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A Pivotal Leadership Practice

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by John Austin in Behavior change, Leadership

Many of the things leaders try to accomplish in organizations end up failing – in fact, it’s estimated that 70% of organizational initiatives fail.

There are lots of reasons for this, but nearly everyone I’ve worked with in the past 30 years could improve in these four areas:

      1. Providing positive, immediate, and certain consequences for doing good things.

        …we know that having a high ratio of positive to negative statements is a hallmark of successful marriages, excellent teachers, and high performing teams. Getting it to happen is easier said than done.

        Start with yourself and tell your team what you’re trying to do. Encourage them to try it too, even if only as an experiment. Praise it when you see it happening.

      2. Simplifying communications and making them more direct.

        …most business communications are written at a reading level that is much too complex for the average person. You can check your writing level by doing a grade level analysis: copy your text and paste it into a grade level analyzer.

        In order for 50% of the US population to easily understand your message, it should written at the 7th or 8th grade.

      3. Purposefully creating the conditions for honesty.

        …Recent surveys have shown that 93% of people feel like they cannot say what is on their mind on at least one team at work. This only goes away through strategically working on it with your leaders. It’s all based on what they say and do each day.

      4. Giving people more attention.

        …People would rather be criticized than ignored…and yet 25% of people report feeling ignored at work. People who feel ignored at work are far more likely to be disengaged.

There is one thing…I’d call it a pivotal behavior…that leaders can do to address each of these.

Conversations. Having more effective conversations can help us to do each of these things better, plus a lot more. This is even more important in today’s VUCA environment.

How are you making sure that you and your team are having effective conversations?

It’s normal to assume that you can just jump into difficult conversations with people in your organization, especially if you’re in a position of formal authority.

“I want us to have fearless conversations.”

“We need to give robust and honest feedback.”

“People need to have thicker skin.”

Remember that being fearless, completely honest, and feeling safe in a conversation at work are all things that are EARNED.

We can’t flip a switch and all decide to do these things – the success of your conversations depends on the relationships you have with each other.

Have you got the right environment for people to be 100% respectful AND 100% honest with each other?

Email me if you’d like to learn more about how to create such an environment.

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