Leadership Update is a free monthly newsletter by David A. Weiman, Psy.D. and www.leadershipfirst.com. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential. Please feel free to forward unedited copies of this newsletter.
- Quotable: The Pundits Speak
- Leadership: 5 More Tips for Managing Meetings
- Ethics: Corporate Values and the Bottom Line
- Legal: How Well Do You Understand Sexual Harassment Laws?
- Diversity: Management Communication Workshop Combines Psychology and Law
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
Quotable: The Pundits Speak
“Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce … bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.” – Joseph Heller
“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra
5 MORE TIPS FOR MANAGING MEETINGS (PART 2)
In last month’s Leadership Update, I covered some basic techniques that will help you run more effective and productive meetings. In that issue, I said that we’d cover a more difficult aspect of meeting management this month: managing personalities. Psychologically speaking, the behavior of any individual in a meeting is impacted not only by the preferences that person may have for communicating, but also by group dynamics in which the power of the leader can be tested in many different ways.
Here are five tips that will help you manage the personality dynamics of your meetings:
1. Address Rude Behavior After the Meeting, not During.
Don’t criticize or draw attention to rude behavior during a meeting. Ignore it and address it privately afterwards. If the behavior continues, discuss it with the participant before the next meeting. If the participant seems incapable of correcting bad behavior, he or she probably isn’t a good fit for your organization.
2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind.
Don’t discuss or permit discussion of staff who are not present in the meeting. Adopting this simple ground rule will let participants know that it’s destructive to talk about people who aren’t there. Also, they will not be afraid that when they miss a meeting, they might be the subject of discussion.
3. Stay Cool Under Fire.
It can be difficult to think of this during a meeting in which you feel attacked, but try to remain aware that hostile questions are often an attempt to test your power or authority, regardless of the actual issue. When dealing with hostile questions:
• Repeat the question to confirm agreement.
• Respond quickly.
• Deflect personal attacks by generalizing and focusing on the core topic, not the attack: “This issue is important to all of us … let’s look at this together and see how we can solve it.”
4. Diffuse Domination.
When dealing with someone who is dominating the meeting by talking too much, quickly move to others to encourage discussion from all participants, even if you have to “go around the room” to make sure each voice is heard. You can also set realistic limits at the beginning of the discussion (e.g., “I want to make sure everyone is heard, so please keep comments brief.”). When necessary, interrupt someone who is rambling or repeating himself (e.g., “It seems like you agree with Barry, let’s see what others think.”).
5. Corral Conflicts.
When there’s an argument or emotional outburst, you should ask those involved to stop and restate their positions as succinctly as possible. This doesn’t mean that emotion shouldn’t be allowed at all. But if you let it go on too long, participants may get emotionally “hi-jacked” and become unable to reason any longer. Diffusing that process early spares them the upset and refocuses the participants. If the conflict is not relevant to the purpose of the meeting, agree on a time and place to continue the discussion outside of the meeting. If necessary, plan to meet privately with individuals who were upset to provide an opportunity for closure, and to discuss more effective ways of managing their emotions in future meetings.
LEGAL: HOW WELL DO YOU UNDERSTAND SEXUAL HARASSMENT ISSUES?
In the latest installment of her online column “Smart Answers,” BusinessWeek’s Karen Klein handles a question from a family business about an out-of-control sales representative. Dr. Weiman and his colleague, labor attorney Mignon Groch, are quoted extensively in the piece. Read it here.
DIVERSITY: MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION WORKSHOP COMBINES PSYCHOLOGY & LAW
Diversity workshops have always focused on the federal laws that protect certain groups and how to avoid being sued for violating them. But they haven’t addressed the subtle psychological factors that impact how supervisors communicate with their staffs. Until now. When your managers are aware of the correct way to instruct, motivate and manage their staffs, your entire organization is strengthened. Dr. Weiman and labor attorney Mignon Groch recently introduced their new workshop, Management Communication in a Diverse Environment, and it’s available to your company. For a PDF file that shows the benefits to your staff of this outstanding presentation, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy.D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive assessment, development and consultation. For information or a confidential consultation, please call 610/642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041
ETHICS: CORPORATE VALUES AND THE BOTTOM LINE
Last week, former Enron chief executive Jeffrey Skilling was slapped with 40 counts of civil and criminal wrongdoing on federal charges from the SEC and the Justice Department. If convicted, he could face up to 325 years in prison and $80 million in fines.
The Enron scandal exposed the level of corporate dishonesty and fraud in the United States, and brought about a host of changes to make corporate governance transparent and more accountable. At the height of the congressional hearings involving Enron brass, denials were routine. Executives at the center of the action claimed to be blissfully unaware of the mass swindles taking place right under their noses.
It’s no surprise that in a recent Harris Interactive® and Reputation Institute ranking of the corporate reputations of the most visible companies in the United States, Enron ranked 60th out of 60 for 2003. Dead last. The results of the study were reported in the Institute for Global Ethics’ February 23 Ethics Newsline.
You may not know that Enron had a hiring process that emphasized class standing in graduate business school, but not much else. In fact, it was only after the Enron collapse that those same schools began vetting applicants for ethics (in addition to undergraduate grades) before even admitting them.
If you’re familiar with how some companies do place ethics and values first, you might have guessed that the company with the number one reputation in America for the fifth year in a row is Johnson & Johnson. The company is respected by the public because it acts in accordance with the values, mission and vision of its founders.
Those values were essential in the 1980s when tainted Tylenol threatened to destroy the firm. Company leaders proactively reviewed the corporation’s values and mission and (against the advice of publicity gurus) decided to take immediate responsibility, communicate frequently and openly with the press, and work hard to prevent a similar event from ever happening in the future.
What’s the payoff for honesty and good corporate citizenship? For one thing, Johnson & Johnson emerged from the “Tylenol scare” as a solid, trusted company. But their commitment to values translates into bottom line results as well. Just recently, the company reported fourth-quarter 2003 revenues of $11.2 billion, 19.7% higher than those reported in the fourth quarter of 2002.
Johnson & Johnson had identified and committed to a set of core values that drove its business before Jeffrey Skilling’s parents were even born. But you don’t have to be a huge, publicly held company to benefit from the process of identifying your company’s core values and committing to them.
First, the identification of company values will help you re-establish the principles by which you aspire to operate your business. Second, once you’ve identified those values, it becomes easy to create policies and procedures that align with those values. Finally, the use of shared values in the process of selecting and developing talent within the organization can smooth operations, because the entire company will function more effectively when the behavior of management and staff is in concert with deeply held beliefs.
Johnson & Johnson’s focus on operating in accord with corporate values has helped drive it to the top. Enron’s failure to attend to values is one of the main reasons it’s now despised. Contact me for more information about how to establish and begin integrating values-based operations at your company.
Reader’s Forum: Your Observations
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