Why ‘5 Degrees’ Needs To Be Your New Work Mantra – Twelve Shifts to Improve Results

“You need to change the way you breathe,” sighed my speaking coach during a session one afternoon. Change the way I breathe? Really? How do I do that?

“You need to change the way you breathe,” sighed my speaking coach during a session one afternoon. Change the way I breathe? Really? How do I do that?

Sometimes the advice we hear or the beliefs we have about the degree of change needed to succeed seems impossible. Quantum leaps and 180-turnarounds are rarely possible. No one loses 100 pounds in a week, and no one becomes a Fortune 100 CEO straight out of college. The new mantra needs to be ‘Five Degrees’ — one step at a time.

Tad, a coaching client and senior executive, truly believes he is a strong communicator, motivator and team developer. His 360-degree survey results indicate the opposite. His team thinks he is condescending, arrogant and ineffective. Even Tad doesn’t need to make a 180-degree turn. The transformation he needs to make is all slight five-degree turns.

He stopped using superfluous words and began using clear, simple words. Instead of bringing spreadsheets of data to meetings, he would come prepared with a few strong questions and listen to his team. He changed his style of dressing, too. The suits he once wore contributed to the overly buttoned up, tight, patriarchal style. He started wearing business casual and appearing more approachable. By changing five degrees at a time, he regained the trust of the team and is much more effective as a leader.

The little things add up. Consider this. It’s Tuesday morning. The staff meeting begins at 9:30 am. You arrive at 9:15 (good five degree move: arrive early). There are seats at the table and the periphery of the room. Where do you sit? How do you “save your seat” while you get coffee or catch up with a colleague? Put your notebook and pen on the table and mingle until the meeting begins. Take a seat at the table, not one of the chairs outlining the room. Don’t miss your chance to be at the table. It’s a small step and makes a huge difference.

Rick, is the SVP of Digital for her television network. He always provides his boss with the numbers, data and PowerPoint decks for the annual budget presentations. He attends the presentations in case there are any questions. A five-degree shift: present the material yourself. Rick finally had the courage to ask his boss Kelly to present his portion of the budget. Kelly’s original intent was to spare Rick the anxiety of presenting and the stress of directly fielding the often interrogative questions. Kelly agreed. Rick practiced and prepared thoroughly. The senior leadership team was pleasantly surprised to see Rick present the budget presentation. He succinctly shared the information, skillfully responded to their questions and enhanced his personal brand as a valued member of the management team.

Requesting to present took courage, and it was a five-degree step. One question, “Can I present the deck?,” transformed the direction of Rick’s career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *