Most leadership writers are overly prescriptive about what it takes to be a leader. Lists and recipes abound. Thought leaders suggest they have discovered the “Holy Grail” of leadership that...
Have To Share Bad News? Call In Sick!
A new survey conducted by Harris Poll with 2,058 U.S. adults — 1,120 of them were employed, and 616 of the employed people were managers — showed that a stunning majority (69%) of the managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. Over a third (37%) of the managers said that they’re uncomfortable having to give direct feedback about their employees’ performance if they think the employee might respond negatively to the feedback. http://www.interactauthentically.com/new-interact-report-many-leaders-shrink-from-straight-talk-with-employees/
An Emerging Trend?
According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey, 50% of Millennials are already in leadership positions and 41 percent of them have four or more direct reports. 64% of current Millennial leaders surveyed “felt unprepared when entering their leadership role.” Only 36% of Millennials said they felt ready for a leadership position. 30% said they were not ready to deal with difficult people or situations
Another author observes, “Millennials are hungering for skills in 1) Communication, 2) the ability to build relationships, and 3) the ability to develop others. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-bradt/the-mantle-of-leadership_b_6144470.html. All skills that have been deficient in the technology driven upbringing of the Millennial generation and which will shape the way they lead.
How Important is Communication for the Leader?
According to Ken Blanchard,
“The ability to communicate appropriately is an essential component for effective leadership. In the follow-up study, 43% of respondents identified communication skills as the most critical skill set, while 41% identified the inappropriate use of communication as the number one mistake leaders make.” http://www.kenblanchard.com/img/pub/pdf
Why is communication rated so highly as a leadership skill?
Leaders are focused on creating change and movement toward a desired state. That movement is done with people and people need to be inspired, educated, assured and developed. All of which require communication. Without communication trust cannot occur. A leader cannot lead without expressing ideas and people cannot grow without receiving feedback. Communication allows followers to look into the heart and soul of the leader. It allows the follower to catch not just the facts but also the leader’s passion behind the vision and the dream.
But there is a hard side to communication. It is not all about visions and dreams. It is not all about success, recognition, praise and encouragement. The leader is concerned that people grow and growth requires communication of strengths and weaknesses. It requires the leader to sit with a person and talk about what went wrong and what was learned. It requires leaders to tell people “no” from time to time.In the past leaders failed by surrounding themselves with “yes men”, individuals who tell them what they want to hear while shielding the leader from the real facts. Today that seems to have reversed. Now it is leadership who have become the “yes men” and leaders shield employees from what they need to hear to grow and develop their capabilities and skills. The leader’s inability to communicates stunts the growth of individuals and the organization.
MegaTrends, The Failure to Communicate and Deteriorating Trust
In 1982 John Nesbitt wrote his classic book MegaTrends about the ten fundamental trends that were occurring in society and which were changing America. One of the trends he discussed was “High Tech-High Touch”. Nesbitt described the explosion of technology that would transform America. but he warned that with this explosion of technology there would be an even greater need for high touch – the personal relationships that allowed a person to remain grounded. We have all seen the pictures of two teenagers dating and while sitting across the table from each other, they communicate by texting.
The Millennial Compass reports that Millennial workers see the boss as a friend. They do not want a hierarchical relationship with the boss, and less than a third of them feel the role their manager currently plays fits their image of an ideal manager. But the opposite is also true. The millennial leader sees employees as friends and friends have a hard time sharing hard feedback with other friends. You see, everyone wants the relationship but without the hard parts. This dooms relationships to a superficial level and that is not a level at which a leader can develop others. What Nesbitt did not imagine was that the addiction to technology would in fact inhibit communication and relationships. levels.
As experienced leaders we know that there are many times things go wrong. When this happens all kinds of reasons and motives can be imagined. If the leader does not sit down and discuss or address the problem with the other person, the gap between the two will widen. We all know that means that trust decreases. Lord knows leaders cannot suffer any more deterioration in trust.
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