We now have identified the elephant in the room, named it and begun to build an action plan.
Today we pick up with step three, your communication strategy.
3) Build a communication strategy around the move. This stage of the action step is highly critical. We build a communication element into the resolution so that the leader can gain support or at least feel that they are not alone when making this action step. It is essential to giving the appearance of transparency that is so necessary in any leaders reign – when a leader appears transparent with their action items, even the tough ones, it builds and fosters trust at all levels. The way things are communicated is key to that. Now, we all know there are decisions that are made that cannot be communicated about up front, and I believe that you can still prepare people for those pending decisions in such a way that is supportive. The communication doesn’t start after the ball has dropped, it happens all along the way.
4) So the final step in supporting positive action in the midst of perceived fear is what others have also named. Face it. I would add, face it with integrity and zeal. Leaders become leaders because of the decisions they make. We can sit and choose to be a lame duck leader and I guarantee that action is not sustainable. Or we can be an action oriented, integrity agent. When a good leader works from that place of personal integrity and considers what is the action that is best for the whole body, they will find that zeal for taking action in spite of the perceived fears.
While leaders often feel they are in a box all alone when it comes to tough decisions, I have found that with the C-level clients that I work with as an executive coach, they are looking for a sounding board or neutral partner, they crave it. It is interesting because each of them have been so use to working alone, 'the buck stops here so I must not reach out.' and what they enjoy most about coaching is they have that partnership they have been desiring and not able to name. If I could give leaders one thing, it would be the benefit of knowing personally they are more powerful when they reach out vs. keeping everything close to the vest. That act of reaching out is what moves great leaders to their full potential as a human being.
I had a client who is president of a mid-sized company that has been hit with a crunch on revenue with the shift in the economy this year. The decision he didn’t want to have to make was the one he feared the most, layoffs. When (in the midst of breakdown) we identified the elephant, named it and built a strategy around handling it, while the meeting was tough to have with staff, he prepared them in advance for what was likely to come and ensure them that it would be fair and equitable for the ‘whole.’
After the fact, he found that the planning the meeting to tell everyone what was going on was much harder than the actual action step itself and…had he not had the meeting in advance (communication strategy) the affect on the entire workforce within his company would have been much worse. As would have the trust factor he held with his employees.
I recall him saying (breakthrough), “it was the worst meeting I have ever conduced in all my years here and our employees really stepped up and rallied around for the good of the company as a result. I was blown away. I realized they can handle more than I may have given them credit for, or protected them from.”
Here are some coaching questions for your consideration based on this article:
- How would you describe and evaluate your support structure for decision making?
- What has your communication strategy been for communicating the hard stuff? What changes have you identified that you want to make for the future?
- What value do you see that will be added by introducing a neutral partner to your inner circle? How might you use this strategy to strengthen your leadership?
- When have you noticed yourself working in isolation vs. asking for support? How did that serve you?
- How will you know if you are keeping it too close to the vest? What will you do different the next time?