Effective communication is essential to leading a team successfully. From a business perspective, effective communication may very well be the difference between obtaining or retaining clients and customers – or not. What about non-profits? Yup, communication is key here as well. Communication is important everywhere – business, non-profits, family, grocery store – everywhere. Communicating effectively to your team is just as important (more important?) as communicating with your clients, customers, and volunteers.
What is effective communication?
Effective communication is different from person to person and team to team, and really depends on the stage the team of people are in. Tuckman’s stages of group development of forming, storming, norming, and performing, increase the ease of effective communication over time. Teams in the forming stage need to communicate clearly, more frequently, and perhaps in more detail to ensure the message is understood. As the team grows together closer to the performing stage, each member learns how the other communicates, including body language, written, and oral communication, making communication easier and quicker.
At some point, teams may not even need to communicate as they are so in tune with each other that they know what the other is thinking or will do before it even happens. Military special operations units such as the Army Special Forces or Navy SEALS are a great example of this. A simple look, hand gesture, or mutual understanding of what to do in certain situations increases the ease of communication (of course these guys have trained for years together to get to this point).
But you don’t need to be a Navy SEAL to communicate effectively.
How do we communicate effectively?
Communicating effectively requires an understanding of what is being said. To ensure understanding, the communicator needs to confirm that what was said was actually heard. This can be done by validating what was said. There are many ways to do so, but these 3 are quite effective:
Next week I will discuss how this can help your team, grow your clients, and delight them with effective communication.
As we wrap up 2016, I recommend developing a reading list to really set the tone for 2017. Amongst those books on your list, I suggest adding these great leadership reads to your list. This is not an all-inclusive list, and they are in no particular order. Take a few minutes, review this list, and find the ones that interest you. Feel free to share your favorite leadership, management, or business related book with us here. Have a great New Year!
Jared W. Snow
The Leadership Challenge
If you are confused about what people want from a leader than look no further. The Leadership Challenge is a well written and researched book will help leaders understand that members of a team want the same basis qualities in all leaders.
Principle Centered Leadership
The title says it all. Principle Centered Leadership makes a compelling case establishing character and principles as foundational to the leadership enterprise.
Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman takes the concept of Emotional Quotient (EQ) and applies it to the leadership process. A must for anyone who wants to understand how emotions impact our ability to think as well as lead.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell clearly illustrates the value as well as the pitfalls of going with our gut instincts. He also demonstrates why more systematic and rational approaches do not always lead to correct response either. Gladwell's treatise will help you strike the right balance in your life and work.
The Wisdom of Teams
The Wisdom of Teams by Katzenbach and Smith is the best book in the field on the subject. Leadership is about building high performance teams and these two authors provide valuable insight into making teams happen.
What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful
Marshall Goldsmith discusses traits and habits that may have worked to get you to where you are now, but will not work to get you further in life, at your job, with your friends or family. A great read to help you take the next step in life, successfully.
The Peter Principle
How is it that the under-achiever gets promoted or the less-than-competent coworkers get transferred to a less demanding position? The Peter Principle is an easy read and discusses these phenomena and more, that many of us have experienced at some point in our careers.
So, what do you do when you feel like a hypocrite, when your professional life and your personal life seem to contradict each other. You may have heard someone say that a house cleaners house is never as clean as the one they worked on that day or the general contractor’s house is in more need of work than you once thought possible. Shoot, I have had marriage counselors that have been divorced – doesn’t that just seem odd?
I am not referring to the complete double-sided life of proselytizing a drug-free life during the day and abusing drugs at night. I am referring to the issue of being good at leading others at work for example, but struggling to do the same at home.
Well, there are a number of reasons why this could be true. They are burnt out from their day doing their profession and just don’t have it in them to do it anymore (whatever it is). Perhaps they do what they do because they have learned so much from their own life that they want to help others (in the case of the divorced marriage counselor), makes sense right?
(But, shouldn’t our professional and personal life be the same, at least similar, in how we handle them?)
We all learn from the example set before us. We are more likely to follow what we see, rather than choose not to follow what we see unless it completely contradicts our personal and professional beliefs, morals, or ethics. So how do we follow the example of someone giving advice, for example, when they don’t even practice what they preach, so to speak?
The truth is, they (we, you, me) may be sharing advice based on their (yours, my) own experiences of making the wrong decisions. Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else’s, right? If you feel like a hypocrite for mishandling one aspect of your life, while doing another very well, chances are you need to reprioritize your life and make sure you are applying an appropriate balance of your time, energy, finances, etc. in all that you do.
To be honest, I have been feeling more and more like a hypocrite lately. Struggling at home while talking and writing about leading others. I know I am not the only one. But, it is time for a change for me. Is it a time for a change for you? What will you do? Please share with me at email@example.com, and let’s grow together.
Jared W. Snow
You have just determined that you would like a mentor. How do you make the most out of your new or potential mentor/mentee relationship? Well, why is it that you want a mentor? Some of your responses should be:
As the mentee, you should be the one to seek a mentor. Now, if you are a part of a great organization or have great leadership (or both), then chances are someone may approach you and either recommend you find a mentor and offer to mentor you. Some may even mentor you without making it “official”.
If nobody approaches you, then you find them. As mentioned a few weeks ago, find someone who:
You may even find a couple of mentors based on your roles in life. Perhaps a professional mentor or coach at work, a non-profit board member, perhaps a church leader. Many people have multiple roles in life and each role may have a mentor specific to that function. Some may need a coach more than a mentor in some areas (I will touch on coaching next week).
You now have an idea of why you need a mentor and what you are looking for in a mentor. So, what is your part in all of this? Take a quick look at last week’s post about being a mentor. Towards the end I listed 7 things to consider when mentoring (these are by no means the only things to consider). As the mentee, you will do something along the same lines. So, consider these when being mentored:
If you noticed, number 7 is the same from the mentor list. You will both learn and make mistakes as you go through this process and develop your relationship. It is a journey, not checklist. Enjoy your relationship as you both learn from each other and you gain new insights and wisdom from your mentor.
Jared W. Snow
The strength of a leader is what propels them to great success in leading their team, achieving the team’s mission and vision while providing superior leadership, motivation, and support to the individual members within the team. Many people can tell you their strengths, but few are able (or willing) to tell you their weaknesses. As a leader, it is important to know the strengths and weakness of your team – and yourself – so you can properly manage your team.
A strength is the attribute one has that surpasses other attributes within themselves, and may also exceed that of others. Basically, this is the one thing (or several things) that you are the best at – motivating people through positive means, managing complex projects while remaining calm, inspiring others to achieve great results, and so on.
A weakness is the opposite of a strength. This is the attribute one has that needs the greatest improvement. This is the thing (or things) that you struggle with the most; you likely cringe at the thought of doing it. This may be public speaking, organizing a project meeting, or developing standard operating procedures.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses
Yes, you and I both have strengths as well as weaknesses. Everyone does. Weaknesses are also relative to strengths. For example, an Olympic boxer may have a knock-out right hook but may need to improve his left jab. His weakness is his left jab. Similarly, a published author and international speaker may be better at public speaking than writing. Her weakness is writing. To the average person, they are great at both – there is no appearance of a weakness. Keep in mind that having a weakness does not make one weak. A weakness is just the area where one needs improvement.
Managing strengths and weaknesses to success
Once your team’s strengths and weaknesses are known, you can then properly assign best person for the job. This will increase the probability of success as you are placing the right person in a job based on their strengths. For example, you would place an individual with excellent communication skills in a marketing position; however, you would not place someone with little computer skills in a help desk position.
However, it is the leader’s responsibility to improve the individual’s and team’s weaknesses so they become better in these areas – they become more effective overall. Weaknesses should be improved upon regularly, to bring them closer to a strength, and if not a strength then to a level of confidence and competence. Placing individuals and teams in positions that require the use of a weakness should be done to improve them, resulting in professional development and growth.
A strength becomes a weakness
As you manage your team and improve identified weakness, it is equally important to continually maintain or improve its strengths. A strength ignored becomes a weakness over time. This applies greatly to perishable skills such as IT work. It is easier to stay current than to start over from the beginning.
Great strengths handled incorrectly
Your greatest strength may be your greatest weakness if leveraged too heavily and mismanaged.
I will use myself as an example. One of my strengths is I see the positive in situations and people. I tend to be an optimist, desire to help others succeed, and am often considered a “nice guy.” How could this be a bad thing? Enter my weakness. By giving people the benefit of the doubt too often, I lose sight of some people’s intent to “pull a fast one” on me. This quickly becomes a “give an inch and they will take a mile” moment. What do you do in this situation? Follow a, “don’t take my kindness for weakness” attitude and remain caring but firm.
A summary… in bullets.
Jared W. Snow