Do you sometimes find communication challenging in your leadership team? Perhaps it’s hard to decipher a colleague’s meaning? Or maybe at times you struggle to make yourself understood?
Language is at best a rough approximation of the concepts being communicated. That’s why an intention to communicate – a mutual commitment to really understand each other – is so important.
Recently, I facilitated a Fearless Leadership workshop for SMRU, an NGO in northwest Thailand. This team is remarkable in many ways, and not just for the amazing humanitarian healthcare and medical research they do.
They are remarkable because they are able to communicate so well together, despite operating in a changing and complex environment:
- In the extended leadership team of 24 people there are 10 different nationalities represented
- Funding is uncertain, with significant effort required to secure project grants
- The external political environment is highly charged, constantly changing, and sometimes dangerous
- Expats are living away from their extended families and support systems
- Technology is sometimes flakey – basic infrastructure like power can be unreliable
One thing that struck me in working with them was their strong desire – individually and collectively – to understand one another. One doctor said to me, ‘Working here has helped me to really listen and to really understand, because things often don’t make sense the first time around.’
When do you get caught out with the ‘first time around’ understanding?
Where do you need to sharpen up your communication intent? How would that support the growth of your team?
As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘The danger of communication is the illusion that it happened.’ Never assume you have been understood! Take responsibility and hold a strong intention to communicate. Then check in and make sure your message was received as intended.