S5E26: Off-Key: Learning To Listen To Avoid Tone-Deaf Leadership

“Leaders of organizations tend to be controlling, but the ability to let things go and see where the journey takes us can be more powerful.” Peter Margaritis

This is an excerpt from the book, Off Script: Mastering the Art of Business Improvisation.

Leadership is not about self-promotion, being the center of attention, talking as much as you can, speaking in the third person, always being right, even when you’re wrong, disrespecting others, or being a narcissist. However, in some organizations, these traits are viewed as effective leadership skills, which is the slippery slope to the leaders and potentially the organization’s demise.”

The one skill that helps to save people’s careers and organizations is the art of listening. Leadership is all about becoming a better listener. Leadership is all about listening to understand versus listening to respond. Listening to understand means you genuinely want to understand what is being said to you directly, in the room as you participate in a meeting, or while attending a presentation as an audience member. When you listen to understand, you park your ideas and biases somewhere else, and you go out of your way to eliminate all distractions while listening.

When you’re exhibiting the kind of listening skills worthy of a true leader, you suspend your judgment, set your ego aside to focus on listening to what the other person is trying to communicate, and you do so all the while managing your emotions. When you are “listening to respond” rather than “listening to understand,” you aren’t fully listening to what is being said. We can all strengthen our listening skills if we work on them daily.

Leaders of organizations tend to be controlling, but the ability to let things go and see where the journey takes us can be more powerful. Improv exercises teach us practical skills that can be applied in moments when the gameplay is the furthest thing from our minds. They can teach you and your team how to be better communicators and leaders. When practiced often, these improv games give you muscle memory of how to behave in real-world situations.

S5E24: Networking Even Accountants Can Mingle

“Any gathering of individuals, no matter how large or small, is an opportunity to meet someone.” Peter Margaritis

If the thought of networking makes you sweat, it’s time to rethink what networking is. Anytime you are at an event or even in a meeting where you don’t know someone, you have the opportunity to network. It’s about introducing yourself and getting to know someone. This involves having the right attitude, believing in yourself, having a plan, and remembering to smile.

By taking just a little time to get in the right mindset, you’ll have a lot more confidence walking into any event, and simply smiling can make anyone more approachable. Any gathering of individuals, no matter how large or small, is an opportunity to meet someone. Preparation is vital in making connections, and this means doing your homework. Engage people by being curious about them. It is a great way to break the ice and create a rapport with someone. The key to effective implementation is to be a good listener with your eyes and ears. Always end a conversation by asking someone to feel free to contact you at any time, if you could do anything for them

S5E23: From Improv to Financial Literacy with Rory Henry

“We have to do a better job of providing kids with the foundation of financial literacy so we can set them up for success in the future.” Rory Henry

My guest was Rory Henry has 15 plus years of experience working in tax and, most recently, financial advisory professions. He’s built a program AFO Wealth Management Forward, that works with accounting firms to implement holistic Wealth Management Services. Rory is a technology enthusiast at heart and adept at finding ways to improve the client experience using technology to streamline tax, accounting, and wealth management services.

Rory is the co-host of a leading accounting and financial podcast, AFO Wealth Management forward. His interviews include the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Fortune Magazine, accounting today, Channing Webb and venture-backed FinTech companies, and nationally recognized thought leaders. In addition, Rory has launched Arrowroot Family Office and Goal Setter Financial Literacy Initiative to help 1 million kids gain a pathway to financial freedom. The program is enlisting fortune 1000 companies, athletes, entertainers, and Financial Thought Leaders, to bring resources and awareness in the fight to help kids in underserved communities. Rory has a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and passed the series SIE, Series 63, and series 65 Security exams. Rory is an avid sports fan outside of work, plays golf, and enjoys performing improv comedy at theaters throughout Los Angeles.

Active listening and dropping the ego is huge because it helps you find out what a person’s wants and needs are. Improv is empathy because, in the end, you’re trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s finding out where they are in life, where they want to be, and then helping them get there, and that’s real influence. People want to be heard and understood. You can provide some feedback or add to a conversation. But coming in and providing unsolicited advice is never the smart thing to do. When an improviser has a good idea or wants to interject, they’ll lean forward.

I love helping out clients by looking at their situation in a holistic viewpoint and then being able to provide the right advice to set them up for success in the future. For example, we have a program promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through financial literacy. We believe that providing financial literacy to the next generation is vitally important to our society.

We have to do a better job of providing kids with the foundation of financial literacy so we can set them up for success in the future. We have teamed up with technologies to help kids learn about financial literacy exciting and fun. Reaching kids in underserved communities that may not have financially literate role models is especially important.

We’re sitting in a technological revolution, and these digital devices enable us to reach the masses. Children are inundated with information, so we have to try to set up an environment and make the content engaging. This will enable them to start understanding financial concepts.

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S5E22: Laughter is the Best Medicine for Your Organization

“By injecting humor and levity into our work lives, we give ourselves an opportunity for human connection.” Peter Margaritis

According to some recent research, adding more laughter to the workplace helps improve the organization’s culture. Humor allows people to cope with stress and build relationships and is associated with intelligence and creativity.

Workplace humor is about a positive, light-hearted, open attitude and a playful mindset. One of the best ways to create a competitive advantage is to create a culture that embraces laughter. By injecting humor and levity into our work lives, we give ourselves an opportunity for human connection —something so easily lost in today’s pandemic weary and technology-driven world.

Humor has not been seen as a top leadership characteristic but rather a secondary leadership behavior. However, there is more research evidence that humor should be one of the top leadership behaviors. Incorporating humor into your company culture isn’t that easy, but well worth it. It is essential to understand your own company culture when it comes to humor in the workplace and bring it in a way that fits and enhances the culture and the people.

There is a delicate balance between creating a culture that embraces humor and developing leadership that learns how to use humor to strengthen the organization, and it’s well worth the effort.

S5E19: The Spirit of Emotional Intelligence with Ruben Minor

“The beauty of good leadership has a wonderful platform to impact someone you may never know-how.“ Ruben Minor

Our guest today is Ruben Minor, who is the president of RAM Consulting Group, an organization that focuses on speaking, training, and coaching individuals and groups regarding leadership, team dynamics, relationship building, diversity, equity and inclusion, fundamental business philosophies, and business and personal branding. Reuben is a leader with a rich and resourceful network of professionals across the business spectrum, ranging from influential political figures to educational leaders and entrepreneurs. 

Ruben leverages his network to make more meaningful connections for clients and business partners, evolving into lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Ruben served this country for 15 years in the US Navy as a Supply Corps officer is a John Maxwell certified professional speaker, trainer, and coach, and is intimately engaged in the community, serving as president of the Council for the village of Galena. Reuben enjoys spending time with family, history movies, and hiking, and as a side note, he is a professional speaker. 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to process information that has been received. The information goes through a filter system in your mind, which helps you dissect what’s being said and the intention behind it so that your response to what you are processing will be emotionally appropriate. Emotional intelligence, like sales, is either you naturally have it, and you’re good at it, or you don’t have it, and therefore becomes a difficult process for you to gain that. 

It takes a particularly savvy person to be sensitive and to know how to respond and not hurt someone. Psychological safety entails asking how one can create an environment where a person feels safe enough to say and express what is on their mind. Naturally, everybody wants to be heard, and when you can exercise psychological safety, that’s the foundation of building great relationships.

Corporations have learned a lot post-COVID, as employees have realized that they do not have to put up with toxic work environments. Unfriendly cultures have been in place for decades and are not expected to change overnight. It’s going to be a constant, intentional effort by those in leadership and making sure that they’re keeping in step with the culture in the corporate community. 

The beauty of good leadership has a wonderful platform to impact someone that you may never know how to. 

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