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Conversations That Get Results and Inspire Collaboration
Engage Your Team, Your Peers, and Your Manager to Take Action
By Shawn Kent Hayashi
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Shawn Kent Hayashi
All rights reserved.
Knowing What You Want to Create
Business is a conversation focused on creating results.
Being successful in business begins in a conversation with ourselves first, and then with others, focused on what we are passionate about creating, about the solutions we want to bring alive, and the way we want to add value and serve others. Successful professionals invite their teams, peers, and managers to align their own individual goals and motivators to the rewards of the project they are engaged in. Wildly successful business leaders create conversations with others by inspiring passion for the value and services they can deliver working together.
Like most senior executives, Larry Page, the cofounder and CEO of Google, began 2012 by sharing his goals for the company. He said, "Google is a large company now, but we will achieve more, and do it faster, if we approach life with the passion and soul of a start-up." He went on to outline six core areas of focus for the upcoming year. If you worked for or with Google during that time, it would be important that you understood these goals and how they affected what you were doing as an employee, team member, manager, leader, or even supplier. At Google, your ability to engage in conversations and demonstrate results around these desired goals determines your success.
If you work for or with General Mills, you know that one of their most talked- about goals is to be among the most socially responsible food companies in the world. General Mills says, "We continually set targets for bettering the nutritional profile of our foods, and we keep addressing social and environmental challenges." They made it clear that this is a conversation they want to further, and people who are passionate about bettering the nutritional profile of food and who want to collaborate around this topic would be engaged working with General Mills. To be successful in this organization, you have to demonstrate how your actions and results align with the company goals, no matter if you are a team member, peer, leader, or supplier.
Collaboration revolves around having meaningful conversations focused on achieving results with other people. Your role will determine what part you play in creating the vision. If you are the leader, you must clearly define and then communicate the outcomes you are committed to creating. If you report to a leader, understanding what the leadership team of the business you work for sees as important will enable you to link the business focus to your own goals in meaningful ways. If you are a peer of someone who works in another department or division of the same company, it will be important for you to understand the results other teams are expected to produce. Fully engaging leaders, peers, and team members evolve as a result of having a shared purpose.
To have engaging, meaningful conversations with others, you'll need to know what motivates you and how you prefer to communicate. You will need to clarify your own goals before you communicate them effectively to others. People who know themselves well focus on the question, "What do I want to create?"
As an executive coach, when I begin working with a new client I ask, "What do you really want to create now? And why?" I also explain that, if you do not know the answer to those questions, you are likely to be working and living someone else's agenda for your career and life. Investing in yourself or paying yourself first is not a new idea in business—it is how wildly wealthy people and businesses became what they are. When you have a clear and compelling vision for what you want to create, you are investing in yourself and your future. Then you will be able to make a greater contribution to a business or team, and be a better leader.
I encourage my coaching clients to create their own "That's for Me!" lists. Here is how you can do this too: Go to a place you enjoy, where you can relax and feel great. Design on paper what you want your business and life to include and who you want to be. Make a list of 100 experiences, things, opportunities, and conversations you want to have, and places you want to go. Include the ways in which you want to serve other people in your work. How do you want to add value? Also include the people you want to meet. Whom do you want to support, guide, and mentor? Identify the story you want to be known for, and put that on your list too. As you construct this list, you begin to own your agenda and gain clarity about what you want to create in your life and your work. By developing this list over time, you begin to see what will motivate and inspire you, so that you can be passionate about your work. Have you noticed that the people who are star performers are usually passionate about their whole lives? That is why I'm suggesting as your first assignment that you focus your "That's for Me!" list on your business and personal life, because successful people have integrated the two together.
Almost every time I give this exercise to people who have never done it before, they say something like, "I can't come up with 100. I have 20 and I'd be happy with those." To which I reply: "I asked you to identify at least 100, and you are making your life smaller. You are choosing a glass ceiling for yourself. Why would you want to do that?" Push yourself through this activity, and you will see amazing things begin to happen that you cannot imagine now. You will have more clarity about what you want and what inspires you to take action.
As we work together over several months I frequently share this reminder: Once you have created your list, begin to read it regularly. Keep adding to it as you come across things you are passionate about. Make sure all the results you want to create in your business are on your list. Many of my coaching clients read their lists every day as they are learning to think in new ways and to focus on results that align with their agendas. I read my own list at least once per week to stay focused on the priorities that are most important to me. Amazing things begin to happen when you focus on your goals and what you want to create.
Maintain your list in an electronic document. Once you have completed an item, move it to the end of the file under the heading "I did it!" By doing this, eventually you will have pages and pages of items on your "I did it!" list. It is very fulfilling to review that list, as it shows momentum and the ability to get results.
When people look closely at their "That's for Me!" list, there is something that will jump out quickly: In order to accomplish many items on your list, you'll discover you have to engage other people. You will have to inspire others to join you in your endeavors. That is why we collaborate!
Engage Your Team, Your Peers, and Your Manager to Take Action
Why do you think your team, your peers, and your manager may want to help you achieve what is on your list? Most people have a desire to interact with others and to cocreate. In the first part of this book, I will show you how to identify and explain why helping you will benefit your peers, your manager, and your team, in language they will understand. I'll also show you how to build relationships and be engaging when you meet with new people, based on their communication styles and motivators.
Figuring out where to go next and what actions will create momentum comes from building a strong mental muscle, which keeps you focused on clarifying and distinguishing what you want to create next. Building your "That's for Me!" list over time gives you this focus and builds this mental muscle. Clarity about whom you will want to collaborate with will guide you to build new relationships with stakeholders, allies, and sponsors. You'll need to understand how to read their communication styles and motivators and create meaningful conversations that engage them. That is where we are going next. But first, take the time to complete the application exercise, and you will gain the benefits you would experience from working with an executive coach.
Knowing What You Want to Create Application Exercise
Create your own "That's for Me!" list. Ask yourself, "What results, experiences, or accomplishments would trigger in me feelings of excitement, passion, and jubilation?"
Identify the goals of the business you work with, and consider how your passions fit with the corporate focus.
Think about the various roles you currently play: employee, peer, manager, etc. For each role ask yourself these questions:
What are the results you are committed to already in this role?
With whom do you already collaborate in this role?
With whom would you like to collaborate?
Can you think of someone who would benefit from helping you bring alive the items on your "That's for Me!" list?
People Reading: Preferred Communication Styles
We read to comprehend the information we are focused on. When interacting with people, we need the skills to comprehend other people's frames of reference, how they like to make decisions, how they prefer to respond to challenges, the pace of their environments, and the way they will respond to rules set by others. We also need to be able to see their motivators and the effects of their emotions as they relate to what they want to listen to and what will engage them. I call this "people reading."
To bring your "That's for Me!" list alive, you will need to identify who would enjoy creating with you and who will be willing to engage with you in a meaningful way. Getting others to focus on your desired results and take the right actions requires learning how to "people read," so you can select the best bosses, colleagues, mentors, and team members for you. These are the people who will encourage you to grow, based on your goals and vision for your life, and you will do the same for them.
There are three parts to people reading:
Communication style: how you approach others
Motivators: why you do what you do
Emotional intelligence: your ability to use your feelings wisely to guide your actions and make better decisions
In this section, I am going to reveal what you need to know in order to be able to people read anyone you meet. As you become a master of this skill, you will be able to identify and develop other people's strengths and make your "That's for Me!" list come true, by collaborating effectively with the right people at the right time.
Recently I was asked, "What is the number one most important skill that people need to develop to be successful in business today?" I replied without hesitating, "The ability to people read, so effective communication occurs no matter what role we are playing."
When you have the ability to identify another person's preferred communication style, workplace motivators, and current emotion, you will have better conversations and be more effective. You will collaborate, lead, coach, manage, and serve in meaningful ways, by adapting to the communication needs of the moment. You will experience more effective communication and relationships than you have ever known before. Magic will happen around you, because you are making connections that matter.
Lee Iacocca says, "Communication is everything!" I would add that the right communication that connects with your listener is everything.
People dynamics—interpersonal communication—has patterns similar to dance moves. If you understand these patterns, you will be more effective in dancing the steps effectively. If you do not understand these patterns, your communication, like your dance movements, can seem disjointed and awkward, putting you at risk of doing the "cotton-eye Joe" when everyone else is dancing the "dougie."
People reading includes seeing clusters of behaviors and motivators and using this awareness in the conversations you have with others. Understanding the range of behaviors and motivators will guide you to recognize what is likely to emerge in a relationship. People reading gives you the self-awareness to be sensitive to the communication needs of others, so your message will reach them—so they will understand you. For example, someone who likes to make decisions quickly and forcefully will also probably like a strong, healthy debate—in other words, he or she will enjoy what people who do not like to make quick decisions call arguing. On the other hand, someone who prefers to research a broad array of options, perhaps reading several books or articles on the topic before making a decision, will probably not like a strong emotional appeal in your presentation. When you have memorized the cluster patterns and how they fit together, you will begin to see and then read these people dynamics. As a team member, you will solve people problems in teams by filling in the missing pieces. As a leader, you will put the right people in roles that will bring out their best selves and help you achieve the goals that are most meaningful to you.
As with any new skill, learning this one requires you to understand the model and then practice, practice, practice until you master it. So let's begin with exploring the people-reading model. There are three parts. First, we will focus on identifying preferred communication styles, then in the next chapter I'll show you how to identify motivators, and finally, you'll learn how to practice using your emotions as a guidance system.
Preferred Communication Styles
First, imagine that there are four common patterns in wiring a human brain that result in preferred conversation behavior and stories. Or you could think of it as four different windows people look out of as they communicate.
Each of the following represents a different communication window:
Direct, results-oriented, action-focused, and forceful conversations
Optimistic, fun, creative, entertaining, expressive, and lively conversations
Relaxed, patient, steady, and process-oriented conversations
Fact-based, accurate, logical, analytical, and detail-oriented conversations
Imagine these as communication windows that you look through as you interact with others. Depending on which window you are looking out of, you are going to see, experience, and want different things. When you have mastered this, you will be able to select the communication window that you need at the moment in order to achieve the best outcome, rather than doing what comes to you most naturally.
There is not one right way for us to behave or communicate, so there is not one style of communication that will be best in all situations. The goal is to understand these four patterns of brain-wiring. When you do, you will be able to identify in a meeting or a conversation what the underlying conversation needs are for each person to be able to walk away from the exchange feeling that things are moving forward. When you identify the needs clearly, you can decide whether you are the right person to provide that information, or if you would be better served by finding someone with a different communication style who can achieve the desired results.
Let's take this deeper now.
When looking to identify which communication style is being displayed, ask yourself these two questions:
Is the person (or group) I am communicating with more outgoing and extroverted, or more internal and introverted?
Is the person (or group) I am communicating with more task-focused or more people-focused?
Outgoing or extroverted communicators tend to speak directly, loudly, with crisp, sharp, or large circular gestures. They enjoy meeting and talking with people and will be proactive in meeting new people. Gregarious, animated, or bold are words that may be used to describe their behavior. They will jump in and start a conversation quickly, adding their own ideas, opinions, and suggestions. Groups of meeting planners, sales teams, and advertising executives commonly are outgoing communicators.
Internal or introverted communicators tend to speak softly, indirectly with small or no hand gestures. To people with another style they may appear timid or shy at first and tend to wait until they are introduced to engage in conversation. Diplomatic, reserved, and thoughtful are words that may be used to describe their behavior. They will likely wait until someone else initiates a conversation, and then they will respond. Groups of research scientists, chemical engineers, and accountants commonly are introverted communicators.
Task-focused communicators may have checklists for everything. They are focused on the current process and task at hand. People using a task focus will dive into the work or business agenda immediately. They appear to want to check items off the list and move onto the next item. They do not appear to want to engage in small talk until after the work is finished.
Here are examples of what this sounds like:
"Tally the five rows on this spreadsheet, then analyze which data we will use in our report."
"Read this report and summarize the three key points."
"Send me the process flow on this project plan."
People-focused communicators will be interested in the morale, energy, and big picture involved in the issue being discussed. Communicators who are using a people focus will be more interested in getting to know you; small talk is important before diving into a meeting agenda or doing business.
Excerpted from Conversations That Get Results and Inspire Collaboration by Shawn Kent Hayashi. Copyright © 2013 by Shawn Kent Hayashi. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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