Until teleportation becomes the norm, frequent travel is simply a fact of life for leaders in the modern business world.

As companies continue to grow more reliant on foreign markets, face-to-face meetings remain essential, especially when managing a global team. Tools like Skype have helped bridge global communication gaps, but no technology can supplant in-person interactions — with your team or with your family.

In the meantime, you’ll have to find ways to maintain a healthy family-travel balance, which is no simple task.

The hardships of the road

Travel inflicts a number of stresses on family life. Missing out on the day-to-day bustle — from soccer games to keeping up on your kids’ schooling to basic conversations — can easily disrupt your family dynamic.

It sometimes feels like reentering family life is the hardest part of being gone. You have to tread lightly and be careful not to upset decisions made in your absence. (read more…)

When it comes to leadership, is there such thing as too much of a good thing? There sure can be. In fact, just about any weakness can be attributed to one or more strengths that are overused.

In a recent talent review meeting, the executive team was discussing the strengths and development needs of a promising up and coming leader. One of her greatest strengths was her customer focus. This was a company that placed a high value on customer service, so that strength had served her well.

However, this leader was developing a reputation for breaking too many company policies and rules, alienating or bullying other departments, being too narrowly focused, and not strategic enough. Her passion for taking care of her customers at all costs was now truing into a liability.

So yes, you can even be too customer-focused.

Here are six other common leadership strengths that when overdone can turn into leadership weaknesses:

1. (read more…)

People love to joke that robots are going to someday steal our jobs.

Don’t panic — nobody is being replaced just yet. You can put down your stapler.

But don’t relax, either. Because it’s time to revolutionize the way middle management utilizes Big Data.

The role of data collection and analysis commonly falls on the shoulders of middle managers. Given our increasing reliance on data, many business decisions are only made if they can be supported by data. This raises an interesting question: Do we still need middle management if Big Data is making all of their decisions for them?

My answer: Yes and no. Big Data should replace some traditional management positions and help to evolve the roles of the remaining ones.

For example, Tom Montgomery, co-CEO of clothing brand Chubbies, explained that traditional marketing events were developed by managers who thought about the “why” behind their companies’ events — and an associate would make the “how” work. (read more…)

It was another late night returning home from a business trip this week. Spring weather in Denver has been rainy for a week straight. We need the moisture (not as badly as other parts of the country), so no complaints.

The overcast was heavy with a light sprinkle as I left the airport on the hour’s drive to our mountain neighborhood. There was little traffic at midnight. When I got within 2 miles of our home, a heavy fog stopped me cold.

Visibility was less than 10 feet (!). I could barely see the center line, much less the outer edges of our paved two-lane highway. The rest of my drive home was at less than 5 mph, sometimes dead stopped, creeping along to ensure I was on the road, not heading off of it!

It was an unsettling end to an otherwise boring drive home. I simply couldn’t see. The fog caused me to slow way down, to discount my years of experience (driving on this road), and to increase my frustration and anxiety. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How well do you push your own thinking before involving others?

  • Very well — I advance ideas as much as possible before relying on others: 59.4%
  • Well — I could stand to do a little more thinking though: 36.32%
  • Not well — I’m overly reliant on others to advance the thinking: 3.42%
  • Poorly — I rarely advance the thinking before involving others: .85%

Think Then Think Some More. Investing time thinking through your ideas is worth the effort. It increases efficiency as you’re not wasting a stakeholder’s time by having them think through something you can figure out. It builds your skills in terms of creativity and anticipation. It also improves your reputation as a more strategic thinker. So the next time you’re about to involve a stakeholder in your thoughts, pause and ask yourself if you’ve thought about the issue as much as you can. (read more…)