Influential Leaders Never Use These Phrases

Believe me when I tell you that I can offend even when it is meant for praise. We’ve all said things that people interpreted much differently than we thought they would. These seemingly benign comments lead to the awful feeling that only comes when you’ve planted your foot firmly into your mouth.I recently read an article by Travis Bradbury, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It offered insight into what to say in a conversation. I thought I would share some highlights with you. 


1. “You look tired” – Tired people are incredibly unappealing — they have droopy eyes and messy hair, they have trouble concentrating, and they’re as grouchy as they come. Telling someone he looks tired implies all of the above and then some. Instead say: “Is everything okay?”

2. “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” – Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive. Instead say: “You look fantastic.”

3. “You were too good for her anyway” – When someone severs ties with a relationship of any type, personal or professional, this comment implies he has bad taste and made a poor choice in the first place. Instead say: “Her loss!”

4. “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” – No one always or never does anything. People don’t see themselves as one-dimensional, so you shouldn’t attempt to define them as such. These phrases make people defensive and closed off to your message, which is a really bad thing because you likely use these phrases when you have something important to discuss. Instead say: Simply point out what the other person did that’s a problem for you. Stick to the facts. If the frequency of the behavior is an issue, you can always say, “It seems like you do this often.” or “You do this often enough for me to notice.”

5. “You look great for your age”– Using “for your” as a qualifier always comes across as condescending and rude. No one wants to be smart for an athlete or in good shape relative to other people who are also knocking on death’s door. People simply want to be smart and fit. Instead say: “You look great.”

6. “As I said before . . .” –  We all forget things from time to time. This phrase makes it sound as if you’re insulted at having to repeat yourself, which is hard on the recipient (someone who is genuinely interested in hearing your perspective). Instead say: When you say it again, see what you can do to convey the message in a clearer and more interesting manner. This way they’ll remember what you said.

7. “Good luck”– This is a subtle one. It certainly isn’t the end of the world if you wish someone good luck, but you can do better because this phrase implies that they need luck to succeed. Instead say: “I know you have what it takes.”

8. “It’s up to you” or “Whatever you want” – While you may be indifferent to the question, your opinion is important to the person asking (or else he wouldn’t have asked you in the first place). Instead say: “I don’t have a strong opinion either way, but a couple things to consider are . . .”

9. “Well at least I’ve never…” – This phrase is an aggressive way to shift attention away from your mistake by pointing out an old, likely irrelevant mistake the other person made (and one you should have forgiven her for by now). Instead say: “I’m sorry.”

In everyday conversation, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Try these suggestions out, and you’ll be amazed at the positive response you get.

Real Integrity

 

I was talking with a group of people the other day when one of them began talking about how much integrity they had and how they strive to do the right thing always. That statement caught me by surprise because I know this person and have had many discussions concerning their lack of integrity. It made me realize two things.

  1. If you have to tell someone you have integrity, you probably don’t.
  2. Authentic integrity is built within a person’s character through their actions.

Genuine integrity is the foundation of a person’s credibility. Credibility creates confidence, and that confidence allows influence.

“Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do” – Don Gater.

Someone once said,

“You are already of consequence in the world if you are known as a man of strict integrity”.

That’s how essential integrity is in your personal life. In fact, if you have nothing else, authentic integrity will catapult you past everyone else.

Dwight Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible.”

I agree with Eisenhower. I cannot emphasize enough about the importance of having genuine integrity if you want real leadership in your life.

Integrity gives you so much credibility, trust, confidence, influence and much more.

Be a person of integrity and be a person who people want to follow.

REALLY, YOU LEAD PEOPLE?

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I read an article the other day that touched on leadership behavior.  It sparked an abundance of memories, thoughts and questions that have rolled around in my head for many years.  Quite frankly it made me look deep inside of my soul and check my heart to ensure my actions and motives line up with my moral convictions.

Look, leaders are people.  In fact, many are good people.  There is a very small percentage of leaders that act and behave poorly.  I feel I’ve probably worked for more than most.  My career has been full of poor leaders.  Heck, there are a lot of my past and present employees that might say the same about me.

The whole reason I began my leadership journey was to do everything I could NOT to make the same mistakes or do the same things I have witnessed or gone through.

Through my experience, I have identified 9 things that define poor leaders.  Here they are;

  1. IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUNo it isn’t!  In fact, we probably don’t About.me_iconcare what you did or where you went.  It is about those you lead.  When every conversation and situation is about you, it limits the interaction and contribution of others.  I’ve had many leaders more concerned about how situations affect them, than the one(s) involved or affected.
  2. HEY BUDDY -Considering those you lead as friends.  Not good. Leadership is about relationships, not friendships.  When friends and buddies don’t perform we tend to “sweep” it under the rug or make excuses, rather than hold them accountable.  This creates descension and frustration with other employees.  Build relationships, not friendships.  I’ve seen many leaders lose credibility over the hiring or advancement of friends or relatives many times.  I am not saying you can’t hire employees from the past or those who supported and assisted you at other jobs.  I was the best man at my Director of EHS’ wedding 29 years ago.  However, I bet he will tell you that he is held to the same accountability level as anyone else.  In fact, I expect more out of him, than most.
  3. HORRIBLE LISTENER blah, blah, blah…….  This leader doesn’t care what you have to say.  They are only concerned with what’s coming out of his mouth.  Their EGO gets in the way.  Hey man, you were given 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.  You need to listen twice as much as you talk.  Give people a chance to say something.  Who knows, what they have to say might solve the problem.
  4. WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? -Poor communicators can reduce and harm aculture and frustrate employees quickly. Many employees complain about the lack of communication from leadership.  What are my expectations, Fotosearch_k10378786How is the company performing?, Will there be raises or bonuses this year?  As I coach leaders, I encourage them to have weekly or monthly communication meetings.  This is a time where all they do is communicate key information and allow employees an opportunity to ask questions.
  5. DON’T TEXT ME -Technology is great, but technology has created a diminishing environment of face to face communication.  How many times have you received a text or email and interrupted it as negative?  Texting and emails are very difficult to communicate a tone.  A face to face visit is the best way to properly communicate.  I can see your facial expressions and body language and I can react or change my tone or words to ensure effective communication.  If you can’t meet face to face, call them, and don’t leave a voice mail to cover your items.
  6. REALLY?Hear’s a thought……Get both sides of the story before you make a decision.  One of the most frustrating things for employees is when a leader makes decisions based on a one sided conversation.  One of the traits of a leader is to be open and accessible.
    However, that doesn’t mean you base your decisions on the conversations of one individual.  I found many times, my accessibility and openness has allowed individuals to voice their displeasure with a supervisor, rule or practice only to find out in my follow-up conversation the individual was disciplined or held accountable for failure to comply with or follow directions, etc.
  7. THAT WILL NEVER WORKBeing cynical is not a trait of a leader.  In fact, it is totally opposite.  I think cynical leaders feel threatened. They must discount or even put down a person’s ideas because they feel as if they are not a leader if they don’t have Fotosearch_k5253244the answer.  Cynical leaders say; “No, that’s not going to work” or, “I don’t know why we are doing this; this is stupid.”  Look, if something is stupid, then the leader needs to fix it.  If something is not worth doing or is going to create major problems, it’s your responsibility to facilitate other ideas.  Regardless, you must thank and encourage those who offer ideas and opinions, not BELITTLE them!
  8. THAT’S DISGUSTING! Just because you can say it, doesn’t make it right.  Foul language is wrong and unprofessional.   For some reason, leaders feel they have the right to use foul language and tell questionable stories in front of their staff or employees.  I recently had a leader use very disgusting language in reference to a football game. It stunned the group.  No one knew how to react.  I have had several occasions where leaders would use foul language in an email or text.  Regardless of the communication, it is WRONG!  Some have told me, “you have to talk in the language of the industry”. What?  Come on man!!  If that is the case, then we need to clean up the industry!  It doesn’t matter if you are playing, it is your normal language or if you are angry, foul language is wrong, no matter what!  Whether it’s anger, disgust or this is how you talk to your friends, you can’t bring it to the office.
    I can tell if a person has leadership qualities by the way they talk to others.
  9. YOU CROSSED THE LINE!Leaders who compromise their integrity for business or profits are FOOLS!   A lack of integrity from leaders doesn’t just annoy employees, it appalls them. In fact, when a leader shows a lack of integrity, employees become de-motivated.  When a boss breaks or fudges the rules, cheats, lies or indulges in behaviors that reveal a lack of moral principles, he loses respect. images7-220x147 respect, you can’t influence.  If you can’t influence, you can’t lead.  In addition, when a leader lacks integrity, he gives employees permission to do the same.  I’ve seen leaders compromise their integrity and moral values to be validated by others.  I have personally seen this take place and the destruction it causes.  A true leader will never comprise their moral integrity for validations.

Being a leader is about doing the right thing and leading by example. You simply cannot have one standard for yourself and one for everyone else. Treat people the way you would want to be treated.

If some of these sound familiar, then do something to correct them immediately.  The longer you continue the easier it is to continue.

Don’t Be a Liar in 2016, Identify Principles, Not Resolutions

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As you consider 2016, commit to what makes you better, not what makes you a liar.

Resolutions will make a liar out of you every time!  Instead, focus on the things you can control and achieve. It is all about your principles.

Here are 11 principles I am committed to in 2016.

  • SET WRITTEN GOALS –  Have WRITTEN goals that are achievable, but stretch you personally and professionally.  However, make sure you have some that are easy wins.  The easy wins motivate me to attack the more difficult one’s.
  • BECOME A BETTER COMMUNICATOR – Learn to listen more and ask great questions.  I had this on my list last year. Biggest issue I have.  I love to hear my own voice.  However, I found I can help more people by listening more than talking and engaging that person with relevant smart questions.  As a better listener, I can serve those I lead and company employees better and more effectively.
  • BECOME MORE ENGAGED – I continue to believe that every professional must be engaged in the work of those they lead, or as a safety professional, we must truly understand what people do, how they do it and what barriers exist.  You can’t influence if you don’t know how to add value!!  I put over 35,000 miles on my vehicle visiting locations and employees!
  • BE MORE PATIENT – Learn to be more patient with people and be more patient for the desired results.  Another challenge for me. Realize that it takes time to see results.  Leaders are leading to change a culture.  It takes time to change the way people think. Know what you want the end result to be and work steadily and patiently towards that.
  • BREAK DOWN BARRIERS – Identify what is creating friction.  Is it a person? a process?, lack of communication? Departments or individuals with competing agendas can slow or stall goals and affect company and individual performance.  Realize we are not in competition with each other, but rather we are in competition with the competition.  Be transparent, share information and help others succeed.  Zig Ziglar said;

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

  • BECOME RESILIENT TO FAILURE – Along the same thought process as patience, you must become resilient to failure.  beresilient-pocketcards-new1-1020x1020_4403_700x700Learn to fail forward.  Your approach to failure will have an impact on the outcome.  Embrace the failure and use it to gain success.
  • BE PROACTIVE – Become more aware of trends within the organization.  By listening to the talk and becoming aware of people’s actions, the words they choose and the trends within the industry, you can create or make changes to programs, goals and training that allows you to stay ahead of the “game”.  For Safety Professionals like myself, that means a reduction of risk resulting in less incidents.
  • TAKE MORE CHANCES -Ready, Fire, Aim!!! Doesn’t everyone in my group and company hear that a lot.  Just ask them.    I learned this term 25 years ago at another company. I believe if you don’t take chances, you won’t be successful.  John Maxwell says, “first always wins”.  Be creative.  Think differently to solve problems or make things better. Identify what needs to be done, DO IT and we will improve it.  If you never do it, you will never know the result.
  • NETWORK MORE – Networking is the single greatest activity you can do to increase your net worth.  My connection to an individual, put me in the position I hold now.  I now make more money and have the best job  I’ve ever had!  It is frequently said that “it is not what you know but who you know”.  It amazes my how many professionals do not make an effort to network.  I lost my job in November 2008.  It was through a former associate that I received my next job.  Networking is crucial for career advancement and recognition as a true professional or expert.  BE ACTIVE ON LINKED and keep your profile up to date.  I am consistently surprised (shouldn’t be) at how many professionals (especially sales) do not even have a LinkedIn profile.  You never know when you will need help and who can help!
  • VOLUNTEER/SERVE MORE – Become active in your community, professional organizations, church , etc.  JUST VOLUNTEER!!  I volunteer on a couple of boards, I am President Elect (President in second half of year) for my local professional organization, AVP for the Regional Professional Organization, speak for free at multiple organizations and conferences,  and volunteer my time with the local high schools in the OKC area.  I believe this builds character and humility while making others better.
  • INVEST IN YOURSELF – How can you lead others, if you don’t grow your yourself?  You can’t!!  READ,READ, READ…………….fiction and non-fiction.  Reading stimulates the brain and expands your creativity.  I use to hate to read, now I love it.  invest-in-yourself-600x300My goal is to read at least 1 new book per month.  Reading gives me a lot of my ideas and creates a sense of knowledge for solving most problems.  If I don’t know the answer, I read.  Commit to attending meetings, conferences and training that stretches you and provides a greater expansion of your personal and professional knowledge.

I quit making New Year’s Resolutions a long time ago. Ok, Ok, Ok, I will eat less fatty foods, cut down on the sweets (maybe) and exercise  more.  I never succeeded or followed through with many of my new year’s resolutions.  Instead, I’ve learned to identify things I would do daily, monthly or throughout the year to make me an overall better person.

That’s how I  came up with these 11 things.  This isn’t the first time I wrote these.  This has been my life for the last few years.  These 11 principles continue to mold and shape me and will make meFotosearch_k12215246 a better husband, father, GRANDFATHER (in April), professional, leader and overall a better person.

What about you? 

INFLUENTIAL LEADERS ARE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATORS, 10 Principals to Becoming a Better Communicator

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GREAT LEADERS ARE GREAT COMMUNCIATORS.! I can’t think of any influential leader that is not a good communicator. Think about it. Everyone you respect as a leader can communicate effectively in every situation, good or bad, stressful or easy, big or small. As leaders, the way we approach and talk to people has a direct impact on the outcome. I wanted to write this piece because of my past (and sometimes present) way of approaching people and interacting with them. This is an area I have been working very hard on.

When I think about influence, I think about the initial contact, interaction and then the forthcoming communication1communication. Throughout my career, I have come to realize that influential people and those who have great interactive skills are able to recognize the situation and adjust their approach quickly to enable the most effective outcome.

To become an influential leader, you must learn to anticipate the reaction of people and use the correct tone and inflection to motivate the employee to react and respond appropriately. Remember, leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. So we must develop a communication method that allows for influence.

We all communicate, right? But what is communication? Ask anyone on the street and they will likely include the word, “talking”. Well, communicating definitely includes talking. But, is it simply talking? I define talking as a prearranged group of vowels and consonants expelled with an abundance of hot air to address a particular thought or answer. So I concede that communication does include talking certainly; however, communication must go beyond talking and into connecting.

In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, But Few Connect, he discusses communication going way beyond words as revealed through a study conducted by UCLA Professor, Albert Mehrabian. Professor Mehrabian discovered that face-to-face communications could be broken down into three components: words, tone of voice, and body language. What may come as a surprise is that in some situations, what people see us do and the tone we use can far outweigh any words we say whth-33ile trying to communicate. If we can maximize the use of these three components in a conversation then we can become very effective communicators resulting in a positive interaction and greater ability to influence.

How do you become a better communicator and ultimately an Influential Leader? Through my own study and desire to improve, I have come up with 10 principles you can use to improve. Follow these and have greater influence.

  1. Know Who You are Talking To or Dealing With – Leaders who communicate effectively realize they are responsible for their reactions and are very careful to create a non-threatening atmosphere. They always seem to be in control of a conversation, but not over-powering. They don’t worry about sounding important, having power or being the “expert.” Instead, they think about what needs to be addressed and ultimately what needs to be said. They are thoughtful about how they can deliver this message so that people will be able to hear it.  Leaders communicate expectations and tell people what’s important for them to know, even if it’s negative.
  2. Evaluate Body Language – Influential Leaders constantly track people’s reactions to their message. You must recognize the changes in body language including facial expressions, body stances, etc. Is the person facing you, looking down or rolling his/her eyes? Body language is feedback. Many times, this is the only feedback you will get. Learn to read body language and you can tailor your message to adjust the way we interact as needed.
  3. Be Honest and Factual – People who are influential leaders are honest in their communication. They don’t stretch or exaggerate the circumstances. They certainly don’t lie to make their point or look good to others. They are transparent people that admit if they don’t have all the facts or can’t share information.   They don’t use the politician method of creating circular answers that never address the issue. Influential leaders understand that lies and half-truths create dissention, distrust and anxiety.
  4. Be Who You Are Regardless of the Situation- Don’t be someone you’re not! People will find out the real you. Position or prestige doesn’t change who you are. Look at professional athletes. They become rich and famous, but they are who they are regardless of the amount of money they have or how many highlight reels they make. There’s a reason Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook to investors in a hoodie and jeans. This is who he is and he knows the value of staying true to who he is. People will be open and allow you to influence if they believe you are who you and nothing more.
  5. Speak With Authority and Conviction – If you believe it, then say it! Don’t use words that you can’t say or don’t know the meaning of. President George W. Bush was the master of making up words. This often watered down or moved the focus from his points. However, he often spoke with authority and conviction giving credibility to his thoughts and desires. Influential Leaders speak directly to and with authority in the things they are passionate about and are clear on their desires and intended outcomes.
  6. Speak to Groups as Individuals – Leaders rarely have the luxury of speaking to one person at a time. Whether they’re addressing a toolbox topic or conducting a keynote with 5,000 people, influential leaders know how to work the crowd or group and make every single person feel as if he or she is being spoken to directly.
  7. Use Your Ears for More Than Hanging Glasses – Influential leaders realize that listening is far more than hearing. They understand that we listen not to reply, but to understand. When someone else is speaking, great communicators aren’t thinking ahead and planning what they’ll say next. Instead, they’re actively listening, fully focused on understanding the other person’s perspective. Leaders must listen to employees and seek to understand their concerns, hesitations and struggles.
  8. Be Humble – Influential leaders are not afraid to use phrases such as; “It’s My Fault,” “I Was Wrong,” and “I’m Sorry”. Humble leaders admit mistakes right away and are not driven by drama or false humility.
  9. Ask for Feedback – Influential leaders are always looking for ways to improve their communication and interaction. They are not afraid to ask how they can become better and more effective. They realize we see and hear our actions and words based on our intent, while others see and hear through our actual actions and words. If you are good, asking for feedback will make you better. If you are bad, it will improve you.   Either way, you will become better at communicating and interacting.
  10. Be Proactive, Not Reactive – Influential Leaders are proactive in responding to situations and rumors by being open and transparent in their communications. They are very clear in their directions and expectations and are always providing necessary feedback to ensure people don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter.

InfluenceAs I stated at the beginning, “Influential Leaders must become effective communicators. You will stand out and people will be drawn to you. Is it because of your effective influence or your destructive influence? When you implement these 10 principles, you become a better communicator with greater influence.