3 Ways Good Leaders Get Conversations Wrong

Blanchard LeaderChat

Male Question Marks Misunderstanding Enigma Men Pop Art Comics RImproving the frequency and quality of conversations that take place inside your organization is one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of your company’s leadership. That’s the message Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard share in their latest column for Training Industry Magazine.  With the speed of work, the generational and cultural diversity of the global workforce, and the variety of day-to-day challenges leaders face, the ability to communicate effectively with direct reports may be the defining skill that sets great leaders apart.

And while managers never intend to have unproductive conversations, bad conversational habits can often get in the way of effective communication.  Here are three they recommend that leaders keep an eye on:

Intentionality lapses. Leaders sometimes plunge ahead in an inappropriate setting with negative consequences. For example, you bump into a direct report who has a question, and before you realize it the…

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Turning Soft Skills into Core Skills: 3 Ways to Get Started

Blanchard LeaderChat

People Management Flow Chart In the field of learning and development, we typically refer to technical skills as hard skills and behavioral skills as soft skills. While soft skills are less tangible than hard skills, they are actually more valuable for a potential leader to acquire. Without the skills of communication, engagement, and empowerment, leaders are not able to direct and support people in the accomplishment of goals.

For this reason, I prefer to label these as core skills instead of soft skills. I’ve been using the term for 25 years, since I first heard a speaker extol their virtues. After the session, I suggested to the presenter that if these skills are so central to communication and maximizing effectiveness and contribution, they might be better regarded as core skills. To make a long story short, both the speaker and I used that term from that day on.

People are invariably the most expensive…

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Mindfulness and Leadership: Three Easy Ways to Be a Better Leader

Blanchard LeaderChat

zen stone garden round stone and raked sand making line patterns In the world of coaching, we’ve long practiced and shared the concepts of mindfulness with clients because we’ve seen and felt the results. Mindfulness as it’s practiced as a part of leadership development can take many forms, from something as simple as NOT multitasking or as intentional as active listening, or regulating self-talk.

So, how does mindfulness make you a better leader? Let me give you an example.

I work with a client who is very intense. She’s heading quickly to the top of her organizational structure and is the heir apparent. She is super busy and rarely sleeps more than five hours a night. A few weeks ago she commented that she was having trouble focusing on so many things at once and has been reacting rather than carefully responding to situations around her. Her edge was slipping. She wanted a way to adjust, change, and retool her leadership capacity…

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Are You TOO Nice? 4 Ways to Be Compassionate and Fair

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Woman In Stress At Work Asking For HelpI once worked with a VP who was at the tail end of a situation that had gotten out of hand. Six months prior, one of his senior directors—who I’ll call Shari, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Although she continued to work throughout her treatment, her performance suffered and team members had to take on extra work. My VP wanted to be as accommodating as possible and so he didn’t say anything.

Just as Shari was on the mend, her husband was in a car accident and as a result needed extensive back surgery. Shari still claimed she didn’t need time off and could handle her responsibilities while tending to her husband. Not wanting to add insult to injury, my VP still said nothing as more deadlines were pushed. At this point his team was really showing signs of frustration and resentment. My VP was at the end of…

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Managing Polarities: A Key Skill for the Well-Intentioned Manager

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What Comes After Plan B?Being a great manager means balancing the needs of your people with the results you are trying to achieve. This can be a fiendishly hard balance to strike, and maintain. For example:

As managers we are expected to have the best interest of the organization as a prime objective and yet the needs of each of our direct reports are also critical. The process of balancing both is a polarity because it involves two, interdependent, correct answers to the question: “In my relationship with this person, should I be concerned about her, or should I be concerned about her ability to perform her tasks?”

As a well-intentioned manager, you need to pay attention to your people’s needs, and you need to keep an eye on the extent to which things are actually getting done. If you just take care of your direct report and neglect the tasks at hand, it won’t…

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Eliminating Performance Problems—A Four-Step Process

Blanchard LeaderChat

Fire extinguisherI’ll say it right up front: I’m not a fan of the infamous practice of ranking employees and continuously turning over the bottom 10 percent. I think it is bad business. So when I speak about eliminating performance problems, I am not suggesting we get rid of employees. That should only be considered in rare occasions, such as when:

  • You made a bad hire—and the person does not have the skills or ability to learn the skills needed for the job, or is not a cultural fit for your organization; or
  • The individual’s bad attitude negatively affects others and the work—no matter how much coaching and encouragement you provide.

In my experience, most of the time we can avoid letting someone go by following a simple four-step process that eliminates the problem instead of the employee.

Step 1: Set clear expectations for performance. 

People need to know what a…

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