I say relationships because effective communication is only one side of the coin. Connection is the other.
As leaders one of the pitfalls is that you can speak to someone and they will take action. It can be totally one sided. You say go do this and they do. You can deliver a speech and watch the audience disengage or you can pitch a great idea and receiving low support or buy in. It simply takes more than your words to be a true leader of change.
“Speaking at someone is not the same as speaking with someone”
Leadership is most effective when the leader can inspire and motivated people to not only follow but internalize the goal and commit to the realization. It comes down to engaging with them to build a solid connection. Here are a few recommendations on building those connections.
- Listen to learn. Taking the time to listen builds awareness, demonstrates respect, builds perspective and uncovers concerns. It is often recounted people will not listen when they have not be heard.
- Know your audience. What is their interest, knowledge, or position on the issue to be discussed or spoken about? Talking over or under their knowledge level, failure to understand or not recognizing their beliefs, perspectives or position will be speaking to deaf ears and made up minds.
- Speak to the person not the situation. Always remember speaking to the person will ensure higher engagement because it is personal. You need them to participate not observe. Speak with them not about them.
- Speak about the concerns. Don’t make the problem about the person make it about the circumstances, situation or behavior. Offending the person shuts them down, where as asking for involvement / clarification in addressing potential solutions encourages dialogue and maintains respect.
- Don’t assume build the facts. Observations are fine when they are made to bring out more facts not represent the only facts. Asking a leading question is more effective that taking a position not yet determined, validated or accepted.
- Offer WIN / WIN. Solutions that allow both side to claim success are the ones that have the best chance at realizing lasting benefits because it give both sides a reason to uphold the agreement. As a leader you may have the power to force compliance, however, good leaders know and practice the ability to connect and build the relationships that produce engagement, partnerships, mutual fulfillment and solid sustainable results.
- Speak only what you believe and are passionate about. Good leaders are genuine, passionate and believable. Ask only for what’s necessary and only for things you would be willing to do given a chance in circumstances.
- Avoid the fork tongue -follow through. You word is your bond only when your words are followed up by the action you take. There is an old and wise saying, “Listen to the words but believe their actions.”
- Servant leadership is the best way to inspire / facilitate the success of others leading to the realization of the desired outcome. Now do this leader’s get at best what they ask for but no more.
- Achieving a connected relationship is not an event it’s an ongoing partnership born of mutual respect, trust and admiration.