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Alana

@alana_378

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Closeness-Communication Bias

Highly successful leaders sometimes struggle to communicate with people that they know well. This error is not prevalent while talking to strangers, and is called the Closeness-Communication Bias, and is due to an illusion of insight while communicating with friends or close colleagues.

There are certain strategies that leaders and managers can apply to improve their communication effectiveness.

@alana_378

Why even successful leaders struggle to communicate

weforum.org

George Bernard Shaw
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

While speaking to groups, a leader tends to be formal, and is distracted by the large crowd, failing to create a deep level of intimacy.

The trick to effective communication is to deliver the message as if one is talking to an individual. This makes the speech emotionally genuine, with each listener able to grasp the energy and attention, as they would if it was a one-on-one communication.

An effective communicator needs to mould the message to ensure (sometimes in real time) it is listened to.

Make sure people are not rushed into an already made decision, and the main point is not put forth as a blunt statement. A meaningful dialogue with intelligent questions should be encouraged.

A leader can gain much from simply focussing on the other person and listening carefully.

A common mistake many leaders make is to make their communication a one-way street, robbing other people the opportunity to add value to their ideas and decisions. Listening to your audience/peers is a great way to get their attention, provided the leader is not multitasking at the time.

Active listening may be your most important skill set. Here is how to practice it:

  1. More listening less talking.
  2. Do not answer a question with a question.
  3. Do not finish the other person’s sentence.
  4. Avoid narcissism and focus on the other person.
  5. Focus on the ongoing conversation.
  6. Reframe and summarize what the other is saying.
  7. Do not think about what your reply is going to be, while the other person is talking.
  8. Ask questions.
  9. Do not interrupt.
  10. Do not take notes.

“People will forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

An emotional-level connect is imperative in an effective communication, without which the entire exercise is impotent. A sincere, transparent, and emotional expression of the leader goes a long way in establishing trust and effectiveness.

Many leaders can mistake what is being stated as the entire information, neglecting the unspoken messages that are revealed by observing the body language of the subordinates and peers.

Paying attention to what isn't said can make a huge difference in the level of communication.

Any communication can only have the intended impact if the basic understanding of what is the core takeaway from the conversation is well prepared. Instead of preparing a speech, prepare the basic talking points, focusing on the main purpose for the effective communication of the message.

Avoid using too much jargon or ‘business speak’ which can come across as insincere and alienate many listeners.

Charisma: A Primer

Charisma is a magnetic attractiveness that inspires devotion in others, and is not an innate talent of the few.

It is a science that many can learn and cultivate in themselves by following a set of guidelines. Keep in mind that charisma does not mean perfection, and many seemingly awkward or average-looking men and women are in fact, extremely charismatic.

Charisma: What Is It and How You Can Become More Charismatic

scienceofpeople.com

When we admit our weakness, we are more human, likeable and authentic. This honest and imperfect person becomes charismatic, something known as the vulnerability effect.

While conducting a study of two women selling blenders at a mall, it was found that the ‘clumsy’ lady seller, who often forgot to close the lid and spilt smoothie on herself was considered more likeable and charismatic. The other more perfect woman who had a perfectly good presentation was not considered as charismatic.

Being a great conversationalist should normally mean speaking more right? Wrong! One has to maintain a 2:1 ratio of listening versus speaking, while we communicate.

Asking lots of follow up questions or examples, which makes the other person dig deeper, makes for a great conversation, and the person automatically feels that the listener is a great conversationalist and gets attracted on a subconscious level.

Essentially, one is deemed a great conversationalist and therefore charismatic, just by listening actively.

  • When we speak negatively of other people, the same trait is subconsciously associated with us, something known as Spontaneous Trait Transference.
  • Instead of gossiping (negative talk), one can try gushing (talking about positive qualities and stuff) and let those things be associated with themselves automatically.
  • Speaking genuinely and praising others vividly (in a natural, real way) does wonders to one’s charisma.

If you want to get along with people, you have to understand that like an onion, people have layers, and one has to peel the layers from them to reveal their real, amazing nature. No one is inherently boring.

You have to take responsibility, actively engage and delight the person. Example: The quiet person that no one talks to can be nurtured simply by listening with empathy and respect.

Don’t try to interact with people if you are not feeling your best, either emotionally, physically or mentally.

Instead of socializing due to an obligation, even though you are not at your 100 percent, it is better to be absent.

  • Competence-related skills: One can be highly competent, efficient, effective or commanding, being in the fear realm.
  • Warmth-related skills: One can focus on being relatable, likeable, humble or pleasing, being in the love realm.

The takeaway here is to be competent and then be lovable, as both are crucial.

It is a well-known fact that most people quit due to bad bosses. This includes all the super-geniuses who would have driven the company towards growth and prosperity but were sidelined or diminished by lousy, insecure bosses.

An extensive study on more than fifty thousand leaders showed that only one in 2000 leaders can be unlikeable and still be successful.

Teams having likeable leaders tend to be stable and flourishing. A likeable leader makes the team members step out of their comfort zone and give their best, without forcing anything.

Social wealth is what charismatic people excel at. They go beyond just meeting new people or maintaining existing relations. They become connectors who introduce people with each other, knowing that they will ‘hit it’ well together.

Charismatic people are not selfish about their social wealth, but spread it in abundance, making them sought after among their friends.

Charismatic people keep up the motivational levels of their team members by being encouraging, optimistic and a bundle of energy and positivity.

They reward good work, give ample credit to others and give sincere compliments.

  • Be direct by avoiding the feedback"sanwich"(which can dilute the message and sounds insincere);
  • Don't let criticism accumulate: schedule weekly check-ins with your team, so feedback becomes part of the regular routine;
  • Don't make it personal: Stick to the facts, and avoid making assumptions;
  • Offer praise, but keep it separate from criticism;
  • If you think the feedback will be difficult to hear, consider giving the person space to process the information.

How To Master The Art Of Giving Negative Feedback

fastcompany.com

The invention of scotch tape

Richard Drew invented The Scotch transparent tape while working as a lab tech at the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, which was then manufacturing sandpaper.

  • Drew first invented masking tape. Drew would deliver sandpaper samples to auto manufacturers, who used it for the painting process. Workers needed to mask off part of the car, often using glued-on newspaper or butcher paper. But it was difficult to get off and often resulted in a sticky mess.
  • Drew promised a solution. He spent two years developing a tape until the company executive told him to get back to his regular job. Drew kept doing tape experiments on his own time.
  • In 1930, he received a patent for his masking tape. In the same year, he also invented his waterproof transparent tape, taking advantage of newly developed cellophane.

How the Invention of Scotch Tape Led to a Revolution in How Companies Managed Employees

smithsonianmag.com

The Scotch tape was released at the start of the Great Depression when people had to mend and make do.

People used the transparent tape for everything. While many companies were going under, tape sales helped the company to grow.

  • William McKnight, the executive who told Richard Drew to stop working on Scotch tape, became chairman of Scotch, then known as 3M's board. Drew helped McKnight understand that experimentation could lead to innovation.
  • McKnight developed a policy known as the 15 percent rule, which allows engineers to spend 15 percent of their work hours on experimental doodling.
  • After his tape successes, Drew led a Products Fabrication Laboratory for 3M, where he could freely develop new ideas.
  • He and his team filed 30 patents for inventions, from face masks to reflective sheeting for road signs. He also mentored young engineers to develop their ideas.
Make employee experience a priority

96% of talent professionals agreed that employee experience is very important, to the point of becoming mission-critical.

Whether you’re a leader overseeing a 500-person organization or a manager with a team of two, we all need to find ways to create experiences to connect more deeply and humanly with our teams..

4 things your company can do now to be ready for the future of work

fastcompany.com

Talent may be evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. It could take some time and cumulative action to build a more diverse workforce, but sometimes the simplest of measures can add up to major changes.

At Shopify, for example, the company rethought the requirements on their job descriptions. On each job post, it encourages job seekers to apply even if they don’t necessarily meet all the requirements that are listed.

One of the most helpful things you can do for your employer brand at the moment is to help employees and those interested in joining your company see beyond just your value proposition, to your actual values.

In the future, this will become even more important as companies continue to recognize the importance of taking a more empathetic, human tone in their messaging and telling authentic stories that reveal their company’s values and purpose.

In the face of a constant stream of new information change and new customer habits, it’s very difficult to predict what the future will look like.

But it’s possible to find ways to stay alert by listening carefully to your customers and enabling your workforce to move quickly on new strategies that align with your mission.

Kate Sheppard

She is the world's first successful suffragette. Her work and petitioning of New Zealand's parliament is the reason that the nation became the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote.

After New Zealand embraced universal suffrage in 1893, Sheppard inspired successful suffrage movements in other parts of the world.

Heroes of Progress: Kate Sheppard

humanprogress.org

  • Kate Sheppard was born on March 10, 1847, in Liverpool, England.
  • After the death of her father in 1862, she lived with her uncle in Nairn.
  • Her uncle, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, taught her the values of Christian socialism that she always remembered. She possessed an extensive knowledge of both science and law.
  • In the late 1860s, Sheppard moved to Christchurch, New Zealand with her mother and sister.
  • Sheppard befriended Alfred Sauders, a politician and prominent temperance activist who influenced her ideas on women's suffrage.

In the late 1880s, Sheppard began drafting and promoting petitions to New Zealand's parliament that would prevent women from being employed as barmaids.

It was rejected by parliament, and she became convinced that politicians would continue to reject petitions put forward by women, as long as women did not have the right to vote.

By 1888, Sheppard became the President of the Christchurch branch of the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). She quickly became a prominent figure of the women's suffrage movement, and hosted political events across New Zealand.

In 1891, Sheppard started making parliamentary petitions to persuade politicians to support the vote for women.

  • In 1891, Sheppard created a petition with 10,085 signatures.
  • John Hall, a supporter of Sheppard, presented her petition to parliament with the proposed amendment to the existing Electoral Bill that would allow women to vote. It passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Upper House.
  • Sheppard's next petition had 20,274 signatures, but it failed again in the Upper House.
  • The third petition contained 31,872 signatures, the largest petition the New Zealand parliament had ever received. The Electoral Bill passed, and the enfranchisement of women was signed into law in 1893.

Seeing the success of the suffrage movement in New Zealand, woman's suffrage groups around the world started to follow in her footsteps, copying her tactics with enormous success.

Australia granted women the right to vote in 1902, Finland in 1906, Norway in 1913. The trend continued long after Sheppard's lifetime.

A critical task of a leader is communication. It is better to err on the side of communicating more frequently than under-communicating because leaders thought everyone knows what is expected of them. During a crisis, under-communicating can be disastrous.

The content of the communication is equally important.

What Leadership Sounds Like in a Crisis

thesalesblog.com

The voice of leadership, while not ignoring genuine threats, should sound positive and optimistic, believing you will succeed despite obstacles.

A cause is only lost when you believe it is, and even then, only when you give up. The task of leadership is to persevere until you achieve your goal, regardless of the difficulty. Communicate your optimism and transmit those beliefs to your team.

Fear causes people to freeze, take flight, or fight. It's not that leaders aren't afraid, but that they fear the greater danger of doing nothing.

Leaders speak to the real danger, that of leaving the threat unaddressed and unopposed. Courage means taking action and confronting the challenge directly, giving others the courage to do the same.

External voices you hear on the television and social channels that sew fear and doubt as well as disempowering people can become internal voices if you let them.

The leader's voice has to drown out the negative and disempowering voices and communicate the idea that you can act and will succeed. It is the antidote to the external factors that want you to give up and accept your fate.

Leadership sets a vision of a better future state by communicating continuously. The communication provides an action plan, stating what must be done, how it must be done, and when it must be completed.

Communication that is action-oriented provides direction and help push back against the obstacles confronting your team.

People find purpose and meaning when they understand why the tasks are important and what they mean to their identity. Identity leaders provide that to people through their communication.

Small And Innovative

Large corporations seem to lose their ability to innovate, something that they could do when they were small and nimble.

These big companies buy smaller companies, who are innovative despite struggling and being low on resources and finances.

Innovation, it seems, requires constraints and struggle.

How to Innovate Like a Startup

inc.com

Struggling with limited resources is a good formula for small companies, but is not easy to replicate in large corporations.

Innovation comes when companies are not focused on new ways to sell old successful products by re-marketing or repackaging them but to invent new products and compete in new industries.

A Do Or Die Situation

Human beings as a species are not built for abundance and paradoxically achieve peak productivity with constraints and limited resources.

There is no 'circle of safety' in small companies, and survival is a very real concern. This makes the people pull themselves together and out-think their problems, succeeding by effort, not by financial resources.

If resources are greater than the problem, that very abundance works against innovation.

If leaders of large companies wish to innovate, they must ensure that the challenges, dangers, and opportunities to innovate exist in the organization. They need to provide their people with something to believe in, a purpose beyond just profitability or quarterly earnings. 

If employees have the right vision and the right challenge, they will start to innovate and advance the company, even changing the industry.

A personal mission statement is a written declaration of your core purpose, and what your priorities are.

It is different from a 'vision' statement and is a briefing on what you would be doing, not what you would be achieving.

Importance of Developing a Personal Mission Statement

everydaypower.com

A well-thought-out mission statement provides everyone with your core leadership values and priorities. It identifies the general direction of your actions to you and your team.

It also can vocalize your priorities to your team when you are not physically present.

Determine your core values, key traits, and beliefs.

Ask yourself what you believe to be necessary to succeed, and what traits you wish to see and not see in others. Clarify each aspect with yourself and be concise in creating the mission statement.

Distribute your mission statement to those closest to you.
A personal mission statement lays bare our thought process and expectations to those we work with. It is advised to ask for feedback and suggestions, or just have a conversation about it.

The actual execution of what your core values are, a demonstration of your personal mission statement, is crucial. If your daily actions, practices and directives do not match up with what you have envisioned, they are useless.

A mission statement provides people with information on who you are as a person, and it should align with your daily decisions.

It is not always possible to anticipate the effects of unexpected events that occur throughout the business cycle.

But those who routinely examine the way risks propagate across the entire value chain are better prepared for second-order effects.

Risk: Seeing around the corners

mckinsey.com

Risk along the value chain

Most companies only examine the most direct risks facing a company and tend to neglect secondary risks that can have an even greater impact.

Companies need to learn to evaluate aftereffects that could weaken whole value chains.

All differences in business models can create the potential for competitive risk exposure. This does not mean that a company should imitate its competitors, but that it should consider the risk when they have different strategies.

Supply chains

Risk analysis focuses all too often only on direct threats. The classic domino effects linked to supply chains include 

  • disruptions in the availability of parts or raw materials
  • changes in the cost structures of suppliers
  • shifts in logistics costs

Indirect risks can also hide in distribution channels. It may include the inability to reach the end customers, new distribution costs or redefined business models. 

The most complex domino effect is the responses from customers.

The shift in buying patterns can create a typical cascading effect. Another is changed demand levels.

Effects on a company’s risk profile

Considering the impact of a risk on a company and how it propagates through the valued chain can help management think through the change. For example, the risk posed by carbon regulation on the aluminum industry.

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