Tim emailed his supervisor to ask their thoughts on a project he and his team were working on. He was looking to get ideas, thoughts, and possible considerations to think about. He asked specific questions with the hopes of gaining more insight or information. However, when his supervisor emailed him back, he received little to no help and was left with more questions than answers. He started to wonder if his supervisor even read his email. The lack of support and communication from his supervisor left him disheartened and frustrated. It is essential that leadership takes communication seriously.
Communication is the backbone to success. How we communicate with our team determines the success of our team and how well our team operates. If we do not give attention to questions, concerns, thoughts, and ideas from our team and write them off as trivial inconveniences, because we are too busy or have more important things to take care of, then I would argue that we have lost sight of what leadership means and what it should look like. A leader’s job is to serve, be available, invest, and sacrifice for their team. If we feel inconvenienced by questions, concerns, or ideas from our team, then we may need to do some self reflecting and reconsider our priorities.
“Yeah, but Wallaert, you don’t understand. I get asked questions ALL THE TIME, people are ALWAYS coming to me to share concerns and ideas, and to be honest, I am behind on the work I need to get done due to dealing with the ‘communication’ of my team.” I hear you, but let me ask you this, if people are always asking questions and sharing concerns and ideas, how well are you communicating and investing in your team? Do they always have to seek you out, or do you spend time in the trenches with your team? If all we do is sit in our office answering emails with simple responses and little care, then we have done a poor job supporting our team. If we do not invest the time to provide thorough, thoughtful feedback, then our team is left with more questions. You see, if our communication with our team is ineffective, then our team will always have more questions, comments, and concerns that they need to share.
As leaders, we need to take the time and invest in the questions, concerns, and thoughts of our team. What’s even more important is setting aside our own feelings and insecurities to allow our team to freely and safely express their own. We also need to put away our selfish desires, and truly invest in those we are leading. We all have something to do, but the bottom line is that nothing can be more important than the people we lead. Simon Sinek once said, “Leaders lead people, not results.” If we want the results we are looking for, we must first lead our team, and one of the ways we can do that is by allowing for open, safe communication.
Earlier, I asked if you were in the trenches with your team. Being present is two fold. Leadership must not only be physically present, but mentally present as well. This is a critical step in effective leadership. If leaders are never seen, then leadership is never happening. Leadership is not done from behind the desk. It is done in the presence of the team. The more present we are with our team, the more understanding we gain from the questions, concerns, and ideas of our team. Instead of the team always having to come to leadership, leadership should be found among the team – listening, observing, and helping wherever possible. This simple action not only strengthens the team, but also opens the door to better communication throughout the team.
If your team asks questions, shares concerns, or voices ideas, are you listening? Are you giving your full attention to what they are saying? Are you present in the conversation and communicating in a way that allows for clear, safe communication? If you find that your team is always coming to you, then it’s time for you to get out from behind the desk and start being present among your team. If you are not providing thoughtful, meaningful feedback to your team, then you are setting your team up for failure. Invest in your team through intentional communication.
As always, stay humble and serve well!