Tell us a little about what you were doing before you started Th e Hedges Company?
Prior to this, I co-founded SheaHedges Group, one of the first technology PR firms in the Washington, D.C. area, which I operated for nearly a decade before selling my interest. We started it in 1997, when the area was just beginning to become a technology hub, and rode the wave up and down a few times. My experience running my own company, and working with hundreds of CEOs, made me passionate about helping leaders understand and cultivate their power through communications. It's the tool that inspires through good times and bad.
I've also held positions in corporate marketing and PR. Early in my career I worked at one of the leading political consulting firms helping candidates get elected. That experience was foundational in understanding what makes a leader engaging. Polling brings it down to a science.
I'm very self-motivated and love setting my own path. I've spent most of my career as an entrepreneur and can't imagine ever not being one. Currently, I own two companies, Th e Hedges Company, which is my coaching practice, and I'm also a partner in Element North, a leadership development company.
What are some easy things that people can do to promote themselves without being overbearing?
First of all, let's consider losing the idea of self-promotion because it sounds as if you need to be out there talking about yourself, and you don't. In fact, people who incessantly talk about their own achievements diminish themselves in the eyes of others.
For most of us, talking about ideas we care passionately about is a more comfortable way to assert our expertise and elevate our visibility. For example, I wrote an article about my own struggle around promoting as a new author in Forbes, and it was picked up all over the world. I could have written an article bragging about my expertise, but we learn far more from each other's challenges, so I shared honestly and openly. My new book, Power of Presence, is partly a business memoir, as it's fi lled with personal stories.
For those seeking to elevate their stature within an organization, I discuss in the book how to find shining moments in the daily grind —ways to be more visible and engaging in the normal course of work. For example, if you run a meeting, use it as a way to demonstrate your ability to drive accountability, facilitate ideas, bring consensus and execute efficiently. There are times when we're on autopilot where we miss opportunities to have our presence speak volumes for us.
What are some of the biggest mistakes leaders make when trying to communicate their vision to their employees, customers and partners? Leaders underestimate the amount of repetition and process involved in communicating a vision. The easiest and the most fun part is developing the vision and announcing it. Most leaders stop there. They feel that if they say it once, and put it on a plaque, the job is complete. However, the process of integrating the vision, translating it into individual goals, and keeping it alive is what makes a vision real. This repetition and process feels a lot more like a slog. Leaders oft en feel that if it's in their heads, it's in everyone else's heads. People must be reminded of a vision's relevance in multiple ways, every day.
I can imagine what some of the benefi ts of being a Type A personality are, but what are some of the drawbacks, or handicaps? What do natural leaders need to be careful about?
Natural leaders come in all personality types. Many amazing, charismatic leaders are introverts, with a finely tuned ability to be strategic and empathetic. With anyone, your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness. For highly extroverted, take-charge, Type-A leaders, the challenge is oft en soliciting other viewpoints, taking a strategic step back, and being more collaborative than commanding. Your team may be reticent to raise fl ags or tell you what you need to hear -- which is vital. If you know this about yourself, you can learn to compensate by developing these weaker parts of your leadership style. One solution can be as simple as learning to sleep on issues before jumping in to solve them -- advice I've taken to heart.
What are the top three things a business leader can do to bring out the best in their employees?
First, leaders need to know their people -- not just their work product, but their motivations and goals. This sounds easy, but in the busy workday, it's overlooked more than you'd think. For each direct report, and as many others as possible, leaders should schedule informal discussions to communicate openly and build trust.
Second, leaders need to be consistent and demonstrate equanimity. If you want your people to push themselves out of their comfort zones, they need to have confi dence in their environment. If leadership is erratic and unpredictable, employees will hug the middle.
Finally, leaders should role model asking for and receiving feedback. It's the most effective method for shaping behavior. Companies say they encourage feedback, but most use opaque, formulaic reviews that have limited use. I encourage leaders to institute quick feedback points or QFPs after important company meetings or events. Simply ask: What did I do well? What could I do better next time? Encourage and reward honest feedback. If the leader shows the way, the process will spread.
What are some of the biggest mistakes leaders make when trying to motivate their employees?
Leaders oft en believe that others are motivated in the same way that they are. This is simply not the case. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, a risk-taking bunch who will work crazy hours for a chance at cashing out. Most of their employees aren't so keen on that lifestyle. They may be motivated by personal growth and a supportive and stable environment. If the vision statement is about exponential revenue growth -- which disproportionately benefi ts a few at the top -- it will not motivate the majority of employees. Leaders have to recognize that there's a reason they hold the spot they do, and what gets them jazzed likely does not appeal to others.
What is next for Kristi Hedges?
With the launch of my book, Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others, I'm busy promoting it, speaking, and integrating the concepts into my client work. It's deeply fulfilling to bring these ideas, which have meant so much in my life, to others. As a 15-year entrepreneur, I've learned to stay opportunistic and open, so I'm excited to see what's next!
Modern DC Business Magazine Presents
March 8th Lunch and Learn: The Power of PresenceJoin us as we welcome Kristi Hedges, communications expert, leadership coach and author of the newly released The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.
Everyone recognizes leaders with "presence." They stand out for their seemingly innate ability to command attention and inspire commitment. But what is this secret quality they exude, exactly?
Learn how to build trust as the foundation for leadership, eschew perfectionism for authenticity, banish limiting thoughts and behaviors, and galvanize your team through visionary, inspiring communications.
Come hear from the author how to build a powerful presence whether you're a:
· Business owner or CEO
· Senior leader inspiring teams
· Mid-level executive looking to advance
- Professional transitioning between careers
Mar 8, 2012
11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
8000 Towers Crescent Drive
The Tower Club