Throw It At The Wall and See If It Sticks!

Many leaders I come in contact with seem to operate from a “throw it at the wall” approach. When I’ve challenged managers and supervisors on their lack of planning, lack of time is one of the main excuses. So, they continue to throw things at the wall and are surprised when nothing of importance sticks.

In this time of economic uncertainty it’s seems to me the time spent navel gazing, gossiping, looking for dark clouds, and generally being negative, could be better spent in planning. Ten-minutes of solid individual or group planning will bring more results than all the chatter and “what ifs” can ever bring. Effective planning will also cut down on what many spend most of their day doing—redo!

My schedule as a leadership trainer is split between conducting sessions and working on my business, which includes planning new sessions.  When I’m conducting sessions my clients have my undivided attention. My business operation takes a back seat. So, when I’m not in front of clients I must use my time effectively. As much as I hate it, I schedule my tasks and my time so I’m as effective as possible. For someone who can be a very random thinker, this is hard work.

How about you? How do you keeping yourself up and going so plans turn into reality? What techniques are you using to avoid getting caught up in the current gloom and doom mentality?

Garth Roberts

Have you had a Fierce Conversation lately?

Conversation makes the world go round. Good conversation makes life an incredible journey. Leaders who understand the art of conversation tend to be inspiring leaders. If you’re struggling with your conversations or if you just want to continually improve, I recommend Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

I learned a long time ago how I talk has a direct impact on how effective I am as a leader. Only recently have I discovered Susan’s book and I know my conversation skills have gotten even better since I began applying her principles.

Fierce Conversations is all about achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time. If you want to learn how to interrogate reality, come out from behind yourself, and to take responsibility for your emotional wake, pick up this book.

To learn more about fierce conversations, check out

Garth Roberts

Leadership is Communication

An information site I belong to has been rife with comments about President Obama’s inaugural address. Most of the comments have been positive while some have complained about a lack of specifics. From my perspective, it was a great speech. It was, after all, President Obama’s, let me have your attention speech.

In marketing it’s said that we need to connect with people 7 to 9 times before they are ready to buy. Why is it any different in selling a new political agenda for one of the world’s greatest countries? Mr. Obama had many target audiences for his message and he crafted his message so each audience was addressed with strength and with dignity. What else could we ask for in this initial talk ? To expect sweeping changes and pinpoint specifics is unrealistic.

Corporate leaders can learn a great deal by analyzing the structure of this speech and recognizing that their messages will have much more meaning if they repeat them, in a varity of ways, 7 to 9 times. Oh, don’t give me the “I don’t have time” excuse. That’s pure crap!

If you don’t make the time to communicate, you aren’t leading. You will, however, be doing a lot of “redo” to correct for the errors of your poor communication. Take the time to do it right the first time.

Along with this post I’ve changed the quote on the page. That’s my quote and I believe it defines leadership. The next four years are going to be exciting, whether we agree with all the communication from the White House or not. As a non-American I know that the world already has a different take on the United States and we’re all looking for our friends in the United States to be recognized again for the great people they are.

Garth Roberts

One-way Communication Kills Communication

One-way communication is doomed to failure yet managers, supervisors, foreman, and parents continue to use it.

One-way communication is basically telling someone what you want them to do and not giving the person an opportunity to ask questions for clarification. How many times this week have you told someone what you want done and turned and walked away? How many times have you been disappointed or upset when someone didn’t do what you either asked for or told them to do?

Any good English as a second language instructor will tell you they always check to ensure the student understands directions, requests, or inquiries. The instructors understand the person listening to them may interpret differently. As a leader you must recognize your staff and colleagues can’t read your mind and the words you use may have a different meaning to them. This is particularly true if the part of your workforce learned English as a second language, yet it’s not exclusive to those individuals.

Quality versus excellence

For example, take the word quality, what does it mean to you? Based on your experience and education, quality may mean excellence. The person you’re talking to may very well equate quality to a job well done, but not an “over the top job”.

Three steps to improvement

1.    We all know we have two ears and one mouth. Your first step in improving communication at work and in the home is to use them in the appropriate proportion; listen at least twice as much as you talk. That’s active listening, not just hearing sound vibrations.

2.    The second step is to give the person you’re talking with an opportunity to ask questions. Active questioning on your part, and the other individuals part, is what makes a conversation. As a former journalist I learned the value of who, what, why, where, when, and how questions. When I have been most effective as a leader, open-ended questions, using the W5, have been my best tool.

3.    Now comes the hardest part in effective communication—follow-up. I’m a firm believer in management by walking around. If I’m not visible to my people, they don’t think I care. If I’m visible and checking to see if they need anything from me, I’m the leader. I don’t check on people to see if they are doing the job the way I think should be done. If I’ve done my job in hiring, coaching and mentoring, I don’t need to be concerned. They’ll be doing it as I asked, or even better.

The next time you’re tempted to tell a colleague, employee, or your child what to do without providing an opportunity for clarifying questions, you’re not communicating or leading.

Garth Roberts