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Want to be heard? Be quiet.

In a world that has become more digital and collaborative — where everyone struggles to be heard — the temptation is to shout louder. But what if a different leadership style could be more effective? What if listening rather than broadcasting could make us agile in an unpredictable world?

Listening-centric leadership is a big departure from traditional management styles, which are based on being the most dominant force in the room. But it’s fast gaining traction. For example, in a recent Harvard Business Review article, Peter Bregman cracks the code on the power of listening: “It’s counter-intuitive, but it turns out that listening is far more persuasive than speaking.   Silence is a greatly underestimated source of power. In silence, we can hear not only what is being said but also what is not being said.”

In her mega-selling book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts,” Susan Cain echoes this sentiment and explains, “We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.”  This same principle is the thesis of a recent CMO article entitled, “To Be Heard, Turn Down the Volume” in which Jeff Pundyk of The Economist Group writes, “Without more listening, there’s little learning; without meaningful participation, there’s little chance for engagement.”

“Quiet Power” is making its way into the management leagues here at Cisco, where I work. Conscious Leaders is a revolutionary new leadership development programme we’re using in the EMEAR region. One of its central tenants is a Predictive intelligence (PI) approach to keeping up with current trends. PI extolls focusing on what is about to emerge, not what has already happened. Leaders and teams can take a more relaxed mindset and enjoy the challenge of looking ahead, not the angst of chasing to keep up. Said another way, PI reminds us to stop broadcasting our ideas and opinions so we have the mental space to listen to what others are telling us. After all, if you’re not listening, how will you be able to spot market transitions, and capitalize on them?

Not convinced? Still believe that a strong and vocal argument is the best way to make your point? Let’s go back to Peter Bregman, who explains, “Arguing does not change minds — if anything, it makes people more intransigent.”

So why do so many people persist in broadcasting instead of listening? Bregman goes on to say, “We don’t [listen] because it’s uncomfortable. It requires that we listen to perspectives with which we may disagree and listen to people we may not like. But that’s what teamwork — and leadership — calls us to do.  To listen to others, to see them fully, and to help them connect their desires, perspectives, and interests with the larger outcome we all, ultimately, want to achieve.”

In case you’re thinking listening-centric leadership is a fleeting fad, it has actually been around for thousands of years! In fact, Lau Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher wrote: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

Lao Tzu_a leader is best option4

This is a leadership style that comes naturally to many women. I don’t physically have a loud speaking voice and sometimes struggle to be heard in forums designed to reward the person who can shout the loudest. Because of this, I tend to listen more than I shout, which could be seen by some as weakness. However, when I do speak, I like to think it is with knowledge and wisdom. I make it count.

 What’s your management style? In this noisy, digital world in which we live are you going to shout above the noise or be quiet – and listen to what you hear?

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2014 Digital and Social Media Trends Twitter Chat Recap

#Ciscosmt November 21st Twitter Chat

#Ciscosmt November 21st Twitter Chat

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Let’s Chat! #Ciscosmt Series 2014 Digital and Social Media Trends Twitter chat. What a lively discussion and a special thanks to our guest Molly McHugh (@iammollymchugh), Web and Social Section Editor at @DigitalTrends. She really helped outline trends we should watch out for in several key areas from the way we use social media channels to impact of big data.

Check out this transcript and let us know your viewpoints for 2014 digital and social media trends! And stay tuned for more 2014 #Ciscosmt activity details by following the Cisco Digital and Social blog and the #Ciscosmt hashtag!

Let’s Chat! #Ciscosmt Series: Engaging Employees in Social Media Twitter Chat Transcript Read More »

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Exploring 2014 Digital and Social Media Trends

#Ciscosmt November 21st Twitter Chat

#Ciscosmt November 21st Twitter Chat

It’s hard to believe another calendar year is coming to an end less than 2 months. I’m amazed at the pace of which digital and social media continue to evolve and get excited when I think of what 2014 might bring in the way of further surprises.

As we continue to plan for the coming year and look for ways to continue growing the Cisco Social Media Training and Enablement program, I’ve been researching various 2014 digital and social media trends. From the “Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That will Dominate 2014” (from @Forbes) to the “6 Social Media Trends That will Impact You in 2014” (from @B2Community), there is a lot of speculation to weed through. Read More »

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Social Media Measurement Twitter Chat Recap

Can there ever be enough discussion around “social media measurement”? While I joke as part of the opening of this post, it is a topic that we’ll continue to explore in upcoming #Ciscosmt activities. And as a follow up to my recent “Decoding Social Media Measurement” post, last Thursday Charlie Treadwell, Manager, Digital and Social Media Marketing at Cisco, shared his insights through the monthly #Ciscosmt Series Twitter chat. Below is a transcript of the interesting conversation as well as a few key takeaways.

Social Media Measurement #Ciscosmt Twitter Chat Recap

Social Media Measurement #Ciscosmt Twitter Chat

I think this is a great start to the ongoing conversation we’ll explore further as we move forward. As it evolves,  it provides more and more critical data points for business impact. I’m interested to hear how you are using social media measurement to benefit your business and also what types of metrics are most important to you.

Key Takeaways

  • Social media measurement is a key element in showing business value…social media benefits are no longer taken at face value. Businesses must align metrics to overall goals and benchmark along the way.
  • Metrics will vary from company to company based on individual goals. However, some basic types of data to measure includes: cost and/or support savings, revenue, influencers, share of voice, engagement, and crowdsourcing.
  • Social media measurement can be implemented even on limited budgets. Use tools like Google Analytics, individual social channels, or other resources to gather data and make informed decisions.
    Pilot and test social media strategies on an ongoing basis and create measurement benchmarks throughout the initiatives to ensure efforts are maximized.
  • Quantity is an important part of the social media measurement equation. However, “quality” is an even more crucial element to consider. Take time to look deeper into the metrics to understand the types of engagement, influencers, or other data points that can be retrieved.
  • Measurement can and should be implemented across the organization when it comes to social media. HR, sales, support, marketing, and other areas can benefit from strong measurement best practices.

October Twitter Chat

And mark your calendars for next month’s Let’s Chat! #Ciscosmt Twitter chat, taking place on Thursday, October 24th from 9-10 a.m. PT. More details will follow shortly on this blog and through the @CiscoSocial handle on Twitter. Stay tuned for more details by following the Cisco Digital and Social Blog and the #Ciscosmt hashtag!

Let’s Chat! #Ciscosmt Series: Engaging Employees in Social Media Twitter Chat Transcript

Cisco Social Media Training Program Opportunity:

If you have any questions or are interested in other types of social media training, check out our complimentary Cisco Social Media Training Program and follow the #ciscosmt hashtag.  To request  customized one-on-one team training sessions, email ciscosmtraining@external.cisco.com.

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A Chapter from My Unwritten Book: Social Media Planning (Part 2)

Last week, I shared basic enablement, intelligence, engagement and measurement practices. This week’s presentation focuses on some advanced practices in the areas of intelligence, engagement, advocacy and measurement. By no means is this list complete so please feel free to add your two cents in the Comment box below. The more we share, the more we can influence how companies and even industries are viewing and adopting social media. Collectively, we can shape its evolution. So please, share away!

And without further ado, here’s another chapter from my unwritten book in slide deck format:   Read More »

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