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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 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

Starting Thought: The Problem with Practice and the “Try and Try Again” Approach

  
  
  
  
  
  

starting thought image 1

Sometimes those of us who are diligent, driven, and focused on getting to that end result can become frustrated when we don’t master something immediately.  “Try and try again” is a good motto except when we just keep trying the same thing in the same way.

Sometimes we try and try again by just doing more of what we have been trying and then we are surprised when we don’t get the result we want.  We often then abandon ship and do something we know will get results.  For example, you might take over a project, “I will just do it myself,” or get upset with people prematurely.

So keep in mind that sometimes “try and try again” means try it again in a different way, with some feedback and coaching from someone you trust, until you figure out how to do it in a way that works for you and gets the results you want.  Don’t just give up and resort to taking over or just doing it yourself.

Another problem with practice: Who has time?  “I can barely get all my work done as it is…”

If strategic communications is a critical part of doing your job, if you buy in to the idea that you are not a leader but a leaderccommunicator, then doesn’t it follow that practicing this skill so you can use it effectively should actually be part of how you spend your time?

What could you cut out of your day -- do less of -- to find a few hours to practice communicating?  To figure out an overall plan for yourself about when, where, and why you should communicate?  Is there anything that is ‘not important’ and ‘not urgent’ (thank you Stephen Covey for these famous filters) that you could cut out that is less important than spending a little time figuring out how and when you should communicate?

 How are you making the time to practice, and when needed, trying in a different way?

-          David Grossman

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Download our new eBook - Cutting to Win: 6 Steps For Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cuts today!

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New eBook - Cutting to Win: 6 Steps for Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cuts

  
  
  
  
  
  

cost cutting, communication, leaders

Talking to employees about cost cuts is a difficult job for leaders and communicators, yet it is vitally important to get it right, especially now that it is such a big part of the way businesses function.

Scores of the Fortune 500 clients we’ve worked with at The Grossman Group are cutting costs, and often that’s not because of financial issues. Instead, cutting costs is seen as a smart business practice, designed to help a company prioritize so it can innovate, invest smartly and grow.

At the same time, poorly communicated cuts can severely damage employee morale, as well as a company’s ultimate results.  In our experience, leaders who know how to communicate company changes ultimately succeed because high engagement levels are leading indicators of financial performance and other positive business results.

Drawing from case studies of leading businesses, our latest eBook, Cutting to Win: 6 Steps for Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cuts, offers 6 critical steps and strategies to help you navigate through times of change within your company, including:

  1. Use a smart, well-planned and fair process
  2. Build a strong business case
  3. Emotionally connect with employees
  4. Consider appearances/how change looks to your employees
  5. Align all leaders on the message
  6. Communicate specific direction and actions for employees

These strategies will help ensure you’re communicating your changes in the most effective way.  By doing so, you’ll win more of your employees’ support, which is vital for inspiring and engaging employees though challenging moments.

Download—Cutting to Win: 6 Steps for Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cutsand start communicating changes in a way that engages and retains your workforce.

-          David Grossman

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Weekly Round-Up: On Developing Your Storytelling Strategy, 25 Things You Shouldn’t Do Over Email & Boosting Your Productivity by Single-Tasking

  
  
  
  
  
  

storytelling, 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.

  • How Single-Tasking Boosts Your Productivity
    By Kevan Lee, Fast Company
    “While writing this post, I had 18 tabs open. I’d like to say they were all for research, although I’m pretty sure one or two slipped down a YouTube wormhole  Does this…”
  • 25 Acts of Email Cruelty
    By John Brandon, Inc.
    “You arrive at work and the first message waiting at the top of your Gmail is rude, sarcastic, and demeaning. That's not exactly the intended use of the communication method…”
  • 4 Questions to Develop Your Storytelling Strategy
    By Paul VanDeCarr, The Chronicle of Philanthropy
    “Don’t get me wrong, each of these questions is driven by a valid desire. You want to pay tribute to your organization’s namesake. You want to leverage the mainstream media…”
  • Leaders Need This Skill to Ask the Right Questions
    By John Converse Townsend, Forbes
    “Empathy—that seven-letter word seems to be everywhere these days. It’s all over the pages of the Washington Post, it’s being “engineered” at developer boot camps…”
  • 3 Surprising Ways Leaders Create Change Resistance
    By Patti Johnson, Switch & Shift
    “Leading a change is very different than other work. Change takes hearts and minds before a process can change or the new product is realized.  Individuals join in, bring…”

 

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

-          David Grossman 

___________

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How to Communicate with a Left-Brained Leader

  
  
  
  
  
  

communicating with a left-brained leader

One of the things that’s key to communicating with leaders is considering that person’s leadership style. From experience working with leaders across the globe, I’ve noticed that the majority of senior leaders today are left-brained.

  • They think in words (vs. images)
  • They are highly analytical
  • They focus on logic (as opposed to emotion)
  • They do a lot of advanced planning (they don’t wing it)
  • They approach challenges in a linear way

Left-brained leaders benefit from and respond to a certain style of communication. If you know you’re communicating with this type of leader, you can tailor your message to appeal to the left side of the brain and increase the chances of getting heard:

  • Focus on the rationale for a decision
  • Outline your thoughts in steps that flow logically (first, then second, then third)
  • Discuss details and why they matter
  • Appeal to their decision-making abilities with specific consideration of options and their implications
  • Communicate any potential hypotheses you have

In the end, the best approach may be to appeal to both sides of the brain. You might begin by painting a picture of the future state you envision (appealing to the right brain), and then quickly move to your recommendations and the rationale behind them (appealing to the more analytical left-brain side). Doing so can ensure that your audience not only hears your message but also is inspired to act on it.

How might you flex your communication style the next time you need to communicate with a left-brained leader? 

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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 Tangible Benefits of Trustworthy Leadership, Ways to Make Your Work More Effective & 6 Traits of Indispensable Employees

  
  
  
  
  
  

leadership, 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.

  • Being Intentional About Your Leadership
    By Mary Jo Asmus, SmartBlog on Leadership
    “Many leaders put as much effort into defining how they want to “show up” as they would in buying a new refrigerator. In fact, some may give their leadership skills even less…”
  • 12 Tangible Benefits of Trustworthy Leadership
    By Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Switch & Shift
    “In mid-July, Rodger Dean Duncan, a well-respected leadership expert and Forbes contributor asked if I would comment on an article he was writing called…”
  • 6 Magic Traits of Indispensable Employees
    By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Inc.
    “Here's the Danny Meyer school of thought on how to make a traditional service business into an enlightened, customer-centric hospitality mecca: Put your employees first…”
  • 6 Ways to Make Your Work More Efffective
    By Rachel Sinha & Ella Saltmarshe, Fast Company
    “How do we tackle the big complex problems of our time--problems like climate change, poverty, and health care? Increasingly, change-makers realize that there is no silver bullet. There is no one individual…”
  • Why You Should Lead Like Fido
    By Geoff Loftus, Forbes
    “How often have you heard someone declare he or she has been working like a dog? Maybe they should consider leading like a dog instead. No, I don’t mean leading…”

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

-          David Grossman 

__________

Download our latest eBook today and find out the "secret weapon" every CEO needs!

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Se7en Deadly Sins Blog Post Series: Sin #6 Presumption

  
  
  
  
  
  

sin 6

The assumption that everyone shares your understanding is a common trap that leaders fall into. Because they are so used to leading the discussion, they forget that they may need to adjust communication to fit a specific audience, which might see issues from varying perspectives or have different concerns. Assuming everyone shares your perspective and understanding is the sin of Presumption. In short, leaders think everyone thinks as they do vs. thinking about where the audience is coming from.

Real communication happens in the mind of the listener. Good leaders understand that audiences differ—there can even be a variety of audience needs within a given team—and that messages must be tailored in a way that speaks to each individual audience. Just as important, the more you know about your audience, the better you’ll be able to speak to them in a way that is meaningful for them, thereby influencing and moving them to action.  Only with this kind of connection does real communication happen.

Developing your messages with the audience in mind

Messages will best resonate with your audiences if you first think about where they’re coming from and their current mindset:

• What do they already know?

• What are their concerns?

• What are their positive perceptions or assets to leverage?

• What do they want to know?

• How do they want to know it?

• What do I want my audience to think/feel/do?

 Key messages are only words on paper until they spark action. Moving your audience to action is about influencing how they think and feel.

 How can you ensure your next communication is audience-focused?

-David Grossman

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