Breaking old habits of listening vice hearing has proven harder to do than first thought. To many times we go about doing our normal business while listening err…hearing what is being told to us. The times that I actually observed the non-verbal communications being given I have noticed the eye brow raise, or the eyes widen. To me this showed more of the urgency that was needed. Communicating is done primarily via email (even though we are only 30 yards at the most away from each other), with the exception of our 9 o’clock meeting. Urgency is not really shown nor can truly be determined through email, that is unless you use that little red ! signifying high importance. Lesson learned for the day, get out of my chair and verbally and non-verbally communicate with my peers. A lot may be learned this way!
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.” -Rachel Naomi Remen
How effectively do we as managers listen? Communicating is a two way street where listening is vital. How many times have you talked to your supervisor about “apples” and yet he or she responded with a description of “oranges”? I often find myself tuning out conversations when I have gotten the jest of it. Did I miss something? Who knows. I have often considered myself to be a good listener, but was I really a good hearer instead? I dont think I have picked up on everything that was said because I wasn’t reading or listening to the whole conversation. I need to work at being keen to the non-verbal communications as well. This is something that I am tasking myself to do. Every morning we have a meeting at 9 am. This mornings meeting I will listen to the whole meeting and not just hear it.
Does your communication style match your leadship style? I have studied the different leadership styles and determined that I was a democratic or participative leader. When I can, I like to have the teams inputs to the decision on how to complete a task. This gives them a sense of ownership for the completed product. I feel that as an authoritian you have control and the workers are just minions who have no voice, and with a Laissez-Faire style of leadership, too much control is given up. When communicating your style of commonication must match your style of leadership. A manager that is hands off and allows a group to make their own decisions cannot communicate in an authoritian manner and expect the group to continue to work on their own, coming up with their own ways. At the same time a leader that is in total control of everything the group does, cannot not communicate to the group and expect them to know what he or she wants.
Being a participative leader I like to get the group together, solicit ideas, take notes, and come upon an agreed upon solution. I match my communication style to this and solicit inputs from others on the discussion, and only use an authoritian style of communication if the topic is getting out of hand or off subject.
Sometimes a mixture of communication styles may work though, and a lot of that has to do with the group that you working with. An inexperienced group will need someone to be authoritian in the way that they communicate. As they gain experience the communication style can change.
When I get new supervisors that work for me i sit them down and go over the expectations that we have for each other. I ensure that I communicate to them what I expect. A tools that I use are a dime and a quarter. I explain to them that one represents control and the other represents influence. I tell them that everything that fits into the quarter is what I control, and everything in the dime is what is influenced by my control. The goal, with time, is to switch the two around; I want to only control what is in the dime, and hope that once a good working relationship is made that the quarter is what I have influenced. This can only be completed by effective communication between both parties.
“The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”- Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger understood that it was hard to get people to do something that they had never done before. Getting people to step outside of their comfort zones can be difficult because people tend to gravitate towards what they are more use to. I have used an example many times when dealing with my Sailors. I have asked them that if I told them to go into a room where no one is around and to do as many push-ups as they can how many do they think they will do? Now put them in a room with influencers or their peers and do as many push-ups as possible. In which circumstance do they think they will accomplish more push-ups? when they are in the room alone, they will accomplish as many as they can until they start to feel uncomfortable and will more than likely stop at that point. When around others, they will push beyond their comfort point and probably accomplish more.
I have known people that started blogs on their perspectives of current events. In one instance the author of the blog gave his definitions or ideas of leadership. In reality this persons idea of leadership was not one that I would have necessarily agreed with. I never stepped out of my comfort zone though to create my own blog on what I feel leadership is; that is until I was directed to as a class assignment. Now I have a forum to discuss what I feel is leadership, and ways to improve myself and others on their task of leading people.