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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 How A Culture of Learning Makes Teams More Productive, 7 Ways To Show Employees You Care, & How To Manage Your Email

  
  
  
  
  
  

Weekly Round-Up Leadership 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 A Culture Of Learning Makes Teams More Productive
    By KC Ifeanyi, Fast Company
    Quora's mission is clear: "To share and grow the world's knowledge." It's a far-reaching goal, but even the loftiest ideas can succeed if there's a solid base to stand on--and…”
  • 7 Ways To Show Your Employees You Care About Them
    By Peter Economy, Inc.
    “It may be difficult to think of any part of well-established colossus Adobe as a startup, but that’s exactly how Ashley Still, senior director of product management at Adobe, sees…”
  • Neuroscience: Helping Employees Through Change
    By Hilary Scarlett, Melcrum
    Changing employee behavior is difficult.  In fact, changing our own behavior is hard enough: it’s not easy to establish new habits such as taking more exercise, getting more sleep and eating less…”
  • How You Can Stop Email From Taking Over Your Life
    By Eric Barker, Time
    Spam alone wastes 20 hours of your life every year.  We send and receive a lot of email.  ‘In 2007, 35 trillion messages shot back and forth between the world’s 1 billion PC’s; in the time it took you to read this point, some 300 million e-mails were sent and received…”
  • Leading With Small, Everyday Gestures
    By Mary Jo Asmus, SmartBlog on Leadership
    You have worked hard to get to where you are and can rattle off significant times in your career that gave you great satisfaction. Perhaps you experienced a big promotion, dinner with the CEO or heading up …”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

___________

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The Power of Storytelling

  
  
  
  
  
  

power of storytelling

Stories are an integral part to communicating effectively with your employees. A great story goes a long way, because it’s memorable and helps create an emotional connection with the listener.  What we feel impacts what we do, so stories can be a great way to move employees to action.

So why not prepare some stories of your own.  When you do here are a few things to think about.

Stories are to:

An effective story should be:

  • Inspire, galvanize, & engage
  • Simple, easy to tell, and easy to remember
  • Illustrate rather than assert- stories get the connections and results that abstract  communication can’t
  • Short and to the point- the average person’s attention span is only about eight seconds
  • Create a sense of membership and unity through shared meaning
  • Purposeful and honest- position the problems on the foreground and then show how they were overcome
  • Reach as many people quickly and can be easily retold to broaden the audience even further
  • Repeated- keep telling your story until everyone is telling it

Remember, like any good communication, stories should have a purpose and tie directly to the end result you’re trying to achieve. 

What do you want employees to take away from your next story?

- David Grossman

_______

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Weekly Round-Up: On 7 Acts of Generosity That Help Leaders Grow Business, 4 Steps for Getting Honest Feedback & Leading With a Light Touch

  
  
  
  
  
  

Giving Feedback, Growing Leaders

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.

  • Developing Leaders: Turning Life Into Learning
    By Julie Winkle Giulioni, SmartBlog On Leadership
    According to Bersin by Deloitte, U.S.-based companies invested more the $15 billion in 2013 to develop their leaders.  The dollars were spent on a variety of activities designed to build leadership competencies and skills. These activities included external…”
  • The Managers Guide To Leading With A Light Touch
    By KC Ifeanyi, Fast Company
    “It may be difficult to think of any part of well-established colossus Adobe as a startup, but that’s exactly how Ashley Still, senior director of product management at Adobe, sees…”
  • 7 Acts of Generosity That Help Leaders Grow Great Business
    By Rene Lacerte, Inc.  
    “Improve your team leadership by putting gratitude in all your actions.  Don’t be afraid to show your heart and help others.  Generosity comes from the heart.  It needs to be in all your actions…”
  • How To Succeed When Your Boss Doesn’t Have Time For You
    By Avery Augustine, Forbes
    For employees who are used to being micromanaged or butting heads with their boss, having a manager who keeps his or her distance may seem like a dream—or at least, a pretty good problem to have…”
  • 4 Steps For Asking (And Getting) Truly Honest Feedback
    By Jennifer Winter, The Muse
    It’s no secret: Feedback will make you better—personally, and definitely professionally.  But, it’s also a tricky thing.  It’s only natural to elicit feedback during a review process or after a…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

___________

ethoughtstarters, e thought starters, thought starters, communication newsletter, leadership newsletter, email newsletter communication

Corporate Recruiters Rank Communication as the Most Highly Valued Business Skill

  
  
  
  
  
  

gmac

We can talk all day about the importance of employees with stellar communication skills but it sure is nice when an outside group – and one not even connected to the communications field – takes up the case for us.

That happened this year when the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released its Corporate Recruiters Survey report. The annual survey by this well-respected group gauges the demand for MBA graduates among Fortune 100 companies and offers insight into hiring practices and trends across industries and world regions.

For the first time this year, employers were asked to evaluate which skill sets were most important when considering job candidates to hire. The number 1 skill employers sought? Communication skills. (see chart below).

 Graph

Employers said they strongly valued recent graduates who were “highly proficient” in communication skills, specifically oral communication, followed by listening and writing skills. On average, employers ranked communication skills twice as important as managerial skills for new hires. With the exception of one industry – manufacturing – communication skills were top ranked across all world regions and employers, regardless of company size or industry.

Behind communication skills, the other skills employers ranked as most important for recent MBA graduates were teamwork, technical, leadership, and managerial skills.

Since 2001, the Corporate Recruiters Survey has been produced annually by the GMAC, a global nonprofit education group of leading graduate business schools and the administrator of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). This is a powerful group with a critical message: communication skills aren’t just soft skills to be picked up along the way. They are vital to employees’ success in the workplace.

At the same time, many executives find new hires struggle with communication skills. A national management education survey of more than 800 business executives published in July identified leadership and effective communication as the two most important management competencies, but also the two most in need of improvement. The study was conducted by Canadian-based Leger Marketing in association with the Schulich School of Business at York University and other Canadian business schools.

In a Globe and Mail article about the Canadian study, Schulich marketing professor Alan Middleton put it this way: “I take out CEOs once a month and they all tell me the same thing. What ever happened to the ability of someone, in less than two minutes, to state what they want me to do, state the rationale and how to do it?”

What’s your plan for improving your own daily communication skills?

-David Grossman

 __________

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Weekly Round-Up: On 9 Powerful Habits for Getting Important Things Done, How to Stop Sabotaging Your Productivity & Email Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Know

  
  
  
  
  
  

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.

  • 8 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Productivity and How to Stop
    By Amanda Poetker, Fast Company
    “Workplace productivity is no laughing matter. So why are companies doing so many funny things when it comes to helping their teams be productive?  Whether it is out of habit…”
  • 9 Powerful Habits for Getting Important Things Done
    By Peter Economy, Inc.
    “We all know that sinking feeling. The deadline is drawing closer and you haven't even started yet. You start to panic and a dull nausea sets in. Face it: There is nothing…”
  • 11 Email Etiquette Rules Every Professional Should Know
    By Jacquelyn Smith & Vivian Giang, Business Insider  
    “Research has found that the average U.S. employee spends about a quarter of his or her time at work combing through the hundreds of emails each employee sends and receives each day…”
  • The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart
    By Salaman Khan, Khan Academy Blog
    My 5-year-­old son has just started reading. Every night, we lie on his bed and he reads a short book to me. Inevitably, he’ll hit a word that he has trouble with: last night the word…”
  • 5 Steps for Having Tough Conversations
    By Mary Jo Asmus, SmartBlog on Leadership
    “You don’t have to look hard to see that there are tough conversations that need to be had all around you. You may tend to avoid them, which isn’t a good strategy if you’re…”

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

-          David Grossman 

____________

ethoughtstarters, e thought starters, thought starters, communication newsletter, leadership newsletter, email newsletter communication

Se7en Deadly Sins Blog Post Series: Materialism

  
  
  
  
  
  

sin 5

As a leader, are you output focused instead of outcome focused? Are you too focused on the trees to see the forest? Then you’re likely a victim of what I like to call “shiny object syndrome.” In terms of our Deadly Sins, this translates as Materialism, or finding more value in counting short-term deliverables than in achieving long-term goals.

Instead of thinking about end results and achieving goals, leaders often put too much emphasis on the importance of managing individual tasks and projects.  Although you may believe this is the most efficient way to do things as a leader, it’s actually unproductive and potentially harmful to your company. Focusing on these material, tangible details rather than the big picture leads to the kind of micromanagement that devalues members of your team and distracts from long-term goals and success. 

Want to avoid materialism and inspire your team? Consider using phrases like, “The outcome we seek on this project is…” or “What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?”  When leaders focus on the destination, rather than the minutiae of the road to getting there, they inspire their team while keeping them focused on the common goal.

Keeping your employees constantly involved in the plan for your company’s future will motivate them more to be a productive member of the team.  Leaders and team members won’t get lost in the weeds as long as their final destination is always in sight.

Are you more focused on outcomes or output?  Develop a statement to explain your big picture goal.

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Weekly Round-Up: On Balancing the Workload Among Team Members, Why Happiness at Work Matters & Mastering the Art of Negative Feedback

  
  
  
  
  
  

leadership, communication

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.

  • Unmotivated Employees Won’t Like Where The Work World Is Headed
    By Chuck Blakeman, Yahoo Small Business Advisor
    “The world continues to shift in favor of those who want to do something, contribute, create, innovate, make meaning, and own their lives.  The time is ripe for entrepreneurs…”
  • How to Master the Art of Giving Negative Feedback
    By Lindsay Lavine, Fast Company
    “When you’re a leader, giving feedback, both positive and negative, comes with the territory. But not everyone is comfortable giving it. Sarah Green, a senior associate editor with…”
  • Why Happiness at Work Matters
    By Ariana Ayu, Inc.
    “Successful leaders know happy employees contribute to better profitability. Here are two easy steps to a happier corporate culture.  It’s been a sad month with the death of three…”
  • How Well Do You Balance the Workload Among the Members of Your Team?
    By Mike Figliuolo, SmartBlog on Leadership
    SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership— tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week…”
  • How One Brand Uses Corporate Culture To Maximize Productivity
    By Steve Olenski, Forbes
    “Culture is infectious – it’s viral and it’s central to accelerating your business. When you have a unified team that is rushing towards a common goal, you will create rocket ship trajectory…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

___________

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The Key to Building a Culture of Innovation

  
  
  
  
  
  

 Meeting employee needs

Innovation is clearly a hot topic with many leaders today. It’s often seen as the major driver of a company’s success. Yet how exactly do you foster innovation within your company?

According to a group of researchers who’ve studied this question for more than a decade, many leaders are doing all the wrong things when it comes to encouraging creative thinking.

“Every day, we hear more leaders call for increased innovation from their organizations. They recognize what’s now obvious. In a world of rapid change, the ability to innovate over and over is probably the only enduring competitive advantage an organization can have,” writes Linda Hill, professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School, in a recent magazine piece about her research for the Harvard Business Review.

Hill co-authored the recently released book, Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, with fellow researchers Greg Brandeau, former CTO of Pixar and Disney; Emily Truelove, a doctoral candidate at MIT; and former executive Kent Lineback, a best-selling author and coach. The writers spent hundreds of hours studying industries as wide ranging as filmmaking, e-commerce, auto manufacturing, professional services, high tech and luxury goods.

What was the writers’ biggest surprise from years of research and discussions with leaders from around the world? None of the innovative leaders operated in the way that is often described as the key to leadership success. They didn’t rely on a clear and compelling vision and then work to inspire others to pursue that vision. Instead, they focused completely on collaborative team building.

“They (the innovative leaders) didn’t see themselves as setting a direction and then leading the charge,” the researchers wrote in the HBR article. “… They knew they could not be ‘chief innovator’ or the driver of innovation who proactively ‘made it happen.’ They had learned that casting themselves as a ‘Follow me!’ leader was far less likely to produce the collective genius.

“Instead, they consistently saw their role as that of creating a context or setting – it could range from a team to an entire firm – where people are willing and able to do the hard work innovative problem-solving requires. As one of them told us, ‘My job is to set the stage, not to perform on it.’”

This insight is in line with what I see with many successful, innovative leaders today. Leaders who want to drive lasting change inside their organizations tend to be those who truly appreciate the collective insight of their employees. They seek out input and encourage creative thinking. They know the best decisions are those that reflect the diverse opinions of their workforce.

As I’ve seen time and again with top executives, collaboration is not just a nice-to-have. It’s essential to a company’s long-term success. As Hill and her colleagues described, some of the most creative leaders they followed – at companies like Google and Volkswagen, to name just a few – realized the importance of getting out of the way and letting their workers come up with their own creative solutions to pressing problems.

What’s your next plan to foster honest dialogue – and creative thinking - at your company?

-David Grossman

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Want more tips on how to be a more effective leader? If so, check out our CEO Resource Center, today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On What Leaders Can Learn From Robin Williams, Proven Ways to Connect With Your Employees & 5 Ways To Be A Leader Who Gets It

  
  
  
  
  
  

leader lessons, employee

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.

  • What Leaders Can Learn From Robin Williams
    By Ken Perlman, Switch & Shift
    “I am at the age when people I grew up idolizing, emulating, and imitating are dying.  It is one of very few things about this time in my life that really sucks.  Losing idols hits on so many levels that it’s hard…”
  • 7 Proven Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Employees
    By Peter Economy, Inc.
    “Communicating openly with your employees, recognizing them for good work, and giving them room to grow will vastly improve their engagement and your company’s bottom line…”
  • 4 Lessons In Entrepreneurship I Learned From Working So-Called Dead-End Jobs
    By Chet Kittleson, Fast Company
    “My journey in entrepreneurship began over a decade ago when I was 15 years old microwaving gas station food and scrubbing diesel off of the concrete slabs beneath…”
  • Is Your Company Anti-Vacation?  Time To Rethink Time-Off Policies
    By Adam Hartung, Forbes
    Have you taken a summer vacation this year?  It’s almost Labor Day. Peak vacation time is Memorial Day to Labor Day. Almost since the Industrial Revolution began, removing people from farms, the family vacation…”
  • 5 Ways To Be A Leader Who Gets It
    By Jane Perdue, SmartBlog on Leadership
    “To some, being a leader is just a job. But to others, it’s a choice, a calling even, to inspire others to engage, perform, and achieve. The women and men who make this choice…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

___________

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German Car and Truck Maker Takes Email Out of Vacation

  
  
  
  
  
  

David Grossman Discusses Daimler's Email Free Vacation Policy

Recognizing that email overload is a growing contributor to workers’ stress levels, German car and truck maker Daimler recently launched a seemingly radical new solution: no email on vacation, guaranteed.

The company’s “Mail on Holiday” program allows about 100,000 German employees to choose whether they’d like all their incoming emails during their vacation to be automatically deleted.

The “Mail on Holiday” assistant notifies the sender that the email was received but deleted, and then refers them to a substitute employee who can respond to questions.

Employees return from their vacations without the stress of hundreds or even thousands of emails awaiting their immediate attention.

In a Financial Times article about the new program, Wilfried Porth, board member for human resources for the German company, said: “Our employees should relax on holiday and not read work-related emails. With ‘Mail on Holiday,’ they start back after the holidays with a clean desk. There is no traffic jam in their inbox. That is an emotional relief.”

Company leaders said the “Mail on Holiday” feature was also intended to eliminate the temptation for workers to respond to emails on vacations, when the intention is for employees to enjoy some well-deserved time off to be refreshed and renewed.

While Daimler’s plan may seem out of the question for many work-obsessed Americans, it fits into a growing trend in Europe.

Volkswagen announced in 2011 that company servers would stop routing emails to employee cell phones in the evenings. Earlier this year in France, a federation of employers and workers’ unions began giving employees the right to disconnect from email for a specific amount of their off hours.

Interestingly, the Atlantic reported that German and French productivity is among some of the highest in Europe and not far behind the U.S., according to figures from the OECD, or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Clearly, email is contributing to workplace stress. A Gallup study published this year found that nearly half of U.S. workers who "frequently" email for work outside of normal working hours report experiencing stress "a lot of the day yesterday," compared with the 36% experiencing stress who never email for work.

In the U.S., some companies are starting to address the always-on stress that email creates for many workers, with things such as “digital detox camps” to surrender cell phones and laptops in Silicon Valley.

Many of our clients have gotten more serious about email overload and are crafting formal guidelines or rules for when employees need to respond to email. They’re also helping educate employees on how to reduce email volume. That often means a campaign to ensure employees stop sending irrelevant emails and instead pick up the phone or walk down the hall when a conversation is more efficient. It also means encouraging more employees to turn off email on vacation and outside their normal business hours.

As progressive companies find, limiting email overload doesn’t just improve workers’ morale and engagement, it also helps boost productivity. It seems logical to limit emails on vacation as a first step toward making email more of a workplace aid than a necessarily evil.

What’s the first step you plan to take to reduce email overload?

-David Grossman

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Is email overload or taking a break from email while on vacation an issue in your organization? Visit our Email Research & Resource Center for free downloads, tips and strategies to help by clicking the image below. 

email research, email etiquette, email misbehaviors, workplace email

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