Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Serving Leader by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

Today, Servant Leadership is taking a prominent place not only in volunteer driven organizations, but also in corporates. With the growing number of "matrix organizations" and teams embracing "Agile" for project delivery and led by a Scrum Master, Servant Leadership skills are the need of the hour.

I had a chance to read the book "The Serving Leader" from the Ken Blanchard Series, written by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert. The authors have sandwiched the Servant Leadership lessons in a fictional story. This blog post summarizes some key lessons and learnings from the book.

The following are the 5 powerful actions that the authors teach for you to transform your team, your business and your community:
  1. Run to Great Purpose 
    • To do the most impossible good, strive for the impossible
    • Sustain the greatest interest in pursuits beyond self-interest
  2. Upend the Pyramid
    • You qualify to be first by putting other people first
    • Your are in charge principally to charge up others
  3. Build on Strengths
    • To address your weaknesses, focus on your strengths
    • You can't become the best unless other do, too 
  4. Raise the Bar
    • To serve the many, you first serve the few
    • The best reach-down is a challenging reach-up
  5. Blaze the Trail
    • To protect your value, you must give it all away
    • Your biggest obstacle is the one that hinders someone else

Source: The Serving Leader, by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert

Some traits of a servant leader and key messages worth noting from the book:

  1. He spent a lot of time in activity that looked more like "teaching" than "managing"
  2. He was known for setting high goals and standards.
  3. He encouraged risk taking, though he wasn't afraid to remove people for "persistent" underperformance
  4. He unleashes the strengths, talents and passions of those he or she serves
  5. When she points out a problem, she also offered several solutions and she always showed up when it was time to do the hard work of implementation
  6. She constantly gets her ego out of the way and builds up the confidence / self-esteem of others
  7. By putting others first, the Serving Leader is able to catalyze the creation of high performance teams
  8. He ensures that the right people join the team, those with the right skills and values, those who embrace the same shared purpose. He is tough on selecting people and setting standards
  9. In order to serve many people, the servant leader at first picks just a few other leaders to serve, people who can meet the Servant Leadership standards
  10. He ensures that "activity" is no substitute for "results". At first its about being selective in choosing the leaders you're going to work with. And second, it's about continually raising the expectations for performance
  11. When the performance of an individual doesn't improve after "heavy coaching", the Servant Leader helps him or her get a position somewhere else
  12. People by nature try to live up to what others expect of them. That's true for rich and poor, people who have an easy life or a hard one. Expect little, and we live up to the expectation. Expect a lot, and we stretch and grow to meet the expectation. What kind of service is it... when you deny a person the challenge to become really terrific
  13. Life is too short to waste on sentimental pursuits that don't actually improve anything
  14. Servant Leaders teach others the knowledge, skills and strategies they need to succeed. And the Servant Leaders work hard to get obstacles out of their team's way so that the team can make progress.
  15. Servant Leaders build teaching organizations to create excellence at every level. Leaders who teach become consistent in their own performance.
  16. Community happens when everyone rolls up their sleeves and gets to work
  17. You get better results by shifting attention away from your weaknesses and focusing on your strengths
  18. Serving leaders articulate a purpose so compelling that people are willing to run toward it. The leaders set the pace and this spirit gets transferred to the people they serve
  19. If the purpose isn't bigger than the people involved, great things wouldn't happen
  20. Mistakes aren't the issue, what you do with them is the issue. Ask to be forgiven for the past, and then seize your future with all you've got. 

If you want to learn more about Servant Leadership, visit the authors' website http://theservingleader.com/

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Vocal Variety - 4Ps of Voice

“Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs” said Stephen Covey, the famous author and speaker.

Delivering a speech to the audience, is similar to the journey that you take in a train. The train journey becomes much more enjoyable and adventurous, when the train traverses through peaks and valleys, instead of just going in a flat terrain. The train changes its speed based on the terrain. Similarly, your speech should also be going through moments of peaks, valleys, flat terrains and at times, even a complete pause. You can achieve that by tapping on the power of voice.

Toastmasters provides you a platform for “finding your voice”. When it comes to voice modulation, one of the speakers that I admire is Zig Ziglar. Despite the age, his voice comes across as energetic, attractive and inspiring. Watch the video of Zig Ziglar, where he talks about the "Art of Selling".


In this article, I'm going to describe the 4Ps of Voice - Pitch, Pause, Pace and Projections.

Pitch

Pitch can be used to communicate emotions. A high pitch reflects "high emotions" such as anger, happiness or excitement. Low pitch reflects "low emotions" such as a somber mood or sad moment.

Listen to my recordings:

“How dare you take my bike keys?”  (High Pitch)

"Why did you take my bike keys?      (Low Pitch)


Pause

Pausing is good - do you know that? As a novice speaker, we may think that Pausing means "You forgot the content". While the reality is, advance speakers use Pause as an effective tool to maximize the impact of the speech, on the audience.

When you are on a roller coaster, the roller coaster comes to halts in between, before picking up momentum. The halts make the roller coaster ride much more thrilling.

What are the situations in which you can pause:

  1. Before beginning to speak on the stage, to get the attention of your audience. You can easily take a 3 or 4 seconds pause, trying to establish eye contact with audience. Even an unsettled crowd will become settled when you pause for a while at the beginning
  2. Before delivering a punch line in a humorous phrase. For example, "A doctor tells a woman she can no longer touch anything alcoholic. So she gets a divorce". The pause makes an audience to think in a particular direction and when you surprise them with your punch line, it brings humor. 
  3. When delivering a quote, to stress the important parts. For ex., "5 years from now you'll be the same person except for the people that you meet and the books that you read"
Listen to some of my recordings:


Do you know which club got the first prize….  Chennai Speakers Forum! 


You don’t have to be GREAT to START  but, you’ve to START to be GREAT 

Pace 

Pace is the most missed out tool in regular speeches. Novice speakers deliver at fast pace due to nervousness. However, it will be very hard for the audience to follow the speaker, when the pace is too fast. The best example is when Ravi Sashtri or Sunil Gavaskar narrates a wicket loss during a cricket commentary.

Listen to some of my recordings for fast pace:

Steve Jobs’ motto was to “Simplify!” He said “No” to pretty much every SINGLE thing … 

Should it have screws – NO 
Removable batteries – NO 
Stylus – NO 
Keyboard – NO 
Manuals – A BIG NO 

And that resulted in the birth of sleek, cool and attractive iPhone


All of us join Toastmasters to evolve to become a great communicator or a great leader. So, I recommend all of you “NOT TO GIVE AN EXCUSE”, after you sign up for a role. 

When YOU give an excuse, you miss an opportunity to explore, 
When you don’t explore, you miss an opportunity to gain experience 
When you don’t get the experience, you miss an opportunity to evolve 
When you don’t evolve, how will the fundamental purpose of YOU joining Toastmasters is going to be met? 

Here is an example of a slow pace: 

When I went to the stage and spoke, everybody laughed. That was my last visit to the Speakers club.

Projection 

Projection of voice helps you to reach out to the people sitting in the last row. You've to adjust your voice projection (aka volume) based on the number of people in the audience, room size, whether you are using a microphone, whether you are speaking to a live audience or over a webcast. When you have a good projection, you come across as a confident speaker. Low Projections, at times make your audience lean forward to listen to you. For ex., when you want to tell a "secret", you can use "low projection".