06 Sep Building Connective Communication Habits in a World Removed
Here’s a 21st-century leadership challenge… long-distance leadership. Overnight the patterns and routines of your traditional leadership, communication style, and influencing tendencies are turned upside down. It quickly becomes apparent the most powerful channel for building connections and influencing changes when you cannot actually “be” with your team day-in and day-out.
How do you pivot and continue to be effective in this new long-distance leadership role? As you have learned, leadership is based on trust – two way – and nothing undermines trust like a lack of authenticity or a feeling of distance. So how do you build proximity where none exists? How does one maintain that authentic trust without sharing the space, the eye contact, or the physical closeness that doesn’t exist in the world of long-distance leadership?
The answer, as always, begins within. The first step is to forget about “them” and get in touch with “you.” What do you really bring to the game? How do others really see you? Why are you trying to make a difference? Then use that information to shape how you choose to communicate with your team which is the crucial step between you and actually making something happen – certainly between you and successful leadership.
Remember that leading doesn’t have as much to do with simply communicating “what” as it does with building belief around “why.” And the best leaders drive that belief by creating situations where they discover a “why” for themselves. Without the nuance of proximity and regularity, those two can easily be mistaken. Be sure every communication you deliver – regardless of medium – creates that kind of opportunity for the receiver – to discover, on their terms, the why beneath the what.
Be mindful of your communications that your team will quickly observe and expect the patterns you establish. Never, never vary. Not from one communication to the next, or from one person to the next. Be the same “you” – in the same way – with those you lead and those who lead you… with clients, coworkers, and supporters. Don’t fall into the inauthentic “looking for a reason to reach out” thing, but think, honestly and deeply about those you lead every day. Find something that honestly needs what you can bring… and start the conversation.
Even within the limits of long-distance, if you work hard to stay connected to yourself and to them in an honest and open way and work to help others find the “why’s” in their world you can lead from anywhere.