Leadership: Off the water and in the office

F&M medalsAnyone who’s participated on a sports team knows that leadership influences a win, and wins come in different ways. In my own experience, I’ve been on soccer and softball teams throughout my childhood, but nothing quite matched the dynamic of Franklin and Marshall College’s rowing team.

We had our victories, our relapses, our challenges and battles. We grew together as a young program, and our coach, Rob Weber, taught us an essential lesson I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life: lateral leadership.

To those unfamiliar with the sport, on the water coxswains give commands, but on land we function like a bee hive. Rigging and derigging, loading the trailers with slings and bow numbers, sorting through nuts and bolts both metric and standard, carrying boats back and forth — Hands on, up over heads — and UP! The calls I used as a coxswain won’t soon be forgotten.

rowing trailer

Our men and women’s team captains were essential, there’s no doubting that. But the responsibilities for a team of 60+ that breaks up into 4s and 8s can’t always be managed by just two people, and so our coach tried showing us a new way of thinking in terms of leadership.

 

Lateral Leadership:

  • When you see a task that needs to be handled, a responsibility that opens itself, it is your role as a team member to see that it is taken care of. This could mean taking direct control. This could mean bringing it to another’s attention. But what this doesn’t mean is letting it go untouched.
  • When you do take control, and own up to the responsibility that’s presented itself, be ready for conflict. Be ready to discuss openly your role on the team, and others’ roles who could also take charge. All in all, from the resolution of this conflict will come the proper division, and respect for everyone’s capabilities. All it takes is communication, trust, and willingness to open up.

Easier said than done? I’ve asked employees, managers, and our CEO of PBP for their take on leadership as well to try and find what it really takes to be a leader.

Ed Satell, CEO: Don’t be cynical. Focus on the positive by maximizing the values in yourself and others. It takes time to be a leader — you need to be a follower first. Ego is a good thing, but don’t let it shadow the wants and needs of others. You have to be able to take the rotten tomatoes when people throw them. But most of all: Be authentic. At the same time, accept the superficiality in people, it can be a good thing, but know when to focus on the real. Make an environment to address real thoughts.

Nicole Riegel, Executive EducationA leader needs to build credibility and trust with his/her team so that the team will become followers for his/her vision.  Due to credibility and trust the team is willing to take some risks and the leader is allowed a few mistakes. A leader should maximizes people’s strengths for the greater good.

Curt Brown, Editorial: A good leader needs to have a clear vision who leads by example rather than by dictating others.

Tim Walls, PGI/PBC: Set priorities by looking at the big picture rather than getting caught up in the day to day. Know your long term goals, and stay on task.

Cheryl Jordan, Product Marketing: A good leader needs to be a good listener who pays attention to people’s individual needs.

Dannie Evans, Media: You yourself as a leader need passion. Saturate yourself in it, and let it drip onto your employees. Have that passion translate into something everyone can take on as their own.

Jess White, Editorial: True leaders motivate and inspire others to do their best work. They listen to everyone’s ideas, and they’re open to trying different suggestions to improve things for the group as a whole. 

There were many others who gave insight into leadership for me, and it’s clear PBP is a place full of potential for the future of this business and beyond. I thank Rob Weber, Ed Satell, and PBP’s Traditions program most of all for these lessons on forming a constructive team.

 

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9 Ways to Make Networking Work for You

Many people become anxious and uncomfortable at the thought of networking.   Pitching yourself to a group of strangers is daunting, at best.

These 9 simple guidelines can help you overcome your apprehension and then you can start looking forward to your next networking event!networking-image

  1. Dress up, but be subtle. It’s common advice to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  That being said, there is a difference between being classy and being flashy. You don’t want to be the person wearing neon yellow in a sea of black suits.  You can’t go wrong with black, navy, grey, or beige.  Just remember, the focal point should be what you’re saying, not what you’re wearing.
  1. Stay away from complimenting others’ outfits or appearances.  You may want to “break the ice” immediately by complimenting someone’s great style or accessory choices, but avoid doing this or you could spend the entire time talking about fashion instead of making a more valuable connection.
  1. Put effort into your nametag. A lot of research has been done on what your handwriting says about you.  In fact, a whole new term has been dedicated to the subject (“graphology”).  According to Visual.ly, your handwriting can reveal over 5,000 personality traits!  For example, if you connect your letters (like I do), “you are logical, systematic, and make decisions carefully.”  While you don’t need to memorize the entire webpage or change your writing, just make sure you write your name legibly – your penmanship says a lot about you.
  1. Do your research. See if the list of event attendees is available ahead of time.  It’s extremely easy to research people online – maybe someone else at the event went to your alma mater or shares your enthusiasm for online Scrabble.  This can be a great conversation starter and can help you prepare questions ahead of time.
  1. Prepare your “Elevator Pitch.” This is generally a 30-90 second statement in which you identify who you are, what you have to offer, and what you are looking for. You can pitch yourself, an idea or both.  Check out this video for an example.
  1. Offer help.  It’s often tempting to talk about yourself the entire time, but networking is a two-way street.  Ask questions, and see if there is anything you can do for the other person, even if that means connecting him or her with someone else in your network.

Keith-Ferrazzi-Quote-about-Networking-OkDork

  1. Remember names. This can be overwhelming, especially when you’re meeting a lot of new people all at once.  Try this: for example, when Ashley introduces herself , say “hi Ashley,” and as you are shaking her hand, picture the word “Ashley” in red letters on her forehead.  Trust me, it works! (Whatever you do, please don’t do this!)
  1. Stay positive.  Whether you’re attending a networking event in search of a job or for some other reason, be cognizant of what you say.  Like your mother probably used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”  Word travels quickly, so never speak poorly about a person or company.
  1. Follow up.  After the event is over, connect with the people you spoke to.  You can reach out in any number of ways, from e-mail to LinkedIn.  Start off by reintroducing yourself, and then touch on something you spoke about at the event.  Finally, make sure to suggest a way to keep in touch by asking a question, offering help or advice, introducing a third party, or even asking permission to send that person a link to your blog.  You never know where a relationship will lead.

Now that you have the know-how to succeed, get out there and start networking!

Still don’t know how to begin a conversation?  Talk about PBP’s interns and our great blog!

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Talking the Talk (And Getting People to Listen)

Are you saying what you think you’re saying? And how could you say it better?

One of the most important things to do on your road toward professional success is find your voice. Didn’t know it was lost? Take a minute to think about how your coworkers think of you. Are you dependable? Intelligent? Pushy? Passive?

Having a strong sense of who you are and how you want to project yourself is crucial in improving the way people perceive you. This is applicable to every aspect of workplace relationships: first impression interviews, lunchtime conversations, important meetings with executives, and effectively answering emails. Here’s some advice from the experts on how to harness the power of perception through polished communication.

You’re no knock off, be your original self:

PBP’s founder Ed Satell advocates for the underrated value of authenticity. What you say should reflect what you do, and what you do should reflect what you say. He firmly believes that hard work and mental perseverance can inspire success, and he communicates that through the actions he takes in his business practices.

Authenticity is otherwise described as being able to “stand in your own truth,” and your voice should affirm whatever it is that you hold true. Julian Treasure, author of Sound Business, talks about how authenticity is a necessary and foundational cornerstone if you want to be taken seriously in the office and have your opinions heard. If people view you as authentic on a one dimensional, daytoday level—for example when answering questions like, how was your lunch? Or what is your favorite hobby?—you are inadvertently building credibility towards multidimensional responses. If you are consistently honest and genuine, your opinions will be perceived as such when you argue for significant, risk oriented change such as capital asset additions, or sustainable infrastructure investment, or adding pretzel M&Ms to the break room vending machine.

Once upon a time, storytelling changed everything:

This next piece of advice can only be taken with the first part in mind. [If not taken with the proper dose of authenticity, side effects may include gossip, lying, excuses, judging, exaggeration, and dogmatism]. If people can believe in you and what you say, what follows is getting them to support you and what you say. Storytelling is a very powerful medium in the business world that helps us connect with one another both intellectually and interpersonally. Geoffrey Berwind is considered a professional storytelling consultant. Some of his clients include Historic Philadelphia Inc, The Kennedy Space Center, UNUM Global IT Leaders. Berwind meets with executives to teach them how to better market themselves and their products through the art of a well-crafted story. He has based his life’s work on the fact that storytelling has everything to do with the power of influence, and this skill has become exponentially more valuable in the business world; maybe more so than your Excel or PowerPoint skills:

When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people – people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them. There’s a well-known marketing axiom that “people buy from people they know, like and trust.” Great leaders recognize that human connections need to go before concepts and strategies: connect first with your prospects, your audiences – then get down to business. I’ve seen increased attention being paid by companies to the mastery of these so-called “soft skills.”

These attachments and connections are then stored in our long term, rather than short term, memories. A story is up to twenty-two times more memorable than facts alone. They can be deepening and persuasive. They can be 140 characters, or they can be 540 pages. Learning how to craft them in the most powerful and effective way possible takes time and practice. Dannie Evans, a coworker in the PBP Media division, promotes professional development and learning by reading fiction, as it will teach them you how to tell stories. He suggests that storytelling is an important skill to have when crafting marketing copy, an incredibly valuable skill to have when marketing yourself to future employers.

Your voice box is a tool box:

The final element of the communication equation is your actual voice, your sound. Sometimes the genius of what we are saying is overshadowed by the unwanted idiosyncrasies of the way we say it. Your vocal register, timber, prosody, pace and pitch may be saying one thing while your words are trying to say another, which can get confusing for your listener. Like all problems, awareness is the first step towards a cure, and most people are unaware of their talking troubles (even if they are very apparent to everyone around them). Watch the video below, and Mr. Berwind will explain what all of these terms mean, how they affect your speech, and why we should focus on fixing them.

Take a little bit of time to study yourself. How do you communicate? Are you sending the same message that your coworkers are receiving? Hopefully if we all focus a bit more on what kind of voice we are producing, we can also be a bit more attentive to the voices that are trying to speak to us. Listening, after all, is just as important.