Almost everyone has heard the old cliche that ‘talk is cheap’ … And it is. Sadly, that’s the reality far too often about leadership initiatives. PR departments can’t help themselves … they are expected to ‘do their jobs’. The CEO and the rest of the ‘top brass in the vast majority of medium and large companies are issuing directives, right and left, about leadership. And they expect their positive ‘rhetoric’ to be publicized.
The trouble with talk is … it sounds great, when wrapped in smooth buzzwords and highlighted by political correctness. The reality is … unfortunately … press releases, interviews and speeches don’t deliver real leadership results. Far too often, most companies invest little long-term effort to foster real leadership cultures that work.
Leadership action is all about changing the cultural behavior of each and every company where leadership practices are supposed to exist … and flourish. And that’s the mega challenge. We have learned, from personal experience running our own companies and as consultants, people resist change. That is one of the serious flaws of most humans. People like feeling comfortable and secure … and experience has taught most of us, that changing our routine AND how we do our jobs is scary, risky and nerve-wracking.
One key solution is start with revolutionizing your communication process. Step one is to assume your communication system is not effective. I know that’s going to outrage a number of manager-type readers. They KNOW they are good communicators and react defensively to any threat or challenge to their personality, management style and decision making. Even more common is their attitude that they know more than anybody else.
Communication at many companies is a ‘one-way’ street … top down. We, the bosses, tell you what to do … and often issue mindless memos that are typically focused on legal compliance and regulatory practices. I understand that regulations need to be shared and integrated into daily operations, but enlightened communication is all about changing your company’s culture in a positive way.
The first step is to design or adopt a system that makes it easy for every member of every team within your company to share ideas, provide input and air grievances. This is not a simple process. The number one goal is to create an EFFICIENT way to share information … without sacrificing productivity or wasting time. This should not simply be implementing suggestion boxes … which virtually no one will ever read or pay much attention to.
This focus on improved communication is not only about sharing ideas. It is about making a commitment from the top leaders (specifically you … if you are the CEO or owner) to change the operational dynamic. Far too often, the ‘C-level’ executives think they are exempt from any change-based initiatives. The sorry reality is all re-engineering or ‘cure-de-jour’ restructuring programs that Fortune 500 companies have tried virtually always fail if the top three or four key people don’t embrace the new systems. The same is true in smaller scale entrepreneurial companies.
If the boss doesn’t REALLY change, the staff almost instantly spot the hypocritical deceit … and they do all they can to sabotage any attempted ‘change’ initiatives. You must change the way you think about ALL your employees … adopt a real new mindset that empowers everyone and shows that you will truly value their contributions. When you figure out how to unlock this powerful communication formula, you will be amazed at the truly synergistic results.