Effective Communication

The power of storytelling is the way it engages the audience. It connects the storyteller with the audience, creating a trust bond that feels very authentic. When friend and colleague Darren Batty shared the article from Julie Neumark on LinkedIn recently I realised it was an important topic we had not covered yet. Of course you can’t just tell a boring story and expect to create any level of connection. Telling people facts and data will not change their minds but telling a story may influence them and that is the goal. In their paper on ‘The Science and Power of Storytelling‘ Suzuki et al. write that “engaging listeners, creates a stronger and more meaningful transfer of knowledge because it elicits participation, creates an intellectual investment and emotional bond between the speaker and the audience”. The emotional bond and the intellectual investment that comes from good storytelling is a powerfulContinue Reading

Leadership in a crisis requires a different emphasis to retain the trust and motivation of team members. As everyone within the team collectively deals with rolling waves of challenges that impact personal and professional lives the leader needs to be a beacon of light and clarity. The McKinsey authors commence this article by pointing out that leadership is most important when people face significant objective threats and that the usual ways of working are no longer possible leading to stress, anxiety and confusion. During times of disaster (natural disasters such earthquakes, storms and pandemics or financial disasters such as the GFC) there is always a significant impact on people creating economic hardship. A catastrophe happens when people impacted “freeze up and freak out” losing the trust and faith in leaders, rules and social norms. A core tenant of leadership in a crisis is to provide cultural and psychological protection forContinue Reading

communications with clarity

The leadership competence of delivering succinct communications with clarity is extraordinarily powerful, so why do so many leaders fail to master the skill? The amygdola (or reptile brain) is hardwired to be impatient and to be somewhat negative (it is the fear centre of our brains) so if we don’t capture the interest of the audience in a short period of time it is likely that those listening will either turn off or even have negative emotions as the lizard in our heads considers the worst. Presentations, meetings and communications that fail to engage, frustrates the audience and can lead to a loss of productivity and motivation. I once had a leader who would use what he referred to as “the rule of three – tell, telling and told”. You start any communication by telling the audience about what you are going to tell them, you then go into theContinue Reading

5 skills

A recent US survey has identified the most important skills for managers as: communication, ability to train, time management, building culture and managing performance. In 2019 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released a study  The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture which identified 1 in 4 American workers dreaded going to work and that US companies had lost $223 billion due to culture caused turn-over. In 2020 they updated the study with further research finding that 84% of US workers blame bad managers for creating unnecessary stress. This article unpacks the more recent study and finds that there are five skills that employees wish their managers have. Effective Communication The mostly highly regarded skill is effective communications (41% of those surveyed stated their manager could improve in this area). It is important to remember that effective communication is not just about talking it is also about listeningContinue Reading

According to a recent US survey 36% of adults believe conspiracy theories, so how do you talk to these conspiracy theorists and still be kind? I know from personal experience that it can be a frustrating experience dealing with conspiracy theories especially on social media. This week a former colleague posted on Facebook that she had decided to unfollow an old school friend as they were posting conspiracy theories online. Her post resonated immediately as I had also found myself in an online debate with a former school mate whose views I couldn’t just let pass. So what is the best way to engage? Tanya Basu from MIT Technology Review has some advice: Always, always speak respectfully. Speak with respect, compassion, and empathy and people are more likely to listen to you. Go private. When you reach out in a personal message or DM you are not publicly shaming the individual – it impliesContinue Reading

There are lots of reasons where a meeting or group session that once might have been important and highly relevant stops being your top priority. When that happens you have to choose to be fully engaged or to break up with your commitments! It could be a regular social engagement, or a working group where you were included for ‘your perspective’, or maybe it is a voluntary activity that is no longer top of your list of priorities. We all have them, those meetings or events in our diaries that we are not really engaged in anymore, maybe you show up, but don’t really engage, other times we ghost the meeting by not showing up but not dropping off the invite list or admitting we were no longer attending. In this article Saunders explains why you should make a formal break and provides you with four steps to go aboutContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Forbes by Jeremy Pollack, Published 28th July 2020 Significant bodies of research have confirmed that employee happiness is more likely to drive organisational success and as this article points out “job satisfaction is not only a sound business decision, but also an ethical and moral one”. So how do you know if your employees are happy and fully engaged in your organisation? Here are six questions that can help you find out. Is there anything that you need from the organisation to be more successful in your role? Is there anything you need from me (as your leader), or anything that I could be doing differently to be helpful to you? Is there anything that you find unclear in your role? or any clarity or direction that I can help you with. Do you have a vision for how this role will help you getContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Forbes by Grant Freeland, Published 27th July 2020 This article grabbed me at the start with the short powerful statements that leaders use Ronald Reagan used to say “Trust but Verify”, former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi used to say “Performance with Purpose” and for a highly successful not for profit entrepreneur it is “No Surprises”. “No Surprises” has been a line I have used for many years so this article immediately spoke to me. The author Freeland is a BCG partner and in this article he refers to how leaders need to communicate which is with truth and transparency. They need to empathetic and one of the best ways to do this is to show them your human side. (see uncover your motivation to lead and the motivation secret that works for everyone) Show your heartOpen up about your life, feelings and struggles, build connectionsContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Fast Company by Jessica Thiefels Published 9th July 2020 Effective and compelling communication is a critical skill, you need clarity, persuasion and effective story telling to make sure your audience is fully engaged. Use Prompts for Creative Writing Build creative writing skills that you can apply to your business writing, there are tools available that can help you build the capability and remember practice makes perfect. Applications that can help include Writing Prompts (Android) or Daily Prompt (Apple). Boost Your Persuasive Writing Skills One of the most in demand skills today (see LinkedIn’s 2020), Persuasion is about your ability to effectively engage with your audience and to influence them to align to the views you are explaining. As a business leader being able to explain a vision, strategy or mission is a core competence. Become a Better Storyteller People engage with stories, when telling your story think aboutContinue Reading

Synopsis of an article from Harvard Business Review, by by Justin Hale and Joseph Grenny, Published 9th March 2020 The authors make the argument that too often meeting attendees check out. When everyone is in the same room there are techniques we all use to bring the attention back to the speaker but how do you do that on a virtual meeting. Here are 5 rules that can really help sharpen the focus in your next virtual meeting. The 60 second rule – In the first minute of the meeting do something with the group to make them experience the problem. It might be a dramatic story, compelling statistics or a powerful analogy. The goal is to ensure that the group understands the problem before you discuss or try to solve it. The responsibility rule – when attending a meeting we all have a role, you need to provide clarity on the engagementContinue Reading