There is nothing more gratifying then inspiring a team member to want to do what you want them to do. But with this gratification comes the potential for the agony of defeat. One of my all-time favorite books on leadership, “The Leader’s Voice” by Clarke and Crossland, talks about how vulnerable a leader truly is when driving an organization forward. The bottom line is that no matter how clearly a leader communicates, there are numerous failures that can get in the way of the message.
“The biggest problem of leadership communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” “The Leader’s Voice”
In their book, Clarke and Crossland reveal “Four Fatal Assumptions” when it comes to communicating as a leader.
Fatal Assumption 1: Your team understands what was communicated
You can say the word orange, and one person will envision a neon color, another a soft color, and another a fruit! Just because a leader says it does not mean the message was received in the way it was intended. This can create a tremendous amount of frustration for all involved.
Fatal Assumption 2: Your team agrees with what was communicated
Silence and glazed expressions do not mean agreement. Most of the personality types that are attracted to dentistry need to process their thoughts and emotions before they can participate.
Fatal Assumption 3: Your team cares about what was communicated
Remember, when putting together a benefit-plus-procedure statement, the benefit has to be something people are actually interested in achieving! Following a vision because it fulfills the leader is not enough. The vision has to provide a good old “what’s in it for me?”
Fatal Assumption 4: Your team will take appropriate action
Even if your team understands, agrees, and cares about your vision, it doesn’t mean they know what to do to make it a reality. That’s where the strategy, the how-to, comes in.
As I proudly said good-bye to our latest leadership students as they made their way back to their offices and routines with the intention of starting anew, I muttered a little affirmation—please give these leaders the courage to rise above the fatal assumptions and significantly touch the lives of those they choose to lead. Let them be “unkillable,” because it isn’t easy!
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