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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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Thanksgiving Brings…A New Recipe From Grandma Elsie’s Kitchen!



With Thanksgiving quickly approaching I want to share a new and delicious recipe from Grandma Elsie’s kitchen that you can use while planning your own holiday meal.

But before I reveal the new sweet treat, I’d first like to take a moment to share with you the Grandma Elsie tradition. 

Instead of getting holiday gifts for friends and neighbors, Elsie Edelstein made pumpkin pies and hand-delivered them before Thanksgiving.  The blessing, as she used to say, was in the making (“food brings people together”) and in giving ("it’s better to give than receive!”).

A tradition that started with one creative and thoughtful woman was quickly adopted by her daughters and grandchildren, along with friends and neighbors.

For 13 years, The Grossman Group has adopted her wonderful tradition by sharing in her sentiments with our clients by sending Elsie’s famous spices and sharing her treasured recipes. 

Now here’s another one of those treasured recipes for you to indulge in over the holidays.

Grandma Elsie’s Decadent Organic Chocolate-Cinnamon Fudge


  • Butter, to grease the pan
  • 1 (14-ounce) can Santini* organic sweetened condensed milk (Santini Organic, if you can get it)
  • 1 tablespoon Grandma Elsie’s cinnamon sugar mix (or 2 3/4 teaspoons sugar, dash cinnamon, pinch ginger, pinch nutmeg, pinch salt)
  • 2 teaspoons ground organic cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure organic vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces (2 bags) Dagoba* organic chocolate Chocodrops
  • Kosher salt


  • Butter the sides and bottom of an 8x8-inch pan, then line it with an 8x14-inch sheet of parchment paper. Let the extra paper hang off the sides. The paper makes removing the fudge from the pan a snap.
  • In a medium stainless steel bowl (one that fits in a saucepan), thoroughly combine the condensed milk, Grandma Elsie’s mix, ground cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir in the soft chunks of butter and the chocolate chips.
  • Put the stainless steel bowl into a saucepan of simmering water and mix 8 minutes until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth and thick. Scrape the mixture into the greased pan using a spatula. Smooth the surface and then very lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Put in refrigerator for at least two hours until solid.
  • To loosen the fudge, run a warm knife around the edge of the pan and lift the fudge slab out using the parchment paper. Peel off the paper, put the fudge on a cutting board and slice into 1-inch pieces.
  • You can store Grandma Elsie’s Decadent Fudge in airtight containers or freeze.
Many thanks to our dear friends and colleagues Brad Whitworth & Peg Champion for these delicious extensions to the Grandma Elsie tradition with recipes that feature Grandma Elsie’s spice mix.

To learn how to make Grandma Elsie’s Famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie and other time honored recipes from her kitchen click here: http://www.yourthoughtpartner.com/thanksgiving/

Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving.

-David Grossman


Weekly Round-Up: On Tips for Speakers, Principles of Human-Centric Leadership & Simple Ways to Drive Employee Engagement


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.

  • Get Charisma! 6 Tips for Speakers
    By Jesse Scinto, MS, LinkedIn
    When I ask students to think of charismatic speakers, I often hear the same few names: Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama. These responses show just how limited our view of charisma can be…”
  • 6 Principles of Human-Centric Leadership
    By Mark Fernandes, Switch & Shift
    “Google the word leadership and you’ll get 129,000,000 results in .38 seconds. At last count there are some 50,000 books published every year on the subject and with over 100 million blogs currently...”
  • Want to Make Your Employees Happy?  Ask Them to Do Something Hard
    By Rebecca Borison, Inc.
    One of the toughest jobs of managers and executives is to figure out how to engage their employees. According to Galluncp's State of the Global Workplace report, only 13 percent of people around the world feel engaged at work…”
  • Do You Speak “Vision”?  Managers As Interpreters of Important Company Messages
    By Jennifer V. Miller, SmartBlog on Leadership
    Many years ago, when I was a corporate training consultant, my client hired a translator named Antonio to work with me to convert a two-day supervisory skills training program from English to Spanish.…”
  • Five Simple Ways to Drive Employee Engagement
    By David Zinger, The Globe and Mail
    “The last thing you need when running a small business is yet another expert telling you how to motivate your employees. Yet engagement continues to sweep the globe with promises of increased productivity, performance, revenue, retention and sales…”


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

-          David Grossman 


Check out our Leadership Toolbox eBook, filled with popular leadership posts and all of their actionable tips!


Se7en Deadly Sins Blog Post Series Recap


Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership

Now that you have gotten familiar with each of the Se7en Deadly Sins of Leadership over the past few months, I am going to briefly recap them for you.  Leadership comes with a lot of responsibilities and these Se7en Deadly Sins can harm even the best of us.  Making sure you are aware of these common but dangerous sins is a step in the right direction for productive and successful leadership.

  1. Myopia: The sin of only seeing what’s right in front of you
  2. Hypocrisy: The sin of failing to practice what you preach
  3. Sloth: The sin of being too lazy to commit time and resources to great communication
  4. Detachment: The sin of being disconnected and distanced from your team
  5. Materialism: The sin of finding more value in counting short-term deliverables than in achieving long term goals
  6. Presumption:  The sin of assuming that everyone shares your perspective and understanding
  7. Irrelevance:  The sin of failing to provide meaningful context for project and company goals and objectives

For most leaders, avoiding any of the Se7en Deadly Sins takes honest self-assessment and a concerted effort.  And only by knowing these sins, or common traps that leaders fall into, can you begin to think about how to navigate around them.  Only then, as leaders, can we make the greatest impact on the people we lead.  With time and practice, good habits replace bad, and your past life of leadership sin becomes a distant memory.  The strategies given over the past few months are proven and I’ve seen them work irrespective of the industry, economy, or the leader’s personality. 

Becoming a great leader takes practice, and learning to avoid The Se7en Deadly Sins—and their associated behaviors—is one essential key to mastering the effective communication that drives great organizations. You communicate whether you want to or not … so you might as well get good at it.

Which sin are you guilty of committing the most?  What can you do to make sure you don’t continue to do so in the future?

-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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Weekly Round-Up: On What Motivates Employees to Go the Extra Mile, Making Meetings Work for Your Team & the Biggest Email Mistakes You're Making


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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.

  • 5 Biggest Email Mistakes You’re Making
    By Rebecca Borison, Inc.
    Trying to breakthrough the inbox clutter and send an effective email can be incredibly difficult.  Just ask Jon Youshaei and Shane Snow who sent 1,000 cold emails to top business executives and received a paltry 17 responses…”
  • 5 Strategies For Delivering Bad News
    By Anett Grant
    In the business world you are constantly faced with the prospect of having to deliver bad news.  While these situations are difficult, there are steps you can take to ensure that you instill a sense of confidence in your organization...”
  • Redefining the Bigger, Farther & Faster Business
    By Eileen McDargh, Switch & Shift
    Many organizations seek to be bigger, to go farther than the competition, and do it faster. But there’s a heavy price to pay unless you redefine those three words to match today’s reality with what we look for in our work. Consider this new manifesto.…”
  • 5 Ways to Make Meetings Work for You and Your Team
    By David M. Dye, SmartBlog on Leadership
    Do your people love your meetings?  Hint: if you’re not sure, the answer is ‘no.’ You’ll know people love a meeting when they say something like, ‘Wow, this was a really great meeting!’  If you’re rolling…”
  • New Study Answers: What Motivates Employees to “Go the Extra Mile?”
    By Victor Lipman, Forbes
    “It’s one of the elusive Holy Grails of management: How do I consistently motivate employees to “go the extra mile” for me?  How do I get employees to give 110% when studies routinely show…”

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

-          David Grossman 


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


Leadership Lessons from Preschool Story Time


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During a recent trip to the local bookstore with my 4-year-old daughter, Avi, we sat down for a storytelling session in the children’s section. The facilitator, looking like a giant on a pint-sized, blue chair, began with a simple question: “What do we need to do to get started, kids?” she asked the preschoolers and kindergarteners seated in a semi-circle in front of her.

In unison, they responded: “Open our ears, close our mouths, eyes on me (the facilitator).” I thought to myself, “Holy cow! That can work for leaders, too!”

If you want to exude presence, improve how you communicate, which starts with really listening.  Leaders with that “wow factor,” that “je ne sais quoi” have learned how to be present.  They are in the moment and listen more than they talk.  Listening carefully helps them gather valuable information, demonstrate that they care, and ultimately draws people to them.

That deep listening sets the stage for great leaders to inspire on a range of other levels too.  They often follow their listening skills with these critical approaches for commanding a room:

  • They are self-aware and true to themselves. They know themselves, how they can make a difference, and are authentic.
  • They have a voice. They speak clearly and can articulate what they mean in easily understandable terms.
  • They can read their audience.  They tune in to others, and present their ideas in ways that resonate with the group.  They ask open-ended questions to gather helpful information.
  • They tell stories and make connections. Rather than speaking in platitudes, they relate specific experiences from their own lives that help the audience see them as human, relatable and as people they want to follow.
  • They are inspirational and get their message across. They imagine the future and motivate others to join.
  • They manage their emotions.  They respond rather than react to others.
  • They are aware of their body language, and the body language cues of others.  They have strong posture, eye contact, use an appropriate tone, and match their words and actions.  They exude passion.  They have an abundance of energy, are positive and share it.
  • They understand their own leadership style but can easily read and adapt to the style of others
  • They connect with others as opposed to transact.  They understand that everything they say or do communicates something, and use that fact to help them be influential with others in ways that build a relationship.

Presence isn’t something you’re just born with. Sure, it may come more naturally for some people, but it’s also easily developed as long as you’re willing to work at it.

Here are some key tips for developing your own motivational style:

  • Get to know yourself better. What are the strengths you want to develop and really highlight in your presentations and interactions?
  • Hone in on the stories that help the audience understand who you are, what motivates you, and why you really want them to join you on this journey.
  • Hone your executive presentation skills by treating presentations like a skill you need to master, much like a sport. That means videotape yourself to see what others see.
  • Surround yourself with some truth tellers – people willing to give you honest feedback to make you even better.
  • Consider working with an executive coach to accelerate your results.

The most important tip of all? Dig in and really listen – ears open, mouths closed, eyes on them all.

-David Grossman

This post originally ran on Switch & Shift as part of their "Leadership Presence" Series.  The original post can be found by clicking here: http://bit.ly/1vF6lT8 


Improve your communication skills by learning from real-life examples. Check out our Take 5 To Communicate Well e-Learning modules today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On Getting Results from a Flexible Workforce, a Roadmap for Leader Effectiveness & Rediscovering Your Motivation


Weekly Round-Up: On Flexible Workforce

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.

  • Getting Results from the Flexible Workforce
    By Comcast, Inc
    The concept of the 'anywhere office' fits into the growing trend of the flexible workforce and the idea of work being a thing you do, not a place you go. “For small and medium-sized business owners…”
  • How to Be the Best Boss
    By Tom Schulte, Linked 2 Leadership
    “Employers struggling with talent retention and motivation must reconnect with the fundamentals of good management.  It’s simple — keep your employees happy…”
  • Craft a Roadmap for Leader Effectiveness
    By S. Chris Edmonds, SmartBlog on Leadership
    There were 25 managers in a recent leadership program I facilitated. Part of the program included a pre-work assessment where each manager and their direct reports assessed the manager’s leadership behaviors and overall effectiveness.…”
  • Five Things Great Leaders Do Right
    By Rich Berens, Switch & Shift
    To state the obvious: Great leadership is vital to any organization. Great leaders set the direction for the organization and determine resource allocation to get it done. They create the tone by how they lead and make decisions…”
  • How to Rediscover Your Motivation
    By Gwen Moran, Fast Company
    Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to motivate their employees.  But when was the last time a mug with your company’s logo or a coffee shop gift card made you truly excited? Real motivation doesn’t come from external rewards…”


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

-          David Grossman 


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


Online Employee Engagement Course – Classes Begin November 4.


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There’s more evidence than ever before that engaged employees can significantly boost a company's bottom line. Top employers know engagement is no longer just about work-life balance or employees feeling good about their jobs. Instead, it's a key strategy for strengthening companies and building profits.

Still, what's less clear is how organizations can actually impact engagement. High performing companies realize that boosting employees' sense of commitment and passion for their work doesn't happen overnight. At the same time, they know that there are proven strategies for building an engaged, committed workforce—and that effective communication is a cornerstone.

Communication isn't just about telling employees that they matter. It's about figuring out what employees want and need to do their jobs better, giving managers better tools for motivating their staffs, and aligning all employees around a shared purpose.

I hope you join me for this interactive course, where you will learn best practices for developing and managing an effective internal communication plan that drives engagement. Core content is consistent with the Certified Communication Management Professional Job Tasks Analysis, and will cover a range of critical topics, including research and analysis, communication strategy and planning, measurement, and engaging and equipping leaders.

Specifically, the presentations will cover:

  • The ultimate business case for engagement.
  • Engagement models that work
  • The essential role of communication in engagement.
  • Understanding employees' and senior leaders' needs.
  • Getting the budget you deserve.
  • Knowing your audiences.
  • Getting employees aligned on a strategy and their role in its success.
  • Picking the best communication tools and channels.
  • Engaging virtual and part-time employees.
  • Motivation tools for leaders.
  • Navigating employees through times of change.

This six-session course is ideal for communicators (with six to 10 years of experience on average) who want to dramatically advance their careers by mastering the tools they need to drive their organization's success.

For more on the course, scheduling and to register, click here: http://bit.ly/1uuxy5t

Going the Distance to Engage Remote Workers



It’s a common concern we hear from corporate leaders: How do we consistently capture the attention of remote workers with no regular access to a laptop? If they’re on a factory floor, with customers, or out on a farm, what’s the best way to effectively communicate?

This challenge is clearly growing by the day. According to the Global Workplace Analytics and Telework Research Network, telecommuting increased 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, and that’s just one measure of a remote workforce.

A recent article for Ragan Communications highlights some of the encouraging progress some companies are making to reach – and engage -- a rapidly expanding remote workforce.

One of the companies Ragan featured was Land O’Lakes, Inc., a Minnesota-based, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative. Roughly 40 percent of the workforce at Land O’Lakes works out of their homes or on work sites such as farms and research fields. The company is in the process of launching its intranet on a new platform so employees working with phones and tablets can get information faster.

While Land O’Lakes’ initiative seems like a no-brainer, the reality is that many companies have been slow to create better access to information in mobile formats. In many cases, employees are left to figure out how to access data on their phones in a piecemeal fashion, with no guidance or organized sites from employers.

Land O’Lakes leaders want to take their intranet work even farther and create a fresh and different mobile experience. This would allow employees to get just the amount of information they need on the road, instead of sifting through piles of links and documents that don’t apply to their work.

Other companies are taking related steps to engage employees remotely with separate sections on their internal websites. Those sections might allow employees in a particular division to share stories about their work, or they might track and highlight the successes of specific business units with feature stories and sales stats.

Based on our experience with companies employing high numbers of remote workers, here’s some other key tips for keeping your remote employees engaged and connected to the larger organization:

  • Use more file-sharing sites, web meetings and video conferences.
  • Regularly include remote workers in team recognitions.
  • Highlight the successes of remote workers via company communications and the intranet.
  • Email important company news updates to remote workers, including links to intranet sites that feature and compile the highlights in one place.
  • Plan regular shift meetings so supervisors can share company updates with employees.
  • Use group text messaging to your advantage to deliver critical or urgent news to highly mobile workers.
  • Train supervisors to improve their communication skills with remote workers. Wherever they are, employees need to hear important messages repeatedly for them to sink in.
  • Keep in mind that employees want visible leaders who listen to their needs. Employees need to know that their voices are heard, whether they work remotely or not.

What strategies will you employ to better engage your remote workers?

-David Grossman


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Weekly Round-Up: On Making Values as Important as Performance, Creating a Game Plan for Your Goals & Setting the Context That Fosters Collaboration


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 Three Types of Feedback
    By Adi Gaskell
    n 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…”
  • Set the Context That Fosters Conviviality, Connection and Collaboration
    By Kate Anderson, Forbes
    “Want to become a sought-after, connective leader? Then become the glue that bonds others together around their most talented sides. Consider this approach…”
  • Make Values as Important as Performance
    By S. Chris Edmonds, Thin Difference Blog
    How do you gauge your team’s effectiveness? If you’re like most leaders, you monitor performance metrics closely. You have dashboards that show sales per week (or month or quarter), market share…”
  • CEO Presence Isn’t Style.  It’s Substance
    By John Bell, Switch & Shift
    Have you ever watched a charismatic person “work” a room? At the outset, they assess the collective mood. Then they advance to the gathering with a demeanor that suits the environment…”
  • How to Create a Game Plan for Your Goals
    By Aj Agrawal, Inc.
    We all have objectives we want to hit. This includes our personal goals and our goals for our companies. Unfortunately, most of us never draw up a roadmap for how we are going to reach our targets…”


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

-          David Grossman 


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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.”

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