Organizations are often complex, daunting and confusing. Nevertheless, there are tried and true techniques to solve problems and achieve high performance. But where do you begin? Well, consultants recognize the value of the people who make up the organization and start exploring there. Below is an overview of such inquiries. These might seem like straight forward questions but, their answers are often in the weeds of the organization. Answering these questions is critical for the success of any organization.
Typically an inquiry with leaders begins with:
- “How connected are you to the people you lead?” Or,
- “How clear are you on the goals?” and
- “Do you communicate them regularly and ask for input?”
Leaders must connect with their followers. This does not mean that they need to be friendly all the time. While friendliness is a virtue, the real meaning of connection is that the leader has the ability to gather personally; can get involved with their team and listen well, can give them good news as well as deliver challenges. With the increased automation people often find themselves relating more to cartoons of moods than to others in real conversations. A connected leader shares authentically, and seeks acquaintance. They want to understand conditions from the mouths of the staff, not only from a graph or gantt chart.
It is important that leaders know their goals. “Be more committed to your goal and fighting or fleeing from the intense discomfort you feel in the moment–and act on that commitment,” is Mary Beth O’Neill’s description of a leader’s approach to goals in her book Executive Coaching. They must know them and be fully behind them. Teams are lost and begin to fissure when they are not collected around a goal. When goals are understood and processes created for their achievement, teams are success bound.
With a high level of commitment, communication becomes spontaneous and effortless. Goals must be articulated with crystal clarity, repeated over and over so that the message sticks. In addition, the leader needs to check for how others feel about the goals and how they are moving towards them. Important feedback is possible. Course correction with key information is not a set back but a positive move forward.
These simple questions have important answers. Often there are a number of issues to untangle in the process. But it is worth it. Answering them unhinges issues that prevented progress in the past. Progress awaits.