Category Archives: Communication Skills

Conversation Skills in Leadership

texting

Image by suzi54241 via Flickr

Are conversation skills in leadership declining? Communication, particularly, conversation has changed a great deal over time. While face-to-face and handwritten communication may have been the bread and butter of earlier generations, today is guided through e-mail, text, and other electronic formats. Generation Y joins the workforce with more electronic than face-to-face or fully written text. So how can leaders help?

Mary Ann Allison, an assistant professor of media studies at Hofstra University, has her students keep a log of their own communication habits.

“By paying attention to it, they say, `Wow, it’s a really different conversation when you’re talking with someone and listening to them,” Allison says. They key in on body language, facial expressions and tone of voice – all cues that you lose when you can’t see or hear someone, or when you’re distracted, even in person, by a gadget.

Sternberg, at Fordham, asks her students to give up one form of electronic communication to see what kind of difference it makes in their lives.

She also has them practice simple tasks such as standing up in a room full of people and introducing themselves. Many of them hate the drill, she says, but later tell her how useful it was, especially in the workplace.

Interestingly, Anna’s mom, Joanna Schiferl, is more worried about the effect that texting is having on her daughter’s writing skills than her social skills. Anna tends to rush her writing and pays less attention to grammar, or uses abbreviations she’d use in a text. It is a common observation among parents….More at Text Messaging: Is Texting Ruining The Art Of Conversation?

Schiferi is correct – the effect on writing skills may be the biggest concern. Prime example is a young man I worked with that wanted to move into a leadership role. He had the knowledge, the passion, and the vision needed to lead. Unfortunately he couldn’t get past the abbreviated texting and tweeting format and informality for his  communications, written or verbal. He lacked the art of business conversation as he spent the majority of his time texting and tweeting.

Comunication – effective communication is key to leaderships role in conveying the vision and knowledge  to inspire and mentor others. A key in this is conversation skills in leadership.

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Cultivating Leadership at All Levels

Stephanie Lischke and Joel Wright hit the nail on the head when they suggested organizations need to Cultivate Leadership at All Levels. Whether new or experienced, leaders exist all around us, not just at the top of the company.

French Garden at Duke Farms

Image by nosha via Flickr

Worried about a leadership shortage? Gazing at a thin management pipeline? Wondering how to get the most out of the talent you have?

It’s time to expand and amplify your organization’s leadership by looking beyond your proven superstars and management-track talent.

Young professionals and experienced individual contributors need to be part of the leadership equation, too. These overlooked leaders are the people who are working on project teams, influencing others and taking on ever-larger and more complex assignments.

Consider the role of highly experienced professionals. As individual contributors, they play critical roles as engineers, designers, medical professionals, marketing or logistics experts, and so on. They are expected to take on project-management roles and be key players on cross-functional teams. As their role expands and they increasingly work with others, subject-matter expertise is no longer a guarantee of their success or effectiveness.

Meanwhile, early-career professionals are looking for ways to engage, interact and gain skills. As they navigate their work and your organization, they have many opportunities to lead, even before they step into formal management roles.

Both groups are in the right place to leverage leadership skills, but they need the nod from you. So, here are four messages that you – and your fellow leaders – can send to the skilled experts, up-and-coming professionals and, in fact, the entire organization….For more read 4 Leadership Messages Your Talent Needs to Hear

Leadership comes from different parts of the whole organization whether formal or not. It is important to cultivate those that naturally lead others as you would a garden.

Unfortunately, most people tend to treat their gardens with a one-size-fits-all approach, ignoring the fact that the various plants in their garden have different light, watering, feeding and pruning needs.

Your employees are no different. While they may carry out similar functions or roles, the kind of feedback, recognition and support they need will vary. Like successful gardeners, the key is to learn and understand the differences in these needs and then finding ways to provide them despite your limitations on resources and time.

Whether you want to create a thriving garden or organization, in both cases it’s not just in the early stages of planning, delegating and nurturing that you need to focus on the health of your garden or organization.

As time passes and your organization grows and matures, it becomes even more important for leaders to take stock of their organization’s culture and make the necessary changes to encourage a renewal in your employees’ sense of purpose. Through implementing the measures above, leaders can continue to provide the necessary conditions to strengthen your organizational culture as well as your collective drive to grow and succeed….More at 5 Key Steps To Cultivating Success In Your Organization

Whether experienced guidance or fresh ideas are needed in your organization, cultivate leadership at all levels in your organization today.

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7 Benefits to Leading Change Through Forward Focus

In our earlier posting on Leading Creativity Through Forward Focus I talked about some experiences of play and creativity, how only about 20% of us retain that creativity, and asked how we can maintain or find it again. Today I want to focus on a few ideas for play or creativity at work and 7 benefits to leading creativity through forward focus.

Deer Hand Puppet ~ 1 of 6 photos
A few ideas that Leo Babauta had for bringing play into your life…
  • Make a game of computer tasks — see how fast you can get your inbox to empty (set a timer)
  • Give yourself points for checking off your tasks, and see how many points you can get each day
  • Skip instead of walk
  • Imagine you are in a movie when you walk into a meeting
  • Give yourself challenges
  • Make bets with friends when it comes to doing things you don’t normally like doing…More at Infusing Play into Mundane Tasks :zenhabits

What are the benefits of leading creatively through forward focus?

  1. Vision – the big picture becomes clear, gains more buy-in, grows with new ideas. Allowing others to let down their guard opens their mind to the wonders of the future instead of closed to the moment with no hope of a better future.
  2. Improved problem solving – creative thinkers see more options than reactive thinkers do. In reactive mode we see a limited set of options or worse yet only one. Creativity allows a brain-storm of ideas to flow and a mix of ideas that if used alone are not enough.
  3. Knowledge growth – share the creativity. Ideas and knowledge flow from different trains of thought and backgrounds. Sharing that knowledge allows others to grow, to begin to explore new ideas. You and your followers will grow.
  4. Mindset change – followers begin to see creativity. This can bring a more open environment. A more welcoming environment, not stuck in “this is how we do it” mode. Ideas previously shelved in the back of someone’s brain leaps to the front to improve productivity and morale. The projection of play and creativity can be contagious and create a better mindset for those around you.
  5. Better, more effective communication – explanation and expansion of ideas opens new pathways and allows us to see the way others communicate. If we know how different people communicate, communications can be modified to make the message more effective and easier to follow.
  6. Better service – from different ideas on how to best assist the client or customer. Whether it is an internal customer or an external one, if served by someone with the ability to use creative approaches to their need, they will feel better served.
  7. Influence – when handled as an individual with unique needs and preferences to approach, people will be more influenced. It is an opportunity to develop new relationships and further your reach with customers, coworkers or direct reports. They begin to look to you for guidance and feedback.
Bringing an element of play into your environment, your leadership. Open the doors to creativity and a future of what is possible.
We would love to hear how you are leading creatively through forward focus.

 

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Leading Creativity through Forward Focus

Leading Creativity through forward focus

Image by eilonwy77 via Flickr

The ideas of leadership and play when combined provide an opportunity to lead creativity through forward focus. What do I mean?

Think back, way back, to when you were a kid with all the energy and imagination that went with it. Can’t think back that far, then look at the world through the eyes of a child. One that comes to mind is with my son. All of 2 years old at the time, he decided that I must lay down on the kitchen floor to watch as two ants scurried across it. My first thought – get the ant spray and squish the ants. Yet I hesitated just long enough to lay down on the floor and listen to my son explain that the ants were on a parade and all the fun places the parade would see. Such as going down a slide,stopping at the beach, and visiting a picnic or two along the way. For that short time, I watched the ants through his imagination. He saw the possibilities that lie ahead, he had forward focus. I will do my best to make sure he doesn’t lose the creativity of that moment.

After all only about 20% of us will retain creativity in our lives. Not sure where you fall? Consider this – when you think about leading your team are you seeing the cannot or the can?

If you are among the 20% that thinks creatively, you are thinking about the can and changing the cannot to can. For the other 80% the to do list is daunting list with lots of cannot. As children our creativity flowed endlessy from crazy made up creations with Legos® to acting out whole scenarios with Barbie® orG.I. Joe®. Somewhere along the way we have lost many of these needed skills. How can we maintain it or find it again?

Leo Babauta had some similar experiences to my ant parade and explores how to infuse your day with creativity (play)….

You can’t always enjoy what you’re doing, right?

Actually, you can. You just have to remember what it’s like to be a child.

Sure, there are things we have to do every day that we might think are boring: household chores, errands, routine tasks at work, being in a meeting that’s makes you want to pound your head on the table. But those are only boring because we’ve chosen to make them boring.

Let’s take my 6-year-old daughter Noelle as an example. She had to go to the dentist, which is a pretty routine thing for most people. We took the train and then walked a few blocks. In the train, she sang, found things fun to see out the window, played games with me. As we walked, she talked about how the building the dentist is in might possibly reach the blue stuff in the sky, and wanted to bet me that it actually did (10 hugs if I won, $1 if she won). The elevator ride to the 18th floor was like a roller coaster ride to her.

Everything she does becomes a game, an opportunity for wonder and exploration, or at the very least an opportunity to sing a song. She’s never bored. Why is that?

Because she doesn’t see anything as boring. Everything is new, and there’s always a game you can play.

We can do that too. Every chore can be turned into play. Every walk to the store can be infused with beginner’s mind, so that we see our surroundings afresh, ripe for exploration. Every boring work task can be turned into a challenge, a game.

It is amazing to see what we can learn from the children around us. They bring creativity to everything they do – now is the time to begin leading creativity. Do you want to know the benefits of leading creativity through forward focus? Look for the 7 Benefits to Leading Creativity Through Forward Focus next week.

 

Play fosters belonging and encourages cooperation.
- Stuart Brown, MD

More Mindset Reading
True Payoff From Workplace Diversity
Do You Dare Your Employees To Dream?

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The Importance of Communication Skills in a Global Market

In today’s global market, there is more opportunity for growth and expansion than ever before.The importance of communication skills in a global market cannot be underestimated. Not only do you need to be able to effectively communicate with employees from other cultures, but they too need to be trained to communicate across their own borders. In this article posted on Market Watch, we get insight from Hays Journal, a world-class global specialist recruiting group, on how to be effective in an international evironment.

The Importance of Communication Skills in a Global Market

Communication skills are becoming vital if global business leaders are to effectively manage people across international boundaries, says recruiting experts Hays.

In its latest Hays Journal, out this week, the recruiter explores the growing importance of communication in international people management. Says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong: “For business leaders in an increasingly global, 24/7 environment, how they communicate with a multi-lingual and multi-cultural team, located across different time zones and markets, is increasingly important and critical to business success.

“Even the most globetrotting manager cannot be everywhere at once. The world of work is increasingly complex and in our experience of recruiting world-class leaders, strong communication skills are vitally important in a successful leader. They allow a leader to remain attuned to the different cultural and societal expectations of global teams through regular contact, while keeping in mind regional sensitivities and market differences.

“This includes being aware of how what you are saying is perceived by others, especially if English is not their first language.”

There has been some debate about whether such skills can be taught. “Certainly it requires multiple interventions over a period of time,” says Marc. “It’s also about bringing people together – networks are hugely important to learning, while ongoing leadership and talent development are also critical.

“Leaders can develop the skills and qualities necessary to build, engage and foster team spirit across different time zones and geographies. Many organisations run their own diversity and inclusion training programmes for managers, with extra programmes offered for those likely to work with staff across geographies.

“This includes managing different ways of working, such as differing leadership and cultural styles. Coaching and training in effective communication techniques, such as the danger of ambiguity, the need for clarity and the benefits of picking up the phone or even getting on a plane, are also essential. How you communicate is vital.

Original article here

The importance of communication skills in a global market is important not only for reaching out to your customer, client and partner base, but also in managing a multi-cultural business environment. Make sure your organization is ready for the challenge.

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Are You a Good Communicator?

Communication is the key to any lasting relationship. If you can establish a lasting relationship with your employees, then you have much better chance of leading a successful organization. According to an article we found by Catherine Robinson posted on Corp Comms, when asked, 1 out of 2 employees say that their managers are not good communicators. Those are not good numbers. Are you a good communicator? Do you know what would your employees say?

Are You are Good Communicator?

Confidence in management is falling as one in two employees believe they could do a better job and one quarter claim that standards are getting worse due to a lack of communication and people skills, according to new research.

When asked which single skill would improve the quality of management in the workplace, 45 per cent said there was a greater need for clear, honest communication from managers to staff.

Almost all the 500 opinion formers questioned highlighted a need for managers to receive formal feedback from direct reports, whether through 360-degree feedback or part of the appraisal process. But just four in ten employees are invited to provide this feedback.

Hannah Stratford, head of business psychology at ETS, who conducted the survey, commented: ‘Line managers play a crucial role in the success of any business by driving the performance level of teams. One problem is that often high-performers are promoted into management positions without the skills, desire or support to manage a team.’

Original article here

Are you a good communicator? If you find yourself talking often with your employees and  allowing them a voice in the company, chances are that you are. However, if you can’t remember the last time you listened to what your employees had to say …

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