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Since the beginning of… Me… I’ve always struggled with expressing what I have in my head to others at times. Everything that was processed in my brain just come out so differently in the worst situations. Being born in China and not having English as my first language certainly doesn’t help.

The problem with not being able to deliver and communicate my ideas through to others in an effective manner has always bothered me, and it is one of my most significant flaws. This problem does not always occur as I am able to communicate with most people normally, but it does happen in the worst of times. During the lab time when I was in the meeting with my team members, Peter walked over and asked about the long-term strategy of our team. Being the CEO, it was expected of me to answer the simple question loud and easy because I have proposed the strategy several times to our team members. However, despite that I had it in my head, it was as if I'd lost the ability to speak English, and I was not able to deliver our strategy to Peter. One of our team members had to finish the sentence for me. It was extremely embarrassing, and I felt so ashamed of being the CEO of our team.

According to Yukl (2013), most of the important strategic decisions were made outside the formal planning process, and that strategies were formulated in an incremental, flexible, and intuitive manner. This is true for me as the CEO because I’ve always planned the strategies, objectives, and agendas for the team in prior to the meetings as well as addressing them again during the meeting. Before the meetings, I always proposed the strategies and objectives to the team in different forms such as messages in the group chat or emailing them to the team members just in case I don’t deliver them clear enough during the meeting. This is because it allows time for me to formulate and prepare my ideas in my head and present them to the team in a clear and effective manner. Yukl (2013) says that characteristic managerial roles emphasize the types of activities commonly expected of managers. One of those roles that are important for me as the CEO is the leader role. This means that I am responsible for making the team function as an integrated whole in the pursuit of its purpose. However, I lack the important spokesperson role which is responsible for delivering information and expressing value statements to people outside our team. Even though it doesn’t always occur, it is essential for me to improve communication under pressure in order to become a better CEO.

To address this problem in the future, I will practice and improve my confidence in speaking under pressure as well as improving my English language. I will do this by continuing with my Toast Masters program as it is designed to improve my communication and public speaking skills. As for the team, I will make sure that everyone understands me clearly during the discussions and the meetings and point out anything that they are unsure of.

References

  • Yukl, G. A. (2013). Nature of managerial work (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Yufan Huang, let me begin by saying that I admire your honesty in this post. I also really like that there is a very clear problem that comes through, and that you also arrive at a very specific and relevant idea to try, that being toastmasters. I was a Toastmaster for many years and I can say that it was extremely useful to me; on the other hand, much of what you wrote also resonated with my own experiences of being under pressure and struggling to remember what I had thought I was going to say. In fact, I'd be surprised if this experience isn't common for pretty much everyone in this course, so take heart that you are not alone.

    Now I'd like to make some comments in the way of feedback on your post that step back, if you will, a little further from the issue and resolution that you have (actually rather eloquently) expressed. I can see that you've followed the Daudelin framework in the way that you've structured your post, which is excellent. What I left pondering a little is actually to do with the theory that you've used in your analysis. In reading this I found myself at times wondering what the exact link was with the theory you've used in terms of a logical procession from your problem to its resolution. I have no doubt that this makes sense to you, so please don't read this as me saying it doesn't make sense. What I am saying, though, is that I think you could improve on the explicitness of your argument/logic.

    I'll try to flesh this out some more so you can see what I mean. So when I read the way you are bringing Yukl into this conversation I get two different pictures. The first part seems to say that actually strategy doesn't depend on some grand vision speech but is created in moments more mundane. Cool. But what is the point you are making here in relation to your problem statement? It's too ambiguous to me at least. Are you saying that it doesn't actually matter that you sometimes don't say what you mean? And so are you saying, therefore, that the thing you've learnt is that you don't need to be embarrased, etc.? If so–which by the way is a lovely insight–it doesn't come through clearly and so you could improve the way in which you make what is obvious to you more obvious to us. This means making sure that you've explicitly noted what this means in relation to your problem.

    But the real reason I find this ambiguous is actually because of the second way you use Yukl, which seems–again to me at least–to imply that Yukl says CEOs are expected to be leaders and so THEREFORE you should step it up and get better at communicating your grand vision. Hopefully you can see how this seems to contradict the otherwise lovely insight that the first part seemed to convey. You seem to accept this point far too uncritically, especially since the first picture you gave us of Yukl gave you plenty of ammo to deconstruct this claim.

    Overall then, there was something missing in the chain of logic that left me still a bit puzzled as to how each step moved from the problem to the resolution of (continuing) going to toastmasters. By the way, that continuing part is quite significant too. This is because if you are already a member at toastmasters then it remains unclear what you have really taken away from this reflection. The point here is that if toastmasters hasn't already solved your problem of speaking confidently then why do you believe it still will? Don't get me wrong here: there are many reasons to think this, of course. For example, public speaking is a skill that takes a lot of practice and toastmasters provides it. All this is great and may well have been exactly what you meant. The key takeaway from me, however, is that the insights that have resonated for you in connnecting Yukl to your experience of embarrasment and its resolution need to be spelled out more so that we can understand and appreciate the lovely learning that is going on for you.

    Josh

  2. Hi Josh

    Thank you for your feedback, I will definitely make sure to expand and explain my logic clearer in my future journals. When I first mentioned Yukl, I didn't mean that it doesn't matter that I sometimes don't tell people what I mean. I do in person try to express what I mean as much as I can and most times it is fine and I can get my point through, but as I said it happens randomly and sometimes the words don't come out like I want them to be. I mentioned Yukl because not only do I discuss strategic decisions with my team members in the formal meetings, I also discuss strategic decisions again with them on the group chat or through email where it is in a more flexible and intuitive manner so that I can make sure that they understand my point just in case I don't present them clearly enough in person. In other words, Yukl tells me that it is okay for me to discuss plans in a more flexible and intuitive manner where I know I can get my idea through to everyone to make up for any embarrassments. I did not in any way mean that the strategy does not depend on grand vision speech, I mean that grand vision speeches are just as important but it isn't the ONLY way I deliver the grand vision.

    For the second quote from Yukl, I mean that CEOs are expected to be leaders and should also be excellent at communicating the grand vision. However, I realised that I need to improve on communicating in person. This is because if I were to improve my communication skills, I would not embarrass myself in the future so I wouldn't need to back it up again with messages. Therefore, instead of repeating myself on the group chat, I could use time more efficiently and perhaps discuss more strategic plans with the team.

    I said that I would continue going to Toastmasters to improve my confidence and communication skills is because I've only joined for a few weeks and I am a very new member of the program. I do find it helpful with the first few meetings that I've been to, but it does take a lot more practices for me to improve in order to solve the problem. I apologise that I did not mention this earlier. Again, thank you for your constructive feedback. 

    All the best,

    Allen

  3. Hi Yufan Huang,

    the honesty of your reflection that you put forward in this post is very remarkable and for me it is the perfect example as to why the journals offer tangible value. As somebody whose first language is not English and a CEO for this course, I want to say that I have complete empathy with the issues you have raised in this journal. While that offers you no benefit, I always think that knowing what one experiences is shared by others helps. 

    First off, I see that you have clearly put thought into this journal. You have a very systematic approach and bring your points across clearly by following Daudelin's 4 step method to reflecting and learning. I understand what issue you face and how you have begun working on resolving it. I read Josh's feedback, which he provided above. I see the arguments he is making and can second them in arguing that more explicit labeling of your problem in relation with the theory would help. However, I personally would argue that the connection is already there and the wanted improvement is not as significant as it may sound. The context you provided in your second paragraph certainly provides enough context for me to understand your theoretical approach later on in your journal. For the future all I can say is to make sure to continue to provide this reflective insight, otherwise you would have to flesh out your analysis you provide. I hope that makes sense, if not that is totally on me and I will happily elaborate. 

    Beyond that this is a great learning journal that has actually shown meaningful learning. It certainly puts the learning journals I have produced into perspective, making it clear that I myself have to step up my game. I know that offers you with no feedback to improve your work, but I thought I should acknowledge it.

    On a personal note, without wanting to sound too sappy, I can relate to having issues communicating. I have gone through the same experience that you outlined above and it isn't pleasant and it definitely makes your role as CEO tricky. Seeing that you have begun to work on your public speaking is great and I applaud you recognizing the need to improve. For now though (and this comes only from reading your journal, so take it with a grain of salt) I think that you come across as a competent CEO. Everybody has things they want to work on and one cannot be perfect at everything. You actually recognize what needs improvement and work on it, which in my book is so much better than what most people do. I wish you all the success with your toastmaster experience and very much hope you get tangible benefits from it making you more comfortable with public speaking.

    All the best,
    Chris

  4. Hi. 

    I really enjoyed reading this journal entry as it has expressed the things you are struggling with being the CEO of a team. I also liked how you used Daudelins method of reflection in this process. I think one way this could be improved is not just having Yuki's point of view but maybe another readings (person's) view on CEO and leadership. For example the reading "In the Praise of followers" this reading does outline some of the characteristics that leaders should have, and one of these is being able to motivate their followers. So applying this to your journal, because you had prepared for the meeting ahead beforehand you have also motivated the followers in the group too. You should also talk about some good aspects too.

    Good luck 

    Flynn