Leadership That works Effectively Part II-A
In Part I: In Leadership that Works Effectively-Part I we explored types of leadership, and I asked you to consider seven guidelines to achieve effective leadership. Now, let’s go deeper into the first guideline: 1. Effective communication with clear and truthful messages for all stakeholders in writing and in person.
Effective communication necessitates that leaders work to ensure clear, concise, consistent and timely communication for themselves and all stakeholders. This type of communication engages all persons making them feel part of the organization, encouraging all to work productively and motivating loyalty. But, how do we accomplish such in a very fast paced ever-changing environment?
Many leaders create walls between them and those within their organization, scaffolding information depending on the level within the organization. In the traditional organization this works to some degree but it does not incite innovation, high productivity or loyalty. Today’s fast changing environment calls for optimal engagement from all parts of an organization. Clear, concise information transmitted in a timely manner helps All stakeholders identify their place within the organization further defining how they can be actively engaged in seeking solutions for success of themselves and the company.
I don’t believe that when leadership schedules long, drawn out meetings that to the employees appear to lead nowhere are effective or productive. These are traditional methods that bore most employees, many times underestimate middle management's ability to transmit information and generally exasperate all stakeholders. My advice: less is more and more is less. Seems controversial but research says you can not hold a person’s attention for much more than 45min to an hour and further, that in today's overload of information age, people need to hear a message up to fourteen times to really hear it, Yes, we live in a fast paced, information overload world. Therefore, consider this, begin to spend less time in meetings where you bore people with institutional updates and spend more time in short working sessions where you and your employees strategize, share and become joint owners of outcomes and success.
One of my mentors, whom I respect to this day, once said to me: “It’s all about relationships-stupid.” She was so right! Keeping this in mind, here are a few pointers:
· Conducting brief team informational working sessions, at least biweekly for 45 min. to 1 hour only, ensures that your employees connect with you, and through you the institution, and with each other becoming owners not just of their individual work but more importantly the work of the department and the institution. At these sessions it is important for leaders to:
o Share institutional executive level, known information, any changes in strategy and/or direction; and more importantly take time to work with the team to define roles which ensure clarity;
o Ensure each member of the team knows each other’s priorities and what they need from each other to achieve success. This is key to creating a supportive team atmosphere; you want to develop a ‘we are all in this together’ attitude.
· Holding structured time to check in with individual employees at least every 4-6 weeks. When a leader makes time for the individuals on his or her team it demonstrates caring, interest and investment. 40-45 minutes should be sufficient. Remember these individual sessions are about the employee. And his or her success within the organization.
o Make sure you schedule a time that works so that you are on time and spend the designated time. This shows your respect and attention for the person. In the event you need to reschedule, because life happens, make sure you contact your employee as soon as you know.
o Keep in mind, developing a respectful working relationship is key to your success, the success of employees and ultimately the success of the institution.
o When meeting your employee, focus on his/or her questions, identify anxieties, offer needed support, and clarify professional interests.
You must genuinely demonstrate care and concern for your employees’ life beyond the office respecting privacy while building relationship.
· Keep yourself well informed about the institutional direction, priorities and the non-negotiable areas expressed by leadership. I encourage you to be honest with your staff when information is unknown and/or emerging. Remember your employees are adults; you must trust them with important information that will eventually impact their daily lives giving them the proper context.
· Encourage your team and give them time within their busy week to partake in organizational activities outside of your department, reinforcing their ownership of not just their work but the important role they have in the future of the institution.
Finally, make your team’s work visible within the institution. At executive leadership meetings share your employees’ successes, highlight the individual as well as the joint work of your department at organizational open sessions without boasting but rather inciting others to want to contribute and collaborate with you. In today’s innovative economy, remember collaboration is one of the keys to success.
Above all, remember, your success is dependent on your employees effective execution of strategy and willingness to go above and beyond when necessary to achieve success.
Tune in next time as I go deeper into Guideline#2.
#2. Intentional engagement of all stakeholders including: