Taking Your Stage Blog  
  Helping you improve the communication skills of the leaders and teams in your organization.  

2 items categorized "Communication Lessons from Other Disciplines"


What it Takes to be a Great NFL Head Coach (or Business Leader)

IStock_000011199130_webSince I grew up in Wisconsin, I have been an avid Green Bay Packers fan my whole life.  So naturally I am excited to watch the Packers vs. 49ers playoff game on Sunday, especially after the roller coaster ride with the Aaron Rodgers story over the last 2 months.

I often think about the tremendous communication skills needed to be an NFL head coach.  You have to deal with players, assistant coaches, the media, a general manager, your owner, etc.  It's a tall order.  I recently read an interesting article by Joe Bussell on what it takes to be a great NFL coach and why many coaches fail.  He referred to the Peter principle: people are promoted based on how they performed at their current position, without regard to whether their skills are appropriate for the higher position (I'm sure you've never seen that played out in your career ;) ).

Joe goes on to list the skills that he believes are required of a head coach.  Interestingly, they closely align with skills that we believe business leaders need (and everyone is a leader):

  • Respected by coaches and players
  • High IQ in managing the high-level (as opposed to the details)
  • Process information intuitively and correctly
  • Communicate directions closely
  • A "mover of men"
  • Understand how personalities and egos come into play
  • Motivate everyone around him to make sure to get the best out of every person
  • Adapt his scheme to the personnel and roster.

These are great skills for you to proactively develop in yourself.  Not only will they help you immensely in your current position, but you will be ready when that leadership position is available.




Communication Lessons from the Bench


Guest Post from Bob Woolf

While in St. Louis recently, I had the pleasure of watching my son represent the plaintiff in a court trial. I frankly wanted to see him in action in order to see where the bucks went that funded the degree! He was presenting the closing argument and I noticed that the jury members were engaged, with some of them even at the edge of their seat.

He appealed for “common sense” and fairness for his clients. He slammed his hand on the wall fronting the jury box and implored, “These folks don’t want to get rich in a settlement, they just want their damaged wall repaired.” He connected with the jury members. He personalized the message with sufficiently dramatic body language and vocal variations that were far from mundane or dull. His content was excellent, his presentation was exciting, and an emotional interaction was made. They were listening to him. They were “feeling his client’s pain."

What was the result of the trial? His clients were awarded everything. In short, he hit a legal “homerun” and I was there to watch it. Pretty cool if I must say so.

On the trip back to Nashville, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons taught. Whether talking with students, contractors, team members, negotiatiors, or with a jury, the key to successful communication is being able to communicate successfully. A paradox? No. One of the definitions of communicate is “connect.” We must be able to make that prized “connection.”  And to do that we need to be honest, to be genuine.

I believe the case could easily have been decided in favor of the insurance company who denied the claim. Some members of the jury explained their decision, indicating that the opposing attorney seemed to be aloof while my son spoke with them, not at them. In short, one attorney made that all important connection while the other did not. In the long run, the content of their presentations were not as important as faith in the presenter. They trusted my son and heard the message.  They were left unimpressed by the opposing attorney.

Is it not the same situation when we are making a presentation, facilitating a meeting, addressing our client, supervising a team, or teaching a class?  We must communicate with appropriate words and sincere body language.  How do we do that?  By understanding your audience, listening first, and being honest and genuine. That is the secret of good communication. Show me a person who listens first and then speaks to the concerns just heard, and I will show you a successful communicator.