Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Leadership Development: Communication and Relationshps

This post is part of a series on leadership development.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently participating in a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as part of my work at Franklin University. This week, I attended a presentation by Dr. Mike Posey, the Chair of the Public Relations Program at Franklin University. I have worked with Dr. Posey in the past and it was good to hear from him in this format. 

Dr. Posey shares his insights on the importance of relationships in leadership.

Dr. Posey presented on the importance of relationships in leadership. He started the session by having us view a presentation on leadership styles of orchestra conductors. I enjoyed the video and have embedded it below.

Below are some of my notes from the meeting. Note that these are likely some of my own ideas mixed in with Dr. Posey's.

A Cool "Warm-Up" Activity
Dr. Posey started out the session by having each member individually roll a die and answer one of 6 questions on the slide, based on what they rolled. Here are the questions that were answered:
  1. Describe in one sentence your professional life.
  2. What are your hobbies?
  3. What makes you happy?
  4. What don’t you now that you would like to know more about?
  5. One thing you want to do professional before you die?
  6. One thing you want to do personally before you die?
Dr. Posey observed that people tend to become more excited and animated about their personal goals and less excited about their professional goals. The take-away message was that we should be sure that our work life aligns as much as possible with our interests and passions in life. It was also a really good way to learn more about the others in the group.

Three People You Admire
Dr. Posey then asked us to write down three people we admire. I was thinking of the list in terms of public figures, and here is who I wrote down (I acknowledge that I wrote more than three, here):
Characteristics of Good Leaders
The following were shared as positive characteristics of leaders, which strongly correlates to the people we admire:
  • Motivator
  • Colleague
  • Passionate
  • Listener
  • Authority
  • Controlled
  • Teacher
I would say that the people that I wrote down as admirable certainly possess many or all of these attributes.

It's All About Relationships, Empowerment, and Communication
Dr. Posey’s belief is that despite the many different theories related to leadership, it all comes down to three major components: relationships, empowerment, and communication.
  • Relationships – everything we do in leadership (and in life) has to do with relationships. We are constantly asking ourselves “How do I relate to this person, object, idea, or environment?” Managing human relationships is absolutely critical. Human beings are relational beings - we must interact with other people to exist and to thrive. For positive interaction, we must have a self-awareness and awareness of other people. The key to relationships to find out what motivates them, what gets them excited, and help them see how they fit within the organization.
  • Empowerment – we empower others by giving them responsibility and ownership. This leads to higher trust, productivity, and a positive working relationship. Let people do what they love and are good at.
  • Communication – in the workplace, communication is very often extremely disjointed. There are means of communication, which disrupt how we communicate. A leader should communicate in ways that they are good at. In addition, communication should not take place as a monologue - it should be two-way. Listening is absolutely critical.
“The hard stuff is easy – the soft stuff is hard. The soft stuff makes all the difference!”
The people/relationships side of things is perhaps the most difficult, yet it can have the most profound impact on our success as an organization. People need to feel empowered, cared for, supported, protected, and trusted.

30 Seconds of Reflection
We have been doing 30 seconds of reflection at the end of each leadership session. Here is what I wrote down: "I continually think about whether I am on the right track with my profession. Am I doing what is truly important to me? I believe so. I enjoy my work - I am learning and growing, and I love higher education.  Ultimately, I want to live an incredible life and have a positive impact on the people I work with and interact with."

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