Archives For Communication

There’s incredible power in language. Words don’t merely convey ideas, they can change the course of history.

The words you use as a leader matter too. Here are some simple but powerful phrases that set great leaders apart from the rest.

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Is complexity leaving your organization behind?

That’s a question we considered at a workshop I attended recently. Author Mark Miller and a team of facilitators walked a large group through the content of his new book Chess Not Checkers. The boardgame imagery? It’s symbolic for what happens as organizations grow. In the early stages of most small organizations or teams, the rules are simplistic and team members may play interchangeable roles much like the game pieces in a checkers game. But as growth occurs, complexity kicks in. Roles require specialists to address additional complications. The playing field starts to resemble a game of chess, rather than checkers. If we’re not careful, we’ll fall behind.

Chess1

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Whose “Guy” Are You?

April 20, 2015

“I’ve got a guy.”

That was one of the key messages of a sales training event I visited recently. The new sales consultants were supposed to realize they didn’t need to know everything about the services they were providing – they had plenty of other “experts” to support various parts of the deal. It’s a lot easier to sell when you don’t have to know everything yourself.

Which leads me to ask the question: whose “guy” (or gal) are you? And do they know it?

Here’s why it matters:

Business Guy

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If you’ve been responsible for delivering business results for any length of time, you’ve probably hit a wall once or twice with people. Someone’s feelings got hurt, another manager is difficult to work with, company politics create unseen landmines, some colleagues disagrees with you and a couple may be out to get you. As often as not, we may be the problem. Additionally, we humans are the ones causing the accidents, forgetting key dates or deliverables, creating ambiguity, making mistakes and communicating poorly. Getting results are tough enough as it is, before we introduce people into the mix!

Automation has added enormous business efficiency over the years and will continue. But it’s important to keep in mind that whatever business we’re in, we’re ultimately in the people business. Since we can’t eliminate the human element (besides, would we really want to?), we’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on it.

The Creation of Man by Michelangelo Sistine Chapel

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Book 3D image v2I’m happy to announce that last week I posted my first ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor: Accelerating the Leadership Journey of Others.

You don’t have to be special to be a leader and you don’t have to be an expert to help other leaders succeed. You can start right now, right where you are.

Trusted Leadership Advisor is a compilation of some of my previous posts on this topic. In the ebook, I show you how to think about your role as a trusted leadership advisor, what to say and how to get started. Take a look – and if you find it helpful, please share it.

I’d also appreciate your feedback. This is my first ebook and I want to know if the format, structure and ideas prove to be helpful for you. You can leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

There’s so much work to do – let’s work together!

What if I told you you don’t need to have a great solution for every single problem that comes your way in order to be a competent and mature leader? Well that’s exactly what I’m about to propose. Hopefully it’s as refreshing to you as it is to me. And the best part about it is that it can dramatically improve your leadership influence as well.

Question Marks

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Feedback is everywhere. We get feedback from our bosses in our performance reviews. We ask our customers for their feedback on our service. We collect engagement feedback from our employees. We send a work project around the team for peer feedback before submitting our deliverables.

In all of these cases, the difference between good feedback and poor feedback can easily be the difference between success and failure. The implications can affect our organization’s market share, our revenues, our project quality or our ability to be promoted.

Great feedback is crucial. But it’s not always easy to come by. So how do we get the feedback we need – either individually or corporately? Let’s take a closer look at seven feedback tips.

Feedback

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Where Credibility Comes From

February 17, 2014

When was the last time your face was the unfamiliar one? You may have gotten a new job or joined a new team. Maybe you moved to a new area, joined a new network or gave a presentation to a new group.

How did it go?

If you had anything to say, share or contribute, chances are at some point you found yourself wondering, “how can I make myself credible to these people?”

The interesting thing about credibility is that it can never been attained for oneself. It can only be conveyed by others. You can only ever be as credible and others decide you are.

So what can you and I do? Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a sample of the ways I’ve noticed people gain credibility with others.

Trust Me

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“I don’t like to micro manage,” my friend lamented. “But even when I set clear expectations and deadlines, I find myself having to guide the entire process or else the ball gets dropped. Is that an employee issue or a leadership issue?”

It’s hard enough to want to delegate in the first place. Many leaders lack trust, are insecure or are control freaks. But once you get past those barriers, what happens when your followers can’t pull their weight? Let’s talk about a few ways managers can guide their projects so that everyone can contribute.

People Consulting Plan

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Dramatize Your Ideas!

September 23, 2013

I don’t think I’ll ever forget one particular college history class. As a business major, I wasn’t extremely invested and the class took place right after lunch. I remember one student team was scheduled to give a presentation on Ancient Roman civilization. Just as I was about to zone out, the back door burst open and a student with a plastic helmet, a sword and a cape came tearing through the classroom. Hot on his heals came another student in a lion outfit. The lion made a diving tackle right in the narrow aisle between our desks, but the gladiator fought him off, stabbed him and then chased him back into the hallway, slamming the door behind him.

Now I was wide awake and ready to learn about Ancient Rome.

This story illustrates the effects drama can have on our words. Oftentimes, it’s not what we say, but how we say it that makes a difference. Here’s why:

Drama Masks

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When I first starting studying leadership years ago, I’d find myself in conversations with friends and invariably a leadership challenge they were experiencing would come up. Sometimes, I’d even know how to solve it. I’d usually reference a book or an idea I had recently studied. Sometimes in my enthusiasm, I’d even go out and purchase the resource for them. Unfortunately, when I followed up a few weeks later to see what had happened, they had rarely bothered to look at what I had provided them.

Several years later, I got a consulting assignment to develop a plan to significantly improve an organization’s corporate culture. In fact, I was told this was my chance to “really shape the project.” I spent the next few months analyzing employee survey data, referencing strategic plans and carefully crafting a solution. Finally I got to present my plan to a senior client in a boardroom meeting and was thrilled when he accepted it. Now it was time to get to work. But much to my chagrin, a bigger problem soon emerged: no one wanted to take responsibility for seeing the plan through.

These experiences have taught and confirmed for me a simple but poignant lesson: you can’t want something for other people more than they want it for themselves. It doesn’t matter how much you care if they don’t.

Caring Hands

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I was standing in front of a roomful of corporate employees about to launch into my training session. I knew the course content had the potential to make a strong impact in their communication and relationships and I had some specific learning goals for the group. But I resisted the urge to dive straight in. Instead, I shared a brief but vivid story about a time the principles I was about to teach had produced an incredibly positive result for me. Only then did I transition to the learning objectives and the course content. Just before I finished, I referenced my story once again and encouraged them to use the new principles we had learned and highlighted an obvious way it would benefit them.

verbal communication

I learned the “Magic Formula” from Dale Carnegie. It involves three parts: an incident, an action and a benefit. Whether your presentation is two minutes long or an hour, the Magic Formula provides a reliable structure and clarifies the action we encourage the audience to take. Here’s how it works.

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