4 Barriers to Personal and Professional Growth (And How to Tear ‘em Down)

Throughout our lives, we experience moments of momentum where we feel like we're expanding, moving upward, and spreading our fierce little wings. Other times, we feel like our own growth has become sluggish or blocked in some way. When this stagnation occurs, it's an indication that it's time to get curious and shake things up. As a leader, you are not exempt from the reality that growth requires conscious effort. You spend a lot of time focusing on the growth of those around you, and while this is a critical focus for anyone in a position of leadership, it's important to maintain an awareness of your own development and make adjustments as needed. When your own development becomes stagnant, it can be quite comfortable in the beginning. It feels safe and secure, at least at first. The natural progression of an individual involves continual growth. Once basic needs are met,...
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Different Perspectives Lead to the Best Ideas. Here's Why.

You've probably heard it before… Seek input, be inclusive, welcome perspectives, collaborate with others. But why? Where does the premise come from that this type of inclusion is beneficial for individuals, teams, or organizations? In a recent Lunch & Learn hosted by Director of Client Development Justin Perun, he discussed the effectiveness of...
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Growth vs. Fixed Mindset: How Your Beliefs Impact You, Your Team, and Your Organization

My interest in growth and learning led me to the book " Mindset " by Carol Dweck. It has opened my eyes to the ways in which we as humans tend to limit our own potential, both individually and in our organizations. The concept of a fixed versus growth mindset is simple, yet the implications are massive. According to Dweck, how you approach learning...
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Mining for Solutions: How to Empower Your Employees to be Problem-solvers

Do you consider advice-giving to be part of your role as a business leader? Even better, do you enjoy giving advice, solving problems, and suggesting best courses of action? What if a guide wasn't necessarily someone that tells you what's the best route forward to reach your end goal, but instead helped you illuminate your path so that you—the empl...
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Leading Business Problem #6: Low Productivity

Low productivity is last but not least on our list of the leading business problems we address in our latest eBook . Each year, companies lose approximately $37 billion due to unproductive meetings. This impacts not only individual businesses but also the global economy. Time and money is being lost when it doesn't have to be. This problem is real,...
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How to Combat Fear in 2018

"Thinking will not overcome fear but action will." –W. Clement Stone The start of a new year often comes with a new set of resolutions and meaningful changes we want to make in our lives, both at work and at home. When we try to put our intentions into action, we are often met with a universal barrier: fear. We all experience fear to some degree. I...
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Why it Pays to Support Employees’ Personal Development

“Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours.” –Unknown Imagine one of your employees jamming out on a guitar, lifting weights at the gym, or reading a textbook. You may not make an immediate connection between these behaviors and revenue, results, or workplace culture. But can these types of activities influence business for the better? You bet your britches they can. Personal and professional development go hand-in-hand—whether it’s directly related to work or not, each impacts the other. Growth is growth, and all kinds of growth contribute to happiness. Research shows happy employees are more creative, energized and successful , and happiness increases productivity by 12% . When employees know you care about their growth, they respond. It builds trust, commitment, and a host of other benefits that impact the bottom line. Let’s break it down. Here are some big benefits your organization stands to gain by supporting employee personal development:...
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Leadership Tips: Think Outside the Box

It’s easy to fall into a pattern. It’s only natural to apply your knowledge of a process, that you know works, to similar projects. You might think to yourself: I know an effective way to do this, why fix something that isn’t broken? This week’s tip is to question your processes, patterns, and ideas. Challenge yourself and those around you to think outside the box. This can be an effective exercise whether you’re in a defined, “official” leader role or not. Sometimes when our first instinct is to just streamline an idea, it can dampen the instinct to innovate. Thinking outside the box doesn’t mean making things more complicated. It can be as simple as getting more creative with how you spend your time in weekly meetings, how your organization handles customer service interaction, and even a new way your audience can interact with the brand of your company. If...
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The Compelling Case for Giving Employees More Freedom

This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by Inc. and builds a case along with tips for giving employees more freedom.   Growing research shows that employee autonomy leads to higher levels of workplace satisfaction and improves workplace performance by allowing creativity to flourish. It also grants a sense of ownership and accountability while spurring productivity. Bellhops, a startup company employing students from around the country to coordinate and assist with residential moving jobs, allows its contracts to have total autonomy over their schedule, who they work with, and how much money they make. Per Bellhops and Shelley Prevost, Co-Founder and CEO of Torch, here are some tips for creating more autonomy in your workplace. 1. Relinquish the 9-5. “People are all different. Some do their best work in the early morning. Some prefer to grind it out on the weekends or in the wee small hours of the morning....
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Leadership Tips: Ask What Else

  In our coaching model, we instruct you to ask “ what else? ” at least 3 times in different parts of the conversation. Each time you ask, you are going deeper into the question. You are exploring – unlocking new territory.   The need to ask “ what else?” is everywhere.   For example, think about when someone asks you: How’s it going?   How do you usually respond?   When I ask people this, the initial answer is usually very surface. Examples: Work is busy but good. Family is good. Vacation was good.   This conversation is always different when I ask “what else?” after they give me the first, ceremonial answer. Only after the “ what else” does something juicier come out. It is almost like “ what else” translates to “ no, really, I want to know.”   This week’s tip is to concentrate on where...
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3 Reasons Why You Should Prioritize Innovation

M. A. Rosanoff: "Mr. Edison, please tell me what laboratory rules you want me to observe." Thomas Edison: "There ain't no rules around here. We're trying to accomplish somep'n!" Motion pictures, rechargeable batteries, electric lighting. Thomas Edison and his research team managed to make a huge impact in the world. How exactly? By prioritizing innovation. Luckily, organizations don’t need to create a modern equivalent of something as pivotal as the incandescent lightbulb to make a positive impact. Innovation can take place in any industry and is present any time there’s a new improvement to a product, service, process, or strategy. When innovation occurs, positive impact is inevitable. Organizations often focus on initiatives and strategies that lead to innovation, such as strengthening leadership skills and promoting diversity of thought. But it's only when innovation is approached as a goal rather than a perk or side-effect that organizations can tap into their...
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Leadership Tips: Create Self-Directed Learning Opportunities

Learning has always been a lifeline for me. Like many others in our digital age, I’m constantly looking for ways to learn throughout my day. When I ask my friend for a new workout at the gym, I’m learning something that will help me with my fitness goals. On my commute in, I watch videos and read articles on how to “up” my game in the latest digital marketing innovation. While thinking about what to cook for dinner, I search the web for a new recipe and watch short tutorials on how to prep. Throughout my day, the opportunity for micro-learning—small, bite-sized learning—shows up. This micro-learning trend is showing up in the workplace too. We see a continued emphasis in the workplace for employees to drive their own learning, and more than ever in 2017. Some of this is due to technology and ease of access, while some is a...
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How To Take A Vacation From Work

Congratulations. You are gainfully employed. The primary focus of your organization is growth, and you have some knee-buckling goals to deliver. If you fail, darkness will cover the earth, the stock value will plummet and chaos will reign. Meanwhile, a talented colleague is vying for your job. And you could sure use a vacation! Hence, a few suggestions: Take one. Dammit! When your body and brain are running on fumes, you can’t do your best work. [tweetable text="It’s important to step away from time to time – physically and mentally" tweet="“It’s important to step away from time to time – physically and mentally” via @fierce_inc"]  –  so that you can return refreshed, energized. In fact, schedule three trips for the future. Each time you take one, add on another so that you always have something wonderful to anticipate. Check the dates with your boss and then put them on your...
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9 Ways to Keep Employees Motivated During the Dog Days of Summer

This week’s Friday Resource was originally published by CIO.com and provides nine ways to keep your team engaged and motivated during those long, hot summer days. In the article, Schiff provides tips and tricks from HR experts on ways to take advantage of beautiful summer days and re-energize your team at the same time. Some of the tips require little to no organization and can be fun, spontaneous outings like conducting your sales meeting outside. As long as you do not need a projector, technology allows us to work outside seamlessly. If the office is getting stuffy and employees are butting heads, hold a friendly team-building competition. There is no better way to get some work angst out than a lively game of ping-pong or an office soccer game on the pitch. Another common approach is allowing employees to have flex schedules on Fridays – as long as deadlines are...
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Successful Leadership Requires 6 Critical Resources

This week's Fierce resource was originally published on Forbes.com and was written by Glenn Llopis. Successful Leadership Requires 6 Critical Resources reflects on the tools that leaders need to make productive decisions that move them and their teams forward. Imagine a day where you had every possible resource available to you, how would you use them? Now think about a traditional workday, many resources are not available, so how do you use your creativity to come up with the best solution? How do you make strategic decisions for your organization? " You don’t have all the answers and if you think you do – you will frequently make bad decisions.  As such, you must build a team that’s made to last. Earn their respect by being transparent enough to share difficult issues, and you will enable a crowdsourcing environment of problem solvers." Read the full article here.

Leadership Tips: Have Grace with Yourself

It is the first full week of 2015. So I ask: How much pressure have you put on yourself for this week, this month, this year? It is the season. This time of year tends to be packed full of new goals, resolutions, and desires to be different. Are you trying to be healthier? Be more on time? Do what you say you will? Go see more of the world? Be happier with the everyday moments? Whatever it is, you aren’t alone. Whatever your goal is, treasure it. And ask yourself: How realistic is it? What will get in my way? Break it down, so that you can see progress and have small wins. We shouldn’t expect things to change overnight, so why do you expect yourself to? This week’s tip is to have grace with yourself and make your goals realistic. Having grace is not easy. When you start...
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Teacher Spends Two Days as a Student and is Shocked at What She Learns

This week's Fierce Resource was originally published on The Washington Post and was written by Valerie Strauss. Do you ever reminisce about what things could have been like...what you might do if you had the chance to do it all over again? Teacher Spends Two Days as a Student and is Shocked at What She Learns explores what the classroom is like for high school students and perhaps what may just be in the way of learning. As society shifts, workplaces are becoming more modernized, so shouldn't the classroom as well? Imagine a classroom that functioned like Google. What would happen if students were expected to show up and work say, 75% of the time and the other 25% was focused on creativity, development, or connecting? What could you change in your classroom or school to make learning more engaging?  "I waited 14 years to do something that I should...
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Leadership Tips: Tap Into Your Inner Child

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.  – Albert Einstein Being around children has a way of reminding you that the world is pretty amazing. Whether discovering a new bug or tying shoes for the first time, children oftentimes are in awe of how great it feels to be alive. Along the way, we adults, start to take it for granted. We love leaders and people who bring out our inner child. They unlock joy for us. Who in your life reminds you that you can do the ”impossible”? Who helps you cultivate your creativity? This week’s tip is to take a moment to be in awe of someone or something around you. Practice the art of living in the moment.

Getting Outside the Box: The 5 Behaviors of Successful Leaders

This week’s Fierce Resource comes from TLNT.com and was written by Laura Stack. Getting Outside the Box: The 5 Behaviors of Successful Leaders shares tips on how you can continue to expand your perspective and push the boundaries you may have created without realizing it. Often we come to a point when we know something needs to give, yet we fear the change that lies ahead. Instead of resorting to what is comfortable, take the time to learn what else is out there. Do your research, ask experts, and talk to those around you to expand your learning. You may be surprised at what you find. How will you find your way outside of the box? “Although overuse has run it into the ground, the lesson remains valid: don’t let your preconceptions, habits, lack of information, and narrow-mindedness keep you from considering all possible aspects of a problem. Get outside...
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Achieving Business Objectives via Team Building

This week’s Fierce Resource comes from TrainingIndustry.com and was written by Ash Curtis. Achieving Business Objectives via Team Building explains the importance of creating a happy, productive team through communication, collaboration, and creativity that can drive business objectives and attain results. It’s easy to look around the office and see people are busy and assume that means they are working. I’d ask you: Are they working productively and efficiently? Are they performing at their best capacity? “Team building has easily shrugged off misconceptions of irrelevancy and undue expense to become a focal part of many businesses. Multinational corporations such as Coca Cola, Apple and Google all recognize the importance of team building to the point where former Apple CEO Steve Jobs' management style was primarily team building-focused.” To read the full article, click here .

Happy National Boss's Day: What Type of Leader Are You?

Today is National Boss's Day, and at Fierce, we know that great leaders are learners. While we hope you receive accolades and maybe a yummy treat from those you lead today, it's also important to take the time to look at areas you can improve your management and solicit feedback from your team. The first step is to know how you lead, so today ask yourself: What type of leader am I? In our experience, while we see many types of bosses there are 4 common styles of leadership. Check out the styles below and get a quick tip on ways you can improve your leadership for a more productive and engaged team. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself! The Dictator – often characterized as someone who gives orders, the Dictator’s behavior may be a factor of more than just personality. Combine lack of time, a...
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3 Tips to Create an Innovation Process

In May, Fierce attended the Entrapalooza 2013 conference, and I attended a break out session given by Insyte Consulting . The focus was putting process around innovation. The session pointed out that while many companies love the idea of innovating, they rarely think about it as a process. Innovation is really something that can be systematic, repeatable, and subject to improvement. I think this is a powerful idea. Innovation takes into account so many aspects of business. It’s about breaking the rules and testing new ideas. Process is all about the minutia, the details, and oftentimes, taking a linear path from point A to point B. As a leader, marrying these two concepts, innovation and process, together requires some serious skill. You must have conversations that focus on the big and the small, the straight and the curved, the singular and the many. Below are three tips to help you...
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Goals that Stretch Your Comfort Zone

When we set goals for ourselves that stretch our limits, we challenge our boundaries and break down the box we can often put ourselves in. When you give yourself or your team a stretch goal, and allow everyone the chance to dream big, it provides an entirely different point of view on how to approach your day-to-day life. At Fierce, we have two strategy sessions each year where we collaborate together and innovate. As a company it is our time to stretch our comfort zone, and to not only discuss what is immediately possible, but also to dream about what could be possible. In this meeting we are asked to show up and share how we would like to see the company stretch itself. At the last strategy session in January, it felt like such a daunting task. The night before, as I anxiously prepared, I contemplated other big thinkers...
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How An Executive Coach Helped Me Be a Better Leader

When I became executive director of Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council), I found there were few things I really understood about running a national organization. Fortunately, one of the best decisions I made was contracting with an executive coach. While coaching had been recommended to me on several occasions throughout my career, for some reason I had never accepted the offer. I’m glad I made the decision to seek coaching as one strategy to support my effectiveness in my first few years in a new position. For those of you who have benefited from coaching, you may find much of the following resonates with your own experience. For those of you who have been weighing an opportunity to join a coaching relationship, perhaps these reflections may tip the scale for you. My coach encouraged me to build appropriate relationships. I had previously been the deputy executive director,...
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A Fierce Love of Tradeshows

When my husband and I were engaged, we circumvented a lot of the traditional rituals that are common practices during that period. No grand proposal, no engagement photos or parties. However, one newer ritual that I decided we must participate in was the bridal expo. At the time, we lived in Los Angeles but were getting married in Seattle. So even though I wouldn’t be able to use any of the vendors at the local L.A. bridal expo, I dragged my fiancé to the all-day bride extravaganza because, honestly, I love conferences and expos! What’s not to love? Where else can you see grown women volunteer to dive into a six foot butter cream cake for the chance to find a diamond ring?   What really draws me to tradeshows is the communal feeling they provide; a large group of people sharing a variety of different ideas around a concentrated subject.  They serve as a modern...
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