Leadership and communication go hand-in-hand: Great leaders tend to be great communicators. We often think of leaders as hard-driving, dynamic characters, but leadership capability may be developing a softer side. Much of what I’ve been reading lately focuses on characteristics such as kindness, love and trust. This is not the world of business I know. Is this a blip on the radar, or is this a fundamental change in the business world?
Let’s begin with Peter Bregman, writing on the HBR Network Blog in “The Right Way to Speak to Yourself.” Bregman suggests that being kinder to ourselves – convincing the self-monitoring voices in our heads to be less critical, more loving – will make us happier individuals and better leaders as we naturally extend this grace to others.
Anjali Mullany gives us the flip side of the same coin in “Is Perfectionism Holding You Back?” (Fast Company blog). Does your self-critical, “oh-but-it-isn’t-yet-perfect” attitude keep you from making any progress whatsoever? Try taking it a little easier on yourself and your team.
If you follow me on Twitter (@bzhenry), you know that I’ve made content curation in organizational communication a hobby. This blog post highlights the best of what I’ve read in recent weeks.
In “Why Is Jeff Bezos Always Talking to Me?” (Fast Company blog), Noah Fleming also writes about the character of leaders; however, in his estimation, character is a matter of “positioning.” It’s not as cynical as it sounds: Fleming suggests that customers (or constituents) will only remember a few things about you, so it’s up to you to control what they recall through what you communicate. In theory, I agree with his principle of repetition in communication; I disagree with his use of the word “character.” For me, character is a matter of integrity, not positioning.
John Coleman, in “Take Ownership of Your Actions by Taking Responsibility,” moves from thought to action as well as to a more traditional view of leadership. Coleman advocates that we accept the fact that “no one is coming” to save us. He believes that we must accept the responsibility for making progress regardless of whether we are technically responsible for an issue. Decisive action drives results, and driving results is what leaders do.
The most effective leaders lead by example, and Craig Chappelow offers sound advice on how to do this in “Five Rules for Making Your Vision Stick,” on the Fast Company blog. Chappelow recounts a story about Iams pet food company, its mission of “improving the well-being of dogs and cats” and its then CEO Clay Mathile. Mathile was approached by one of the leading business magazines of the day to be the subject for the cover story – a coup for any executive. He turned it down. When asked why he didn’t accept, Mathile is rumored to have said, “I just can’t see how that would improve the lives of dogs and cats.”
If the softer side of leadership brings focus to improving the lives of cats and dogs, I do hope it’s more than a blip on the radar.
Two additional good reads on the ubiquitous topic of social media:
- “The $1.3 Trillion Price of Not Tweeting at Work,” by Ryan Holmes, on the Fast Company blog
- “Breakdown: Social Media Workflow, Process, Triage,” by Jeremiah Owyang, on his eponymous blog