Leadership Matters - Part 2 (05/18/2016)
In my last blog I wrote about how leadership matters. Specifically that the leader's image and hidden messages impact their teams' behaviors. I believe that wholeheartedly. I believe it because I've observed it and nothing is more observable than our presidential primary races. Again - this is not a political blog - I am a leadership/management blogger. However, we are learning a HUGE amount about leadership and the leader's impact on others from these races. I'd like to focus on leadership communication this go around.
My first observations are these: Of the three viable candidates, the candidates that are creating the most excitement and the biggest buzz are easily understood. You know who those two are. One candidate, however, is is doing well but under suspicion because nobody is really sure what she's saying, or what she stands for. Confusion it seems thwarts trust, i.e., if I can't understand you must be lying. So here's the crazy thing: one candidate is promising to build a wall that he can and will never build (you know I'm right), the other is promising free stuff that he can never deliver on in my lifetime (right again), and the third is promising continuous improvement to the status quo but no one believes her. How come?
Leaders must shape public opinion not reflect it. A great leader is always informing - not reacting. He must surround himself with a diversity of thought so that consensus can be built, continuous learning achieved and the direction is forward. The leader shares her vision and demonstrates the courage to respect what is or what was while depicting what will be. That is the hard work of visionary leadership. Compared to that, the next steps are relatively easy:
- Communicate respectfully, enthusiastically, honestly and directly.
- Be courageous enough to tell the truth and let folks know what's in it for them.
- Convert confusion to action and hard work. Show them the path.
- Convince them to follow you - the leader - and that with courage and hard work you'll be successful together.
- Remember, a leader is only successful when she can achieve success that's shared.
About leadership communication, the key takeaways are these:
- Don't tell your team what they want to hear and play off their "feelings". Channel those feelings into positive thought and action by articulating a vision
- Communicate truthfully always. Don't make promises that can't or shouldn't be kept just to provide instant gratification for yourself and your team. It's not fair and a waste of energy.
- Be professional and direct when delivering your message whether good or bad. It shortens the adjustment period and allows your team to operate productively.
- Build a diverse network so that your vision and message have a broad appeal and incorporates diverse ideas and thought processes, and,
- Never stop. Change is constant so your message must be an evolving entity that will reflect current trends and new thinking!
You can't hang on to a past that no longer works in the present. Your energy must be used to make progress; by understanding the reality of today, where you want to go from here and the plan to get you there. Allowing yourself to believe that backward is possible is a waste of energy. Leaders owe you more than that for your trust. Follow the leader that tells you the truth and shows you the plan. Real leaders will be sure in their convictions, forthright and organized. You'll never regret the truth. Pandering for followers is eventually transparent and off-putting.
I use business coaching and mentoring to help you set goals, develop a plan and communicate that plan with maximum impact. Contact Beth for more information.
I am learning so much from the political season. I think I have enough fodder, fuel and facts to write a few more blog bits. This is the greatest show on earth and I thank my lucky stars that I live in a country where it's put out there, warts and all, for us to see.