One of my new favorite blogs is called Productivity Flourishing. This article (click here) is about a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion,” a.k.a. the invisible conversation. The concept is simple: There are conversations that go on between us and others that are non-verbal. They are driven by the emotions of the people we surround ourselves with. The article describes it as this: An interconnected network of brain cells known as mirror neurons respond to the emotional state of those around us by mirroring that same state. This immensely powerful conversation happens without intention, and much of it can be nonverbal. Though it’s as powerful as any deliberate, verbal conversation, if not more so. It goes on to discuss how these invisible conversations affect us in various situations. Sometimes You Need a Ghost Writer As I read this article, I couldn’t help but think how many job seekers need a “ghost writer” to help keep their invisible conversations on-track and positive. What’s a ghost writer? It’s a person who helps you maintain the proper talk-track in your head so you get the results you are looking for. Let me give you an example: When we are struggling to find work or advance our careers, we can become very down on ourselves. This projects a negativity that impacts the invisible conversations we have with friends, family, our job search network, and even hiring managers. I often find much of the career coaching I do by phone or Skype are focused on helping people work through this negativity so they can feel better and have more productive invisible conversations with those they are interacting with. Invisible Conversation Killing the Job Interview Recently, I did a coaching call by Skype with a CareerHMO.com member who has been between jobs for 18 months. He wanted to do some work on his interviewing skills because he was convinced his answers were hurting him on job interviews. As we started to discuss how he answered basic behavioral questions, I felt a strong negative invisible conversation going on. I stopped him and asked point blank what happened in his professional past that had hurt him so deeply. He was shocked, and said, “How did you know I’ve been hurt?” I told him it was the non-verbal cues. His voice tone, body language and hand gestures were making it clear he was upset. Even the way he was articulating his answers gave away the deep anger, sadness and insecurity he was feeling. We spent the rest of the call talking about the situation and helping him to come to terms with it. As his ghost writer, I helped him look at the situation more objectively so he could remove the emotion from the invisible conversation. A few exchanges by email and a follow-up Skype call shortly after led to some encouraging results. You could feel the difference when we interacted! It won’t surprise you to learn he has found it much easier to increase his networking activities too. His confidence is up and it shows! And in my experience, this will eventually lead to a new job. Do YOUR Invisible Conversations Need a Ghost Writer? This recent experience with a CareerHMO.com client made me realize it was time we expanded our offerings and give members a way to regularly work with a career coach to ensure the invisible conversations they are having are productive and positive. So, let me introduce you to two new subscription plans: Our Professional subscription offers you a coaching call with an expert by phone or Skype every other week, while our Executive subscription offers you a coaching call every week. Check them out and let me know what you think. Depending on the subscription you buy, you save $5-10/coaching session. Click for New Subscription Plans » P.S. Any existing member (Premium or Freemium) who upgrades their subscription by October 31, 2011 will get two extra coaching calls [$90 VALUE] for one month. How to Upgrade In order to upgrade, you must e-mail and inform me which level you'd like to purchase. I will take care of everything else. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t let the invisible conversations you are having with others hurt your career. Let us help keep your emotions in check so you can send the right message every time! J.T. O’Donnell is the founder of CAREEREALISM.com and CEO of CareerHMO.com, a web-based career development company. Image from Martin Fischer/Shutterstock
A leader inspires and motivates others to do and be better. It’s about being a servant leader who focuses on the growth and well-being of others, regardless of title, bringing out the best in who they are.
Anyone can be a leader if they choose to develop the right skills. I know! I’ve made many mistakes along the way by focusing on the wrong things (i.e. micromanagement, poor communication, lack of flexibility, you get it). Once I realized that leadership requires being able to connect, motivate, inspire, and be present, I began to make a real difference in the companies and people I worked with.
Here are four things I do to earn my leadership every day.
Strong communication skills include being a good listener as well as customizing your communication style to suit each situation and team member. This is an area I’m continuously working on. I have written down the following and keep it visible in my work area so that when I interact with anyone, I am conscious of my communication style:
- Present, Attentive, & In The Moment
- Ensure Active Listening
- Ask Questions (Open-Ended, Clarifying, Probing) That Engage My Audience
- Not Interrupting
- Withhold Judgment
- Share Information That Is Helpful
- Brainstorm With My Team
- Summarize My Understanding
A leader who has strong communication skills will build trust and improve morale across the organization.
I grew up in the “kill or be killed” era of business and I’m glad it’s changed to a focus of connecting with people to form lasting relationships. I’ve learned to be a more empathetic leader who is able to understand the needs of others, their point of view, what they are feeling, and why they act the way they do. That said, I still have more to learn as empathy is an emotional and thinking muscle that becomes stronger with use. What I try to do with my daily interactions is:
- Be Authentic
- Show Genuine Interest In Others
- Help Others Wherever I Can
- Be Self Aware
- Pay Attention To Body Language
- Be Open To Feedback
Empathy is a key element of servant leadership and leaders who are able to show compassion tend to be the most admired and are also able to drive significant business results.
Change is accelerating and at an unprecedented pace. In order to be successful, leaders need to embrace change in this constantly evolving global environment. I for one love change. While it can be somewhat scary at times, it can also bring about many opportunities. I’ve worked hard to embrace change and lean into the unknown by focusing on the following in my work and personal life:
- Being open to seeking and seizing new opportunities
- Have a clear purpose, develop a plan and prioritize new opportunities
- Remove obstacles that inhibit the path of progress to create quick wins
- Seek continuous learning and feedback
- Embrace risk-taking and the possibility of failure
- Take action quickly
Leaders who embrace change tend to be more adaptable, flexible, innovative, strategic, and have engaged employees. Change creates transformation and growth.
Develop Your Team
I was taught how to do my job but not how to be a leader who manages and develops teams. So when I first started managing teams, I struggled with continuing to do things myself vs. learning how to develop and inspire people. Along the way, I’ve made a number of mistakes, but through that, I’ve had some amazing nuggets of success that I work hard to put into practice all the time.
- Set clear goals and expectations
- Focus on serving, teaching, & mentoring
- Allow team members to problem solve
- Invest in people: resources, training, education
- Give direct feedback and ask for feedback
- Celebrate the wins and be quick to praise
- Foster collaboration and open communication
- HAVE FUN!
I’ve found that to earn my leadership every day requires a continuous journey of personal development and grace. Great leaders inspire others, bringing out the best in them while also leading by example. I hope these tips motivate you to earn your leadership. You’ve got this!
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