Friday, October 28, 2022

As a Leader, Are you Trying to Impress or Connect?

I recently listened to an interview with Jon Levin, Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  The podcast focused on communication.   Levin offered a great take on how his thinking about communciation has changed over time, as he has taken on leadership roles.  

My thinking about communication has evolved over my career. I started as a professor teaching. And when you’re giving research talks, it’s just everything is about presenting ideas and information clearly, and maybe even impressing people a little bit and getting them to change the way they think about a problem.

In a leadership role, so much more of communication is about connecting with people, establishing shared humanity, motivating them, inspiring them, sometimes challenging them. So, going through my career, that has really reinforced to me the different purposes that communication serves: to inform people, to connect with people, to motivate and inspire them.

I really love this distinction between IMPRESSING PEOPLE and CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE.   The former, of course, often involves talking AT people.  The latter means that leaders listen to others, engage them in dialogue, and collaborate WITH team members.   Every leader should think about how they build connection so as to motivate, inspire, and build commitment in their organization.