Think about the learning that contributed most powerfully to your development and who you are today. Consider the experiences that built the expertise you use and value most every day. Reflect on what you’re most proud of mastering during the course of your career or life.

This memorable learning that has made a significant difference to you (and to the organizations you’ve served) likely didn’t come easily. The kind of learning that sticks with people, helping them achieve lifelong results, generally:

  • Challenges them to change how they think, act, or perform in new ways.
  • Took significant energy and attention.
  • Involved struggle and failure to get to the other side.

The learning that has the most profound effect on individuals rarely comes easily.

Yet too frequently, in a well-meaning effort to facilitate and enable growth, we take actions to make learning easier. We chunk it down into digestible and doable bites. We strategize how to set people up for early wins and success each step of the way. (read more…)

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

As a CEO, how can I get honest feedback from my team?

yec_John Rampton1. Be open

I think it starts with you as CEO in the beginning. You have to be open and willing to listen to everything. Ask for feedback consistently so people know they can come to you with honest feedback. Always address the feedback positively. Take it in and make changes accordingly. Keep in mind, if they feel coming to you will impact their job negatively, they will never be honest.– John Rampton, Adogy

yec_Ashley Mady2. Ask in a different way

Try using “I like, I wish, I wonder.” Ask your team to answer these questions about the company or whatever topic you need help with. (read more…)

What separates the best leaders from the rest when it comes to employee engagement?

Our research shows the best leaders communicate an inspiring vision and live it, value people and give them a voice. Here are seven of the 100+ best practices that leaders can use to engage people.

1. Set “top five” high-level annual priorities. Many leaders today are overwhelming the people they lead by trying to do too much. Both individually and as a team, set no more than five high-level challenging but achievable annual priorities that are aligned with your vision and mission. If you go beyond five high-level annual priorities, it will diminish focus and effective execution by tending to overwhelm those responsible for implementation. One day each week, review your weekly plans to see that they are aligned with your top five.

2. Know their stories. Take time to get to know the people you work with, especially your direct reports. (read more…)

Do your employees secretly hate the communication techniques you’re currently using?

According to a study by Root, Inc., more than half of employees surveyed have felt frustrated and unhappy about work. Whether that unhappiness results in absenteeism, low productivity, dissatisfaction or disengagement, poor organizational communication is likely a root cause.

Trying to pick up on the subtle signs that your communication processes aren’t working for your employees can be difficult. If you’ve noticed any of the warning signs below, it’s possible your organizational communication style needs a revamp:

Warning sign: Your employees appear overwhelmed and productivity is down.

Solution: This is likely a result of “information overload.” With too many responsibilities or tasks, and too little direction from leadership on main priorities, employees can feel bogged down. As a result, they often shut down.

Managers must understand their teams’ projects and workload at all times, and be empowered to advocate for them if their reports have too much on their proverbial plates. (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.

Last week, we asked: Which of the following poses the greatest risk to your business?

  • Lack of diversification: 14.29%
  • Rapidly changing markets: 22.53%
  • Access to the right talent: 31.68%
  • Aggressive competition: 19.6%
  • Shifts in technology: 11.9%

Many Threats. Threats abound. Market shifts, lack of talent, competition, and lack of diversification all threaten us every day. The question for leaders is are you proactively assessing these threats and steering your organization past them? If not, you’ll constantly be reacting to the changes and your business will always be a step behind. If you take some simple steps today (for example, taking these measures to diversify your business) you can avoid major headaches down the road.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)