Execution

  • Top Five Things Leaders Should Say

    Opinion research shows that public confidence in business and political leaders is middling to very poor.

    For example, a Gallup poll (December 2012) found that only 21 percent of Americans rated business leaders as very high in terms of honesty and ethical behavior. Members of Congress fared even worse in the poll, coming in second from the bottom of 22 professions. Only used car salesmen rated lower. (Nurses came in first place.)

    These findings are a pointed reminder that leaders need to act in ways that build trust and stakeholder engagement, not erode them.

    To help raise the performance bar, here are five communication behaviors that leaders should use to supercharge their effectiveness in this success-critical domain. Some may seem obvious. However, in reality I find they often fall into the category of the “Invisible Obvious.”

    Five-Point Leader Communication Checklist

    1. Say the TRUTH. This is the Prime Communication Directive. There is no room for spin, half-truths or multiple versions of the truth if a leader wants to gain and keep buy-in from employees, customers and other stakeholders. Reputation is a leader’s most precious asset. Once it’s compromised, winning back credibility and stakeholder trust is extremely difficult and sometimes downright impossible.
    2. Say THANK YOU. Expressing appreciation and recognition of others’ efforts and contributions is another key communication priority. This is an aspect of emotional intelligence — meaning the ability to identify and control emotions in oneself and others – that research shows differentiates great leaders from good leaders. Whether a leader is an elected official, a university president or a senior executive, showing sincere gratitude wins hearts as well as minds.
    3. Say WE, NOT I. This point is not new, but it bears repeating. It takes a community of dedicated people to deliver consistent winning results. Highly effective leaders don’t hog the limelight, but instead speak about the team, the community or the organization. They don’t talk “down” but rather inspire and motivate “up” by being other-focused, not self-focused.
    4. Say TELL ME MORE. Successful leaders are inquisitive. They are constantly on the lookout for information that will give them a competitive edge. They want to hear good news, but – even more – they want to drill deep when receiving bad news or differing opinions. In this way, they create a culture of healthy discussion, high-quality decision making and innovation.
    5. Say NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Leaders are the final arbiters of their organization’s values and reputation. They should have only one response to suggestions or actions that violate — or appear to violate – those values or general business ethics.

    A key point I make to current and aspiring leaders is this: People have to buy into you before they will buy from you. Incorporating these five behaviors and phrases into everyday actions sets a positive “tone at the top” and strengthens engagement and organizational performance overall. Use them consistently to execute brilliantly.

  • Bill Gates and the Power of Feedback

    Bill Gates observed, “You have to be careful, if you’re good at something, to make sure you don’t think you’re good at other things that you aren’t necessarily so good at.”

    How do you confirm your sense of what you’re good at? Feedback, of course.

    We all feel great when others – colleagues, bosses, friends, and competitors too – remark on our intelligence, skills, or performance. But as Gates noted, therein lies a trap, for we can overestimate or over-generalize our capabilities.

    How do we get honest, balanced feedback about areas where we’re not as good as we think we are? Or where we might need to improve or change?

  • Emotions and Effective Leadership: 13 Success Tactics

    When does emotion help a leader transcend to a higher level of effectiveness, and when does it undermine credibility and stature? Now that we’re firmly planted in the second decade of the 21st century, have the rules about leaders showing emotions changed?

    Whether male or female, it’s all about consistently projecting control, compassion and confidence.

    Perceived loss of emotional control erodes a leader’s credibility, as does tentativeness or indecision. Similarly, a perceived lack of compassion is likely to be interpreted negatively as insensitivity. In public situations, the range of emotions expressed needs to be modulated and appropriate to the occasion.

  • The 445-Day Year – A True Time Management Tale

    Day in and day out our time management skills are tested to the max.  As the end of the month or quarter approaches, how often do you wish you could add more days to the calendar?

    But wait, that’s exactly what Julius Caesar did in 46 BC.

  • Keeping the Spark Alive: How to Avoid Executive Burnout

    By Susan Battley

    Finding or otherwise buying “down time,” is one of the most common problems I hear from harried executives. Workload and the relentless demands of juggling multiple priorities and constituencies can be so extreme that serious “battle fatigue” ensues. Often, the first sign that something is wrong occurs when the person has an unexpected breather, and finds himself or herself unable to enjoy it.

    That is just what happened to a very successful -and busy – VP of National Sales at a leading pharmaceutical firm.