Worth Reading, Sept 24, 2012

Small World

Santiago

One of the joys of launching a book is that you never know who will read it and where.

The Power of Communication launched in May. The publisher, the FT Press imprint of Pearson, is global and the book got broad distribution.  But because it was launched in the US in English, I focused most of my attention on the US and in countries where I’ve recently done teaching or have clients (China, Switzerland, Italy etc.).

So imagine my delight and surprise when in early August I received an e-mail from a graduate student in Chile who had been assigned to read the book.

Fernando Godoy is an industrial engineer in Santiago, studying in the Global MBA program of the Universidad de Chile.  In his Business Management course students are assigned a number of books, and each week a group of students presents a book to the rest of the class.  Fernando and his colleagues Natalia Ruz and Christian Aravena had been assigned The Power of Communication, and they took the initiative to reach out to the author for resources.  They had done their homework.  They had seen the companion video.  They had read the book.  And asked whether I had any visuals I could share.  They also asked if I could do a short video introduction.

 

So I did.  I sent slides and illustrations, and recorded a video greeting.  As it happens, and unbeknownst to Fernando and his team, I have a Chilean connection.  Although born in Brazil and a native speaker of Portuguese, my grandfather was raised in Chile – in fact, my last name is Chilean – and my Spanish is passable.

Fernando, Christian, and Natalia presented to their class, and told me that the students were surprised to hear the video greeting in Spanish.  They say they had a very good response and lots of interaction.

As part of their global MBA Fernando and his colleagues will be traveling the world this year, studying in the US, Britain, Australia.  It’s a very small world.  I look forward to connecting with them when they’re up north.

 

Lima

Tonight I’ll be heading to Lima, Peru, to speak next week at the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) annual meeting and concurrent Latin American Congress.

I’ll be speaking Wednesday, September 19 on The Power of Communication in a Crisis.  I’ll blog and tweet (@garciahf) about that from there.  I’m looking forward to spending time with a number of folks from the States whom I know directly or by reputation.  But mostly I’m looking forward to spending time with folks from elsewhere, expanding the community of the book to a broader audience, even as my publisher begins the process of securing translations into other languages.

Stand by for updates from Lima.

Ciao….

Fred

(In Latin America, I go by my first name, Helio…)

Worth Reading, Sept 10, 2012

Worth Reading, Sept 4, 2012

We hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend here in the U.S. Now back to our usual schedule.

Worth Reading, Aug 27, 2012

Hello again. After a summer break (including the launch of my colleague Fred Garcia’s book The Power of Communication), the Worth Reading updates are back, with highlights of items that have caught our interest in the last week or so.

 

 

Teachable Moments from the Aurora, Colorado, Tragedy

Even as America mourns and tries to make sense of Friday morning’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, there are some lessons emerging on appropriate — and inappropriate — response to tragedy.

Context Drives Meaning

Context drives meaning.  Words, actions, or events that are perfectly appropriate one day may be wildly inappropriate, distasteful, offensive, or even inaccurate the next.  One key discipline for leaders and organizations is to continuously adapt to changing circumstances that may alter the context in which communication takes place.

The shooting that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater is such an event.

Unknown Object (more…)

Stakeholders Expect Leaders to Be Good Communicators

 

 

I sometimes tell a bad joke in response to a client’s question about whether the boss will improve as a result of coaching: How many executive coaches does it take to change a light bulb? Only one. But the bulb has to really want to change…

That bad joke has a very serious subtext. Executives won’t rise to the occasion if they don’t take seriously the need to continuously improve their communication skills. As Winston Churchill famously said, “The most important thing about education is appetite.”

(more…)

Non-Profits and The Power of Communication

Nonprofit organizations need to win hearts and minds no less than corporations or governments.

And the skills that work in other areas of leadership are particularly important for nonprofit leaders.

As Amazon Vine Hall-of-Fame Reviewer Harold McFarland wrote recently, although many of the examples in The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively are drawn from corporations or governments, the book has relevance also to non-profits.

In fact, I note in the book that I have used its principles and techniques with dozens of non-profit organizations, including religious and multi-faith advocacy groups, social justice groups, human rights organizations, museums and other cultural organizations, and universities.  Sometimes the very idea of using techniques also used by corporations causes some initial discomfort.  But folks get over that quickly when they see the results.

Today The NonProfit Times, the leading business publication for nonprofit management, weighed in.  It quoted from the book on the need for not-for-profit leaders to be strategic in planning communication.  Excerpts:

“6 strategic questions to consider

When it comes to marketing, words matter. The words you choose to use in one of your campaigns can be the difference between a success and a failure.

That’s the point that Helio Fred Garcia made in his book The Power of Communication.  He wrote that effective communication begins with strategic thinking. Strategy is all about what he called “ordered thinking.” For example, a communicator should never start with the question “What do we want to say?” because it skips the essential questions that establish goals, identify audiences and attitudes, and lay out a course of action to influence those attitudes.

Garcia recommended asking six strategic questions to become an effective habitually strategic communicator:

  1. What do we have? What is the challenge or opportunity we are hoping to address?
  2. What do we want? What’s our goal? Communication is merely the continuation of business by other means. We shouldn’t communicate unless we know what we’re trying to accomplish.
  3. What stakeholders matter to us? What do we know about them?
  4. What do we need them to think, feel, know, or do in order to accomplish our goal?
  5. What do they need to see us do, hear us say, or hear others say about us to think, feel, know, and do what we want them to accomplish?
  6. How do we make that happen?”

SmartBlog on Leadership: Lessons on the Anniversary of “I’d like my life back”

Two years ago yesterday BP CEO Tony Hayward inadvertently got his wish when, in the thick of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, he told a press conference, “I want my life back.”   He was sacked soon thereafter.  In the battle for public opinion – for trust, support, the benefit of the doubt – Hayward lost.  It was a failure of leadership on a massive scale.  And it began with a failure of communication.  And that failure, in turn, was a failure of discipline.

Hayward’s blunder is not unique to him.  It should be a wakeup call to CEOs and other leaders, to all whose leadership responsibilities require inspiring trust and confidence verbally.

Whatever else leadership may be, it is experienced publicly. While it may emanate from within, it is a public phenomenon.  And however technically proficient someone may be, if her or she does not communicate effectively, he or she will not lead well. Communication has power.  But as with any form of power, it needs to be harnessed effectively or it can all too often backfire.

In 33 years of advising leaders on the actions and communication needed to win, keep, or restore public confidence, I have concluded that many leaders, much of the time, fundamentally misunderstand communication. This misunderstanding has consequences: corporations lose competitive advantage; NGOs find it harder to fulfill their mission; religious denominations lose the trust and confidence of their followers; nations diminish their ability to protect citizens and achieve national security goals.

Today SmartBlog on Leadership published an excerpt from The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively, starting with Mr. Hayward’s blunder, and moving from there.

The full excerpt is published below.

General Management, Inspiring Others
Guest Blogger

Leadership communication isn’t about saying things; it’s about taking change seriously

By Helio Fred Garcia on June 1st, 2012

Tony Hayward, then CEO of BP, told the media in 2010 that he wanted his life back. He got it, but not in the way he intended. His quote was part of an ineffective attempt to show he cared about the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.

The full quote: “I’m sorry. We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. And you know we’re — there’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do. You know, I’d like my life back.” But the back end got all of the attention. He had stepped on his message.

It was the beginning of the end for Hayward. He was out of a job a few months later, having lost the trust and confidence of those who mattered to him. His blunder was a failure of leadership on a massive scale. And it began with a failure of communication. And that failure, in turn, was a failure of discipline.

A burden of leadership is to be good at communicating. If you can’t communicate effectively, you will not lead. But there’s a paradox: Unlike most other skills a leader needs to master, communication seems to be something leaders already know; they’ve been communicating their whole lives. So leaders often are unaware of their communication abilities, or lack thereof, until it’s too late.

Harnessing the power of communication is a fundamental leadership discipline. Effective leaders see communication as a critical professional aptitude and work hard at getting it right. And getting it right requires becoming strategic as a first resort: thinking through the desired change in the audience and ways to make that happen. And then making it happen.

Effective communicators take change seriously: They ground their work in moving people to be different, think differently, feel differently, know or do things differently. Effective communicators also take the audience seriously. They work hard to ensure that all engagement moves people toward their goal. That means caring about what the audience thinks and feels and what it will take to get the audience to think and feel something else. It means listening carefully to the reaction, adapting where needed and not saying things that suggest they care only about themselves (I want my life back!).

Effective communicators also take words seriously. They know that words trigger world views and provoke reaction. They plan engagement so the right words are used to trigger the right reaction. Effective communicators also know that the best communication can be counterproductive if it isn’t aligned with action. And effective communicators take seriously the need to package all that an audience experiences — verbal, visual, abstract and physical — into one powerful experience.

The Discipline of Effective Leadership Communication

Six questions to ask before communicating

Effective leadership communication never begins with “What do we want to say?” but rather with a sequence of questions. An effective communicator always begins by asking questions in a certain sequence.

  1. What do we have? What is the challenge or opportunity we are hoping to address?
  2. What do we want? What’s our goal? Communication is merely the continuation of business by other means. We shouldn’t communicate unless we know what we’re trying to accomplish.
  3. Who matters? What stakeholders matter to us? What do we know about them? What further information do we need to get about them? What are the barriers to their receptivity to us, and how do we overcome those barriers?
  4. What do we need them to think, feel, know or do to accomplish our goal?
  5. What do they need to see us do, hear us say or hear others say about us to think, feel, know and do what we want them to?
  6. How do we make that happen?

 

CommPro.biz Excerpt of The Power of Communication

 

CommPro.biz excerpted Chapter 2 of the Power of Communication, focusing on the need to take audiences seriously:

Will We See a Netflix Summer Sequel? How Brands Can Rebuild Trust and Inspire Loyalty

Posted on May 21, 2012 in Crisis Communications, Public Relations

By Helio Fred Garcia, Author, The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively

Let’s hope Netflix doesn’t see a summer sequel this year. While it was easy to critique the company during its Qwikster fiasco a year ago, it’s looking like a third of its new customers are actually returning customers who were angered and disgusted.

Forgive and forget? Maybe for Netflix’ subscribers—but its shareholders aren’t yet hopping on the bandwagon, according to Daily Finance and other media sources. There’s a reason for that—and a lesson for all other companies.

Let’s dig into it here: (more…)