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The Dilemma of the Non-communicating Leader


The Dilemma of the Non-communicating Leader

Leaders for whom communication is a foreign language.

In the last blog we explored reasons your boss may be a no-show in the communication game at work. Could be as simple as he’s introverted and avoids communicating with everyone, not just you. Or, he may have experienced some recent problems that have deflected his attention away from the priorities you believe matter most.

Regardless, there is little more painful than a boss from whom extracting any direction, information or feedback is akin to extracting a molar without anesthesia.

So what can be done to help a non-communicative boss become the paragon of full communication?

Probably not much. But here are a few strategies to consider. These most likely will help you work within your system more comfortably:

· It may be too late for this one, but the next time you’re interviewing for a job, do your utmost to inquire about the new leader’s (and, for that matter, the entire system’s) style of communication, setting expectations, feedback and general communication. Knowing upfront will help you strategize how to adapt much more effectively and quickly.

· Determine your current boss’ best (or most comfortable) communication style. Once you know what works to gain his attention, focus your efforts there.

o Does he do better with email?

o Does he like fully detailed longer emails, or just the bullet point variety?

o Texting?

o Phone calls/voice messages?

o F2F? (Doubting that a non-communicator prefers in-person meetings, but if this works for him, schedule regular meetings.)

· Talk with colleagues, in a professional not gossipy manner, to learn how they navigate these communication waters with the boss. You may gain important insights from someone else’s experience that will work for you too.

· Finally, if all else fails, schedule a face-to-face meeting with the boss. Again, in a very professional manner, express how much you desire to do give your best efforts to the company and that your personality thrives on strong communication. (From my own experience, I can predict that you’ll receive affirming head-nods and maybe even verbal acquiescence.) Not sure if that is enough to change his behavior. But at least you’re on record with your desire to have more robust conversation.

Let’s be honest. Healthy leaders are also good communicators. That does not mean that low-communicating leaders are unhealthy or toxic. But it does mean that we humans, who crave interpersonal interaction and community, most likely will do better — in fact, thrive — when we have a boss who has our best in mind and communicates regularly.

Good employees need to know they’re doing a good job. In fact, they also need to know when they have room for improvement. Leaders who care about their team members, need to push themselves into the uncomfortable realm of communicating more often and more effectively.

Norm Mintle