Leaders need to be action-oriented.
You can’t wish results into existence and it’s tough to follow a leader who doesn’t do anything. 🤨
But…action for action’s sake can be unproductive. Counter-productive. It confuses your team and will wear everyone out. Including you.
One of the most valuable actions you can take flies under the radar.
It seems too passive.
But it can be a game-changer.
I don’t mean ready, aim…aim…aim…zzzzzz.
This isn’t analysis paralysis.
Focused preparation in four key areas can be a differentiator for you as a leader. When done properly it is powerful.
Improved effectiveness. Greater productivity. Results.
Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality. — Eliyahu Goldratt
Maximizing Networking Opportunities
Effective networking can provide visibility, new contacts, new ideas, and new opportunities.
Too often networking activities waste time and energy. Your efforts are hit or miss. Which makes it harder to justify the next networking event…and making new connections becomes your mañana project. When you get some free time…yeah, right. 😫
Keith Ferrazzi explains the reason why so many people fail in their networking efforts in his 7 Ps — Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
Some key preparation steps before a networking event:
Identify who will be there. Get a registration list (if possible), or contact the host organization to find out some of the individuals who will be attending. Based on the names you receive, prioritize those you most want to meet.
For each high target attendee, conduct a Google search for current, relevant news about them. Check out their corporate website, as well as their LinkedIn personal and corporate profiles. You can also look at their Facebook profile. You want to:
- Find out people you know in common
- Identify three items that got your attention (where they worked, roles they had, events they participated in, where they went to school, recent announcements from their company, cool hobbies, interesting trips, etc.)
- Prepare a couple of questions you can ask them — to get them talking about themselves
- Consider at least one way you can deliver value to them (and it isn’t selling your product or service!). You can pivot as you meet them and learn more, but have some ideas in mind before you ever connect with them.
Effective networking isn’t a result of luck — it requires hard work and persistence. — Lewis Howes
Running Effective Meetings
Meetings are high-visibility opportunities for you to role model core values and demonstrate leadership best practices. They’re also opportunities for you to leverage your time for better communications and get alignment with your team.
Studies suggest that 50% of meeting time is wasted. With proper preparation, you can ensure that your meetings are productive — and don’t waste people’s time.
- Don’t invite people out of habit. Determine who needs to be in the meeting and invite only those people.
- Make sure you convey the purpose of the meeting you called and send out an agenda in advance. If people don’t know why they are meeting, you’re guaranteeing sub-par results.
- Let people know what information needs to be digested in advance or brought to the meeting.
- Identify, if possible, how your attendees prefer to consume information: visual, verbal, hard copies, digital format. Prepare your content accordingly.
- How you open the meeting sets the tone for the whole meeting. Script out how you want to kick off the meeting. Practice the delivery, so that it sounds natural and sets the right tone for your meeting.
- If you have an assignment for the meeting, make sure it is complete. If it involves analysis, ideas, or reporting, come prepared to deliver your content. You are demonstrating reliability and responsibility. You can begin to hold others accountable after you first demonstrate the behaviors you are looking for in others.
Ensuring Effective Communication Takes Place
You have a default communication style. You wish everyone would talk / text/write to you that way. We all tend to communicate with everyone else based on our own preferences.
- Short and to the point? Even if others regard it as rushed or abrupt?
- Safe and non-threatening? Even if others perceive that it takes a looooooooong time to get to the point?
- With logic and facts to back it up? Even if pages of data make someone else’s eyes glaze over?
When you are trying to influence someone, you need to employ the Platinum Rule:
Do unto others as they would want you to do unto them.
In order to ensure that effective communication is taking place, prepare your content and deliver based on:
- You need to find how your target audience prefers to receive communications.
- You can’t modify your communication style in every interaction. But when the stakes of poker are high, then the preparation to speak in THEIR default communication style is important. Maybe necessary.
- Observe them — see if they focus on relationship or task, go fast or slow.
- If you’re unsure, ask someone who knows them.
- You can also utilize Crystalknows, a Chrome extension on LinkedIn, which uses AI and is based on what is found online to develop a behavioral profile. The Crystalknows profile will suggest proper ways to communicate with them or negotiate with them.
- Once you understand their behavioral style, you can properly prepare your messaging.
- If you are delivering verbal instructions, ask them to repeat back their understanding of what you’ve told them. It may sound awkward, but it is remarkably effective to eliminate confusion and misunderstanding.
To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. — Tony Robbins
Handling unexpected events and the actions of others
We make plans, launch initiatives, and pursue projects based on our experience and what we know at the time. And then the world conspires against us. Problems surface. People don’t behave the way we expected. New information becomes available. Ugh.
No strategic plan survives its collision with reality. Herb Meyer
Two valuable tools that you can use to prepare yourself and your team for the unexpected are the devil’s advocate session and the premortem.
Devi’s advocate session — this is a focused discussion to ensure you’ve covered all the necessary bases. It involves asking lots of “what if?” questions.
- What if material costs go up?
- What if our suppliers are backlogged?
- What if we lose electricity?
- What if our project leader gets sick?
- What if they double the size of the order?
- What if they want us to pay upfront?
- What if they only give us 30 minutes for this meeting?
Use your imagination to determine downside scenarios to help you identify solutions.
You can come up with the relevant questions to determine how you would pivot, adapt or redirect…and still, get the outcome you want.
The premortem — is an exercise that has you and your team go beyond what you expect to happen, but to consider what could go wrong.
Before you even start the project, you assume that you have failed. What would cause you to fail? Identify the legitimate causes that could keep you from succeeding. What could you do in advance to prevent those from occurring?
The post mortem is like conducting an autopsy after the project is completed. The premortem has you identify the potential causes for failure and address them before you ever launch. You can then strategize on how to proactively prevent those problems from occurring.
Successful leaders are known for getting results. People will describe them as “doers.”
But the best leaders get tasks completed through their teams. They leverage their own time and energy.
Knowing how best to leverage your own time and the talents of your team members involves utilizing an action step that forces you to pause…not stop. It forces you to spend small amounts of time…to save tremendous amounts of time. To execute. To get results.
Spending focused time preparing will pay dividends when it comes to:
- Maximizing networking opportunities.
- Running effective meetings
- Ensuring quality communication takes place
- Handling unexpected events and the actions of others
It seems like a passive activity, but it generates powerful results.
You can still run hard. You can still set high expectations. You can still demand results.
But you focus yourself and your team on the right activities…at the right time…to get the right results.
If you really want to be world-class — to be the best you can be — it comes down to preparation and practice. — Robin Sharma