Communication: a Secret Weapon or an Achilles’ Heel? You Choose!

A couple of months ago I wrote about Active Listening – Ever thought about: why do we have two ears but only one mouth? – and the importance of doing it when communicating. Now, I want to focus on the messageand how communication can be a competitive advantage to you, and your companyI am sick and tired of assisting people pretending to be leaders, and failing to truly communicate! Communication is the process of conveying a message, and a lot of people are still failing to be honest, transparent, and respect their audiences. The word we are living in today it is so different from the one we were living in just a couple of years ago that a lot of people have not realized yet that a lot has changed. To start with, the technological advancements with the Internet and World Wide Web have just democratized the information and make each one of us owner of her own search for news! The era where newspapers and television were the solo places where to find facts on what was happening in the world is dead. Nowadays, one is free and able to find the information one wants without intermediaries or third parties. It is easier now to investigate for something when it does not smell right. So, I keep asking myself, Who can some people dare to lie and bullshit others in the 21st century? Not a Leader, I suppose! A real Leader must be able to well communicate with her audience, meaning that she should be able to listen (actively), and communicate with transparency and honesty, not with lies!

In my point of view, Leaders should start by respecting their audiences otherwise they will lose the trust of others, becoming poorer and sometimes even losing their most powerful “weapon“, their credibility! And this works also for companies. One can learn a bunch of rules on communication courses, though, if the message it is not honest, clear and transparent, everything will be at stake and your audience will end up feeling cheated. Respect your audience means being a Leader, and a Leader will always treat her audience respectfully!

Lesson learned, when communicating be truthful, honest, transparent and clear. You will gain your audience’s respect and trust! As you know, your credibility, image and brand are important aspects of being competitive. Thereupon, being acknowledged as respectful and trustworthy will give you some edge when facing your competition, and work as a real competitive advantage toward them!

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The Art Of Brainstorming In The 21st century!

What I like more in the social media and all these internet and web stuff is the easiness of sharing, connecting and commenting on each others’ ideas. Social Media is doing its job and helping people getting more into sharing, communicating, and building up on others’ ideas. People is becoming more open to exercise their own creativity and innovatory abilities. People like to share and comment on other’s work, obviously that this is much easier today than it was a couple of years ago, nevertheless, this social change brought by the advancement in technology is boosting the whole phenomenon. Commenting, sharing and building up on other’s ideas is for me the basis of Brainstorming! Online or Offline, Brainstorming is a powerful tool and in my point of view, a competitive advantage for those doing it. Brainstorming has become a tool to generate a higher level of innovation and boost creativity. Honestly speaking I am a huge fun of brainstorms! I know that sometimes one ends up with a bunch of people trying to brainstorm and nothing happens. Though, the right question here is the Why! Why is it not working?

For several different reasons like, wrong people or place, or more important, wrong leader. So, another key question is, How can you take fully advantage of its amazing potential? For starters, Brainstorming only works if people is doing it in fully awareness of what it is at stake and able to speak freely. Meaning, only if you have a strong team spirit, a motivated team and you rewards their participation and willingness to share you will be able to profit from it. However, not having the “right” leader in charge of stirring, coordinating and conducting the whole meeting it is also a common and the most important mistakes! Even for brainstorms you need some order and rules, and nothing better to do that than having someone capable of leading the whole discussion. If you want to have a good, efficient, and fruitful brainstorming you must appoint a Leader to be in charge.

Another key question again, What kind of traits must be present in a Brainstorm Leader? In my point of view, first of all you will need someone with a good sense of what a Shaper and an Evaluator are. A Shaper will challenge people, be dynamic, provide the drive and courage to overcome obstacles and take some action. On the other side as an Evaluator, she will be sober, strategic, logical and more important she will see all the options and keep track on the good ones. And on top of everything, you will need someone who has a good sense of humor, a sharp common sense, an ability to stir ideas in order to think outside the box, a good moderator and communicator. Someone who knows how to ignite innovation and creativity, motivates people to build up on others ideas and suggestions, and more important someone who does not judge or inhibit people to take risks or share their opinions!

If Brainstorming can be seen as a competitive advantage, and I believe it can, companies must pay more attention to it and have better leaders to manage it. I have seen amazing brainstorm sessions where solutions are found, new ideas brought in to the table and a boost in creativity and innovation accomplished! If companies must innovate and be creative nothing better than start using social media to do it but also never forget to do it offline, in-house with your company’s employees. You will be surprised with what you end up with, an amazing set of creative and innovatory ideas.

Tip: Include brainstorming in your weekly tasks, do it at least once a week and you will see the changes after a couple of months! Your company will be much more open to new ideas, creating and innovating more, and your team will be more motivated and productive than ever.

Do not hesitate in contacting us if you want some more tips on Brainstorming or Share tips with us!

Similar Posts: Words for Starters, How much time would you like to invest innovating and creating?Don’t worry, Be creative!Being just a click away!Decisions: a headache or an opportunity?Vision, Strategy and Implementation! How About People?

Backwards or Forward?

Unfortunately, I keep seeing people, companies, institutions and governments trying to live backwards! Back to when they knew how things will happen and work or just when they felt more secure! Well, I regret to inform you but one cannot go back into those times, things have evolved, changed and now we live in a different time. Everything is faster, Innovation is the King and uniqueness the Queen. People is supposed to contribute in different ways, creating value not only as an employee or an owner. Individuals can do a lot of contribute, collaborate and share in a total different way and creating high value to the community. So, keep thinking backwards will not help you or your company. The sooner you acknowledge the world you are living in has changed, the sooner you will be able to build something new and add a higher value to you, but also to all of those supporting and collaborating with you.

The commencement of the 21st Century will be about innovation, technology, uniqueness, creativity and (global) collaboration! A faster pace for business and at same time a quest for quality will be also in demand. Trying to close your eyes and pretend that you still living in the 20th century will not help you and you will live bitter and unhappy live!

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago – A Premature Generation Gap! Can You Feel It? -, a new and faster generational gap is a reality and it is here to stay. A faster pace for change it is a recent phenomenon and it happens due to a quicker and “easier” innovatory and technological advancements. Everything is changing must faster meaning that, like I read on an amazing post at The Leadership Advisory Blog, wrote by William Powell – Adopt, Adapt or Adios! However, if you really want to be competitive and a leader of your industry you must also Innovate, Create and be Unique. 

One year ago I wrote How Do You Want To Play This New Game?, and I am still writing today about the same subject! Some people and companies are still not understanding that they have to chose between keeping looking backwards and live in the past; and learn form the past, move ahead, and manage forward!

Good luck! Ah, and move forwards!

Time can be a friend or an enemy!

Is there a right time to react? Yes, I think so! Although you have a lot of opportunities to react to a situation, you have only a few chances to do it right. Hence, you must anticipate and be prepared! Gaining time and leeway is key when dealing with decision making. I believe that, time can be positive or negative, it will always depend on how you use it!

For example, if you are an entrepreneur starting your own business, it is crucial to do it within the timeline you make your analysis for. If you miss the shot, you may end up with a completely different situation at-hand and to what your assumptions and diagnose do notwork anymore. Another good example of how important your reaction-time is, it is connected to proactivity! Managers should anticipate trends and act proactively toward change in order to avoid being overtaken by new comers or existent competition. Keeping an eye on your goals it is important, though, keeping an eye on what is happening inside and around your company it is crucial. Why? Because, If you reach a position where you are trapped, taking decisions and reacting will be much more complicated and limited. Limited by the pressure of doing something and complicated due to the likelihood of being short on resources as cash and human capital. So, the sooner you identify potential changes or problems the better you will deal with them!

Some lessons learned: first, there is a better time to react; second, it is not true that you have only one opportunity to react, though you must try to go for the one that helps you more; third, keep monitoring not only your environment and competition but also your own company, because sometimes the problems show up internally; fourth, pay close attention to the future; fifth, have a back up plan prepared to react as quickly and wisely as possible; sixth, avoid being trapped with limited time and resources to respond; and seventh, do not be afraid of change, react as soon as possible and, as I wrote on my last post – Decisions: a headache or an opportunity! -,  use change and decision moments as opportunities to improve and be better prepared for the future.

Time can tic tac to cause you harm or to help you being stronger and more competitive! You chose! If you are not aware of changes and well prepared to face them I can say that time will be your worst nightmare. Though, time can help your dream come true if you use your opportunities wisely to anticipate, be prepared, innovate, be creative and change whenever needed! Enjoy your time wisely!

Have you ever faced a situation where you had to react and had not anticipated nor prepared it?

Decisions: a headache or an opportunity?

I have been noticing lately that too many people face decision making with tremendous difficulty, like it was a headache or a negative thing…! Well, although I understand way people feel such a terrible pain, I could not disagree more with that behavior and negativism. Contrariwise, I look at decisions as an opportunity to do something differently or try something new. When I face a situation where I have to take a decision, I normally look at it as a positive thing rather then a headache!

As I mentioned in one of my latest posts – Stop the routine, before the routine stops youroutines can keep you off from being competitive, creative and also dynamic; three key traits for the 21st century. Routine can move you away from innovative paths and future oriented approaches, professionally or privately speaking. Decision-making can also be helpful and part of being creative, innovative or future-oriented! Entrepreneurship and Leadership is also about how to face decision-making, transforming this into opportunities. Opportunities to start something new or do something ordinary in a different and more competitive way. An entrepreneur should not let her company reach a point of no-turn-back, a position where it is much more difficult, if not impossible, to do a turnaround. Entrepreneurs and Leaders in general should be very attentive towards their company, avoiding being caught in a compromising situation such as a weak market positioning or an unappropriated team – a team with the wrong skills and profile. Decision-making situations along with a no-routine policy can help a company staying competitive and keeping a strong market positioning. So, in my viewpoint, decisions are an opportunity to do better, differently and fight routine back. Next time you face a decision-making situation look at it as an opportunity and not as a headache and you will see how great things can be when you have the adequate behavior toward situations like decision-making or routine stuations!

Decisions are opportunities, and opportunities are rare, so please take it wisely!

Diversity: the secret ingredient of success!

How important is diversity for your business? A question that any single entrepreneur should ask when starting a company. Nowadays it is quite common to hear companies saying out loud that they have a diversity policy regarding their people and teams. Though, I must say that too many times this is just a branding campaign made convey a message of “respect” by diversity to its key stakeholders. But, in some countries there are quotas ( a minimum percentage) that companies must fulfill regarding certain factors of discrimination, like gender or ethnicity. Nevertheless, a quota is just a quota, and unfortunately it does not change mentalities or real discrimination! Howsoever, it is some times the only way to achieve equal treatment and opportunity to everybody!

A more interesting approach to diversity can only happen after the acknowledgment of its positiveness toward human kind’s evolution. In my point of view, it is amazingly important what a company, a business, can gain with a strong and real diversity policy. However, for this to be truly accomplished, the Human Resources Department (aka People Department aka Human Capital Department aka other any name used for the department running the department related to everything related to people) should have a seat at the board of directors, the place where every single corporate and business strategy is discussed. Why? Well, how can a company define a business strategy without having a serious and well done analysis on the needs and impacts of it on the company’s most precious “asset”, its people? It is, in my viewpoint, impossible to define and implement a business strategy without having the responsible for the people strategy seated at the Board’s table discussing and brainstorming on the company’s key issues. I am leaving this subject for another post or posts, due to the complexity of the subject! I am now more interested in discussing a more specific subject: how can diversity be faced as a competitive advantage for your business? I have written about non-regular factors of competitiveness like happiness, sense of humor, motivation, or people in  general. I am here today to discuss diversity as a factor of competitiveness! How can it work? Well, let’s start by explaining what diversity means to me, it means people with different: cultural background, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or demographics. Although, my definition is not a scientific one, it is the way I perceived reality! Reality is full of differences, people absorb that differences, becoming different themselves! Globalization brought together people from different regions, countries, continents. People with different ways of living, believes or faiths. People with different social, cultural, educational, religious backgrounds, that are mixing and evolving together and generating an enriched melting pot full of diversity! These richness can and should be used by companies and organizations in a positive and inclusive way! Companies should be the privileged place where the melting pot happens, and grow! Why? Because diversity, in this sense, can help finding new ways of working, new ideas, innovation, new experiences, new approaches, …! An old saying says: Two heads think better than one! I would like to add that two “different” heads can make miracles! Creativity and innovation are boosted through diversity, and a company can gain a lot by having a diversity policy! Even us, mere human beings, can profit from the interaction with diversity, people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. However, to do so, companies and people must have an open-mind and a true respect by other’s opinions and believes.

Myself, I have learned a lot by interacting with people with different ethnicities, and cultural and religious backgrounds! I have seen the melting pot in action, and I must say that it is amazing the high level results companies can achieve if working with diversity!

Vision, Strategy and Implementation! How About People?

Along my life I have seen a lot of awkward things! But the worst was to see a company with no strategy and a leader without vision! How can a business survive if it has no vision? A simple dream to be accomplished or a line in the horizon to be pursuit ? How can one survive without goals and objectives? Well, unfortunately a lot of companies do the same mistake over and over! First, they don’t have a vision; Second, they don’t have a strategy because they don’t have a vision; And, third, they hire a manager to manage a company with no vision nor strategy. what kind of people can they hire? A no-leader for sure, because no leader would accept a challenge when the company has no vision nor strategy. The only case where I can see a leader accepting this challenging is the case where she has a mandate to change it! Develop a vision and design a strategy! Although you have a vision and a strategy, you are still missing the last part of it, a plan to implement it! Again, I have seen a lot of companies ruining their positioning due to a wrong implementation plan! Easily one can say that to have the right start up base you need a vision, a strategy and an implementation plan! Obviously that you can have all of this and still fail, so another key ingredient is people! Talented people, high potential people, committed people, motivated people, creative people, innovative people…Well, I think you understood my viewpoint here. I know that the idea of having a triangle is much more sexy than a square though, here we are dealing with a square! Vision, Strategy, Implementation & People: a square that gives a company a truly opportunity to succeed! Nevertheless, don’t forget that people must be led and motivated, and that not only the vision, strategy and implementation are important!

An amazing Japanese old saying says: “Vision without Action is a daydream, but Action without Vision is a nightmare” and I would like to add: Vision and Action without people are Impossible! People Management is key to win the challenges ahead!