Have you noticed how valuable it can be to simply pay attention to what’s going on? As leader of your company, you can benefit from critically observing the good, the bad, and the ugly emanating from leaders in the limelight. It is my nature to highlight the positive lessons you can absorb from others. I’m going to deviate from that nature today. I simply cannot ignore the barrage of clear lessons of what not to do that have come our way recently. Here are my top picks:
- Publicly belittling your perceived foes using childish language – not good.
- Publicly berating key members of your management team – poison.
- Falling in love with a project and refusing to let it die, even in the face of new developments that would compel a dispassionate observer to change course – not smart.
You wouldn’t be running an organization if you weren’t at least sensitive to these exhibitions of incompetence. Continue to observe what eventually comes from possessing healthy grey matter but lacking emotional maturity, and learn from it.
Hold on! I almost forgot two of the most important lessons to be learned from last year.
- Do not use social media of any type to communicate anything serious about your organization – totally inappropriate.
- Lying is bad form – period.
Everyone can “paint”
As CEO, have you ever failed miserably in an attempt to persuade somebody to do something, or to see something through your eyes? Haven’t we all?
I subscribe to Bloomberg Businessweek. I don’t know how long ago this magazine started including an explanation of the “Cover Trail” in each issue, but I find this feature thought-provoking as well as entertaining. In the space of a single column, they paint the story of the current issue’s cover design. It is generally funny. More importantly, it’s engaging!
Our business lives are stuffed with uninspired communications. The content may be important, but the delivery is anemic. Sadly, it’s not only true of what we receive, but also of what we deliver (unless you are an exceptional business leader).
Whether you’re convincing your banker to increase your line of credit, or persuading your employees to embrace a new CRM system, there are two approaches that will dramatically improve your chances of success:
- Whenever possible, incorporate something visual into your communications
- When the form of communication is exclusively verbal, “paint” the story verbally.
The first approach is straightforward. In your graphics, use photos, illustrations, artwork, and visuals of any type, in preference to words. The same applies for your remarks in a meeting where a whiteboard or flipchart is available.
The second challenge – 100 percent verbal – is more daunting, but equally important. If you find yourself describing your software development business in techno-speak to a new prospect, chances are they are not going to get it. Instead, force yourself to use phrases like “imagine that it’s payday and your payroll system just crashed”; or “one of my most memorable moments was when my toughest client actually initiated a ‘high five’ with me the day after we went live with his new software package.”
A picture, drawn or described, is often worth much more than a thousand words. It can make the difference between success and failure in persuasion.