I read this article – Leadership Is About Behavior, Not Titles – last year and have been thinking about it and applying it since then. I wanted to know if I ever fall into the category of being a leader for the title. I never really understood the difference during my early years in leadership at work, but I think I fell more into that category during those years (not easy for me to admit).

One excerpt from the above article that caught my attention was this “Your ability to inspire largely depends on how well you communicate and connect with others ….. mastering these seven communication skills can help you become a better leader.”

I can relate to all of the seven communication skills but will focus on just the three skills – #1, #3, and #5:

  • Skill #1 – Listen, really listen
    • Often, I apply active listening techniques through paraphrasing, reflecting, clarifying, and summarizing; however, I feel that I still fail to really listen and absorb everything that was just said. At home, the most worthwhile and pleasant conversation I have with my wife and three daughters is when I really listen and have that eye contact. Listening to every word so my response will pertain to what they actually said rather than a pre-concocted reply. I am a work-in-progress and continually practicing this with my family at home and my co-workers at work.
    • In Toastmasters, we have been applying the same. Through surveys, we listened to the voice of the majority. We carefully reviewed concerns from our members and responded as best as possible with the facts, actions taken, and our rationale. We will continue to do this and be better as necessary.
  • Skill #3 – Be your best self
    • Basic acts of kindness can positively impact others more than we think. One basic example – I always try to respond to emails with as short a lag time as possible, especially if I feel the person who sent the email is in need. Astonishingly enough, I received appreciation when I managed to do that. So as simple as being responsive shows our best self to others.
    • In Toastmasters, we have been trying our best to respond to questions or clarifications from our leaders and members as quickly as we can. We have succeeded in the majority of them, but there are a few where we could have done better.
  • Skill #5 – Don’t bury the lead
    • As I learned, people want to avoid wading through a long email to see what is relevant. So I have been engaging quickly by stating essential facts or statistics.
    • In Toastmasters, an example is a communication we have sent to all our Division Directors on our district status highlighting key facts like the number of clubs that have yet to have trained officers in early August and the number of clubs that are low in Pathway Adoption in early October, etc. It quickly caught their attention and prompted them to take action.

I want to add another skill to the list as I learned this over the years, and it may not surprise you. I don’t know why it was not listed in the article, but I am sure anybody can add more to it.

  • Skill #8 – Walk the talk
    • I find more success in getting more support at work by showing an excellent example of how it’s done. It was as simple as leading the effort of updating a project RAID log for Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions. So all project team members follow the same habit, thereby eliminating the responsibility of leaving the updates to a single person.
    • In Toastmasters, with the shortage of Area Directors in our district, helping conduct club visits encouraged more actions from our leaders.

The conclusion in the article summed it up nicely While titles may bring power and profits, titles don’t earn loyalty, trust, or respect. Only behaviour will accomplish that.” It’s not the title of being the head of the family that earns you respect, but the way you communicate and give your best self. It’s not the title of being the leader at work that earns loyalty and backing from your subordinates or peers, but the way you treat, communicate and engage them nicely. It’s not the title of being one of the directors of our district that will earn us support, but the way we listen, giving our best self, not burying the lead and walking the talk.

Eugene Sicat,
District 42 Program Quality Director

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