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Owning your s**t!
Episode 820th April 2023 • How to Take the Lead • Lee Griffith and Carrie-Ann Wade
00:00:00 00:39:15

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Leaders or not, we are all human, so mistakes are inevitable right? Whether it is making a bad decision, moving in the wrong direction strategically or not listening to stakeholder feedback, it’s the way we deal with our mistakes that can make all the difference.

We share our own views, thoughts and experiences:

  • 06:01 – the BBC v. Gary Lineker
  • 08:36 – warning signs you’re getting it wrong
  • 14:50 – blaming and scapegoating
  • 22:27 – sorry seems to be the hardest word  
  • 28:10 – trust is at the heart of it
  • 31:35 -  How to… own your sh*t

As always, we share our top takeaways to help you to own your sh*t as a leader. Get the balance right, you need to move quickly but don’t create a knee jerk reaction. Situational awareness and understanding what actions you might need to take is crucial. Assess, acknowledge and act are three useful ‘As’ to support your thinking when you get things wrong.

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Transcripts

Lee:

maybe if you can recognize someone in your organization who's

Lee:

really poor at communicating, and this should be on their PDP this year

Carrie-Ann:

Send them this episode,

Lee:

Just saying.

Lee:

Hello and welcome back to another episode of How to Take the Lead.

Lee:

If you are listening to this and you don't already subscribe, please hit the

Lee:

subscribe button if you're watching us.

Lee:

Hello.

Lee:

Um, you can subscribe to us on YouTube and if you are listening

Lee:

to this and you are hearing about watching us, yes, we are on YouTube.

Carrie-Ann:

This gets ever more complicated.

Lee:

know, I know.

Lee:

Um, few other bits of admin.

Lee:

Just before we get into the meat of today's, uh, episode, we are on

Lee:

Insta Twitter at How Take the Lead.

Lee:

So we're having some great conversations over there.

Lee:

And we also have our substack community and that is our, you get extra behind

Lee:

the scenes of the episode and some of our reflections post episode, a few coaching

Lee:

prompts, this, that, and the other.

Lee:

Book club starting soon.

Lee:

We're gonna have some we're gonna have some ask us anything

Lee:

sessions, so just for that community

Carrie-Ann:

Please be kind to us

Lee:

So lots of good stuff over there.

Lee:

All the links that you need for all the different things we've talked about are

Lee:

all at howtotakethelead.com, so go over there also in the show notes on whatever

Lee:

device you are listening to, we'll put all the links that you need to know.

Lee:

So I think that is really open and transparent communications to start the

Carrie-Ann:

Uh, it is, it is.

Lee:

How are you doing today?

Carrie-Ann:

I'm all right.

Carrie-Ann:

I am, um, giddy with excitement and, and anticipation as the, we

Carrie-Ann:

are recording this with exactly four weeks to go until I get married.

Carrie-Ann:

Just very excited.

Carrie-Ann:

I've avoided a

Lee:

you

Lee:

were gonna say the loof.

Lee:

I thought you were gonna say you were excited with anticipation

Lee:

of the Luther movie, but

Carrie-Ann:

Oh

Carrie-Ann:

no,

Lee:

more

Lee:

important.

Carrie-Ann:

the wedding is more important.

Carrie-Ann:

The Luther Lethal Movies happened, but I've been promised no spoilers, so

Carrie-Ann:

I'm not gonna say anything about that.

Carrie-Ann:

Not, I'm not gonna communicate about that.

Carrie-Ann:

I could communicate for hours about wedding planning and all things

Carrie-Ann:

bridal and marriage excitement, but I won't, cuz that's not what

Carrie-Ann:

we're here to talk about today.

Lee:

No.

Lee:

It'll be on the the insta though, won't it?

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Everything is content.

Carrie-Ann:

probably.

Carrie-Ann:

Everything is content

Lee:

So we've dropped a few hints, but today's topic is something that we

Lee:

are both really passionate about and that's communications and engagement.

Lee:

Now, I don't, I can probably, I can feel people rolling their eyes because

Lee:

they probably think we're a bit, we're a bit biased because of our

Lee:

backgrounds and between us, I know we don't look old enough, but between

Lee:

us, we've got 40 years of working.

Lee:

I know

Carrie-Ann:

We're glad that's between, it's between us.

Carrie-Ann:

Definitely Between us.

Carrie-Ann:

My God, that's frightening.

Lee:

40 years of working in communications and engagement.

Lee:

Um, so it is something that we're both really passionate about,

Lee:

but actually this isn't some shameless plug for a communications

Lee:

team or communications function.

Lee:

We do think they're really important services that every organization

Lee:

needs, but actually we're coming at this as we always do in every

Lee:

episode of how to take the lead.

Lee:

We're coming at it from a slightly different angle, and we want to tackle the

Lee:

things that happen outside of the comms function, because I see this all the time

Lee:

and I'd be really interested thoughts in a minute Carrie-Ann, where senior leadership

Lee:

teams put the burden of communications onto a corporate function and they don't

Lee:

realize they've got a responsibility.

Lee:

Um, you could argue the biggest responsibility to communicate and engage

Lee:

with their people and their communities.

Lee:

So today's discussion is exploring why it's important.

Lee:

What a leader needs to consider and some practical tips to

Lee:

get you started along the way.

Lee:

So let's start with the basics of what we mean by communications and

Lee:

engagement from a leadership perspective.

Lee:

Carrie-Ann over to you,

Carrie-Ann:

Thanks.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm gonna try not to waffle because there's so much in this question.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, and I know you all have plenty to add as well, Lee, but for me, from a

Carrie-Ann:

leadership perspective, when we talk about communications, we are clearly, well, I'd

Carrie-Ann:

say clearly, hopefully people will realize that we are talking about the things

Carrie-Ann:

like a leader setting out their, their vision, their direction, their strategy.

Carrie-Ann:

But I think the really crucial bit for me is isn't just about talking, it isn't

Carrie-Ann:

just about sharing information one way.

Carrie-Ann:

It's also about listening and engaging.

Carrie-Ann:

It's about relationship building with your key stakeholders.

Carrie-Ann:

It's about building trust.

Carrie-Ann:

It's about visibility, and by visibility I kind of mean visibility as a leader

Carrie-Ann:

and, and a sort of, Physical person that you are, but also that visibility

Carrie-Ann:

around issues, like things that are important to you, to your stakeholders.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, it's about sort of being present, being kind of finger on the pulse with

Carrie-Ann:

what's important to the people that you are leading and being able to demonstrate

Carrie-Ann:

that it's about approachability.

Carrie-Ann:

It's about role modeling.

Carrie-Ann:

My list could go on and on and on and on, but I, hopefully what it

Carrie-Ann:

demonstrates is that it isn't, like you said before about that, oh, well

Carrie-Ann:

we've got a team to do this and we're just pushing some information out.

Carrie-Ann:

It's, it's definitely not that for me.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, I'm sure there's more that you want to add, uh, Lee in that space,

Lee:

I, I think that was a pretty comprehensive list.

Lee:

I think, I think the flip side of that, it's not the transactional stuff.

Lee:

Yes, there are transactional things that you do as a leader

Lee:

that you are communicating with other people, but, um, it.

Lee:

It's more than the tr transactional stuff that's that's happening.

Lee:

So yeah, I completely agree with everything that you've said.

Lee:

I think it's about how are attuned to what's happening in your organization,

Lee:

the context in which you're operating, how you contextualize the stuff that

Lee:

you're doing to that environment.

Lee:

Um, and you are recognizing and responding to the needs of the people that you

Lee:

serve, whether that's your staff,

Carrie-Ann:

Oh, Oh, you said that so much more articulate art.

Carrie-Ann:

I can't even speak, I can't even articulate what I'm trying to say.

Carrie-Ann:

Basically you said that so much better than me is what I was trying to say.

Carrie-Ann:

Lee, you communicated that far better than I did

Lee:

so for me, your communications impact as a leader has an absolute

Lee:

direct correlation to how well your organization performs.

Lee:

For me, it's the difference between a great and poor rating, how engaged your

Lee:

staff are, the experience customers or your clients have with, with you as

Lee:

an organization, what your communities and stakeholders think of you.

Lee:

And I think you look at those great performing organizations, they have

Lee:

leadership teams who communicate and connect with the people we serve.

Lee:

And it isn't just an afterthought and it isn't left for someone else to do.

Lee:

And there's, you know, the stats show that this does really matter.

Lee:

So 74% of employees expect their leader to use social media, for example, to

Lee:

communicate; so three quarters of staff.

Lee:

Almost half of staff in the UK will look at a chief exec social media

Lee:

account, for example, when they're considering joining a company.

Lee:

And things like direct and transparent communications from an employer is

Lee:

the third most important factor for staff after compensation and benefits.

Lee:

And obviously this matters more the younger the workforce is that

Lee:

of, we've talked about multi-gen, multi-generational workforces so it is

Lee:

only ever gonna get more, more important.

Lee:

And we've touched on the fact that, you know, communicating isn't just

Lee:

an outpouring of stuff that you do or the transactional stuff, nor is it

Lee:

about assuming you only tell people what you think they need to know.

Lee:

It's, it's part of your strategy, it's your brand.

Lee:

It tells people, that they need to know about you.

Lee:

Um, and I suppose it's for me, really frustrating when you see leaders who

Lee:

don't understand the of it, or they think their job is just to do a tell and sell.

Lee:

Um, and we see that quite a lot with, with some leaders and there's

Lee:

so much more to it than that.

Lee:

So I wanna ask kind of why do you think it's not taken as seriously

Lee:

as other part of the leader's role?

Carrie-Ann:

Oh, I've got a massive list here as well, Lee . So you'll have to be

Carrie-Ann:

really good at chairing before I get on one and just run through a billion things

Carrie-Ann:

that, uh, that are on my mind about this.

Carrie-Ann:

So, um, I think that, that this is quite multifaceted and I think it

Carrie-Ann:

will depend sometimes on the type of leader you are, um, and the

Carrie-Ann:

culture in your organization as well.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, the first thing I'll get out of the way is that bit, that the point that

Carrie-Ann:

you've already made around communications being labeled and badged as something

Carrie-Ann:

that a function has to deliver.

Carrie-Ann:

So I do still think there is a bit of an attitude that to communicate anything

Carrie-Ann:

within your organization that happens through your corporate comms function.

Carrie-Ann:

And I dunno if that's because of laziness, lack of understanding, uh,

Carrie-Ann:

A leadership mindset that's maybe not quite forward thinking enough.

Carrie-Ann:

But I definitely think there is still a bit of that that goes on.

Carrie-Ann:

I also think that, um, I'm not sure whether it's about how seriously it's

Carrie-Ann:

taken or whether it's about, um, how confident people feel in doing it.

Carrie-Ann:

So we've talked before in a couple of our episodes around confidence,

Carrie-Ann:

but also around sort of fear.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think maybe if leaders are not feeling confident in what they stand

Carrie-Ann:

for, their purpose, the way in which they want to come across as a leader,

Carrie-Ann:

that can impact on how well or how much, uh, how much emphasis people

Carrie-Ann:

put on that part of their role as a leader in terms of communication.

Carrie-Ann:

So it might be fear of getting it wrong and saying the wrong

Carrie-Ann:

thing, fear of putting your.

Carrie-Ann:

Above the parapet and putting yourself out there around an issue.

Carrie-Ann:

It might be that just physically you are not particularly

Carrie-Ann:

confident as a C communicator.

Carrie-Ann:

You it maybe feels stressful and an anxiety inducing for you

Carrie-Ann:

to speak publicly about things.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, I would partly question how you've managed to get into a leadership role

Carrie-Ann:

without being able to do some of that, but absolutely respect that some people

Carrie-Ann:

are not confident in certain aspects of what they see as communicating.

Carrie-Ann:

It might also be, uh, a worry or a fear about what you might hear.

Carrie-Ann:

So if you are positioning yourself as a leader who is open and transparent and

Carrie-Ann:

approachable and all of those things that we've said, and you are creating

Carrie-Ann:

dialogue and you are engaging with stakeholders, that's great as long as you

Carrie-Ann:

are prepared for what you might hear and what you might be asked to take action on.

Carrie-Ann:

And sometimes if you are fearful about that and nervous and worried, it kind of

Carrie-Ann:

stops you wanting to, to kind of be that open and transparent communicator I think.

Carrie-Ann:

and the final bit I will say, cuz I could go on forever and there are

Carrie-Ann:

loads more things, is I sometimes think it, it's about confusion.

Carrie-Ann:

There being a sort of state of confusion where maybe as a leader either

Carrie-Ann:

individually or the leadership in your organization is perhaps lacking some

Carrie-Ann:

clarity, whether that's clarity of vision.

Carrie-Ann:

Clarity of purpose, clarity around sort of the strategic

Carrie-Ann:

direction that you are heading in.

Carrie-Ann:

If you don't have that clarity, then it makes it very difficult to

Carrie-Ann:

communicate in an open and transparent way and engage people and build that

Carrie-Ann:

trust because you are not really sure what, what it is that you are

Carrie-Ann:

communicating, if that makes sense.

Carrie-Ann:

So I will stop there cuz I could go on forever because I'd really

Carrie-Ann:

like to hear your views Lee.

Lee:

Well, I don't, I don't disagree with any of the reasons that you've listed,

Lee:

but I do also want to recognize that there is a set of leaders who, where I

Lee:

don't agree that it's a confidence issue.

Lee:

I think it's an arrogance issue of they know

Carrie-Ann:

The opposite.

Carrie-Ann:

Nice.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

The the, there's either a power dynamic at play.

Lee:

They're trying to keep information.

Lee:

They don't want to let people know because they want to kind of keep control or

Lee:

there's a sense of they think they know what people need to know and what they

Lee:

don't need to know, and they'll tell people when they need to tell them or.

Lee:

And they just don't see the value of having open conversations and

Lee:

engaging with people because they've got clarity on what needs to happen.

Lee:

And I think that's, that's the kind of leaders that damage the culture and, and

Lee:

I suppose has a bad rep for, for other leaders who perhaps do lack confidence.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, I, I wouldn't disagree with you.

Carrie-Ann:

I think that's a really important point to raise.

Carrie-Ann:

And again, I would question that need for that control and where that's coming from.

Carrie-Ann:

So is that about the mindset of that individual leader?

Carrie-Ann:

I, is it like total, totally ego-driven, like you say, that sort of arrogance

Carrie-Ann:

and, and potentially ego-driven, is it about the culture of that organization.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, so yeah, I, I don't disagree with that point that you've made that There's

Carrie-Ann:

definitely some of that and I wonder if some of that I is driven through a sort of

Carrie-Ann:

leadership mindset again, that underneath it all is actually quite fear-based.

Carrie-Ann:

Cuz actually it's like if I give up the control and I am more open and more

Carrie-Ann:

transparent and I engage more people and I shift, I, I enable others to be part of

Carrie-Ann:

this and it shifts the kind of direction of travel for the organization at like,

Carrie-Ann:

why would I not want that to happen?

Carrie-Ann:

Is it because I'm frightened?

Carrie-Ann:

Does that mean that I feel less powerful if other people you know

Carrie-Ann:

are able to have that autonomy and to support and help shape the

Carrie-Ann:

direction of, of the organization.

Carrie-Ann:

So I think there's probably quite a lot underneath, underneath it,

Carrie-Ann:

if you scratch the surface of those leaders who do le lead through just

Carrie-Ann:

being ego driven and power centric and that age old sort of, to use that

Carrie-Ann:

phrase, is it like doctor knows best?

Carrie-Ann:

It's almost like, well I know best so we're just doing it this way.

Carrie-Ann:

Like what's driving?

Carrie-Ann:

What's driving that sort of behavior.

Carrie-Ann:

But that's possibly a another episode in itself,

Lee:

But you've also, you've also got, I mean, I do disc assessments

Lee:

with leaders that look at their different communications and styles

Lee:

and stuff, and you've read that book Surrounded by Idiots, which also

Carrie-Ann:

by

Lee:

picks up the

Carrie-Ann:

Yes, by Thomas Erickson.

Lee:

and, and that has the, the d the directive leader, I don't,

Lee:

is, I think that's a red Is

Carrie-Ann:

It's a red Is a red in the book.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

The op opposite of me.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm a green.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Just getting that out there.

Lee:

I'm not a red!

Carrie-Ann:

There.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm a green, I'm a green, I'm not a red Doesn't mean I couldn't sometimes

Carrie-Ann:

do with being slightly more red, but

Lee:

but the, but the red leaders or the, D' leaders in disc, the directive leaders,

Lee:

sometimes they're driven by pace and, and an impatience to want to, because

Lee:

they want to to deliver and they want and feel they need to deliver quickly.

Lee:

They don't think, they think communications takes time and they

Lee:

don't have time to communicate.

Lee:

They just want people to do, again, another D word.

Lee:

So I think that's an interesting dynamic as well.

Lee:

And, and understanding your personality type really plays into

Lee:

how you handle those kind of things.

Carrie-Ann:

And, and I think we've all worked with those people, haven't we?

Carrie-Ann:

Alongside those people who want to move at pace, and there's part

Carrie-Ann:

of me that can understand their perception, but at pace there's,

Carrie-Ann:

can we put that in the banish box?

Carrie-Ann:

The Banish box back at, at working at Pace.

Carrie-Ann:

Let's progress that at Pace.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, we see that in in leaders and I can kind of see why they would then have that,

Carrie-Ann:

uh, assumption that actually communicating and engaging with people is going to

Carrie-Ann:

hold that up and make things go slower.

Carrie-Ann:

But fundamentally, my experience has been what I see time after time where I

Carrie-Ann:

have worked with people that have just bulldozed straight through and been

Carrie-Ann:

like, no, this is what we're doing, I don't need to engage people, cuz it won't

Carrie-Ann:

happen quick enough, is that it gets held up at a different part of the process.

Carrie-Ann:

When people then go, I'm not engaging in this, actually I don't agree with this.

Carrie-Ann:

Actually, I'm gonna challenge this because I don't feel like I was part of the

Carrie-Ann:

decision making process or the journey to get here, and you are so reliant on

Carrie-Ann:

your stakeholders, whomever they may be, client, staff, whomever, to actually help

Carrie-Ann:

you reach that end result that by not communicating and engaging with them, I

Carrie-Ann:

feel like you're just storing up a problem for later on further down the track.

Lee:

I couldn't agree more.

Lee:

Um, the work I do with leaders, we tend to focus on three areas

Lee:

and I think they go hand in hand.

Lee:

And you've touched some on some of these things already.

Lee:

Um, and I think if you don't manage these in the right way, then the

Lee:

impact can cause real issues.

Lee:

So there's that clarity of strategy which you, which you mentioned.

Lee:

So if you don't know what you're trying to achieve.

Lee:

You know, how are you gonna get other people to follow you?

Lee:

And it's, and often leaders think about, oh, well we've got our organizational

Lee:

strategy sorted, but, but there's a difference between organizational

Lee:

strategy and your leadership, personal leadership strategy and what you

Lee:

are trying to achieve as a leader.

Lee:

Then you've got the self-management piece, and we've talked about that

Lee:

quite a lot in, in the last episode.

Lee:

But understanding your boundaries, how you organize yourself, how you

Lee:

stay in touch with what's happening in your organization, how you

Lee:

ensure alignment across your teams.

Lee:

And then you've got the communications piece.

Lee:

And for me, that's like the how of how you convey your strategy and

Lee:

how you are gonna manage yourself and the, the situations around you.

Lee:

and that's what your day-to-day work is, really what your messaging is, who you're

Lee:

trying to engage with, what's your rhythm of communications, and I'm sure we'll,

Lee:

we'll touch on that in, in a little bit so that you can build trust and reliability.

Lee:

And I think if you don't have those three elements nailed as a leader, then that's

Lee:

where the struggles really come into play.

Lee:

And you see that when leaders fail because usually it's a) they've not taken people

Lee:

with them as you've, you've just indicated that to deliver that vision and strategy

Lee:

because they've, you've marched off in one one direction and you've not checked that

Lee:

other people are going in the same way and often they're going up a different hill.

Lee:

B) If you are kind of chaotic in the way that you manage yourself, then

Lee:

you create this sense of mistrust and disruption amongst people.

Lee:

And C) that then also shows up in your communications or your lack

Lee:

of communications in what you say, how you say it, how you have

Lee:

empathy, how you listen, how you show vulnerability, how you build trust.

Lee:

So for me, those are the three things, and that's why communications is so vital

Lee:

because it's the thing that underpins everything that you do as a leader.

Lee:

If you don't have clarity of, of your strategy, if you don't

Lee:

have that self-management, what are you communicating?

Lee:

So I kind of wanna get your thoughts on that, Carrie Ann, and is that

Lee:

something that you've perhaps recognized?

Carrie-Ann:

Yes, yes, yes, it is.

Carrie-Ann:

Definitely.

Lee:

Okay.

Lee:

Moving on,

Carrie-Ann:

yeah, no, no, no.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, that's a quick answer to the question, but, um, I think it, uh, I

Carrie-Ann:

think it's really interesting, isn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

Because I feel like if any one of those three things is off, uh, is a bit off, I

Carrie-Ann:

don't quite know how else to describe it.

Carrie-Ann:

It has an impact on the other two, and it mostly has an impact on that

Carrie-Ann:

communications and engagement piece for me, because I think if you don't

Carrie-Ann:

have that clarity as a, as a leader around sort of vision, you know,

Carrie-Ann:

direction of travel, what your strategy is, both, as you say, personally, as

Carrie-Ann:

a leader and, and organizationally then it's really hard to communicate

Carrie-Ann:

anything that's meaningful and engage people in things that are meaningful.

Carrie-Ann:

I think if you are not clear on sort of how you are managing yourself

Carrie-Ann:

and how you want to come across as a leader and how you are presenting and

Carrie-Ann:

showing up as a leader and setting your boundaries, then again, I think

Carrie-Ann:

it can cause that kind of real state of like, what's this person all about?

Carrie-Ann:

And if it's not aligned actually to the, the clarity of, of strategy piece as

Carrie-Ann:

well, that that can be really awkward.

Carrie-Ann:

So, you know, I've worked with leaders who are dictators

Carrie-Ann:

and it's their way or no way.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, and that's very challenging both in terms of your role as another

Carrie-Ann:

leader in that organization, um, but also for the organization as a whole.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, I think that doesn't help with the building of trust.

Carrie-Ann:

I think it makes people feel.

Carrie-Ann:

You know, disempowered.

Carrie-Ann:

I think it makes them feel like they d don't necessarily always believe what

Carrie-Ann:

that leader is communicating to them.

Carrie-Ann:

Because I think people who tune into that level of like, this is, we are

Carrie-Ann:

in a bit of a dictatorship here.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, just feel that sense of like, am I just being told what that

Carrie-Ann:

person thinks I need to hear, um, to be able to get on and do the job.

Carrie-Ann:

I also worked in organizations where, A lot of the leaders have been probably

Carrie-Ann:

more like me, more people pleasers if we talked about the green, but, but

Carrie-Ann:

sometimes you can go too far that way.

Carrie-Ann:

So there's something about wanting to be a compassionate leader and that being

Carrie-Ann:

part of your leadership style and approach and strategy to be empathetic, to be

Carrie-Ann:

compassionate, to show up as a human.

Carrie-Ann:

But sometimes if you go too far down that route without the clarity of

Carrie-Ann:

purpose, strategy, direction of travel.

Carrie-Ann:

actually, people think you're really nice, but they're not really very clear

Carrie-Ann:

what's happening in the organization.

Carrie-Ann:

Where are we heading?

Carrie-Ann:

What do we need to do to deliver this?

Carrie-Ann:

So I think there's a real balance to be struck between kind of

Carrie-Ann:

all of those three aspects.

Carrie-Ann:

But as you say that, the comms piece for me is the bit that is the

Carrie-Ann:

kind of then how you present all of that, how you are showing up,

Carrie-Ann:

how you are engaging with people.

Carrie-Ann:

And if you are not clear, if you don't have the clarity and you

Carrie-Ann:

don't have the boundaries in that self-management piece, I just think

Carrie-Ann:

that becomes really difficult to do.

Lee:

And that's why you can't just rely on a corporate team to do it for you

Lee:

because it is so intertwined into your leadership approach and style, and it is

Lee:

how you do the do of your job as a leader.

Lee:

And if you, you kind of outsource that to someone else.

Lee:

A, it's not gonna be authentic, and B, it's.

Lee:

Yeah, well, b is the same as not being authentic.

Lee:

It's, people aren't gonna see when they interact with you.

Lee:

They're not gonna see the, the you that's being communicated

Lee:

through the corporate team.

Lee:

So then that creates that, that it breaks that trust, doesn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, it becomes very disingenuous then, doesn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

And like if everything that's coming out through the organization is,

Carrie-Ann:

you know, one style, one approach, whatever, and then actually when

Carrie-Ann:

somebody meets you as a person, you come across completely differently.

Carrie-Ann:

That's, yeah, that lack of authenticity and I think demonstrates almost a lack

Carrie-Ann:

of integrity for people, doesn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

And they're like, hang on, I don't, this, this doesn't ring true to my experience.

Carrie-Ann:

So far.

Lee:

So getting a bit practical, um, you know, you might be listening

Lee:

to this and go, well, I have a team meeting where I tell people what to do.

Lee:

I send regular emails.

Lee:

I don't have a problem with my communications or my communication style.

Lee:

My question to you is, where's your evidence that what you're doing works?

Lee:

So what's your staff survey saying?

Lee:

What about your customer, your client feedback.

Lee:

Have you done any stakeholder perception work, for example, to see what, what

Lee:

people in your wider communities think about you and your leadership style.

Lee:

Um, just because you think you've disseminated a message,

Lee:

doesn't mean it's been received.

Lee:

Then you look at your bigger metrics.

Lee:

So operational performance, staff morale, customer satisfaction, reputation,

Lee:

all of those are warning signs.

Lee:

If they're not going in the right direction, that you've got a problem with

Lee:

your communication and your connection.

Lee:

Maybe your teams aren't aligned.

Lee:

Maybe there are underlying cultural issues and those are

Lee:

things that you can't ignore.

Lee:

And communications are usually at the root course of that.

Lee:

Um, and there is a direct correlation for me between, I suppose, the

Lee:

style of your communications and the channels you use and then the trust

Lee:

that you build through that process.

Lee:

So often I see leaders who overly rely on email as the way that they

Lee:

communicate with people cause they think it's quick and easy, and then they've

Lee:

got an audit trail of what's been said.

Lee:

But, the research shows it's pretty low down on the trust scale, so I find it

Lee:

really interesting that leaders overly rely on that, but yet it's one of the

Lee:

least trusted methods when you look at what employees and other people trust

Lee:

in terms of ways of communicating.

Lee:

So for me it's about how do you vary your approach and your methods whilst being

Lee:

consistent with the types of messages you're, you're trying to get across.

Lee:

And you need to, we've, I think we've mentioned this in a previous

Lee:

episode, communicate a lot more than you ever think you need to do.

Lee:

And you might get bored with a message, but that doesn't mean

Lee:

that everyone else has heard it.

Lee:

and I say all that to say when I talk to leaders about improving

Lee:

their communications, this sense of going back to our last episode,

Lee:

this sense of overwhelm creeps in because it's all this extra work

Lee:

that they suddenly need to to do.

Lee:

And they can't just rely on sending emails out or having a team meeting.

Lee:

Um, , how are they gonna fit it all in?

Lee:

How are they gonna be consistent?

Lee:

And my, my simple answer to that is, this isn't an add-on or a luxury.

Lee:

It is part of your day job.

Lee:

And if you do it well, you save yourself the time and hassle, as you

Lee:

mentioned earlier, you know, you, you sometimes you're just storing up

Lee:

problems if you ignore it and try and rush forward with, with something.

Lee:

So the important bit for me is about how do you establish a rhythm so people, What

Lee:

to expect from you and can manage, you know, your own commitments in that way.

Lee:

So I'm interested to know, Carrie Ann, what's worked for you and the

Lee:

leaders that you support in terms of setting up that communications rhythm?

Carrie-Ann:

Um, can I just touch on before I get into that

Lee:

Go on.

Carrie-Ann:

point point you made about email being like the least

Carrie-Ann:

trusted, uh, method of communication?

Carrie-Ann:

And I reflect on that and think that's probably because most people know that

Carrie-Ann:

it wasn't you that wrote it, . And I'm not doing a disservice to, to my own

Carrie-Ann:

team and my own profession cuz sometimes that is stuff comms teams are asked to

Carrie-Ann:

do, but I think people know that now.

Carrie-Ann:

People genuinely don't believe that chief execs and other leaders

Carrie-Ann:

are sat writing all staff emails about various different topics.

Carrie-Ann:

And I wonder if sometimes that is where a bit of that distrust or like it's, you

Carrie-Ann:

know, it's not the preferred MA could, you're not seeing whites of eyes, are you?

Carrie-Ann:

And you're potentially thinking someone else has crafted that for

Carrie-Ann:

them and they've just topped and tailed it and ping away you go.

Carrie-Ann:

And it's like, that was just my reflection as you said that.

Carrie-Ann:

But um,

Lee:

Although saying that I used to, um, I, it always, I always used to

Lee:

have to bite my tongue when I'd go out into the organization and people

Lee:

would go, oh, so and so the chief exec message went out this week.

Lee:

Oh, he's.

Lee:

They're so wonderful.

Lee:

It's such a great message.

Lee:

They really understand and I'm yes, they're great, aren't they?

Lee:

Just cos I nailed their of voice

Carrie-Ann:

um, anyhow, sorry we digress a little bit, but, um, yeah,

Carrie-Ann:

you talked about kind of rhythm and for me is, is that consistency is key.

Carrie-Ann:

I think it's, um, I, I absolutely agree with what you said about like, you

Carrie-Ann:

can't show up too much in this space in terms of communicating with your

Carrie-Ann:

organization and with your stakeholders because just cuz you've said it once

Carrie-Ann:

doesn't mean people have actually even been in the room to hear it.

Carrie-Ann:

So, um, there's something about that consistency.

Carrie-Ann:

There's something for me about setting expectations upfront as well, about

Carrie-Ann:

how you are gonna be making yourself available, um, to people, how people can

Carrie-Ann:

engage with you, um, how, uh, how you are going to act on the conversations and

Carrie-Ann:

communication and connection you build.

Carrie-Ann:

And if you are, Being upfront about the why not.

Carrie-Ann:

Cuz you will, you will hear things through some of this engagement where people

Carrie-Ann:

want you to take action on stuff that perhaps you're just not going to be able

Carrie-Ann:

to, for whatever reason, doesn't fit with the strategic direction of travel.

Carrie-Ann:

You don't have the budget to do it.

Carrie-Ann:

It's not a priority right now.

Carrie-Ann:

But I think you have to be willing to be open and transparent about feeding

Carrie-Ann:

some of that, that back for sure.

Carrie-Ann:

and then there's a bit for me about being yourself.

Carrie-Ann:

Don't try and be someone that you are not, and I've seen good and bad examples of

Carrie-Ann:

this, mostly in organizations where, um, senior leaders have left the organization

Carrie-Ann:

and people get opportunities to act up into that senior leadership space.

Carrie-Ann:

And the people who've been most successful have been the people that have been

Carrie-Ann:

themselves and have been genuine in the way that they have interacted and

Carrie-Ann:

communicated and shown up, and that they haven't just tried to be the

Carrie-Ann:

person that's left as in the director of such and such is gone they were

Carrie-Ann:

perceived to be hugely successful, so I must just be like them as a leader.

Carrie-Ann:

That's so disingenuous and people see through it straight away and

Carrie-Ann:

it's actually really hard work.

Carrie-Ann:

It's quite exhausting to try and be somebody that you are not.

Carrie-Ann:

So I would say there's something in there for me about just making sure you

Carrie-Ann:

know who you are, what you stand for as a leader, how you want to show up,

Carrie-Ann:

and just be consistent in acting with that integrity and that authenticity

Carrie-Ann:

in terms of really practical things.

Carrie-Ann:

It's interesting, isn't it, because some organizations are huge, so that's

Carrie-Ann:

where I think that reliance on email probably comes from, because actually

Carrie-Ann:

it might not always be possible for quite a small senior leadership team

Carrie-Ann:

or your one chief exec to be physically present in all the places they could be.

Carrie-Ann:

But that doesn't mean that you can't put things in place to start

Carrie-Ann:

to try and address some of that.

Carrie-Ann:

So really practically like, you know, are you gonna go out once

Carrie-Ann:

or twice a week doing visits to teams or visiting different client

Carrie-Ann:

groups or stakeholders externally.

Carrie-Ann:

And are you gonna do that consistently and show up?

Carrie-Ann:

Are you gonna feed back from that?

Carrie-Ann:

Are you gonna feed back to those people?

Carrie-Ann:

As well as sharing that more broadly.

Carrie-Ann:

One of the things that has been remarkably well received in, in my

Carrie-Ann:

current organization is actually through the pandemic we set up a weekly

Carrie-Ann:

webinar, um, and the chief exec and all of the executive directors were

Carrie-Ann:

on that weekly webinar through the pandemic, sharing updates, information,

Carrie-Ann:

hearing concerns from colleagues, and responding to them in real time.

Carrie-Ann:

And where not able to respond, were saying we'll go away and find an

Carrie-Ann:

answer, and next week this is where we'll be sharing that answer with you.

Carrie-Ann:

and uh, it proved to be hugely popular and it hasn't stopped.

Carrie-Ann:

And actually we are three years down the line and every Wednesday

Carrie-Ann:

at midday our senior leadership team are on that webinar.

Carrie-Ann:

If you, they can't make it cuz one's on holiday, whatever, a deputy comes who can

Carrie-Ann:

answer questions about that portfolio.

Carrie-Ann:

And it's become, for our particular organization, a really important way

Carrie-Ann:

for our leaders to be visible and accountable into the organisation.

Carrie-Ann:

And I know it's online and it's not in person, but it's in real time.

Carrie-Ann:

People are seeing the whites of their eyes almost sometimes pixelated,

Carrie-Ann:

sadly, but, but I think people in our organization have really valued that

Carrie-Ann:

access to the leadership team and the transparency and the fact that actually

Carrie-Ann:

whatever comment or question gets raised in that hour, they have to respond to.

Carrie-Ann:

There's not a like, right, we can go away and have a discussion about how

Carrie-Ann:

we, so I think that's really helped in terms of that building trust internally

Carrie-Ann:

for our organization for sure.

Carrie-Ann:

One of the other things I just wanted to touch on, and you mentioned it

Carrie-Ann:

actually in a previous bit of the conversation, was around stakeholder

Carrie-Ann:

feedback and, um, , you know, do you know what your stakeholders think

Carrie-Ann:

quite often I think we can be focused internally on our, on our own staff.

Carrie-Ann:

And actually again, for me, that's something that feels really important.

Carrie-Ann:

And it's been a challenge for me when I've worked in organizations who either have

Carrie-Ann:

assumed they know what their stakeholders think, so therefore haven't bothered to

Carrie-Ann:

ask, just crack on merrily or have asked what stakeholders think have received

Carrie-Ann:

the sort of evidence that tells you, and not always the more, more in the space

Carrie-Ann:

where it's not maybe been great, it's been something to be worked on and then sort

Carrie-Ann:

of gone, oh, well we knew that anyway.

Carrie-Ann:

And it's almost like, well, if you did know that anyway, why have you

Carrie-Ann:

not taken action to address it?

Carrie-Ann:

Because actually now you've got the evidence that says, your stakeholders

Carrie-Ann:

think you could be much better at X, or you know, whatever the improvement

Carrie-Ann:

thing is, it's usually in that space where there's an improvement go oh yeah,

Carrie-Ann:

but well, we've known that for years.

Carrie-Ann:

So why have you not wanted to act on it?

Carrie-Ann:

Like so that bit, I find it a a little bit frustrating as well.

Carrie-Ann:

So I think like if you are going to seek out the evidence, make sure you use

Carrie-Ann:

it and make sure that you take action.

Carrie-Ann:

Don't just use it as an opportunity to go, oh, well, it's told us what we

Carrie-Ann:

already know, and then be complacent and just sit on your, your laurels.

Carrie-Ann:

There's something for me about if, if you are going to be open, you're going

Carrie-Ann:

to communicate, gonna build connections like the, so what's the so what?

Carrie-Ann:

You have to do something.

Carrie-Ann:

Uh, it's not just for fun.

Lee:

and you, you need to determine that from the outset.

Lee:

This is very strategic because it's got to align with what your vision is, what

Lee:

your organizational vision is, and you know, you don't just go out to be visible.

Lee:

You go out with a purpose.

Lee:

You have a purpose of what it is you're trying to test, or what questions you're

Lee:

trying to ask, how it's gonna inform the decision making that you're gonna

Lee:

take that week, that month, or whatever.

Lee:

and everything everything's a continual loop, isn't it?

Lee:

It feeds into, right, and then what?

Lee:

And then what?

Lee:

And then what?

Lee:

And I think often leaders can go into this, right, I'm in the here

Lee:

and now, what do I have to say?

Lee:

and it doesn't work like that.

Lee:

You need to have that, that forward look of this is where I need to get

Lee:

to, this is where I want to get to.

Lee:

How am I gonna navigate that?

Lee:

What are the things that I need to be asking questions about and

Lee:

testing to, to feed into my thinking?

Lee:

How am I going to double check that what I'm hearing is the right thing as well.

Lee:

And that I'm not just taking it for granted.

Lee:

How do I then communicate back what I'm hearing and what I'm

Lee:

gonna do about it as a result?

Lee:

And so it's a continual cycle.

Lee:

And I used to do, um, in, in my corporate life and also now with with my business,

Lee:

I work individually with, with leaders and we, we build their own personal

Lee:

communications and engagement plans.

Lee:

So we work out, well, what's, what's your narrative?

Lee:

Who's your specific audience?

Lee:

What's the evidence you're trying to get?

Lee:

What are your messages?

Lee:

What actions do you need to take?

Lee:

And how do you measure your, your effectiveness?

Lee:

and we map out like what meetings they might need to go to, what events they

Lee:

might need to attend, where they might need to fill the gaps with walkabouts

Lee:

or stuff like that, that spoken around, um, what's their messaging and talking

Lee:

points for those different interventions.

Lee:

And a lot of that can be planned in advance.

Lee:

And then, and then making sure you've got a regular check-in

Lee:

on, well, what am I hearing?

Lee:

what am I learning?

Lee:

Where do I need to adapt my messaging or my approach?

Lee:

So it's, it's a massive strategic thing that you have to take responsibility.

Lee:

I'd say before you even enter into your role as a leader, you need to be

Lee:

thinking through and then you need to be doing this as a regular exercise.

Lee:

It can't be left to your pa, it can't be left to say a comms team

Lee:

to do it for you, cuz you've got to be proactively managing that.

Carrie-Ann:

I think, um, oh yeah, that approach is so important, uh, that you've

Carrie-Ann:

talked about, and it just, it's just made me reflect on a leader that I used

Carrie-Ann:

to work with, who used to do breakfast sessions, uh, around the organization.

Carrie-Ann:

Honestly, it's making my skin crawl a little bit now thinking about it,

Carrie-Ann:

because it was breakfast with the chief exec opportunity to have a frank

Carrie-Ann:

open conversation, turn up, have a cup of tea, ask anything, have a pastry.

Carrie-Ann:

And the chief exec used to say, before every session, uh, I'm

Carrie-Ann:

not, I'm not prepared to talk about this, this, or this, though.

Carrie-Ann:

What, like, yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

Well, I'm, I'm not gonna, if anyone asks about that, you'll, you'll just have to

Carrie-Ann:

tell them as the comms person that that's, that's not what we're here to talk about.

Carrie-Ann:

we've billed this as like open free forum for people to bring anything they want.

Carrie-Ann:

We haven't billed it as, you can only come and talk about X, Y,

Carrie-Ann:

and Z, and if you mention A, B, and C, it's not gonna happen.

Carrie-Ann:

So for me, it's just like, You know, really you have to really

Carrie-Ann:

want to do it and not to manipulate it to, to your own means.

Carrie-Ann:

And I guess that goes right back to conversations about why, why leaders

Carrie-Ann:

don't take communication seriously.

Carrie-Ann:

And if they're those power hungry, ego-driven, arrogant style of leader, then

Carrie-Ann:

that, that's just a huge example of that.

Carrie-Ann:

Like, I'm, but I'm not gonna talk to you about this.

Lee:

and, and what's, what's betting that they've picked up that as a notion of

Lee:

something they should do because they've seen another chief exec do it in another

Lee:

organization, and it's worked really well.

Lee:

But what they haven't got behind is, well, what was their strategy in doing it?

Lee:

How do they use the information?

Lee:

What do next with it?

Carrie-Ann:

What's the purpose of it?

Lee:

they've taken the, they've just taken the action as 'oh, that looks great.

Lee:

And it will look, the optics will look great if I say I do this'.

Lee:

And I think that's, and I think that's the part of the problem with when, you

Lee:

know, I, I'm a huge advocate of leaders being on social media, but I don't,

Lee:

you know, I'm not saying get yourself a TikTok account and start dancing that.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

That isn't perhaps gonna meet your objectives and Do you know what I mean?

Carrie-Ann:

got the giggles now.

Carrie-Ann:

I've got the giggles.

Carrie-Ann:

Sorry.

Lee:

But it's, it's about finding, yes, you need a variety of methods,

Lee:

but it isn't just looking at, oh, well this was successful here.

Lee:

I'm just gonna copy that without understanding your why it isn't about,

Lee:

because if you're not, if you're not actually invested, as you've just

Lee:

said, what's the point of doing it?

Lee:

Because there's certain things they don't wanna do.

Lee:

As soon as it gets challenging, you disengage.

Lee:

If all you're gonna do, if you set up a Twitter account, cause every

Lee:

chief exec or every other leader's on Twitter, but all you do is retweet

Lee:

what your organization says and you never actually engage in conversation.

Lee:

What's the point of you being on there?

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, sorry, we had a little soapbox moment, then

Lee:

We did.

Carrie-Ann:

and a little bit of therapy and a dance

Lee:

So to, to wrap this up cuz again, it's another meaty one which

Lee:

we could, we could talk about forever.

Lee:

And, and I think you've both, we've both kind of demonstrated how passionately

Lee:

we, we feel about this and we do think it is the difference between

Lee:

those organizations that are truly great and those that just pretend to

Lee:

be, um, sorry that was a bit catty.

Lee:

But how to, um, where should a leader be focusing if they want to improve how

Lee:

they communicate and engage with people?

Carrie-Ann:

I'm gonna go with clarity and consistency.

Carrie-Ann:

So clarity, a vision, mission, purpose, strategy, organizational and personal.

Carrie-Ann:

Uh, clarity about who you are as a leader, how you wanna come across, um,

Carrie-Ann:

you know, what your approach is gonna be.

Carrie-Ann:

Um, and then just consistently showing up, consistently sharing those messages,

Carrie-Ann:

consistently engaging with people.

Carrie-Ann:

They, they're gonna be my, my two, my two Cs.

Lee:

Yeah.

Lee:

Love it.

Lee:

Love it.

Lee:

Um, mine's very similar.

Lee:

You need to understand that, that whole know, like, and trust.

Lee:

If you are only there doing one way communications.

Lee:

Yes, you might raise some awareness of who you are, but you're not

Lee:

going to build trust and you're not gonna make change happen.

Lee:

So you've got to look at the whole flow of the types of things you're

Lee:

doing, and you need to recognize that not everyone's the same.

Lee:

So you need to vary your approach, but in a way that feels realistic

Lee:

and authentic to you and your style.

Lee:

So if you're not someone that is comfortable being

Lee:

on video, don't be on video.

Lee:

Do a bloody podcast.

Lee:

You know, there, there are ways around it, but you've got the, the seven different

Lee:

learning styles that everyone will fit into one or two of those different styles.

Lee:

You need as a leader need to be showing up across of that breadth.

Lee:

Cause not everyone, just like you personally, won't receive

Lee:

information very well in certain ways.

Lee:

You need to recognize that your, your audiences, your stakeholders

Lee:

aren't gonna receive everything, so just get off the email.

Lee:

That's it,

Carrie-Ann:

Get off the email at the end

Lee:

Anyway, that is, well, as I say, we could, we could be going on forever.

Carrie-Ann:

I know.

Carrie-Ann:

I feel like that was such a whistle stop.

Carrie-Ann:

woo.

Lee:

I know.

Lee:

Hello.

Lee:

I'm sure we'll revisit.

Lee:

We'd love to hear your views on the topic.

Lee:

Um, maybe some of the challenges that you have in communicating and

Lee:

what you see some of the barriers are from a leadership perspective.

Lee:

Maybe you feel too, maybe the, the counter-arguments to that is that

Lee:

you feel too restricted by policies and procedures in your organization.

Lee:

We haven't even gone there with, with maybe some of the

Lee:

barriers a leader might face.

Lee:

So we'd love to hear what your views are on the topic.

Lee:

You can get involved on Instagram, on Twitter, on the conversation, um, YouTube,

Lee:

substack, visit howtotakethelead.com to get all the various links and,

Lee:

get involved in the conversation.

Lee:

And if you like this episode and, or maybe if you can recognize someone

Lee:

in your organization who's really poor at communicating, and this

Lee:

should be on their PDP this year

Carrie-Ann:

Send them this episode,

Lee:

Just saying.

Lee:

Anyway, see you next week.