Interpersonal communications is a huge part of leadership. Being able to get your message across, whether it’s a simple instruction or it’s a more complex expectation, it is very important. Some believe that being a good leader means having to get things done in the quickest most efficient way, not concerned with the how, so much as getting the result. Many of us have worked for a manager, who just marches in, tells us what to do then leaves, often leaving us feeling both unvalued and used. This may work in the short run as results are seen to be coming in, but there remains an underlying feeling of resentment and unrest, that over time can create significant issues.
In some organizations the old “Command and Control” form of management is still rampant. Attempts to bring in a more flexible, encouragement based management model often hits major resistance. Why is that? My experience has shown me that for some, the Command and Control Model is easier and cleaner. It doesn’t require much thinking, just doing. The short term results it produces, in increased performances and production, provides a cover for the damage that is going on underneath. Eventually things fall apart as employees start to check out, quit, or stick around but are not engaged or caring.
Command and Control managers want and like the control and are afraid of losing it. They also seem to be risk averse, not wanting to risk their roles for change. Learning new ways of doing things can be a big risk and a scary proposition for these individuals. I was in a meeting once where we were discussing a management issue when one of the participant’s made the comment that he hadn’t read anything new since he had finished his MBA –he didn’t feel like he needed to learn anything more than what he already had. This left me speechless. As a continuous learner I couldn’t fathom that someone would think that they “knew it all”. It turns out this individual was also a lousy communicator. He had trouble connecting with his direct reports, all he would do is tell them what to do and how to do it.
The opposite of Command and Control is People Centered, or as I have known it by, the Commitment Model. This model allows for an openness to new approaches, empowering individuals to be creative, come up with solutions on their own and to vocalize how they feel. It is based on trust – that what needs to get done will get done – that expectations for the job will be met and that it will be co-operative and respectful. The underlying principle is respect and trust, the exact opposite of what the Command and Control Model produces.
The first step in becoming a better communicator is to be self-aware, know yourself. What’s your communications “style”? By understanding this you can then use that knowledge to recognize and understanding others communications “Style”. By recognizing others “style” you become better at communicating with them on their terms. It becomes about them not you. It becomes meeting their communications “style” need, not yours. It becomes People Centered not Command and Control.