Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sick of Apologies!

Are there others out there who are sick of hearing apologies? It seems recently that almost every day, some government or public leader, present or past, is apologizing for remarks he or she made. In addition, company CEOs are having to apologize for both their unfavorable actions’ outcomes as well as explanations they are giving initially to us—the consumers—to support these actions.

Has everyone forgotten the old adage, “Think before you speak?” We know one of the critical competencies for successful leadership is strong communication skills, both verbal and written.

Trusting relationships among leadership teams are dependent on consistent, open, honest, and transparent communication. Credibility of leaders depend on clearly-communicated rationale for the decisions, strategies, and vision the organization is taking.

We all know that to be successful in a leadership team, whether at the system, hospital, department, service line, project or task force level, one must embrace the following guidelines:
1. Articulate your position clearly, with consistency.
2. Be open to listening to other positions if they likewise are clearly communicated.
3. Be prepared to maintain your position or have it changed based on the communication of others in the meeting.
4. Be willing to support the consensus of the group, once it is reached, even if it is not your original position.

Clearly, we have somewhat of a void in strong and successful leadership in parts of our federal, state and local governments as well as in some for-profit and not-for-profit industries. Perhaps one of the drivers of this void is that too many leaders are speaking before they think it out. Excellent, successful outcomes will not be led by people who have to apologize for their verbal and written communications and their actions. To avoid such detrimental events, one must thoughtfully reflect on what comes out of their mouths.

In the end, we all know there is no substitute for intelligence that supports excellent communication skills. I would ask us to all ponder if leadership in all aspects of the public and private sectors would not be more successful if many leaders talked less and thought more!

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