How to reveal your personality?

August 4, 2008
Revealing your personality is the key.

Revealing your personality is the key.

For the past three posts I’ve been talking about why you should reveal your personality when you talk with your constituents. Check out the reasons here, here and here. So now we’ve got the reasons down… we know why it makes good business sense. Let’s come up with ideas for exactly HOW to inject a little personality into your communications. To get us started:

  • Do your friends have a “typical you” story about you? Something that demonstrates how or why you are the way you are? For instance, my parents like to tell people that my first grade teacher called me a “little Hitler.” No, this is not really about facial hair… it’s more about the fact that I was a know-it-all bossy-pants who tried to run everything during playtime. (Well, and all the time really.) Sometimes I tell this story when my bossiness tries to rear its ugly head. It’s like a warning and a cry for help all in one: I’m about to get all dictatorial, but knowing I’m like that, help me reign it in, will ya? My point (I do have one): Learn how to tell that story about you well enough that you could rattle it right off, because it makes you human and shows you have enough of a sense of humor that you can poke a little fun at yourself.
  • What does your spouse (or maybe your assistant?) tease you about? Are you always losing your keys? Do you practice your backswing when you think no one’s watching? Did they catch you humming a Barry Manilow tune? Whatever it is, sharing it with people is similar to the story-sharing above. It helps people relate to you as a person and not just as “my manager” or “the CEO.”

What other ideas do you have? Managers and leaders, what are you doing to reveal your personality at work?


Leadership = Sharing Information

July 16, 2008

Yesterday Chris Brogan posted Am I Too Naked in reaction to a comment from a potential customer. She expressed doubt that Chris could offer anything more as a paid consultant because he shares so much free information on his blog.

This reminds me of one of my favorite takeaways from a book called The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. They say:

“Leaders accept and act on the paradox of power; you become more powerful when you give your own power away” (251).

Think about that for a sec. Does the idea knock you out? It should. There are so many people out there hoarding their knowledge, hoarding their information, jealously guarding their intellectual talent. Sure, that’s one way to go. I see what they’re up to: “I want everyone to think I’m irreplaceable. I want to be the only person who knows how to do this! Because if someone else knows it, they might threaten my position. I could lose some of my power… and I don’t want that!!”

This thinking is just plain wrong. In Chris’s case, he never would have met that skeptical would-be customer if it weren’t for the information he shared on his blog. By consistently posting intelligent, useful information, he demonstrates himself as a resource, a font of knowledge that seemingly doesn’t dry up. Does she really think there’s not more where that came from?

What if managers and leaders embraced this model of sharing information? I can think of so many ways that sharing your knowledge and power with your team could benefit you:

  • Establish a common language / pool of knowledge
  • Cross-train employees
  • Boost productivity
  • Streamline processes
  • Improve service
  • Decrease the chances of duplicated work or effort
  • Increase satisfaction with the outcome
  • Avoid misunderstandings / confusion

What else? There must be success stories out there from managers who “give away their power.” I’d sure love to read some.

Why should managers and leaders care about communicating?

July 9, 2008

Whatever else you thought your job was about, chances are it involves a lot more writing than you ever imagined — through just email alone! But if you’re a supervisor or program manager, communication takes an even more prominent role in your work… or it should. Here’s why:

  • Someone wants to know what’s happening in your department. It might be your supervisor. It might be an auditor. It might be an HR person. Whatever the case, are you prepared to talk about how your team is performing?
  • Your project or program requires that you create messages to employees or customers, whether the messages are emails or brochures or fliers or web content or some other swanky medium. Do you know where to start?
  • Undoubtedly your department or project team has a list of goals to accomplish, all on different timelines. To accomplish these goals, your team has to be humming along at a pretty good clip, right? How can your team be the efficient “machine” it needs to be if the team members aren’t talking?
  • More than that, as a manager or team leader or project lead or whatever you want to call yourself, you have a unique opportunity to influence the lives of the people you’re working with. Their interaction with you can be positive or negative. To use a lovely boating metaphor: Think about the wake you’re leaving.
  • OK, now hold on while I get a little deep. Remember those department or project goals you had? What happens if you miss? What happens to the company goals or business strategy? This stuff matters. It matters if you’re a public company with obligations to shareholders. It matters if you work in a private company in an economy like this. It certainly matters if you’re in the nonprofit world. So, connecting the dots, if your team can achieve its goals by communicating better, couldn’t the organization achieve its goals if every department were communicating better?

It sounds a little cheesy, but I have this vision that we might actually be able to improve not only our happiness at work but also the way our organizations perform, if we — as leaders — get better at communicating. This doesn’t have to be hard or painful or embarassing. Just talking. Just thinking about things a little differently maybe, or being open to new ideas. Whaddaya think? Can we fix anything just by talking about it?