Communication, Leadership, and Writing Your Own User Manual

Unfortunately, newborn children and team members don’t come with a set of instructions.  But here’s your chance to write your own “user’s manual.”  Creating your own set of instructions for yourself can be a great way to build stronger relationships in your organization.  It’s a technique we use at Performance Strategies Groupin which two or more people jot complete a series of sentences to identify ways to better coach and be coached, allowing team members to create a common baseline for behavioral and cultural dialogue.

This tool may be particularly useful to do so when new team members join an organization, enabling the parties participating in the exercise to accelerate an understanding about what is important to each of them.   Often, we employ this exercise to compliment our use of several behavioral profiles we use in leadership and teambuilding exercises and become the foundation for creating a coaching culture.  With that understanding, please complete the following sentences with the realization there may be one or more ideas that come to mind.  Try to identify the two or three things that are most important to you, rather than list all your possible responses.

  1. If you want to motivate or energize me, you should…
  2. If you want to frustrate or demotivate me, you should…
  3. I give you permission to….
  4. If I have done something well please…
  5. If my productivity, accuracy, or some other performance measure by which I am gaged falls short, you should…
  6. I would prefer…
  7. I like a work environment in which….
  8. It is difficult for me to…
  9. It is really important for me to…
  10. Conflict is…
  11. As I understand them my primary responsibilities by which my performance will be measured includes…
  12. I need help when…
  13. I get upset when…
  14. I am the kind of employee/manager who values…
  15. I think our organizational culture values…
  16. When I am under stress I tend to…
  17. I feel devalued when…
  18. I feel valued when…
  19. When our organization is undergoing change in policies, people, or processes, I would appreciate
  20. I am not sure who is responsible for…
  21. I am at my best when…

Keep in mind this is only a brief list of statements, not a comprehensive one.  When discussing your responses with someone else in your organization, you will likely find yourself adding to the list.  You should feel free to do so and revisit this dialogue regularly.

If you’d like more information about how Performance Strategies Group can help you and your organization improve your communication, sales and leadership skills, or with our strategic planning process, contact principal consultant, Jim Owens at jim@psghsv.com

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Performance Matters: Telling Your Story

“What’s your story?”

It’s a question that’s pregnant with possibilities.  It can be posed as a accusation or as a sincere expression of interests.  But when it comes to telling their “story,” many leaders find it hard to express stories about their organizational culture, mission, challenges or victories.  Such leaders often fail to see the value of a well-told tale when it comes to engaging an audience, resorting to email as a means of so-called “communication” with their stakeholders.  They miss the primary value of story-telling when it comes to communication.  So what’s that?

It’s the opportunity to, as one writer puts it, to “make me care”  as a part of your audience.  When we coach leaders about communication we often have to remind them that they are on a quest to win both the  hearts and minds of their stakeholders.  As leaders, we have to find what is important to our stakeholders and connect with the passions, concerns, fears, or hopes,  and dreams in meaningful ways if we want to engage an audience, a customer, or an employee.  In short, great communicators make people feel a connection with the message they’re hearing.  

Over the years, we’ve asked leaders to share a story about something about their organizational values and mission.  We normally hear vague references to integrity, or hard work, agility, or even how much their organization values people.  But when asked to share an example of how that value has been born out in their organization in the last 30 days, we’re surprised at how few can do so.

So the next time you’re about to write that email, address that audience, or meet with that client, ask yourself one question.  What do they care about?  Whatever message you’re trying to craft will be far more likely to connect if you begin there, rather than if you lead and discuss only what you care about.  We will talk more about this in our next few blog posts as we address how it can help create change in your organization, building your strategic plans, or even how it will improve your sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction.  

Until then, if you’d like to know more about our executive coaching, strategic planning, or leadership and sales process consulting work, email Principal Consultant, Jim Owens, at jim@psghsv.com.

 

 

 

 

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Performance Matters: Conflict–Don’t Argue with Me!

Conflict. 

Unless you live on a deserted island, you’ve probably experienced it with someone. Sometimes, conflict manifests itself in an outburst of emotion and sometimes it’s just a sense of tension between two or more people. And sometimes there’s conflict we aren’t even aware exists (which is the worst kind).  But whatever the case, conflict distracts us and makes our teams less productive if we don’t address it.  And as leaders, we have to take action.

So what can we do about it? 

First, we need to recognize the source of the conflict.  Is it over an idea?  A different way of doing something, solving a problem or how to seize an opportunity.  Or is the conflict arising from different behavioral stylesand how we communicate?  Or is it because you or someone else has an agenda—maybe a selfish or altruistic one?  If we can identify the source of the conflict, then we have the opportunity to resolve it effectively.  It might not be easy, and it might take some courage, but it is possible.

If we’ve identified the conflict is over behavioral and communication styles, we can attempt to adapt our own style some and invite others to do the same.  Maybe we are analytical and detail conscious.  So perhaps we need to be willing to look at the big picture in a given situation.  And if we are a bottom-line, let’s just get to it and make a decision sort of person, perhaps we can become more thoughtful, more willing to listen to someone who needs to work through all of the risks and opportunities of a given situation.  We need to seek an agreement with others to keep focusing on the idea, problem or opportunity.

Dealing with people with an altruistic agenda isn’t nearly as difficult as when we suspect they have a selfish agenda.  In this case, we have to recognize there’s little we can do to prove our belief.  The only thing we can do is take responsibility for our side of the relationship—what, when, and how we say something.  We may need to gently challenge someone with this type of an agenda by asking, “Help me understand why you believe this so strongly.”  Or when we are offering our own positions, we might suggest, “I might be wrong, but here is what I think.”Accusations rarely accomplish much.  But we might actually learn something from someone that can help us build a better relationship.  When someone has an altruistic agenda, we simply have to stay focused on the ideasregarding how resources are allocated to solve a problem or achieve a goal.

Finally, we have to realize conflict itself natural. And it can be very productive.  When people trust one another, spirited debate is possible.  And that debate can help us expose biases in our decision-makingand leadership styles. It can help us produce new ideas, innovate, and become more productive.  And if we never have any conflict within our teams, chances are we are missing opportunities for our organizations to prosper.

Now please, don’t argue with me.  I know I’m right!  Or maybe not.

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

 

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Alien Abduction and Other Communication Strategies

We’ve all been there. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales professional or a CEO.  Someone we’re trying to reach won’t return our calls, emails, texts, or smoke signals. So what do you do?

One thing we’ve found useful is taking a humorous approach to this.  We’ve done it and so do our clients.  We use humor, hoping to stand out from the crowd and differentiate ourselves some way.

This morning, I wrote the following email to two separate clients, albeit I tinkered with them a bit knowing something about the personalities of each recipient.  

Subject:  Multiple Choice Quiz

Since I’ve called you a time or two and emailed ya, I thought I’d send this.  Please select all that apply.  

___ I have been abducted by aliens.

___ I am being held Taken by a nefarious cabal of evil clowns and need Liam Neesom’s help.

___ I’m swampedcan’t get any feedback from others about your proposal.

___ I need you to quit bothering me.

___ I want you to keep in touch.  

Hope this gives you a laugh and you have a great day.

More often than not, these sorts of emails get a reply.  As do our texts and voice mails when we leave a voice mail with some similar approach. Obviously, some people will consider them unprofessional, so we are always mindful about our audience.  Which leads to another point.

When we are engaging with someone else, we need to be able to meet them in a place and manner that makes them—not us—comfortable. People are busy, and despite their best intentions, they don’t get always get around to responding.  So we have to ask ourselves if we are using the right medium (email, telephone, text, video conference, etc.) to reach them. Some demographic groups may prefer the telephone.  Some may prefer texts or emails.  And some may even tell you to text them after you email them if its important.  The key here is to ask your audience what the best way is to reach them. 

Your message should be succinct, whatever form it takes, if you are asking for something from your audience.  You might say such as, “I’d like to get your opinion on this matter. Can you meet Tuesday afternoon or Thursday morning?”  While this approach won’t always get you a reply, your likelihood of a response is much greater when you take it.  And if you are writing an email, sometimes you can simply put the entire content of the email in the subject line.

We will talk some more about communication next week.  And if you found this useful, please share this blog post on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.  And be sure to tag us.(See what I did there?).

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

 

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Performance Matters: Acting Like a Leader

What makes a great leader?

According to many of you, it’s the ability to communicate at both an intellectual and emotional level. There’s a theory among scholars that communication is essentially a theater. Think William Shakespeare’s line:

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;”

So what’s the leader to do if he or she is but an actress on a stage?

First, it seems wise for them to be mindful of the emotional connection between an actor and her audience. Leaders, like actors, need to connect with their audiences on a visceral level—and they need to know who it is that’s in their audience to do so. How one addresses the finance department might be different than how one addresses a team of sales people. Their skills are different, as are their motivations and their expectations. So using the one-size-fits-all approach might mean something critical to motivating a particular group of people gets missed if the leader isn’t aware she’s being heard by an audience. And if the conversation is one-on-one there’s even more reason to attempt to share both the facts of a situation but to attempt to harness and emotional connection with a teammate.

Second, it seems wise to recognize the importance of the medium a leader uses to communicate. With his audience in mind, the leader should consider the impact of conveying the message in-person, by email, in a group setting, or even by video or social media. Based on the feedback we’ve had, and the implications of some academic research we’ve reviewed, it appears the best leaders recognize the importance of setting a proper stage to communicate their vision, tactics, and own expectations. Wise leaders recognize how different generations value different forms of communication. And they work to use all of them, sometimes making their messages available via a variety of platforms.

In short, the most effective leaders seem to realize they are always on a stage. And they know that building the most productive teams means winning both the hearts and minds of those they would ask to follow them.

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know. And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

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What Makes a Great Leader? Join the conversation

Last time, we promised to revisit the topic of writing great emails.  But let’s pause a moment from that discussion and try to answer a simple question.

What makes a great leader? 

Most of us have had the privilege of working for a great leader during our careers?  Or we’ve served with one in some civic project or in our places of worship. There’s something about them that inspires us, makes us believe we are capable of more than we thought, or helped us come together and thrive during a difficult time.

So what is it?  Are they great communicators?  And if so, how, when, what have they communicated to us that made us feel that way about them?

Are they vulnerable, willing to admit when they’ve made a mistake?

Maybe they taught us something valuable, something we’ve carried with us for a long time without even realizing it.  Think about what that was and share it with us.

What role does kindness play in making someone a great leader?  Do you have a story you can share about that?  We’d love to hear it.

There’s tons of research and a lot of theory about how to be an effective reader, but we’d like your insights.   So subscribe to our blog, make your comments and we may even reach out to you (if you’d like) to interview you for a future article. The first ten subscribers will get a free copy of my book, 40 Lessons in Leadership.  More importantly, this is your chance to reflection how you can improve your own leadership skills—and by sharing your stories encourage other people. 

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at http://www.psghsv.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

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Performance Matters: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Leadership & TeamworkThe Emperor’s New Clothes

In a fable that has been translated into more than one hundred languages, Han’s Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothesis the tale of two weavers promising their emperor a new suit of clothes visible only those fit for their positions.  When the emperor dons his new suit and wanders naked amongst his subjects only a child is willing to point out “he isn’t wearing anything at all.”So what the heck does this have to do with leadership?

Becauseit’s easy for leaders to find themselves living in a vacuum.  With their teams (subjects?) reluctant to question or challenge their emperor, such would-be leaders will never have the chance to learn from their teams, benefit from their creativity, or even to hear when there is a problem within their organization.  This reluctance can be the result out of fear of reprisal or because offering their insights, challenging assumptions, or proposing new solutions is pointless because the emperor just isn’t listening. 

So what’s the moral of the story?

For leaders, perhaps it’s about becoming more self-awareand asking themselves a few questions like:

  • When is the last time someone challenged my assumptions, decisions, or even my leadership and communication style?
  • Am I creating an environment in which my team is eager and and willing to share their thoughts, challenge assumptions, and ask me difficult questions?
  • What do my answers mean relative to my leadership role and achieving our mission?

There are dozen’s more.  But you get the point.

SalesBreaking Through Performance Plateaus:  Coming Soon!

Next week, we’ll deal with this topic!  So stay tuned!

If you’ve found this information useful, encouraging or might see a way we can improve it, please let us know.  And if you thought it was encouraging, forward it to a friend so they can subscribe. If you want to find out more about how Performance Strategies Group helps organizations sharpen their sales skills and processes, builds more self-aware and resilient leaders, or equip more productive teams, find us online at www.performancestrategiesgrouponline.com, or call Principal Consultant, Jim Owens @ 256-426-0305.

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