Very insightful and actionable article on effective professional communication written by Steve in collaboration with Diane Dean.
Exceptional leadership requires a commitment to learning how to be a better communicator. Being an authentic communicator is a great way to learn more about your people. Think about how many times something has gone wrong because of a miscommunication or lack of communication.
Communication is a core leadership function. Effective communication and effective leadership are closely intertwined. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the organizational level, in communities and groups, and sometimes on a global scale.
Having worked with leaders as an Executive Coach, and Heads of Learning and Development, for over 25 years, we observed the truth about the commitment to learning from our clients. Leaders who stop learning or think they know it all have lost their edge at becoming a great leader.
The essential lesson is not just about the technical parts of the leader’s job, but rather learning to understand people.
Being inter-personally astute requires a variety of skills and characteristics, such as trust, communication and authenticity. John C. Maxwell, author of Five Levels of Leadership, states:
The hardest person to lead is myself!
Everyone is a leader in some respect, not just by having a title.
Losing Your Audience
We use various assessments, as needed, to help identify any learning blind spots, for instance, The Highland’s Ability Battery. This assessment is used to understand a leader’s hard-wired abilities. Reasoning is one such ability. The score often indicates that our senior people are prone to mentally leap ahead of others, losing their audience or the ability to influence and connect.
Not intentionally; unconsciously.
When this happens, the leaders may stop learning what the other person is talking about. The ideas lose their value and the work isn’t done as efficiently and effectively. The other person may freeze, and lose trust in the leader. This is where creative thinking stops.
The Little Things Count
When leaders communicate, it opens pathways for knowledge. They build more than just surface-level relationships. They also create a sense of needed value for members of an organization. It is the “little” things that make a big impression. Remembering birthdays, work anniversaries, children, and so on, will have a lasting impact.
In his book, Work Inspired, Kronos CEO, Aron Ain, discusses his experience with the importance of communication. He uses several examples of how building relationships can inspire work and create a culture that is open and honest. According to Ain:
Like expressions of humility on the part of leaders and managers, short, personal conversations with employees are seemingly inconsequential acts that over time pay huge dividends.
He suggests that leaders and managers need to invest more time in to face-to-face conversations adding:
As managers of people, we can derive even more value from casual conversations, using them proactively to overcome issues as they arise.
For some leaders, taking steps to effective professional communication is easy, however, for many it is a challenge.
As coaches who focus on executive and leadership development, becoming a better communicator is a top desire for many of our clients. All of these leaders excel in their areas of expertise, however, they sometimes lack the ability to communicate effectively. This is a barrier to becoming more effective in leading their team or organization. If a person has the desire to be better, they can improve. Understanding the why of becoming a better communicator is not complex. It is the how part that is often the most challenging and useful.
How to Master Effective Professional Communication
There are various starting points in becoming a better communicator. When working with clients to improve communication, we often suggest:
Communicating clearly is one of the most effective skills you can cultivate as a business leader. Remember to communicate using nonverbal and verbal cues. Listen carefully to what others have to say, and over-communicate in novel ways to ensure the content of the conversation sticks with the audience.
Develop and Preserve Trust
Improving communication skills as a leader also helps develop trust. Trust is an essential ingredient in effective leadership.
Remember, trust is never owed to anyone.
You have to earn it.
It can take a long time to develop trust, but only seconds to lose it. Trust also comes in layers. As your strengthen any relationship, so does the level of trust. Leaders who are poor communicators often have a difficult time building trust at any level.
Building trust allows for progress and often eliminates any “push back”.
One of our clients was hired as a new Regional Director in a non-profit. Her biggest problem seemed to be push back from the team. They would comment about how this was not the way they had done it, and, that they had tried that and it didn’t work. Her key learning during our coaching was to ask, not tell; guide, not push. Learning about her team has smoothed out her transition considerably. It was clear that trust had not been established.
In another example, a few years ago, another client was concerned about trust. He was new to a leadership position and felt isolated from this team. During our first session, he repeatedly commented on how his team did not trust him. Of course, this was his perception, since he actually did not know enough about his team to gauge their feelings.
Over the next several sessions, this client was open about some issues that were clear communication barriers, contributing to the trust concerns. Like others new leadership roles, he assumed his title alone would produce instant trust.
This did not happen.
How can you trust a title?
Trust is personal. It is rooted in developing relationships.
Once he understood some of the basics to improving his communication skills, he noticed more trust being built with his team members. Again, this takes time, and the client desired an instant fix. Stop thinking about trust and communication as tactics. Neuroscience has indicated that attributes of solid leadership are empathy and trust. One builds on the other.
Having meaningful conversations does not belong on a “to do” list that is checked off each day. They must be woven into your leadership style, and flow naturally, to not seem forced.
If the conversation feels awkward, it probably is!
Once a client took almost an hour session to give me all the reasons she could not be a better communicator. She stated, “It does not feel natural.”
It is understandable to feel some discomfort when we are moving out of a place of familiarity. Our suggestion to her was to find a place that feels natural, and start communicating more often. Your people need to feel connected to you. Each person will have a unique level of where they wish to be connected. Allow this to develop over time. Start small and then expand. Keep in mind you are developing trust with better communications.
Some leaders clearly do not see the value, however, if you create a more open environment, you will have a better understanding of your organization. You will then be able to detect and respond to any potential issues faster.
Leaders Who Communicate Create Authenticity
Effective professional communication from a leader should create authenticity. This is essential in developing trust. The goal is to be genuine in your approach to connecting with others. Being authentic allows you to encourage an open culture of communications. How well you listen to others will also enable you to be vested in the contributions of others.
One of our clients, who was really loved as a leader, head of a successful business unit, was promoted to President of his company. He had not anticipated some of the changes in his direct reports’ attitudes and behaviors that he immediately experienced.
During a session after he had been promoted to President, he confided that people had stopped talking to him. You see, he had been successful in other roles partially due to his relationships, the candid people around him, and the honest feedback that helped him be his authentic self. He had not changed anything except his title.
He decided he would just reach out to people just like he did previously, with empathy, interest, warmth and humor. In a short time, his management team and other leaders warmed back up, realizing this was the same authentic leader they knew — he was just the President now.
Authenticity does help build trust. This trait helps make your leadership transferable. You will be able to adapt to different populations and situations within your volunteer groups, church roles, and your employment position.
Leaders are Approachable and Authentic
Another goal is to be approachable, and this does not occur without authenticity and trust. The foundation you build as a leader will anchor your influence within the organization.
While these writings have garnered plenty of press attention, their critiques of authentic leaders reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of authenticity. Authentic leaders monitor their words and behaviors carefully to be attuned to their audiences and to enroll their colleagues and teammates. They do so because they are sensitive to the impact their words and actions have on others, not because they are “messaging” the right talking points.
Many of the leadership barriers we encounter as executive coaches have roots in poor communication. Effective professional communication is how we get work done through people. This won’t happen just telling people what to do! It is achieved by understanding what the other is thinking, regarding the topic being discussed. Christian Nevell Bovee, illustrates one reason to be an effective communicator:
It is the nature of thought to find its way into action.
Thoughts are shared through authentic, interested communication. As leaders we must help each other explore the different ideas being shared.
Effective professional communication includes listening. Each of us expresses from our own “mental model” or mind pattern.
The impact of your leadership will be muted by a lack of effective professional communication. Leaders need to be able to express themselves in a way that allows for their words to have impact.
Executive coaching can help leaders build communication skills that will enhance their abilities to lead people and organizations. As a leader, you are the author of your legacy.
How do you want to be remembered as a leader?
What ideas and thoughts do you want immersed within the organization?
Are you interested in creating a lasting impression on your people?
If you want your leadership to be remembered for the right reasons, invest in coaching to support where you are on the leadership journey.
Sharing a guest blog with you on the power of being vulnerable and how it was a gift to my client. His insight came after reading Dare To Lead, a book by Brené Brown.
Seven months into my new role and I was feeling… embarrassed. Embarrassed because I still didn’t feel like I understood what my job was supposed to look like. I should have been open and asked my boss/peers for help but I was afraid to be vulnerable because I was afraid others would think I was incompetent or just not smart.
My job was to help sales teams run campaigns and be successful. The sales leader wasn’t embracing my efforts and the team wasn’t running campaigns they were given. My teammates worked on other teams and seemed to be performing very different functions in their roles.
It was confusing and, as time went by, I felt more and more awkward about discussing my situation with my boss. If I brought up the obstacles I was having with the sales team, then it would call out the fact that our campaign execution was so poor and that meant I wasn’t doing a good job.
So I went quiet… until it blew up in my face!
My boss’ boss asked me for a detailed report on the campaigns we were running. She was going to present it to her boss’ boss! My material fell flat and my boss had a talk with me about how this reflected poorly on me… AND HIM!
The culture at my company focused on making our executives happy. You were expected to deliver your best and if you needed help, then you had to say something. Well, it wasn’t easy to ask for help and no one had time to help.
Something unexpected happened next!
The weight is lifted
Rationally, I knew my job was at stake. Near the end of the phone call, my boss asked, “Are you not able to do your job or are you confused about how to do your job?” I replied with, “John, I’m still unclear about what this role is and what I should be doing. Talking to the others confuses me more because of the different things they do.”
I was humble, contrite and wasn’t defensive at all – it’s not easy being vulnerable. At the same time, I was feeling an enormous sense of relief! Relieved that my secret was out and that I had nothing to hide. I had a problem that I couldn’t solve and was trying to hide. It was a huge burden!
Vulnerability, according to Dr. Brown, is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. In my case, it involves a difficult conversation. I decided to give it a try and, immediately, there was a profound gift.
Now I had no reason to hide anything. In hindsight, I made this situation much worse by not pushing to get the help I needed. Nonetheless, I was happy to be having this tough conversation! The weight off my shoulders felt amazing.
Empowering human potential
An empowering confidence started to fill me up. My issues COULD be solved! It required communicating confidently to my boss then to my sales leader. So I asked for my boss to facilitate a conversation with my sales leader to explain my role and the expectation around campaigns. I started pushing myself to understand areas I didn’t know much about and leaned on people to help me. Again… being vulnerable.
Things changed dramatically for me. We’re starting to run campaigns, the sales leader has brought me into bigger projects and I’m ready for any requests that come my way (well… getting there).
Now I realize why Coaching 4 Good says they “empower human potential“. I needed to get over an internal obstacle and when I did, I felt like I was on fire! This sequence of events has freed me and is drawing out my potential. There are still many things I need to improve but I’ll never hide from my shortcomings again!
Blurting out honesty
The biggest breakthrough came a few weeks later. My boss wanted weekly one-on-one calls with me to track my progress and understand the things I was working on. I welcomed them instead of dreading them. During one of these calls I went through my usual updates. We were about to move to the next topic when I said,
I really appreciate that talk we had a few weeks back. I’m feeling confident about my ability to make an impact around here. I’m feeling better about my communication although, I must admit, I’m still a bit hesitant about sharing everything with you.
I wasn’t planning on saying that last part but it bubbled up and I really felt like saying that… because it was true! I was looking to take these difficult conversations on! I wanted to share more with my boss – not just the positive stuff – and needed to air my hesitation. The fear of being vulnerable didn’t stop me this time.
What followed was very unexpected.
Sharing stories of being vulnerable
My boss let me finish my statement. Then he cleared his throat. His tone was softer and his pace was slower. He started by saying he understood and empathized. He then shared some of his own fears and lack of confidence in many situations. His stories and his honesty was comforting. I realized that he, too, felt like I often did. He shared his emotions and described some of his own stories about when he was lost, confused or struggled.
He shared more than I ever expected a manager at my company to share. It meant a lot. It reminded me that my job isn’t supposed to be without discomfort, confusion or struggle. The struggle is when I will learn. Connecting with others is how I will learn too. Pushing myself to be vulnerable is a good thing. This realization has been a gift and now I want to work towards a promotion!
Give vulnerability a try
My takeaway for readers is to find the courage to engage in difficult conversations. If my boss said, “we have to let you go.” I would have realized that my company was at odds with my beliefs and how I wanted to live. There’s some risk when you say, “I don’t know what I’m doing” after 7 months! However, there are many other, less risky, conversations that you can tackle. You need to understand what is going on inside of YOU first. Self-awareness is the first step. Once you have clarity, then you will see these conversations that need to take place. Think about my example:
“I’m still not comfortable sharing everything with you.”
That wasn’t an attack. It wasn’t admitting incompetence. Instead it revealed a discomfort deep down inside that needed to come out. The truth is that it benefited me tremendously and boosted my confidence. It benefited my boss who now has a very solid relationship with his subordinate and is much more comfortable knowing his strengths and weaknesses. Our company benefits tremendously as well. He and I are much more efficient and we’re not letting all this baggage affect our productivity. I hope you decide to be vulnerable one day and see what gifts come to you through your willingness to being vulnerable, open and authentic.
Our guest blog this month identifies 6 productivity tips that answer the question, “my productivity increases when?” Enjoy!
If you’re struggling to keep up with the work you have or carry your work home more often than others, it’s time to change things around. Staying late can get you some extra credit with your superiors, but it would be even more beneficial if you improved your productivity. This way you will be able to do more in less time and spend the rest of your day just the way you want it. To help you achieve this goal, here are six tips that lead to productivity increases when followed.
Keep track of the time
According to some research, the number of people that can accurately perceive time is just around 17 percent. When you work, time goes by differently depending on our personal perception. Your productivity increases when you monitor the time that goes by while you’re completing a task, you can see how much time you spend on a single task. Try and shorten the time it takes for each task you do. It will help you finish more work in less time.
Productivity increases when you take breaks
Concentration is of paramount importance for productivity because you need to be focused on your work in order to finish it successfully and on time. Regular breaks allow your brain to cool off and settle down after processing all that information. If you keep pushing yourself without a break, your brain won’t be able to keep the optimal level of performance, according to research.
Most of the time that workers waste during the office hours goes towards attending unnecessary meetings. Instead of setting up meetings for problems you know you can handle otherwise, productivity increases when you ask your colleagues to communicate over email or phone in order to avoid the waste of time.
Multitasking is not productive
Studies indicate that multitasking is not saving time, as many of us thought. The truth is quite opposite, as it turns out that multitasking is taking more time than dedicating yourself to a single task. Therefore, in order to increase your effectiveness, you can simply do one thing at a time.
Check emails before work
Forbes published an article which stated that an average office employee wastes more than two hours just reading emails. If you’re a commuter it would be best to check your emails and reply to those most urgent when in transit. Think about creating a generic response list with some of the most usual answers to most common questions.
Productivity increases when you organize your workspace
Research shows that productivity increases when you have an organized work environment. You would be more efficient if every item on your desk has its dedicated location. In addition, adding some plants can also increase your productivity according to some studies. Create a space that will provide you the optimal work conditions and you’ll see productivity rising higher.
In today’s market, it is very important to keep your level of performance at a satisfying level. More than keeping your current position, enhanced productivity can get you a bonus, larger salary or even get you a nice promotion. More importantly, you will be able to spend less time working and more time enjoying life.
Cathy Baylis is a freelance content writer at Assignment Masters specializing in personal growth, career development, and leadership. She loves sharing her interests with readers, and she has something to say, for sure.
Hello and happy New Year! Every year, we ask our clients and our coaches to pick a single word to set their intentions for the year. Some of the words we heard from clients and coaches are: create, growth, abundance, vitality and more. For 2019, we chose a word for our company as well and that word is IMPACT. It’s through this lens that we’re looking forward to the year to come and the foundation we’re building to make an impact.
For those of you who have followed Wolfgang Career Coaching over the last 9+ years we thank you! Over this time, we are grateful to have had the opportunity to partner with thousands of you to help you realize more fulfillment in your lives and careers, navigate your career transitions and grow in your leadership.
Your stories inspire and motivate us to work harder so please continue to reach out and share!
We’d love to know what your word for 2019 is! Use the comments below to share your word and its significance.
Make an impact
To continue to foster this impact, we have news to share with you. This news is something we haven’t “officially” stated before in these newsletters… although, many of you are aware of it.
We’re more than just a career coaching company!
If you’re not aware, way back in 2014, we launched our sister business, Coaching 4 Good to offer leadership and career development services within organizations. It was a natural evolution for us as we continue expanding how we make an impact!
Over the last five years we have worked with some incredible change makers, leaders and organizations. One highlight was a six-month leadership development program we developed and launched at a Fortune 50 company that took two groups of leaders on a transformational journey to unleash their potential.
As of today, we’ve taken 45 leaders through the program! We are humbled to be part of their courageous journey that resulted in a group of authentic, compassionate and connected leaders. We’ll be sharing the survey results and the impact they’ve created in their careers, lives and organization soon.
Another highlight was leading a team retreat using the Dare to LeadTM framework. It’s a great story! Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about our programs led by a certified Dare to LeadTM facilitator.
Empower human potential
Our collective purpose – in all we do – is to empower the human potential that ignites a positive impact in the lives, careers, organizations and communities we work with. We know that the work we do with individuals and in organizations goes hand-in-hand. The central focus is on owning your impact whether in your career or your leadership, or both!
Now that you have the background on why we decided to expand how we make an impact, let’s talk about what this means for you! Here’s a little preview:
In the coming months we’ll be merging Wolfgang Career Coaching into Coaching 4 Good and launching a fresh new brand and website! This means continued tips and advice on how to be an authentic leader on top of the award-winning career development resources we share.
We will continue to offer the same career coaching services along with our executive coaching and leadership development services for individuals and organizations. Reach out to learn more!
Our coaching collectives features certified Dare to Leadtm facilitators and we are currently booking workshops and speaking engagements for 2019.
We’ll continue as the exclusive partner to The University of Texas Alumni Association – The Texas Exes. Did you know that members get premier discounts on both individual services and business services? Call us at 512-850-4425 to chat about it!
Our #1 purpose as a business is to have a positive impact. In order to expand our reach and make an impact, we’ll be adding some more amazing executive leadership and career coaches into our coaching collective to work alongside our team of current amazing coaches. Did I mention our coaches are amazing? Check them out!
Own your career and impact
To help shed light on how you can own your career, your leadership, your impact, we’ve written two guides to help career-focused audience and our leadership-focused audience start their journey of transformation. These are free downloadable ebooks that explain the fundamental concepts, give you self-paced exercises and teach you how to interpret your results.
Own Your Impact: Developing Leaders with Clarity, Courage, Compassion and Connection
For those who want to develop the potential in people or processes, or who manage people, or lead organizations: This ebook takes you through the steps of improving your ability to lead and influence by understanding who you are and how to release your full potential. Download now.
Own Your Career: How to Design Rewarding & Fulfilling Careers
For those who are looking to advance their career, land a new job or find a career that makes them happy and rewards them handsomely: This is a series of instructional emails that accompany the ebook. Get started now.
We’re continually pushing ourselves to offer innovative services in order to make an impact and expand who we can help. What we know, personally, is that innovation is vulnerable, exciting, fulfilling and takes courage. The effort is worth it because the ultimate result is making a positive impact by being in alignment with your purpose and intentions. We’re living it here at Coaching 4 Good and we’re here to support you on your journey.
Sending warm wishes for a happy and impactful new year to you!
Outstanding list of strategies for career and professional growth from our guest author – see bio below!
Professional growth is necessary for gaining financial stability that puts your mind at peace and allows you to fulfill your life with things you love.
However, professional growth isn’t something that just happens. It takes serious work to climb the career ladder. But, with the right strategies, it doesn’t need to be so difficult.
Here are eight strategies that will help you skyrocket your career.
1. Being hardworking and persistent
Hard work and persistence are two indispensable components of every career & professional growth and success.
When you give your best in every task or project, you solve some problems, and as a result, your work performance increases. Therefore, all that effort and dedication will be most certainly noticed, and you’ll skyrocket your career.
2. Setting achievable professional growth goals
If you want to advance in your career, you must know the direction where you’re going and what the final destination is. So, think about what project you’d like to work on, what problems you wish to solve, what kind of people you want to work with, and so on.
Once you have a big picture, set smaller, achievable goals. That way, you’ll easier accomplish desired objectives which will motivate you to keep up.
3. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses
One of the crucial strategies for professional growth is to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can improve your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
Therefore, ask yourself what you do best and what your strongest skills are. Then, think about how you can take advantage of them. Also, consider your weak points and skills you need to develop to advance in your career. Set up a strategy on how you’ll work on them.
4. Developing leadership skills
“Most people who want to get ahead do it backward. They think I’ll get a bigger job, then I’ll learn how to be a leader. But showing leadership skill is how you get the bigger job in the first place. Leadership isn’t a position, it’s a process,” says John C. Maxwell.
Hence, make sure you start developing leadership skills right away. Think outside the box, learn continuously, start working on your communication skills and improve emotional intelligence.
5. Following your principles
Davide, a content writer from EssayOnTime, empathizes: “It’s essential to determine and follow your principles to have a truly happy and fulfilling career. So, reflect on your beliefs regarding task management, business communication, work-life balance, and other fields that are important to you.
When you follow your principles, then you live your true values, and you’re aligned with them. As a consequence, you’re happy and satisfied with your work, which leads to career advancements.”
6. Striving for excellence
According to Miriam Adderholdt, a psychology instructor, excellence implies enjoying what you’re doing, feeling good about what you’ve learned, and developing confidence.
Therefore, striving for excellence will help you deliver quality work that meets the given standards. This tendency involves determining the areas in your work that are good but could be enhanced for the next iteration.
7. Being able to handle criticism
One of the preconditions for a successful career and its professional growth is to handle criticism with the right attitude. Naturally, nobody likes being criticized, but when you change perspective, it can be a valuable tool for your progress at work.
Negative feedback provides you with significant insights into your weakness and things you need to improve. Besides, showing the ability to handle criticism well and adjust your working habits increases your worth as an employee.
8. Tracking your progress
Don’t forget to track your progress regularly because it can improve your business plans and overall career. Self-assessment helps you realize where you stand, how far or how close you are from your goals and if you need to make some changes and adjustments.
Hence, take some time to reassess your progress after achieving a goal or every a couple of months to see if you’re on the right path for desired results.
Now, roll up your sleeves. Set achievable goals aligned with your principles and track your progress regularly. Develop leadership skills that will enhance your straightens and improve your weakness with every criticism. Work hard and strive for excellence!
Serena Dorf is an enthusiastic content writer. She is passionate about writing, personal development, psychology, and productivity. In her free time, she is reading classic American literature and learning Swedish. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.
Over the last several years, there has been no shortage of information about the importance of soft skills in today’s work environment. Empathy often leads the list of the most vital soft skills. A recent study by Development Dimensions International (DDI), a leading global leadership development company, compiled research involving over 15,000 leaders from 300 different organizations. In this study, which measured the leadership conversational skills having the most impact on overall performance, leading with empathy ranked number one.
The DDI study is not alone in confirming the power of empathy.
In a contribution to CLO (Chief Learning Officer) Magazine, leadership expert, Ken Blanchard shared, “Being sensitive to others’ feelings — recognizing ourselves in each other — opens the door to trust.”
In a 2011 speech at Brigham Young University, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg stated that empathy was a guiding principle of his company. He believes that the number of Facebook connections symbolizes “empathy developing in the world” that will lead to “a greater understanding of how we are all connected.”
Empathy is at the heart of servant leadership. It is an essential skill that encourages active listening, transparency, and provides a leader an opportunity to demonstrate authenticity.
Dr. Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, includes the habit of, Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood®, and to be able to do this effectively, you need empathy.
Empathy is not sympathy.
It can be easy to confuse the two terms. Jacob Morgan, leading author and expert on the future of work commented on how organizations can confuse the two terms:
A lot of times we confuse empathy with sympathy. In the past organizations have been good with being sympathetic to employees, but in the future of work, it is empathy, not sympathy that is crucial for organizations to have. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone else’s circumstances, empathy on the other hand, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to not just say you feel sorry for them, but to actually imagine how hard it must be to be in that situation.
There are proven benefits to being a leader who understands the importance of empathy. Empathy is not a weakness, it is a leadership strength.
Leading With Empathy Increases Engagement & Reduces Turnover
One of the core elements of employee engagement is providing a sense of belonging within the organization. Empathetic leaders are more likely to develop a deeper bond with their team members. These leaders walk alongside their people. This deeper connection creates an environment of open communication and transparency. People are less concerned about “fearing” if their leader will understand. They are more motivated to share opinions and information.
Other benefits of leading with empathy include:
higher employee satisfaction rates
higher levels of loyalty and customer satisfaction
The majority (85%) of employees agree that empathy is often undervalued.
60% of employees surveyed would be willing to take slightly less pay if their employer showed empathy.
77% of employees would be willing to work longer hours for an empathetic employer.
Employee turnover is driven by a lack of empathy. 72% of employees would consider leaving their current company if they displayed less empathy.
Empathy reduces turnover. 92% of employees would be more likely to stay with a company that empathizes with their needs.
Leading With Empathy Influences Culture
Empathetic Leaders create a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, transparency, values, and a greater sense of purpose. When empathy is a core value, it impacts a company culture at a foundational level. Having a culture where empathy is a core value impacts recruiting efforts. According to UndercoverRecruiter.com,
Empathy can impact your company culture on a deep level, so it should be a key component of everything from team leadership to customer relations.
A culture that has empathy as an attribute is beneficial in attracting new talent to an organization. As long as workplaces have humans, life events will happen, and empathic leaders understand the importance of their people being able to count on them in good and bad times.
A culture that is influenced by empathetic leadership has strong open communication streams, a safe environment that is free of fear, and a genuine interest and concern for everyone. Understanding your people as individuals is a strength of an effective leader. Each person has unique gifts, experiences, and talents that make them who they are.
Increasing & Cultivating Empathy
Empathy comes more naturally for some than others. It can be developed, like a muscle. Regular exercise is needed to build its potential. Developing a culture of empathy does not happen overnight. There are a few things that leaders can do to develop their empathy. This will have an impact on your culture over time.
There are two approaches that I use when working with clients who have a desire to improve their empathy and create a culture that is emblematic of their empathetic leadership. These approaches are personal and organizational.
Personal Empathy Development
The personal approach involves working with a leader in finding their empathy or learning how to apply it to their leadership style. Helping a leader measure and understand their self-awareness, blind spots, and level of self-expression are starting points for understanding the degree of empathy used in their leadership.
This approach requires the leader to be honest with who they truly are.
Since we are all wired differently, we use different degrees of empathy. How empathy is used can be situational to events and individuals. It is more common for a leader to demonstrate a higher level of empathy with a family member than with a work peer. One situation may also require a higher level of empathy than another. It is crucial to understand the level of empathy desired by the person needing your understanding.
Organizational Empathy Development
The second approach to helping leaders build empathy involves the development of an organizational culture that is reflective of their focus on empathic leadership. A great place to start is to implement some initiatives that are supported by this type of leadership approach. Remember, you can experiment to see what works within your organization. Not all ideas will fit every work environment, so customization is a great idea. Here are a few ideas:
Launch a mentoring program. This program would align people within the organization with a senior level peer or manager who can be a great listener and idea generator.
Invest in coaching. This could be a formal, internal coaching program or using the resources of external coaches.
Develop a passion for learning. Development of your talent should always be a priority with leaders. If your people do not grow, neither does your organization.
Recognize your people. People want to know they did a great job. They also need to know they are valued. This has nothing to do with their compensation. Learn how your people need to be recognized.
Leaders who allow empathy to influence their organization also understand the importance of celebrating successes and supporting failures. You have to be with your team members in the great, good, and really bad times.
How you support your people is a hallmark of leading with empathy.
They will remember how you demonstrated your leadership during all of these times. Many exit surveys have echoed the horror stories of leaders who demonstrated little or no empathy. You do not have to leave a legacy of being uncaring and aloof.
Being an empathetic leader does not make you weak. Your impact will be reflected by increased employee engagement, stronger communications, lower turnover, and an enhanced “word of mouth” about your organization. Empathy takes time to develop, and it can be more challenging for some leaders.
Remember, your approach to empathy needs to be authentic. If leading with empathy is not part of your natural leadership style, and you start applying too much, you may experience an initial lack of trust. Empathy is also shown in your actions and not just words. Make sure your approach to becoming an empathetic leader is genuine.
I’m fortunate to be an executive coach. As you might imagine, I get to see many different types of leaders and leadership styles. Take it from my more than 25 years of experience… it’s not easy being a leader! The set of skills and capabilities a leader needs today is always morphing AND expanding! Since the business landscape is being called VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) it will be the agile, self –aware leader, good at learning and adapting, who will succeed.
Leaders Need Executive Coaching
Unfortunately, you can’t buy something online that will make you agile, self-aware and good at learning and adapting. Executive coaching comes to mind but do coaches help with self-awareness in leadership?
It’s common to think of executive coaching for:
Better interpersonal skills, listening skills and empathy
New and broader perspectives
Smooth transition from manager to C-suite
Improved leadership skills and authenticity
Recognition of useful behavioral options to engage employees
Increased job satisfaction
The list of goals and skills that an executive coach can help you develop is much longer than this. There are also dozens (even thousands, I’ve heard) of “leadership” books written each year where you will find many lists of key leadership traits and skills that will make you more successful.
An executive coach can help you set goals and choose key skills for the issues you may be facing. Over the last few decades, I’ve witnessed, first hand, many leaders successfully make these improvements. What I’d like for you to recognize is that your self-awareness is critical in accomplishing these goals!
Benefits of Self-Awareness in Leadership
According to Naz Beheshti, “the key to becoming agile is to be self-aware in order to innovate or risk becoming archaic.” The idea of starting with self-awareness to unlock your leadership potential is fairly new. Self-awareness is the foundation all leaders need in order to understand when change is needed and successfully make the transition. It is the ability to see oneself as others do, not just as you see yourself.
Chinwe Esimai says that self-awareness is the most important capability for leaders to develop. She cited an article published in the MIT Sloan Management Review titled, How To Become a Better Leader, which argues that self-awareness in leadership is paramount because it enables you to make better choices by recognizing and understanding the emotions in yourself and others. They also found that companies with strong financial performance tend to have employees with higher levels of self-awareness.
Growing Trend in Leadership Coaching
Not all executive coaches have this emphasis on self-awareness in leadership and management. When your leadership challenge requires more than learning a few new skills, it’s important to find an executive and leadership coach who will help you increase your self-awareness AND build new skills to support the leadership capabilities you need.
Let’s look at case study to see how this works.
This is an example of a successful performer who was promoted to Director. His name was Jim. This guy really got things done! He was likeable, analytical, strategic, could see big picture and details, and would get whatever he was assigned DONE.
So, what’s the problem?
You see, he had learned to get things done through other people by being authoritarian. His model was the military and he thought he was a “good leader” without many areas that needed improvement.
He wanted to learn how to communicate and engage his employees to have more initiative and more collaboration. Since he is pretty humble and doesn’t desire to take credit, he wants his people to get the credit. The problem, according to Jim is, “they wait for me to tell them what to do!”
He has created the monster he wants to slay!
Within his first few sessions, he developed enough self-awareness to see the direction he needed to take and the skills he needed to learn to change his (and in response, their) patterns. He is practicing new ways of approaching his direct reports and asking for their input. He is making progress.
Jim would not be making such progress if he had not begun to develop self-awareness. He would still be operating/acting in ways he learned in the military—focus on doing tasks… which is not working in his new context. Clearly, self-awareness in leadership is important as it opens the leader up to new points of view and is actually motivating!
As a leader, you can always learn how to be more influential, more authentic, more humble and more clear in your communication. And the focus on self-awareness and your leadership will allow you to learn efficient skills and become a leader who is authentic and effective.
Keep calm and carry on is what we’re all told to do, but it’s easier said than done. To give yourself the best possible chance of performing at your optimum take a look at the top 5 ways you can keep calm and reduce your stress. That way when the deadlines are looming you’ll have nothing to fear and plenty more energy to expend on the task at hand.
Never Worry About What You’re Not Doing
Something that we’ve all experienced is the feeling of being paralyzed by the sheer amount of stuff we have yet to do. Obsessing about everything on your to-do list may make it look like you’re abreast of all the fine details, but it will use up valuable time and energy that you simply cannot afford to waste.
If you want to be able to stay calm as your deadlines move ever closer, then you need to focus all of your efforts on living in the here and now. No matter what you have to get done you should only focus on one thing at a time. Simply by admitting that you can only do one thing at a time you will be able to focus your mind on the task at hand. Not only does this allow you to give everything your best. It also allows you to move through each step of the process without wasting time by going back and forth or jumping from one task to the next.
Keep Calm and Listen to What Your Body Tells You
The world of work is awash with productivity apps that try and schedule every second of your day for you, but there’s something more fundamental you need to pay attention to first.
Your body is what allows your mind to function at its optimum. If you don’t fuel yourself correctly and get sufficient rest then you’ll feel the downsides sooner rather than later. Everyone will pull the odd all-nighter at least once in their lifetime, and the day after is often not all that bad if you can nap. What you need to avoid though is letting these types of extended efforts become the norm or the done thing.
If you repeatedly skip meals, eat poorly, and stay up late working on your latest project then you’ll quickly see a steep drop off in your productivity. Keep calm and take the time to rest and eat. It seems like it will slow things down because it removes you from the working environment, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rest, sleep, eat, and the work will get done a lot more efficiently when you get back to work. Learn more with our 4 ways to deal with stress at work.
Focus On What You Can Do
Not every project or deadline is as achievable as you first thought, and there’s nothing wrong with being honest and transparent about that. By all means push a little harder and work a little longer than you otherwise would. But don’t drive yourself to the breaking point if doing so will still leave you a long way short of your deadline.
If you want to keep calm and stay grounded then focus on what you can do, and put what you can’t to one side. By taking a proactive approach to reporting to your superiors and delegating to your staff you’ll be able to keep everyone in the loop. That way you don’t have to run around at the last minute whilst everyone else acts surprised that a few little bits and pieces need some extra attention.
By concentrating on what you can do you’ll be able to give those parts of the project your full attention so that you can make some much-needed progress. Without this approach you’ll find that you won’t get anything done at all as the stress grows.
Be Realistic About What You Can Achieve
Realism is the name of the game when it comes to coping with stress and pressure. If you want to get things done, then you need to set yourself realistic goals for their completion times. Drawing up a to-do list or schedule is a great way to get started, but keep it realistic.
Setting time blocks allows you to focus your efforts when you need to. But remember that by setting unrealistically close completion dates you’re just adding to the pressure that will be mounting as the deadlines loom. A smart approach is to estimate how long you think you can do it if everything goes fine, and then add on half as much time again. That way you’ll have some built in contingency that will allow you to change things up as and when you need to.
The other thing that you may want to consider is whether or not you can do parts of certain overlapping tasks in parallel. Setting up your day so that you can work a little longer if it moves two things along in tandem can be a great way to make considerable progress. You may also find it quite refreshing to be able to focus on something a little different at the end of those kinds of days.
Break Things Up Into Manageable Tasks
The final stress-busting tip is all about moving things along in small manageable steps. If you constantly flip between the deadline and the final deliverable, then your stress is certain to grow and grow with every passing day. What you need to do is break things up, take it step by step, and celebrate the small wins along the way.
The great thing about this approach is that you can start to think about the big picture before you even get started. Figuring out what the intermediate steps are is a great way to flag up any potential bottlenecks well in advance so that you can plan accordingly. It will also allow you to feel in control because you’ll be doing something proactive to take command of the situation from the off. It will also allow you to have a clear plan of action that you can refer back to on those days when you feel stressed and in need of a little reassurance.
Small tasks are also quicker and easier to complete than huge tasks, this much we do know for certain. This means that you’ll be able to make more apparent progress by ticking off those small wins as you move closer to completion. You’ll keep calm and your confidence and motivation will increase as you see yourself making progress. The great thing about this is that your stress levels will drop without you even realizing it.
When you want to keep calm and take control, it’s all about keeping on top of your stress levels. You can do this by listening to your body and getting the rest and nutrition that you need to stay on top of things. Once you do that you’ll find it much easier to focus on what you can do, break things up into small manageable tasks, and stay living in the here and now.
Kristin Savage has graduated from Columbia University where she was majoring in Germanic Languages. Besides English as her mother tongue she also speaks German and Dutch fluently. Currently Kristin is studying Spanish and planning to obtain her PhD in Applied Linguistics since she is interested in how to use her to some extent practical knowledge of language processes in everyday life. She has been a writer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to all the tasks and aspiration to fulfill assignments with flying colors.
Over the past decade, many books and articles have been written on the topic of finding purpose. A simple Google search of the words, “Finding Purpose”, produces over one billion results. There is no doubt that purpose is an important and interesting topic for many people. As a leader, having a purpose and leading with purpose is vital to success. Some leaders recognize that lacking a sense of purpose limits their impact on an organization. According to a study from Harvard Business Review, less than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of individual purpose. In fact, many leaders struggle to find purpose. When leading with purpose doesn’t come naturally, many use an executive coach to lead the way.
What is “Purpose?
Simply defined, purpose is the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. It answers some of the “why” questions of life. Purpose is personal and unique. Leaders who are driven by purpose find meaning in what they do every day. They can articulate the answer to the “why” question. Purpose builds resilience. It also cultivates curiosity, empathy, and stability, all of which are needed attributes of a successful leader.
Purpose is different from goals. Goals are evolving, but purpose is sustaining. A recent article from Success Magazine, illustrates these differences in purpose and goals. The article describes purpose this way:
“Purpose releases energy. The higher the purpose, the greater the energy. Purpose also frees us. The more profound the purpose, the greater the sense of freedom. Purpose opens up possibilities.”
Purpose must be present in order to create opportunities for releasing the energy that impacts people and organizations. A common term for this is “servant leadership”.
Leading with purpose
Leaders who embrace “servant leadership” realize their purpose and the influential power that is common with this style of leadership. Leading with purpose is not selfish; it is rooted in a desire to serve others. Leading with purpose is not done in isolation. These leaders are authentic, approachable, influential, empathic, and most importantly consistent. When leaders are driven by purpose, everyone knows what to expect. There is continuity in their approach to leading, which prevents a “Jekyll and Hyde” type of leader.
Leaders are like the foundation of a building, anchoring the organization and stabilizing the structure. Unstable organizations usually have inconsistent leaders, who are not leading with purpose. In his bestselling book, Authentic Leadership, Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, explains:
“To become a leader, it is essential that you first answer the question: Leadership for what purpose” – Bill George?
Purpose must be found first. Bill George goes on to say that many people are attracted to leadership without giving any thought to the purpose. Again, this is about answering the “why” question. He also says,
“To find purpose, you must first understand yourself, your passions, and underlying motivations.” – Bill George
Executive Coaching and Finding Purpose
Having an executive coach as a leader can help in finding purpose. Many highly regarded CEOs work with coaches. Listed below are few core components of how executive coaching helps a leader find their purpose:
Challenges their assumptions
Identifies blind spots
Recognizes and develops strengths
Inspires self-reflection and builds self-awareness
Holds the leader accountable
These are the core components of how working with a coach can help a leader develop. Purpose driven leadership requires a commitment to continuous improvement. A leader never reaches a place of mastery, because life is ever-changing and always presents new challenges. It is lonely at the top. Leaders need to have someone who will listen and walk alongside them. They need a person who is completely invested in their success. This is the core of executive coaching.
To be purpose driven, a leader must recognize the value of coaching and the importance of investing in their development. Effective coaching starts with trust. Many leaders are guarded and have created layers between who they really are and whom they want to portray. Purpose cannot be found without being true to one’s self. In the book, Secrets Of An Executive Coach, the struggle of truth is emphasized, “At the core of this struggle is the on going process of truth management.” Truth management is defined as denying the expression of the unique truth of oneself. Leaders must practice truth management daily, which is critical to their purpose.
Curiosity Drives Leaders who Value Executive Coaching
The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. – Albert Einstein
Executive coaching helps leaders stay committed to curiosity about their purpose. What is their purpose telling them? How they can use their gifts to impact others? Successful leaders have become experts in their respective fields. A part of their success is the ability to understand the complexities of their organizations and industries. Executive coaches help leaders bring balance between what has made them successful and what will sustain them.
Coaching helps with the blind spots that leaders encounter. It is common for the over-achieving leader not to value listening or advice, much less coaching. This is a dangerous flaw. In her book, The Leadership Gap, well-known executive coach Lolly Daskal says:
“Failure to be interested in learning or listening is a mistake that highly driven, over achieving leaders make every day. They have soared to the greatest heights on the basis of what they know. But there comes a time when they must rethink everything and ask themselves: What is the gap between who I am and who I want to be, and do I know what it is I still need to learn?” – Lolly Daskal
Executive coaching is a pathway to the lifelong journey of self-development. Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage, of Talent Plus, discuss the importance of developing yourself in their book, Managing To Make A Difference:
“No human being ever actualizes their full potential outside the right relationships. Parenting, mentoring, and coaching, exemplify the kinds of relationships that can help shape a person and lead to significant growth.” – Larry Sternberg and Kim Turnage
In conclusion, leading with purpose is an essential part of great leadership. Having purpose without a clear understanding of how to use it is where a coaching is a benefit. We all have strengths, however, understanding how to use them is vital. Strong leadership is about being authentic. Executive coaches can help leaders stay on purpose, and true to themselves. In the book, True North, Bill George describes this authenticity as “True North”. He says,
“True North is your orienting point—your fixed point in a spinning world—that helps you stay on track as a leader.” – Bill George
He goes on to say that understanding and finding your True North comes from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by. Executive coaches help leaders adjust their compasses and help them find their direction, their True North, which is driven by purpose.
Guest blog with great ideas for how to be confident in a job interview and calm those interview nerves!
– Coach Wolfgang
After sending countless CVs, you finally got a call – the company of your dreams finds that you may be the next person to join their team. However, now comes the hardest part: the notorious interview!
Most people claim that this is the most nerve-wracking part of the whole process, from searching for a job to working. The reason for that is that they don’t prepare themselves enough for what is to come.
All you need is to believe in yourself and appear confident, because if you don’t look like you think, this is the job for you, how could they? The following tips can help you to master the art of being confident, shaking off those interview nerves and finally sealing the deal.
Have a Strong Handshake
The first thing you’ll do when you come in is to shake the hands of the interviewers. This is the first impression they’ll have of you and it needs to be a good one.
A limp handshake can instantly reveal all your insecurities.
Try to be the first to extend your hand for a firm handshake, it will show you have initiative. While you shake the interviewers’ hand, smile and look them in the eyes. Smiling is not just a way to make you look more friendly, it will also help you to feel more relaxed.
Make Eye Contact
There is nothing that says “I have confidence” more, than not being afraid to make eye contact.
Eye contact can represent so many things, and it can show that you are present, a patient listener, and most importantly, that you have confidence.
Put yourself in the employer’s shoes; would you hire a person who is even scared to look somebody directly in the eyes? Interview nerves go away when you look them in the eye!
Inform Yourself & Say Bye to Interview Nerves
Prior to standing before the interviewer and trying to convince them that you are the right person for that job, you should collect enough information so that nothing can surprise you. It can help you feel calmer and shake those interview nerves when the time of the interview actually comes.
The insecurity usually comes from the fact that you are scared that they will ask questions to which you won’t have an answer, but if you check your facts, there is nothing to feel scared about.
The most important information you need before you head to the interview are:
The story behind the company – You will work there and you need to know everything that you can find about them. If you show that you are truly passionate about the work they do it will certainly provide you with some extra points.
What do you have to offer? – The question almost everybody asks is why are you the right person for this job? Prepare an answer that truly represents your strengths and what you can contribute to the company. A good interview preparation can take you a long way.
Speak with Conviction
It is not only about what you say, but how you say that is what will help your potential employers to form an opinion about you.
You need the right combination of strong voice and a friendly tone.
Also, don’t rush it. If you speak too fast it will only make them lose their focus and it is an instant sign of stage fright.
Speak slowly and clearly so that everyone can understand you. Don’t forget to look them in the eyes while doing so. If it helps, you can always practice the talk at home.
Be aware of your body language
Body language is the easiest tool you can use to showcase your confidence.
That is why you should sit upright and try to lean slightly forward. Nodding when appropriate is also a good way to show that you are paying attention and it gives them a sense of the agreement on your side.
Try to look relaxed and at ease.
Be the One Who Asks Questions
Step forward and ask the interviewers some meaningful questions.
This doesn’t mean that you should be arrogant and interrupt them, you just need to show that you have more to offer than just to listen and nod your head.
Some of the questions you can use in order to show interest and preparedness are:
What would be my main priority in this role?
What avenues are available within the company after this position?
How will my training look like?
What tasks will define success in this position?
What will the typical day look like?
Is there something I should do differently than the previous people who have held this job?
How does your company view creativity and individuality?
Some final thoughts
Feeling nervous about the interview is the most natural thing.
Simple tricks such as these can seem trivial, but they are of great importance in order for you to represent yourself as a competent person for the job.
The interview is the determining moment for every career and that is why it should be your time to shine and show your employers how well you perform under pressure.
Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer and editor for Top Writers Review. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in Psychological Science. Her fields of expertise are creative writing, fiction writing, and academic research.