Some of us have experienced dozing off through an overloaded presentation. Others experienced the dread of a manager who keeps talking without an engaged audience during a team meeting. On the other hand, some of us also experienced being inspired by a powerful TED talk or feeling seen or heard by a boss who just gets it.

What makes the difference?

Thanks to John Maxwell. His book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” points out the blind spot of many leaders and presenters: they communicate information without ever connecting to their recipients.

Connecting is “the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.” Humans have an innate desire to connect. But if we place our entire focus on the content we try to communicate, we fail to meet that desire in our message recipients.

So what are some ways to make sure we are connecting as we communicate? Maxwell proposed a few practices:

  1. Connect on common ground
    What are some values in your message that are important to your recipients? Avoid assumptions, arrogance, and indifference. I have a client who has a hard time understanding why his team members don’t follow along when he presents his vision for the team. He assumes they know what he knows. Unfortunately, not everyone is a visionary. How can he use analogies, imageries, or vocabularies to align his vision to values that are important to his team members?
  2. Keeping it simple
    Are we complicating our message to prove our expertise? Being simple takes more hard work than we think. It comes down to getting to the point, saying it clearly (even if repetition is necessary), and eliminating possible misinterpretation. This is especially challenging for cross-cultural communication where the same words often reflect different cultural values. Often, keeping it simple would mean taking a lengthy process to craft our message as we try to remain sensitive to the various parameters of our recipients.
  3. Create an experience where everyone enjoys
    A huge part of communication is an emotional process. It’s not the listener’s responsibility to “get” what we deliver. This responsibility falls on the speaker. So, capture the recipient’s attention from the start by being creative and engaging. It is amazing the clarity it brings when we put ourselves in the recipient’s shoes: we immediately know what and how we want that message to be delivered. Note that different people have different learning styles — audio, visual, kinetics… take advantage of the different learning styles to increase the impact of your message.

These points look simple. But all of them have a common thread: connecting is very much an other-focus activity. It requires the communicator to think through ways to make her message receptive and meaningful to the recipients. Start with these small steps to increase your impact in your communication.


Schedule a complimentary call to find out more ways to connect with your colleagues and clients.

More and more leaders desire to empower their team members. Company leaders are realizing that empowerment is becoming critical in promoting loyalty and creativity. Empowered employees also enjoy higher job satisfaction.

Traditional ways of empowerment are mentoring, sponsorship, coaching, providing the necessary training, etc. These ways of empowerment mostly require the leader to have more expertise or experience in the field than the team members. But what if the new leader has less industry expertise or experience?

More often than not, a leader feels inferior if his team members possess more industry-specific expertise than him. Leaders in such cases either feel they are living the imposter syndrome. Out of insecurities, some try to manipulate to maintain control. But, are there healthier ways to lead and to empower our team members from such a position?

To start off, a healthy self-identity and a clear role description are foundational to using the empowering techniques below. Without them, you might still feel threatened with overwhelming insecurities even if you try these techniques.

Here are some of the ways you can empower your team members who have more industry expertise:

  1. Granting more autonomy and ownership of projects to your team members: smart people love to have more autonomy in finding solutions to challenges. The leader becomes more of a facilitator and collaborator as team members develop their unique forte. By being a collaborator, you are also modeling and encouraging teamwork among your team members.
  2. Affirming members’ strengths and name them: many people are aware of what they are good at, but only vaguely. If you are able to affirm and name them, you are empowering them to see their own strengths in concrete ways. You are instilling confidence in your team members. The result will be a stronger team.
  3. Giving space to members to fail forward: leaders always desire to have an A-team. It’s hard to see team members fail or producing sub-par deliverables. You might not have as much expertise as your team member, but you should have a good grasp of what the end product should look like. Promoting courage to take risks means providing a safe space for team members to fail. A team member might know more than you, but you model what courage looks like as you shoulder the responsibility of taking risks for possible failures.
  4. Making resources available to team members as they need it: whether you have more expertise or not, this is always a great way to empower. Resources might mean networking with other professionals, increasing the budget for specific projects, or extending deadlines to improve features of a product. Team members might be able to fight for it themselves, but you can ease their load by doing this for them.

Try out these skills and make them a habit! In fact, you don’t need to be in the position of “knowing less” to practice these skills. Any leader can use these skills to empower the team members.

We listed 3 emerging trends for corporations in our previous post. Here, we will complete the list with the remaining 4.

4. Embracing Disruption: CCL stats show that 94% of senior executives believe innovation is important, but only 14% think that their organizations are effective at it. Companies need to retain a “young mind” regardless of their sizes. The bigger an organization, the slower it moves.

Learn from companies like Facebook, where their motto was “move fast with stable infra” (2018). Leadership needs to intentionally create opportunities for innovation to thrive in the company. They need to welcome and embrace unpredictable, ambiguous, or disruptive movements in the company. They need to see these moments as opportunities for change rather than crises to manage.

5. Kicking Glass: a stunning statistic by CCL: there are currently fewer S&P 1500 companies led by women than by men named John! But women are stepping up, for sure. A workspace that fosters women’s leadership will benefit organizations in many ways. First and foremost, it invites diversity and richness of perspectives.

Start by re-examining policies and procedures, or parts of the company culture that have an unconscious bias towards women. Long-time systems or assumptions can create blind spots for unconscious bias. Invite women to help with the process. It’s also important to help women create the right network, encouraging them to be intentional about their career growth.

6. Reimagined reviews: nowadays, many managers are aware of the need to give constant feedback instead of a one-time overloaded annual performance review. It creates more trust and communication between them and their direct reports. More managers begin to find huge benefits as they apply coaching skills in their management.

Creating a coaching culture is a healthy way to give feedback. Instead of giving prescriptive instructions, leaders initiate healthy conversations (feedback), invite employees to explore their own solutions to challenges, and provide accountability. More managers are also aware of delivering feedback that’s based on data to avoid being overly subjective. One minor point to note, however: that giving culture-sensitive negative feedback still requires a leader to have some basic knowledge of how feedbacks are received in different cultures.

7. Culture Reboot: change is constant in this age. However, stats show that 62% of organizations said that culture change is the most difficult type of organizational change to manage. It is! Familiarity in culture or structures produces a sense of security for many.

CCL provides three suggestions:

  • Make sure we have the leadership we need for the strategy we create
  • Use data to locate gaps between current & required leadership culture; invest accordingly
  • Move beyond one-size-fits-all leadership development to scale it up and engage leaders at all levels

Conclusion: some of these trends come quicker and more prevalent than others. Regardless, as you develop leaders and retain talents in your company, these trends are worth taking into consideration.

 

In 2018, the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) published an article that detailed seven emerging trends that will impact how corporations develop their leaders. If you are a leader–or aspiring to become one, it’s imperative to take these trends into consideration.

1. Accidental Leaders: “thrust” is the keyword. Many top performers thrust to managerial roles as companies expand quickly. This trend is especially prevalent in Silicon Valley where startups often encounter sudden growth in size and profit. Statistics show that 60% of them never received any type of training for their new role. Many of them feel inadequate and insecure, resulting in a lack of confidence and clarity in their leadership.

If companies fail to attend to the challenges of these accidental leaders, organizational problems will magnify as the company grows. Very soon it might be too costly to remedy the problem. Effective strategies to tackle this challenge would be to provide these new managers with coaching, mentoring, and competencies training.

2. Change Endurance: with the intensity of information available, the need to quickly respond to data and to lead change is becoming more critical. Change has become a constant. Disruption is the new normal. A new leader, while still struggling with his new identity, will find change a threatening companion.

Companies can tap into the abundant resources of change management literature. One of the techniques suggested by CCL is to follow the 3 C’s of change leadership: Communicate, Collaborate, and Commit. Leaders need to openly and continuously communicate the vision and the process of change. They need to ensure they collaborate with the whole team, and that they are committed to lead the entire team through the turns (requiring team members to be engaged too).

3. Digital Fluency: 85% of global teams collaborate virtually, and over 40% never meet in person (stats provided by CCL). Leaders today need to tap into technology to maximize team engagement and collaboration because global and virtual teams are the norm. But the reality is this: seasoned leaders might be less tech-savvy, while tech guru might lack leadership skills.

To tackle this challenge, more collaboration is needed between the leadership and tech-savvy managers. On one hand, leaders should grant more autonomy to tech-savvy managers in enhancing communication protocols. But on the other hand, they should mentor these managers to become better leaders. Bottom line: leaders should try their best to increase their digital fluency.

Continue reading Part II

Many aspire to be a leader or regard themselves as a leader. But in reality, these leaders are spending more time managing than leading. Change management expert John Kotter observes that most companies are over-managed and underled. Why such a comment? Kotter lists out three significant differences between a leader and a manager. They are:

Leader

Manager

Setting Direction Planning and Budgeting
Aligning People Organizing and Staffing
Motivating People Controlling and Problem Solving

Setting a Direction vs. Planning and Budgeting: a leader sets the direction of his company. These visions or directions do not need to be brilliantly innovative. Instead, it has to serve the interests of its constituencies and that which can be translated into a real competitive strategy. On the other hand, the managing aspect of it will be to create plans and budgets that will bring the company towards that vision or goal. Both are critically important.

Aligning People vs. Organizing and Staffing: a leader needs to communicate effectively and engage people of all levels in the company to the proposed vision. In the process, the leader has to convince his partners and followers in what ways they can be empowered. A manager steps in to provide efficient ways to execute the vision. Sample management questions would be: what structure is necessary to accomplish the mission? How to staff these structures with competent individuals? These are questions for a good manager.

Motivating People vs. Controlling and Problem Solving: achieving a vision requires inspired and energized people. Leaders do that by “satisfying basic human needs for achievement, giving a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.” While motivation is necessary, a company needs processes that are as fail-safe and risk-free as possible. A good manager needs to successfully set up and implement these processes.

For many startups today, co-founders or the CEO need to wear both hats. However, knowing the differences between the two roles will help him prioritize what’s required of him at that particular stage of the company’s growth. It’ll also help him evaluate what strengths he has, and how to leverage help or resources if either leadership or management is not his forte.


Content extracted from John Kotter’s article “What Leaders Really Do” in HBR’s 10 Must-Read on Leadership.

Compassion towards others is often considered a virtue. We are quick to praise those who show compassion towards others.

But compassion towards oneself is being misconstrued as selfish, self-centered, or even self-indulgent. This misunderstanding is causing many managers burnouts. Research shows that a higher self-compassion directly relates to good mental health and even achievement-related outcomes. How? You might ask.

Here are some researching findings by KM Wasylyshyn and Frank Masterpasqua:*

  1. Individuals who have developed self-compassion can see failure as a learning opportunity. It allows them to focus more on what’s needed to be accomplished instead of being choked up by failure. In contrast, those who lack self-compassion will try to avoid situations they think they might fail. As a result, a lack of self-compassion directly reduces one’s courage and readiness towards facing challenges.
  2. There is a direct relationship between compassion towards oneself and towards others. Researches state that those who are more self-critical naturally become more critical of others too. These self-critics often focus on theirs and others’ shortcomings.
  3. A higher level of self-compassion is directly linked to more perspectives-taking. Experienced coaches will agree that if they can help their clients reframe challenges, they help their clients to greatly reduce personal stress. It will even help offended parties to foster greater forgiveness.

Is having self-compassion an excuse to become complacent? If I hold a high standard for myself, does it mean I am without self-compassion?

K.M. Wasylyshyn defines compassion as “The acknowledgment and the commitment to alleviating the presence of pain rather than denying it.” It’s acknowledging the reality of pain, and proactively finding ways to alleviate that pain.

A coach can play a critical role in helping clients develop self-compassion through a supportive, safe, and embracing relationship. They can help clients develop the three elements of compassion:

  1. Notice and name their own sources of suffering relating to work
  2. Feel–instead of pushing away–their pain
  3. Respond to the misery by identifying ways to address it effectively

 


*This is an extract of the article “Developing self-compassion in leadership development coaching: A practice model and case study analysis.” by Wasylyshyn, K.M., and Masterpasqua, Frank found in International Coaching Psychology Review, 13, 21-33