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Daryl Keeley

Talent Attraction & Retention Coach

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Leaders MUST break out of their comfort zones

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As leaders or managers in your industry, it is easy to get caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities. Often, leaders are trying to keep their head above water to complete tasks on a daily, monthly or yearly basis.

While encouraging, mentoring or problem solving with others in their organization, leaders spend a great deal of time focusing on giving team members tools and advice to be successful in their role. It’s not uncommon for leaders to then neglect their own professional growth by being focused on others and the organization.

To grow both professionally and personally, I encourage leaders to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. The idea may sound scary, but the life lessons and experiences will far outweigh any fears. Leaders draw on their past experiences to guide others. By branching out and experiencing something new, leaders become able to see things from a different perspective.

 

4 words that improve conversations

Picture yourself listening to a friend who is telling you a great story.
Now think about what you’re thinking while they’re telling that story.
You’re thinking about a story you’re going tell that’s “just like” their story, aren’t you?
In your head you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, I have a story that’s JUST LIKE that!”
“They won’t believe how similar our stories are!”
“I have to keep thinking about my story so I won’t forget it.”
“When will they stop talking so that I can tell my story?”
Notice that you’re now thinking about you. You’ve become focused on your own story and you have actually stopped listening to the other person’s story.
Me telling you a story that’s “just like” your story is not listening.
The conversation becomes a tennis match in which stories are volleyed back and forth – there is no real connection.

If you want to do more than volley the stories back and forth across the net – if you actually want to connect with the other person – try using these four simple words:

“Tell me more about…”

“Tell me more about … a moment in the story, a person in the story, what happened when….”
“Tell me more about” demonstrates that you care about their story, that you’re interested in what they have to say. It lets the other person know that you listened to their story and that you care to hear more.

“Oh my gosh, wait until I tell you what happened to me – it’s just like that!” is about you and your story.
“Tell me more about” is an invitation to connect.
Give it a try!

Leadership blind spots are common

  • The world is flat. If you sail too far, your ship will fall off the edge.
  • Cocaine cough drops are good medicine, especially for children.
  • Inhaling tobacco smoke poses no danger to your health.
  • Detroit automakers have nothing to fear from the surge of Japanese cars.
  • IBM’s market position could never be threatened by an upstart company started in somebody’s garage.

With the benefit of hindsight, these statements seem silly if not downright stupid. But there was a time when smart people actually believed them to be true. Why? Because they had blind spots.

Blind spots are common. Some of them are the literal kind that could get us killed on the highway. Some are relatively benign, like failure to see the good in a team that’s playing against our hometown favorite. Other blind spots are of a societal nature and can be harmful, like false assumptions that produce prejudice and bigotry.

Somewhere in all this faulty thinking are leadership blind spots.
These are beliefs and experiences that block out more enlightened views of how to lead people most effectively.
We’ve all seen the findings on employee engagement. They’re not pretty. Many people do not feel psychologically attached to their work. The annual cost of disengagement in the U.S. alone is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

 

Know yourself

Know yourself:
This is an interesting concept and probably doesn’t mean what you think it does. In short, take care of yourself.

Knowing yourself is about knowing your health and capabilities.

I cannot go to sleep at 2 a.m. and get up four hours later at 6 a.m. to deliver a speech at 8. I’ll be exhausted, and even if my audience doesn’t notice, I will. I’ll be tired. It will be harder to concentrate.

Know yourself. Know your limits.

I have a goal when I have a speaking engagement the next morning – “In bed by 10.” It doesn’t matter how much fun I’m having the night before the speech. It doesn’t matter if the client is taking me out for a fancy dinner. It’s in bed by 10. You’ll never be at your best if you don’t do what you know is best for yourself.

 

Tip 2: Know your content

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Be prepared.

Study and know the information you are sharing in your speech.

Rehearsal is nice. It helps you plan what you’re going to talk about. It helps you create a flow and gives you comfort and confidence.

If you don’t know your content, you will always feel like something is missing. That “emptiness,” for lack of a better term, will block you from delivering the speech you’re capable of.

It might cause you to have stage fright, not because you are afraid of the audience, but because you weren’t prepared when you put yourself in front of them.

The nervousness of being in front of an audience will pale in comparison to the fear you’ll have if you don’t know what to say next – because you weren’t prepared.

 

Tip 1: Know your audience

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During my week in Nigeria, I presented to several different audiences. This particular audience was different than the others.

The others were corporate groups: executives, leaders and customer service managers from different businesses. This was an audience in which many people had not yet made it into the work world. Had I come out with a typical customer service presentation, I would have failed. The preparation was important. I asked the client to describe, in detail, the audience. I spent time talking to members of the audience as they were waiting for the program to begin.

Some of what I learned made it into the speech. All of what I learned helped me understand the audience, if even just a little bit more, and gave me insight that made for a better presentation. It’s simple. The best speech in the world means nothing if it doesn’t relate to your audience.

Embrace frustration

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You always have a choice. You can adopt a mindset where you believe the world is conspiring against you, and let frustration stymy you, or you can use setbacks as fuel to course correct and keep going. To conquer frustration, focus on the outcome, not the obstacle.

We often get discouraged right before we have a major breakthrough. Stick with it! An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.

If you maintain your patience and keep your eye on the prize, you might look back and see that this was a pivotal moment.

 

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