Last week, I spent time with a few different organizations and I heard a similar story from each of them.
"I tried to tell them what was wrong but no one would listen. Now I just keep my mouth shut and do my job because no one listens to me so it doesn't matter." That is a weak leadership conversation. Here is my standard refrain to leaders who tell me this tale: once you decide that your voice doesn't matter - it doesn't.
Trust, relationships, and communication are all very difficult to maintain. You can't quit if you hope to have a chance to maintain effective communication. "I tried to tell them..." reminds me of a witness reporting a crime a few days later, instead of while it was in progress. The witness explains that there was nothing they could do and it wasn't their fault. They are very clear and effective in pointing out what is wrong with everyone else - after the fact.
In these “victim” conversations, little progress can be made towards alignment, chemistry, and mutual support. Instead of trying to solve the problem or make adjustments to the situation, the finger pointing will more likely lead to distrust and additional barriers in communication. It is a cop out to “keep your mouth shut.” You can't be an effective leader with this kind of mindset because a leader can't do their job and keep their mouth shut.
My advice to people who find themselves in this conversation is to BE someone who can be heard. Change yourself - don't blame others. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Know what you're trying to cause and why it's important to you.
- Know your audience. Try to understand what is important to them and how they will best be able to hear you.
- Understand the consequences of your actions and inactions. Own the consequences.
- Be clear, confident, and concise.
- Take responsibility for your message; make sure you are heard.
There are hard heads out there with personal agendas that will deny your voice a place in the conversation. However, don't give them the power to squelch your ideas or your leadership. You are responsible for you. Leaders cause common sense, positive relationships, and good communication. Be a leader. Be determined. Be resourceful. Create the possibility for solutions when they’re- needed don't be a reporter after the fact.
Remember: Good leaders solve problems the first time that they are aware of the situation.
By Mike Nally
picture from http://themusicmomma.blogspot.com/2011/03/voice-as-instrument.html