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.
Perhaps it is all in your perception, but, personally I feel best and perform best when I see my tasks and actions as an opportunity to create and share value. I view these as events that brand me. These are things I am most proud of.
Whereas when I find myself acting out of pure obligation I feel that I am sacrificing something or doing something that I don’t want to. In most cases, this occurs when I am doing something for someone I view as non deserving of unappreciative of my actions. Typically I approach these actions with low energy and low personal satisfaction.
Now here’s the truth. Both situations define and brand you. As an individual, I feel, you must find value in your actions even if the recipient is not an avid cheerleader. It’s your actions that you control not the action of others that count. If it’s good it’s good either way.
Our personal brand is the standard we aspire to. Our actions either support that standard or not and it’s all under our control. Have not defined your personal brand yet it’s not too late. Here a couple of actions to help you along.
- Listen to your heart, mind and soul. Define yourself in the most positive light.
- Identify the as is. Take an honest look at those actions / things that align to the most positive you and also those things that don’t.
- Determine the list of things you’ll like to change ranking them in most important and urgent to less important and less urgent.
- Realize you can’t get up the next morning a changed person, but, you can get up the next morning a more determined person with a plan to strive towards your most positive you.
- Realize you have the rest of your life ahead of you and while the past is written your future is yet to be realized and will be defined by your actions going forward.
- Be accountable to yourself and others. Your actions create your person brand. Evaluate the person you strive to be against the person seen by others. Be consistent and walk you image. Make a promise and consistanty meet it.
- Be genuine. Being true to yourself means never having to act. Chase negativity replacing it with positivity.
- Be accepting of you minor faults and those of others. We’re humans and not perfect.
- See the world through multicolored glasses. Consider the many / alternative perspectives as relevant not just your own. Don’t fall victim to your personal biases and blind spots.
Taking control of your personal brand ensures you act and behave in a manner consist with you beliefs, values and ambitions. Living a life full of opportunities and with no regrets is largely under your control and within your reach. Making obligations into opportunities to contribute can shift and energize your perception into alignment with the most positive you.
Stop talking and listen. The key to achieving effective delegation of work is to foster bi-directional communication where clarity can be established and details defined.
“I know you heard what I said but you didn’t understand what I meant”
This happens all the time. As the leader it is your responsibility to take measures to ensure the success of your employees. Where many leaders fall short is delegating responsibilities and not providing for the opportunity for the employee to fully understand and validate the assignment. Waiting to the deadline to find out the assignment wasn’t understood and will not be completed to desired expectations is courting failure -yours not theirs.
Message verification is critical.
I use a 3 question approach.
1) Do you and your employee understand what the successful outcome looks like? Have them tell you what they have heard. Are they comfortable with the assignment? Right here you can validate employee understanding of the desired outcome and set them up for success.
2) Can your employee or team identify their strategy, tactics or actions to achieve the desired outcome? It’s key that they can articulate their approach indicating both ownership and competency. This is an excellent question to disclose potential issues, as well as an opportunity to mentor, offer supportive suggestions to increase the likelihood of success.
3) Any issues, obstacles, concerns or assistance required is identified. This signals to your employee that you are not delegating and departing but will remain an active resource. Many initiatives will encounter unforeseen obstacles and as leaders your ongoing support and mentorship is invaluable.
Collectively these questions increase the likelihood of getting an on time and successful outcome. Additionally, I recommend scheduled progress reviews to ensure the employees success is on track. Good leaders empower, equip and support. This does not mean micromanagement so be sure to support and not direct.