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July 29, 2019 36 min

Being an effective leader is about more than just managing people efficiently. Krister Ungerböck (unger-bahk) joins us today to talk about why being a leader is about changing the language you use. Krister is a keynote speaker, CEO Coach, and global expert in The Language of Leadership. Prior to retiring at age 42, Krister was the award-winning CEO of one of the largest family-owned software companies in the world. His expertise in the Language of Leadership is based upon his unique experience as a global CEO leading teams in three languages while observing and doing business with executives in over 40 countries, building businesses in six and living in three.

As a corporate keynote speaker, Krister is passionate about sharing the secrets that his team used to win 5 consecutive Top Workplace awards and achieve remarkable employee engagement levels of 99.3%. His upcoming book, The Language of Leadership: Words to Transform How We Lead, Live and Love, will launch on Bosses Day, Oct. 16

Outline of This Episode
  • [0:40] I introduce my guest, Krister Ungerböck
  • [5:00] The Language of Leadership
  • [10:15] Being a leader versus a manager
  • [12:15] Why you don’t want to lead with the language of expertise
  • [16:35] Employee Engagement
  • [20:40] How to “build better bosses”
  • [25:50] Why is empathy and emotional intelligence important
  • [31:05] How to overcome feeling trapped in your role
    [34:30] Book recommendations & resources
  • The language of an effective leader

    Are you in a leadership position, but often find yourself floundering, unsure of your role? Do people find you domineering or hard to work for? Krister sought to write a book to help you develop and embody a leadership style that isn’t only effective in the workplace, but in your personal relationships as well. A crucial element of effective leadership is the language you use.

    Krister shares a story on this episode about a woman who stayed loyal to her company—despite the fact they forgot to pay her multiple times. Would your best employee stay if you were unable to pay them? Does your leadership elicit that kind of loyalty? You’ll want to listen as Krister and I discuss the language of requests and why it’s important to be a leader, not a manager.

    Why the ‘language of expertise’ doesn’t work

    Why do you think most people get promoted? It is usually because they have proven their expertise in whatever field they’re working in. They’re simply good at what they do. But does being an expert qualify you to be a good leader? Obviously, it’s a great quality to have, but Krister talks about why you do not want to lead from a place of expertise.

    It puts you in a position where you are constantly required to give people answers. When you find yourself leading anywhere from 10-30 people, this is no longer a feasible option. There is not enough time in your day to constantly answer questions. Instead of giving answers, you want to equip your staff to be able to answer some of the tough questions and come to their own conclusions. Your goal as a leader is to attract and retain great people and build a company full of top-performers. You definitely want to listen to the full episode—Krister and I cover the key to employee engagement—you don’t want to miss it!

    The importance of asking better questions

    Effective leadership requires the ability to ask better questions to get better responses. One way Krister puts this into practice is asking permission to give someone feedback. He does this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives the person the opportunity to be honest and state they’re not in the right headspace. Secondly, you want them to be engaged, interacting with you, and be moving towards a solution. 

    One of Krister’s favorite ways to phrase a question is “On a scale of 1-10 how open are you for feedback?” Or, “What do you think are the top 5 things you need to work on?” You need to ask a question to engage your employee that doesn’t elicit a simple yes or no answer. When someone answers with a number, it gives you the opportunity to follow up with “What can we do to make that seven a nine?” It’s a great tool for better engagement and communication.

    Emotional Intelligence: Leading from a place of empathy

    I think many leaders struggle with the idea of emotional intelligence and leading from a place of vulnerability. But think about it—you are more connected to people when you actually like them. Being an empathetic leader allows you build deeper connections and creates a safe environment for your employees where they are not motivated by fear. 

    In this segment, Krister talks about how the phrases “to feel” or “I feel” have different connotations in different languages. Too often, in English, “I feel” is usually followed by “like” or “that” which takes a feeling and turns it into a thought. Doing so creates disconnect—and tends to make others defensive. The fear that ensures shuts down the creative part of the brain and you’ll quickly lose the ability to get them to problem solve.

    So what should you do instead? Convey how you’re truly feeling. “This account is very important, and I am afraid we may lose them if we don’t meet this deadline.'' You want to convey that you’re not accusing them or laying blame, but wanting to work with them to reach a solution. This is just a brief part of everything we cover on this episode of Simple Leadership—listen to the whole episode with Krister for more details on effective leadership.

    Resources & People Mentioned
  • Book: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • Book: Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patteron, Joseph Grenny, et al.
  • Book: Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD
  • Manager Tools Podcast
  • Connect with Krister Ungerboeck
  • Krister on YouTube
  • Krister on Instagram
  • Connect With Christian McCarrick and SimpleLeadership
  • Christian on LinkedIn
  • Christian on Twitter: @CMcCarrick
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