What’s the point?
The point is this, the distaste for poor leadership in the workplace is increasing and a leader feeling uncomfortable communicating to employees is just one more gallon of gas on the fire. It might just be the sole purpose of a leader to communicate with his employees in one form or another. How else can a leader motivate, correct, teach, develop, challenge, question, understand, or coach, if not through communication? I don’t have to cite a study to demonstrate that when people are uncomfortable with something they avoid it. In fact, this is central to the The Leadership Death Spiral.
It’s not about communication
I’d argue it’s not actually about communication at all. Rather, it’s about belief. A belief in self and a belief in others. Or really, a lack of belief. Let’s start with a belief in self. When I first began running for exercise I thought a 5k (3.2 miles) was a long way (it is). I had never ran a 5k, so I couldn’t imagine running a 10k, or even a marathon. So I started small. Through effort and consistent attention to it, I eventually was able to run a 5k. Now, when I’m approached with the opportunity to run a 5k, it’s not a matter of if I can, but IF I WANT TO. It’s important to note that if I don’t think I can run 3.2 miles, then I’ll be hard pressed to commit to do such a thing. That’s the first aspect of belief. You must have put in the work, if you want believe you can. And if you don’t believe you can, you are less likely to do so.
The other half is about WHO you are communicating to. If the first part is about believing in your own ability, then the second part is about believing in the ability of those you lead. In the case of communication, you have to believe in their ability to respond to your message/coaching/training. Now that I’ve run a million 5k’s (not really) it’s actually hard for me to hear people say they couldn’t run one. Why? Because my continued accomplishment of 5k’s have generated within me a belief that hard work and effort will prepare me, or anyone, to survive 3.2 miles. True, they may not be able to run one today, but they can absolutely run one. I recently had lunch with a friend and we were discussing coaching. He asked what I would say to the manager who says “I can’t coach this employee because if I do, he’ll just go and call HR.” What I told him, and what I tell you is that I heard two things: 1) I can’t coach this guy and 2) I don’t believe he’ll respond positively to my coaching. So what does this look like in the workplace? It looks like a boss avoiding an employee until he has a chance to terminate the employee or until the employee leaves. Terrible.
Belief Leads to Action
It’s a simple equation. When we believe, we act. When we don’t believe, we don’t act. Many times we’ve already made up our minds with “they’ll go to HR”, “they’re lazy” or “they don’t even want to be here”. While made up minds can be great learning lessons down the road, they’re lessons better learned through reading than personal experience. Be bold, step in, believe in your ability to lead and the ability of others to follow. With effort and hard work, you’ll be able to choose if you WANT to instead of wondering if you can.
How do you believe?
Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance. Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 6-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.