Autograph Sheets – Use This Game as an Icebreaker Activity

Filed under: Soft Skills

Leader As Coach

One of the greatest challenges a leader faces is to engage the employees to focus on the organizational goals. While personal goals are what matters the most to the employees how will the leaders enable the employees buy into the organizational goals? It has been observed that traditional leadership approach is no longer an effective means to impact organizational effectiveness and growth. Today’s business and corporate culture can only be impacted with collaborative approach rather than command or control approach.

If leaders are to use collaborative approach for organizational effectiveness, it is apparent that leadership transition is the essential and this can only be attained through coaching. Leader as coach program aims at coaching business leaders as coach for organizational success. It helps leaders to become aware of their strengths and weakness, receive feedback, and develop into an effective leader so that the leader is able to coach others.

Leader as coach program is for all those who lead whether a CEO, manager or team leader. This program equips leaders and managers with competencies so that the leader is no longer perceived as autocratic but as a coach who is able to boldly believe in the strengths of others, motivate, coach and support them to accomplish their highest potential. The leader not only enables the employees or teams to focus and work towards the organizational goals but also foster long term commitment consistently.

According to Wright and Mackinnon only an effective coach can become an effective leader1. It is observed that coaching is vital part of standard leadership training and development; and 25-40% of fortune 500 companies use executive coaches to develop leaders as coaches.

The executive coaching in India is highly an essential ingredient for business and organization success and growth. The traditional approach of leadership is still prevalent in the eastern part of the globe. With the growing IT industry, MNC’s and development of various businesses, leadership transition is a necessity for survival with the rising global competition.

Leader as coach program helps leaders to adopt collaborative and partnership approach rather than direct and control. It helps leaders to evoke the talents and potentials of the employees for the benefit of the employees as well as the organization. It equips leaders with communication and people management skills that befit a coach. It enables leaders to handle conflicts, solve complex business problems more constructively using emotional intelligence.

Leader as coach programs produces leaders who become solid role models for their organization and teams by adopting values, competencies, strategies and techniques. To know more about leader as coach program visit the executive coaching India website:

http://www.executivecoachingindia.com/leader-as-coach.html

Reference

Wright, S. and MacKinnon, C. (2003). Leadership Alchemy: The Magic of the Leader Coach. Toronto: TCP Publications.

Filed under: Leadership

Self-Control Game

Learning/Application: Self Control

  • No. Of Participants: Two and more (always an even number)
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Location: Indoor
  • Checklist of Items Required: None

Procedure:

  1. Pair up the members in groups of two.
  2. Make the two people in a group to stand facing away from each other.
  3. Explain that both people should do their best not to talk, smile or laugh.
  4. On the count of three, have both people turn and face each other.
  5. Get the first one to talk, smile or laugh to sit down.
  6. Do this with all the groups and then, form new pairs with the people left standing, and do the same again.
  7. If at the end of the game, a group of two partners remain with a straight face, have the rest of the participants try to make them laugh.

Debriefing Notes:

Explore how some people managed to control their emotion for long and others didn’t.

The Strengthscape designs and deliver customized team building games across India and other SAARC countries. Our team building events are highly innovative, full of fun, safe and provide a great way to break ice and build a high performance team. Unlike the usual team building events, we bring the best of facilitation techniques, and event delivery to provide a memorable, safe and insightful event. To know more, write to us at [email protected]

Filed under: Soft Skills

Communicate Clearly

The 7 Cs of Communication form the edifice on which effective communication rests. Of these Clarity in communication is of immense importance. Clarity of communication has to be ensured in the various stages of communication:

  • Drafting the message
  • Transmitting the message
  • Feedback

If clarity is lost in any of these stages, communication will fail. The BizComm model of Strengthscape encompasses effective techniques to ensure Clarity in Communication.

Drafting the Message – This is the first stage in communication. This is where you decide what message needs to be communicated to the receiver. For creating a clear message, you should first be sure about what you want to communicate. Next, you need to convert concepts into clear words. The words could be either written or formulated mentally. As a sender you must never assume that the audience will understand the same meaning of message as intended by you. For this, there should be no ambiguity in the construction of the message. Another way of ascertaining clear messages is using visuals like videos, graphics or illustrations. Not only are images high-impact but they also clarify complicated text.

Transmitting the Message – Once the message is designed the next issue concerns transmitting it. Choose a medium that is suitable for the message and for the audience. Written medium should be used for transmitting complicated messages that may require future reference. Technology for transmission should be used keeping in mind availability with the audience. Also deciding what medium to use will depend on the demographics of the audience in terms of education, technological competence and age. There should be no distortion of the message in transmission.

Feedback – Feedback from the receiver is an important step in the communication process. Feedback ensure that communication has been effective. Feedback can be either in the form of action, as required in the communication, or paraphrasing the message or asking questions to ensure that communication is clear. Paraphrasing is translating the sender’s words to your own and checking for understanding. Also the receiver can ask questions both open-ended and close-ended to understand the message better and get any required additional information. Sometimes the feedback is not readily available from the audience, in these scenarios, you as a sender need to elicit a response from the audience to ensure that the message has been transmitted clearly.

Effective communication does not mean using jargon but conveying a message clearly.

Filed under: Communication Skills

Get The Basics Right – A Guide To The Cornerstones Of English Language Skills

Proficiency in the English language is considered by many to be one of the critical aspects of professional success. This observation is correct. There are a few reasons behind this, first organizations rely upon effective communication for achieving their goals, most organizations being multicultural and multilingual rely on the English language for this communication and people with good command over the English language tend to create a better first impression and many times gain professional success.

So what are the basics of the English language?

  • Grammar – The first important skill for the English language is Grammar. We cannot be too fussy about grammatical accuracy in business communication, but basic errors in grammar reflects on your level of professionalism. More importantly sometimes these errors can lead to miscommunication. The components of grammar that require special attention are usage of tenses, prepositions, subject-verb agreement and articles. We tend to restrict these skills to classroom learning, however their application should be a key skill to acquire.
  • Vocabulary – The second critical aspect of language proficiency is Vocabulary. This refers to knowledge of words used. Again, gaining complete knowledge of the English vocabulary is almost impossible, you will always encounter a word that you don’t know. However, having a good vocabulary will help you gaining effective speaking and writing skills. Vocabulary also enhances your comprehension power. The most effective strategy to build vocabulary is to Read! The more you read you will come across a variety of different words, learning their usage and meaning will enhance your vocabulary. However using these words after learning is even more important, otherwise they will be lost.
  • Diction – The third aspect of the language skill is Diction. This deals with how a person speaks in terms of articulation, pronunciation and accent. These skills are acquired with a great deal of practice. They are the most underrated out of the three skills but are very important in creating impactful oral communication. Articulation comprises of rate of speech, tone, volume, stress and pause. Most of these are influenced by our culture and therefore difficult to change, but with practice and exposure to a variety of diction, we can learn universally acceptable diction skills. The idea of right diction is not to follow a certain accent, but to be understood by all.

Learning these skills requires a great deal of effort and commitment. These skills cannot be acquired overnight, they require learning and practice over a long period of time. However, considering the importance of these skills it should be our aim to master them.

The BizComm Model of Strengthcape deals with Language Proficiency and other relevant topics.

Filed under: Language Skills

What’s Cooking : A Guide To Using Grapevine In Business Communication

“Grapevine” or gossip if the informal network of communication utilized in a business environment. Generally, it has a negative connotation for most professionals. However, one must admit that grapevine exists in all organizations and can be used profitably if handled carefully.

First we must talk about why grapevine exists in organizations. Grapevine is the direct result of personal human connection that people form within their workplace, by the virtue of mutual interaction. One of the strongest human needs, is the need for affiliation. Therefore, it is safe to say that people from personal relationships even in a formal business environment. Once we foster these personal relationships, informal communication becomes inevitable. Thus it is safe to say that grapevine exists in all organizations.

Though we have established that grapevine exists in all organizations, we are also aware that it carries a negative connotation. We need to understand why this integral part of business communication is frowned upon by most. The reason is that grapevine generally has no credibility or less credibility and one can never identify the source of gossip. Negative information circulating in the grapevine can wreak havoc as it may result in panic and loss of employee morale. Grapevine is generally word of mouth and therefore an unstable form of communication. We see all around us that sensational and negative gossip tend to spread much faster than positive messages.

But this negative attitude towards grapevine does not mean that we can or should try to root it out. Expecting employees not to form informal relationships is unrealistic and draconian. If you try to stamp out informal communication networks you incur the dissatisfaction and anger of the employees, as you will be hindering their need for affiliation.

Then how can we handle this potentially dangerous but integral aspect of business communication?  The most important thing to keep in mind is that if handled well, grapevine can actually benefit the organization. There are certain advantages to grapevine, like:

  •  It is one of the quickest networks of communication. Gossip spreads much faster than any formal communication.
  • Grapevine is also a cheap form of communication, since it is mostly word of mouth and doesn’t use the formal networks.
  • Grapevine also mostly does contain a shred of truth.
  • It fosters personal relationships between the employees and therefore may help in creating a congenial work environment.
  • It is a flexible means of communication, since there is no control over it.
  • Employees tend to express their true attitude and feeling through grapevine and therefore it is a valuable source of information.

However, the biggest drawback of grapevine, is that we cannot exercise any control over it and therefore negative gossip may sometimes blow out of proportion and cause irreparable damage. The management should use grapevine to gauge the climate in the organization and also keep a watchful eye on how grapevine is moving and correct any potentially dangerous misinformation passing through the network.

For more insights into various aspects of business communication go through the BizComm Model of Strengthscape.

Filed under: Communication Skills

A Guide To Nuances Of Nonverbal Communication

Non-verbal communication is communication that takes place without the words, either oral or written. It is deals with body movements, space and voice used for communication. It can be intentional and unintentional. Non-verbal communication is critical because it is difficult to hide or fake non-verbal cues.

The various components of nonverbal communication include body language, gestures, spatial arrangement and paralanguage. They influence the way in which messages are perceived and understood.

Body language is the movement of body used to communicate with people and it depends on a person’s attitude or feelings. Body language includes expressions, eye contact, posture and gestures. For example, a person may sad when he droops his head and walks slowly. Humans don’t have to say anything to show how they are feeling. Even the color of a person’s skin may show how he feels, when his face becomes red with embarrassment or anger. Body language can be voluntary or involuntary. However, for the most part people have limited control over their body language. Gestures are used widely in our day to day communication, whether it is shaking hands to say hello, waving goodbye or pointing to indicate direction. Gestures are also developed to aid the differently abled to communicate better.

Another element of nonverbal communication is spatial arrangement, it is not only used to communicate, but also has a great influence over the communication. The interior design of a room can exude comfort or can be very formal and will be used depending on the type of communication. Whether your boss asks you to occupy the comfortable sofa or the chair across his table will depend on what he wants to communicate.

Voice or paralanguage also has an impact on the communication. The tone, pitch and rate of speech may indicate the level or urgency of the message or the emotions that the sender is going through.

Of these, body language and paralanguage are considered to be of greater significance. The reason for the importance of body language and paralanguage in communication are that they define the underlying meaning of a message. Since we have limited control over them it is important to analyze it to understand the true meaning of a message. However, understanding body language poses certain challenges, since expressions and gestures are greatly influenced by culture and are not same everywhere in the world. Like the “thumbs up,” which is a positive gesture in some cultures, may mean something very different in other cultures. In Nigeria, the thumbs up gesture is a rude insult. This means that understanding cultures is critical to understanding true meaning of nonverbal communication. Even the tone of voice and rate of speech are influenced by culture.

Learn more about Body Language and nonverbal communication through Strengthscape.

Filed under: Communication Skills

SMART Goals For Business

By smart goals, we mean setting goals and targets which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely as well as tangible. Jotting down your goals on a piece of paper and evaluating them regularly can bring you closer to them at a much faster pace than you would have ever expected or imagined.

Now let’s study the basic criteria required for setting down a SMART goal.

A goal should be specified in clear cut terms, should be straightforward and should emphasize on what you want from them. It should be able to answer three basic questions which might be lingering in your mind- what exactly do you want to accomplish, why do you want to achieve it, and how would you do the needful? If your set goal can provide answers to these three basic queries in an easy and understandable language, be rest assured that you have laid down the right foundation towards achieving your goal successfully.

A goal should be measurable in terms of achievement and success, over time and with consistent effort. A measurable goal would provide you with an easy analysis of how much have you managed to acquire in a specified time period. Weighing and measuring your progress from time to time will enable you to be focused on your target and stuck to the track, thereby adding on to your excitement and enthusiasm when you find yourself nearing your ultimate goal.

Opportunities give way to attainment of future goals. Developing and evaluating the right attitudes, skills, abilities and financial capacities to attain that goal takes you a step ahead towards achieving that goal. However, to experience that joy of success and achievement, it is very important to lay down goals which are practically attainable. Your commitment should stand erect for something which is humanly reachable and not for something which is out of reach, so as to keep you motivated on your path towards success.

When you set a goal, you have to weigh and analyze it from different perspectives like the skills that it would demand, whether the project would be congenial with the overall strategy of the organization and does it gel with the ultimate goal of the enterprise as a whole and so on. To be more precise, a goal should be realistic and achievable with some consistent effort put into its fulfillment, as against being illogical and unrealistic.

A time limit, set for the successful attainment of a goal, provides you with a zeal and purpose to work more effectively and efficiently so as to complete your targets well within the specified time period. Timely completion of goals is very crucial to maintain continuity in your plan of action, or else it would not take much time for a goal to become vague by losing its authenticity and urgency. Also, a tangible goal, which can be felt and experienced with any one of the sense organs, is more specific, measurable and attainable, as compared to an intangible goal.

Filed under: Leadership

Mind Your Body Language

Have you ever looked at someone slouching and thought he looked lazy or bored? It is amazing that just by looking at someone standing we can gauge a number of things about his personality or state of mind. It is a well-established fact that “first impressions are generally the last impressions” or at least they are lasting ones. And it is for these first impressions that we need to mind our body language. It is said that “actions speak louder than words” and this case it is true.

So here are some pointers for positive body language:

First maintain a smart posture. Do not slouch or stand in an unnaturally attentive position, be casual and smart. Slouching shows lack of interest or confidence.

Do not use too many gestures, it drives attention away from what you are saying to how you are saying it. People tend to use involuntary gestures when nervous or under pressure.

Remember that gestures are culture specific and can mean different things depending on which part of the world you are. So be sensitive and aware while using gestures.

Maintain positive eye contact. However, differentiate between eye contact and staring. Maintaining positive eye contact shows high level of interest and confidence.

Expressions are hard to control, but keeping them unexaggerated can help. Exaggerated expressions again take focus away from what you say to how you say it.

Even a handshake goes a long way in creating a good impression. Keep it short and crisp.

Physical Appearance, though not strictly body language also helps in creating a positive first impression. Make sure you are dressed smartly and professionally. Appropriate dressing is the key – being too formal or too informal will put you in an uncomfortable spot.

Keeping these simple guidelines in mind go a long way in creating positive and lasting first impressions. In today’s fast paced business environment where interactions are short and many times second opportunities are not available, using body language to create a positive impression can be the key.

BizComm by Strengthscape deals with Body Language and many more nuances of Effective Communication.

Filed under: Soft Skills

Delivery Skills: A Key To Effective Presentations

Going up on stage and delivering an effective and impactful presentation or speech can give nightmares to many people. Stage fright is categorized by many as one of their worst fears. However, it is difficult for anyone to escape public speaking in today’s business environment.

The moment we think about giving a presentation we think about the delivery of the presentation. However, out of the time spent in preparing for the presentation, a significant amount of time goes in preparing the presentation itself – collecting the data and putting it up in a coherent form using various tools like PowerPoint. By the time we are done with this preparation the time for delivery is at hand we realize we have done no preparation for that! For the client or audience, all that preparation has no meaning if the delivery is ineffective.
Therefore it is safe to say that delivery of a presentation requires as much, if not preparation, than developing it. Without preparation we might find ourselves at a loss for words to explain our brilliant ideas, or still worse be caught off guard due to stage fright!

Since we understand the importance of delivering an effective presentation, there are some simple guidelines for ensuring effective delivery

  • Create strong presence – The first 30 seconds of any encounter are the most crucial. The same rule applies to presentations as well. Make the first impression count. Create a strong presence on the stage or the room. This can be achieved effectively by a string greeting, being appropriately dressed and having a positive body language.
  • Engage the audience – The next challenge is engaging the audience. The effectiveness of a presentation is assessed by audience engagement and this is not always easy to achieve. Some strategies for engaging the audience are – give them what they want, grab their attention by telling them how your presentation can help them and create a mental trigger for them. Creating a strong visual or a context for them to associate will ensure that your audience is hooked to what you have to say.
  • Establish Credibility – Coming across as a credible and dependable person can do wonders for your delivery skills. Interacting with confidence, providing correct information and facts and being well prepared will establish your credibility as a presenter.
  • Create an Impact – An impactful delivery creates a strong impression on the audience and ensures that your message is conveyed well. Impactful delivery can be ensured by connecting with the audience, empathizing with their needs and ensuring a high recall of your interaction.  Pause at the right moment, ask imperative and thought provoking questions and highlight the key features and benefits.

The PresentSmart Model of Strengthscape delves in-depth into the nuances of effective delivery.

Filed under: Presentation Skills