Leaders and Communication

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 1 minute

A major leadership issue is information sharing, keeping people in the loop so they can perform their jobs efficiently.  I always say, “Communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate…and then communicate even more”! You must have open lines of communication up and down all levels of the organization. I believe in the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid or keep it short and sweet).  Simple things move through an organization faster, eliminate clutter, and reflect greater clarity.

When communicating, leaders must use different formats to get their message across: newsletters, emails, one-on-one or group meetings, and town halls.  The most important goal is clarity.  Often, leaders know what they want to communicate, but they fail to communicate clearly.  When speaking, our tone of voice or inflection may have different meanings to different people from diverse backgrounds and levels of experience. As such, it’s incumbent upon leaders to communicate in a way that’s clearly understood, without confusion, ambiguity, or misinterpretation.

Poor communication is one reason so many executives fail.  Think carefully about how you express yourself, and develop a communication plan. How you communicate with people will vary, depending on the recipients and their positions in the organization, the parts of the initiative you want to share with them, and the timing of the communication.

Leaders and organizations can never take communication for granted; they need to think of it as a product.  This requires them to take an occasional communication inventory: looking at all current channels, vehicles, systems, and networks to find out who communicates to whom.  Then, analyze the communication system and make it as effective as you would any other system in the organization.

 

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-sellerSeven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speakerand highly requested executive coachhe was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

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A Leadership Success Story

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 2 minutes

Alfredo, a native-born Italian, was senior vice president and general manager for a plastics extrusion company in Rimini, Italy, a division of a U.S.-owned multinational plastics company.  Alfredo had taken an operation on the verge of collapse and turned it around into a highly profitable venture, thus becoming a star performer in the eyes of the company’s leaders. He was promoted to executive vice president and brought to the States.

Alfredo faced a similar situation in his new job.  The company was going through a bad period: worldwide sales had flattened, costs had risen beyond expectations, profits had tumbled, and employee disengagement was at a peak.  The performance of company managers and workers had plummeted as everybody was afraid of what the future held.

Then suddenly, the CEO died from a heart attack, and the board appointed Alfredo as interim CEO to fill the void and prevent panic.  Alfredo rose to the challenge. Using the principles espoused in our Leadership Development Program, he took these steps:

First, Alfredo insisted on absolute integrity from himself and the employees of his company.  He set the example by telling the truth, even when it hurt (as it so often does when prior leaders concealed unpleasant truths), and he “walked the walk.”

He focused his attention on the people who worked for him, and on managers, supervisors, and workers – everyone.  Alfredo understood that great things can only be accomplished by great people, and he set an example that earned the trust of the people in his company.

He knew where he wanted to bring the company and he clearly articulated his visionand ensured that every employee in the company, from workers on the firing line right through his executive staff, understood what their roles were.

Knowing that capable employees leave the company when they lose faith in their leaders, he conducted assessments that enabled every employee to be heard. Alfredo went to great pains to listen to employees and assure that problems hindering them were corrected.

Alfredo realized that constant training and learning better ways to achieve his goals were key to not falling behind his company’s competition, and he extended that philosophy to the rest of the organization by implementing training programsfor employees, both in hard and soft skills.

Alfredo personally coachedhis direct reports to help them overcome obstacles and improve their leadership abilities.  He also assured that high potential leaders throughout the company were identified and received personal coaching. He understood that the company’s life-blood and future was invested in high potential leaders and that he could lose them if they didn’t receive the grooming they needed and deserved.

He went out of his way to ensure that employees worked in an environment that encouraged people not only to work hard but to enjoy what they were doing. Accordingly, he appointed two CFO’s, the traditional chief financial officer and a chief fun officer whose duty was to create ways for employees to have fun at work.

Within a few months of Alfredo taking the helm of the parent company, improvements were noticeable across the board in every function of the company. By the end of the year, the company’s fortunes had improved dramatically.

 

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE?

Jeff Wolfis the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speakerand highly requested executive coachhe was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

Contact Jeff today for your coaching needsor to speak at your next meeting or conference.

If you want your leaders to be great coaches, his program, Be a Great Coach, is now available at your location.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

 

Success Stories!

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 10.28.54 AMSo, there you are, meeting day. You stand center stage with every eye on you as you clear your throat and prepare to present one hundred twenty-five slides with graphs, org charts, formulaic data and relative material to advance brand and image to the elite of the company. You have toiled for weeks gathering just the right graphics and insight into the mechanics of your presentation. You have quotes, P & L elaborations and are very aware of the mission statement and promises of profitability to the shareholders.
Off you go.
Halfway through slide three you note the wandering of eyes onto tablets and cell phones, slide fifteen watches are being checked, fifty-seven the front row if not nodding off are definitely fading, when you hit visual one hundred eleven even the CEO is dead asleep and the meeting is lost. But wait, you think, slides one twenty-three through one twenty-five remain for the big finish.
“Are there any questions? You ask.
The silence is deafening, finally, a hand goes up.
“Yes?”
“Is there lunch?”
Which awakens the CEO, “Lunch?” he exclaims, “Great meeting, Jenkins!”
Your name is Thomas.
As you commiserate over your cold sub sandwich down at the other end of the table the accounting intern is holding court.
“…because of that reality with my family, I became more aware that profitability begins with a relationship based on solid communication.”
There is a spattering of applause followed by comments.
“Great story Serena, there’s an application to our data team in that.”
Heads nod and eventually that CEO looks at you, “You get that, Perkins?”
You nod, “yes sir.”
“You might want to add something like that in your next presentation,” says the leader, followed by a pat on the back for Serena.
“Good point, sir”, you say with a half-hearted smile.
“Thanks for sharing that Serena, you definitely have a way with words”, with that he departs for his corner office.
Everyone exits with praises for the “intern” leaving you to clean up the room and begin the pity party.
“He knows her name?”
Success stories are more than “once upon a time” meets “happily ever after”. They are based where real people meet real situations resulting in real life. When we learn to incorporate where we’ve been into where everyone is, we begin foundational success.
For your next meeting, consider the three pronged approach to storytelling for communication.
Initiate– Open with intriguing life impacting content tied to the mission.
Elaborate– Paint outside the lines with the content that allows participants to create a conclusion.
Culminate– Narrow your content to focus on the cause and effect and bring the ending to support to the beginning.
Allow your audience to participate in your journey with stories and be amazed at what develops. It begins with the magic of a story that only you can tell.
# # #

 

Leon McWhorter is an award winning writer, producer, and director with over 30 years experience training executives, talent and support teams in the magic of storytelling for success. His background with all major media outlets (CBS, NBC, ABC and The Walt Disney Company) will benefit you and your team with keynote or training in the art of the story.
Learn more about Leon’s programs:
Contact Mike Adams at 858-638-8260, madams@wolfmotivation.com or visit us at www.wolfmotivation.com.

Leaders as Coaches

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 2 minutes

Coaching plays a crucial role in keeping people engaged and committed. It brings out the best in them and helps remove obstacles to their success. Coaching is not about telling people what to do or how to do it; rather, you help people discover their own paths by encouraging and questioning. Help eliminate their roadblocks by asking questions like: With which past projects did you struggle? What steps will you take to achieve your goals? What excuses are you making? What’s holding you back? What have you tried since the last time we talked? Open-ended questions make people think through obstacles. And coaching shows that you care and are willing to share yourself with them.

Use coaching to enhance the capabilities and performance of leaders, high potential employees, and top producers. When leaders coach, people become more confident and motivated, which leads to higher performance and productivity. Leaders build relationships of trust when they support people to be all that they can be.

Organizations with a strong coaching culture develop higher engagement and performance. A coach asks: What are my people’s strengths? What are their goals, their ambitions, their technical and managerial limits? At what do they excel? What are their weaknesses, their potential, their limitations, their directions? A coach works one-on-one with key employees to stop bad habits and start positive ones. Participants can discuss what’s working, and not working, in confidence, and the coach holds them accountable and supplies support.

Coaching increases productivity, builds teamwork, motivates employees to elevate performance levels and helps them overcome obstacles to success. A great leader spends time working with individuals to see the blocks in their performances. A successful leader and effective coach are one in the same. People do not and will not change until they see the need to. A good coach listens to people to find ways to break down the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potential. They work with their people to outline a plan of action that clearly states the goals for improvement and accountability. Coaching helps people learn, grow, and change. It provides a powerful structure through which people can focus on specific outcomes, become more effective, and stay on track.

THREE SKILLS OF EFFECTIVE COACHING

Coaching requires you to master three skills: questioning that leads to understanding, structuring jobs correctly, providing positive reinforcement. Let me explain:

Effective questioning opens the door to understanding what‘s on people‘s minds. When you‘re coaching somebody, ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. You want the person you’re coaching to think about the answer. However, managers need to ask the right questions….questions that help employees realize their strengths, their failings, their needs and how they can best contribute to their organizations, and by extension to their abilities. Great coaches know the answers even when employees don’t.

Armed with that knowledge, great coaches structure jobs and work environments that allow each individual to flourish. They provide resources and training. They continually monitor progress and provide feedback, knowing when to encourage but also when to be brutally honest.

Praise and recognition for a job well done is often the positive reinforcement that works wonders. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their employees. If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish, so give them well-deserved praise.

In closing: Coaching opens lines of communication to create a comfortable environment where performance issues can be discussed freely and without defensiveness. Leaders who are effective coaches have more successful teams, higher morale and, in most cases, better bottom-line results. The benefits of coaching include: improved trust and morale, improved performance, skill development, innovation, productivity, confidence, motivation, better customer service, higher retention of key people, less stress, and applied potential.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

Contact Jeff today for your coaching needs or to speak at your next meeting or conference.

If you want your leaders to be great coaches, his program, Be a Great Coach, is now available at your location.

Jeff may be reached at 858-638-8260 – jeff@wolfmotivation.comwww.wolfmotivation.com

Identifying High-Potential New Leaders

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 12.18.08 PM

By Jeff Wolf

How do you identify high-potential new leaders? Leaders must be proficient in both hard and soft skills. For years, organizations looked at only hard skills or technical knowledge, such as expertise in strategy or finance. They viewed these hard skills as the most important characteristics of high-potential leaders. However, the soft skills (people or interpersonal skills) are key for the next generation of leaders.

Look for these soft skills:

  • effective communication
  • coaching ability
  • listening skills
  • teambuilding capability
  • facility for building relationships with their staffs and teams and with cross-functional areas to achieve goals and get work done
  • a sense of inquisitiveness
  • a willingness to improve
  • trustworthiness
  • a tendency to ask a lot of questions
  • an understanding of how their actions have an effect not only on themselves, but also on others

Leadership is difficult and demanding because leaders must help drive results, inspire, guide people and teams, and make tough decisions. Clearly, not everyone has the desire to lead, so the first question appears to be:

  • Does the person want to be a leader?
  • What are his goals and aspirations?
  • Does she see the big picture versus having a silo mentality?
  • Does he have the ability to strategically navigate complicated issues?
  • What types of real-life experiences does she have?
  • Is he honest and ethical?

Leaders need to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around her. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.

Observe firsthand how potential leaders work with others and how other people view them. When they stand up to speak in front of a group, do they exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry themselves well? They should also have good judgment skills in three discrete areas:

  1. People. Can they make sound judgments about people, such as anticipating the need for key personnel changes and aligning people to make the right call?
  2. Strategy. Are they flexible and adaptable? Can they make changes when a current strategy isn’t working?
  3. Grace Under Pressure. When they’re in crisis situations, do they remain calm, focus on their goals, think clearly, and develop new alternative strategies? When they make a mistake, do they admit it, let others know about it, and move forward, or do they try to hide it? By admitting mistakes, they serve as role models, communicating that it’s okay to fail and make a mistake.

Lastly, employ a series of tests and assessments to further measure their hard and soft skills.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO IDENTIFY AND GROW YOUR LEADERS?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.
A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach, he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com