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Monday, March 12, 2018

Leader of the Pack

I have a strong admiration for those who pursue a PhD. Compiling a doctoral thesis is an impressive accomplishment. Plus the commitment of education to get there.

Having said this, sometimes I look over written material from these well traveled learners and I think, “That’s pretty basic.” In those cases, I like to try my own hand at moving the discussion forward. Let me give you an example.

Patrick Leddin is a professor (PhD) at Vanderbilt University. He claims also to be a “global consultant” and writer. He recently submitted an article on LinkedIn titled, “5 Communication Behaviors of Great Leaders.”

None of them should be disputed. Here they are:
  1. Choose to address poor performance.
  2. Choose to understand what motivates.
  3. Choose to listen.
  4. Choose to talk straight.
  5. Choose to share perspectives.
True, an organization will soon flounder with a number of poor performers. Move them forward or move them out. I’m confident even not-so-great leaders know this.

Likewise, finding different ways to effectively motivate makes for a dynamic workplace. Good listening habits provide many insights a leader will miss if he or she is doing all the talking. Delivering a message that needs to be said respects the employees right to know. And keeping a culture where creativity thrives (hearing others' perspectives) might deliver your next great opportunity. 

So that is Professor Leddin’s “5 communication behaviors of great leaders.” Here are mine. 

  1. Frequently remind team members why you hired them. This has a two-tiered emphasis. The first is the simple reinforcement that you (or your company) picked the right person for the job. This alone provides the kind of encouragement that motivates. The second gives an opportunity to challenge for great things. Tell the employee of the challenges ahead and why they are capable of delivering results.
  1. Give hope for your company’s future. Great leaders reinforce the value that a company provides and why it serves the marketplace well. Beyond their personal contribution, employees want to believe they serve a worthwhile purpose. They enjoy working in a place that has earned a positive reputation and is advancing. 
  1. Admit organizational missteps. In a world where coverups seem all too common, how refreshing when a company can share with internal (and external markets) that, “We goofed on this one. And we learned from it. Here’s how we’re going to move forward. Fellow employees…help us!”
  1. Demonstrate ways that reveal your company has heart. This is NOT running a campaign for your workers to give time or money toward. It means having a watchdog in place for knowing where individuals within the company need some help. And showing true compassion for giving it. It communicates powerfully.
  1. Convey that you are a leader of vision and maintain a dream. You know the speech. I’m not African American, but the Martin Luther King, Jr., speech “I Have A Dream” is so rich and powerful. Great leaders keep vision alive by sharing that their dreams are still alive. And occasionally asking team members about THEIR dreams.
Not all of the Psalms were written by King David. Some include verses about King David. Here’s the way Asaph describes the gifted leader, “David cared for them with pure motives; he led them with skill.” (Psalm 78:72, NET)

Learning to communicate well is a skill. Pure motives are a matter of the heart. A great leader will embrace both.

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