Business Writing Tips: Get Readers
to Take Action

Business Writing-Take Action Now Smart business writing creates results. It helps if it’s interesting and well-written, but the most important thing to keep in mind is this: Will this report, memo or email get my reader to take action?

In my last post, I helped a client rewrite her resume so that it improved her chances of getting the job interview she wants. This meant she had to directly address the needs of her potential employer first.

Colleagues decide whether to read your memo or report based on the first few sentences. You need to grab their attention right away and create a desire to know more.

Many business professionals introduce the subject matter slowly and build up to make their point. They often start from their own point of view, talking about themselves and how they’re connected with the reader or the problem.

This is a mistake. Readers immediately want to know: “Why am I reading this? What’s in it for me? Why should I care?” Read More »

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Rewrite that Resume to Get the Job You Want

Job-ResumeSometimes you have to turn conventional wisdom on it’s ear. A standard resume might get you a standard job, but will it get you the career you want? I was recently in email contact with a client who wanted advice on getting an interview for a job she wants.

Dear Chip:

I would like to apply for a director or VP position in Marketing, and I feel I need more coaching on how to conduct a great interview.  I feel inadequate and would like polishing.

I asked her to send me a copy of her resume for starters. Here is my response: Read More »

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Personal Presence: Image Matters

Personal-Presence-ImagePersonal presence is key to getting promotions, sales, and business results. While character and communication skills are crucial, first impressions count for a lot. Your image matters.

The good news is that attention to polish and grooming can enhance your perceived attractiveness. It doesn’t take genetic re-engineering, or money, or plastic surgery. To be perceived taller, you can stand tall, walk tall, and sit tall by adjusting your posture and using larger gestures.

Carefully observe those you know who make the best of their appearance. Ask them what they do. What are their rules for choosing wardrobe or makeup? What are the taboos? Read More »

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Personal Presence: How Much Do Appearances Matter?

Personal-Presence-GroomingHow much are you judged on your appearance at work? Surveys can offer some guidelines as to what senior leaders expect. Sylvia Ann Hewlett of the Center for Talent Innovation surveyed 268 executives and interviewed 4,000 college-educated adults on executive presence, including appearance.

More than a third of surveyed executives considered polish and grooming the most vital to one’s personal presence, ahead of physical attractiveness (less than a fifth). It’s not your body type, height, or weight that matters most. It’s what you do with what you’ve got.

Anyone can improve his or her looks through better grooming habits. While dress standards vary, good grooming signals discipline, competency, good health, and that you care.

In a study at Harvard Medical School, judgments about a woman’s competence, likeability, and trustworthiness were affected by how much makeup she wore. The more makeup worn, the higher the women were rated. Read More »

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Your Personal Presence: Appearances Matter

Personal-Presence-AppearancesHow much time and attention do you give to your wardrobe and appearance? It’s often the little things that count. Like it or not, first impressions matter. Remember Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book Blink, back in 2007? The author stresses how quickly we decide to like or dislike someone. Our brains size up people in less than 250 milliseconds.

While character and communication skills are key, you won’t influence the people you need to lead if your appearance telegraphs that you’re clueless. Read More »

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Leading with Trust: 5 Skills to Master

Trust-BuildingI’ve been thinking a lot about leading with trust, how important it is to leadership, and how it’s probably the one factor you can’t ignore if you want to improve as an effective leader. Trust isn’t something you can just leave to fate, assuming because you’re a trustworthy person, it will naturally show up. Anyone who’s been in charge of people knows that trust isn’t included as part of your job title; you’ve got to earn it.

How can you develop stronger trust in your relationships, especially when now days there is more skepticism about leadership in general?

“When it comes to trustworthiness, both mind-sets and skill sets matter,” according to authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford in The Trusted Advisor.

If you work hard to master these five skills you’ll still need to be sincere in your efforts to build trust. Here are the five abilities that you’ll need to practice and master if you want to lead with trust: Read More »

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Leadership Trust Buster: High Self-Orientation

Self-orientation-trust-busterHow can executives improve their levels of leadership trust? I’m continuing from my previous posts on how to build up trust. Based on solid research and advice of authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford in The Trusted Advisor, we can break trust down to four components:

  1. Credibility
  2. Reliability
  3. Intimacy
  4. Self-orientation

Self-orientation is the degree to which you insert your needs and interests into the relationship equation. This is what salesmen do when they are advised to “always be closing.” It clearly can be a trust buster. And it is identified as a significant opportunity for improvement in the trust equation:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy

Simply defined, self-orientation is about focus, more specifically, who you focus on – yourself or others. When you have a low self-orientation, that’s a good thing for trust levels. For example, if your partner can say she honestly feels you care about her career and how this project will benefit her, then you demonstrate a low level of self-orientation. Read More »

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3 Ways to Build Up Leadership Trust

Leadership-Trust-BuildingHow do you build leadership trust? Most of the executives I work with tell me they know trust when they see it, but not many have a clue about why trust exists, how to build it up, or what happened when trust was lost. The trust equation lays out four components of trustworthiness which makes such things much clearer to deal with. I wrote about this here and here, but now I want to show you how it shows up in conversations.

“Trust is a two-sided relationship: One person trusts, and the other person is trusted. While trusting and being trustworthy are related, they are not the same thing.” Maister, Green and Galford in The Trusted Advisor

The authors elaborate on their trust equation which defines trust as being built on four components:

  1. Credibility
  2. Reliability
  3. Intimacy
  4. Self-orientation

To improve your leadership trust and your trustworthiness in any business relationship, you improve the degree of credibility, reliability and intimacy you share with the other person. Self-orientation is a measure of how much you put your interests before those of your partner. To improve your trust levels, you would lower your self-orientation.

Ways to Boost Credibility

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Leadership Trust: Some Hard Truths About Building Trust

Leadership-TrustLeadership trust doesn’t happen automatically, without effort, or without conscious intention. While many leaders assume their position carries weight – and it does – it barely provides the kind of authority that brings about compliance. Leadership trust can’t be assumed. Leaders need to take actions to assure that they develop trust with their people. But more than actions are required to build trustworthiness.

Trust is the foundational piece for presence and is the key piece for building connections and alliances that bring about change. But it’s never handed on a silver platter.

“Trust results from accumulated experiences over time.” Maister, Green, & Galford, The Trusted Advisor, 2001

Authors David Maister, Charles Green, and Robert Galford write extensively about the elements of leadership trust. Here are a few key truths to consider:

  • Trust grows, it doesn’t just appear
  • Trust is both rational and fact based, and emotional and intuitive
  • Trust is a two-way street and is different for each person in the relationship
  • Trust is intrinsically about perceived risk
  • Trust is always personal; you place trust in people

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Leadership Trust: 7 Tough Situations that Strain Trust Levels

Trust-LevelsTrust is the foundation for executive presence. Last week I shared with you a blog post about the trust equation, from the book The Trusted Advisor by Maister, Green and Galford (New York: First Touchstone, 2000.) I love this equation because it takes a concept as nebulous as trust and makes it real by attaching numbers to rate the quality of each factor:

Trust = Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy

In other words, use an example of a relationship with a subordinate or a team member, one you deal with on a regular basis. Give each factor a rating from 1 to 10.

  • How much credibility do you have with this person?
  • How much reliability is there between you two?
  • How close, open and honest are you with each other?

Add up the three numbers. Next, rate your degree of self-orientation, how much of yourself you insert into your conversations. Are you pretty much self-oriented, focusing on what you think and you want the person to do? In the case of a direct supervisor, you may rank as highly self-oriented because of the purpose of your job. Or, if you have a more coaching leadership style, so you may rate yourself with lower self-involvement as you encourage the other person to come up with solutions.

Take that self-orientation number and divide it into the sum of the other three factors. In their study, the authors showed that a “5” equates to a long-standing trustful relationship while a “1.25” is a low trust score.

Raise Your Low-Trust Scores

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