It is clear to me, as I walk the streets of Positano, that the natives speak a different language than me. When I start a conversation with them in my native tongue, they must flip a switch in their mind and translate the words they hear me speak into their second or perhaps third language. Not all my words are easily translated and tone, body language are easily misinterpreted due to cultural differences that neither understands. If we’re to connect and move our conversation toward productive action, we’ve got to give each other the benefit of the doubt instead of rushing to judge what we think each other means. This takes time and touch. I have to take the lead in making sure my words are heard and understood if we’re going to transact productively. I’m the foreigner here, not them.
Leader, it would help you connect with your team if you could think of yourself as I do here in Positano.
You are a foreigner in your kingdom. Your name may be on the building, you may have been the head coach for decades, you may have all the right intentions and off the chart integrity. You are, however, like me here in Positano – a foreigner in a distant land. Your team speaks a different language than you. When you speak words to them they don’t process them the way you do. Your words carry more weight and inflict worry, lots of worry. So, stop speaking without thinking. And listen like you’re a foreigner in a distant land. Catch the tone, body language and stay curious. Shut your judger down and try to remember what it was like when you were not the one in power, in a “one up position.” Every leader we work with would benefit from being a foreigner in their own kingdom, if you will. We assume way too much and wonder why we’re surprised so frequently when a truth teller like me comes in and translates what the teams been trying to say for freakin’ years.
Take the edge off. Speak ccd. Tune in like an animal being stalked. Ask the team to play back what they heard. Stop assuming. Ask them to tell you more. Remember, leaders are believers and leaders are connectors too. It’s your job to lead in the connection business. Act more like a foreigner than a dictator and more real connections when come when you converse. Every leader gets exactly the team they deserve. Want a better team? Become a better connector. Think of yourself as I do here in Positano. Humbly lead the way to better conversations, better connections, and better outcomes. Lead the way toward better connections, leader. Good.
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…