The Lens of Leadership Communication
We have a chance here to codify culture. If you're a leader inside of an organization, and I don't want, I don't want to just leave this for people who are sort of ordained leaders, but you can imagine, Jess, I'm gonna just use your example. Can you talk a little about what it means to be a team lead in your role?
Sure. So our department has teams of cross-functional backgrounds. Different expertise. And a team lead is really just responsible for driving specific deliverables against specific goals. So it's like a focus team on key focus areas.
And do you stay with the same team project over project?
It's not like you manage multiple teams, or you're a lead for multiple teams across multiple projects.
Same team until things change.
Uh-huh, and attach to a particular project, as well as a product?
Projects that are mapping back to focus areas, which could be like organization goals.
Right, and these are people that do not directly report to you.
But as ...
a team lead, you have an incredible amount of influence.
Or influence potential.
Right, and do you help define the culture of your team?
Yes, and this is a brand new team, we're two sprints into working together, so it's been a month and a half.
So, we haven't even crafted that yet, and this is why I'm so interested in this work, because I want to make sure that we do it right from the beginning.
Sure, sure. So, I just wanna say here that your team, this is, codifying culture in your group is gonna be a thing that's gonna happen over time. And you don't do it alone. But as a spokesperson for the team, as the lead to the team, as an instigator to the team, as a lead that means implicitly, not direct report wise, these folks are accountable to you, right, As you drive projects with them? In my mind, understanding what purpose you serve in the world, and bringing that to that role, and then noticing how that informs the language that you choose when you speak to your team, to being thoughtful and purposeful about that, to notice the gaps between the culture that's emerging in your team and how you talk about things, what you might wanna influence one direction or another, when you might use your purpose platform as a way to accelerate one part of the team, and other times you might be more gentle and implicit and open about it. Might be a useful tool for you, as you're in the middle of a sea change. So codifying culture is a place where I can imagine you get to use, or exercise, your purpose platform. And of course, that does not, that doesn't... Establishing your voice is another big piece here, so what do you wanna be known for? What do you wanna be known for? This is particularly important if you wanna maybe be a spokesperson for your organization. I have been on teams who are slating spokespeople for maybe a global all-hands, where we're asking, "Who can speak on behalf "this product? "And who's really good to listen to?" That's who we wanna tap in an organization, and when you, when you can speak on purpose, and tie that to the purpose of your product, or the strategy you're working on, and you're known for that, you get a lot of visibility inside of an organization. People will ask you to come talk to their teams. This is a major benefit for your career. Because it creates visibility, and it creates... I want for you to be thoughtful about establishing your voice in such a way that every time people call you, you get to show up and you're on purpose, and with your authentic self, in alignment with who you are, and that they're tapping you for a reason, both for your business expertise, and your actual ability to speak from a place of purpose. This is also important, I think, a profile of a lot of folks that I work with are brand new leaders in a very senior role, or with a brand new team, they don't know anybody, or they are in a new role and have to re-establish themselves a little bit differently within that same cohort. So my earlier example about my status quo challenger? She was in a role in this organization for years, and then got elected into this very special role. And so she had to... her task now is to let her group, her stakeholders, to help facilitate her stakeholders recalibrate, or change the way that they see her in this new role, so she's not serving in this role, but still being treated in this way. So to re-establish yourself, speaking on purpose can also be very helpful. As much as establishing yourself cold. You know, from a cold start. So we talked about codify culture, and then of course, elevate your impact. I started this class by saying there's nothing better than hearing a leader communicate from a place of purpose. And when you sit and listen, you sense it. You know it. And it is a powerful tool in helping them. It's one of the ways that we sense that they're speaking from the heart, so this is a way to elevate your impact in both of those two areas, and just about anywhere you are. I keep remembering, people want you to be you. I have to remind myself of that, particularly when the stakes are really high. So we can use this purpose platform to go back to. Maybe when all of a sudden you feel like you're serving too many masters, and when we serve too many masters in a crucial communications moment, we end up not serving any of them. So if we can go back to our purpose platform and say, "Okay, what am I really here to do? "What is my role in the world? "And what am I here to do at this new organization. "as a lead in this particular community, "as a peer to the people that I work with every day? "What is it that I'm here to do in the world, and then how do I hold on to that as I think about, and, not or, how do I serve the needs of the moment?" The fitness example I gave before might be one of those. So that you can, again, show up as yourself, because people want you to be you, but not feel detached from what's going on. And I talked earlier about a situation that happens a lot, where leaders stand up, they do their talk, they leave, and everyone goes, "Oh gosh, he missed it. "It wasn't good." And then call all the people, and then we have 20 people standing around, sitting around a conference table figuring out how to redesign that event next time, but never actually addressing the person that needs help. We just, if we change the set, if we move the podium over here, if we dial up the volume, if we put him in a different outfit. If we did all these things around it, instead of really addressing what's going on here, it can be really taxing on an organization. So let's imagine that person is you. You're that person that stood on stage, had an opportunity to stand on stage. And make those people, instead of fixing everything around you next time, you make all their work super successful by being able to both stand in your own purpose, and serve the purpose of the organization. Now this is particularly important for those of you who might be watching, or those of you who are in the room, that as you get to a certain level, and you don't, you're not creating your own content anymore. You have teams that help you support that. If you're clear about what your purpose platform is, you can give stronger direction to your teams that support you around how to craft the talk for you. Around where you see, how you wanna talk about each of the key messages that you might need to hit. So when you're clear about that, it can be very helpful to your script writers, to your graphics operators, to all the folks that create the infrastructure around you to help you be successful. So for example, with my status quo breaker, when I worked with her script writer, we sat in a room and I said, "Here's what we've discovered. "That she is a status quo breaker, "and we're about to write a script for her "for the most status quo kind of situation "in the history of leadership. "So how are we gonna grapple with that?" And he and I came up with a strategy that gave us an approach where she could both be herself and stand in her true self, and also serve the need of the moment. So this can help not just you, but the people that you touch all the time. Help them move more quickly as you move forward in your leadership. So we're gonna continue to help bring these strategies to life over and over again. Every time I give a talk, or design a workshop, I'm gonna stand in my purpose, I'm gonna be that person that brings adventure. But I'm gonna calibrate to the need, so that I can hold on to who I am, but also bring strategies to life for the people that invited me into their tent, into their context. And again, it's gonna help with clear leadership. You get to be more clear about where you're going, what's important to you, people will more quickly know who you are and what matters to you, and when you're more clear, it's easier for people to grapple with who you are. To understand what their questions are. It doesn't feel off, just very quickly, to go, like, "Yes, that. "I wanna know more about that." We wanna know, as a leader we wanna know who you are. Jess, your earlier example about being this new team lead, you'll have to make some choices about, "How do I help them know who I am? "How do I help them know what I'm here to do "and the role I wanna play with them? "How do I help them trust?" So, I said this earlier, that communication's really is a strikepoint for your leadership and an accelerant for the business, whatever it is. And so if we can bring to these strikepoints your purpose, as often as possible, that would be a win in my mind. Over and over again, and this isn't something that I learned somewhere, it's something that just sort of popped up over and over again in my coaching. That we were lost together, trying to figure out what to say on stage, unless we did this work first. And it always gives us a great place to start. So as you move away from this class, and go back out into your teams, go back out into, maybe even dinner with friends, talk a little bit about what you think your purpose platform might be, and try on saying something out loud, even if it feels a little bit bold. And especially if it feels a little bit bold. (laughs) Really. Sometimes if it feels a little bit too much, like, that feels really big, and pretty powerful, but resonant for you, and even a little scary, that's a clue that it might be a really nice hit. And so stepping into that is my challenge to you. So share that purpose platform with one another, with somebody, and see what their reaction is, see how it sounds to say it out loud, and then take some time to reflect on it yourself. Carry it around with you. Put it in your back pocket. Notice, like, if I spoke from a purpose platform in this moment, how might have I sounded differently than I did at my meeting this morning? And then see if it works, then take it on until it doesn't work for you anymore. And if it doesn't work, how might you shift it? How might you draw in a stronger metaphor?