Category Archives: Uncategorized

How communication can block the message


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Communication is a part of everything, everyday, everywhere, for everyone. Why is it also the source of many conflicts and misunderstandings? Communications tend to be one-sided or incomplete. Often, we’re so busy preparing to speak that we don’t really listen. Send a quick email and check the box, they’re done. we’ve communicated. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.

 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”       ~George Bernard Shaw

The reality is that effective communication is the key to:

  • moving any project forward
  • leading teams and organizations
  • marketing and sales
  • procurement and planning
  • smooth operations
  • influencing culture

If we’re not deliberate in both what we communicate and how we do it, we’ll often fall short and possibly jeopardize the desired outcome. There are several communication pitfalls that anyone can find themselves tangled up in without much effort. If they’re not thinking broadly enough about communications as sent or received, it can create more problems than it solves. A common communication pitfall is the failure to consider the perspective of the audience.

For example, I have recently found myself feeling as though my son was attempting to manipulate me when I was told that if I didn’t act (by allowing another pet in our household), an undesirable outcome would happen (a puppy would die). The way it was stated, it came across as though the outcome would be my fault even though, until that moment, I had not been part of the decision for someone else to breed dogs nor had I previously assumed any responsibility for the litter. It had never been discussed. While I was assured that it wasn’t intended to come across that way, I felt as though the responsibility for the fate of that puppy was being laid at my feet without my consent. This communication was not well received. My son and his best friend didn’t consider the perspective of their audience.

 “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”                                                                                              ~Anthony Robbins

Another example is when communication is not broad enough. There is a dedicated and driven team leader who works hard, solves problems and gets his team engaged in making improvements. All excellent traits for a leader. They’ve forged ahead with change after change, communicating upwards openly about these improvements, but not as much with the rest of the team. To the people who are impacted by yet another, in a series of changes, it was being done without their consent. Since this wasn’t the first time, they’re now irritated that no one asked them if they had ideas, questions or concerns. Since no one reached out, they felt left out. The dedicated team leader, a good man with a good heart, never intended to create this dynamic. They were just trying to help make it better for everyone. It wasn’t that the other opinions weren’t welcome, the communication gap wasn’t visible.

In both examples, taking time to think about how to best communicate could have avoided unintended consequences. Reaching out to the people that need to buy into the desired outcome will always help to navigate the issue. Always consider who will be receiving the communication. Ask yourself how will they hear the message you plan to share. Communicate often and early. Elicit the ideas and concerns of others. If there is going to be change involved, transparency is essential.

While bad communication can and will make you miserable, it is avoidable.

What’s your story?

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Why Leadership is Tied to Freedom


kristopher-roller-188180-cropped.jpgOn the 4th of July, American’s will once again celebrate our nation’s birthday. The freedom we blindly take for granted today was the result of stand-on-the-edge-of-the-cliff, all-in, leadership. For these courageous men, failure was not an option. When they concluded the Declaration of Independence as shown below, they demonstrated that they understood and embraced the gravity of the path before them. Our founding fathers took the final leap with their eyes wide open believing their cause was worth everything…

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

~The Declaration of Independence

We are blessed with free speech, yet some would corrupt it and use it as a weapon of hate to shout down those who might not agree. We have fake news and bias so prevalent that it has become difficult to know who to trust in the media. We see hate that comes from leaders corrupting a cause and devolving their followers into a weapon of destruction. We know community organizers rally those who buy into a promise of something in it for them to the detriment of others.

Shared Judeo-Christian values brought us together to become a nation. These values were rooted in the 10 Commandments and interwoven throughout our judicial system. Respect for life, honesty, integrity, self-control and respecting the rights and property of others aren’t in opposition to other religions. Everyone has the freedom to worship as their conscience guides them. But, without the strong threads of common social values to bind us together, we’re at risk of tearing apart the fabric of our nation.

As leaders of our businesses, communities, churches, mosques and families, do we fully appreciate the precious gift of freedom that we were given? Freedom begins with equality under the law. However, beyond that there is a higher calling to do what’s morally right because these are the values that made us a great nation. It takes real leadership to stand up and consistently do the right thing, not only for yourself, but for your country.

Our nation’s leaders must also take this to heart. When they act without integrity, respect for others, violate the law, lie or fail to represent their constituency, they’re also tearing us apart. When we fail to hold them accountable, allow them to make some groups more equal than others or buy into the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) mindset, we accelerate the destruction of our national heritage and our freedom.

Today we once again stand on the edge of the cliff waiting to see if we can once again find common ground to bind us together. Every person that has the privilege to call themselves a citizen of our nation carries a responsibility to remember what brought us together in 1776 and exemplify our American values.

Would you pledge your life, your fortune and your sacred honor to uphold the values that make America work? If so, please share this article.

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What does trust have to do with leadership?


Loyalty-Integrity

Photo Credit: Albumarium.com

I once had an occasion with a leader, who was new to me, in which the circumstances required me to decide on the spot whether to trust without the benefit of a longstanding shared team history. What I saw in this man was unyielding integrity and loyalty to the whole team, which now included me. In my presence, he had only treated others with dignity and respect. His visible character allowed me to make a leap of faith to extend trust. In good faith, I was then able to bring forward the truth of a serious situation that had significant ramifications.  Prior to him, I’m afraid, the truth would have otherwise been complicated by the politics surrounding it.

So, the real question is, how do you build that kind of trust connection with your team? Leaders are forever in the spotlight and must remember that everyone is paying attention to your words and actions. If they see you take a moral short-cut because it will make something easier, you’ve lost. If they see you back-biting and tearing others down, they’ll wonder what you say about them when they’re not in the room. Treating others with dignity and respect is another visible means of judging one’s character. There is no escaping the reality that if they don’t see you acting with loyalty and integrity, building trust will be impossible.

Stop and think about what these components mean:

Loyalty breeds trust. It’s as simple as that. Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as “unswerving allegiance”.

Integrity can be boiled down to doing the right thing, every time, even when no one is looking. This consistent ethical and moral boundary is not only good for you and your team, but your organization benefits as well.

Dignity and Respect means that no matter the position within the organization, individuals deserve to be treated as valuable human beings. From laborer to CEO, your language in addressing them and making requests should remain the same. Leaders need to be consistent. Your behavior should not change just because certain people aren’t in the room.

What do these traits look like in a leader? When there is trouble, people know they’re not in it alone and that they won’t be thrown under the bus as an example to others; you have their back. Consistent accountability. The team is confident that it is safe bring a mistake forward and that redemption is possible. The team sees their leader deal only in the truth, most especially when it’s hard. Doing the right thing, consistently. Standing in the gap. Helping. Making individuals feel valued for doing a good job. Caring.

What does poisonous organizational leadership look like? If any of the following are a part of your team environment, building trust is unlikely: a lack of accountability, intimidation, closed-mindedness, manipulation, secretiveness, blame, individual attacks, power through fear, stifling creative problem solving or improvements, negativity, favoritism, or political land mines. The existence of any of these workplace toxins means that you have a leadership problem and you must work on yourself before you can build trust in others.

While man’s best friend, will overlook your shortcomings and the times you weren’t at your best, your team needs more than a quick pat on the head and tossing the ball to gain their trust.

What did your best leader do to build your trust? What did your worst leader do to destroy it?

 

Related Articles: 4 Secrets to An Empowered and Engaged Team

Cross-posted in LinkedIn

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The 4 Secrets to An Empowered and Engaged Team


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Photo Credit: Vicktor Hanacek

Achieving an engaged and empowered team has been the Achilles’ heel for enlightened organizations trying to climb out of the vestiges of command & control management. Leaders are told of the benefits of the engaged workforce, but it seems distant and unattainable. Each leader views the role with the lens of their own personality and the accumulated experience developed through exposure to other leaders, both good and bad, throughout their life. Considering the breadth of variable inputs derived from the individual leadership experience and personality, how can any leader achieve an engaged and empowered team?

Build a Connection to Inspire

Your team needs to understand what you value and know that they matter to you… genuinely. When you care about the individual hopes, dreams, and families of your team, they can see it. Don’t pretend. No one will be inspired by a disingenuous gesture. This will lead to active disengagement and no place you’d want to be. But, when you speak from the heart, your team can connect with you. This opens the door to cast the vision for the future, lay out the mission and inspire them to own their role in the future vision for your organization.

Individual Development

Just as leaders enter their role as the sum of their experiences, so do team members. Everyone is joining with a specific skill set, strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, they have different hopes and dreams. Not everyone desires to be a leader and others can’t imagine being anything but. While you’re building a connection, it’s important to learn about their hopes and dreams; where do they want to go in their career? The biggest demonstration of your sincerity is to create the opportunities for career development for current or future roles.

Trust

When the organization is steeped in the remnants of command and control management, it will require moments where you say, “I trust you to make the right decision.” By the time you’re having this conversation, you both should know where the guardrails are. This would have been preceded by a period of making the decision together so they understand what your inputs are and when they should reach out and consult vs. moving ahead. Eventually, let go.

Servant Leadership

Servant leadership stands out above all other leadership styles in the pursuit of workplace utopia because it “has a positive relationship with organizational citizenship behavior, job performance and staying with the organization” (DuBrin, 2010), it has its foundation in ethical values, and moves the organization forward to realize its goals. “Empowerment, authenticity, stewardship and providing direction” (van Dierrendonck & Patterson, 2014) define Servant Leadership. Only Servant Leaders “focus on the employee first, then on the talents of the employee, and lastly on how this benefits the organization” (van Dierrendonck & Patterson, 2014).

Initially, employees join the organization for the promise of a great future at work. They’re here, now what? People need boundaries, accountability, empowerment, inspiration and a vision. Most of all, they need to feel valued. When they’re truly engaged, they stay because their leader has made a connection and inspired them. So, willingly, they adopt the vision, the mission and join the tribe.

Have you ever been inspired, engaged and truly empowered at work?

 

Cross posted: www.linkedin.com/in/CariRay-MSML

References

DuBrin, A. J. (2010). Leadership (7th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western/Cengage.

van Dierrendonck, D., & Patterson, K. (2014, February 13). Compassionate Love as a Cornerstone of Servant Leadership: An Integration of Previous Theorizing and Research. Journal of Business Ethics, 128, 119-131. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2085-z

 

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Book Review: The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan


Cover-EmployeeExperienceAdvantageAny organization that wants to understand why they’re losing the battle to keep great employees needs to study Jacob Morgan’s new book, The Employee Experience Advantage. In it, Morgan defines the employee experience evolution in terms how the employer looks at the employment relationship and what the organization hopes to gain. Taking the reader from utility, “what do employees need to work”, all the way to experience, “how can we create a company where people want to show up vs. need to show up”, Morgan sets the stage to begin a journey to understanding employees and what makes them tick. He views “employee experience as something that creates engaged employees but focuses on the cultural, technological, and physical design of the organization”. Touching on the organization’s reason for being, Morgan shows that employees want to be a part of something with meaning, something to rally around. He examines the best and worst companies from his lens of the organizational experience to show what a cool physical environment, ace technology and a celebrated culture looks like. I recommend this book to leaders looking to build a great employee experience.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for my honest review

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Book Review: Be The People by Carol M. Swain


Dr. Swain’s approach, to speak directly without tiptoeing through he facts with political correctness, is refreshing. Her personal history allows her to stand her ground and withstand any claims of racism or bigotry.

“The founders were certain that ‘piety and public virtue’ would help their new nation avoid decline and fall as prior societies had not. However, in contrast to the vision of many of the founding fathers, unprecedented numbers of today’s Americans have traded piety and virtue for the unfettered irreverence as they have emulated the immorality practiced by the fallen Greco-Roman nations and Ammonites.” ~ Swain, Be The People page 27

Carol Swain also wades, again without any hint of political correctness, into one of the most honest discussions of the brutal realities of racism, abortion, homosexuality, feminism, immigration and Radical Islam.

“For a brief moment in time, we believed we had entered a postracial era in American politics. We were wrong.” Swain, page 194

Be The People is an articulate, well-written and honest look at the state of the union as it exists today. America needs to reflect on the difficult truths that cover these pages. It has become clear that for Americans to Be The People, ordinary citizens need to join Carol Swain and call things as they are with direct honesty.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Hey Dude, Where’s My Melting Pot?


E Pluribus Unum…out of many one.  These words were placed on the National Seal by our Founders with great wisdom.  Immigrants once brought their hopes and dreams to our shores to become Americans. We The People are made up of many richly diverse backgrounds, which at one time, added flavor to the great melting pot that was the American culture. Now, through hyphenation and multi-culturalism We The People are losing our American identity that made us one people and don’t know who we are any more.

If we are Asian-American, Mexican-American or African-American out of political correctness, when does an individual become simply American? When does their loyalty lie with America first by joining together, arm in arm, to face both our problems and the world in unity?  It’s heartbreaking to see a Mexican, or other Latin American Country’s flag here in Texas flying over a small business owned by someone who has chosen to live in this country and reap the benefits.

We The People, if we are to survive as a nation, must again be E Pluribus Unum.

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