For the last year and a half, I have been working with our Leadership Development team. It has been a fantastic experience and I have been amazed at how many phenomenal leaders that we have at Simmons.
In conversations during these sessions and often those that carry over into the breaks, the topic of “communication” comes up probably more than any other. Communication is an area for most that, if they are honest, they would say that we have some opportunities to grow. I would not disagree. Because this theme continues to come up, I have been picking up some resources on the topic and thought I would focus on effective communication for the next few weeks in a blog series.
The first book I have been reading is by John Maxwell, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. He brings up the point that communication is rarely the problem - everyone communicates: what you say, what you don’t say, your non-verbals, how you chose to respond - you are always communicating something to someone. The problem is that the way we chose to communicate often prohibits us from truly connecting with people in a meaningful and productive way. In fact, I believe that the inability to truly care for and connect with those you are working alongside every day is one of the main reasons why you may or may not be currently achieving your highest potential.
Maxwell breaks down the need for and advantage of learning to connect with the people that you work with:
- Care about people as well as profits
- View subordinates optimistically
- Seek advice from those under them
- Listen well to everyone
- Concentrate on production
- Focus more on their own status
- Are reluctant to seek advice from those under them
- Listen only to superiors
- Are preoccupied with their own security
- Show a basic distrust of subordinates
- Don’t seek advice
- Avoid communication and rely on policy manuals
If you were to place yourself in one of those three categories today based on these descriptions, where would you be? Now, be honest. Take a moment and put down whatever you are working on and do an honest self-assessment.
Let’s say you are looking at this list and you honestly believe that you fall into the Low Achiever category. This is awesome! Ok, stay with me...it’s awesome because in order to put yourself there, I know that you at least have enough integrity and humility to say, “I’m not proud of this, but this is where I am at today.” There is a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” If you have struggled to connect with people up until this point, today is a great day to plant a seed.
If you are in the Average Achiever category, there are probably times where you connect well, but when it happens, it is probably more like an event rather than a habit. In terms of truly connecting with people, you are probably in first or second gear. Your potential for success is incredible and I want to challenge you to engage in focusing on how to better connect with those you work alongside.
If you find yourself in the High Achievers category, you have experienced what those fourth and maybe even fifth gears feel like in terms of results and relationships! Invest this next few weeks into truly honing these skills and seeking to understand what it is that you are currently doing that helps you best connect with others in a way that leads to superior results. I want to hear about what you do too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with some ideas and ways that you have found most effective. I'd love to hear what you're doing.
We are going to take the next few weeks focused on how to be an effective communicator and how to truly, genuinely connect with others so that you will reach your highest potential as a leader. In the meantime, check out RightNow Media and watch some of John Maxwell’s videos on Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.