I have three degrees including an MBA. I have served as an administrator in public and non-profit organizations. I am well versed in and used many visionary leadership tools and techniques. I wanted to be a successful leader. I took finance, marketing and management classes. I learned how to write mission statements, prepare budgets, set goals and measure performance. Great stuff.
Over the years, I discovered that’s the easy part. Working with people requires something broader and deeper. Humility, empathy and patience are not taught in school. Robert Mehrabian found that communication is 7% words, 38% tone and 55% body language. Words can be misinterpreted during face to face meetings. Remote work makes communication even more challenging . So, what is the most effective way to communicate in the uncharted waters of the pandemic?
I have participated on a lot of Zoom calls over the past two months. I am becoming better at reading body language and use the chat feature if I need to check with one or two individuals who appear confused or disengaged. I also picked up on those “throw away comments”, such as, “but I really don’t care’. I follow-up on those comments to be certain how they really feel. Taking time to look and listen may slow things down in the short run but it keeps team members focused and feeling valued. In keeping with the African proverb, “If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”