Communication Strategies for Today’s Managerial Leader

February 13, 2018 | Author: Business Expert Press | Category: Leadership, Leadership & Mentoring, Expert, Interpersonal Communication, Communication
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This book provides the training and the communication principles that are so critical for today’s managerial leader....

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Communication Strategies for Today’s Managerial Leader

The Corporate Communication Collection Debbie D. DuFrene, Editor

Deborah Britt Roebuck

Deborah Britt Roebuck, PhD has focused on helping individuals develop their leadership, teaming, and communication skills. She earned her PhD from Georgia State University and holds a master’s degree and BS degree from Northeast Missouri State University (now known as Truman State University). She has worked in service, manufacturing, and public sector environments across a broad range of industries to collaborate with clients to enhance work productivity and relationships. She has served as Executive Director of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics, and Character, and at Coles College of Business on the campus of Kennesaw State University, she served as Chair of the Department of Leadership and Professional Development and Director of Programming for the Executive MBA Programs. She currently serves as Publication Chair for the Publication Board of the Association for Business Communication, has served as Chair of the MBA Special Interest Group and as Conference Chair of the ABC Southeastern Regional Conference in 2011, and recently won the 2011 Outstanding Article in Business Communication Quarterly.

Communication Strategies for Today’s Managerial Leader

Given that communication is the lifeblood of an organization, as a managerial leader you know you need to understand how to use communication strategies to build your team to achieve organizational objectives. Too often, though, you might feel as though you have moved into this managerial leadership role without the training to improve your communication skills. This book provides that training and the communication principles that are so critical for today’s managerial leader. Inside, you’ll learn how to build a solid foundation while learning real strategies to enhance your written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills. Most research has stated, and the author has found true in her own managerial leadership roles, that a leader spends the majority of his or her day interacting with others. As a managerial leader, you often face challenging situations such as determining how to inspire a shared vision about goals and objectives, building trust within your unit, listening with an open mind, giving feedback, and encouraging collaboration. This book doesn’t just focus on the important written and oral communication skills but also on interpersonal communication, which is equally important. Leaders need to build teams and maintain relationships with all stakeholders. The best way to make that happen is through skills such as listening, asking questions, and giving feedback.

Communication Strategies for Today’s Managerial Leader Deborah Britt Roebuck

The Corporate Communication Collection Debbie D. DuFrene, Editor ISBN: 978-1-60649-199-7

90000

www.businessexpertpress.com

9 781606 491997

www.businessexpertpress.com

Contents Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii Chapter 1

Building the Foundation of Managerial Leadership Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Chapter 2

Gaining Insight Into the Role of Interpersonal Communication Skills for Today’s Managerial Leaders . . 63

Chapter 3

Understanding How to Communicate in Day-to-Day Situations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Chapter 4

Developing Written Communication Skills . . . . . . . . 183

Chapter 5

Sharpening Your Oral Communication Skills . . . . . . 275

Appendix A: Crisis Leadership for the New Reality Ahead by Barbara Gainey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333 Appendix B: Common Errors Found in Written Documents . . . . . . . . 343 Notes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 363 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 369 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381

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Preface Communication continues to be the lifeblood of all business organizations. No organization and its leaders can achieve goals, build the company’s reputation and brand, or win friends and customers without effective communication. Too often, individuals move into managerial leadership roles without an awareness of the need to focus on their communication skills. These individuals may be subject matter experts whose technical skills allowed them to succeed as individual team members, but who fail when placed in managerial leadership roles because they lack the relationship-building skills needed to foster teamwork. Therefore, this book will give you the needed communication strategies that will enable you to succeed as you manage and lead others. The book builds a solid communication foundation while it helps you enhance your written, oral, and interpersonal communication. Numerous research studies have concluded, and I have found true in my own work experience, that a leader spends the majority of his or her day interacting with others. As a managerial leader, you face many challenging situations such as determining how to inspire a shared vision, building trust within your team, listening with an open mind, giving feedback, and encouraging collaboration, to name a few. As you move into leadership roles, your focus switches from doing things to leading others to accomplish tasks. Consequently, this book is written for those of you who serve others or who desire to move into managerial leadership roles. Many managerial communication books focus on written and oral communication. While I believe these skills are critically important, I have found when leading others that I have devoted the majority of my time to interpersonal communication. Leaders need to build teams and maintain relationships with all stakeholders. The best way to make that happen is through skills such as listening; asking questions; mastering nonverbal communication; employing emotional intelligence; understanding conflict; using mentoring, coaching, and counseling; and

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giving feedback. Thus, this book includes an emphasis on interpersonal communication. As Chris M. Martin, a writer for Yahoo Contributing Network, suggested in a recent article, “The ability to communicate effectively may be the number one essential management quality. Communication savvy will most likely be a manager’s greatest asset.” For this reason, I hope that this book will raise your awareness of the importance of your oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills and help you make the choice to enhance those competencies. With awareness and tenacity, you can make the right choices as you travel on your journey to become an outstanding managerial leader.

My Thanks I wish to acknowledge the following individuals for their assistance in bringing this book from an idea to a reality. I could not have completed this endeavor without their support, and I feel blessed to have had their encouragement. I must first thank the Business Expert Press team beginning with David Parker, publisher and founder, who believed enough in me to wait an extra year for the book. David would send an e-mail or pick up the telephone whenever I needed encouragement or a response to a question or concern. I consider him to be a role model of a managerial leader. Next, I am grateful to my collections editor, another outstanding managerial leader, Debbie DuFrene. She provided words of wisdom and spent countless hours reading and then rereading every word I wrote. She worked tirelessly to help me create the best book possible. Finally, I must thank another managerial leader, my production liaison, Cindy Durand, who was available whenever I needed help. When I would encounter difficulty on some issue, she would jump in to help and make sure I understood the process. All three of these managerial leaders enabled me to complete this book, and I am grateful for their guidance and faith in me. Also I must thank Bill Klump from Scribe Inc., who brought the manuscript to print. I think, at times, my manuscript was a challenge, but he rose to the occasion and made the book a reality. Two special individuals, also outstanding managerial leaders, deserve recognition as reviewers for my book. First, my thanks to my father,

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Aubrey C. Britt, who checked and rechecked my grammar and word choice. We spent many hours together discussing the content and working to improve each chapter. Dad, please note that I changed every “most” to “many.” My second reviewer was my friend Kathryn O’Neil who kept right on reviewing while she retired from a corporate position, packed up, and moved from Georgia to Texas to accept a teaching position. I was often amazed at the things she would find that I thought I had already corrected. My work benefited greatly from both of these individuals, who provided objective perspectives and a keen eye for detail. I thank them for their dedication and for ensuring that my book was the best it could possibly be. Next, I must thank my former EMBA students, MBA students, and business associates who provided stories, quizzes, and articles. I know their contributions enhance and validate the content of each chapter. My sincere thanks to Candace Long, Paige Yeater, Dom Crincoli, Pam Napier, John Boe, Nathan Kalb, Toni Bowers, Rebecca Warlick, Chris Festa, Kathryn O’Neil, Arky Ciancutti, Maggie Anderson, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Andy Smith, Paul McElvy, Rick Brinkman, Charlsye Diaz, Tony Hsieh and his team of elves, Jeff Haden, Julie Sims and Robert Half International, Joe Urbanski, Pierre-Paul Allard, and Vanessa and Carmine Gallo. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement as you read what I had written. Your feedback and belief in me kept me going. You will continue to be my inspiration as I strive to enable others to succeed and achieve their goals. Finally, to Rob, my husband, who did not question where I was going when I headed upstairs to my office or else told me I better go upstairs to work on my book; to my daughter, Hillary, who constantly reminded me I was working all the time; and to my son-in-law, Rich, who would ask, “Is the book finished yet?” I appreciate their love, encouragement, and patience as this project did take time away from them. Deborah Britt Roebuck

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Foreword By Anthony D’Angelo and Ray Crockett In this time of economic turbulence, trust in companies and their leaders is now measured at an all-time low—substantially lower than it was a generation ago. Pete Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group, observed, “What matters is what the public thinks and the public trust is what has really crashed.” Yet many organizational managers and leaders are not aware of the role of managerial leadership communication and how essential it is to trust. Managerial leaders typically get their jobs because they’re smart and experienced. They are often less astute about managerial leadership communication than they are about finance, marketing, operations, product development, or strategic planning. Yet they are the de facto chief reputation officers for their organizations. Many of these individuals suffer from a blind spot in the science of managerial leadership communication. Often the “soft skills” are not perceived to be as important as learning finance, accounting, and strategy. Thus, learning these vital skills is commonly omitted from a managerial leader’s business education. Hence we have managerial leaders who underestimate the importance of their role as communicators and have not been educated on communication and how best to interact, motivate, and influence others. Often, these managerial leaders will avoid contact with the media, employees, community, shareholders, and other constituencies because they just do not know how to effectively communicate to advance their missions, to build support, and to gain the trust of their stakeholders. A managerial leader must communicate, hold others accountable, and be transparent to influence people and build trust. A leader has to engage audiences in the messy give-and-take of dialogue and be willing to construct or alter a company’s position or policy based in part on their input. Organizations must be unerringly ethical, transparent in policies and operations, and willing to invest—sometimes generously—in

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righting wrongs and fixing what’s broken. Taking such actions requires a knowledgeable commitment to ongoing communication, transparency, and a long-term focus on results. A managerial leader who diligently builds his or her organization’s reputation can have that work destroyed in an instant without disciplined caretaking. Witness Toyota, an enviable brand that symbolized quality and reliability, and how clumsily the company managed reports of its vehicles’ accelerating and causing accidents. As Toyota’s position seemed to shift week by week, the CEO was initially absent, then repentant, while negative news reports arrived constantly and were exacerbated by inadequate responses, a lack of clarity, and ultimately lingering questions about the company’s and its leaders’ competence. So don’t follow that path, but instead choose to invest time in learning communication strategies to communicate effectively with all of your stakeholders. Learn how strategic communications can not only help avoid business disaster, but strengthen your brand and company, creating value and building respect and good will among customers and your business community. Anthony D’Angelo and Ray Crockett lead the MBA Initiative for the Public Relations Society of America. Tony holds the position of Senior Manager, Communications for ITT Corporation, while Ray recently retired from Coca-Cola North America as Director of Communications.

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CHAPTER 1

Building the Foundation of Managerial Leadership Communication Studies repeatedly point to the impact communication skills have on the ability of managers and leaders to succeed or fail. “The ability to communicate effectively may be the number one management quality,” stated Chris M. Martin, Yahoo writer, who himself holds a BS in Business Administration and a JD.1 Managers and leaders need to use effective communication strategies as they build their teams and organizations to achieve organizational objectives. Too often, individuals move into management or leadership roles without an awareness of the need to improve their communication skills. These individuals may be subject matter

Photo courtesy flickr user World Economic Forum, CC 2.0

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experts whose technical skills allowed them to succeed as individuals, but who fail when placed in a management or leadership role because they lack the needed communication skills to foster collaboration. If communication is so important, just exactly what is it and does it differ for managers and leaders?

Definition and Types of Communication Simply stated, communication is the glue or the life blood of an organization. Said another way, communication can be thought of as the gears that lubricate the machinery of the organization. It involves sending and receiving ideas, feelings, thoughts, opinions, and facts to other individuals by using written, oral, and interpersonal communication. A managerial leader uses communication to get things done with and through others. Effective communication takes place when a meeting of the minds occurs and all parties have a shared understanding. Managerial Communication Managerial communication is often defined as communication between managers and employees that allows them to complete the work of an organization. You will note that in this definition, the focus of managerial communication is within the organization. Leadership Communication The focus of leadership communication shifts more to interacting with external audiences to project the image and reputation of the organization. For leaders, internal communication still takes place, but it is more strategic in nature; the day-to-day communication activities are left to the managers. Leadership communication is focused on how to lead change and inspire a vision. As you can see, this type of communication is more complex and serves a broader audience. Sometimes you will also see it referred to as corporate communication.

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A New Form of Communication: Managerial Leadership Communication With social media, up to four generations of employees in the work place, and a global economy, organizations and leaders need a new form of communication. This new form, managerial leadership communication, brings together the skills and competencies of managerial and leadership communication under one umbrella.

Managerial leaders interact with employees and other organizational members while also communicating with vendors, suppliers, and other external audiences. When you, as a managerial leader, communicate with external audiences, you become the voice of the organization. On occasion, you might even be called upon to communicate with the press and other outside groups. The above diagram illustrates the three integral components of managerial leadership, with effective communication at the heart of it. Why We Need Managerial Leadership Communication Much research has stated what the author has found true in her own managerial leadership roles: a leader spends the majority of his or her day interacting with others. Today’s organizations do not hire “hands;” they employ whole individuals who bring intellectual capital. Employees of the 21st century want to think, make a difference, and make a

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meaningful contribution to the organization, not just receive a paycheck. They do not seek managers who command and control, but desire their managerial leaders to listen to them, respect their ideas, and include them in problem solving and decision making. Any organization, for profit or not, comprises individuals who are specialists in certain functions. For an organization to meet its objectives, however, these subject matter experts must communicate internally and externally in ways that their audiences can understand. If employees cannot share information in a meaningful way or discuss ideas with each other, it truly doesn’t really matter how much they know. They will likely not be successful as they can’t communicate that expertise with others. While all employees need communication skills, these skills are vital for anyone who desires to move into a managerial leadership role. Google recently conducted a comprehensive study that found that “what employees valued most were even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”2 Moreover, “technical expertise—the ability, say, to write computer code in one’s sleep—ranked dead last among Google’s “big eight” virtues—even though the study was specifically about managers at the tech company, not managers in general.3 Robert P. Gandossy, Hewitt Global Practice Leader for Leadership, Talent, and Employee Engagement, counsels organizational leaders to choose future managers for their communication skills as much as for their achievements. Front-line managers have the greatest influence over an employee’s engagement. Managers who are engaging communicators get more from their direct reports than managers whose strong skills lie elsewhere. Managers who can communicate serve as an insurance policy for keeping the best workers focused, engaged, and productive.4 While I was leading our Executive MBA program, I taught the communication and leadership development modules. Too often, a student would ask that the communication and leadership modules be replaced with more finance modules. Of course, as the leader of the Executive MBA program, my role was to listen to our students and I did. After listening to their requests, my team would implement changes where we could while also stressing to these students the importance of leadership and communication. In listening to my students, I knew the reality

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was that, conceptually, learning economics and finance was easier than learning how to communicate and lead others. Since learning how to communicate effectively and lead others requires making behavioral changes, most individuals find it difficult to do. My students were seeking to increase intellectual intelligence and not realizing that emotional intelligence is more valuable to a managerial leader. When managerial leaders understand that their role is to guide, coach, influence, and persuade, they will choose to surround themselves with a team of subject matter experts. They know, as managerial leaders, that their focus has switched from their having to “know everything” to having a team that “knows everything.” Of course, the managerial leader should have a basic understanding of all subjects including economics, finance, and accounting so that he or she can make effective decisions. The input for those decisions, however, doesn’t come from the leader, but from his or her team. I remember one particular e-mail I received after a student had graduated from our program. He said, “Dr. Roebuck, I find that my ‘people-skills’ seem to be holding me back from moving into more of a leadership role. I wondered if you could recommend a book I could read.” Of course, my first reaction was to laugh. But I chose to use my emotional intelligence and responded by suggesting a book that he could read. More importantly, I strongly recommended that he get a coach. The sad reality of this situation was that he had a safe environment while enrolled in the Executive MBA in which to practice and improve his leadership and communication skills, but he chose not to do so at that time, and then later realized that his lack of leadership and communication skills were holding him back. His thinking that reading a book would be enough to effect the changes he needed to make truly demonstrated his lack of understanding regarding managerial leadership. He was still trying to become a subject matter expert instead of a managerial leader. Managerial leaders face many challenging situations, such as determining how to inspire a shared vision about goals and objectives, building trust within their units, listening with an open mind, giving feedback, and encouraging collaboration, to name a few. The focus for a managerial leader switches from his or her actually doing tasks to communicating with and through others on how to achieve those tasks. A managerial leader must exhibit effective communication. Sometimes having those

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communication skills can be a reason that an individual is given the opportunity to move into a managerial leadership position.

The Communication Skills of the Managerial Leader You’ve probably heard the old story, or actually seen it occur in your organization. Someone who is excellent in his or her technical skills is promoted to manager. Then, once in that position, he or she demonstrates a lack of expertise in communication. Only with a willingness to be a life-long learner and a focus on enabling others can someone really fulfill the role of a managerial leader. As a managerial leader, you will need to master interpersonal, written, nonverbal, and oral communication skills. Interpersonal Communication Skills Many business professionals have difficulty with “soft skills,” which often are the “hard skills” because they require behavioral changes. However, they are the keys to your success as a managerial leader. Even more difficult for many of us, as illustrated by my story of the Executive MBA student who just wanted to read a book to improve, is accepting the reality that we have poor soft skills and must make an effort to improve. To build interpersonal skills, you need to focus on building a number of component skills. The major interpersonal communication skills include • giving and receiving FEEDBACK; • mastering NONVERBAL communication;

No longer will you find it enough to know how to analyze a balance sheet or income statement. An effective managerial leader will take that balance sheet and use it to coach his or her employees, facilitate team productivity, and lead them toward performance improvement. This leadership cannot be done simply by reading the numbers and telling people the numbers need to change. Instead, you must enable others by communicating with them in ways that encourage them, motivate them, and reinforce their value.

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• • • • • • • •

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employing EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE; choosing the right type of LISTENING for the situation; using relevant QUESTIONS; understanding CONFLICT and the use of different strategies; using MENTORING, COACHING, and COUNSELING; building TRUST; creating TEAMS; conducting MEETINGS and INTERVIEWS.

Because of the importance and complexity of interpersonal communication skills and day-to-day communication situations, chapters 2 and 3 are devoted to these topics.

I am often surprised when some of my graduate students cannot distinguish between a complete sentence and a sentence fragment. My father, who taught English in high school for several years, says that he believes it is the biggest educational deficiency in college graduates and I would have to agree.

Written Communication Skills Delta CEO Richard Anderson believes strongly in the ability to communicate and feels that it is so important that it ought to be a core capability in a business school curriculum. While Anderson stresses the importance of the ability to speak and write well, he believes that writing is not taught as well as it should be in the educational curriculum. He has stated that people really have to be able to handle the written and spoken word, and a strong foundation in grammar is essential to attaining the ability to do so. Anderson stated, “It’s not just enough to be able to do a nice PowerPoint presentation. You’ve got to have the ability to communicate.”5 As a managerial leader, you will be involved in composing e-mails, memos, policies, procedures, proposals, reports, blogs, instant messages, letters, and tweets. These forms of written communication function as the backbone of the organization’s internal and external communication. Given today’s world, in which technology enables communication around the globe, written communication has become even more important.

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However, former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt, who has long advocated “plain English” in business and government, says business writing is usually incomprehensible to readers. “It lacks color and nuance, and it’s not terribly interesting to read,” he says.6 So the challenge for you becomes writing for your audience while making sure your writing is clear, concrete, concise, complete, correct, and courteous. Chapter 4 provides more in-depth discussion of written communication skills. Oral Communication Skills Managerial leaders also need to create and deliver oral presentations that captivate their audiences’ interest. Effective managerial leaders need to project confidence when making informative and persuasive presentations, whether speaking to one or to 1,000. You will find that some basics of communication apply to both written and oral communication situations, such as first determining your purpose and analyzing your audience. Effective oral and written communication takes some critical thinking before an actual communication takes place. If you think about your purpose and seek to know your audience, chances are you will be a better communicator. The advantage of oral over written communication is that you can personalize the message and talk directly to the individual, which provides a more personal connection between a managerial leader and a colleague. Personal connections allow you, as the managerial leader, to understand others better. In addition, with oral messages, you can receive immediate feedback. Written communication does not always provide this advantage, though instant messaging and other forms of technology are now allowing for quicker feedback. You will learn more about oral communication skills in chapter 5. As an employee, a manager, a leader, or a managerial leader, you need to understand the basic communication process, illustrated in the following diagram. As a managerial leader, you will often serve as the channel for messages.

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Reinforcing the Basic Communication Process To increase your effectiveness as a communicator, you must be aware of the various components of the communication process. As your responsibility increases, the “how” of your communication becomes critical. Sender As a sender, you initiate the communication and determine the intent of the message, how to send it, and what, if any, response is required. You bear the burden in this process. You must communicate both content and feelings. Because no two people are exactly alike, they hear messages in different ways. Some individuals want facts, while others want details. When you serve as the sender and you are communicating with your team or internally, you will need to analyze your audience and get to know each one on a personal basis so that you can tailor your message.

Often as a managerial leader, you share messages sent by others. You may be asked to carry organizational messages to your team and other people as directed by your senior leader. When you are asked to communicate for others, you must consider whose message you are communicating.

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One way I learned about my team was through a personality assessment called the WorkPlace Big Five. Before I met with a member of my team, I reviewed his or her preferences to help me tailor my communication. For example, if I had an extroverted team member, I remembered to provide positive reinforcement and give her sufficient time to talk. If I had an introverted team member, I made the meetings shorter, but gave him time to think. If I had an analytical person, we would focus on problem solving. As you get to know your team, you will know how certain people are inclined to feel and think. You may first communicate a message to all of your team members and then follow up with a one-on-one meeting to provide a specific message to an individual. One sales strategy you might want to employ is called the feel-felt-found.7 When communicating with a particular individual you might want to say, “You might be feeling this way;” “I know how you feel. I’ve felt that way as well;” or “I’ve found that if I . . .” If you are not the original sender, your job is to first reinforce the sender’s points. When communicating to your team and others, tell them what senior leadership is saying and reinforce their message. Reinforce the message by saying something like “Here’s what I think this means for us.” Of course, you should not disagree in public or private with your leader as it is absolutely unprofessional to do so. If you disagree, you dilute the message and send a mixed message. Your direct reports then wonder whom they are to follow—you or your manager. As a managerial leader, you should ask yourself if you are the right one to deliver a message. Asking someone else on your team to be the person who delivers the message builds your skill in communicating through others and helps you assess the communication skills of the members of your team. Receiver As a receiver, you interpret messages based upon your frame of reference. This frame of reference includes your life experiences, cultural background, and the values and beliefs you hold. Because these filters may adversely affect the intent of the sender, some feedback must occur to prevent misunderstandings.

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Photo courtesy flickr user Whiteafrican, CC 2.0

As a managerial leadership communicator, you will want to be direct in about 90 percent of your communications. You will provide the bottom line up front. To reach your audience, you will need to decide what your key points are and put them up front. You tell your reader or audience where you’re going at the beginning. Using this approach is truly one of the core secrets of being a great managerial leader. Message The message contains ideas expressed to other individuals. The message must be transmitted in a form that a receiver can understand. Messages generally take one or more of three forms based on their purpose: to inform, to persuade, or to take action. Informative messages share information or describe something to the receivers; persuasive messages attempt to change receivers’ attitudes, beliefs, or perceptions; and actionoriented messages motivate receivers to do a task. As a managerial leadership communicator, you address the emotions or feelings of your audience. You cannot separate emotions from workplace activity. People are going to feel something about whatever is communicated and you need to learn to address the emotion. You can say something such as “I understand this may make you feel this way. Here’s

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what I recommend.” When you provide the recommendations up front, you will increase the chances that you will get feedback and that your team members will make the necessary behavioral changes. Channel or Medium The channel conveys the message to your receiver, either verbally, faceto-face (air provides the medium), or in another mediated fashion such as the phone, written memo, e-mail, or social media. The medium can distort the message positively or negatively, so, as the sender, you must choose the best medium for assuring effective communication. As managerial leadership communicators, we probably overuse e-mail. E-mail should not be the primary channel to communicate sensitive information with your direct reports. You still need to use the richest form of communication when possible, which is face-to-face. Face-to-face meetings. Face-to-face meetings are the best way to impact your team and its behavior. Delivering something face-to-face in a meeting will get your team talking. Face-to-face communication still provides the best way to build trust and consensus in a team and helps others work through resistance to new ideas. Communicate through either oneon-one touch-base meetings or in a team meeting. I used to try to meet

Photo courtesy flickr user Michigan Municipal League, CC 2.0

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Some of the advantages of face-to-face meetings are that you can answer questions in real time and make use of nonverbal communication. You should make this your number-one communication rule—everything you tell your team must go through face-to-face meetings. If you lead only virtual teams, your first choice should be the phone or webcam meetings because you have all mediums: verbal, vocal, visual, and nonverbal. The only downsides to face-to-face remain the time it requires and the expense of bringing team members together who are not colocated. with each of my direct reports once a month over lunch as that seemed to make the conversation more casual. I think smart managerial leaders will also have regular lunches with subsets of their organizations. At these meetings, you can talk for approximately 10 minutes and then spend the rest of the time in Q & A. Another strategy you might want to employ would be skip level meetings in which you don’t invite your direct reports, but go one level below. You would follow the same strategy of talking for about 10 minutes and giving them time to share and ask questions. Having skip level meetings will allow you to check to make sure your messages are getting to other levels of the organization.

Photo courtesy flickr user Klessblogi, CC 2.0

Videoconferencing or webcam conferencing. Although people attending the meeting may be thousands of miles apart, these types of

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meetings simulate live, face-to-face interaction. Videoconferences or webcam conferences give you the closest feeling to a face-to-face meeting, and technology is rapidly improving in this area. I remember the first semester that I taught an online business communication class. I only had e-mail and discussion thread interaction with my students, and I was constantly flooded with e-mails. The following semester, I started incorporating weekly webcam class sessions and my inbox became much smaller. Students could ask questions in real time and interact with me. I felt that I made more of a human connection with my students. Students began telling other faculty about my webcam sessions, and faculty started asking me how I did them. From this experience, I was reminded that people want to have human contact, and technology is available to help us to be more connected. Phone calls and conference calls. Calls enable you to pick up important information including the tone and energy in the other person’s voice. The main downside is that your participants miss the information provided from the visual aspect of communication. Another downside that I have encountered is people not listening and trying to do other work. They miss a point in the discussion because they are multitasking and the conversation has to be repeated. One way to overcome this challenge is to set some ground rules at the beginning of the call about what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior during calls. Voice mail. Voice mail is great when used with respect. Keep your voice messages clear, concise, and action-oriented. Because you are employing a one-way channel, you will have no immediate feedback and your message may be misinterpreted. E-mail. As stated earlier, e-mail is probably overused in today’s work environment, but that will probably continue to be the case. E-mail is effective for providing details and as a record of information, which allows your readers to reference it later. The negative to e-mail is that you have no control over when and if your receiver reads or forwards the message. I would not recommend using e-mail for sensitive or negative messages. Instant messaging. Surprisingly, instant messaging is used quite frequently within work settings. A recent study found that workers who used instant messaging on the job reported less interruption than colleagues who did not.8 One of my MBA students even shared with me that

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at his work, they were now using IM to approve contracts. The difficulty with IM is that it has a different language form from formal English, and therefore the message could either be misinterpreted or incomprehensible to the receiver. Another disadvantage is that some IM systems do not provide a permanent record of the conversation. Social media. Social media provides an outlet for telling both internal and external stakeholders about you and your organization. Sharing information about your organization through Twitter and a regularly updated blog can raise your company’s profile and brand. Instant messaging and social media channels work well with the younger generations with whom you interact. You can become a thought leader in your industry and in the eyes of your stakeholders if you follow the example of Southwest Airlines. Southwest Airlines has 12 million monthly visits to its website, 1 million Twitter followers, 1.3 million Facebook followers, and 29,000 reviewers on its Travel Guide. Five employees monitor the company’s social media 24/7, including hourly check-ins during normal sleeping hours, with two people typically trading off responsibilities. Southwest Airlines communication specialist Laurel Moffat recommends that organizations “listen first.” Listening provides an understanding of content that’s meaningful and appropriate for your audiences. Once you get active, Moffat further recommends personalizing audience experiences. One way Southwest does this is by having team members sign their names to their responses.9 A downside to social media can be that individuals become too dependent upon it and then when they are asked to communicate face-to-face, they struggle with how to carry on a conversation. You’ve probably been at a meeting where individuals used their BlackBerrys or iPads to communicate back and forth underneath the conference room table. Or you might have seen that commercial where all the members of a family are communicating across the dinner table using their technology instead of talking to one another. In a meeting I had with business leaders, they commented on the fact that many younger individuals had great social networking skills but noted they were concerned about a lack of interpersonal skills. Like any tool, social media, if overused, can become a liability.

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Using multichannels will allow you to reach your audience more than once. Your team members need to hear about the mission of your team and the larger organization, operational issues, and goals numerous times and through different channels. Frequency and Use of Multiple Channels As a managerial leader, you have to repeat key messages over and over again. Winston Churchill once said, “If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.”10 If you want your messages to get through, you need frequent communication. Recent reports show that job satisfaction rates in the United States are at the lowest level in more than two decades. The economic recession has caused employers to downsize, and in many places work that was done by three or four individuals is now being done by one. As a consequence, stress, anxiety, and job burnout have been made worse by poor communication or infrequent communication. According to Dr. Mary Capelli-Schellpfeffer, Medical Director of Loyola University Health System Occupational Health Services: Communication is critical to success. That’s always true. But it’s harder to do during challenging events because of all the “noise” from bad news. Shared messages can become an important vehicle for solidifying trust and a team perspective. When a supervisor stops by an employee’s desk asking, “How are you doing?” the action makes an impact. The added bonus is that the supervisor is more likely to gain valuable firsthand information about what is or isn’t working in the enterprise.11 As a managerial leader, you will often use multiple channels to ensure your message is received and understood. For example, you might have a face-to-face meeting and follow it up with e-mail. The advantage of multiple channels is that you will get feedback at each point. One manager shared how she created weekly digests of the e-mails she received. She sent the digest to her team, but first she added her comments regarding

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each of the messages and how it impacted them or didn’t. She included links to the original e-mails and told her team that if they wanted more details, they could follow the link. She ordered the messages based upon their importance to her team. She shared that her team appreciated her filtering through the messages so that they knew which ones were important. Instead of being overwhelmed with e-mail, her team can now focus on what matters most. Feedback Feedback reports back to you that your receiver understood the message. When the receiver responds to the sender, the communication process starts over. Feedback makes communication a two-way process, allowing the sender to become a receiver and vice versa. Environment The environment in which the communication takes place can influence the probability of your success or failure. You must consider where and when to communicate to ensure you receive the results you intend. Effective managerial leadership communication depends on how successfully you take these environmental factors into account. Even when communicators consider all factors, miscommunication can still occur.

Highlighting Causes of Miscommunication Because people come from diverse backgrounds, various parts of the United States, or different countries, they sometimes have difficulty communicating with each other. This section addresses inferences, wordmeaning confusion, differing perceptions, information overload and timing, nonverbal messages, noise, filtering, defensiveness and emotions, personality differences, gender differences, generational differences, and intercultural differences.

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As a managerial leadership communicator, you should be conscious of the inferences you make and be careful to label your inferences as such. Your receivers must be able to distinguish between what you know and what you think, assume, believe, or judge to be true. I was recently reviewing a proposal and the author made a statement that came across as a fact, but in reality it was an inference he had drawn based upon his beliefs and values. We all make inferences, but we need to be aware of when we do so. Inferences When you make an inference, you draw a conclusion based on facts. Basically, you observe something and, as a result, gain information. You then analyze the information and draw a conclusion about what you have observed. Your conclusion, or inference, may be correct or incorrect. Let’s consider some examples. 1. The team members were smiling. 2. The team members were smiling; therefore, every team member was satisfied with the outcome. The first statement contains a fact; you can easily verify it. You can see the team members smiling as they come out of the meeting. The second statement, an inference, involves drawing a conclusion based on more than what you observe, that is, you impute meaning to the facts you have observed. In different parts of the United States, we have regionalisms. I grew up in the Midwest and later moved to Georgia. When I first stepped off the airplane in Atlanta, someone greeted me by saying, “Hey.” I wondered why they were saying “Hey,” which to me was a type of feed for cattle and horses. Another difference I encountered in the South occurred when my little daughter would go to the neighbor’s house to see if Beth could play. Often Hillary would come back and say, “Beth’s mom said Beth was ill.” This happened day after day and I thought Beth must have a terminal illness. I finally learned from another mother that in Georgia “ill” referred to a misbehaving child.

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Word-Meaning Confusion When a sender and receiver give the same word different meanings or give different words the same meaning, word-meaning confusion occurs. Words have both denotative and connotative meanings: denotative meanings are the ones found in the dictionary, while connotative meanings come from the experiences individuals have and how they then assign meanings to words. For example, if you look up the word cube in the dictionary, you probably would find a definition of a solid with six equal, square sides. However, in some business environments, cube refers to an open work space in the office. The 500 most commonly used words in the English language have 14,070 dictionary meanings. That’s an average of more than 28 meanings for each word. The word set, for example, has 194 different meanings. Words themselves don’t contain the meaning—people supply the meanings depending on past experiences. Consider the following example. A small business owner went to order some letterhead stationery. She told the sales representative she wanted a simple letterhead and the name put in the center. When she went to pick up her letterhead stationery, the supplier had done exactly as she had said and placed the name in the middle of each sheet instead of centered at the top as she had intended. A personal example also comes to mind. While I was an executive director of an institute, my office was located in a house beside the campus. I had two colleagues who were collaborating on a project with me and we agreed to meet. I told them to come to “the house.” I kept looking at my watch when they had not arrived and I wondered if we had a mix-up on our dates. Then I received a telephone call from them asking where I was. I said I was at the house. They said they were at the house where I lived, and they had been sitting on my front porch for 30 minutes waiting for me! What seemed perfectly clear to me—come to “the house”—was not the message my colleagues received. I became victim to not clarifying and checking with my receivers that the message had been received as I had intended. Jargon, which is a specialized terminology or technical language that members of a group use to communicate among themselves, can also cause problems when used with others outside of the work organization. Age, education, and cultural background can influence language use and definitions given to words. To avoid word-meaning confusion, consider

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the person with whom you are communicating, ask questions, and paraphrase important statements. Differing Perceptions Your perceptions provide your view of reality, but they depend on how you interpret what you see and hear. Perceptions are influenced by a variety of factors, including personal background, education, age, and experiences. Two categories of perception exist: sensory perception and normative perception. • Sensory perception. This type of perception occurs when people selectively interpret what they see or hear on the basis of their interests, background, experience, and attitudes. Sensory perception can cause communication problems because your team members may not always perceive what you literally present to them. You must ask not only whether a person understands, but also what a person understands. • Normative perception. Normative perception involves your interpretation of reality. When individuals express their opinions, normative perception occurs. As a communicator, you interpret the situation. Miscommunication based on normative perception occurs when you attempt to communicate with others and you assume that they interpret data the same way you do. You must be careful, because we all view the world differently. To avoid miscommunication based on differing perceptions, make your message specific, clarify important points, and seek feedback.

Bottom-Line: Your Message

You can prevent such information loss by becoming concerned more with the quality of your communication than with its quantity. The need for clear, concise communication is essential in the face of information overload. Keep your communications short and to the point. As I have said previously, bottom-line your message.

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Information Overload and Timing Technology has affected the world of work in two dramatic ways. First, the office can be anywhere you choose; second, using technology, organizations can share their collective wisdom and knowledge to further their goals. But technology has also caused information overload. Technology and the global nature of work have increased the amount of communication that takes place. We no longer define business as working 8 to 5, but 24/7. Often when working internationally with various team members located in different countries, their work follows the sun and never stops so you have productivity for 24 hours. Unfortunately, you have only a limited capacity to handle and process all of this communication. Individuals tend to select out, ignore, pass over, or forget information when they have too much information. Or, they may put off further processing until the overload situation is over, which still negatively impacts communication. Similarly, when communicating with employees, whether face-toface or over the phone, you should check your timing. If you rush in, interrupt, and demand time, your receiver may feign listening or listen halfheartedly. This behavior could be costly to an organization if it results in miscommunication and wrong action.

Photo courtesy flickr user Pop! Tech,pho, CC 2.0

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Nonverbal Messages As part of a personal encounter, nonverbal and verbal communication happen simultaneously. When assessing nonverbal messages, be careful not to place too much importance on a single, isolated nonverbal behavior; instead, look for several nonverbal cues. If the verbal and nonverbal cues disagree, you can usually believe the nonverbal ones because they tend to be spontaneous and less controlled. Nonverbal actions provide a key to a person’s true feelings and attitudes. It is said that women, in general, are better than men at recognizing nonverbal cues. A study of Emirati women in Dubai showed that culture does not play a role in determining whom they prefer to communicate with, and that nonverbal cues and personal attributes, such as honesty, politeness, helpfulness, and so on, determine their preference to communicate with a certain individual.12 This research suggested that differences in culture are not necessarily the main factor in influencing communication preferences. Senders sometimes forget the importance of nonverbal messages, but as a communicator, you should pay careful attention to the nonverbal communication of the sender and listen for the message “between the lines.”

If individuals neglect getting to know their subordinates, colleagues, and associates, they may not structure their communication properly for maximum effectiveness. Such neglect does not necessarily signal an uncaring attitude, but it contributes to noise in both the sending and receiving of messages.

Noise Noise can interfere with every aspect of the communication process. Noise may be external or internal. External noise. External noise comes from your surroundings. Some examples of external noise include a telephone ringing, a landscaping crew mowing the grounds, or colleagues laughing in the cubicle next to yours.

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Internal noise. This type of noise comes from within and could include such factors as dislike of your receiver, distraction by another problem, prejudice against a person, closed-mindedness, or lack of interest in an issue. Filtering When you filter information, you deliberately manipulate the information to make it appear more favorable to your receiver. As information is communicated up through the organizational levels, you often condense and synthesize it. You filter the communication through your personal interests and perceptions of what is important. Recently an executive attended a seminar where she perceived the facilitator to be arrogant. She did not learn much because she was distracted by her perception. In the end, because her filters were too strong, she could not take advantage of the opportunity to learn. To become aware of when you are inclined to filter, try this exercise. Pick an hour of time to stop passing judgment on anything and everything around you. Observe and listen to what’s happening without evaluating it at all. When you look at something, don’t judge, but just observe. When you listen to someone talk, don’t judge what he or she is saying; instead, just listen. You may find that you start congratulating or berating yourself on how well or poorly you’re doing the exercise. Notice that you are judging yourself! The point of the exercise is to be aware of how often you judge. By becoming aware of how you prejudge and filter everything that you perceive, you can learn to switch the filters off at will. Keep in mind that we use filters even when we look at ourselves. If we have a particular quality we don’t like, we may not even see that we have it. Getting rid of filters will allow you to know and accept who you truly are.13

When communicating with others, strive for clarity. If you are not understood, you do not need to take it personally as the receivers are not questioning your competence. For them, you have not delivered the message in a way that they can understand. So you may need to rephrase, ask questions, and clarify to make sure you are delivering your intended message.

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Defensiveness and Emotions When people feel they are being attacked or threatened, they can become defensive and verbally attack others. They do this through sarcastic remarks, becoming overly judgmental, and questioning others’ motives. Try to avoid reacting to a message when the individual is upset because he or she is not likely to be thinking clearly. To help you be aware of when you become defensive, you might consider keeping a communication journal where you reflect upon certain situations in which you acted defensively or provoked defensive behavior. As with all behavior changes, you first have to recognize defensive actions. When you have some distance from the event, reflect on ways you may have been able to handle the situation differently. In addition, you should prepare for situations where you know defensive triggers may exist. If you know that you have a stressful situation coming up, practice responses for questions or comments that might trigger defensiveness on your part. Parents know how the tone of their voice can get results, both positive and negative. Similarly, when communicating with your subordinates, do not get parental, as a simple thing like tone of voice can provoke defensiveness in others. Remember to pause, reflect, and then speak. We too often just speak and then think later. If you take the time to gather your thoughts, you will speak with authority and confidence. Remember what Stephen Covey states in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People about stimulus and response: people have the freedom to choose. Therefore, you can choose to be proactive rather than reactive.14 Because everyone has them, acknowledge your hot buttons and try to avoid them. If you get into a difficult situation, sometimes you just have to call a “time out” and take a break. Then resume when both of you are calmer. You don’t want to avoid the discussion—just reschedule it at a better time when you can be more proactive. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, communication gets out of hand. You can’t anticipate, prepare for, and eliminate every possible scenario. Don’t be afraid to take the high road, let go of your ego, and move on. Ask yourself if it’s really going to matter five years from now, and then let it go. As someone once said, we get too caught up in the individual trees

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and lose sight of the forest. Sometimes you have to choose which battles are really worth fighting and let some things go. If you’ve provoked defensiveness in someone else, apologize and get the conversation back on track. Saying “I’m sorry, can we just start over?” can work in most situations. Recognize that sometimes you’ll be wrong and leaders can admit to making mistakes. Be prepared to admit it and move forward.

Spotlight on Today’s Managerial Leader

Candace Lowe Long has been in the arts and entertainment sector for years as a performer, writer, composer, theatrical producer, entertainment project developer, branding and marke ng consultant, and arts leader. She understands the calling and the struggles of the crea ve journey . . . and is known as a biblical commentator on “inspired crea vity.” Highly regarded as an astute prognos cator of cultural trends, Ms. Long is pioneering a process she refers to as value reengineering, which she has been field-tes ng in the business sector since , when she founded Crea vity Training Ins tute. She is called on by businesses to provide crea ve consul ng services, discover new revenue streams, help leaders iden fy and develop right-brain thinkers, unlock the crea ve/innova ve spirit in their people, and provide processes whereby leaders can learn to dis nguish a good idea from an inspired one.

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Ms. Long has served as vice-chair of Women in Film and Television Interna onal and the Georgia Film, Video, and Music Commission. Currently, she is vice president of development for the Na onal League of American Pen Women, the na on’s oldest organiza on for crea ve women, and serves as a consultant for the Georgia Assembly of Community Arts Agencies. Most recently, she was named as an honored member of Who’s Who in Execu ves and Professionals [ – ]. To help her be er understand le -brain thinking, Ms. Long received the Execu ve MBA degree from Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business in . Her signature book is Wired For Crea vity.

Navigating the Cranial Divide Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Thinking My biggest communica on challenge during + years in business has been communica ng with le -brain thinkers. You see, I am a “crea ve,” be er known as a right-brain thinker. Crea ves are different from most people and o en misunderstood. Simply put, we are gene cally wired to receive downloads of inspira on. Scien sts call this phenomenon “bursts of neural ac vity.” We don’t just think and deduce something. Rather, we sense or physically experience it with every fiber of our beings . . . so much so that the inspira on o en becomes a driving force in what we feel called to do. The irony of this “cranial divide” has o en puzzled me. While the business community cries out for crea vity on the one hand, rarely do they look under the rocks where right-brained people live. We are ar sts, composers, writers, performers, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and others, and find it difficult to survive inside the confining walls of corporate America. In , I embarked on a very challenging Execu ve MBA program at Kennesaw State University’s Coles College of Business to broaden my understanding of le -brain thinking. One day I dropped by a seminar on innova on and joined the conference table with some men who were eager to learn what crea vity is and how to get more of it

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into the workplace. One of my EMBA professors, a Six Sigma Black Belt, came in and asked, “Candace, what are you doing here?” I replied, “Innova on and crea vity are my thing. What are you doing here?” When the speaker finished, I raised my hand and asked, “I am ac ve in two arts organiza ons with all right-brained thinkers. Do you ever publicize this corporate need and target the crea ve community?” The leader sheepishly admi ed, “Frankly, we don’t know how to manage you.” Aha . . . the truth was out: all too many business leaders regard crea ves as a subset of humanity deemed “out there” and unmanageable. The real truth is that the biggest challenge most crea ves have is how to manage the overabundance of ideas that we receive on a daily basis. My greatest joy would be to somehow communicate to you what crea ves are and what they can bring to the workplace. Allow me to illustrate with a vivid memory from the EMBA experience. I sat in the back row, and the two men who sat in front of me were brilliant le -brain thinkers, but had li le regard for anything I had to offer. One day during finance class, I raised my hand to ask a ques on. One of them then said, loud enough for the class of to hear, “Candace, if you are the only one who doesn’t get this, can you talk with the professor later so we can get on with the material?” I was mor fied, but decided to be quiet rather than display an immature knee-jerk reac on. I have learned over the years to show what a right-brain thinker is, not just talk about it. A week or so later, this very nemesis and I were assigned to the same team to analyze a Harvard Business Review case study about a well-known microwave manufacturer concerned about declining sales. Stan (not his real name) took the lead on the analysis and honed in on what the company needed to do to lower produc on costs. I silently listened to the le -brain banter, wai ng for the inspira on to kick in. It came, and I raised my hand. Stan looked as if to say, “Now what could you possibly have to offer?” I simply said, “I believe the engineers need to study the data from women’s focus groups.” Stan retorted, “Women? What do they have to do with it?”

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“Women are your target market. What they think is vital to increasing sales.” “Like what?” he challenged. ““Like . . . let’s say the engineers created a microwave that not only was fast, but was able to retain the nutri onal value of the food.” Stan was quiet during the rest of the mee ng. He approached me at the end of the exercise and said, “You know, I never would have thought of that in a million years . . . and the more I thought about it, my wife would buy that microwave!” By gradua on, Stan and I had developed a mutual respect for each other, a small step in communica on, but a giant step in naviga ng the cranial divide.

Personality Differences Because we are a combination of genes and environment, no two of us are alike. Therefore, how we get energy, gather information, make decisions, and order our lives is unique to us. We do know that our personalities are pretty much in place by the age of six and remain relatively constant across our lives. Our personalities define our preferences and tendencies for how we interact and behave around others. So our personalities are reflected in our behaviors. Our personalities may cause us to get along or clash with others. If we have similar personalities, we are likely to respond and react to situations in similar ways. On the other hand, when people do not respond or behave as you feel or think they should, you may be taking it personally by thinking they do not like you or respect your point of view. The truth is that each of us responds to others based upon our personality. Our personality is unique to us, but others might perceive it as slightly irregular or abrasive. The experts are still debating which has more influence on our lives, our genes or our environment. Currently, the thinking is that they are equally important to defining who we are and how we interact with others. Sometimes when people do not respond or behave as we feel or think they should, they are just responding based upon their preferred personality style.

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one of the most commonly used personality profile tools, uses four dimensions to identify personality traits. Those four dimensions identify where we focus our attention, what kind of information we prefer to pay attention to, how we prefer to make decisions, and what sort of lifestyle or order we prefer. Only the third dimension, how we prefer to make decisions, has been shown to differentiate along gender lines. In a recent study of the American population, males account for 65 percent of those who make decisions using the thinking style, which uses logic and objectivity, and women account for 65 percent of those who make decisions by their personal values, convictions, and feelings.15 Since we must interact and get along with others, the question becomes “How do we learn to overcome personality conflicts so that we can work and live together productively?” We must ACT. • Step 1—Awareness. The “A” step involves raising our awareness. We must look inside and hold the mirror up to ourselves. We need to learn and understand our own personality strengths and weaknesses before we can be effective coworkers and family members. • Step 2—Choice. Once our awareness is raised, each of us has a choice to make behavioral changes in how we interact with others. In addition, we must embrace the realization that others may not think and behave as we think they should while realizing we cannot change them. • Step 3—Tenacity. We have to have tenacity to set goals and make changes to achieve positive outcomes. A key element of being tenacious is having a support system that will encourage and motivate us to make those necessary changes. In short, getting along with others requires awareness, understanding, and effort.16 Francie M. Dalton, founder and president of Dalton Alliances, Inc., has classified eight behavioral personality types that can be found in the

Change is never easy, but if we have a willing attitude and a desire, we can do it. The outcome of our hard work will be that we lead richer and more productive lives.

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workplace and provides some tips and suggestions for interacting with these individuals.17 Commanders. Commanders are individuals who thrive on control. They are often seen as demanding, domineering, and bossy. When they communicate, they are abrupt as they speak in crisp, direct, and hardhitting tones without worrying about being tactful. They don’t mean to come across as rude, but they are often mentally engaged in some issue and don’t perceive that the softer side of human interaction is important. They are uncomfortable with talking about feelings. So, when you communicate with a commander, you should focus on the desired results or outcome without telling him or her what to do while remembering to avoid any talk of feelings. Drifters. These individuals are easygoing, impulsive, disorganized, and have short attention spans. They often don’t pay attention to the details, forget to follow up, or miss deadlines. They are often perceived as warm and friendly individuals who enjoy life and are creative. They are flexible and enjoy working on a variety of tasks. When communicating with a drifter, tell him or her how the task will help you personally and keep the communication exchange short. Let drifters know that you value their out-of-the-box thinking. Attackers. Attackers will appear angry, hostile, cynical, and grouchy. They can be perceived as highly critical, demeaning, and condescending while viewing themselves as superior to their peers. An attacker interprets feedback as a sign of disrespect and a more indirect approach may be more effective in communicating with these individuals. One strategy to employ when interacting with an attacker is to begin by asking questions such as “What do you believe to be the most important characteristic of teamwork?” or “How do you plan to evidence these over the next review period?” You should let attackers know that you appreciate their resilience and their willingness to do the unpopular tasks that no one else wants to do. Pleasers. The pleasers are thoughtful, pleasant, and helpful individuals with whom you find it easy to get along. They seek the approval of others, often agree to maintain harmony, and have difficulty saying “no” to requests. In fact, they will not even complain when they are treated badly or taken advantage of by others. To them, their peers are their family, and therefore, they often remember special occasions such as birthdays

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and anniversaries. When giving feedback to a pleaser, make sure you give more positive feedback than constructive feedback. You begin and end your conversation with praise. Performers. Performers may come across as flamboyant, loud, jovial, and entertaining. They make people laugh and seem to find humor in all things. They desire recognition and will often volunteer and then not be able to complete the task because they have taken on too much. They build relationships with others because of their sense of humor and wit. When giving feedback, an indirect approach seems to work best. You might begin by telling a story in which an undesirable behavior is assigned to someone you worked with in another organization. Quickly the performer will get your message by discerning that you meant it for him or her. Avoiders. These quiet and reserved individuals prefer to work alone. When working on a team, they will speak only in superficial terms or to validate what someone else has already said. Fear often prevents them from taking initiative. They shun both recognition and increased responsibility because both would require increased interaction and visibility. They focus on doing their jobs and will do them right. When interacting with avoiders, you should not threaten them but assure them that their jobs are not at risk. They prefer detailed instructions in writing and will meticulously follow your instructions. Analyticals. An analytical is perceived to be cautious, precise, and diligent. They tend to overanalyze situations and tasks, and will often challenge new ideas. They are more comfortable with data than people. For them, understanding emotions is difficult because they thrive on logic. They can see several steps ahead and anticipate potential risks. When giving feedback, you should have examples of the behavior as, without examples, the analytical will perceive your feedback as invalid. You must show respect for the details that the analytical brings forth and express appreciation for the fact that you can rely on them for any explanations needed. Achievers. Achievers are content, peaceful, and pleasant individuals that others enjoy being around. They are self-confident without appearing arrogant. They have an inner focus and self-discipline. They have no hidden agendas and hold themselves accountable for their results. They are interested in hearing the thoughts of others and actively seek

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feedback. Achievers focus on what is best for the organization. When interacting with these individuals, you should validate their objectivity and ability to interact with all behavioral styles. The above descriptions are generalized and you may see individuals fitting into more than one category. As a managerial leadership communicator, you will need to adjust your style and use your judgment when communicating with others since, when it comes to people, you will find no simple or easy answers. Gender Differences Some years ago, a mass e-mail sent at Chevron led to a mass settlement by the company. The e-mail proclaimed “25 Reasons Beer Is Better than Women.” The e-mail wasn’t so funny to four female employees, who filed a lawsuit that cost Chevron $2.5 million. In the male culture, this message would have been intended as just offhand humor, and whoever initiated it probably didn’t see anything offensive about it. Connie Glaser, author of GenderTalk Works: 7 Steps for Cracking the Gender Code at Work, says the differences in how men and women sometimes interpret humor can even affect how each chooses to exert power at work. While a man might casually chide a fellow coworker at the coffee machine about something he said at a meeting, a woman, Glaser says, generally wouldn’t think of doing that. In the female culture, the relationship, the connectedness, the rapport is ultimately the most important thing. That’s what really gives women their base of power and influence. In the male culture, the sense of hierarchy and status is much more important, so you see that kind of joking around to establish a kind of status among them. With females, you don’t see that—you see an effort to flatten [the hierarchy] out.18 Communication is the source of many gender-related workplace differences. A group of women may be more likely to change the topic of conversation to include a male colleague who has just joined them as a way of making sure he feels included. But men, given the same situation, may simply acknowledge the presence of the newly arrived female,

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and will likely not make a special effort to bring her into the discussion. Females assign importance to give-and-take and cooperation. You can see this in meetings, where women often will hold back. When asked why they didn’t speak up, they reply that they wanted to wait their turn rather than interrupt, which some of their more aggressive male counterparts didn’t mind doing.19 Of course, the previous examples are linked to the prevailing stereotypes of men and women. You can probably immediately think of individuals who don’t fit these stereotypes—men who are sensitive and women who are tough. Deborah Tannen, author of the book You Just Don’t Understand!, stated that when men communicate they’re concerned with conveying information and establishing status. When women communicate they’re concerned with conveying information and building connections. Men typically attribute their successes to their own abilities. When they’re not successful, they tend to attribute it to external factors. The opposite is true for women. When women experience a failure, they tend to attribute it to their own shortcomings. When they succeed, they tend to link it to external factors, such as teamwork and luck. As you know, success is teamwork, luck, and your own contributions, but what you communicate dramatically affects how people perceive your success. Since men’s gender culture is hierarchical, their main concern is ensuring that they climb the corporate ladder. So they express, and are expected to express, their accomplishments and their strengths. Women are in an egalitarian gender culture, so they tend to downplay their own role in their success. Women see any attempt to build themselves up as disruptive to building connections.20 I still remember my first dean mentoring me to share with others my accomplishments rather than just relying upon others to notice how hard I was working. I was more concerned about being an effective team member than moving up the academic ladder. In an interesting research study, group members were asked to respond to male would-be leaders and female would-be leaders. The study found that group members responded to the male comments with attention, nods, and smiles. When they responded to the women, the group members would look away and frown. The group members were not aware that they were treating would-be female and male leaders differently. Field studies of small group meetings in organizations show that women

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leaders are targets of more displays of negative emotion than men leaders, even when they are viewed as equally competent.21 Goman found that women undermine their authority with nonverbal communications and may not even be aware they are doing so. Women are perceived as submissive when they use too many head tilts when engaged in conversation. She further stated that women need to take up more space in meetings, sit at the table, use a firmer handshake, and smile less frequently in conversations.22 In a research study that I conducted regarding senior women leaders, one of my interviewees spoke about men using their physicality to assert themselves. Women need to learn to be confident in verbal and nonverbal communication behaviors so that they will be perceived as powerful. However, women are perceived as having strong interpersonal communication skills.23 Naturally, women listen to the issues and don’t just hear words; they actually listen to both the content and the way the message is delivered. A Catalyst study found that women use an inclusive style of leadership based upon open lines of communication. Women are less likely to withhold information for selfish reasons and feel that it is better to overcommunicate than not communicate and fail.24 Figure 1.1 summarizes general differences in the ways males and females communicate, but be careful not to stereotype all men or all women as the same. Remember that even within the genders, you have differences. Since organizations need both genders in the workplace, the beginning point of working through misunderstandings is to appreciate and respect the differences in the genders. When I was chair of the Department of Leadership and Professional Development, I first led an all-male team and we struggled. They perceived that I couldn’t make a decision because I sought their thoughts and opinions. I learned that I needed to adjust my decision making style so as not to ask their opinions and thoughts relative to all decisions. For some of the more procedural tasks, I could make the decision and then report back to them. But on those decisions that I perceived would require “buy-in,” I sought their input. My team learned that just because I was asking for their opinion, I was not just “wishy-washy” but that I truly appreciated having their input. So, until we took the time to understand and appreciate our differences, we initially struggled as a team. When I left that

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1. Men want to think. Women want to feel. 2. Men talk to give information or report. Women talk to collect information or gain rapport. 3. Men talk about things (business, sports, food). Women talk about people. 4. Men focus on facts, reason, and logic. Women focus on feelings, senses, and meaning. 5. Men thrive on competing and achieving. Women thrive on harmony and relating. 6. Men know by analyzing and figuring out. Women know by intuiting. 7. Men are more assertive. Women are more cooperative. 8. Men seek intellectual understanding. Women are able to empathize. 9. Men are focused, specific, and logical. Women are holistic, organic, and “wide-angle.” 10. Men are comfortable with order, rules, and structure. Women are comfortable with fluidity. Figure 1.1. Communication Styles of Men and Women Source: Simon, V. & Pedersen, H. (2005, March) Communicating with men at work: Bridging the Gap with Male Co-Workers and Employees. Retrieved from http://www.itstime.com/mar2005.htm

department after five years, I perceived that we had moved to functioning as a high-performing team. Your challenge is to create a culture based upon mutual understanding and to dispel any stereotypes that exist. Both men and women can help by complementing each other and using their differences in positive ways to support each other.

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Spotlight on Today’s Managerial Leader

Paige Yeater is the support educa on manager for Blackbaud (h p.blackbaud.com). In her -year career with Blackbaud, Paige has held training and development roles in several areas of the business including professional services, sales, and customer support. In her current role as support educa on manager, she is responsible for managing people, as well as several departmental func ons, which include recrui ng, new hire training, and ongoing development for over people. Paige received her master’s degree in business administra on from the Citadel in . She regularly volunteers for the Arthri s Founda on and Junior Achievement, and has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the United Way’s Day of Caring, and the Ronald McDonald House.

Leading Through Generational Differences Age differences among team members manifest themselves in various ways. Genera onal influences on a tude and values are revealed in the following examples:

Upbringing Gen Y individuals grew up playing sports when everyone got a trophy just for showing up; no score was kept and everyone was rewarded for just trying his or her best. Everyone was a winner. You can imagine how challenging this may be when it translates into the workforce. Gen Yers tend to want things like perfect-a endance awards. To address their need to be rewarded like this, I try to ensure that I am

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regularly le ng them know that I appreciate what they are doing and offer them informa on on how they are making an impact. Parents of Gen Yers are more involved in their children’s lives than parents of previous genera ons, and are o en referred to as “helicopter parents.” The phenomenon of helicopter parents has been wri en about extensively and one quick Google search can tell you more than you want to know. At one me, our HR department had a parent support line for our college recrui ng program to address all the ques ons they received from parents asking about benefits, vacaons, salary, and promo ons.

Motivation Mo va on is different for each genera onal group. Gen Yers focus on the intrinsic as they are o en more cause-based and are growing up in a world where instant gra fica on and informa on overload are commonplace. When I was growing up, most of our news came from the TV and the newspaper. Gen Yers are growing up in a world where a tsunami hits in the morning and by noon the whole world knows about it, and one can send a text message to a special number and donate to the relief efforts. This kind of instant gra fica on and the feeling that they are making a real difference is what Gen Yers crave; as managerial leaders, we have to figure out how to give that to them. They like recogni on and rewards—status symbols are key. They don’t have to be anything fancy—just something that indicates that they are being successful and collec ng accolades. Feedback Gen Yers need specific feedback and they have a higher need/desire for frequent (and posi ve) feedback. They want to be recognized o en and will seek your feedback if you do not offer it regularly. I have two people on my team; one is Gen Y and the other is Gen X. I will call one Sue (Gen X) and the other Sally (Gen Y). When I offer feedback to Sue, I say things like “I would like to see you focus a bit more on your a en on to detail. In a couple of instances, you have missed some details, so let’s work on that in the next quarter.” When I have the same conversa on with Sally, I say, “Sally, recently you have had some situa ons in which you have missed a few details (specific

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examples listed here). I would like us to work on your a en on to detail throughout the next quarter. Some ways that I think that we can work on this are . . . at the end of the quarter we will evaluate your success.” Also, if I do not provide feedback to Sally, she will ac vely seek it. I observed a class that Sally taught once, and almost immediately a er the class she was asking me how she did, what was good, and if I liked the way she did XYZ.

Progressions and Loyalty Recently I had two conversa ons (in the same day) that really made me think about this topic and brought to light one of the main differences between these two genera ons. The first conversa on was with a Gen X person who currently reports to me. She has been in her role for about a year and as a Gen Xer, she would like to become the expert. She thinks that in about to months, she will be the expert and then may be ready to move on to a new challenge. Fast forward to later in the day, when I have an interview with a prospec ve member of my team, who is a member of Gen Y. This individual has been in her current posi on for almost months and is looking for a new challenge. I asked the ques on “Do you feel that in the months that you have been in this role, you have fully mastered that skill set and are ready to move into something new?” Without hesita on, the response was “yes!” Gen Yers want small quick moves (remember the instant gra ficaon talked about earlier?) and like to get promoted quickly. Gen Xers, on the other hand, will work hard to earn the promo on that they want and will expect it to take some me to get there. They crave the moniker of “expert.” Managers should be aware of this difference and make progression opportuni es available to their employees at the appropriate mes. This makes reten on efforts more important and more challenging. Technology I believe that a great team has representa on from both groups, but I have li le doubt in my mind that Gen Yers bring with them a deep knowledge and inherent comfort level with technology. They are able to keep up with the newest trends and innovate in ways

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that Genera on Xers typically don’t. My son is four, and he knows how to use the computer as well as unlock, locate, and play games on my iPhone. He will grow up with this technology and expect his workplace to use the technologies that he knows. Use this to your advantage—Gen Y employees are great innovators and can help you accomplish exis ng tasks in newer and more efficient ways!

I remember when my mother retired from being a middle school guidance counselor; she said she didn’t need to learn how to use a computer as she was retiring. That was 20 years ago; now she is quite an avid e-mailer. Just the other day, she had her birthday, and not only was she checking her e-mail for birthday greetings but Facebook as well. I find many traditionalists are like my mother and, while e-mail usage is climbing steadily in this group, it is not at the same level as in other generations.

Generational Differences In the United States, we have up to four different generations working together. The oldest working generation is referred to as the veterans, silent, or traditionalists, who were born between 1922 and1945. Next we have the baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964. Following the boomers are Generation Xers, born between 1965 and 1980. Finally, those born from 1981 to 2000 are referred to as Generation Yers, millennials, or echo boomers.25 Characteristics of each generation are summarized as follows. Veterans, silent, or traditionalists. This generation came of age during World War II, and the effects of growing up in that time period can be seen in their behavior. One of the most distinctive qualities of this generation is their concern for the plight of others. They tend to be cautious as a generation; saving money was a way of life, as was saving in general. My mother, who is of this generation, still maintains a full kitchen pantry just in case! Veterans value responsibility and tend to be team players who work within the system. They accomplish goals through hard work and sacrifice.

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The best way to communicate with this generation is through faceto-face contact. Formal social events, tributes, and recognition events are much enjoyed by this generation. Direct mail, phone, and, increasingly, the Internet are great ways to communicate with this group. Baby boomers. This group is made up of the post–World War II babies. They are also known as the generation who questioned authority. Boomers have enjoyed unprecedented employment and educational opportunities in most countries. They value creativity—while their parents were conformists, this generation searched to break the mold. They love adventure and are risk takers. Boomers tend to evaluate achievement in terms of personal fulfillment. This generation was the first to discover that lifetime employment no longer exists, so job security is not everything to them—but job satisfaction is. With women now firmly implanted in the workforce, boomers are forced to reevaluate the role of work in their personal lives. Because boomers invented new forms of families, they also incurred new stresses. Boomers were the first generation to divorce at a higher rate than the two previous generations. Regarding communication, boomers enjoy networking events. Direct mail, face-to-face interaction, the Internet, and e-mail are great ways to interface with this generation. Generation X. This generation was the first to grow up in the new family systems created by the boomers, so the group is independent. The Xers also adapted the boomers’ “question authority” attitude quickly— much to the dismay of their boomer parents. They are determined to be involved, responsible, and in control. Because Xers grew up watching television, they tend to have a more cynical view and they focus on the here and now. They are risk takers, but they take calculated risks and are not intimidated by authority. They are problem solvers, tend to be goaloriented, and demand flexibility. The best way to communicate with Xers is through e-mail. They are e-friendly and engage in a variety of online social media. They do well at social events, but do not respond well to something called a recruitment event because it doesn’t sound fun. They also want to get something back from their investment, be it the actual cost or the value of their time. I recently had an e-mail exchange with a Gen X. She was registering for one of my classes, so her first contact with me was the following e-mail.

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Hi Deborah, I have registered for your upcoming August Minimester 2011 class and I would like to know which book I should purchase for this class. This will help me to do some homework. Also I am not able to see any “Start Here” folder at Home Page of Vista to work on my assignments, not sure if any action is pending on my side. Thanks in advance, Dr. Jones

I was honestly surprised that she would call me Deborah while calling herself Dr. Jones. As a baby boomer, I felt she should call me Dr. Roebuck. She should give me the opportunity to invite her to call me Deborah. To see if she would notice that I addressed her as she addressed herself, I decided to respond back as shown below. Dr. Jones: I have added you to my class, so you should be able to get into GeorgiaView Vista. See you on the 6th of August. Deborah Britt Roebuck, Ph.D. RCC Professor of Management Kennesaw State University 1000 Chastain Road, MB 0404 Kennesaw, GA 30144 770-423-6364 www.kennesaw.edu

She responded back as follows. Thanks a lot Deborah, Just wondering which book I should buy for this subject? Rgds, Dr. Jones

Obviously my baby boomer expectations were different from her Gen X way of communicating.

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Gen Y, millennials, or echo boomers. Gen Y is the first generation to grow up with the Internet—they do not remember a time when it didn’t exist. As a result, Gen Yers tend to be technology dependent. They are often overstimulated and easily become bored. This generation understands that they will change jobs at least once every five years. As such, titles do not mean much—they believe respect should be earned based on the job, not the title. Millennials are goal-oriented and, like the silent generation, they are team players. The Gen Yers (also known as the millennials or echo boomers) are technologically savvy, are extremely independent, and feel empowered. They will question workplace regulations and will leave one organization to go to another if they are not satisfied. It’s all about technology for the Gen Yers, and they have relationships all over the world; they talk and do business 24/7 when they want to do it. Because traditional baby boomer work methods may be ineffective with these younger workers, organizations need new organizational structures and systems that result in loyalty and heightened productivity. As Don Lang, president of Talent Management, shared, “To reach the Gen Yers, managerial leaders must communicate clear outcomes and align their compensation and recognition systems as opposed to just expecting employees to work 40 hours a week.” Don shared with me that employees must be given projects and tasks with clear outcomes as well as more individualized reward and recognition benefits and incentives. He also shared that organizations need to advance people based upon their competence and not continue doing it the way we’ve always done it in the past.26 Figure 1.2 illustrates how the different generations interact in the workplace. People communicate to a large degree based on their generational backgrounds. Each generation has distinct attitudes, behaviors, expectations, habits, and motivational buttons. Learning how to communicate with the different generations can eliminate many major confrontations and misunderstandings in the workplace. Consider the suggestions in Figure 1.2 to guide your communication efforts. Tips for Communicating With Traditionalists • Remember that traditionalists are private. Don’t expect members of this generation to share their thoughts immediately.

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One-on-one memos

No news is good news.

Your experience is an important asset in order for the team to succeed.

Communication style

Relationship to feedback

Motivational message I value our work and I need you to . . .

Feedback is given only once a year with substantial documentation.

Face time Telephone Call me anytime. E-mail

Driven

Baby boomers

Source: Business Beat, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, August 2006

Figure 1.2. Generational Views of the Workplace

Dedicated

Work ethic

Veterans Silent Traditionalist

Forget the rules; do it your way . . .

Sorry to interrupt, but how am I doing?

Face time Cell phones Call me only at work. E-mail

Balanced

Gen Xers

You will be working with other bright, creative people.

I want feedback whenever I desire it.

Internet—Facebook Fast-paced messaging Blogging Smartphones

Determined Command attention

Gen Yers Millennials Echo boomers

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• Focus on words. • Use face-to-face or written communication. • Don’t waste their time, or let them feel as though their time is being wasted.

Tips for Communicating With Baby Boomers • Use body language when communicating. • Speak in an open, direct style but avoid language that they could perceive as designed to control them. • Answer questions thoroughly and expect to be pressed for the details. • Present options to demonstrate flexibility in your thinking.

Tips for Communicating With Generation X • Use e-mail as a primary communication tool. • Talk in short sound bites to keep their attention. • Ask them for their feedback and provide them with regular feedback. • Share information with them on a regular basis and strive to keep them in the loop. • Use an informal communication style.

Tips for Communicating With Generation Y • Use action words and challenge them. • Do not talk down to them as they will not like it. • Use e-mail, IM, and texting to communicate. • Seek their feedback constantly and provide them with regular feedback. • Use humor and create a fun learning environment. • Encourage them to take risks and break the rules to explore new ways of learning.

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These Tips Will Help You Communicate With All the Generations • Review and become familiar with the different generations. • Don’t judge a book by its cover—in other words, look beyond appearances. • Be aware of what is said, but more importantly, how it’s said. • Adopt ageless thinking—one is only as old as one feels! • Offer an information session on different generations and how to work as a team with diverse age groups. • Consider creating a mentoring program that involves workers of various ages. • Try adding team-building activities. • Have collaborative planning and decision making or problem solving discussions. • Communicate information in multiple ways. • Be accommodating to differences in personal scheduling needs, work/life balance issues, and nontraditional lifestyles. • Respect each other—treat everyone, from the newest to the most seasoned member, as if they have great things to offer and are motivated to do their best. • Capitalize on each individual member’s strengths. • Be patient with each other.27

A major component of our Executive MBA program was virtual teaming with Romanian Executive MBA students. These teams conducted videoconferences during the spring semester. Because Romania does not follow Daylight Savings Time, the Romanian students arrived an hour late for their team’s meeting. At first the U.S. students were upset, but once they learned the reason, they worked through that obstacle. Another difference that we encountered in planning the Romanians’ visit to Atlanta was scheduling their time here so as not to conflict with their celebration of Easter, which is typically later than the Easter celebration in the United States.

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Intercultural Differences Individuals from different cultures bring different perceptions, value systems, and languages to the workplace. These differences make the task of communicating even more difficult. For example, holidays and vacation schedules vary from country to country. In Romania and other eastern European countries, you would not want to schedule an important meeting in August as most businesses take a three- or four-week holiday during that month. Employees in one country may be unaware that an office in another country is closed on a given day or that vacations may be taken at different times of the year. The way a particular culture responds to deadlines and timing is often different. To be successful in business dealings, you must be aware of and sensitive to cultural differences, use appropriate language, correctly interpret nonverbal communication, and value individual and cultural differences. Being aware and sensitive. You must be aware that an individual’s background and experience can affect his or her interpretation and perception of a message. Check to see if you have any hidden biases and to see if you have formed an opinion about how people of a certain sex, religion, or race appear, think, and act based simply on their belonging to a particular group. Prejudging people as a group may make it difficult to communicate with them as individuals. Try to avoid stereotyping and the use of sexist, racist, or ethnic remarks. Using appropriate language. Remember, the same word may mean different things to people from other countries. Some words may have different meanings in other languages. For example, the word sensible means sensitive in French and the word pronounced as he means she in Hebrew. Use feedback to clarify your message. By asking questions, you can usually determine whether or not the individual understood your message as you intended. Interpreting nonverbal communication. Each culture interprets and displays body language differently. Certain nonverbal signs can be clues that the receiver does not understand and is trying to save face. For example, excessive nodding, inappropriate laughter, tentative yes answers, silence, and lack of initiative all point to a breakdown in communication. In Japan, nodding to the speaker does not necessarily mean agreement, but denotes an acknowledgment of the understanding of the verbal communication. Personal space requirements differ in various parts of the world. In the United States and

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other English-speaking cultures, an arm’s length is considered an appropriate separation between two individuals engaged in conversation. Conversely, in some Latino cultures, closer contact is standard practice. When an individual has difficulty speaking English, closely observe the nonverbal communication. The body language may tell you what the words don’t. Valuing differences. As an effective managerial leadership communicator, you must learn to value, appreciate, and accept individual differences. As the workforce continues to become more culturally diverse, individuals should welcome opportunities to learn from each other. The continually changing employee population presents opportunities for personal growth and improvements in global understanding. Figure 1.3 presents some general tips for communicating across cultures. 1. Learn something about the country, local customs, and cultural sensitivities to avoid making faux pas while abroad. 2. Err on the side of formality. Be low-key in dress, manners, and behavior. 3. Don’t rush greetings and introductions in an effort to get down to business quickly. 4. Expect your meetings and negotiations to be longer than anticipated. Build more time into schedules. 5. Don’t show impatience or irritation. Politeness and respect matter. 6. Express yourself carefully. Accents, idioms, and business jargon may be unfamiliar. 7. Listen attentively to show that you care about what is being said. 8. Indicate a sincere interest in your colleagues and their concerns and issues to build win-win solutions. 9. Don’t put global colleagues on the spot or cause loss of face by being too direct or expecting a “yes” or “no” answer. 10. Avoid public criticism or comparison with your own country. 11. Familiarize yourself with customs surrounding gift-giving and business entertaining. 12. Build relationships and trust, which is the key to successful global partnerships. Figure 1.3. International Communication Tips Source: 12 Tips for Global Business Travelers By: Sondra Sen, author of International Business Interacts, Specific cross-cultural business guides on 50 countries Retrieved from http:// www.1000advices.com/guru/cultures_communication_12tips_ss.html

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Thinking About What are five values you hold that direct the way you carry out your work on behalf of your organization? Why were you chosen for your work role? What major strengths do you bring to your work? How do you use these strengths to further the work of your organization?

Being an Ethical Managerial Leader As a managerial leader, you want others to perceive you as ethical in your communication, leadership, and decision making. But what are ethics and what does it take to be ethical? I believe ethical behavior starts with character. Character Character means knowing who you are. The American Evangelist Dwight Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark.” Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.” Character means that you know your values, beliefs, strengths, skills, and personality. Good old Socrates maintained that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” If you are to impact your organization, you must first examine who you are, what you have learned through life, and how those lessons have helped shape who you want to become. You must start with a clear concept of who you are and what you stand for to have the best chance of communicating and leading from an ethical perspective. Chick-fil-A, the second largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States, has more than 1,500 locations in 39 states and in Washington, D.C., and annual sales of more than $3.5 billion.28 Speaking about her role, Dee Ann Turner, vice president of human

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resources, said, “We select for character, competency, and chemistry. Character always comes first.” As Dee Ann Turner has shared, character needs to be at your core, especially if you aspire to be a managerial leadership communicator. Character is something that is formed over a lifetime, and the elements of character can be discovered and developed at any time. No one can be a leader until he or she has examined his or her own strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs. I recently had the opportunity to meet Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit. Stephen stated that more organizations are recognizing the need for character. More and more people are seeing the need to look deeply into their own souls, sense how they themselves contribute to problems and figure out exactly what they can do to contribute to the solution while serving human needs. I believe you must have character to be an ethical managerial leadership communicator as ethics is character in action. Ethics Ethics is both a field of study and a personal code guiding thoughts and actions. Some would argue that ethics cannot be taught, but the teaching of morals and values is not a new phenomenon; rather, it has been part of our history. Plato and Aristotle in fourth-century Greece believed the role of education was to train good and virtuous citizens. Ethics, or character in action, requires critical thinking and an understanding of the dynamics of moral development. Ethics concerns how we act and how we live our lives. Within the field of ethics there are two types: descriptive and normative ethics. Descriptive ethics. This type of ethics reflects on facts about the moral judgment of a person or a group. For example, a manager might determine that John, an employee, appears honest because he returned a telephone to its rightful owner. It describes how and why people act the way they do. Normative ethics. Normative ethics involves formulating and defining moral principles. This type of ethics concerns our reasoning about

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Photo courtesy flickr user WalMart, CC 2.0 Rob Walton, chairman of the board for Walmart Stores, Inc., speaks to shareholders at the 2011 Walmart Shareholders Meeting in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He says being a global company isn’t just about having stores around the world; it’s about being relevant to people no matter where they live. With more than 9,000 stores in 15 countries, Walmart is not just an international company, but a global one.

how we should act. It seeks an account of how and why people should act a certain way instead of how they do act.29 In other words, it means determining appropriate actions to perform. As a managerial leadership communicator, you must realize that ethics is not just an “add-on,” but an absolute necessity. Before Walmart’s CEO Lee Scott retired in 2009, he allowed the press, for the first time ever, to hear him speak to about 7,000 Walmart employees and suppliers. As reported in Workforce.com, “Scott shared that the company would redouble its efforts to improve the efficiency and reduce costs in health care, make environmentally friendly technologies affordable to customers and businesses and exert greater pressure on its supply chain to meet higher ethical standards in the way it produces goods.”30 Lee Scott’s talk about how Walmart can be ethical, more environmentally friendly, and health care–focused represented a huge change in the company’s traditional approach. His action showed that the leadership team realized that Walmart’s scale and scope give it a unique opportunity to leverage its relationships for the common good just as it has leveraged them in

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the past for business efficiency and lower costs. By inviting the press to hear his comments, he sent a clear signal that Walmart was committed to communicating from an ethical perspective. Scott seemed to have learned that although growth and profits are at the core of any successful business, a huge market leader such as Walmart needs to do more than be successful; it needs to be an ethical leader. Current Walmart CEO Mike Duke seems to be continuing the work begun by Lee Scott. On Ethisphere’s 100 Most Influential in Business Ethics list for 2010, Mike Duke was ranked number 15.31 Another ethical leader who has risen to the occasion is Randi Menkin, director of workforce diversity at UPS, a global company that historically promotes internally. UPS is listed number 2 in social responsibility and number 12 in the Global Top 20 of Fortune’s Most Admired Organizations. Menkin shared: Women were leaving UPS at a disproportionately faster rate than any other employee group. What was happening to us was alarming, and then when you look at workforce trends in general—we realized that we had to compete for talent. We not only had to compete to recruit talent, but we had to do things to retain our talent, especially women. As a company we want more diversity, and if we’re losing our women, then we’re always playing catch-up. Menkin formed a task force that spent a year researching, benchmarking, conducting focus groups, interviewing, and reinterviewing the departing women. The end result was the Women’s Leadership Development program, a multifaceted effort designed to attract, retain, and develop female managers. This program rolled out in May of 2006 to 19 areas across the country. Menkin shared that “basically our women and, it turned out, a large percentage of our men as well didn’t feel connected to the company.”32 After a year, the results were in. Turnover was down 25 percent in the pilot districts and more than 6,000 women were touched by the program. In 2007, the program was rolled out nationally and in Canada. Menkin believes the program works for several reasons.

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Paramount was the commitment of the executive leadership, including the men. It also melded nicely with UPS core values of diversity, promoting from within, and leadership development. It is in our fabric as a company to be involved in the community and this program actually helps facilitate our employees who want to follow their passion for community service. Employee morale was up and that helped in job performance. UPS is not alone in realizing that their work environment might need to change. At Grant Thornton, a large accounting firm, the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley had a huge impact and caused them to rethink their way of doing work and how to deal with the high market demand for accountants. We started losing accountants—particularly those in their late 20s and early 30s, which are traditionally the childbearing ages—and it became apparent that we needed to look at retention and do something about it. The feeling among female accountants was that they couldn’t make it work because they couldn’t be successful at the firm and have a life. So they left, according to Jacqueline Akerblom, national marketing partner. Jacqueline found it difficult to explain the need to make the firm more family-friendly, especially to the senior male accountants. But we convinced them that the future of their pension and the growth of the firm were tied into this. We said we needed to do something different for our female accountants and that if we did that, it would ensure the health of their pensions. That was a real awakening to some of the senior leadership. The Women at Grant Thorton program was started in 2004. The women partners, with a few men, “crystallized what they wanted and needed to do.” They partnered with HR, did exit interviews and lots of research.

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Basically, it came down to flexibility. The organization chose to embrace telecommuting. According to one worker, “The ability to leave the office so I can have dinner with my family and then work from home at night was huge. Not being tied to our desks was an incredible benefit.”33 Grant Thornton is not alone in moving to a more flexible work environment. According to a 2006 Business Week article, more than 40 percent of IBM’s workforce has no office; at AT&T, it’s about 30 percent of all managers. Sun Microsystems, Inc, reports it has saved more than $400 million over 6 years in real estate costs by having almost half of its employees not come to an office. In fact, according to a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, nearly 85 percent of executives expect a large increase over the next 5 years in the number of unleashed workers. Jody Thompson, who worked in Human Resources for Best Buy, felt it was time for a change in the way the company worked. So she led the company to adapting a results-only work environment (ROWE). ROWE’s whole point is that physical presence does not mean productivity. The goal is to judge performance on output instead of hours. When the whole organization embraced ROWE, its productivity had increased by 35 percent. It’s all about control—taking control of your life [Thompson says]. Work should not be a place to go; it should be what you do. The implementation of ROWE was a huge corporate and cultural change. One key difference when operating under ROWE is that you have to be clear about what is expected of you because you are managing yourself and you are responsible for the results.34 As ethical managerial leaders, we must be willing to challenge the status quo or the usual way of doing work. We must make changes in the workforce that will benefit all workers. Ethical managerial leaders have to realize that to stay competitive and attract and retain top talent, they may have to change how they recruit, treat, motivate, and evaluate the performance of their employees. At Alston & Bird, a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, some partners started to realize that the way things had always been done was not working. They recognized that people wanted more flexibility but also wanted to be on the partnership track. The firm created the Alternative Career Path, a more adaptable partnership plan that

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does not lock an associate into a specific time period. Liz Price, a partner, has said, “The new generation wants more flexibility and personal adaptation of work. They see money as what it is. They want opportunities to live a great life.”35 Ethical managerial leaders should realize that a leadership position is an opportunity to build relationships and to enable others to become successful. An ethical managerial leader must realize that the generations have different needs and find ways to inspire trust, define reality and purpose, align systems and processes, and unleash talent to deliver results.

Four Ethical Standards of Excellence Ethical managerial leaders follow four standards of excellence. They include communication, collaboration, succession planning, and tenure.36

Jim Collins, a noted researcher and author on leadership, advises leaders to “conduct autopsies, without blame,” and cites companies such as Philip Morris whose executives talked openly about the “7-UP disaster.” Even when statistical evidence does not reflect well on a division or on the financial status of the entire company, a plan of action to thwart disaster may be implemented and several lessons learned. Ethical Communication Every form of communication you put forth should be accurate and honest. You want your two-way communication to be • • • • •

relevant to your employee’s needs, understandable, useful, timely, respectful.

You want to build a communication system that reinforces positive relationships with your employees. You may be asking, “How do I do that?” You begin by involving your employees and colleagues in creating

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a communication plan. When you involve others, you ensure that you will make the communication processes relevant to all individuals. However, your direct reports have to perceive that you are truly genuine when you ask them to become involved. So how can you communicate that you’re genuine? By simply making sure that your words and actions are in agreement. Another action you can take that shows you are truly serious about your communication plan is to turn the creation of the plan over totally to your team or to a cross-functional team who will identify issues, brainstorm for alternatives, and create the plan. As a first step, I would recommend that the team conduct a communication audit to see what current processes are working, determine strengths and weaknesses, and identify problems. This audit can create a baseline as a beginning point from which to note and measure improvements. In addition, you can discuss your audit with other leaders to determine discrepancies in how various levels and constituencies perceive communication within your entire organization. Part of your communication plan should include your core values, principles, and practices. If your team openly shares the values and reinforces the existence of an open, honest, two-way communication system, your team members will be encouraged to give you feedback when they think you are straying from the core values. However, when the communication plan is created, all members must buy into the plan. If your team just creates a statement of core values and doesn’t really embrace and follow these values, then you might not see any change in the way team members communicate. When you put the core values, principles, and practices on paper and then have team members sign off, they are typically more committed to following them.37 As an ethical managerial leadership communicator, you want to ensure that you promote communication that demonstrates caring and mutual understanding that respects the unique needs and characteristics of individuals. In today’s multicultural, multigenerational work world, respect is needed in all interactions. All people deserve to be respected regardless of their job, socioeconomic status, gender, or race. In addition, you should follow the ten basics of ethical communication in Figure 1.4.

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1. Seek to elicit the best in communications and interactions with others. 2. Listen when others speak. 3. Speak nonjudgmentally. 4. Speak from your own experience and perspective, expressing your own thoughts, needs, and feelings. 5. Seek to understand others (rather than to be right or “more ethical than thou”). 6. Avoid speaking for others, for example, by characterizing what others have said without checking your understanding, or by universalizing your opinions, beliefs, values, and conclusions. 7. Manage your own personal boundaries: share only what you are comfortable sharing. 8. Respect the personal boundaries of others. 9. Avoid interrupting and conducting side conversations. 10. Make sure that everyone has time to speak and that all members have relatively equal air time if they want it.38 Figure 1.4. Ten Basics of Ethical Communication

Ethical Collaboration Ethical managerial leadership communicators need many advisors as you cannot know all the answers in today’s work world; therefore, surround yourself with individuals who can provide answers. When you choose to collaborate with others, you can incorporate best practices, solve problems, and address the issues. If you use ethical collaboration, you will keep your circle of advisors more open and fluid, which then will allow you to reduce the risks, as you have assigned trustworthy experts/advisors to every situation. Ethical Succession Planning One of the most important aspects of your leadership will be mentoring, coaching, and grooming your team members for advancement. You will need to observe your team and give any potential leaders opportunities to build and use their leadership skills.

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In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t, Jim Collins identifies Chrysler with many organizations that achieve greatness only to have it slip away through time. While examining the long list of organizations in his study, Collins notes that under Lee Iacocca Chrysler followed “a pattern . . . found in every unsustained comparison: a spectacular rise under a tyrannical disciplinarian, followed by an equally spectacular decline when the disciplinarian stepped away, leaving behind no enduring culture of discipline . . .” Arguably Chrysler faltered without Iacocca at the helm because he had failed to practice ethical collaboration to create a succession plan.39 Ethical Tenure How long should a leader lead? Leadership expert Peter Block contends that “we search, so often in vain, to find leaders we can have faith in.” Further, he notes that leadership is more often rated on the trustworthiness of the individual than on his or her particular talents, and that the mission of the ethical leader is to serve the institution and not themselves.40 Jim Collins identifies this category of executives as level 5 leaders: leaders who are able to “channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.”41 As an ethical leader, you lead at the request of your company, customers, board of directors, and stockholders. If all of these entities continue to trust you, then you should lead until you choose otherwise. Eventually, you will want to turn the organization over to a new set of watchful eyes. If a leader has jeopardized the sacred trust of employees, customers, and the public at large, he or she should step aside and let a better leader take the helm. A case in point is Congressman Anthony Weiner, who jeopardized the sacred trust of his constituents by not telling the truth. Once trust is broken, it is almost impossible to gain back. He should have told the truth in the beginning, but at least he did step aside to allow another leader to serve.

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Thinking About: My organization’s effectiveness and credibility would be weakened if a leader/employee were to ___________. To encourage ethical managerial leadership communication, I should ______________.

Conclusion The workplace of today calls for managerial leadership communication, which means that managerial leaders must communicate both internally and externally to enable the achievement of goals. Because technology and organizational structure have transformed the way we work, we need to expand the traditional role of manager to include some leadership responsibities. The future of communication depends on the continued development of an organization’s most valuable resource—its people. But with people come communication challenges in written, oral, and internal situations. In the 21st century, you will deliver your messages to increasingly dispersed and diverse audiences around the world. You may even manage direct reports you never see. But as a managerial leadership communicator, you need to be careful not to let the technology take over and become the end rather than the means. Instead, use your team to grow your business and to determine the future. The written word, judgment, and common sense will never be replaced by hardware. In addition, the need for ethical managerial leadership has never been stronger. Those who lead and communicate from ethical stances will make their mark in history.

Case for Thinking and Discussing Instructions: Read the following article and reflect upon these questions. • What lessons from this article can you apply to your organization? • How much social media do you incorporate in your current position? Is it effective? • How are you doing with what you have to say?

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6 Ways Sarah Palin Uses Social Media to Stir the Beltway Status Quo By Dom Crincoli Dom Crincoli is a corporate communication strategist and blogger with expertise in internal communications, intranets and emerging media, human resources, and public relations. He blogs about communication strategy at http://domcrincoli.com/: two-way comm’s blog Stirring the status quo in corporate communication and social media—a communication strategy blog.

Retrieved from http://domcrincoli.com/6-ways-sarah-palin-uses-social-media-to-kick-beltway-butt/

January 7, 2011 Sarah Palin’s unprecedented use of social media to set the agenda in Washington is something communication strategists and leaders should study, regardless of their political persuasion. “I tweet; that’s just the way I roll,” says Palin. But she’s no shrinking violet and doesn’t need our permission to speak out. Some say she should have packed her political bags long ago—that she should have simply lain down in the face of withering assaults against her presidential fitness. Instead, the second most popular politician on Facebook and über-purveyor of Twitter missives continues to shake the GOP establishment to its good-old-boy core. Her star continues to rise owing in no small part to her surprising emergence as a social media visionary who purposefully circumnavigates the beltway gasbags who would silence her, opting instead for a vital connection with her ardent base of supporters as well as the entire White House press corps, who stand in queue awaiting her next tweet.

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Like or loathe her—but observe the kind of influence a leader can have when she chooses communication channels that promise a direct connection, refusing to capitulate to forces of political correctness and settle for the advice of public relations mavens and party speechwriters seeking to prescribe her every word. The New York Times Magazine records the exasperation of recently departed White House secretary Robert Gibbs as he describes the political suicide that would surely follow his inability to respond properly to Palin’s tweets: “If I would have told you that I could open up a Facebook or Twitter account, and simply post quotes, and have the White House asked about those, and to have the White House press corps focused on your Facebook quote of the day—that’s Sarah Palin. She tweets one thing and all of a sudden you’ve got a room full of people who want to know . . .” In what she’s accomplished she’s thrown down the gauntlet for leaders of every stripe, be they corporate, political, or otherwise, calling them to use social media to achieve new levels of transparency and engagement with those they seek to lead. Some user guidelines we can glean from her use of social media include the following: 1. Be confident; speak your truth. Her description of Rahm Emanuel included “shallow/narrow-minded/political/irresponsible as they come,” and she called Politico writer Jonathan Martin “full of crap.” The thing is that a lot of people agree with her, and a kind of movement has grown around her tweets and status updates. My point is not to debate the merits of what she is saying, but to point out the number of followers or friends who choose to hear her opinion through Twitter and Facebook subscription feeds—the discretionary effort required to actually subscribe to and check these feed messages on a daily basis is the kind of engagement most senior leaders and communicators would kill to have. 2. Be persistent. Palin could have called it quits after coming under fire for some of the things she said—or more specifically, failed to say during the Katie Couric interview in 2008. Instead she is seeking to remake her image through direct access to her support base through social media channels. Time will determine her success in swaying the wider American public, and whether a run for the White House

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is sustainable. But her public relations initiatives—her instinct to harness social media communication channels in new and creative ways—is a lesson for all communicators. 3. Be unafraid to make a mistake. Palin’s lawyer Thomas Van Flein found out about her much-publicized tweet calling for peaceful Muslims to “refudiate [sic.] the ground-zero mosque” at the same time everyone else did. “This is her political instinct in action,” he said. Love it or hate it, this is Palin, bringing the unvarnished truth as she sees it, unfettered, unafraid. We can obsess about her wrong use of a word (even though we understood what she was trying to say), or we can choose to admire her ability to speak out. 4. Use social media to find change agents to help you lead. Where did Palin find her primary speechwriter (when she uses one), researcher, and online coordinator? She found Rebecca Mansour at Conservatives4Palin, a blog Mansour started without pay simply to right what she perceived as biased treatment of Palin and her record. Amazing! You mean she didn’t find her through a single-spaced two-page resume posted on a job board? A lesson for HR talent acquisition: Mansour already had the fire! She was already engaged and she didn’t need anyone’s permission. She was a self-starter already using social media (blogging) to find her voice and explore her passion with whomever would listen. Palin simply harnessed her near encyclopedic knowledge for the good of her campaign. 5. Stay connected. The ease and simplicity of communicating through micro-blogging platforms may be just right for many busy leaders who don’t have the time to keep a full-blown blog but who nevertheless seek to remain in vital contact, and who are interested in gathering vital feedback from those they lead in order to make sound consensual decisions. Palin can land a hard punch without moving from her living room sofa in Wasilla, Alaska. Being home with her family doesn’t preclude participation in the ongoing political dialogue—pretty strong argument for work-life balance too, wouldn’t you say? 6. Show your human side. “Out for a jog in Central Park. Beautiful,” tweets Palin. All work and no play made Jack . . . well, it ain’t all business folks. Social media offers senior leaders a chance to show some vulnerability, even the occasional chink in one’s armor.

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Facebook especially has been considered to be a place where you might invite someone you met on another social media channel— like LinkedIn or Twitter—to get to know you better and form a deeper bond. But the lines continue to blur in this area and many believe most of us will opt for one social media platform for both business and personal pursuits in the future. Mark Zuckerberg is certainly banking on it. There is no overarching strategy, Palin claims in the New York Times article, just political instinct and an ongoing commitment to participation in the political dialogue. Don’t underestimate this woman and her deft use of social media to get her message across. She’s not asking our permission. She’s not waiting around for the beltway or media elite to provide her with a communication channel. She’s created her own—she’s going direct. Social media made it possible.

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