If you conducted a survey about yourself, how would your staff, managers, and colleagues rate you as a leader? Do they even view you as a leader?
So you’re innovative, creative, and a go-getter. These are wonderful traits of an Expander Leader, but is your communication style holding back your career or business? If you want to signal to the world you’re a natural leader, you need to be mindful of how you interact with people.
It’s good to focus on practising supportive communication habits, but it’s also important to be aware of the ones that aren’t reflective of the natural Expander Leader that you are. Forbes Leading Lady, Jenna Goudreau, explained that you don’t necessarily get praise for practising effective communication skills, but you’ll certainly lose out for consistent blunders.
“… These [effective communication] skills are required, but that doesn’t mean you rack up bonus points for having them. Instead, you get demerits for your mistakes, as superiors silently cross you off their good lists.”
If you’re not getting the results you want or your career isn’t progressing, think about how you interact with people and what signals you’re sending out.
I’ve written a few articles on how to communicate effectively and present yourself as leadership material, but now it’s time to nip those unhelpful habits in the bud. Your first step in making this happen is to identify what they are. Here is a list of common ones that I have seen hold lots of talented women back:
1. Inappropriate jokes
According to a study of over 4,000 professionals conducted by CTI and Marie Claire, one of the biggest communication mistakes is telling inappropriate jokes. While it’s important to encourage humour and a sense of fun in the workplace, don’t make people feel uncomfortable by not reading your audience properly and telling a joke that is likely to offend.
2. Your body
Your body language has more impact compared to what you say. Poor body language such as avoiding eye contact, a weak handshake, slouching, crossing your arms and legs to make yourself closed off and “small”, and looking down while you speak are all big no-nos. What these actions are saying is “she lacks confidence, she doesn’t believe in what she is saying, she is hiding something, she is bored and uninterested – she is not a leader”.
3. Your emotions
Workplace tears don’t signal leadership material according to the survey conducted by CTI and Marie Claire. Over-the-top displays of any emotion often affects whether people will view you as a leader… or not. It is important to express your emotions, but keep them in check and don’t them get the better of you.
4. Your online persona
Unflattering photos, swearing, bitching, and giving away too much personal information online affects your personal brand. Think about how you want people to perceive you and measure that against what your social media profiles are saying. If you wouldn’t want it on a billboard, don’t put it in a post.
5. Your choice of words
Bite your lip if you feel the words “I think…” or “I can’t… slipping out. Women especially, start sentences with discounting phrases that take away the impact of their idea or key message. Claim your statement confidently and just state it as a fact. Rather than saying, “I believe,” say “The best way forward is to…”. Instead of saying “I can’t…”, say “A better option is to…” or “I can…!”
Now that you’ve identified the top communication mistakes, learn how to replace those with a wealth of supportive habits, actions, and behaviours in our upcoming 100 Day Leading Leadings International Gold Program. It starts on 25 February, places are limited so get in quickly. Apply now.
A textile company wove fine English woollens. Its employees worked in a machine filled factory in subdivisions each with their own manager. The managers all reported to a chief executive who arrived early, left late and made all the important decisions in between. This story shared in the book Maverick by Ricardo Semler may not sound unusual to you except when I tell you – this factory existed in 1633.
Technology has made it possible to teleconference with China and call home from inside a 747 while flying over the Pacific Ocean and yet most businesses today are still organised in the same way as they were in 1633.
With top-down container management giving close and distrustful supervision and little room for uniqueness, individuality and creativity. This wide divide between advancing technology and frozen, archaic leadership is, in my mind, a major reason why the modern workplace is characterised by dissatisfaction, frustration, inflexibility and stress.
If only we could change minds as well as we change machines and computers we would then see a new generation of leadership and organisations. As Ricardo Semler from the Semco Organisation in Brazil said it best “Technology is transformed overnight, mentality takes generations to alter.”
Does your up-to-date life mean you are rushing to the beach for a one-week break, sharing the jet compartment with 300 other overstressed office workers, eating from plastic containers arriving to lay in front of the turquoise water, iPhone in hand checking emails and texting the office instructions in your absence alongside other crazed professionals?
Technology has gone through the roof but our quality of life is down the tube. All we have managed to do is accelerate our issues and increase the volume of our miscommunication. If you truly want to live your UQ, be an expander leader or create a company that is a Unique success, then avoid the obsession with technology and put quality of life first. Focus on innovations that will enable you to work better with your team, your colleagues and your community rather than simply installing the next and latest gadgets or management fads.
No person, team or company can be successful in the long term if money and profits are their only goal. Every employee satisfaction survey reveals that money is not the primary motivator. Money isn’t power, having a vision, a purpose and striving for something greater than just profits is what drives leaders and inspires a workforce. You need to treat your people as adults, not children and be an adult not a parent. Rather than pushing fixed hours, organisation charts and policy manuals that strip away freedom and choice and give a false sense of security, establish a common goal, recognise divergence and uniqueness, honour contribution and allow your tribes to determine their own ways of achieving it.
Unless the basic structure of your life, your team and your organisation is one that accepts change as its basic premise and fosters power from your and everyone elses UQ – that is a sustainable quality of life from living a balanced quadruple bottom line – then you cannot expect long term success in the modern world. Balance your UQ bottom line first and the impact, income and influence will follow.
Bite-sized learning tip of the day: Expressing enthusiasm is a powerful psychological trigger that can influence people in a positive way.
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde