Powerful Protocol

Would you like the ability to keep your team engaged with their work?

Knowing and consistently doing what is needed, expected or desired of you can increase your power as a leader and your team’s engagement on the job.

Here’s some advice from one of our partners Don Brown on developing and following a leader’s protocol.

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Power in Protocol

One can define “protocol” as:

  1. an accepted code of behavior
  2. a prescribed approach for correct conduct or action
  3. a set of conventional principles and expectations.

A living example would be a physician’s protocol. When interacting with patients with compromised immune systems the protocol calls for disinfectant, gloves and masks before any contact with a patient. These actions are universally expected and accepted in preventing or avoiding infection.

What then are the accepted actions, principles and expectations for a leader’s conduct?

Our study of employees from Singapore to Syracuse reveals a triad of expectations. Your followers want three things from leadership: Communication, Feedback and Autonomy. Make these your “Leader’s Protocol.”

Following this protocol is key to preventing disengagement in your team.


Your first consideration when someone knocks on your office door and asks, “Got a minute?” lies in understanding and responding to the communication need that exists in that moment with that person.

Two questions might help you master the communication protocol:

  1. What is the purpose of your communication? There are really only three reasons we communicate; to relate (to establish or maintain association), to influence (to sway or have a desired effect), or to inform (to transfer knowledge or provoke awareness). Try determining or setting the purpose of your communication before you speak.
  2. What style of communication would be most effective? The easiest taxonomy to use is that of extrovert versus introvert. If you’re talking to an introvert, try being a little quieter yourself – a little less talkative. If that person is an extrovert, try to open up just a bit.

The rules of engagement are simple: Understand your purpose, and adapt to their style.


They want to know how they’re doing! They want to know what you think. They want feedback, and they want it from you.

Feedback can take on two forms – process and praise – and they’re both important.

Process – When you’re addressing process, three words are relevant in the moment: quality, quantity and time. Quality means, are they meeting your specification as to how well it needs to be done?

Quantity invokes a number, a metric. Are their numbers made or missed? Also, time as a reflection of performance with respect to deadline. Are they first or last, early or late?

Praise – When offering praise, three words are also relevant: effort, contribution, and growth.  Effort is about energy, intensity, and exertion. Contribution is about either personal output or impact on others. Growth is about discernible improvement.

Try communicating how they’re doing with regards to their effort, contribution or growth.


This last element in a leader’s protocol is autonomy. Look for places to grant it. Followers care about independence. They want responsibility, and the freedom to make decisions (and even mistakes).

Indicators of autonomy weigh heavily on the minds of your team members. They think about it a lot. In response, you should be thinking about ownership and exit.

Ownership – The central question is, should their efforts be self-directed or directed by you? And, what is your own degree of reluctance to let go? Key to making this call is clarity around the nature of the task involved, and the authority to act. Strangely enough, their autonomy is in your hands. Remember that.

Exit – the second consideration in letting go is having a conscious exit strategy to get you out of their work. To do this, understand two concepts: data and delta.

Data has to do with facts, statistics or information used as your basis for decision-making. What data do you need to see to be able to let go? The word “delta” signifies change. Look for changes in their performance that demonstrate a new level of mastery. We can almost always spot growth – but only if we’re looking for it. Let your exit strategy accelerate along the curve of their competence.

There is power in protocol. Let your leadership wisely and consistently provide helpful communication, timely feedback and a generous amount of autonomy. Our challenge in leading in a no-normal world will be adopting – and practicing – this powerful leader’s protocol.


*To better your interpersonal communication and adapt to the extroverts and the introverts on your team, try an Interaction Report. To provide truly robust feedback, try an i360 Report.  To accelerate competence and autonomy, try Performance Coaching.

Don Brown dedicates his career to leadership, sales and service effectiveness. Learn more about Don, his services, and his books at http://www.donbrown.org.


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Pitching Your Ideas


Are you trying to convince your boss to develop a new product or implement your strategies for growth, but can’t get him or her to listen?

Would you like to introduce a new system to your team – one you are certain would bring many benefits – but you can’t get their buy-in?

Do you come into contact with prospective buyers/clients but aren’t sure how to effectively sell to them without coming across as pushy?


No matter where we sit in the company structure, we all share ideas with someone else with the aim of being persuasive and well received. We have a goal, but we need someone else’s receptivity or action to achieve it.

No matter how great our idea, how needed our improvement, or how much of a deal our product is, we must successfully overcome the communication challenge known as “the pitch.”


Facilitating Your “Pitch”

Here are a few guidelines to follow when pitching a product or idea:

  • Get really clear on what you’re offering, and why.  – If you can’t explain it clearly and concisely, odds are they won’t get it. Distill your idea into a singular, “sticky” statement that covers what it is, and what its benefits are.  Use that statement towards the beginning of your pitch.
  • Be conversational. – You want to connect with your audience, so even if you are standing in a boardroom with PowerPoint slides behind you, your pitch should feel more like a conversation than a presentation. Consider telling a story as you explain your idea – stories are memorable and hook into our emotions. 
  • Ask questions. – Interacting with your audience is key to keeping them engaged, and questions involve them in your pitch.  If you meet with someone individually, like a client or your boss, be sure to listen as much as you speak. If you’re presenting to a group, invite questions at key stages during the presentation.  Ask about their initial reaction or hesitations, ask if they’ve had experience with something similar. Make them feel heard. And realize what you hear can help you tailor your pitch on the fly.
  • Focus on helping rather than selling. – Make it your goal to serve your audience. Identify what your audience needs (be that your boss, team or clients) and seek to show them how you or your idea can meet their needs. Don’t assume they have the same needs or goals you have. Don’t assume they have a felt need for what you’re pitching – some needs we feel, others we are blind to. Even if this pitch isn’t green-lighted, if you’re perceived as helpful, you’ll have future opportunities to pitch.
  • Be contagious. – Remember that emotion can be contagious, so let your passion or your conviction shine through as you pitch. Present with energy and humble confidence. If you don’t appear to “feel it,” your audience isn’t likely to either.

If we sincerely seek to be helpful, present a clear and compelling case, and engage the audience and listen to them, our pitch will be much more likely to land on receptive ears. Plus, we’ll open the door to dialogue about our idea – effectively turning our audience into our collaborative partners.



Here’s a terrific video on how to pitch anything in 15 seconds by Carmine Gallon at Forbes.com.

If you’d like to discover how to specifically communicate so that your boss or employees will listen, have your team take the Forte Communication Profile Survey. This can show you each person’s individual preferences for how they like to receive information and make decisions. Call us at 910-452-5152.

Forte Institute member Rachel Olsen is on faculty in the Communication Studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist, and a trained and certified coach. 


Pinpoint a Great Manager

When a person consistently excels in their position – say as a sales rep – it’s a common practice in organizations to assume that person will make a great manager of their team or division.

Most companies have made at least one successful salesperson the sales manager, only to find their effectiveness in the managerial position a surprising disappointment. The skills required for effective sales don’t necessarily mirror the skills needed for effective management.

We see this frequently on the playing field. Sometimes a successful former player makes a good coach. Sometimes they do not. And sometimes a former mediocre player makes a great coach.

It can be helpful for the sales manager to understand the specific demands of this sales team selling this product – which they do when they rise from that team’s ranks. And it certainly helps for the manager to have the trust or respect of the sales force going in. But how do you know if one of your sales professionals can manage the team?

How do you choose a sales manager that can actually manage? 

Frank Cespedes, Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School (one of Forte’s clients) writes:

To identify salespeople who can become effective sales managers, leaders need to clearly define the specific behaviors required of managers, and then test for them effectively. And this actually isn’t so hard if you use the right framework and assessment techniques, and then use that knowledge and tools to communicate shared expectations with those aspiring to be sales managers.

So the first step is to clearly identify what traits and behaviors are required for successful management of this team.  Forté can help you do that – either by identifying the traits of your other/former top managers, or by getting the input of several key people in key positions and forming a top performer profile.

The next step is to compare that top profile with the profiles of your potential candidates – which Forté can also do for you. Even if you do not have a close match in your talent pool or applicant pool, Forté can help you coach the manager you hire to adapt themselves to display the needed traits and behaviors.

Reality is, to be profitable and competitive in today’s marketplace we cannot simply rely on our gut in promotion or hiring decisions. In fact, interviewing alone rarely results in a slam-dunk hire. Research reveals there’s only about a 14% correlation between a hiring manager’s perception of a candidate’s potential for success, based on an interview, and how the candidate actually performs in the job.

You need to see how your pool of candidates are likely to think and behave in that position, not just hear how they will talk about it in an interview.

So employ assesment techniques such as role plays, tests or simulations in addition to the interview. Have a clear vision of the traits and behaviors this position requires. And utilize software like Forté that can show both you and the applicant, in a matter of mere minutes, their communication and leadership style, and how that compares to the particular needs of this mangerial position.

You can hire a great manager.

We can help.


Give us a call at 910-452-5152.

The Forté Institute’s Rachel Olsen is on faculty at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in the Communication Studies department. She is a communication specialist, and a trained and certified coach. 



Certification Training – October

Forté offer 8 different tools in our suite of products – from communication style profiles, to interaction reports, to performance-coaching guidance and more.

Are you knowledgeable and comfortable using the various products in the suite?

If not, we offer certification training workshops periodically throughout the year. We’re holding a virtual training session next week – attend yourself or “send” someone from your staff.

Here are the details:

  • Wednesday, October 1st and Thursday, October 2nd
  • From 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
  • Virtual training via computer on GoToMeeting.com
  • Cost is less than two grand for two days of training across the entire Forté Suite
  • 90 days of follow up support included

To find out more – or to register – simply call us at 910-452-5152.






Communicating to Hire


Last year Derek Thompson wrote a brief article for The Atlantic titled:



Anyone who has owned a business, run a business, hired for a position, or worked inside a company has likely wondered the same thing.


The article concludes that: “People are complicated, organizations are complicated, matching people and organizations is complicated, and it’s extremely difficult to predict who will be brilliant and who will be a bust.”


Even large, successful corporations like Google find predicting who will be a good fit for a position perplexingly hard.


(Note: Google has admitted that the brainteaser questions they are famous for asking their interviewees are ultimately useless in finding the right candidate.)


So how do you choose among a stack – even a narrowed down, voted upon stack – of resumes with applicants that look equally qualified?


How do you choose between the top three candidates you brought in for interviews, and all three, while different, had great strengths and raised no discernable red flags?


The Forte Institute offers a complete hiring system to improve employee retention and productivity by helping you hire the right person the first time.


One of the best ways to do that is to understand what kind of traits are necessary for a person to display to succeed in that particular position.


What are the behaviors or characteristics of your top performers? What type of person, beyond education or task expertise, is needed to fill the position –  what key strengths do they need to bring to this position?


We can help you find out.


The Forte Institute can help you determine which traits are needed for high performance in which positions on your team by looking at the profiles of your top performers in each job category. Furthermore, we can show you which of your leading candidates best matches those qualities – and how to coach them in the areas they differ so they can best meet the demands of the job.


Hiring, on-boarding and training a new employee is time-consuming and expensive. And of course, their performance affects your performance as a company. So it’s crucial to make wise hiring decisions.


So why is it so hard to hire great people? It’s not that great people aren’t out there. They are, and they’re applying for jobs at your company. The challenge is knowing which person’s strengths will be a great fit for which position.


Call or email The Forté Institute today and ask us to tell you more about our “Communicating to Hire” service.

Forte Institute member Rachel Olsen is on faculty in the Communication Studies department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist and a trained and certified coach. 


Leading Through Listening


Why hire talented people and not fully utilize them?


Can we fully utilize the people we hire if we’re not listening to them?


Listening is an important leadership responsibility that rarely appears in the job description.  Yet the higher up the corporate ladder, the more critical listening well becomes.


In fact, executives are reported to spend as much as 80% of their day listening.

Those who listen well to their employees are in a much better position to lead an increasingly diverse workforce, in an increasingly changing marketplace.


Listening skills underlie most leadership functions: developing teams, making informed decisions, problem-solving, and meeting customers’ needs.


The best leaders are both proactive and strategic in their listening. As a leader, you want to know what your team knows, what they are thinking, what’s stumping them, and how they’re adapting (or not) to challenges.


That requires asking open-ended questions such as, “What is your biggest challenge currently?” Or, “Can you think of two ways we could improve X?” Or, “How can I best support you as we complete this project?”


Listening well makes leaders effective because they can:


  • Anticipate potential problems and proactively address them.
  • Overcome performance slumps by giving timely, informed advice via feedback and coaching.
  • Stimulate creativity and gather ideas.
  • Allow employees to feel heard and supported, building trust and loyalty. A staff that feels appreciated willingly does more than is expected.


If you are leading a team, be sure you are also listening to your team. Ensure they feel understood, valued and heard.


Nothing beats face-to-face communication with your employees, and the Forté suite of products can be a strategic tool in your listening effectiveness. Forté’s on-going adapting updates can indicate when it may be time to sit down for a one-to-one conversation.


Forté will also teach you, their leader, how to best communicate with each individual team member—based on their strengths and motivators—during your interactions, allowing you to draw out the potential in your team.


Call or email The Forté Institute today to explore how we can help you develop a proactive listening strategy, and keep your finger on the pulse of your team.


The Forté Institute’s Rachel Olsen is a Communication Studies faculty member at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist and a trained and certified coach. 

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Coaching to Success

I nodded my head continuously as I read through an article by Monique Valcouat at The Harvard Business Review titled “You Can’t Be a Great Manager If You’re Not a Good Coach.” 

(Note: We’re proud to say The Harvard Business School is a Forté client.)


Here’s an excerpt from that article I think every leader should read:


“If you have room in your head for only one nugget of leadership wisdom, make it this one: the most powerfully motivating condition people experience at work is making progress at something that is personally meaningful. If your job involves leading others, the implications are clear: the most important thing you can do each day is to help your team members experience progress at meaningful work.

To do so, you must understand what drives each person, help build connections between each person’s work and the organization’s mission and strategic objectives, provide timely feedback, and help each person learn and grow on an ongoing basis.

Regular communication around development — having coaching conversations — is essential. In fact, according to recent research, the single most important managerial competency that separates highly effective managers from average ones is coaching.”


If you’re a leader, it’s great to see these clear, prioritized, research-based objectives for your role. But if you’re like most leaders, at the same time, you feel somewhat uneasy with this.


You make decisions about products, purchases and budgets, you keep your team working on task, you deliver quality on schedule, but are you confident you are actually developing your team?


Do you know what drives each person? Can you help them best relate to each other, or adapt to workplace demands? Are you coaching them to produce meaningful work for your company, in authentic ways?


Forté can help.

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Q: How can I understand what drives each person on my team?


A: Give them each the Forté Communication Style Profile survey. It helps both them and you understand their communication style, leadership style, self-motivators, de-motivators, and much more.


You’ll both receive a copy of their profile results and it will certainly reveal what drives them—as well as how they are currently adapting on the job, and how they are most likely being perceived by the team at this time.


Q: How do I provide timely feedback to my team members?


A: Coaching is not a once-then-done process, neither is Forté. Your team can take the short, automated Forte Adapting Update survey as often as every 30 days, or at intervals of your choosing.


This Adapting survey will instantly reveal how they’ve been adapting to their work demands and environment – both recently and over time. You’ll both be able to see how well they believe they’re currently meeting their goals, feeling resilient in the face of challenges and change, and more.


You can use this report as a jumping off point for a regular coaching conversation with your direct reports. You don’t have to remember to administer this survey, it can be delivered to their email inbox automatically at the prescribed intervals.


Q: How do I know the best way to communicate with those I am coaching?


A: Once the Forté Communication Style survey is completed, you can run Forté Interaction Reports between you and each of your team members. This tool shows both of you how to best to communicate with, and adapt to, one another.

You will know how to talk so they they will listen. Forté is all about recognizing each other’s strengths, and building productive relationships that last.


Q: How do I help my team members reach goals and improve on an on-going basis?


A: Utilize the Forté Performance Coaching report. One of our exciting new tools, this simplifies and codifies the coaching process for you and your team.


Each coachee receives pre-session questions to prepare them for your coaching session. You receive a coaching strategy, checklist, and plan that is in line with each team member’s main strengths and motivators as revealed by their Forté profile.


You’ll be guided and empowered like never before to specifically coach each team member to top performance.


Often, coaching is the difference between a leader who gains commitment from their employees and one who only gains compliance.


Regular communication around your team members’ development is essential. Make a plan to have consistent coaching conversations with your team.


Call or email The Forté Institute today to explore how we can help you coach your team or organization to excellence.


The Forté Institute’s Rachel Olsen is a Communication Studies faculty member at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is a communication specialist and a trained and certified coach. 


Thanks for Your Help


Just a quick note to thank all of you who’ve completed Forté Validation Requests, the follow-up email sent the day after you complete your Forté Primary (Benchmark) Report or your Forté Adapting Update.

Many of you add comments to the validity rating, and those comments have proven extremely useful over the past 30 years as we continue to update and upgrade The Forté Suite.

Just this past week, for example, we have updated some of the text at the top of page 3 of the Forté Communication Style Report and there are also updates on page 5 of the report. These updates are based on your Forté Primary Pattern and the intensity of your pattern. Do keep in mind that our technology allows updating a single word, maybe a sentence or an entire paragraph. These updates occur when we have a statistically significant consistency in feedback/questions/suggestions on a per pattern/intensity basis.

Again, thank you for your continued input as we continue to build the highest levels of accuracy and validity across the entire Forté Suite of Communication IntelligenceTM tools to meet your individual and organizational growth.

Onward and Upward!

C.D. “Hoop” Morgan, III, Founder/Chairman, The Forté Institute, LLC