An overlooked leadership quality.
I’ve been working with quite a few clients lately on team DISC assessments. A DISC assessment, if you are not familiar, is a well-established and widely used tool to measure a person’s typical behavior style in different environments. DISC as a resource can prove very helpful in many areas, including self-awareness, communication and leadership. (Take a look at more information about DISC on my website)
I share this insight because a theme that has come up during these recent client discussions revolves around how to use this tool to enhance team communication. Let’s face it, communication is the lynchpin to team and company dynamics.
So, my clients ask me, what’s the key here? How can my team improve communication?
My answer…in a word…transparency.
At the risk of being cliché, leaders need to “walk the talk”. It amazes me how often leaders look at their teams and wonder why the communication flow seems bottle-necked, or at times, nonexistent. When a leader is forced to truly look at themselves and examine their actions around these very things, many discover that they are asking others to do what they are not doing. The solution lies within the concept of “you go first”. And the “you” here is you: the leader.
Open communication within an organization is a wonderful thing. Those with it know it. And those without it scratch their heads and wonder about the magic formula that seemingly eludes them.
As leader, you need to encourage, and participate in, an environment of openness and transparency; and one without risk or consequence for embracing these very qualities. Are you willing to accept that latter part of that prior statement? (Because that’s the hurdle many leaders struggle with: one without risk or consequence). If so, read on.
A team dynamic of openness and transparency, that starts at the top, enjoys many benefits, including:
I’m sure you would agree that we crave trust in our most valuable relationships. This certainly should apply to our work relationships as well. It’s imperative. Put simply, trust is a two-way dynamic, and implies a rooted belief of reliability, confidence and character. So how strong is your trust in them? And how strong is their trust in you? Since communication is integral to trust, a good starting point is to examine the conversations you are having with your team. Are these truly conversations or simply directives? How often are you checking-in on their well-being, as opposed to your attempt to assess progress, satisfy your own curiosity, or to re-establish who’s boss? It may be time to shift the paradigm a bit, and embrace open transparent communication as a powerful tool to build trust.
This is a big one. Everyone craves clarity in their role. And believe it or not, it’s often missed. I would venture to guess that you’ve experienced this yourself at some point in your professional career; either as the team lead or team member. From one side of the equation you wonder why a team member keeps missing important aspects of their role, or seems confused when asked to complete specific tasks. On the other side of the equation you wonder why your team-lead doesn’t seem aligned with the results you are producing. Clarity: clarity of direction; clarity of expectations; clarity of core values. Just a short list, but the higher your team can rate the level of clarity and transparency they give and receive, the more engaged all parties will be.
Teams work better, achieve more and are more fulfilled when there is an environment that embraces an open exchange of ideas. People crave it. Your team, as a whole, wants to contribute to the bigger purpose, and each person on your team wants to be involved. When team members have ownership in a project, their level of engagement is magnified. Examine your processes around collaboration. It may be time to design, or refine, a simple feedback loop and encourage a transparent all-voices-heard brainstorming environment.
Embrace transparent leadership. You go first.