On Leadership and Hiring

Why Leaders Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Push Past Surface-Level Interview Questions

Interview Questions

If you’ve been in a leadership position for more than a couple of years, you’ve likely interviewed dozens of job candidates.

You know all the textbook tactics, and you’ve seen every character imaginable — from the guy wearing an Armani suit and too much cologne to the recent college graduate nervously shaking in her boots.

But you’re also smart enough to know that it’s all an act.

Performing Arts

Don’t kid yourself; you’re interviewing actors and actresses. Some candidates could win Academy Awards, while others would struggle to make the cast of a low-budget horror flick. But whether the candidate is Meryl Streep or an extra on a laundry detergent commercial, you’re interacting with a façade.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve fallen for the act in the past. Remember when you were excited about the candidate who knocked the interview out of the park, only to find out that she was a dud a month later?

So to guard yourself against this mistake, you try to be shrewder than the interviewee. You ask her sly behavioral questions, have her come in for multiple interviews, and make her take a series of tests. But unfortunately, no amount of testing will reveal the real person, especially in the artificial environment of an interview. You can’t really know whether the candidate will be a self-starting, knowledge-hungry superstar or a clock-watching D-list player until you give her the job.

So what should you do? In short, there is no easy answer. But when it comes down to it, the first step is revamping your interview process.

The Interview

Tactic You Need to Employ Right Now

What if the interview became a personal conversation instead of a casting call? What if the primary focus was on the person, not the résumé?

I’ve found a way to make this happen. I call it the “personal letter interview.” My company has been using it for four months now, and the people we’ve hired have been outstanding. Time will give us more data, but I’m convinced we’re on the right path.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you have a qualified job candidate you’d like to interview, ask her to write a letter to a loved one — a child, spouse, parent, or friend.
  • Ask her to describe both what she is proud of and what she regrets, and prompt her to tell you how she feels about where she is today.
  • Finally, have her conclude with how she envisions her future.

Keep your instructions loose; the letter can be to anyone and about anything.

Move Beyond the Surface Level

This is when the mask comes off, so be ready for some tearjerkers. The first candidate who submitted a letter to me talked about the impact of his newborn baby on his life. Another talked about how she was still hurting from a breakup 10 months after the fact.

But this process is about more than a few tears; it’s about opening the door to a deeper conversation by responding to something personal in a caring, compassionate way. And even if the letter you receive is more matter-of-fact, you’re still chipping away at the façade.

As a result, the interview becomes more of an exploration into how the person truly feels about her life, career, hopes, and dreams — and less of an exploration into her sales numbers. That’s not to say experience is unimportant, but the candidate’s experience is in her résumé.

You wouldn’t be interviewing her if you didn’t think she could do the job.

She has already met your initial screening criteria, so you might as well spend more time getting to know her personally.

Be Smart!

Still, there are a few questions that are “off the table,” so to speak. You have to guard against veering into legally unacceptable areas — anything that involves gender, nationality, social club memberships, age, or family status. That’s not what you’re after, and you can still have a meaningful conversation without diving into those subjects.

If your current process is consistently churning out less-than-stellar hires, consider the personal letter interview. You’ll feel more confident that you really know the person you are hiring, and that will positively impact your company in the long run.

And at the end of the day, I’ll take the hard working, sharp, and determined person with a high level of honesty over 20 years of experience.

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Bob La Loggia

Bob La Loggia is the founder and CEO of AppointmentPlus, a fast-growing SaaS business based in Scottsdale, Arizona. His company has won a number of awards, including CareerBuilder’s Best Places to Work award. Bob is a serial entrepreneur who’s passionate about his business and helping Arizona develop a world-class startup ecosystem.

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Leadership Lessons Learned From the Playing Fields

by Leah Fygetakis

Girls Rugby

When I was in college, I played on a women’s recreational touch football team.  We were known as the Iron Ovaries. Those were the days of women claiming our rightful place in being able to do whatever men could do. 

Yes, the times were changing… but have they really?

Ask yourself this question:

Are women today seen as men’s equals in their credibility and effectiveness as problem-solvers and as leaders?

You Throw Like a Girl

When this is said to a man, it is a powerful accusation that can send him back to a place of childhood shame in no time flat.  For a boy to be like a girl is to be weak.

So I ask you, how many men do you know who can easily exercise compassion in the course of their leadership?  Do examples of such behavior come to mind in equal numbers among the men and women  leaders within your network?

There is no one right answer, of course.  Likely, it is variable among fields of businessorganizational cultures, and individual differences.  But, I am curious over how we play out or preferably, move on from life’s early lessons so we can lead with a full toolbox of options.

The best toolbox is one that has a “yin” for every “yang” of behavior.  There is a time and a place when all good leaders must be able to display a “steely resolve”, and one where they must be able to exercise “gracious acceptance.”

Subtle Rebuttal

As parents, we would like to think that we are raising our sons and daughters to value who they are and to not get stuck in the traditional sex roles of yesteryear.  I am coming to recognize that this is a taller order than I thought.  It plays out in the most subtle of ways.  I have three short vignettes that show the stubborn, unconscious hold that sex role stereotypes have in how we think and act.

We are all “guilty” of stereotyping roles to specific genders. Both men and women do this even though that cognitively most of us agree that these stereotypes should have no place in business. We generally agree it is best to simply make the best use of our human capital without regard to gender. But this always doesn’t play out in a gender-neutral way.

What does this mean for the workplace when so many of us wear these blinders?  Are we unable to recognize the talent and the resources that are plainly right in front of us?

Vignette 1

I am on the soccer field and it is a very hot day.  The coach motions my 8-year-old son to the sidelines and I ask him if he would like some water.  He takes the bottle of water, but struggles to loosen the cap.  “Here, let me help you,” I say.  He ignores me and walks over to his coach, hands him the bottle and accepts his help.  Apparently, cap-loosening is a “man’s job.”

Vignette 2

I was almost always present for my sons’ baseball practices.  Often, the coaches solicited extra help from among the dads who were there.  One day, my sons and I were early and I was hitting balls on the diamond for them.  I played ball in high school.  More kids arrived and joined in.  The first coach arrived and I started to hand the bat over to him.

“Oh no,” he said, “you are doing just fine.  Keep going.”

” Why didn’t you tell me you could help?” he added.

“I guess I didn’t want to insert myself in the middle of all that good male bonding going on” I replied.

“That’s silly,” he said, “we need the help.”

I wanted to say, “Well all you had to do was ask, just like you’ve asked every dad who has been out here” (some of whom had chatted about how they had never played organized baseball). Uhhhhh…

However, rather than adding my comment I thought this would be an excellent time to exercise my gracious acceptance and say nothing.

Vignette 3

Early in my career, I taught psychology and women’s studies courses for undergraduates.  I was extremely well versed on sex role stereotyping.  During this time, I got my first pet, a weeks-old stray kitten.  Having never had pets before, I accepted the vet’s pronouncement that the kitten was male.  It was a bundle of energy and I took to rough-housing with it a lot.  It wasn’t until the kitten went into its first heat that I realized it was female.

Soon after, in the middle of a rough-housing session, I suddenly stopped.  Slowly it seeped into my consciousness that I had thought I was being too rough.  But I wasn’t being any rougher than I had been before.  The only thing that had changed was my knowledge that this was a female kitten.

It was an “Aha, I gotcha” moment in realizing that even though I was an expert on sex role stereotyping, their power still had a hold on my unconscious.  What a lesson!

Looking in the Mirror

I return to my point that even though most of us “know better,” sex role socialization and stereotypes are hard to erase in our unconscious thoughts and actions.  To counter this, for myself, this has meant building in some regular self-reflection check-ins.

I ask myself, “Would my impressions be any different if this person were the other sex?  Would I be acting any differently?”

What are your thoughts and experiences around gender, sex roles, and leadership?  How do you keep yourself aware and honest? What has stuck in your mind about sex roles that might need to be reconsidered? I’d love to hear what is going on between your ears!

———————–
Leah Fygetakis is Founder and Principal of Directed Success
She can be reached at leahfygetakis@comcast.net

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Leadership Procrastinationitis

by Dr. Bärbel Bohr

Procrastination.jpg

Is there a prescription treatment for procrastinationitis? This is the “disease” that seemingly permeates people so that every action needs to be delayed until…. well, ….. uh,…. later, I guess?

Some Things Never Change…

I knew it would happen this way. When I sat together with my colleague Linda to prepare the quality feedback survey for our courses, I handed her over questions #1-5 to cross-check on them.

Backgrounder: [Linda was supposed to have prepared questions #6-10.]

Looking at me innocently, Linda shrugged her shoulders and showed me her most charmful smile and said:

Well, you know,” she answered while her eyes avoided to look at me: “My daughter got sick and I had to run so many chores yesterday that I couldn’t prepare the questions.”

I suggested a break and decided to get some tea from the cafeteria to cool down.

Yesterday!” she had said.

We got the assignment one week before Christmas and were at the beginning of February now! I couldn’t believe it. She could have prepared everything well in advance. Instead, we would have to do everything together now in order to keep our deadline. I felt cheated.

On my way to the cafeteria, I remembered that last year she had put up a big post-it on her desk visible to all of her colleagues and her boss:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. (Walt Disney)

When we saw the post-it, we all looked at each other sighing and thinking:

Well, she is giving it another try.”

Linda, a charming, witty and very creative colleague who we all cherish, is a chronic procrastinator: our cinderella of “last-minute”-stands. Two months into the new year the post-it disappeared without any further mentioning it.

“Procrastinators Anonymous”

I assume most of us, including myself, have some procrastination attacks from time to time, yet around 20% of the population suffer from the chronic form of procrastination.

My students call it “procrastinationitis.”

There is tons of material out there in form of books, blogs, self-help courses that try to help and don’t need to be repeated here. On Wikibooks you can find a comprehensive overview of available resources on procrastination.

It is a wide-spread disease, no doubt.

What Linda tried in the past, some of us may have to get inspired to do now; overcome procrastination.

  • What would you say?
  • Have you made progress?
  • Or have you already reached the slump so that you feel like giving up?
  • Is it that you, um, perhaps, are reading this blog article in order to avoid doing something else that you should do right now?
  • And now feel tempted to switch to your email because you start to feel guilty?
  • Or do you perhaps happen to know some employee of yours who has taken this resolution?

According to studies on the subject, many therapies fail because the patients are supposed to change in a way that does not suit their personality. Authors of self-help books on the topic tend to be well-structured and organized. It must be very frustrating for procrastinators to see all the plans, control patterns they are supposed to learn.

Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, sums this up nicely:

Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up.

Procrastination and Corporate Culture

Even though it is always one’s own decision to stop procrastination, I started to think on my way back from the cafeteria in how far we as leaders and colleagues in companies and corporations can foster the tedious process of behavioral change and make it easier for the individual to adapt to it.

After all, procrastination may cause loss of productivity because most people are not happy that they delay their activities.

I came across some suggestions for team leaders and managers in Kevin Burns’ blog that I would like to share with you.

His Top 3 list of advice contains the following items:

  1. Break down projects into digestable pieces: The shorter the deadline, the less possibility for the procrastinator to delay the work
  2. Always ask the procrastinator for the status when you see him or her and do it in public. This will help to develop reliability.
  3. If a procrastinator does not deliver on time, show consequences and pass on work to a good worker

These pieces of advice sound convincing, but I am sure they would not work in all types of corporate culture. “Forced control” mechanisms like these might lead to more sophisticated ways to achieve procrastination in the long-term and might even develop mistrust between leader and employees.

I would, hence, rather favor measures, which help the employee remain accountable for putting off the work, and avoid patterns, which require permanent interventions by the manager. Measures that I prefer see the manager or leader in the role of a temporary coach so that the employee can really find out the reasons why the work is getting delayed so very often.

A coaching relationship would be the first step to a real cure, not just fighting the symptoms. This, of course, would only work if the manager is not a messy procrastinator him- or herself. As we all know, overworked managers have a tendency to procrastinate, too.

What do you think about these suggestions? Which ones would work for you? How can you as a leader help your employees heal procrastination?

**********
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——————–
Dr. Bärbel Bohr owns “Bärbel Bohr – Projekte mit System”
Lecturer at HSR Hochschule für Technik / Rapperswil (Switzerland)
She inspires success in leaders & students on communication & culture awareness

Email | Web |

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L2L Infographic: 20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work

20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work Infographic

Infographic Courtesy of Net Credit

 

On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Mega Shark

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

As time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

**********
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————–
Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWebsite | Blog | (562) 943-5776

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L2L Infographic: How to Become a Hero-Leader

15 Ways of How NOT to Kill Your Leadership Authority

Leadership (1)

Infographic Courtesy of EPOS Systems

 

Leadership Rx: Spiritual Leaders Bring Healing to Others

Leadership Rx

Nowadays we witness many individuals who find their working life does not bring them hope but oppression.

Workers are losing their rights in many industries; others are cast aside with ease to bring temporary profit to the greedy. Increasing numbers of workers do not find the dignity and fulfillment that work ought to contribute to their lives, families, and communities.

Leadership Rx

A hope-filled spiritual leader sees these new tasks for leaders in dealing with individuals and organizations as a major responsibility.

They know healing is needed when people:

  • Focus exclusively on self-interest
  • Exhibit excessive internal competition
  • Constantly engage in comparisons with others
  • Evidence mutual blame
  • Lose vitality
  • Compromise their integrity
  • Deliberately do things they know are unethical

A leader also recognizes the need for healing when some in the organization are always marginalized; there are voiceless members, and widespread indifference to others’ needs.

Healing is clearly needed when administration restricts communication, misuses power, allows significant disparity in executives’ salaries, and governs autocratically.

Starting at the Top

When managers get in and get out of the organization with increased salaries and golden parachutes, having done nothing significant, then the organization and its board members need healing. When managers simply do not try to slow the erosion of values, then they also need healing.

Every organization has some individuals in pain, feeling loss, experiencing broken relationships at work and at home, suffering from a lack of meaning, and this sense of pain affects the quality of their work.

In fact, some within on organization need healing but do not know it.

Then again some sick individuals make everyone else sick without ever feeling anything themselves. A leader of hope has to heal the wounds caused by former bosses and also by coworkers. Some individuals adapt themselves to sick situations and then become as sick as everyone else.

No organization can function well amid unhealthy situations that sap vitality, creativity, and commitment. So, dealing with organizational dysfunctions is one of the challenges of a spiritual leader who wants to give hope to others.

A Leader of Hope

A leader of hope allows no one to feel inferior but raises them up to their just level of appreciation, showing empathy to all. Healing others is a major task of a leader of hope who thus enables others to become their complete selves.

This includes:

  • Healing relationships within organizations
  • Clarifying and refocusing roles
  • Setting goals together
  • Making sure channels of communication are open
  • Reflecting on each others’ gifts
  • Expressing recognition and appreciation of everyone’s contribution

The leader’s healing influence will vary for each member in need.

Some may feel they are taken for granted and a leader must give them visibility and prominence.

For others who have been the object of bogus empowerment by former failed leaders a leader of hope must give genuine, significant delegation. There are always members who feel used, often because they are, and a leader will need to heal by letting people feel at home in the organization and making them objects of sincere admiration and respect.

A Healthier Way to Lead

A good leader creates for those within an organization a healthy way of living together, and this implies risk taking. He or she will encourage others to get involved in the journey to wholeness, to share in common values, to become vulnerable as he or she manifests genuine emotions of heart and love.

Part of a healthy way of living together is to heal the loneliness of all around us, to awaken others to hope, to enable people to resolve conflicts constructively, to move them by making it clear that they are loved.

Leaders of hope restore others to healing through listening, empathy, and compassion, and even a sense of humor; healing broken relationships, restoring justice, and building a reconciling community.

A leader of hope will focus on values of colleagues, since a person without values causes problems for those around. Then the insidious destruction of the vision of hope causes everyone to live a reduced notion of what it means to be human.

Many so-called leaders do nothing about the hurt that surrounds them, but a spiritual leader seeks always to bring healing where it is needed.

So how are you doing at putting on your spiritual leader role and serving others with empathy, love and trust so that healing can be a natural part of your organization? If you need some improvement in this area, what steps can you take and what behavior can you emulate to become a healing leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog

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L2L Book Review “Under New Management” by David Burkus

An Open Invitation To Join The Integrative Leader's Book Club

L2L Book Review Logo

David Burkus argues in his book Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual that the management practices that have evolved from the factory work economy just do not apply to today’s knowledge work economy.

Burkus walks the reader through compelling case studies of companies who have abandoned traditional management and leadership practices in favor of new ways to organize and lead.

His premise is this:

Burkus’s insights are convincing companies to leave behind decades-old management practices and to implement new ways to enhance productivity and morale. Fire all the managers, outlaw email, and make pay transparent.

L2L Book Review

Title: Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual

by David Burkus

Purpose:

NewManagement_3D

The purpose of David Burkus’s new book Under New Management is to find answers to these questions and more:

  • Do open-floor plans really work – or do they make employees miserable?
  • Are there companies which really put their employees’ welfare first, and their clients second?
  • Are annual performance reviews really necessary?

Premise:

Fire all the managers, outlaw email, and make pay transparent. These are all chapters in David Burkus’ new book “Under New Management”. David argues in this book that the management practices that have evolved from the factory work economy just do not apply to today’s knowledge work economy.

He walks the reader through compelling case studies of companies who have abandoned traditional management and leadership practices in favor of new ways to organize and lead.

A Reader’s Guide:

I found myself starting each chapter thinking that there would be no way that what I was about to read would work. But, by the end of most chapters, not only did I feel it was possible but optimal.

In my opinion, any book on leadership and management that gets me to pause and reflect is of great value. This book provides page after page of things to pause and contemplate.

New Book Club

The Integrative Leader’s Book Club

I was so energized after reading it, that I decided to feature it as this month’s selection in The Integrative Leader’s Book Club.

What is really exciting is, I was able to connect with David and he graciously agreed to join us for a live Q&A session.

Linked 2 Leadership is one of the best forums for leadership exploration. By nature, its readers are actively working to hone their craft. Therefore, I would like to personally invite you to join The Integrative Leader’s Book Club. Each month we pick a thought provoking book to read and discuss.

This club was created to help us lift our heads up from working in our business and allow us to spend a little time working on it. Leadership is a practice and the books read and the wisdom shared will help us all become better at our craft.

Sign-up Here.

I would also invite you to register for the online Q&A session with David on Monday, May 23at 11am Pacific.

Click Here to Register.

At the end of each month, I will post right here on Linked 2 Leadership a review of the book and some of the key learnings that our club gained and shared. Hopefully together, we can all become better leaders and develop future leaders that are well prepared to guide the organizations of the future.

I hope to see you in the club.

**********
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———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

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Communication Breakdown: Are You Resonating With Your Audience?

How Leaders Can Refine their Focus to Know their Audience

Communication Breakdown

Over the course of my career many leaders have lamented this: “Little I say seems to be resonating!?!?”

Although this can be very frustrating, it certainly does not mean that you should just stop communicating (as I’ve also heard…)

Knowing Your Audience

Problem:

Most likely, the failure to communicate effectively an indicator that you need to take more time to find out what makes your audience tick, and how and when they’re most receptive to information.

Solution:

Think about any questions and concerns they might have that will impede their ability to hear you. By anticipating audience needs and concerns, you can ensure that you shape your message in a way that will resonate with your listeners.

The Real Communications Challenge

As challenging as it can feel to state your thoughts clearly and concisely, the real challenge is shaping those thoughts clearly and concisely for your audience.

Employees (and any audience) want you to appeal to them in terms that speak to them and their needs, often on a personal and emotional level—yes, even if you’re just talking about work.

Especially if you’re talking about work.

When leaders don’t understand their audiences’ needs or perspectives, they make these two common missteps:

  • They mistake any communication for good communication
  • They communicate from their perspective instead of the audience’s

Your Communication Role as a Leader

As a leader it’s your job to use communication to help your audience make the connection between business objectives and their role in helping you meet them. But it’s important to understand that before you can get to the business big picture, you’ll need to address employees’ personal needs first.

At the end of the day, employees want to know “What’s in it for me?

They might articulate that need in any number of ways:

  • “How does this affect me?”
  • “What does this have to do with me?”
  • “What should I be doing?”
  • “Does anyone care about me?”

The Solution: Know Your Audience

Know your audience and speak to them. There’s real magic in addressing your audience’s needs first. When you do your audience is more likely to trust you, and as a result be more generous, open and receptive to big-picture, strategic communication.

All communication should always be tailored to the specific audience to make them aware of their role in the organizational whole.

That’s what leads to engagement and the discretionary effort all of us want.

Then, you can truly inspire employees to action as only a great leader can by giving them feelings of significance, community, and excitement through your communications.

Specifically as a leader you should:

  • Contextualize organizational information to ensure your team understands how it fits in.
  • Craft information so that it’s relevant to individual employees and teams.
  • Provide job-related information so that individuals and teams can do their jobs effectively.

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s whether you can make it relevant to your employees.

So, how clear are you about who EXACTLY is your audience? Have you developed the right mindset to serve them in a way that will work with them? Or are you stuck in a place where you seemingly don’t connect well? If you are, what would you do to get to a more effective platform for your audience? I would love to hear you thoughts!

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———————
David Grossman
David Grossman is Founder and CEO of The Grossman Group
He is a much sought-after Consultant, Speaker, and Executive Coach 
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The Leadership Yawwwn-Fest

by Karen Dietz

Yawning Lion

Are you inspiring others to action with your captivating stories that delight your audience?Or you guilty of just providing a leadership yawn-fest?

Your Best Tool For Inspiring Others

I was at a board meeting the other day where an outside organization was presenting its latest project. The vision was in creating a sustainable vision for the future of the region.  The idea provided the perfect opportunity to enroll people in their grand vision!

All they needed was the perfect vision pitch from an inspiring leader.

But what a big “yawner” this presentation turned out to be. What a lost opportunity!

So what was the problem?  It wasn’t for lack of commitment, enthusiasm, or interest.  It wasn’t because a young inexperienced executive was before us.  In fact, the presenter had a lifetime of success under his belt. It wasn’t even an experience of death by PowerPoint.

It was simply because the presentation was dry as a mouthful of sand. In addition, it was without a compelling story to engage people.  The result?  Nice project.  No inspiration.  No enrollment in taking action.

Telling Compelling Stories

Being able to tell a compelling story is an essential leadership skill that bears paying attention to, no matter how experienced or successful you are.

As Howard Gardner says, “Stories are the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.”

Just imagine how many missed opportunities that this successful executive has created over his career because he wasn’t sharing stories, much less in ways that inspire others to action.

Brain research (Story Proof, Influencer) has shown time and again how sharing stories immediately engages people and their imaginations.  It is the most efficient method for transmitting knowledge, and is a powerful tool for enrolling others moving them to action.

Authenticity

Every leader who is able to link their own personal stories into specific initiatives will score big on the engagement meter.

Q: Why?

A: Because they are viewed as authentic — one of the core qualities of an effective leader.

Over one thousand studies during the last fifty years have attempted to define successful leadership styles or qualities.  Yet none of this research has produced a clear profile of an ideal leader.  That’s because leadership has many voices and the key to being a successful leader lies in your ability to be you – authentic, passionate, and disciplined.

Leaders are defined by their unique life stories. They are defined by how those stories illuminate their passions and leadership purpose, and by the way they frame those stories for others.  Every leader, whether young or old, has inspiring stories to tell.  Most however, don’t recognized the power in their own stories, much less know how to tell them in ways without sounding arrogant or self-serving.

By being willing to explore, reframe and tell their life stories, leaders set free their passions and the ability to inspire others.

Training is required though.  Just because we can speak doesn’t mean that we don’t need to go to Toastmasters.  Even though we can all tell a story at some level, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to identify our stories and learn to tell them in ways that inspire others.

Core Stories

What stories do you need to tell?  There can be many. And every leader needs to master a set of core stories to get started.

These stories are:

  1. About the founding of your organization and the challenges it is addressing
  2. People and results stories – About customers/clients and the results they’ve experienced, along with stories about people within your organization and the difference they have made
  3. Recovery stories – Those about mistakes that have been made, and the recovery / lessons learned from those experiences
  4. The story about the future you are creating – Why should we invest in you?  How will the future be different through our engagement together?
  5. The My Commitment story – That story of what gets you up in the morning, what inspires and moves you, why you are doing the work you are.

Successful leadership takes deliberate development and necessitates being true to your stories.  You are never too old or too young to share your stories and lead authentically.

Don’t wait.  Don’t miss the incredible opportunities waiting for you when you become a proficient story teller.  It’s all low-hanging fruit.  Spending time on developing your stories now will allow you to leverage them for years to come.

So, how many yawn-fests have you suffered through in your career? How many time have you seen wonderful ideas fail due to a lack of polish on the communicator’s story line? Have you ever been guilty of leaving your audience or team members flat because you could not engage them in personal stories that inspired them? Come on… tell the truth! I’d love to hear your STORIES!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Karen (Creuziger) Dietz

Karen Dietz is a Principal at Polaris Associates Consulting, Inc.
She helps clients tell their most inspiring stories as an essential influence skill
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: karen.dietz

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