What do leading and communicating have in common?
“You can’t do one without the other?” Maybe.
“Both are important?” Yes, but keep guessing.
“Hmmm…I give up.” Okay, Okay I won’t keep you guessing.
From what I have observed, the thing they have in common is also the thing that makes both harder than you may have imagined, and it is this:
Both leading and communicating are unique in that if you do not actively work at them, you lose ground.
Think about that for a moment. If we assume that we are good at leading our organizations or even our families but do not actively take action, what happens? If we assume that where we left off the last time we communicated with a peer, boss or co-worker, is exactly where the next conversation begins, we may be in for a surprise.
Resting or pausing in our communication or leadership does not hold our place, like a bookmark. You have to work hard just to maintain where you are, and push even harder to make progress.
Let’s take communication as an example. On a Tuesday afternoon you talk to an employee about a report that needs to be done right away because your boss just asked you about it, and you are in meetings on Wednesday, are with clients on Thursday, and happen to take Friday off. You are back in the office on Monday, and strike up a conversation with that same employee. Are you in the same place as you were on Tuesday?
No. What if that employee had to adjust their workload and stay late to get “your” report done for your boss. You do not communicate for a few days, and had a long weekend. What is the current state of your relationship? Have you lost ground? By not recognizing this fact, you may walk in on Monday (well rested from your long weekend) and tackle the week. That distance created between you and that employee will begin to widen if you do not take active steps to both communicate and lead well.
Most leaders I have worked with miss the distance that time creates in both leadership and communication and assume that everything is where they last left off. Being able to recognize and address the distance will separate you from others. Have you created distance? Have you assumed non-action kept your place? What can you do today, this morning, or before you leave work today to actively be a leader or communicate well? Write it down, and DO IT!