Today’s guest post is by David Kantor, Ph.D, author of Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders (CLICK HERE to get your copy now). You can learn all about him at the end of the post.
“Be self-aware!” “Don’t get stuck wearing one hat!” “See yourself how your team sees you!” “Convey a narrative purpose!” “Be an active listener!” So often are leaders told this by coaches, how-to sites, their husbands and wives, and co-workers. It is all good advice, but it merely scratches at the surface.
I’ve found throughout my career that leaders and coaches overlook the underlying thread connecting that manual on “aligning people” and the article on “modeling behaviors you want to see”: the simple truth that communication belies work among groups. What if leaders, coaches, consultants, managers, and family members had the ultimate encyclopedia on speech—a resource that broke conversations down into a soup of visible intentions and judgments, and also outputted the proper words for one to say in order to be heard, to make others feel heard, to break a standstill, to create an environment of collaboration, to create a sense of purpose? I believe it is possible, and I would go further to say any change in leadership, whether to “be authentic” or “be transparent,” must come from the bottom-up, from the discourse itself.
While this opinion may seem reminiscent of those long-forgotten critical theory college courses, Derridean, Habermasean, an academic fad concerned with the linguistic turn—it is inarguable that leaders with a wider repertoire of communication can navigate these leadership problems more naturally and with greater ease. That is, along with a stronger skill set in communication—both verbal and non-verbal, on transmitting and receiving ends, among selves and the self, and regarding impersonal and personal subjects—comes leadership intuition and the knowledge to garner action and get results.