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.
The problem is obvious. Merely going through the motions of business planning won’t get the desired results, it will get the obvious ones.
Imagine you paid good money to see a professional sporting event and the participants sauntered onto the playing field looking out of shape and under prepared. They go through the motions lacking the significant passion or commitment obviously required and not really caring if they win or lose. Clearly this would not be acceptable.
Similarly, when you take the time and expense to take your “key” staff offsite you should NOT accept such behavior. It’s the leader’s role to inspire and harness the passions of their staff by providing a vision bigger than the individuals and requiring collaboration, innovation and collective purpose. It’s the senior staff’s responsibility to create a culture of accountability and commitment to one another, their employees and the company in pursuit of the desired results. That’s how teams work and results are achieved.
Here are the wrong signs:
- You plan the event weeks in advance and people reluctantly show up unprepared.
- Presentations requested show up late of the requested deadline and are incomplete.
- Participants take every opportunity to get their phone out and keep in touch with the office.
- The event is all fluff and form but lacks substance.
- No one believes anything of value will result from the exercise. Often based on past experiences.
- AND I AM SURE YOU CAN ADD FIVE MORE OF YOU OWN!
“You get what you accept so expect more and get more”
So how do you solve this –you get serious!
- Define the purpose of the event and what success looks like.
Make it clear that the purpose of the event is to discuss the issues or initiatives required to address the critical needs of the business. Be specific in advance and charge your people to come to the meeting prepared with answer and solutions. Create the expectation that this meeting is of upmost importance and requires participants to bring their “A” game.
- This is not a 1 -2 day event, it is the launching plan of the key business initiatives the organization will commit to successfully achieving. Defining both the strategy and execution in actionable specific steps is a must. These are not optional nice to haves and failure to achieve then is not an acceptable option, so debates and commitments made are real and achievable.
- Check your distractions at the door. Ensure the office knows these people are unavailable for the duration of the event. They can check in after the event. If the staff can’t manage without then for the day ask why.
- Make the event real. Deal with real issues or real opportunities. I will add several links at the conclusion of this post for those who want clarification. Walking out of that event without full understanding and commitment is not acceptable. Make your Strategy Real.
- Strategy without execution is of no value. If you have a goal you need a realistic plan to achieving it. Poor execution is almost always the leading cause of failure of strategic plan initiatives. Most goals are achievable given focus, passion, commitment and enduring commitment. The execution plan needs to be a living document that guides and measures your progress throughout the year.
- If at any time during the meeting inappropriate levels of attention, intensity or lack of effort or commitment / buy in is observed, stop the meeting and address the causes before proceeding. Don’t let the meeting deteriorate.
In summary, the difference in producing and executing a successful Strategic Plan is setting and maintaining the expectation that the organization will commit to, and realize the stated business initiatives by taking the actions to make it real.
Make Your Strategy Real
Look Back to move forward