Communication, What Comes From The Heart

Communicating_from_the_heart

Leaders always seem to be trying to get their message “right”.

They ponder what will it take to win the hearts and minds.

They may hire consultants to tell them what they should say.

They engage fancy speechwriters to say “it” just so.

Then, they monitor the polls to get feedback and see how their message was received.

However a new article in Harvard Business Review (April 2012) throws a curve ball at this whole notion–stating: “It seems almost absurd that how we communicate could be so much more important to success than what we communicate.”

From my perspective, there are many factors that contribute to the success of our communications:

Firstly, let’s face it–personality, likability, charisma, and charm go a long way to influencing others–and yes, it seems like this is the case, almost at times, regardless of the message itself.

Then there is everything else from emotional intelligence and political savvy for “working” the audience to doing your homework in terms of getting your facts right, making your presentation engaging, using back channels to build support, and giving people the opportunity to ask questions, contribute, and buy in.

According to the HBR article, successful communication directly impacts team performance, this occurs through:

– Energy–“the number and nature of exchanges among team members”–with more interactionbeing better.

– Engagement–the distribution of communications among team members–with more equal distributionbeing better (i.e. communication isn’t being dominated by one person or a select few).

– Exploration–this is the communication between a team and other external connections–with more outreachbeing better for creativity and innovation.

For all of us, communicating is as much about the way and how much we interact with others, as with what we actually have to say.

That’s not to say, that what we have to communicate is not important, but rather that the mere act of communicating with others is itself a positive step in the right direction.

We have to genuinely interact and connectwith others–it’s a critical part of the influencing and teaming process.

Only then, does honing the message itself really make the difference we want it to.

People communicate with other people and this happens in  a very direct, personal, and emotional way.

There is a Jewish saying that my wife often tells me that her grandfather used to say, “what comes from the heart goes to the heart.”

I think that is the correct notion–sincerity is at the core of it takes to really communicate effectively with others.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to VisaAgency)

Democracy Built On More Than Hoya

There is a funny joke that is timely for election season, and it goes something like this…

“It was election time and the politician decided to go out to the local reservation and try to get the Native American vote.

They were all assembled in the Council Hall to hear the speech.

The politician had worked up to his finale, and the crowd was getting more and more excited.

‘I promise better education opportunities for Native Americans!’ The crowd went wild, shouting ‘Hoya! Hoya!’.

The  politician was a bit puzzled by the native word, but was encouraged by their enthusiasm. ‘I promise gambling reforms to allow a Casino on the Reservation!’  ‘Hoya! Hoya!’ cried the crowd, stomping their feet.

‘I promise more social reforms and job opportunities for Native Americans!’ The crowd reached a frenzied pitch shouting ‘Hoya!  Hoya!  Hoya!’

After the speech, the Politician was touring the Reservation, and saw a tremendous herd of cattle. Since he was raised on a ranch, and knew a bit about cattle, he asked the Chief if he could get closer to take a look at the cattle.

‘Sure,’ the Chief said, ‘but be careful not to step in the hoya.'”  🙂

So when candidates get on their soapboxes and promises are being made on the left and on the right, you can only but wonder what is a promise that is sincere and will be kept and what is a promise that is for garnering votes and will be ignored.

When the mic is unknowingly on and you hear something you weren’t meant to hear, it is hard not to wonder about true intentions.

The New York Times calls these “moments of political candor,” while the Wall Street Journal (30 March 2012) calls it “moment[s] of political contempt.”

The Journal asks why we would not be told the truth about intentions with the implication that it is something that the candidates do not want us to know or that we would not approve of.

Who are these candidates really? Does anyone really know when words are but bargaining chips for winning elections, rather than true commitments of the heart.

It is scary, when the truth is obscured by empty words that change with the audience, and then votes end up based on false promises, vagaries, and disappointments.

When it comes to elections–Is the truth out there? Does it exist?

People deserve candor, sincerity, and to know where candidates really stand on the issues, so they can vote for what and whom they really believe in.

Democracy is built on more than rolling hills and valleys filled with hoya–the truth is it’s foundation.

(Source Joke: here and Source Photo: here)

 

>Is there an IT leader in the House?

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True IT leadership means that those who are in charge of information technology really care about and drive the success of the mission, the satisfaction of the customers, and the well-being of their employees.

To me, these three critical leadership focus areas are tied to the areas of people, process, and technology.

People: The people are your people—your employees. This is the area of human capital that unfortunately many leaders say is important, but all too often remains mere lip service. We need to focus on providing an environment where our employees can thrive professionally and personally. Where there is challenge and growth. Where we match the right people to the right jobs. Where we provide ongoing training and the right tools for people to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Where we treat people as human beings and not as inanimate economic objects that produces goods and services.

Process: The process is the mission and the business of our organization. As IT leaders, we need to ensure that our technology is aligned to the organization. Business drives technology, rather than doing technology for technology’s sake. Everything IT that we plan for, invest in, execute, support, secure, and measure needs to be linked to enabling mission success. IT should be providing solutions to mission requirements. The solutions should provide better information quality and information sharing; consolidation, interoperability, and component re-use of our systems, and standardization, simplification, and cost-efficiency of our technology—ALL to enable mission process effectiveness and efficiency.

Technology: The technology is the satisfaction we create for our customers in both the technology products and services that we provide to them. Our job is ensuring technology WOW for our customers in terms of them having the systems and services to do their jobs. We need to provide the right information to the right people at the right time, anywhere they need it. We must to service and support our IT customer with a white glove approach rather than with obstructionist IT bureaucracy. We shall find a way—whenever possible—to say yes or to provide an alternate solution. We will live by the adage of “the customer is always right”.

Recently, in reading the book. “The Scalpel and the Soul” by Dr Allan J. Hamilton, I was reminded that true IT leaders are driven by sincere devotion to mission, customer, and employee.

In the book, Dr. Hamilton recalls the convocation speech to his graduating class at Harvard Medical School by Professor Judah Folkman whose speech to a class of 114 news doctors was “Is There a Doctor in the House?”

Of course there was a doctor in the house, there was 114 doctors, but Professor Folkman was pointing out that “these days, patients were plagued by far too many physicians and too few doctors.” In other words, there are plenty of physicians, but there are few doctors “in whom you put your trust and your life”—those driven by sincere devotion and care for their patients, the success of their medical treatment, and their fellow practitioners.

While an IT leader is not a doctor, the genuine IT leader—like the real doctor—is someone who sincerely cares and acts in the best interests of the organization’s mission, their customers, and their people.

Just like when there is a doctor in the house, the patient is well cared for, so too when there is a genuine IT leader in the C-suite, the organization is enabled for success.