LEADERSHIP COMES DOWN TO UNDERSTANDING HOW OTHERS COMMUNICATE
With the rapid rise in leadership training and development of best practices, the opportunity to learn effective leadership skills is at the fingertips of anyone who wants it. Books, podcasts, and training seminars are just a few of the training mediums used, but even with the considerable amount of information available, leaders everywhere continually fall short in one significant aspect: Leading others is not about fitting your team members into your management style; it’s about you fitting into theirs. There’s a common belief that to be a great leader in business you need to have a plethora of skills and an even more substantial breadth of knowledge. But this rationale couldn’t be further from the truth. Leadership isn’t about knowing every detail about your industry, and it certainly isn’t about being the best at your job. To be an effective leader, you need to help others achieve their goals. Leading in a style that meets the needs of your team doesn’t come naturally to most people, and that’s why a great leader is so valuable. They are capable of adapting to meet the needs of those they lead. It’s a multifaceted objective that requires a lot of emotional intelligence and a willingness to collaborate. While there are many strategies to help leaders understand how to lead others properly, communication is the most important part.
In many instances, someone is placed in a leadership role because they have a distinct personality and skill set. Those who climb the ladder are often strong-willed and communicate in a particular way. The biggest mistake leaders make is trying to communicate in a way the people they are leading don’t fully understand. To provide an example, let’s use the fictional people Natalie and Larry. Natalie is in a leadership role at her company where she manages a small team of people. Larry works under Natalie and communicates with her on a daily basis. Natalie is a nose-to-the- grindstone person who values a good work ethic and is very task-oriented. Much of her leadership training has been centered around understanding the emotional complexities of others, and she’s been making significant progress. Larry is a creative person with an innate ability to connect with others and produce quality work. His weakness is meeting deadlines, and his training is also progressing. For Natalie to effectively communicate with Larry, she has to understand how he will be most receptive to feedback. Natalie’s natural communication style is straightforward. She doesn’t beat around the bush, but jumps right in with specific comments based on what she sees. Larry does not respond well to this style of communication. He needs to be understood, know that he’s valued, and encouraged on how
he can do better. Without Natalie adapting her communication style to meet Larry’s needs, she will never get through to him. Even worse, if Natalie gives critical feedback to Larry, there’s a potential he will shut down, and his morale will take a nosedive. The onus for this communication adaptation is strictly on the leader. It’s not Larry’s responsibility to adjust his communication style to meet the needs of Natalie. This doesn’t mean that there should be an expectation for Larry to communicate however he wants, but leaders are in their roles because they are trying to help others achieve their goals. If Larry is shutting down because Natalie can’t understand how to communicate with him, then he’ll never grow or find the success he desires. The most common misconception about this idea is that to lead in the style of others means you need to change who you are for every person you work with. In actuality, nothing will confuse your team more than wondering which personality their leader will adopt. You need to be your authentic self but develop the skills to achieve effective communication for your team. By finding a common point of connection and learning to be more multifaceted in your communication skills, you’ll find greater success in leadership. From there, it’s all about how you deal with success and how you give praise.
Law Office of Elliott Kanter APC | (619) 231-1883
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