Tag Archives: communication

Let Your Superstar Emerge

19 Jul

Our professional growth is like a blob of clay that forms over the course of our life.  Like all masterpieces, the clay takes on different forms.  The difference, of course, is that the sculptor may be many people and, ultimately, we are the sculptor who determines what the final product looks like.  Where are you in the development of your masterpiece?   Is a superstar close to emerging or is your clay not much different than when it was first forming?

I’ve dedicated my life to being a learning professional and along the way I’ve acquired the passion for being a professional learner.  Each day offers a different twist on what I’ve learned or how I choose to apply it.  I’d like to think that my clay has the basics and now the refining and minute details are creating a shape that’s moving toward that masterpiece, at least for me.

How do we mold our clay to create a masterpiece that makes a difference and leaves a legacy?  There are a number of tools and situations that help us along the way:

  • Identifying the values that drive us and influence us.  Early in my career I took a values assessment and a key value in my life (then and now) was freedom.  I have refined this piece of clay in how I’ve approached work, knowing the type of organization and leaders I need to work for/with and what I need in order to grow.  When there has been opportunity to have freedom in my work, I have made the largest gains in my development and for the organization’s success.  Knowing what is fundamental to us is an essential first step.
  • Creating a circle of influence.   When you know the values that are important to you, you attract people who help expand your boundaries.  Think about the discussions you’ve had that challenged pre-conceived ideas – this is helping you refine who you are.  Surrounding ourselves with people and opportunities that help us grow compounds our success.
  • Taking action.  It’s great to have self-awareness and an inspiring group of people to mentor and guide us and it’s quite another thing to do something that helps us to be better people.  Learning and applying what we learn go hand-in-hand.  Unless we “just do it” as Nike implores us, our potential is just that, potential.  It doesn’t have to be grand action – that’s what stops a lot of people from starting – it just has to be action.  Make a plan and then commit to doing one thing to advance on the plan.  Then do the next thing.  Then the next…
  • Getting feedback.  The world gives us checks and balances and feedback is one of the checks.  Ask others for feedback on what’s going well and then ask for feedback on what you could do differently.  Keep doing what’s working and make adjustments as needed.  Involve your circle of influence – they want what’s best for you.  Be generous in how you return feedback and receptive in how you accept it.

Where are you in your emerging masterpiece?  Your superstar is there and with a little refinement, you’re on your way.  What’s one action you can take right now that will refine your masterpiece?

#performance #learning  #growth

A Communication Slap in the Face

12 Jul

Have you ever had the same message hit you from a few different directions and not notice until it almost stands up in your face and slaps you, a la Cher in Moonstruck?  I’ve even wanted to say to myself, “What’s the matter with you?!”  I’ve recently experienced this and thought I’d share my insights.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working with different groups on their communication.  We’ve discussed the different types of communicators, the best ways to meet other’s needs with our communication, the barriers of our own communication style, and how to be more effective in our communication.  At the same time, I’ve experienced different people approaching me and have dealt with the challenges of communication that isn’t getting me the results I desire.

Today, I experienced, once again, someone reinforcing the best ways to communicate with others (similar to the same messages I’ve been delivering to the groups I’ve been working with) in a session I attended for best business practices.  Hmmmmm!  My wake-up call has occurred.

The very simple lessons that have metaphorically slapped me are a great reminder to what communication is all about:

  • Pay attention to what is being said – both verbally and in action
  • Respect other’s point of view – even when there’s no agreement
  • Provide acknowledgment that  the message has been heard– with words and body language
  • Clarify the action that needs to be taken – define who’s doing what
  • Show appreciation for their contribution – a simple “thank you” goes a long way

Moving forward, my promise to myself is to hear the message sooner and make sure I’m practicing good communication in every interaction.  What messages are calling out to you?  What can you do to make sure each person you interact with feels heard?  Thanks for listening!

The Top Seven Skills of Great Coaches: Coach Your Team to the Championship

16 Jun

The NBA championships just finished and we watched  the  teams finish their seasons, move through the division playoffs and move into the finals.  They start the year, as do all of the teams, with goals and expectations to be the champs.  The difference:  only one team accomplishes their goal.  So, what makes that happen?

I competed on sports teams from the age of nine through college and into my adult years.  I was on championship teams and, far more often, I was on the “also ran” teams that came close or didn’t place at all.  On both the championship and “also ran” teams, we had top talent that no one could touch, yet, that wasn’t the only differentiator that created wins.  The difference, in large part, always seemed to come down to the coach.

The coaches who stand out have consistent traits that leaders today can practice. Create your “championship team” with these top seven skills:

  1. Inspire – motivate with your words and actions.  Do what you say you will do to create trust and follow-up with words that communicate your belief in your team.  When you demonstrate your belief in a person, they will rise beyond expectations.
  2. Listen – avoid judging and give your full attention.  Listening is more than keeping your mouth closed.  It requires you to dial-in and make sure you’ve received the intended message.  When you listen with unbiased focus, you validate the other person and make a stronger connection, and you pick-up on information that you may never have gotten.
  3. Observe – watch for what’s going on in the workplace and pick-up on how people feel about things.  Great tools that you have with you at all times are your eyes and ears.  Use them to gather information, check out your instincts, and create points of reference for feedback and discussion.
  4. Guide – provide the WHAT so that your team can perform the HOW.  Point people in the right direction, observe them, and coach them to adjust their course.  You want to be the guide on the side versus the sage on the (workplace) stage.
  5. Ask questions –build commitment by asking versus telling.  Before jumping in with the answers or your ideas, ask for their input and ideas.  Become great at asking questions that guide and encourage others to take action.  There’s a lot more commitment when people come up with the action they need to take.
  6. Give feedback – gift your team with reinforcing and developmental feedback.  Everyone needs a compass to know where they are – feedback is just that.  Let people know what’s working and let them know when they need to make a course correction.  Part of guiding others is providing feedback that defines the WHAT that needs to be accomplished and where the HOW is or isn’t working.
  7. Build confidence – elevate your team by helping people believe that they can.  When you communicate your trust in other’s abilities and support them with the tools and resources they need to get things done, you boost their confidence.  Confidence is the first step to achieving great things.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:  Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he should be, and he will become what he could be.

Leaders have an important role in the success of teams.  What coaching skills will create the difference for your teams?  What will you do to treat your team as the champions they could be?

Influence and Personal Branding

17 May

What are you doing to be memorable?  If you’re not that memorable, what does that say about your brand?  Your brand is your calling card to success and it affects your ability to influence others.  Are you doing what you want to do as a leader?  Let’s look at simple steps to create a personal brand that gets results.

Successfully working with others requires you to connect quickly.  Your presence (how you come across) and what you say helps you sell an idea, get agreement to move forward on a project, build team support, or change directions on an initiative.  Having a branding strategy is key to successful influencing.  Let’s look at four key components to put your strategy together:

1.       Make a great first impression. 

  • Your presence includes how you put yourself together, the degree of confidence that comes through, and what you say.  I’m not saying you have to wear designer duds and spend a fortune on your appearance, I am saying you need to come across polished and put together.
  • A person who stands tall, has a solid handshake and looks people in the eyes is a confident person.  Confidence equals credibility.  When I say confidence, I don’t mean cockiness – know the difference.
  • Communicate what you do and what you have to offer that matters to the other person.  Your brand is how you help others.  Make sure you have a clear statement that lets people know what you are about.  When people know this, you are able to build your influence.

2.       Be a partner.

  • Know what’s important to others and look for ways that you can help them.  Inform yourself on their hot buttons and make connections for them.
  • Put yourself in their shoes to figure out where they need help.

3.       Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

  • Learn how people want you to communicate with them.  Do they like to get down to business and take care of things quickly or do they want to spend time getting to know you and build a partnership?  Do they want to brainstorm ideas and think of creative approaches to problems or do they need to have all the details to make sure they have all bases covered? You don’t have to be all things to everyone.  Make it easy on yourself and communicate how people want you to communicate.
  • Giving and receiving feedback is a huge part of communication.  Be open and receptive to what people say and leave the defensiveness behind.  When you give feedback, connect what they’ve done with an impact and suggestions from both of you.

4.       Look to the future.

  • Anticipate changes and what that means to your relationship.  Be prepared so you can offer insights and suggestions.
  • Identify ways to enhance your partnership.  When you give more than you receive, your relationships grow.

Practicing these four steps will create and sustain a personal brand that others will respect.  Confidence, partnership, communication, and anticipation are foundations to a memorable brand.  Look at what your brand is saying and how you can enhance your ability to influence with a simple branding strategy.