The show “Shark Tank,” like much of the media, perpetuates the myth that you have to be aggressive, assertive, even confrontational to advance your career and become a leader; that thoughtfulness, politeness, and the inability to summarize an important idea in less than a minute are crippling diseases; and that the business world is akin to a shark tank where you are likely to be devoured unless you adopt the characteristics of the sharks to survive. Amusing for sure, but as true reality? As Borat would say, “Not so much.”

Confrontation sounds exciting and climactic. Directly taking on your superiors over a perceived slight or a co-worker over credit stolen can be a strong temptation. The fantasy of doing so and pulling it off is powerful. Hollywood makes billions appealing to this urge, depicting hero after hero speaking big words and standing up to formidable powers. However, in the real world, the one that we work and live in, confrontation is usually a risky and dangerous thing. (read more…)

Goals drive us as a whole (company, that is) and as individuals. They define what we need to do and how we need to do it. As managers and employees, we all have individual goals tailored to the work that we do and the contributions we make to organizational success. The question is, do those goals make sense?

We’ve all heard of the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) way to set goals. Let’s go beyond the popular goal-setting acronym and take a more in-depth look at four characteristics of a truly smart employee goal:

1. It’s transparent.

Company-wide goals aren’t the only goals that should be made public. Employee goals should also be transparent. Bersin’s “Predictions for 2015″ report suggests that high-performing companies make individual work goals public for all to see. Ideally, the whole department — or even office — should be in on it.

When more people know about an employee’s goal, the weight of responsibility increases. (read more…)

Why do some people get ahead and others do not?

That’s the thought-provoking question addressed by authors Kim Zoller and Kerry Preston in the book “Enhancing Your Executive Edge.”

According to the authors, what distinguishes those who succeed in moving up the ladder is their “executive edge,” a presence that projects leadership, confidence, and credibility. I couldn’t agree more! Increasingly. I am being invited to work with clients to develop their presence as they advance from director-level to executive positions. Making that leap from senior to executive management is a quantum leap, filled with new expectations and a vastly expanded level of exposure.

If your career goals include this type of career trajectory, or your “edge” needs a boost to help you rise to the challenge of a new position, this book can be a game changer. It is organized into these five segments, each with concrete steps that will enhance your executive edge:

  • Self-management and social awareness
  • Personal branding
  • Communication and presence (my favorite)
  • Business protocol
  • Motivation, perseverance, and excellence

Below are some of the ideas and advice that made an enormous impact on my thinking about enhancing my executive edge. (read more…)

As an HR professional, I know the value of the performance appraisal. However, I also know that, if done poorly, they can have the opposite effect on an organization.

Performance appraisals have typically been driven by human resources. When performance appraisals are done poorly by management, it reflects on HR. Traditionally, management has sat their employees down one on one to go over the year in review, set the upcoming year’s goals and expectations. For years, the process has worked for few, but because of the time involved, it’s not done with any degree of success.

Why should we do performance appraisals?

The purpose of performance appraisals is to provide individual feedback relative to the organizational goals. They should measure an individual’s contributions in terms of quality, quantity, timeliness, and costliness.

recite-1qyhheqWhy have organizations and upper management lost interest in them? Why do experts and management agree the performance appraisal/performance management effort is broken and is a waste of time? (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.

Would you rather be seen as being a fair leader or a just one?

  • I’d rather be seen as being fair: 44%
  • I’d rather be seen as being just: 56%

Justice Beats Fairness. Life’s not fair. Not everyone will be happy with the decisions you make and there will always be complaints about fair treatment. Being just is a difficult task. It requires leaders to be deliberate about how they spend their time (not everyone will get the same access), how they discipline, hand out promotions and assignments, and ultimately treat people. If you’re ever feeling “fairness pangs” where you have to make a tough call that isn’t necessarily fair, at least ensure justice is on your side.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, author of “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)