“If you want to understand how a lion hunts…
…don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”
This quote by Jim Stengel, former Chief Marketing Office at Proctor & Gamble sets up this month’s conversation on Leading at the Speed of Business as we discuss the fourth of five keys to success. We left off the conversation last month by looking at how Cognitive Diversity helps 21st Century Leaders adapt quickly by embracing creativity and diverse thinking. This month we explore the importance of how effectively we communicate diverse thinking to adapt and stay relevant.
It is my contention that effective communication is the biggest challenge 21st Century Leaders face today! When we think of all the ramifications and repercussions of poor leadership communications, we can clearly see why this is such a big issue. What can leaders do to effectively communicate at the speed of business?
Thanks to technology, the amount of information we have access to increases at an incredibly exponential rate. In many cases, leaders are literally looking for the knowledge needle in the information haystack! However, what leaders do with the information available to them is far more important that the information they’ve accumulated over time. Anyone can search for information on the internet. It is knowing what to do with the information, or whether it is in fact the right information, that allows effective leaders to make the right knowledge-based decisions at the speed of business!
How are you learning how the lion hunts?
- Knowledge Rules ~ Technology gives us unfettered access to vast amounts of data and information by simply typing a word or two into our search engine of choice. We access vast amounts of content that tells us what and how to do most anything we need or want to know. The problem is that leaders who rely too heavily on information for their business decisions are missing a crucial element of success ~ Knowledge! Knowledge is information in context and applies meaning to information to make what we know more useful and effective. Where content is the how and the what, knowledge is the where and the when that information has relevance and context to the discussion at hand. (For more on this relationship, check out the DIKW Cycle here).
- Communicate Meaning ~ Effective communications, by definition, occurs when the sender and the receiver understand the message in the same context. Essentially, it is sharing meaning, not just words or images, to convey an idea or expectation. Far too many leaders are communicating content which is open to multiple interpretations by their followers. Multiple interpretations lead to confusion and ultimately failure in achieving the desired results of the original message. Effective leaders communicate content and context to eliminate these multiple interpretations and ensure mutual understanding of the actions necessary to execute the original message. To do this effectively, leaders know it takes time as well as a deeper understanding of the business, industry and markets that we discussed in a previous conversation. Leaders must adapt their communication style to ensure knowledge-based mutual understanding!
- Real-Time Context Matters ~ Much has been written about the millions of dollars wasted in ineffective leadership development programs. One of the primary reasons is that, for the most part, they are not development programs at all. Rather they are training programs disguised as development. To truly be an effective leadership development program, the skills (content) have to be applied in the context of the leader’s role. This gives meaning (context) to the content to develop new leadership habits and attitudes when applied effectively over time. But again, it takes time as well as a conscious focus to achieve. Once this idea of continuous development takes hold, the payoff is being able to effectively lead at the speed of business!