Three Actionable Steps to Make Your AGM a Thought-Leadership Showcase (Part 1)

empty speakers podiumAhhhh, the Annual General Meeting (AGM). The Chairman’s Office owns it. Legal runs it. Investor Relations designs it. Finance provides the figures. Communications and Marketing create the messages. What could possibly go wrong!

AGMs offer a once-a-year opportunity to display the best thinking your company has to offer investors and other attendees. They’re also the ideal brand showcase for you as a thought leader. Don’t waste this magic moment.

It’s soon reporting season so now is the time to take a close look at what your AGM says about your company and about you. Are you focusing only on past results or are you also presenting at least a snapshot of the present and a glimpse into the future? Continue Reading…

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Plan for a Graceful Executive Exit…or Face a Disaster CEO Departure.

fireworks over an office building

Smart “on the shelf” strategies can help you disaster-proof high-level departures and avoid a firestorm of negative publicity. (Photo Credit)

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the departure of two very different CEOs in two very different ways with two very different results.

Daniel Vasella, long-time leader of global pharmaceuticals powerhouse Novartis, was the first departure, announced on 23 January.

Then on 28 January, Michael Clarke, head of the UK-based Premier Foods, announced his departure in a way reminiscent of former President Bush’s declaration of ”Mission Accomplished” a month after the banner flew behind him on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in 2003. Continue Reading…

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How to Know If You’re Sitting in the Catbird Seat

catbird tweeting sitting in the catbirds seatWhen it comes to thought leadership, are you ”sitting in the catbird seat”? The question you might ask is, ”Would you want to be sitting there?”

The answer should be yes, but I’ve found that Americans are more familiar with that English phrase than Brits or others as it was the title of a popular short story by U.S. humorist James Thurber called ”The Catbird Seat.”

You can read more about Thurber’s short story and other uses of the term on Wikipedia. But here I’m using ”sitting in the catbird seat” in its original meaning of ”being in an enviable position.” Continue Reading…

Do You Have a Handle on It?

how to avoid a kit kat kerfuffle nestle social media team”It” is your social media reputation and ”it” deserves a few minutes of discussion about how to handle ”it” particularly during times of crisis.

Obviously the best metaphorical medicine for managing reputational risks is a healthy dose of preventative medication. But sometimes a crisis flares up and you need to do triage and respond as quickly as possible. A team that is constantly monitoring your online reputation can take swift measures if a crisis develops. Continue Reading…

What’s Coloring Your Decisions? Color’s Critical Role in Branding

Last summer a series of blogs on this site focused on a color theme and looked at pink matters and gray matters and even the varied colors of the Olympic rings. But is there a color connected to thought leadership?

color increases brand recognition by up to 80%

Over the last few months, a new communications group I belong to has been considering that question as we put together our consultancy website. More about that in the future; but in the meantime, I invite you to review some of the interesting articles I’ve found on using color to market products…products like ”brand YOU.” Continue Reading…

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Extolling the Virtues of Action-Oriented Email Subject Lines

email subject lines remember doo be doo be dooEfficiency and productivity are two watchwords for the busy thought leader. Here is a quick tip for making your emails have more impact and helping you get the results you want from them.

Every word should count when you write an email, and that includes the words in the subject line.

The chorus of the Frank Sinatra song ”Strangers in the Night” goes like this: ”Do, be, do, be, do…” That’s an important phrase to keep in mind when you write your next email. Tell your reader in the subject line what you want them to ”do” or ”be” after reading the email. Continue Reading…

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The Ins and Outs of Communication in 2013

Silence signStill using business jargon? That’s so last year! (Don’t miss the taboo words and phrases covered in my recent post The Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2012 as well as the earlier post 50 Tired Management Buzzwords and Communication Killers.)

As a thought leader, it’s crucial that you communicate meaning clearly and concisely. But communicating well often means not saying something.

It may mean listening more instead of talking. Particularly during negotiations, silence is golden.

It may mean slowing down the rhythm of communication and saying less before it’s time to say more or make a big announcement. You’ll likely get more attention if there’s a quiet before the storm.

Two recent, noteworthy articles posted in my Thought Leader ScoopIt e-zine focus on the good communication habit of saying nothing. The first article, 10 Communication Practices to Stop, talks about what’s in and what’s out in communications practices in 2013. The second article, Communication’s Biggest Secret: Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Closed, discusses the surprisingly smart strategy of silence.

Resolve to improve your communications style in 2013! Are you willing to learn something new in the new year? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

Photo: by Rev Stan on Flickr

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The Most Annoying Words and Phrases of 2012: Do You, Like, Wanna Comment? Whatever…

Poison warning sign using annoying terms and languageOne of the most popular blogs on this site in 2012 was this post on avoiding buzz words and jargon in business communication. That’s why I thought I’d launch 2013 with a year-end wrapup of what researchers say are the most annoying terms of 2012 and then ask you to add yours to the list.

The researchers from the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York,  questioned 1,246 U.S. adults in a Nationwide telephone survey. They learned that ”whatever” is, for the fourth consecutive year, the most annoying word for 32% of respondents and that 21% just don’t like ”like.” Runners-up for the most grating terms are ”you know” and ”just sayin’,” followed by “Twitterverse” and “gotcha’.”

Those words irk many people in casual conversation; but according to a recent article in PR News online,  if you particularly want to annoy journalists, add the following terms to your new releases:

  1. Engagement
  2. Fastest-growing
  3. High-performance
  4. Incredible
  5. Leading
  6. Powerful
  7. Solutions
  8. Unparalleled
  9. Utilize
  10. “We are excited…” quote about product/service/executive appointment/whatever

Highway exit sign illustrating annoying business buzzwordsDo you have any additional words to add to these lists of repellant rhetorical choices? Share them with others in the comments below or by contacting us here.

Is your business communication conversational yet cliche-free? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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12 Tips for Effectively Managing Remote Employees and Teams

map pushpins and connections image representing concept of managing remote and virtual employee teams In a galaxy far, far away…as a global thought leader, you may often need to ”manage by mobile” and lead from a distance. Instead of ”eyeball management,” you need to be able to focus on ”results management” and trust that your employees are capable of achieving the goals you set for them even when you’re not physically present.

Some of the leadership skills remote managers display are similar to those of on-site managers. But multi-site, dispersed, virtual teams can present particular challenges for even the most experienced managers.

What challenges have you faced? How have you handled them? Take a few minutes and click here or comment below to share some of your experiences and tips with other thought leaders.

To kick start the conversation, here are 12 general observations and tips:

Instead of ”eyeball management,” you need to be able to focus on “results management.” 
  1. Make your expectations concrete and measurable – for example, add structure by clarifying in writing short-term priorities and long-term goals.
  2. Check in regularly and spontaneously, formally and informally — for example, ”planned spontaneous interactions” might include virtual coffee chats and lunches or frequent check-ins with instant messaging.
  3. Keep it personal – for example, nothing will replace water cooler talks and coffee breaks, but take time to drop a personal note about something happening to the virtual employee – like a house move or a child graduating. Encourage a brief “sharing” time for all team members in regular meetings to help build team spirit.
  4. Be aware of the process the team is using and help them break it into manageable pieces with measurable results at key milestones.
  5. Don’t judge the process but judge the results.
  6. Set rules of engagement based on a consistent mission, purpose and values system.
  7. Agree on time boundaries — for example, what are the manager’s and the team’s expectations for sending or returning emails on the weekend, late at night or during the dinner hour.
  8. Set and model good communications practices — for example, what are the team’s rules on whom to cc: and what types of subject lines to include on emails.
  9. Listen better – for example, it’s much easier to miss subtle verbal clues when corresponding with telecommuters or distributed team members by telephone, video, Skype, etc.
  10. Remind on-site employees to listen to others on conference calls – for example, print out a photo of the remote employees and put them on the table or a chair during important meetings.
  11. Avoid engendering an ”us and them” mentality – for example, when virtual team members are mixed with co-located teams in headquarters, try overemphasizing the inclusion of voices outside the nucleus so that a “home-based” bias isn’t created inadvertently.
  12. Meet whenever possible in person, but particularly at the beginning of the distance employment relationship to minimize the virtual team member’s sense of isolation. Nothing replaces “face time”…nothing.

Do you need help improving communication as you manage remote employees from a galaxy far, far away from them? Ask, assess, then act. We’re here to help!

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Do you have Klout?

unattainable klout score for thought leadersOn most scales I’d be happy to rate a “10” but not on my Klout score. OK, OK, Justin Bieber is the top of that scale with a Klout score of 100 – clearly my influence is much lower. But since I have a very active virtual presence, I expected to rate higher than 10. I was slightly comforted to find out that my favorite columnist Lucy Kellaway, who actually has 20,000 followers on Twitter, also only rated a 10. In a recent article, she claims she’s proud to have no Klout. I, however, would like to have more and here’s why. Continue Reading…

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