The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs


In this issue of the Water Cooler we touch on techniques to improve your public speaking, managerial conversations, collaborations, and connecting during a crisis. Enjoy.


1. Five Principles Of Public Speaking

It’s common for leaders to announce, “My door is always open.” But that’s probably not true, suggests Megan Reitz, a professor at Hult International Business School, and John Higgins, a consultant.

Public speaking can be an important part of the job, as we are called upon to make presentations to colleagues, clients, and beyond. Here are some principles that speaking coach Nick Morgan offered on his blog:

  • A speech should be about one idea — and one only: Most speakers present too much information, trying to cover all the bases and anticipate objections. “Find your one idea, and eliminate any detail that doesn’t support it,” he insists.
  • A successful speech leaves room for the audience to participate: Keep things a bit fuzzy around the edges so the audience will become more involved. Consider what you can expect from the audience and let them do that work.
  • What you don’t say is as important as what you say: You must carve up your topic to eliminate as much as is included. “Indeed, the art of successful framing is to narrow your topic so much that you can cover it in the time allotted but not so much that the audience feels constricted,” he says.
  • At the same time, you can’t simply assert any foundational aspect of your argument that is a matter of debate without acknowledging it: If you’re putting forth a point of view, be honest about what you’re claiming. Remember that everything you say is subject to the standards of proof prevailing in your field.
  • Emotional truth is as important in public speaking as intellectual truth: Persuasion begins in the unconscious part of the brain.


2. What’s Up?  Staying Calm in Crises Through WhatsApp

In times of trouble, it’s helpful to consult peers. That’s why entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders form Mastermind Groups with others in similar roles. In a social media era, the possibilities have expanded, notably through apps like WhatsApp that connects peers and teams through texts, images, videos and audios.

An exploratory study by recently-graduated INSEAD student Iffet Turken found the international executives she surveyed made heavy use of their WhatsApp business groups during crises and felt it provided significant benefits.

“During a crisis, intensified sharing and increased connectivity via instant, cheap and easily accessible social media tools may bolster resilience in teams, particularly virtual ones,” she writes on the graduate business school’s blog.

“In addition, the accelerated connectedness facilitated by WhatsApp may also enhance emotional expression within teams. The sense of being a part of a group or simply feeling one is ‘not alone’ allows collective action, thereby facilitating team resilience.”

She offers this guidance to improve connectedness:

  • Carefully consider the number of members in the group, since too many could lead to superficial discussions.
  • Ensure all members share a common interest in the topic.
  • Provide explicit guidelines regarding the group’s intended function, and do this prior to member participation. You will also need some explicit rules, such as “no sharing about personal lives in the group”.
  • Appoint a moderator to facilitate communication if the group is not homogeneous, be it geographically, occupationally or culturally.
  • Data should probably be stored and backed up.

Don’t wait for a crisis to use this tool. Get started beforehand.


3. Maslow’s Extra Step

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has proved to be a fundamental explanation of human behaviour since he first published it in 1943. It’s of use at work as well as personal life, as we consider human beings’ desire, successively, to satisfy physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs.

So it’s useful to know that in his later years he added another need, at the apex of his pyramid — self-transcendence. Robby Berman explains on the BigThink blog that Maslow felt we needed to transcend thoughts of ourselves as islands. Instead, we had to see ourselves as part of the broader universe to develop the common priorities to survive as a species.

“Maslow saw techniques many of us are familiar with today — mindfulness, flow — as the means by which individuals can achieve the broader perspective that comes with self-transcendence,” Berman says.

“Given the importance of coming together as a global community, his work suggests that these methods, and others like them, aren’t just tweaks available for optimizing our minds, but vitally important tools if we hope to continue as a living species.”


4. When To Cross-Sell

Wells-Fargo gave cross-selling a bad name as the bank pushed additional unneeded accounts on clients. Consultant Ken Favaro, on strategy + business, says the fact the climate has changed could be wonderful if it leads you to rethink your approach: “Make cross-selling a result of good strategy, not a substitute for it.”

You should monitor how many services customers buy from you. But if the results are dismal, consider a focus on customer pull, not sales push. Start by questioning the value proposition for each of your services from the customer’s viewpoint, since that may explain why they don’t buy.


5. Zingers

  • In cases of no reply: When an email doesn’t bring a response, consider the possibility you are at least partially responsible. Did you send the email after a weekend and perhaps it got buried? Was your subject line uninviting? Did your note ask for too much work on the recipient’s part and they might have put it aside to deal with later? Final question: Is it important enough to pursue again, or should you forget about it? (Source: Shepa Learning Company)
  • Phrases that motivate: Here are motivational phrases leadership coach Joel Garfinkle says strong leaders use regularly: ”You have what it takes”; “I’m impressed”; and “What do you need?” Also, when shown something: “How does it work?” which conveys humility and the self-assurance to admit you don’t know everything. (Source: Career Advancement Blog)
  • No interruptions, please: Facebook and Google ads are taking an increasing share of advertising expenditures as organizations seek new ways of marketing. But professor Mark Ritson says digital advertising is really an old way: they both interrupt your social interactions with paid messages. And he questions how long it will last: “The active-finger, multi-screen, double-click world of your smartphone makes it just about the most impossible 10 square inches imaginable to break into and garner attention, let alone drive action.” (Source: com)
  • Reset after a promotion: After being promoted to management, don’t confuse smiles and congratulations from your long-time peers as support, warns consultant Art Petty. There’s bound to be jealousy and animosity, so you are starting over in winning credibility and respect. (Source: com)
  • Offer more than one choice: Always offer clients a few options rather than just one solution, says sales consultant Colleen Francis. With only one option, the buyer’s choice is whether to use you or not. With more alternatives, the client will more likely wonder how best to do business with you. (Source: com)


6.  Q&A With 8020Info:

     Getting More Out Of Talk

Question:  “As a leader I spend my whole day in conversation … in meetings, one-on-ones and on the phone. How can I get more out of all those conversations to move my team forward?”


8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

Management is about conversation. Conversation is used to ensure goals are understood, staff’s actions are aligned with those goals, and problems are being addressed. Conversation is used to energize and to share.

We’re all used to conversation — we have been using it, after all, since childhood. But that doesn’t make us experts or flawless. Too often we’re on auto-pilot, and at times roiled by emotions.

So the first step in the opening phase of managerial conversations is to treat them as important. Be as alert and as focused as you would be with a client or major supplier. And then decide who is driving the conversation: You or your subordinate.

If it’s you, consultant Phil Harkins advises in Powerful Conversations that you should set up your agenda at the outset with a sincere expression of need. You want to make an emotional connection with the other person so that he or she will open up, share normally hidden dialogue, and reveal undiscussables.

To gain support, he says, it’s crucial to indicate your need for help rather than to hide your need or your own goals, as if they were unseemly. This stage can be hard since leaders don’t like admitting they need help or that they don’t have all the answers. But Harkins feels it’s vital to ask for assistance.

“Exhibiting honest vulnerability is the key to making connection with other people,” he stresses.

That leads into the second phase, where the leader must find out what the subordinate’s own goals and hidden feelings are, so the two individuals’ agendas can be meshed. “High-impact leader know that in order to advance their own agendas, they must also advance the agendas of others,” Harkins stresses.

When that is done, the closing phase is a summary, making sure both of you have agreed on the next steps and understand how to proceed. In that regard, it is also vital to ensure that the other person’s goals have truly been achieved.

In Birth of the Chaordic Age, Dee Hock, the founder of VISA International, told of the wonderful way his one-time boss, Maxwell Carlson, closed meetings. He would lean back in his chair and ask: “Did this meeting serve your purpose?” You can ask that even for meetings — perhaps more importantly for meetings — that you initiated.

You might also want to anticipate the type of conversation you’ll have, using a schema in the book The Four Conversations by Jeffrey and Laurie Ford. Your conversation could be to propose an initiative, build understanding, deal with performance, or create closure on an issue or relationship. Each type requires a different approach, which should be considered beforehand or at the onset.


7.  From Our Water Cooler:

     Collaboration Dilemmas

Discussion of collaboration often tends to focus on tips for those early stages of entering a partnership, when you need to find shared interests and develop trust. But it’s equally important to consider what will keep a partnership together, especially when it comes under stress:

How can you deal with the risk that your partner(s) may be tempted to bail or take advantage of the collaborative arrangement for their own gain, at your expense?

It can be difficult for a partner to reconcile their own interests with the good of all partners. A classic description of this dynamic is called the “prisoner’s dilemma”.

Imagine you and a collaborator have been arrested after robbing a bank. You are being held in separate jail cells for questioning. Provided you both refuse to confess, the state will not have enough evidence to prosecute and you’ll both walk free to enjoy the spoils together.

But there’s another dynamic in play:

If you rat out your partner, you’ll go free and get to keep all the money yourself. The reverse is also true — if you sit tight and your partner rats you out, you go to jail and he/she enjoys the payoff.  If you both play to your own best interests, you’ll both land in jail without any loot.

In Algorithms to Live By, authors Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths note there is a way out of this dilemma — changing the rules of the game.  What rules of the partnership will reinforce the collaborative behaviour we seek?

One way is to ensure a penalty for defection. (As they note, if you and your fellow thief are members of a crime syndicate, the Godfather may have made it all too clear that omertà applies — any rat will meet a sorry end!) This might be accomplished through a binding contract with your partner(s).

Christian and Griffiths also note the impact of setting minimums and boundaries for behaviours, and the benefit of using fair-minded techniques like a Vickrey auction if you must bid against partners.

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8020Info helps strategy teams think better together as they develop and effectively implement research / stakeholder consultations, strategic plans, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


8.  Closing Thought

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”

Judy Garland


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