How well do you handle an unexpected personal crisis at work?

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 do you handle an unexpected personal crisis at work?

  • Very well. I deal with the issue productively and can resume work effectively: 33.3%
  • Well. I deal with the issue but it has some negative work effects: 51.9%
  • Not well. Personal crises tend to throw my work off substantially: 12.3%
  • Poorly. A personal crisis totally derails me at work: 2.5%

Moving through the crisis. It’s inevitable that a personal crisis will interfere with work at some point. Illnesses, car accidents, thefts and other challenging issues are bound to crop up and always at the worst time. Some keys to dealing with crisis involve keeping things in perspective, getting your priorities straight and getting assistance. Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help. We’ve all been there, and, by and large, people are understanding and supportive. There’s no need for you to shoulder the entire burden yourself. And when you see a colleague in crisis, don’t wait for them to ask for help. They may be too overwhelmed or feel like they’re imposing on others. Offer your help proactively instead.

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."

Which resilience-building technique do you use most frequently?

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.

Which resilience-building technique do you use most frequently?

  • Building a strong support system: 21.3%
  • Defining a sense of purpose: 16.3%
  • Improving emotional intelligence:15.9%
  • Taking care of your physical well-being: 24.3%
  • Managing your thoughts proactively: 17.6%
  • None of these approaches: 4.6%

SWAP OUT ANALYSIS Be more deliberate and less reactive. Many of you noted that you see leaders commonly take the path of least resistance by spending time with people who aren’t causing problems as well as being reactive and dealing with issues as they crop up rather than preventing them. Taking a more deliberate approach to how you invest your time and energy can help you avoid these mistakes. Time is your most valuable resource. Consider how you invest it just as rigorously as how you invest your limited budget dollars. Proactively planning your time can get you out of reactive mode and nip issues in the bud.

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."

Which efficiency mistake do you most commonly see leaders make?

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.

Which efficiency mistake do you most commonly see leaders make?

  • Spreading their time evenly across people (peanut butter approach): 5.1%
  • Taking the path of least resistance and avoiding issues: 36.3%
  • Being reactive and dealing with issues as they arise: 54.8%
  • Most leaders I know are pretty efficient: 3.8%

SWAP OUT ANALYSIS Roll up the sleeves. Getting out of the “leader” role and into the “team member” role has many benefits. It brings you closer to your people, helps you understand and appreciate the work they do and it can be rewarding. If it’s been a while since you’ve worked side by side with the team, make a point of scheduling time to do so. Put reminders on your calendar so it happens more frequently than a few times a year. Stepping out of the leader role is easier to do than you might think.

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 is the last time you participated as a team member instead of leading your team?

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 is the last time you participated as a team member instead of leading your team?

  • I’m acting as a team member right now
  • I’ve done it within the past month
  • I’ve done it within the past year
  • I’ve never stepped out of the leader role and into a team member role

SWAP OUT ANALYSIS Get the revenue model right. Many of you have considered hanging out your own shingle and running your own consulting firm. One of the most important questions you have to answer is: What’s your revenue model going to be? If you don’t get the revenue model right, you’ll be spending too much time working and not getting paid enough for it. You might also miss out on lucrative alternate sources of revenue if you’re not thoughtful about what assets you have to sell. You must understand the different types of consulting revenue models and choose yours deliberately. It can be the difference between working like a dog and retiring early.

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."

Have you ever considered running your own consulting firm?

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.

Have you ever considered running your own consulting firm?

  • Yes, but I haven’t done it yet. 46.5%
  • No, I’ve never considered it. 30.2%
  • Yes, and I’m currently doing so. 13.6%
  • Yes, I once ran a consulting firm but don’t anymore. 9.8%

Get the revenue model right. Many of you have considered hanging out your own shingle and running your own consulting firm. One of the most important questions you have to answer is: what’s your revenue model going to be? If you don’t get the revenue model right, you’ll be spending too much time working and not getting paid enough for it. You might also miss out on lucrative alternate sources of revenue if you’re not thoughtful about what assets you have to sell. You must understand the different types of consulting revenue models and choose yours deliberately. It can be the difference between working like a dog and retiring early.

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."

Have you ever had a salesperson ask you to tell them a story so they can get to know you?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

Have you ever had a salesperson ask you to tell them a story so they can get to know you?

  • Yes, it happens frequently: 20.6%
  • No, I’ve never been asked to tell a story: 79.4%

Interviews are stressful. These are high-risk situations for a candidate. It’s not surprising that 85% of you see a candidate make a catastrophic mistake that tanks the interview. While common interview mistakes like candidates checking their phone or watch are bad, bigger mistakes like poor answers to common questions are definite interview enders. Your job as an interviewer is to make the conversation as relaxed as possible. You’re looking to get to know this person. If you can reduce the stress level surrounding the discussion, you’ll get better responses from candidates and ultimately make better hiring decisions.

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 often do you see candidates bomb their interview because of a single big mistake during the interview?

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 often do you see candidates bomb their interview because of a single big mistake during the interview?

  • All the time
  • Frequently
  • Sometimes
  • Rarely
  • Never

SWAP OUT ANALYSIS A willingness to change. Change is difficult and often painful, but many of you say you’re willing to challenge long-standing approaches to doing things. The real obstacle to overcome with respect to change is changing your own mindset about how things need to be done. It’s easy to see the flaws in others’ approaches. It’s more difficult to see when you need to be the one to change. Try to separate yourself from your prior decisions. Assess how the world has changed and made your prior approaches irrelevant. The less you make it about you, the easier it is to change what needs to be changed.

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 effectively do you use data to tell stories?

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 effectively do you use data to tell stories?

  • Very: my data always tells a story: 52.8%
  • Kind of: sometimes my data tells a story: 39.1%
  • Not very: it’s rare that my data tells stories: 6.1%
  • Not at all: it’s always just a data dump: 2.0%

Tell me a story. Clearly many of you think about the story you’re trying to tell with your data. When you understand how to structure a story and what elements to include, it’s much easier to use data to fit your narrative. Invest that extra time thinking through the story before you jump into the analysis. That extra time will clarify your message and help move your audience to take the actions you want them to take. If you’re not thinking about the story your data is telling, find people who are good storytellers and ask them how they craft those narratives. Storytelling isn’t hard. It just requires discipline and the use of a solid storytelling method.

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 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."