Five years ago, for quality-of-life and cultural reasons, I returned with my wife and our three daughters to my native Israel while still continuing to lead ZoomInfo — a company I had founded, with headquarters in Waltham, Mass.

If the decision sounds risky, that’s because, as much as I would love to say otherwise, at the time, it felt like it was. No matter how much executive leadership and I prepared, I understood relocating 5,500 miles and seven time zones away from the team would introduce both expected and unexpected challenges. Not to mention, as an added twist, I adopted the Israeli workweek of Sunday to Thursday.

Nevertheless, after spending more than two decades as a serial entrepreneur, I’ve learned a few lessons, including that the term “agility” isn’t restricted to product development or roadmaps. And, in the end, not only did ZoomInfo earn Inc. 5000 recognition and achieve record year-over-year growth in both revenue and profitability in 2015, but on a personal level, the move forced me to re-examine and fine-tune my leadership style. (read more…)

Is your organization a great place to work?

To know for sure, you’d need information like the percentage of employees that are highly engaged and highly productive, information about the degree to which employees trust their bosses and peers, information about whether employees’ ideas and efforts are consistently validated, and information about how many talented, engaged employees leave your organization every month.

What drives talented people to join your organization or to stay with your organization? Lazlo Bock, senior vice president of Google’s people operations, said in a recent Business Insider interview that pay and perks — like free gourmet meals, services like child care and dry cleaners on campus, etc. — are nice, but they don’t “actually retain people or even attract people.”

Bock continued, “People don’t stay for the money!” Over a third of Google’s first 100 employees still work for the company even after making quite a haul in Google’s initial public offering. (read more…)

Imagine having your team go from five people to 80 in an instant. That’s what happened to Mike Calihan, a senior executive with Aldridge Electric Inc., a national infrastructure construction company based in Chicago.

He had been a project manager, managing relatively small electrical projects. He had been involved in crafting a response to a bid put out by the Illinois Department of Transportation. As he tells it, “It was a longshot, because we hadn’t managed a project for this type of work at the scale specified in the bid.” Calihan had a big-gulp moment when the bid was opened and he saw that Aldridge had won the contract. He was tapped to lead the behemoth project, which meant leading a team that was 16 times larger than he had ever led before.

As he explains it, “At first, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I was in way over my head, and scared as hell.” When asked how he went from being a manager of five people to a leader of eighty, he replied, “Sometimes you have to fake it till you make it. (read more…)

The ability to see a bold future, build a compelling vision and define a strategy to achieve it is core to leadership. Making that vision happen almost always requires change. And, successfully navigating others through change requires leaders who are skilled in the “Cs of Change:”

Clarity: Defining clear vision, structure and actions to achieve the goals. Unlike the fictional character who “flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions,” after a team understands and is on board with the vision and strategy, it needs to agree on the steps needed, the priority and who best can take on particular tasks. And, a timetable for getting them done. Defined responsibilities and accountability breed teamwork and achievement.

Communications: Verbally and visually sell the dream of the future both externally and internally so that people can begin to see the possibilities and build the desire for change. Moving others out of their comfort zones is difficult. (read more…)

An employee-engagement plan isn’t something you can create once and follow, to the letter, forever. As business goals and employee demographics change, engagement initiatives need periodic tweaks and improvements.

I’ve seen many business leaders get stuck and frustrated because their engagement initiative slowly veers off course. They may not realize that something is starting to run a little less smoothly, and end up throwing out the whole plan because they think it’s a bust. If you feel like your engagement plan isn’t working, chances are it just needs a quick fix.

Here are five ways to tweak your engagement plan and keep improving engagement at your organization.

Communicate — and keep communicating

Engagement is like any other business activity — you need to be transparent about it so employees understand what’s going on and can get on board. Clear communication creates a foundation for a strong engagement initiative, but you have to keep communicating throughout the cycle to keep people informed. (read more…)