May 27, 2009 Chris Fuller

Ever met a psychic Husky?

Mush! Hike! Gee, Haw. Line out. Pick it up. Whoa. On By. Come.

Simple. Direct. Actionable.

When it comes to directing the team and leading them toward an actionable result, we cannot mince words, make veiled references, or throw out cloudy innuendoes and hope they get it. I haven’t seen or heard of any Husky that has claimed to be psychic!

For years, my communication weakness was to suggest a course of action that I, actually, wanted implemented and needed implemented quickly for the sake of the company. When the team failed to act, failed to make course correction quickly enough I moved in to more of a command and control mode. Neither extreme works well and the combination of the two is certainly not recommended!

Here’s what I was dealing with – I had been under an extreme leader – one that communicated harshly, stifled creativity, and used emotional outbursts and anger as “management” techniques. Being under that type of “Musher”, I quickly went to the other side and made the communication more relational, less threatening – but at the cost of productivity. Reduction in productivity and effectiveness created relational problems from both sides. I was wondering why I had people that didn’t “Get it” and my people were wondering why I couldn’t say what I meant the first time!

What I learned was to become more clear, more focused, more purposeful and intentional on the front end. I was operating in what has now become one of the ‘Mantras’ I use in my sessions, “Frustration is a function of expectation.” Have the right expectations, communication those expectations, ensure crystal clarity, next steps…”Who does What by When” methodology and we lessen frustration, increase productivity, AND maintain great relationships. Clarity excels accomplishment.

The team has running in their DNA. If the team is not directed with clarity on where to run, we can’t be surprised or frustrated as leaders when we don’t reach the right destination. If we’re not clear about the timing and accountability piece, then we won’t reach the right checkpoint in the right timeframe and our race position slips.

In our sessions, we work the clients to adopt their “Language” where everyone knows when ‘Gee’ is said by the leader or another team mate, it means to go to the right. When someone says, “I need to have an accountability conversation with you” that doesn’t mean they are trying to catch you doing something wrong. They are clueing you in that we are in this team together and in order for us to have the right outcome, we MUST hold each other accountable.

Implementing cultural buzz words develops the code where the offense can be reduced for the sake of the Burled Arch (the mission). These words are reinforced to mean the same thing every time. They are not to be used as weapons or daggers but as clarification points that reduce uneasy, emotional pain points. “Can we have this discussion offline?” = I don’t want to disagree with you in public. “Can you let me in on your lens?” = I know we all perceive things differently, what is your perception of what I said, or the situation, etc. “I’m not good being Wheel Dog” = the conversation is revealing too much for my comfort level or more playfully stated, “Keep the baggage on the sled”.

Every entity or team has their own lingo and ‘culture’. How healthy is your team’s communiqué? Where does it need work?

Remember: It’s your sled, your team – you set the tone! Make sure it is intentional, clear, AND relational.

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