By James P. Ginopoulos (Gino)
The question of “how much communication?” is really regulated by the quality of the communication. The employer should be initiating communication and consistently communicating from three different levels or vantage points. The three levels are leadership, mentorship and stewardship. The balance is dictated by how effective the employer is at reaching his or her employees at each of these levels. The interesting thing about the employer initiating the right communication is that the employees will communicate back in much the same way they are communicated to. If the employer chooses to communicate using smoke and mirrors, much of the feedback will be the same. If the employer chooses to communicate in a direct and honest fashion, then much of what comes back will be delivered the same way.
There is so much information and misinformation regarding leadership today that the word itself has become completely diluted. To distill the term leadership down to its purest form, I would have to say leadership is truth. Leadership is trust. The employer should strive to be straightforward and honest in the assessment of where the company is, and most importantly, where the company is going. Create the short, intermediate and long-term vision in crystal clear terms that everyone can understand. The same tactic is even more important when dealing with employees. Tell them what they need to know, not what they want to hear. No spin, no flowers and no rock’n’roll concert fog machines.
Leadership is not about directing your troops daily on how fast to climb a ladder or assemble a widget. Leadership is about making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall and making sure the right widget is being sold to the right people.
An employer has acquired employees for one reason–the needs of the business require more hands than the two hands the employer was born with. Along with the addition of employees comes the frustration of wanting to do it yourself, fire everybody and start over, and continuing to ask, “Where is the commitment?” Employers need to continue to drill down the ethics and the mission of their companies by choosing the right people to mentor. The employer cannot spend enough time with each individual to effectively grow a culture. Mentorship to a certain few who can then mentor others is the only way. Through properly and patiently mentoring potential leaders, truth again comes into play. Be fearless and swift in your decisions early on with regard to who can be mentored and who has the ability to mentor downline. The employer’s ability to communicate through mentorship is the only way to build a solid, strong foundation in order for the company to weather the incessant storms of everyday business.
Stewardship is yet another overused and misunderstood term. The real bottom line about stewardship is, “It ain’t about you!” The servant leader is the truly great employer. Servant leaders are often seen as humble stewards of their organizations’ resources: human, financial and physical. That person understands the huge responsibility that is placed on his or her shoulders when hiring, training and sometimes firing personnel. The employer has the often overwhelming task of caring for the organization, including its most important asset…its people. Servant leaders do not take this lightly knowing full well that how they engage each individual on a daily basis, directly or indirectly, has major consequences on the long-term health of the organization. Communicating at the stewardship level is a completely different style of leadership. It is almost the polar opposite of the autocratic style. Servant leaders communicate for the long term. Autocratic leaders communicate for the moment.
I would suggest these great books on leadership, mentorship and stewardship.
Winning by Jack Welch, Good to Great by Jim Collins and Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf. Welch is as direct as you can get. Collins chronicles the step-by-step winning formulas of some of this country’s greatest companies. Greenleaf analyzes legitimate power and leadership through stewardship.
Remember – Great leaders are avid readers!!
Until next time,
James P. Ginopoulos (Gino)