When we developed the Six Keys to unlocking your Leadership Genius in order to create independent, accountable teams, we researched current and past clients to assess how they experienced coaching, what they took from it, and rank the issues they faced in business. First and foremost by a wide margin is “communicate”. That is why it is the first key; there is simply no shortcut to getting every member of your organization on the same page, rowing in the same direction, and committed to open, kind, direct, and timely communication.
We are never done learning, nor do we ever learn all there is to know in a single dose, book, or conversation. In that spirit, here are four books that will help you improve communication in business, in leadership, and likely in life.
When I skip meals, I overeat; when I skip conversations, I overreact: #1 Fierce Conversations by Dr. Susan Scott
If you’re a reader of my blog, you’ve seen this recommendation before – and there’s a reason for that. Susan Scott is a personal hero of mine in our mutual industry of business and leadership coaching. In her book, she addresses what nearly every coach has encountered: conversation avoidance. Many do this out of an abundance of concern for others’ well-being, however, it is the opposite of kindness to avoid, be circumspect, or sugar-coat when delivering messages.
Any leader or team I’ve coached (or led) has listened to me reiterate that a ‘comfortable’ environment is not my focus or concern, but rather a ‘safe’ environment is the goal. In fact, growth is inversely proportional to comfort.
Dr. Scott will help guide you through the power of fierce conversations and the remarkable moments you will experience when people are speaking their truth. This is much different than simply using a buzzword, like ‘transparency’. This is about exploring, through conversations, the root cause of the issue and working to solve it, rather than circle around various symptoms ad infinitum.
Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish: #2 The Fearless Organization by Amy C. Edmondson
You likely recognize the quote from Innovator-Extraordinaire, Steve Jobs, from his virally successful commencement speech. That’s what came to mind when I first came across this wonderful read by Amy C. Edmondson. It’s billed as the “practical guide for teams and organizations who are serious about success in the modern economy” inaudible.
What I took from this book is a framework, the “how”, of tapping into the individual genius of every team member by investing the time in conversation to hear questions, ideas, concerns, challenges, and brainstorms that, while time-consuming, have an incredible ROI in innovation, risk mitigation, and increased trust.
This is the environment that is necessary for any company, organization or team that is determined to move out of ‘average’ or ‘mediocre’ and toward ‘advanced’ or even ‘elite’ status within their industry. Leaders are usually hyper-aware of determining the ROI of monetary investments, yet lack a process for determining the ROI of time. In this book, you will know why it is worth your while to use your leadership team meetings to talk it out.
Does compromise mean a loss for everyone? #3 Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers clear, concise advice for constructing conversations in a negotiation based on the methods he has used in the field countless times to great success.
This is not about manipulation, but rather acknowledging how the human brain processes word-choice, how emotions affect judgment, and how counterintuitive some of his principles may seem on the surface. You will enjoy jotting down his nine principles to negotiation and then applying them to various situations.
Whether you are one-on-one with a team member or discussing a merger, using Chris’ tips, tools, and truths will help you lower the emotional temperature and move forward in a thoughtful, measured way toward a successful outcome.
I know you aren’t listening when you roll your eyes like that: #4 Radical Candor by Kim Scott
Former Google and Apple executive, Kim Scott, brings her recipe for productive guidance: care personally and challenge directly. Her recipe is one that we consistently coach here at Leaders Cut when offering the equation: people + process = profits. When one aspect of that equation falls short, the other variables must make up the difference. However, when you are strong in each variable, the result is substantial.
As you hear Kim detail how she has succeeded and failed, at leadership you will come to appreciate that much of her wisdom comes from attending the school of hard knocks that so many of us appreciate.
A commitment to lead, care, challenge, and help others grow in appreciation for the times we may have fallen short in the past. You will walk away with a simple, though not easy, method of achieving this level of directness with your team – or what Kim Scott calls our obligation as leaders.
Building a process for open and effective team communication is a challenge worth its time. By practicing, improving, and helping others become the best communicators possible, you will crack the code to move past being ‘average’ to building an elite organization.
As a Business Strategist, Executive Coach, and former Fortune 500 Executive Leader, I’ve seen the difference that business coaching and well-devised business communication strategies can make. If you’d like to learn more about how executive leadership coaching can help you strengthen and develop your team communication or find out if activating our Making the Cut strategy is right for your business, let’s get together and chat. Schedule a free 15-minute meet and greet conversation with me here to get started.