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Monthly Archives: February 2010

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

I was cleaning out some old files the other day, and I came across an article from the September 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review.  Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis authored Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership, a review of how leaders can improve group performance by understanding the biology of empathy.  As I skimmed through the piece, one paragraph in particular caught my attention.

In a recent study, our colleague Marie Dasborough observed two groups: one received negative performance feedback accompanied by positive emotional signals – namely, nods and smiles; the other was given positive feedback that was delivered critically, with frowns and narrowed eyes.  In subsequent interviews conducted to compare the emotional state of the two groups, the people who received positive feedback accompanied by negative emotional signals reported feeling worse about their performance than did the participants who had received good-natured negative feedback.  In effect, the delivery was more important than the message itself.

So … the delivery is more important than the message itself.  In other words … it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  Hmmm … I think I’ve heard that before.  Wait … it sounds a lot like my oft-repeated leadership mantra that separates managers from leaders: management is what you do, leadership is how you do it.  Go figure – I’ve been delivering this message for over 20 years now; but don’t you just love it when the research backs up fact! 😀 😀

So are you taking this into account when you seek to get the best out of your people?

… unless we choose to reverse it

Below is a great little video that a friend pointed me to.  It’s less than 2 minutes long, so be sure to watch it through to the end (with your speakers on) … it will be worth it!  I’ll give you some more background on it when you’re done.

Pretty cool, huh?  This video was the second-place winner in a [email protected] Challenge contest run by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in 2007/2008. The goal of the [email protected] Challenge was to encourage inter-generational dialogue and to give young people a chance to speak their minds while also giving AARP insight into their views.  I think you’ll agree that this video certainly accomplished it goal.  If you’re a “veteran” leader in an organization, then at minimum, this clip is an uplifting and refreshing voice from the perspective of a generation that often causes grief to supervisors and managers.  But for me, this video did much more.  What it really gave me was a dramatic illustration of what can happen if we simply change our perspective.  Don’t know if you caught it, but at about the 0:48 mark, just before the words start rolling backwards, the narrator says “And all this will be true, unless we choose to reverse it”.

What does that mean for us in the bigger picture in our roles as leaders? Do you ever find yourself in a negative situation – poor work performance by an employee, deteriorating relationship with the boss or a co-worker, or worsening financial results – that just seems to spiral downwards?  If so, what are you doing, what actions are you choosing to take, to reverse the direction?  I would love to hear your thoughts and find out more about what you’re doing to accomplish this.

True leadership is defined in times of crisis

As many of you know, I’ve been following the Winter Olympics closely.  Well, you can’t blame me, not only are they in Canada, but I still have fond memories of volunteering for the 1988 Games in Calgary!  But I digress …

I watched the spectacular Opening Ceremonies last week, and as I sat through the stirring performances with which Canada welcomed the world, I couldn’t help but think about the devastating tragedy that had occurred earlier that day.  Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, died from fatal injuries that he sustained during a training run that afternoon.  Shortly before the Opening Ceremonies, I watched while IOC President Jacques Rogge and VANOC CEO John Furlong, both visibly upset, held a news conference and choked back tears as they attempted to give the press an update on what was known and what still remained to be investigated.  In the days since that difficult meeting, the Vancouver Olympics road sadly has continued to be rocky.  Continue reading

It’s not about you, it’s about them

I, like three billion people worldwide, spent most of Friday night in front of my television, watching the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.  Turned out I was also one of 23 million Canadians, and one of 32 million Americans who did exactly the same!  I loved every moment of the spectacular and poignant pomp and pageantry, and repeatedly found myself swallowing a lump in my throat that unexpectedly appeared as I felt oh-so-proud to be a Canadian!

Not surprisingly, for every waking moment since Friday night, the ceremonies has been THE hot topic of conversation with my friends and colleagues, both online and in-person.  The feedback about the event has been overwhelmingly positive, except for one repeated complaint that has come up so often that I can’t help but notice.  No … it wasn’t the malfunctioning hydraulic lift for the Olympic cauldron.  Neither was it the spectacle of Wayne Gretzky standing for 10 minutes in the back of a pickup truck, drenched in the pouring rain.  Continue reading

Why leaders cannot ignore the impact of social media

So many people are constantly texting or updating status reports on Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube. How do they get any useful work done? As far as I am concerned, all this online stuff just stunts your ability to develop meaningful relationships with other people. Anyway, this whole social media thing is just a fad.

If you’re reading this via Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, then this probably does not reflect your point of view.  However, for many people, this is a familiar lament about the world of social media.  If you fall into this latter category … perhaps these interesting statistics about the impact of globalization and technology on our world might cause you to reconsider your perspective. Read the entire article in the January/February 2010 issue of CGA Magazine here.

Are you the bulldozer, or the road?

As this bulldozer of change rolls over our planet, we have a choice: to become part of the bulldozer, or part of the road.

— Frank Ogden in The Last Book You’ll Ever Read

Futurist Frank Ogden penned these words in 1993.  Today, seventeen years later, this bulldozer is bigger and faster than ever, as the pace of change in workplaces and homes across the country increases exponentially.  Consider this example: it took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users, television 13 years, the Internet four years, and the iPod three years.  In contrast, in just a nine month period, Facebook added 100 million users, and downloads of iPhone applications reached one billion.  Or ponder this.  Today, the amount of new technical information is doubling every 2 years.  Translation: for students starting a 4-year technical degree, half of what they learn in the first year of study will be outdated by the third year of study.  Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what aspect of your professional and personal life you consider, the pace of change is increasing exponentially.

If you work in an organization, does it irritate the heck out of you when new versions of software are released and you still haven’t figured out how to use the earlier version?  If you’re a supervisor or team leader, does it drive you crazy to see your younger staff texting each other constantly?  If you’re in front-line customer service, does it annoy you when clients keep expecting more for less?  You have two alternatives to approach these realities.  You can hope that they are passing fads and that sooner or later, everyone will come to their senses and these frustrations will go away.  In the meantime, you’ll just stay out of the bulldozer’s way (and hope you don’t get run over).  OR … you can take action to try and influence the bulldozer’s direction.  This option starts with a change in your attitude.  Ask questions, request to be involved, and offer your assistance – become part of the solution by becoming a positive force for change.  As Ogden said, you have a choice – to become part of the bulldozer, or part of the road.  Which one will you choose?

The taxi driver who once was a banker!

Only 30% of skilled immigrants feel that their jobs correspond to their qualifications, and another 30%, although working in their field, feel that they are over-qualified and not able to realize their full potential. So finds a new study released last week at the 7th Annual Internationally Educated Professionals Conference in Toronto. Two-thirds of skilled immigrants also say that they have been advised to obtain further Canadian education to land the professional job they have been educated for, but ironically, the need to send money “back home” and the necessity to hold down two jobs to accomplish this rules out further schooling. The study notes that this is a vicious circle, since obtaining the required education could permit them to earn more in less time.

I was privileged to deliver the opening keynote at this conference in Toronto ON last Friday, and so I also got an opportunity to listen later in the day, first-hand, to the authors of this study. Continue reading

Communicating with Confidence – Live audio event on February 10

When you are suddenly faced with a situation in which you need to speak to a group or make a presentation, do you wonder whether you are projecting the professionalism and expertise you know you possess? Do you wrestle with getting others to buy-in to your ideas and strategies? What about getting people to act on the commitments they make? If you’ve ever struggled with any of these issues, then battle no more! It IS possible to deliver your message with control and composure. It IS possible to think on your feet and craft a message on the fly. It IS possible to speak directly, yet respectfully, and hold others accountable to their word. It IS possible, and I can help! On February 10, I’ll be leading an audio conference that will give you the skills to communicate with confidence, clarity and credibility.   I hope you’ll join me.

Click here to register

In one power-packed hour, right from the comfort of your office, I’ll give you specific, practical, and useful tools to communicate with confidence, clarity and credibility. You’ll learn:

  • How assertive communication is your key to establishing credibility and projecting confidence
  • One guaranteed method to improve your communication
  • Specific techniques to ensure that your message is taken seriously
  • Seven ways to use body language to reinforce your message
  • Six “magic” words and phrases that will advance dignity, respect and influence in all your interactions
  • Five specific things that you can do to make a good first impression
  • How to overcome your nervousness in meetings and in front of groups

Join me on February 10, 2010 at 11 AM MST. Early bird pricing in effect ONLY until this Wednesday February 3!

Click here to register, or for more information.