Leading Your Team With Bold Communication, Part 2
The world is changing. We all recognize that. Over time, people and culture shift. Leadership practices that were once effective suddenly no longer work or sometimes even become detrimental to an organization’s mission. You may recognize the problem and seek to correct it or you may be inadvertently leading your organization off of a cliff. This shift of society puts leaders in a precarious spot – if your leadership is going to continue to be effective in a changing world, it must change as well!
We started digging into this topic in Issue 88 of the Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report when we began discussing how to Lead With SPICE – strategies for bold communication that will change your team. In that issue, we looked at the “S” of SPICE – being Strategic in all that you do, say, or write – making sure that everything has a purpose and that that purpose builds toward your organization’s mission and goals. We discussed having a purpose that changes the world to be a better place and we also discussed how the organization you’re leading can be your business, your family, a non-profit group – any group where you play a lead role.
Strong leaders pay painstaking attention to their communication – aside from servant leadership and living by example, their communication has the greatest impact on their organization. Here are the other parts of SPICE, and in this issue we’re looking at the “P” – the importance of communicating in ways that are Profound – ways that stir people.
- Crystal Clear
Let’s dig in!
Definition: Having deep insight or understanding
I like to think of this as the core of Leadership because this is where you shift peoples’ hearts from one trajectory to a different trajectory. To me, leadership is all about getting people off of their own agendas and on board with the agenda of your organization. We do that by saying things they have never heard before – by stirring their hearts and souls in ways that make them want to shift direction and devote their lives and efforts to new things. This is not easily done – people are strong willed. But yet research shows that, now more than ever, people want to be led and inspired to new ideas and new ways. They are tired of the status quo and craving new ways of looking at and interacting with the world.
Have you ever had that experience as a leader when it suddenly clicked for you what the true responsibility of leadership is? I remember years ago when I first realized that good leadership can actually MOVE people in ways that will change the world for the better. (Sadly, bad leadership can do the converse of this.) It’s an awesome responsibility to be in the position you’re in as a leader but, on the other hand, as a leader, whether in a big or small way, you have answered a call to change the world. And, to do that, you must have a message that motivates change in individuals’ behavior – you must be Profound.
Here’s a real problem in leadership today – many leaders shortchange the importance of what they say. They act more like they are just along for the ride than trying to guide their ship into new waters. And, as a result, organizations flounder – they have no clear goals or direction. When you’re a leader, like it or not, people WANT to hang on every word you say. Your words are profound to them – carrying great weight. When you look at leaders in our world, you see a few who realize just how true this is, and they really start to capture the hearts and minds of people. On the other hand, you see many who miss the mark and even though they may be in a leadership position, they don’t really excite us. A common symptom of that is when they are trying to lead people onto an agenda that solely benefits them as the leader – it does not benefit any greater good.
Your words carry weight with those you’re leading. Problems arise when we say things without really thinking them through. Sometimes we’re just speaking off the cuff, or trying to process things when we speak but, as a leader, those listening to us will still put total weight on what we say, whether we do or not! Those following you want to be led and, if you don’t lead them in new and exciting directions, they will eventually find someone or something else that will.
I know that sometimes I drive my co-workers nuts with the way I do this but one thing I have learned to do is, if I am just tossing out an idea for discussion – and I do not want it to be taken as gospel quite yet — I will start out by saying “Now, this is only an idea I want to toss out for discussion and to see what we all think about it.” I have learned that, if I don’t do that, then some very bad repercussions can result. For example, if I am not careful, I may throw out the idea of putting a window in the wall of our conference room during a 10 a.m. meeting and, by noon, the sledge hammers are lined up and ready to go. (Don’t laugh – that almost happened a few months ago.)
If you’re going to say something, make sure that it’s worthwhile. Make sure that it is accurate and meaningful. Make sure that it stirs souls and moves hearts. Developing these messages will take time and must be done with great thought and planning. The best leaders I have ever known were usually very quiet and they took plenty of time to process things. They didn’t want to rush headlong into things and lead their business or organization into disaster. There’s an old saying that is attributed to both Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain but it is so true in leadership – better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt! My friends, take your time in speaking … develop your messages carefully … choose your words wisely.
Clay Mathile, who sold IAMS Pet Foods to Proctor and Gamble for either 2.3 or 3.2 billion dollars (I always forget which but, really, does it make any difference?) advises leaders to never make a decision before they have to. That surprises a lot of people because we tend to assume that good leaders are proactive, hard charging, always ahead of the game. But Clay understands the importance of being Profound in all he does – you never want to do or say anything that isn’t well thought through and has some depth to it. You need to think about your words and actions – be purposeful. Because those well thought through things will drive people to action.
My favorite example when I talk about the importance of being Profound in what we say is Jesus Christ. Think about it — He had three years of active ministry to change the world and to set mankind on a trajectory that would last through the ages. Was Jesus careful in what He said? Was He profound by talking in terms of deep, meaningful truths? Was He radical by saying things that were out of the ordinary and made people sit up and take notice? Absolutely! As evidenced by the Gospels, we can see that He was all of those things. If not, would we still be talking about Him 2000 years later? Undoubtedly no. Lots of people walked this earth 2000 years ago but there’s only one who still inspires us today to the degree He does. Jesus was Profound, making Him a world-changer.
So, are you careful in what you say as a leader? Do you always remember that your followers will place great weight on what you say? Are you saying things that are deep and radical enough to make people take notice – to get them off of their agendas and onto your organization’s agenda – an agenda that will change the world?
I hope so. Because this drive toward something unique is what drives organizations of all types including families, to greatness.
Please feel free to email me with stories of your leadership experiences – we can learn and grow together! Meanwhile, watch for a future issue of the Executive Report when we will move on to the I of our SPICE – being Inspirational.