Walchand Plus

Categories
blogs

Diversity And Inclusion — Gender Equality At Work

44 Unicorns. FDI inflows worth more than $30 billion. 

All of this happened in India in 2021. It’s a really nice picture. But it’s not the complete picture. One among those 44 Unicorns has a very different story to tell. 

On November 10 last year, Falguni Nayar joined those 43 other Three Comma Club entrants. It’s a commendable feat, considering that we’re speaking 10 figures. But, six out of 237? Seven in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion, which reduces to two if we’re talking about starting from scratch? Or, how about one among two dozen in the whole, wide world? 

As a woman in today’s Indian professional sector, you’re far more likely to be struck by a lightning bolt rather than fancying your odds for pulling off an encore of this story.

On November 10 last year, when Nayar became the richest self-made woman billionaire in India, she didn’t just break a glass ceiling. She smashed right through a brick wall. 

A World Of Not Good 

In the current context, the sliver of hope that Nayar’s meteoric rise has given to India’s working women is just that: a sliver of hope. Rise in awareness over the past few years or not, the professional gender gap of our nation has continued its nosedive.  

Even in the lands beyond India’s borders — which are supposed to be home to a more progressive outlook — the story remains the same.

Yes, the likes of Whitney Wolfe Herd continue to be heard. Yes, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said last March that on the fronts of health and education, 37 countries have achieved gender parity. And yes, from a global perspective, this gulf has been narrowed down to five per cent. 

But, these are just pieces of a massive jigsaw puzzle, one that’s still going to take 135.6 years to solve.

The Onus Is On Us

WEF’s explanation for a big gender-gap in Economic Participation and Opportunities offers clues for the right way forward. 

“On one hand, the proportion of women among skilled professionals continues to increase, as does progress towards wage equality, albeit at a slower pace. On the other hand, overall income disparities are still only part-way towards being bridged and there is a persistent lack of women in leadership positions, with women representing just 27% of all manager positions.”  (sic)

Let’s decode this in plain-speak. 

Women representation at the subordinate level has increased, but their presence in the Senior and C-Suite levels has plateaued. Hence, those in power need to shoulder the responsibility of building narratives for a gender-egalitarian workspace. 

Political Empowerment — the other front that WEF has singled out as skewed — offers more proof for this line of thought. Four among the top five countries on WEF’s Global Gender Gap Index list have a female Head of State.

One set an example with her handling of the pandemic and delivering on promises. One’s sincere, feminist approach to political administration has put her nation at the top of this table and earned her a second term. One’s nation is still the happiest in the world. And one has ascended — albeit dramatically — from Finance Minister to the helm of one of the most gender-progressive nations in the world.

Political nuances may differ from organisational ones, but the moral of this story remains the same. Women in policy-making roles have the potential to level the playing field. 

The Voice of Reason

We know about the kind of obstacles that women face in the professional world. And we also know the fact that for the status quo to change, women leaders are the ones who need to step up. But for doing so, let’s lay down a few attribute- and approach-based markers by breaking down recent success stories of great women leaders.

1) Be empathetic: Among the slew of articles and analyses of Jacinda Ardern’s leadership during the pandemic, one word found frequent mention: empathy. As women leaders, the need of the hour is to inculcate empathy — be it through policy, or by leading through example — among employees.

2) Be relentless: Herd had to go through a protracted sexual-harassment lawsuit, endure months of online abuse, and then navigate a very cluttered market before Bumble came into being. As a woman leader, strength and perseverance are key to bridging the gender-gap in your workplace.

3) Introduce change from the ground up: When the world was going gaga about Leena Nair’s ascent, a very simple-yet-pertinent initiative of hers earned a lot of praise. As women leaders, look for every opportunity to introduce the right changes in your organisation, irrespective of the level at which they may be implemented.

4) Adapt to changing times: While April Underwood is known better for being the Chief Product Officer who kept Slack relevant, #Angels is an excellent example for how women leaders can be in touch with the pulse of the time they’re in and implement gender-gap measures.   

The Brass Tacks

While overviews, numbers and desired leadership traits are helpful in viewing the bigger picture, it’s in the smaller pieces where the real work begins for women managers and decision-makers. We at Dale Carnegie know the importance of this. I myself have been one among the many voices that have been — and will continue to be — a part of this conversation, one that needs to be had. 

If you’re in a role that can influence company policies, and you’ve read this far, remember these three things the next time you go to work:

1) Women have to deal with hiring and pay-related biases: Women are equally adept — if not more — at leadership. But societal ingraining reflects in hiring trends and pay decisions. As a decision-maker, try to break this pattern whenever you spot it. 

2) Women deserve their due for being skilled workplace navigators: The perception of women being more empathetic and better handlers of interpersonal dynamics isn’t just an assumption. It’s true.

3) Women can make brands, or break them: The world is becoming more woke with each passing day. And a big Gender Gap is surely not a brand legacy — even in Glassdoor reviews — that any company would want to leave behind.

As managers, work towards ending salary gaps, bringing in an Inclusive environment, and tear down stereotypes that have been passed down over the years. As an individual, remember that “God is within her. She will not fail.” 

Categories
blogs

Steer Pressure: Leading Teams In A Hybrid Workplace

The pandemic has been around long enough to use up 15 letters of the Greek Alphabet. Hybrid Workplaces are a norm. The World Economic Forum have cried their throats hoarse — for the past three years — while telling us that in order to be relevant to the times we live in, we need to be “lifelong learners”. 

Even for decision-makers in a Hybrid Workplace, challenges abound. Uncertainty over what a rejigged workplace will look like. Fragmented teams that are supposed to promote cross-functional collaboration and innovation, but really aren’t. All of this, along with the challenge of being challenged all the time. 

In a world in which VUCA has gained more professional prominence than its military origins, helping teams navigate the workplace of the future is a responsibility that’s as layered and complex as the acronym itself. 

Near, Far, Wherever You Are

It’s 5pm, and you’re in your conference room. Most of your team is with you. The rest are windows on a Google Meets interface. A brainstorm for a business pivot is in progress. 

One of your employees — who’s been hogging your line of sight for a while — has a good suggestion. You greenlight it. At the same time, a glowing frame on your laptop has the idea of a lifetime. But, the employee who just went out of the box for you feels left out of the conversation. He/she decides to let the status quo remain, to not contribute. A pivot that could have redefined your business dies out, just like that.

Proximity Bias has a very palpable presence in Hybrid Workplaces. It’s an intangible concept, but it can have very tangible consequences on productivity, morale, and employee retention. As leaders, it’s imperative that you never let the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” come true at your workplace.

Recognising Proximity Bias as a potential issue is the first step towards creating an equitable environment. And, incorporating these aspects into your workplace dynamics can help you chart the way forward: 

1) Make it a habit to also consider remote employees for new projects.

2) Use communication solutions — like Trello or Slack — to keep employees looped in for pertinent, project-related conversations.

3) Ensure that all of your meetings are virtual-friendly, and proactively ensure the participation of remote members. 

4) If remote members are involved in a meeting, making it a completely-virtual fare could serve as a good approach for eliminating Proximity Bias altogether.

Most importantly, give all of your employees the flexibility to tailor their work schedules.  

  

Mind Field

Complexities apart, these are also emotional times. Microsoft employees attested to that not very long ago, being human and offering their shoulders to weeping colleagues. 

Mental health and burnouts have been sparking more conversations than ever. Even dissections of The Great Resignation are throwing up as many psychological reasons as work-related ones. Empathy is the need of the hour, one that’s needed to fill an emotional chasm that the pandemic has opened up in organisations.  

Dale Carnegie also knows how a strong Psychological Safety net connects to the bigger picture. And as a leader, these pointers are a good place to start from:

1) Prioritise mental health: Designate liaisons to coordinate and monitor Employee Assistance Programmes and other training/awareness modules for mental health.

2) Understand your employee strata: While dedicated mental-health resources are key, knowing how to deploy them will increase their efficiency. For instance, mental health is topping Generation Z’s workplace priority list in the post-pandemic world. Thus, it would be prudent for start-ups to take this into consideration while implementing mental-health initiatives.

3) Reach out to employees, even if just to ask how they are doing: Workplaces are now spanning continents, but they’re still very lonely places to be in. Being there for your employees and hearing them out can go a long way. Ensure that your employees are aware of the mental-health resources at their disposal, and their benefits.

Skill Switch

When it comes to guiding employees, interpersonal and emotional dynamics make up two-thirds of the leadership barometer. The missing third can be found in a statement and a related suggestion that WEF made at the start of last year.  

“…for the first time in recent years, job creation is starting to lag behind job destruction”. 

“Close the skills gap.”

As a leader, it’s essential to put together a four-pronged survival toolkit for employees, one meant to help them cope in a distance economy. 

1) Analytical Skills: Equip employees with problem-solving skills, and build an environment that fosters innovation.

2) Technical Knowledge: Though scope for upskilling is domain-dependent, digital know-how is key for survival. 

3) Social Intelligence: Since interpersonal skills continue to be a primary work-driver, leaders need to prioritise Social Intelligence and communication-centric acumen.

4) Resilience: Another must-have skill for agile environments, C-suite employees or otherwise.  

While putting together an upskilling blueprint, leaders also need to have a good understanding of the skills that are key to their future business model, and use Learning & Development as the rudder for this journey.    

Categories
blogs

Funnel Vision: What top salespeople have

During the Renaissance and the Industrial Eras, funnels also found their place among allegories. An inverted funnel was used to depict chaos or jest. In our times, the funnel’s been flipped back to its normal position and being used as an allegory for something serious: business.

Funnel Management involves the streamlining of an organization’s vertical into a funnel-like — or an inverted-pyramid like — structure. Depending on the role of these verticals, these funnels are segregated into tapering sections, depicting the sequence of processes that they comprise of. Funnel Management usually finds more application in verticals whose output have a Pareto Principle-like correlation. Sales and marketing are some of the verticals in which organizations tend to deploy these solutions. 

For the sake of clarity, further references in the context of Funnel Management will be made from a sales perspective. 

Dissecting The Funnel

While many organizations have their own classifications for the stages of a Sales Funnel, all of them are broadly covered by these three categories:  

1. Awareness: The top of the funnel, or the broad end, which comprises awareness and discovery. Potential leads have reached out to your organization after coming across inbound promotions (Social Media, SEO, Landing Pages, et al) or outbound efforts (Mailers, Cold Calls, etc.). At this stage, the customer is being educated about your product, and has been looped in by your Customer Relationship Management vertical. In simpler words, he or she is discovering you. 

2. Consideration: The middle of the funnel, or the tapered end, which comprises evaluation at the customer’s end. The customer has been educated about how your product fits into his or her needs. Efforts are directed on impressing upon individuals the benefits of your product (through guides, webinars, competitor comparisons and other initiatives), and differentiating yourself from the competition. 

3. Decision: The bottom of the funnel, or the narrow end, which comprises lead finalization and closure. In this stage, the customer has decided to go ahead with your product, and your representatives go ahead with on-boarding procedures. While the outlining of this stage might imply a 100 per cent conversion rate, extraneous or uncontrollable factors tend to bring that number down.

The idea behind putting in place a Sales Funnel is streamlining of processes, which can lead to enhanced lead generation and retention. Dale Carnegie’s values place emphasis on relationship building. In this context, companies can also make use of Sales Funnel feedback to prioritize customers, and accordingly invest resources.

Such a structure also helps organizations track crucial metrics, such as rates of lead-creation and lead-conversion, transitory conversion probability between Sales Funnel phases, and time invested in each stage. 

The Human Touch

At the end of the day, a Sales Funnel is a tool, one whose potency is defined by those who implement them. While a clear-cut understanding of the actionables that each stage of a funnel involves is key, it is also important to know the interpersonal dynamics that drive them. 

The essence of Dale Carnegie’s Five Cs For Sales — Connect, Collaborate, Create, Confirm, and Commit — is to strengthen customer relationships. But they also hold water in the context of a Sales Funnel. Abiding by these values while implementing each stage will not only have a tangible effect on output metrics, they will also reflect in the kind of customer relationships that these funnels eventually help build. 

As one of Dale Carnegie’s crisply-worded sales philosophies goes: relationships drive sales. So,

1. Focus on long-term results during the Awareness phase.

2. Listen to truly understand your customers during the Consideration phase. 

3. Position yourself as a true partner during the Decision phase.  

Doing Funnel Management, The Right Way

Apart from keeping in mind the basics that have been elaborated above, here are a few things that should be avoided while deploying a Sales Funnel: 

a. Delay in Sales Cycles: Protracted conversion cycles can lead to Funnel leakage: the loss of a customer during processing. Companies should keep a close eye on the conversion times, and try to not deviate from the median. 

b. Irregular Lead Distribution: If there are discrepancies in the way sales personnel are assigned leads in the Funnel, it could again lead to leakage. Investing in a Lead Distribution software that fits your business model is the way forward. 

c. Lack of push in Awareness & Consideration phases: Since the Decision phase is usually considered as critical, the first two stages of the Sales Funnel could get a short shrift on the resource or personnel front. It’s crucial for companies to ensure that there are no such skews in the Funnel.

Not all leads may get converted into sales. But it is important to remember that constant, funnelled engagement with customers will always continue to be key for the long run.  

Categories
blogs

Getting Down To Business: Entrepreneurship In Today’s Times

For anyone who swears by Apple, black turtlenecks will probably hold more sway than black shirts or crisp, black suits. Wozniak was the brain behind Apple 1, but he’s still the “Other Steve”. The one who sold it, and the one behind the genesis of a $2 trillion brand megalith, continues to be the Steve who’s remembered even today.

Indian dreams too have been as great as the American ones, even in the times of a global pandemic. Last year saw 44 of them turn into Unicorns. One of them shattered a bulletproof glass ceiling. And there’s one common thread that binds together all of these tales of success: Entrepreneurial Prowess.

The Alchemy Of A Successful Entrepreneur

Wikipedia crunches down the definition of Entrepreneurship to six simple words: “The creation or extraction of value”.

This does summarize to some extent the quiddity of Entrepreneurship. But similar to how many pieces of profound advice from Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People can be married together to find success in different walks of life, the conceptual anatomy of a successful Entrepreneur is a jigsaw puzzle that comprises many traits. These are some of the crucial pieces:

a)   Customer Empathy: The cornerstone trait. Having a deep understanding of the customer’s needs is crucial for creating a product that caters to their needs and builds a strong market presence.

b)   Passion: The foundation trait. Every successful real-life entrepreneurial story begins with a protagonist who refuses to back down, no matter the odds. A passionate entrepreneur also brings commitment to the table, since they do what they do because they love what they do.

c)   Aptitude: The launchpad trait. Hard work is a prerequisite, and expertise in domain knowledge begins only when people show the willingness to put in the hard yards to acquire relevant knowledge. 

d)   Creativity & Resilience: The path-changer traits. While these words in themselves may be found on different ends of the emotional spectrum, these are the interpersonal abilities that successful entrepreneurs draw upon during times of difficulty and change.

e)   Charisma: The persona trait. While taking nothing away from Tim Cook’s presentation skills, we still remember Jobs’ keynote speeches more because of the confidence he exuded on stage. It may be in varying degrees, but founders also serve as the public faces of their brands. And having an aura of charm goes a long way in bettering brand perception.

The Entrepreneur Of The Future

The individual traits listed above will continue to serve as essentials for becoming a successful entrepreneur. But in the context of adapting to the future, it is also important to take cognizance of the changes that have altered the professional landscape in recent years:

1)   Agility in the Digital Era: Last year, the World Economic Forum listed adaptability-related skills — like active learning, stress tolerance and flexibility — among those in demand in the current job market. Increasing fluctuations in the business domain and evolving customer needs have reduced the timeframes for implementing strategic manoeuvres. Hence, being agile in methodology and adept on the digital front are prerequisites for aspiring entrepreneurs.

2)   Beyond Brick and Mortar: Over the last year or so, WFH has gained legitimacy as a conversational acronym. Remote working has changed the structure of many businesses over the past two years. As an entrepreneur, having the wherewithal to navigate the virtual workplace is a must.

3)   Diversity: This shift had happened at a relatively slower pace during the last decade. But global tumult over the past few years has sparked conversations about using the corporate apparatus for societal development . Since companies are now shifting focus to inclusion, cultural awareness, gender equality and other concepts of workplace egalitarianism, entrepreneurs too need to be keyed into these dynamics.    

As the pandemic continues to catalyze the evolution of the professional domain, entrepreneurs too need to constantly rewrite their narratives to stay relevant in these changing times. 

Categories
blogs

More Mores: Cultural Awareness & Its Workplace Value

Two years ago at the Orlando Universal in Florida, two children posed for photos with an actor dressed like a character from Despicable Me, a popular animated movie. This July, the resort — one among the most-visited ones in the world — was slapped with a civil-rights lawsuit.

A cursory glance reveals nothing untoward in the photos. Just two children posing with someone wearing a costume of an animated character they love. But for one apparently-innocuous detail. In both the photographs, the actor had made an OK symbol with his hand. While that gesture might be construed as okay in some places, it’s not in others.    

Culture now permeates the workplace as much — if not more — as it does all walks of daily life. Diversity has been and will continue to be an interpersonal foundation for any successful organization, but it also brings along the need for sensitization and learning from the perspective of Cultural Awareness.

India alone has 121 languages and 271 mother tongues, out of which 22 fall under the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India. In simple-speak, the average Indian workspace could have potential interpersonal interactions in at least 22 other languages apart from English and Hindi, and communication undertones involving possibly all of the cultural and traditional associations with those languages. Bottom-line? Cultural Awareness is an imperative for fostering an inclusive environment and strong interpersonal bonds in a workplace. 

Stepping Stone For A Diverse Workplace

Inclusion is fast becoming an aspirational trait for any company which sets out to be a bellwether. And by the virtue of its definition, Cultural Awareness is a key component for:

a.   Inculcating Cultural Competence in employees.

b.   Promulgating inclusion and mitigating (conscious and unconscious) bias in the workspace.

The public domain does have conversations that touch upon the benefits of a diverse workplace. But we at Dale Carnegie consider Inclusion as a core value, and hence have dedicated resources that shed light on the true potential of a genuinely-inclusive environment.  

Cultural Awareness From A Leader’s Perspective

As the decision-maker in an organization, leaders need to be privy to these elements that are pivotal for fostering Cultural Awareness among employees.

1.   Emphasis on building stronger teams: The idea here is simple, stronger relationships catalyse open communication. In the context of using Cultural Awareness for doing this, emphasis has to be placed on internal cultural differences. By acknowledging these, employees can unlearn incorrect stereotypes and notions, and make progress on the Cultural Competence Front.

2.   Growing the business network and reaching out to new stakeholders: Expanding into new territories will expose organizations to newer cultures, habits, traditions, apart from opening up a door for cross-cultural communication. The same notion holds water for stakeholders. Onboarding new clients from different geographical locations will also serve as an added incentive for employees to improve their Cultural Awareness and Cultural Competence.

3.   Setting up cross-cultural awareness programs: The idea is to get employees to recognize all of the cultural identities they interact with in their work environ, and to better their understanding of communication and other culture-based nuances, such as body language and other non-verbal cues, and the differences in perspectives that are rooted in their respective origins.

4.   Harassment training: Unconscious bias can often be difficult to spot in a workplace, leading to normalisation of detrimental behavior and unacceptable notions. On the surface, the idea of harassment training may sound like it solely focuses on weeding out the gender inequalities that pervade the workspace. But sensitization of employees on this topic could also have a tangential effect of introducing an open-minded approach towards other issues, a prerequisite for building Cultural Awareness.  

Categories
blogs

The Developing Story Of L&D and Hybrid Workplaces

The latest season of Trust Code is out. Though its viewer-base is niche, it’s been growing strong— and inspiring spin-offs —for five seasons.

On the surface, Trust Code is essentially an integrity-education program for employees. But it’s Netflix-series-like packaging — tacked on to provide a hook of interest to what is generally perceived as mundane material — is a continuation of the Learning and Development (L&D) narrative that Satya Nadella started in 2014, when he took over as Microsoft’s CEO.  

To adapt to a time when the business domain was in constant flux, Nadella wanted Microsoft to evolve from “Know-It-Alls” to “Learn-It-Alls”. He wanted his employees to be staunch believers of Continuous Learning. With his People’s Person Kathleen Hogan and her L&D blueprint, they embarked on this journey.

It’s been a rewarding one, to say the least. They’ve grown a lot, and they are very sought after by job-hunters. Without L&D as their compass, Microsoft would probably not have covered this much ground.

Going For The Skill

Hybrid Workplaces are here to stay. From an HR perspective, they’re the biggest policy-dictator for 2022. This year will also see maximum efforts being invested in “building critical skills and competencies”; a sentiment that we at Dale Carnegie also echo. While domain-related upskilling — as well as reskilling — should continue to be a priority, these three broad areas should also be given importance:

Communication: Since it is key to navigate and perform well in a Hybrid Workplace.

Organizational Culture: Since it serves as a base for interpersonal dynamics.

Talent Management: Since finding the right fit for personnel is crucial.

Now, let’s break down these broader categories into aspects and traits that influence the L&D dynamics in a Hybrid Workplace.

Speaking In Turn

Communication in this context refers to all the aspects that contribute to seamless coordination between employees. HR decision-makers should focus on these three aspects:

Digital Fluency: While Digital Transformation is the process of adapting to the digital shift, Digital Fluency refers to an individual’s capability of navigating work responsibilities in such a structure. Be it Microsoft Powerpoint, Google Meets, or even Machine Learning Models, employees should have the technological prowess to use relevant tools to function in an efficient manner.

Emotional Intelligence: The ability to perceive emotional cues from others, monitor and control your own emotions, and channel both to better your productivity. From a Hybrid Workplace viewpoint, this skill assumes more importance since emotional assessments are harder to make when communication tools are involved.

Cross-functional Collaboration: Coordination between agile, autonomous teams are the basis of a Hybrid Workplace. Hence, establishing a certain degree of cross-functional aptitude as an employee standard will be beneficial. The LinkedIn report referred to above made a pertinent observation — in the context of hiring in general, but still relevant for internal collaboration — for why companies should consider doing this: “learners without obvious skill adjacencies are making the leap into emerging roles”.

The Value Of Culture

To improve Organizational Culture, HR C-suites should look at inculcating these two traits among employees:

Resilience: Since a Hybrid Workplace involves more spontaneity in decision-making, and faster cycles in verticals, the ability to cope with rapid changes without compromising on goals is crucial. There are many definitions for Resilience. But in essence, it’s nothing but the mindset that employees need for circumventing change-related obstacles without any trade-offs in output.

Cultural Intelligence: Cultural Awareness, Diversity, and Inclusion are being viewed as three key aspects that will shape the business landscape. It’s imperative for companies to implement conducive policies (in this context) and instill these values within employees. All of this will contribute towards the overall Cultural Intelligence. 

Enable The Able

Most of the dynamics listed above also “enable the able”. But here, the focus is more on HR aspects that have a direct effect on employees in terms of their designated roles.

Internal Mobility: A trend that LinkedIn Learning’s Workplace Learning Report for 2021 has singled out as an L&D driver for the future. Internal hiring — relocating employees from one vertical to another — has seen a 19 per cent upswing during the pandemic. Higher Internal Mobility also seems to be nearly halving employee-churn rate (from staying 2.9 years to 5.4 years). Such personnel can also help in the identification of skill gaps and adjacencies.

Virtual On-boarding: The normalisation of the Hybrid Workplace has also brought about changes in the way new talent is roped in by companies. Goes without saying that relevant, effective technological tools have to be used for smoothing out the process.

Pandemic or not, there’s enough evidence — monetary and otherwise — that L&D is assuming a policy-shaping role in organizations world over, paving the way forward for all businesses to learn and develop.

Categories
blogs

Executive Presence: A Learnt Skill

Some people are born to lead. Others learn to lead. The real question is: how do people become leaders? If so, what is the foundation for effective leadership? The answer to that is Executive Presence.

Executive Presence is the ability to listen and communicate in a manner that inspires confidence among peers and subordinates. It’s a trait that serves as a foundation for leadership, one that brings out a leader’s true potential.

What Makes for An Authentic Executive Presence

An authentic Executive Presence is an amalgam of many primary and secondary competencies, which translates into improved perceptive, cognitive and emotive attributes. These competencies are:

– Primary Competencies

  • Self Control
  • Leadership
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Critical Thinking

– Related Competencies

  • Creative Thinking
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Team Management

Building these competencies requires time, focus and practice. As one progresses through to more senior roles, they will need to spend more time honing these skills to lead their teams efficiently and effectively.

Executive Presence At Work

While it may sound a little generic as a concept, a polished Executive Presence entails many tangible benefits for a leader at a workplace. Some of them are:

  • Effective leadership, assertive communication and efficient delegation.
  • Authentic engagement with team members.
  • Trust among team members, and perception of being reliable, courageous, and a team player.
  • Improved body language and non-verbal communication.
  • Critical, creative and agile thinking.

At Dale Carnegie, we believe that leadership is an imperative for those aspiring to be trendsetters in the professional world. Based on the world-renowned principles published in How To Win Friends And Influence People, we have dedicated resources that can help you better your Executive Presence.

While these benefits may not exhaustively sum up its overall importance, they do bring out the fact that Executive Presence is crucial for being present as a leader. Mindful, skillful interactions will result in your team members, colleagues, customers and stakeholders relying on you for direction and honest feedback.

Your first steps towards Executive Presence

Executive Presence is not an intrinsic attribute. Like any other skill, with support and encouragement, anyone can embark on this path. Development of Executive Presence begins on a personal level. Getting a better understanding of your team’s dynamics, and then using that as an interpersonal benchmark for establishing a connection with your subordinates or colleagues is a good place to start from. 

As this slice-of-life Dale Carnegie nugget goes: “Arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.” 

Categories
blogs

Leadership training – A good leader is one who unleashes talent in others.

In today’s changing world, the definition of several roles and responsibilities are also constantly evolving. A leader or a senior executive is no longer one who simply delegates their work and organises or oversees work. 

A leader is one who, much like the word says, leads from the front. A leader is one who guides their subordinates through both monotony and change. Junior employees and colleagues are constantly looking up for advice and direction, while also honing their skill sets and growing in their careers. It is in a good leader to pick up on their cues and hone them in the right direction, while also furthering in their own career paths. 

Where do you fall in the spectrum?

A broader understanding of the leadership spectrum narrows the type of leaders into three categories – 

  • Autocratic leaders
  • Delegative leaders
  • Participative leaders

Autocratic leaders are those who make their demands very clear, lay out the task at hand and spell out the way they want it executed. 

Delegative leaders are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They are those who delegate the tasks at hand to their subordinates, let them take the call and allow them to manage their decisions while stepping in as and when required. 

Participative leaders are those who are a mix of both, who believe in providing a sense of direction to the team, while also modifying their approach based on the feedback they receive through the process.

An understanding of this gamut is necessary to perceive — or tailor — the approach one takes. Irrespective, it is important to keep in mind one leadership imperative: a leader is nothing without his team. 

Human resources – A leader’s biggest capital

We know that building relationships established on trust, understanding and mutual respect are key to becoming a successful leader.  But, how does one go about doing this?

In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People reside nine golden principles that have proven valuable to several emerging established leaders time and again. These are – 

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation: Rather than making one’s shortcomings the central point of a discussion, it helps to build on a person’s strengths first, before drawing attention to their weaknesses.
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly: Steer away from pinpointing one for their mistakes. Rather, speak about it indirectly, yet effectively. 
  • Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person: It always helps to put yourself in your subordinate’s shoes, and speak about your own mistakes to set context. It is human to err, and it is necessary that they understand that, before they are confronted. 
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders: Build a conversation on questions that helps understand their side, and then steer the conversation towards what can be done to tackle the situation at hand.  
  • Let the other person save face: Everyone is looking for cover when they make a mistake. Let them save face, take responsibility either in part or wholly for the error. This will help earn respect and also trust from subordinates. 
  • Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement: Rather than showering compliments, genuinely praise even the slightest improvement so they feel valued and acknowledged.
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to (every day): Make them believe and see what they are capable of, and help them move towards it. When you set expectations and show them, it makes it easier for them to grow.
  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct: This does not mean you downplay an error. Rather, show them that it can be corrected and set a way for process improvement. 
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest: Instill passion in your subordinates, so that they view their tasks as challenges, not chores. 

Each of these principles shows that communication is the central axis on which any leadership role pivots. It is key to understand the needs and engage with the team to further improve the process and also help lead more efficiently. 

At Dale Carnegie, we have two in-depth programmes — Develop Your Leadership Potential and 

Leadership Training For Results — that can help you shed more light on how our 30 Human Relation principles are connected to successful leadership.

Categories
blogs

From shop to screen: How to master the art of virtual selling

If there is one thing that the global pandemic has made evident, it’s that virtual has become the new normal. With the capability to perform almost every aspect of everyday tasks like buying food, groceries, attending classes or business meetings online, virtual buying and selling has become the norm in business today.

Just like the real world, the virtual world too has its own challenges. Sales Professionals that are scattered all across the globe are now required to close deals with fewer in-person meetings and events, having to master newer technologies to stay ahead of the game. 

When you connect with a customer or prospect virtually, say for example via zoom, you must take into account that they might be undergoing ‘zoom fatigue’ , being distracted with other work on their screen or even factors like kids or pets. It is crucial to use effective methods of communication to ensure that you are able to retain your customer’s attention.

Not being able to meet your customer in person might reduce the whole ‘person-to-person’ experience for many. Here is where it is important to establish that relationship with your customer using the appropriate methods and channels.

According to a recent study, it was found that a majority of customers feel that their sales representatives are not able to prove their value addition to the product or the service of the company. This may be due to various factors like poor sales training or an inability to use digital communication tools effectively.

The ability to read body language is crucial in communication. With virtual selling, the ability to read body language becomes a problem as the customer is not right in front of you.

Since virtual selling is completely based on technology, any failure such as poor bandwidth or internet connection can hinder the experience of selling.

Knowing what your challenges are is great! It helps you plan out and strategize how you can provide the best sales experience for your customers. Here are 3 major techniques that can help in creating the best virtual selling experience.

1. Offer value from the very beginning 

Now more than ever, it is crucial to understand that being engaging and adding value to your customer through your virtual meeting is a priority. It is very easy for them to lose attention and switch to performing another activity. You need to be able to bring unique value addition right from the beginning of the call to set you apart from the other competitors who might be engaging in very similar activities. This can also be done by identifying challenges in the industry that not everyone might address right away. Not only does adding value and offering a unique proposition create the opportunity for a great sales experience, but also helps create a safe space for prospects to admit they have a problem.

2. Engagement is key

Sales professionals are often worried about not saying the right thing or driving potential customers away while selling virtually. Sales professionals want to reduce any friction that can be caused during an interaction to minimise the possibility of driving a customer away. To ensure that this does not happen, it’s important to engage your customer by tying back to the first point – adding value. 

Provide information in an engaging manner, for example, with a link that takes the customer to a virtual walkthrough of a sales deck. Whether they say it out loud or not, customers like the attention. It is highly likely that they might turn away when you do not show that you want to interact with them and put in the effort to make the sale.

McKinsey found that about 41% of the people in a virtual meeting prefer to have a video conference. So ensure to be seated in a well lit and decent background. Ensure the function of your camera and microphone ahead of the call. In a virtual meeting, have an open conversation with your audience and engage them through strategies made specifically for the virtual spaces like you can’t ensure you maintain eye contact with all 20 people in a zoom meeting. Look into the camera slot instead to immerse them with your presentations.  

3. Make it visual and dynamic

The virtual environment can be a bit distracting. With loads of information being disseminated every minute, retaining your audience’s attention becomes a priority. To achieve this, make the selling experience visual. Using proper visual imagery with the right blend of animation and movement will help overcome your audience’s ‘stimulation threshold’.

A recent study shows that in virtual meetings one requires thrice the amount of slides to get information across to the customer effectively. This does not mean three times the information, but rather the breakdown of how this information is put forth to the audience. 

It is also very important to focus on the ‘key deliverable’ of your presentation. This is the factor that helps your customer recall the information that was given to them even a while after the call has been completed. 

Keeping these three pointers in mind can help conquer the virtual world of selling.

It is crucial to remember that things could go wrong even if you are 100% prepared. Virtual selling is not going to be 100% perfect. Make sure that you stay calm and reply to your customer in a collected and professional manner. Remember that your customer also faces issues in the virtual setting and are more likely to be understanding when you handle yourself properly in such situations. Virtual or non-virtual, at the end of the day we’re all human aren’t we?

Categories
blogs

The Art of Cutting a Deal

Sales negotiation is a very important skill for a sales person. Being a good negotiator can easily differentiate a good sales person from a great salesperson. A great sales person knows how to effectively negotiate a deal that gives them the best possible outcome, or at least a much better outcome than they could have gotten otherwise. There are no hard and fast rules. However, there are some important thumb rules that can help you to become a better negotiator:

  • Be Prepared:

Negotiating takes determination and preparation. Figure out what objections you may face during negotiations and be ready with questions to overcome them. Understand the person who you will be negotiating with, which will help you predict potential objections. See the objections from their point of view. Have an ample knowledge of them and their business. Be ready to give a counter proposal.

  • Be Flexible:

Everything in life is negotiable. Make sure you don’t allow yourself to get stuck. Focus more on the solution and less on the problem. Sometimes people think they know what the other person is thinking and they often like to decide the outcome for others. You wouldn’t know whether the answer is yes or no until and unless you ask them. It is simple. It is all about what you are willing to give and how much you need. 

  • Be Straightforward:

There are a lot of opportunities out there but you miss them if you don’t ask for them. You have to meet your needs without having any preconceived reservations in asking for it. You will never get it if you never ask for it. However, be aware as to not be blunt about putting across your perspective. We often get through to our listeners much better by being sensitive and polite in the way we express our points of view. 

  • Listen More:

Ask more and more questions and get answers for it. The control over the way conversation goes is in the hands of the person who is asking the questions. As you wait, get used to the silence. The questions are of course important but the wait for the answers is even more important. There is a reason we were born with 1 mouth and 2 ears.

  • Read:

Sometimes negotiations require paperwork which is to be signed by you. Before you sign the negotiation papers make sure that you read it carefully and understand it. Ask for help, if you find it difficult to understand legal terms while you are reading. Sign it once you understand it.

Some people start thinking that “What am I gaining from this?” Remember, whoever you are negotiating with is thinking the same as you are. Show them how much you care, asking questions shows how much you care and that’s when they start listening to you. Don’t focus on defeating the other person and winning the negotiations. As Dale Carnegie said, “Each party should gain from the negotiation”. Focus more on how you can end the negotiation with a win-win result. Every negotiation doesn’t always need to have a winner and a loser. Work on solutions which benefit both parties.