#readthisseries: Learning the Art of Communication and Feedback

#readthisseries: Learning the Art of Communication and Feedback


Don’t miss this vblog on books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. We recommend three titles that are must-reads on the topic of communication and learning to give better feedback. You can find our catalog of great leadership books at dereka206.sg-host.com — click on #readthisseries.

Glaser, J. (2014) Conversational intelligence: How great leaders build trust and get extraordinary results. New York: Bibliomotions, Inc.

Patterson, K., Grenny, J. McMillan, & R. Switzler, A. (2002). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.

Scott, S. (2009). Fierce leadership: A bold alternative to the worst “best” practice of business today. New York: Random House.

As always, please like, follow, and comment. If you have books that we should read and recommend, please let us know that as well.

Joe & T.J.

#onethingseries: Conversational Intelligence & Communicating Better as a Leader w/ Judith Glaser

#onethingseries: Conversational Intelligence & Communicating Better as a Leader w/ Judith Glaser


Don’t miss this leadership interview with Judith Glaser. Judith is an Organizational Anthropologist. She is one of the most pioneering and innovative change agents, consultants, and executive coaches in the consulting and coaching industry, and she is the world’s leading authority on Conversational Intelligence®, WE-centric Leadership, and Neuro-Innovation. She is also a best-selling author of 7 business books including her newest best seller – Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Through the application of “the neuroscience of we” for business challenges, Judith shows CEOs and their teams how to elevate levels of engagement, collaboration, and innovation to positively impact the bottom line.

In 2017, Judith was selected by Marshall Goldsmith as one of the top 15 Coaches in the world. She has also been ranked as the 10th Coaching Guru in the world by Global Gurus and has been selected as a 2017 Brava Award Winner. From 2016 to 2018, Conversational Intelligence® was selected by INC, Magazine as one of the top 5 business trends of the year.

In 2004, she was awarded Woman of the Year in New York City, and the same award, again, in 2017 by Smart CEO. Since 2006, she has been listed in the top 10 consultants globally in the Excellence Top 100 Consultants list and is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders globally on the subject of leadership.

In 2011, Judith was awarded the Drexel University Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2006 she was inducted into the Temple University Gallery of Success. She is a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. She guest speaks at a number of universities nationally and internationally including Dubai and China, universalizing Conversational Intelligence.

She has appeared on CBS Morning News with Charlie Rose & Gayle King, NBC’s Today Show, ABC World News, The Fox News Channel, The Martha Stewart Show and the Family Network talking about We-Centric Leadership and Cultural Transformation.

Her interview with TheSchoolHouse302 was incredibly insightful, check it out below.

TheSchoolHouse302 · One Thing Series: Being a Present Leader w/ Jon Rennie — #onethingseries
  • Listen to what Judith has to say about traditional methods of communication–asking and telling. She says we need to move to much deeper, richer conversations, which she calls going from transactional to co-creational.
  • Judith is influenced by a number of leaders and you can find out more about her work, like the concept of C-IQ by visiting Conversationalintelligence.com.
  • She advises us to “listen to connect not judge or reject.” The key is to learn how to pull the right information from people and not push them away. This style of listening shifts the chemistry in our brains and moves to an open space for greater communication. Don’t miss what she says about language.
  • Listen to how she truly believes in living outside-of-the-box and not being bound by others. This isn’t the first time that a leader told us that they wanted to be able to fly. Check it out.
  • She talks about listening to herself and trusting her gut. Don’t miss what she says about instinct.  
  • She talks about the rhythm of the universe and the bond we all have with one other. Fascinating. Don’t miss it.

Judith’s interview is filled with practical advice for leaders, and it really hits home on something we do everyday–communicate–but that we need to do better as leaders. Her ideas helps develop leaders by getting to simple with speaking and listening in a more profound way. Be sure to get your copy of her book, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results, and let us know what you think.

Please follow, like, and comment; it really helps. Use #onethingseries and #SH302 so that we can find you.

Joe & T.J.

#SH302: The Five Cs of Professional Dialogue: Taking the Fear Out of Giving Feedback

#SH302: The Five Cs of Professional Dialogue: Taking the Fear Out of Giving Feedback


A culture of excellence requires time, commitment, and ongoing care. To cultivate excellence, it must be rooted in professional dialogue to launch and sustain your organization’s growth and development, which requires employees to be engaged. Unfortunately, employee engagement remains an issue in the workplace with poor communication being one of the main culprits. One Gallup study of “7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career” (Harter & Adkins, 2015). Too often “people sense that they [are] missing needed information, [and] they blame lack of communication for the problem” (Markman, 2017). The fact is that proper communication and professional dialogue rest at the heart of every great organization’s infrastructure.

How an organization communicates to deal with the realities facing them will be the basis for either growth, stagnation, or eventual failure. The problem is not normally information sharing or access but rather how well we communicate with one another that makes the difference. To create a culture where communication is woven into the fabric of the organization, we’ve developed a five-part model to guide leaders and to ensure that poor communication doesn’t sink their best efforts.

5Cs of Communication

Everyone Loves Samantha, But…

Samantha possesses the interpersonal skills and positive attitude that everyone loves in a coworker, yet, at times, she can pose issues with behaviors that hinder the team and get in the way of productivity and the team’s output. Her technical competency and depth of knowledge are good, but she has tendency to talk by the “water cooler” a little too long and can easily derail a meeting with an off putting joke or misplaced story. The difficult thing about Samantha is that her strengths, at times, become her weaknesses; her team perceives her more as a tension eliminator versus a problem solver.

The biggest issue for Dan, her manager, is that he wants to talk to her to get her to balance her levity and off-task tendencies with her potential for substantial contributions. She is certainly loved by her peers, and so Dan fears that a conversation with her about this will shut her down and alienate other team members who may be used in the examples that Dan has to demonstrate the problems. At the end of the day, he struggles with whether or not the conversation is even worth it. Samantha brings humor and laughter to the meetings, she gets her work done, but Dan and the team need more than that from Samantha.

What Should Dan do?

We would love the situation to be straightforward, suggesting that a simple conversation will do the trick, but we know that growth and development take time and resourcefulness on the part of any leader. Samantha is loved by her co-workers, and she possesses a vibrant energy. In the end, we need to ensure that Samantha is clear about the needed changes, that she recognizes her need to grow, and that the terms and conditions are agreeable. Not only is Samantha’s attitude toward growing critical to her success, it’s pivotal for the organization’s culture and the support that ensues when people are ready to make needed changes.

Dan needs to be straightforward with Samantha and any waiting to communicate will only exacerbate the problem. He needs to address her behaviors as soon as possible. He also needs to be clear about the fact that her strength is her ability to provide a positive energy and that her potential as a contributor is clear but that her off task comments can stress the team in times when she thinks she’s lightening the load.

Dan has to be candid, confronting reality with expectations and timelines. He can’t sugarcoat the situation or it will be misunderstood. Managers have a distinct need to demonstrate that they are in their employees’ “corner,” establishing and systematizing professional dialogue in the workplace, but with candor at the same time. The notion is that leaders care so much that they can tell you what you don’t want to hear in a way that balances the need to communicate a problem with the nurture and support to help make the changes together.

Communication is Often Counter-intuitive

As leaders, it’s critical that we focus on growth. We have to do what it takes for our team and for ourselves to develop over time. This means that organizations have to put core values at the center of every decision. If a core value is professional growth and personal development, then feedback and dialogue are critical drivers for performance. One step in keeping the norms at the forefront is in setting clear norms for communication and understanding the pitfalls in what we think we said and what we think we heard from others.

These norms have to be established within the culture and modeled by the leader. There are three critical norms that the leader must set, holding everyone accountable to the way that communication takes place:

  1. Accept the norm that feedback is candid and welcomed by all.
  2. Accept the norm that feedback is frequent and meant to drive positive changes in performance.
  3. Accept the norm that we must review and reflect on what we’re writing and saying to one another on a regular basis so that the quality of our feedback improves.

This means that all dialogue considers the balance between communicating clearly because of our position in the team’s corner and our care for the people. In the center of clear communication and compassion for the people is always the candor it takes to help them get better.

We know that some conversations can be difficult. Particularly, with individuals who contribute positively but who also have flaws that need to be addressed, communicating can be excruciating. This is precisely why leaders need to create a culture of candor and compassion with feedback at the core. But before we fully introduce a model for crystal clear communication and professional dialogue, we need to address a common assumption about the lack of information sharing in any organization. As Judith Glaser, an organizational anthropologist and author of Conversation Intelligence, reminded us in our #onethingseries podcast interview (coming up this month): “our words create worlds” and “we often don’t say what we really mean.”

The Assumption: Information is the Solution

Too often, when communication is pinned as the culprit, we jump to conclusions that there’s a lack of information sharing in our organization. Folks even say things like “had I known…” or “no one shared that with me…” And, as leaders, we tend to believe that “greater access to information is the solution” (Markman, 2017) so we develop stronger methods for communicating, like newsletters and bulletins. But more or different communication channels are not likely the answer because procedures for communicating aren’t usually the problem. It’s more likely to be the way we communicate, how we interact with people, than if we are communicating. You can eliminate the fear of providing feedback by using these 5Cs of professional dialogue.

5Cs of Communication

The 5Cs of Professional Dialogue

Be a Communicator: Are your organization’s goals communicated well enough to use in a conversation regarding performance?

The first C is to be a communicator in the first place. Too many leaders fail to communicate, and that’s simply not acceptable. The bottom line is that strong communication is grounded in the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. Leaders must over-communicate the purpose and meaning behind the work. If you haven’t communicated the goals of your organization often enough to hold others accountable to them then they might as well not exist. Dan should be able to use the department’s goals to demonstrate a performance gap for Samantha. If he can’t, the goals for her performance aren’t clear enough.

Be Clear: Is your feedback clear enough for others to take action?

Achieving clarity around the goals and values is the backdrop for quality feedback concerning an individual’s personal actions or a team’s accomplishments. This type of clarity with communication allows for all professional dialogue about performance to be more objective. In the case of Samantha, it means pointing out her strengths and weaknesses based on pre-defined organizational expectations, which are not the arbitrary personal standards of the supervisor. Remember that this means two things: 1. the mission, vision, and goals have been communicated and 2. that the feedback is clearly tied to them. Too often, we fall into the trap of assuming that the goals are clear when they’re not or we give feedback that isn’t clearly linked to the goals. In either case, we’re not communicating clearly and subsequent improvements won’t be made.

Be Candid: Is your feedback specific, candid, two-way, and ongoing?

The third C is candor. Being candid while maintaining a two-way, open dialogue, requires serious skill. It also requires a high degree of competence with the aspects of Samantha’s performance that you’re addressing. Too often, candor has a negative connotation because it is associated with a difficult message or with a frankness that’s too abrupt.  We maintain that candor is simply direct and specific feedback, which everyone needs, and should be presented in a manner that is designed to be open and honest. In an interview with one of the greatest boxing trainers ever, Angelo Dundee makes it clear why his relationship with Muhammed Ali was so successful: “I was always very honest with him. And him with me.”  Dundee recalls how he could simply mention how Ali’s jab looked and how Ali would work on it until it was right. Embracing candor as the vehicle for improved performance builds a culture that accepts and expects feedback for improved performance. Candor also increases the speed of the desired improvements. It accounts for specificity with the needed changes versus the flowery and ambiguous feedback that leaders sometimes provide in an effort to “be nice.”

Be in their Corner: Does your feedback communicate that you’re in the person’s corner no matter what you’re saying?

The fourth C of our professional dialogue model is communicating that you’re in the corner of the person with whom you’re feedback is directed. People are not always going to like what you say, especially when it’s critical about an aspect of their performance at work, but they’ll be far more likely to accept the message if they know that you’re with them in their efforts to make improvements. Consider Samantha, the only way she’s going to get better is if someone points out her performance issues to her. She’ll likely respond in one of two ways: defensively, which is a result of her feeling alone in her efforts to improve or acceptance, which is the result of her feeling like the message is coming from someone who stands in her corner with support and resources. The difference looks like this:

  1. Samantha, you need to make some changes or we’re going to have to talk about an improvement plan for you.
  2. Samantha, you need to make some changes, and I’m here to support you with some strong advice and a few resources that can help. Let’s work together on this so that you can improve your performance and contribute on greater level, which I’m confident you can do.

The first example is almost an ultimatum, and sometimes people do need real documented improvement plans, but it leaves Samantha hanging out there alone versus the second example, which commands the same message but shows that the leader is there to help and not just to evaluate.

Be Caring: Do your words and actions demonstrate care for the people in your organization?

The fifth and final C in the professional dialogue model is demonstrating care. If the leader truly cares about the people in the organization and demonstrates care through actions and words, the people will be motivated and inspired to put forth effort and improve the quality of their performance through feedback. We can’t just want Samantha to improve for the sake of the organization. We have to care about Samantha–her personal needs, her sense of efficacy, and her feelings about the job she does–before we can spend any time enhancing her performance through critical feedback. Leaders who care do so with specific actions and words. Sinek metaphorically describes this by saying that “leaders eat last.” By eating last, providing food, making work fun, and uplifting others, leaders can demonstrate that they care about people.

If you communicate with people, you do so clearly, you employ candor, you demonstrate that you’re in their corner, and you show care, you’re leading in a way that should prevent any fear from giving feedback to the people on your team or in your organization. This type of professional dialogue is exactly what leaders need to propel their teams into the future. That’s our model for professional feedback, and we hope it helps you to lead better and grow faster.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, follow, or comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.


Gallup, Inc. (2015, April 08). Employees Want a Lot More From Their Managers. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236570/employees-lot-managers.aspx

Markman, A. (2017). Poor communication is often a symptom of a different problem. Harvard Business Review.

Sinek, S. (2014). Leaders eat last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t. Penguin Group: New York.

#review&reflect: Learning to Win from Failure

#review&reflect: Learning to Win from Failure


This is TheSchoolHouse302 monthly #review&reflect, wrapping up our focus on how Great Leaders Win from Failure.

Skills I need…

The only way to to grow and achieve great things is to take risks, which at times is met with failure. The question is, how well do you plan your steps forward to ensure you can bounce back from setbacks and failed attempts?

Review: This month we focused on how successful people endure major setbacks, both personally and professionally, as life presents a series of challenges that can crush some of our greatest goals and desires. Our message is that you should learn from failure, and more importantly, learn how to mitigate risks through key steps. Our three-part model is designed to help you uncover how to NOT fail by taking calculated risks in life and business. We introduce the three Fs of failure that you don’t want to have on your leadership report card.

F#1: Failure to Launch–you can’t fail, if you don’t try.

The harsh reality is that inaction crushes any chance of success. Too often we are paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. Don’t become burdened by your goals but rather simply gain clarity by breaking down the goal into manageable steps and then take the first one. Once you take the first step, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t let another day go by.

F#2: Fear of Not Making a Massive Contribution–small steps lead to long treks.

We need to be sure that we use the right yardstick to measure what we are looking to accomplish and detail the incremental steps along the way that reinforce that we are making progress. It’s common for our goals to be so lofty that when massive change or when intense contribution are not immediate and apparent outcomes, we lose track of the fact that small steps are the mile markers that indicate that we are moving forward.

F#3: Fixating on the Wrong Measures–avoid thinking about the product, and focus on the process.

Setting goals and having clear targets are keys to success because if you don’t know where you are going, you have no chance of getting there. However, we tend to overlook the daily inputs, tasks, and behaviors that need to be done throughout the journey that are necessary to finding ultimate success. Essentially, the day-to-day activities that will lead to accomplishments are what should be our cherished moments and not the mere accomplishment itself.

The model is straightforward and designed to help leaders learn how to not fail but to take calculated risks in life and business, knowing that failure is an option. Avoid earning yourself these three Fs on your report card of success and you’ll fail forward with the greatest leaders of all time.

Learning from Failure

Reflect: Each aspect of the model is critical for overall success and maximum effectiveness. While reviewing and considering each, determine which one you need to focus on to take calculated risks to achieve new heights. For example, you may start many new things without really taking the time to lay out what is truly required to achieve your goals. Each part of the model is designed to prevent you from making critical mistakes that often lead to failure. The idea is that you decide on what you really want to accomplish and have clarity on how. We heard from Rand Fishkin on the importance of perspective and how we have certain ideas about business and success that are misleading and misguided. His thoughts on failure, and really on figuring out what you want to achieve, are powerful so don’t miss his One Thing Series leadership podcast interview. He walks us through his own growth process as a leader and as a entrepreneur. His wisdom is critical in advising listeners that you should not be fixated on the wrong measures, using the wrong determinants of success. He also reminds us that we are not perfect and that we need to learn to forgive ourselves so that we can thrive in a self-reflective state where it is okay to takes risks.

As a leader, are you willing to take the initial steps to lead yourself and your organization to greater achievement? What fears do you need to overcome?

How do I learn those skills…

What should I read to continually learn and grow if I want to win from failure and learn to take calculated risks?

Review: In our #readthisseries we featured the work of authors who embody what it means to learn from failure and grow to be an effective leader:

Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World by Rand Fishkin

Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands by Michael Carroll

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success by John Maxwell

You can’t miss our #readthisseries on keeping failure in perspective and ultimately learning from mistakes to move forward in life and work. Watch it again here.

Reflect: Do I have a firm grasp on what my organization needs to accomplish? Do I have clarity around the steps we need to take to achieve our goals? How well are we prepared to handle setbacks? Of the three parts of the model, which one do I need to start doing differently today?

Great leaders understand the power of thinking big and moving forward in calculated ways. They know that in order to reach new heights, achieve great things, and accomplish major goals, there are beacons–clarity and purpose– to guide and steer the ship. They are also crystal clear on the potential challenges, setbacks, and possible failures that loom. This month, reflect on how well you and your organization are setup to take calculated risks to achieve your goals. Based on the 3-part model, and using a 5-point scale, 1 being ineffective and 5 being highly effective, rate yourself and your team:


Who should I follow…

What does an expert have to say about learning to win from failures as a leader?

Review: For our #onethingseries, we interviewed Rand Fishkin, founder of SparkToro, previously co-founder of Moz and Inbound.org.

Throughout the interview, Rand emphasized how failure is not the end of an idea and challenged many of our preconceived ideas around American business culture. He stressed the need for diversity in people, thinking, and ideas to help us see multiple perspectives to lead better and grow faster. He emphasized the importance of growing and how “you learn more when you’re uncomfortable than when you’re comfortable.”  His thoughts on failure and his approach to life emerged throughout the interview as he talked about forgiveness.

Reflect: Rand reminds us that life is how we perceive it and diversity helps us gain greater perspective so that we can experience all of the life’s rewards and challenges. The objective is in looking at life through the right lens.

Do you have a group of people who you can rely on to give you honest, challenging, and different perspectives?

The definition of leadership is influence, and by learning how to mitigate risks and learn from failure, you can find success, which improves your ability to influence others. By expanding your influence, you can be helpful to more people, and that’s one of the most important characteristics of any great leader–the desire to help others.

That’s our #review&reflect for Winning from Failure. Take a look back to take a step forward.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Please let us know how our leadership posts are working for you, what you are reading to improve yourself, and your thoughts on leadership and growth here on our blog and Twitter. Follow our #onethingseries podcast on iTunes and our #readthisseries on YouTube.

Joe & T.J.


#readthisseries: Learning the Art of Communication and Feedback

#readthisseries: Learn to Win from Failure–3 Books You Need to Read as a Leader


Don’t miss this vblog on books you need to read to lead better and grow faster. We recommend three titles that are must-reads on the topic of learning to win from failure, mitigating risk, and overcoming fear. You can find our catalog of great leadership books at dereka206.sg-host.com — click on #readthisseries.

Fishkin, R. (2018). Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. New York: Penguin.

Carroll, M. (1999). Fearless at Work: Timeless Teachings for Awakening Confidence, Resilience, and Creativity in the Face of Life’s Demands. Boston: Shambhala Publications. 

Maxwell, J. (2007). Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

As always, please like, follow, and comment. If you have books that we should read and recommend, please let us know that as well.

Joe & T.J.