Besides actions and results, authentic leadership is about making a commitment to people and relationships. Smart managers know that they can enhance trust even further through true and transparent connections. To that end, leaders need to use communication to their advantage and get others to talk (and listen)—especially in today’s digital age of multi-purpose smartphone devices and electronic social media. Leaders always need to return to human connections—both technology-driven and face-to-face.
Today we live in a world of electronic connections and swift communication along with, unfortunately, miscommunications. The speed of instant messaging and emails can lead to confusion and misunderstanding as well as to personal stress and unhappiness. Besides impacting workplace productivity, 24/7 connections lack the emotional spirit and energy of face-to-face conversations. In these electronic communications, nonverbal visual gestures and tone of voice are all missing. The Journal of Affective Disorders (2017) states that “social media is causing symptoms of anxiety.” And not surprisingly, it is destructively impacting individual confidence and self-esteem. These challenges are relevant to managers using technology to communicate, as well.
What Is NeededSimply put, there is a need for down time from social technology within the work environment, and leaders need to encourage higher levels of personal contact as well as agility in how they connect with people. It has become very clear that it is not possible to manage or lead by Twitter. So what can make communication more effective for leaders in the social media world? Try the following:
Leaders need to walk the talk and have more personal conversations. Small and large group meetings need to occur more frequently and bring people together to be able to share ideas openly and to express with comfort feelings as well as beliefs that are founded on values. Based on these transparent connections, all participants can influence positive as well as negative biases and gain deeper understanding of the topics being discussed.
Communication needs to flow in all directions, especially with respect to quality and constructive feedback. Leaders need to be open to receiving feedback beyond just sharing it with others. This is about building self-awareness and boosting levels of inclusion. More connections and collaboration can impact the execution of goals and an inspiring vision. This also leads to a heightening and deepening of the leader’s approachability and willingness to engage.
Active listening is based on taking time to gain meaning in conversations prior to the sharing of ideas and opinions. Divulging of personal feelings can provide affirmations of understanding as well as a demonstration of respect and appreciation. Listening and asking can accelerate inner discoveries and enhance an individual’s comfort zone. Listen to learn. Listen to understand others.
Using general examples and personal stories that are linked to business needs and the future direction of the organization can strengthen conversations and drive actions. Bringing people together can enhance meaning in messages, especially when benefits and credibility are challenged prior to implementation. The sharing of experiences can make things more real.
To have a successful team, leaders need to establish connection; there needs to be a group commitment to goals, corporate mission, and accomplishing the long-term vision. Connection requires authentic, open communication—which requires frequent, consistent, creative leadership activities that facilitate discoveries, confidence, and personal growth. To build connection, communicate with purpose.