How would you rate yourself as a communicator? Excellent? Good? Average? Poor? If you are like most people, you probably think you are pretty good.
As a good communicator, what is your favorite way to communicate with others? For some, it is email. For others, texting works well, enhanced with emojis. Some people like to send instant messages on any one of a multitude of platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and WhatsApp.
But with all these modes of connecting, it seems we are losing the art of relating to people as people. While technology has made it easier to stay in touch, we as human beings are losing the art of connecting.
That has never been more apparent than in the world of business.
No one ever became a great leader without first becoming a great communicator. Great leaders connect with people on an emotional level every time they speak. Their words inspire others to achieve more than they ever thought possible. Great communicators are intentional about each connection.
It seems that the up-and-coming stars in the business world have some good technical skills but are lacking in some interpersonal communication skills.
This week’s article describes how a client changed his paradigm on communication and learned how to better relate with people and have an executive presence. Adopting a different approach to communication allowed him to get promoted.
Let’s first take a step back and give a working definition of communication.
The dictionary defines communication as the ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently. My definition of communication is different. I define communication as the response you get.
When you define communication like that, it can change the way you view the world. It puts the responsibility for communication on the speaker, not the listener — the writer, not the reader.
Just to be clear, this means you have to make sure your message is understood by the other person or people in your dialogue. Got it?
Will you please repeat to me what I just wrote so there is no confusion?
The receiver of the information ultimately determines the effectiveness of the communication.
Now let’s get to the story.
A year or so ago I was hired to coach a young employee deemed as having “high potential.” Let’s call him Jack. Within a short period, Jack’s career with this company had skyrocketed to regional manager level, and he was slated to be promoted to VP, eventually taking over as chief operating officer.
However, this plan hit a glitch. His leadership skills had plateaued, and it was frustrating everyone involved.
My goal with Jack was simple: Help him develop better team-building, communication and leadership skills. If results were not seen in a year, the company would promote someone else.
After doing extensive background checking on Jack with his peers, direct reports and superiors, I sat with him to go over my findings. Together, we determined that the top areas for his improvement would be making his communication skills more effective, delegating properly and learning to trust and collaborate with others.
For Jack to climb the ladder quickly, he had done a huge amount of work himself — not just his own, but others’ work as well.
When a subordinate was slow or not getting the job done, Jack simply took over and did the work. While Jack was a great technician, salesman and producer, he found it hard to see people as people. Everyone had a title and a job, and those words defined the purpose people served for him.
If they didn’t perform, he had no use for them. His trust level was nonexistent. He kicked butt and took no prisoners like a bull in a china shop.
To be promoted to vice president, Jack needed to learn how to get results through other people, not just from himself.
The first step for his learning effective communication skills would be for him to see people as people. He would need to connect to his people on a deeper level, which required hard work on his part and a change of his view of the world.
Together, we spent six months working on the following John Maxwell principles and practices of connecting with others:
- Connecting increases your influence in every situation.
- Connecting is all about others.
- Connecting goes beyond words.
- Connecting always requires energy.
- Connecting is more skill than natural talent.
- Connectors connect on common ground.
- Connectors do the difficult work of keeping it simple.
- Connectors create an experience everyone enjoys.
- Connectors inspire people.
- Connectors live what they communicate.
Once Jack learned how to properly connect with his people, learning great delegation and team-building skills became easy. His leadership flourished, and he was quickly promoted to VP. The current COO feels comfortable going into retirement soon, knowing that the company he built will be in good hands.
Jack shared with me a few of the learnings during his growth journey:
- Hiring a coach is a wise investment.
- Communication is all about others.
- You can achieve more with collaboration than by going solo.
- Ego gets in the way of true success.
- Emojis are not an effective communication tool.
Finally, we both agreed on a Zig Ziglar quote to use as a motto moving forward: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”