Is The Executive Maybe part of your working vocabulary?

Effective leadership requires both decisive action and compelling communication, with integrity throughout. In an economy shifting towards knowledge and service roles, most employees will have more observations of a leader’s communications–both written and in person–than the leader’s direct actions. Think for a moment about the best communicating leader you’ve encountered: he or she certainly has an expansive vocabulary and evocative style. But there’s one little word, when used precisely, that can upgrade any leader’s communications: maybe.

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The Executive Maybe is both stealthy and powerful; like the Jedi mind trick, but without the condescension. After observing the Executive Maybe in its natural environment, I’ve observed two key uses:

 

  1. To redirect a proposal. When an employee proposes a new idea or next step, this flavor of the Executive Maybe applies a very soft rejection and redirects the conversation to another idea. As the pace of the conversation continues, the person who provided the idea likely won’t recall that their suggestion was ignored. Note: this technique is less effective on people familiar with Jack Johnson’s early work.
  2. To set a stretch goal. By invoking a hypothetical future state, this flavor of the Executive Maybe reduces apprehension that often accompanies the challenge of reaching new performance levels. By suggesting “maybe we could…” the leader instills the belief in her team that they can achieve it.

Now that your awareness of the Executive Maybe is heightened, listen for it in your organization and observe its effectiveness. Try it out with your team and see how they respond. It certainly won’t be the most exotic word in your leadership vocabulary, but will it be the most powerful? Maybe.

image credit: arresteddevelopment.wikia.com
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Podium Finish: Top Three Questions to Get Meaningful Feedback

Love it or hate it, getting feedback from our teams help us become better leaders and builds trust. Below are the top three questions I’ve come across to solicit meaningful feedback. Perhaps this goes without saying, but how you react to their comments will determine whether your team members take a risk to help you again in the future! Thank them sincerely, don’t be defensive or dispute their point of view. And most importantly, if you intend to change your behavior as a result, follow through!

  1. “What do you think I should know but might not want to hear?”
  2. “What do you wish I would stop doing?” – Vineet Nayar
  3. “If this were your exit interview, what would you say?”
“Feedback” is a surprisingly popular music title for bands I don’t like.

Feedback (Jurassic 5 album)

Feedback (Rush album)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)