Friday, January 12, 2018

Leader as Influencer: Impression Management in the Spotlight

As we move into a new year, I ask you to think about what kind of leader you are.  Not a leader, you say?  We are ALL leaders.  Think about it.  You may lead an association, organization or company.  You may lead a team at work or your family at home.  You may coach a child’s sports team or lead their scout troop.  Maybe you’re a parent or an aunt or uncle.  All of us are leaders because someone is looking to us to lead.  So here are my recommendations—articles, books and quotations from some of the experts in the field.

Marshall Goldsmith is one of the most respected executive coaches in the country and wrote an excellent book, What Got You Here Won't Get You There. To move to the next level, he suggests we constantly need to solicit feedback from our peers, reports, friends and family. At his website, you'll find directions for an exercise he calls Feedforward. And, you’ll find more about Marshall on my blog post

Daniel Goleman is the author of Emotional Intelligence.  In his article, What Makes a Leader?, he explores the five main components of Emotional Intelligence:

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Regulation
  • Motivation                         
  • Empathy
  • Social Skill
After you read the article, ask yourself—as I ask participants in my program, “Which of the five main components of Emotional Intelligence provides me with the greatest challenge?  Which aspect of that component?  In other words, what could I focus on to become an even more effective leader?” 

As Goleman said, “People are promoted for technical, operational and intellectual reasons, but fail for emotional ones.” And his colleague, Richard Boyatzis, said, “In a study of more than 2,000 managers from 12 large organizations, 81% of the competencies that distinguished outstanding managers were related to emotional intelligence.”

You can download the article, What Makes a Leader? at for $8.95

As John Maxwell said in The 360° Leader, Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization, “You don’t need power to bring change to an organization; you need influence – which is actually a more important skill.”  

You can download the executive summary at or check out any of his books at: 

McKinsey partner Claudio Feser said in an interview, “We all can lead better by developing a better understanding of ourselves, so we can make the best of what we have. Our research suggests that leaders who are self-aware—who know themselves or, as we put it, are “centered”—are up to four times more effective in managing change than people who aren’t.”

I have heeded the recommendations of these two gentlemen as I update my Leader as Influencer program.  Two crucial factors to foster effective leadership are developing a better understanding of ourselves and developing our ability to influence.

Change is guaranteed. Here’s to a rewarding 2018 for you!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Be the Goat?

In my program, How to Stay COOL When Things Heat UP!, I discuss three Verbal Aikido techniques.  The first two are Selective Agreement and Limited Response. I used to call the third technique, ‘Be the GOAT!’  I meant by that: take the high road, don’t push back, let it blow right over your head, act innocent… A quick google search and I discovered ‘G.O.A.T.’ is an acronym for the expression 'greatest of all time.' It’s commonly used in sports when referring to players who are widely considered the most talented.  Today it’s social media slang for someone who is believed to be the best at a certain skill.
But wait, there’s more!  On February 1, 2004, the book Goat: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali was released, referring to boxer Muhammad Ali as the 'greatest of all time.' And on September 12th, 2000, the rapper, LL Cool J, released his eight studio album, G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). The album was a commercial success, reaching the number one position on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.  I knew about Ali, of course; but clearly I’ve been behind a door when it comes to social media slang!

On my YouTube channel, you can view a video where I tell a story illustrating the use of the third Verbal Aikido technique.  So what shall I call it?  I’m leaning toward 'Intentional Innocence’.  Any ideas?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Exercise Verbal Aikido to keep your COOL!

Aikido is a form of martial arts focused on protecting both the attacker and the defender. To perhaps oversimplify: if they’re pushing, pull; if they’re pulling, push.  Push back and you’re creating conflict!

The first technique of verbal aikido is Selective Agreement—look for something you can agree with in what the person is saying.  Too often we’re looking for how we can correct them or disagree with them.  Your fallback phrase?  “You may be right, and…”

The best way to respond to sarcasm is to use Limited Response . Respond only to the words or subject of the remark not the emotion or tone behind it.  Say the words in your head without the tone and respond to them.  That way you don’t get hooked!  And a third technique?  Be the Goat! Practice these and you’ll be better able to coexist with life’s difficult people—stay COOL when things heat UP!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When things heat up, ask yourself, ‘What’s my intent?’

Before you lose it, stop and ask yourself, “What’s my Intent?”  It’s our purpose—
what we want to have happen.  One of the reason things heat up is we lose sight of our intent.  If we’re going to stay cool, we must constantly ask ourselves, “What’s my intent—what do I want to have happen here?”  It’s very easy to get pulled away from our intent.  In the book, Crucial Conversations, they discuss a number of deviations from our intent—we can see these in ourselves, sometimes, or they can cause us to react to the other person.  Two of the most common ones?   Getting defensive and wanting to win.  Both create conflict.  We need a win-win to stay cool!  Read more in my article 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

When Things Heat UP─the way we look and sound have impact!

The way we look and sound in a situation—and the way the other person looks and sounds—can have a lot to do with things heating up.  We call this the Process and can look at it from both ‘sides’ when things heat up.  Did the way you looked and sounded when things heated up help escalate the situation?  And, did you react to the other person’s facial expressions and body language or tone of voice?

It can be as simple as being a frowning thinker.  Frowning thinkers look mad!  And sarcasm is all about changing the meaning of the words by changing the tone of voice.  Many of us react to this tone, causing things to heat up!
Read more in my article


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to Stay COOL When Things Heat UP!

When things heat up, we can blame the heat—and our reaction—on a little critter.  Our lizard brain!  Otherwise known as the amygdala, it holds emotional memory—fear, anger—and ‘helps’ us react without thinking.  Seth Godin—the author and blogger whose TED Talks are very popular—calls it our ‘lizard brain.’  He says, “Your lizard brain is here to stay.  Your job is to figure out how to quiet it and ignore it.” 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Agenda: the anchor that keeps your meeting from drifting aimlessly

A good agenda will help keep the meeting from drifting aimlessly. When a thorough agenda is sent out ahead of time participants will be more likely to come prepared, you'll receive more buy-in, and a greater sense of inclusiveness will develop. Be sure your agenda includes the basics:

  • Meeting date, time and place
  • Purpose of meetingwrite at the top of the agenda
  • Meeting protocol—may be on agenda and/or posted
  • Leader or facilitator, Participants—name, department. Be sure stakeholders are in the meeting if their area or department is involved.
  • Write each agenda item as a goal or action. Rather than: Discuss budget, write it as a specific task that needs doing: Define budget categories and develop tentative amounts in each category.
  • Identify the nature of each item: 1) Discussion 2) Brainstorm for ideas 3) Decision 4) Information
  • Provide background information with the item
  • Assign a participant responsible for each item
  • Indicate time allocated for each item

And write the purpose of the meeting on a board or chart paper.  Then, when someone strays from the purpose, you can point at it!  Have post-its on the table and a Parking Lot posted.  If someone brings up an off-the-subject item, ask them to post it on the Parking Lot.  Be sure to follow up with them after the meeting.

Everyone appreciates a meeting that is led effectively and stays on time.  A good agenda will help you accomplish this!