Posts Tagged: communication

Are You a Sharing Leader?

September 24th, 2014

Being a leader in today’s work environment has it’s share of obstacles. The culture of your company directly impacts how you lead and what you do in your role in every circumstance. For example, let’s take the topic of communication and your responsibility relative to cascading messages. Often times leaders maintain the proverbial upper hand by distributing information (or frankly misinformation) to suit their personal goals and objectives. This does not have to be a nefarious or illegal thing by the way. Sometimes as leaders we are simply overly competitive or selfish. Being the leader that always has to win means you’re going to do anything you need to do to come out on top. That often means controlling what you know. Selfish leaders? Well, they are probably just protecting their job and paycheck. Everybody is doing it right? So what’s wrong with it? It’s like a teenager explaining staying out too late or a bad test grade, “…but Tommy is allowed to.”

Today’s world is about information. That’s why it’s called the Information Age. Why not empower today’s knowledge worker with as much as possible? Why not make it a point to share as much as you can? A group perspective is often more right and more powerful than the views of a handful or the privileged.

To be a sharing leader one must:

  1. ID-100161829Be clear on what their role is as a leader. Is it your job to share what you hear and learn in terms of strategy, vision, or simple business updates with your team? If you’re hearing these messages and you don’t see them in newsletter, town halls, or email updates then I bet it is part of your role. Be a messenger. There is good power in doing this well!
  2. Share it all. Don’t hold back an inch. Employees can sense when your holding back and not sharing. Trust them. They can handle the truth. Of course there is confidentiality. This is not what I am talking about. Stop protecting. Quit isolating staff from business news they can help with. They might even view the problems of the business as interesting new projects to tackle to grow their resumes!
  3. Use all means as possible. Some messages are tactical. Some are strategic. Some serious and some not so much. Pick your forum. Have huddles every day for daily sticks. Do a weekly discussion for businesses. Have a phone call or town hall meeting when you’re dealing with longer term updates or when you want to get some real engagement and feedback.

The key is to make communication a part of your daily leadership plan. It will always take a back seat to your inbox and to do’s if you let it!

Being Responsibly Responsive!

July 18th, 2012

Being Responsive may seem so….well, obvious. Having a sense of urgency is important, but this is more than simply a matter of manners or etiquette. Although in this day and age, you might call it old-fashioned. For me that is why Being Responsive is such an important core value. When you are spoken to you need to respond. Don’t ever ignore your spouse or someone special to you unless you truly want what happens when we choose to ignore. You might get something along the lines of:“Hello? Are you listening? Are you going to say something…anything?”

Today communication is everywhere. It is constant, and never, ever, ever stops. IMs, texts, emails, voice mails, portals, social media. We all try to play catch-up. But being responsive is such a personal measure. And frankly, every person, work team, business unit, even company have their own unique pulse on just what it means to be responsive.

My family was recently vacationing at our favorite beach spot. We were excited to go to a restaurant that held special memories from our first visit many years ago. We were sat at our favorite spot with a terrific view of the water. No time pressures, and no places to be other than with each other. This was what we wanted to do!  Then, we sat….and we sat…and we sat some more. As we tried to make eye contact with the servers, they ignored us. We kept sitting. Then, we asked for a server to come over to the table at the hostess stand. “No worries,” we thought, “We are on vacation!” For a total of 25 minutes we sat at our table and were not acknowledged. Completely ignored. No response from the staff. So we left.

Try and sit in a restaurant for that long feeling as if you do not exist. This is much harder than it sounds. Imagine if this was during your busy week. A lunch meeting. A tightly scheduled day. We would not sit for two minutes without some acknowledgement!

Being responsive is a conscious decision. We need to customize it. We all need to ask questions and engage. Some tasks can wait. Some cannot. But we first need to recognize the opportunity to serve. This sounds so simple. But, we get busy. We know what we need or want to get done. We rationalize. We say, “If I just focus I will be able to get to it.” But we don’t! We are mostly well-intended.

We “think” we are responsive. Yet, there are opportunities for improvement all around us. Try for a few weeks to stop and be fully aware when someone asks something of you. Did you stop and engage? Did you let your customer (internal or external) know you heard them? Did you establish a mutual understanding of expectations? When is it due? On a broader scale what is your personal service level? How quickly will you get back to someone by email? By voice mail? When someone asks you for feedback?

Being Responsive is about working with others. It’s about being a great teammate. It’s is about serving your customer and customizing your responsiveness. No two situations are alike.

The next time you work with a teammate, ask yourself: Is this a business lunch or a vacation meal? Is this two minutes or ten? It is up to each of us to figure out the difference.

What did we learn from the market this week?

March 30th, 2010

I hope you had a huddle with your team last week and asked the question, “What did we learn from the marketplace this week?”. I did. Guess what happened? My team liked it. The meeting was for one business unit, our human resourcing product, which deploys recruiters and HR consultants to our clients. The question started a conversation. The conversation was not about me talking. The conversation was about staff working together and sharing. We learned a lot about the customers and prospects we talk to each week. However, the real benefit in this case was the team realization that they need to talk to do their jobs well. That the insights give them confidence, and with confidence they feel more in charge. We also stopped ourselves when we became aware of our internal focus, when we were not focusing on the impact of our thinking on the customer. It helped bring us back to our purpose.

I asked a customer that I coach to start doing the same activity. He agreed, but then admitted that rolling a new meeting format out was difficult. “We don’t talk about this sort of thing; we barely talk about the day to day…” in mid-sentence he stopped himself. “Wow, no wonder communication is always on our agenda.” The big aha? It is hard to talk about something strategic or something new if your meeting rhythms are out of whack (or non-existent).

I asked my good friend Tim, who runs a sales organization, how they gather intelligence from their marketplace. Tim said it best. He asks this question with each of his 27 staff. In one-on-ones. In team meetings. In annual kickoff sessions. But it is what they learn that enable him to ask each time. Tim does something with what he learns. Tim has changed and altered a sales process. Simplified the customization of his products. Taught his leaders to ask questions and listen to the answers. His organization is now market driven or Outside-In®!

Three simple things to do:

  1. Bring sales and service staff together around the question. Once the fireworks subside there is tremendous learning that takes place.
  2. Repeat the question in every internal meeting for three weeks to build the habit. Staff need to be certain it is not the leadership flavor of the month.
  3. Shift your focus external to your constituents.
  4. Most importantly, ask yourself the questions: What did you learn as leader about your marketplace this week? Do you see any trends? Identify any opportunities for staff development? See anything you want more information on?

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