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3 Ways to Get Ideas from a Diverse Team

3 Ways to Get Ideas from a Diverse Team

3 Ways to Get Ideas from a Diverse Team

Most companies have done a good job of recognizing and increasing diversity.  But in many cases, the differences people bring with them are just supposed to magically produce new ideas, and that’s not really how it works.

Diversity alone, while it’s a good starting point, is not enough.

For example, people from some cultures, and some women, too, have trouble speaking up.  They have ingrained ideas that stating an opinion, asking a challenging question, or disagreeing with others is too aggressive or shows a lack of respect.

Add to that, some among us are introverts.  Introverts will try to form the perfect idea or solution before speaking up.  And if things get too confrontational . . . forget about it.  The introverts will stay quiet.

The extroverts, meanwhile, thrive on confrontation.  They’re out there.  So, it’s the extroverts that end up doing the talking, but sometimes the quiet people have the best ideas.

As a team leader, or even a group participant, you can counter balance that.  Here are three ways:

  1. Meet privately with your quietest people. Let them know you notice them.  Then identify why their thoughts are important to the team. Avoid putting them on the spot in meetings without privately letting them know first.  It gives them time to shape their thoughts.
  1. Set ground rules for handling disagreements. Coming up with fresh ideas takes a willingness to disagree and the most innovative teams are always asking:
  • Why are we doing it this way?
  • How could we do it better?
  • What if it looked like this?

The goal isn’t to pick a fight or to make it personal, but to create healthy debate and a synergy of ideas. Agree to hold major disagreements at a later meeting when two sides of an issue will have time to prepare their cases.

  1. Keep the ideas flowing. Leading a diverse team often demands extra effort. In order to keep the flow of ideas going, encourage “yes AND” interactions rather than “yes BUT” responses that can shut down dialogue.  Ask people to defend or evaluate each suggestion on its merits in a way that’s both constructive and direct.

The more you can harness your cultural capital, the more engaged your team will be and the fresher ideas they’re likely to come up with.  In today’s business environment, organizations that harness the differences of their people are the ones that will excel.  This is because there is a growing awareness globally that diversity drives innovation.  Is your team ready to innovate?

 DynaComm works with business leaders to enhance their leadership potential through executive speech coaching, presentation training, thought leader planning and reputation management.  Find us at www.dynacommllc.com.

 

Stand Out Women of 2019

Stand Out Women of 2019

Stand Out Women of 2019

In 2019, women around the globe claimed leadership positions in government, business, sports and media.  Women may not always realize how poised for success we are in leadership roles, but our potential and abilities are undeniable.  Here is a list of my top “Stand Out Women for 2019,” all of whom possess exceptional leadership competencies. Who’s on your list?

  • Simone Biles – In October, she became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship History. Did you know that she is a five-time all around World Champion, a three-time World balance beam champion, a two-time World vault champion, a six-time U.S. National all-around champion, and a member of the gold-medal-winning American teams at the 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships.  Let that all sink in for a moment, and then join me and say:  WOW!
  • Greta Thunberg is an environmental activist on climate change, and at the age of 15 – that’s right, the young, tender age of 15 – addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Because of her activism, she is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, and is the youngest individual Time Person of the Year!  Her influence is still to be recognized.
  • Jane Fonda is 82 years young, and she is an award-winning actor and longtime political activist. She recently moved to Washington, D.C. to launch “Fire Drill Fridays,” a campaign of civil disobedience with weekly demonstrations to focus attention on the urgency of climate change issues. Her beauty philosophy is built on self-confidence, “For me, ageing beautifully is a state of mind: having more self-confidence, forgiving yourself and others more easily, and staying interested in things and taking care of yourself.” What’s not to love about that?
  • Nancy Pelosi is a powerful woman who shows others how to lead with grace, relevance and ferocity. At age 79, a mother of five and grandmother of nine, the first female House Speaker takes a back seat to no one – not even the President.  Speaker Pelosi led Congress in passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to restore the ability of women and all workers to access our judicial system to fight pay discrimination.  We’re with you, Speaker Pelosi!
  • Christine Lagarde is currently the president of the European Central Bank. Previously, she was the president of the International Monetary Fund, and upon her new appointment she announced that she has her own communication style, and “it will be different.”  Good call, Ms. Lagarde.  In 2018, Forbes ranked her number three on its World’s 100 Most Powerful Women List.
  • Heidi Hartmann, Founder and President of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Women’s Policy Research. I had the pleasure of meeting her at the University of Houston recently where I learned of her exploration into the issue of wage gaps between men and woman and her goal of complete integration in the labor force.  According to Dr. Hartmann, we women are making progress, but we’ve still a long way to go.  Agree!
  • Mary Barra is the Chair and CEO of General Motors Company. She has held the CEO position since 2014, and she is the first female CEO of a major automaker.  I’ve been following her since her appointment.  I especially like her prudent risk-taking steps as she has transitioned General Motors from an auto player into the tech space by moving forward with automated driverless cars, beating rival Tesla in developing the first electric car.  Hats off to you, Mary Barra!
  • Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM recently joined other business leaders by seeking a new purpose for their corporations to deliver value to customers, invest in their employees, deal ethically with suppliers, support communities where they live and work, and generate long-term value for their shareholders. Key words here:  Long-term value!  The world needs more and more leaders like you, Ms. Rometty.
  • Women Wonder– these are the women in my life – family, friends and business professionals. Every day, I learn something new from you.  There is an entire month dedicated to our history; yet, today I celebrate our achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love.  I am inspired by one of our leaders, Michelle Obama: “As women, we must stand up for ourselves.  We must stand up for each other.  We must stand up for justice for all.”
  • My Granddaughter is not yet two years old, and I love watching her grow and hearing her talk. I am excited about the path she will pursue.  She is fierce and strong and full of fire and life.  It will be a while before she can read these words and understand them, but I hope she will find a life filled with meaning and significance – and equal opportunity!
The Power of Setting Public Speaking Goals

The Power of Setting Public Speaking Goals

The Power of Setting Public Speaking Goals

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”  Business leader, Lee Iacocca, best known for introducing the Ford Mustang to the world, used his public speaking skills to get his points across to a variety of audiences.

While most of us are not on the world stage, knowing how to get your ideas heard in a business setting is a critical factor for career success.

If you want to improve your public speaking skills and deliver an amazing presentation every single time, it’s important to set public speaking goals to guide you there.  Whether you want to inform, inspire, or persuade your audience, or whether you’re just starting out and you want to gain confidence, setting goals is an important skill for your personal and professional success.

Here’s an easy process to help you set three public speaking goals for yourself.

Step #1: Understand why public speaking is important to your career.

We know deep down that if we can speak with clarity and confidence, we will have a better career track and more job opportunities.  A 2016 study of over 1,000 executives by Distinction Communications, indicates that 86% of participating executives attributed a direct correlation between their public speaking skills and their career success.

How about you?  Why is public speaking important to you specifically?

Step #2:  Break your public speaking goals into three categories. 

Examples include:

Category #1:  Confidence

Category #2:  Delivery

Category #3:  Structure and Organization

Step #3:  Set a Goal for each category

Once you have the three categories, you have to set goals for each.  Each goal has to be specific, timely, and measurable.  This works best to get it down on paper.  For example:

#1:  Confidence

This is a foundation category.  Without it, nothing else matters.  You can have the best content ever, but if you can’t stand in front of a group without shaking in your boots, everything gets thrown out the window.  Here are some examples to guide you:

  • By August 1, I will speak in front of (insert a number here) groups of people and feel comfortable
  • By September 1, I speak in front of the executives at my company – with the same confidence I feel when speaking in front of my direct reports.
  • By October 1, I feel comfortable applying for a leadership position that requires public speaking

#2:  Delivery

How to keep your audience engaged; how to move while on stage; and what to do with your hands.  Some examples to guide you:

  • By August 1, I know how to engage my audience using three different methods
  • By September 1, I move on stage with purpose and know how to inflect the tone of my voice to gain attention or to temper a sticky point.
  • By October 1, I will learn to use my hands with intention

#3:  Structure and Organization

How to structure executive briefings, project updates, and conference calls.

  • By August 1, I know how to structure a presentation from beginning to end.
  • By September 1, I can structure my thoughts on the spot at executive meetings.
  • By November 1, I know how to add rhetorical devices to my presentation in order to engage my audience. I know how to structure business stories.

 

Whatever your goals may be, following this process will bring you one step closer to becoming a more impactful public speaker.  It takes time and intentional practice.

 

DynaComm Strategies LLC can help you achieve your public speaking goals!

Using Our Personal Values to Influence Others

Using Our Personal Values to Influence Others

Using Our Personal Values to Influence Others

How can you effectively stand up for your personal values when pressured by your boss, colleagues, customers, or shareholders to do the opposite?

Personal Values

What do we mean by values?  In a business sense, it is the self-motivated, aspirational set of ethics that guides us.  Many of my peers and clients often hear me say that I provide high-quality, value-added business communication solutions.  I’ve been saying this for years, but it’s only been recently that I’ve learned to frame the most important values and to agree upon shared goals with each client encounter.  Along the way, I’m also learning to identify my own set of values, which help me to know when to speak my mind and to discern what’s right.

In her book, Giving Voice to Values, Mary Gentile empowers business leaders with the skills to voice and act on their values and align their personal path with their principles.  The issue isn’t about distinguishing what is right or wrong in business; rather, it is about knowing how to act on your values despite opposing pressure.

Giving voice to values isn’t the same as speaking truth to power.  Giving voice may mean asking the well-framed and well-timed strategic questions that allow people to think in a new way about a situation.  I was taught this tactic by a leadership coach, and it has never failed me.  The more strategic questions I ask, the more I continue to receive invitations to sit at the table and to help problem solve.

Injecting Personal Values

Giving voice to values may mean working behind the scenes with someone who is better positioned to raise an issue.  This is especially true if you are in a hierarchical organization that values titles.  Does it really matter who gets credit?  If you have a great business idea and can utilize someone else in the organization who currently has more influence, this is an excellent way to get your idea across.

Giving voice to values may mean finding another ethically acceptable way to accomplish a task.  It doesn’t necessarily mean “speaking up.”  But building scripts and practicing will help.

The “giving voice to values” approach to values-driven leadership is a focus on building awareness and the preparation for effective, values-driven action.  In this case, action means developing scripts and implementation plans for responding to rationalizations for questionable practices and putting the practice into action.  It takes practice.

Giving voice to values is about building the skills, the confidence, the moral muscle (says Gentile), and the habit of voicing our values.  It begins with the assumption that most of us want to bring our whole selves to work.  Yet, we know from research that most of us will encounter values conflicts in our careers when our personal values and the things we want to accomplish are in conflict with the expectations of our clients, our colleagues, our bosses, or our organizations.  This is when the practice approach is most effective.

Know What is Right and How to Make it Happen

By giving voice to your values, you can have a positive and lasting influence on many people.  By asking the right questions, by building a set of allies, and by taking a practice-based approach to giving voice, we begin to build confidence in problem solving and greater confidence in knowing what we would say and do in certain situations.  Over time, we will not only know what is right but also how to make it happen.

Marianne Gooch is a business leader, management consultant, and public speaker who helps business leaders become more effective communicators with speech coaching, speech writing, and presentation/media training.  DynaComm is a 100% woman-certified and owned business with headquarters in Houston, Texas.  http://www.dynacommllc.com/

Fear of Public Speaking – Follow These Ten Tips

Fear of Public Speaking – Follow These Ten Tips

Fear of Public Speaking – Follow These Ten Tips

Fear of public speaking is a common phobia. Sleepless nights, sweaty palms, and an upset stomach are just some of the symptoms of public speaking anxiety that cause people to shy away from the stage. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting to two people or to 250 people, when public speaking anxiety strikes, you need strategies to manage your anxiety so you can go on to the stage with confidence, poise, and professionalism.

Here are 10 tips to manage public speaking anxiety and get over fear of public speaking:

1.  Know your topic.

If you’re already a subject matter expert, reviewing your topic for proper structure is key to success. What do you want your audience to think, feel, and know as a result of your speech?  If you are not an expert on the content, researching well before your presentation will give you the confidence you need to deliver as an expert.

2.  Know your audience.

Call your host ahead of time to find out the demographics.  Who typically attends the presentation?  What are their titles? How much do they know about your topic . . . how much do they need to know? Greet them at the door, and get to know them as they arrive.  This goes a long way to reducing anxiety, because you can gain valuable tips about them in a short time.

3.  Practice your opening two or three statements ahead of time.

Be careful not to memorize any lines though; your audience wants to see you thinking.  If you’re like me, and you’re prone to memorization, practice your opening statements in several different ways so it’s fresh when you start your speech.  Know this: If you deliver your opening statements with confidence, you’re on your way to successful delivery.

4.  Let your personality shine. 

Some people tell me that they’re introverts, and they believe this hinders them.  Not true at all.  If you’re shy about being on stage, your audience will love you all the more for it – as long as you are your true, authentic self.

5.  Take a Power Pose.

This simple strategy can be used to reduce anxiety and build your confidence in a very short time. My personal definition is to simply plant your feet, about hip length apart, deep breath in, then slowly exhale.

6.  Breathe.

We all know the difference between sounding nervous and sounding confident. Use deep breathing to project your voice across a large room.  Keep your chest steady and think about breathing into your stomach as you take in a breath.  Then exhale slowly, like letting the air out of a balloon.

7.  Eye Contact. 

As I step on to the stage, I make eye contact with a friendly face in the audience before speaking. I do this as I strike my power pose.  This combination relaxes me and gives me a sense of control.

8.  Silence. 

It’s hard for some speakers to realize how often they utter, “Uhm” during their presentation, but the audience hears it.  And it’s distracting them from your intended message.  Practice a silent pause instead of saying “Uhm.”  You’ll be doing the audience a favor because they need time to digest and process everything you’re telling them.

9.  Purpose.

Walking with purpose gives us a sense of control and confidence.  Some movement on stage is expected.  Too much is a distraction.  Learn to use purposeful walking to signal that you’re arriving at an important point in your speech.

10.  Plan.

Try to do as much planning in advance of your speech.  Know your audience; know your topic; know the layout of the room, and know your multi-media.  Also, visualize anything that might go wrong and then develop scenarios for how you will handle the situation.

Being slightly anxious before a speech gives us the energy we need to perform well.

 

Marianne Gooch is a business leader, management consultant, and public speaker who helps business leaders become more effective communicators with speech coaching, speech writing, and presentation/media training.  DynaComm is a 100% woman-certified and owned business with headquarters in Houston, Texas.  http://www.dynacommllc.com/