As a young leader, I see value in proactively sharing my values and beliefs. I think this builds the culture and unites the team over a common purpose. Or put differently, “If a leader doesn’t create a culture, his team will.”
So, each week, before my team dives into their data, I stand, report on a few announcements then begin to dive into the message. When I was over, I would send the teams into their sub-groups and then back to the classrooms for a week of inspired instruction based on my message.
But was it that easy?
The obvious answer is no. So, how do I ensure everyone hears the same message, or, for that matter, the message I intended them to feel. Well, I would argue two things, 1) consider the hat and 2) the continuum of speaking.
1) Consider the Hat: In a recent podcast with Craig Groesch, he mentioned that leaders should always find the hat that matches their message. For example, a boss can wear a supervisor, mentor, or friend hat when interacting with any given employee. When a boss wears a supervisor hat, his interaction with the employee would be very direct, “You are not on time today, and if you do it again, you are fired!” A boss, on the other hand, using the mentor hat would react more like, “Jeff, I saw you arriving this morning. Look, if you want to move up and achieve more, try to show initiative. That means being on time.” Lastly, the boss can wear the friend hat, “Jeff, I noticed you were late today, is everything okay? How can I help?”
“As leaders, if we are going to communicate effectively then we must select the best hat.”
In every case, the hat the boss wear affects the emotions the listeners feel. Think about it, as you replay each one of those three scenarios, did you feel differently? As leaders, if we are going to communicate effectively then we must select the best hat. After all, any leader can speak, but the best leaders ensure their people hear and understand them.
Consider this, sometimes picking the right hat is based on the situation. If you are speaking to a large group of individuals, then the friend hat would not be appropriate, and so forth. Personally, my style with my team is far from supervisory. I work hard to deliver positive forward thinking messages as opposed to the reactive nature of a supervisor's message. After all, it is my goal to unite mindsets, not to correct behaviors with these messages.
“After all, it is my goal to unite mindsets, not to correct behaviors with these messages.”
2) Working up the Continuum: Another area of research that really struck me at my core was from communication expert, Richard Greene’s TED Talk. To be effective, Greene asserts, leaders must move up the continuum of communication from presenters to conversations. From communication “at” or “to” them, to holding a conversation “with” them.
As a young leader, this struck a chord. I can confess, first hand, that I have been a presenter. I’m not proud, but from my earliest experiences as a PD presenter in the district to being elevated to leadership, I just assume speaking is speaking, why change. Sadly, as I drafted my talks I would visualize me presenting the information. But, as Greene displays, the greatest speakers of all time use conversation to relate to their audience. After all, he says, your team must connect with speaker and believe in the message.
“But, as Greene displays, the greatest speakers of all time use conversation to relate to their audience.”
So, as I grow as a leader, I must continue to assert my values and beliefs on the team that I manage. But, what I realize, maybe more than anything, is that my growth as a leader must begin with my growth as a communicator. Moving forward I must put deep thought into how I communicate those messages. After all, every leader is a communicator, but the best leaders will communicate using the proper hat while spreading the message with conversation.
~Work hard, make a difference, and join the crusade. Because those that plug into a higher purpose will always dream higher, see broader, and care deeper.