with my executive coaching clients is “What are your energy givers and your energy drainers?”. That’s almost always a useful conversation because when leaders are working through their agenda day after day it’s easy to lose sight of the kinds of work and people who either give them energy or drain their energy. Since just about everyone does their best work when they’re energized instead of deenergized, it’s an important dynamic to be aware of and act on.

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Leaders, Your Rocks Roll Downhill

Next Level Blog

As I’ve written here before , one of my favorite games to play with high potential managers and executives is called, “What’s on Your T-Shirt?” The way it works is the leaders in my programs or workshops review the highest and lowest results they’ve scored on behaviors in The Next Level 360 or self-assessment. To reduce the stress that naturally comes with that conversation, I ask them to pair up and review the overall results for the group first.

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How Strong is Your Leadership Pyramid?

Next Level Blog

This post is adapted from the forthcoming third edition of my book, The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success. Available in October, you can pre-order it here. Research shows that moving to the executive level is among the toughest transitions of any career.

11 Proven Ways to Turn Your Culture into a Culture of Innovation

Learn the 11 proven strategies that you can implement quickly to get every employee innovating and contributing to the growth of your company.

What Have You Learned from Your Worst Boss Ever?

Next Level Blog

My first job out of graduate school was as a first year associate in a Wall Street investment bank whose last of the 10 corporate values they printed in their annual report was, “Have fun!” Sadly, I did not. Decades later, it remains the worst place I ever worked or have seen other people working in in 20 years of leadership development work.

To Grow Your Team and Get More Done, Let Go of Perfect

Next Level Blog

No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase that the perfect is the enemy of the good. That doesn’t just apply to other people; it applies to you and your team too. And, the thing is, a lot of the time what you expect as a leader is your version of perfect. There are some cases when perfection is truly an objective measurement but most of the time it’s subjective and good enough is good enough even if it doesn’t meet your version of perfect.

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How Do You Score on the Business Stress-O-Meter?

Next Level Blog

Earlier this year, I was talking with an executive coaching client about everything that was going on at once in his business life.

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Three Questions to Keep You from Losing Your S**t

Next Level Blog

Have you noticed that there are certain triggers that are guaranteed to make you lose your s**t? I have. One of my “favorite” triggers is when someone makes a commitment to keep me in the loop about a series of events that could affect the health and well-being of my family and then doesn’t follow through. Another is when someone misses an agreed upon deadline on an important project and doesn’t let me know.

Quantifying a Culture of Innovation

Examining five years of anonymous data from over 6 million users in 170+ countries, Spigit has discovered that a culture of innovation can be measured – with a 99% statistical confidence level – by a metric called "ideation rate." Download the eBook now for an in-depth look at this groundbreaking study.

Three Ways to Raise Your Decision-Making Confidence

Next Level Blog

When you’re the leader, you have to keep things moving. To avoid being the bottleneck that slows your team’s work to a crawl, you need to make decisions on a timely basis. In a fast-paced environment, it can be hard to gather all the information you’d like to have when making important decisions. That can definitely affect your confidence in making the tough calls. The fact is that no one ever has one hundred percent of the information they’d like to have when making important decisions.

How to Keep Your Poker Face

Next Level Blog

Are you the kind of person whose facial expressions reveal everything you’re thinking? My wife, Diane, tells me I’m one of those people. Of course, she does have several decades of experience in reading me. I like to think I have a little more of a poker face when I’m with other people – especially if it’s a challenging or frustrating interaction. But, in all likelihood, I’m kidding myself on that. And, I suspect I have a lot of company on the poker face front.

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What Are Your Top Five Words?

Next Level Blog

The title of this post is the core of a few of my favorite questions. The one I want to focus on today is, in my experience, foundational to effective self-management: What are the top five words that describe me (you) when I’m (you’re) living and leading at my (your) best?

How to Stop Being “Them” and Start Being “Us”

Next Level Blog

A few months ago, I was in conversation with a group of senior director and vice president level leaders in a client company. I asked them, “Before you were promoted to senior director or VP, what did you used to say about the people who had those titles?” What I heard in response was pretty telling: They don’t get it. They don’t understand what’s really going on. They’re arrogant. They’re presumptuous. They think they’re better than us.

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Innovation: Five Signs You Might Be Faking It

Every company wants to be a leader in innovation, but how can you tell if your company is really innovating or just going through the motions? See the 5 signs you might be faking innovation and what to do if you are.

How to Stop Selling Your Ideas and Start Enrolling People in Them

Next Level Blog

Think about the last time you made a big purchase like a car, a major appliance or a mattress. With the possible exception of the car, there’s a pretty good chance you bought the product online after reading a lot of customer reviews. Why was that the case? Of course, one reason is that Amazon and other online retailers make it really easy to buy things online. Another likely reason is that you would do anything to avoid an aggressive sales pitch at the dealership or the store.

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How to Be Your Team’s Chief Marketing Officer

Next Level Blog

One of the questions I love to ask a roomful of senior leaders when I’m delivering an interactive presentation is, “What is it that only you can do?” It’s a positional question, not a personal question. Because each of those leaders is the current incumbent in the leadership role they’re in, there are certain things that only they can do given the resources, opportunities, authority, information and access that come with the role.

Are You Working With People or Through People?

Next Level Blog

One of the mentors I feel very fortunate to have had in my life was the late Richard Neustadt , a founding professor of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and author of the classic book Presidential Power. When I was a student at the Kennedy School in the mid-80’s, I had Dr. Neustadt for a couple of classes, got to work with him on some special projects and was part of a group of students he’d occasionally have over to his house to teach us about the subtleties of scotch whiskey.

If You’re Only Transmitting You’re Not Influencing

Next Level Blog

As I’ve written here before , effective leadership communications involves two distinct activities – transmitting and receiving. You can think of it like a two-way radio or a smartphone. They only work when they both transmit and receive. For your leadership communications to be inspirational and influential, you need to do both as well. Too many people in leadership roles overemphasize the transmission and underemphasize the reception.

Tough Comp Conversations: A Guide For Doing Them Right

Speaker: Rusty Lindquist, VP Strategic HR Insights at Bamboo HR

Compensation can be tricky, few things carry as much emotional weight as comp. And with the increased transparency in the market, combined with our collective propensity to rate ourselves against others, the frequency of these very difficult conversations is increasing. In this webinar, we will deconstruct some of the psychology around comp. We’ll take an analytic look at comp’s role in the employee experience, and then we’ll get really tactical with guidance on very specific compensation conversations.

How to Stop Inspiring Your Team to Underperformance

Next Level Blog

Every so often I hear a phrase so well turned that I say to myself, “I wish I had thought of that.” That happened a few months ago when I was talking with a top executive of a Fortune 500 company to get his feedback on a colleague who was one of my executive coaching clients. This exec loved my client and compared him quite favorably to his predecessor who, the exec said, regularly “inspired his team to underperformance.”.

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How to Develop Your Team Like a Real Estate Investor

Next Level Blog

One of the keys to successfully leading at the next level is to develop and leverage a team of go-to people. When you’re thinking through your strategy and approach to team development, it can help to think like a real estate investor. Successful investors in real estate or any other sector think through their goals and then develop a portfolio of investments to align with them. When you’re developing your team, you first need to assess the mix of talent and skills you’ll need to succeed.

Don’t Assume the Worst

Next Level Blog

When I asked communications expert, Dr. Nick Morgan , for his one best piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a more effective virtual communicator, his answer was quick, simple and powerful, “Don’t assume the worst.” Here’s the back story on why Nick offered that advice and how you can apply it for positive outcomes.

How to Make Your Performance Review Process Suck Less

Next Level Blog

This is the time of year when a lot of the leaders I work with are buckling down to write up annual performance reviews for the people on their team. This is a process that almost no one enjoys – neither the reviewer or the reviewee. Seriously, do you know anyone in any role who looks forward to an annual performance review? There are a lot of reasons why annual performance review processes usually suck. Here are three. First, they’re annual.

Five Principles for Designing Great Leadership Development Programs

Next Level Blog

When you do something long enough you eventually start seeing patterns in the data. In 20 years of working as a leadership educator, speaker and executive coach, I’ve seen a lot of data points on leadership development programs and definitely see some patterns.

Getting Grounded on Your Team Leadership

Next Level Blog

There’s a reason why I make such a strong connection between the leadership imperatives of managing yourself and leveraging your team. As I’ve written here and in the new edition of The Next Level , effective self-management is a pre-requisite to leveraging your team in effective ways.

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What Great Leadership Looks Like

Next Level Blog

In 2017, it can be difficult to find examples of great leadership. Today, though, I want to offer two of them. The first is of neighbors, volunteers, first responders, law enforcement, the National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard pulling together to rescue each other in the greater Houston area.

Are You Triaging or Prioritizing Your Work?

Next Level Blog

If you’ve ever had to make a trip to the emergency room (hopefully not) or watched a medical drama on TV (probably so), you’ve seen a team of doctors, nurses and other team members doing triage. Triage is the process of assessing which patients need immediate treatment or attention and which can wait until after the more urgent cases are addressed.

Do You “Have To” or Do You “Get To”?

Next Level Blog

What do you notice about your thought process when you’re about to start something that’s difficult or intimidating? Is your inner monologue helpful or hurtful? Here’s a hint – your self-talk is highly predictive of the result you’re going to get. There’s a simple mental shift you can make that almost guarantees a better result when you have to do something you’re not totally excited about or find a little bit scary.

How to Know If You’re Keeping the Right Pace for Yourself

Next Level Blog

This is the time of the year when I’m doing a lot of reading and coaching around the results of the Next Level 360 feedback instrument. The 360 provides a picture on how leaders are doing around three vital leadership imperatives: managing yourself, leveraging your team and engaging your colleagues. As I’ve written here before , I completely believe that managing yourself effectively is the foundational imperative.

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