Episode 1: Communication Traps: Is It You or Is It Me?


We all fall victim to communication mishaps.We think we are on the same page until we realize that the results that we are getting do not match our expectations. We will explore the DISC assessment tool, ways to use DISC for you, your team and your organization. We will also cover how to build trust on your teams and ways to set clear expectations. You will learn about activities that build trust in the workplace, identity what is keeping you from reaching your full potential and ideas on improving your key relationships. This is the first show in the series and you will also learn about Jeff Smith and his leadership journey while also learning about clients he has worked and their best practices.


Jeff Smith is the CEO of Voltage Leadership Consulting based in Roanoke, Virginia.  Since 2001, he has been an executive coach to management and leadership professionals in both for profit and not-for-profit organizations.  From working for Capital One and Carilion Clinic, Jeff brings over 25 years of experience working as an executive in human resources and operations roles leading: operations, human resources, and merger and acquisition efforts.   He uses a collaborative approach with his clients to help them determine their vision and then identify a plan to help them achieve their full potential in their professional and personal lives. 


Jeff: Hello and welcome. So glad you could join us today. You’re listening to Voltcast, Illuminating Leadership. I’m your host, Jeff Smith. You can reach me at 1-866-472-5788. 1-866-472-5788. You can also email me at Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com. My website is www.VoltageLeadership.com. You can like me on Facebook at Voltage Leadership, connect with me on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith Voltage Leadership Consulting, follow me on Twitter @VoltageLeaders.

Wow, that’s a lot to hear. I'm excited to be with you.

Today I’ll be sharing a bit about my background, giving you an overview of communication tools, thoughts and ways to improve your communication and hopefully improve engagement in your workforce.

Why do this? Who are you listening to at this point? It’s a plain name. Jeff Smith. My parents are John and Mary Smith. True story. That’s really who they are. They go by Jack and Marilyn. They’ll probably pick this up at some point today. Mom, Dad, thanks for all you've done for me. Thanks for all that you’ve done for Doug and myself. You really are great inspirations and great examples of leaders. I am Jeff Smith. Who is that?

Well, there’s been about 25 years of operations, HR and consulting experience, at places Capitol One, Carilion and getting to work with Newport New shipyard. Cleveland Clinic. It's been a great career. I've been able to learn tons.

Undergraduate, I went to James Madison University. You’ll hear me talk a lot about the Dukes, as we go on throughout this fall, and talk about football and other fun things on the radio show. Additionally, I went to George Washington University and got a Masters in Leadership, and an Executive Coaching degree from Georgetown University.

The most important thing to me though, is that I’m married to Beth for over 20 years. We have four kids; two girls that are 17 and 15 and two boys that are 12 and 10. In my spare time I love to run, play sports, and be able to do anything that’s sort of outdoorsy and hanging out together.

Today, it will be mostly me talking and giving you an overview of the tool. In future episodes, here’s what to expect. We’ll be having authors like Scott Eblin and Marissa Keegan. They're going to come and share best practices with you. They will give you some tips and tools. The way we look at this is, you are so busy each and every week. We want to be able to find you a space, to pause, to get a few tips and learn a few things. Scott and Marissa will be coming up in the October time frame to be able to share lessons from their clients as well as from their books.

Additionally, two leaders that I have worked with, John and Amy, both CEOs of companies and very successful, will be coming on to share best practices that they have done and be able to share with you what they see from their leadership perch. What made them successful, how did they grow and develop themselves, and ultimately how did they lead their company.

Next, we’ll bring in some consultants that work with many teams. Folks like Jennifer Owen-O’Quill and Lee Hubert, who I work with at Voltage, will be coming in and sharing best practices, give you tips, tools and understanding about what they're seeing in the workplace. You can know what's happening outside your four walls and apply some best practices.

Let’s start talking about you and your leadership journey. When are you at your best? What obstacles get in your way? Who helps you stay focused and who helps you stay accountable? Tim Gallwey wrote in “An Inner Game of Tennis” this formula. “Performance equals potential minus interference.” Let me repeat that. “Performance equals potential minus interference.” What is your interference?

For me, I know that sometimes its organizational skills. I also have an inability to say no at times. I'm sure none of you have ever had that happen. I know that my clients sometimes struggle with a little too much work. Maybe saying yes to a few too many meetings and feel like they could do it all. We all like to put on that Superman's cape, and feel like we're the ones jumping from top of the building, rescuing things. Ultimately, that can cause challenges. What I'm curious about is, what are you going to do about the interference?

First, identify it. It could be, for you, maybe it's time management. Maybe you don't know how to say no to things or maybe that you're so scheduled. I was with a client yesterday that literally was invited to 51 meetings this week. Can you believe that? 51 meetings. He had said yes to 38.

Can you imagine starting a new week knowing that you'll be in 38 hours worth of meetings? Already by one o'clock in the afternoon, he had been invited to two more. That’s a total of 53 meetings and 40 acceptances. How in the world do you get real work done? That could one of your interferences.

Another could be arrogance. Are you willing to take feedback? Do you feel like you have to be the smartest person in the room? Maybe it's conflict. I've got several leaders that struggle. They want to be the great guy or the great woman that’s in charge but not necessarily deal with the conflict. They just want the leadership perch, but not that chance to really lead and handle the conflict.

Furthermore, it’s confidence for some of the folks that I work with. That ability to just know that you're good at what you do and be able to lead confidently.

How about accepting feedback? Feedback is a gift. It’s just not one that’s easily received. Again feedback is a gift, just not one easily received. If that sounds like an interesting topic to you, I encourage you to go to VoltageLeadership.com and look at our blog. I wrote a blog about accepting feedback a few weeks ago. That may be able to help you. That could knock down your interference.

First off, I want to make sure that I’m getting the chance to work with leaders all the time and be able to put ideas out there in the universe. The idea first came to me a few months ago, when I had the chance to work with my executive producer, Winston Price. Great job for getting us ready and getting us here to day one.

The real reason for doing it was, I wanted to work with the leaders that are out there, that are so busy and that are not able to stop, pause and do the job that they want to do.

The title Voltcast is a combination of two words. Voltage, which if you know me, is a lot of times a description of me. I am full of energy, excitement and joy. I want people to do their best workday in and day out. That’s why we came up with the word Voltage.

Voltcast is a combination of voltage and cast. We cast our net wide to go find the best authors, the best books, the best things that are out there to be able to bring back to you. Volcast is a challenge for us to say, we’re going to bring you cutting edge technology, cutting edge people, cutting edge ideas.

You're too busy doing your day in and day out job. You just don’t have time to go and read it. Not your fault. I know you want to do it. I know you want to read those books and be able to get to all that stuff. By the time you finish work, go to a soccer game or you go out with a client to dinner, there just isn't enough time left in the day.

What our team tries to do are Blogs and articles. Voltcast is trying to get you the best information out there. The Illuminating Leadership is- we want to shine a path down that leadership path for you, so that you can be successful. Again, a client that I worked with last week said, “You know these are great ideas, but I find it hard sometimes just to slow down and actually put them into play.”

I said, “Perfect. That's why we're here. We want to be able to coach you, work with you and be able to put things into place.” As you listen to this Voltcast, Illuminating Leadership, what we hope to do for you is give you some tips, tools and resources to be able to do your best work.

Let's get started with probably my favorite resource. It’s an assessment called DISC. Again, it’s a leadership assessment called DISC. It's been around since 1928. We use it with most of our clients too, really from the get-go.

The reason for doing that is we have a sense that we're really good at communicating. I'm sure I'm being tested right now. I'm sure there’ll be plenty of feedback of what I can do better. By the second, third or fourth radio show, I’m going to be even better at this. That's part of the communication.

Another part of it though is we’ve got to lead others. How well do they hear our message? How well do they understand what we're trying to do, and then try to figure out what are they trying to do? That's one of the challenges.

We give the DISC assessment to our leaders that we work with right from the get-go, so that we have a sense for what’s their preferred communication style. It does not measure your intelligence. Some people get so nervous about these. They are worried that they will not be able to handle the feedback from this. That’s not our goal. This is how you go about communicating with others. These are the behaviors that you show.

Again, this doesn’t measure your intelligence. This doesn’t measure your experience. This doesn’t measure your skills. It measures the behaviors that you show to the workplace. It measures the behaviors that you show to the people at your home.

Again, it’s called DISC. They’ve been around since 1928. William Marston is the one that created it. William is the one that created the Wonder Woman character and also help to create the lie detector test.

How do you go about learning it and using it? Well, we’d be happy to find you an assessment. You can also look online and find it. Basically it is an assessment that we use to help teams figure out how they’re working best together, how people on the team work together as well as the ability to know your own style and communicate with other people.

The important part of it is, it is not a label. It’s a chance for you to be able to know your style, learn others styles and be able to match your style to their style. We call that flexing. As you’re learning about yourself, in the next section, we’ll be able to really talk about each and every style.

What I’d want you to be thinking about is, what are your communication breakdowns? Who is hard for you to communicate with? Are there specific people that are challenging? Is it the level that they are at? Is it possibly, just the style that they’ve got?

I will tell you that early in my career, one of the hardest styles for me, is someone that was really direct. They could come right at you, give you that feedback, push and challenge you. That intimidated me a little. Early on it was also hard for me to give feedback to people like that, to be able to help them know how to get their job done better.

For me, it was my own challenge. I like to be liked. I want people to enjoy working with me. I was afraid that if I gave them direct feedback that that might make our relationship hard. Later on, I'll be able to help you understand that style, but be thinking about who's hard for you to communicate with.

Another one I see often when I give a speech, there's a style that likes to be sort of stoic and quiet out in the audience. What they're doing is that they're processing. They’re taking on the information. Someone like me, I see that and I’m like, “Oh my god, I want to get bigger in my personality.” I wanted them to enjoy this presentation.

That's exactly the wrong strategy. What I need to do is slow down. Connect with them first. Be able to understand what they're looking for. Maybe give some of the how’s and why’s. By doing that they start to understand the message that I'm trying to get across. The longer I stayed with my style and not understand their style, oh boy! That communication breakdown just really kept going on and on.

Finally it can be about the level in the organization. Lots of times it can be a boss to subordinate. Maybe it's a peer-to-peer relationship. The challenge with that though is the ability to say, “We've got to communicate.” That's how we build trust in our organizations. When we build trust, we’re able to have the right type of relationships.

When we come back from break, what we're going to do is we're going to walk through each and every of those four styles. The D, the I, the S, and the C. Again, the D, the I, the S, and the C.

In just a moment, we’ll be taking a break. There’ll be time for us to catch up with the programs that air here and learn more about what we’re trying to do. We'll see you on the other side of two minutes when we discuss ways to deal with communication challenges. See you in two.



Jeff: Welcome back. I’m glad you’re with me today. Whether you are listening to this live, later this week or maybe in two years from now, I'm so glad you joined us.

Before the break, we were discussing causes of interference. What keeps us from reaching our full performance? What keeps us from our full potential? What we’re trying to do is have our potential match our ability to perform.

One of the biggest causes of interference that I see with my clients, is their own communication breakdowns. We're going to jump right into this DISC assessment that we were talking about on the other side of the break.

Again, there are four main styles. The first is a driver. Think dead red. This is fast paced, task-oriented. They love change. They love to influence people. They love to do things fast paced and get a lot of stuff done. Goal setting. They love to change. Be brilliant. They want to conquer the world. The gift that they bring to the organization is their ability to challenge the status quo and be able to say, “There's something that needs to get done. Let's go get it.”

As far as thinking of Ds in our workplace, it doesn’t matter that you’re a leader. Each style can be a leader. These are the types of people that I want you to be thinking about. Michael Jordan. He just took the game over. He says, “Just give me the ball and get out of the way. I’ve got it.”

In our election campaign, we got Hillary and Donald Trump. Both are drivers. “Let me tell you what I'm going to do. Let me show you what I’m going to do. Hey, you know what, I don’t like what you’re doing. Here’s a different way. Let me give you some feedback. Let me confront you and be comfortable in that confrontation.”

“What needs to get done? Get the heck out of the way. Let me go do it.” They want to be fiercely independent, set their goals and go accomplish it. They are fantastic for a workplace because they challenge the status quo and help move things forward.

For me, as I talked about early in the program, that was a challenge. These folks intimidated me a little in my first part of my career, in my early twenties. I love, love, love, working with drivers now though. Here's what they want to do. They want to get better. Sure, giving them feedback sometimes can be a challenge. Once you give them the feedback, they are going to go try to do it and get better.

Let's move to the next style. Influence. They want to know who's going to be involved. They are people-oriented. They're also fast-paced. They’re big thinkers. They're not so much into the details. They’re more the creative types. They're going to be the best at taking a big group of people, getting them all together and make sure the best ideas come to the table. For them, you want to include them in things like brainstorming, ideation, or anything that needs creativity.

We were recently trying to develop a new program for Voltage. One of the things that we did is, we brought several thought leaders in and just threw them into a room. Their ideas were just amazing. You can just see it happening. The question that an influencer wants answered is, who's going to be involved?

Now, the downside for an influencer is that they’re sometimes a little bit more long-winded. They also want to be liked, so it's harder for them to be more specific in the feedback. They tend to be a bit vague and a little light on the detail. I could probably laugh here and really enjoy this segment. Folks on my team or onboard, they could be poking fun at me right now, because I am a strong influencer. My attention to detail is sometimes my greatest weakness.

What I know is that the next group, supporters, are my best friend. Literally in this case, my wife Beth is an incredible supporter and she's fantastic.

Supporters are amazing. We hired our office manager, Debbie, because she was a supporter. What they're good at is being able to understand how things get done. They are people oriented but they like their people in ones and twos. They like to be able to go a little slower paced. They do that thing called listening. That's really, really important.

Drivers and influencers tend to talk more, tend to sort of direct or say, “Let’s get all this people together.” A supporter is better at going behind the scenes and asking questions like how. “How’re we going to get things done?” They are practical. Good project managers. They want to help the situation. They’re really good at elaboration and planning. They get all the details done. They’re really good in the one on one and maybe one on two situations.

They're not going to be so great in the team meetings, about putting their ideas out there. For a supporter, you going to have to invite them in and figure out ways to get them involved.

As far as some people to think about, people like Laura Bush, Sister Theresa, maybe even Jimmy Carter.

I think of a supporter as folks that are really the backbone of the organization, but they don't need all the press. They just want to do their job quietly behind the scenes. They're incredibly great. The challenge can be though, is that sometimes they look at maybe a driver or an influencer and can't speak the same language, and don't quite know how to work best together. We'll talk about some ways to connect the dots on these.

The final group is the calculator. The calculator, they're the C. Their question that they want answered is why. “Why in the world am I going to do this,” because then, you’ve got a good process. Think of them as the technical experts. If you need something really hard done and it's technical in nature, give it to a calculator. What they're going to do, they are going to look and say, “I'm going to read the whole manual. I’m going to figure this out.”

By profession, they're pretty easy. Think of architects, engineers, CPAs, computer programmers. Maybe the lawyer that is heads down, like a real estate lawyer or a tax lawyer, that’s putting their head down and doing the work. Scientists. Good at assessing risks. They have the right answer.

Now the struggle for them at times can be someone else’s paralysis. They get so hung up in the really technical information that they forget to come out, and that there’s a timeline associated with work that needs to get done.

When working with a calculator one of the things that you have to understand is, they’re going to try to get the perfect answer. You may have to just tell them, “We need an 80% solution here.” They are not going to really like that, but to help stay in an organization, they’ll understand it. You’ve got to set some boundaries and guidelines.

As far as characters, since we're right at the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, Spock would have been a great calculator. Others include Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, Al Gore, even President Obama. If you really think about the way he builds his cases, he's got influence. He knows how to give a good speech, but he builds meticulous case as he’s trying to convince the country.

You can be a president from any one of those. Influencers had Bill Clinton and people like Oprah Winfrey. Really, all styles can be a leader. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs tend to be often a driver or a calculator.

The reason for that is a lot of entrepreneurs come from a technical background. They had this really great software idea or new app that they want to develop. What they've done is they thought about, “Okay. How can I come up with the perfect solution?” That's the calculating, but you have to have enough drive to be able to get this into the workplace, to be able to survive.

As you think about the people that you’re having the biggest struggle with, what you think their style is? What do you think your preferred style is? I'll let you know that my preferred style is again, an influencer. My backup style is a driver. Many of us are going to have two styles, not just one. I'm playing sort of to the extremes on this, to have some fun. Let's have some fun with this.

The first time that I introduced Beth to a bunch of my friends, we went to an event with about five thousand people there. You can just imagine it was just crazy. It’s at James Madison University event. It’s a big band. Everything’s playing.

For someone like myself, a strong expert, a strong I, this is my scene. These are all kind of people that I can have relatively quick interactions with. I get to have lots of information, lots of feedback from lots of people and hang out. Now you got Beth that’s more of a supporter, calculator. A little slower paced.

I introduced her to my friend, Ken Headley. Ken comes up. We go through all the normal things, “Hey, how’re you doing in sports? How's life? How's your work?” We're in and out in about two minutes. When he leaves Beth goes, “How can he be one of your best friends? That’s your 14th best friend. That’s just not possible.”

To a supporter, one or two really deep friends, are what they're used to. To an influencer, the whole world is just a friend waiting to happen. In your workplace if you got something that's not going quite right, and you need it fixed work, with an influencer. They can get the right set of people involved, get them excited and be able to have a great conversation.

Now when you are working with a driver- let's go back to them for just a minute. These are the ones that you want to stay on task. If you’re one of the other three styles, know that a driver is confident in conflict. To them, it's just a good conversation.

To the rest of us, we think, “Have we done something wrong? Should I have brought more data to the situation?” To a driver, this is just a task that needs to get done. They’re just stating what needs to be done and you’re just the two o’clock meeting.

When working with a driver, the best way to think about this is if you see someone that is task oriented, and wants to get a lot done. Be brilliant and be gone. Don't tell them how to do the job. Give them the information they need and move on to the next thing.

When a driver and a supporter work together, it can be a beautiful marriage. The supporter wants to support the driver’s goals and the driver needs someone that will listen, help slow them down, and make sure that they thought through the various situations. It can be a great marriage. What you need to understand though is the ability to be able to connect and be able to make sure that the driver slows down long enough for the supporter to ask two or three questions.

On the other hand, the supporter can’t ask ten questions. Driver and supporter have to find a balance. Just know that we all have our own style. We can listen to each other, to learn, to follow their ability to say what they want. Notice what you are. Then try to flex to that other person.

What I mean is, I'm an influencer. I could stay and talk about all kind of light things, stay above the fray, and not get down at the process and do all the heavy lifting. If I'm going to a driver, I should probably have a pretty good agenda. Maybe I will try to get one or two things accomplished, flexing to their style.

Now if I'm working with a calculator, I know that they are going to want data and facts. I probably shouldn’t go to them first thing in the morning, rearrange their whole day and say, “Woohoo! Jeff Smith here! Watch out! I’ve got seven things for you do to.”

The calculator is going to say, “Oh good lord! What are you doing messing my whole day up?” That happens often. Instead, let a calculator know, “Hey you know what, I want to be able to have some time with you. Can you swing by when you've settled in? Let's talk about what my needs are.” Then explain in some detail, not with tons of motion, and with actually connecting, live, one-on-one with each other. Not just via text. Actually sharing with each other.

Finally, gaining that supporter. They are going to want to be low-key, maybe not always be the center of attention. You have to invite them into the conversation. Make sure that you can slow down and give them time to think. Don't put them on the spot. If you put them on the spot, you're going to shut the supporter down.

What we’ll cover in the rest of the show are some ways to use this with your team, the ability to slow down. Using style, connect. If you don't understand fully yet, don't worry.

Right now it's time for us to go to a break. When we come back from break, we’ll be able to talk about ways to apply this to help you in performance and in teams. See you in two minutes after the break.



Jeff: Welcome back. I hope you’ve been enjoying learning about the communication tool called DISC.

During the break, we had a caller call in. Lee Hubert is from Voltage Leadership. He will be actually on our show in two weeks talking about culture. He was listening and decided he would give us a call in.

Lee, welcome to the show.

Lee: Hey Jeff. Thanks.

Jeff: Thanks for calling in. You’ll be the very first caller we have but not the last, so looking forward to it.

Lee and I go way back. We've actually worked together at Carilion Clinic, at Health System. This is the third time we had the ability to work together. Lee is an outstanding facilitator, coach and really great at helping leaders kind of get out of their own way and be the best possible that they can be. Lee, I am so excited to have you here.

You’ve been hearing us talking about DISC. Where have you used DISC in your own practice and with teams?

Lee: That’s an excellent question. DISC is one of my favorite tools to use, as you know. There's two or three key areas where I find it really, really beneficial.

The first one is with teams. When you seek to have a team dynamic that works and DISC helps you understand who you're working with and for, it just goes with the territory. It helps to unlock communication, meaningful communication, which in turn unlocks engagement, productivity and support success.

For example, you were just talking about a supporter person who likes to be steady, may struggle a little bit in the presence of a driver or an influencer. Well, the same dynamic is very much alive and well on teams, and also in leadership structure.

If I'm a high S person, a high supporter, and I report to my boss, who is a high D, driver or influencer or even calculator for that matter, I'm going to use that knowledge to approach each person differently. The results are good. It helps you manage up.

Jeff: That’s one of the things I’ve seen for us even. Both Lee and I are high influencers. At times I know that Jeff Smith will be very vague on instructions. You do a great job as far as saying, “Jeff, now, slow down there. When do you need this by? What do you want?”

What do you see maybe in that manager-employee relationship? How do you see DISC being used in that manager-employee relationship?

Lee: I think it’s imperative that anybody managing up to their boss understanding the benefits of DISC. Once you grasp it, you apply it. It’s a tool on your toolbox.

For example, I was in, one scenario, where working with a client, where we had a leader of an organization who is very high C and very high D. That meant they like to drive on data. They had a great math co-processor. They liked to get down into the nitty-gritty. They would drive on it and they would tell you, right?

There are a lot of people in leadership with that profile. I can see your head nodding. As you can imagine, the I is going to want to tell you about it. They're influencers. That's how they're wired. That's their gift.

This person who was the D/C, didn't want to talk about, you know your mom, your dad, your grandma, your cat, your dog. They wanted to talk about facts and they wanted to drive on those facts. In this circumstance, the individual learned pretty quickly, with the help of DISC, a, to understand the bosses communication style, their behaviors and their motivators and b, how to adapt themselves. When they got into that leaders presence, they were locked and loaded. They were ready. They successfully managed up.

Jeff: That's great, Lee. Hey, one more for you. We’re talking a lot about flexing to our leader’s style. What about the leader? Do they ever need to flex to make their communication preferences to their direct reports or is it always expected that the direct reports should flex to the leader’s style?

Lee: The leaders should only seek to understand those employees that they want to be productive and stay on their team.

Jeff: So, everyone.

Lee: If they choose not to do that, then it’s kind of like brushing your teeth, right? Only brush the ones you want to keep. If the leader is ignoring people at that level, I would even question the definition of leadership. It stands to reason you can engage with people. You used that word engagement. What does it feel like to be engaged with leadership?

Well to me, it means you know things about each other. It's not just lip-service. It's not “You pretend to lead, we’ll pretend to follow.” It means “I'm engaged with you” and you know things about each other. It unlocks discretionary effort. I'll do what I need to do for the leader who's ignoring me to keep my job. I will do what's necessary for the leader who I believe has my back, wants me to succeed, and is interested in my development.

Jeff: That’s great stuff, Lee. Hey, before I let you drop off, I know we’re going to have you in a couple of weeks here about changing the culture, changing the game, the ability to sort of say, “How do we get the engaged culture?” What should expect when hear from you in a couple of weeks?

Lee: Great question. Thank you for keying it up. Changing the culture, changing the game is paramount. As you know, in that model, it’s driven by experiences. Just as you are linking DISC to it, we will do also.

What a person experiences in a reporting relationship, colleague, spouse, marriage, whatever relationship, drives their belief. Those beliefs will be shared in their culture and their work family. That in turn will drive their actions. If people are fully engaged and their beliefs are congruent and lined up with the leadership’s philosophy, that in turn drives results at the top. What they experience forms beliefs, which in turn determines their results. We'll get into a fairly deep dive on that in a couple of weeks.

Jeff: Hey, thanks for calling in, Lee. You're my first listener and caller. I really appreciate it. Look forward to talking to you in a couple weeks. Take care, Lee.

Lee: Sounds great!

Jeff: Thanks Lee.

Let's continue this conversation here about, how do you take this tool and apply it. One of the things that we were really dealing with was that interference of communication. Why is communication so important? Well, at least to building trust. Next week, we’ll be continuing that some with Jennifer Owen-O’Quill about how you build trust in relationships.

The critical part is that we have to communicate effectively to build trust, to build a culture. When we're building trust with each other, it starts in that communication.

Know your preferred communication style. If I’m a driver, I might come across as fast paced. I might struggle to listen, so slow it down a bit and be able to really connect. If you’re an influencer, know that you’ve got big ideas, you like to put a lot out there, use a lot of words and maybe sixty words could have been done with three. Slow it down and make sure that people can understand what the two or three things you care about are.

For a supporter, we don't always know exactly what you care about and what you’re emotional about. Show us what you're doing and what you care about. Put your voice in the room. Finally for the calculator, we know that you're fantastic. You want to be back at your desk, solving the next problem, getting the process really nailed down. What we need from you is to understand what data and facts you need to solve the challenge that you’re faced with.

For us to understand that, we're trying to have all motivated, engaged employees in our workplace. We need to have clear expectations. If I'm trying to be the best I can be, you’re communicating with me and we're starting to get to know each other, but we have to go pretty far down in what we call the Motivate, Engage Pyramid.

Start to ask questions like, what are your expectations for the job? Have you clearly laid that out for the people that you work with? For the driver and the influencers that reported to you, they’re going to be maybe more comfortable with, “Hey, here’s generally what I want you to go do.” If you prescribe too much, that's probably going to bump up against their ability to have independence and be able to do that job the way they like to do it. Don't over-prescribe.

Make sure that each person, no matter their style, has the tools, they have goals and they understand the expectations. Additionally make sure that they know what they do matters and it has a consequence around here.

If we do that well, the next thing that should happen is we should do some recognition. For some styles that's easier than others. Influencers, you're pretty good at recognition. Drivers you tend to do good at being able to help people know if they hit a goal, but sometimes you miss out on that- hey, each and everyday someone’s doing a good job, you might want to slow down and recognize that. Supporters do better behind the scenes. Calculators, they're more likely to be critical and when you've done a great job, they’ll recognize it. For a calculator, you might want to say a good job is also worthy of recognition.

Just to give you an understanding, it should probably be about five positive recognitions for every negative comment.

Next. Are we letting people know how they are doing within the workplace? Is their job really recognized? Do you give them a chance to contribute? Do you give them the chance to own a project? The more they can do that, especially maybe for a driver, an influencer giving them big space, for a supporter and calculator still giving them the ability to run something, but giving them some boundaries. Let them have some influence, some ownership and the ability to say how they're going to do it.

Now I'm ready for the feedback. I'm ready to grow and develop with you. If you've met my needs along the way, some clear expectations, some praise- again, recognize that supporters and calculators probably want the praise in private, one on one, or handwritten. Drivers and influencers are probably okay with recognition and praise in public. Then give me the ability to own something. Give me lots of room. If I'm a calculator, give me specific details. If I'm an influencer, give me the right people. If I’m a driver, give me the goal and get out of the way.

Ultimately, make sure that you recognize the style of each and every person, and you try to flex to it, so that they can do their best. At least, create an environment where they're able to be the best that they can be. By doing that you’ll end up with a motive, engage workplace that Lee talked about on the other side. By doing that you will have a workplace that is really starting to hum. You will be able to reach your full potential. Great communication skills will lead people to be able to reach their full potential and ultimately top level performance.

It’s time for another break. When we come back, we'll do a wrap up and give you a few tips and tools to take away. We'll see you in two minutes after the break.



Jeff: Welcome back. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first show. It has been great for me. I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead. Before we go today though, let’s nail down a few practical tips.

I want you to be able to really walk that path. The goal each and every week will be to help you illuminate the path for you. We know that you're busy. We know how hard you work. I'm just so in awe of all the leaders we get to work with. You’re amazing. You do incredible work. It's such a privilege and honor to get to work with you.

Let's go back to the beginning. Performance equals potential minus interference. Performance equals potential minus interference. Again, Tim Gallwey first came up with that in “The Inner Game of Tennis.” What we try to do is identify our interference. Let’s not forget our strengths. Make sure you live those. Keep breathing those, but is there an interference that gets in your way?

This week, think about your interference. Go find somebody. Get some feedback about what your interference is. If it's your inability to handle conflict, start to learn about conflict. I promise you, in a few weeks, we’ll be talking about conflict and how to deal with that. If it's time management, stay tuned. In probably four to six weeks, we're going to hit that topic.

What I want you to do though is identify your interference that’s keeping you from reaching your full potential. Today the interference we took on was communication, and how you communicate with all those different varieties of people that are in your workplace. Let's just go through those really quickly.

For a driver, be brief. Be brilliant. Be gone. What they're looking for is you to answer the question, what. What needs to get done? Understand that they can handle conflict. If you need a status quo change, you want someone to make change, go find a driver. Ask some great questions and let them do their job.

Let’s say it’s an influencer. That's that person that's a fast talker, maybe like myself. Who needs to be involved? If you need creativity, you need to bring in all ideas, you need a survey done, use an influencer.

If you're working with the influencer, make sure you help nail down the goals. Write down a few things that you expect them to do and then follow up with them. They will do great work for you. Quite honestly, they can be a lot of fun.

How about for that supporter? Those are the folks that are the biggest part of our workplace. They’re over 47% of our workplace. Influencers second most, in the thirties, but supporters are the biggest. They’re a little slower paced. It’s not that they don't want change, but they're slower to change.

How do you work with them? Let them ask a few questions. You give them a few specifics and invite them to contribute. Again, don't put them on the spot though. They're going to want a chance to think about what they're going to say. They’re the ones that actually- when we say go back and think about it, they will actually come back and think, and bring back a really great idea.

Again, invite them in. If there's a meeting coming up, let them know you’re going to put them on the agenda. Probably not first, maybe put them second or third on the agenda so they have chance to warm up to the room and be successful.

Finally, let’s talk about the calculators. They’re the ones that want to know the question, why. They’re great at process. They're really fantastic at nailing down technical information and being able to get it done for you. If you need to consider the risk of a situation, if you need to put a really strong step by step process in place, look to your calculators.

How do we actually use this tool? Well first and foremost, you have to decide if you’re going to flex your style or not. You're the leader and so lots of times, people are going to flex to you. Understand that. It's important that they know that you're the leader, but it's also okay for you to flex your style. When I'm working with a driver and they're my client, I'm going to come in and ask them, “Hey, what’s the desired outcome today? Let's just jump right into it.”

I love to talk about Henry and Philip, and Caroline and Olivia, my four kids, but they really want to get to business. At the end of a session, or end of a meeting, then they might ask about the kids, but let's get to work first. I could serve my needs, but that's really not that beneficial. If I’m a leader, often what I try to do is understand who's coming to me. I ask the question, “Hey what’s your desired outcome for our time together?”

Let me repeat that. “What are your desired outcome for our time together? How can I best serve you?” At the end of the time together, I will often ask, “Hey if there's one thing that I could do better, that will help you be better at your job, what is it? If there's one thing that I can do better, what is it?” Just doing that, will help them. I will also let them know what my preferred communication style is.

For me, I don't like people to be redundant. I've been redundant some in this broadcast, but that’s been intentional. I want to make sure that you've heard it. If you’re going to be working with me on a regular basis, don’t do that. Don’t talk down. Don’t be dictatorial. Don’t prescribe solutions to me.

I don't know what it is, but you should ask the people that you work with, what is their preferred communications style? What are their do’s and don’ts for communication so that you can hit it?

Next, really seek out that feedback. Don’t just do it with your direct reports. Go to some of those peers that maybe you’re struggling to connect with. Maybe you’re not on the same page. By doing that, what you can then do, is be able to say to them, “Hey I'm really working on my communication. Can you give me some feedback?” I like to go to someone that's a different style than me.

By sharing your do’s and don'ts, and seeking out the feedback, you're going to be able to get better and close that gap between what you're currently getting in performance and then hopefully, get to that full potential.

If I only had one thing for you do this week though, it would be to go recognize somebody. We just don't do this well enough. Just by going out recognizing somebody, you're going to be able to build some trust, which will be the theme that we pick up on for next week. Go out and recognize five people this week. I challenge you to do it. It should really be five positive comments for every negative comment. Go practice that skillset this week. By doing that you start to build some trust.

Just think about whom you’re communicating with. Again, for a driver and an influencer, it can be in public. They would probably like the praise. They would probably celebrate it. For a calculator and a supporter, go behind the scenes. Maybe it’s a one on one. Maybe it’s a handwritten note. Maybe it's a nice email. It can be done in your office saying, “Hey, I just really appreciate what you doing.” By doing that you’re going to be amazed at what you see from your folks, and how motivated, engaged they will be.

It's been fantastic working with you today. I’ve loved hearing from you. I look forward to listeners calling in, in the future. What to expect in upcoming weeks? Next week, we’re going to have Jennifer Owen-O’Quill on our show.

Jennifer is the leadership expert. She is the leadership director for Voltage Leadership. She will be coming to us to talk about the topic of conversational intelligence. If you're interested in how do you build trust on teams, how do you build trust between teammates, how do you have breakdowns and how do you overcome breakdowns, well then, next week is for you. We will be building on what we're doing with DISC.

Now that we know our preferred communication style, what we're going to do is say, “Okay. Now, let's put that into the whole team, and let's see how do we do this thing called conversational intelligence.” Be able to understand what do we do that helps build trust, and then be able to say what’s our own style. Then we'll keep building and say, “Now, how do we influence our own culture,” in two weeks after that.

I hope you gain a few practical tips, a chance to slow down and to be able to digest what we're trying to accomplish. Most of all to be able to learn and be able to say, “I know more about myself now. I know my communication style and I’m going to go look and learn more about this.”

I encourage you to take time this week and pause. I know you're busy. I know it's crazy. This pause can come in a meeting. Just notice what's happening with the communication around you and then be able to say, “I see what's happening. Someone's driving towards results and they're not really listening. Maybe, that influencer that needs to slow down and explain a few facts. Maybe, that calculator needed all that data here, so they could be comfortable. The supporter, we need to hear their voice, so that we're ready.”

Well, I really appreciate you coming in and listening today. Thanks for being here for the first one. You can reach me at 540-798-1963 or email me at Jeff@VoltageLeadership.com. Our website is www.voltageleadership.com or like us on Facebook at Voltage Leadership. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn at Jeff Smith Voltage Leadership, and follow me on Twitter @VoltageLeaders. You’ve been listening to Voltcast, Illuminating Leadership. Thanks again and look forward to seeing you next week.