Business and Career Articles To Help Executive and Business Women Succeed!
Don't over react to single events even if they are very dramatic
Often during business leadership training workshops, I will conduct a "dollar auction." I hold up a brand new dollar bill and tell participants that I will "sell" the dollar bill to the highest bidder regardless of the bid. If the high bid is 1¢, then that bidder gets the dollar bill for 1¢. The rules are: the high bidder must actually pay the amount bid and the second highest bidder must also pay the amount bid although he or she will not receive the nice crisp dollar bill. The bidding predictably begins with one and two cent bids. Eventually someone will bid 50 cents and someone else will have to bid 51 cents. At that point, the group realizes that I am going to make a profit on the exercise.
"It wasn't what she said, it's the way she said it." The words we use are only a small part of our communication.
Most of the meaning of any message is communicated through the many nonverbal channels available to us. Since we cannot read minds or communicate telepathically (at least I can't), we must rely on our voice and our bodies. Most researchers agree that 70% or more of the meaning of any message is communicated through nonverbal channels like eye contact, facial expressions, posture, hand gestures, etc. Twenty percent or so is transmitted through the tone of voice: pitch, timbre, inflection, rate, pauses, volume, and so forth. That leaves 10% or less of any message that can be attributed to the words.
Active Listening Skills for Effective Leaders
Every leadership training workshop mentions listening. "Effective leaders are good listeners. You should listen more." And so forth. Most of us think that we are pretty good listeners, at least when we really need to be. In fact, many business organizational leaders try to do a good job of listening but in many cases sabotage their own efforts with bad habits that they have learned over a lifetime.
Here's a short true/false pop quiz:
- When an upset team member comes to me with a problem, humor is a good way to ease the tension.
- Most team members who come to me with problems just need a little reassurance.
- Team members come to me with problems only when they need a little advice.
- When a team member comes to me with a problem, the only way to find out what he or she needs is to ask questions.
- When a shares problems with me, I try to analyze what's wrong and give her/him some suggestions.
It is, apparently, obvious to managers that customer loyalty is important. But, it is not so evident when it comes to employees
My father had the same job for 52 years. He was a railroad engineer for the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad company. He started work in 1916 when he was 17 years old (He lied about his age) and fresh off the farm in Virginia. There was no such thing as leadership training. If you were the manager or supervisor in this business, you were the boss. Period! But, he loved his job. That is, he loved the work, his buddies, the excitement.
Back then railroading was kind of glamorous. It was hot, hard, dangerous work but it paid well and took you to all kinds of exotic places, like Cincinnati and Hinton, West Virginia. You seldom hear of this kind of corporate loyalty today. Teens and tweens sign their texts and tweets with a touchingly optimistic BFF (best friends forever) but we all know such relationships seldom last more than a few months (weeks, days, minutes, tweets). The same is true in the workplace.
You are a leader if someone else chooses to follow you
Women leaders are charismatic, inspirational, and trustworthy. They have a vision. They are good communicators, good listeners, good problem solvers, etc., etc. Look up the word "leader" or "leadership" and you will find a list of traits or attributes that make someone a leader. I don't argue that good leaders possess some of these characteristics and skills. But, that is not what actually makes someone a leader. You are a leader if someone else chooses to follow you. Period!
There are many examples of terrible leaders who have led people into disastrous situations. Cult leaders like Jim Jones whose followers in Jonestown poisoned themselves or the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas or Heaven's Gate in San Diego are horrifying examples. There are certainly many examples of gang leaders who have led young people into crime and prisons or to their death. Unscrupulous televangelists lead gullible, lonely people into poverty. There is, undoubtedly, a lot of power at work with many of these people. Why people choose to follow them is still, in many ways, a mystery. But follow them, they do. And, it is important to recognize that in every case, there is an element of choice.