I often refer to the Head and Heart congruence for effective management. This is a great article on how effective leaders capture that very spirit by including their teams. When canvassing feedback with the aim of achieving buy-in, the world of business and non business if full of some excellent tools to facilitate processes. The important perspective however must be one of respect. With respect comes openness. With openness comes both humility and magnanimity. If “there is no such thing as ‘Business’ or ‘Organization’ or ‘Corporation’! There are only PEOPLE having meaningful CONVERSATIONS with each other. Whether it is manager to employee, professional to client, business to business – nothing eventuates without a conversation. Good conversations become better when relationships are respected and nurtured. Therefore tapping the individual’s potential first, paves the way for valuing enhanced human being contribution.”, then touching the hearts of individuals at all levels of the organization, especially in aspirations of change is a good first step. Listening, therefore is an excellent attribute in leadership. Joseph D’Souza
Enjoy the following re-post of a good article from the John Kotter stables.
Effective CEOs Lead With Their Ears by John Patrick in Forbes May 8th 2013
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. Welcome on board today’s flight. Please listen to our flight crew as they take you through our important pre-flight safety announcement. Please stow all bags in the overhead compartments and ensure your seat backs and tray tables …”
How many times have you heard the flight safety briefing? Hundreds? Do you pay much attention? Probably not. Should we pay more attention? Almost certainly, yes. But, while pilots may tell us safety is important, they typically deliver this message:
- Using the same words, in the same order, over and over
- With their own terminology, not ours
- With no effort to engage the listener
- With little explanation as to why the rules are important
Much like pilots, senior leaders of organizations face similar challenges trying to reach, inform, and influence their employees to get everyone focused on the big issues. Often these leaders are advised, “You can’t over-communicate! Say it once, say it again, and keep saying it. Cascade that information! Make sure the message is everywhere – in Town Hall meetings, on the intranet page, in the company newsletter, in the video all-staff update…”
All too often an employee, much like the frequent flyer, experiences the new corporate vision as a deluge of familiar mandates encased in a heavy dose of corporate-speak – and they rapidly tune out the noise. Moreover, communication “cascades” can feel less like a gentle waterfall and more like sitting under Niagara Falls suffering the impact of 750,000 gallons of water per second.
So what’s a leader to do? Some effective executives buck convention and focus less on the message and more on listening while involving their employees in the conversation.
Recently, several colleagues and I facilitated a meeting for the senior leadership team whose firm is the largest player in their sector of the automotive industry. Their challenge: As an already successful firm, they were doing well, but saw an attractive opportunity to grow their revenues by embracing new technology, increasing employee engagement, and providing customers with new services. But how to get the entire company energized about these objectives?
The leadership team worked together to identify the big market opportunity and in a remarkably short period of time, crafted a clear and compelling statement about this opportunity and the key drivers to achieve it.
In a typical organization, the corporate communications department would immediately take over, posting the statement throughout the company and arranging for the CEO to highlight it in roadshows or a company-wide video. But here we worked together on a different process.
Rather than cascade the new strategy, the executive team agreed that their hard work was simply a first draft; the company’s strategic opportunity statement would only be finalized after several large groups of employees met to improve it. And improve it they did! After groups of employees worked on the message, the company’s president said at the annual top 200 leadership meeting, “We [the executive team] came up with something we thought was pretty good … really great. Well, those who participated made it much better. It paints a fabulous picture that I believe every single employee can relate to.”
This process was more than a simple way to improve a statement about the organization’s future – it was a critical step in building widespread ownership of the opportunity and ensuring it was crafted in the employees’ own language to better reach people’s heads and their hearts.
After each workshop, participants spontaneously and proudly raised their phones to photograph the enhanced version on the screen and lobbied their senior leaders for their new versions to be adopted. A terrific example of buy-in.
The most important leadership skill in this process was not the executives’ ability to communicate with force, volume, and stamina but instead was their ability to listen to how their employees understood the idea and to be open to their views. By listening rather than telling, this senior leadership team is succeeding where others struggle. Through conversation and dialogue rather than a communications cascade, this company is helping employees understand the market opportunity, identify with it, and accelerate the company’s success.
If the flight crew were to invite me and a few other frequent fliers to better communicate the flight take-off protocol, I’m sure we’d get more attention. By inviting passengers to work with us, I bet we’d all stash our bags and move our tables to the upright (and locked) position faster than ever.
I bet we’d even arrive early.
John Patrick is a senior engagement leader at Kotter International a firm that helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations.