A leader’s ability to communicate with his or her team is likely one of the top characteristics of a good leader. But often we find ourselves swallowed up by our to-do list. You may not mean to hide in our office all day, but at the end of the week you look back on your accomplishments and realize, communicating with your team wasn’t one of them.
Recently, I was on our corporate plane riding with a few of our upper level managers. I had brought along my iPad and expected to get some focused writing done for my blog. I soon realized that I had planned to do one of the worst leadership mistakes I could make. I had essentially planned to neglect my team and neglect a fantastic opportunity to connect with some key employees.
As we passed the hour and a half ride, isolated from the world, we conversed about life, business, and all sorts of good things. As our relationships grew, one employee told a story that really hit home for me. A former boss of his had been preaching to him and making sure he and the other employees knew who the boss was (a poor way to earn their loyalty). My employee wanted to make a point and asked his former boss “so if you’re really the boss, what did I do last week, what am I doing this week, and what am I doing next week?” The boss couldn’t answer.
Communication with your employees and your team is one of the most vital acts you can do as a leader. Remember these 4 keys to opening the lines of communication.
Who’s The Boss – If you need to sit your team down and tell them that you are the boss, you have already failed. Do you know what each member on your team did last week, this week, and will do next week? Every week you need to be finding this out.
It’s Your Job To Talk – We are taught in school not to talk. We are taught growing up to shut our mouths and get to work. Often, this is how we have reached our level of leadership, by putting our nose to the grind stone and working hard. Now that you are a leader, however, it is your job to go speak with your team. You have to move past the feeling that you are being lazy by talking and realize that it is your duty to communicate with your team.
Delegate – Many leaders are too busy to go speak with their team and thus, rely on emails and quick conversations in the hall, to communicate with their team members. This is neither effective for communicating or building relationships. If you are too busy as a leader to communicate effectively with your team, you are too busy to be a leader. The leader is not always the doer. Delegate tasks to your team, that is what they are there for.
Schedule Time – If you are having trouble finding the time to sit down and speak with your team, schedule it. Scheduling a lunch or a quick meeting guarantees that it will happen. I personally have time blocks on my Ideal Week Schedule set aside specifically for communicating with my team. Protecting this time, and scheduling it in advance, guarantees that no matter how busy I am, I still have time for my team.
Most leaders are hard workers who follow a very tight agenda every day. They pack in the accomplishments all day long. But be careful of how many tasks you try to accomplish. If you’re just isolated to your office all day, you are failing your team and will soon fail as a leader. Communicating with your team and knowing what they are doing at all times is one of the most important things you can be doing.
Question: What is the biggest thing that keeps you in your office every day?