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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 Les Landes: Getting Value from Values


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It’s a rare organization that hasn’t gone through the process of defining their vision, mission and values at one time or another.  It just makes good sense to have a clear picture of where you’re heading and a roadmap for how you’re going to get there.  What’s more, it seems natural to assume that the impact of that process on employee engagement would be highly positive. 

Not so much according to a study of 5,000 employees across the country that reported only 4% are “inspired by values and a commitment to a mission and purpose.”  That’s not a typo – yes, I said 4%.

How can that be?  Well, another part of the study offers a good hint.  It states that “only 3% of respondents report they work for organizations whose purpose and values inform decision-making and guide all employee and company behavior.”

So 96% of the respondents say they weren’t inspired by values – and 97% say the stated values don’t guide decisions or behaviors.  Hmmmm … funny how those two things go hand-in-hand. 

Before losing heart, the study also revealed that companies that do govern heavily through values significantly outperform those who don’t.  It showed that values-driven companies “experience higher levels of innovation, employee loyalty, and customer satisfaction, and lower levels of misconduct, employee fear of speaking up and retaliation.”

So here’s the bottom line.  Companies shouldn't be discouraged from developing and deploying meaningful values. They just need to do it differently.

Here’s how the process often goes.  A small group of senior leaders go away for a day or two with a facilitator to put together a plan that includes vision, mission, values, etc.  The people who talk the loudest or have the most authority and influence are usually the ones whose opinions prevail. At the end of the session, they congratulate themselves, take it all back the corporation, send out an announcement about it, present it in a town hall meeting, put it in a binder, post it on the wall – and that's about as far as it goes.

So what's a better alternative?

You can use a Culture Assessment instrument that's designed to make values more meaningful, more reflective of the collective team’s views, and more actionable. It has 40 value statements that have been created and validated to reflect different culture types through a rigorous research and development process. Each person on the team completes the assessment, identifying their individual perspectives on the values that are most like and least like both the current and target cultures.

Then all of the individual score sheets are run through a computer program that provides a cumulative team score on each of the 40 value statements – for both the current and target cultures. The process is always enlightening for teams, and it points specifically at the areas where the biggest gaps need to be closed.

Then the team applies a process to begin closing those gaps – particularly where they have an impact on employee engagement. You do that by having each manager identify specific actions that he or she will start, stop, and continue to close the gaps. Then they review those actions with one another first.  Later they review the action plans with the teams of people who report to them. Then they periodically come back to their teams and review the progress that's being made on closing the gaps and achieving the target culture.

That’s just one way to make values more relevant and long-lasting for an organization.  Whatever approach you use, just make sure it doesn’t become a retreat exercise that turns into nice-sounding words on a poster that lead to 96% of employees being uninspired.


About Les Landes

Founder and president of Landes & Associates, Les Landes is the former head of communications for one of the world's largest food companies.  He speaks at conferences and seminars across the country, and is well known for his trademark message about the perils of the quality "program trap." Les’ areas of expertise range from communication to marketing to organizational development to employee engagement and hosts the WebTalkRadio program, “Employee Engagement: The Heart of Business Success.”


Employee Disengagement and the Warning Signs to Look For


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Disengaged employees have a staggering effect on business. Studies have shown that lower productivity has an estimated economic impact of $300 billion per year, while increased workplace injury, illness, turnover, absence and fraud have an economic impact estimated at $1 trillion per year, according to The Gallup Management Journal. This is felt around the world at a global level, but it also has very personal and immediate effects on organizations, departments, teams and, as a result, individual employees.

So as you consider the impact of disengaged employees on your bottom line, keep in mind these top engagement warning signs:

  • Information overload
  • No clear understanding of business goals and priorities
  • Leaders who don’t “walk the talk”
  • Communication is a “check-the-box” activity and doesn’t get to employees in a relevant way
  • Leaders who don’t see value in communication and don’t plan their communication
  • Communication that is reactive, scattered and not relevant to questions or needs
  • Withholding information or limiting information sharing
  • Limited access to managers, information and leadership
  • Being told to do something without the appropriate context
  • Hearing news in the media or community before hearing it from their employer

Seeing some of these warning signs, and want to address them?

Join me for a 6-week course sponsored by IABC: Driving Employee Engagement, beginning November 4.

In this interactive course, you will learn best practices for developing and managing an effective internal communication plan that drives engagement.  The online course will cover a range of critical topics, including research and analysis, communication strategy and planning, measurement, and engaging and equipping leaders.

For additional course information and to register click here: http://bit.ly/1vFabvE.

- David Grossman

Weekly Round-Up: On Staying Present as a Leader, the Secret to a Better Reputation through Better Storytelling & the Importance of Holding Others Accountable


Weekly Round-Up on communication and 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.

  • The Secret to a Better Reputation Isn’t Better Adjectives—It’s Better Storytelling
    By Ryan Clancy, Fast Company
    “In the early 20th century, psychologists discovered that your brain, just like your stomach, can get full.  The phenomenon was eventually called semantic satiation--where people got so tired of hearing a repeated word…”
  • Competitive Advantage for Leaders Comes From Surprising Trait
    By Zachary Feder and Khatera Sahibzada
    “In an age where authoritarian power is being questioned from the classroom to the boardroom, the emerging research is conclusive -- humility is a dramatically more powerful and effective way of leading…”
  • 3 Ways Leaders Stay Present
    By Dr. Anne Perschel, Switch & Shift
    Executive presence requires being present. Being present means being aware of what’s happening, in the here and now, the present moment. Being present is rarely mentioned when people discuss executive presence…”
  • Holding Others Accountable
    By Mary Jo Asmus, SmartBlog on Leadership
    When I was young and new to a corporate position, my manager, Karen, gave me an assignment that involved translating a confusing government regulation into a benefit that would be available for our employees…”
  • Top 10 Questions for Employee Engagement Surveys
    By Melcrum
    Employee surveys may range from annual "epics" to monthly pulse surveys, but there is no one-size-fits-all version. Your organization's culture, employee profile, leadership approach and even…”

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

-          David Grossman 


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The Key to Getting What You Want


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I've been working with my 4-year-old, Avi, on a critical communications skill - how to ask for what she wants in a kind and caring way.

She can problem-solve in a variety of situations.

Avi: "If you hold (her sister) Noa, I can go with Dad."

She can be persuasive. Case in point: we bought some rainy day activities to have in thehouse. Here was the conversation the next day.

Avi:  "I think it's going to rain today."

Me: "Avi, it's perfectly sunny outside. It's going to be a beautiful day."

Avi: "Are you sure? Looks like rain to me."

Me: (finally catching on). "Avi, did you want to play with one of the rainy day activities we bought?"

Avi: "Can we?"

Me: "Yes. In the future, just be direct. Ask for what you want in a kind and caring way."

That's a much more challenging skill for her, and for many people.

Which is why I was so dismayed to hear how the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, answered a question at a women’s college event about how he’d advise women who are not comfortable putting themselves up for promotion or advancement opportunities.

He suggested “it’s not really about asking for a raise but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raises as you go along.”  In other words, don’t ask for what you want but rather trust that you will get what you want without asking for it.

He later said he was just wrong.


Often the biggest barrier to getting what we want is ourselves.  That we can’t get past the fear of failure, or the thought that we don’t deserve something.  Others rarely care as much about our needs as we do.

Avi had several shots at the doctor’s office recently.  She was anxious about it.  Until she learned that her sister was getting shots, too!  When I asked her about it, she told me she “felt scared and then brave.”

To ask for what you want may take courage to get past a worry, but the outcome – getting what you want – is ultimately worth it.

What do you want that you haven’t yet asked for? 

-          David Grossman


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Se7en Deadly Sins Blog Post Series: Sin #7 Irrelevance


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Do you feel like people in your company are walking around with blinders on? Like every project exists in a bubble? Like no one has any idea how what they’re doing fits into the grand scheme of the company mission? That’s because leadership is guilty of our final Deadly Sin: Irrelevance, they fail to provide meaningful context for project and company goals and objectives.

The bottom line is this: If leaders aren’t providing relevance for objectives, employees are left to grasp for meaning in the dark.

Employees don’t need to know everything, but they do need to know the “WHAT” and the “WHY.” What are we doing, and why are we doing it? Without this overarching context, your team lacks the information to work with purpose and direction. Then, your team needs to know how it affects them, what’s in it for them, and its relevance.

Next time someone on your team makes a mistake or moves in the wrong direction, take a moment to look at yourself. You may be surprised to discover that you failed to provide context, thereby setting in motion further failures down the line.  Giving meaning to the work that your employees are completing on a daily basis could prevent errors by letting them in on the bigger picture.

When your team makes a mistake, ask yourself: What context didn’t I provide them that would have made the difference between a miss and a win?

Are you communicating the company’s goals and objective in a meaningful way to your employees?

-David Grossman


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Weekly Round-Up: On Improving Your Employees’ Soft Skills, the New Realities of Employee Engagement & Leadership Accountability


Weekly Round-Up on 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 to Do the Human Side of Business Right
    By Mark Lukens, Switch & Shift
    We live in a dehumanizing age. Electronic communication and the abstract commercial calculations of business are powerful and incredibly useful tools, but they also create a sense of separation between…”
  • 9 Essential Habits of Remarkably Effective People
    By Jeff Haden, Inc.
    “There’s a huge biggest difference between being efficient and being effective. (Just ask Stephen Covey.)  Efficient people are well organized and competent.  They check things off their…”
  • 6 Steps to Improving Your Current Employees’ Soft Skills
    By Daniel White, Fast Company
    Let’s face it: Soft skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and adaptability are necessary for all employees to have. However, the majority of attention in the management world has been…”
  • Revealing the New Realities of Employee Engagement
    By Mark Royal, Tanveer Naseer Blog
    Leaders already know that keeping their teams motivated, engaged and driven to succeed is a demanding task in itself. But in today’s world it’s even harder, because leaders have to keep their people engaged while…”
  • Leadership Accountability — A Positive, Simple Approach
    By Paul LaRue, SmartBlog on Leadership
    Accountability in leadership is not a new mindset, as many books and schools over the years have presented. From J. Paul Getty to Rudy Giuliani, leaders of all backgrounds and intentions have attempted to define the subject.…”

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

-          David Grossman 


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Checking Email and Working on Projects after Hours Can Be Hazardous to Your Health, German Study Finds


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Convinced that those late nights checking email and working from home are making you physically sick? Now you have evidence to prove your case.

A German study of roughly 57,000 European workers found that those who put in extra time beyond their normal work hours were more likely to experience health problems. Reported problems were wide-ranging, including cardiovascular, gastro-intestinal and psychological issues.

The research was published in September in the academic journal Chronobiology International. “The findings thus indicate that even a small amount of supplemental work beyond contractually agreed work hours -- may increase the risk of work-related health impairments,” wrote the authors, Anna Arlinghaus and Friedhelm Nachreiner. “… Thus, in order to minimize negative health effects, availability requirements for employees outside their regular work hours should be minimized.”

In the conclusion to their study, the authors put the onus on employers to address the problem: “From an occupational health and safety standpoint … work needs to be designed in a way so that tasks can be accomplished within regular or contractually agreed work hours,” they wrote. “… Free time should be free time, otherwise it must be expected that it cannot fulfill functions of recovery and recuperation.”

The authors argued that the ability to work from home – using smartphones and laptops – carries many hidden disadvantages, often stretching the work day well beyond reasonable hours, boosting stress levels and putting people at risk for health issues.

The authors found that more than half the European Union workers surveyed had worked in their free time to meet work demands.

The German study adds to a growing body of research -- and concern –with the lack of work-life balance for employees today.

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 significant stress.

Noting the concerns, some companies are trying to respond. 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. German car and truck maker Daimler recently launched a “Mail on Holiday” program that allows some German employees to have their emails automatically deleted while on vacation. The program gives senders an alternate contact during the employee’s absence.

Our clients have also gotten more serious about email overload and are looking to find more efficient ways to use email so workers don’t feel as glued to their devices at all hours.

What are your ideas for addressing the serious impacts of email overload within your company? 

- David Grossman


Check out email research & useful resources to tackle email overload!

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Weekly Round-Up: On How to Apologize Effectively, Helping Employees Become More Productive & Tips to Translate Your Messages Successfully


 David Grossman's 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.

  • Be Open and Honest
    By Naphtali Hoff, SmartBlog on Leadership
    One of the hardest talks that I had to give took place right before the beginning of my third year as head of school. It was at the back-to-school full faculty meeting and I needed to clear the air about an issue that was on many people’s minds…”
  • The Most Logical Yet Underrated Employee Engagement Strategy
    By Michael Papay & Alexandre Santille, Fast Company
    “Engagement has quickly become a leading buzzword in today’s corporate environment. Seventy-eight percent of business leaders say it is both an urgent and important priority, according to Deloitte. There’s no secret why…”
  • How to Help Employees Find Out What Makes Them More Productive
    By Laura Montini, Inc.
    It’s no secret that the key to maximum productivity lies in demonstrating a bit of self-control. But the big question is: what's the secret to unlocking that self-control? Millions want to know…”
  • How to Achieve Peak Performance in Life and Work
    By David K. Williams, Forbes
    Achieving and exceeding your personal performance goals is a challenging endeavor, yet simpler than you might think.  “I thought of that while riding my bike,” said Albert Einstein when he was asked.…”
  • 6 Tips to Translate Messages Successfully
    By Melcrum
    As a communications professional, it's your duty to ensure that as your organization grows and expands into new markets, all employees are catered for and effectively engaged when it comes to messaging.  And to achieve that, there are some key…”

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

-          David Grossman 


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Guest Blogger @KateNasser - Leaders & Teams: Do You Buoy Each Other?


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Do you feel unappreciated at work? That doesn't mean people don't appreciate you. It means they aren't expressing appreciation to you.

It's an important distinction. If you believe others don't appreciate you, you can lose motivation. You can start to question your worth at work. You might even sink into negativity that hurts others and other parts of your life.

Whenever you start to feel like that, go back to basic truths. The first truth is that everyone -- leaders and team members -- need to feel appreciated.  The second truth is that people often don't express appreciation to each other. 

You can change it by understanding why this happens and by committing to changing it and showing appreciation frequently.

What stops leaders and team members from expressing appreciation at work?

  • Some leaders were mentored by leaders who thought emotion was unproductive. They live what they were taught.
  • The organizational culture is not one of gratitude.
  • They may be high introverts who keep thoughts and feelings inside.
  • Some people are intrinsically motivated and need little appreciation. They assume everyone is like them.
  • Some leaders live by the old rule: No news is good news. They believe you are being paid to do a job and they'll let you know if you aren't doing it well.
  • They believe that you know you are appreciated because you were hired and you still have the job.
  • Some people are very uncomfortable expressing positive emotion until your caring actions move them beyond their discomfort.

 When are people most likely to show appreciation?

  • When you help them move ahead
  • When you ease their pain
  • When you are proactive in spotting these moments

In other words -- when you buoy them! Why? Because in these moments people are aware of their vulnerability and are aware of it enough to show appreciation to those who help.

To get appreciation at work, be a buoy of resilience for others.

Use your natural talents and interests to assist others in times of need. Do for others what they can't do or don't like to do themselves. One woman told me she's always good in a crisis. She's a pressure player. Now her boss turns to her in these tough moments and also thanks her!

Support your teammates with your empathy and insight. Complete your boss with your talents and accountability. Keep each other afloat through mutual respect and adaptability.  Buoying each other makes everyone see they are interdependent. Appreciation flows from there.

In this culture, appreciation will be in the air and on everyone's lips.

Special Focused Message for Leaders - Be a Buoy of Inspiration & Balance

Leaders, you have a special role in creating this culture. Even in empowered organizations, leaders play a great role in modeling how to show appreciation. 

If the culture is one of blame, rebuild it to be one of accountability. If you focus mostly on results, focus on the people who must achieve results.  Otherwise whom are you actually leading?  If you take people's efforts for granted, when will your teams show appreciation?

You can be a buoy and inspire others to be a buoy with the four steps in this short 2 minute how-to video.  These steps will breed productivity and appreciation. 

 Appreciation comes from interdependent connection.

Come on, leaders and teams, buoy and appreciate each other!

 Leaders, what have you been able to achieve by showing appreciation?

©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc.  This post was updated from an original post on KateNasser.com blog specifically for YourThoughtPartner blog.  If you wish to repost or republish this, please first email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


About Kate Nasser 

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, is a smart, energizing, experienced speaker, coach, and workshop leader. Her work in employee engagement, leadership, teamwork, and customer service transforms how people think, act, and interact. With 25 years in business and a Masters in Organizational Psychology, Kate has guided tens of thousands out of the status quo into uplifting productive interactions.



Wait. Millennials and Gen Z Prefer to Meet with Their Boss Face-to-Face?



If you’re tired of feeling like you have to communicate via email and instant messenger to get the attention of your employees, the problem – and the solution – might just lie with you. 

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Millennials prefer communicating with their manager face-to-face, according to a recent study by Millennial Branding and American Express. And separately, a new study by Millennial Branding and Randstad US found that more than half (53%) of Millennials’ younger siblings – those in Gen Z (ages 16-20) – also prefer in-person interactions over communication via technology. For both generations, less than 20 percent said they prefer email.

So while it might be true that Millennials and Gen Z are two of the most wired generations to date, traditional forms of communication are still the most common way they wish to connect. And since most managers (66%) of older generations prefer in-person meetings, we might have just identified some impactful common ground among some of the most diverse generations in the workplace.

I challenge managers of Millennial and Gen Z employees to fight their assumptions about how their employees want to interact. Instead:

  • Hold a brief daily or weekly huddle to discuss priorities and updates with your team, instead of covering off on email
  • Walk over to their desk from time to time to ask a question, instead of using instant messenger
  • For managers who have employees at other locations, pick up the phone when you can and pass on email  

Without a doubt, showing more face with your employees will help you both get to know one another and build a stronger, more impactful relationship.  

-          David Grossman  


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