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Communicating with Impact General Leadership

Every Story Needs a Teller

Consuming stories is something we are programmed to do as humans. From the first cave paintings, to the Homeric word of mouth tales, to the written word, to recorded media, we can’t get enough of a good yarn. What are the top tips for storytelling?

As I talked about in my last post, stories help us understand the world around us and are a primary mode of communication. We just love stories.

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General Leadership

The power of story

Stories, stories, stories

It’s almost a becoming a cliché that people need to tell stories at work. In the last five or so years it seems that everyone is asking for storytelling training in the hope that, somehow, it will make everything more interesting and no one need experience death by PowerPoint ever again. But what do we mean by storytelling and are people even asking for the same thing when they use that term?

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Communicating with Impact General Leadership The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

The Politics of Space

If you live in Britain at the moment it’s completely impossible to escape the turmoil of Brexit. It’s become a national obsession and regardless of which side of the camp you sit on, the crisis unfolding is frustrating and embarrassing to witness.

Last week was an extraordinary week of news and yet it’s amazing what manages to capture the national attention. One of the biggest talking points wasn’t a matter of policy, it wasn’t arguments about the proroguing of the UK Parliament, it wasn’t even about whether you support leave or remain: it was about body language. Specifically that the way we sit should say ‘I’m ready‘. Readiness means we can respond from a confident and assertive place and maximise our personal impact.

This is great news for me as it exemplifies the power of non-verbal communication and how aware we need to be of the messages we broadcast.

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Building Positive Working Relationships Communicating with Impact Leadership Influencing Managing Available Resources Self-Insight

How to Communicate

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a “how to”-style article and I thought it might be helpful to have a quick look at some tools that can help with one of the most challenging part of anyone’s job. The title is of course tongue in cheek but there are small things we can do that will make a transformative difference. Things no one told Phil Davison in the video above. Don’t be Phil.

It’s funny, as sophisticated communication is the one gift humans have that surges us far beyond all other intelligent life; yet it is the cause of so much confusion and uncertainty in both our professional and personal lives.

As an actor, I love communication. Like anyone, I don’t always get it right but when I was 17, performing in a Shakespeare lead for the first time at school, I discovered that the relationship between me and the audience was one I inherently understood. I felt powerful in that space. I had found where I belonged. My journey to Coach has been a long and winding one (politics degree, actor training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, professional actor, professional theatre director, coach, business leader) and I am passionate about sharing the thrill I felt as that 17 year old with others. I hope I can help them, if not love the dynamic created when speaking to an audience, to at least approach it without fear or trepidation.

So here are 10 perspectives on successful communication. Where I’ve italicised I am referring to a skill or technique to implement.

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Cultural Interpersonal Effectiveness Leadership Agility Self-Insight The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Work hard, work harder

Moving into Leadership

I’ve been working with a lot of professional services firms recently and have been struck by the leadership demands being made on people transitioning into very senior roles. Particularly those making partner.

The step up to partner is a huge one and the pressure people are under is immense.

Getting to partner means you’ve been a superstar on your way up. When you get there, however, you move from being at the top of the tree, to being back at the bottom. Like the new kid at big school, you are now having to fight for yourself as the buck now quite literally stops with you.

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Communicating with Impact Executive Disposition General Leadership Leader of Leaders The Role of a Leader – Performance & Engagement

Strategy is Rehearsal

Strategy as Rehearsal

I coached someone today who has a personally very important speech to deliver and wanted to get it as right as possible.

As I listened to him speak I was struck by the demonstration of leadership that he was embodying in both what he said and how he said it. For me, it also was a brilliant example of how to solve the strategy/execution conundrum that is the source of so much leadership scholarship.

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Change Leadership Executive Disposition Nurture and Grow Self-Insight

Your noticing has been served

Physician, heal thyself

I’m not sure about you but I’m better at giving advice than receiving it. My privilege as a trainer and performance coach is to be able to fall back on “do as I say, not as I do”. This is not something I’m particularly proud of and nor is it something I want to admit to those I work with. I console myself, professionally at least, with the fact that my diagnostic skills lie in helping others and not myself. It also can’t be very helpful for anyone with the unenviable task of being my coach.

Recently, however, I was offered some advice and in spite of my habit, I took it. Surprisingly, to me anyway, the shift in awareness it provoked has rippled through my whole life. My own coach is a mindfulness expert and while we don’t spend too much time on this topic she set me a related task. I was to take an everyday activity and be fully in it as I perform it, noticing the sensations provoked by the experience.

Now, I’m not good at doing what I’m told. I will find ingenious ways not to do the homework I’ve been set (the French “devoir” always seemed a much more appropriate name). But over the Christmas break I had little excuse not to do one of the two very simple requests made of me.

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Communicating with Impact Nurture and Grow

It’s the Story, Stupid

I work at a world leading drama school and as you would expect, it’s an institution full of stories. Which is lucky, as for some time now, storytelling has been at the forefront of countless organisations’ learning needs.

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Building Positive Working Relationships Cultural Interpersonal Effectiveness Driving for Results Leadership Influencing Team Development

Learning in the new millennial

 

So much written about Millennials suggests that they are turned off by the way generations before them have done things. As someone engaged in professional learning this interests me.

Millennials, it would seem, are more civic and community minded than their predecessors. Lacking the financial security from which their parents have benefitted they are not as interested in a career path as generations before them. Instead, meaningful work, creative outlets and immediate, interactive feedback mean a lot. One only needs to look at a random selection of start-ups  to see this behaviour in evidence.

What does this mean for those of us now who work in more traditional institutions, based on and run by baby boomers or Gen X-ers? It’s an important question because bigger and slower moving organisations still need to employ, engage and retain millennials.

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Change Leadership Executive Disposition Leadership Agility Operational Decision Making

A lesson in change

This week is a big week for me. We are moving house, have said goodbye to builders who have been preparing our new place and are expecting our second child in less than two weeks. All the things you’re told not to do together, we’re doing them.

This has led me to reflect on resilience and leadership. With a heavily pregnant wife much of the heavy lifting (literal and metaphoric) has fallen to me. At times I haven’t held up as robustly as I would like to think I would be able to.