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.
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:
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.
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.
I’ve never been particularly good at planning my future. Especially before age 30, I was content to follow the path that others suggested. What I studied, where I worked, and my hobbies arose more by not saying no to a suggestion than by my own design. I believed this lack of foresight was a complex problem, compounding my discomfort.
Two recent revelations came as welcome surprises. First, my unexpected actual life is more rewarding than attaining the expected life would be. If 18 year old Ryan opened the mail one day to find a biography of 38 year old Ryan, he would laugh and call it impossible. If I had obediently checked the boxes of personal and professional achievement my elders set before me as a teen, the best I could feel is a sense of relief. Instead, I experience moments of wide-eyed disbelief at the wild path I followed to today.
Second, less concern about the future leaves more attention to invest in the present. Every moment of worry or wonder about tomorrow is a moment of today that escapes unnoticed.
With such a wonderful current life, I can be certain of troubling, sad, and difficult times ahead. At least one recession, war, or pandemic will occur in my lifetime; or all three. The death of my parents’ generation will disrupt the current equilibrium of my family. Accident or acute illness for my wife or children is inescapable. I also expect to make mistakes as a husband, father, and employee. But with vigilance not to repeat the mistakes of my past, I can extend my fulfillment into future “todays.”
So in hindsight, it’s better that I never figured out how to plan my life. Each day, my intent is to demonstrate the values my wife and I wish to instill in our children. Perhaps they too will find that not over-planning the future will lead to a happier present.
Yes, this is a psychology book: it helps you understand human emotions, cognitive patterns, and communication styles in order to build more effective relationships. Jeb Blount’s book, Sales EQ, explains these concepts in the context of the very specific relationships that exist between a seller and his or her stakeholders.
Most popular sales books focus on the sales process, qualification techniques, and the mechanics of closing (Sales EQ adds a few of its own, also). Let’s call these “the what” of selling. Other sales books define common personas, found in either buyers or sellers, exploring the attributes of each persona and how they lead to higher or lower win rates (Sales EQ also contributes to this category. Let’s call these “the who” of selling.
What sets Sales EQ apart, and what makes this such a unique and profound work when compared to other sales books, is how concisely and comprehensively it covers “the how” that sits behind both the what and the who of sales effectiveness. Blount takes the framework from Daniel Goleman’s research on Emotionally Intelligent Leadership (HBR, 1998-2001), and expands it to include concepts on decision making and communication introduced by authors spanning Cialdini, Pink, Heath, Carter, Ekman & the Dalai Lama, and more.
Has your team burned through a stack of sales methodology books and acronyms, from SPIN Selling, to The Challenger Sale, BANT, DISCOVER, MEDDIC, WOLFE, and everything in between, yet still struggles with low quota attainment and high turnover?
Have you sat in the room with a top-notch seller–either as a peer or a buyer–and been mystified with how effortlessly they get to “yes”?
Even more acutely, have you listened to a recording of yourself on a sales call and wondered “who is that monster and why in the world did he/she say that?”
For anyone who nodded to the questions above, or would simply like the convenience of finding 12 books on human emotion and communication condensed down in one volume, Sales EQ is a must-read.
Networking doesn’t start with opening accounts at LinkedIn, Facebook, Qzone, and Vkontakte. Whether we choose connect with clicks or handshakes, the part that makes the connection meaningful is the person. So forget about how you’re meeting people, who they are, and why you want to meet them: start with yourself.
Be yourself. In order to inspire trust and make genuine connections with others, you need to know (and be completely comfortable with) who you are and what you stand for. Think about the other people you have meaningful relationships with, who you are drawn to and why. You don’t need to be a peer of another person to develop a meaningful relationship with them, but “pretending” that you are a peer will make that impossible. References: True North, What got you here won’t get you there.
Give before you take, and don’t “keep score.” When you are generous with your help, advice, etc. with your relationships, you will find that the rewards come back with greater magnitude and at (pleasantly) surprising times. Reference: How to win friends and influence people.
Don’t ask permission to help. If you see an area in which you would like to help another person (by giving feedback, offering direct support, etc.), just help. It is very hard to damage a relationship by helping someone with the genuine intent on their success. Asking if the other person would like your help puts a barrier in the way and “costs” the other person something.
Seek out groups of people with whom you have few, but important, things in common. Common sense and scientific studies show that “weak ties” in a network are most important for building a broad network. So skip the Eastern Cleveland Tax Accountants’ Society mixer to volunteer at a soup kitchen or talk to the other parents at the state soccer tournament.
As with many things, you can test this approach to networking by looking at the situation in reverse: you just met a person who seems to agree with whatever you think, who makes a big effort to talk “at your level” rather than his or her own, and keeps asking what he or she can do to help you with your job search. When that face pops up with a request to connect online, how fast will you reach for the Ignore button?