High relevance. High energy. High value.
Thousands of managers have experienced and grown from our practical training in leadership. All our classes put a premium on communication as the energy and real work of leadership. Ignore or neglect the communication, and you will have nothing to show for your leadership.
“Communication is the real work of leadership,” Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria likes to say. We emphatically agree.
We have been saying it for years: Successful leaders communicate their vision or concern or priority with clarity, with coherence, and with credibility. People know what the leaders think, what they feel, and what they believe. There is no doubt, no confusion, no vacillation.
Think of Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Think of Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial: "I have a dream." Think of Abraham Lincoln himself at Gettysburg. Think of Winston Churchill's eloquence before Parliament in the spring of 1940. Think of Nelson Mandela emerging from 27 years of imprisonment. Think of England’s legendary King Henry V, memorialized by Shakespeare, rallying his outnumbered and outgunned troops at Agincourt: "We few, we happy few, for he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother."
Think of any coach or teacher, any sibling or parent, any doctor or nurse, any volunteer or political candidate, any manager or entrepreneur, anyone at all who influenced and ultimately inspired you to want something or do something or become something more.
Think of any influential, inspirational leader—at any time, in any place—and you will probably envision that leader in the act of speaking or writing with conviction, clarity, and credibility, and then validating the message by living its implications hour by hour, day by day, week by week.
Successful leaders communicate with whatever mechanism they can. They have a message they passionately believe in, and they speak it. Their message is one of aspiration, of need, of confidence.
They describe, they declare, they demand. They cite examples. They tell stories. They ask questions, a litany of them, one question after another, often on a single theme. They listen. They craft memorable aphorisms, little ditties, or clever quotations. They cajole. They persuade. They needle. More importantly, they engage in dialogue—lots and lots of dialogue—and they repeat themselves over and over and over again.
Finally, and most importantly, they live their message. They are their message. They offer themselves as a working example of the leadership they preach. Their behavior and their decisions are part and parcel of their communication. They become their own first follower.
It’s for this very reason—the fact that communication, both explicit and implicit, both verbal and non-verbal, sometimes even latent, is the real but difficult work of leadership—that we throw such a bright spotlight on communication in our workshops, and it is why we offer a system to ensure that your leadership messages are clear, compelling, and credible.
Bottom Line Value
Research shows that between 2.1 and 2.5 percent of an organization’s revenue is lost to the active disengagement of people. That’s as much as $2.5 million for every $100 million of revenue, and it is just for active disengagement. (Passive disengagement is more pervasive and adds still more to the cost.) Recover it, and it goes straight to the bottom line. Few such programs pay for themselves so easily. This one clearly does.
Here's What You Get In Our Leadership Master Class
Big Ideas, Big Impact
Leadership and management are two different things. So are engagement and alignment. The communication that drives leadership and generates engagement is different from that which drives management and produces alignment, too. Use the wrong one, and you get the wrong result. Our classes brings clarity and explanation to these critical distinctions. Executives will come to understand the importance of distributive leadership—after all, no one can be everywhere—and managers learn why they must stand as collateral leaders of the enterprise.
We have scoured top-tier companies for best practices, and we bring them to you. You will see practical examples — some inspirational, some cautionary — from companies like Harley-Davidson, Levi Strauss, Nordstrom, Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Pfizer, Toyota, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Anheuser-Busch, Lockheed Martin, BP/Amoco, Federal Express, and others. You’ll remember the vivid stories for years to come.
Simple, Powerful Models
Our flagship models—the Rainbow, the Diamond, and the GearBox—are used by major companies to get a fix on their level of staff engagement. The Rainbow Model identifies unintended, and previously unnoticed, credibility gaps: mixed messages, muddled messages, mute messages. The Diamond lays out the five levels of people engagement. The GearBox serves as both a structure and a self-assessment tool at the intersection of strategy and employee engagement. We guarantee you will find all of them enlightening.
Analysis of Engagement
Our classes identify five levels of engagement—creative engagement, active engagement, passive engagement, passive disengagement, and active disengagement. Then, with the A-B-C analysis (for antecedents, behaviors, consequences), we explore what's going on beneath the surface. In all but the most extraordinary organizations, we find far too many people at passive engagement. That would be fine for companies that enjoy a monopoly or that operate in a commodity or generic business. For companies that bring products of unique, special or extraordinary value to the marketplace, however, passive engagement is not good enough.
Managing the Metamessage
What people hear you say isn’t necessarily what you said. It’s one thing to choose your words carefully, and you certainly should do that. But if you neglect to manage your implicit communication, you still have a problem, and you haven’t begun to address it. We’ll show you how you are communicating 24/7 through your semi-formal and informal voices as well as your formal voice. Remember this: the formal voice can never operate by itself in a vacuum. It will always compete with the semi-formal and informal voices, and it will never win that battle.
We present hard, factual, quantitative data to explain the power and value of communication around business strategy. You and your managers will get facts and figures on change, trust, engagement and disengagement, perceptions of managers by employees, ROI, message clutter, employee frustrations, rumors, and so much more. Most importantly, we realize that data always tells a story. Discerning the stories in the data is critical.
Trust in Leadership
Remember trust? Everyone pays lip service to it, and yet compromises to trust are all too common in the workplace. Surveys show that senior management teams routinely and dramatically overstate the level of trust in their organizations. For leaders, trust is the product of their personal and institutional honesty, their professional competence, their presence and accessibility, and the affinity that people on their teams perceive in terms of common interests, needs, and concerns.We’ll show how tenuous all these factors can be, and what you can do about it.
Practical, Proven Strategies
We have distilled our teaching down to neat lists of strategies and tactics. They all make abundant good sense, but many of these strategies never occurred to managers beforehand.
Evaluations of our workshops are consistently high. Even after sitting in a class for two or three full days, more than 95 percent of participants enthusiastically recommend the experience for their peers and superiors.
Sign Up For Master Class
We customize our popular leadership-development workshops to fit your industry, your strategy, your people. First, we talk with you to identify your interests, needs, and concerns. Then we talk with small groups of employees — wage and salaried, headquarters and field, staff and operations, supervisory and non-supervisory — to gain their perspectives. The result is a program that participants see as unique to their situation, and an experience that you see as pivotal to your leadership. Managers emerge as collateral leaders ready to move forward. Contact us now to learn more.
From time to time we host open-enrollment, fee-based workshops that attract multiple organizations. Thus a software firm may learn from a hospital staff and vice versa, or a manufacturing plant may learn from an insurance company and vice versa. These classes may be one, two, or three days in length. They are typically held at the elegant, fabulously restored Deer Path Inn in leafy Lake Forest, Illinois, about midway between Chicago’s bustling Loop and the surprising old world of Milwaukee. Contact us to learn more.
You can reach us in multiple ways:
- By email, we're at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our days are typically full, so please allow us time to respond.
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- Many of your preliminary questions may already be answered in the About, Speaking, and FAQ pages on this site.