For leaders in today’s business world, effective communication is a differentiator. With so much information flying around from so many places, the ability to ensure you’re understood and employees are prepared to take action on your path forward is critical to your individual and organizational success. And yet time and time again I’ve heard the excuse, “Communicating effectively is too tough.” In a perfect world, communicating with other people would be as simple as saying what we mean. But in the real world, saying what we mean…just isn’t always very simple. And while some things are out of your control, when it comes to communication there’s a great deal you can control. Communication Basics Communication comes down to creating a conversation by expressing thoughts and emotions through the rather limited vehicle of language. Our preferred modes of communication—speech and writing—are limiting by their very nature, but even so, most of us don’t master them or use them to their fullest. It’s not as though we’re confined to hieroglyphics and smoke signals. We have a pretty sophisticated set of tools at our disposal—both in terms of delivery mechanisms and our abilities to shape messages creatively, convey a single idea in a number of different ways, tailor our approach to resonate with different audiences, listen carefully to feedback, and so on. The Simple Reasons Communicating Effectively Seems Difficult Communication is the sum of several different variables—some of which we can control, and many of which we can’t. The most effective leaders know having a message is only the beginning. In order to get that message across so that people hear it, absorb it, and understand how it affects them, you must also consider context, audience, delivery and more. My real goal is to isolate the factors we can control and recognize those we can’t, so that instead of making excuses, we can start making efforts to improve our ability to communicate in ways that influence and inspire others. That is, after all, what we’re trying to achieve through communication, isn’t it? Here are a few of the reasons communicating effectively is tough: The learning process is daily and ongoing, not something you can master by simply taking one class (although that’s a great start) Communication is personal and an approach that works with some people may fail with others Communication involves being able to anticipate the needs of your audience We’re communicating even when we’re not Everyone can learn to communicate well—someone might need to show you how, and its takes practice Become an Outstanding Communicator Appearances can be deceiving though, especially if you’re committed to improving your communications to achieve your business goals. Here’s what you can do today to elevate the level of your communications: Take responsibility for ensuring that communication happens, and happens in the right way—communication begins and ends with you. Don’t expect others to do the heavy lifting. No one can translate information and help your employees make sense of it as well as you can. Recognize that communication is an instrument of strategy, and a strategy itself. Effective communication helps you turn strategy into action, both for your goals and the goals of the organization. Take time to understand your audiences’ communication needs. With attention to your audience and individual needs, you learn to shape your message in ways that resonate and break through the clutter. Plan communication and recognize communication doesn’t just happen. You can “wing it” and take a chance on the results, or you can be planful and purposeful, and succeed. Effective leaders make their communication look seamless; that’s the result of planning and practice. Go beyond information sharing to real conversation—communication is about dialogue. Think of a tennis match and how invigorating it is to watch a great exchange of shots. Use stories to create an emotional connection. People follow leaders because of how leaders make them feel. Tap the feeling side of others with stories. Ensure your actions follow your words. People watch what you do more than they listen to what you say. It takes skill and practice to ensure that the actions we inspire are the ones we want. With thought, attention, and practice, you too can become a great communicator. What steps will you take to ensure you become, or remain, an outstanding communicator? - David Grossman _______ Dont get bogged down by poor communication. Take the steps you need to improve. For free tips, download our A-List Part 2: "Communicating Your Way to Great Leadership" ebook, today!
Welcome to my weekly round-up of top leadership and communication blog posts. Each week I read and tweet several great articles and on Fridays pull some of the best together here on my blog. So in case you’ve missed them, here is this week’s round-up of top posts. They’ll provide you with tips, strategies and thought-starters from many of the smart folks in my network. So whether you’re a new leader or an industry veteran there’ll be something here for you. Open Up and LeadMeghan M Biro via ForbesThis week we found out that the federal government tracks every phone call we make. On the one hand, it’s unsettling. On the other, if it helps stop terrorist attacks, it may be worth it. In some ways what was most disturbing about the 4 Traits You Need to Be a Great LeaderBrian Moran via Open Forum BlogJohn Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” His quote, along with tens of thousands of other great quotes on leadership, inspired me to find out more about what defines great leaders… Executives: Communication is Not Part-TimeDaniel Newman via Millennial CEOTime for a memo again. Calling all employees, please see the attached memo that will communicate all good, bad and ugly for the past quarter. Now do what I say and no one will get hurt. Perhaps we will even sell something to someone. Ready – Break (Best NFL Huddle Impression) Once sent I return… Developing Conversational LeadershipTal Shnall via Lead Change Group BlogFor as long as we have lived in human community, great conversations have been the source of fresh ideas. Conversations engage us with the rest of the world and embrace relationships with others. Conversation is our human way of discovering new meaning that shape our future… Teamwork: Leaders, When Do You Intervene in Team Issues?Kate NasserDo you think your teams can work their issues out by themselves? Perhaps you think it’s wrong for you to intervene believing your involvement will undermine team accountability. I’ve often heard leaders claim: “They are adults. Let them work things out themselves… What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week? - David Grossman ______ Want more tips on leadership? Download our Leadership Toolbox eBook, today!
Whether we like it or not, we’re still in a time where many organizations are feeling under attack and protecting every asset. In some, the pressure is mounting for leaders to find the answers, and employees who need to stay focused and productive are often numb out of fear of losing their job, taking on more work, or focused on the unknown. Hidden in these tough times, is a defining moment to create real, meaningful connections to maintain – if not drive – productivity and minimize the disruptions that come with change. It’s a time to ensure communication is a top priority to minimize the downside of change and accelerate the upside. Now more than ever, we need leadership I used to work for a manager who said, ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way.’ This is a litmus test for leadership, which means sharing with employees what we know and what we don’t know. This is a time for courageous conversations and straightforward communications. Specifically, this is the time to talk about how the organization is positioned for the future and/or how changes are being made to set the business up for future success. It’s also critical to clearly outline specific expectations for employees and what’s needed of them. Here are eight tips to use when communicating during tough times: Remember the shadow that’s cast by leaders and the company – if in a situation where layoffs are happening, keep in mind that they may be tomorrow’s prospects, clients, boss, or future job candidates someday Be honest, human, empathetic and show you care – delivering tough news is tough and it’s okay to let employees know it. Do what you can to make them feel comforted Hold a mirror to yourself – as you prepare to share updates and/or tough news, consider how you would like to be communicated with if you were in the employees’ shoes Outline expectations clearly – it’s the fastest way to find out if employees are on the same page as you and engaged, and if they’re not, it could be a safe way for people to gracefully opt out of their job If layoffs happen, help the remaining employees “mourn the loss” – don’t pretend that nothing happened or that the people left in the company or group aren’t affected Don’t wait to communicate until you have all the answers, by then it will be too late – if you wait, someone is going to speak on your behalf and fill the information vacuum whether the information is right or wrong Provide context and relevance so employees understand the meaning behind what’s being said and understand what it means to them; have a message platform of core messages and actions Consider creating online and real-world networks for alumni – a place to keep in touch with others, network with each other, and keep a fond connection with the company so your organization is seen as a connector and you have ambassadors Remember, talking about the state of the business – whether good news or grim – it makes good business sense to avoid significant distractions at a time when a steady hand at the wheel is needed. Now more than ever, employees want to know where they stand and they need to stay focused. To do this, they need the right direction and information from their leaders and communicators. How can you use these tips to help relay tough messages to employees? - David Grossman ______ Want more on leadership? Download our Leadership Toolbox eBook, today!
Welcome to my weekly round-up of top leadership and communication blog posts. Each week I read and tweet several great articles and on Fridays pull some of the best together here on my blog. So in case you’ve missed them, here is this week’s round-up of top posts. They’ll provide you with tips, strategies and thought-starters from many of the smart folks in my network. So whether you’re a new leader or an industry veteran there’ll be something here for you. Make Change Management Your Competitive DifferentiatorBy: LaMarsh GlobalLeaders in many organizations today recognize that change management is an important strategy and enabler of success. As that recognition becomes more widespread, the question becomes… Great Leaders Know Respect Is The Keystone Of A Successful BusinessBy: David K Williams via ForbesAs you may be aware, the “keystone” is the central stone at the summit of an arch that locks the structure together. It is also the term to describe the central principle or part of a policy or system on which… 5 Tips to Make Yourself Invaluable by Serving Multiple TeamsBy: Christopher AveryIn our hyper-connected world, rewards will go to those who happily align the goals and integrate the actions of multiple intersecting groups, thus moving all forward. Here are two examples where integrative skills… What were some of the top change and leadership articles you read this week? - David Grossman ____________ Get more resources on leadership by signing up for our monthly newsletter, eThoughtStarters, today!
I’m not sure which comedian said: “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most!” While I wholeheartedly agree, I’m beginning to think that it’s time that I miss the most. Time is moving even faster than ever before, and it seems that I’m not alone – we all want some time back. That was the topic of a recent discussion with some smart and savvy senior leaders who were bemoaning their loss of time, and committed to regaining their time-filled younger days. They knew they had to use time better, and came up with this list of strategies that work. Consider this their fountain of youth for time -- some great ways to take more control of time: Schedule time for specific tasks for your team and yourself. If it’s important, chances are it should be scheduled. This could be regular one-on-ones, open door time, or time to walk the halls (literally or virtually). Every leader should have a communication cadence or rhythm that works for him or her. Manage up by providing status updates to your boss in the way that he or she most prefers. Is your boss a “no news is good news” person or a “no news is bad news” person? You need to know for sure and you might be surprised. Don’t assume; ask. Prioritize your work and share your expectations with others as to how they interact with you. We teach others how to interact with us. Be okay to say “no.” Most people can say “no” more than they give themselves permission to. Reduce distractions and noise, especially any drama in the workplace and time with email. Take time to focus on what matters most. It’s easy to get distracted by the urgent but not important, or the fire drills that are someone else’s priority. Get whats important in front of you every day to help you stay focused. This could be a list of priorities, a strategy map, diagram or scorecard, for example. Pick up the phone to communicate – ask and answer questions, build relationships, and interact with others. Teach others when a phone call makes more sense than a string of emails. How do you plan to take back a minimum of 30 minutes next week? What other suggestions might you add to take back time, and use the time you have even more effectively? - David Grossman ___________________ Do you find yourself in constant search of tips to help streamline and simplify your workdays? Subscribe to our blog and get those resources delivered right to your inbox!
Body language is something that some of us register and process without even being aware of it, and something that others consistently miss and are unaware of the valuable clues to emotions and feelings that body language provides. But no matter where you are on the spectrum of awareness, an enhanced understanding of body language can positively impact your business and interpersonal success. The basic fact is this: all nonverbal communication has meaning, and body language can be a rich source of information for any leader. Sometimes its a cue that you arent connecting, as body language contradicts what’s being said; other times, it signals when a message is getting through. In most cases, being sensitive to body language can help us support others and build stronger relationships. Here are the truisms: Your body language communicates all the emotions you feel. What your body communicates is more accurate than what you say, and it speaks before you do. People can often tell what you’re thinking or feeling before you speak. And your actions can speak so loudly they drown out your words. Employees search a leader’s actions for meaning and then act accordingly. Understanding body language can help leaders know when their message resonates and also when more clarification is needed. Different cultures, ages and genders can assign different meaning to body language, so it is important to consider your audience. The signals you send To gain greater awareness of how your body language could be interpreted, videotape and review a rehearsal session for your next big presentation. Evaluate how well your body reinforces your words and consider the signals you may be sending: Self-confidence – Standing or sitting tall, with shoulders back and head up; making eye contact and smiling; clasping hands behind your back or placing them on your hips. Defensiveness – Crossed, folded arms; crossed legs with ankles locked; fidgeting. Disagreement or negative response – Head shaking, head down in response to a speaker, crossed arms, clenched fists, interwoven clenched fingers, pinching of the bridge of the nose, sitting with legs crossed in a figure-4 position. Insecurity – Standing in “scissor” pose with ankles crossed, sitting with legs intertwined, slouching posture, limited eye contact, keeping head down, gripping your own upper arms. Interest – Strong eye contact, holding head forward and upright, leaning upper body forward, slow head nodding, leg pointing in the direction of the speaker, sounds of affirmation. Nervousness/Tension – Touching your face, biting your lip, grinding teeth, chewing gum, arm-across-body moves including reaching across for a drink or to adjust clothing, holding an object in front of the body. Thoughtfulness/evaluation – “Steepling” hands with fingers and thumbs on opposite hands touching, hands stroking chin, pinching or rubbing nose while listening, chin resting on hand with arm on elbow, head tilted to one side. What type of message does your body language send and how do you ensure it reflects what you say? - David Grossman ____________________________________________________________ Feel like youre communicating but your employees dont always hear you? Download "Can You Hear Me Now? Make What You Say Matter And Increase Your Chance of Being Heard eBook", today!
Welcome to my weekly round-up of top leadership and communication blog posts. Each week I read and tweet several great articles and on Fridays pull some of the best together here on my blog. So in case you’ve missed them, here is this week’s round-up of top posts. They’ll provide you with tips, strategies and thought-starters from many of the smart folks in my network. So whether you’re a new leader or an industry veteran there’ll be something here for you. The Thriving Organization- Ten Power Steps Out Of Jurassic ParkBy: Irene Becker via 3Q Leadership BlogJurassic Park is alive and well. If you are not working in Jurassic Park, many of your colleagues and friends are. While there are minor exceptions, organizations by and large spend incredible dollars trying to help executives and managers play to their strengths. Good? Yes. Enough? No… 10 Rules for InfluencersBy: Mark Fidelman via Forbes I know you, but you may not know me. You’re not a Hollywood celebrity, because frankly, you work harder and you’re worth more to society than that. You have ambition, you have opinions and you certainly know how to convince people to see things your way… Four Points in Building Trust with MillennialsBy: Randy Conley via Leading With TrustJudy Garland’s line from The Wizard Oz could appropriately capture the feeling of many leaders when it comes to managing Millennials in the workplace – it’s a whole new world! Millennials, or Gen Y (born 1982-1995), are rapidly becoming a greater share of the workforce and some studies have… Bringing the Virtue of Honor to ManagementBy: Shawn Murphy via Switch & ShiftManagement has become a dirty word. It’s ubiquitous with bureaucracy. It’s an art becoming devoid of meaning. It’s been bandied about in ethics scandals and cloaked under the guise of “doing what’s right.” Yet while managers have done their fair share to mess up the effectiveness… The 4 Key Elements of Effective Intentional LeadershipBy: John Bossonglead·er·ship noun: the office or position of a leader, the capacity to lead, the act or instance of leading. Leadership is sometimes difficult to define. Difficult to box in. You know a good leader when you work for one. You can also clearly feel a bad leader when you work for one… What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week? - David Grossman
The ability to engage in strong two-way communication with employees is a must-have skill for leaders – especially those looking for ways to increase employee engagement. And oddly, I’ve found that this is an area many leaders and managers overlook. All too often, they don’t even realize they are having communication issues that if addressed, would lead to immediate returns on their time invested. So, if you’re looking to improve your two-way communication, you can begin to make changes that will have an impact, and the truth is, the changes aren’t as hard as you might think. We frequently work with our clients on essential must-do strategies for enhancing two-way dialogue, and they are often surprised that these fixes are not as challenging as they first imagined. Now, thats not to say that change happens overnight, but it does mean that with a little attention and self-awareness, everyone has the power to improve their two-way communication. To improve communication, managers need to: Understand their role and the expectations leadership has of them (that means leadership needs to have and articulate expectations) Be self-aware so their own issues, challenges and filters don’t get in the way Be trained on how to drive two-way communication Let their staff know there’s an issue and, seek input from them on how to improve two-way communication (what’s working well/what could be better), and then act on their suggestions Have a communication plan for their team, which ensures a regular cadence of opportunities to have dialogue about the state of the business, results, how the team is doing, the impact of decisions on the team, and so on Be held accountable for those expectations and behaviors Share their expectations of employees when it comes to communication Regularly ask their teams how communication is flowing (what’s working well/what could be better), and then act on those suggestions Measure the state of communication regularly (a survey once a year isn’t enough) Which two or three steps, if addressed over the next few weeks, would have the biggest impact on your effectiveness? - David Grossman ___________________________________________________________________ Feel like youre communicating but your employees dont always hear you? Download "Can You Hear Me Now? Make What You Say Matter And Increase Your Chance of Being Heard" eBook, today!
Welcome to my weekly round-up of top leadership and communication blog posts. Each week I read and tweet several great articles and on Fridays pull some of the best together here on my blog. So in case you’ve missed them, here is this week’s round-up of top posts. They’ll provide you with tips, strategies and thought-starters from many of the smart folks in my network. So whether you’re a new leader or an industry veteran there’ll be something here for you. 9 Tips for Mentoring Next-Generation LeadersBy: Bruna Martinuzzi via Open Forum BlogA study of next-generation leaders shows that managers have several concerns about the young people they employ. One of these concerns is that young people arent getting the coaching and mentoring they need to equip them to lead in complex environments. 6 Leadership Tips and 8 Leadership Questions That Get ResultsBy: John BossongIt’s time for Tuesday’s tips. Below are 6 leadership tips you can put to use immediately. Discuss these with your staff. Have one person describe how your organization can use each tip. How can it make you better? Where are you weak or strong?... Employee Engagement: Every Leader’s ImperativeBy: Meghan Biro via ForbesI had to call my technical support contact last month about a simple billing question. When I finally got a live person, after enduring five minutes of Yanni’s greatest hits, her boredom just radiated through the phone. I guess I caught her mid-yawn. When I told her about my issue… What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week? - David Grossman ____________________ For more on leadership, download our Se7en Deadly Sins of Leadership ebook, today!
“Who’s in charge here?” It’s a phrase many of us have heard in any number of situations and scenarios throughout life – in movies, at work, at home (those with kids know this question might even be posed internally). In successful organizations, being a leader isn’t just about people who manage others. Leadership is something in which everyone participates. Growing up in Wisconsin, and living in Chicago for most of my life, I’m always drawn to the annual scene of geese flying south for the winter (even if it does mean freezing temperatures and mountains of snow are in store). It’s then, when the geese are in search of a warmer climate, that we see the flying-V formation overhead. What’s particularly interesting about this is the goose at the apex of the V might be considered the leader. They set the course, lead the way and deal with the most wind in their face. That is, only for a time. When they tire, the lead goose makes its way back to the end of the line and a new goose becomes the leader – setting the course, leading the way and dealing with the most wind in their face. In business today, organizations need everyone to lead irrespective of whether they manage people or not, what their role is, where they sit around the world or what they do. And wouldn’t it be great if at times, some of the leaders we work with sit back and allow others to lead? Now that’s a thought that’s definitely not for the birds! How can you help each of your employees lead better? - David Grossman ____________ Want more tips on leadership? Sign up for eThoughtStarters - our monthly eNewsletter - today!
Mr. David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA
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