Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Responding To Good Leadership This Year

January 6, 2017

Responding has been the word of the week. It started with a talk I heard which ended with a conclusion about responding, and I thought, wow, if he’d have used responding as his theme, then the talk would not have wandered and it would have been powerful. So, I started thinking about various ways we respond starting with people from the Bible.

Friday is often leadership day at Faith Venture, so I wondered about how leaders set the tone of the organization to get a beneficial response. Here are a few thoughts you might be able to use this year in whatever you might be leading–committee, department, company, non-profit organization.

Vision – Effective leaders are responding to a cause, problem, need. They don’t just say to themselves, “I just want to be the boss.” People like that may be managers. Or they may be ineffective leaders that end up in some sort of mess. But the good ones know where they’re going. It’s a cause or fills a need. It’s big enough to get others involved.

Communicate – Effective leaders can articulate the vision in 40 words or less. Peter Drucker says it should fit on a T-shirt. I’m part of an organization that has two statements. They call them “mission” and “vision”, but in reality they are statements of vision. And each is too long. Last year they re-wrote them after 12-14 years and said the same thing using more words. I heard about the process and offered some suggestions. They dropped me from the mailing list immediately. <sigh> Beyond the written statement, effective leaders talk about the vision at every opportunity. If someone suggests a new initiative, they ask, “Does it fit the vision?” Everyone in the organization should be familiar with the vision.

Decisions – Effective leaders assure that decisions are made in a timely manner. They either make decisions promptly and clearly, or they give people closest to the action the power to make decisions with clear guidelines.

Process – Effective leaders pay close attention to system and process of how things get done. If things are not happening the way you like, look at the process before you try to fix the people. The process may be set up to assure failure.

Execution – Effective leaders know that vision is worthless unless you get something done. If it is a business, then you must satisfy customer needs and make a profit. If it is a non-profit, you must serve your clients well, and assure adequate funding for the work. They encourage, no insist upon, collaboration. I had a boss with a gift for words who would pull together an ad hoc team and say, “Why don’t you gather like the witches in Macbeth and solve this problem.” Fair is foul…oh, that’s another essay. 

Here’s to a more effective 2017.

Leadership-How Does Your Team Communicate

July 29, 2016

Email is bad for you and your team because we get too many messages every day and the important internal emails get mixed up with other correspondence with people from the outside world.–Michael Sliwinski, Founder and CEO of Nozbe

Has your team ever been caught up in long chains of emails? Someone proposes an idea or someone else attacks something. Then another person “replies all”, and another, and another. Soon you’re reading down through a horrendous chain with blood pressure rising by the second.

It’s happened to me many times. I’ve also gotten caught in the problem where the important message dropped to the bottom of the list buried by the unimportant minutiae.

A few years ago I walked away from a couple of jobs that paid very well. My earnings are a little smaller, but expenses are down. And my email load? Cut by 80%. Some days I almost feel lonely.

Sliwinski says about his company, “To solve this problem we designed a new way to communicate: we use email for the outside world and something else for ‘internal communication.’ We use two apps for that: Slack and Nozbe.”

There’s a new book “Under New Management” by David Burkus that I heartily recommend. It includes some unconventional management practices, and one of them is apparently banning email. Sliwinski says it’s something he did in his company three years ago. “Something I didn’t think was new but now I see it really is. Whenever I talk about ‘No Office,’ people ask me about my email policy and they’re surprised that we banned email in our company. They give me this ‘Can you do that?’ face. Of course you can. You actually should if you want to have a productive environment for your team. Only allow email to the “outside world” and ban email within your team.”

It is worth the effort to evaluate how your team communicates. Then find the best tool. And, by the way, don’t check email every 30 seconds! Sometimes I get caught in an endless loop of answering messages. It’s asynchronous. You can choose when to answer. Choose wisely.

Leaders Are Communicators

October 9, 2015

Reflecting on Paul, perhaps the greatest leader (outside of Jesus) in the early church. He came out of nowhere. He was not part of the inner circle. Heck, he wasn’t in any circles when Jesus was alive. We don’t hear about him until after the resurrection and the formation of the early church. And then he was an instigator.

Then, he was converted. He was taught. He was commissioned.

He visited little groups of followers and taught and preached. He encouraged them to grow in numbers and in strength of spirit.

He also wrote. That’s how we know about him today. We all study what he wrote way back then in letters that he could only hope would make it to their destinations, let alone make it into books that we read today.

He had a vision. He had passion. But he exploited that through his use of the written and spoken word.

Much as  I never much cared for Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, he did teach me one thing from his books–the importance of crafting your message as a leader and then speaking and writing that message at every opportunity. As a leader, you have to get your message out.

I have interviewed the senior leadership of a $7 billion automation company many times. I’ll interview the CEO, and he’ll give me the message. Then I’ll interview three or four senior vice presidents. They’ll all give me that message as it relates to their areas. Then I’ll talk to director level people. Same thing. The message gets through.

How about your organization? Does it have a message? Is it clearly articulated such that just about everyone can understand it? If I interviewed all the people in your organization, would they be able to tell me what the message is and be able to relate it to their role?

In some of the organizations where I am in a leadership role, I find myself communicating all the time. Emails, notes, brochures, phone calls, text messages, Facebook or Website. You’ve got to use every means available.

If you are working quietly away from people, you’re probably not leading.

The Art of Leadership Requires The Art of Communication

May 15, 2015

He just sort of went his own way. Left the others behind and bewildered. Instructions were muddled. Text messages with u and 4 and ty rather than spelled out, complete sentence communiques.

She could talk and talk; and then when you walked away you wondered, “Just what did she say?”

Worse still is the leader who just doesn’t talk, or text, or send emails.

A friend of mine used to say, “Just pick up the phone and call.”

The leadership lesson I’m contemplating today is when a leader does not communicate–either clearly or at all.

We all know them. We’ve worked for them. Maybe when we look in the mirror we see one.

In the Bible I can think of Joseph who clearly communicated–first to the king and then to the people and saved them from starvation. Daniel who spoke clearly to a number of kings and the people who served him.King David, who was able to give clear and explicit orders–even when they were wrong. Nehamiah. Oh, yes, Nehemiah. He spoke clearly to his leader to get permission to travel to Jerusalem. Then he spoke clearly to the leaders of the Jews when he arrived. And he did a great work.

Are you aware of your weakness in communication? I know that I’m a better writer than one-on-one communicator. I hate “just picking up the phone” even when I should.

Recently I know of a situation that I’m trying to rectify where there was almost a total breakdown of communications that almost wrecked a project. One person didn’t speak up. Another didn’t assure that he was undersood when he talked. Worse, most was done by brief email exchanges.

I consulted with an executive director of an agency once where I was trying to get him to see how to communicate with his board. It started from within, that he felt like an equal. That his opinion and vision mattered. And then he needed to take his vision to the board collectively and individually.

What I have learned through bitter experience–a leader must be a great communicator. There is no one correct style of communication. But she’d better have a good one and be good at it.