Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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Archive for December 2015

Communicating as a Leader

Communicating as a leader is very crucial in a positive work environment. Here are a few tips for you:

• Speak plainly, keep it simple, and say exactly what you mean.
• You don’t have to slam your fist on the table. You don’t have to swear. But, you can say you are disappointed— and you should.
• “Because I said so” does not win leadership points.
• Pay attention to your people and don’t cut them off with questions or by giving your opinion before they tell you the information that they have that might help you make the right decision.
• Develop the win-win mind-set. Always remember your ultimate objective, and get to that without having to prevail in a conflict.
• Break down the intimidation to get the truth from your people.
• You are never too high up to ask for help. Actually, you are a fool if you don’t.
• If people want to offer advice, listen to it.
• Put yourself in the shoes of your people and figure out what is on their minds.

A Moment of Truth

Why do people lie, manipulate, undermine, and stab others in the back? Because they can. If you think it’s time for a moment of truth and to confront someone, be realistic. Do you really expect a backstabber to suddenly develop a conscience and tell you everything? When someone is trying to do something underhanded, it is unlikely he or she is going to stop everything and confess the minute you become suspicious—at least, not without a little help.

Let me dig into my arsenal of tools from my years as an investigative reporter and tell you a little about being effective in the middle of confrontation. First, people often lie through omission and/or embellishment. Think of how many times you’ve asked someone a question only to get an answer to exactly what you’ve asked, and nothing more. The person knows full well what you are after, but he or she doesn’t have to volunteer anything.

Remember Bill Clinton in his grand jury testimony? If the President of the United States can hide the truth by arguing the meaning of the word “is,” then imagine what the people around you can do. Teenagers will do it every time. “Did you sneak out in the car after we went to bed?” you might ask. You’ll get a straight answer of “no,” because the kid had the nerve to steal off with your car while you were still awake!

Watch out for certain red-flag words and phrases that will alert you to a liar almost every time. When you start hearing someone say, “Trust me,” “To be 100 percent honest,” “Believe me,” and “Honestly,” listen very, very closely. Red flags! If you hear things like, “Not that I can remember,” “To the best of my knowledge,” “Why would I,” “Do you think I’m so stupid that I would,” pay especially close attention. All of those phrases are designed to throw you off, but when you get the drill, you can be even more effective. If a question is answered with another question, take note because the person may be deciding whether to lie or tell the truth, or debating how big of a lie to tell. When those tricks don’t work, he or she might try a memory lapse, and try to throw you off with a simple, “Not that I can think of” or, “To the best of my knowledge.” What do you do when that happens? Try saying, “Well, I think you need to try a little harder,” or, “That technique doesn’t work with me.”

The Lesson Hits Home

It’s one thing when, at work, you can’t understand why people are flaky or lazy or sloppy or slow. It’s another when you are at home, foisting your expectations on the people you love, and counting on them to do things the way you see them as right and fair. After a spat with your loved one, who is more right: the one who wants to talk the problem through immediately, or the one who wants to withdraw for a couple of hours? It’s hard when the lesson hits home.

What does it say when you carefully choose your words in an argument so you don’t offend your partner, but your partner lets ’em rip, not meaning any harm? Maybe you like to cram your weekend with activities from start to finish, but he or she wants to stay at home and read the newspaper. Who is right? You both are.

We are all so different in how we view the way things should work in this world. Remember this when you expect others to apologize because you are hurt, or when you don’tapologize because you don’t think the other person has reason to be upset. Sometimes, it’s a matter of perspective. Is it worth losing a relationship with somebody because you are too stubborn or insensitive to appreciate that he or she lives in a different realm than you?

Deal with the Jerks

What can you do when you have to work closely with somebody you can’t stand? What if you have to deal with the jerks? Take a good look at that person. Certainly there must be something positive about him or her on which you can connect. Maybe he or she has a good sense of humor, or an appreciation for the same kind of music that you like. Maybe the connection is that you both have children the same age, or that you love golf. As hard as it sometimes is to overlook the huge negatives that a rival or foe may carry, try, try, try to find some common ground. You may be right that the person is a jerk, unethical, amoral, incompetent, or something else, but if you have to deal with him or her, stop focusing on how you feel and start strategizing a way to make the relationship work in spite of those bad qualities.

Force yourself to step out of the immediate situation and evaluate it for what is really going on. I am sad to say that I have said, “I’d rather work for a man than a woman” many times in the past. Of course I did! The women I worked for were in no-win situations, being undermined by people above and below them. We all called them bitches, and maybe they were. But they were bitches because of us, and I wish I’d taken a minute to see what they were up against. We expected so much more of them than our male bosses. They had to be competent and kind. I had no idea what kind of a high-wire they were dancing on until the moment I crossed into management and had to dance myself. Ever clumsy, I quickly dropped to the ground.

Their Own Worlds

We think everybody thinks and operates in the same world that we do, but that’s not the case. They’ve got their own worlds. We all come to the table with different agendas, beliefs, values, and tactics. Instead of wasting effort trying to get them to come around to us, we have to go to them. Study who they are and what they want. What motivates and inspires you may completely turn off the person with whom you are dealing. You may be motivated by altruism, he may be turned on by money. You may respond to a promotion, she might rather have an extra week off.

We all think the world revolves around us, but we rarely consider the fact that everybody thinks that. I’ll bet you a hundred bucks that 99 percent of the seemingly self-evolved people in this book went straight to the index to look at the pages about themselves first. It’s only natural. The last time you saw a group photo that you were in, whose face did you check out first? Then, why is it that you expect people you deal with to see things from the same vantage that you do? They don’t, because they aren’t you.

Other people generally aren’t worried about your goals, needs, and wants.They are worried about their goals, needs, and wants. If you are looking for ways to work with them effectively, why not figure out how to make them feel appreciated, and help them get what they want? You’ve got to travel to the other person’s world to see the issue through their eyes. What does he or she want? Why? What is he or she right about? If you were in that position, what would you need in order to feel valued and appreciated? Instead of harping on what divides you, see what unites you, remembering that win-win is always better than win-lose.

When you play win-lose, you win a war, but you also win an enemy. What good is that? Sometimes it takes years to get beyond the post-battle feelings of hurt, anger, rejection, or humiliation. Some people do have that ability to do battle, then go out for beers together, but some people don’t. Actually, a lot of people don’t. Think about the spats you’ve had with friends, neighbors, co-workers, and other associates. You probably can’t remember everything that has happened, but you can remember enough examples of conflict to prove the point that you might forgive, but not forget. When someone wins something at your expense, there’s a possibility you won’t forgive or forget. If you wind up winning now and paying later, then you haven’t won anything. Win-win is so much better
than win-lose.