Presenting… the presenter

Its your time to give the presentation. You got that sinking feeling in your stomach, your heart is pounding so hard you feel like it is pounding out of your chest, the sweat is starting to build up in your axillae… your name is called and as you start to walk to the podium the orange spots arrive. You grasp the podium with enough force that all the blood has been rapidly forced out of your knuckles leaving white twigs grasping the darkened wood. As you begin to speak you forget your main topic points as the words come out like a speeding bullet. Your 5 minute presentation was done in two minutes, the audience is looking at you with a look of o….k…, and you quickly sit back at your seat without asking anyone if there are any questions. This didn’t happen to you??? Wait this happened to me. 

I hated public speaking and thought to myself what am I getting into when I volunteered to be a Navy Recruiter. In recruiting school they told us we had to do a 5 minute presentation on the Navy and I had no problem making my notes, preparing my presentation and getting everything ready, and then my name was called. 

When we find weakness in ourselves that should become the thing that we want to fix the most, and this was a definite glaring weakness.  In order to overcome it, I had to find out why I got this way, and I concluded that I was afraid people knew more than me. What if I messed up and showed another vulnerability? There was no way that I was going to know more than everyone else so in order to alleviate this problem I had to get over my fear of public speaking. The trick… do it and do it often. It was a rough go, however, I volunteered myself for every high school presentation (I knew they didn’t know more about the Navy than me) that was available. Once my comfort level was up from doing that I went to doing all the training lectures at our monthly training, with the eventual goal to get much better….

I know that this is something that is a continuous work and now that I don’t give as much public presentations I may regress. I recently sat a board for a qualification, and as I sat down in the room facing the 5 people that were going to be asking me questions over the next hour, I felt that little bit of nervousness seep in. I introduced myself and felt I was beginning to talk fast. The only way to alleviate this was to be consciencious about what I was doing. I purposely talked slower ( channeled my inner Ben Stein). This slower was actually a normal though. When I ensured that I pronunciated everything I was able to talk at a normal speed. I am not sure if the smile on my face was due a cause, or an effect, but it sure made the board go a lot smoother. 

Practice practice practice

Personality and Leadership

This weeks lesson in my Effective Organizational Communications class got my mind turning on what personality types make better leaders. The lesson is “Public Presentation Strategies” and not everyone is comfortable at public presentation. Does this mean that they are not good leaders? I myself have been in a leadership position for about 15 years, at the beginning I could lead people; however, getting up and talking in front of others was not my cup of tea. I was effective as a leader, but taking my struggles and needs to upper management was difficult for me to do. As time has progressed and I was forced to talk in front of groups I become more comfortable at it, where now it is hard to shut me up at times. (only when I get on a roll) I am a mix between type A and type B. I can sit back and listen, and do most of the time. I beleive that communication to me is best understood when I spend more time listening. If I talk, that means it is important. But does our “type” mean anything? Do type A personalities overrun conversations and thus not know the true issues that their subordinates feel, and are Type B personalities to meek to help their subordinates? This is something I need to study more and see if their is any correlation… my findings to come soon.

Conflict Management

How well do we handle conflict? A lot of times conflict come from change and many people go through the Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing stages as identified by Bruce Tuckman. The key to handling conflict is weathering each stage, and as a supervisor assisting the others to get through the stages without harsh consequences.

Forming- In a team environment this is where the conflict may arise, but may not be evident yet . As a manager it is important to be involved here to watch the group dynamics at work. In the past this has been the easiest stage for myself.

Storming- Now that everyone knows each other and the comfort level has risen, the conflict may come out. As a supervisor it is not important to squash the conflict as some conflict is healthy. Encourage discussion to talk through the conflict. This is where leadership is developed. I must admit my stubbornness may have lead to conflict in this area, however overall I believe that I have gone with what was rational and ideal a majority of the time. 

Norming- The major areas of conflict have passed, but leaders must be aware of lingering feelings. Was someone upset that “their way” was not the way it was done and is holding feelings. Leaders must reaffirm the groups decision and ideas in this stage and still keep an eye out for anything that can break the group dynamic that has formed

Performing- The idea is to get to this stage, a group free of conflict and is performing on all cylinders. Leaders must know though that any change can start the process all over again. 

Communications in interviews

I took a peek at a website which discussed communications in job interviews, and gave examples of some do’s and dont’s/ Being in the Navy for the last 19 years, I havent had a job interview to say, but I have interviewed for different positions. I also have an interview for a new position in the next couple of months. 19 years is a long time in an organization, and all good things must come to an end sonner or later. I have 8 more years left in the Navy and am already preparing myself for the transition to a civilian life. Competition for jobs is stiff in the civilian world, and having the Navy be the only thing that I have ever done can make it harder when I convert to the new lifestyle. Between the upcoming interview for my new position, and my eventual transition to civilian life, the tips I found here are useful.

1. Start with appropriate small talk- When I met my spouse the first thing I said to her was “fat penguin”- she looked at me very confused. I explained to her that I just wanted to say something that would break the ice. Corny joke, I know, but the small talk get me in to communicating with her. I would not start an interview with a joke, but starting with small talk to break the ice can remove any nerves that I may have.

2. Address the interviewer by name- This is natural to me. Being military we have learned our manners, and always treat superiors with the respect that is given; however, what I picked up from here is that instead of saying Sir or Mam, I can start with Mr. or Ms.. This creates a more comfortable atmosphere and brings everyone to the same level.

3. Match your communication style to the interviewer- Staying on the same level with them allows the interview to go more smoothly. If they are relaxed and you are serious, then the interview can be tense. Also, if you are relaxed and they are serious then they can think that you consider this to be more of a joke. Good tip!

4. Dont talk too much- As a supervisor in sales, and a former salesman myself I can see where this can be disastrious. I have witnessed my recruiters talk applicants OUT of joining the Navy. In this case you can do the same thing and talk yourself OUT of a job!

5. Avoid interrupting the interviewer- This is just blatantly disrespecful. not only that, if interrupting the interviewer you face the chance of not answering the real question. Assuming what the interviewer is going to say, and interrupting to answer is not a good choice. Let them talk, think about your answer, then answer.

6. Avoid jargon and acronyms- This will be the hardest for me to do when I leave the military. Jargon and acronyms are ourlifestyle and after 26-30 years of using them, just throwing them away will be hard. Besides half of my job relates to acronyms, some that I am not sure what they even stand for. It has just been the norm to call something a NRC or a IG. This will be my greatest challenge, but one that I am ready to tackle head on!

Leadership Vs Management

Whats the difference? During a class last semester we were comparing the two, when I gave my thought that leadership was leading people and management was managing resources. This definitely caused and uproar in the class, as managers quickly informed me that they lead people also. “Critically thinking” this would allow people to understand that they can be both  manager and a leader though, so I will stick to my guns.  

Leadership is leading people to accomplish a task. When you are dealing with people you lead them to attain their goals. You lead them to accomplish missions or tasks. Leadership is setting the example for others to follow. Leadership is motivating, mentoring, and influencing others. This has always been a skill set of mine. I ensure that my Sailors become the best that they can be. I encourage them to achieve their goals and set the example by achieving mine. defines management as “The organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. Management is often included as a factor of production along with‚ machines, materials, and money.” You manage the resources, and lead the people. The two are very much intertwined and an effective manager must effectively lead the people also. This is an area that I can do better in. I lead people well, yet have trouble at times managing the systems that I must use for work. I can get the most out of my Sailors, but am I getting the most out of myself.
Continued process improvement. Knowing where we can improve makes us better, and admitting that improvement can be made is even more beneficial. 

Update to a day of non-verbal communication observations

Breaking old habits of listening vice hearing has proven harder to do than first thought. To many times we go about doing our normal business while listening err…hearing what is being told to us. The times that I actually observed the non-verbal communications being given I have noticed the eye brow raise, or the eyes widen. To me this showed more of the urgency that was needed. Communicating is done primarily via email (even though we are only 30 yards at the most away from each other), with the exception of our 9 o’clock meeting. Urgency is not really shown nor can truly be determined through email, that is unless you use that little red ! signifying high importance. Lesson learned for the day, get out of my chair and verbally and non-verbally communicate with my peers. A lot may be learned this way!

“The most bas…

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” -Rachel Naomi Remen

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How effectively do we as managers listen? Communicating is a two way street where listening is vital. How many times have you talked to your supervisor about “apples” and yet he or she responded with a description of “oranges”? I often find myself tuning out conversations when I have gotten the jest of it. Did I miss something? Who knows. I have often considered myself to be a good listener, but was I really a good hearer instead? I dont think I have picked up on everything that was said because I wasn’t reading or listening to the whole conversation. I need to work at being keen to the non-verbal communications as well. This is something that I am tasking myself to do. Every morning we have a meeting at 9 am. This mornings meeting I will listen to the whole meeting and not just hear it.

Effective Management Communication Strategies

Effective Management Communication Strategies

Does your communication style match your leadship style? I have studied the different leadership styles and determined that I was a democratic or participative leader. When I can, I like to have the teams inputs to the decision on how to complete a task. This gives them a sense of ownership for the completed product. I feel that as an authoritian you have control and the workers are just minions who have no voice, and with a Laissez-Faire style of leadership, too much control is given up. When communicating your style of commonication must match your style of leadership. A manager that is hands off and allows a group to make their own decisions cannot communicate in an authoritian manner and expect the group to continue to work on their own, coming up with their own ways. At the same time a leader that is in total control of everything the group does, cannot not communicate to the group and expect them to know what he or she wants.

Being a participative leader I like to get the group together, solicit ideas, take notes, and come upon an agreed upon solution. I match my communication style to this and solicit inputs from others on the discussion, and only use an authoritian style of communication if the topic is getting out of hand or off subject.

Sometimes a mixture of communication styles may work though, and a lot of that has to do with the group that you working with. An inexperienced group will need someone to be authoritian in the way that they communicate. As they gain experience the communication style can change.

When I get new supervisors that work for me i sit them down and go over the expectations that we have for each other. I ensure that I communicate to them what I expect. A tools that I use are a dime and a quarter. I explain to them that one represents control and the other represents influence. I tell them that everything that fits into the quarter is what I control, and everything in the dime is what is influenced by my control. The goal, with time, is to switch the two around; I want to only control what is in the dime, and hope that once a good working relationship is made that the quarter is what I have influenced. This can only be completed by effective communication between both parties.

“The task of a …

“The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”- Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger understood that it was hard to get people to do something that they had never done before. Getting people to step outside of their comfort zones can be difficult because people tend to gravitate towards what they are more use to. I have used an example many times when dealing with my Sailors. I have asked them that if I told them to go into a room where no one is around and to do as many push-ups as they can how many do they think they will do? Now put them in a room with influencers or their peers and do as many push-ups as possible. In which circumstance do they think they will accomplish more push-ups? when they are in the room alone, they will accomplish as many as they can until they start to feel uncomfortable and will more than likely stop at that point. When around others, they will push beyond their comfort point and probably accomplish more.

I have known people that started blogs on their perspectives of current events. In one instance the author of the blog gave his definitions or ideas of leadership. In reality this persons idea of leadership was not one that I would have necessarily agreed with. I never stepped out of my comfort zone though to create my own blog on what I feel leadership is; that is until I was directed to as a class assignment. Now I have a forum to discuss what I feel is leadership, and ways to improve myself and others on their task of leading people.