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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 Grateful Leadership & Building Trust in the Workplace

  
  
  
  
  
  

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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.

  • The Power of a Grateful Leader
    By Matthew Gordon, Switch & Shift
    “How would you like to go to work every day never feeling appreciated? How long would it be before you stopped trying? How long would it take for you to quit?...”
  • 8 Things To Give Your Employees That Really Show You Care
    By Erin Greenawald, Forbes 
    “Here are eight simple things you can give your employees that will show how much you appreciate what they do every day…”
  •  Revealing the Secret To Successful Leadership
     By Tanveer Naseer, Tanveer Naseer Blog
    “In leadership circles, we’re constantly on the lookout for sage advice on what it takes to succeed; of what skills, competencies, and/or strategies leaders should employ…”
  • How To Build Trust at Work
    By Sharlyn Lauby, HR Bartender 
    “I believe that, during the Great Recession, the ability to trust was damaged. I recently received a note from a reader asking, “How can you hire employees you can trust…”
  • Leadership 101: Consistent, Fair, Explainable
    By Chery Gegelman, Simply Understanding…
    “Several years ago a mentor shared his business plan with me.  In part of it he wrote something he called a STAND…”

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

-          David Grossman 

Show Employees You Care and Get the Business Results You Seek

  
  
  
  
  
  

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As leaders, we spend much of our time and effort setting business goals, developing plans to achieve those goals and helping ensure employees understand how they fit in.

With so much going on, it’s all too easy to get lost in the work and detach yourself from the human element of the workplace. 

Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, employees have eight key questions on their minds – the answers to which will move them from being focused on themselves to being focused on the organization.  The end goal is engagement – getting that discretionary effort all of us want and need from our people.

As a leader, you want employees interested in the all-important “we-focused” questions (such as “what is our business strategy?”).  But first, you need to answer their “me-focused” questions – one of which is “does anyone care about me?”

Leadership is personal – employees follow leaders because of how leaders make them feel.

Here are 5 simple yet powerful steps to show your employees you care about them:

  1. Find out and remember what they are passionate about: How would they spend a Saturday? At a museum? A concert? Do they golf? Do they have a favorite sports team?
  2. Demonstrate you know the little things that matter to them: Do they have a TV show they watch regularly? What might be on their minds as they come to work?
  3. Remember their birthdays: Consider putting these dates in your calendar as a reminder
  4. Interact with them as people, not just your employees: Say hi. Ask them how their weekend went – and demonstrate active listening
  5. Say thank you and share specific appreciative feedback

Done in a genuine way, these steps demonstrate you care, and open the possibility of changing how you see your employees, as well as yourself.

How can you show your employees you care?

- David Grossman

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Interested in learning more about leadership communication strategies? If so, download our Leadership Toolbox eBook today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On Leadership, Motivation & Millennials

  
  
  
  
  
  

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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 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.

  • To Motivate Employees, Apply This Scientific Rule of Leadership
    By Michael Solomon, Forbes
    “Coaxing a great performance from your employees requires you to get quite a few things right.  Here are five…”
  • Finding Your Own Motivation
    By Mark Lukens, Switch & Shift 
    “If you’re just starting out in your career, or you’re in the middle of changing careers, then one of the most important things you can do is to understand your own motivation…”
  •  Get Millennials to Perform in 5 Easy Steps 
     By Laura Garnett, Inc.
    “Leadership is facing a crisis--trust is at an all-time low in workplaces across this country. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2013, 82% of people don’t trust business leaders to tell the truth..”
  • Why the Tide has Shifted Toward Heart-Centered Leadership
    By Susan Steinbrecher, Lisa Petrilli Visionary Leadership
    “Heart-Centered Leadership is not a singular gold standard or an ultimate pinnacle that only a rare few can achieve. It lies in your ability to stop, go inward, and reflect on the course of action that you know…”
  • 7 Ways to Encourage A Giving Culture
    By Adi Gaskell, Adi Gaskell Blog
    Culture is one of the biggest topics in business right now, and certainly has a growing role in discussions throughout the social business world.  Alas, it’s also one of the hardest things to nail down…”

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

-          David Grossman 

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The Top 6 Questions Leaders Have About Communication

  
  
  
  
  
  

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I talk to a lot of leaders who say they want to communicate effectively, but they’re not sure how to. They have questions about how to overcome communication challenges, how to share tough news with employees, and how to measure the effectiveness of their communication. I thought I’d answer the top six questions I get from leaders about communication.

1. If communication is so critical to leadership and business, why isn’t there enough communication in business today?

Communication is often seen as an "add-on" to "hard" or "technical" business skills. Communication is often perceived as someone else’s job. Sometimes leaders spend their time and resources focusing on goals that directly contribute to the bottom line, not knowing that communication does too.

And there are a myriad of myths about communication that get in the way, myths such as "talking is communication" or "people won’t interpret situations or give them meaning if leaders don’t talk about them,” both of which are far from the truth.

2. Why do leaders need to be effective communicators?

Today’s leaders need to be effective leadercommunicators and use strategic communication as a way to achieve the business goals they seek. Leading is communicating; you can’t separate communication from leadership. Without communication, employees lack direction and can’t measure their performance. They lack an ability to see themselves and their work as part of the bigger picture. They can’t add value by contributing as a thinking member of the team.

And what’s most important is that you can’t lead if you can’t express yourself.  

Your technical skills and abilities can take you only so far. Leadership is much more. It’s about getting things done and moving a business forward through other people.

3. What traits are most important for a skilled leadercommunicator?  

Asking questions and listening are critical. Leaders create engagement by focusing on productivity, creating morale and building relationships. Before you can understand a business problem or achieve a goal, you have to understand what the situation is. Asking questions is the best way to come at a problem from varied perspectives. If a leader problem solves from assumptions or only the information at hand, he or she won’t be effective.

4. What’s the greatest communication challenge for leaders?

The greatest challenge leaders face is failing to remember that everything they do communicates.  Whether they intend to or not, everything leaders do (and don’t do) communicates something, so why not communicate well? It’s no secret that people will read into your behavior. They interpret situations and give them meaning, whether or not you communicate about it. Communication provides the right information and prevents misinformation. Leaders need to remember that they make the weather every day for their people.

5. How can leaders measure the effectiveness of their communication?

You can ask others. You can listen (and then listen some more). You can also use a 360 to assess how you’re actually communicating, as compared to how you may think you’re doing.  

We all have blind spots, and most of us tend to overestimate our skills. Leaders who are extroverted typically say and do a lot, but the quality of their communication suffers. On the other hand, introverts tend to think they’re communicating more than they actually are.

Effective leadercommunicators practice just like great athletes. Look at Serena Williams. She’s one of the best tennis players in the world, but she still practices every day. Leaders don’t have to be perfect, but we all need to work on flexing our leadership muscle so it gets stronger over time.  A great place to start is to listen to see how you’re doing in meeting you team’s needs: listen to the questions people ask, and look in the mirror and check your reflection. 

6. How can leaders inspire their employees when they don’t have good news to share?

The test of great leadership is to ensure understanding in the tough times as well as in the good times. The best leadercommunicators communicate even more in challenging times. They place greater emphasis on two-way dialogue and face-to-face (or at least voice-to-voice) communication, and they’re visible. They listen more than they talk. They ask questions.

They’re genuine, honest, and empathetic.

Be assured, too, that as a leader, it’s OK to not have all the answers.  The three best credibility-building words a leader can say are, "I don’t know" (and then go out and find the answer).

How can these answers help your leadercommunicator skills?

--David Grossman

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Learn how to communicate in a way that resonates. Download our Can You Hear Me Now?eBook today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On Bold Leadership & Improving Communication in the Workplace

  
  
  
  
  
  

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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 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.

  • It’s Time for Your BOLDEST Leadership Ever
    By Diana Rivenburgh, Switch & Shift
    “In the words of Peter Drucker, “Leaders in every single institution and in every single sector … have two responsibilities…”
  • Succeding Through the Challenges of Originality in Leadership
    By Mila Araujo, #BEALEADER 
    “Organizations rarely challenge how their leaders get results but focus on the bottom line instead.  When things are tough and results are simply not coming through, it’s only human…” 
  •  5 Tips to Fix Your Broken Communication and Build Trust
     By Nan Russell, Fast Company
    “Leadership is facing a crisis--trust is at an all-time low in workplaces across this country. According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2013, 82% of people don’t trust business leaders to tell the truth..”
  • How to Be a Better Leader by Rewiring Your Brain
    By Will Yakowicz, Inc.
    “As a leader, you can't let emotions like stress, fear, or anger control your behavior. Although it takes time to perfect, there are ways to control your negative emotions and guide your responses..”.
  • 5 Reasons to Re-Examine How Leaders Communicate
    By Leigh Steere, SmartBlog on Leadership
    “The average person tells four lies a day, or 1,460 a year; a total of 87,600 by the age of 60. And the most common lie is ‘I’m fine.’” This quote appeared in a friend’s recent blog post…” 

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

-          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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Se7en Deadly Sins of Leadership Blog Post Series

  
  
  
  
  
  

Seven Deadly Sins Intro

The truth is that most leaders didn’t get where they are because of their communication skills.

Most often, they were strong individual contributors who achieved business results relating to company growth. But now that they’re at the top, they need to master the new and challenging skills of engaging and influencing others to connect each and every employee to overarching company goals. They can only go so far on their technical skills and abilities. Those used to be the requirements to get things done. Today, leaders who want to accomplish goals and move a business forward know that work gets done through others.

Before that can happen however, leaders need to be aware of a whole host of bad habits that can derail even the most motivated leader’s initiatives.  I call these “The Se7en Deadly Sins of Leadership.” 

Oh, yes, they are sins, and they are deadly. In my experience, I’ve seen that ineffective and struggling leaders succumb to one or more of these communication challenges. Alternatively, strong, influential leaders, whether consciously or not, avoid these deadly sins to connect with their employees and drive company-wide success.

Now that you can envision a positive outcome, let’s briefly introduce those Se7en Deadly Sins...

  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

I’ll go into more detail on each sin over the coming months.  You’ll learn how to avoid committing these sins and their associated behaviors.   These strategies are proven and I’ve seen them work irrespective of the industry, economy or the leader’s personality.  Becoming familiar with these sins and examining how you can change your behavior to avert them is crucial for effective communication in your organization.

What sin are you most guilty of?

-David Grossman

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Looking for ways to become a more effective leader?

Download our free eBook on good vs. bad bosses & get 6 must-do strategies to ensure you lead for good, not evil.

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Weekly Round-Up: On Communication, Effective Leadership & Giving Feedback that Builds Trust

  
  
  
  
  
  

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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 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 Underused Tactics to Better Communicate
    By Shawn Murphy, Switch & Shift
    “She remained calm despite my prickly reply to her comment. She moved forward again explaining what her intentions were for our phone meeting. Not once was there an angry tone in her explanations…”
  • 4 Habits of the Most Resilient People
    By Denise Brosseau, Fast Company 
    “The sad truth is, nobody’s life is perfect. When the going gets tough, what separates those who can hold their own and keep going, from everyone else…” 
  • Leaders, Avoid 8 Common Causes of People Skills Mistakes
    By Kate Nasser, Smart SenseAbilities™ Blog
    “The value of great people skills in business is well established. People skills are the language of connection for employee engagement, customer experience, leadership, and teamwork…”
  • 16 Things Every Leader Should Know
    By Lee Colan, Inc.
    “Having spent the past 25 years both serving leaders and leading others myself, I've been fortunate enough to have amassed some practical perspectives on a number of different aspects of business…” 
  • Moment of Trust- How to Give Feedback That Builds Trust, Not Destoys It
    By Randy Conley, Leading with Trust
    “Everyone knows that particular feeling of dread that accompanies a lull in conversation at a party, networking event, or even a job interview.  You’ve already covered the usual small talk and then, oof, you hit a dead end…”

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

-          David Grossman 

 

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

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Guest Blogger Gail Golden: The Principles of Lincoln

  
  
  
  
  
  

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I was inspired recently by an article from Richard Brookhiser in The Wall Street Journal of February 16 entitled “What Would Lincoln Do?”  The article points out that Lincoln was remarkably lacking in leadership experience before he became president.  And yet he was so effective that he is almost always ranked as one of America’s greatest presidents. 
 
If it wasn’t extensive leadership experience, what did Lincoln bring to his presidential role that made him so great?  Besides his extraordinary writing ability, Lincoln practiced a set of action principles which can provide guidance to contemporary leaders:

1.     Cite precedent.  As a lawyer, Lincoln had learned to be mindful of precedents.  He linked his ideas and initiatives with the principles of the Founding Fathers, and in doing so, he strengthened the power of his arguments.

2.     Make your case.  Lincoln did not ignore the importance of political wheeling and dealing, but he knew that his success depended ultimately on shaping public opinion.

3.     Humor helps.  Lincoln used humor to engage others, to distract them, and sometimes to teach important lessons.

4.     Principles first.  Lincoln recognized that personality and celebrity are important aspects of leadership, but he knew that fundamentally, “Right makes might.”

5.     Be inclusive.  Lincoln excelled at making coalitions with a wide variety of people – people with difficult personalities, different agendas, and different political views.

It’s amazing how relevant these action principles are to leadership today.  And it’s equally amazing how few leaders consistently employ them.  It’s hard to lead according to Lincoln’s rules.  But as the article concludes, “Look to the past, speak out, laugh, stand firm and stand together.  What worked for Lincoln might work for you.”

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About Gail Golden

Gail Golden, MBA, Ph.D., is the Principal of Gail Golden Consulting, LLC. As a psychologist and consultant for over twenty-five years, she has developed deep expertise in helping businesses to build better leaders. 

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5 Communication Skills Every Manager Should Master

  
  
  
  
  
  

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Effective communication lets you create shared meaning and understanding between you and your team. These 5 skills are must-haves for any manager looking to get their messages heard and create a productive work environment where employees can thrive.

1. Set the context

Every employee comes into the work place with his or her own context, a mixture of culture, memories, upbringing, and experiences. Part of the role of a manager is to create a shared vision for the entire team. Make sure employees understand the big picture and how they fit in. Constantly communicate the “why” behind the business plan: why the plan is important, the role your team plays and the critical role individual employees play.

Every time you communicate with an employee, answer the questions: 

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Why should I care?
Link what’s happening at the larger organization to your department in real time, and make it a point to talk about how employees’ work relates to the company’s success.

When you fail to set context and paint the larger picture, you contribute to the silo mentality, one in which employees can’t see why their individual contributions matter.

2.  Repeat, repeat, repeat

One common communication mistake I see is the “check-off-the-box” mentality. People see communication as a one-time event. They say things like, “I sent out an e-mail” or “I already communicated that.”

Sound familiar?

Research shows that many of us need to hear a message multiple times before we get it. Communication isn’t something you can check off a to-do list. Building trust and credibility is about communicating a message consistently across multiple touch points. When employees hear the same message repeated, they’re more likely to take notice, believe it, and most importantly, act on it.

3. Create dialogue and check for understanding

Every time you communicate, there’s an opportunity to find out if your audience gets what you’re saying. The job isn’t done when the message is sent. Make sure the message is really heard and understood.

Create opportunities for conversations that establish understanding and spread knowledge and expertise.

Ask your audience to paraphrase what they heard. If you want to know if your audience understands the “what” and “why” behind a strategy, ask them, “What challenges and opportunities do you see with what I’ve explained?” If you want to know whether they heard your key messages or need additional context or detail, ask them, “What are your key takeaways from the information I just shared?”

Building opportunities for questions and dialogue into your communication helps you measure in real time how well employees receive your messages.

Tip: Pre-select two additional points in your next PowerPoint presentation or staff meeting where you will stop and ask for additional input.

4. Listen

To make your communication effective, you need to learn what’s working well, what’s not, and most importantly, how things can be better. That involves listening—and listening some more.

Ask broad, probing, open-ended questions, which allow the listener to take the conversation in a direction they choose, such as:

  • “Help me understand…”
  • “How do you envision…”
  • “What other strategic alternative did you consider?”

Ask employees for feedback.

  • Think about in what environment employees would be most comfortable sharing input (feedback channels can be informal or formal)
  • Share your motivation for getting feedback
  • Engage people fully and listen to what they have to say

Follow up on their ideas so they know their voice matters. What you do with feedback speaks volumes to employees.

  • Let them know, “I like that idea…how might we put that into place?”
  • If you’re not planning to implement their idea, it’s important to tell him or her why.

No matter whether you plan to implement ideas or not, close the loop with employees. Showing appreciation for their feedback lets them know their thoughts are valued. 

5. Use calls-to-action

As you communicate, think about what actions you’re trying to drive. Your communications should help move your audience to action. What do you want employees to do as a result of your communication?

Clearly communicate the actions you want them to take. Be specific and give examples. Without a call-to-action, your message is just information.

Which of these skills can help you communicate more effectively with your employees?

- David Grossman

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Looking for more tips on leadership communication? Download our Mastering the Art of Messaging ebook today!

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Weekly Round-Up: On Developing Leadership & Communication Skills

  
  
  
  
  
  

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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 pull some of the best together here on my blog. So in case you’ve missed them, here is this week’s round-up of top posts.

They’ll provide you with tips, strategies and thought-starters from many of the smart folks in my network. So whether you’re a new leader or an industry veteran there’ll be something here for you.

  • 8 Tips For Collaborative Leadership
    By Carol Kinsey Goman, Forbes
    “Today’s corporation exists in an increasingly complex and ever-shifting ocean of change. As a result, leaders need to rely more than ever on the intelligence and resourcefulness of their staff…”
  • 9 Things Great Leaders Say Every Day
    By Bill Murphy Jr., Inc. 
    “Your words are among your greatest tools. They're a window into your vision, your values and your abilities. So, whether you're running a giant organization or just trying to herd a group toward a certain outcome…”
  • Communicating Beyond Words
    By Rebel Brown, Switch & Shift
    “We’ve all agonized over just the right words for that oh-so-important communication.  Spent hours crafting the perfect email, letter or speech notes.  What if I told you the words really didn’t matter?” 
  • Are You Leading or Wandering? 3 Tips To Keep Your Leadership on Course
    By Randy Conley, Leading with Trust
    ““It’s too overwhelming to look up the mountain and see how far we have to go” my wife said, as we were enjoying a Valentine’s Day hike this past Friday. “I’m just going to focus on the next step in front of me…”
  • 6 Powerful Communication Tips From Some of the World’s Best Interviewers
    By Courtney Seiter, Fast Company
    “Everyone knows that particular feeling of dread that accompanies a lull in conversation at a party, networking event, or even a job interview.  You’ve already covered the usual small talk and then, oof, you hit a dead end…”

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

-          David Grossman 

____________

Looking for ways to become a more effective leader?

Download our free eBook on good vs. bad bosses & get 6 must-do strategies to ensure you lead for good, not evil. 

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