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Champion Leadership Tip #29 – Leaders Understand the Difference Between Musts & Wants

On Saturday I found myself in the middle of a shoulder-stand towards the end of my yoga class when the instructor said, “if at any time you feel the need to come out of your shoulder-stand, please feel free to go in to a more appropriate pose for you.”

It got me thinking. Because in that moment I said to myself, “that’s interesting. I don’t feel a ‘need’ to come out of this pose but I sure do ‘want’ to.”

I decided to hang in there for a few more breaths, knowing that the instructor would be taking us out of the shoulder-stand in less than a minute. “This too shall pass…breathe…breathe.” Done, just a moment later we rolled out of it.

Leaders must be able to differentiate between their ‘needs,’ or in business I prefer to focus on “musts,” and “wants,” too. It, often times, can be the difference between success and failure.

Leaders have to make many important decisions, some times with little time to invest, but every key decision must come with a full evaluation of “musts” and “wants.”

This is basic negotiation skills.

“Musts” = the non-negotiables, these are things that you are not willing to give up, or not get after making a decision.

“Wants” = the things you’d like to have, but are willing to live without. You are willing to negotiate those away in order to make sure you get your “musts.”

A recent client was having challenges making a hiring decision. I took them through this exercise having them identify the “must” traits and their “want” traits. It gave them a greater sense of confidence that they could now evaluate their candidates against their own clear standards.

But, for now think of a decision you need to make and take out a sheet of paper. Draw a line down the center of the page, write “Musts” on top of the left column and “Wants” on the top of the right column.

Then, think about the end result you’d like this decision to bring you and the “musts” you need to achieve to make it successful, and the other things you’d like to have, or the “wants.” You are on your way to making a great decision.

More on leadership decision making in next week’s Champion Leadership Tip.

Decision-making is one of the “3 D’s of Leadership” to read more about those, read this article.

’til next time,

skip weisman, helping leaders motivate employees to improve organizational performance

Leadership Communication Pop-Quiz, Can You Pass This 1-Question Test?

Here is a pop-quiz for all you aspiring Champion Leaders reading this.

If you’ve been following my writing for the last year or so you know that one of the tenets of Champion Leadership Communication is “Specificity.”

Well, just yesterday, a client who has fully embraced this idea for himself and his executive leadership team, and has done extensive work to integrate specific communication into his organization’s culture, wrote an e-mail to me requesting a coaching session. This is what he wrote:

“I’m swamped tomorrow but will be in the office working on two projects Thursday and partial Friday. I can take a break and talk with you. To be specific… can you call me at 11:30am?”

I will give away a prize valued at $57 (see below), if you can answer this question:

“What is wrong with the request my client made above?”

We’ve had one correct answer already submitted, by Joan McNiff ! Congratulations, Joan! Thanks for playing.

I will give away another prize in a random drawing to all those who submit a correct answer.

To submit your answer e-mail me at I will accumulate the answers and hold drawing for the prize winner.

Our winner will receive a copy of the “The Leadership Series” – a $77 value

(a 7-set MP3 audio program featuring myself the Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach, discussing 7 critical skills for leaders to get the most out of their teams, comes with Leadership Skills Assessments and other worksheets to use in all 7 modules).

’til next time, make it a great week!

Champion Leadership Tip #23 – 3 Ways to Gain the Commitment of Your Employees

On athletic teams, the vision is clear:

Get to the Championship Game!

champion business team celebratingWhether it be the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, The World Cup Soccer Finals, the Final Four in college basketball, the first day of training camp all team members know the desired destination.

But, knowing the 3 keys to creating a champion business teame destination or vision is different that being committed to contributing one’s all to achieving that vision. I believe there are three key factors that athletic teams do extremely well on their path to the championship game, which company leaders need to better apply so that they can bring employees to the level where they commit to helping the organization fulfill its vision.

You’ll find it no surprise that all three factors involve clear, specific communication, on the following:

  1. The organization’s Vision and Purpose:
    This seems like a “no-brainer.” Yet, few organizational leaders do it well. How many individuals in your organization, including yourself, know its succinct vision and purpose? Many mission statements are usually long, drawn out and verbose statements. I prefer shorter, focused and concise one sentence statements for both the Vision and Purpose of an organization that allow everyone to memorize it and have it on the tip of their tongue.
  2. The individual team member’s role and it’s importance:
    On athletic teams roles are clearly defined, as are the expected contribution from each particular role. The individuals fulfilling the roles know what is expected of them, how their role fits in to the ‘bigger picture,’ and how fulfilling that role at that level makes a difference to the team getting to the championship game. Companies and organizations need to do the same for each employee. (ex., street sweepers at Disneyland are not viewed as just street sweepers but are seen as part of “the show.”)
  3. The parameters team members have to creatively fulfill their individual roles:
    On the field of play athletes are trusted to apply their skills and talents in a way that contributes to the team’s success. They have been “hired” because of those skills and talents and are given a clearly defined role, but within that role while the game is being played out, the athlete is given the freedom to take action, and create and fulfill opportunities as they decide in the heat of the action. Employees should be given the same type of freedom. (the reason why this works on athletic teams and not so well in organizations is that athletic teams have consistent feedback systems around “Performance Management,” and many business and non-profit organizations do not.)

To learn more on this topic you may want to download my free report titled, “The 3 Strategies of Champion Organizations.”

‘Til next time, make it a great week,

Are You Committing One of These Organizational Communication Sins?

Even though today is April Fool’s Day, poor organizational communication is nothing to fool around about.

Has a conversation with a boss, co-worker or subordinate at your company left you confused, frustrated, stressed or uncertain?

If so, you’ve been the victim of at least one of the “7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication.”

As a matter of fact, after 8 1/2 years consulting, coaching and training in organization’s of all sizes, organizational communication is, by far, the #1 issue employees and managers blame as the root cause of low trust, low morale and poor performance in their organization.

How many people in your organization would say the same thing?

Many of you who have been following my “Champion Leadership Blog” know I’ve been working on defining the key organizational communication problems leaders must fix to improve morale and motivation to improve performance.

After pre-maturely releasing a white paper report on the 5 biggest leadership communication problems (which some of you have downloaded) I realized it was incomplete. Therefore…

Today, I am officially releasing “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication.”

It is a comprehensive report based on real client case studies accumulated over the last 8-plus years in my business.

Other’s who have sampled this report have told me I should be selling this as an e-book for a minimum of $19.95, but I’m just too passionate about getting this information in the hands of as many organizational leaders as possible.

So, I’ve decided to release as a free download

You can learn more about this free report and what’s in its 34-pages, including client case studies, the problems and their solutions at this

Additionally, as soon as you order this free report you will also have the opportunity to ask me a question directly related to your most pressing organizational communication question.

I’ll help solve it on the spot via e-mail.

Thanks and we’ll be in touch soon!

Best Regards,

A “Champion Boss” People Want to Follow – Do You Know Someone Like This?

In 8 1/2 years of consulting business leaders and their teams to improve work environments I’ve never had this experience before. In doing a 360 degree feedback process on a client last week I was amazed at the feedback I received, an executive director of a regional non-profit organization.

I interviewed members of his senior leadership team, his administrative team and a few mid-level employees. At every level there was one thing I heard regarding a leader of an organization that I had never heard before in all the organizations I have worked with.

What did I hear?

I heard “I wish he was in the office more.”

As a follow up I asked why that was so, and heard:

  • “There’s a calmness he brings to the office.”
  • “He’s so compassionate”
  • “He’s a true visionary”
  • “He really cares about people and he helps us to find options to solve our problems.”
  • “He’s got that ‘vision’ thing”

I have to agree. My client has also been a business associate of mine in one form or another for 16 years and I feel I know him pretty well. He is one of the few that has a very clear vision for where he wants to go and where he wants to take his organization.

His passion for his vision is contagious. The thing that makes this leader even more contagious to follow and what separates him from others is his compassion for others, both his employees and his agency’s customers.

It is unmatched in my estimation. Or at least his ability to articulate and express it in ways that truly connects.

One of my favorite leadership quotes is from National Hockey League Hall of Famer Mark Messier, considered one of the greatest leaders in team sports history, who said,

“to lead you have to have the trust of the players (people), and to do that you have to find a way to connect with them, to find common ground with every individual. It’s a people issue (not a sports or business issue). The way to find that common thread is through compassion. With compassion the appeal to the person is much deeper than the old hard line reprimand.”

That’s why people want to be around my client, and crave for him to be around the office more.

When I was searching the web for ideas to write about this week I came upon the Facebook Group page “I love my Job when my Boss is not around!” and it made me think about the answers I received about my client in his feedback interviews last week. They were truly inspiring.

Do you know a leader or boss in an organization, for profit or non-profit, whose subordinates and direct reports want him/her around more often? I’d like to hear about them. Leave a comment here or e-mail me at

Champion Leadership Tip #17 – Communicate With Appropriate Tone in Your Voice

This seems like a no-brainer. But, if I didn’t come across these issues in real life coaching situations I wouldn’t bring them up.

Leadership Training program two of my participants described two separate situations in which their boss raised their voice and communicated in a very condescending and disrespectful manner in an open meeting with other staff members.

This raised the question as to whether it is ever appropriate to raise one’s voice in a conversation. I posed the question to the group of 14 and the consensus was that “no” it was never appropriate to use that type of tone.

Another participant, an up and coming leader in the company in which I was working, described another situation in which a sarcastic tone was often the norm in communicating to one of his team members. Again, it was agreed that sarcasm was low on the respect scale.

Amazingly, all leaders know communication is vital in successfully leading others and in being able to gain buy-in and commitment for what needs to be accomplished. Despite this knowledge, communication behavior is often not what it needs to be.

I’m sure leaders that are consistently communicating with inappropriate tone would argue that it comes from stress and frustration in the moment and often times they are regretful afterward. However, despite apologies, which are often poorly delivered, significant relationship damage occurs and trust is sabotaged. Additionally, the communication habit rarely changes and usually resurfaces again.

Recently, I sat down and identified seven (7) vital leadership communication mistakes in which leaders regularly engage that kill an organization’s culture. This issue with appropriate voice tone is just one of the five.

To learn the other four and what to do about them, today I’m releasing my latest White Paper Report “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Organizational Leadership Communication.” These kill organizational communication, increase workplace conflict, ruin employee morale and productivity and create a toxic work environment.” It is available for free download at this link .

Champion Leadership Tip #16 – Tips from Herb Brooks, the Man Who Led The 1980 Miracle On Ice

I would be remiss if I did not dedicate my Champion Leadership Tip today, the 30th Anniversary of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team’s win over the Soviet Union hockey at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, to the team’s coach, the late Herb Brooks.

Brooks’ team pulled off what may have been the greatest upset in the history of international sports, bringing together a group of elite college hockey players, average age of 22 years old to the ultimate victory over the most elite hockey teams in the world, including the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Finland.

In a time much different than today when the professionals of the National Hockey League compete for their home countries in the Olympic Tournament, Brooks took his college students on a six month world tour to prepare for the 1980 Lake Placid games.

I think there are three leadership lessons to take away from Brooks’ approach thirty years ago. One is that success is about preparation and you can never prepare enough, the second is about creating and communicating a compelling vision and future, and the third is that leaders have to know and show through their behavior that its about those they lead and not themselves.

As the players reflected on their accomplishment after 30 years, most said Brooks was a madman when it came to conditioning. Every player on the team believed they were better conditioned than any team in the tournament. This played out with the team outscoring its opposition 16-3 in third periods.

Mark Johnson, the team’s leading scorer and head coach of the U.S. Women’s Hockey team in Vancouver this week, said that Brooks “had a vision and he sold it to us.”

Team captain Mike Eruzione was quoted as saying that over the six months of preparation as hard as Brooks drove them, the team the Gold Medal Championship ring for the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team “came to trust that the decisions he made and things he asked of us he was doing for us.”

So, they followed. And, they gave their all. And, they came out as Gold Medal Champions.

When the final seconds ticked off the clock and scoreboard for the Gold Medal game read USA 4, Finland 2, the USA players celebrated all over the ice as Brooks walked off the bench to the team’s locker room. Brooks knew that the victory was for them, not him.

That’s what great leaders do! Are you showing your team that their success is all about them?

Why One Champion Sales Organization Trains Its Team for the Long-Term

The last two weeks I had the privilege of being asked to participate as a sub-contract trainer on a major corporate training initiative with the Influencing Skills program for which I am a licensed facilitator.

The 20-plus training sessions were done simultaneously, nationwide in a variety of US cities where the organization’s American “sales clusters” operate. I facilitated two trainings on opposite ends of the country (Norwalk, Connecticut & San Francisco, CA).

We were working with Diageo, a multi-billion dollar consumer products goods (CPG) company committed to improving on its place as the 16th

CPG firm in the world with a market cap in 2009 of $54 Billion. The company manufactures and distributes some of the top spirit brands in the world, such as Johnny Walker, Guinness, Crown Royal, and Smirnoff Vodka.

As part of the firm’s strategy for 2010, their corporate leaders had the vision and forethought of those that I identify as a Champion Leader.

They invested in a program for their sales professionals not usually viewed favorably by many sales organizations, influencing skills. Most sales organizations focus on the philosophy of ABC (Always Be Closing) and bringing home the deal or the contact.

Champion Leaders look for ways to differentiate their organizations from the competition. And, in a highly competitive CPG industry, one way to differentiate a sales professional is to teach them how to positively influence by building long-term relationships based on trust.

This is what we call thinking about the 10th sale first.

Some organizations give lip service to the concept of relationship building in sales but end up creating sales goals and expectations with compensation plans that sabotage the effort and keep sales professionals in an old model.

Champion sales organizations know long-term success and market differentiation in the 21st Century must be built on developing a high-trust relationship with prospects and clients. Based on the feedback from the Diageo workshops I delivered the last two weeks, the Influencing Skills program is a solid way to do it.

What we all learned is that this program has applications beyond leadership and management skills and translates tremendously well to sales organizations, too. Hmm, may be something to think it about?

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