Michael Piperno

Leadership Quick Tip: Talking About Conflict

Remember that people experience conflict differently — yet we often assume everyone sees it the same way.

For example, I have a tendency to slow things down and take stock of what happened. In fact, when I led teams, they use to think I was angry at them when something went wrong because I would get quiet, and go into analysis mode. I wasn’t angry in most cases! I simply like to take the time to properly figure out how to get myself (and others) out of conflict.

You, however, might have a tendency to move fast and resolve things quickly. Or maybe you want to give in on something that doesn’t matter much in order to end the conflict.

Guess what? We’re probably going to tweak each other and it’s going to get worse.

Talk to your people about how they feel when they experience conflict. Ask them what they want. Time, harmony, quick action? You might be surprised.

Conversations about conflict before you’re in it will give you insights into how to support each other to get out of it.

For example, I need time to think. Give that to me, and I’ll feel better faster. But you won’t know to do that unless you know that about me.

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On Nervousness & Anxiety When Speaking

This is a much younger me on a stage singing and dancing in a musical. Honestly, this was so long ago I can’t recall which one. Maybe How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying or The Music Man?

That 17 year old was almost paralyzed by stage fright. Not when we would rehearse — that was always fine, and quite fun.

But when there would be actual people in the seats? Oh my. Hands shaking, voice trembling. Heart rate stratospheric.

Not a good feeling.

I see a lot of advice for reducing nervousness and anxiety on LinkedIn and other social sites. Some of it is good. Some… not so much.

The truth is that there is no list of tips or tricks that works for everyone. You need to figure out what the root of your anxiousness is, and do the work to minimize it.

Breathing exercises work for some. Others need to work on their confidence overall — not just when speaking.

Some people force themselves to speak in a certain style because they think they should, and it throws them off because that’s not their style. Sounds silly, but I see it all the time.

Some people have past negative experiences with presenting that haunt them.

Figure out what’s really got you nervous. Name it, and make a plan to work through it.

And… practice always helps. With a coach? Even better. But you know, I’m partial. 😉

On Nervousness & Anxiety When Speaking Read More »

Your Team Needs to Hear That You Value Them

Your team is your greatest asset. You know that. But life, work, and the world is moving so fast….

Yes. That’s exactly why you need to make it a priority to make your team members feel seen and valued. Here are some ways to do it.

Recognize Individuality

Acknowledge the unique qualities each team member brings. Embrace diversity—be it in skills, backgrounds, or perspectives. When individual uniqueness feels acknowledged, inclusivity flourishes.

Unleash Superpowers

Identify and leverage the strengths of each team member. Everyone has superpowers that contribute to the team’s success. Use these strengths to fuel motivation and purpose.

Acknowledge Hard (and Good) Work

Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation. Regularly express gratitude for your team’s efforts. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, but adding the “why” goes even further in fostering a culture of value. Some phrases that work: “If it weren’t for you…” or “What you proposed made all the difference….” You get the idea.

Cultivate a Culture of Value

Build a culture where communication is open, feedback is kind and constructive, and everyone’s well-being is a priority. This not only boosts job satisfaction but also creates a resilient and high-performing team.

Success is intertwined with the value each team member feels. See your team, appreciate differences, unleash superpowers, and recognize good work.

Strengthen these bonds, and you’ll cultivate a culture of respect, collaboration, and success.

Communication matters, as does every member of your team.

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More Than Words

Email, Slack, Teams, text messages… we communicate with words a lot.

Words matter. They do. And so does body language, tone, and context.

Leadership isn’t only about the words we choose. It’s about listening actively, and understanding your team’s perspectives, concerns, and ideas. Making people feel that they, and the work they do, matters requires more than words that tell them so.

Use your entire toolkit when you can. Let people see your facial expression and body language. Give people the benefit of your tone of voice.

And get good at questioning (and coaching) based on what you hear. This simple act can help make what might seem like an uneventful interaction a catalyst for creativity or change.

People share more when they feel heard. People take more risks when they feel safe.

Listening and curiosity are leadership superpowers that can drive team performance every day.

And when you show up fully with more than words… you show people that you care, and that they matter.

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Michael Piperno Presenting with Screen Sharing On

Remote Presenting Quick Tip: Screen Sharing

Too many presenters leave slides or visual aids on the screen when they’re no longer being used. That’s a missed opportunity to connect with your audience.

When you’re facilitating discussions (or answering questions after a presentation) it’s best to stop screen sharing so you can see your audience better — and so they can see you.

Of course, if a response to a question requires a slide or visual by all means use one, but if not your audience will appreciate seeing you, your body language, and your facial expressions while they interact with you.

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In Person vs. Remote

I was fortunate to meet, coach, and train leaders on two continents and in 3 countries last year.

Michael Piperno on a street in Toronto

Here I am during my last trip of 2023 — Toronto! What a great city.

I can’t tell you how much the in-person experience fuels me in my work.

Yes, remote programs are effective when done well. I like doing them. In fact, I can do more of them and make more money in a year doing so.
But I’ll always prioritize in-person programs.

When you invest in people by allowing them to benefit from the richness of being physically together, and spark the deepening of interpersonal relationships that come with that, they win. Big.

And so do you and so does your organization.

The positive and lasting effects may be intangible at first.

It’s a long game.

And you know the truth…. It’s worth it.

Relationships are everything in business. Cultivate them.

Want to have me visit your team and facilitate a program that will help strengthen relationships, communication, and leadership?

Let’s talk.

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SDI compare feature screen shot

Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) Updates

For those of you who have experienced the SDI assessment with me, here’s some news.

The Compare Tool has received a significant upgrade.

  • You can now compare up to 30 teammates simultaneously, offering a comprehensive view of team dynamics. This feature enables you to delve deeper into understanding and building stronger relationships, fostering a more cohesive and collaborative environment.
  • You can also get insights on how to respect each other’s strengths, and navigate and avoid potential triggers.

Log in to the platform to check out these new enhancements!

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Leadership Superpowers (and Kryptonite)

Before I ran my own businesses, I would get a piece of feedback during some annual reviews that would annoy me — incredibly.

It came in different permeations, but always sounded something like this:

  • “Michael, you sacrifice too much of yourself for people who don’t always deserve your support.” 
  • “Sometimes the team doesn’t need so much support from you. You need to learn when to let them sink or swim on their own.”

Okay, so listen. I’m a supportive person. I get it. It’s one of my top strengths, and frankly it’s a superpower for me in my work. 

What’s the flip side of being supportive? Sometimes I can be seen as self-sacrificing.

The key words here are “seen as.” In other words, “perceived as….” 

Ahh, we’re entering the realm of perceptions. And what comes with that? 

The need to manage them.

In the past, I would disagree with the “you’re being too supportive” perception, but not address it with the person who saw me that way. So, that false perception would sit out there like a ding on my reputation. 

Today, with the wisdom that comes with age and experience, I don’t let that happen (mostly).

Now, are there times where I am too supportive to the point of self-sacrificing? I won’t lie, it happens. But it doesn’t happen as much as others may think. 

For example, the leader who is struggling with speaking clearly and with enough impact when rehearsing for a high stakes presentation — one who other people think will never be prepared enough to perform. They think we should give up and replace that person with someone else. What they don’t know is that I know exactly where that leader is in the process, and I know with a few more tactics and a little more time (and support), we’ll get there. And when we do, the person is going to knock it out of the park. 

I know it, but some people can’t see it — yet. 

A final note on this topic. There are times when, for whatever reason, I do need to stop supporting. Maybe there’s not enough time to prepare someone properly for a role or event. Perhaps the person doesn’t want the support. And yes, sometimes continuing to support someone who doesn’t want it or who is not improving will end up sacrificing the success of an entire program. Then, the support needs to stop. 

My point, though, is this.

Don’t let other people make you feel like your leadership superpowers aren’t valid or powerful. 

Consider the fact that those strengths might simply not be working for other people in the room at that specific moment. It’s their issue, not yours. But… and it’s a big but…

You still need to manage those perceptions. 

Speak up about how you see it — give them the “why” behind your actions. Or pull back on your intensity with the superpower. Sometimes a small adjustment in how you use it can make all the difference.

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The Power of Your Name

See my facial expression in this photo? It’s expressing how I feel when someone calls me “Mike” right after I’ve introduced myself as “Michael.”

If you call me Mike and you aren’t family or a super-close friend, I know you don’t know me well.

What else does it mean?

That’s right, the person didn’t listen.

Listen. That’s leadership lesson 1 from this brief rant. Lesson 2 is this…

People appreciate hearing their own names. In fact, the use of personal names in communication has been shown to enhance attention and recall, and makes people feel recognized and important.

In short, people light up when they hear the music of their own name.

So, use people’s names when you communicate. And when you meet someone new, listen carefully when they introduce themselves to you, and say their name back to them. (Nice to meet you, Anthony.)

It’s not just a word; it’s a powerful connection. Plus, you’re more likely to remember it if you say it out loud.

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The Depth of Insecurity

I have no depth perception…

That’s right. I don’t see the world in 3D like most do.

So, when I reach out to shake your hand, or give you a fist bump, I’ll likely be slightly off in my grip or knuckle to knuckle connection. I’m relying on a 2-dimensional image, so I’ll need the actual sensation of touch before I know for sure that I’m meeting your hand.

When you throw me something, I’ll never catch it. Never. I can’t tell exactly where it is in the air. 

And when I make eye contact, you might think I’m not looking at you. Only one eye will be able to do that. The other will be looking either left or right unless I focus all my energy trying to keep them somewhat straight (which is exhausting). 

3 eye surgeries and countless hours doing exercises as a young kid to try to make my lazy eye straighten up didn’t work.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because I used to let this “defect” (in quotes because in the past, that’s the way I felt about it) make me feel insecure. 

Not just a little. Deeply.

  • I hated looking at pictures of myself.
  • I loathed seeing myself on video.
  • I would feel incredibly embarrassed when I would misjudge the distance to someone’s hand for a handshake and grab them slightly awkwardly.
  • The act of looking someone, or an entire audience, in the eye made me uncomfortable.

As a leader (and we’re all leaders when we are working to inspire others and help people be their best), you might have something you feel insecure about. 

It might be something people can see. It might be something that’s only on the inside. 

Maybe it’s a gap in knowledge. Or a fear…

It doesn’t matter what it is. 

Don’t let it cloud all the good and amazing things you bring to the table. 

I no longer care that I can’t catch. If someone thinks I look goofy in a photo or video, that’s their issue. It’s no longer mine.

Just don’t ever throw me anything breakable. That won’t end well. 😉

What can you let go of today that’s been making you feel insecure or that’s holding you back?

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