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Author: Ryan Jenkins

3 Simple Ingredients That Move Teams From Ordinary To Extraordinary

jenkins Sept24Being well rounded is foolish. Being sharp is significant. Being good at many things means you are great at nothing. Culture rewards remarkable. People pay for extraordinary. Best get sharp.

On a recent episode of the Dave Ramsey Entreleadership Podcast, best-selling author Markus Buckingham said: “Leaders are sharp. The best leaders aren’t well rounded. However, the teams they create are well rounded.” Profound.

As soon as I heard that, I had the mental image of the above colored pencils. In this image lies the recipe for an extraordinary strengths-based team. Each pencil is sharp, has it’s unique color, and among other sharp pencils creates well-rounded unity.

1) Sharp Strengths

It seems difficult to get sharp because there is so much asked of us today. As we bounce from task to task and project to project our sharp edges become well rounded. And it doesn’t help that we grew up in a culture and a school system that rewards well-roundedness instead of laser-like sharpness.

If you study leaders – the actual person and not leadership – than you’ll quickly discover they don’t have a perfect well rounded profile as a leader. They are exceptional in a few areas and have surrounded themselves with people that are strengthened where they are weak.

As humans we have an extremely high capacity to learn but we only get incrementally better in our weaknesses. However, strengths are a multiplier. We learn faster, have greater intuition, better judgment, higher sights, and our input is multiplied in our strength zone.

Strengths give you the advantage, an edge. Ask yourself “where are I marginally better than others?” You don’t have to be sharp or massively better at first because you can sharpen your edge.

Find your edge and get sharpening.

2) Uniqueness

Know what color you are not (aka weaknesses). A green pencil will never leave a blue mark. Find teams that lack the color you bring. The unique perspective, skill set, and assets only you possess.

Find your genius and exploit it.

3) Association

Nothing great was ever achieved alone. It takes a team of sharp people to combat the ever-shifting demands of today. Iron sharpens iron. Sharp people keep others sharp. Communicate your unique sharpness to the team. And be wary of the people who are blind to your sharp strengths as they will draw you away from your edge.

Find your ace association and lean in.

Just how good could you get? How high will you rise? How much impact will you have…when you optimize your strengths to get sharp, unlock your uniqueness, and find association alignment?

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.

The 5 New Rules of Face-To-Face Communication

Ever had this internal conversation: Why meet when you can call? Why call when you can email? Why email when you can text? Why text when you can tweet?

I have this internal conversation daily.

jenkins Aug27For many of us Millennials (myself included), the art of face-to-face communication seems archaic and outdated since we can shoot off a text or tweet in a few finger flicks or can connect with a team instantly via Google+ Hangouts. However, face-to-face communication is alive and well; if used correctly it can make you stand out in today’s crowded talent pool.

Never in history have we had more competing for our attention. Today more than ever we must be intentional about our offline engagements to ensure our ideas stick, our messages connect and our aspirations are understood.

In my studies, different generations have varying communication preferences. Younger generations prefer high-tech while older generations prefer high-touch (aka face-to-face communication). Many of today’s hiring managers and decision makers are seasoned leaders who still prefer to connect face-to-face before making decisions. Give yourself the best shot to succeed by harnessing both high-tech and high-touch communication.

Many Millennials already have mastered the high-tech communications of texting, email and social media, but they lack many of the basics of face-to-face communication. I get feedback all the time that Millennials miss opportunities for promotions or closing the deal due to their lack of offline connection. I urge to you become a double threat, someone who can connect quickly online AND can connect genuinely offline. (For those older generations reading, the pendulum swings both ways and you need to stretch yourselves to become more agile in your high-tech communication abilities but that’s another article. You are off the hook…for now.)

Face-to-face communication can take a multitude of forms such as 1-on-1 meetings, team meetings, conferences, parties, impromptu connections, live speeches, etc. Each situation has it’s own ripe opportunity to make an impression and solidify a connection. It’s my goal to elevate your influence by equipping you with the five new rules of face-to-face communication. These rules apply whether you are receiving or delivering the offline communication.

  1. Be prepared. Face-to-face communication deserves forethought. Every communication (whether offline or online) has a purpose. Spend time before the face-to-face communication to gather your thoughts, establish the purpose and the desired outcome. I’d recommend using the application, Evernote, to capture any necessary information before, during and after the communication. If you use your smartphone to take notes, inform the individual so that they don’t mistake you for rudely texting during the conversation.
  2. Be present. Face-to-face communication deserves full attention. Much like when we drive a car, if we allow our mobile devices to distract us, the likelihood of veering off course increases dramatically. Stay focused. Effective preparedness and intentional note taking will help you stay on track. Establish strong eye contact. Resist the urge to multi-task. Schedule your face-to-face communications and be sure to get caught up on your email, texts, and social media updates to ensure you’re clear minded. Silence your phone (because whoever actually turns off their phone?) and do not check your phone unless you are expecting an urgent message at which point communicate the urgent need up front before conversing.

  3. Be attentive. Face-to-face communication deserves full participation. Great conversation is like a tennis match. One person serves up their thoughts and the other reciprocates, back and forth, back and forth. But in order to successfully hit the ball over the net, you must be paying close attention to every detail of the communicator’s words, body language and tone of voice. Add to the dialogue with relevant questions, stories, analogies, thoughts, or facts.

  4. Be concise. Face-to-face communication deserves brevity. These days everyone has more than they can handle so be respectful and keep your communication succinct. Building rapport with small talk can be helpful but limit it to less than five minutes. Put a time limit on the conversation so you both can stay on point. If you’re prepared you’ll be able to communicate confidently and clearly. Those whom you are communicating with will appreciate your focus and clarity.

  5. Be consistent. Face-to-face communication deserves the real you. Social media has allowed individuals to create online personal brands that allow others to gain context around who you are as a person. Many people will search you online to then size you up offline. Make sure your online brand or presence communicates who you truly are. If there is a discrepancy, the face-to-face communication could be clouded with doubt and superficiality and all connection will be lost.

Time will tell how new technology such as augmented reality or holograms will alter how we communicate face-to-face in the future; but as for today, face-to-face communication works and resonates with many of today’s leaders. Arm yourself with these five new rules today and become the double threat needed to thrive tomorrow.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below.