Great leaders go further and aren't afraid to overcommunicate. They understand that stating and restating things will clarify strategy and keep the team focused on the "why" behind their work, and on what really matters.
Since tech rules our lives, I offer four practical things to make you a better human leader.
1. Share information.
Be transparent in sharing company information to foster trust and accountability across the enterprise. By being open and honest with everyone about both the good news and the bad news helps ensure people that their work and role are valued.
Square, the Silicon Valley-based mobile payments company, has a unique policy in place for ideas and information to be shared. When two or more people meet, one person must take notes and share those notes to all other interested Square employees to peruse them.
Over at Bridgewater Associates, leaders at the world's largest hedge fund record every meeting and make them available to all employees. This communication vehicle is a learning tool that illustrates how decisions are made and encourages more precise thinking and communication that reduces politicking.
2. Match your message to the medium.
In a recent episode of Love in Action podcast, Erica Keswin, best-selling author of Bring Your Human to Work, stressed the importance of proper interaction in the digital age. While texting a colleague that you're running late for lunch is kosher, ditch your device when you sense that an employee seems off or when a client isn't returning your calls. Think about the best ways to move your communication goals forward in human fashion. Don't default to the tech end of the spectrum.
3. Have two-way conversations.
Good leaders today engage with their teams in a way that resembles a simple person-to-person conversation more than it does a series of commands from on high. That's the premise behind research by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind as published in their book, Talk, Inc: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations.
The authors share that the smartest leaders foster cultural norms that instill a conversational sensibility throughout their organizations, which helps large or growing companies to function like a small one.
"By talking with employees, rather than simply issuing orders," state the authors, "leaders can retain or recapture some of the qualities -- operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment -- that enable start-ups to outperform better-established rivals."
4. Welcome confrontation.
Poor communication can cost businesses countless hours of lost productivity to employees and bosses scrambling to do "damage control" and fix a problem that may have been avoided with good communication habits.
So what's that one good habit that nobody seems to want to practice as critical to solving conflict? Have more conflict.
Here's what I mean: It's human of us to want to avoid confrontation -- it's uncomfortable, awkward, and painful. It's also absolutely necessary.
While conflict is inevitable, it's also preventable and avoidable if we choose the pathway to healthy confrontation.
The reality is that confrontation is often the quickest route to cut through the drama, set clear expectations with intention, and have a positive outcome. It just takes intestinal fortitude and a good attitude on your way to the promised land.
The key is knowing how to confront with the right approach, in the right setting and handled in the right way. Master that framework and people will start calling you the Human Whisperer.