On Leadership and Knowing Your Audience

Know Your Audience

Imagine this in your current role: You have taken a position on an issue that really matters to you. And you now need the backing of some of your key colleagues to turn your ideas into reality. 

So what should you be thinking at this point?

Leading Your Path to Success

In thinking about your next steps:

  • You recognise that without the active support of certain of your peer group or seniors you will find it a challenge to move head.
  • You decide that the best thing to do will be to speak with them so that you can take them through your thinking and influence them about the merits of your case.
  • Your arguments make total sense to you. You think they represent good value for your employing organisation, your teams and your customers.

But when it comes to speaking with your senior colleagues about the issues, you find that no one else gets it.  In fact, you are stumped by the degree to which they don’t get it.  As far as you are concerned, you put your case clearly, your arguments were robust and the benefits you described were crystal clear.

And yet still no one else around the table gets it…

Your views were dismissed outright by some of the leaders present and only considered in a shallow way by others.  You were baffled and still don’t know what happened.

On Knowing Your Audience

What could account for why a perfectly sound set of arguments fell on deaf ears?  Put simply, your ideas didn’t hit the spot because you didn’t position them carefully enough for them to appeal to your audience given their concerns, their priorities and their values.

Your plans appealed to you. But they didn’t appeal to your audience to the same degree because you:

  • Didn’t spend enough time at the start of the meeting positioning your proposals to appeal to your audience’s ears and not your own.
  • Didn’t manage the perceptions you created in the minds of your audience carefully enough.
  • Used the wrong arguments.
  • Started the discussion in the wrong place by going straight to your agenda instead of theirs. And, in this case, these two agendas were crucially different.

A Case in Point

Consider the following example:

A team leader decides to approach his boss and outline his plans to re-organise the management structure in his large customer-facing team.  The team leader involved is methodical, systematic and logical in his work style. He succinctly describes to his manager the inefficiencies in the current team structure, the ways in which these inefficiencies adversely affect customer service, and the ways in which they create challenges for inter-dependent teams.

None of this is news to his boss who is well aware of the shortcomings of the team structure. Then the team leader identifies the specific changes in the reporting lines which he wants to bring about, and tells his boss about these too. He is not expecting to have to argue the point. They’ve talked about these problems before, although this is the first time he has presented her with a solution.

He sees this discussion as a done deal and is simply amazed to discover that his arguments do not meet with his boss’s approval.

In fact, she moves the conversation on immediately to a series of other issues which are on her agenda telling her team leader that “This isn’t a good time to be making changes.

The team leader now faces a choice between asking her for more information about why she isn’t interested in his proposals, going ahead with his re-structure anyway and potentially incurring her displeasure, or dropping plans to which he is quite wedded.

Let’s Examine This…

So what happened? 

The boss regards her team leader as being somewhat into the detail and not strategic enough in the way he goes about his business. She has long held this view and has made it an issue between them several times, although never to the point of dismissing his plans before.

She is very much preoccupied with falling sales figures and the impact of the recession, issues which her team leader is aware of but which he hasn’t factored into his thinking sufficiently before he approaches her.  She thinks that her report isn’t bold enough or courageous enough in his plans for his team, doesn’t focus sufficiently well on new business development, and tends to make incremental changes which he values but which she doesn’t think add sufficient value to justify the amount of time it takes him to originate them.

As soon as he starts to speak about altering the reporting structure in his team she, being as preoccupied as she is, forms the view that he wants to make another series of small scale alterations which won’t add much overall value to her operation at a time when her figures are down, clients are not ordering in bulk, and the recession is affecting her revenue streams.

Given all these circumstances she thinks she could reasonably have expected some effective support from her report, and when she hears him wanting to take up her pressured and valuable time with another minor tweak, she switches off without really listening to him and moves the discussion on to other things.

From the point of view of her report, however, a number of issues have been raised. Each of the strengths of his proposition, in fact all of the compelling aspects of it as he would see it, were regarded as weaknesses by his boss to the point where she wouldn’t even consider them.  Instead of gaining political currency for his proactive problem-solving and customer focus, the team leader finds that he loses credibility with his boss in a situation in which they could reasonably have expected to gain it.

Positioning Your Plans and Proposals Effectively

So, what can he learn from this situation? 

  • He needs to think through what his plans and proposals will sound like – what they will mean – to his boss given her different style, values and priorities.
  • He knows she is highly focused on sales and worried about the impact of the recession on the organisation’s figures.  So, to gain her buy-in and appear to be up to speed as she sees it, he needs to start the meeting with his boss: with her current and longer term goals, her priorities on  that day and her concerns at the moment.
  • Having touched based with her and found out what is on her mind, he could then position his re-structure to appeal to her agenda.
  • He could say that while his plan might not bring in more business it will certainly enable existing customers to receive a more consistent and timely standard of service.
  • He could say that it would free up more of his team’s time to examine viable ways of adding value to the services they offer to their existing customers, and enable them to look for opportunities to sell add-on services to them.

Leading a Better Approach

Handling things this way will mean that he presents himself to his boss as someone who is on the same page as her, sharing the strain of getting the numbers up while also presenting himself as proactive and able at adding value to the operation. Using this approach will make it much more likely that he:

  • Avoids appearing out of touch with his manager’s reality.
  • Avoids a series of value judgments which his boss will make about him if she hears his plans as trivial or unimportant.
  • Gives himself the best chance of securing the endorsement of his boss to his proposals.

So, the next time you approach a key set of colleagues to secure their endorsement to your plans: think through how you can best link your proposals to the issues that sit at the top of their priority list so that you stand the best chance of getting the level of buy-in and active commitment you need.

Identify a situation in which you want to influence your peers or seniors to endorse your plans.  Who did you want to influence and in what way?  How will you position your argument with them? What key points do you plan to emphasise?  In what ways will these points appeal to them given their priorities and values?  Where do you want to start to meeting to have maximum influence?  What aspect of your proposals will appeal most strongly to your colleagues and how do you want to present these issues to them?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders


Aryanne Oade is Director of Oade Associates
She is a Chartered Psychologist, executive coach, facilitator, author & speaker
Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Books | 00 44 (0) 7747 868 368

Image Sources: media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

About these ads

3 Leadership Lessons From The Oscars

The glitz and glamour of the 86th Academy Awards in Hollywood has been widely captured in photographs and videos which continue to make waves around the world.

The smiles and speeches are captivating!

What a Night!

Oscars 2014

Lupita Nyong’o, winner of best supporting actress role said in her acceptance speech,

“It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s,” with reference to Patsey, the character she played in the wrenching 19th Century historical drama, ‘12 Years a Slave’.

In the spirit of Lupita’s sentiments of joy and pain, I took a look at some behind-the-scenes activities and sacrifices for any leadership lessons that we might glean from the awards.

3 Leadership Lessons From The Oscars 


When Lupita auditioned for her role, she was about to graduate from the Yale School of Drama. She told The Huffington Post that her manager received the script for her client, Garret Dillahunt, who plays Armsby in the film, and she thought Lupita would be good for the role of Patsey.

She happened to be at the right place at the right time, which is where it all starts.

Similarly, to take up a leadership position, you need to be in the right place and time that your skills can be applied. But there’s more.


Presence without having what it takes to lead comes to naught if one is unprepared for the role.

Benjamin Disraeli said this:

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.”

The men and women at the Oscars undoubtedly worked long and hard before the crowning. Equally, it takes investing time and other resources to develop one’s leadership skills so that when the opportunity comes, one is ready to seize it. Don’t wait to develop your leadership skills when you get the opportunity to lead.

As Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden said, “When opportunity comes it’s too late to prepare.”


Even though the awards were awarded to individuals, none of the winners can claim to have achieved whatever they did without any external support.

Ekaterina Walter asserted this:

“There is no such thing as a self-made man. We are all made of hundreds of others.”

Think of the family and friends; directors, mentors and supportive fellow cast members; make-up artists and designers; chauffeurs, and others who supported the men and women on the final roll, to enable them achieve their wins. Sacrificial and enduring support carried the day.

The same is true of leaders. They are not where they are­­ of their own individual effort. As leadership author, teacher and speaker John Maxwell says, there are no solo leaders – without a lot of people working together, there would be no successful leaders.­­­

Bonus – Exception

As a bonus, I’ll share one exception to the Oscars. The awards are limited in number and hotly contested. The good news for leaders is that each and every leader – whether of self or others – has the opportunity to excel and shine.

All it takes is pursuing one’s life’s purposes with excellence, and touching lives in the best possible manner along the way.

How has your joy as a leader been due to so much pain in others’ lives? How can you position yourself and others on your team to seize opportunities to make a difference? How are you contributing to the making of other leaders?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Joyce Kaduki

Mrs. Joyce Kaduki is a Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer
She enjoys working with Individuals & Teams to help them Improve their Results
Email | LinkedIn | Web

Image Sources: heyuguys.co.uk

On Leadership and Collaboration


A 2009 IMD publication makes the observation that:

There is a growing tendency in business to recognize that pooling the ideas, resources, commitment and efforts of many is more effective than relying on the few best individuals.

The publication goes on to analyze the way collaboration was utilized at CERN – the European nuclear research center in Geneva – as a tool in exercising a different type of leadership and project management, resulting in world’s largest ever physics experiment over almost 20 years.

Facing and Confronting Challenges

The challenges faced by the leadership team at CERN were formidable. It required the engagement and coordination of work conducted by 169 research institutions and national agencies from 37 countries and 2,500 scientists over a period of almost 20 years.

Leading such an endeavour required a leadership style that encouraged collaboration and fostered respect and harmony across all participants and collaborators.

A  similar observation is made by William L. Waugh Jr. and Gregory Streib in a paper titled “Collaboration and Leadership for Effective Emergency Management.” The paper, analyzing the importance and the role played by collaboration in addressing natural and technological hazards and disasters as well as the consequences of terrorism, concludes this:

New leadership strategies are now required, such that they drive their power from effective strategies and the transformational power of a compelling vision, rather than from hierarchy, rank, or standard operating procedures.

The Power of Collaboration

The need to integrate collaboration as a key leadership attribute is now a common theme in many leadership and management articles, posts and publications. The justification for this approach is straight forward. Organizations, now more than ever, are facing complex and unpredictable competitive landscape, one that is filled with new, and global, aggressive competitors.

With this in mind, making the best utilization of the human assets of any organization can be best harnessed through an effective use of collaboration.

The effectiveness of this collaboration is dependent on the ability of corporate/ social / organizational leadership to actually make it happen.

Simplifying the Complex

The complexity associated with effective execution of collaborative effort cannot be overestimated. Not only is collaboration complex (when was  the last time you have been involved in a large-scale collaboration effort – where ‘large scale’ is in the 100′s or 1,000′s of people?) but the very meaning of what collaboration really is can be confusing as  it might get tangled up with concepts like coordination and cooperation.

In Let’s Stop Confusing Cooperation and Teamwork with Collaboration, Jesse Lyn Stoner suggests the following definitions:


Working together to create something new in support of a shared vision. The key points are that is is not an individual effort, something new is created, and that the glue is the shared vision.


Sharing information and resources so that each party can accomplish their part in support of a mutual objective. It is about teamwork in implementation. Not creating something new.


Important in networks where individuals exchange relevant information and resources in support of each other’s goals, rather than a shared goal. Something new may be achieved as a result, but it arises from the individual, not from a collective team effort.

Seeking the Greater Good

Rick Lash, in a 2012 article titled “The Collaboration Imperative“, and based on earlier studies by the Hays Group, makes the observation that while many organizations in recent years have restructured themselves into a flatter, less hierarchical matrix organization structure, this is yet to be complemented by a development of a leadership layer that can “subordinate their agenda, yield power and give up resources for the greater good”.

Leaders who are accustomed to top-down, command and control leadership style (the very style that was relevant in the organization in the past) find the collaborative approach foreign to their way of thinking and their attempts to lead collaboration are likely to result in failure.

Be Wise, Maximize

Collaboration is not without its possible pitfalls. A need to collaborate with a potentially large audience can easily lead to organizational paralysis. In addition, attempted collaboration can result in interpersonal conflicts and misunderstandings, resulting in on-going communication and decision-making difficulties.

While collaboration is still a challenging art, the way to improve the odds – à la Rick Lash – is by utilizing the following principles:

  1. Be clear about the destination
  2. develop mutual understanding
  3. know when to lead and when to follow
  4. set schedules and stick to them
  5. encourage information sharing

The Leader’s Toolbox

Ultimately, collaboration, as observed by Arthur T. Himmelman in “Collaboration for a Change“, is just one of the tools at the leader’s disposal.

Effective use of collaboration, alongside proper use of networking, coordinating, and cooperating, is a key to having a  fair go at achieving success.

So, what challenges have you had in using a collaborative technique with your team? How have you overcome some of these challenges? What would a more collaborative structure look like at your work and what steps could you take to achieve them? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Shim Marom PMP, MSP, ICAgile ICP
Shim Marom is a Melbourne, Australia based Project Management Consultant
He blogs and engages in Public, Forums and Online Discussions
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

Image Sources: 

Avoiding The Top 5 Leadership Communication Blunders

Communication Breakdown

Communication is the most important predictor of a team’s success.  MIT has the data to prove it.  If you lead a team, this should command your attention.

Communication is Key to a Successful Team

“We’ve found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success. Not only that, but they are as significant as all the other factors—individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of discussions—combined.”

Alex “Sandy” Pentland, leader of  MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, writes about this research in an HBR article, The New Science of Building Great Teams.

Communication. That’s right, it’s more important that intelligence and skill.  Are you maximizing the success of your team through effective communication?

Maybe not!

Take a look at these five common communication blunders – and how to avoid them.

Avoiding The Top 5 Leadership Communication Blunders

1. You are too focused on yourself

You will not get very far in your communication efforts if you are only focused on what you need out of the interaction.  You must start communication by being genuinely interested in others.  Take a moment and reflect on what all parties need from the dialogue.

Dale Carnegie captured this idea in How To Win Friends and Influence People when he wrote: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

What should you do?

  • Don’t interrupt – People will never be heard if you don’t let them speak.
  • Don’t volunteer others – Let people choose for themselves.  It shows you value their autonomy.
  • Seek common ground – Everyone is self- interested. Look for the intersection as a way to create a win – win.

2. You’re keeping your door closed and the emails (or texts) flying

Face it, we frequently default to impersonal communication like email and text messages.

I see emails fly from people who sit 10 feet apart.

In a joint study, “The Psychology of Effective Business Communications in Geographically Dispersed Teams,” Cisco and PearnKandola found that organizational effectiveness can suffer when e-mails go unanswered and team member (or managers) assume the non-responder is a slacker.

The report also stresses that email takes away critical nonverbal clues that make communication effective.

So what should you do?  Think about the best method of communication for your message.  Many times that will be face-to-face communication.

According to Dr. Pentland’s research at MIT:

“The most valuable form of communication is face-to-face.  The next most valuable is by phone or video conference.” 

The most successful teams had the most live communication.  Think about that before you send your next text message.

3. You talk more than you listen

Dialogue is a two-way street.  There is no dialogue if one person does all the talking.  In addition, great listeners show speakers that they have been heard and understood.

So what should you do?

  • Listen effectively – Focus on the speaker, shutting out external and internal noise.
  • Talk and listen in roughly equal measures to others in the conversation.
  • Make room for others to participate.  Ask questions if notice others are quiet or holding back.
  • Don’t become defensive or change the subject with the conversation becomes sensitive.  That is the time to demonstrate that you are hearing and understanding.

This ability to truly listen is so critical that it appears on the Leadership Action Profile (LPI), a 360º assessment tied to The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes and Posner.

After 25 years of research their findings indicate that an effective leader “Actively listens to diverse points of view.

Make sure that you are as well.

4. You ignore body language and facial expressions

Angry Person

Our nonverbal behaviors—the gestures we make, the way we sit,  how loud we talk, how close we stand, how much eye contact we make—send strong messages.

This is a huge part of communication.

If you want to know how your communication is being received you must interpret the non verbal part of the dialogue.

Are you getting the full picture?

You must be fully present in the conversation to notice and respond to nonverbal cues.  Dr. Paul Ekman, an expert on facial expressions, notes that most expressions are on someone’s face for a few seconds.  This is long enough to recognize if you aren’t distracted by your own thoughts.

So what should you do?

  • What does it mean when someone crosses their arms or blinks repeatedly?  Take the time to learn about non-verbal communication.
  • Resist the urge to spend your mental energy planning your next comment. Pay attention to what you see.  Look for signs that the non-verbals are out of synch with the spoken message.
  • Be aware of your own body language.

 5. You communicate primarily with close confidants

Frequent and open dialogue is key successful teams.    This is evident when you look at the research of Drs. Carew, Kandarian, Parisi-Carew and Stoner.  The created the HPO SCORES Model that presents the six elements evident in every high performing organization.

The very first item in their list is Shared Information and Open Communication.

This model is presented in the book Leading at a Higher Level.

“Sharing information and facilitating open communication build trust and encourages people to act like owners of the organization.  Encouraging dialogue lessens the danger of territoriality and keeps the organization health, agile, flexible and fluid.”

And it yields real business results.  Back at MIT, Dr. Pentland recommended to call center management  that they send agents to break at the same time to increase communication.  The average handle time of calls fell by 20% on low performing teams.

The organization is making the change company wide and they project a $15 million per year productivity increase.  So what should you do?

  • Communicate frequently with all members of the team – solicit ideas and ask questions.
  • Don’t wait for staff meeting.  Spend time communicating informally.  A lot of great, effective communication happens at break or over lunch.
  • Draw ideas from outside the core work group and bring those ideas back to the team.  Get a new conversation going.

In the spirit of great communication, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  What are you doing to promote good conversations on your team?  Do you feel that everyone is participating in the dialogue?  Do you think people are both speaking and listening?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Melissa Lanier

Melissa Lanier leads Global Talent Management for an S&P SmallCap 600 Firm
She is driven to build High Performing Cultures Aligned to Strategy
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Blog | Web

Image Sources: maurilioamorim.com, colourbox.com

Leaders: Stop Trying to Control the Truth

No Spin Zone

One of the most prevalent signs of Organizational Learned Helplessness (OLH) is the art of making any news sound good.  Better known as “spinning.”  Spinning takes its queue from George Orwell’s 1984:

“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.”

Essentially, it is perpetually changing the story to make the company, country, person, etc. sound/look the best.  Companies do this constantly.  Although their intentions may be good, the end result is not.

In fact, the results can be tragic for the organization’s internal and external reputation.

3 Results of Controlling the Truth

Big Brother1. Investors (and therefore the public for most part) don’t believe when things are going well and over-correct when things are bad.

“Saying what’s so makes the bad less bad and the good better” ~ Jim Kramer

2. Consumers/customers stop trusting the organization and look for reasons to flee.

“Toyota lost more customers each time they came out with a statement about the brake issue. Had they just corrected it, the story would have been over in a week. They perpetuated it by trying to control the truth”

3. Employees stop listening to the “corporate communications,” begin to believe rumors, and actively undermine the organization (even unconsciously.) This is caused by lower trust and usually results in lower profit.

What Can a Leader Do?

Not constantly spinning goes against the “new normal,” but has been shown to reap huge benefits – look at Apple, Ford, etc. There are three fundamentals to gain and maintain trust:

1.Tell the whole truth earlier

In the age of the Internet and WikiLeaks, there is no doubt that the truth will come out eventually. In addition to the fact that it just plain the right thing to do, it is imperative that you tell the whole truth because you will get busted sooner or later.

This seems counterintuitive to the art of spinning.

But, employees, customers, and investors are likely not going to believe the spin. They will fill in the blanks on their own. They have been taught to do this by the constant masking of what is really so. If the truth is told early then you can get out in front of the issue and begin to correct it.

2. Instead of controlling a story, try solving the problem

This sounds deceptively simple, but it’s not. The focus should never be damage control, but solution creation. Once a mistake is made, it’s made. The real test is can the issue be resolved to become stronger. Tylenol did this beautifully. An issue with their product became a catapult to huge market share and public safety.

3. Accept blame and move on

Admittedly, this is the hardest one. In our litigious society it is difficult to accept blame because there could be larger ramifications. However, the quicker that blame can be assessed, the better that a solution can be provided. Now accepting blame or fault doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire situation was yours or the organization’s fault.

Really determining the issue and then working towards a solution will make everything resolved more quickly and more amicably.

The truth will always find a way out, always. Organizations that get out in front of problems and start to provide solutions can move past a problem and turn it into a win for the organization will be seen as far superior to their competition.  That is why we still talk about Tylenol’s outstanding reaction more than 25 years later.  My wife used to tell me something that still holds true today -

Spinning your clothes doesn’t get the stain out, it embeds the dirt deeper.

The truth can’t be controlled, so you might as well stop trying…ask the leaders at Toyota.

What do you think about controlling the truth?  What is the danger of telling too much truth?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Anil Saxena
 is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (847) 212-0701

Image Sources:  rlv.zcache.com, prlog.org

Lead With a Strong Mind and Soft Heart

Heart and Mind

The Letter to the Ephesians in the New Testament is a brilliant summary of what it means to lead with a strong mind and soft heart.

The writer tells us that we are most fully alive when we do good to others.

The Apostle Paul wrote this almost two thousand ago, and yet as an FBI Agent, I am surprised at how his exhortation of teamwork and leadership seems to perfectly encapsulate modern thinking.

On Leadership and Paint Balls

Several times a year the FBI firearms unit requires agents to qualify with their weapon. Our training frequently included various forms of stress tests where we worked in teams to make arrests.

To make the scenarios even more stressful, we frequently were given special guns that shoot paint balls, and then sent out to discover how much control we had over our mental and physical reflexes when making those arrests.

Nothing goes unnoticed with a paint gun shootout. Every mistake is splattered somewhere—the paint bullets can leave bruises and stick to hair for days.

Of more importance, however, were the red splotches that indicated one of our team members had been shot or killed.

To Live or Die

We put on goggles and Kevlar helmets; our instructors gave us the arrest scenario and then acted as observers as they watched our every decision and the movements required to carry out our decision.

We entered old houses with attics and blind corners, no obvious plan or path to follow, so we improvised and adapted to our circumstances as we moved along.

When you’re in the thick of it, all you really think about is surviving.

You don’t want to scrub paint off your clothes when you get home or feel the sting of a paint ball hitting your hand or neck.

The trials are physical as well as mental, but in a stress course of this type the mission is threefold:

  • The mission
  • Your colleagues
  • And yourself

—in that order.

Inspect What You Expect

In our review at the end of the day, the observers talk about what happened and what they saw.

Without fail, the biggest mistakes focused on the lack of communication between the agents.

Many times, one of us could see when another agent was headed for danger or taking too much risk. Rather than warning that person, many of us were too afraid of getting hurt ourselves to find a way to prevent the inevitable paint ball hit.

On Business and Life

Firearms training taught me many lessons about business and life. It taught me about the importance of building a strong mind while keeping a soft heart—Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians was right. We are more fully alive and human when we use our talents as leaders to build up our teams and put their needs before our own.

Here are three ways that the paint ball exercises helped me understand how “doing good to others” can create leaders with a strong mind and soft heart:


Our firearms team did not communicate well with one another because we were too caught up in our own dramas. Each was strategizing on what to do next and what to anticipate.

In a hostile and unpredictable environment, it is important to stay in the moment. This may sound easy, but it means staying fully focused on the needs of the people with whom you’re communicating and putting their needs before your own.  This means that you do not come first—and this is why really paying attention to someone else can be so difficult.

  • Here are a few ways to stay in the moment with another person:
  • Make good eye contact to let them know that your focus is on them.
  • Give them your full attention.
  • Fight the urge to race ahead when they are speaking.
  • Watch for eye movement when speaking because you may have touched a soft spot.
  • Observe their lips when speaking because people compress them when they are stressed.


Leadership begins with knowing who we are and what we believe. Authenticity is the need for leaders to be themselves regardless of the situation. For this reason, it is more than self-awareness; it is the ability to share the deepest and truest part of ourselves with others.

In a changing and volatile environment, it’s not how you decide; it’s about why. The why of a decision in the midst of confusion and uncertainty is a fusion of the heart and mind. There is no time for trying to remember business school formats or emergency preparedness plans.

The journey toward authenticity is twofold:

  1. Discovering our personal values and beliefs
  2. Exhibiting behavior that is consistent with those same values and beliefs.

We can be authentic leaders if we are committed to be being true to ourselves—regardless of the situation we are in or the people around us—so we can be real and genuine.


We should not be unfazed by the failure of a colleague. If we can alert them to a danger that lies ahead, we should do so. If we pushed aside our selfish desire to get ahead, perhaps there would be fewer bodies lying by the side of the road.

Leaders can create a pre-emptive culture in their own environments. This is the true definition of teamwork, where each member watches the back of the others and warns them against making career errors.

Not every master plan is genius. Not every scheme works. As leaders, you know this better than anyone. Circumstances and environments can change quickly, in business and life, and even the best plan is impossible to follow. If you do good to others by building your team up, your world won’t fall apart when the unexpected shows up.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” ~ Ephesians 4:29

How can you combine a strong mind with a soft heart? Do leaders always need to be team players? How can you make a hard decision with a soft heart?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here! 
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

LaRae Quy is former FBI Agent and Founder at Your Best Adventure
She helps clients explore the unknown and discover the hidden truth in self & others
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog

Image Sources:  sciencephoto.com

On Leadership, Toyota, and Successfully Implementing Change

Medical Robot

I am a medical doctor and Professor of Medicine. I treat human beings. I also understand how they behave. Humans are creatures of habit. And when it comes time to improve performance, many of us fear, or even reject, change.

However, maintaining the status quo rarely leads to improvement.

And in the practice of medicine, improvement should be a priority.

Through trial, error, and eventual success, I have found that effective change requires unique skills often not taught in standard leadership courses.

Gatorounds 1.0

My first significant experience with implementing change came when I decided to improve teamwork during hospital work rounds at the University of Florida (UF).

Modern medical care has become too complex for one person to manage.

When faced with complexity, the business world assembles multidisciplinary teams in which members effectively share their expertise and work together to achieve their goal.

I had found that caregivers were not enamored with business models, and my attempt to use the Toyota Production System as the guiding set of principles met with resistance.

Learning From Athletics

I realized that virtually everyone can relate to a successful athletic team, even if only as a spectator. Modeling our rounding system on athletic principles proved to be a more practical and accessible model. The use of athletic principles allowed me to draw on every caregiver’s past experiences to improve their teamwork.

I embraced this approach with great enthusiasm, so you can imagine my dismay when my colleagues exhibited a lukewarm response to my concept of Gatorounds (named for the university’s mascot, the alligator).

I didn’t understand that proposing this seemingly straightforward approach would force a dramatic change in the way work rounds were conducted.

The physician would no longer be the captain of the ship, but rather become the team coach.

This meant that physicians would have to give up some of their power and empower others to truly assist in the care of their patients.

This challenged the concept of the lone heroic practitioner managing every detail of his or her patient’s care.

Creating Social Disequilibrium

I did have the backing of the Chairman of Medicine, so I began to implement Gatorounds, and I experienced firsthand the effects of creating social disequilibrium. I’d created playbooks that defined the role of each caregiver and established a schedule for arriving at patient rooms.

The idea of scheduling was met with great resistance by one of the chief residents.

When bedside nurses were encouraged to be active participants on the multidisciplinary teams, one resident folded her arms and refused to enter the patient’s room.

I pointed out that, as the quarterback, she needed to be on the field.

Unfortunately, this metaphor was lost on her, and she remained in the hallway, scowling.

In the midst of implementing these changes, I failed to recognize the degree of resistance I was generating and blindly forged ahead. Physicians began talking behind my back. I was viewed as a troublemaker. The Chairman of Medicine became displeased and suggested I was a poor leader, even threatening to discharge me from my role as Division Chief.

Realizing that my good intentions were being misinterpreted, I went on sabbatical.

Studying Leadership

I joined the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, and for the next year, I studied leadership, teamwork, organizing people to bring about cultural change, and healthcare delivery systems.

The mistakes I made in implementing Gatorounds quickly became obvious.

As luck would have it, my absence from UF eliminated some of the friction I’d caused. Some of the physicians had appreciated the positive effects of Gatorounds, and once I was no longer pushing this system on them, the concept of using athletic principles to promote teamwork became part of the status quo.

Gatorounds 2.0 

When I returned to UF, a new Chairman of Medicine and Vice Chairman for Clinical Care had been appointed, both of whom saw the potential benefits of Gatorounds.

They encouraged me to reinitiate my pilot program.

Actively keeping in mind what I’d learned at Harvard, I began to quietly implement Gatorounds 2.0.

This time, while coaching new physicians on the fundamentals, I repeatedly asked questions and listened to their concerns. I was profuse in my praise when the proper procedures were followed.

When the appropriate protocol wasn’t being followed, I gently suggested a better way.

Occasionally, I invited physicians for a cup of coffee, creating a comfortable environment where I could describe the successful approaches of other physicians that they might consider emulating.

I carefully managed these relationships, encouraged everyone to help with the implementation, and recruited a group of physician champions.

I’m proud to say that Gatorounds has now been fully implemented, and staff satisfaction has steadily increased.

Rounding now takes 2/3 of the time it once did, and without any decrease in patient satisfaction.

The Adaptive Leader’s Playbook

For an adaptive leader to successfully implement change, he must be fully cognizant of the challenges he faces. People try to prevent change in one of two ways: procrastinating and personally attacking the leader. Change creates smoke, and people think where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

The key skill for an adaptive leader is to generate smoke without a destructive fire.

Disequilibrium should be monitored, and change slowed, when emotions run high.

The Ideal Leader

The ideal leader coaches others and trains them to be effective leaders. The creation of a leadership team responsible for making decisions and implementing change can diffuse the responsibility and protect the individual leader from becoming the sole target for those in favor of the status quo.

By identifying like-minded employees to create a leadership team that develops strategies, the adaptive leader will be able to establish more effective approaches.

3 Steps to Change

There are three elements to keep in mind when approaching change:

  1. Trust others to design strategies for change, and encourage everyone to act.
  2. Continually compliment and reward those who create, and support effective strategies for change.
  3. Keep your eye on the goals; accept that change will make people uncomfortable, and understand there will be discord.

A leader who is knowledgeable, encouraging, and patient can orchestrate fruitful change. Indeed, they’re the only ones who ever have.


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here! 
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Frederick Southwick is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida
He is the author of “Critically Ill: A 5 Point Plan To Cure Healthcare Delivery”
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

Images Source: blogcdn.com