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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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Guest Blogger @David_Shindler: 5 Ways To Be An Everyday Inspiring Leader

  
  
  
  
  
  

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Most of my clients look terrified when we talk about how they inspire others. It’s like the very word has magical powers to which they personally can’t relate. “Being inspiring is what other people do”, those endowed with another scary attribute, charisma. Usually loudly. Of course, they don’t say this to me. I can tell by the tell-tale gulp or uneasy shuffle in their seat.

There are degrees of being inspiring from the nation-moving of a Mandela to the everyday shift in a school kid in the classroom. I believe we all have the capacity to inspire. The challenge is to know what that means for each of us, recognizing what works and doing it well through practice. It can become a daily habit. Think what your workplace would feel like then?

Here are 5 ways anyone can lead and inspire other people:

1. Clear purpose

None of us really knows what will happen in the future, but we can decide why we do something and our direction of travel. Clarity of purpose breeds confidence in those around you and confidence in you. People are inspired to act if that purpose has significant emotional value for them. Show positive intent.

 

2. Clear communication

We get inspired when we connect emotionally. This can be to a product, service or idea. The best leaders do that through compelling stories that resonate with us – often compelling because they are personal, so tell a story from personal experience. We can all tell a story.

 

3. Building up others

There are times when stepping out of the way is the right thing to do. Leading from behind shows you trust other people. You show humility when you genuinely listen to the voices of challenge. Recognise and acknowledge what others bring that you don’t.

 

4. Practicing what you preach

Be congruent and aligned between what you say and what you do. Get your hands dirty alongside people on occasions. Muck in. Instil a sense of being ‘one of us’, not distant and disconnected.

 

5. Trusted and trusting

We trust people when we think they are good at what they do and they have integrity. You can’t have one without the other. Having faith in other people as a default builds rapport quickly and people will warm to you more quickly. Build your trust credit.

 

“Do something every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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About David Shindler

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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What makes a great story?

  
  
  
  
  
  

what makes a great story

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, often tells of his trip to Milan and the passion for the fresh, richly brewed espresso he discovered there and carried home with him. He shares the story with his employees to reinforce the message that their job goes beyond selling coffee and is also about sharing the passion in coffee that fills the cup.

Like Shultz, many Fortune 500 leaders commonly use storytelling to engage employees around corporate initiatives.

Psychologists note that utilizing storytelling is a way to engage and manage attention, but is important to do so effectively. In order to effectively communicate with your employees you need to tell stories, and in a way that will resonate with them.

The plot of your story should always reinforce how it's helping achieve your strategy; otherwise it has lost its purpose.

Examples of possible story plots include:

Dealing with change

Excellent performance

Leading our industry

Teamwork

Acting like a leader

My role at the company

Finding smarter processes

Discovery

Overcoming obstacles

Standing up for what you believe in

Making the most of a tough situation

Taking charge/leading

 

Stories make executives human and relatable, so that is why it's important to use at least one story purposefully in every communication opportunity with other leaders and employees. Develop a customized repertoire of stories so that you have various personal stories for different messages you want to communicate.

What are some stories of yours that you can share with employees?

— David Grossman

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Weekly Round-Up: On Building a Fulfilling Life and Career, 15 Body Language Mistakes & Simple Ways to Boost Your Productivity

  
  
  
  
  
  

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.

  • 4 Common Vocal Mistakes Leaders Make
    By Lisa Evans, Fast Company
    “Commanding respect as a leader means more than having a fancy job title and a corner office; it also means having the right tone of voice.  Laura Sicola linguist and founder of…”
  • 8 Gems on Building a Fulfilling Life and Career
    By First Round Review, Inc.
    “Heidi Roizen is one of those names in Silicon Valley that everyone learns at some point. That’s what happens when you spend 14 years running your own company, then building developer relationships as a VP for Apple. Today, she’s an investor…”
  • The Science Behind the Effectiveness of Emotional Stories
    By Vikas Gopal Jhingran, Switch & Shift
    “Do you remember the last time you heard a great speech?  Chances are high that it included an emotional story. The best TED speeches for example, the ones that get the longest standing ovations, are consistently those…”
  • Stop Making These 15 Body Language Mistakes
    By Bernard Marr, PR Daily
    “Until you get to know someone, your brain relies on snap judgments to categorize him, predict what he will do and anticipate how you should react…”
  • Three Simple Ways To Boost Your Productivity
    By Yan Revzin, Forbes
    “Productivity can be a major challenge when you’re in business for yourself. This can be especially difficult for people making the transition from employee to entrepreneur…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

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Starting Thought: Communication Is a Superpower Everyone Can Have

  
  
  
  
  
  

Avi pic for ST

On a recent trip to Target, my 4-year-old daughter Avi wanted to buy some superhero figures.  Like I was as a child, she’s hugely interested in superheroes.  So much so that during an interview with a school psychologist for junior kindergarten, her answer to the question, “Name a planet,” was “Krypton.”  Fortunately, when asked then to name a planet from our solar system, she said, “Earth.”

We regularly watch, “Justice League Unlimited” and have every superhero book that’s part of the “I Can Read,” early education series.  I have to smile when she corrects me as I mispronounce names of some of the newer superheroes.

Combing the aisles at Target, I skipped the “Frozen” section and quickly came upon a great set of superhero action figures.  I thought we hit a jackpot.

“Where are the villains?” she asked.

Of course, I didn’t think about it.  To have superheroes you need to have villains. 

Or do you?

When it comes to how people lead inside organizations, the reality is that everyone can have the superpower of being an effective leader and communicator.  I call it a superpower because of what it can help any leader accomplish, and because the skill is easily accessible and readily available to all of us.

One just needs the drive, a little bit of effort and practice.

What leadership or communication skill are you working on this week to tap your inner superhero?

-          David Grossman

Se7en Deadly Sins Blog Post Series: Sin #4 Detachment

  
  
  
  
  
  

sin 4

It sounds so simple. Employees follow leaders because of how leaders make them feel.

Leadership is personal, but in their focus on business goals, leaders often detach themselves from the human element of the workplace, thereby failing to show they care about their team members.

Is Detachment a sin you’re guilty of? Ask yourself how well you know your team. What are they passionate about? What are the little things that matter to them? When are their birthdays? When was the last time you interacted with them as people, not simply as your employees? When was the last time you said thank you?

By engaging with team members and employees, leaders have the power to boost morale, engagement, and excitement.  Studies have shown that motivated and involved teams are measurably more productive and successful than disengaged teams. People won’t listen to you until they know who you are and that you care.

Leadership IS Personal¹

As a leader, how do you get people to follow?  Work to elicit one of the three emotional responses:

  • The feeling of significance: People want to feel valued and know that they really matter—no matter how they contribute to an organization. Feeling significant leads to loyalty.             
  • The feeling of community: Community occurs when people feel a sense of purpose around work and feel a part of something larger than them.
  • The feeling of excitement: People want excitement and challenge in their lives. Energy from a leader keeps followers engaged and can inspire them to become leaders.

¹Harvard Business Review, “Followership: It’s Personal, Too,” (2001)

How do you make your team feel?  

-David Grossman

Weekly Round-Up: On Why Improv Training is Great Business Training, the Science of Brainstorming & How to be a Conscious Listener

  
  
  
  
  
  

leadership, business, 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.

  • Why Improv Training Is Great Business Training
    By Jesse Scinto, Forbes
    “'If you’re not funny, there’s no real-life consequence,” Rick Andrews tells students in his improv comedy class. “People just don’t think you’re funny.…”
  • The Science of Brainstorming
     By Jessica Hullinger, Fast Company
    “Where do great ideas come from, and how can you generate more of them?  You’ve tried all the recommendations, from waking up early to writing by hand…”
  • 8 Ways to Undermine Yourself as a Leader
    By Josh Linkner, Inc.
    “Distinguished tech experts have been predicting (or praying for) the death of email since the first person abused reply all, which was pretty much within the first minute of email’s existence.…”
  • The Most Important Word In Leadership
    By Ted Coine, Switch & Shift
    “If you had to sum up everything you believe about leadership, your core philosophy, in just one word, what word would you choose…”
  • How to Be a Conscious Listener — What It Means for Us and Others
    By John Keyser, SmartBlog on Leadership
    I am a huge fan of SmartBrief; great articles about leadership. I was very pleased that my article “Listening is our Most Important Skill” was posted on…”

 

Wishing a safe and happy 4th of July weekend to all.

-          David Grossman 

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Here’s Proof that Bad Working Relationships Truly Impact Women’s Health

  
  
  
  
  
  

 women, employee, communication

If you think that dispute with a coworker can easily be brushed off, it may be time to reconsider. For women especially, such negative interactions can seriously impact overall health, according to recent work from a Carnegie Mellon University research team.

Specifically, bad relationships are linked to higher blood pressure levels, according to Carnegie Mellon researchers Rodlescia Sneed and Sheldon Cohen. Their study was published in the American Psychological Association’s Health Psychology Journal.

“This demonstrates how important social networks are as we age – constructing strong, positive relationships are beneficial to prolonged health,” Cohen said in releasing the study.

Sneed and Cohen used data from a multi-year survey of 1,502 healthy adults age 50 and older. The results found that each increase in their so-called “negative social interaction score” was associated with a 38 percent increased chance of developing hypertension in women over a four-year period. The negative interactions were not related to hypertension risk among men, just women.

What does this mean for women in the workplace? The study provides some of the first concrete evidence that testy encounters aren’t only bad for you emotionally, but physically. And with cardiovascular disease being the leading cause of death in the U.S., that’s something worth women’s attention.

This study just underscores a basic truth behind effective communication: the more positive and encouraging you are as a leader or communicator, the more effective your working relationships will be.  Here are some strategies women leaders –and all leaders-- can use to can avoid ugly confrontations from occurring in the first place: 

  • When you’re upset with a coworker, take time to calm down before discussing your frustrations. A night’s sleep or even a few hours to think through a situation can help you approach your colleague in a more thoughtful, constructive way.
  • Make those who disagree with you on strategy part of your decision-making team.
  • Encourage healthy debate among your team before making a decision
  • Explain the rationale behind decisions you make so everyone can better understand any changes
  • Drive consensus on your team but always encourage individual points of view, rather than stifling them

What’s your plan for conducting a calmer, more positive interaction with an employee or coworker?

-David Grossman

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Weekly Round-Up: On How to Build Necessary Types of Trust for the Workplace, Leadership Secrets from a CEO & Promoting a Collaborative Environment

  
  
  
  
  
  

trust, leadership, employee, workplace

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

-          David Grossman 

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Take A Seat For Better Communication

  
  
  
  
  
  

communication, effective leadership

I recently had my annual physical with a fantastic doctor who sits down with me and asks thorough questions. I always leave feeling confident that my doctor not only does his job well, but cares about me personally.

That experience got me thinking about lessons learned from doctors who communicate so effectively.  This led me to a University of Kansas Hospital study, conducted in 2010. The study found that patients were more satisfied with their doctor when the doctor did one simple thing: sat down with them during a visit.

When the physician was seated, 95 percent of patient comments following the appointment were positive, according to the study. Patients also reported a better understanding of their condition. By contrast, only 61 percent of patient comments were positive when the physician was standing.

One other very interesting point from this study was that patients perceived that the doctor stayed longer to talk to them when he sat down. In reality, the sitting doctor spent less time than the standing doctor.

Specifically, patients reported that doctors who sat down during the visit spent an average of five minutes in the room, even though the average sit-down time was little more than a minute. Researchers heard comments from patients like this: “The doctor took the time to sit and listen.” Or this: “He sat down long enough to get all my questions answered.”

There’s an interesting lesson here for leaders from this randomized, controlled study at the Kansas hospital: simple acts matter. Taking the time to sit down and look someone in the eye makes a truly favorable, lasting impression on an employee, a co-worker or a client. How we speak to people – not necessarily the length of time we spend – is a vital aspect of effective communication.

If we can push through the day’s chaos, avoid “cubicle-hopping,” and take a moment to sit down for a simple chat, we will be perceived as more approachable and attentive. Most importantly, these talks don’t have to be very long to do the trick.

When might taking a seat help you be a more effective leader?  

-          David Grossman

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Weekly Round-Up: On Principles for an Engaging Company Culture, Increasing Morale & the Art of Effective Business Email

  
  
  
  
  
  

employee engagement, email, 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.

  • 3 Principles for a Contagiously Engaging Company Culture
    By Kevin McCarthy and Gordana Radmilovic, Fast Company
    “Company culture is one of the business world’s favorite buzzwords right now--something thrown around to collect awards and impress recruits.  In some cases, ‘culture’ isn’t…”
  • One Simple Tip for Making Good Decisions
     By Christina Desmarais, Inc.
    “While it might be true that good leaders excel at consistently making good decisions, great leaders try to involve others in the process, at least when there's the time and opportunity to do so…”
  • The Art of Effective Business Email
    By Rob Asghar, Forbes 
    “Distinguished tech experts have been predicting (or praying for) the death of email since the first person abused reply all, which was pretty much within the first minute of email’s existence.…”
  • Shift into High Workplace Morale by Leading Curiosity
    By Dr. Ellen Weber, Switch & Shift
    “Few would disagree that low morale comes from a sense of feeling used or bored. But have you ever wondered how high morale kicks into gear – with its sense of wonder…”
  • Can Your Team Really Trust You?
    By David M. Dye, Tanveer Naseer Blog
    “Our team of teachers and high school students had just finished a rafting trip, changed into fresh clothes, and loaded up our convoy of vans to head out to our hotel…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

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