10 Communication Secrets of Great Leaders

Mike Myatt, Contributor Forbes 4/4/12

It is simply impossible to become a great leader without being a great communicator. I hope you noticed the previous sentence didn’t refer to being a great talker – big difference. The key to becoming a skillful communicator is rarely found in what has been taught in the world of academia. From our earliest days in the classroom we are trained to focus on enunciation, vocabulary, presence, delivery, grammar, syntax and the like. In other words, we are taught to focus on ourselves. While I don’t mean to belittle these things as they’re important to learn, it’s the more subtle elements of communication rarely taught in the classroom (the elements that focus on others), which leaders desperately need to learn. It is the ability to develop a keen external awareness that separates the truly great communicators from those who muddle through their interactions with others. In today’s column I’ll share a few of the communication traits, which if used consistently, will help you achieve better communication results.

I don’t believe it comes as any great surprise that most leaders spend the overwhelming majority of their time each day in some type of an interpersonal situation. I also don’t believe it comes as a great shock that a large number of organizational problems occur as a result of poor communications. It is precisely this paradox that underscores the need for leaders to focus on becoming great communicators. Effective communication is an essential component of professional success whether it is at the interpersonal, inter-group, intra-group, organizational, or external level. While developing an understanding of great communication skills is easier than one might think, being able to appropriately draw upon said skills when the chips are down is not always as easy as one might hope for.

Skills acquired and/or knowledge gained are only valuable to the extent they can be practically applied when called for. The number one thing great communicators have in common is they possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness. The best communicators are great listeners and astute in their observations. Great communicators are skilled at reading a person/group by sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those being communicated with. Not only do they read their environment well, but they possess the uncanny ability to adapt their messaging to said environment without missing a beat. The message is not about the messenger; it has nothing to do with messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.

So, how do you know when your skills have matured to the point that you’ve become an excellent communicator? The answer is you’ll have reached the point where your interactions with others consistently use the following ten principles:

 

1. Speak not with a forked tongue: In most cases, people just won’t open up those they don’t trust. When people have a sense a leader is worthy of their trust they will invest time and take risks in ways they would not if their leader had a reputation built upon poor character or lack of integrity. While you can attempt to demand trust, it rarely works. Trust is best created by earning it with right acting, thinking, and decisioning. Keep in mind that people will forgive many things where trust exists, but will rarely forgive anything where trust is absent.

2. Get personal: There is great truth in the axiom that states: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Classic business theory tells leaders to stay at arms length. I say stay at arm’s length if you want to remain in the dark receiving only highly sanitized versions of the truth. If you don’t develop meaningful relationships with people you’ll never know what’s really on their mind until it’s too late to do anything about it.

3. Get specific: Specificity is better than Ambiguity 11 times out of 10: Learn to communicate with clarity. Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing. Time has never been a more precious commodity than it is in today’s marketplace. It is critical you know how to cut to the chase and hit the high points, and that you expect the same from others. Without understanding the value of brevity and clarity it is unlikely that you’ll ever be afforded the opportunity to get to the granular level as people will tune you out long before you ever get there. Your goal is to weed out the superfluous and to make your words count.

4. Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways: The best communicators are not only skilled at learning and gathering information while communicating, they are also adept at transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading their vision. The key is to approach each interaction with a servant’s heart. When you truly focus on contributing more than receiving you will have accomplished the goal. Even though this may seem counter-intuitive, by intensely focusing on the other party’s wants, needs & desires, you’ll learn far more than you ever would by focusing on your agenda.

5. Have an open mind: I’ve often said that the rigidity of a closed mind is the single greatest limiting factor of new opportunities. A leader takes their game to a whole new level the minute they willingly seek out those who hold dissenting opinions and opposing positions with the goal not of convincing them to change their minds, but with the goal of understanding what’s on their mind. I’m always amazed at how many people are truly fearful of opposing views, when what they should be is genuinely curious and interested. Open dialogs with those who confront you, challenge you, stretch you, and develop you. Remember that it’s not the opinion that matters, but rather the willingness to discuss it with an open mind and learn.

6. Shut-up and listen: Great leaders know when to dial it up, dial it down, and dial it off (mostly down and off). Simply broadcasting your message ad nauseum will not have the same result as engaging in meaningful conversation, but this assumes that you understand that the greatest form of discourse takes place within a conversation, and not a lecture or a monologue. When you reach that point in your life where the light bulb goes off, and you begin to understand that knowledge is not gained by flapping your lips, but by removing your ear wax, you have taken the first step to becoming a skilled communicator.

7. Replace ego with empathy: I have long advised leaders not to let their ego write checks that their talent can’t cash. When candor is communicated with empathy & caring and not the prideful arrogance of an over inflated ego good things begin to happen. Empathetic communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency that is not present with those who choose to communicate behind the carefully crafted facade propped-up by a very fragile ego. Understanding the this communication principle is what helps turn anger into respect and doubt into trust.

8. Read between the lines: Take a moment and reflect back on any great leader that comes to mind… you’ll find they are very adept at reading between the lines. They have the uncanny ability to understand what is not said, witnessed, or heard. Being a leader should not be viewed as a license to increase the volume of rhetoric. Rather astute leaders know that there is far more to be gained by surrendering the floor than by filibustering. In this age of instant communication, everyone seems to be in such a rush to communicate what’s on their mind that they fail to realize everything to be gained from the minds of others. Keep your eyes & ears open and your mouth shut and you’ll be amazed at how your level or organizational awareness is raised.

9. When you speak, know what you’re talking about: Develop a technical command over your subject matter. If you don’t possess subject matter expertise, few people will give you the time of day. Most successful people have little interest in listening to those individuals who cannot add value to a situation or topic, but force themselves into a conversation just to hear themselves speak. The fake it until you make it days have long since passed, and for most people I know fast and slick equals not credible. You’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters,” and while there is surely an element of truth in that statement, I’m here to tell you that it matters very much what you say. Good communicators address both the “what” and “how” aspects of messaging so they don’t fall prey to becoming the smooth talker who leaves people with the impression of form over substance.

10. Speak to groups as individuals: Leaders don’t always have the luxury of speaking to individuals in an intimate setting. Great communicators can tailor a message such that they can speak to 10 people in a conference room or 10,000 people in an auditorium and have them feel as if they were speaking directly to each one of them as an individual. Knowing how to work a room and establish credibility, trust, and rapport are keys to successful interactions.

11. Bonus – Be prepared to change the message if needed:  Another component of communications strategy that is rarely discussed is how to prevent a message from going bad, and what to do when does. It’s called being prepared and developing a contingency plan. Again, you must keep in mind that for successful interactions to occur, your objective must be in alignment with those you are communicating with. If your expertise, empathy, clarity, etc. don’t have the desired effect, which by the way is very rare, you need to be able to make an impact by changing things up on the fly. Use great questions, humor, stories, analogies, relevant data, and where needed, bold statements to help connect and engender the confidence and trust that it takes for people to want to engage. While it is sometimes necessary to “Shock and Awe” this tactic should be reserved as a last resort.

Don’t assume someone is ready to have a particular conversation with you just because you’re ready to have the conversation with them. Spending time paving the way for a productive conversation is far better than coming off as the proverbial bull in a china shop. Furthermore, you cannot assume anyone knows where you’re coming from if you don’t tell them. I never ceased to be amazed at how many people assume everyone knows what they want to occur without ever finding it necessary to communicate their objective. If you fail to justify your message with knowledge, business logic, reason, empathy etc., you will find that said message will likely fall on deaf ears needing reinforcement or clarification afterward.

Bottom line – The leadership lesson here is whenever you have a message to communicate (either directly, or indirectly through a third party) make sure said message is true & correct, well reasoned, and substantiated by solid business logic that is specific, consistent, clear and accurate. Spending a little extra time on the front-end of the messaging curve will likely save you from considerable aggravation and brain damage on the back-end. Most importantly of all, keep in mind that communication is not about you, your opinions, your positions or your circumstances. It’s about helping others by meeting their needs, understanding their concerns, and adding value to their world. Do these things and you’ll drastically reduce the number of communications problems you’ll experience moving forward.

 

 

How Are Your Relationships At Work?

Regardless of whether you sell a product or a service, how are your relationships at work? Do you spend time getting to know your clients, your employees, and your vendors? In a technology-driven, fast-paced world, taking the time to connect with the people involved in every aspect of your business will pay off in the long-term.

1. Be Genuine

People automatically take in both verbal and nonverbal body language when they interact with you. If your words are not congruent with you nonverbal body language, then people will pick up on the inconsistencies and when they do, then it makes it twice as hard for them to trust in you. This can affect your sales and the office atmosphere.
When you are being genuine, you connect with the other person by making direct eye contact, by engaging in back and forth conversation that does not get off topic, and by tending to their needs. If your mind is wandering or your feelings do not match with what you are saying, then it can also prolong figuring out if everyone’s needs were met in the interaction. When you are focused on someone and in the present moment, not thinking about the past or future, then your thoughts/feelings/actions are all on the same page. Even if the other person is scattered, your presence can help calm, re-center, and re-orient them to solving the issue at hand.

2. Smile

Both men and women respond to being smiled at in a friendly, engaging, professional manner. A smile does not mean you are flirting with the opposite sex. When you have a pleasant smile on your face you broadcast that you are at ease, approachable, and if someone wants to talk to you or ask a question, they know you are present and ready to help them out. Smiling at other people, and just because you are happy, also causes a chain reaction. Just try not smiling at someone the next time they smile at you.

3. Play

I love the Pikes Place FISH! philosophy and culture. One of my favorite tenets is: play. And, yes, I just said play at work. Why not? When you are playful with your co-workers, and with your customers it is almost impossible to be insincere or to frown. When you play at work, something beautiful occurs: you enjoy being at work. A dose of silliness does not mean losing your professionalism, but what it does mean is that your office climate is conducive to productivity. A byproduct may be increased efficiency and sales, just because people love what they do and are having fun with their jobs.

4. Acknowledge

While acknowledging and recognizing people for their work is germane to everyone, it’s especially meaningful when you publicly recognize women’s efforts. Women are not recognized enough at work, partly because they do not self-promote according to what John Gray, PhD, found and book, How to Get What You Want at Work. Women do not naturally boast or tell others about their accomplishments; partly because social conditioning tells women that it is uncomely to brag.

John Gray, PhD, talks in this book about how showing appreciation to men about their efforts and results may work more to their benefit rather than showing respect. Whereas the opposite tends to be true for women at work; they would rather be shown respect over appreciation for their accomplishments. If you’re interested, then you can also take a quick Mars Venus Coaching online workshop on just these differences between men and women.

5. Praise

I believe as a culture we tend to focus on the bottom-line and what’s not going well compared to how much time is spent praising and encouraging one another on what we are doing well. A simple, “hey, Joe, you did a great job on that presentation,” or a quick note will work wonders. Positive reinforcement will always net you positive results, because people like and want to feel good about themselves and their work. Therefore, if you spend more time praising people at work, regardless if they are co-workers or customers, then you will have more satisfied people at your place of work.

Enjoy placing value on your relationships to make them work at work!

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

In Business, It’s Never About You

Recently, I had an interaction with another business person that left me deflated. I felt deflated, because the other person was acting irrationally based on fear, rather than seeing the opportunity for what it was—mutually beneficial. We could have helped one another out in promoting our businesses. When I network it is to get to know someone so I can link them with others. As I build the relationship based on genuine interactions of getting to know them, the majority of the time I find us wanting to help and recommend each other’s services, because we value and can speak for the other’s services. When you have a working knowledge of gender and emotional intelligence you quickly realize it’s not the exchange of products or services that really matters; it’s the experience and connection that makes buying and selling memorable. This is more of an organic way of doing business, but I have found it to create sustainability, and long-term results.
A lot of times what we do not realize is that even in buying and selling, our emotions are often the deciding factor in whether the experience is a positive or negative one. So here’s the secret—always choose for your interactions to be about the other person, never about you. So in this example, while his behavior was not desirable, I let him close the door on the business relationship. It initially made me feel deflated, because there were great opportunities and possibilities, but I respected his decision. When you are able to label and identify your emotions as they are happening, instead of reacting based on emotions, you can choose logic and the best course of action.
Putting the concept, it’s never about you; it’s always about the other person benefits your business in three ways. It works in networking, with colleagues, and with customers. When you remember that it’s about the other person, and not you, then you can quickly wade through whom to pursue relationships with as you network. When you use this concept with co-workers and employees you keep the lines of communication open and honest. And, when you use this concept with customers, you create an environment where they feel good about themselves, and will want to return or recommend your product or service to others. In each of Dr. John Gray’s, Mars Venus books, the Mars Venus Coaching eWorkshops, and working with Mars Venus Coaches these principles are espoused. It is always about learning how to communicate with others in their language so they can hear and understand you. When you shut the door, you limit yourself on future opportunities. So remember when you are interacting with others, ask yourself how you can help them get what they need, not what’s in it for you. And, in doing so, people will seek out your business. And, when the other person is not of like mind, be genuine when you wish them well. You never know, they may come back!
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

Hitting Rock Bottom at Work and Surviving

It’s rare today that your first job is also your last job. In the course of many people’s careers, as they gain time and experience, their positions change. Increased responsibility in most cases should mean increased pay. It can be tricky identifying a good time to move to a new position. If we’re fearful of the change, sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, sometimes repeatedly, before we wake up and choose to be survivors and not a victim. How do we go from hitting rock bottom to surviving?
A lot of it lies in our perspective, how we internalize change, and how we incorporate our growing pains into the fabric of our lives. We can always increase our resiliency, or our ability to bounce back despite setbacks.
Our lives are such a kaleidoscope of colorful events if we choose to see it this way. It’s easy to focus on the pain, on what’s not going right. The real test of our character is our ability to face setbacks, discomfort, and failure and see it for what it is—find the lesson learned in the experience, and move on to better things as a more humble and compassionate person.
When we are at the bottom looking up we often feel alone and unappreciated as we wonder if anyone cares about us or sees the pain through our tight smiles. Sometimes we ask ourselves what the point of going on is if we feel like our work isn’t valued. If we’ve royally screwed our personal relationships up (or lack thereof) by putting our job ahead of what’s really important to us, then it really can make us question the worth of our lives. Sometimes we hit rock bottom, because we no longer are interested in our job. We could be worn out or stressed to the max. What may really be going on is that we’re ready for a change. We’re having trouble finding purpose in what we do for our job. And we think that holding on to the way things are will keep things the same. However, when we resist change and hold on so tightly to the past or the future, we lose sight of what we’re doing in the here and now.
I have found throughout the years that a storm always precedes a fresh new beginning. Always.
When I find myself blocked or resisting a change with my job, it’s usually because I’ve outgrown the job. I’m ready for a new challenge—whether it’s more responsibility or a new career field. If I find myself anxious or dreading going in to work a storm is definitely brewing. Are you there right now?
Why not try identifying the why behind the pain, discomfort, boredom…the sooner we’re able to move past these negative feelings and beliefs, the sooner our next job will surface.
Hitting rock bottom means the only way to go is up. That we’ve outgrown the current experience and our soul is yearning for something more, something bigger, and something beyond our current situation. So ask yourself what you truly long for and how you can do something right now, today that will get you one step closer to that longing.
Step a little outside of your comfort zone.
Enlist the aid of someone with the experience and willingness to be a safe place that you can be vulnerable and explore what it is you really want.
You are definitely worth it—and the people whose lives you touch in your job will be profoundly affected by your interactions when your job is your passion. Who knows, your relationships may just fall into place as well. When you value your worth, and recognize the tenuous web that intricately spins us all together it will begin to make sense the sooner you work past the pain, longings, and yearnings, you will find happiness, compassion, and success in pursuing your passions.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

How To Follow Your Passion When You’re Just Trying To Pay The Bills

ignitefire-654x453 [BLOG]

During tough economic times, many people think they need to sacrifice passion and focus solely on earning money. From a spiritual perspective, this is the exact opposite approach to generating real abundance. Yes, paying your bills takes practical action. But it also requires an internal belief system powered by inspiration and passion. Without an emphasis on passion, it’s likely that no matter how many actions you take, you’ll still wind up feeling stuck.

Neglecting passion blocks creative flow. When you’re passionate, you’re energized. Likewise, when you lack passion, your energy is low and unproductive. Energy is everything when it comes to earning. Quantum physics teaches us that our bodies are made up of subatomic particles that are energy. Your thoughts, attention, and focus affect your energy and therefore everything around you—including your bank account. So when you’re thinking only about the mundane to-do lists and practical action steps, you’re lowering your energy and in effect lowering your earning power.

Your life becomes what you think about most. When you focus on following your passion and letting inspiration flow, your energy is raised and your earning capacity is strong. But when you’re uninspired and bogged down by low-level thoughts, your attracting power is weakened.

Now that you have a better understanding of the earning value of passionate, positive energy, it’s time to take it more seriously. Read on for three simple, effective ways you can bring more passion into your life—even if you’re crazy-busy.

Who said your job had to be your only source of passion?

Our culture places such a huge emphasis on our careers, that we lose track of our passion projects. But who said your job had to be your only source of passion? A dear friend of mine is a powerful example of balancing passion and career. He works in corporate America, but moonlights as a guitar player. Though he spends his weekdays at a desk, he spends his weekends indulging his passion projects such as gigging with his band, writing, drawing, and learning about art. Though he dedicates a lot of his time to his career, there is no lack of passion in his life.

The passion of being of service

When we’re of service to the world, we feel inspired and passionate about the work that we do. Perhaps the work you’re doing is service-related—getting clear about the ways in which it serves the world may make you more passionate about it. If that’s not the case with your job, maybe you volunteer for a local charity once a month, or find a way to participate in your community, or promote bigger causes. Awaken a service mentality. When you serve the world, you serve your soul.

Shift your perception about the way you make money

If you’re hung up about the fact that your primary source of revenue doesn’t come from your true passion, shift your perspective. Be grateful for the work that you have and focus on the good stuff. Find even the smallest part of your work that ignites your passion. Maybe you love interacting with clients, or the neighborhood where you work. Maybe you’re learning something new by being on that job. Focus on what you do have and you’ll create more of what you want.

Take these action steps seriously. We all have work to do to support our economy, and if we’re void of passion we won’t have the energy and inspiration to serve. The more passion we ignite in our lives, the higher our earning capacity will be and the more we’ll impact financial growth in our country. When we all raise our thoughts we’ll raise our bank accounts—and greatly serve the world.


Gabrielle Bernstein |

Featured in the New York Times Sunday Styles section as “a new role model,” motivational speaker, life coach, and author Gabrielle Bernstein is making her mark. Expanding the lexicon for the next generation of spiritual seekers, Gabrielle is the #1 bestselling author of the book, Add More ~ing to Your Life, A hip Guide to Happiness. In September 2011 Gabrielle launched her second book, Spirit Junkie, A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles. In 2008 she launched her social networking site HerFuture.com for young women to find mentors.

Stick to the Plan

As a business man or woman, you may be familiar with the phrase, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry” from grade school when you read John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. Did you know that Steinbeck borrowed this line from the penultimate stanza of a Scots poem entitled, “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough” written in 1785 by Robert Burns? By exploring why this phrase has been used so often, it may help you gain clarity in how you can stick to your business plan when you find yourself slipping off course or forgetting the importance of a business plan in your daily activities.

Do you ever ask yourself after you’ve written up your business plan, how will you stick to the business plan? You may find yourself making excuses for all of the reasons why you find yourself doing anything but following your business plan.

With a plan all you need to make it work is daily action, motivation, and commitment. What often stands in the way is how easily we lose focus and allow ourselves to stray from the present moment.

Do you believe that, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley” when ascribing what happens after you’ve finished writing your business plan?

Did you analyze what went right and wrong from the previous year, and then find your head buried back in the sand of the drudgery of managing daily tasks?

Look at Robert Burns last two stanzas of his poem (translated into Standard English) below before you formulate your answer:

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear! (37-48)

The poem describes a farmer finding mice and their nest in his field during the winter. His plough has just torn the nest apart. Now the mice which had the foresight (i.e., instinct) to gather warm bedding for the winter, have to start gathering and building afresh another nest or perish. The speaker of the poem is feeling many things. He’s distraught, because he is caught in feeling guilty for having just destroyed the nest. He’s also decided to borrow worries and project into the future that the mice will not be able to make a new one before they die.

What line of reasoning do you build your business upon? There are two choices:

(1)   Do you create a business plan, and then work the plan? –or—

(2)   Do you create a business plan for the books, and then focus your efforts on daily tasks?

One of our favorite quotes amongst many of the Mars Venus Coaches is, “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” by Robert H. Schuller. Al Pittampali adroitly summarizes why asking this one question to someone who is ready to change is so powerful in the short video “Putting Your Fears on Hold.” What we’re getting at is the way you stick with the plan is by choosing daily activities that carry-out what your goals are in your business plan.

So, which option do you choose to actively run your business day-to-day?

When you choose to run your business by working your business plan (OPTION 1), then what you are choosing to do is work smartly. Not only are you being more effective at time management, but you are also trouble-shooting and adapting your plan as you work with unknown contingencies. Unknown contingencies typically come into play with how well your interpersonal skills (i.e. ability to communicate assertively and how in-touch you are with your emotional and gender intelligence) are with matching your services and products to the needs of your customers. With this choice you are mindful and in the present moment. You are more like the mice who plan ahead, but then adapt moment by moment.

If you prefer to write a business plan, stick it in a notebook, and forget about it, because you have too many other pressing things to do (OPTION 2), then you are operating more from a place of fear. You are more like the farmer in Burn’s poem who looks forward and guesses and fears, and looks back at the dreary prospects. Three things happen: inaction, busywork, and frustration. Then when you pull out your business plan and dust it off, you wonder what went wrong, and why it was so hard to stick to your plan.

While we’re likening men to mice, another quick motivational read about individual choice and business planning is Spencer Johnson, M.D.’s Who Moved My Cheese? It’s another fun way to keep you on track with your business planning. It’s also a quick way you can check-in with your coach on who you most behaved like in the past week during your coaching sessions. Were you acting like Hem, Haw, Sniff, or Scurry? Sticking to the plan, means working your plan…every day. And if you get side-tracked, know why, how, and what you are going to do next to get back on track.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations

Vision, Strategy, and Tactics

  • Vision: What you want the organization to be; your dream.
  • Strategy: What you are going to do to achieve your vision.
  • Tactics: How you will achieve your strategy and when.

Your vision is your dream of what you want the organization to be. Your strategy is the large-scale plan you will follow to make the dream happen. Your tactics are the specific actions you will take to follow the plan. Start with the vision and work down to the tactics as you plan for your organization.

Concepts Are The Same

Whether you are planning for the entire company or just for your department the concepts are the same. Only the scale is different. You start with the vision statement (sometimes called a mission statement). When you know what the vision is you can develop a strategy to get you to the vision. When you have decided on a strategy, you can develop tactics to meet the strategy.

Vision

A vision is an over-riding idea of what the organization should be. Often it reflects the dream of the founder or leader. Your company’s vision could be, for example, to be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US”, “the maker of the finest chocolate candies in London”, or “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest.” A vision must be sufficiently clear and concise that everyone in the organization understands it and can buy into it with passion.

Strategy

Your strategy is one or more plans that you will use to achieve your vision. To be “the largest retailer of automobiles in the US” you might have to decide whether it is better strategy for you to buy other retailers, try to grow a single retailer, or a combination of both. A strategy looks inward at the organization, but it also looks outward at the competition and at the environment and business climate.

To be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” your strategy would need to evaluate what other companies offer management consulting services in the Southwest, which of those target non-profits, and which companies could in the future begin to offer competing services. Your strategy also must determine how you will become “the consultant of choice”. What will you do so that your targeted customers choose you over everyone else? Are you going to offer the lowest fees? Will you offer a guarantee? Will you hire the very best people and build a reputation for delivering the most innovative solutions?

If you decide to compete on lowest billing rates, what will you do if a competing consulting firm drops their rates below yours? If you decide to hire the best people, how will you attract them? Will you pay the highest salaries in a four-state area, give each employee an ownership position in the company, or pay annual retention bonuses? Your strategy must consider all these issues and find a solution that works AND that is true to your vision.

Tactics

Your tactics are the specific actions, sequences of actions, and schedules you will use to fulfill your strategy. If you have more than one strategy you will have different tactics for each. A strategy to be the most well-known management consultant, as part of your vision to be “the management consultant of choice for non-profit organizations in the Southwest” might involve tactics like advertising in the Southwest Non-Profits Quarterly Newsletter for three successive issues, advertising in the three largest-circulation newspapers in the Southwest for the next six months, and buying TV time monthly on every major-market TV station in the southwest to promote your services. Or it might involve sending a letter of introduction and a brochure to the Executive Director of every non-profit organization in the Southwest with an annual budget of over $500,000.

Firm or Flexible?

Things change. You need to change with them, or ahead of them. However, with respect to vision, strategy and tactics, you need some flexibility and some firmness. Hold to your dream, your vision. Don’t let that be buffeted by the winds of change. Your vision should be the anchor that holds all the rest together. Strategy is a long-term plan, so it may need to change in response to internal or external changes, but strategy changes should only happen with considerable thought. Changes to strategy also should not happen until you have a new one to replace the old one. Tactics are the most flexible. If some tactic isn’t working, adjust it and try again.

Manage This Issue

Whether for one department or the entire company, for a multi-national corporation or a one-person company, vision, strategy, and tactics are essential. Develop the vision first and hold to it. Develop a strategy to achieve your vision and change it as you have to to meet internal or external changes. Develop flexible tactics that can move you toward fulfilling your strategy.

By F. John Reh, About.com Guide

16 Steps to Write New Year’s Resolutions that Work

Are you wondering how some people can make New Year’s Resolutions and stick with them, while other people can’t or don’t or won’t even thing about writing them out, let alone completing them. Here’s how to be successful at following-through on the new you in the new year.

  1. Start thinking about what your short term goal is for the next year.
  2. Remember or come up with your 5 and 10 year goals.
  3. When you make your New Year’s Resolutions, make sure that they relate in some way to either your short term or long term goals. The reason behind this is to link your resolution into what naturally motivates you to pursue change. This also helps you keep your resolutions high on your priority list as well.
  4. Plan out 2012. On a calendar pencil in the BIG events for the year.
  5. Pick a day where you have space and time to think, plan, and write out your resolutions. Anticipate writing out your resolutions. Make it fun and memorable. Our bodies are wired to seek pleasure.
  6. Brainstorm and jot down the things you’d like to change or do more of in the next year.
  7. Next, look at your calendar to see how much time you have each month to devote to each of your resolutions. Estimate how many hours or days per week you can work on each resolution.
  8. Plan for wiggle room. We usually have a head’s up for when there are good stressors or life events such as births, weddings, birthdays, celebrations, etc. However, illnesses, deaths, accidents, layoffs, car troubles, are usually unexpected. Give yourself time and compassion to deal with these unforeseen events.
  9. Set start and end dates for each of your resolutions. Before you commit to due dates, read through and do steps 10-13 first.
  10. Next look at how far you think you’ll get with each resolution in the next 90 days. Define what you will have to do to accomplish that resolution in the next 3 months. Write each step out. It’s okay to have 10 to 20 steps.
  11. Then looking at your calendar, define how many of those steps you can do in the next 30 days.
  12. Before you commit to what steps you’ll do in the first 30 days, check-in with your calendar to see how much time you can devote for the next 4 weeks.
  13. Set weekly due dates with 1 or 2 days to allow for the unexpected.
  14. Remind yourself of when things are due. Set up reminders in your phone, with software, or online calendars.
  15. Tell someone what you’re planning to do.
  16. Ask someone to hold you accountable to follow-through on your resolution. Someone who does not want your time themselves, who can be objective, can offer feedback, ask the hard questions, and help you brainstorm how to trouble-shoot setbacks, loss of motivation, etc. will guarantee a higher level of commitment out of you to perform and accomplish what you’d like to change.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations