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What does it take to be a leadercommunicator?

The Grossman Group CEO and communications expert David Grossman shares his insights on the importance of meaningful leadership communication in today’s business climate. With high level tips on engagement and connection, insights into employee motivations and behavior, and firsthand stories from the frontlines of America’s leading companies.

The leadercommunicator blog is instructive, entertaining, and a must-read for leaders, communicators, and leadercommunicators.

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Weekly Round-Up: On Human-Centered Leaders, Workplace Mentorship & the Truth about People and Change

  
  
  
  
  
  

Weekly Round-Up

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 I 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 New Meaning of Workplace Mentorship
    By Laura Vanderkam, Fast Company
    When it comes to generational stereotypes, Millennials are known for being tech savvy. So it may come as a surprise that, in one recent survey, far more young people said they preferred to learn…”
  • 6 Ways to Curb Your Email Habit
    By Jim Schleckser, Inc.
    What is your No. 1 time waster? Without question, the task that consumes the most time each day for most people is email. Some people receive as many as 300 emails in a single…
  • How Human-Centered Leaders Follow Principles that Matter
    By Jon Mertz, Switch & Shift
    Many think of leadership and power as a peanut butter and chocolate combination. They just go together. There is power in being a leader yet too often leaders put the objective of power above doing the right thing and engaging people in a respectful, thoughtful way…”
  • The Truth about People and Change—and What to Do about It
    By Tara Seager, SmartBlog on Leadership
    One could argue that as a practice, change management is becoming accepted in larger organizations as “something we need to implement to get people to change.” As a change practitioner of many years, this acceptance…”
  • Feedback is the Key to Better Meetings
    By Adi Gaskell on Social Business
    Meetings are one of the more peculiar aspects of corporate life.  Whilst they’re almost universally loathed, they appear almost ubiquitous in most of our organizations.  Estimates suggest that around…”

What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week?

-          David Grossman 

___________

Get your leaders on board with internal communication.  Download the Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face today!

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What Trust Really Means, and What You Should Know to Build Trust

  
  
  
  
  
  

trust, leadership

We often toss around concepts without a clear understanding of what the words actually mean, and how to bring the construct to life.

Take trust – a much sought-after, desired quality leaders want, and employees desire of those they follow (or not).

Being trustworthy is about:

  • Deserving confidence
  • Being dependable
  • Being reliable
  • Doing what you say you will do

As importantly, how does a leader behave?

We might trust someone because of their position, but that’s not all too common these days.  It’s more likely that a leader needs to earn our trust.  According to the IABC Research Foundation Study, “Measuring Organizational Trust,” communication is one element of trust-building.  I’d argue that it’s a foundational element.

Trust-building behaviors include:

  • The first step is for the leader to be visible so an employee can form an impression of him or her
  • The leader must communicate honestly, admitting problems or issues that need to be addressed.
  • When problems occur, the leader must communicate quickly, even if he or she does not have all the answers.  This is about how you handle communications when things go wrong.  The best strategy is to share what you know, when you know it.  And, what you don’t know, too.
  • The leader must engage in two-way dialogues with employees, giving them the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and voice concerns.
  • Most important, a leader must follow through on his commitments and promises.  Actions must be consistent with words.  When follow-through is not possible, the rationale needs to be explained.

Sounds simple, right?  Easy to describe; more difficult for leaders to put into practice.  Those who do reap the benefits of employees who are more engaged, and feel even better about how they lead and the results they achieve.

Which of the behaviors to build trust get in the way for you?

-David Grossman
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Download—Cutting to Win: 6 Steps for Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cuts— and start communicating changes in a way that builds trust and retains your workforce.

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Weekly Round-Up: On How to Disarm a Defensive Audience, 15 Ways to Become a Better Leader & 6 Tips to Motivate Your Employees

  
  
  
  
  
  

Weekly Round-Up on top leadership and communication articles

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 I 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.

  • How to Disarm a Defensive Audience
    By Jesse Scinto, Fast Company
    Board members sat around the table with open containers of pork-fried rice and tense expressions on their faces, waiting for me to discuss their communications audit. I had been told in advance that some of them would welcome the findings…”
  • 6 Surefire Tips to Motivate Your Employees
    By Adam Heitzman, Inc.
    Motivating your employees is one of those things that seems easy on the surface, but can actually be challenging with a lot of different layers to consider. You have different employees to work…
  • 15 Ways to Become a Better Leader in 2015
    By Young Entrepreneur Council, Switch & Shift
    YEC (Young Entrepreneur Council) surveyed some folks about what Millennials want to do differently this year to become more Human-centered leaders. Here are their responses…”
  • 5 Attitudes to Accelerate Leadership Development in 2015
    By Mike Henry Sr., SmartBlog on Leadership
    Are you in a leadership position? Did anyone on your team or being mentored by you get promoted last year? Is anyone who interacts with you growing at the same rate or greater than you are…”
  • Success from the inside Out
    By Melcrum
    “Mindfulness. If you’re still thinking this is merely a touchy-feely trend practiced by yogis, creatives and the business elite – you’re way behind. Thousands of people in organizations around the world are now benefiting from…”

                                                                                                  

What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week?

-          David Grossman 

___________

 

Improve your communication. For free tips, download our A-List Part 2: "Communicating Your Way to Great Leadership" ebook, today!

The A List Part 2

Guest Blogger @David_Shindler: The Prince Charming School of Communication

  
  
  
  
  
  

David Shindler Guest Blogger

We all love a charmer, whether they are a prince or a princess. There is something about the way they pull you towards them when your initial inclination may be wariness or suspicion. Good communication skills are often listed on person specifications and for good reason. So it pays to pay attention to how these silky sultans show their skills. How can you develop your own charm offensive?

  • Skilled communicators work well with colleagues, listen and understand instructions, and can express their opinions with confidence without being aggressive.
  • The best communicators are also able to change their style of communication to suit their audience or task at hand - a particularly valuable skill when leading a team, dealing with conflict or persuading others to your way of thinking.
  • If you want to improve your communication skills, seek out feedback on what you do well and be willing to learn from constructive criticism.
  • You might think that some people are naturally charming, but you can learn to build rapport with others, which is valuable in a variety of situations, from interviews to client meetings. The key is to avoid self-referencing and to shift your mindset from you to the other person.
  • We know when we meet someone charming - it's the quality of the attention they give to you. They remember and use your name. They show interest in your world and you as a person, without being creepy, slick or gushing. Their tone is sincere.
  • They use humour appropriately. They empathise and show you positive regard. They convey credibility, care and warmth. The result is they engender trust.

If that sounds like a lot to take on, observe how the charming people you admire interact with others and practise in non-work situations to begin with. You’ll soon be teaching snakes to dance.

- David Shindler

About David Schindler

David is author of Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable and co-author of 21st Century Internships: how to get a job before graduation. An experienced personal and professional development coach and consultant, David helps individuals, teams and organizations build the people skills and mindsets they need now and for the future. He runs the Employability Hub (free resources for students and graduates). Follow David Shindler on Twitter: @David_Shindler

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How to Listen so Employees Talk

  
  
  
  
  
  

how to listen so employees talk

Listening.  It’s a skill virtually all of us can work on. 

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, there are a number of ways to raise the bar.  Follow these steps to become a better listener:

  • Approach each dialogue with the goal to learn something. Think, “This person can teach me something.”
  • Stop talking and focus closely on the speaker. Suppress the urge to multitask or think about what you are going to say next.
  • Open and guide the conversation with broad, open-ended questions such as “How do you envision…” or “Help me understand how you’re thinking about this.”
  • Then, drill down to the details, where needed, by asking direct, specific questions that focus the conversation, such as “Tell me more about…,” “How would this work?” or “What challenges might we face?”
  • Pay attention to your responses. Be aware of your body language and recognize that the way you respond to a question will facilitate further dialogue or limit what’s discussed by shutting someone down.  Purposefully let someone know you’re listening and want to hear more from them through positive body or other verbal cues.
  • Summarize what you’re hearing and ask questions to confirm your understanding, such as “Here’s what I hear you saying…..” or “Let me summarize what I’m hearing…."
  • Listen for total meaning. Recognize that, in addition to what is being said, the real message may be non-verbal; consider what’s not being said as critical to the message, too.

In the end, the goal is to better understand where someone is coming from, and get the information you need to take the next step and/or make a smart decision. 

Which of these steps would be most helpful for you to adopt?

- David Grossman

___________________

Discover the best practices to connect directly with employees for a motivated and inspired workforce. Download our ebook, "The A List Part 1: Communicate Your Way to Great Leadership" today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On What Makes a Leader, Lessons in Innovation & 15 Procrastination Beating Techniques

  
  
  
  
  
  

Weekly Round-Up, Employee Engagement, Leadership Tips

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 I 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.

  • 10 Commandments of Employee Engagement
    By Mel Kleiman, Ragan
    With the holidays and a new year upon us, it's a good time to pause, look at the big picture, and resolve to do even better in 2015.  In that light, here's something to ponder: Other than…”
  • Lessons in Innovation from Six of the World’s Most Creative Thinkers
    By Ali Rushdan & Alrick Pagnon, Fast Company
    Much to his disappointment, Hayao Miyazaki is often referred to as the Walt Disney of Japan. Unlike the late Disney....”
  • 15 Procrastination-Beating Techniques to Boost Productivity (Infographic)
    By Larry Kim, Inc.
    If you find yourself constantly scrambling at the last minute to get done what you managed to put off as long as possible, don't worry--you're not alone…”
  • No Follow-Up on the Follow-Up?
    By Naphtali Hoff, SmartBlog on Leadership
    As a coach and workshop facilitator, I frequently get calls that sound something like this:  ‘I’m looking for someone who can give a workshop to my staff on the topic of _________. My plan is for us to do…”
  • What Makes a Leader?
    By Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review
    “Every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job. And they also know a story about someone with solid—but not extraordinary…”

                                                                                                  

What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week?

-          David Grossman 

___________

Learn the top 10 things that CEOs care about to help elevate your performance, download How To Think Like A CEO today!

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In Transition? The One Thing You Need Most to Succeed

  
  
  
  
  
  

leadership communication and planning

Every leader experiences transitions in roles and responsibilities at one time or another. This is true whether the leader is new to the organization or moving up within it.. The most successful leaders figure out how to transition as quickly and effectively as possible, minimizing – or even eliminating – any disruption to the business.

One of the greatest needs for a new leader to assure a successful transition is context. No change occurs in isolation, and the leader needs to truly understand the backstory. There is always a set of circumstances and facts that surround a change. The most successful new leader is one who can quickly grasp the relevant circumstances and facts surrounding their move into a new role.

A proactive communications team can play an important role in providing that necessary context for the leader. 

One especially effective tool is a briefing book that provides succinct and current information.  Included are topics such as:

  • Macro view of the environment and the industry in which the organization performs and/or competes
  • The organizational structure, including make-up of senior leadership teams
  • Key audiences (for example: customers, employees, investors, NGOs, communities and the news media)
  • Results of any recent research that has uncovered current trends or issues of concern to key audiences
  • Summaries of any ongoing initiatives that are affecting large portions of any key audience
  • Organizational strategy and how that has been communicated to key audiences
  • High-level view of the communications infrastructure and key contacts

Not only does the new leader need to understand the current context; the leader also needs to quickly shape a new one for the organization. In other words, the leader needs to begin telling the new story and offer a compelling vision for the future. In fact, research shows that a new leader has a window of only about 12-18 months until key constituents will judge the leader a success or failure.

The following excerpt from the May 1994 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly is as true today as it was 20 years ago:

“During transitions, moving quickly to articulate a few simple themes feeds an organization’s hunger for a sense of what the new order might entail, which frees it to respond positively to the new direction. It also provides an overall context so that people can come to grips with everything that is going on. In short, it provides a beacon of stability in a sea of change.”

Are you in transition? What context do you need to succeed?

-           David Grossman

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Looking for more leadership tips? Our Leadership Toolbox ebook is filled with the best tactics and strategies all in one place.

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Management by Walking Around, a.k.a. Leadership

  
  
  
  
  
  

management by walking around

If you want to know what’s going on with your team, ask.  Schedule time to walk around and ask questions. It’s been called Management By Walking Around (MBWA); I prefer to think about it as Knowing What the Heck Is Really Going On (KWHIRGO). Or, you might just call it leadership because it’s a strategy that effective leadercommunicators employ.

Your visibility shows you care, and chances are, you’ll learn a ton from your conversations that you otherwise wouldn’t know.  Typically, the biggest barrier to walking around is the fear of doing it, and specifically, knowing what to ask.  Not to mention the myth of time: “I don’t have time to do it.”  The reality is that if you thought it was important, you’d make the time (and then make the most of that time).

Here are the open-ended questions that are a sure-fire way to get close to your team members and understand how things are going:

  • What’s keeping you up at night?
  • What are you working on?
  • What’s most exciting to you right now?
  • Give me one thing that’s going well….and something that could be better.
  • What’s one skill you’re working on today from a development standpoint?
  • I always appreciate tough questions.  What’s a tough question you have of me?

You’ll be surprised and pleased with the answers you get, and what you learn in the process.  No question about it!

- David Grossman

This post originally ran in May 2010.

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Influencers Can Help Implement Change and Make It Stick

  
  
  
  
  
  

key influencer blog post

We've all been there. You've spent months--or even years--developing a new program, strategy or initiative.  It's based on solid research, best practices, company goals, and employee needs. Logically, you cannot think of a single reason your new program should fail.  And yet.  We all know that in reality the success of implementing anything new depends on a whole lot of intangibles, with none carrying more sway than people's willingness to embrace the new.  You can have the best product or program in the world, but if you can't get your audience on board, you're not going to have any luck.

What can you do?

To garner that must-have support, look to one of the most common overlooked audiences:  key influencers.  These are the movers and shakers from whom others take their cues, and with them as your champions, you're guaranteed a serious boost.

Key influencers can help you  raise awareness about a business priority, build support throughout the organization, and communicate important messages--the why, what, how, and what's next--to a broader internal audience.

But first, you need to identify them and convince them.

Influencers can help you substantially accelerate the progress of your initiative, or easily get in your way and put a halt to your efforts.  Look at influencers as your potentially toughest, but one of the most critical, audiences.  If you can convince them, your initiative is bound to succeed because they're your first litmus test.  They're going to ask the tough questions they know others will ask.  After all, their credibility and reputation (not to mention influence) are on the line.

For best results, ensure you select champions wisely, seek their input, train them, and then equip them with the core communications tools they can use to dialogue with their peers or other audiences.  Useful tools might include a master presentation, a one-page visual executive summary, and a frequently asked questions guide.

How are you tapping influencers to help you turn strategy into action?


David Grossman

This post originally ran in August 2010.

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Improve your communication. For free tips, download our A-List Part 2: "Communicating Your Way to Great Leadership" ebook, today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On Tips for Developing a Leadership Mindset, How Empathy Makes Us More Productive at Work & 5 Practices of Values-Based Leaders

  
  
  
  
  
  

Weekly Round-Up on Leadership

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 I 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.

  • 7 Tips for Developing a Leadership Mindset
    By Jane Perdue, SmartBlog on Leadership 
    These methods require maintaining an equilibrium between analytical thinking and conceptual mindsets—a fundamental necessity for leading as well as managing effectively. If your career…”
  • How Empathy Makes Us More Productive at Work
    By Laura Vanderkam, Fast Company
    Whatever your role, to get anything done, ‘everybody needs to be able to drive consensus,’ says Jon Kolko, author of the new book...”
  • 5 Practices of Values-Based Leaders
    By Shawn Murphy, Switch and Shift 
    Are your personal values personal? They shouldn’t be if you want to make a difference. Something personal is not often discussed. It’s rarely discussed, and held close to the chest. Your values need to be…”
  • How Are You Reacting to Feedback?
    By Liz Kislik, Business 2 Community
    It can be even tougher to accept feedback than it is to give it. It’s never easy to hear that your idea, behavior, or effort didn’t have the desired effect or wasn’t well received…”
  • The Questions Good Coaches Ask
    By Amy Jen Su, Harvard Business Review
    “In the HBR Guide to Coaching Employees, executive coach Ed Batista defines coaching as a style of management characterized by asking questions. With those questions you can move away from…”

                                                                                                  

What were some of the top leadership articles you read this week?

-          David Grossman 

___________

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