The Basic Four of Leadership: # 2 – Communicate

A senior leader’s job isn’t to have all the ideas or even most of them. Her job is to communicate corporate goals to employees and motivate them to achieve them. – Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting
  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Communicating Openly

When you stop to think about it, communication within an organization is going to happen without a leader’s active participation. Communication is happening every day among employees. If a thing or a person or an event exists in an organization, someone, somewhere, is talking about it. So when a leader fails to constantly and openly communicate “who we are and what’s important,” the conversation doesn’t stop. The dialogue among employees just goes in a different direction, and the organization’s culture develops away from the leader’s influence, goals and priorities.

So what do leaders who openly communicate do? For starters:

  • Set clear guiding values and goals
  • Discuss issues facing the organization and the team – not just the big decisions and announcements
  • Pass on all useful bits of information to employees, especially those that involve change initiatives or that personally affect employees
  • Make time for employees and listen intently when they express opinions and concerns
  • Welcome open discussion from team members about rumors they hear
  • Respond promptly to team member requests for more information
  • Go up their own chain of command to fill in the details they don’t know
  • Introduce employees to other key individuals in the organization, sparking dialogue
  • Give employees online access to relevant databases

Leaders communicate on many other levels as well. They communicate by example, gesture, their decisions, what they value, and what they celebrate, what they reward and what they don’t reward, and their actions.

The one thing they can’t do is communicate from their office.

While meetings, conference calls, and reports are all important, the things that keep leaders in their offices are nowhere near as important as open communications with their team.

It’s impossible to lead people without open communication.

And that requires you to open your door and take a walk…

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 3 of a series

Part 1

Part 2

The Basic Four of Leadership: # 1 – Goal Setting

A 200,000-person study by the Jackson Organization confirmed that managers who achieve enhanced business results are significantly more likely to be seen by their employees as strong in the Basic Four areas of leadership:

  • Goal Setting

  • Communication

  • Trust

  • Accountability

Authors Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used that study as a foundation in their book The Carrot Principle, adding on the accelerator of frequent and effective recognition to illustrate that the relationship between recognition and improved business results is both highly predictable and proven to work.

As in all good things, you must start with the basics.

Setting Clear Goals

The work life of many employees today is seen as a meaningless task with no end in sight. Too many organizations are operating in a vacuum where team members and even their leaders have no idea what is valued. Deprived of direction, team members coast along, getting nowhere fast.

Whoa – did those words just describe the organization that you are a part of? GASP – even your church?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

While leaders cannot often change the tasks in their organizations, they can change team members’ attitudes toward those tasks by setting clear team goals. Be defining the purpose of a task and tying it to a desirable end result, effective leaders infuse work with meaning and purpose. The task remains the same, but its significance in team members’ minds skyrockets.

Great leaders infuse their team with a clear sense of purpose. They not only explain the mission to the organization in terms of serving others, acting with integrity, being the best in their category, and so on, but how that grand, overarching mission applies to specific goals for their team and each individual’s daily work.

Teams need clarity from their leaders: clarity of goals, clarity of progress, and clarity of success. Leaders who provide clarity set an optimistic tone for the future.

A leader has to focus every day on gaining alignment with what matters most to the organization. Achieving goals should be noticed and rewarded while variances from the mission and values should necessitate quick action.

Goal setting may seem to be a basic management skill, but it is rare to find a manager who does this effectively. If you were to think back to an effective manager or leader you’ve had in the past, chances are they not only helped you understand the direction of the team, but how you as an individual contribute to that direction.

The power of a clearly communicated goal is amazing. Cultures around the world from all time periods have created epic myths about journeys through danger, despair, and ultimately, triumph. What makes the journey and its trials worthwhile is the hero’s noble purpose – his goal. Those stories live on today…

Isn’t it time for you to create an amazing legend of your purpose (goal) that permeates deeply within and through every member of your team?

Next: The Basic Four – Communication

Adapted from The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Part 2 of a series

Part 1

The 7 Step Road Map to Being All In

To have any hope of succeeding as a leader you need to get your team “all in.”

No matter the size of your team, few things will have a bigger impact on your performance than getting your people to buy into your ideas, your cause, and to believe what matters.

– All In, Adrian Gostick & Chester Elton

Best-selling authors of The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton’s new book All In answers one of the most overlooked leadership questions of the day: Why are some leaders able to get their employees to commit wholeheartedly to their culture and give that extra push that leads to outstanding results?

As with their previous works, a huge (in this case, 300,000 person) study led to a groundbreaking finding: leaders of the highest performing groups create a “culture of belief.” In these distinctive organizations, people believe in their leaders and in the organization’s vision, values, and goals. Team members are engaged, enabled, and energized (the authors use the term Three Es).

Based on the extensive interview process and combined with their years of experience, the authors created a seven-step road map for creating a culture of belief:

  • Define Your Burning Platform – define the mission with great clarity and instill a sense of urgency
  • Create a Customer Focus – focus on customers and mandate a pro-customer orientation
  • Develop Agility – learn to see the future and position your team to meet both seen and unseen challenges
  • Share Everything – create a culture that is a place of truth, has constant communication, and exhibits marked transparency
  • Partner with Your Talent – success is direct result of your teams’ unique ingenuity and talent
  • Root for Each Other – high levels of appreciation and camaraderie create a tangible esprit de corps
  • Establish Clear Accountability – teams must be held accountable for goals, but have the responsibility and tools to ensure their success, with appropriate rewards at completion

All In is a book about culture, but more than that it is the story of how great leaders create unique, inviting, and rewarding places to work – or serve.

What about you – are you ready to lead all in?