How actively do you seek to build personal resilience?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How actively do you seek to build personal resilience?

  • Very: it’s a big focus of mine.: 49.4%
  • Somewhat: I’ll focus on it from time to time.: 34.9%
  • Not very: If I build the skill, it’s not intentional.: 9.1%
  • Not at all: I rarely even think about resilience.: 6.6%

Resilience is a differentiator. A large proportion of you focus on building your personal and leadership resilience. That’s great! The ability to stay strong and thrive during turbulent times is the hallmark of a great leader. If you want to increase your resilience, consider focusing on four critical areas: maintaining your physical well-being, managing your thinking, fulfilling your purpose and harnessing the power of connections. A deliberate approach to building resilience will go much further than letting resilience just happen.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How well does your organization assess its own capabilities versus competitors?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How well does your organization assess its own capabilities versus competitors?

  • We drastically overestimate our capabilities.: 22.3%
  • We overestimate some of our capabilities.: 37.7%
  • We accurately assess our capabilities.: 28.6%
  • We underestimate our capabilities.: 8.6%
  • We drastically underestimate our capabilities.: 2.7%

A little overconfident. Overestimating your organization’s capabilities can be a huge strategic mistake. If you push your beliefs of greatness too far, you’ll create strategic blind spots that are easy for your competitors to exploit. Before you know it, the market will offer it’s less-than-flattering assessment of your capabilities. A rigorous approach to evaluating your capabilities is the key to staying humble and staying safe in a threatening market environment. Actively participate in these assessments on a regular basis. Question your beliefs about your capabilities. Challenge your assumptions. It’s best that you challenge yourself before your competitor challenges you.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

What’s your preferred approach to deal with stress?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What’s your preferred approach to deal with stress?

  • Exercise and physical movement: 50.2%
  • Meditation: 7.9%
  • Taking time off: 14.7%
  • Distracting yourself: 14.1%
  • Something else: 7.8%
  • I don’t know how to deal with stress.: 5.2%

Get up and move. Clearly physical activity is the most popular form of stress relief. Whether it’s a quick walk around the office to running a few miles, getting away from your desk and getting into your body is a powerful means of stress relief. The reason physical movement reduces stress is it satisfies your brain’s need to move. This is a pre-historic response generated by the amygdala -- your brain’s “alarm.” When stress sets off that alarm, movement turns it off. For those of you simply distracting yourselves or not knowing how to deal with stress, try incorporating some physical movement and see how that helps. Track your stress levels over time. Hopefully you’ll see a meaningful improvement once you start moving more.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How well does your organization translate qualitative measures into quantitative metrics?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How well does your organization translate qualitative measures into quantitative metrics?

  • Very -- Every qualitative measure has hard metrics to support it.: 10.5%
  • Somewhat -- Some qualitative measures have metrics; others don’t.: 49.4%
  • Not at all -- We don’t translate qualitative measures to metrics.: 40.1%

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Often there’s a temptation to say, “Well, it’s a qualitative measure, so we don’t need a metric for it.” With that mindset, you’ll be hard-pressed to figure out if you’re having the impact you desire or if you have surprising problems lurking out of sight. The vast majority of qualitative measures can have quantitative metrics associated with them. Determine which metrics are indicators of the qualitative measure, and track those. While the correlation won’t be perfect, you’ll at least have a gauge of progress and early warning of possible issues before they occur.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How willing is your organization to go above and beyond to take care of its associates?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How willing is your organization to go above and beyond to take care of its associates?

  • Extremely. We’ve done amazing things to take care of people: 10.1%
  • Very. We’ll go well above expectations for our people: 26.9%
  • Kind of. We’ll do special things in extraordinary circumstances: 34.9%
  • Not very. It’s rare that we’d go out of our way for our people: 19.2%
  • Not at all. I’m surprised people are still willing to work here: 8.9%

Putting people first. It’s a tired old trope that “our people are our most valuable asset.” What makes that ring hollow is the fact that we don’t do all we can to help our associates. While a solid portion of poll respondents state that their organizations do a lot for their people, a scary number of you say that you don’t go out of your way to take care of your team. While you don’t have to take on extraordinary gestures to make your team members feel important and valued, some gestures do help. Consider that your employees know there are other organizations out there that will take care of them. Factor that into your decision on whether or not to go out of your way to help that person. If not, they might not stick around.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

What’s your biggest concern going into the new year?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What's your biggest concern going into the new year?

  • Market forces affecting our business: 29.2%
  • Internal leadership challenges we face: 40.3%
  • Competitive dynamics: 11.9%
  • Social issues impacting our work: 11.1%
  • I don't have any big concerns: 7.4%

We’re our own biggest problem. While market and competitive dynamics also present big concerns, it’s surprising that there are as many internal concerns as polled. For those who face internal issues, what are you doing right now to resolve those issues? Training? Development? Providing feedback? Reorganizing? For those concerned about the external challenges, are you putting contingency plans in place and assessing possible future outcomes? While it’s fine to be concerned about any of these issues, a leader’s job is to plan for the future and to work toward resolution. Let that be your New Year’s resolution.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How did 2017 turn out for you and your organization?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How did 2017 turn out for you and your organization?

  • Significantly better than expected
  • Better than expected
  • About as expected
  • Worse than expected
  • Much worse than expected

A good year, on balance. 46% of you had a better year than you expected. Congratulations! The majority of you (73%) got what you expected or more. For the 27% of you who had a worse year than you expected, I'm sorry. The big question for all of us is how to make 2018 a better year. While people are planning their resolutions, I encourage building in something around focus, prioritization, and perseverance. Those three abilities will cut across everything you do – both professionally and personally. They're learnable skills. By focusing and prioritizing, you'll do better work on the work that matters most. Build your ability to persevere when things don't go according to plan. Make building these three skills part of your 2018 plan. Best wishes in the new year!.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

When you’re not interested in a vendor’s product or service, how do you handle it?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When you’re not interested in a vendor’s product or service, how do you handle it?

  • I tell them I’m not interested quickly and directly: 74.0%
  • I continue conversations until they realize there’s not a fit: 4.1%
  • I ignore their calls and emails and hope they disappear: 21.9%

Exercise common courtesy. While many of you are up front with a vendor when you’re not interested in their product or service, the 22% of you who aren’t might want to reconsider your behavior. Salespeople and other vendor personnel spend significant amounts of time and energy pursuing sales and partnership leads. When you ignore them and hope they just go away, you’re being disrespectful of their time; and, the silent treatment borders on unprofessional. The vast majority of them would prefer a fast and polite, “I’m not interested,” instead of being ignored and spending more time following up. How would you feel if you were in their shoes and your prospects and partners ignored you? Not so good, I assume. Do the right thing. Be professional. Offer a courteous, “No, thank you,” as soon as you know it’s not a fit. There’s always time for professionalism.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How effective is your organization at implementing effective measurement practices?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How effective is your organization at implementing effective measurement practices?

  • Very -- we’re rigorous about the measurement methods we use: 8.1%
  • Mostly -- sometimes we’re not as effective as we could be: 35.6%
  • Not very -- we’re only disciplined when measuring major metrics: 34.1%
  • Not at all -- we’re terrible in our measurement practices: 22.3%

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. The next time the 56% of you who don’t measure things well are unhappy with how your organization is performing, please remember this poll. You can’t manage, let alone improve, things you don’t measure. Don’t go out and measure indiscriminately though. Clearly define the desired business outcome, identify the best measure of how you’re performing on activities related to that outcome, and stick to a focused set of metrics to track your progress. When you do measure, remember to answer the five key measurement questions:

  1. What’s the measurement’s purpose?
  2. What data source will you use?
  3. How will you calculate the metric?
  4. How frequently will you measure?
  5. Who will review the measure?

If you can answer these questions clearly, you should have a meaningful metric to monitor.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."

How willing are you to take a risk and let team members make decisions?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How willing are you to take a risk and let team members make decisions?

  • Very: I always let them make decisions irrespective of risk: 12.3%
  • Mostly: I let them make decisions within reasonable limits: 83.6%
  • Not very: I withhold most decision making authority for myself: 3.1%
  • Not at all: I need to make all the decisions because of the risks: 0.9%

Empower your people. The vast majority of you leave it to your teams to make decisions. It’s a matter of balancing risk and empowerment. The more you empower, the more risk you assume. For bigger decisions where you’re going to empower your team members, be specific about the risks you’re going to take, and ensure you back those team members up if things go wrong. For those of you not yet empowering your people, start with some small decisions, and see how it goes. If they make good decisions, keep increasing their decision-making scope. It’s the only way they’re going to build the skills themselves.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."