by Vanetta Phifer
Often leaders spend a great deal of time communicating visions and objectives, creating agendas, facilitating meetings, engaging in conversations, responding to emails, developing important letters and documents, giving directions, providing motivational speeches and responding to questions. After all this, many leaders are frustrated when these communications receive verbal responses of support, yet turn out the "same old" results. This behavior is common in many organizations. The effectiveness of communication is evaluated by the end result; consequently if a leader is not experiencing intended outcomes, communication style must change. At what point does the leader take the time to listen? How much time will a leader spend preparing the message instead of hearing the message?
A leader can build an entire new world off of what is communicated but not said. Some leaders get used to followers stroking egos and telling them what they want to hear yet become aggravated when intended communication doesn't bring about a change. Margaret Wheatley, in Leadership and the New Science (McGraw-Hill, 1994), states that it is beneficial to positive change to let go of a present form so a new one can emerge in a form better suited to the demands of the present environment.
What connections of communication do you need to let go? What is your organization telling you? Are you listening to early warning signs of where change is needed? Do you spend more time talking with the same people and expecting different results? Leaders who listen will hear not only what is being said, but what is not said. Your universe is speaking ---
L = Look for those quiet or unknown
I = Interact with these individuals in an informal dialogue
S = Seek for sincerity and truth
T = Truth breeds freedom
E = Expect challenges
N = Necessitate change
Vanetta Phifer works as the program coordinator for MSU's Organizational Leadership program and is currently finishing up her first semester in the Doctor of Executive Leadership program.