Mike Figliuolo Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC
In this interview, Mike Figliuolo discusses the components that help good managers become great leaders, and why the focus of leaders should always be on the people they’re leading.
>>> Visit MyQuestforTheBest.com for complete show notes and more expert advice and inspiring stories to propel your small business growth. My Quest for the Best is a top-rated small business podcast with over 300 episodes of thought-provoking and insightful interviews with today’s top thought leaders and business experts. Host Bill Ringle’s mission with this show is to provide the strategies, insights, and resources that will unlock the growth potential of your business through these powerful conversations.
Listen to this interview to learn:
- The distinction between managing and leading, advocated by Admiral Grace Mary Hopper
- Stages to building a profitable, scalable training company
- What leaders did to deepen trust and improve communications at a Fortune 100 company
- Why boundaries are so elusive for leaders and how to make them work better
- The mindset needed to grow your company in a short period of time
Read the Show Notes from this Episode
- 1:12 How Figliuolo’s experiences at WestPoint launched him into a career in leadership.
- 2:52 “I think the biggest realization in terms of people leadership is getting to know people as individuals and treating them that way.”
- 3:23 “To lead [people] effectively you couldn’t treat them like a cog in the machine, you needed to understand who they were, what motivated them, who inspired them in order to get the best out of them.”
- 4:47 “I say to them, ‘Tell me what you’re spending your time on,’ and invariably a lot of that time is spent in meetings, on email, on powerpoint, or in excel. The question I then ask is, ‘Help me understand how replying to e-mails and clearing out your inbox is more important and more impactful than sitting down with a member of your team for ten minutes or fifteen minutes trying to figure out what they’re working on or what they care about.”
- 5:50 [On the biggest myths in leadership] – “We confuse management and leadership.”
- 6:22 [Paraphrasing Admiral Grace Mary Hopper] – “You manage things and you lead people.”
- 7:07 “If you didn’t understand your people and you burn them out in the process and your people felt like you didn’t care about them as you got all these things done and managed well, I would think that you’re not really a good leader, you’re a poor one.”
- 7:24 “The best leaders I know are the ones who do both. To be a great leader you also have to be a really good manager.”
- 8:08 The importance of giving people room to make mistakes, and also to stand up for them.
- 9:20 [On Figliuolo’s Ideal Client] – “Most of our clients tend to be large corporations, Fortune 1000’s types of organizations, because we spend a lot of time with their executives as well as their learning development professionals.”
- 10:06 [On problem-solving communication issues] – “We tend to go in and teach people a method for being clearer, being more succinct, and being more impactful.”
- 11:00 [On decision-making issues] – “We all see the analysis paralysis which can grip an organization, and we help them understand how they can make decisions more quickly, how can they reduce the risk in the decisions they’re making, and how can they break that gridlock.”
- 11:45 “The reason I built the course was: I was seeing a lot of folks who were spending more time managing than they were leading, and I was seeing some confusion around that. I was seeing folks miss major aspects of leadership, which were causing major problems.”
- 12:55 What leaders did to deepen trust and improve communications at a Fortune 100 company.
- 13:05 “When people really understood a lot better what drove the other members of the team, you could see the connections happening in the classroom.”
- 14:30 [On leadership skills] – “One thing that I see as a need is being able to let go and give people space.”
- 15:17 “As companies grow, we might outgrow our leaders. And the very mature organizations I’ve seen and the successful ones I’ve seen have a recognition of: we need that next level of talent and how do we get there?”
- 16:05 “I think the role of that senior executive is really setting that direction first and foremost, because the pressing needs of the daily operations tend to pull us down and we focus on the minutiae in front of us.”
- 16:55 “You have plenty of people on your team who can solve those day to operational issues, but you have very few people on your team who are doing that longer range look at where you’re taking the organization.”
- 17:36 “One of the reasons we don’t have balance in our work or in our lives is that we don’t set those boundaries, we don’t think about them. Or even if we do think about them we don’t always articulate them to the people around us and share what those boundaries are.”
- 20:09 [On the Leadership Maxim] – “It’s that individuals responsibility to spend that time reflecting and being introspective on what is important.”
- 20:55 Why it’s important for employees to talk to leaders to ascertain how to be better aligned with the company’s goals, and why leaders should create space for these conversations to happen.
- 21:45 “If you don’t know what motivates and inspires your people, it’s really hard to motivate and inspire them.”
- 22:39 “Once you understand what that person wants, you’re better able to get that higher performance out of them, because you have an understanding of what’s important to them.”
- 23:08 [Challenges of owning your own company] – “You are fully responsible for the success or failure of your organization as an entrepreneur. I like to say, ‘If I don’t sell, I don’t eat.’”
- 23:50 [On benefits of owning your own company] – “When your organization is extremely successful, you know it’s because of all of your hard work, and there’s a direct correlation between the input and the output of the organization.”
- 24:31 [On letting go] – “If I send one of these senior people out, I need to be comfortable that they’re going to conduct the training in a manner that’s most effective for them.”
- 26:15 Figliuolo’s path from part-time consultant to full-time entrepreneur.
- 28:09 How Figliuolo is inspired by his clients.
- 29:02 “We get to ask ourselves, ‘Is what we’re building and delivering meeting the needs, meeting the latest challenges of our clients?’”
- 30:23 “We’re always trying to make that what we’re delivering is going to help the organization at a broader level.”
- 31:00 What Figliuolo looks at to gauge progress in his organization.
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Mike Figliuolo is the Managing Director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC, which he founded because he believes practitioners make the best instructors and because he has a passion for people development and organizational improvement. Mike’s book, One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership, is designed to help leaders define who they are and what their personal leadership philosophy is.
Before founding thoughtLEADERS, Mike was a United States Army Officer, a management consultant at McKinsey and Company, a Group Manager at Capital One Financial, and Vice President of Strategic Planning at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. He was named the Columbus, Ohio Small Business Leader of the Year for 2010 by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Business First.
Contact Info and Social Media for Mike Figliuolo:
- Business Phone: 804-241-9757
- Web address: ThoughtLeadersLLC.com
- Travels From: Columbus, OH
- Connect on LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook