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Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

How to successfully communicate cross culturally

In Collaboration, Communication, culture, Development, Effectiveness, Language, Leadership, Strategy, Team, teamwork on July 3, 2017 at 6:07 am

Once upon a time, some 100,000 years ago, language was born when a human uttered the first word to another human.

Fast forward to the modern day and language is only a part of how we communicate these days as we navigate our way through other communication complexities such as technology, virtual reality and multiculturism.

As we move swiftly forward in a global entrepreneurial world, multicultural teams become more and more prevalent, and having the ability to break down any communication barriers is vital to ensuring that collaboration and productivity stays at a high.

For as if it’s not hard enough to communicate with someone when you don’t even know their preferred communication style, default behaviors, or conflict preferences, or worse, when you can’t even see their visual cues and body language, as in the case of a remote team, add in time difference, distance and cultural differences, and you won’t be blamed if you sometimes feel as if you might as well throw in the towel. What’s more, all of this can occur even if you’re speaking the same language!

Such triggers can frustrate and give rise to conflict.

Not all is lost though. The very crux of communication is about ownership of the message you send as much as the message received. After all, how can you expect someone to understand you when you can’t even understand yourself? There are some things you can do to strengthen and grow your communication toolkit. And its roots come from more than speaking the same language, indeed, more than what you say or the words you use.

So how do multicultural teams successfully deal with multicultural challenges? One of the most successful ways is to recognize complexities and adapt accordingly. Acknowledge the diversity and rather than focusing on this as a barrier, learn to celebrate this. Identify cultural gaps openly and work around them.

Diplomat and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said:

“Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where people are becoming more and more closely interconnected.”

He is not wrong. Successful cross cultural communication stems from cultural intelligence, the success of which depends on three pillars.

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Influencing with impact

In Collaboration, Communication, Development, Effectiveness, influencing, Leadership, Networking on April 27, 2017 at 6:09 am

Consider someone you know who is an influencer or who has, what you believe to be, effective influencing skills. What is it about them that gets you interested, motivated, or even inspired? Are they passionate and dynamic? Perhaps. Confident? Most definitely. Knowledgeable? Certainly.

Are they a leader?

Not necessarily.

According to John Maxwell, in his book, ‘The 360-Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization’,

“leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit. Anyone can choose to become a leader wherever he is. You can make a difference no matter where you are… You may be able to grant someone a position, but you cannot grant him real leadership. Influence must be earned.”

So how do you acquire those admirable influencing traits?

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The role of a good facilitator

In Communication, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Development, Personal Branding, Team, Training on March 20, 2017 at 4:38 am

Have you ever been to the symphony or watched a snippet of an orchestra playing on TV? Can you visualize the conductor at the front of the orchestra? What exactly is the role of the conductor? Do they simply stand at the front waving their batons madly? Or is there a crucial role they play that if there is no conductor, the orchestra falls apart and the music crumbles?

It seems with the baton, the conductor speaks a subtle language to the orchestra to remind them during the performance of how to play the piece. It’s almost hypnotic to watch.

In fact, with the baton, it’s almost as if the conductor gives each instrument a chance to play and each musician an opportunity to speak. As if without the conductor, the audience might overlook the presence of an instrument or musician in the orchestra. And it’s almost as if without the conductor, the audience would miss pivotal moments in the symphonic piece.

So when we think about it, could we compare the role of a facilitator to that of an orchestra conductor? Why not?

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The human side of negotiation

In Communication, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Language, Leadership, Networking, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Strategy on March 6, 2017 at 11:02 pm

How often do you think you use negotiation skills? We may not realize it but negotiation is a big part of our daily life. We negotiate various factors in our roles at work, from project timelines to resources, to parameters for our performance indicators or salaries, and even in our personal lives, with conflicting opinions, or even something as simple as where to dine.

Negotiation is about reaching an agreement where both parties walk away with mutually acceptable terms. The ability to get what we want is only enhanced by our ability to negotiate effectively.

The word ‘negotiation’ has copped a bad reputation. Oftentimes, we associate the act with competition or confrontation or believe that only an all-or-nothing approach can win; the word ‘win’ supporting the act of competing.

But what if we take the notion of competing out of the equation and approach a negotiation in a more fair way?

After all, the reason you’re getting into a negotiation in the first place is either because one party wants something from another, or that both parties want something from each other. Once you each establish what is important and unimportant to each, the negotiations can begin. The questions that each person needs to ask is ‘What do I want from you?’ and ‘What can I give you in return?’

But how to do this? How exactly do you start asking those questions without sounding contentious?

Let’s explore.

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So you want to become a leader: here’s how

In Development, Leadership, Performance Management, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Strategy, Team on February 23, 2017 at 1:46 am

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In today’s competitive environment, standing out can actually be the thing that gives you an edge. For instance, if you’re positioning yourself for a leadership role or promotion, It’s important to develop a strategy to consistently demonstrate your personal leadership traits.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a peek into Tim’s profile. Tim is an inspired, hardworking and conscientious high performer. Tim is great at stakeholder meetings and client-facing events. He is also an empathetic listener and hands on team player.

You could say Tim has high potential to be a leader: he’s a HiPo, that is, he has been identified as having the potential, ability, and aspiration for succession to leadership positions within the organization. However, Tim has no management experience, having never officially led a team before. Apart from his own self-confidence and what some of his peers and his manager know, Tim has no concrete data to make a strong case. What’s more, Tim works in a dynamic firm with dozens of others who could possibly be vying for the same role.

So how can Tim progress his career? Tim could start preparing for his performance review conversations by gathering data. You see, future leaders are made long before they are earmarked for success. It comes from your own desire to excel. So what steps do you take to ensure you outshine those vying for that one coveted position?

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Unconscious bias: Why every leader should avoid it and how

In Communication, culture, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Leadership, Learning, Organizational Development, Performance Management, Personal Branding on February 6, 2017 at 12:19 am

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Human beings are extremely judgmental creatures. Harsh but true. We make impressions on people, events and things, often within the first fifteen seconds of coming into contact with them. We form opinions and tell ourselves stories that become reality in our minds.

We often credit this to intuition or a claim to have good judge of character. Sometimes, we are right. Sometimes we are not. Sometimes, the judgment is tainted by our experiences, fixed ideas and unconscious bias.

But it’s the opinions we form and the stories we tell ourselves that can become dangerous. Because sometimes, just sometimes, even after we have become more acquainted with the person, event or thing, these opinions and stories stick in our subconscious, even if they prove to be false. We remain wedged in the bias.

Herein lies one of the fundamental flaws of the human psyche. And the workplace is no exception to this rule.

The thing is, managers and leaders are first and foremost humans and are not exempt from this. But to be an effective and fair manager, we want to separate ourselves from this pitfall and manage, inspire and lead without bias, either conscious or unconscious. So how do we ensure we don’t get sucked into the zone of stereotyping but instead embrace attributes that promote inclusivity and diversity?

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Five tips to prepare for a performance review conversation

In Communication, Development, Effectiveness, Performance Management, Strategy on January 16, 2017 at 5:46 am

A photo by Liz Weston. unsplash.com/photos/VWceV6QdwS8

It seems performance review conversations have earned a bad reputation. Many managers may dread them because they seem tedious and laborious, followed by endless amounts of paperwork and administration that need to be completed and filed. At least for another six months or so.

And you, as you sit on the other side of the desk, dread it, too. Perhaps because you can sense how arduous it is for them. So you simply want to get it over and done with. But performance review conversations are not just one-way lectures. After all, they’re conversations, not monologues.

So have you ever wondered how you can proactively make your performance review conversations richer to serve you better?

Entering a performance review conversation having prepared for one has its benefits. By preparing yourself for your performance review conversation, you set yourself up for success in various ways. You work towards ensuring mutual understanding of expectations between you and your manager, ensuring goal alignment between yourself and your role, the department and the business, highlighting your strengths for increased job satisfaction, then identifying opportunities for development and growth to feed self-fulfilment and a sense of achievement.

Whether or not you intend to strive to a leadership status, it pays to approach every performance review conversation with a view to extend and leverage your career. So let’s look at how you can do this.

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How mindfulness makes you a more effective leader

In culture, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Leadership, Philosophy, Positive Thinking on December 6, 2016 at 5:17 am

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According to research conducted by Harvard University, about 47 percent of us spend our waking hours thinking about something other than what we’re doing. What this means is that we are not present or conscious in the moment to fully listen, connect and engage with events, opportunity and people around us; all vital elements to being an effective leader.

The Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard University claims that mindfulness enhances the qualities organizations need. Qualities such as increased brain-wave activity, enhanced intuition and better focus. All also vital elements to being an effective leader.

Mindfulness contributes to raising your awareness of self and of those around you. It increases your ability to be mindful of your emotions, reactions and therefore, your behaviors. These are all exemplary qualities to have as a leader.

To be an effective leader, leaders are taught to lead via the three vital pillars of leadership:

  1. Leading from within
  2. Leading by example
  3. Leading others

So what if as a leader, you practice mindfulness? How much more engaging would your leadership presence be? How much more effective and focused would you be as a leader?

A mindful and focused leader is a leader with a strong leadership presence. Someone who can lead better towards his or her vision via a structured business strategy.

Let’s look at how mindfulness can boost each pillar of leadership.

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How to use mindfulness to stay ninja focused

In culture, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Learning, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Positive Thinking on November 4, 2016 at 4:56 am

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The words busy, dynamic and stress are so rampant in our vocabulary that we forget to stop and focus on the core elements that contribute to each day.

What if there was a way to choose how we describe our perspective simply by using other words or a different thought process? How would that assist us in making the most of our potential skills and talents without exhausting ourselves? Here’s where we could consider practicing mindfulness.

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The qualities of a good leader

In Communication, culture, Development, Effectiveness, Inspire, Leadership, Organizational Development, Personal Branding, Philosophy, Strategy on September 23, 2016 at 6:25 am

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It takes courage to be a leader. To stand up and say: I can lead these people into the future with my vision. I can guide them through change. I can inspire them to want to tap into their passion and give that one hundred percent to a cause every single day.

No one said being a leader is easy. Whether you’re a person or a company, there is a certain sense of gravity and expectation that goes with the job and the title. So grave is the weight, that it caused Joseph Wambaugh to pen the words: ‘fish rots from the head’. Meaning that when an organisation or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.

So what are the qualities of a good leader? It all starts with how others perceive who you are as a leader.

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