The Purpose of Communication:
Achieving Common Understanding
The purpose of communication is to achieve common understanding, to create new or better awareness.
Leaders must communicate their vision with a clear and compelling message.
Communication skills are critical for senior leaders, because without the ability to have regular contact with the entire workforce, it becomes increasingly difficult to influence teams. A clearly communicated vision keeps everyone moving in the same direction.
A Part of Something Greater
Team players crave the benefits of teamwork so much that they are willing to make extraordinary sacrifices.
“The most difficult thing for individuals to do when they are part of a team is to sacrifice. Without sacrifice, you’ll never know your team’s potential, or your own.”Pat Riley
Teamwork in the Workplace
History is full of examples of stars that missed out on being champions because they weren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
Conversely, great players would rather share the spotlight than walk away with individual honors. Because they help inspire the team’s willingness to make sacrifices, they reap the benefits of teamwork most.
The following story illustrates how a true champion experienced both individual and team success because of his strong desire to make those around him better.
Your success as a leader depends of how well you communicate the importance of teamwork.
In the military, soldiers work together because lives may be at stake. This means learning to rely on each other and taking advantage of every opportunity for the team to learn and grow.
High performing organizations understand this, and they consistently perform better than their competitors, because they understand and value teamwork.
NOTE: As you explore my scenario with the infantry, Army helicopter pilots, and Air Force pilots, consider the stovepipes that might exist within your organization.
7 Tips to Achieve Better Results
When setting performance goals, be sure to break them down into manageable chunks.
The key is to ensure your goals are not only realistic and challenging, but that they are achievable.
Working together with your employees will help you build trust and confidence, increase satisfaction, and intrinsic motivation.
Make the process inclusive so that you achieve lasting results; a win-win situation.
The Importance of Communicating Values
As a leader, communicating values provides a distinct advantage because it is the quickest way to build trust and get others to follow you. It also means living the values that your company professes.
(UPDATED: June 15, 2016)
Think about it. Values are like magnets.
- We are drawn to friends who share our values and beliefs.
- We join organizations that share our values and beliefs.
- We want others to validate our values and beliefs.
CIOs must partner or perish. That was the final subheading in a recent CIO.com article I read that reminded me of my graduate school advisor’s message.
In the early 1990s, the Army enrolled me in their Advanced Civil Schooling program and sent me to the University of Virginia, Computer Science Masters program. While there, I had the privilege of doing my research with the late Dr. Randy Pausch.
Employee engagement ideas remain a hot topic, whether for CIOs, IT managers, or any industry leader. My personal experience with engagement was one in which everyone knew the culture and understood its core values before joining. When you live your company values, employees are more engaged.
Specifically, I am referring to my time in an all-volunteer Army. If a soldier didn’t feel they were in the right place after their initial enlistment, they re-evaluated their decision to join and they moved on; that was a blessing.
Images courtesy tigger11th at freedigitalphotos.net
As the Chief Information Officer, you are a key leader of the C-staff, but like most of your peers, you realize that CIOs need to learn another language.
Throughout your career, among other things, you suffered through machine and assembly languages. You learned compiled and interpreted languages. And, you mastered object-oriented and scripting languages.
When you can show employees that they can align their personal and professional values, you attract, and retain, the right people to your organization.
Companies that create a place where employees can practice their values and beliefs retain their best talent.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
During an interesting conversation about leadership responsibilities, the subject of authority vs. responsibility came up regarding mail delivery on Saturdays.
Having lived north of the border where Canada Post does not deliver mail on the weekend, I wanted to understand more.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
While effective teamwork isn’t necessarily easy today, imagine the amount of effort it took to accomplish the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, on June 6, 1944; D-Day.
The most important consideration:
- What’s the glue that keeps everyone willing to trust one another and working together?
While most teams won’t operate with lives on the line, the fundamentals of teamwork apply to every organization.
Early in my career, I had just been promoted to Captain and I was serving my second Army Aviation assignment in the Republic of Korea, typically, a one-year tour. Our new commander arrived and told me that I couldn’t go to my sister’s wedding. That’s when I learned how to delegate authority!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A good mission statement gives you a clear and concise account of what your business must do by answering the basic questions: who, what, when, where, and how
It should have insight into what the competition is doing, an understanding of what needs to be accomplished and any constraints, and considered critical facts and assumptions affecting your operation. It should have knowledge of your team’s strengths and weaknesses, attracting employees who will embrace your purpose, or organizational culture.
There may be a broader company mission statement, as well as subordinate department business mission statements. In either case, a good mission statement will answer these questions:
Motivating employees, or inspiring employees to be more accurate, implies that we understand why people take action. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Are their reasons for pursuing professional development goals positive or negative?
- Will they be internally motivated, or externally motivated?
Ideally, as leaders we’d like to inspire our employees so that the reasons they act are positive, and, they have made the reasons their own.
Let’s look at these two questions by placing them in four quadrants.
Welcome to the Blackhawk Leadership Development Blog, the musings of Blackhawk Consulting Group, LLC, a leadership development firm focused on managers who want to build teams, lead more effectively, and achieve superior results … all with less stress.
The key: aligning your company’s core leadership values in an environment where employees can live their personal values.
NOTE: this post has been updated to include links to articles written or updated after I started this blog
Leadership Traits: Authority vs. Responsibility
Those who exercise quality leadership traits make the difference between someone you gladly follow and another to whom you must report.
- How do you feel when you have little decision-making authority, but all of the weight of responsibility for execution?
- Conversely, how do you feel when your boss shares responsibility for the outcome of your decisions?
One of the key qualities of a good leader is to understand leadership styles and know when to change.
Each of us has our own unique strengths and weaknesses; sometimes, we need more direction, other times, less.
Leaders must apply keen team building skills in order to build the most capable teams.
The key: great communication skills.
Great teams are no accident; it takes hard work and patience. Leaders who understand the importance of teamwork push beyond the obstacles and create a culture where members learn to make sacrifices for each other.
This requires a leader who guides their team toward a shared vision or goal, typically by communicating values that become a source of organizational pride, further serving the team by attracting and retaining those who want to do what it takes to be a part of the culture.
A team building exercise is an activity that gets people to work together, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, while giving members the opportunity to decide how they’ll respond.
A good team building exercise encourages the group to respond positively. They develop bonds and unite. In the long term, it improves individual motivation and team cooperation.
Leading as a Command Responsibility
“An Army leader is anyone who by virtue of assumed role or assigned responsibility inspires and influences people to accomplish organizational goals. Army leaders motivate people both inside and outside the chain of command to pursue actions, focus thinking, and shape decisions for the greater good of the organization.”- FM 6-22
In the military, leading is a command responsibility and a sacred trust that extends beyond typical management responsibilities.
Because society expects military leaders to be accountable for the well being of soldiers and to ensure they receive proper training and care.