This is another post in the series Coaching to Core Ideals.
The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) AUTHENTIC, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series. We are going to break each sub-topic down over the next few weeks.
The IDEAL LEADER is AUTHENTIC.
- Knows who they are as a person of strengths and weaknesses
- Doesn’t hesitate to be engaged in meaningful dialogue with people at any level
- Is “other” focused
Simplification is a quest most of us seek in our day to day work and lives. We don’t like the being engaged in a conversation that wastes our time. We want to break things down to THE common denominator. Said another way, to find the point from which complexity arises. Get to the point and get there fast. So here goes….In this post I declare that… “Business is nothing more or less than a network of conversations”. And for the sake of exploring this concept we assume that you choose to believe what I’m declaring is “the simple truth”.
With that simple truth established it would then logically follow that we coach leaders to be more competent in speaking their requests and articulating clear directions. Part of that skill is doing it in simple yet meaningful ways to those individuals and organizations that they want to follow them. The other parts of this equation is doing so in a compelling way and without hesitation (timeliness).
You most likely have heard the cliché…”It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters”…that is a quaint saying and only focused in one dimension. Being engaged in meaningful dialogue is a more dimensional interaction than many ever experience in life and work. It is made up of the WHY, the HOW, and the WHAT you say to those you are privileged to lead. If you are going to coach a leader to this core ideal you need to understand these three dimensions and practice meaningful dialogue yourself.
Have you seen the show “Undercover Boss”? The “boss” goes out into their organization and works at jobs with employees and engages everyone in conversation. Lots of listening goes on and most seem to have some drastic changes in their perspectives of not only their businesses, but also who they are as a leader. In some cases it is a huge paradigmatic shift (I had to work that word in). In farmer boy terms…THEY GOT THEIR EYES AND EARS OPENED! They heard a lot of why, how, and what in their conversations.
Regardless if you think the show is faked or not, the concept is interesting because they get into some meaningful dialogue with people. The employees are doing most of the speaking and usually are “teaching the boss”. This concept alone intrigues me because meaningful dialogue involves learning and understanding for both parties. As understanding increases and the boss begins to see the importance and how the dysfunction within their organization is impacting the people personally and the performance of the business; there is a marked increase in the motivation and commitment to change things…to right the wrongs. This all gets wrapped up at the end of the show with meaningful dialogue and declarations to the entire company. Lots of cheers, crying, and benevolent rewards to those that the boss interacted with while undercover.
Do you have to go undercover as a leader or can you build a culture that fosters, demonstrates, and rewards straight talk? Why do managers hesitate saying what needs to be said rather than talking about it? Well, to be fair to the undercover bosses…employees often won’t open up to you if they know you are the CEO and possess the power to fire them. Many professionals within the field of human resources and organization development accept this circumstance as reality. While I accept that as a valid point of view, I believe it is possible to build a culture with the safety and openness to speak your mind. It is very possible to have a culture that is founded with respect and the broader commitment to contribute and build up, not tear down or gossip. It takes a leader willing to not hesitate to engage in meaningful dialogue with people at any and every level of the organization.
Time is more than money. It is the difference maker when you pursue meaningful dialogue that can change the trajectory of someone’s life, business, and financial future. Having leaders that are coached to be straight talking, compassionate leaders can be the difference between success in a business start up or sustaining an enterprise over time. Is there really any neutral ground in a culture? I had to ask myself this question because it seems passive to me. Passive indicates to me a lack of intention and commitment. If you (owner, CEO, team lead) own the system you can make a request from those you lead and then model it as the leader. Straight talk becomes embedded in the DNA of the organization’s culture. If you don’t you will have a business culture where everyone goes undercover in their jobs.
You might say this 2nd post in the subject of being an authentic leader is meaningful dialogue that I just can’t hesitate any longer to engage in with the readers and leaders. Take this on and don’t go undercover…this could change your business performance and results far beyond any capital investment you could ever make.
Please tweet, facebook, plaxo, linkedin, yada, yada this post to your friends and colleagues! Next post is coming soon to finish up the Authentic segment in Coaching to Core Ideals for Leaders. We will explore what it means to be “Other” focused in “Me” focused world.