Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR


Leave a comment

It’s Not “What” you say It’s “How” you say it!

The delivery of the message is more than half the battle, especially in leadership. Of course what you say matters, but how you say it, how you relate to people, is what differentiates great leaders from the pack.   That means you can have innovative ideas, indeed you must, but if you can’t deliver them in a way that connects with people and relates to them in a meaningful way, you won’t get results.

Over the years working with many CEO’s I’ve seen those that started out brash, aggressive and only worried about their success and driving results. That only gets you so far.  The smart (and really successful ones) learned the importance and motivational impact of genuinely connecting with people in a meaningful way.

That transition doesn’t happen all at once, it’s a process of continuous improvement and the learning never really stops. So, wherever you are in your journey to the top, these 5 tips will help to improve your delivery so people will want to be a part of whatever it is you’re doing.

Look people straight in the eye and really “see” them. If you take one thing away from this post, this is the one. It’s huge.  When you look someone straight in the eye, you’re initiating a potentially deep connection that can’t be achieved any other way. It also shows respect, i.e. there’s nothing more dismissive and demeaning than not “recognizing” someone by looking directly at them.

Increase your self-awareness. How you say things is more about how you feel than what you think. If people have trouble relating to you or respecting you, chances are you’re not as self-aware as you think you are. The only way to change that is to find out what employees, peers, and your boss like and don’t like about how you communicate. Being open to feedback is the only place to start.

Be direct and genuine. The big problem with political correctness is that it’s hard enough to be straightforward and direct with people as it is. The whole Political Correctness thing just adds layers of complexity that make it so much harder to be straightforward in a work environment. Actually, the more direct and genuine you are with people, the greater their sense of trust and the more respect they’ll have for you.

Executive presence isn’t about power and domination. This is perhaps the biggest misconception about executive presence. It doesn’t come from command and control, it comes from connecting and relating, from sharing your passion in a way that’s meaningful to others. It breaks down barriers.

Learn to be a storyteller. People relate to stories and storytellers. People don’t remember facts and figures or even logical arguments as well as they remember stories. They also find it easier to connect with storytellers. If you really want to relate to people in a deep way, tell them stories they can relate to.

Advertisements


2 Comments

Corporate Culture – It’s Worth Measuring

Corporate culture is often thought of as that touchy-feely stuff that is difficult to define and should be left up to Human Resources to manage. The reality is that culture is a business issue that has significant impact on a Company’s ability to generate a return on investment and should be prioritized and measured just like other business objectives such as financial growth, product development, sales, marketing and the like. Culture is defined as the identity and personality of an organization. It consists of the shared thoughts, assumptions, behaviors, and values of the employees and stakeholders. Culture is dynamic, ever-changing, and evolves with time and new experiences. Many factors help drive and define the culture, including leadership styles, policies and procedures (or sometimes lack thereof), titles, hierarchy, as well as the overall demographics and workspace. Culture exists in every organization, whether it is by design or by default.

An organization’s culture may be one of its strongest assets or it can be its biggest liability. The reason culture is so important is that its impact goes far beyond the talent in the organization; it has significant influence on the organization’s goals. Culture drives or impedes the success of an organization. With culture impacting the talent, the product, the clients as well as the revenue, why would a company not measure review and intentionally nurture something so important and critical to its success? For many companies, the elements of their culture originated with the founder or other leaders who were instrumental in the early stages of the organization. Sometimes that culture developed through default, while in other companies there was intentional execution to drive and promote the culture. As new leaders come into an organization they often are encouraged to adopt and follow existing practices.  Cultures are perpetuated as stories of people and events illustrating the company’s core values are retold and celebrated. The benefits of a strong culture can be endless. A strong and thriving culture will:

  •  Establish a foundation for success
  • Attract and retain top talent for the organization
  • Promote the brand of an organization
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Drive productivity
  • Distinguish a company from competitors

The organization’s culture is the foundation that can promote growth and hinder complacency. For start-up companies, driving the culture in the early stages is important. One of the easiest places to do this is in the hiring practices. Cultural fit has been known to be the biggest reason around employee turnover and management distraction. If an organization hires talent to fit the culture and the desired company values then it has a win-win situation for both the employee and the organization. You can’t change who people are at their core. Of course, skills are important; however, if necessary, skill gaps can be closed through training and development.  Hiring decisions are one of the most important decisions that managers are going to make for the organization. For new companies, there is often an absence of a hiring process and skills.  It is critical that managers receive the appropriate training on interviewing and hiring techniques that will that will improve their opportunity for success. Additionally, a consistent hiring process partnered with trained managers will minimize the organization’s risk as well as help drive the culture. A strong hiring practice will also help in retaining the top talent in the organization.  So, how are you developing or retaining your corporate culture for success.


5 Comments

Establishing Trust, Why it Matters

Ideally trust is achieved in a relationship.  Absent a relationship, employees will observe leader traits to determine whether they are trustworthy or not. For example, a leader that holds an elevator for people conveys that they are willing to serve others and not just be served.  Employees will likely watch for other leadership traits as well, such as: Approachability, Listening; do they listen well? Follow-through; do they do what they say they are going to do? Accountability; do they apologize if they say something wrong?  Executives have to remember that the workforce scrutinizes what they do.  Your deeds have to match your words, because everyone is watching.  Any misstep between words and actions will be noted and will ‘go viral’ inside—and even outside—the organization’s walls.

More importantly, the level of trust employees have for senior leaders impacts engagement.  According to The Employee Engagement Report 2011, released Dec. 15, 2010, by BlessingWhite. The survey of nearly 10,914 employees on four continents revealed that employees who trust their organization’s executives are more likely to be engaged at work than those who only trust their direct supervisor.

Employees who don’t trust leaders may jump ship because they’re not confident in the organization’s direction or aren’t certain of the leaders’ motives. A lack of trust breeds distractions and side conversations about hidden agendas, which damages productivity.  Discretionary effort suffers, because employees aren’t willing to go above and beyond for leaders they don’t know or trust.

But it is more important for trust to be present in closer working relationships, particularly with those leaders within “arm’s reach” of an employee. The level of trust an employee has for a supervisor influences how the employee perceives those who are farther up the chain. For example, if a supervisor talks about a workplace issue in a way that is degrading of a senior leader, it can impact the level of trust employees have toward the senior leader and color their perception of the immediate supervisor. There’s a way that the supervisor can communicate in order to remain trustworthy, such as explaining the facts without added commentary. Yet what often happens is that a supervisor’s frustration seeps out with badmouthing and backbiting and gossiping.

Leaders have to observe and acknowledge what their people have experienced and be very careful about their tendency to gloss things over and sweep them under the carpet.  When trust has been broken, it is emotional. People can feel devalued, discounted. There must be permission to express these feelings and emotions.  Ideally, such feelings will be conveyed in a constructive way. Get and give support to others in the process. Reframe the experience and shift from being a victim to taking a look at options and choices. It’s not necessarily what happens to us that’s important, it’s how we respond.  (Attitude! Ah but that’s another topic) Take responsibility. Ask: What did I do or not do that caused this to happen?  Forgive yourself and others.  Let go and move on.