We were supposed to board the plane at 2:50 pm and be “wheels up” at 3:19 pm. That was the plan. But the incoming plane arrived with three broken seats and we were placed on a mechanical delay. In the midst of doing the pre-flight routine, the pilots discovered that the plane had also been hit by lightning as it cut through some thunderstorms. Now there was another delay.
A total of 9 mechanical delays and we had no idea when we would leave Detroit to come home to Houston. One by one, the plane that was overbooked dwindled down its passenger list to only 11 men and 1 woman. And none of us knew when, or if, we were going to get home that day. The flight was never canceled. It was just on an indefinite delay.
Throughout the whole ordeal, the gate agents were great. But, there was really nothing that they could do except for relay information from the flight deck to us at the gate. So, every 20 or 30 minutes the gate get would unlock the door and walk down the jetway and board the plane to talk to the flight crew. We could not do that. We wanted to. But we could not go beyond the gate area until the plane was cleared to fly.
Time after time she would go to the plane and return with little or no real news. “The mechanics had not arrived. The mechanics were working on the problem. You may want to make other flight arrangements.” All of these messages were being relayed to us. But the real question on the minds of the few that remained was this: “Are we going to get home tonight?” It was more than 4 hours past our originally scheduled departure and we did not have the central question answered.
All we had was indirect communication. The gate agent was just a messenger. Continue reading “Direct Communication Is Best”
Wow! The feedback that I received from so many of you about the “look” of leadership was amazing. And, even if I had not already planned today’s article as a follow-up, it would be an imperative in light of the interest in the “leadership look.” So, let’s consider if there is a “sound” associated with great leadership.
Leadership has a voice
The site publishing this week’s article is aptly named in my opinion. For, there is indeed a leadership “voice.” Several years ago I wrote an article on whether or not leadership was a quiet or loud activity. The genesis of thought for the article spans from my firstborn’s kindergarten teacher in 1990. If you are interested in that background thought, here is a link to that article.
Communication is the “voice” of leadership
Communication is the voice of leadership. In fact, Continue reading “What Does Leadership Sound Like?”
As I arrived at the office today, parking spaces were plentiful. You could even find one close to the elevators in the parking garage. That can only mean one thing — Today is the day before a national holiday and many of the folks that are actually in the office today are just waiting on the “word.”
We are waiting on the word “leave” from senior management that will say something like this: “Unless business reasons would make it otherwise imprudent, feel free to leave early this afternoon and begin to enjoy the July 4th holiday.” Those are the words everyone is waiting to hear. Days like today are the kinds of days that, unless you have something specific planned or are going to be out of town on vacation, it just doesn’t make sense to take the day off as a vacation today since it will be a short day anyway. Plus, you can be really productive in the time that you are there because there are only a handful of folks here and there are very few meetings that show up on your calendar. So, it is really a good day to get stuff done and get caught up on email or other administrative tasks that have slipped to the back burner lately. Like many others, I am just waiting for the word to come from our leader and I will exit with all due haste.
What is the Leadership Lesson here?
The leadership lesson is that from time to time we need to be asking ourselves about what message our followers may be waiting for. We need to ask ourself this question: “What ‘words’ are our followers waiting to hear from us?” Continue reading “Waiting on the “Word””
Almost 2 weeks ago, I discussed team briefings and the importance of communications in the process. But I really didn’t take the time to address the mechanics of conducting a valuable team briefing. So, today, let’s focus on that.
Create the Environment
As the leader, you must establish the proper environment. Think about the environment you want to create for these briefings. It doesn’t necessarily be a super-formal environment. But, it just needs to be a positive environment. People must understand what to expect when they attend one of your team briefings. Here are a few things that make for a good environment:
- Ensure that you understand what is going on in the organization and that you have been properly briefed yourself. Make sure your team leaders know what’s happening at various levels, and with various other teams, throughout the organization.
- Provide training or coaching on how to conduct effective team briefings.
- Recognize and reward supervisors and managers for conducting effective team briefings.
- Brevity is the soul of wit. If you can’t say it in 15 to 30 minutes, then a team briefing is not the right vehicle for a more complex message.
Have a Structure and a Process
As the leader, you must commit to a structure and a process. You have invited the team and they are gathered for information sharing. Continue reading “You Can Conduct Valuable Team Meetings”
We have many communication options these days – phone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, and so on. You can even communicate with just a single emoji. Who hasn’t sent a message to someone that was just a single emoji? (And, I bet it was probably the little “poop” emoji. wasn’t it?) Sometimes it seems as though traditional, face-to-face meetings are disappearing. In fact, it looks like the more options for communicating that we have available, the less real communication occurs.
The Value of a Good Team Briefing
I often say, “I am a B.A. guy in a B.S. world.” By that, I mean that I am probably one of the only individuals at my place of employment without a Bachelor of Science degree. Most are engineers. My degree is a lowly Bachelor of Arts degree. And it is in Mass Communications. And, finally, it is from a fairly unknown school. However, I have leveraged that little degree fully throughout my career. And one of the things that I recall about the communication process is that it has 3 parts and not just 2. We often think of the “sender” and the “receiver”. But we often forget the all important “feedback”. And unfortunately, feedback is extremely hard to discern outside of face to face communication. And even then it is hard to discern its real meaning.
So, for today, let’s look at Team Briefings and what role we have as leaders in that setting. And let’s consider the characteristics and benefits of well-run team briefings. Continue reading “The Value of Team Briefings”
Leadership and confidence usually go hand in hand. But sometimes you feel awkward or even silly. You may feel silly and awkward inside, but you can learn to overcome those feelings. The inside feelings don’t necessarily have to show up on the outside. You can develop the ability to both look and feel confident even though you feel a little silly from time to time.
Researchers tell us that the number one fear of most people is the fear of public speaking or some other public exposure. Now, in full disclosure, I will admit that I have never suffered from that fear. I was a “theater guy”. I loved being on stage. Many years ago my wife and I owned our own business where I was a paid professional public speaker. I have made a living standing and talking in front of a crowd. It doesn’t scare me – it energizes me. But I realize that I am the oddball in this regard. (Maybe some other regards as well . . .)
10 Tips for Improving Your Confidence
Here are 10 tips and suggestions to boost your confidence and to help you get over the fear of looking silly and also help you gain confidence and portray confidence to those around you.
Stand Up Straight and Tall — It is easier to exude confidence when you have a confident posture. No matter how awkward or embarrassing the situation you may be in, standing tall through it all will make people respect you for your ability to keep walking through the fire of adversity and hold your head high, no matter how scared you may feel inside. Remember what mom always said – – “Don’t slouch.”
Apologize, But Only Once — Being over-apologetic about a little mess-up just gets irritating after a while. Simply acknowledge your mistake, apologize genuinely, and continue on with whatever you were doing. This is a trait that I have seen with many “sales type” individuals. They seem to think that by apologizing they will be perceived as being more open, likable, trustworthy, or vulnerable. This is not the case. Instead, they just get annoying after a while. Continue reading “10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence”
I had an incredible opportunity yesterday to speak on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I am currently on a business trip to Bangalore, India and I was given the opportunity to speak on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. — Legacy Leadership.
There was only one problem. I don’t speak Kannada. There are more than 51 million individuals from the state of Karnataka who do speak it natively and I was asked to speak at a place where the entire day’s activities would be among a group of people with whom there were precious few who had even a limited understanding of English. Most had no understanding at all. That is a tall order for one American who struggles himself from time to time with the English language!
Help! I need a Translator
Fortunately, my host was completely aware of my linguistic shortcomings. And he provided a person who spoke English fluently but was a native Kannadigaru. And he would be my translator and interpreter.
One of the things that became very clear to me very early on in the development of my message was that I had to be crystal clear in my message and concise and succinct in developing any supporting information.
An unexpected problem
I was given twenty minutes. No problem. I can deliver a wealth of information in 20 minutes. Oh, wait a minute. Continue reading “The Value of a Translator”
We are in the midst of a heated and contentious political season. During this time every four years there seems to be renewed interest in great former presidents such as Abraham Lincoln. So, what is the deal with Lincoln? Was he really the greatest president of all me?
Donald T. Phillips wrote a book in 1993 entitled, Lincoln on Leadership. The subtitle was Executive Strategies for Tough Times. In that book, he provides significant insight into leadership principles that Lincoln exhibited and that he also cultivated in those around him. Phillips points out many unique qualities of Lincoln. He also focuses on what he calls The Lincoln Principles. He goes on to develop Lincoln’s Principles of People, Principles of Character, Principles of Endeavor, and Principles of Communication. I don’t have me to develop each of these. But, I recommend the book if you are interested in pursuing this line of thought on a political figure that has become a pop culture figure again of late.
More than meets the eye
One characteristic that caught my eye was the fact that Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a U.S. Patent. Lincoln received a patent for a method of making a certain kind of boat more buoyant. Not all that remarkable in and of itself. But it demonstrates that Lincoln was creative. He was not just a “community organizer”. He was actually a contributor to the business community and he understood that government is not the solution.
He was not only creative; he was also a great developer of leadership intelligence and information from those around him. Lincoln was keenly aware that people (his cabinet and his military leaders) were the major source of information and that in order for him to be a great leader he had to stay close to them. But being close to them was not enough. He needed the relationship to be real and intimate. He built those relationships by holding meetings that were more informal with these people rather than structured and formal meetings.
What is the leadership principle here?
Continue reading “Lincoln on Leadership”
Every one of us has a soundtrack playing inside our head. It is a recording of the things that people have said to us over the years. For many of us, we remember what was said to us and just how it made us feel at the time. We remember it like it was yesterday. We seem to remember those events even though we long to forget them.
Many things that were said to us make us sad. Some of them make us mad. Many of them were hurtful at the time.
What does this have to do with leadership?
As a leader, it is important to remember the role that we play in our follower’s lives. In many teams or project situations, we find that we spend much more time with our workmates than we do with our families. Continue reading “Listening To An Old Soundtrack”
How many times have you been tempted to play “Buzzword Bingo” in a business meeting?
What? You don’t know how to play Buzzword Bingo? Well, let me explain it quickly.
Buzzword Bingo, also known as something a little more “earthy”, is a bingo-style game where participants prepare bingo cards with certain buzzwords that they are likely to hear at a meeting or event. They mark them off their game card when they are uttered during an event, such as a meeting or speech. The goal of the game is to mark off a predetermined number of words in a row and then yell “Bingo!” It is generally played in situations where audience members feel that the speaker, in an effort to mask a lack of actual knowledge, is relying too heavily on buzzwords rather than providing relevant details.
An important element of the game is having the courage to actually yell “Bingo!” once you have collected enough marks on your card. In order to avoid the repercussions that could result from doing that in a public setting, participants may resort to looking at one another and silently mouthing the word “Bingo”. An alternate variation requires the person who has achieved bingo to raise his or her hand and use the word “Bingo” within the context of a comment or question.
Consider if you would a couple of thoughts regarding the differences between buzzwords and real leadership.
Buzzwords are a poor substitute for the real content. In fact, that is the key reason that some leaders tend to rely on buzzwords so much. They really don’t have anything of real substance to offer.
Real leadership, on the other hand, offers a vocabulary of meaningful dialog. A leader does not have to have the vocabulary of a Mensa member. But real leaders use words of real substance and they encourage meaningful words of dialog in return. Continue reading “Buzzword Bingo and Real Leadership”