4 Avoidable Mistakes Leaders of Underperforming Teams Make

Businesswoman pointing to a mistake in a paper

“Why aren’t my people doing the RIGHT things?”
“My people just don’t listen.”
“My team is lazy.”

If your team isn’t achieving the desired result, take a look in the mirror and think about how you’re leading them. Here are the 4 huge and avoidable mistakes leaders of underperforming teams make:

1. Assuming they already know what’s expected of them. Let’s face it. Some jobs are tedious. The monotony of doing the same thing day in and day out can easily get in the way of achieving results. Ensure your team knows (and is constantly being reminded of) the goal they are working towards. We use this formula to create goals that become achieved:

Clear Goal + Completion Date + Carrot

The carrot is critical and keeps teams motivated for the duration. What is it that your team will get if they reach the goal? Is it an afternoon off? Will you do some crazy stunt like take a polar plunge?

2. Holding them accountable for the WRONG things or not holding them accountable at all. Accountability is a leader’s obligation. Before you can hold them accountable, they have to know what “great” looks like – that’s setting the standard. Then you can hold them accountable to those standards. The best thing you can do when introducing standards is to explain why they exist.

3. Not reinforcing positive, desired behaviors. Accountability isn’t always about showing your disapproval when a standard isn’t met; it’s also about reinforcing positive behaviors you want to continue. Praise people when they exceed the standards set. When you do, you’ll notice others follow suit.

4. Not being consistent. Consistency is king. You have to show up to lead your team with the same level of intensity day in and day out. Hold them accountable every day because the minute you lower your standards is the minute performance begins to erode. Goals are achieved with consistency over time. If you want to reach the goal, you have to do the work.

If you’ve seen any of these mistakes in your managers, consider implementing a leadership development program in your organization. Check out our Building the Best Workshop.

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Lessons From The World Cup: The Best Teams Have Learned These 4 Things

As you almost certainly know, the World Cup is currently taking place in Russia. It has attracted the largest audience of any sporting event in the world. These captivated spectators showcase their support in the most intense display of national pride. Entertainment factor aside, there are many valuable lessons to be learned as the most anticipated tournament is underway.

The World Cup Champion will not be the team with the most talent, but rather, the one that is the strongest cohesive unit.

This has already proven to be true as the defending champion, Germany, failed to make it out of the group stage. Arguably the most talent-rich team participating, they missed the mark anyway.

While you continue to enjoy the World Cup over the next few weeks, allow yourself to watch for and observe what the best team’s do to be successful. I guarantee you these four lessons directly contribute:

1. One player does not make a team.

During the first season of the Revisionist History podcast, Malcolm Gladwell highlighted the research of economists Chris Anderson and David Salley around their idea of weak-link vs strong-link networks. They asked: What matters more, how good your best player is or how good your worst player is?

In soccer, your worst player matters more than your best player. Mistakes are an important part of the game, and having a superstar doesn’t mean you have an outstanding team. While the TV and media coverage has been dominated with talk of the top players like Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Neymar, and Mohamed Salah, the depth of the teammates that surround them will determine who hoists the World Cup trophy on July 15th.

Most companies and teams are run like strong-link organizations. They focus primarily on satisfying top performers to keep them at the company. In my opinion, you need to at least think long and hard about moving to a weak-link organization for one key reason: social media. It only takes one employee hiccup or poor customer experience for an issue to go viral and massively impact your business.

2. Fundamentals are more important than flair.

Every fan in the world falls in love with the player who has the most flair. But, the only way these great athletes can complete these eye-catching tricks is because of their deep commitment to the fundamentals.

Each and every one of the World Cup players has spent an uncomfortable amount of time rehearsing the fundamentals of their game. In soccer, it is dribbling, passing, communicating, ball control, and alignment.

The team that raises the trophy will not forget these. They will take care of the ball, make the right pass at the right time, and communicate like it is the most important game of their lives (because it is).

It’s amazing how many professionals forget to work on the fundamentals as they progress in their career. The best leaders of teams don’t allow this to happen–they set standards of practice time and hold their team members accountable. That’s how you hone the foundational skills of those around you.

3. The managers matter.

Most fans only focus on the players on the field. The coaches behind the scenes are just as necessary for success.

Teams will only go as far as their leaders can take them.

In soccer, the best managers focus on culture, strategy, defining standards of performance, and creating an environment that helps their players be successful.

Same goes in business. As a leader, you can’t elevate a company all by yourselves, but you play enormous roles developing the ceiling of your organizations. That’s why having intentionally thought-out leadership development programs at every level of your organization is a must.

4. Positivity will always prevail.

Jon Gordon, author of the new book The Power of a Positive Team, has studied many of the best teams–and according to him, having a positive mindset is one of the most influential factors for success. However, the achievement will not come from just thinking positive. Gordon writes:

“Negativity exists and you can’t ignore it if you want to build a positive, powerful team,”

You must address the negativity and not allow it to breed and grow. Confront it, transform it, or remove it. Put simply, the team that wins the World Cup will have made a conscious effort to keep negativity out of the locker room. You’ve probably worked in an organization with a negative or toxic culture. If so, you know: It drains you. Put a huge focus on setting standards for positivity and not allowing anyone to bring negative energy into the office. If someone does, they’ll have to find another place to work.

A version of this article just appeared on Inc.com.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You can follow him on instagram @johngeades.

All Extremely Successful Professionals Know This Secret

The best professionals know their success has a lot to do with who they surround themselves with. Jim Rohn probably said it best:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”

It’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make is not being aware of the people you spend the most time with or simply not inviting others who would be helpful into your life. Having others give advice to help you see something you might not be able to see yourself is invaluable.

Enter Kathleen Hessert, the CEO of Sports Media Challenge and a mover in the sports and media business for over 30 years. She’s worked with Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, Shaquille O’Neil, and Pope Francis (just to name a few).

While interviewing Hessert on the Follow My Lead Podcast, she gave me incredible, must-share advice about what any professional can do to determine if the job they are doing is valuable or valued, because there is a big difference.

“People in any organization can do things that are valuable in some way shape or form to the organization. But if what they do is not valued by people who can mold their future, then they are spinning their wheels. They aren’t putting their attention where it should be. You may think what you are doing is valued but if your manager or company leaders don’t value what it is you do, you better find a way to convince them what you do needs to be valued.”

To net it out, if what you do isn’t valued by your boss or company leaders and you can’t convince them of it’s value, it’s a sign you aren’t in the right job. All you have to do is ask yourself or ask someone close to you:

“Is what I do at my organization valuable or valued?”

Here are a few ways to tell if you are valued:

You’re consistently asked for your opinion

This is one of the easiest ways to tell if what you do is valued. People who aren’t valued rarely get asked their opinion about critical decisions. It doesn’t mean your opinion is always acted on, but it is certainly part of the consideration. The larger the decisions, the more confident you can be that you are valued by your boss or organizational leaders.

Your job function is a major part of the business

The role you are currently in or have just moved into is near mission critical to the business. Either by the revenue you are responsible for or are contributing to in the future of the organization. As an example, someone working at Amazon who works on Amazon Go Grocery store wasn’t a major part of the revenue for Amazon, but now that Amazon has acquired Whole Foods it’s evident their role is a major part of the growth strategy.

If you left tomorrow, the company would struggle to find a replacement

A good friend of mine who works at a large bank told me, “It kind of doesn’t matter who you are, if you were to leave, they wouldn’t miss a beat.” While this might be a reality, I don’t know any company who wants to find a replacement for someone that is valued. Valued people move the needle in terms of revenue, ideas, customer success, or improving company culture

If you can’t relate to any of these scenarios, then you might not be considered valued to your organization. The key here is to not just grind away. Ask yourself are you just “valuable” or can you honestly say you are “valued” by your company?

This article originally appeared on Inc.com

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and host of the Follow My LeadPodcast. He is also the author of F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader, and is passionate about the development of modern professionals. You can find him on instagram @johngeades.

Get Promoted: Stand Out and Become a Leader

The work place is massively competitive environment with everyone trying to escalate quickly in their career and become a leader.

That’s why we wrote the F.M.L. How to Stand Out and Become a Leader Book.  The feedback from our readers has been tremendous, but we didn’t want to stop there because we know the modern professional likes to learn different ways.  So we created the ‘Getting Leadership Ready’ online course, which teaches professionals how to add value to their organization and be seen as a leader within it.

It is much more than just an online course. We will challenge your perceptions of leadership, increase your leadership skills and improve your overall understanding of what it takes to be a successful leader.

You will learn how to lead yourself and lead other people….one of the most important skills you can develop. At the completion of this program, you’ll understand what it takes to lead. What you’ll get if you sign up:

  • 6 Video Modules
  • Coaching and Feedback from LearnLoft’s Leadership Experts
  • Opportunities to Collaborate with Other Leaders
  • Downloadable Resources
  • Skill Checks and Assessments
  • A Sharable Portfolio of Work

PLUS sign up before June 1st and we’ll send you a PDF copy of our Follow My Lead Book.

Each topic is broken down into bitesized video chunks so content can be consumed in manageable segments. What we call microlearning!

Within our ‘Getting Leadership Ready’ course, you’ll be challenged to complete projects. Our leadership experts will then review, grade and provide feedback on the work you’ve done.


Your portfolio of work will house all your projects, assessment scores and feedback. You share this with your managers and peers to show them your committed to developing your leadership skills.596525505.png

There’s a range of topics to work your way through, each topic includes skill checks, discussions, downloadable resources, projects, videos and more…


“The information was helpful and very useful for everyday life as well as my professional career!” – Barbara

“I enjoyed the program and it was a great benefits in helping me become a leader as well as a better professional.” – David

So, if you’re ready to progress your career, get recognized and start climbing the ladder of success you can sign up for just $20.

I’m Ready. Sign Me Up ›

Maybe you’re undecided and want to learn more. Well good news, we created the Getting Leadership Ready Assessment that you can take for FREE which will tell you immediately your leadership potential.

Interested in deploying this course to a group of high potential employees within your organization? We offer group rates and custom learning portals, simply email sales@learnloft.com.


How Not to Lead a Meeting [Video]

Innovative ideas are a critical part of success for any team.  Some would argue a consistent flow of innovative ideas are what separates good and great teams.  Most modern day leaders understand this and put an emphasis on brainstorming meetings for idea generation.

There is no secret that young professionals tend to have great ideas and in this short video we show you how not to lead a brainstorming meeting with a millennial.

For more great insight:

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3 Unconventional Ways to Retain Millennials

I’ve seen it more times than I can count; a talented millennial who has potential in spades, walking out on a perfectly good job, looking for greener pastures in other organizations. The company lets them loose in spite of their aptitude for success and misses out on someone who could help bring new life and energy into the business. The statistics are pretty well documented.   Millennials now make up the highest percentage of the work force and two-thirds of them expect to be in different jobs within 4 years of starting employment. The current turnover average in America is nearly 14% and it costs a company a year’s salary to replace a lower level employee, and 2-3 years salary to replace a senior employee.

The question is, who is to blame for these costly turnover rates? Some would argue it’s the entitled millennial; others task organizations with staying ahead of the times in order to hold onto young prodigies. Or should we all just live with the fact that turnover is going to be higher from this point forward?

I come from the camp that believes both millennials and organizations are at fault. Settling for a generation of job hoppers isn’t something we should be willing to do. While I can write for days about what young professionals should do to help solve this problem, I want to focus on organizations and the people who can control the turnover problem…their leaders.

“People leave their manager; they don’t leave their company”- John Stumpt

Sub manager for leader, and you get your answer. It’s a leader’s job to retain, engage, educate, and empower.

There is a theory that relates to human behavior that has been used for decades (long before millennials arrived on the scene) known as the 10%-80%-10% principle. It’s simple; 10 percent of workforces are elite performers who give it all they have, all the time. 80 percent of employees are the nucleus; great workers who don’t quite have the drive or determination to be an elite performer by themselves. And finally, the bottom 10%; a group that is uninterested or defiant, and they won’t have the drive regardless of what happens to them.

Every generation is made up of people who feel they are entitled to the best jobs and those on the other end of the spectrum that just don’t get it. Perhaps this millennial generation tilts toward 7%-83%-10%, but either way, they also have plenty of elite performers that will help organizations navigate this quickly-changing business market.

It’s a leader’s job to bring more millennials (or the 83%) into the world of elite performers. The organizations that do this will win, and they will win for a long time.

Here are 3 Unconventional ideas for organizations to try to retain millennials:

  1. Train: When I say train, I don’t mean equip them with company, product, or basic onboarding knowledge. That is table stakes. I am talking about developing them beyond company assigned training. Invest in them outside the normal company curriculum; such as online learning courses, conferences, local in person workshops, keynote speakers, etc. This probably is the easiest thing to do because most millennials are eager to improve their skills and they can probably tell you where they would like help or development. Regardless of the amount, what counts is millennials will remember and be loyal when they feel you have their best interests in mind.
  2. Empower: Take your micromanaging shoes off and put on a pair of empowerment shoes. Give the opportunity regardless of how big or small to be involved in decisions, projects or brainstorming sessions. This millennial generation is capable of a lot and by empowering them you will get less entitlement and more proactive work.
  3. Make them compete: Good old fashion competition brings out the best in people. Find ways to pit young professionals against each other for short periods of time with money, time off, gift cards, or other items going to the winner. It could be as simple as a one day contest or as complicated as year long content but the point is to get them competing. Not only will they respond they will love it, and look forward to the next challenge.

My hope is that more leaders in organizations will take ownership of their millennial turnover problem. Why, you ask? Because talent and new innovative ideas are what is going to carry businesses forward and I believe this Millennial generation has them they just need their leaders to help bring it out of them and get them into that top 10%.

Getting Leadership Ready. LearnLoft’s out of the box training approach to helping young professionals understand what leadership is all about and helping them get noticed as a potential company leader.  Find out more here.


How Snapchat is Changing Corporate Learning

We know we are on a little bit of a Snapchat kick but look, technology changes fast. It’s common for an organization’s major software purchase to be outdated by the time it’s implemented into the workforce. As fast as technology is changing in the enterprise market, it’s changing 10X faster in the consumer market.

So why should corporate training care about what’s going on in the ever-changing consumer technology market? For the first time ever, Millennials (the major consumer of these technology applications) are the largest percentage of the workforce, and by 2025 they will make up 75% of the workforce.

Corporate trainers should care because their core audience is or soon will be young professionals. These learners have a different mindset; here are 8 traits of the corporate learner in 2016. These learners are savvy users of technology and are used to picking their preferred technology applications. One of the biggest choices they are now making is Snapchat.

For those of you not familiar with Snapchat, here is a quick summary of 6 things users are familiar with and now expect.

  1. Short, concise content.
    When I say short, I mean short.  10 Seconds per snap! These can be paired together to create a Snapchat story (always under 3 minutes).
  2. Visual-based.
    “Snaps” (the output of Snapchat) are video clips or photos taken from a mobile device.
  3. Unedited and imperfect.
    The app doesn’t allow for video editing or perfection. People are comfortable with video that delivers meaningful messages over cinema quality.
  4. Instant notifications.
    When new Snapchat messages come in users get a notification on their phone making them aware of it.
  5. On demand. 
    Snapchat messages are consumed when it’s convenient for the user.
  6. Text or chat friends.
    Interacting with each other through quick chat is extremely simple.

So how is this fast growing application changing corporate training? Snapchat’s two biggest effects on corporate training will be on a learner’s expectation of technology and learning content.

Here are a few ideas that any organization can begin to think about to align to the young professional using Snapchat:

  • Create Shorter Content.
    Break down content into microlearning, defined as short bite sized bits of content that ensure knowledge is transferred in a visible, tangible, or measurable way.
  • Use Video.
    Get those cell phone or computer camera’s ready for action. Video has never been easier to create and now you don’t have to be an expert editor to make video that people want to consume.
  • Utilize On Demand Learning.
    Millennials are much more inclined to seek out learning than any generation before them.  Give them a place to go learn and consume on their own.

Take note of the changes happening around you and begin thinking about how you can move away from an old school Learning Management System or tired content and begin focusing engaging and educating the modern learner.

You can find our President John Eades snapchat @johngeades.

Key Statistics of the Modern Learner

The availability and accessibility of quality learning content has increased dramatically since the invention of the internet. Organizations are now expected to create and deploy meaningful content to their learners, while still simultaneously measuring its impact. It’s critically important that we understand the modern learner, which in turn will enable organizations to better serve them.  

Using a recent study from Towards Maturity, we gathered the key statistics of the modern learner. 

Key Statistics of the Modern Learner.png

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Microlearning is Getting BIG and How to Be Part of It

If organizations want to attract, develop and retain talent in this generation, they have to adapt to their audience. To quote The Kinks, “give the people want they want”.

  1. Assign One Learning Objective Per Asset
    We define a Learning Objective by what the learner will do or know after they consume the asset. So focus on just one learning objective so the learner will know exactly what they need to focus on to ensure knowledge is transferred. The more objectives you try to introduce, the longer your content will be. Ultimately, you’ll lose your audience.
  2. Use Video
    70 percent of Millennials visit YouTube monthly. They simply prefer video over other mediums.
  3. Production Quality Matters
    Technology has made it so nearly everyone has the ability to create video – whether it’s on a smartphone, tablet, a professional camera or a GoPro. But bad video can take away from good content. It doesn’t take much to enhance your video quality without spending a lot of money. Try using natural light from a window, shoot in a quite room, and set up your camera slightly above your eye level. If you’re looking for more tips on creating quality video check out Wistia’s learning center.
  4. Timing is Everything
    Remember that 90-second statistic? Microlearning videos should be 4 minutes or less. Learners want to get straight to the point. When creating scripts for video, a good rule of thumb to follow is 120 words for every minute of video. Making a short, content-rich video requires the ability to self-edit. If your scripting assets, take a good look at the content, and eliminate ALL the fluff. If your content is still longer than 4 minutes, you’re probably breaking the first commandment.
    Here are a couple of tips: First, don’t waste time in a video talking about something a learner can download and review outside of the video. Second, assume your audience is intelligent. Don’t waste time telling them how to navigate through the videos (these are tech savvy people). And please don’t talk down to them or add insincere dialogue.
  5. Prove Learning Took Place
    When you build your content, think about how you will know learning took place. Instead of just asking them to answer a couple multiple choice questions, ask them to demonstrate their knowledge. For example, If you’re teaching personal branding, you could ask learners to send a video of themselves delivering a 30-second elevator speech. This not only allows to prove learning took place, but also creates the opportunity for coaching and improvement.
    After all, learning shouldn’t be a one-time event. Instead, it should be an evolving and adaptive process that creates a unique and personalized experience for each learner.

If you can begin incorporating these 5 Commandments as you venture into the world of Microlearning, you’ll be in alignment with current learning trends and more important this new generation of employees.

5 Reasons Leaders Should Be Using Snapchat

At thirty-three years old, I am in an interesting position in the professional world. I am not young enough to be an expert in every new social application that comes out; however, I understand how important it is to pay attention to trends and use them to further my business. Leaders and business professionals who are ten, twenty, thirty years older than me seem to want to complain about the young professional (millennials) using (attached) to these apps. Whether they like it or not, it’s a reality of the world in which we live and do business in, and it’s not going away. Instead of digging their heels in the sand, these leaders need to use new tools to educate, engage, and enlighten their current and future employees.

Snapchat is a social platform that is fast becoming an extremely popular tool in business. It’s beyond relevant, with 100M active users and over 7B daily video views. Snapchat allows users to share images or videos of 10 seconds or less and link them together to make a story. The videos and images can be watched once or twice, and only stay on the platform for 24 hours. Then poof; they are gone. If you want to know the full story check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s post “The Snap Generation: A Guide to Snapchat’s Story”.

If you are reading this, you are most likely a forward-thinking leader. Here are 5 reasons why you, and every leader should use or at the very least give Snapchat a try.

1. Show your personal side

Most leaders are only known at the office or where work is conducted, but employees today want to know their leader is human. What they do outside of work; hobbies, cool places they go, things they do, etc. A little of this goes a long way; be careful not to over share. You can show your personal side without being too “personal.”

2. Recruit Young Talent

An old mentor of mine always told me, “fish where the fish are.” The same goes with recruiting young talent. Companies are in the midst of the greatest talent war of all time. The age demographic for the largest number of users on Snapchat is between 17-24. These are our next group of employees entering the workforce. The CEO on Snapchat who posts regularly about their life and business, is going to attract the young talent as they prepare to enter the workforce. The CEO who holes up in a corner office, rolling their eyes at the latest social media fad will miss the proverbial boat full of young, hungry, educated potential employees.

 3. Challenge Yourself

Most people who are in leadership positions got there partly because they are competitive. They like solving hard problems and they are open to challenging themselves beyond their perceived limits. Growing an audience on Snapchat is a challenge. It’s like old school marketing and good old fashion hard work. Challenge yourself to figure out something new.

 4. Stay Relevant

As Reid Hoffman famously said “ You have to constantly be reinventing yourself and investing in the future.” This is exactly why leaders should do doing things like Snapchat. It’s an investment in their future and a way to show their teams they aren’t stuck in the mud with old thinking.

 5. Provide Instant Education

I realize many leaders can’t and shouldn’t share insider information to the outside world. But Snapchat is a tremendous way to share your personal knowledge and experience in an instant.  The best snaps I have seen, provide brief moments of inspiration or education that help me think outside the box.

If you are a leader of people and you haven’t yet explored Snapchat or you keep a ban on yourself because it’s the way your leaders did so in the past, maybe its time you change your thinking.  If Snapchat isn’t your thing, my hope if you will find alternative ways to implement these five ideas to modernize your leadership skills.

Add me on snapchat @johngeades

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn and was read by over 10,000 people.

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