Recently a leader (we’ll call him John) revealed that he’d just had a one-on-one meeting with his boss. But this one-on-one was different to all those previous one-on-ones…
This time he felt truly heard.
Previously not only had John struggled to get time in his boss’ calendar, he perceived that he’d been talked at, talked over and talked down to by his boss. John’s ideas were usually negated.
John said, “In this meeting (my boss) seemed to be really listening and caring about what I said. When I stopped talking he wouldn’t jump in with his thoughts. He didn’t override my ideas. He picked up on my thinking and either agreed with it outright or built on it. For the first time ever we had a healthy dialogue. We jointly decided what approach we’d take.”
This was several days after John’s interaction and he was clearly still feeling highly valued because of what’d happened. He went on to tell me about how, as the meeting progressed, he felt confident about putting his thinking on the table, how he felt like a significant contributor and how valued he was still feeling—because his boss genuinely cared about his ideas.
John’s Boss Would Have Been Appalled Had He Known
Now let’s be clear. John’s boss is a very senior leader. He would be appalled had he known about how he was previously perceived—and even-more-appalled had he been alert to the productivity inhibiting consequences of this perception!
Hearing John describe his experience got me thinking: How many direct reports would describe their boss as John described his?
I recalled that even two senior leaders I coach had mentioned that when they’re speaking with their boss their communication style changes (they’re more hesitant and inhibited), even though they look certain and confident on the outside.
They both said that their change is partly due to their reaction to the heirarchy, but more so because their boss takes more of a command-and-control stance, just like John’s boss used to.
We Know That Some Leader’s Communication Habits Inhibit Productivity
The question in my mind right now is, are you one of them?
Although you’ve already got rungs on the board, you’ve proven that you can cut it as a leader and you’ve been tagged for a more significant leadership role, is it time for you to reflect on the communciation style that you use with your team members?
I know that you’re alert to the need to listen. But please don’t skip over your communication habits too quickly…
Your Leadership Call to Action
Will you ask yourself:
- When am I inclined to push my thinking onto a team member?
- How often do I inhibit their thinking or communication because I jump in and override it with my ideas?
- Am I the “real McCoy” when it comes to caring about their thoughts?
Authentically care about what your team members are saying. Sooner or later they’ll know you don’t, if you don’t. Shut up and listen in a way that transforms the outcomes of the interaction.
Email me if you want to develop more engaging communication habits that will positively impact your team’s productivity—and support your career advancement too.
We’ll dig in and chat about what options you have so that you up-the-anti with the way that you communicate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.