10 items tagged "communication"

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The Noxious Cocktail of Absolutism

Category: Blog
Created on Mar 08 2017

Poison

    Two back-to-back conversations, literally back-to-back, on the same day, at the same venue, convinced me that the level of emotional toxicity, particularly concerning politics is at an all time dangerous high. While teaching leadership to a professionally diverse crowd, I used two examples of outcome-based communication. I was making the point that one way to measure the effectiveness of a speech, is simply by asking, does it accomplish, in the immediate aftermath, what the speaker hoped for? 

    The first example I used was Barrack Obama's first inaugural address.  I explained that in terms of that measurement the speech "worked."  Irrespective of one's politics, in terms of the Rutland "effectiveness analysis,"  Obama's speech was successful.  

   For a second example of an even more effective speech I chose Donald Trump's speech before congress on February 28, 2017. He had to do three things; rally a rapidly splintering Republican Party, defang the Democrat plan to humiliate and further delegitimize him at that very speech and he needed to inspire the nation to a positive vision of the future as he saw it. He accomplished all three. Even the least enthusiastic of his Republican colleagues, albeit a bit begrudgingly, admitted that with that one speech, Trump took control of the Republican agenda in Congress. Furthermore, the nation virtually exulted in his positivism. The speech got a 78% positive response on a CNN poll and the stock market shot up more than 300 points to pass 21,000 for the first time. Finally, he made the silly Democrat "protests" in the chamber look petty, petulant and irrelevant. All that in one speech. "Love him or hate him," I said, "that is an effective speech." 

    At the break I was accosted twice for equal and opposite reasons. The first was an older man who asked how could I use an enemy of America, a traitorous, secret Muslim as an example of anything "good." He said it was disgusting and bitterly disappointing of me to do so. Saying that I did not vote for Obama only seemed, inexplicably, to make it worse. 

    I walked away from that shaking my head but before I could even seek some calories-laden solace at the refreshment counter, I was thoroughly denounced by a woman for "praising an anti-Semitic racist." This person explained how she had admired me for years and now I had shattered all that and she was wounded, offended and deeply disappointed. It was obvious that arguing or even answering her would have been futile. 

Leadership, Relationship and the Bottomless Language of Manipulation

Category: Blog
Created on Aug 31 2016

Tape Measure 

     There are words which can be, and frequently are, used as a manipulative fulcrum and lever device to gain the upper hand in a relationship, company or a ministry. It is a commonly employed linguistic device which left unaddressed will bring unrelenting pressure to bear. The problem is that such words seem totally innocent, yet they camouflage a cruelly manipulative power play.

       What words?

       "More," is one.  "Enough," is another. But these are just two examples.  The issue is an open-ended "complaint" or "need" for which there is no specific answer, no real resolution. Such words are manipulative because they dig a bottomless pit. There is not, in all the world, enough efficient management, salary, love, affection, sympathy or whatever to fill it. Hence digging such a verbal and emotional pit keeps the other party constantly on the defensive, ever striving to meet an unmeetable need. That is manipulative.

     Here is how it works and what to do about it.

You: Corporate Motivator and Chief Reward Giver

Category: Blog
Created on Mar 11 2015

Bullhorn

You determine the pace at which the people in your organization move. You cannot drive people faster than you can go yourself. I have been around a lot of big-time leaders. They emanate a sense of huge personal energy. For all I know, they go home and collapse at night, but when they are around other people, they express vitality. That vitality gives life to the people who follow them.

Of course, it is true enough that some people naturally have more energy than others. But you can cultivate a sense of energy that energizes the people who follow you. When I played basketball a hundred years ago, I found that in the fourth quarter, when I began feeling tired, I felt less tired the more I cranked up my output. It was counterintuitive, but if I ran more slowly, I felt more tired. When you are tired, run faster. It energizes you, and it energizes people around you.

There's No Such Thing as Overstating Vision

Category: Blog
Created on May 14 2014

Excerpt from
RELAUNCH: HOW TO STAGE AN ORGANIZATIONAL COMEBACK
by Dr. Mark Rutland

In fascinating slow-motion photography, Dr. Mike Wheatland, a professor at the University of Syndney specializing in solar astrophysics demonstrated the quite surprising movement of a suspended Slinky. Holding the Slinky at the top, he let it hang straight down, unfurled as it were. He then let go. The slow- motion photography proved that for a time (brief though it was) the bottom end did not fall. The Slinky collapsed from the top down. The sections at the top began to contract while the bottom stayed where it was.

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This was caused, he explained, because the information that the slinky was no longer held in place at the top took some period of time to reach the bottom. In fact, by the time that information did reach the bottom it was distorted. The very top

Keeping an Eye on Quality

Category: Blog
Created on Oct 23 2013

Excerpt from
RELAUNCH: HOW TO STAGE AN ORGANIZATIONAL COMEBACK
by Dr. Mark Rutland

The late quality expert Philip Crosby offered a definition that changed everything for me. “Quality,” he said, “is meeting expectations.”

That hit me like a hydrogen bomb. If quality is simply a matter of meeting expectations, then there is no objective standard of quality for anything. That is not to say that there is no such thing as quality. It simply means that most of us think about quality in the wrong way.

Knowing that quality is a matter of meeting expectations is freeing in many ways. In another way, it binds us more closely than ever to the responsibility to communicate with others in our organizations—and with our customers and clients.

What makes a quality shoe store? Well-made shoes? Good customer service? Low prices? It all depends on the customer’s expectations—expectations that are set in large part by the owner of the store.

What is the Real Problem in the Washington Negotiations?

Category: Blog
Created on Oct 09 2013

The world is shocked and the USA is embarrassed by the horrible snarl in Washington over, well, basically everything. The main problem right now is over the budget and the looming debt ceiling issue. What is the real problem? Why can't they move this thing forward?

Of course, there is never one single answer to such logjams. Not in politics, nor in marriage, nor in business nor in any area of social interaction. Here are some thoughts on what lies near and at the heart of all this.

I. Ideology

This cannot be discounted.  Many believe or choose to believe that all of this is nothing more than political gamesmanship. There is plenty of that to go around but the clash of visions in Washington is profound. Though there are certainly a vast multiplicity of variations, the two camps in Washington have clearly staked out their territory and for the most part I believe both sides are sincere. That does not mean both sides are right. It just means both are acting on their core values and beliefs.

Facing Up to It

Category: Blog
Created on Oct 02 2013

For the life of me I cannot understand the apparent refusal of many in the press and in the government to use the word "Islamic" or one of its synonyms when describing terrorists, whenever it is apparent that that is exactly what they are. They seem utterly predisposed not to mention the religion of the terrorists. This would not be important to the story unless it is important to the terrorists. I do not think a Baptist bank robber or a Buddhist pickpocket should be described as such unless they did what they did precisely BECAUSE of their religion. Then it is important. The motive of terrorists is crucial to understanding what is happening and what their actions mean. It is indispensable to formulating a successful response.

Is their steadfast refusal to face reality and use the word "Islamic" a fear of being attacked themselves? Perhaps it's some kind of inexplicable sense of simpatico. Or could it be that there is some perverse reluctance to give any satisfaction to political opponents who want the names named?

I will not pretend to know the inner motives of the press or the pols, nor is that really the purpose of this article. That being said, whatever the cause, it is dangerous when leadership refuses to face up to it, whatever "it" is. Whether a snarl in the mail room or a failure of communication between executives or a vision gap between the administration and the board, any issue causing problems must be faced. Furthermore a name must be put on that face. This may not, in fact probably will not be so often a person's name as it is the "cause."  This is the problem with the terrorism issue. If all the realities concerning the perpetrators, including their religion and motive, are not considered honestly, response may be hampered. In fact, the wrong thing might easily be done. Limited or unrealistic comprehension of the issue may dictate a response that might be counterproductive or even put people in harm's way.

Leader-ships: Two More

Category: Blog
Created on Sep 25 2013

Last week in The Leader's Notebook, I wrote about three ships and how their leaders, read captains, performed or failed to perform in the line of duty. If you missed that edition I hope you will go back and check it out here. This week I want to consider two more "leader-ships." These two were failures; one of which was an absolute catastrophe, and one that was used for political purposes. Both are highly educational for those in leadership.

I.  The Vasa Ship
In 1628, the king of Sweden was Gustovus Adolphus. Intimidated by the great naval powers of Europe he decided Sweden should burst onto the stage with a resounding statement. King Adolphus commissioned the Vasa ship and ordered that it be one of the greatest seagoing vessels of the day. Furthermore, he wanted it to be a veritable work of art, a ship so beautiful that his neighboring monarchs would see what a sophisticated and creative nation Sweden was. Of course, he also wanted the ship's ordinance to be so impressive that his contemporary monarchs would get the message that Sweden's king was a power to be reckoned with.

Beyond the Verdict

Category: Blog
Created on Aug 15 2013

Now that the first round of George Zimmerman's trial has ended in acquittal, we can take a moment and ask ourselves, is there anything in the whole story to learn about life and leadership? There will almost certainly be civil suits and counter suits and perhaps even a federal trial yet ahead. What a mess. But even now there must be something we can glean from all this. I would like to offer a few reflections that have nothing to do with how you feel about the verdict.

St. Paul v. Paula Deen

Category: Blog
Created on Aug 15 2013

Paula Deen turned out to be the girl who kicked the hornet’s nest. I am always intrigued by what makes any transmission interesting, impressive, emotional or downright offensive to others. I have seen veritable firestorms unleashed by statements which, to me at least, seemed hardly at all provocative. 

Every so often I get a positive response, a radically, enthusiastically positive response to something I say and it catches me by surprise. Totally. It always makes me feel like Barney Fife when Andy would exult, "Wow, Barney, that's a brilliant idea." 

Barney would answer with unfeigned confusion written all over his face,"What? What did I say?"