ET-026: Improving Leadership Influence Through Effective Communication
ET-026: Improving Leadership Influence Through Effective Communication
by Wayne Brown on December 20, 2022
by Wayne Brown on December 20, 2022
Episode notes: A conversation with Ms. Tiffany Cheng
Welcome to the first of our Christmas holiday season 2022 episodes.
Today we are all about Leadership Communication – You will see that this is an area that I put a lot of attention, both through the guests we invite on our podcast and as one of the foundational pillars of Skills 4 Executive Limited which is our main company that Coaching 4 Companies sits as a division.
The way you communicate as a leader is one of the most visible and defining characteristics that you bring, and it reveals part of your authentic self. And today we have another guest is plugs another piece of the puzzle with her take on what makes communication so critical.
In our episode today, our destination is Europe, and narrowing that focus further, we’re setting sail for the country of Belgium and its capital city Brussels to chat with our guest, Tiffany Cheng.
Tiffany started as an English teacher in Shanghai, but by the age of 36, she had already been appointed as a vice president in a €41-billion company with 100,000 employees. Her hard-working ethics, focus and clarity of purpose materialize in her leadership ideas that are both practical and based on first-hand experience.
The learnings acquired throughout a diverse personal and professional life are now being transferred in her coaching to clients worldwide, so please join me as we chat with Tiffany in today’s episode titled Improving Leadership Influence Through Effective Communication.
The following extract really depicts the Tiffany Cheng that I have spoken with multiple times now. Determined, ambitious, hard working and everything that is in her sights seems to be fair game if she wants it.
“For the listeners who know my resume, at 2010, I was the manager of Volvo, and then I become a director of Volvo abroad, then I become another director, then I become vice president, but in this 10 years’ time, when I was in middle management, as you mentioned in the very beginning, I have this Chinese ambition, speed, and very tough on myself to grow and to progress my career.”
Today’s Guest: TIFFANY CHENG
Tiffany is the founder of Inspire My Day, and she helps expats who feel that they’re stagnating in middle management to move up and to reach the top leadership role of their dreams by changing the way they influence themselves and others to make a bigger impact and higher income.
Prior to becoming a leadership communications coach, Ms. Cheng was the vice president of communications at the Volvo Group and at the Atlas Copco Group.
During the 16 years of her corporate career, she directly advised global and regional presidents and coached nearly 100 senior leaders. Tiffany is married and a mum with a four-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy, and they share their home with a very active Border Collie.
While at home, the family speaks three languages, English, French and Chinese, which are proving great groundings for their children. Born in Shanghai to a low-income family, Tiffany has maintained two lofty professional dreams, the first being to reach the top of the corporate ladder and become a person of success.
Having nailed this one, she’s turned her attention and focus firmly onto the second, which is to become a self-made entrepreneur and a person of value.
I’ve spoken with Tiffany on multiple occasions, and as you’re going to hear in our conversation about her career story and the rapid rise up the corporate ladder, I can imagine it’s not going to be long before she achieves this target as well, and in her own words she’s “well underway.”
Final words from Tiffany:
“So that is what communication should be. You need to be able to stand in the shoes of the person, not just say what it is and give the spreadsheet of the calculation he has, why we need to increase that, but to go much beyond, that’s now called communication, not information.
And many people will also procrastinate but they don’t take actions, they give a lot of reasons to the CEO why we cannot do that. They will find tons of reasons to not take that action. So, the real communication only succeeds when first, you have a message, second, you are able to change the belief of the person you are communicating to, and third is, that person is engaged and they take action, and not take action, just send, forward your email to the customer saying, “Hey, CEO said 15% increase, so here we go, the invoice.
That’s not acting, it’s going to damage the business if that person takes that kind of action. So, the leader’s job is really to smooth the whole communication flow until an action is taken with the benefit of the business and customer with care, not with this execution of information flow.”
0:00:01.8 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. In our episode today, our destination is Europe, and narrowing that focus further, we’re setting sail for the country of Belgium and its capital city Brussels to chat with our guest, Tiffany Cheng. Tiffany is the founder of Inspire My Day, and she helps expats who feel that they’re stagnating in middle management to move up and to reach the top leadership role of their dreams by changing the way they influence themselves and others in order to make a bigger impact and higher income. Prior to becoming a leadership communications coach, Ms. Cheng was the vice president of communications at the Volvo Group and at the Atlas Copco Group.
0:00:58.8 WB: During the 16 years of her corporate career, she directly advised global and regional presidents and coached nearly 100 senior leaders. Tiffany is married and a mum with a four-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy, and they share their home with a very active Border Collie. While at home, the family speaks three languages, English, French and Chinese, which are proving great groundings for their children. Born in Shanghai to a low-income family, Tiffany has maintained two lofty professional dreams, the first being to reach the top of the corporate ladder and become a person of success. Having nailed this one, she’s turned her attention and focus firmly onto the second, which is to become a self-made entrepreneur and a person of value. I’ve spoken with Tiffany on multiple occasions, and as you’re going to hear in our conversation about her career story and the rapid rise up the corporate ladder, I can imagine it’s not going to be long before she achieves this target as well, and in her own words she’s well underway.
0:02:08.9 WB: Tiffany started as an English teacher in Shanghai, but by the age of 36, she had already been appointed as a vice president in a €41-billion company with 100,000 employees. Her hard-working ethics, focus and clarity of purpose materialize in her leadership ideas that are both practical and based on first-hand experience. The learnings acquired throughout a diverse personal and professional life are now being transferred in her coaching to clients worldwide, so please join me as we chat with Tiffany in today’s episode titled Improving Leadership Influence Through Effective Communication.
0:02:56.9 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.
0:03:13.5 WB: Team ET, welcome back for another week, and yet again, an excellent guest. Great to have Tiffany Cheng on the show. Tiffany is a leadership communications coach.
0:03:25.6 Tiffany Cheng: Thank you, Wayne. Thanks for having me.
0:03:28.1 WB: So you’ve probably listened to a couple of my podcasts and you know I always like to start with some fun facts, so is there anything that the audience would love to know about you?
0:03:38.6 TC: Yeah. This was just this week, we’re at Tuesday. Right? I’m Chinese, I’m from Shanghai, and I live in Brussels, Belgium, so I have a mixed family with a Belgian-local husband. So my kids are from both cultures, but this is the first time, because of COVID, they ever met any Chinese.
0:03:58.9 WB: Oh, really?
0:04:00.0 TC: So my family are visiting at home from one day ago, so my kids will in one month, two months, celebrate three festivals. First is San Nicola. San Nicola is like Christmas, but like European have. And they get gifts on December 6th, and then it was Christmas, and then the Chinese New Year. So it’s a very mixed culture, mixed celebration here going on for the next few months, lots of sweets and lots of presents.
0:04:30.6 WB: Fantastic, I was reading your bio, and I think you left Shanghai not long after I came to Shanghai, so we must have crossed over at some certain stage. So I’ve been off and on in Shanghai since 2005, and I think you left what, 2009 or thereabouts?
0:04:51.2 TC: Yes. Yes, officially I left in 2012, I came to Belgium from Shanghai as an expat to work at Volvo, so in 10 years, I have not celebrated Chinese New Year in China.
0:05:05.5 WB: Wow, and I guess COVID hasn’t made it any easier. So the big question of course then is, Has your husband experienced the real Chinese culture?
0:05:14.1 TC: Not really. I’m the real Chinese culture experience for him, but in reality he hasn’t. I mean me and many people will think Shanghai is not China. Right? So, it doesn’t really represent the real China, I would love for my family here in Belgium to experience the real China.
0:05:34.7 WB: So, what do you class as the real China? You mean further inland, so it’s more national rather than international.
0:05:42.9 TC: Absolutely. The real China means a lot of things, for example, food. They haven’t seen anything more than Shanghai, really, and Beijing. And people and how we celebrate festivals. And I especially love them to learn the Chinese working mentality, not the 996, but the way Chinese think and work and do business are just so different. Many people cannot really get their head around if you’re not in China, and I would like them to open up their mind to see that part of China.
0:06:21.0 WB: Yeah, look, I can fully understand that, I’m exceptionally Chinese, so my wife is Shanghainese and I have an eight-year-old daughter, and for a number of years, I lived with my Chinese parents-in-law, so it doesn’t get much more Chinese than that, so I’ve been introduced to the Chinese culture. Is there anything out there in this wide world at the moment that’s got you excited?
0:06:47.3 TC: Oh, I actually think many with the change the COVID and the world change, and it makes us think much more about possibilities to do business and to live, I think COVID brought a huge inconvenience, especially for people like me, expats like us, but for many others as well. But it also at the same time forced us to live and work very differently. Especially for me, I also changed from corporate executive to… Actually, I did two major change, I left a company, I stayed, Volvo over 10 years to another company, and then I changed from corporate executive to entrepreneur. All these changes happened during the COVID time because it just had me look at myself much, much harder to understand, “What do I really want?” Because most of the time, after graduation from college, even before, we were all told to go to college, go to university, find a great job, Fortune 500 will be even better. And climb the ladder until the top and then be a good leader, manage team, manage business and then retire.”
0:08:00.4 TC: Because when I was working at Volvo, we already got this envelope saying exactly how much pension and insurance I would get by the time I retire. So that was like the auto-piloting kind of way of life. We were just teached and were trained… It’s like a giant school of the world, all of us were trained to live that way, and you always think, “Go, go, go, just go higher, go higher and higher position, higher income and better, bigger cars because… ” So we don’t really think so much about, What is it that we really want? Other than going higher and going bigger and going faster. So I think COVID forced us… For me, I did a lot of change during the COVID because I find that you don’t have to live that kind of life. And because I was living that kind of life before, corporate life, I was not really opening my eyes to other possibilities, I don’t even see there are other people in the world that is not in corporate.
0:09:08.5 WB: I understand what you mean by that, having just stepped away from the corporate world myself in the last 12 months.
0:09:15.1 TC: 45 years. Yeah.
0:09:16.7 WB: After 45 years, yes, so I really understand. During your career as a whole, is there anything that jumps out to you that was a pivotal moment for you in your career that you think is probably of interest to our listeners?
0:09:37.0 TC: For the listeners who know my resume, at 2010, I was the manager of Volvo, and then I become a director of Volvo abroad, then I become another director, then I become vice president, but in this 10 years’ time, when I was in middle management, as you mentioned in the very beginning, I have this Chinese ambition, speed, and very tough on myself to grow and to progress my career. I was staying in middle management for a very long time. For me, it was very long because the beginning part, going from nobody, especially to manager, it was pretty easy-breezy for me. The formula is just to work hard. If other people can work five days, I can work six days. If other people can work six days, I can work seven days. If they work 12 hours, I can work 16 hours. If they can do five projects at a time, I can do eight.
0:10:39.8 TC: So that was my way of… I was working everyone and fast progressed my career, and it was a very important thing for me too because, as you know, many Chinese, that career and your social status, the amount in your bank kind of define who you are. And we were not quite… I’m coming from quite a poor family, so this just drives me without even a second thoughts, just outwork everyone, and I was getting promoted very fast. Every one or two years, I get a promotion. So to me, when you come to middle management, when you are like director in a foreign country in Europe, which moves quite slow compared to the other… Although Europeans wouldn’t agree with that, but I think if you have… If anyone has experience or lived in these two side of world, you probably understand what I mean, just the pace. So that to me, to stay in the same job for… Norm here in Europe is, you stay in the same job minimum three years, and then five years… Until five years, then you can make a change. And many people at middle management level also make a lot of change at the same level, maybe change to a different job, but at the same level. To move up at that point was really difficult for me, and I started to have a lot of self-limiting beliefs and I was trying all kinds of things and listening to a lot of mentors.
0:12:39.5 TC: I think one of the things I want to tell the listeners who are listening here is, If you are in the same struggles where you are in the same level and your level of your career status, level of your income status have been not changing for a very long time, and maybe you are also internally very ambitious. You wanted to go to the top of the corporate ladder trying many different things, take extra project, take short assignment, go to the exposure where you have the presentation, where you have exposure to the president or some executives in the company, or trying other things, learnings, leadership trainings and many other things. I think I have done all that, I have a very long list of things I have tried. Applying for jobs, finding sponsors, finding mentors, it’s just trying to lead people, lead others. And I think I’ve tried all of that. And what I want to share here is, That is all what I think… Yes, it’s important but I think most important is your own internal change. That is the identity change to really understand, Who are you becoming? Who do you want to become? Rather than to change this tactic.
0:13:56.4 TC: Because, certainly after trying all that, I believe that the tactic change is just marginal, that’s not going to move the needle, give you the transformation you are looking for. Most important is to change your identity. Who do you want to become? What does that version of you look like? If you every day think that way, to tell yourself what you need to do, what you should be happy with, what you should be grateful for, what should you learn next? It will make it much easier and much fulfilling for yourself rather than to say, “Let me just accomplish another big project that’s going to take me six months, then maybe the promotion is there. It’s not that. That wasn’t the me before that was trying all these things, thinking, “That’s another shortcut, that’s something else I need to do.” But it’s really the internal change.
0:14:56.2 WB: So many people, as they move up the corporate ladder, they lose their authenticity and they don’t really have that self-awareness and the self-regulation that you’re speaking about, and they’re looking for the external solution rather than looking for the internal awareness to start with.
0:15:19.3 TC: Absolutely. You can see many people would want to know, “What’s the shortcut? What’s the one thing you can shock me, you can give me this aha? And I’m going to transform.” It doesn’t really exist, this shortcut about finding a mentor, finding a sponsor or convince somebody or to learn the body language that makes you feel like CEO, that’s just tactics, that’s all external. External, I mean external, not internally in terms of your mindset, yourself, self-awareness.
0:15:57.0 WB: You also talk a lot about making sure that you don’t leave yourself on autopilot, and I guess meaning that life happens to you, instead of being responsible for the life you’re living, and I think that’s probably a connection to what you’re talking about at the moment as well. One of the areas that you focus a lot on is influence, so when we talk about communication and influence, for me there’s a real bond between those two elements. If you’re a good communicator, you have the ability then or you have the foundations to then be a good influencer, in the role of leader. How do you approach that with your clients that you coach when it comes to helping them to become more influential? What’s your approach?
0:16:57.0 TC:There are a lot of tactics I can teach, but before I teach any tactics, this is how I help my client, that is, How do they influence themself first? What is the story you are telling yourself about yourself? What is the story you are telling yourself about the issue, the change you are going to talk about to others? What is the story you are telling yourself first? And that is just so critical because you cannot be telling yourself one story and telling others another.
0:17:28.7 TC: It has to be somewhere aligned. People are super smart. If they see you don’t believe in it, they see that you’re trying just to memorize the change, they will read it, they will read it clearly. And then all the other great tactics you’re going to learn is not going to work unless you align yourself first to so-called influence and communicate. The first step always is to align with yourself, influence yourself first with whatever you want to. So even including job interviews, like, What is the story you’re telling yourself about yourself? What is your narrative? And if you are leading a transformation or leading a change, it is also, What is that change resonate with you first? And then we’re gonna go and look at others.
0:18:17.9 TC: And then the second step, of course, is all about the others. Everyone who listening to you or you’re all listening to me, you are trying to find, “What’s in it for me? What is that she’s saying that is helping me to solve the current issue I have now?” Right? Obviously, I haven’t met all the audience, but I wish I know what you are looking for so I can speak to that. But in leadership cases, you would know what employees are looking for. And when you go for interview, when you go looking for a sponsor to help you with the career progress, it’s also the same.
0:18:56.6 TC: I will give you an example here. So many of us were told in leadership roles, especially when you want to progress the next step, people tell you, “Oh, don’t work hard, don’t find a mentor, find a sponsor, someone will speak for you at the table when decisions are taken and you are not on the table for that discussion.” Yes, many people go about and look for sponsors and they probably found. So when I am other people’s sponsor, I am in the management team around the table, and we’re talking about talents in the company and who should get the next promotion, put out succession plan?
0:19:33.2 TC: And when it’s my turn to speak, now I’m a sponsor. Right? What should I talk about? Even if I deeply believe that person, I should speak for her, I should promote her too in this table. What is then that I talk about that not only promote her, but also make me credible? I can’t just say, “I like her and she’s hardworking, she’s… ” It has to be… I have to tell her story, I have to carry the story forward. And so whoever you’re trying to influence… Your job is to make sure whoever you are trying to influence can bring the story forward, that they can take it somewhere else.
0:20:15.9 TC: If they, after listening to you… First of all, if they don’t understand you, this story stopped already at this person, hope at yourself. And second is, You need to make it mean something for the person who is listening so that they can bring the case forward. And the shorter the distance you can shorten between the two, the easier it is you’re gonna influence. So if that person is a CFO, and you are trying to tell your pitch of how you want to hire, how you want to expand, how you want to invest, and you might all think about your way of how compelling your story is to get that funding.
0:21:00.3 TC: But maybe for the CFO, in his head is, “How am I gonna tell investors if I agree? How am I going to… My P and L sheet is gonna look like if I agree?” So when you tell that pitch, what you should say is through that CFO’s ear of… That means you need to know his concerns inside out so that when you talk about… You are helping him to think less, because we all have the crocodile brains ourselves. Right? So when things are getting complicated, you will be just like, “This is not good for me, and I’d rather choose to use my current understanding.” Not understanding you. My current understanding is, “This is not a good idea, we’ve tried that before, so let us say “no” to that person.” So then that CFO will already stop listening to you.
0:21:52.4 TC: So the job of any people, anyone who trying to influence is really to shorten the distance between you and that person you’re trying to influence and make it as relevant to that person as possible. And even better, make that person look good by bringing your proposal, your selling, whatever you are selling yourself, maybe selling a proposal, selling a project, to the next step. It will even make that person look great, smart, and intelligent, to even help you promote that story and what that should be. That’s what most people are missing.
0:22:31.2 TC: Being on so much boardroom interviews, I just find people are really focusing on logic, structure, facts, figures, and proving my point, and I think any problem in the world, if they are logical problem, they are easy to solve, but difficult to solve is the psychological part. That is why so many cases in the world, they are solved by changing the psychological part than to change the logical part because we’ve already exhausted the logical part of these issues. So I think it’s the same for influence other people. If you just following a structure, following a flow, following a logic, everyone can do that but the psychological part is what differentiates you from all the other people.
0:23:21.7 WB: You’ve touched on so many points there, I could talk for a long time around some of those points, so if we were to take that back to sales, a lot of what you’re talking about there is, You need to be situationally influenced, you need to understand the person you’re trying to influence and what their pain or their key needs will be, and your pitch has to solve their problem, not be all about you and how good you are or how good the person you’re presenting is. You have to be aware enough to be able to present it in a way, just as you said, that makes that person you’re presenting to look good and makes them want to buy into your story. Right?
0:24:16.3 TC: Exactly.
0:24:18.0 WB: And I 100% agree with that. You have a workbook on your website that touches around this area, and you talk about particularly in the case of change, for leaders working on change. And the second step, you have three key steps within that process, and the second step is really about what you just said. So it’s about understanding that audience that you’re trying to influence and understanding what it is that they’re concerned about, what it is they need to know that they don’t know that’s going to help them buy into your argument. Right?
0:25:01.8 TC: Yes.
0:25:02.7 WB: So I like that very much. Let’s say, some sort of hypothetical, if we can?
0:25:09.6 TC: Sure.
0:25:11.5 WB: So I’m coming along and I’m mentoring Tiffany. You’re already the vice president and we have the opportunity… I have the ear of the CEO and I’m going to be having dinner with that person, and I know that your name is going to come up, so how would I do this in practice? What’s the practical approach that I would take to put in practice what you just said?
0:25:42.8 TC: Yeah, well, anyone who has you as their mentor is super lucky, Wayne. You just do all the extra miles I’m gonna talk about right now for whoever is your mentee. So I think the first and most important is to understand what is going on in the CEO’s table and understand what is his biggest challenge right now, I mean, for many of the CEO, I think communication is always a challenge. If you ask any of the CEO, they probably tell you they spend more than 75% of their time communicating. They are not the one doing the PowerPoints or taking the notes or the coffee, so they are the ones that is communicating all the time, communicating up, communicating down, communicating across, communicating outside of the company.
0:26:34.2 WB: Yes.
0:26:35.3 TC: And so communication for sure is always a big challenge for the CEOs. And to understand what is it that they are struggling with is just so critical. And some of the CEO, you can always understand they struggle to empowering and engage their employees, especially CEOs working large organizations with international presence and multicultural situations. So they would always be struggling on how to engage their employees. And nowadays, I don’t know any company that is not doing a transformation, transformation into digital, into digitization, and transformation to automation and more data-connected, so digitalize. So many of the CEOs… I’ll give you an example. If the CEO’s struggle is with… So the CEO’s table. Right? So he might want to implement a system, a software application across the company so that, from his point of view, we can be much more efficient, and if everyone in the company, sales, for example, can put that data in the system, then from the CEO’s point, they can see the whole process of the entire company and they can see, “Where are the sales going? What are our sale going to visit next week? How much leads we have, how much lead we have lost, how much bills are closed.”
0:28:12.6 TC: And from that point of view, he is seeing all the great benefit of implementing this big change, but actually this big software. But the easier part is to develop that software. Maybe it takes two years for Salesforce to do it. People will be like, “Oh, finally, software is live.” The most difficult part is to get these thousands of people, 100,000 people in the field to use that software, and then the CEO, really, the problem start from here. Why would people use it? For them, the sales is ongoing with or without that software. That software will probably even slow them down, so I think on the CEO table, he was probably struggling with, “How can I get people to use it? How can I shorten the time of this transformation and enable this digital mindset in my company?” And there are so many benefits.
0:29:02.1 TC: So if you were my mentor and going to promote me to CEO, that will be something we speak to him. So if that’s something he’s struggling with, we will craft a narrative and story of me and how my experience, my perspective, maybe myself as a quite diversified profile in that CEO’s head, can help him to speed up this change and help him to see the pain point maybe he has not even seen yet. Because I think CEO sitting on top are very lonely. They hear a lot of great things and people tend to not be so straightforward with them on the negative part, and so… And yeah, I mean, and for many, many reasons. Right? There are a lot of things they hear. In the end, it’s just the filter, it’s not good for… It’s not helpful for them to do their work. And how I can bring that for him to shorten the transformation struggles and resistance in the company and to connect to that.
0:30:12.4 TC: But what most people do would be, “Look at this person, this person is great. She’s done this, she has done so much project. She has this and that profile and she is just a really solid performer.” And then the CEO will be like, “How is that helping me with all this burning stuff on my table, and so your job as a mentor will be to shorten the distance of how solid performer this person is to how these elements of this performer is solving this burning issues in his table, then you are speaking music to his ears rather than just all these random good facts, which really doesn’t differentiate anyone because for many people, the good points you are going to say is a mentor is quite commonly shared. It’s not so special. Right? Hardworking, strategic thinking, analytical, logical, all the time and you deliver deliverables without driven… These things is just so cliche, it does not say anything anymore.
0:31:19.9 WB: Yes, and even if they’re all true, they’re yesterday’s achievements, and there’s no guarantee that that will be tomorrow’s achievements.
0:31:29.7 TC: Absolutely.
0:31:30.9 WB: And so I’m a hundred percent aligned with you. The focus needs to be on what you bring to help that person solve their problems and not necessarily relying on, “Well, this is what I did in this project, in that project,” it’s about what I’m capable of doing for this next leg of the journey and how that will benefit that person. So I like that a lot. You mentioned, 75% of the leaders’ time is spent in communication. And I don’t know if that figure is accurate or not, but I can well imagine it being in that vicinity. In your experience, are leaders good at communicating?
0:32:22.7 TC: Depends, I think. Depends on who he is communicating to. I think many leaders are not good at communicating. The higher they are, the more difficult it is for them, and I always say there are three layers of people’s resistance, and the leaders need to be aware when they communicate, especially they communicate a transformation, or change… Something that need people to take action, let’s just put it that way. Because if you communicate and people aren’t listening to that communication, nothing has changed, no action taken. That’s probably not the best communication you’re looking forward to because whenever a CEO or a leader is going to any communication, there are just three things the leaders have to ask themselves. First, it’s not just opening and just start talking. You have to ask ourself, one is, “What’s my message? What do I want to say?” And second is, “What do I want people to think and believe or change their belief after I said what I’m saying. And the last point is, what do I want people to do with what I have just said?”
0:33:50.8 TC: If we cannot answer that, it’s just better to not communicate ’cause I find many leaders, when they go and communicate, they don’t think through that level. They just think, “I’m just gonna communicate.” “Communicate” means I send an email that, “We’re not having this change, and guys, increase your price by 15%, and tell your customer we’re gonna increase our price.” So it’s a email, we can easily do it through an email, I communicate it. That will be many leaders thinking. You all know cost increase inflation, goods increase, so labor increased, so adding all together, here is the facts, here is how much we’ve increase in our cost. Here is how much an increase for the customers, so go increase minimum 12, 15% of the price. It’s an easy communication.
0:34:43.6 TC: Now, as so much CEO can do that and you can do it in a A4 letter, and that will probably take him half an hour to write that, so they will think, “All communication done, that’s easy.” But to go all the way to, What do I want people to believe? The people who work in the front, What do they think about this communication? Let’s say the salespeople who’s gonna tell the customer now, he’s gonna pick up the phone or just drive to the customer now. What is going through his mind? He’s like, “Oh, I’m gonna lose this customer. They’re gonna be so angry at me, I’m gonna be… The purchasing team will kill me, and I’m not only gonna look so bad in front of the customer, when I come back, I lose my bonus of the year, I probably lose my job because of this increase.” So that’s what’s going through in that person’s head.
0:35:41.6 TC: So this letter that is so well crafted by the CEO is now another story in that salesperson’s head, so the CEO when write that letter, need to help that salesperson who is gonna now deliver this bad news for the customer and the backwards bad news through the manager and probably risk his own bonus and even drop positions.
0:36:05.1 TC: So that is what communication should be. You need to be able to stand in the shoes of the person, not just say what it is and give the spreadsheet of the calculation he has, why we need to increase that, but to go much beyond, that’s now called communication, not information. And many people will also procrastinate but they don’t take actions, they give a lot of reasons to the CEO why we cannot do that. They will find tons of reasons to not take that action. So the real communication only succeed when first, you have a message, second, you are able to change the belief of the person you are communicating to, and third is, that person is engaged and they take action, and not take action, just send, forward your email to the customer saying, “Hey, CEO said 15% increase, so here we go, the invoice. That’s not taking action, it’s gonna damage the business if that person take that kind of action. So the leader’s job is really to smooth the whole communication flow until an action is taken with the benefit of the business and customer with care, not with this execution of information flow.
0:37:20.8 WB: So it sounds like the challenges, the rational approach that most CEOs fall back to as their comfort-zone approach to dealing with these challenges versus taking an interest in the emotional side of the people that they’re communicating with and trying to really, as you said, put themselves in their shoes and be able to get a feeling for, What are some of those concerns that they’re going to have that I need to address in my communications so that they’re able to then carry out what needs to be done without fear of being fired, without all the negative ramifications that might come, even though this seems extremely rational on the paper.” Right? So I can well imagine that, and this of course, as I alluded to at the very beginning, communication is such a huge topic and we’ve only really scratched just the very surface of it. But I know, Tiffany, I’m conscious of the time, so as usual, I’m running way over time with my discussion. Where will people connect with you? Where’s the best place to find you, and how will they connect?
0:38:54.2 TC: Yeah. People can connect with me on LinkedIn, that’s a platform that I’m mostly active at, I also have a YouTube channel, where I update every week, I have two new videos every week, so these are the two best channels, I also actually have Instagram, it’s not the super… I’ve just started, but if you prefer Instagram or Facebook, you can find me there as well.
0:39:19.3 WB: Right. We’ll put all those links in our notes. What is the YouTube channel called? Do you have a name for the channel?
0:39:26.2 TC: It’s called Inspire…
0:39:27.7 WB: Inspire.
0:39:27.8 TC: Yes, it’s called Inspire My Day. Inspire my day.
0:39:29.6 WB: Okay, so the same as your website, inspiremyday?
0:39:33.2 TC: Yes. Yes.
0:39:34.9 WB: And your LinkedIn is just your name, Tiffany Cheng?
0:39:40.1 TC: Yes. Tiffany Cheng. Yes.
0:39:42.0 WB: Okay. Great. Alright, we’ll link to all of those. It’s been another great conversation. Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing so much wisdom, so much insight.
0:39:55.7 TC: Thank you. Thank you, Wayne.
0:39:58.1 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, A show for Executive Talent Development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs @coaching4companies.com.