Archives For communication

One of the most distasteful activities leaders face is giving negative feedback. The reason? When done well, it can still ruffle feathers. When done poorly, it’s a disaster. No one likes engaging in activities that often aren’t appreciated.

Giving great feedback isn’t easy. It’s tricky, it’s not much fun and to top it off, none of us were born knowing how to give great feedback. We have to learn how over time – often the hard way.

If you’ve struggled with giving feedback before, here are some tricks to get you pointed in the right direction quickly.

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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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When you’re new to the workforce, enjoying leadership success can be a far off goal. The main focus is finding the right role and doing quality work. I know that was the case for me. But with time and experience (and a lot of hard work) come new opportunities to lead at higher levels. You go from joining a team to leading a team to eventually leading a department or major organizational function. Each time the strategy shifts.

A couple years ago I was privileged to have Mark Miller guest post on my site about surviving success. We all need a game plan to kick off a new opportunity. But our behavior needs an adjustment as well.

In his bestseller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, executive coach Marshall Goldsmith shares twenty habits that can be largely overlooked at lower organizational levels, but have the potential to absolutely derail a senior leader who doesn’t change course. There isn’t room to share them all in this post, but I’d like to highlight five extra critical ones. Fail to implement them, and your best people may go looking for a new leader.

Man Stuck on Ladder

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“I don’t know that I’ve ever had someone come to me with that level of initiative. If they did, I think I’d be blown away.”

I heard these words from an executive at a leadership event a couple weeks ago. His frustrations weren’t anything new. Why can’t employees take more initiative to solve organizational problems?

It’s a common question with a wide variety of possible answers. Unfortunately, we usually get the level of initiative we reinforce. Let’s take a closer look at what initiative really means – and how to inspire the initiative you need to be effective.

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Just about all of us are Monday morning quarterbacks when it comes to leadership. Everyone has an opinion. But how grounded are those opinions, especially if we’ve never been there before?

Here’s the thing: if you wait until you receive a leadership role to get a leadership education, you may not last long. We all need a leadership development plan that includes work experiences, formal training, networking and self-study. But don’t overlook the easiest, cheapest and most accessible one of all: observation.

Here are eight observations to make of the leaders around you.

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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.


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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.


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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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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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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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It’s been said that the term “change management” is a misnomer because if you are trying to “manage” change, you’re already too far behind! Change must be led from the front. Because of that, when I first discovered John Kotter’s eight stage process for creating major change in a university textbook (and published in his international bestseller Leading Change), I knew I had stumbled onto something incredibly valuable.


So how do you go about creating change in your organization? Change seems like it should be simple enough – until we experience resistence from people who want things to stay the same. What’s the solution?

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Today’s post was written by a former colleague of mine, Jess Titchener – an     adrenalin-driven management consultant living, working and serving in London.   You can follow Jess on Twitter as well as on her new faith-based blog at To be featured on this site, click here.

As I reflect on the three years that I have worked in corporate sales and negotiations in the communications and media industry, I have been thinking about what we can all apply from some fundamental “sales” principles into our daily working routines – whatever area we may work in.

Business People WalkingI think my lessons can be distilled into these three priorities.

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