“Would you be open to having a conversation about you, that your team is having without you?” Tim Reynolds, executive director of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership, asked the ballroom full of sales professionals during the Schey Sales Symposium.
His pointed question was driving home the fact that most leaders are not willing to hear open and honest feedback from their subordinates nor their colleagues. And this gets in the way of success. It also gets in the way of impactful leadership communication, which was Reynolds’ topic for day.
“What you and I have to decide is will we have our ears open to feedback?” Reynolds told the crowd of sales leaders.
He believes you can and will get the very best from your team when you have an open channel and communicate your company’s purpose, vision, story and style. A leader’s behavior is paramount to a team’s motivation.
“How do you share the ‘why’ behind your organization?” Reynolds asked. “People want to do their best because they know the why.”
He said a leader’s story can serve the “why.” First, you must know your “why.” So, think about why your organization exists for a moment. If it’s not in the mission statement, ask the founder why she started this business in the first place. Then share this with your team. Now think about how your personal story aligns with this “why.”
Second, selectively share how your personal story feeds the “why” of the organization.
Third, assess your style and check for alignment. Reynolds defines style as “how you show up.” You can interpret this literally – as in how you dress – or, emotionally – as in how you behave and treat co-workers, or metaphorically – as in what kind of role model you are day in and day out. Make sure all these factors align with your organization’s “why,” with your own “why,” your team’s “why,” and with your company’s culture.
And lastly, listen well.
Many leaders pride themselves on giving all employees opportunities to voice concerns, opinions, ideas, etc. But do you actually listen to them? Do you hear what they say and put it into action? Do you hear what they say and respond? Or do you only provide the opportunity? That, my friend, is not listening. And definitely not listening well.
Once you start seriously listening, acknowledging the voices and integrating the conversation, then you are demonstrating and cultivating an open communication channel that yields impactful leadership. After your people understand the “why” and start to see it in your actions, then their dedication, loyalty and motivation increase.