Leadership sometimes seems like a concept of change of form that lives just beyond our comprehension. We know that effective leadership is important, but there is no consensus on why or what great leadership looks like in action. If you read a few articles about leadership, you will probably get many lists of key qualities. This confusion should not be surprising, given that leadership is through communication – and everyone speaks in their own way.
My personal style of communication tends to be playful and, I hope, creative, so my latest thoughts on how great leaders communicate are in the form of mnemonics, which can be especially valuable for educational purposes. (Note that although this wording assumes static verticality, it will become clear that these leadership processes are in fact circular and recurring in a cycle.)
- Eto evaluate
- Rto answer
I focus on the observed practice of communication in organizations, rather than on the types of internal psychological styles or processes that are so common in discussions of leadership. We can never know exactly what another person thinks, but we know from experience that how that person communicates has a clear impact on other members of the organization and thus on the organization as a whole – especially if the person has a leadership role.
There is compelling evidence of the importance of effective listening for leaders. And 2020 study found that “active” and “respectful” listening by leaders was strongly associated with employee satisfaction and long-term organizational commitment. However, we do not need empirical data to understand the importance of listening to conversations in organizations – an elementary game between what the German philosopher of the late 19th century Martin Buber called “Me and You”. We are storytellers, and the story requires listening. Great leaders listen authentically and strategically because they care about the long-term success of their organization and the people who make that success possible.
Great leaders give voice to others by listening, but they don’t just listen. Best leaders listen, discover actionable ideas, formulate coherent stories that shape these understandings, and then engage people with passion and commitment to goals that reflect organizational values.
У previous article for TrainingIndustry.comi describe as “hostages inclusive, passionate, strategic, ethical and caring narrators and connected people, ideas and opportunities ”. Ethical activism is crucial because history teaches us the dangers of leaders who attract followers with destructive or negative goals. Honesty is about supporting and seeing others, and modeling honesty, inclusion, fairness, and transparency in all communication and action. Strategic engagement is to formalize engagement as a series of stories unfold that engage members of an organization to work together to achieve goals.
Outstanding leaders understand the importance of reconciling interesting mission-oriented stories with strong organizational values and with the current and often changing needs of team members. Effective alignment processes are never static, but rather transform and rotate as the organization responds to environmental influences and pressures, revises or creates performance goals, or adapts to changes in personnel.
“Leadership” in this context is not limited to leadership. At least one study concluded that for the success of managers as a leader it is necessary to agree on a strategy between the heads of departments and the CEO. A key mandate for leaders in any role is to constantly monitor compliance needs and transparently and jointly manage alignment.
When we learn to drive a car, we are taught to continuously scan for possible changes in the orientation of other vehicles, check the rear-view mirror for approaching vehicles and maintain a state of consciousness. The main formula is to purposefully travel to the destination, hardened by agility and sufficient risk reduction.
Great leaders control dynamic and complex organisms, not machines, so in addition to finding and navigating the road with foresight and awareness, they need to listen, engage, align, motivate and model for others the passion and honesty that will enable organizational success.
Outstanding leaders identify and activate significant evaluation indicators and processes to gauge the success of their leadership efforts. Then they know what to keep doing, what to calibrate and what to completely change. Employee engagement surveys are just one option. Other leadership assessment tools include data on staff turnover and field interviewsearnings and other financial performance indicators, an assessment of product and service innovation, and stock price trends.
Regardless of the tool they use, it is important that leaders jointly determine the specific organizational processes they want to measure. They can then implement assessment tools that will accurately and effectively measure these processes. Without robust evaluation protocols, leaders will make many ineffective and unproductive assumptions.
Finally, great leaders respond quickly, flexibly, and intentionally to their assessment by completing and continuing the LEADER cycle. They listen to team members to understand their current challenges and needs, they engage others to create positive change, they align change initiatives with organizational values, they ensure excellence in processes and communication, and they evaluate all these efforts – and then respond again.
I encourage professionals to prepare to develop leadership development activities with an emphasis on observational communication practices, such as those I have proposed here, rather than on assumptions about the existence of sustainable leadership styles. While some may argue that overall leadership communication leads to cognitive styles, I believe that the focus in leadership development will be on creating excellent communication practices filled with integrity, inclusiveness, fairness and transparency, maximizing value for leaders and organizations.
Editor’s note: don’t miss ours Infographics on the current development of leadershipwho shares thoughts from leaders like this one.