Communication & Leadership

with Peggy Klaus

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Foster these traits within yourself for effective communication.

Peggy Klaus

Communications & Leadership Guru

Lessons Learned

Self-scrutiny is the most important trait to cultivate.

Leaders need to be almost painfully self-aware.

Vulnerability is having people see into you.


Lesson: Communication & Leadership with Peggy Klaus

Step #8 Qualities: Foster these traits within yourself for effective communication

The traits that I work on with leaders to develop them more, to enhance their leadership skills-certainly self-scrutiny is, I think, the most important because without that, you really are operating in a bubble. So the ability for a leader to be self-aware, painfully self-aware and that goes to his own internal process as well as soliciting feedback from other people.

Then there's self-management of one's emotions. There is certainly decisiveness. The ability to communicate well their vision, their values, the strategy, the respect for their colleagues, their clients, their shareholders. I think that risk taking, the ability to make those very difficult, calculated risks and to stand in the spotlight and to put their stake in the ground and say, "This is what I believe," and yet, be able to say, "It didn't work." Those are the really big core things that I work with, with leaders.

I think vulnerability is a wonderful thing for leaders and non-leaders to show. I think it means having people see into you. I have a word for that, intimacy, but I spell it differently. I spell it "I-N-T-O-M-E-S-E-E" in-to-me-see, which is really what we want when we are working with people, when we are communicating with people. We want to be able to see into them. I think it is a wonderful trait. It goes along for me with being able to say, "I don't know," or, "I was wrong," or, "I'm sorry," which is something that most people don't say enough.

Now, on the flip side of that, for women, the vulnerability issue can be a difficult one because we tend to throw open the kimono and be vulnerable when it's really not appropriate. We don't show up in terms of being both strong and warm. We end up looking and sounding less confident, less assured and less mature than we really need to be. So I think it's a really fine line.

I encourage a lot of my clients to have that vulnerability, to let people know who they are. You just have to be careful not to do it to excess.

An example would be that if a client of mine is going in to pitch venture capital folks, usually a very tough crowd. They want to see someone who is extremely confident, who has both the technical expertise and the experience and also can present themselves with no holds barred, that, "I own this room. I know what I'm talking about. I am the expert and I can't wait to tell you."

So at that moment, for someone male or female to come across and say, "Oh, um. . . Yeah . . . I'm not really so good at X," or, "I'm working on this in my development, in my management, in my leadership," probably not a good time to do that. There may be other times to do that. But that probably wouldn't be it.

If you have that feeling, ask yourself, "Is this going to detract from my level of confidence and the way that people see me as an expert, as someone that they want to work with?" Don't do it. But if the situation is right and you've gotten the venture money and they are in a meeting with you and they say, "How are you doing with X?" You say, "You know, I realized that I needed some help with that. So I got myself a consultant." That's fine. That's really appropriate.

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