Have you heard the term “insecure overachiever” and if so, would you consider yourself one?

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

Have you heard the term “insecure overachiever” and if so, would you consider yourself one?​

  • Yes. I have heard it, but I am not one: 18%
  • Yes. I have heard it, and I definitely am one: 29%
  • No. I have never heard the term: 53%

Insecurity driving achievement. A term that’s been around for a long time is being an “insecure overachiever.” These people (myself included) have insecurities about their performance or their position and those insecurities lead them to invest disproportionate effort into their work. That effort often leads to great achievements. When kept in check, these dynamics can be stressful yet yield great results. Unchecked, they can lead to a complete loss of work-life balance and a loss of perspective on what’s really important. If you’re an insecure overachiever, set boundaries for your work efforts. Cut back on weekend work and late nights. Believe what they’re telling you in your great performance reviews. If you manage one of these people, be sure to let them know where they stand and how solid their work is. Keep an eye out for them losing a sense of balance. Burn out can lead to severe consequences.

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 do your people behave as stewards of your organization’s resources?

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

How well do your people behave as stewards of your organization's resources?

  • Very well. They're extremely responsible with company resources: 24%
  • Well. Most of the time they're good stewards with some occasional waste: 55%
  • Not well. People are pretty cavalier about the use of company resources: 16%
  • Not at all. We're very irresponsible about being stewards of resources: 4%

Treat it like it’s your own. It’s a little concerning that 20% of you have issues with your people being good stewards of your organization’s resources. A culture of waste can have a tremendous negative impact over time. While it may be $10 here and $20 there, across a large associate pool, that’s a big number. The question is what are you doing about it as a leader? When you see wasteful behavior, do you call it out? Do you clearly set spending expectations and norms? If you’re not saying anything explicitly in these situations, you’re implicitly condoning the behavior. The easiest way I’ve seen for making these corrections is to ask the person “If it was your money, would you spend it like that?” When the answer is an immediate “no” the correct behavior becomes abundantly clear.

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 used online video-based learning for professional development?

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

Have you ever used online video-based learning for professional development?

  • Yes, all the time both for me and my team: 54% 
  • Yes. but just for me: 35%
  • Not for me, but I have for my team: 5%
  • Neither my team not I have ever used it: 7%

Video is ubiquitous, but are you getting the value? 89% of you are doing some form of video training for either yourself or you and your team. It’s important to ensure you’re getting the value from those hours behind the screen. After a course, are you tying the course learning objectives to real-world projects? Are you checking back in on skill development for time periods following completion of a course? Are you holding yourself and your people accountable for using the methods they learn in the videos? If you’re not demanding application and reinforcement, you’re likely just logging more hours behind a screen. It’s important to find ways to put those great video courses into practice if you want to get the value out of them.

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 used online video-based learning for professional development?

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

Have you ever used online video-based learning for professional development?

  • Yes, all the time both for me and my team: 54% 
  • Yes. but just for me: 35%
  • Not for me, but I have for my team: 5%
  • Neither my team not I have ever used it: 7%

Video is ubiquitous, but are you getting the value? 89% of you are doing some form of video training for either yourself or you and your team. It’s important to ensure you’re getting the value from those hours behind the screen. After a course, are you tying the course learning objectives to real-world projects? Are you checking back in on skill development for time periods following completion of a course? Are you holding yourself and your people accountable for using the methods they learn in the videos? If you’re not demanding application and reinforcement, you’re likely just logging more hours behind a screen. It’s important to find ways to put those great video courses into practice if you want to get the value out of them.

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 is your view of retirement?

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

What is your view of retirement?

  • I want to stop working ASAP and do absolutely nothing: 17%
  • I want to work as long as I possibly can:  19%
  • I want to cut back dramatically but still be gainfully employed: 30%
  • I want to pursue a second career in a new field I love: 34%

Keep on keepin’ on. The vast majority of you want to keep working beyond a retirement age. Whether that’s staying aboard in your current career, scaling back, or pursuing something completely new, most of you want to remain actively engaged. For those looking for a new field, ask yourself what you’re doing today to enable that to happen tomorrow. Are your finances in good enough shape to make that jump? Are you learning the skills you’ll need in that future role? Are you building your network in that industry now so it’s ready for when you make the leap later? A career shift won’t happen on its own. The better you plan for it today and prepare accordingly, the more successfully you’ll make the leap tomorrow.

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 is your view of retirement?

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

What is your view of retirement?

  • I want to stop working ASAP and do absolutely nothing: 17%
  • I want to work as long as I possibly can:  19%
  • I want to cut back dramatically but still be gainfully employed: 30%
  • I want to pursue a second career in a new field I love: 34%

Keep on keepin’ on. The vast majority of you want to keep working beyond a retirement age. Whether that’s staying aboard in your current career, scaling back, or pursuing something completely new, most of you want to remain actively engaged. For those looking for a new field, ask yourself what you’re doing today to enable that to happen tomorrow. Are your finances in good enough shape to make that jump? Are you learning the skills you’ll need in that future role? Are you building your network in that industry now so it’s ready for when you make the leap later? A career shift won’t happen on its own. The better you plan for it today and prepare accordingly, the more successfully you’ll make the leap tomorrow.

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 taken a role you weren’t thrilled with rather than continuing your job search?

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

Have you ever taken a role you weren't thrilled with rather than continuing your job search?

  • Yes. I just needed a job immediately: 45%
  • Yes. I was getting sick of the job search process: 20%
  • No. I've only taken roles I really wanted: 35%

UPDATE Seeking professional help. While 25% of you have had good or better experiences with a coach, the vast majority of you haven’t had the experience at all and a preponderance of you would like to. The word “executive” can make coaching seem out of reach but coaching may be more accessible than you believe. There are many outstanding and reasonably priced coaches out there. If your company won’t offer you a raise, maybe you ask them to fund a coach for you to fill your development needs. And if they won’t fund it, perhaps you invest in yourself. The results can clearly be worth it according to your peers who answered that way in this poll.

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 has your experience been working with an executive coach?

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

What has your experience been working with an executive coach?​

  • It's been fantastic!: 13%
  • It's been good: 12%
  • It's been fair: 8%
  • It's been poor: 6%
  • I've never worked with a coach but want to: 38%
  • I've never worked with a coach and don't want to: 23%

Seeking professional help. While 25% of you have had good or better experiences with a coach, the vast majority of you haven’t had the experience at all and a preponderance of you would like to. The word “executive” can make coaching seem out of reach but coaching may be more accessible than you believe. There are many outstanding and reasonably priced coaches out there. If your company won’t offer you a raise, maybe you ask them to fund a coach for you to fill your development needs. And if they won’t fund it, perhaps you invest in yourself. The results can clearly be worth it according to your peers who answered that way in this poll.

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 invest in growth?

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

How willing is your organization to invest in growth?

  • Very. We spend freely to drive the top line: 12%
  • Somewhat. We spend on focused areas only: 60%
  • Not very. Our investments are few and far between: 18%
  • Not at all. We never spend on driving growth: 10%

It takes money to make money. Almost 30% of you report not spending much at all in your growth efforts. I'd venture to guess your companies aren't growing. While it can be hard to carve out the funds to invest, you have to realize you can't cut costs to achieve profitability forever. At some point, there's nothing left to cut. To overcome this dynamic, be deliberate about setting aside funds in your budget for growth spending. With budgeting season around the corner for many of you, think about where your best growth opportunities are and make sure they're fully funded. Then, don't make the mistake of raiding those funds to make up for shortfalls elsewhere. Growth won't happen magically. You need to invest it to catch up with the 70% of organizations out there who are freer with the purse strings.

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 is the biggest challenge you face with respect to focus?

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

What is the biggest challenge you face with respect to focus?

  • I simply get too many tasks given to me: 36%
  • I don’t have clear direction from my leaders: 23%
  • I have trouble saying “no”: 18%
  • I don’t have any trouble with focus: 9%
  • I struggle with something not on this list: 7%
  • I’m not sure what our priorities are: 7%

Too much to do, not enough direction. It seems like the lack of focus is the result of too many tasks being assigned without enough guidance from leaders. That leads to the third issue of not being able to say “no” because it’s not clear what should be said “no” to. If you’re having trouble focusing, force the prioritization conversation with your manager. Show them the comprehensive list of tasks you’re working on and let them know what you think the priorities are. Also show them how much you can realistically get done with the resources you have. They’re not going to prioritize your work for you – that’s something you’re responsible for. When you can show them the complete picture and tell them the priorities, it’s pretty likely they’ll agree with your approach which then gives you the ability to say “no” to low value work.

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."