"Building capacity and capability for
a great place to work and great profits."

Author Archive

  • Average reading time: Approximately 4 minutes

Self-determination theory: autonomy, competence and relatedness In 1969, twenty years after Harlow’s experiments with primates, psychologist Edward Deci, now a professor at the University of Rochester, followed up with a series of experiments with humans. Deci’s experiments showed that students lost intrinsic interest in an activity when money was offered as an external reward. Drawing on my experience in the workplace, I am not surprised with the results and inspired by the validation.

In my previous blog What We Can Learn about Motivation from Monkeys, I shared my personal experience as a young student – my response to a reward program and the effects. With the “best penmanship” award, there was no money involved. However, there was a currency and reward possibly more powerful in my young mind than money: my status among my peers.

No doubt, rewards can deliver a short-term boost. However the effect wears off. Even worse, rewards can reduce a person’s longer-term motivation. I remember working so hard to retain “best-penmanship” status and being frustrated and stressed when caught off guard by a challenger (a fellow classmate). My focus, energy, and even my desire to do well in other projects suffered. So did my self-regard. The process undermined my sense of competence.

The Power of Self-Determination to Motivate

Deci and Richard Ryan later expanded on the earlier studies. Their Self-Determination Theory proposed three main intrinsic needs involved in self-determination, each of which is universal, innate, and psychological:

  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Relatedness

Deci proposed that human beings have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore, and to learn. Unlike drives for thirst, food, and sex, these needs are never completely satisfied. Even after we attain degrees of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, we still want more.

Hence, trying to motivate people with the promise of rewards does not work. We could even assert that this default motivation tactic is insulting and degrading to the essence of being human. You cannot impose growth, learning, and meaning upon people; they must find it for themselves; they must find it within themselves. However, you can promote an environment that doesn’t undermine people’s sense of competence.

Ingredients of a Great Learning Environment

I was fortunate to have had a great learning environment through three formative years of my life (grades 4, 5, and 6). I had the same teacher for three years and minimal turnover of classmates. Whether he knew it or not, Mr. Sampson provided an environment that addressed our basic psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Our portable classroom provided intimacy that supported both autonomy and relatedness. As students, we had our competitions, but we were tight with and supportive of one another. Mr. Sampson provided challenging and fun opportunities to learn, master, feel competent, and enjoy our accomplishments as individuals, groups, and as a class.

Long before Deci and Ryan conducted their research, Mr. Sampson was a leader in the teaching profession, whether he knew it or not. I hope he did know. I sense that he was motivated by his own need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Although the “best-penmanship” award was not the most effective motivator, Mr. Sampson planted strong seeds of self-determination and self-motivation by addressing our psychological needs.

What do you think about this?

  1. How could you design your workplace to address your employees’ psychological needs?
  2. What processes may be undermining employees’ sense of competence?
  3. What would be the impact of consistent leadership and minimal turnover on your work environment and your profits?

The conversation about motivation continues in the next blog post:

  1. Motivating without Micromanaging: Eliminate Mindless Compliance and Conformity
  2. The Domino Effect: Positive Energy, Vitality, and Sense of Well-being in the Workplace.

I would love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with building capacity and capability for a great workplace and great profits. Your comments are welcome.

You can contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Books and Audiobooks:

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging, Susan Fowler.

Also available in Kindle Edition, on iTunes (audiobook), and in iBooks

Related Blogs:

What We Can Learn about Motivation from Monkeys

The Motivational Trifecta

Motivate without Over-managing

Additional Resources:

Self-Determination Theory

Stay positive

Comments (0)
  • Average reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

Competence: The Third Psychological Need in the Workplace

In the previous blog, The Motivational Trifecta, I introduced the first two psychological needs: autonomy and relatedness – each requiring a delicate balance. The third psychological need people want satisfied is a feeling of competence. As human beings, we are motivated to master tasks and learn new things. Mastery and learning top the chart when I coach executives to uncover their sources of satisfaction at work and then to develop interests outside of work that provide the same level of satisfaction.

Competence:

“Competence is our need to feel effective at meeting everyday challenges and opportunities. It is demonstrating skill over time. It is feeling a sense of growth and flourishing.” ~ Susan Fowler.

 

Monkeys Enjoy Solving Puzzles – Why?

motivated monkey

In 1949, psychologist Harry Harlow placed puzzles in monkeys’ cages and was surprised to find that the primates successfully solved the puzzles. Harlow saw no logical reason for them to do so. What motivated them? The answer is threefold:

  • The monkeys’ survival didn’t depend on solving the puzzles.
  • They didn’t receive any rewards, nor avoid any punishments, for their work.
  • They solved the puzzles because they had a desire to do so.

I would also suggest that they had a safe supportive environment in which to grapple and grow, a key to peak performance. See blog: 5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 4. Grapple and Grow

Harlow offered a novel theory: “The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward.” That is, the monkeys performed because they found solving the puzzles gratifying. They enjoyed it. Joy served as its own reward.

Further experiments found that offering external rewards to solve these puzzles didn’t improve performance. In fact, rewards disrupted task completion. Based on my own personal experience, I’m not surprised. When focusing on a penmanship award in grade 4 and 5, I was not only distracted by the reward, but also by the stress and fear of losing my “best-penmanship” status.

Harlow’s experiments led him to identify a third motivational drive:

  • The first drive is survival. We drink, eat, and copulate to ensure our survival.
  • The second drive is to seek rewards and avoid punishment (carrot-and-stick).
  • The third drive is intrinsic: to achieve internal satisfaction (self-direction).

Did I gain internal satisfaction from improving my penmanship? Yes! Being left-handed, I was motivated by the challenge and satisfied with the outcome. But, was there a cost? Were my overall personal development and performance behaviours affected by conditioning to seek external rewards and the fear associated with loss of status and punishment of peer humiliation? Most definitely! Like many, I have experienced performance anxiety that has been crippling at times, demotivating, and threatening to my self-regard.

Trying to motivate people with the promise of rewards or fear of loss or punishment (expressed or implied) simply doesn’t work.

What do you think about this?

  1. What are your challenges with motivation?
  2. What current incentive and reward practices need to be evaluated?
  3. What are the costs of your current incentive and reward practices – financial and human performance?

The conversation about motivation continues in the next blog post:

  1. What Motivates People
  2. The Power of Self-Determination to Motivate

I would love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with building capacity and capability for a great workplace and great profits. Your comments are welcome.

You can contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, on Maestro’s Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter.

Books and Audiobooks:

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging, Susan Fowler.

Also available in Kindle Edition, on iTunes (audiobook), and in iBooks

Related Blogs:

The Motivational Trifecta

Motivate without Over-managing

Providing Conditions for Peak Performance

5 Steps to Build Peak Performance – Step 4. Grapple and Grow

Image courtesy of ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stay positive

Jan
30

The Motivational Trifecta

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Average reading time: Approximately 4 minutes

As I read the book, Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging by consultant Susan Fowler, I take note that I can best serve my executive clients by having those coaching conversations about tapping into their employees’ basic drives:

  • Autonomy
  • Relatedness
  • Competence

 

Goldilocks Management: Just the Right Amount

This blog focuses on autonomy and relatedness because these two basic drives require a delicate balance – not too much; not too little; just the right amount.

motivation: a balance between autonomy and relatedness

Autonomy

“Autonomy is our human need to perceive we have choices. It is our need to feel that what we are doing is of our own volition. It is our perception that we are the source of our actions.” ~ Susan Fowler

When working with individual executives to build their personal foundation, we begin with identifying their personal needs and how to get them met appropriately. The need for autonomy is always high on their lists. As adults, we never lose our need for autonomy. It’s a critical motivator.

Research has shown that productivity significantly increases for blue-collar workers in manufacturing plants when they are given the ability to stop the line. So does the productivity of white-collar workers in major investment banks who report a high sense of autonomy.

However, when those who lead and manage become too involved in pushing people to be productive, even under the well-intentioned guise of coaching and encouragement, they can actually undermine perceived autonomy. There’s a fine line that requires Goldilocks management: just the right amount.

Of course, being sensitive to how much attention is over-managing and how much is not enough is quite a challenge in today’s workplace. Motivational outlook conversations with individuals are the best way to find out. Stay tuned to learn more about motivation outlook conversations throughout this blogging series.

Relatedness

The degree of relatedness provided for individuals is also a fine line. Some need more; others less. Relatedness is defined as our need to care about and be cared for by others. “It is our need to feel connected to others without concerns about ulterior motives,” Fowler notes. “It is our need to feel that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves.” I personally believe this need grows exponentially with age and as people enter their wisdom years. Good reason for honouring this need of older workers: everyone benefits.

In 1924, Western Electric conducted one of the first studies on workplace behaviors at Hawthorne Works, a plant located just outside of Chicago. Researchers found that workers were more productive when they knew they were being observed and were included in social interactions. George Elton Mayo described this as a positive emotional effect stemming from workers’ awareness of a sympathetic, interested observer.

We are social animals. When offered opportunities to work together, as in teams, groups, and committees, our engagement and productivity increase. We thrive on connection and community.

Think about it: We spend an enormous percentage of our time at work, getting ready for work, preparing for meetings and presentations, and thinking about what we’re going to say or do. Some experts estimate we spend 75 percent of our waking hours focused on work. If our relationship needs go unmet at work, we are unlikely to be able to adequately compensate outside the workplace. In my work with executives preparing to retire from the workplace, the fear of losing relationships and connection with others is consistently in the top five.

Consequences of Ignoring How People Feel

Leaders have enormous opportunities to help their people find meaning in workplace interpersonal experiences. If you make the mistake of applying pressure to perform without regarding how people feel, they will likely interpret your actions as self-serving. This never works. Your staff will disconnect and disengage. Or worse, as we are seeing in social media, employees (even previously loyal employees) will express their grievances publicly.

What do you think about this?

  1. How do you find out what truly motivates an individual employee?
  2. How do you determine what’s “just enough” when addressing autonomy and relatedness?
  3. What opportunities are available to help your employees find meaning in their workplace interpersonal experiences?

The conversation about motivation continues in the next blog post:

  1. Competence: The Third Psychological Need in the Workplace
  2. What We Can Learn about Motivation from Monkeys

I would love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with building capacity and capability for a great workplace and great profits. Your comments are welcome.

You can contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, on Maestro’s Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter.

Books and Audiobooks:

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging, Susan Fowler.

Also available in Kindle Edition, on iTunes (audiobook), and in iBooks

Related Blogs:

Motivate without Over-managing, Patricia Muir

Providing Conditions for Peak Performance, Patricia Muir

Stay positive

Comments (0)
Jan
15

Motivate without Over-Managing

Posted by: | Comments (0)

20th century workplace

  • Average reading time: Approximately 4 minutes

Many business leaders have lost sight of what motivates people at work. In fact, some companies have not updated their incentive practices in years, which means they are probably struggling to create and sustain high-performing teams.

Companies continue to ignore the obvious: Offering incentives and rewards is less effective than tapping into truly meaningful intrinsic motivation. Leaders continue to operate on old assumptions about motivation despite a wealth of well-documented scientific evidence.

When working with executive teams, I hear and feel their frustration with disconnected and disengaged workers. At the same time, these executives spend time and money on revamping compensation plans and initiating shiny new rewards programs. I believe they would reap better returns on investing time in discovery conversations that tap into people’s internal drives.

I have said (and written about) it many times before, and I speak from years of experience and observation: the old “carrot-and-stick” mentality actually inhibits employees from seeking creative solutions. Research has recently unlocked the reasoning to support the wisdom. The carrot-and-stick mentality enables the focus on attaining rewards instead of solving problems. Review the most notorious business failures – Enron, for example – and you’ll find that company leaders focused on rewarding short-term results at the expense of sustaining success.

Pause and Reflect

  1. How might your organization be sabotaging sustainable success by rewarding short-term results?
  2. Are you pushing for higher sales and higher productivity while sacrificing a positive customer and employee experience?
  3. Are your processes and communications focused on transactions or relationships?

Many of my clients are examining their practices to address mixed messages and misaligned intentions that sabotage their ability to build capacity and capability for a great place to work and great profits.

Effective Motivation: Satisfying People’s Psychological Needs

Effective motivation requires you to offer opportunities that satisfy three basic human needs:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Relatedness
  3. Competence

This approach is far from new. Social scientists have grasped what motivates people for more than 60 years. Alas, managers continue to use the carrot-and-stick model with incentive programs. Regardless of gender, race, culture, or generation, the reality is clear: this model breeds superficial and short-term motivation – expensive, ineffective, and lacking in satisfying psychological needs.

I’m reading Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging by consultant Susan Fowler. The book serves as a good reminder that managers must periodically review their motivational techniques to recapture their leadership mojo (charm and power).

If your employees are inert, disengaged and bored, something has flipped their default setting. Our basic nature is to be curious and self-directed, to seek out and explore solutions to problems. With a few extraordinary exceptions, the 19th and 20th century workplace was a great place to dampen our basic nature – at great expense to people, organizations, and communities. Now, into the first 15 years of the 21st century, we still have far to go in moving from insight to practice and undo centuries of conditioning.

Moving Out of the Comfort Zone

Many leaders will resist giving up their carrots. Many workers will be uncomfortable imagining a world without incentives. We are conditioned to like the carrots and avoid the sticks.

However, leaders who recognize the value of, and who can implement, intrinsic motivation can expect a whole new workplace — and an entirely new definition of work. In my opinion, we do not need better management as much as a renaissance of self-direction and critical-thinking that will only flourish with autonomy.

The bigger, unanswered question is whether or not today’s leaders are ready to rise to the new challenges autonomy will require.

What do you think about this?

  1. What are your best practices for effective motivation?
  2. Are YOUR psychological needs being satisfied at work?
  3. What do you think are the obstacles to harnessing core psychological needs for improving performance?

I would love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with building capacity and capability for a great workplace and great profits. Your comments are welcome.

You can contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, on Maestro’s Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter.

The conversation about motivation continues in the next blog post:

  • The Motivational Trifecta: Autonomy, Relatedness, and Competence
  • Goldilocks Management: Just the right amount.

Books and Audiobooks:

Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work…and What Does: The New Science of Leading, Energizing, and Engaging, Susan Fowler.

Also available in Kindle Edition, on iTunes (audiobook), and in iBooks

Related Blogs:

Providing Conditions for Peak Performance, Patricia Muir

Photo by Unknown or not provided (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Stay positive

Comments (0)
  • Average reading time: Approximately 4 minutes

Good News! Plastic Surgery Not Required

Personal presence is key to getting promotions, sales, and business results. In the end, character and communication skills are more important, but first impressions count very much.

Your Image Matters

personal imageThe good news is that attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. You do not need genetic re-engineering, or money, or plastic surgery. To be perceived taller, you can stand tall, walk tall, and sit tall by adjusting your posture and using larger gestures.

Carefully observe those you know who make the best of their appearance. Ask them what they do. What are their rules or “best practices” for choosing wardrobe or makeup?

As an example, I always wear a jacket, classic jewelry, and closed-toe shoes for business meetings and functions. As much as I admire fashion and love to experiment with new looks, I forego trends that may negatively impact the expectation of consistency, professionalism and credibility.

My ten-year-old niece, Marissa, knows that image matters. During a summer shoe-shopping excursion, she commented that she understood why I steered toward close-toed shoes. “They’re more professional AND safe”, she said. As much as we both admired the stylish summer sandals, we both agreed on the taboos.

You can still update your look to stand out and appear progressive without being a slave to brands and trends. You’d be surprised at the effects on how you’re perceived!

Good Packaging

When choosing a product in a store, our eyes are drawn to packaging that’s well-designed yet useful in that it tells us what to expect. Our exterior selves are no different, albeit more complex. Think about the image you want to project and start with the end in mind.

In addition to wardrobe, consider all the accessories that complete the picture: your notebook, writing instruments, briefcases. When you open up your carrying case, is it messy and unorganized? Does it take too long for you to find a necessary file, your phone, or your business cards?

Your desk and workspace build on the impression you make on others. If you have a meeting at work, how do others see you, based on your visible organizational skills? What do your personal items communicate?

Consider how your personal presence extends to your surroundings. Even the condition of your car (cleanliness and tidiness, not the make, model and year) demonstrates how much you care about the little things that make a big difference.

“The ‘little’ things can make a big difference in landing a job, getting a promotion, winning a contract, or leading an organization through change.”

~ Dianna Booher, Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader

Personal and Professional Etiquette

In the 1999 movie, “Blast from the Past”, Adam (Brendan Fraser) is quoted as saying that good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. I often paraphrase this quote when explaining why manners are an integral part of the total image we project, both personally and professionally. People like to be with, associate with, and do business with people who show respect and make them feel valued and comfortable.

You can make a better first and lasting impression. It starts with appearance and is enhanced with manners.

If you haven’t worked with a coach on your personal presence and executive presence, consider the return-on-investment. You may not be aware of how you come across to others. In my work as an executive coach, my clients and I cover all aspects of personal presence and executive presence.

What do you think about this?

  1. What are your best practices for personal presence?
  2. When did you last update your professional appearance?
  3. What image do you want to project? What image are you projecting? Are there gaps or disconnect?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with making a great first impression and making it stick. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

 The conversation moves on to motivation in the next blog post:

  • Motivate without Over-Managing. Have business leaders lost sight of what truly motivates people in the present-day workplace? Are they ignoring the obvious: Incentives and rewards don’t work anymore. Are they ready to embrace “intrinsic motivation”?

Books and Audiobooks:

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Available Kindle Edition. Available on iTunes

Photo © Max Riesgo | Fotolia.com

Stay positive

Comments (0)
  • Average reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

Shpersonal groomingowing that You Care

How much are you judged on your appearance at work? Surveys can offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect.

Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance. More than a third of the executives surveyed considered polish and grooming as most vital to one’s personal presence, ahead of physical attractiveness (less than a fifth). It’s not your body type, height, or weight that matters most; it’s what you do with what you’ve got.

Anyone can improve his or her looks through better grooming habits. While dress standards vary, good grooming signals discipline, competency, good health, and most importantly, that you care.

In a study at Harvard Medical School, judgments about a woman’s competence, likeability, and trustworthiness were affected by how much makeup she wore. The more makeup worn, the higher the women were rated.

When you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment. It announces that you take your work seriously. Senior leaders say that failure to come through on the grooming front implies either poor judgment or lack of discipline.

Rules of Engagement

Achieving polish comes down to minimizing anything that may distract from your skill sets, the message you’re trying to convey, and the changes you want to influence.

While the specifics of dress, makeup, hair, and grooming vary according to geographical and industry contexts, you are wise to make sure your appearance focuses the audience on your competencies rather than acting as a potential distraction.

Women need to avoid dressing in any way that draws overt attention to their sexuality, yet without appearing frumpy. Men need to be aware of group standards for their gender – how formally or informally do others in their audience dress? Is a suit and tie the norm, or will a polo shirt and slacks suffice?

At the same time, each individual needs to be authentic and not just copy others. When you wear clothes that feel uncomfortable, it detracts from your internal confidence.

Attractiveness Counts

There’s much research proving that intrinsically attractive people have an easier time:

  • They get hired more often
  • They earn more (taller people earn $789 more per inch per year)
  • They fare better in justice court sentencing
  • Attractive candidates get more votes
  • Attractive students get more attention from teachers

The fact that beautiful people earn more can be attributed to three things:

  1. They are more confident (in 20% of cases).
  2. They are considered more competent by employers (although this is a wrong assumption in 30% of cases).
  3. They have communication and social skills that enable them to interact well (in 50% of cases).

In the work I do coaching executives and their teams, I’ve found that paying attention to overall appearance goes a long way towards inner confidence for everyone. When you take care of your appearance and grooming, you become more comfortable socially.

What do you think about this?

  1. How important is polish and grooming in your profession and company culture?
  2. What judgments about skills, confidence, capability, and trust do you make based on appearance?
  3. Are your employees dressing appropriately to focus on their competencies rather than creating distractions?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about the challenges and successes you have with the personal presence of people you lead. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

The conversation on Personal Presence continues in the next blog post:

  • Your Personal Presence: Image Matters. Good news! Attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. Plastic surgery not required.

Books and Audiobooks:

Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Available Kindle Edition. Available on iTunes

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stay positive

Comments (0)
  • Average reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

Appearances Matter

professional appearanceOften, the little things are what really count. Like it or not, first impressions do matter. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book Blink, back in 2007? The author stresses how quickly we decide to like or dislike someone. Our brains size people up in less than 250 milliseconds.

While character and communication skills including expressing your passionate purpose and matching powerful words and nonverbal behaviours are key, you will not influence the people you need to lead if your appearance telegraphs that you’re clueless.

Whether you are an executive up for promotion, an employee seeking more responsibilities, or a parent involved in community or team activities, how you look will open doors and put you in play.

Looking Good, Feeling Capable

There is a visceral connection between looking good and feeling capable. When we look our best, we feel confident. There is research showing a big link between our appearance and whether or not we are perceived as competent or incompetent.

People who appear to take care of their appearance and are well-groomed are perceived by others as more capable, likeable, and even more trustworthy.

Impact of Professional Appearance

Not surprisingly, however, your colleagues, mentors, and even your best friends are reluctant to give feedback on how you should improve your wardrobe, hair, and grooming. Advice on appearance is difficult for anyone to give, even with best interests at heart. At work, it is more perilous to critique appearances, especially to women and minorities. The executives I coach often avoid correcting an employee on matters related to the company’s expectations for professional appearance (aka “dress code”) even when they know the company’s professional reputation and customer-trust is negatively impacted by poor standards in appearance.

Surveys offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect. Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance.

According to senior leaders, there are five aspects comprising good appearance:

  1. Being polished and groomed
  2. Being physically attractive, fit, slim
  3. Simple, stylish clothes that position you for your next job
  4. Being tall
  5. Being youthful and vigorous

Which do you think is most important in your work culture?

In the work I do coaching some very competent leaders, you would be surprised how often the topic of their own appearance comes up. Many of us are often uncomfortable discussing this personal and professional topic with peers or even mentors. We may be afraid we will appear unsure of ourselves or clueless if we have to ask.

Standards in Shifting Workplace Cultures

Granted, dress standards do change with the times as the workplace fills with younger generations, ethnic diversity, and overall relaxing of “dress codes”. However, this is no reason to let standards slip to that of the lowest denominator.

What do you think about this?

  1. Are you adapting along with the trends and still remaining appropriate with your personal appearance?
  2. What about those you lead? Is there a standard for professional dress and is the standard embraced and reinforced by your example and counsel when needed?
  3. Or is your workplace like Dilbert’s Casual Day Has Gone Too Far?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me how you demonstrate that personal presence matters with the people you lead. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

The conversation on Personal Presence continues in the next blog post:

  • Your Personal Presence: Grooming Counts. An interesting twist on perception. When you make an effort to look polished, you signal to others that you see them as worth your time and investment.

Books and Audiobooks:

Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004), Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern. Available on iTunes

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell. Available on iTunes

Casual Day Has Gone Too Far, A Dilbert Book, Scott Adams. Available on iTunes

Photo © auremar | Fotolia.com

Stay positive

Comments (0)
  • storytelling in the workplaceAverage reading time: Approximately 3 minutes

As a leader, you need to imbue your words, actions, and stories with passion and authenticity. Every time you want to communicate a message, incorporate specific, dynamic verbs that characterize your intentions.  Reference recent posts about emotional expressiveness beginning with Emotional Expressiveness for Leaders to review the effectiveness of expressing emotion in the workplace.

When I am coaching leaders of every generation, I find many who are passionate about their work, but they don’t express their passion sufficiently in everyday communication.  I am curious: What holds them back from expressing their passionate purpose?

Leaders generally try to explain or relay information. This very act lacks energy, passion and/or tension. Have you ever noticed the lack of energy in those who are receiving information?  Simply “receiving” – not “engaging”.  Explaining or relaying information is transactional, not relational.  Instead of using dry, colourless verbs to convey your point, substitute action words that carry emotional intensity.

When you “make an announcement to explain upcoming changes”, there’s no surprise that people tune out and/or don’t buy in.  Instead, “challenge people to make some adjustments” or “overcome obstacles to success.” Focus on what truly matters: your passionate purpose. Your passion will ignite their passion leading to engagement and buy-in.

Storytelling in the Workplace

Have you ever noticed what happens in a conference room full of people when a speaker starts telling stories? People sit up straight and lean toward the speaker. They put down their smartphones, stop texting, and begin to pay attention.

Effective storytelling goes beyond the conference room. The minute someone you admire tells you a personal story, you listen intently because you’re gaining a glimpse into his or her true passions.

Telling stories helps you express yourself naturally. You need not be an accomplished or trained speaker to come across as genuine and interesting. When you tell a personal story, your voice, body, and emotions work in concert to create authenticity.

I know that when I use personal stories in my workshops, both my audience and I feel more connected and comfortable in sharing our goals, challenges, and successes.  We laugh more as well, adding to the mood for learning.

You generate emotional responses from your audience, touching both head and heart — a far cry from relying on PowerPoint presentations and ordinary bullet points.

Your Inner Passions

To connect with your inner passions before communicating on any topic, ask yourself:

  • What am I fighting for?
  • What do others want?
  • What are the obstacles?

Use your answers to choose verbs that capture your passionate purpose.

Never forget that every human interaction — from meetings and presentations to memos and face-to-face conversations — involves needs and desires, real or potential conflicts. These pivotal moments are opportunities to change minds and influence behaviour.

Your goal is to identify the desired change or problem to be overcome and invest it with energy and passion.

What do you think about this?

  • What holds you back from expressing your passionate purpose?
  • What are your inner passions?
  • What action verbs and/or stories are in your toolbox for expressing passionate purpose?

I would love to hear from you. Tell me about your experiences in expressing your passionate purpose. I would love to hear a few riveting stories. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

You won’t want to miss the next blog post:

  • Enhance Your Leadership Presence. Do you think your Personal Presence matters? Learn more about the importance of the first impression and how aligning your personal and professional presence enhances your leadership presence.

Books and Audiobooks:

Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire (Penguin Group, USA, 2004), Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern.  Available on iTunes

How the World Sees You, Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination, Sally Hogshead. Also available as an audiobook on ITunes

Additional References:

How to tell a Great Story

“Storytelling” entry on Wikipedia

Photo@ Tatiana12 via photopin cc

Stay positive

professional body languageIn their book Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire, authors Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern suggest three guidelines for developing emotional expressiveness that inspires others, influences change and drives business results.

  1. Generate excitement
  2. Put nonverbal cues to work
  3. Find and express a passionate purpose

My previous post explored generating authentic excitement through being expressive. Moving forward, this post explores how nonverbal behaviours and cues can work for or against you in developing your unique style of emotional expressiveness to carry your message as a leader.

Put Nonverbal Cues to Work

How do you put nonverbal behaviours to work in order to fully express emotions and carry your message as a leader?

“What makes presence is not just the clothes you wear, the words you speak or how you think. Rather, presence requires alignment between your mind, body and words — to walk the talk, you need a simultaneous focus on all three levers: mental, skill and physical. Your presence is an interconnected system of your beliefs and assumptions, your communication skills and your physical energy.” ~ Amy Jen Su, Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)

While the words you choose play an important role in your message’s emotional impact, research tells us that facial and body cues may be even more significant:

  • Body language and confidence level shape your message’s impact.
  • Tone of voice radiates clarity, energy and passion (or lack thereof).
  • Actual words have the least effect on communication impact.

Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus of psychology at UCLA, conducted studies that revealed:

  • Words account for only 7% of a speaker’s impact.
  • Vocal tone is responsible for 38%.
  • Body language trumps them both at an astounding 55%.

Despite these game-changing findings, most of us spend 99% of our time on crafting language when planning a presentation — and a mere 1% on how we’re going to convey our message.

Are You Happy? You Might Want to Tell Your Face That

In the BBC comedy series, Benidorm, Janey, the Solana hotel manager played by British actress Crissy Rock, calls out to a guest “Are you happy, darlin?” The guest replies “yes”, but obviously her response is not in sync with her facial expression. Janey retorts “Might want to tell your face that?”

You lose credibility when your face and body send different messages. You may not even be aware of your “tics”: unconscious movements or gestures that are out of sync with how you truly feel.

Alignment Using Your Core Values

Speak from your core values to achieve alignment. If you are not clear about your core values or if you feel you are holding back from expressing your highest values, consider hiring an experienced executive coach. In my work with executives, I reference the work of Sally Hogshead and her best-selling book, How the World Sees You. Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination. I encourage my clients to use the Fascination Advantage Report as a foundation to align their words and actions in creating and delivering their leadership message.

The challenge of aligning your leadership presence is too important to ignore. Your overall leadership presence ultimately determines whether or not you are perceived as a strong, consistent leader. Nonverbal behaviour and cues are subconscious and can sabotage your message. There is significant benefit in gaining awareness through feedback and coaching.

What do you think about this?

  • Are your words and actions aligned?
  • Do your words, your voice, and your body language carry your message as a leader?
  • How do you use your highest value to present a fascinating presence?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me how you maintain a fascinating presence with the people you lead. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

You won’t want to miss the next blog post:

  • Enhance Your Leadership Presence. Stop explaining and relaying information! Challenge people to change and overcome obstacles to success. Express your passionate purpose.

 

Books and Audiobooks:

Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire(Penguin Group, USA, 2004), Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern. Available on iTunes

How the World Sees You, Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination, Sally Hogshead. Also available as an audiobook on ITunes

Photo © contrastwerkstatt | Fotolia.com

Stay positive

: unemotional businesswomanI have worked closely with leaders for over two decades and have witnessed technology change rapidly beyond the speed of light while leadership behaviours evolve at a snail’s pace. In the work I do coaching executives and executive teams, I meet many “leaders” who still cling to the idea that emotional expressiveness is seen in leaders as weak and ineffective. I discussed this recently in Emotional Expressiveness for Leaders and Myths and Assumptions about Emotions.

On the contrary, research into emotional and social intelligence reveals that failure to show emotions makes leaders far less effective. Without recognizing our feelings, our ability to make wise decisions is impaired. There is an emotion at the root of all decisions.

However, feelings are often suppressed and go unexplored in the workplace as though they are taboo. We ignore feelings in our peers, employees, and customers. We assume everyone feels as we do and we go to great lengths to avoid the work needed to uncover and deal with differences.

In truth, every human interaction is emotionally charged — especially at work. You can try to ignore this reality, but do so at your own peril.

Your moods, both positive and negative, are ultimately contagious. Expressing your emotions may make the difference between inspiring employee commitment and perpetuating a culture of boredom, isolation, and apathy.

3 Basic Techniques for Developing Expressiveness

Lubar and Halpern offer three guidelines for developing expressiveness that inspires others, influences change, and drives business results.

  1. Generate excitement
  2. Put nonverbal cues to work
  3. Find and express a passionate purpose

We will explore these guidelines in this and the next two posts. Let’s start with generating excitement!

Generate Excitement

Authentic excitement: it’s the emotion {that} leaders tell us they want most in their people. ~ Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern, Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire(Penguin Group, USA, 2004)

Creating excitement begins with showing enthusiasm and fighting the urge to suppress it (in yourself and in others). The workplace can be pretty cold and oppressive when people are forced to hold back their excitement. You’ll deepen your bond with others by revealing your humanity and vulnerability when you lead with and encourage excitement

The Bad and the Ugly

Anger, frustration, and pain, when properly expressed, bring us closer to one another. Never forget, however, that expressing emotion has a powerful effect, hence, think before you emote. Always wield emotions with thoughtfulness.

Feelings are everywhere. Be gentle. ~ J. Masai

Unfortunately, we must address one important caveat: Women and members of minority groups are wise to proceed with caution. Like it or not, these groups continue to walk a tightrope between showing authenticity and playing the conformity game.

Yes, we’ve come a long way, but the road to success remains strewn with unspoken rules and hidden prejudices. If you own your emotions and feel completely comfortable with them, you’ll likely be fine.

What do you think about this?

  • Are you encouraging suppression or expression of excitement?
  • Are you leading by showing authentic enthusiasm or defaulting to ignoring feelings?
  • Who would you need to be in order to be more expressive?

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with emotional expressiveness in the workplace. The good, bad, and the ugly. Your comments are welcome. You can also contact me at patricia@maestroquality.com, at 905-858-7566, on LinkedIn, or on Maestro’s Facebook page.

Coming up in the next two blog posts:

  • How can you put nonverbal behaviours to work in order to fully express emotions to carry your message as a leader?
  • Stop explaining and relaying information! Challenge people to change and overcome obstacles to success. Express your passionate purpose.

Books and Audiobooks

Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire   (Penguin Group, USA, 2004), Kathy Lubar and Belle Linda Halpern

Photo © auremar | Fotolia.com

Stay positive