Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for September, 2011

Confidence and Composure—Key Success Factors

Hi all. Thought for my post today, I’d share the following article, that I had published in the business section of our local paper this week. We know it’s the soft skills that sometimes delivers the hardest punch—in a good way.
Published in Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, Tues, Sept 13, 2011:
As leaders, when we possess and demonstrate confidence and composure, others are more likely to trust, engage, and follow.

Although there are physical aspects (i.e., posture and body language, strength of voice and presentation, effective written communications, etc.) that demonstrate confidence, the most significant factor is our own belief in the direction we are providing.

It’s not uncommon to have our confidence shaken. We may become overwhelmed with the responsibilities associated with making crucial decisions and creating strategies that carry risk, even when the risk is well-measured. However, as leaders, we have a responsibility to navigate through uncertainties in order to confidently and promptly come to a decision, communicate the goal, and guide others toward it. We can do this through our own resources, knowledge, and experience and/or collaboratively through the resources, knowledge, and experience of others.

Also crucial is our ability to maintain composure in tough situations. A cool and confident demeanor helps to minimize anxiety in others. There are special circumstances that may call for a genuine and appropriate level of emotion. However, in general, our ability to remain calm and focus on the business impact maximizes the influence we have on overall morale and employee effectiveness.

Being self-aware is especially important in difficult circumstances. When we’re aware of ourselves becoming emotional we may be able to shift our vantage point to calmly consider all available data and parties. Ultimately, our ability to calmly respond versus emotionally react will generate more opportunities to engage others instead of alienating them.

Although maintaining confidence and composure is not always easy, the ability to demonstrate both, in any situation, creates invaluable opportunities to have a significant and positive impact as a leader, coach, facilitator, and role model.

Texting at work—inappropriate or efficient?

Technology…Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. In today’s work environment we might find ourselves managing people with a wide range of opinions about texting at work. Some text as a primary vehicle for communicating. Some accept texting as a norm, and support the efficiencies of texting at work. While others are appalled by the fact that it’s allowed in the workplace at all.

How can we discount or forbid a behavior at work that is fast becoming the norm for communications for young and/or tech-savvy professionals? Not very easily, especially when it’s difficult to judge whether an individual is utilizing texting for a work-related efficiency, or a personally-related distraction.

Young mothers may be texting their babysitters to check on their infant children, or are texting a one-liner to their school-age kids (i.e., r u home?). Yet before texting was available, these check-ins traditionally required a full conversation—and added distraction—on the phone. Assistants are texting their executive managers about what’s needed for their next important meeting. Colleagues who are running late are texting…”on my way”, and professionals are, more and more, utilizing their phones and palm devices to take meeting notes. At the same time, there are those individuals who are repeatedly texting friends for purely social reasons, when they should be working!

As managers of people who are experiencing this conflict, we may be responsible to provide a standard that creates a balance of what is acceptable for our tech-savvy, and our more traditional non-texting, employees.

Here’s the good news. Face-to-face communication can still work! If you or your employees are challenged with the texting issue in your work environment, you might consider engaging and charging a mix of employees, to come together for a discussion. Their objectives may include: acknowledging their differences of opinions and experience with texting; discussing the pros and cons of texting; and coming up with some texting guidelines that they all agree they can live with. It may not be easy, or a full solution, but it’s a start.

So, is texting at work inappropriate or efficient? Both! C U L8r!