June 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Dealing with a difficult leader

Anita is the third executive assistant for this CEO. She was hired because of her credentials and calm demeanor. After being in the role for almost six months, she has not been her best and HR is unsure of her future.

The Solution:

Anita’s calming demeanor is a real asset and she is task driven like the CEO. The path to Anita’s growth is to make quicker decisions without being reactive. The CEO is a dominant director and is not interested in all the details. He needs enough data to feel reassured that situations are being handled. Anita and the CEO established some timeouts so that when a situation is out of balance, there is a meeting of the minds.

The Outcome:

The challenges continue but there are fewer major ones. Anita and the CEO work through their differences and feel more confident engaging with their different communication and process styles. The end results are more positive than negative.

The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Jhumpa Lahiri

May 2017 Monthly Tips

All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You. – Tom Peters in Fast Company

May Tips For Communication & Image Success

Tip for Organizations:

Question:
We have a new organization SVP and each member of my team will have a one-on-one with him. How should the team members prepare?

Answer:
Dress one step above what they would normally wear. Prepare three main points to share about their main responsibilities and some easy general personal background information. Use active listening to learn about the SVP. You have the power to set the tone of what you want the first impression to be!

Communication Question:

Question:
How can I take the time to answer a question without seeming nervous because of feeling rushed?

Answer:
To improve answering questions quickly without seeming nervous you need to practice the following: Repeat the question by saying “I want to be sure I heard you correctly. Did you ask …? Then, if you still need more time ask for more clarification. Do it thoughtfully to project sincerity.

Presence  Question:

Question:
In a recent Chicago Tribune photo, we noticed basketball stars wearing suit jackets with short sleeves. Will this become a norm for jacket styles?

Answer:
Those basketball players suffered broken arms. The shorter sleeves helped them wear a cast or provide room for the arm to heal without binding the broken area. Will these modified sleeves become popular? I doubt it for the average consumer. However, the fashion industry is always looking for the next style hit for men so we never say never!

The Art of Business and Social Interaction®

Question:
Today’s political environment has become toxic at worst to highly controversial at best. How can I change the subject without seeming rude?

Answer:
It is important to let people express their views without seeming intrusive by disagreeing with them. A safe way is to let them talk and then change the subject by asking a question that is totally unrelated. Make the question neutral. For example “Can you recommend a good restaurant to try? We’re up for some adventuresome eating!”

May 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation:Building Relationships and Engaging Leaders

Andy was brought in to develop key best practices for organization leaders. However, he got off on the wrong foot in meeting with the leaders by asking what was viewed as “I am smarter than you” questions. A year has gone by with no key initiatives in place and he continues to struggle to secure management buy-in.

The Solution:

Andy is a subject matter expert with many wins from previous organizations. He has been resilient enough to make changes when needed. Unfortunately, in his initial meetings with stakeholders he left them the impression that he knew more than they did. They resented his direct style and flippant remarks. In fact, the senior leaders are beginning to think about replacing him.

Andy realized that he needs to find opportunities to work on earning stakeholder respect and to build confidence with them on their views. Andy began developing critical active listening skills focusing on not immediately responding. He learned to read the audience, grasp what was said and stay between the lines by not immediately challenging their points of view. Andy worked on understanding how to continually modify the process by applying effective listening skills and empathetically adapting to different communication styles.

The Outcome:

Senior leaders are noticing changes. Andy has made it a priority not to interrupt in meetings. He waits to be asked for an opinion. He continues to handle tricky situations by creating strong relationships with the stakeholders. Andy is making real progress creating some best practices that incorporate input from peers and stakeholders.

Networking is an essential part of building wealth. Armstrong Williams

April 2017 Monthly Tips

It is not who you know, it’s who knows you. Unknown

April Tips For Communication & Image Success

Tip for Organizations:

Question:
What is the best way to handle members of our team that consistently exceed the allotted time when presenting?

Answer:
Be very clear about timing with all members of the team reminding everyone that if someone runs overtime for an unusual situation, an exception can be made. For an ongoing habit, an effective method is not letting them finish… in other words, giving the offender the hook!

Communication Question:

Question:
How can a controversial message be delivered and defensiveness avoided if the communication is presented by senior management and the audience turns hostile?

Answer:
Years ago, I was asked to present a new policy that was very controversial to a group. The policy eliminated a benefit enjoyed by this group. They continued to vent and I just listened without defending until the complaining passed.

Presence  Question:

Question:
It appears that on jackets for women, three-quarter sleeves are the norm. Do they have the same professional presence as full length sleeves?

Answer:
Professional jackets look best with full length sleeves. Three-quarter sleeves are more acceptable in summer wear. However, three-quarter sleeves work better than a jacket with sleeves too long!

The Art of Business and Social Interaction®

Question:

How can I gain confidence when meeting new people?

Answer:
It is normal to be a bit nervous when meeting new people. Asking questions to get the conversation going usually helps. The more opportunities to practice, the more confidence you will feel.

April 2017 Business Case Study

The Situation: Leadership presence

Jane was considered for a general manager job. She brought experience in the field and a well-known success rate in handling controversial clients in her previous organization. The challenge for Jane in the new organization was that her lack of presence eroded the confidence of the leadership team. They were concerned that future board interactions would be ineffective.

The Solution:

Jane needed polish in her communications and presence approaches with senior leaders. In her previous smaller organization, she worked mainly in the trenches. Her combination of wardrobe and grooming choices (hair style and color) hurt her presence. Jane needed a personal brand and quickly became excited about developing one. The new Jane eventually exuded a brand of leadership presence, effective listening skills and a sensitivity to adapting to different communication styles.

The Outcome:

The senior leaders immediately noticed the changes in Jane’s appearance along with the way she handled difficult situations. She created strong client and board relationships and earned a promotion to a general manager!

The power of a handshake – What does your handshake say about you? Do you know?