“Do I select leaders like ‘X’ or ‘Y’?”, was the question a Corporate Vice President posed to HR and Manufacturing many years ago. This VP wanted to find the best-of-the-best, analyze their management styles, strategies, and psyche, and then, employ a deliberate process to select like-minded leaders for tomorrow. In essence, he wanted to clone the successful leaders.
To begin a baseline process, he personally selected two leaders with different management styles who consistently delivered excellent results and built solid teams. “X” was a reserved introvert while “Y” was a flaming extrovert, which intrigued the VP. If one type is better than the other, which one is it? With the assignment to find answers, two consultants and HR interviewed the two leaders and conducted 360 interviews with their peers, superiors, and subordinates. They also administered psychological assessments and the Meyers-Briggs personality tendencies test.
Weeks later, they reported back to the VP, who started the conversation: “So, do I clone “X” or “Y”? The consultant’s answer: “it doesn’t make any difference!” The focused VP exclaimed, “you mean we pay you all that money for you to tell me that it doesn’t make any difference?!” The consultants quickly explained that both leaders were successful, even with different personalities, because they knew how to adjust their leadership to the situation AND, just as important, they adjusted their communication to the situation, taking into account the content, the business needs, and the differences in the people.
Success of the leaders and the subsequent success of the business, links back to communications:
1. A central part of a leader’s success starts and ends with mastering the age-old learned skill of communication, knowing what best works for the leader, for the team, and for the situation.
2. Whether the leader is an introvert or extrovert, detailed or intuitive, they can learn to communicate well.
3. The Key Principles and Best Practices of Communication are transferable and learned. No one is born with innate ability to communicate well.
4. THINK about Communications before you initiate it. Do not be impulsive with communications, which is particularly true the higher up you are in the organization since the influence is further reaching.
Those leaders with seemingly natural communications skills have, in reality, worked hard to get there. It’s not easy but it isn’t rocket science. “It doesn’t make any difference” who you are or the tendencies of your personality. You can learn to communicate well, which can lead to great understanding, which can lead to success of the organization.
…And Pass It On!
Quote from author Tony Robbins: “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
Best Principles and Practices of Communication unlock the full potential of organizations, relationships, and even families. The most successful people are so skilled at communication, it is seemingly central to their psyche and almost natural. The reality is that these people are disciplined to a learned strategic and tactical process.
So, continuing with Communications Best Practices from last week:
1. Communication is an expectation, being a line item on the performance appraisal.
2. All content is relevant and supportive to the business.
3. All content is tight and concise.
4. The Communication process is visible and easily accessible.
5. Messages deliberately cascade through the 360 communications process. Information relayed to leaders is expected to make it to the entire team, with feedback brought back.
6. Formal Communication Training primes leaders and teams to communicate right but IS FOLLOWED-UP on the frontlines with the leader’s personal coaching.
7. Audit Communications, with leaders taking laps on the frontlines to know if teams are thinking and acting right, and with formal “self” and HR audits.
8. Key Messages, a principle from last week, also merits mention as a Best Practice. Key messages link and align executives and teams. More on this in a later blog.
9. Repetition is routine and perceived as a positive part of the culture to ensure understanding, as is the same discipline of airplane pilots.
10. Flow charts, graphics, and photographs are used extensively. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a flow chart is worth ten thousand.
11. Executives lead the process: …and if the top executive doesn’t get it, leaders who understand must champion the communications cause themselves.
12. Be open …no secrets; no hidden agendas; be vulnerable; reveal passions and concerns.
13. Use new technologies and social media efficiently, effectively, and aggressively.
14. Emails are efficient and effective: Have a two-sentence summary at the start; 1 subject, 1 screen, & 1 attachment per email; reread to ensure tight and concise content before sending; eliminate orphan words; don’t instinctively “cc” everyone in a reply.
15. Personal voicemails are efficient and effective. Smile, which can be detected over the phone; say but little but say it well: “Hi, this is Mark’s voicemail. Please leave a message.”
Good Communication is as learned and intentional as perfect driving is to keep the organization on the road. Conversely, leaders who are impulsive and reactive must work much harder to gain understanding, encountering many bumps in the road and more failures.
Without learned Communications skills, a leader’s team fills in the gaps with their assumptions and deductions. Some will get it right and some won’t. So, be deliberate about learning it and disciplined about doing it!
…And Pass It On!
Quote from famous Viking leader, Rollo: “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.”